|2046-09-15 Volleyball Assault|
|Location||Riverside Park - Upper West Side|
|Summary||Alistair claims Irene assaulted him with a volleyball. Irene begs to differe.|
| Riverside Park offers a narrow four miles of waterfront paths and green space along the Hudson River. The six-lane boulevard cutting through the park is one of Manhattan's most scenic drives, and the airway above it has become an extremely popular tourist route for its spectacular views of both the Manhattan skyline and the river below.
Like many of New York's parks, Riverside offers tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts, kept in good shape. It has become one of the most popular destinations for teenagers on wheels; what was once a skate park has been expanded, and viral videos of teens performing outrageous stunts on bikes or skates or boards in Riverside have become nearly commonplace. In the summer, Riverside hosts events ranging from children's fairs with facepainting and puppets to outdoor movies.|
| It is a summer night. The weather is cool and overcast.|
It's a busy park almost no matter the time of day, due to the view of the river and the well-kept facilities. Most of the occupants are teenagers hanging around for one reason or another and joggers getting their exercise in with a view, but there's also what appears to be a couple of pick-up basketball games happening and one volleyball game that's broken up recently. Most of the players have grabbed the waters and bags and head off in the direction of transportation, but a couple people linger a little longer, chatting before ultimately breaking apart.
Irene is standing near the court, bouncing a volleyball occasionally up in the air while she checks messages on her Eyes. Mostly she has control of the ball, but then she hits it just a little too hard and it flies up and downwards again well out of her reach.
Alistair is not playing anything. It's probably beneath his dignity. (Although one never knows, perhaps he's a closet beach volleyball player). He is, however, strolling through the park, along the water, his expression thoughtful. That is, until he is hit in the shoulder with an errant volleyball. Whack.
He blinks, picks it up, and eyes said ball with a quizzical expression as if asking it why it dares to exist.
"Sorry-" Begins an apology, if not an explanation, a moment after Alistair picks up the ball. Irene jogs in the direction of he ball, ponytail swinging as she goes, looking just a bit flushed and smiling a little. She pulls up short when she recognizes Alistair, some of the warmth visibly going out of her--though this does make her more familiar, not less. "Sorry. That's mine." Her t-shirt proclaims she is a Bronx Bronco complete with a cartoon horse kicking a volleyball.
Alistair opens his mouth to respond, but apparently is distracted. First, by recognizing Irene. Secondly, by her shirt. His gaze goes to right to her chest, and, for a moment, he openly stares. Almost certainly at the cartoon horse. With the volleyball. He regroups, clears his throat, and lifts the ball (and his eyes). "This is yours, I assume."
Almost certainly at the cartoon horse. But there's really no time when someone staring openly at your chest isn't going to provoke some sort of response. Irene's brows go up a little and she points out dryly, "There isn't a lot to look at, there." Very busty, she is not. The cartoon horse is a little spectacular in it's way though, even if one could never hit a volleyball like that. "Yes. It is."
Alistair keeps his blue gaze firmly on Irene's face. On her FACE. "I was simply marvelling at the athleticism of cartoon equines," he says dryly. He makes no move to return the volleyball, just yet. "Perhaps you should be more careful at not ambushing random passers-by. I do think I will probably recover."
Whether Irene believes him or not, it's difficult to tell, but after a moment she stops arching her brows at him. "You need to get out more, then," she replies, apparently not finding much marvel in cartoon equines. "An accident isn't an ambush."
"Ah," replies Alistair. "But it sounds ever so much more exciting than an accident." For a moment the corner of his mouth twitches upward. Briefly. He tosses the ball in an easy lob toward her, and adds, "I assume, then, that you play volleyball."
"You're lacking in excitement so much you have to make some up?" Irene questions, without so much as a twitch of her mouth. She catches holds out her hands and catches the volleyball easily then tucks it casually under an arm. "No," she deadpans.
"Mine, alas," replies Alistair, equally deadpan, "is the most boring of lives." One ruddy eyebrow twitches upward. "Ah, I see. You dress up in full volleyball kit, and stand in the park, all for the purposes of assaulting people with volleyballs."
