Life Is Like A Hurricane

Cast: date: 'October 7, 2012'
place: 'Regent''s Park'
participants: 'Cedric, Lex, Mattie, Yuki'
synopsis: 'Ducks attack, one man screams a lot, and two people are introduced to a modicum of safety.'
log: "Regent's Park. Open parkland, a giant lake, and gardens…out of which wanders Yuki. Despite having a nice place to sleep the night before last, Yuki had spent last night out again. The gardens of Regent Park had given her a little cover, and it shows she did sleep in cover. Though she's clean enough herself after a dip in the lake, her clothing still has a few stains here and there from laying on the open ground. Even as the wind blows, Yuki gives no sign of shivering or being cold at all. If anything, she seems to be watching what people are around. Anyone eating, anyone throwing food away. What she might scavenge for lunch before heading to a public washroom to take care of her clothing.\n\nSpeaking of sleeping, it's finally safe to do so. Lex, his clothing still smelling of smoke and burned wood for some reason, is curled up in a ball next to a fountain, wedged into the bushes surrounding it because, face it, they're safe. His body's had it; he couldn't stay up any longer, and when a 'safe' spot finally presented itself, he passed right out. Of course, just because his body can't or won't keep going doesn't mean /he/ is out cold and suffering its nightmares - the body can lay around and rest while he occupies a flock of ducks swimming in surprisingly orderly formation in the lake. They are even now waddling onto land to beg bread off the bird feeders seated on the morning benches.\n\nOne of the people seated on those benches isn't exactly feeding the birds. A duffel bag thrown casually on the ground next to him, Cedric is sprawled back on one end of the bench, casually watching the ducks sailing across the lake. His right hand is splinted fingertips to wrist and resting on his lap, a cigarette in his other hand. Lines that speak of short sleep curve under his eyes, and he yawns once before pulling on the fag and flicking the ash away. \n\nBeing this far from where she lives, where she works and the other place she works means that Mattie is working — on something, though it's hard to tell what. Though at the moment she's apparently taking a break as she wanders into this area of the park with a coffee and a pastie from Paddington station, and looking for a place to sit and eat it. \n\nHer green-eyed gaze alights on Cedric and she moves that way, though she takes in the rest of her surroundings, noticing there's someone in the bench amidst the bushes and then glancing at the grass-stained woman emerging from another bit of foliage. \"You're not sleeping in the park these days are you?\" she asks Cedric as she casts a shadow upon his bench.\n\nIt's not hard to find occupied benches. The good kind. Well-traveled means well-used, and lots of people will enjoy lunch there. Yuki starts towards one of the occupied benches. A handsome man, a pretty girl. More importantly, the trashcan nearby. She slows her pace, pretending not to watch as someone else entirely walks past, depositing a half-eaten wrapped-up sandwich, though once they pass she resumes her casual walking pace, moving a bit behind the can, trying to mask her motions as she fishes it out. Still fresh, still wrapped. The best kind of trash one can repurpose. Tossing the wrapper away again, Yuki takes a bite of what appears to be half a coldcut sub, resuming her pace towards the bench, looking set to walk right past it.\n\nThe ducks, adamant about food, pause in their march along the beach - there are ten of them and they seem to be arranged pyramid-style, one in front, two behind him, three behind those, four behind those. Lex probably has no idea how strange that looks. All ten ducks turn their heads to eye Cedric at once - and then come ten firmly disapproving loud quacks… before the ducks waddle on, break formation, and fall upon the feast of bread the person one bench down is handing out. Om nom nom.\n\nStill Lex's body remains tucked under a bush by the fountain, all curled up and hidden save for the smell of smoke.\n\n\"Nah, safehouse.\" Cedric looks up at a familiar voice, and pulls on the fag again before breathing out. Other than a few bits of flaking skin on his hand and the splinted hand, he seems quite all right. \"Had to get out for a bit, Regal's orders.\" Flick flick. He's definitely relaxed enough. \n\nHe's about to say more when he notices the curious formation of the ducks waddling across the land. He falls silent, his eyes narrowing at that, but he says nothing. \n\n\"Good advice. You look better.\" Mattie's not the most eloquent when it comes to compliments, but she too is distracted by the ducks, raising a brow as they seem to chastise Cedric. \"What'd you do to piss them off? Anti-tobacco lobbying ducks, are they?\" she quips, though apparently she doesn't chalk it up to anything too serious. \n\nThe girl prowling around trash cans and eating from them draws her attention again, and she grimaces. \"Here,\" she calls, her American tones cutting through the quiet ambience of the park, louder than the ducks' quacks. \"I haven't had any yet.\" The meat pastie in its foil wrapped bag is unopened; the coffee cup still sports the little green plug to keep the contents from spilling on her walk to the park.\n\nYuki barely swallows the first bite of the perfectly good, almost wasted, sandwich when the girl on the bench calls out to her. Looking at the offered items, Yuki offers a warm smile, raising her free hand and waving it a bit, \"Thanks, but I'm good. I don' need much 'ere, an' I won' take w'at someone is still usin' either,\" she says, rejecting the offer but trying to be gracious about it, punctuating the ordeal with another bite before offering a courteous bow to both the benchwarmers.\n\nLooking around, lest her gaze be drawn to the handsome besplinted gentleman, she eyes those noisy ducks, starting to follow after them to see where they're going. Not that she's about to try and feed them herself, but the behavior is certainly odd, if comical.\n\nPecking continues randomly here, randomly there - until all ducks decide at once, suddenly, to look up sharply. A bespectacled older man is poking Lex's body with a cane. \"Here!\" he says sharply, \"are you dead or what?