|Thick as Thieves|
|What: Remy and Noriko meet up and have a talk about things. Turns out they have a fair amount in common, who knew!|
A lot has happened in a previous week, but old habits always die hard. Left to her own devices, Nori's fallen back into her usual pattern of living off of, and beneath, the streets. On a good night she'll find a way to sneak into a midnight rave, on a bad day she'll torch something on the city's power grid then disappear for longer than usual. But, one new thing does remain constant. She now has a phone. Not only that, she's managed to keep a charge in that battery without the aid of a charging kit or outlet for all of this time. She's drained it about as often as she's recharged it, but so far everything is still working! More or less.
It might seem peculiar when she calls you out of the blue, wondering if you had some of your evening free. Maybe it's nothing more than a reminder that she's still out there, and still in one piece. Tonight, she's looking to meet up with you in one of the city parks.
As he's still in Metropolis after his meeting with Emma, Remy is quick to agree. He races over, in fact. With two nitrous charges on a relatively lightweight bike, he can make short work of just about any trip.
Apparently unafraid of local crime, he parks his motorcycle under a street lamp, dismounts, and arms the security system. Then he leans against a tree and twists a cigarette's filter between his lips. He's smart enough not to go looking for one girl in a big park. His bike is loud in a very particular way. Anyone who's heard it before knows he's here.
So he waits. After a few minutes, he lifts one finger and touches the tip of the cigarette. It's glows, lets out a muffled pop, and starts to smolder.
How many other bikes tear around the city with a sound like that? Nori hasn't been around it too often, but she has been given a ride on it already. Moments like that are hard to forget, it has a way of taking root inside of the brain. It's almost a subconscious thing that leads her toward the noise of that engine, then to you by proxy. Not much has changed, though she's finally able to smile on her own accord when she sees you standing there. "Got here quicker than I thought. Guess I wasn't interrupting anything."
There's still a notable piece of social awkwardness in the younger girl, as well as a habit of hiding within the depths of her worn out hoodie. "I hadn't heard anything in a while, wasn't sure if plans had changed or something."
When Noriko shows herself, Remy lifts two fingers to touch his forelock. It's an old-fashioned gesture that conflicts with his glowing eyes and roguish appearance. "No," he begins. There's a pause as he clears his throat.
Guilty. That's the expression he's wearing. It's not common for him, and not always easy to identify. "I guess I kinda left you hanging, didn't I? I'm sorry, mimi. I been in Gotham and New York. Cutting old ties so I don't bring no trouble with me to school. How you been holding up while I was gone?"
An expression like that is enough to make Nori pause, guilt isn't a thing that she's expecting to see out of you. -Especially- out of one like you. Did thieves ever truly feel guilt..? "I'm not your responsibility, Rem. You got me to see Em, she's been doing what she can. I'm just..y'know. Chillin.'" She glances down and scuffs a foot against the concrete as she says it, suddenly looking meek. "No more serious injuries or property damage, so there's that. Still just--I don't know. You guys are cool and all, but maybe I'm not meant for that sorta place--I mean maybe I won't fit in. You're all something and I'm out here slumming it. Em's like scary successful sounding and you ..um. You don't have any trouble getting by." Not with that level of thievery skill.
"I used to be like you, y'know." Remy stares off at a spot somewhere above and to the side of Noriko's head. Several heartbeats pass as he dives into old memories, then dips back out again. "Scraping to get by. Scared sometimes. Angry, maybe. It take a long time to get outta dat, me."
He takes a long draw from his cigarette and then finally meets Noriko's eyes. "I think we both deserve better, mimi. I think a lotta people do. You and me, maybe we help dem. Maybe dey help us a little, too."
"Sometimes 'helping' turns out to be a bad thing," Nori says with a frown and a bit more energy than usual. "You know it's because it's you though, right?" Following the question is a slight pause before she looks back up to you. "You're the only guy I've met that's both been there -and- 'gets' it. Others like me? They can't help so much. Others like Em? Too far up on their thrones for us gutterlings. And anyone else out there is just too plain common to have a clue," she states with a side-ward gesture of a hand to the city at large.
