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2046-02-15 Padded Edges

From X-Factor

Padded Edges
Date Posted 2016/02/16
Location Wild Ginger Thai - Lower East Side
Participants Huruma, Rohan
Summary Waiting in line makes for idle conversation.
Prompt 'It Caught on Fire!'
 
White tablecloths and straight-backed black leather chairs might make Wild Ginger feel upscale, if they weren't paired with accent walls in blinding orange and waitstaff in dressed-down casual. It strikes a balance that seems to be pleasing to just about everyone. The restaurant is often busy, packed with tourists taking advantage of the nearby browsable shops and locals craving the best green curry for blocks. The place is filled with the sounds of bustling patrons and shouts from the kitchen over the latest C-pop tunes, and the air smells pleasantly of the sharp spice of its namesake.


It's dinner time, or thereabouts, and the Wild Ginger is busy, filled with people at tables, waiting for tables, and so on. Rohan is waiting, leaning up against the wall, clad in jeans and a (new) leather jacket, eyes half-closed. He looks somewhere between patient and exhausted.

It's one of the few times that Huruma ventures in without some knowledge of the traffic; the fullness of the tables seems to catch her slightly off guard, judging by the somewhat irritated tension that lines into her frame. Of course, she feels Rohan there before she even gets close to him, and perhaps it comes as no surprise when she angles up behind him while he waits. "Nice jacket." It's not a 'boo'. There's that much.

Rohan opens his eyes fully, and considers Huruma for a long moment. Just...considering. He mostly _feels_ tired right now. "Thanks," he says, with a fleeting grin. "Won a card game. Went shopping."

There's nothing from her that indicates she is up to anything more than what he sees. She's in her flared black coat again, a fur scarf up around her neck under the collar, smooth gloves on her hands. Cold, but steady still. Maybe she will be used to this after all. Her eyes meet his study for a moment, quiet. "A card game?"

"Yes," says Rohan, thrusting his hands into his pockets. "A card game. It's a sort of...game. Played with what you might term...cards." His smile flickers again. "Occasionally for money. I think you're familiar?"

Huruma's gaze narrows at Rohan without much in the way of words. Yes, she knows what it is. Yes, you're being silly. "Surprising that you could win that much at cards." Maybe a little jab for good measure.

Rohan ignores any and all jabs, just rattling his lighter in his pocket. "Yeah, the boys at the Mutiny play for surprisingly big pots sometimes," he tells her. "Got a bit lucky the other night."

The flattened look that Huruma gets in response to this is perhaps more telling than anything else. "Got lucky, did you?" That's what the man said. "Funny, I had someone asking me about where to play cards not that long ago. He wanted to win some money himself. I told him to watch himself." Huruma turns her eyes to Rohan this time, silently searching for a sign they mean the same person. If Mikhail is influencing card games, it's one thing. When money gets involved, things change. And they did spend all that effort making sure he didn't get taken back by the Mafia and all. How grateful.

Rohan raises an eyebrow in response. He feels more irritated than anything; irritation with a hint of weariness. "If you're going to take the moral highground with me, Huruma, I'm just going to laugh," he warns her, voice low. "Sometimes people have to use what they can to get what they can. Ideal--no, but sometimes necessary. Best we can do is be careful and learn how to roll with the punches."

"No high ground. I'll just be astoundingly grumpier if he gets caught." Huruma huffs through her nose. "You don't need to tell me of all people the rest. I already know it."

"I'm not _enabling_ him," says Rohan. Except that he sort of did, but is probably not intending to again. "Look, the kid's going to make the life he wants to make. Might as well let him learn. Besides," he says, with the lift of one corner of his mouth. "Who are you afraid is going to catch him, exactly?"

Huruma looks skeptical at 'not enabling'. If you say so. "The person whose pockets the money came from? I don't know." She sighs, shallow. "If he gets his teeth knocked out, or his life in shackles again, I'm going to say 'I told you so'."

"He's a grownup, Hu," says Rohan patiently. "I mean, we can help, but at some point, he has to make his own choices. About what he is, and what he will be. And I'm pretty sure he knows the potential price very well."

"In age only." She murmurs at 'grown up'. Huruma's eyes lack a certain sharpness, her mouth a downward twist. "I know. And maybe he does. Or he thinks he does." Her hands hook at her pockets, fingers wringing light against the opening while she watches the bustle of the restaurant. "Our kind are expected to know which end of the world is up, whether we actually do or not. I see it around much more these days."

"What I see," says Rohan, hands in his pockets, "is a lot of jaded older mutants and an awful lot of very naive and sheltered younger ones. Of one sort or another. And, yeah, I got thrown at the world hard, and I wish I hadn't--but they have to learn. We can't shelter them from learning. Making mistakes is part of learning. The world," he says a little bitterly, "isn't going to pad its rough edges for anyone.