\" He sounds affronted by the very idea and not serious in the slightest. All ten ducks promptly take off in that direction, flapping and quacking, a ferocious team of bodyguards for the sleeping Lex. So far, they seem oblivious to the rest of the world.\n\nThe quip gets a quiet, low laugh from Cedric. \"Thanks. Maybe they think I'm on fire.\" His voice is a rough, deep baritone, and he watches the ducks for a minute longer. Mattie's gesture and the response from Yuki finally draws his attention away, though, and slowly, it dawns on him just what her situation is — \n\n—just as she walks away, following the ducks. \"Oi,\" he calls quietly to Yuki. \"You all right? It's bloody cold out.\" He sits upright, with a glance at Mattie. \"You're not sleeping out here, are you?\" The kerfuffle with the ducks gets only a brief glance, but he's keeping at least half an eye on it.\n\nThe man with the cane catches Mattie's attention, the word 'dead' piquing her interest. \"It's warm,\" she calls to the girl, but shrugs and sets the mug and bag down on Cedric's bench in order to go join the ducks in the pilgrimage to Lex's body. \n\nShe doesn't run, but does move swiftly, in case those ducks are attacking the cane bearing man. \"Everything okay here?\" she says loudly, trying to startle away the feathered bodyguards.\n\nWhat would give anyone the idea she was sleeping out here? Aside from the brown and green stains on her white shirt and faded jeans, anyways. Well, that actually might be strong evidence. So when Cedric calls out his concerns, she stops following the ducks, turning just in time to get an eyefull of Mattie as she briskly moves past. Yuki turns back around, tilting her head, watching the woman off with a happy smile. Beauty is in the eye, and all that.\n\nBut it is a passing distraction, and she looks back to Cedric, walking his way, \"I don' mind th' cold so much,\" she answers, looking at the bench and taking a seat, purposefully staying away from the woman's belongings. No need to go and get herself burned or anything. Looking back to the woman and ducks as they approached the caned man, she still speaks to Cedric, \"I wasn' sleepin' out 'ere, no. Was over at th' gardens by St. John's Lodge.\"\n\nQuack quackquack WACK WACK-WACK-QUACK flapflutterflapflap, and the pedestrian with the cane stumbles quickly back. \"You're on your own, mate! Be careful, miss!\" and he hurries away, flinging back nervous looks as all ten ducks open their beaks and hiss at him. Duck-hissing is a terrifying sight, if one has not seen it. Then they're turning on Mattie purposefully. All ten of them waddle swiftly to get between the body and the woman, flapping and quacking threateningly. The entire lot of them don't look the least bit scared of a human being so far.\n\n\"That's no place to sleep.\" Better than Regent's Park, but not by much. Cedric frowns at Yuki, considering her with concerned dark eyes. He takes another drag off the fag and breathes out, courteously away from Yuki, and is about to say more when the duck brigade does its collective nut, and goes after Mattie. He half-stands, about to go over there, then looks at Yuki. \"Do the ducks here always go after people?\" \n\nSuch chivalry! Mattie gives the old man a nod. When the ducks turn on her, she stands her ground, hands up for a moment as if to say she surrenders. \"S'okay, Huey, Dewey and Louie.\" And Donald and Scrooge, Darkwing and Wildwing, and whatever other Disney ducks come to mind. \"I'm not going to hurt you.\" \n\nShe takes a step back to give weight to her words, but at the same time, tilts her head to study the man on the bench. It's a long look, and then her head lowers in a decisive nod, body language for Cedric across the way if he's looking in this direction. Confirmation of an unspoken question. \"How do I wake you so you can call off your little army, I wonder,\" she breathes just for Lex's — or the duck squad's — ears. Another step backward is taken, the ducks watched for their reaction.\n\nThe obvious hostility on the ducks' collective faces turns into intelligent-seeming confusion. They pause their hissing advance, heads popping up, and all turn their heads to give Mattie the /eye/. \"Wack wack?\" says the leader. One of the other birds shivers violetly, feathers going completely fluffed and then flat, as Lex realizes ducks can't /talk/. That particular duck waddles over and pokes the man asleep in the bushes with its beak. NUDGE.\n\nLex sits bolt upright with a short, sharp cry, whirls, and shoves himself deeper into the shrubs. \"Who are you? What do you want?\" And the rest is Cantonese. It should be noted that his accent is surprisingly British, for someone who speaks so fluently in another, presumably native tongue.\n\nYuki shrugs a bit, watching the scene unfolding with the ducks as she takes another bite of her sandwich. There wasn't much to begin with, and it's down to the last little bit now. \"A bit 'ard to sleep anyw'ere else when you can't hold a job,\" she reasons aloud, looking back at Cedric, apparently not nearly as concerned about the ducks as the others. Not to say she's not concerned, but they're hardly the strangest things around. \"Not usually, no. Jus' if their wee ones are bothered. But I don' spend all my time here, so w'at do I know?\" she asks, glancing back to the scene, \"I jus' come here for th' pretty sights an' the restful nights.\"\n\n\"Right,\" Cedric answers musingly, but there's a note of skepticism in it. His eyes as he speak are more on Mattie, having caught the glance; if she's looking, he simply nods back at her, a mute acknowledgement. He seems content to let her handle whatever it is, though, instead leaning back against the back of the bench. He still lets the splinted hand rest on his knee, the other handling the cigarette, from which he takes a deeper drag, releases the smoke, and takes another deep breath. \"So how come you can't hold down a job? There's loads of different jobs out there.\" The question is not without compassion, more … curious. \n\nThe duck's odd behavior watched with a curious, but not terribly afraid expression, Mattie lifts those hands again in the tacit surrender when Lex bolts awake. \"Relax. Hi. You go to sleep in public places, people are going to check on you to make sure you're not dead sometimes. Your little quack team here were acting a bit strange and were about to peck a poor old guy to death, so I came over to check things out,\" the American redhead explains. \n\nShe turns to look at the ducks for a moment, and then back at Lex. \"Are you okay? Do you need a place to stay that's safer?