1963-07-17 - Every Girl and a Sharp-Dressed Man
Summary: When Louis met Autumn.
Related: None
Theme Song: Stephen - Crossfire
rogue louis 

Columbia University is a bustle of activity on the weekends. The sweeping grandeur of the quad that runs between the faculty buildings is often repurposed at such times. No longer is it the simple thoroughfare used for students to get from Point A to Point B. Instead, at this time with the cajoling of some students and their backer parents, the leadership of the school have allowed a sort of Bohemian affair to come together.

Loosely and informally named 'Circus McGurkus' after the Dr. Seuss book, it's an open air affair for the most part. Several tents have been set up and the breeze off the river provides a nice feeling of a brush of wind that serves to give some element of coolness to the heavy warmth of the day. So many people from so many walks of life are all over the large grass covered areas. There are tents with international foods. There are open areas where people are offering instruction in esoteric fields such as dance, martial arts, yoga, what have you. And there are light-hearted games of chance where people have the chance to win some stuffed animals or the like.

Yet the people visiting this affair are from all walks of life. They are mostly students of the school, to be fair. Though there are children, and tourists, and even some members of the faculty amongst the crowd. One such an individual is Professor Louis King, the new head of the archaeology department and a fellow who has made a bit of a splash with his students and peers. Right now he walks down one of the sidewalk paths, stepping around a street performer who has taken the chance to show off his talents by juggling and walking around on stilts. And, of course, he's still wearing his suit though in a nod to the temperature he has his jacket slung over one shoulder. At times he'll pause and spare a smile for a student, or exchange distant greetings as he passes. But for now his attention wanders, taking in more humanity as a whole… than any one particular individual.


Given the expense of land and space in New York, even now, the quad will never be simply a thoroughfare. Students on shoestring budgets use the green lawns as their living rooms, a substitute of their kitchens or even their bedrooms given the stifling heat of the city in summer. Air conditioning is a precious luxury few can afford, no matter how successful they are in their classes. Instead of open windows, why not hide under an overhang or a shady tree to admire performances infinitely more exciting option to whatever NBC or ABC broadcast. Not that signal around here tends to be reliable or worthwhile anyways.

Wonderful as the Circus McGurkus is, it's not the main reason a redheaded girl in a billowing sunset-orange dress too short by anyone's standards moves among the milling crowds. Her bag pressed to her hip has a spray of peonies poking out, heavy pink blossoms nodding towards the ground. How the serrated petals avoid getting bruised is an eighth wonder of humanity, but has something to do with how the student twists and turns through the masses with a sixth sense for where the next gap opens up. Or it helps she's tall. Taller than most of her feminine peers, aided by a pair of high boots. The other factor lies skin-deep, a habit to avoid. Someone studying her for a while might realize at a subconscious level how little she brushes up against anyone.

Her camera bounces slightly from a strap around her neck, not used for the moment, though the way the redhead — Arabella Telfair Astor, according to her student identification — looks about for a mark worthy of interest gives her away too. A pause next to a tent serving up skewered chicken laden in Middle Eastern spices leads to an exchange of coin and food, a kebab wrapped in a napkin carried away. The path calls again, the liveliness a lure and a torment in the same breath.


And the vibe in the affair is so positive for the most part. The crowd is a living thing and she can almost feel the pulse as she flows along with it. There to the side is a fellow who is preparing some iced dessert as well as drinking from a bottle on occasion, and when he's tipped he lifts his head back and seems to shoot fire from his mouth causing the passersby to laugh or scream and giggle. Over there is a contortionist who is twisting himself into a knot to a few gasps and titters, occasionally accompanied by the clink of offered coins into his cup.

Yet sometimes not everyone goes with the vibe. Sometimes there are those that lash out at the moment, the proximity of people, the open happiness when their disposition is to be otherwise. It's shown when Ms. Astor steps around the corner of a display, perhaps vision obscured partially by a child with a balloon. But suddenly a large man in a brown suit looms large and if she wasn't so mindful of her proximity she'd definitely have run into him. Yet that doesn't stop him from snarling.

"Watch where yer goin', hippie." And with an almost negligent movement he tries to slap that kebab out of her hand even as he strides past her, followed by two other men in suits who seem accustomed to following in his wake.