"Yeah, that's the impression I got." That does not get less deadpan. Let the pans live, you two. "I didn't assault you with a volleyball," Irene points out and doesn't address the rest of his theory.
"Accidentally assaulted me with a volleyball?" offers Alistair, eyebrow still raised. It's almost a peace offering. Look, he said 'accidentally.'
"You can't accidentally assault someone," Irene replies, perhaps missing that it was supposed to be a peace offering. "Assault requires intent," she adds, bouncing the volleyball once in her hand. It's a very mild bounce that barely gets up in the air before she catches the ball again.
"I am not well acquitted with your criminal code," says Alistair mildly. "My apologies." His gaze follows the bounce of the volleyball. "Accidentally ambushing people?"
"I wasn't aware yours was so different." Irene bounces her volleyball again, then catches it tucking it back into her elbow. "I don't think that's a thing, either. But we'd just classify 'ambush' under 'assault' again." More or less.
"I didn't spend a great deal of time studying ours either," admits Alistair. He shrugs, lightly, and then puts a hand up to his injured shoulder. So wounded. "Very well, then. Accidentally hitting people with volleyballs."
"I guess you didn't have to." Whatever that means. Irene does not look terrifically sympathetic towards Alistair's 'wounded' shoulder. If anything, she looks mildly exasperated. "I said sorry," she says, like a person who is finding that very underappreciated.
"I accept your apology," replies Alistair, the very picture of graciousness.
Irene looks a little like she's reconsidering assaulting Alistair with the volleyball. "Great."
Alistair glances about, and considers the volleyball. Perhaps he's aware of danger. "So," he says. "how is the volleyball, er, scene in this city? Does everyone wear shirts with cartoon horses on them?"
Irene blinks once, a slight, quizzical line appearing between her brows. "I'm just on a rec league. It's about as mixed a bag as any, I suppose." This is, just maybe, not a thing he is at all familiar with. "Just my team." With the cartoon horses.
"I admit I only really know volleyball as one of those things you are forced into playing in school when you are one of the tallest in your year," says Alistair. "I found ways to escape." A pause. "So...you play for recreation, then." It's possible he is struggling with this concept.
"Here, those are the kids that go into basketball, actually," Irene was of the Tall Ones, of which she is not. At least, not anymore. "I bet," she says, a bit dry. "Well, there's no money in it." So yes, for recreation, presumably.
"I did not imagine that you had a million dollar volleyball contract," Alistair assures her. It's possible that was meant kindly. "I think apparently I have just been thrown by the cartoon horse. My fatal weakness."
Is there a kindly way to mean 'no I didn't think you were a wealthy professional'? "...no," Irene replies simply, expression a little flat. She glances briefly at her shirt, then back at Alistair. "Uh-huh." She does not sound like she much believes that. "Not fatal yet."
"Not yet," agrees Alistair. "I could drop down dead at your feet at any moment, however." He looks to the sky, and admits, "This is a rather silly conversation."
"Please don't," says Irene, though there isn't a lot of feeling in it. "I've gone three months now without having to make a 911 call." It's been nice. Ish. She snorts a short laugh. "Sure. This isn't even in my top one hundred of silly conversations."
"Oh, are we ranking them?" wonders Alistair. "It's probably not in my top one hundred either. A lot of those involved being told exactly what had to be done to paperwork before it would be processed."
"No." Despite what she just said, Irene is not going to be ranking conversations on a silliness scale any further. "That only sounds silly if you aren't actually going to be doing the paperwork."
"Does it?" wonders Alistair. He leans against convenient wall and glances over the water. "Perhaps your paperwork was more sensible than ours, at times. I knew someone who was very particular about how you ticked boxes. No matter how important the rest of the report was."
Irene watches Alistair more than she watches the water. Then again, she's keeping an eye on everything and everyone nearby, in the subtle but persistent way that some service members have. "Doesn't sound like the problem was with the paperwork," she observes.
If Alistair is aware of Irene's watchfulness he gives no sign, gaze still on the river. "Perhaps not." He does glance over the shoulder. "Possibly with the mindset that values the most trivial of rules over, say, the fate of the world."