\"\n\nAs Cedric talks, Yuki pushes the last of the sandwich between her lips, chewing and swallowing. Once he asks her about her difficulty, she leans forward, resting elbows on knees, shoulder slumping, and eyes looking down at the ground. She takes a deep breath, then raises her head and looks back at him, \"Uneducated, actually…mos' jobs look for skills I don' 'ave. Math, or science, or a tolerance for th' 'eat in a kitchen…so I took up recyclin' instead,\" she answers, trying to put a positive-sounding spin on her garbage-scavenging act. \"They don' wan' it, so I put it t' proper use.\"\n\nThe ducks, having been released, have resumed actual duck-like behavior - pecking about, waddling swiftly away from humans, and even wandering back towards the lake or into the fountain.\n\nLex, shoved into a bush, has not resumed /his/ proper behavior. There are deep circles under his eyes and the smell of smoke in his clothes. He's silent, the Cantonese rant cut off, for several long moments… then he rasps in English at Mattie, \"Who are you?\" He's not quite ready to come out, but it does seem like maybe this particular stranger knows what's going on.\n\n\"Duck telepathy? That's a new one on me. We have a chick who talks to crows, though,\" Mattie says casually, as if such things were completely mundane and ordinary. \"My name's Mattie. Birds aren't my thing. Are you all right? We have places that people like you and me can stay, if you don't have anything better to go. You know there are others like you, right? That you're not alone? People who've been through similar things.\" She takes a breath, shoving her hands into her pockets now that he doesn't seem ready to lash out at her physically. \"Like me.\"\n\nOther than the occasional glance at Mattie to make sure she's all right, Cedric doesn't pay the scene in the bushes any mind. Instead, he remains focused on Yuki, listening carefully as she explains. The explanation draws him to lean forward, elbows on his knees, flicking the ash again. \"Uneducated, huh? Never finished school?\" Concern laces the quiet, rough words. \"You ever want to? Can you make change?\" \n\nYuki looks down again, wiping her hands, clearing away and crumbs that may be left over from the sandwich, \"Well, never went, t' be honest. Not that I c'n remember anyways,\" she answers, still facing the ground, practically staring between her feet, \"I know I can talk, read, count…b't that's it. I don' know who taught me, or w'en they taught me,\" she turns her head, looking back at Cedric, her smile, warm and friendly up to that point, is gone, \"It's all lost in bad mem'ries an' evil dreams. All I know, I read in libr'ries. An' 'sides that,\" she smiles again, looking back towards the American woman, \"…I can't prove my identity, so I can't get an I.D. to get a 'good' job an'ways.\"\n\nSlow blinking commences, and Lex finally slithers a bit out of the shrub. It's probably safe out there, it's daylight, right? \"Is there somewhere I can sleep? Where It won't get me?\" He can worry about the rest of it when he's slept and is sane - assuming he survives the nap. Wary attention roams over Mattie, searching, curious - and then jolts violently, straight back into the bush, back shoved to the fountain. He's just had his first real sight of another Touched, and he looks too terrified to scream.\n\nBad memories and evil dreams. It takes a few moments of processing for Cedric to cotton on to what Yuki is saying. Something isn't right. \"Never had school at all?\" He stops short, eyes narrowing, and takes advantage of her looking away to study her closely, the scrutiny disguised by a concerned silence, still leaning elbows on knees. \n\nShit. Mattie takes a step back when Lex disappears into the shrub again, his recoil making her flinch a little, her head dropping so that her long red hair falls forward to shield her face a little. \"You're new…\" she breathes out and crouches down, as if speaking to a small child — he's hardly that, but it also puts her in a less threatening position. \"I only look… you only see me like that when you look closely like that, because you can. Because you're like me. We've been through the same sort of bad things, evil things that most people haven't. We come out changed. You can … you can talk to ducks, I guess?\" There's a bit of doubt in her voice about just what his ability is. \"I can be sort of like a ghost. Disappear. Walk through walls. Be see through. That's… I guess that's why I look how I do. I'm sorry I scared you. When you look in a reflection, you'll see yourself differently too. Though,\" she warns suddenly, \"I wouldn't do it unless you're somewhere you won't make people nervous. I can take you somewhere. What's your name?\" Her words come fast and soft, as if she's afraid he'll bolt before she can explain things.\n\nYuki shakes her head, raising up a little bit, though her forearms still rest on her knees. She takes a deep breath, watching the commotion with the woman and the other vagrant before she turns her gaze back to Cedric. \"None at all. W'en they rozzers picked me up they couldn' find any family…an' I decided to leave before they gave me to anyone else,\" she explains, staring into Cedric's eyes, \"Been on my own my whole life 'til then…been on my own since.\"\n\nThere was a pretty good chance, before that speech, those careful words, the knowing and gentle calm, that Lex would indeed have bolted. He's trapped in his spot, though, and there's time for Mattie to say what she needs to say. Lex drags in a deep, shaky breath and just… shuts his eyes. \"I'm Lex.\" His voice is hoarse. \"I can… take over things. People. Animals.\" There. He manages to try moving forward again, sliding out of the bush, but he's still got his eyes closed. \"You… make more sense than my nightmares. I guess if you're going to kill me… maybe I'll finally get some sleep.\" It's as good a reason for trusting people as any. One hand swipes out to catch Mattie's arm and Lex heaves himself up unsteadily, eyes still shut. He might still bolt. It's a possibility. But… for now his grip's pretty tight, and he seems to be about as calm as can reasonably be expected for someone who seems to have gotten out pretty damn recently.