2046-02-21 Realms & Realities

From X-Factor

046-02-21 Realms & Realities
Date Posted 2016/02/21
Location Tompkins Square Park - Mutant Town
Participants Ian, Talya
Summary Ian and Talya run into each other walking in the park. Their conversation wanders farther than they do, from realities to movies to actualities.
During daylight hours, the park is pleasant enough, if not ever truly safe. Concrete paths criss-cross a green space liberally shaded by trees, while the north end boasts basketball and multi-purpose courts of cracked and pitted concrete. The playgrounds have long since been abandoned, and most of the equipment is rusted and broken, while the pool sits empty save for rainwater. It's often filled with teenagers who've long since abandoned school and those who can't find even the shelter of a squat to call home. Drugs are freely traded at all hours, but when night falls, the park becomes a veritable marketplace of illicit substances. Interested parties come to Tompkins Square from all over Manhattan to partake, if they're sturdy enough to brave Mutant Town at night. After twilight, the park and surrounding areas are home to drug-fueled parties and violence in almost equal measure.

It is a winter evening. The weather is cold and snowing.

Talya is full Russian today, in her fur-collared coat worthy of a tsarina, but she's walking, making footprints in the snow, with her attention turned inward. Rather than playing with her illusions, she's thinking something out with more pacing distance than one can get inside, it seems. Her hood's down, so red strands of hair play over the lighter fur of her coat.

It's not quite dark out yet, but Ian is rushing against the shadows as he hurries through the park with a bagpack slung over one shoulder. He gets distracted here and there. It's snowing. There is a little bit of magic in that, even if the park isn't the best place to watch it for long. The snow flakes leave a freckled path on his green overcoat, while his tennis shoes crunch as he hurries along. Although distracted, it is hard to miss Talya in her tsarina gear. "Hey," he greets with the flicker of a smile.

It takes Talya a beat to shake herself out of her introspection, but then she smiles in pleased surprise. "Hey," she agrees, and adjusts her path to converge with his. "Been a while. Since the Christmas party--?" Her cheer dries up into embarrassment as she remembers that party.

Ian's smile lingers as he pauses in the snow, his hands hooked in his jacket pockets out of consideration for the cold. "It has, yeah." His cheer lingers, settling easily on his features as he shifts some of his weight back on his better leg. "How've you been? Did you have a nice holiday?"

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"Well." Talya brushes at her hair, which also hides her face for a minute, not that you can't tell she's still a little embarrassed. "The answer to that is kind of complicated. How about you? Any simpler?"

"Much simpler. The holiday was nice but my family was way overprotective," Ian answers with a good-natured shrug of his shoulders. Getting shot will do that. "I think I got to fetch my own drinks once, which worked out with the crutches."

Talya eyes him, clearly looking for signs of what necessitated the crutches. "What happened to get you hurt?" she asks, then shakes her head. "Sorry, guess I've been a bit out of the loop."

"Oh. Sorry, I thought it was common X-Factor gossip," Ian offers apologetically, lifting a hand to scratch at the back of his head. There is a scuff of his sneakers in the snow as he glances at the sky. "The Russians happened. They're locked up now." So, you know. All is well.

"Right!" Talya stuffs her own hands in her coat pockets. "Are you cold?" She's apparently not changing the subject, just edging up to it, though. "You probably heard about the dragon and all that."

"Yeah." Sneakers crunching in the snow, Ian shifts from foot to foot to try and keep the soles of his feet from becoming popsicles. "A bit. I'm just about to get on that, spring can't come fast enough train even if it is gorgeous out." A flare of a smile crosses his lips as he tips his head up to look at the falling snow. "Oh right. Yeah. Kade said it barbequed the Pony? Or that he did. Bad business all around. That was a bit of your thing, wasn't it?"

"Yeah." A teeny dragon trundles across the snow and breathes flames near Ian's feet. He feels warmer! "I think the actual fire was Kade. The dragon must have been me. I mean, obviously it was me, it was from my realm, but I think it was feeding off my illusions." She looks up at the snow, apparently trying to appreciate it in light of his enjoyment.

The tiny dragon causes Ian to jump as it breathes flames near his feet, uttering a delighted, "Oh shit!" Hello dragon. He does feel warmer, although his feet stomp this time out of fiery precautions. "I forgot you can do that." He offers with a wave of his hand at the baby dragon. "He is kind of hot." Kade. "So that seems likely."