Excitement lingers in the veins, enthusiasm quick as lightning. A certain sweet taste in the mouth, a heat upon the skin. How can it not be addictive? The redhead stops to nibble on the marinated chunk of chicken before it drips spiced juice onto her fingers, tipping her head just so. She cannot resist a bite, chewing while the fire-eater ignites the crowd's sensibilities. Laughter would be impossible without choking. Verdant eyes spark at the sight, moving on to the next moment. Taking a photo with her hands full would normally be tricky, but Rogue has little trouble transferring her kebab to one hand and raising the camera with the other. A bit of fiddling required to set the lens to the right focus speaks to a good many things, but she can still palm the base of the camera holding onto the skewer.

That is, right up until someone snaps the skewer out of her hand. The frozen glass eye, wide and round, stares at the gentleman in the brown suit, pulled away. Click. Habit pushes her back, two or three steps, and going stock still again.

"Excuse me." New York sophistication blends with the arch grace of the south, Savannah or Charleston. Mild it may be, her voice carries. A pause lasts long enough to take a breath.

"Please keep your hands to yourself."


In the chaos of the moment some people most likely saw the situation, there are a few confused looks, a dirty one or two sent after the man with his two comrades, but a majority of the folk seem to not have noticed or not have cared for whatever reason.

The two men step along after the fellow had slapped the kebab out of her hand. One of them perhaps looks at Rogue but then looks away quickly, probably having gotten used to the behaviour of their boss some time ago. Yet it does leave her there for a time with that feeling of the unjust and the fire of perhaps annoyance? Anger?

The trio of men step on into the crowd and leave her line of sight. But then she'll hear a cleared throat and then perhaps an accent that isn't horribly common. English, assuredly. Cambridge? Definitely upper crust British.

"Mr. Maroni often has the distinction and freedom of being terribly unpleasant."

Should she glance at the speaker she'll see green eyes settled in handsome though angular features with high cheekbones. He's tall, dressed in that light grey suit and offering a mildly embarrassed smile towards her. "But it would be a travesty if you allowed it to ruin your day."

He glances downwards at the forlorn little kebab abandoned upon the ground. "If I may?"

As he says that he steps back and to the side, gesturing with the sweep of one hand towards the kebab vendor, offering to perhaps get her another if she were so inclined.


Breathe in to a count of two. Hold for four. Release for two. Repeat. These rules come almost unbidden to Rogue, the green-eyed look traveling after the self-important, impatient man and his two croneys. Another woman might feign a swoon. A different kind of girl would unleash a harpy's screech and fly into hysterics. Neither are likely to practice the meditative breathing all those pamphlets at the yoga table talk about, much less capture them.

Burning embers of rage die when deprived of oxygen. Breathe in. Quench the irritation. Blow out the stifled smoke. Attaining peace ought to be easy and for some fortunate souls without a malignant deviation in their genetic code, a magma faultline through their being, it is. The young woman reaches down to feel that her precious flowers are not torn or broken, brushing silken against long fingertips stealing around the stems. One in a cluster simply falls apart, dislodged from the central eye, and the stream of petals floating away in a subtle miasma of light scent. They, too, will be bruised by uncaring feet and sandals, tramped into nothing.

In. Out. The dragon's bellows of her lungs turn over the dismay. Gods help anyone who can ever feel the potency of her emotions, for dipping into that wellspring is like aligning five realms atop one another and lancing a single pure bolt of light through them all. The fractal revelations might be disorienting, sublime and horrific.

"And here I thought Italians were supposed to be the epitome of human civilization," she dryly says. "Seems I was thinking two thousand years too late." The compelling presence turns her even against sense, though that subtle angling could almost be construed as defensive. Not quite, but the line of her shoulder against her body is telling. Eyes almost too green to be natural flick upwards in a way said gentleman is probably altogether too familiar with, except her appraisal lacks anything predatory. Rather it probably measures if she's inside his personal space and corrects accordingly. "Giving them the pleasure of darkening my day means they win, and I am not of a mind to surrender my happiness so easily."

Kneeling to pick up the kebab is easy; a fold of a napkin makes the morsel disappear, and she can drop that into a garbage can easily enough. "The way luck is going, maybe another stand. Though you needn't do that for me, sir."