\n\nIt's not until she looks at him that Cedric responds or moves from his study of Yuki, but when she does, he freezes and jerks his eyes away by main force. His Adam's apple bobs for a moment, and he draws in a deep breath, then sits up and takes a big, long drag off his cigarette. \"Right,\" he mutters to himself. Another long drag. \"On your own, maybe … but I know other people in your shoes. You ever talked to anyone else about this?\" The quiet, rough voice is hoarse, and he shoots another glance over in Mattie's direction, hoping to catch her eye. \n\nAs she's used for leverage, Mattie stands still, trusting Lex not to harm her or possess her, though her brows lift at those words. \"Small world. I can too. But not animals. That explains the ducks then,\" she says with a smile. She glances over to Cedric, and the exchange that takes place is enough to let her know there are four Touched in the park. \"We have places you can stay and catch up on sleep. No one will hurt you and then we can see where to go from there.\" \n\nShe heads to the other bench, a smile for Yuki. \"It's apparently a party in the park today. Hi, I'm Mattie Dahl,\" she says, offering a hand to Yuki, apparently not worried about the dirty state of the other young woman. \"We'll tell you about our little group once we're somewhere a little more quiet.\"\n\nYuki smiles taking the offered hand and shaking it. Her clothing may be dirty, but she at least looks clean. Or at least like she's rinsed in the nearby lake. Her eyes shift from the American, to Lex, to Cedric again, \"Yuki Winterbourne,\" she introduces. An Asian-ish girl with an English surname. Half-and-half, and apparently not the only one of -those- in the park either, by the look of Lex. \"So…\" she focuses on Cedric again, \"…someplace safe? Please tell me it's not warm.\" \n\nLex, head down, eyes still shut, ends up where Mattie puts him. He's still /seeing/ things, sort of, but in terms of his ability, which means the two in front of him are quite bright and glowy. It beats looking and accidentally seeing monsters, though. \"I need to sleep. I can't sleep.\" He actually shivers sharply for no obvious reason, attention wandering this way and that - he seems to be noticing anytime anyone walks the sidewalk over there and comes too close.\n\nThe young man with the cigarette that Mattie steers Lex to looks up as the pair approaches. Cedric drags again on it, finishing the cigarette and breathing out slowly before crushing it out and graciously placing the butt in a nearby dustbin. He says nothing until that is done and he's picked up the duffel bag at his feet. He does not offer either of them a hand, but that might be explained by the splint and wrappings that encase most of his right hand from fingertips to past the wrist, that he keeps tucked close to him. \n\nFinally, he's done that, and he studies both of them with an open and quiet gaze. \"Doesn't have to be warm if you don't want it, and yeah, you'll be able to sleep where we're going.\" The voice is a quiet, rough baritone with a definite London accent. \n\nHe introduces himself along the way as Cedric Moseley, and makes small, mundane talk along the way, but seems to steer clear of any talk about their mutual experiences until he's led them up to a small apartment above a ramshackle pub, turned on a small window air conditioner, and pointed Lex at an overstuffed sofa with several blankets folded on the back of it. Closing the door firmly, he drops the duffel bag where it will conveniently tie up and block the door if anyone attempts to open it from the outside. To that, he adds a deadbolt and a chain, checks to make sure the windows are shut. It's not precisely cold in here, but neither is it warm, and it will get colder. \"Right then,\" he says. \"You can sleep here. Like Dahl said, there's others like you, and there's a group of us who maintain these to help out folks like the two of you.\" Although it's rough, it's not without sympathy.\n\nHere's Lex, finally looking around, though not directly at either of them, and apparently he's decided to trust them. The stolen, singed coat he was wearing gets shoved off and dumped at the end of the couch where its scent won't kill anyone, then he unbuttons his collar, tugs off the bright red tie underneath it, flings that down, and sets about shedding the shirt he's pretty much worn for as long as he was in the Gloom. It's not bad, actually, almost none the worse for the wear. Then, just like that, Lex throws himself down on the sofa in business pants and kicks off his shoes, yanking the blankets over himself. It's daytime, he's going to sleep while he's got the chance, and no one is going to stop him. Extra blankets get dragged on lest he get frozen in Yuki's strange low-temperature preferences. It all ends up pulled right over his head, and then… silence.\n\nYuki manages to keep quiet on the journey in, her attention distracted by this and that. An odd shape in the clouds, or a glance down an alley or sidestreet. Like she's watching for something or someone. Or maybe she's just making note of the odd landmark or three incase she ever needs to find her way back. But for all that, she doesn't exactly cast any looks to the names of streets, or to the name of the pub Cedric takes them too. Stepping into the room, she immediately takes on an uncomfortable look, folding her arms and running her hands up and down along the exposed skin, at least until it actually starts to cool down properly. \"So…\" she starts, watching Lex as he makes his way right to the couch before covering up, smiling a bit as she looks back at Cedric, \"…There a sink or somethin' in 'ere I can wash up with?