|Off the Beaten Path|
|Location||Midtown - NYC|
|Summary||Ciel shows Kade some New York City locales outside the usual tourist traps.|
| The beating heart of Manhattan, Midtown attracts locals and tourists alike. The buildings here stretch skywards with insatiable yearning, sketching out the silhouette of New York's famous skyline. It is a modern vision in light and glass. Several buildings are outlined in eye-catching neon, and nearly every tall surface is decorated with moving billboards several stories tall. Constantly-changing tickers keep interested parties updated on the latest stocks and news and baseball scores. Generic storefronts shout their wares at tourists with Eye-catching holographs, and the tourists respond in droves.
Everything in midtown is crowded; the streets and sidewalks pulse with activity, making it impossible not to jostle or be jostled. Even the air above is often gridlocked with aircars making their way through the spaces between buildings in three different levels of regulated airways. The exhaust gives the streets below a misty feel, particularly in the very early mornings. The very rich can catch private taxies or limos from seventy stories up, escaping the mad crush of the mundane humanity below.|
| It is a winter evening. The weather is cool and flurrying.|
Kade is still a relative newcomer to New York City and, though he'd probably deny the urge to be a tourist, he is often taken by a wide-eyed urge to see unexplored corners of the place. Even - and sometimes especially - parts of it that are picture post-card cliches. It's this urge that's brought him to Midtown with Ciel tonight. He's a couple hours off work - still wearing his Queens Center Mall security uniform, though his jacket is buttoned up to hide it as best he can - and is wondering Midtown with his arm around her waist. While she shows him the sights.
"And here," Ciel says, dry but clearly amused as she leans into Kade's heat, "is Times Square, which no one in their right mind /ever/ comes to if they can help it even a tiny little bit." She's dressed warm against the cold and snow, with a knit cap pulled down over her ears, but she's not going to waste an excuse to snuggle up close. She tips her head back to regard one of the neon flashing billboards. "Although it's not quite as bad at night. All tourists, mind, but at least the people who have to work down here are mostly gone."
Kade grins, a touch abashed. "I've been to Times Square," he admits. "My first month here. I bought a shirt. It was at night, at least. I don't think I've ever seen that much neon in my life. Even in downtown LA. That city's about as big, but it sprawls more. Everybody's packed on top of each other here." It's not a complaint. From his tone, he kind of digs it. His eyes follow hers, up to the billboard, and he tips his head back. Like he's trying to soak up the artificial light.
"If you really want to see the cool stuff," Ciel says, turning her head to watch Kade in profile rather than the billboards, "you need to cheat." She grins, cocky, and squeezes her hand at his opposite hip. "Everyone gets these sights. You can see them all over the 'net."
"Cheat, huh?" Kade says slyly, responding to the squeeze by pitching his head down from bathing in the electric light and over to look at her. "I am intrigued. Show me how to color outside the neon lines, Kane." He chuckles. "I've tried to get past the guide book stuff, but there's just so much of it. And all of it's different. I'm even starting to like parts of Mutant Town." Parts of it.
Ciel grins, pushing up just slightly to close the distance between them for a brief kiss. "How far outside the lines do you wanna go?" she checks. "I mean. There's-- off the beaten path. And then there's /my/ beaten path."
"Mmmm." Kade holds the kiss a beat, brows arching at her when they break. Curious, eyes bright with enthusiasm. "Oh, that sounds promising. I mean...I want to see cool stuff! Pretty much anything. And, I want to see the parts of this place you love." Though he adds, "If you want to keep some for yourself, though, I will not press. Everybody needs their own little spots to escape to."
"I'm not worried about you stealing my spaces, Ember," Ciel answers on a quiet laugh, and whether that's sweet or cocky isn't quite clear. Either way, she drops her hand to twist in his and turns, tugging him out of the bright crowdedness of Times Square. There aren't many places here where one can find solitude, but there are less-busy bits of alleys and doorways, and she steps into one of these before casting her gaze upward to grab line of sight atop a billboard. And then a portal opens, and she tugs him through.
"Ha-ha!" Kade's laugh is thrilled as Ciel takes him on his unexpected adventure. Albeit one that probably won't contain explosions. He follows her without questioning, responding to her tugging through the portal without even really checking to see where she's going to drop him. He trusts her to plant him on relatively solid ground.
The end up on the catwalk behind the boardwalk, after a very short fall. It's windier up here, and thus colder, and the breeze plucks at the end of her scarf. "Always up, when you can," she tells Kade, twisting him around to peer down at the streets below. "Everything looks different."