For some reason when she makes that comparison it causes his smile to broaden just a touch, letting it reach his eyes. He replies to her in that easy manner, "Well Western civilization was built on Greek philosophy, and Roman law. Though lately it seems their contribution to society is a smidge lacking…" His eyes trail off after the trio of men though they are assuredly out of view.

He offers his hand to accept the refuse should she so wish, open to throwing it away for her as well, he is a touch old fashioned. This question is asked silently with the quirk of an eyebrow and if she accepts he'll hold the kebab in one hand as they walk, then toss it aside at a suitable receptacle.

"I don't need to, but if you will allow me I want to." There's a pause and then he adds lightly, "And if you'll allow me to indulge, perhaps some baklava." He gestures with a nod down the way. But then his lips part in a small oh, "Oh, do forgive me. My name is King. Professor Louis King. I dislike when some individuals give things I'm connected to a bad name. So trust I am not being entirely altruistic."


For some reason when she makes that comparison it causes his smile to broaden just a touch, letting it reach his eyes. He replies to her in that easy manner, "Well Western civilization was built on Greek philosophy, and Roman law. Though lately it seems their contribution to society is a smidge lacking…" His eyes trail off after the trio of men though they are assuredly out of view.

He offers his hand to accept the refuse should she so wish, open to throwing it away for her as well, he is a touch old fashioned. This question is asked silently with the quirk of an eyebrow and if she accepts he'll hold the kebab in one hand as they walk, then toss it aside at a suitable receptacle.

"I don't need to, but if you will allow me I want to." There's a pause and then he adds lightly, "And if you'll allow me to indulge, perhaps some baklava." He gestures with a nod down the way. But then his lips part in a small oh, "Oh, do forgive me. My name is King. Professor Louis King. I dislike when some individuals give things I'm connected to a bad name. So trust I am not being entirely altruistic."

As he makes that introduction, curiously enough he does not offer to shake her hand or the like. Instead he seems at ease merely saying the words and allowing her to respond as she does.


"Greek philosophy, Roman law, and the Phoenician alphabet." Rogue cannot help herself, tapping the corner of her camera. She hesitates a moment before pulling the strap over her head, giving the device a safer place to stow away among her books. "Resting on their laurels that long, it may be time for another innovation."

Ask what he will, an answer comes. She hands over the chicken skewer to Louis, considering him for a moment in spite of herself. The rueful smile only reveals itself at an angle or in profile, a ghostly tug at the corner of her mouth skewing the lunar line slightly higher.

"Then whom am I to stand in the way of your wants, Professor King?" The faintest hint of neroli saturates the air around her, a spectre of citrus rewarding effort to place it between the collision of other scents clouding the air. Orienting upon the indicated direction makes opening up a space that much easier. Even now, American society does tend to favour giving ladies right of way. "Are my motives entirely innocent when it serves my appetite to agree? I'm called Scarlett, by the way." It takes a liar better than she is to deceive any manifestation of the trickster, the twitch of her foxtail braid making mock of Coyote wherever he might be. "Unless you want the mouthful I use among the bohemians. That will cost you a little more than a skewer."

A meal to a mouthful, as introductions go, but sometimes they glisten with hooks. Beyond her, a contortionist framed by a rim of upright figures subtly leaning forward forms a compelling juxtaposition of curves and straight planes.


On some level she might recognize that he finds her comment terribly charming. It could be that sidelong glance given to her with the curious quirk of his brow. But then at her comment about the Italians resting on their laurels he gives a short nod. "Indeed, perhaps somebody should call them on it. Perhaps a telling photographic expose?" His green eyes fall to her held camera for an instant before he falls into step beside her.

The skewer is tossed into the aluminum trash can as they pass, making a faint clatter. He naturally takes that slightly forward position ahead of her to lead through the crowd even as when he speaks he turns just enough and to the side to maintain their words and share the occasional glances. "Scarlett, then."

Her choice of names seems to cause a flicker of recognition in him for some reason, or perhaps its choice signifies something as he walks with her. "Very well, then perhaps in honor of the Greeks we shall enjoy a pair of gyros and some baklava. Perhaps we'll learn more of each other."

Having said that he moves with her through the crowd, stepping to the row of vendors and taking the time needed to acquire their food. As they wait he asks her, "Are you a student here, Scarlett? I don't believe I've seen you around here."