\" she asks, before nodding and actually responding to what he says, \"I've figured as much…s'pose I've always known I wasn' th' only one who lived in that place…\"\n\n\"Reckon there's a shower or something in the washroom you can use,\" Cedric answers, nodding towards a small door at the back of the apartment. He remains quiet and reserved while Yuki gets herself together, and seems perfectly content to wait while she washes up. If she uses the indicated shower, she will find him when she is done, sitting in a nearby recliner, an iPad on his lap, using it left-handed with a quiet focus. He doesn't seem especially bothered by the chill, for himself, beneath the hoodie, although he does seem to have produced an extra shirt beneath it from somewhere. \n\nYuki doesn't seem to turn the shower on or anything. It's the sink she starts running. Slipping out of her and grabbing some soap, she puts in a bit of extra elbow grease with the scrubbing to try and make up for the different in water temperature. An uphill battle, surely, but not entirely impossible. She's only gone for a few minutes before she walks back in with her shirt soaking wet, but rinsed free of soap and looking considerably cleaner save for the odd stain or two that cold water just can't get out. Bra aside, there's no modesty to the girl, no indication that she cares in the least to leave her shirt hanging off the air conditioner to blowdry. \"Should be right as rain soon,\" she concludes, looking back at Cedric, \"So tell me…who are you people? I didn' know there was some group like me or anythin' like that…\"\n\nSuddenly, that iPad in Cedric's lap is about to come in very, very handy. The sight of Yuki so clad - or unclad, depending on your perspective - gives him a definite surprise, and draws his attention. He draws a deep breath, his Adam's apple bobbing. \"Right. You want something dry to wear?\" Adroitly, he slides the iPad over the middle of his lap, secured where he can see it against the edge of his hoodie. \"There's … well, not loads, but more folks like you than any of us would like,\" he explains. Right. Focus. Topic change. Don't look. \"We can spot one another, if we look close. There's some of us who try to help out people like you, who need it.\" Another pause. \"How long have you been living like this?\"\n\nYuki shrugs her shoulders as she finds herself a chair to sit down, \"I s'pose if there's anythin' that'll fit,\" she accepts, but rather than dive right in to finding anything, she pursues the topic of conversation at hand, \"It 'as to be a touch over over four years now, ever since I came back,\" she answers with a nod, then she giggles a little bit, \"I'll never forget th' look on the man's face w'en he saw me…naked, frigh'ened, panickin' there in th' road…an' 'e looked ready to 'ave a 'eart attack after almos' runnin' me over…an' I was jus'…happy. T' see another person like me,\" she says, her voice drifting a little bit, sounding almost wistful. \"This whole world is still new to me…\"\n\nCarefully not looking, Cedric gets up at once and moves over to his duffel bag, rooting through it. It's a bit of a difficult job, his right hand tucked up to his chest, but he manages it, producing a T-shirt that will be too big for her but has a pair of Japanese characters writ large on the front of it. \"Here,\" he says roughly, carefully not looking her way while he offers it to her. \"Whole world is new to you? How long were you in there, anyroad?\" That makes him look up just briefly, apparently surprised. \n\nYuki catches the shirt, kicking off her shoes as she looks at it, front and back, studying it properly before slipping it on, \"Any pants by chance?\" she asks, sitting back down before he can answer, adjusting the shirt a little for her own comfort before she actually answers him, \"I was…five w'en I went in, an' I was…\" she trails off, doing a little mental math on that before continuing, \"…ah…seventeen when I came out, or so the bobbies tol' me,\" she admits, shoulders slumping down a little, \"That's…twelve years. An' is why I never went to school proper.\"\n\n\"Not that will fit you.\" Nonetheless, Cedric roots through the bag and pulls out a pair of sweatpants that will be very loose on her but that she might be able to cinch tightly enough to wear. These he offers to her before answering her other comment. The clothes, much like him, smell of cigarette smoke, suggesting a fairly heavy smoker. \n\n\"Longer than most,\" he acknowledges quietly. \"And you've been out four years? Living like that?\" He lets out a low whistle as he makes his way back to his chair and pulls the iPad back into his lap. Now that she has pulled on the shirt, he looks up at her again, open sympathy in his expression. \"You've done amazingly well. Have you handled money at all?\"\n\nShe nods her head, kicking her shoes a bit to the side as she catches the pants, standing right up and tugging her's down. She pushes them aside, then slides on the sweatpants. Thanks to the oversized shirt, her modesty is well enough preserved, and after just a moment of pulling the waist in she sits down, acting much as though nothing had just happened.\n\n\"Yeah, like this,\" Yuki says, leaning back comfortably in the seat, crossing her legs, \"I've 'andled a bit of money, sometimes someone'll offer an odd job or somethin' easy, simple. Like 'andin' out flyers for a day, or a little yardwork. An' sometimes I jus' find money layin' 'round. People drop it all th' time…y'jus' need to look down a more often,\" she explains. She takes a deep breath, and finally she cuts to the heart of the thing, \"So…w'at is it you do? I've only met a 'andful of people…but I know we're not th' same…\"\n\nCourteously, Cedric looks away as Yuki strips in front of him, remaining seated with the iPad in his lap while she does so. Only when the sound indicates that she is done does he look up, and settle back into the chair, resting the wrapped hand on his knee again. He's treating it gingerly, but makes no comment about it. \"No, we're not,\" he agrees. \"Yeah, I've been there too. Don't remember much; reckon that's for the best. Mattie and I are part of a group that dedicates itself to helping out people like you, among other things. Don't usually find two at once,\" he adds, flicking a look to the sleeping Lex, \"but it happens, I suppose. He's not alone in looking for a safe place to sleep. Loads of the Touched … that's what we call people like us … have trouble sleeping. Nightmares and all that rot.\" \n\nHe lets out a breath, eyes still on Yuki. \"We also work against the Gloom and its agents when we find them … and try to keep normal folks from finding out about it. There'd be panic if normal folks knew.\"\n\nYuki shrugs her shoulders a little, \"So's that w'at's called then? The Gloom?