"I do it more than I should," Talya admits, and completely fails to stop doing it, especially keeping the temperature better for Ian. "Guess he is," she says, with nonchalance that's a little studied. "Not quite my type." She watches Ian carefully after trailing off. Is he Ian's?

"What? Illusions? I can see why you might. It's pretty cool among the mutations," Ian says, bending down to get a better look at the little dragon. He's never seen a dragon up close. "What's not?" He wonders, glances up at Talya. "Do you prefer it cooler?"

Talya takes a page from Orianne's playbook and the dragon will put its feet up on Ian's knee. They feel just like little feets! "I am Russian," she points out in a very thick accent. "Don't you know we birth all babies on plains in Siberia?"

The sensation of feet against his knee draws a warm laugh, Ian's expression brightening with a smile that extends towards Talya. Little feets! "Well, that doesn't sound made up or anything..." He teases, dragging out the words. "Or like a good way to get hypothermia."

As the dragon makes a teeny little roar, the sensation of the little feets disappears. "I was born upstate," Talya admits with a laugh. "If not for my realm, I wouldn't be nearly the Russian maiden. Though I raised to a toddler in another realm, and that's /really/ fucked up, so."

"Ah, so you really are from the far and frozen north," Ian replies with a grin, standing back up slowly. "Yeah... that's not a traditional childhood at least. Seems like you can be any kind of maiden you want, really?"

"Well, according to the original definition of maiden..." Talya grins. "Ship has sailed." The dragon, ignored for the moment, fades away. "I feel bad keeping you standing here, you want to go get coffee?"

Shaking his head with a smile, Ian says, "Definitions change. That one is way past due." It's positively musty. "It's not a big deal. I'm just on my way home." He shrugs his shoulders in an amiable way, before nodding. "But sure."

"Or, I mean," Talya tips her head in the direction of his original path. "We could also just keep walking." She smiles, awkward. "Whatever." In Siberia they don't teach their babies how to flirt either. She still start walking to illustrate what she means. "Where's your family? Around here?"

"Well, I don't mean to keep you either," Ian reminds with a smile. "You looked like a woman on a mission when I ran into you." There was a certain focus to her stride. Shifting his backback on his shoulder, he joins her in walking and shakes his head at the question. "Probably best to start heading out of the park at least. And nah. My sister is in town, but the rest of them are out in Conneticut. How about you?"

"Figuring out a design thing for the non-mutant job." Talya skips lightly over the details so conveniently none are gotten wrong. "Mom's in her realm, Dad's an asshole." Talya's smile flickers for a moment, but returns without too much trouble. She waves a hand to dismiss him. "Speaking of mission, I probably should be taking on more, around X-Factor."

"Cool. That sounds like a fun job." There's a nod for her cool job, that he really knows nothing about. "Sorry. I didn't mean to bring up anything uncomfortable," Ian offers, catching that flickering of her smile despite the dismissal. "Are they /missions/?" He wonders dryly. "Isn't it like mostly pick up jobs and kind of dangerous forays?"

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"At least you don't remind me of my father's morality like this chick I met the other day," Talya says, more less reassuringly. She leans in, hand cupped to the side of her mouth in the signal for a secret. "It sounds cooler if you call them missions. Don't you want to be a doctor to people who go on missions? You have a named billing in the credits of the movie."

That statement gets a blink. Ian is silent for a long moment as his brain tries to wrap around that previous conversation to no avail. He opts to let it be. His confusion is swiftly replaced with laughter as Talya gestures with secrecy. "Nah. I'm just a nurse anyways. You'd have to grab Doctor Rutledge if you wanted the name billing for the credits," he admits cheerfully. "I can do some very autoritative tool handing, according to cinema."

"Unless you're a love interest," Talya points out, and lets that stand, to see what he'll do with it.

"Then I get two lines and an epic death," Ian counters, green eyes bright as he flashes a grin at her. "How about you? Where are you at in the great movie mission?"

"Don't know." Talya resettles her hands in her pockets, shoots him a sideways glance, then relaxes a notch more to joke properly. "'Spose I'm the creepy martial arts chick who knows too much but isn't the hero. I am good with a sword." She flushes. Whoops. Double entendre.

"Very marketable skill swords, at least for movies," Ian offers, noting the flush to her cheeks but kindly sliding over it. "Knowing too much is probably more useful though? You just need a moment to put it to good use."

Talya touches her hip, but of course she's not wearing it around the city. "Only if I know it about useful things. Not sure any of our current jobs are really in my domains." She reaches out to lightly shove his shoulder. "Come on, don't you want to at least be the unlikely hero?"