Once he gets the plates he tucks his jacket under his arm and carries them, moving across the grassy grounds towards a clear spot near a tree in front of a group of six students all moving through various forms of Yoga, each looking rather peaceful and at ease.


"Italians fail to reveal anything original since spaghetti. Roman Holiday merely a duplicate of Latin play." Framing the statement with her broadly spread fingertips, Rogue almost outlines the rectangle of a photo above the newspaper fold. "Shock resonates through Europe."

Discreetly bringing her finger to her mouth, she licks away the last hint of the spiced juice rather than trusting in having sticky skin. The strap bitten against her shoulder hints at a bit of weight in her bookbag, but it hardly slows her stride in the least. Those magnificent boots land in a subtle tattoo against the ground, her stride matching Louis' without substantial difficulty. Her pace forces her skirt to swirl around, but much to the dismay of any looking their way, it doesn't float too high.

"Baklava, the honey and pastry dessert, is it?" Oh, and there he might just have the advantage of introducing an ingenue to something new in the world. Dangerous power lies that way. "Greek food sounds just the thing."

One turn begets another as he asks her status, and earns another flicker of a smile so quick, senses have to work to catch it. "As it happens, I am. A sister school finally let me advance to the big leagues, as they say, rather than letting me warm a desk."


Setting his jacket down upon the grass with the lapels wide, he sets each plate upon it in turn, then sits back against the tree's trunk with one leg drawn up so he can look at her easily enough. Those green eyes narrow slightly as his smirk is first born there, only touching his lips as he lets it grow. "Prime Minister Leone, quoted to say 'Mamma mia!'"

But then he lowers his eyes as if to hide that smile, rueful or embarrassed at his own foolishness. Yet when he looks up to her, that curve of his lips is still there, though perhaps a touch more subdued. "Yes, it's rather delicious. Though we should save it for last. Lest you are so taken with it that you surrender all inhibition and collapse in a swoon at such flavor." He does push towards her her own plate and then sets down a pair of Lone Star beer bottles that he gained with the gyros.

"Ah, well then if you're a student I should most likely tut at you terribly and rush off in a swirl of propriety. But I am curious, however, what are you studying?"


Green meets green, and through those verdant lenses, what might be read? Rogue lacks telepathy of any sort (currently), her own wide-eyed curiosity tempered by a rule of manners. Staring too long would be outright rude. Such a dangerous thing, to watch a man smirk, does not quite cause her to flinch. "Quelle horreur, the French foreign minister was heard to say, before throwing his plate to the floor with a scream."

She sinks down on her knees, legs tucked underneath her. Adopting any sort of asana would bend the laws of propriety into a pretzel and out the other side; there's a cosmic dare if any. Smoothing her blood orange dress over her legs, she rests her hands just above her knees. "I'll collapse in such a swoon only after you have lost all your inhibitions, and only if you promise to see us through to the very end." In her honeyed voice, such promises sound altogether reasonable, and therefore all the worse. A bottle is taken from the grass and in a flick of her thumb, the lid goes flying off over her shoulder to land like a dented coin.

"Don't forget keeping a stiff upper lip about the whole affair shile your soul seethes in turmoil." She raises the beer in salute. "What could have made her peaceful with a mind that nobleness made simple as a fire, with beauty like a tightened bow, a kind that is not natural in an age like this?" Answer in an answer without being an answer at all, and far beyond the question ever asked.


Those eyes widen a touch, but then they narrow for a bare moment… imperceivable to most but to one as perceptive as herself she might catch that single instant of suspicion. Only for it to be chased away as he either admonishes himself for such, or merely pushes past it. "Being high and solitary and most stern? Why, what could she have done, being what she is? Was there another Troy for her to burn?"

Even as those words lightly touch the air, he turns his head to the side, peering at her askance as if terribly wary of her, only now such wariness is tinged with an affectionate air. His lips twist as he murmurs, "Scarlett, I had considered allowing you your anonymity. But now I find myself willing to pay the needed price to find out all the more of who you are." He says this with an almost formality and as he does so he lifts his bottle to her, mirroring the salute and letting the two clink against each other.

He opens his own bottle after there is a faint clink of keys from his pocket, though he saves his bottle cap for whatever reason. Louis proceeds to take up his gyro and take a bit. And, to be honest, there is no terribly easy nor elegant way to eat a gyro. At least there upon the makeshift picnic cloth and out there under the sun the company is rather nice. And after that first bite it's found out that the food is pretty good as well.