\" I jus' always called it creepy-crawly spider place,\" she admits, letting out a bit of a shiver as she remembers. \"I wish I could forget it, but they haunt me…\" she continues, leaning over and reaching down to pull up the left leg of her pants, raising her leg to show off her numerous scars. Or she would be showing them off. Any light seems to diminish them to looking like perfectly flawless skin, only showing the truth in darkness, \"They almos' got me when I went in…an' I spent my life runnin' from them. Hidin' in the coldest places I could find…until…\" she trails off, cupping her hands and raising them to her face. She takes a deep breath, breathing out into them. Though normally the moisture in the air would cause condensation from extra-warm breath, the reverse also seems to happen, and when Yuki lowers her hand, there are a large number of shimmering, if absurdly small, frost crystals in her palms. \"I caught a 'Touch' of the cold, I s'pose.\"\n\nCedric seems content to simply listen and let Yuki do most of the talking, sitting as he is in the recliner, but he watches her closely, expression studiously neutral and maybe even a little closed. \"No two people see it quite the same, and no two people come out the same,\" he explains in a low voice. \"It changes everyone it touches … almost like it marks them.\" \n\nThe scars, though, draw his attention, and he frowns at them, peering as they fall into shadow. \"So your powers are related to cold, are they? Can't tolerate warmth?\" Again, the question is quiet, rough. \"How does it work?\"\n\nShe shakes her head, lowering the pant leg again and sitting back, \"It's not jus' an intolerance. What mos' people call room temperature…I call uncomfortable,\" Yuki clarifies, \"An' what mos' people call hot..I call burning. An' that's w'at 'appens. Burns, blisters, pain. Jus' my skin though…my 'air is fine, or inside my mouth…so I can eat hot food, but it's 'ard to do,\" she further explains of the problem, before actually explaining anything further about her abilities.\n\nHer smile returns, and she uncrosses her legs, crossing them back opposite, \"It's all 'bout th' cold. I lower temperatures. With direct contact, I c'n even…what's the phrase…flash-freeze,\" she says, \"I 'ave some control over it…can just numb some pain, or cause a bit of frostbite. An' I can jump aroun' in the cold too…but it makes me bleedin' dizzy.\"\n\n\"No!\" yells the man on the couch, and then comes the violent struggle upwards through clinging blankets as Lex scrambles for fresh air and the bracing cold hits him. He freezes, panting, attention sweeping the room, wide eyes not quite hitting anyone - until, of course, they land on Yuki. Staaaare. \"Who are you?\" He's never actually looked at her. Give him a few moments of staring before the real image hits… and this time, he actually screams. At least it's not horribly loud?\n\n\"Huh.\" Cedric seems to take the explanation in stride, as if such a requirement isn't all that unusual. He does lift his free hand and scratch at his head before answering, though. \"Jump around? Jump around how?\" The question, though, is barely out of his mouth before Lex wakes up and screams, and he looks up. \"Oi,\" he calls quietly. \"Nobody here's going to hurt you, mate.\" Quiet, calm, and as even as he can make it. He sets aside the iPad and stands up, jaw set and expression closed, walking towards the sofa. \"Just a second, Yuki,\" he adds, making to sit down at the foot end of the sofa. \"She's in a similar way to you, mate,\" he explains, taking a deep breath, his expression opening into sympathy and concern as he relaxes himself.\n\nYuki has her mouth open, ready to either explain or demonstrate, perhaps both, before Lex starts his tirade of fear. She casts him a concerned glance, but she does not answer his questions. Not while he seems to be in little enough of a place to listen, anyways. \"You take care of the poor sod, I'll jus' go clean th' steves,\" she offers, leaving Cedric to take care of him for the moment as she grabs up her jeans and returns to the washroom. The sink is on again, and she busies herself with cleaning them, same as her shirt before.\n\nIt really is going to get old if Lex keeps looking at people and screaming, but… he /did/ just wake up after a nightmare, and for a moment had no idea where the heck he was, so perhaps he can be forgiven - assuming he doesn't lose it at Cedric right there, whose face flickers to something unspeakable when he looks. Lex clamps his eyes shut and yanks the blankets close, curled up, defensive… and lets out a sharp, raw sound that's followed by breath deliberately exhaled. \"Who are you people.\" His eyes stay shut while he gets a handle on the real world - this particular world is so much better than that of his nightmares. \"I don't remember your names. I remember Mattie, where's Mattie?\" Then one eye cracks cautiously open and he adds to the torrent of English words with, \"Wait, you're Cedric. Who's she?\" He's not yet looking in Yuki's direction, but if he keeps one eye open long enough, he might manage it sooner or later. Nevertheless, a finger pokes unerringly towards Yuki to indicate who he's talking about.\n\nThere's a flash of /something/ across Cedric's face, but he doesn't move, instead carefully folding his arms across his chest in such a way as to rest the splinted hand on his bicep as he studies Lex intently. The look he wears is somewhere between sympathy and reserve, but he makes no effort to move, either closer or away. \"Steady on, mate. Yeah, I'm Cedric. Mattie's my colleague, and that's Yuki. Mattie had to go to work, so she asked me to explain to you lot. Like I said, she's in the same position you are. You're safe, and you're among friends, right?\" \n\nYuki is gone a bit longer than last time. The pants are that much harder to clean, after all, and it gives Cedric and Lex their time to calm down and catch things up. When she walks back out of the washroom, Yuki is carrying a folded over pair of wet jeans. Walking to the air conditioner, she pulls down the shirt she'd hung up earlier and lays the pants on instead. As they unfold, a couple of other items falls out as well, wet and cleaned unmentionables, which Yuki lays up right beside the jeans while laying her shirt out elsewhere to finish drying. \"All done, then,\" she says, speaking for her own handiwork, before looking back at the guys, \"Now…w'at were we talkin' 'bout?\"\n\n\"Yuki. Right. Yuki Winterbourne.\" Lex had his eyes closed when they were first introduced. The other eye works open cautiously and he looks over towards Yuki as she emerges. \"I'm sorry. I thought I was still There.