"The only reason why I'm playing along with any of this, it's because of you. I could go and be upset for being left hanging just as well as I could be upset that you're here to change my world around. It's all so ..out there."
"No pressure, right?" Remy doesn't seem put off, though. In fact, he's smiling. He stuffs his hands in his coat pockets and wiggles his cigarette around until he can clamp the butt between his teeth. "I think dat's one of de reasons Emma want me around. To give her lil' operation some street cred."
The battered, stubbly Cajun lets out a chuckle. "I need to introduce you to my girls. Emma's girls, really. Dey de ones who help me see dat I could do more den just steal stuff. My world get all changed up, too. Stopped robbing banks, started acting like Robin Hood. 'Out dere' is a good way to describe it. S'been fun, though."
Noriko gives you a critical look, asking "Proof that a leopard can change its spots, huh." It's frustrating in its own special way. Inside, she's still looking for a reason to be upset with all of this. If she has something to yell about then it'll be easier to turn her back on all of this and go back to the familiar ways of a current life. It isn't easily done, knowing that you've walked a very similar road on your own. No pressure, indeed! "Seems to be working," she begrudgingly agrees.
"Who are these girls? You've mentioned them before. You and Em, you aren't, like..y'know. Together. Are you? 'Cause that's cool and all if you are, but I'm not looking to get myself adopted here."
Remy laughs a little louder and shakes his head. "Me and Ms. Frost? Nah. Though I can't say I'd be upset if she asked me to dance." He waggles his eyebrows, but his expression is more comical than lecherous. "Seriously, though, I'm not looking to be anybody's daddy. I already make de mistakes, is all. Why should you have to make 'em, too?"
"De girls are... de girls," he continues. "Esme, Sophie, and Phoebe. Triplets. Dey have powers, too. Like Emma's." There's a small wince at the gross oversimplification, then a shrug. "Dat's not a perfect description, but it'll have to do for now."
Nori's slightly taken aback by that admission, considering what life would be like if there were three copies of herself. "No wonder you don't have time to shave every morning." Try as she might, she can't keep the smirk off of her face for long.
Aw, frig. Why is it so easy to open up around you? It's an uncomfortable feeling all around, she's usually more guarded than this! At least she's got some help in keeping other matters better under control or these talks would be mighty awkward. Of course, there's another matter to worry about, warped perceptions of pride or not. It's starting to get cold outside. "So has there been any news about when this school's going to open its doors? Em's cool to give me a place to crash for a while but I can't stay there forever. Feeling like I'm wearing out my welcome."
"In about a week, she say. If you want, you can come crash at my place for a few days. Give you something new to do." Remy takes one more draw from his smoke, then sends the spent butt flying with a quick flick. The glowing ember draws spirals through the air for a long, long way before it hits the ground. "Hundred and eleven feet," he judges. "Not bad. Anyway. I live a big machine shop in Gotham. Or it used to be, at least. Now it's a nest fulla girls and I have an office up in de loft. Heh. Laura stays dere a lot, too. She scowls at everything, but she a nice girl."
Not many people can get a hundred feet plus out of a cigarette butt. Despite the thoughts plaguing Noriko's mind, she's rendered speechless while watching it go sailing off into the distance. "You must be a hit at parties," she remarks under her next breath.
Right, hey..! Somewhere else to crash being offered! While she's not real keen on relying on others for things like having somewhere to live and all, the matter of self-preservation, and not freezing in a subway tunnel somewhere, presses the offer home. "If it's not too much trouble or nothing. Kinda sounds like the last thing you need is ..wait," she stops herself while tugging hands out of pockets to tick along her fingers. "A -fifth- girl getting in the way. You sure you're not an orphanage?"
"Feels dat way sometimes," Remy admits. "But in a good way. Hey, watch dis."