"Whoa!" Kade holds onto her tighter during the fall, short as it is. It's followed by a softer "Whoa..." as he takes in the view. The aura of neon from up top, and the thousands of cars and millions of people moving among the lights of New York below it. It's a minute before he says anything else, just taking it all in. His arm stays around her, and there's a slight uptick in warmth that indicates he's generating his own portable heater.
"I'll save the really tall stuff for warmer days," Ciel says, looping her arm around his waist again because he's warm, and because she can. Her voice is quieter up here, away from the crowds and the sound of traffic, although they're not so high that they miss the humming buzz of air cars. "But I can show you my favorite place in the city, if you want." She tilts her head up rather than down, checking angles. "Might take a bit of doing from here."
Kade 's blue eyes try to follow Ciel's. Though they're also still trying to drink in the view of the cityscape below them, and periodically flit up as the air cars go by overhead. He wants to see /everything/. "If you want to," he says, that thrill still in his voice, though he tries to rein it back a little. "I don't want to invade your place. But..." But he wants to see!
"Kade." Ciel says his name with laughter, a warm amusement that settles into something more serious as she turns into him. "You're not invading. I'm inviting you." Her arm lingers at his waist, burrowing close.
"Well. In that case." Kade gives her a little nudge with his hip. Though he's happy to keep her tucked close to him, as long as she wants. Then, soft, leaning down to whisper in her ear, past the strands of her dark hair, "Show me."
Ciel shivers a little at his breath, and it has nothing to do with the cold chill of the February wind. She lingers for a moment, then twists away in silence to cast her gaze upward. What follows is a series of portals that take them higher and higher, edging west and north. She doesn't pause long in any one location - it's too damned cold for that. The last, though, opens inside a window, and when they step through, they find themselves inside a penthouse perched on the top of a too-high building in the Upper West Side. The front is convenient glass from floor to ceiling, and the furnishings inside are sleekly modern with that 'no one actually lives here' feel. The darkness inside gives a similar suggestion.
Kade keeps hold of Ciel's hand as he follows her through that series of doors in the air, eyes bright with anticipation. He doesn't know what precisely to expect. And it's definitely not where he finds himself. He lets out a long, low whistle under his breath, pivoting on his heel to get a full look of the place. There's a trace of tension about his shoulders, as he feels out whether this place /is/ truly empty or not. But, also, that air of excitement. "Where are we?"
"As far as I can tell?" Ciel says, grinning as she tugs him forward toward the windows. The view is kind of ridiculous, all twinkling city lights and the dark spread of Central Park in the distance. "The penthouse of a guy who has dozens of them across the world. I'm pretty sure he's some big wig in Chinese business. I've seen this place occupied exactly once."
"If I had a place like this I would never leave," Kade says wry, strolling over to the window with her, to look down on the even wider expanse of New York than he could see from their previous perch. Another whistle escapes his lips, as an air car flies past the building. Far below them. "How'd you find this?"
"I spent a lot of time avoiding a lot of things, when I first got here," Ciel answers, her voice quiet and hushed in the darkness. Her eyes linger on the view below, impressive no matter how many times she's seen it. "And not giving a shit about things I probably should have. I used to just-- hop. I don't know. I guess I was hoping one day I'd open a portal and something worthwhile would be on the other side."
Kade's arm wraps around her shoulders as she talks, though his eyes focus on the view as well. "Well. This is definitely a worthwhile spot to see. Thank you. For this. For...letting me see this. With you." He spends a second searching for more words. But they elude him. So he angles over to kiss her, longer this time than the brief ones they shared closer to the ground.
Ciel turns into him, tilting her head back to meet his kiss with an eagerness that's a little desperate and a lot clingy. It doesn't last quite as long as he might like before she's pulling back, looking up at him with a drawn hesitation before she asks, "What was all that about, down there? The-- not wanting to intrude and invade and-- all that shit?"
Kade's own kisses are rarely short on earnest pursuit of affection, and an eagerness to please. He's needier than he'd probably admit, for all his sometimes brash confidence. His lips to chase hers when she pulls back, like he /did/ want to hold that longer. "Huh?" It takes his brain a second to re-jigger itself. And, even then, he doesn't seem quite sure how to answer. Or, how to put what he wants to say into words. "I just...I don't know. You've been in this city longer than me. And I know you've got...I mean, we both have stuff we don't want to talk about from the last five years..." A lot of it not really New York-based, not that he says that. "...I sometimes wonder if...it's been awhile since I've been with anybody like this. I don't want to come off, like, super-intense too soon, you know?"