A quotation of Yeats comes easily to those full lips burnished under the light veneer of ale, sipped without hesitation. See, even a nice girl from Savannah can put down her teacup and down a pint with the boys! Cambridge souls don't know what hit them with the force of a steam engine locomotive running down the tracks. How hard to pinch a moonbeam moment when Louis King is taken aback and reorients himself to the vagaries of being.

"Another? Or will you name your bid for the enlightenment, and let me ponder what you value me at?" This requires a moment to center, those ripples in the pond knocking her about the instant his head tips and the smirk reveals another facet, the unexpected. A clank, another sip, and the bottle is placed down adjacent to the sleeve of his coat used as a picnic blanket. How ignominous. Their knees might nearly touch as she creeps forward, taking the gyro on its plate into her lap.

"Je fais souvent ce reve etrange et penetrant, d'une femme inconnue, et que j'aime, et qui m'aime, et qui n'est, chaque fois, ni tout a fait la meme ni tout a fait une autre, et m'aime et me comprend." Seasoned beef in a warm flatbread tastes very good indeed. Perhaps slightly less rarefied, though equally pleasing to the typical sort, is the belle langue spoken in a low, intimate meter measured to one of the fin-de-siecle's great masters.


The tall man with those electric eyes and that wry smile does not seem to draw back from that casual proximity, perhaps unaware of how close they might come to touching. Or perhaps entirely aware though allowing no window into his thoughts, even through those eyes.

The small smile grows as he turns away, perhaps buying himself some time as he looks upwards and she might be able to imagine him reaching, searching into his thoughts as if trying to draw them to the fore and present them before her like some offering before a goddess of nature in such a curious juxtaposition between mortal and immortal. Yet when he looks back to her, he cocks an eyebrow and his words are offered not in answer, but in challenge.

"Si, mi comprende, e il mio cuore, transparente. A lei soltanto, solo per lei, ahime… non e piu. Un problema, e lei sola, piangendo, sa rinfrescare. I sudori della mia fronte livida." Perhaps such change of language is on behalf of their mutual acquaintance Mr. Maroni, or perhaps it is merely whim that makes such a choice.

His eyebrows climb as he finishes, and then he lightly dabs a napkin to the corner of his mouth, just perhaps making sure there is no residue of delicious gyro. He sets the napkin aside and leans closer, eyeing her openly now as he murmurs. "Though…" He seems about to say something else, yet perhaps stops himself. Instead he murmurs to her in a foreign tone that does not seem to fit with his features, his manner, yet in other ways seems utterly at ease with him.

"Den visdom af dine gldende jne lrer mig at ubnhrligt spore mine nsker. Og at st i forsvar af dem, jeg elsker."

"What value do I place on your name? I can only answer you that it would be worth any effort to learn. Ask of me anything."


Brisk touch lends no harm, not at this moment. The Norns weave their tapestries without regard for mortal or immortal children, however, and they may rescind the blessing in the next that Verdandi foresaw this fair instant.

Rogue reaches to take up the gyro, peonies blossoming in a tumble of blushing pink against a diaphanous dress imagined from the burning copper over Venice at dusk. The riddle of a wrapped sandwich demands a tactical advance, pinching the bottom fold shut and securing the bulging central contents firm enough they won't make a bid for freedom the moment she takes a bite. Her head tilted downwards modestly shields the act of biting, another of those polite niceties bred or beaten into the essence of her beating.

So as he answers her in Italian, the treacherous gyro conceals the smile if not the spark of something bloomed behind her pupils. Does the atmosphere react to the frisson bolted up her spine, the tension forever carried behind the winsome exterior loosening when an ephemeral coil tightens a knot? Contradictions within contradictions force her to catch her breath. Stopping at the last moment, she tips her chin up, emerald gaze following in kind.

Parsing any Scandinavian language family, east or west, puts her on a limited footing unassisted by the Norman influence replacing Saxon ones. Divisions of oceans and castles on the Conqueror's pale render another pathway. "What you enjoy, what truly makes you satisfied," she says, extending a fingertip to draw a question mark in the air between them. It's a diversion, almost. Fully. Not at all. "My deeds, though manifold, no Skald in song has told, no Saga taught thee."