It may be more telling than she intended, that somewhere in there Huruma does want to shield them from-- something. Even if small. A merciful blockage of things that ran her own life astray. "No, I suppose we can't. And what then? Just give them what we had to get through it, and let fly?"

"I'm not sure what you mean by that," says Rohan. "I mean, you can help people. I'm not saying you can't. But, in the end, their lives are their own--not yours."

Huruma is silent for a deliberately long moment, eyes ahead until they flicker over to Rohan, and then back at the air. "...I am not used to being a role model."

Rohan's mouth twitches, just a little. "Are you sure you are?" he asks. His tone is teasing. He looks away. "But it's hard to deal with the...shiny new faces."

"Sure I am what? A role model? No." Huruma gives him a small laugh, her eyes glimmering. "But when someone looks up at you like some of them do, it's--" Huruma lifts her hands to open her palms a little. "Yes. Hard to deal with."

"Huruma," says Rohan, with a twitch of his lips. "You're six foot five. _Everyone_ looks up to you. Except Max."

The dark woman fixes Rohan with a mild glare for his cheek. Still, she did probably set herself up for that. Huruma lifts her arms and crosses them now, putting out her best aloof huff of air. "Yes. Well. You know what I mean. And I have shoes that put me over Max, so his achievement is spotty."

"Only as long as he doesn't invest in four inch heels," Rohan tells her, mouth twitching more determinedly now. "He'd look rather fetching in them."

"He and I could share." Huruma stifles a laugh. "I am partial to metal shanks, he may get away with it. Perhaps you should bring it up with him next you see him."

"I think it's one of those things better coming from a woman," says Rohan with a wink.

"Clearly it should be high on my agenda." Huruma lifts her eyebrows at the wink, a tiny widening of her eyes for effect. He knows she'll do it, too, that's the worst part for Max. Poor Max.

"Tell him just how nice his legs are." Rohan is shamelessly encouraging.

"Unfortunately, I have never seen the entirety of them." Huruma's mouth purses in a small jut of her chin. "Shorts come close, I suppose. Mm. I wonder if he would tip over?"

"I doubt it," says Rohan. "He seems a nice, well balanced sort of chap." He considers. "You could make a bet with him. That he can't win a fight at 18th Street in heels."

Huruma lets this idea stew in her head. The image is the best, though she's not sure Max would go for it. "I think he may swallow his pride for that one and pass it up. Not that I won't ask."

"Ah, well," says Rohan. "You can only try. And apparently I am here simply to give other people evil little ideas. Like an evil idea fairy."

"So is that really what you do all day?" Huruma flashes a wider smile, white and fleeting. "Dart around delivering potentially terrible ideas? You've come a long way."

"No," says Rohan, not without regret. "But it's a lot more cheerful than a lot I've been doing lately."

"I will take your word for that part." Contrary to popular belief, Huruma does not actually stalk everyone 24/7. She narrows her eyes elsewhere, peering into the restaurant with a critical scan. "What's holding this line up? I feel like I have been here forever."

"Maybe the kitchen's on fire," suggests Rohan, deadpan.

"I am going to assume you have experience putting out kitchen fires." Huruma looks down at him, then back towards the kitchen door. "Are you hungry enough to find out?"

"Is that smoke?" wonders Rohan, tilting his head to one side. "Well, I need to eat soon. Have to go feed horses, and if it's much later, it'll be bloody late by the time I get to bed."

"Horses?" Huruma asks, only to add. "I know what a horse is, I mean to ask why you must feed them."

"You know," says Rohan with a smirk, "big animals, four legs, tail, sometimes are used for riding." He arches an eyebrow. "Third job involves evening feedings. Hopefully I won't progress to a fourth job or else I'll never get to sleep."

And he does it anyway. Of course. Huruma resists the urge to reach out and give him a pinch. "Where are there horses in the city? When did you start doing this?" Curious.

"Not in Manhattan," says Rohan. "I mean, that I've found. Other than carriage horses and police horses. But you cross the bridge, and there are some stables. The one I've been working at is at Prospect Park."

"I am glad that you have something that--" Huruma's words are interrupted by, yes, smoke filtering out of the kitchen doors. Never fear-- the momentary shouts are soon muffled by the sound of a fire extinguisher. And there go the smoke alarms, just in time. Imagine that.

"Bugger," says Rohan eloquently.

"You can say that again." Huruma sniffs once as other people waiting begin to file past her to the door. "Too much of a good thing."

Rohan sighs, and straightens up. "Come on, Hu," he says, heading toward the kitchen. "Let's go be heroes."

"Must we?" Huruma tips her chin up with an exaggerated breath outward, yet she follows closely behind Rohan anyway. Okay, just a little of this, then.

Rohan charges bravely forward. Onto into the smoke to save the Thai food!

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