It's not like her watchfulness is unusual. Although, away from dire space kidnappings and car crashes, maybe it seems so. "At least you didn't have to actually deal with the fate of the world," Irene says, perfectly evenly. You know, at that boring bureaucratic tax job.
"Dealing with the fate of the world sounds very stressful," says Alistair. "Perhaps checkboxes is easier." He's quiet for a moment, glancing away. "Would you rather make decisions about the fate of the world or about checkboxes?"
"I wouldn't know," says Irene without a trace of irony. Perhaps explained a little by how she answers his next question. "It's not my place to make decisions about the fate of the world. I'm just a person."
"It's not an interrogation," says Alistair mildly, almost apologetically. "I was curious." He looks back at her. "But we're all just people. And sometimes somebody has to make the big decisions."
"No, those usually involve small rooms with few exits." Although most of her experience with those is being the one doing the questioning. Irene is silent for a moment, considering him and the comments with an unreadable expression. "Maybe someone like you does. Not someone like me. I'm just a security guard."
"All the better so they don't run away," Alistair says of small rooms. "Or hit you with volleyballs." He turns around, watching her. "We all made important decisions in space. To some degree or another. And you weren't always a security guard." He pauses. "And I wasn't always an infuriating retiree, either."
"It does make questioning difficult." The running away. "Probably not most people's concern." The volleyball. Irene shifts said ball from holding it under one arm to the other. She doesn't really argue with Alistair, but her expression pulls tight into a frown at the mention of space. Not that anyone is listening. Not obviously, anyway. She checked. "I was just trying to keep my team alive," she says, low and carefully. "Even the ones who didn't need as much help," she adds, a bit pointedly. "I'm not sure XFS counts as retired."
"Have you tried questioning someone who's running away?" Alistair's voice is dry. "Most difficult." He adds, in a low voice, "I could be referring to any space." His eyebrows go up at the pointedness in her tone, and he says, mildly, "Would you believe I'm a very fast learner?"
"I usually try to catch them first." Try. Tried. That should probably be past tense. Irene shrugs a shoulder, but her dark eyes are watchful and direct. "I saw what it looked like when people learned things fast," she answers. "I trained them."
"I see," says Alistair simply. He watches her still, blue eyes on hers, face impassive. He is quiet for a long moment, lips pressed together, before he shrugs. "Perhaps I should have shot myself in my foot once or twice, then."
Irene does not shift at all in the space of that silence, showing no visible discomfort with it. "A blighty wound? A bit extreme."
"A mere flesh wound," Alistair replies mildly. "But probably self-defeating in the big scheme of things."
"You'd have to have very good aim to shoot yourself in the foot only a little," Irene points out. Or maybe agrees.
"Or very bad aim, if you're trying to shoot yourself in the foot," parries Alistair. "Or at least that's one explanation. Except for the bit where I was trying to shoot myself in the foot."
"I am suddenly very glad I am only having to deal with this theoretically," Irene dryly notes with a slight shake of her head.
Alistair's lips twitch. It is, for a moment, a smile. "You never know," he says. "I am a cruel man."
"If you shoot yourself in the foot I'm leaving you there," Irene replies flatly. This may be a lie.
"Don't tempt me to test you," replies Alistair. "We might both regret it."
Irene just gives Alistair a flat look. "I think I'll survive."
"I kill other people by shooting myself in the foot all the time," replies Alistair dryly. "It's a very cunning technique."
"Uh-huh," Irene says, not sounding like she believes him.
Alistair lifts his shoulders in a shrug, expression innocent. "I think I shall leave my feet unmangled for the moment, at any rate. It makes walking so much easier."
Irene glances briefly at his unmangled feet, looking unimpressed. "Generally, yeah."
"In any case," says Alistair, taking a step back. "I think I and my unmangled feet should be on our way. I have been threatened with dire consequences if I miss a lavish and uncomfortable dinner."
"Sounds...fun," Irene says, not making it seem like she thinks that sounds very fun at all. She doesn't bother with goodbyes, just takes a few steps back with a tip of her head, then pivots and heads back towards the volleyball court.Alistair inclines his head, and slips off.