Anything is all. What stakes does Louis King play by? "The closest I can get to Swedish or Norwegian. Except ja, skal, takk, goddag." Of course she can toast. Because that's Columbia.


If she only knew or had insight into the mind of the being opposite her. What coin can you offer in trade to an immortal who has seen and experienced so much? The only coin that can be offered is to surprise them, to offer something new and interesting and it exists here before him in that terribly lovely dress and smelling of flowers. It exists in the curious accent and the blazingly fast mind attached to a tongue just as quick. She could not know she has already paid him so much in these bare few moments and alleviated such a creature of his jaded consideration of the world… if only for this short time.

"You have nothing to apologize for, nor to explain. You are quite remarkable, Scarlett." Then he looks sidelong to her, as if trying to get a different angle from which to perceive her. "You must tell me your name, otherwise I'll be forced to implement a cunning plan to acquire it. So I'll offer you this…"

That small dish with the baklava is almost grudgingly pushed towards her. "If you enjoy this delicious dish, then you will tell me. If not, then you are free of any such obligation. I shall entirely trust to your honor."


Only fair the world is jaded. It hasn't been properly turned on its head in forty-two days, and upheavals are the raison d'etre of society lately. Pay court to the weary with energized consideration, and supplant its dim view by a quicksilver radiance. What may happen?

Rogue, for her part, hasn't the advantage of linguistically separating Danish from Norwegian, though to be fair anyone not from Minnesota can't either. She does puzzle over a few remembered bits at the back of her thoughts, the remainder following the maelstrom churning her around a central axis. "When could I ever deny you the chance to devise a cunning plan?" she finds herself replying, the honey of the southern accent lilting over every word. "Darling, it would be a crime not to."

The little plate brought towards her will not be considered. Not a look is spared for it, for she will dare to be slightly rude and watch her counterpart inches away. There is her oval face, freely read as any book in the library, provided one has the key of another kind of language. She brings a morsel torn from the edge of the baklava to her mouth and shields popping it into her mouth with the same philo-strewn digits. Her tongue presses the baklava to her palate. Not the sort to try for a meager sniff, a weary sip. Not in the slightest. The confectionary's flavours bloom over her tongue, saturating her senses on every breath, and blackened pupils widen to devour more of the vertiginious nebulas churning around them.

Of course, did Louis ever consider the difficulty of talking when honey adheres to a girl's lips? If there's no napkin about, then patting about her bag to find a (monogrammed!) handkerchief becomes an essential necessity, the humming notes resonating against her enchanted tongue. Either she's trying to talk or he made her purr.

Well then.


And the look he gives her is entirely satisfied, almost feline in manner as his green eyes hold hers and his lips curl as wickedly amused as the Grinch contemplating a terribly ruined Christmas. As the flavours wander over her tastebuds, as she tastes each lovely facet of the honey and the nuts the paste the filo it all can be seen in his eyes as that smile broadens. He lifts his chin a touch, turning to the side with an eyebrow cocking as if to whisper a silent 'I told you so' to her.

And, like Johnny on the spot, he lifts a single napkin up towards her cheek and extends it towards her even as he leans forward, very close in that moment as if he were going to help her by wiping at the corner of her mouth. Or, even more daringly so, if he were going to steal a kiss. It's an instant that is terribly lovely, lingering….

Only for it to be brushed away abruptly by a rough gravelly voice.

"Miss? Mr. Maroni would like for you ta come with us. He wants to apologize for his ill-manners earlier on and whatnot. All right?" And there, blocking the sun, ruining that instant, are those two tall men in suits that had been trailing after the rude fellow who dared to deprive her of her kebab.


Faulted interruptions. Proof ever Urd smiles in the blind shadow of her hood, and the squirrels of Yggdrasil need to be roasted slowly over an open fire. Or Italians.

It takes more control than even someone as keyed to her physical state as Rogue is to suppress the tremor jolting up her spine on electrified tendrils. Wisps coalesce to knock her askew. A mild cant pushes her a degree closer to the napkin skating down her cheekbone, mired in curving boundary along the corner of her mouth.