\" It's not polite to scream at people. He fires Cedric a quick glance, then shuts his eyes and puts his hands over them so he won't be tempted to look. \"I'm done making noise.\" Probably. \"It's okay. It's all gonna be fine.\" He frees one hand to drag the blankets tighter around himself. \"I didn't mean to interrupt.\"\n\n\"No worries, mate,\" Cedric shrugs a dismissive shoulder. \"Reckon you're pretty rattled. How long since you got out of there, anyroad?\" As Yuki comes back, he watches her intently for a minute, with mingled interest, appreciation, and thought, before tearing himself back to Lex. \"Might not want to look for those reflections yet,\" he advises in a low voice. \"No sense scarin' the piss out of yourself if you don't have to.\" The advice is delivered gently, despite the edge underneath the baritone voice.\n\n\"Reflections?\" Yuki asks, settling back down in her own seat, turned a bit to face the others. Seems she hasn't quite picked up on that yet. Or, given her situation, hasn't know anything was off. \"I think I'm done with th' washroom for now…all my clothes are clean…so soon's they're done dryin' I'll get yours back to you, Mr. Moseley,\" she offers. Looking at Lex, she tilts her head just a bit, \"So you dream of it too? I s'pose we all do then. Even th' few others I met seemed to…\"\n\nLex collapses back down onto the pillows and pulls the blankets up to his chin, daring to open his eyes again. \"It's been three days. Maybe four, I don't know. Time is… strange. I can't tell how many times I've lost time sitting on a bench waiting for the sun to rise. It might be longer.\" Not looking seems like a great idea. He proceeds to not look at either of them.\n\nSilence from the end of the sofa. Cedric's thoughts are his own, but he's not looking at Lex either, and there's tension in his shoulders. After a moment, he looks up and over at Yuki. \"You looked in a mirror at all? Do so and you'll see what I mean. That's how you know who the Gloom has hit — they won't all look the same, but they won't look right. You can see it without a mirror, if you look hard, but most of us don't do that without a good reason.\" \n\nHe allows the silence to hang for a moment before looking back at Lex. \"Know how that goes,\" he admits quietly. \"You're not alone, not hardly. That's why we brought you here, so you could talk openly and there's no chance of us being hunted down. You probably ought to sleep here while you can … looks as if you could use the rest.\" \n\nYuki shrugs, \"It's me in th' mirror,\" she answers, drawing her legs up onto the seat and hugging them. \"It's th' only me I've ever known,\" she adds. That bit of silence otherwise is deafening, though, her eyes looking to Lex, or at least where he's covered up and avoiding looking at them, \"Sorry if we've scared you,\" she offers, as if she could do a lot to have helped the matter, \"…But 'least we're not spiders…\"\n\nFull-body shudder commences. Lex rolls over and turns his back on the room, tugging the blankets mostly over his face. Sleep sounds safe and good. He's nowhere near caught up on it, and his eyes are already closing. \"Thanks,\" mumbles the man, and then comes silence. He's probably passed right out.\n\nCedric waits for a moment as Lex rolls back over, and nods to himself. Although he says nothing, his expression as he looks at the moment and his body language speak volumes about compassion and appreciation for where the Asian man is coming from. His thoughts, though, he keeps to himself, and once the man is clearly asleep, he stands slowly. \"He'll likely sleep a good bit,\" he explains to Yuki. \"Reckon he hasn't slept since he got out. Might be hallucinating to boot. He'll do loads better once he's slept.\" \n\nThat done, he moves to settle back into the recliner. \"Don't worry about the clothes, I'll get them later. Normal people who haven't been Touched by the Gloom don't have reflections like that, Yuki. They just look like themselves. It's only those like us as look different.\" \n\nA nod of understanding, and Yuki casts the sleeping Lex a soft smile, before turning her eyes back to Cedric, hugging her legs just a little bit tighter, \"Then I s'pose I don' really know w'at it is I really look like,\" she admits, leaning forward and resting her chin against her knees, her feet twisting inward just a little, enough to brush the larger toes up and down against one another, \"Was there anythin' else you wanted t' know? I've got a queer feelin' th't there's more than meets the eyes 'ere.\"\n\n\"Yeah,\" Cedric answers quietly, although he watches Yuki intently for several moments before saying more. \"You said you were going to show me about jumping around?\" he prompts gently. \"Want to see what you know already before telling you more,\" he explains in a low voice. \"You just saw what happens when you give too much information too fast, right enough. Wouldn't want to frighten you, and that's easy to do.\" Maybe that explains the reserve he's been displaying for much of the conversation.\n\nYuki nods slowly, then gives a cursory glance around the room, still rubbing her toes together. Then, she's simply gone, vanished from the seat. Well, not gone really, just now she's a few feet away, near the door. After a second, she falls down on her knees, eyes closing and a hand moving to her stomach, \"Augh…that never gets any easier,\" she laments, sounding for a moment as though she may just lose that sandwich from earlier. After a little bit to collect herself, though, she stands right back up, walking slowly over to the chair and sitting back down, leaning forward on her knees again, \"That…but only in th' cold…and only short distance. If I can't see it clearly, I can't go there,\" she explains. In four years, it does seem she's had some time to adjust to her powers. \"Also, I don' slip on ice like other people…or 'least not w'en I'm barefoot. An' I don' stick to it either. But that's 'bout it…comes in 'andy' in the winter.\"\n\nAs Yuki simply vanishes and reappears, Cedric starts abruptly, half-rising from his chair. He puts both hands down, and his face screws up in pain as he puts weight on it. Instead of swearing, though, he bites down on it and stands up, dropping the iPad into the chair and going to help the woman up. Before he can get to her, though, she helps herself up, leaving him to only offer a hand. \"All right there? Sorry, didn't realize it was that bad.