A sword would draw a lot of attention even in Mutant Town. "Eh. You never know?" Ian isn't on any of those job boards. He chuckles at the light shove to his shoulder, lifting it defensively. Hey now. "Honestly?" He says, a smile lingering on his mouth. "Not even remotely. I'm not the hero type." Obviously, his gesturing hand towards himself seems to suggest.

"I think that's kind of..." Talya thinks about it for a while. "Kind of restful. Attractive. You know?"

"Yeah?" It's Ian's turn to turn a bit pink and bashful. "Trying to set yourself up like a hero seems like too much for me. I'm more like, I will do the right thing when I can. That's it."

"Then you're a real hero instead of a movie one." Talya's smile turns lopsided. "The movie heros, and sidekicks for that matter, are all saddled with the angsty backstory. That's what I can't away from."

"Nah," Ian says, even as he grins. His brow lift defensively for a moment before he blows out a sigh that sounds more like a laugh. "I'd argue I have an angsty backstory. I ran over a bird once... but I felt awful for like two weeks about it."

"What kind of bird?" Talya asks. "Crows are kind of fuckers."

"Crows are great! Aren't they like super smart?" Ian argues for the sake of crows. He sobers after a moment. "It was a pigeon."

"The smartness is what makes them fuckers. Ravens at least have a bit of a long-term plan, so they screw with you less on a daily basis." Talya coughs. "That, uh, probably doesn't apply to this world, so ignore me. At least you know there were plenty more where that flying rat came from?"

"Uh..." Pausing for a moment he shakes his head. "No. I think they only mess with birds and shiny things, but I'd have to ask my sister. She'd know," Ian offers sounding a little baffled by her vehemence. He winces at the followup. "Doesn't matter if there were more. Life is a life. Not that I'm like intense about it, but I do try to remove spiders from the house."

"So much for the tour of my realm I was going to offer," Talya says, half teasing, half not. "If it figured you out, the poor kits would be toast." She looks at her feet, nudges a chunk of snow on her next step. "Your sister knows birds?"

"Kits? Like foxes?" Ian wonders with a lift of his brows and a gesture of his hands. "It does that? Tries to torment the people who enter it? That's... kind of dick move." Way to be realm. "Why do you go back so much if so?" A sincere kind of wonder phrases his question, green eyes focused on her even as her head dips to look down. "My sister knows all animals. It's kind of her gift. Animal empathy."

"Oh, she'd like the kits, then." Talya laughs, delighted by the idea. "Yeah, there's a litter that always seems to find me and follow me around." She takes a deep breath be for admitting to something it seems like she probably hadn't said to many people, if any. "Because if you fight through what it throws at you, there's such /beauty/...and /meaning/. Like it's a story, instead of just one damn thing after another like real life." She draws a breath, frowns. "How did you guess I go there all the time?"

"Probably. Although I think she'd try to smuggle one home so you might want to reconsider that idea," Ian suggests with a grin. "I am already living with her raccoon." God help him. He is silent and attentive as she explains, nodding his head in understanding. "I can see the appeal in that," he offers softly. "It's just... the way you talk about it with permanence. It's real to you. As real as New York, if not more so."

"Nothing can leave my realm, so you're safe from talking foxes," Talya says. She looks quietly impressed, though it takes her a moment to come out with why. "You're very perceptive."

"They talk too?" Thank god, Ian's expression seems to suggest. "Bad enough the raccoon is almost playing checkers," he murmurs to himself, staring down at the snow on the sidewalk. It is given a bit of a giddy kick. Talya's words draw his gaze back up towards her, accompanied by a smile a beat later. "Sometimes." He shrugs.

"Man, I have to meet this raccoon," Talya declares. "Sometime." She slows, looking around to where her path must diverge from his, because she stops.

"You might want to give her a few weeks. He's still eating the pieces." Ian shakes his head. Stupid Raccoon. Ian stops as Talya does, glancing towards the split in the paths. "You going to be okay walking back by yourself?" He checks, offering accompaniment if she needs it or wants it.

"I should be asking you that." Talya actually scuffs a toe, but that's only because she has snow on her boots. "Unless you want to. I don't object."

"What is it that people don't believe I can make it home?" Ian wonders, brows rising for a moment. "Nah. If you're good, I am not going to make you. You be safe though and have a good night."

"Because you're a nice guy," Talya says. She lifts fingertips in a wave before turning to go. "See you again soon, I hope?"

"Yeah. See you around." Her wave is answered by an enthusiastic one, before Ian disappears into the shadows of the park towards the Avenue B apartments.

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