"You're saving all the super-intense for another month or so?" Ciel answers. Her tease is weak, and so is her smile. Her hands flatten against his chest, then curl into the fabric of his coat. Her smile fades after a moment, and her gaze drops to her hands against his chest. "Do you?" she asks quietly. "Or are you just being nice because of India?"
"I'm being nice because I like you. I /hope/ I'm nice, at least" Kade says, leaning into her, both hands coming up to caress her shoulders. As for India. There's another beat of silence before he replies. "I wonder about it sometimes. I felt like I was wondering around in the wilderness for years, after things broke apart with X-Force. I think we all did. We just...wondered to different places."
That earns the quick twitch of a smile, and Ciel stretches up to steal another kiss, short and sweet, before she slides free of his grasp. She works her scarf free, then shrugs out of her jacket, clearly intending to stay awhile, though she leaves her hat in place. She drops down onto the sleek leather of the couch, settling in the middle so that, wherever Kade chooses, she's right next to him. And she doesn't say anything.
Kade settles in next to Ciel companionably, cuddling up beside her. There's a moment of strangeness - this pent house belongs to a stranger, after all, even an absentee one - but it fades as he settles next to her. Or he simply gives himself over to it. "You /do/ have to tell me if I'm being too...I don't know. Like we talked about before, it doesn't /feel/ like we've been doing this for...what, six weeks? Seven? But then, we /have/. So, if I ever do anything that, like, freaks you out, just let me know." Pause. He almost sounds like he's winding himself up to something. And then he says, "I told my kid we were dating."
Ciel leans into him, tucking her feet up on the couch as she settles into place. She straightens back up in surprise at the last, turning her head to look over at him. "You did?" she says. "Is that--" She breaks off, her brows drawing down as she tries to work out exactly what she wants to ask. Eventually she says, "How'd that go?"
"I don't know? Fine?" Kade shrugs. "Sierra and I have been split since Nina was like two. I don't even think she remembers when we were together. We've both had our share of significant others over the years." That was probably meant to be reassuring. Who knows if it was, though. "I usually wait until a solid two months in before doing that, but she kind of trapped me." Frown. "I think she was trying to get me to stop asking her about the guys at her school."
"Sneaky," Ciel says. She watches him a beat longer, her smile slight, and then settles back in to tip her head against his shoulder. "Six weeks is almost like two months," she adds, jokingly dismissive before she asks, quieter, "You mean it doesn't feel like six weeks because-- it feels like less, or more?"
"Kind of both, I guess," Kade says, like he's trying to work through this feeling himself. Now outloud. "Like, we've known each other for, what? Fifteen years? Maybe more than that, give or take some time in the wilderness. And other times I'm like...I'll see something I never saw out of you before. And I like it. But...it's intense sometimes. Does that make any sense?"
Ciel turns a smile into the curve of his shoulder, ducking just a little before she lifts her head again. "Pretty much exactly," she agrees. "I um. I kind of said the same thing to Lexie the other day," she admits.
"Oh." This serves to relax Kade a little, and make him laugh. Mostly at himself. "Well. We're in it together, at least. Whatever it is right now." His tone is warm, and he reflects on the 'whatever' that is them at the moment. He likes it. His own eyes rove up, and around the beautiful and empty space. "You think this guy has, like, security cameras or anything?" Speculative.
"No, I checked," Ciel tells him promptly, clearly a little put out that he'd have to /ask/. She twists her head to look at him, and before she can change her mind, says, "I'm glad. I was maybe a little afraid that it was-- um. Mostly me."
"I'm just making sure," Kade says to Ciel, mollifying. He doesn't want to put her out /too/ much just now. As he speculates on the possibilities of this big space for the two of them. "Nah. Not just you." He leans over, to kiss the top of her head. "Thanks for showing me you're favorite place. This is beautiful."
Ciel's smile is quick and warm as she ducks her head into his kiss, then drops her cheek to his shoulder again. "I'm glad you like it," she says. "I haven't been up in a while. I used to come all the time. Not just for the view. Also the quiet, and the distance." A beat, and then she adds, "And the bathtub. He's got a jacuzzi bath."
"Oh my God...!" is Kade's response to the jacuzzi. He beams. "At the risk of ruining the quiet. You, uh, want to fool around in that?"
Ciel breaks into quiet laughter turned into the line of his neck. "Mmmhm," she says, her lips pressing warm against his skin. "I stashed bubble bath in his cupboard once. Bet it's still there.""Let's check!" Kade says, all of eagerness, hopping off the couch. He will follow where Ciel leads. With or without portals.