He winks slyly and pulls a pencil from his pocket. He gives it an experimental flex, enough that it creaks and it's apparent that it's ordinary. Then he snaps his arm across his body and throws it, putting a little extra kinetic oomph behind the toss. It takes off like a dart, whistling through the air for another easy hundred-plus feet before it sinks into a tree trunk. Halfway buried, the few inches that still protrude are still vibrating from the impact.
Then he throws a second pencil, produced seemingly from thin air. It strikes the first dead in the center, splitting it in two. Now he's just showing off.
And he's not trying to hide it, either, Grinning widely, he points his fingers like a gun and blows away an imaginary wisp of smoke. "I never get tired of dat," he says. "Told you I was like Robin Hood."
Are you trying to change the subject on Nori? Because if you are, it's working. Anything else that she might think to say about your living arrangements is quickly forgotten when things shift into what may as well be a magic trick in the works. Throwing a pencil doesn't make a lot of noise so there isn't an immediate surprise. That moment is reserved first for the landing, then the splitting from a second precision missile (or perhaps arrow.)
Staring with widened eyes, she matter-of-factly states "I'm so never asking you for a pencil during class." That's... How?
Heywait. Slowly she looks back to you, pointedly asking "Ever consider placing bets for money instead of stealing it? You'd be unbeatable at darts! If I could do that I wouldn't have to keep hi--ah..looking..for help from good-natured people such as yourself," she lamely finishes while rubbing the back of her neck.
Remy gives Nori a good-natured cuff on the should. "Tried it. You can only win so many times in so many places before nobody want to play games with you anymore."
There's a muffled *POP* as the second pencil explodes.
"And he stick de landing." He huffs on his fingernails and buffs them against his lapel. "Trust me, kiddo. I try all de scams. Strange enough, stealin' things feel more like honest work to me. Try to wrap your brainpan around dat one, me."
There's another pause. Remy's hands creep back into his pockets, and keys and loaded dice and many other things clink around as they're fiddled with. "Control... Wasn't easy for me. I have dis energy inside me." He frees a hand to tap sharply against his breastbone. "It always wanna come out. When I was about your age, it start getting more and more powerful. At first I think it's great. I could move so, so fast. Nothing could touch me. And I was so strong..." Briefly, there's a wistful note to his voice. He shakes his head and forges on. "But it's too much. I couldn't control it. I had to get help, and it didn't come cheap. I do many, many things..." he trails off again and sighs. "I don't wanna see dat happen to anybody else like us when dere's a better way."
"You must have gotten around a lot," Nori thinks. With the number of bars around this city, alone..! Lot to think about. Not that she's given much of a chance, the pop stealing away her attention with a whole new level of confusion stepping up to the plate. "Never, -ever- asking you for a pencil," she mutters.
What you have to say next claims her focus in ways that precision-thrown exploding pencils never could. For something so familiar to her, why does it seem so alien when someone else is describing it? What you're describing is what she's dealing with, right now. Even with this newfound level waiting for the two to connect on, she holds back. Instead of admitting to the same situation, she instead presses further on your own experiences with it. "What did you do..? To get things under control?" She has her own way, imperfect as it is. It's not something anyone else needs to know about.
The tip of Remy's tongue flicks out to moisten his lips. It does him little good. His whole mouth has gone dry. At the same time, minute beads of perspiration spring out along his brow. "Fair question," he replies. "I get surgery from dis doctor. He's a bad, bad man, but he tell me he save my life if I work for him. What could I do? So he cut out dis part of my brain dat was making my powers go all crazy, and den I'm his right-hand man. And dat's how I started running black ops before I was old enough to drink."
It's another oversimplification, but it'll have to do. Remy's hands come up from his pockets holding a number of essentials. A flask, which he quickly unstoppers and swigs from. Another cigarette, which is lit just as quickly. It shakes a bit, between his fingers and between his teeth. "Dis why I want de school to work so, so bad. People like us shouldn't have to beg or barter when we need help."
Um. Yikes. That thing that Nori's afraid to admit to suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad thing by comparison. She still isn't going to talk about it, not yet, but she -is- willing to see if there's another way around it. As you say, there's the school. If it works then it works. If it doesn't, she wants a fallback plan. If she starts telling everyone about it now then she's not likely to have that option later on should it be needed.