"Autumn Moon Dream," she breathes out at barely a whisper. Let him laugh at that; it's as bohemian as one gets without naming their daughter Athena or Freyja Honeymead. Too close to the quick? Or translated to the appropriate angles, makes her something completely different. The autumn moon being the harvest moon, the full moon directly after the first frost which was dedicated to… Among other things. No need to shy away from the divulged fact that, yes, she's a damned hippie and might even dance around skyclad, more will hinge on being in such proximity to a distraction.

Unfortunately for them, the redheaded girl burns as well in the dark as she does in the light. Hence why her kind so often got called out as witches and shunned historically. She draws in a breath, held for two counts, then releases it. "I appreciate Mr. Maroni's sentiments. Please tell him his apology was accepted." If they don't wander off accepting that much, then another nudge will be added to avoid the Italian ruining a second lunch. Possibly a bottle thrown at their heads.

The lost thread of conversation is picked up, either way. "I had to choose something for myself and make it mine. Names are important. They define us. If that makes any sense, Professor King? Not everyone does."


And still, still, there's that tiny shard of an evasion behind it. It's one name. But not /the/ name.


"Autumn is a lovely name," Those words are offered to her even as the breath that lends them wings brushes against the curve of her neck. His nostrils flare slightly as he draws in, enjoying the scent of those flowers, the peonies, but also the woman behind the floral ensemble.

But then the men do not move away. Indeed the one on the left clears his throat combined with coughing into his fist as he almost sheepishly murmurs to them. "Look, lady. I know it sucks. I know this sucks." The other man slides a hand into the pocket of his coat and leaves it there. Behind them the yoga practitioners are seated in the Hero pose, resting upon the ground with their knees before them and their hands resting upon their thighs, fingers curled. It creates this strange dichotomy between the two stern men in front of them, and the eerie peacefulness of the people behind them.

Yet, uncaring or unaware of the damage he is doing to the moment, the man continues. "I've seen this go down a buncha ways. You don't come along, stuff goes down. Your boyfriend here gets his nose busted, maybe his knee broken. Maybe we go away and then later somethin' happens to someone you know. Just cuz. Mr. Maroni. You know?" He's trying to at least give some freedom of understanding as to the depth of the situation, but then again the man doesn't seem remorseful at all.

"So do me a favor, kid. Just get up, come with me. Play yer cards right and hey, everything'll be good and you might get a good chunka change after."


Insults offend against all good nature and sense. Calling a grown woman kid, threatening a professor, whispering indiscretions in gain of coin. Hooks baited for a response earn little initially. A slow shift of position anchors her weight against her knees, freeing up the balls of her feet for a sudden reversal that might see her standing upright. Her hands land in her lap, palms facing upwards, the universal symbol for harmlessness unlike a fellow possibly determining if he has to draw the piece he's carrying.

"If it sucks, why do it?" A simple question, really. Louis might catch the downturn of her mouth, the resolution settling a nearly demure mask. An incident in the middle of Columbia may or may not look good. Whatever the talker chooses to say gives a little longer to gather herself, those precious moments to prevent escalation.

Choose. It always comes down to choice. To be good or to be bad. To comply or to defy. The way she gets to her feet should be a warning, a smooth execution of self-control brought by years of yoga. Neroli swirls its invisible trace; the book bag lies in a summoner's circle on the coat, and she steps outside that charmed protection. A passing touch to his shoulder makes no skin to skin contact, but still comes as warm, keeping him where he is.

She won't meet their eyes. Her hands still stay clasped in front of her, needing only steel bracelets to look penitent. "We can at least be quiet about this, gentlemen. No need to put anyone else's nose out of joint, right?" So lambs go to slaughter.

Lambs made of adamantium with razor hooves, monsters in sheep's clothing, but it takes a reluctant predator to know a monster.


Martial arts at this time are still a thing of… amusement, a strange and esoteric distraction that's silly to most people. Men dancing around in pajamas shouting at each other and trying to kick their opponents all seems so impractical and unmanly to the typical 1960s fellow. Narrow that demographic to older gangsters who make their living busting kneecaps and wacking stoolies and the recognition gets even dimmer.

Neither of the men pick up on that smooth grace of her movement, nor the way her manner seems so terribly defiant. They probably write it off mentally as just hippie weirdness. And it was only moments ago that their boss was heard to say…

"There're no decent dames 'round 'ere!"

"That one gal ya almost knocked over looked pretty good, boss."