\" Concern writes itself across the man's face, and he pauses just a few feet away. \"Right, looks like you've got a good enough handle there. Yeah, we help folks like you … but the Gloom has got agents of its own, and they hunt us. We look for 'em, and stop 'em where we can.\" He tucks the splinted hand close to him. \"The tricky part is doing it without getting noticed by the normals.\" He nods to the sleeping Lex. \"Normals panic even worse.\"\n\nYuki nods in understanding, and by the time she looks back at Cedric from Lex, she seems past the apparent nausea her little jump brought about. \"I know 'bout them…I see things, 'ear things…if I stay 'n one place too long,\" she says, sighing a little bit, \"One of my problems with settlin' 'as been jus' that. I know it, the Gloom, hunts me…it wan's me back…wan's to feed me t' th' spiders,\" she shivers again. Clearly not at all related to the cold, \"So…so I don' stay 'n any one spot more th'n a day or two.\"\n\n\"Yeah.\" Cedric's response is quiet, and not immediate. \"You're not alone in that either. That's what these safehouses are all about. Gloom doesn't know about them. You're welcome to stay here, or I can find you another if you'd rather not share.\" He watches Yuki shiver for a moment, hesitating, suddenly uncertain, then stands up and moves over to her. \"Don't have to run anymore, got me?\" Another hesitation, a few feet away. \"There's safety in numbers.\" \n\nYuki nods her head, looking up at him, smiling just a little bit, \"S'pose it's nice knowin' there's a lot more th'n jus' me an' the 'andful I've met,\" she admits, letting out a little laugh, though it does sound a bit forced. She watches him as he moves closer, just giving him that smile, as warm and inviting as could probably be expected from her, \"If I'm safe 'ere then…I don' know. I've never 'ad the luxury, you know?\" she asks, looking down at her feet, \"I'd like…t' give it a try. Sleep on an actual pillow, 'elp my fellows, maybe even properly earn a meal or two.\"\n\n\"At that, Cedric draws a deep breath … and turns toward the kitchen. \"Can you write at all? 'Fraid I can't, not with this,\" he raises the splinted hand as if it explains everything. A moment of rummaging around in a few of the drawers in the meager kitchen produces a short, stubby pencil and a pad of paper that looks like it was stolen from a hotel room or something. This he lays out on the kitchen counter, then turns again to grab his iPad from the chair. \"If you're keen to help out … you know how to use a telephone, yeah?\" Left-handed, he taps several times on the tablet, bringing up some sort of notepad. The particular screen he brings up has a phone number written on it, with no indication of what it is or what it is for. \n\nYuki nods at the question, standing up and following Cedric into the kitchen, \"I 'ad to teach myself, but I c'n write fair enough,\" she says, moving up to the counter and taking the pencil and paper he's produced, but when he asks about the phone, \"…Yeah, somew'at anyways. I don' exactly get a lot of practice…but I'm sure I can learn,\" she admits, trying to sound positive about it anyways. She leans over, glancing at the screen and the number on it, eyeing it for a moment before tapping the paper with the pencil, looking up at Cedric, \"Should I write th' number down? Or was you wantin' me to talk to someone first?\"\n\nNow that he's got it up, Cedric just nods. \"Sleep on it for a bit, and if you still want to do it , call this number and leave a message on voicemail with your name and phone number to reach you,\" he explains. \"Not my place to bring you in, but that will let the right people know you're interested, all right?\" He steps aside so she can write it down, but doesn't step too far away, watching while she writes it down. \"Got that? S'easy enough.\" \n\nHe waits until she is done, then reaches out a tentative hand to cover hers with it, if she'll let him, his touch warm. \"You're not alone, all right? Reckon you'll be all right staying with him?\" He jerks his head at the sleeping Lex.\n\nYuki looks at the number, then back at Cedric, folding the paper up, \"I don' 'ave a phone though. If I ever 'ad t' make a call, I jus' asked 'round the shops if any of 'em minded me usin' theirs,\" she says. Being homeless and perpetually broke does carry that slight disadvantage, after all. Looking back at Lex, Yuki nods and laughs just a little bit, \"I'll be fine…it takes a special sort of pervert to get 'is jollies feelin' up an icebox…never met a man quite up t' the challenge,\" she says, before shrugging her shoulders and looking down, \"Not th't I know w'at the challenge is…jus' somethin' I'd read.\"\n\n\"Should be all right. We know how to make sommat look normal,\" Cedric explains, letting his hand fall away at the rest of her words. He hesitates a moment, just watching her. \"Anyone ever actually tried?\" he asks in a low voice, this time concerned. A girl like that, alone on the streets….\n\nYuki shakes her head at that, before tilting it a little, her arms crossing as her brow furrows in thought…then she finally nods, and laughs a little bit, \"They've tried…but…\" she reaches out with one hand, pressing it against the back of Cedric's cheek. She is, in to say the least, cold as ice, \"That's all of me…\" she says, drawing her hand back, the back of her head a bit red like she'd just given herself a mild little sunburn, \"If they wan' t' grab a feel, it's worth the laugh t' watch 'em dance a screamin' jig.\" Considering her hand was only mildly cold, it sounds like she can manage worse.\n\nThat sort of chill is enough to stop a man cold, right enough, and Cedric is no different. He withdraws at the ice-cold touch, dropping hi hand to his side, and nods once. \"Right then.\" Ay such didn't last long, and well he knows it. He says nothing beyond that, though, returning his iPad to the duffel bag and closing it up again. \"Glad for that. There're some right arseholes out there who'll try to use you.\" Curiously, he seems relieved by something, and courteously maintains a respectful distance from her. \"Give that lot a ring if you're so inclined. They'll work out what needs to be done and tell you more, wot?\""

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