That's why it's beneficial to be talking about you now instead of her. Your hands may be busy at first but they aren't likely to stay that way. As soon as one of them settles down, she's going to catch it between both of hers. There's just so -much- she could say, every one of them hitting way too close to home for her own comfort. The expression she shows could just as easily go both ways, either concern for you or reminiscing of her own past. So familiar, yet so alien...
"I'm not planning to do that."
..Crud. Did she just unintentionally play part of her hand by saying that?
As a thief, spy, and professional gambler, reading people is Remy's business. He makes a show of looking Noriko up and down, then gives her hands a quick squeeze. "You sound like you already got a backup plan, me. Dat's good. Always good to have an escape route. I just hope it isn't too drastic."
Too experienced to judge, too wise to question. That leaves him with one decent option. "Let me know if you decide to go with Plan B, mimi. If school don't work out, we can still watch each other's backs. Thick as thieves, right? No good sneak lets his buddy hang in de wind."
That's an unexpected offer... It's also unexpected that you'd let the matter ride after catching the hint of it. It's a weird thing, being respected as a person. If it came back to the alternative though, could she really tell you as much? Maybe it's best not to think about it now, there'll be time for that if it happens.
"You'd trust me to watch your back?" There's that disbelieving look in her again. Just when she didn't think there would be anything more to think about, you go and drop an offer like this one! "Thick as thieves," she concurs, perhaps without fully realizing what it is that she's agreeing with. Either way she leans toward you and thunks her shoulder against your side, falling a good deal short of making contact with your own. "This is gonna be a long week, Rem."
"You don't know de half of it, kiddo. Laura's gonna want you for sparring practice, I bet. De triplets will want to pick your brain. And if you find time, you can visit my workbench and I show you some tricks." Remy produces a lockpick with a twiddle of his fingers, then makes it disappear.
When he speaks up again, he's taken on a slightly more serious tone. "Nori, you seem like a nice girl. I see you fighting de same battles I fought. If you wanted to stab me in de back, you've had plenty of chances already. We could dance around a bit while we decide how much we want to trust each other, but really, I'm a lil' old for all dat. So. Friends?"
"Sparring..?" Nori asks in a surprised tone. "I haven't met her yet, you sure about that?" As for picking her brain, oh if only she knew what you're referring to! That should be an interesting encounter. As for the lockpick trick, well. Every girl needs a friend like you. No wonder you've got a growing collection of lost youths.
"Why would I want to stab you in the back?" she quickly inquires, surprised that you would even suggest such a thing. Your question turns out to be one of the easiest ones she's answered in quite some time, a light smile returning to her mostly hoodie-hidden face. "I gave you a call, didn't I?" That's her way of saying 'yes' without saying the word, itself.
"Just something I've come to expect. Happens in our line of work." Remy shrugs off the blithe admission. When you steal, sabotage, and plant seeds of dissent for a living, eventually people are going to try and kill you. "So I don't trust people as a general rule. I make an exception for you, though."
The cigarette that he lit and forgot about has burned down to a long cylinder of ash. He glances at it, then tosses it aside. "Well. What say we get you home, kiddo? No offense, but dat hoodie look like it could use a wash. I make us something to eat, we get you settled in, and tomorrow I let all de girls loose on you."
Being trusted by you should be a big deal to someone like Noriko. She should be surprised, maybe even honored. What she shouldn't be is indifferent. "That's cool." After considering the moment a little longer, she offers back "I trust you too, Rem."
When you toss the next cigarette aside, she points out "Your distance sucked that time." Then another reality check finds her. Get her -home.- Not a word she's heard much of over the last collection of months. "I don't really have a washer," she mumbles while looking down at her feet again. Maybe she didn't, but it sounds like that might not be the case for long. Are you really offering to take in another lost soul? With the temperature hovering around the freezing mark during the course of each evening, she's not willing to oppose the offer. "I think--" No, let's try that one again. "..Thanks, Rem."