"Wha? Which one?"

"The gal in the… you know. The dress."

"Hnh. Right. Go get her for me, tell her I'm sorry or some shit." And with that the man got into his car to await the arrival of his men and the woman.

Yet in the here and now, those two gunmen frowned at her, looked at each other, then shrugged as they started to step forward. They each move to take her arms and to push her ahead of them as if to make her march to her execution.

Of course, despite her subtle touch to stop him from protesting, Professor King lifts his voice and says on that terribly typical British manner, "I say, that's quite enough of this…"


Everyone knows Brits don't carry guns. Marching a rather memorable young woman in a bright blood-orange dress is one way to ensure you end up on the front page of the student press or, perhaps, in the unemployment line. Provided the Westies in Hell's Kitchen don't get word of a pretty Irish girl being roughed up by Italians. Mistakes happen.

The typical 1960s suited goons gain their somewhat willing victim of a fierce scolding. Rogue goes along, head down, gaze rooted to the midpoint of the paths they take through the grounds past the underage students sharing a bottle of beer to the quieter avenues leading out into the city at large. Quiet she will stay until they reach those darker, shadier byways deprived of the syrupy summer light. In such corners fester problems with ugly solutions.

Odds that wouldn't look good if Mother Nature weren't meddling again. Their grip on her arms is going to naturally pull her sleeves up. No way around that. Two gunmen receive a very quiet word en route to delivering the package to their boss. "Mr. Marconi doesn't know I'm good as Leni Zauber's daughter, does he?" A German name is dropped in the dark, linking one kingpin to a bigger shark in their dingy reef of drugs, death, and vice.

"He drops this, I'll forget this. He doesn't, the family won't like it." Whatever hold grips her biceps is gently shaken loose with the implacability of a tide turning to the moon's song. The terrible weight in her green eyes holds fractured shades of self-contempt and sorrow, restraint and the acceptance that comes with nothing else left.

This is the monster you made me, that awful sadness says. She steps back. Chances are good they have to tighten their grip on her arm where the sleeves fall back. If they don't, then her fingers will be there to meet their hands. Their flesh. Her knees buckle to pull them into her, down. What are they going to report, if they have anything left /to/ report? 'We grabbed her, she tripped, and we hit our heads.'

Control snaps in a gossamer wave, like it never was. The Norns wove her warped. Nature made her flawed. Rogue's curse opens in a black bloom to thieve who and what they are. Humans have no defenses. Rapture explodes in her core in a radiating tsunami. Breathe in for two. Hold for four. Breathe out for two. Release. In a blind rush, it takes all she has to walk, not run from two bodies slumping onto the ground unconscious. Their thoughts ricochet through her broken mind like a pinball machine, awful hunger and wicked knowledge slotted back and forth.


It's a wild swirl of reality as those senses are tormented by this crash of power. To the man who had been holding her it's just a normal thing, just standard operating procedure. Another day, another dollar, yet things start to turn strange for them. At first there's some agitation from them as they readjust their grip and tell her to shut up, that everything will be fine soon enough. It's not their jobs to reason why… after all.

But then there is that surge of her ability as they feel their lives being sapped away, drawn by her touch. She starts to hear their minds, their thoughts, the one who had been telling her to come with them is a wreck of a human being. He's a man who has lost the love of his life, has given up on happiness, hates himself for being what he is and at times hopes someone will put a bullet in his brain. She gets flashes/images of his memories of him firing a pistol into the back of a man's head and trying to affect some sense of strength from it. Then starting to cry and putting his own gun into his mouth as he pulls the trigger… only for the weapon to click on empty.

The other man is darker, withdrawn, an animal. He is hoping for pain, for death, seeking out this misery and had been hoping to take his boss' leftovers, perhaps hoping to be able to kill another like he did that one young woman in Jersey. That one that had pleaded. That's the best part, the begging.

Yet now they're both drawn against her, their bodies slumping down finally falling to the ground around her with a fwumpf.

The alley is a flickering shade of what it must be, the world around perhaps overrun with those sensations of new minds, new feelings, new power inside her. And then when she reaches the mouth of the alley she'll feel herself brush past someone almost roughly in her rush to get away.

It's just a single word from a gentle voice that chases after her. A voice that says simply, "Autumn?"

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