1963-09-21 - Christmas Comes Early
Summary: Liv keeps an eye on Jack while she's just trying to do her job.
Related: Once Upon A Hellmouth plot
Theme Song: None
max liv jack 

It's into the evening in Midtown Manhattan. Residents of NYC have been well-advised to avoid walking out after dark, and to ensure they are, at all times, protecting their persons. Of course, this does not impact those at the bottom of the insurance totem pole. For Jacqueline Pace, it meant going to the scene of the crime to assess damage. All. Day. Long.

Thanks to sunlight and normal everyday activity, the day has been painfully uneventful. Dressed in her flirty black skirt and her fitted white dress shirt, she is all business as she walks around a particular car checking for dents, paint chips, and windshield nicks.

"You see," she explains to Liv, "any marks then count towards the deductible. And I have to calculate very quickly the cost of the damage which then will determine whether a payout is worth it for the consumer." She wrinkles her nose, "Consumers have to think about these things long term, especially if their policy does or doesn't cover acts of god. As it stands," she motions towards the Park, "we don't know what caused that. It's entirely possible it's an act of god, in which case, the damage is definitely not covered…"

While Liv definitely hasn't been here all day, she's been here longer than she intended thanks to needing to give Jack a ride home. Unfortunately, the damage here is far more extensive than anyone imagined. Which means the younger (substantially) of the pair feels the need to explain the work she's doing as she does it.


Let the record show that Liv had gone to work this morning, like a good and responsible roommate. She even managed to avoid getting herself fired — and, having promised Jack a ride home, she'd turned up on her motorcycle precisely when she'd promised to, still dressed for work in her slacks and sweater.

Let's just ignore the fact that Liv kept a sword on her motorcycle, and in light of where she has joined Jack, that sheathed weapon is currently slung across her shoulders, her wrists lazily hooked over it as she shadows Jack around the damaged car. This is normal. Why would this be weird?

"Act of god," Liv echoes with a very odd smile on her face, lifting her eyebrows. "What does that mean, exactly?"


Jack wrinkles her nose. "Well, like it was something that couldn't ever really happen aside from the gods willing it, I guess?" She shrugs as her nose quirks into a what you gonna do about it? wrinkle. With a smirk she taps on the paint of the car. "This though is the tip of the ice berg. It's not likely to be worth filing a claim for either the consumer or the company. Honestly, I can't see anyone finding this a good use of resources to cover."

She points towards the building across the street, that has half of its side burnt, "THAT, however…" she shrugs. "That is something definitely worth claiming." Her eyebrows lift expectantly.

A scratching sound emits from a car just down the block. Quiet, but present.

Jack quirks an eyebrow at Liv, "You hear something?"


"Insurance companies have a very Old Testament view of the Gods," Liv muses, slowly shaking her head. "It seems silly. What's the point of insuring something if there are catastrophies outside of your control that it will not cover?" Seriously. What even is insurance for.

Liv follows Jack's pointing finger across the street and she winces hard enough to show teeth. "Oh. Yeah. That… wasn't a god," she says awkwardly, looking around for something interesting to look at, like a cloud or a stone.

Or for the source of that scratching. "…yes," Liv replies quietly, narrowing her eyes as she immediately moves to stand closer to Jack. Time to grasp the sword, though it remains sheathed, for now.

"I want you to make note of where my bike is," Liv says softly. "And if I tell you to run, that is where you are to go. Okay?"


"Well, there's a lot of everyday things that happen," Jack defends her chosen profession. "Like car accidents. Illness. Unexpected death. Insurance just protects people from the financial responsibility tied to these things. So yea, there are exclusions because there's no way some things should statistically happen. That is then considered an act of god and outside the realm of whatever is coverable." She shrugs lightly.

"I always make note of where your bike is," her nose wrinkles with distaste. "I know where things are. I don't get lost easily, remember? That's one of the things that makes me good at this job." Yes, map reading is a super power. As is orienteering. Welcome to Jack's world.

Whether or not Jack is supposed to figure out where the sound is coming from, curiosity and her job prod her forward. "Well, that vehicle," she points towards it, "also needs to be assessed today. You see we need — "

But even as she steps towards the vehicle.

Peeking into the back seat reveals… a puppy. Scratching loudly to get out of the car. "Puppy!" She looks towards Liv, "Poor puppy…"


Liv is not about to let Jack get more than a pace away from her. She follows along, blue eyes still narrowed and attentively scanning the area as they approach the scratching sound. "Jack, I mean it. It isn't safe out here. If I say run, that is where we meet, and then we leave."

But… puppy? Frowning thinly, Liv leans over to peer over Jack's shoulder and through the window. "…is this street blocked off?" she asks, casting a quick look up and down the street. "How long as it been in there?"


"No one is supposed to be here," Jack confirms. "Well, except for work." She frowns. "We need to get the puppy out — it needs help! Please, Liv! Please!" she virtually begs her roommate, not that it necessarily requires begging. Yet she can't seem to help herself.

"It's probably hungry! It's been days since anyone has really been down here — "


Days. Locked in a car. In September. Liv narrows her eyes suspiciously, leaning forward to practically put her nose up against the car's back window.

sigh. "Fine. But I will get it out," Liv says firmly, turning around and pointing towards her motorcycle. "And you. Will wait. By the bike."


"Yes! And then we can take it home and I will feed it and love it and watch it! It'll be amazing! I promise!!!" Jack is already treading back towards the bike.

Meanwhile the puppy scratches hopefully and whines loudly to get out. Yes, the puppy has been stuck in there a long long time.


"Are you sure we can afford to keep a dog?" Liv calls after Jack, waiting for her to get a little ways away. Then, her dominant hand still gripping her sword — a little paranoia never hurt anybody — she reaches for the car door to tug it open. If it's locked, she doesn't seem to notice.


If anything, the dog becomes more agitated as Liv moves to open the car door. It begins to whimper and bark and back into the corner of the seat. It cries loudly, nearly howling as the door is pulled off its hinges.

Jack squints as she trails back to the bike, muttering to herself, "Head back to the bike, Jack~ Stay behind the line. Don't do things — "

Of course, as she trails back to the bike, a quiet clank can be heard from the manhole cover adjacent to the bike. Curiously Jack peeks at the metal round lid. "Uh… Liv…?"

Jack takes a single step closer to the bike to peek at the ground. And that's when the man hole cover lifts and bounces from it's spot with a loud clang. "LIV!"


Just a puppy. Good. Just an agitated, terrified puppy.

Liv's expression goes flat just in time for the clanking to begin over her shoulder. "…of course," she murmurs, drawing in a breath through her teeth. Why wouldn't it go this way?

As she turns towards Jack and the bike, Liv adjusts her grip on the car door — sword in one hand, and a makeshift shield in the other — and narrows her eyes. Right. "Watch our dog," she says firmly, quickly marching towards the newly-opened manhole. "Find somewhere safe."


The beast that emerges from the manhole is something between a snake and a lizard. The large serpentine heads of the beast hiss at Liv menacingly. All three heads of the beast reach out towards her, nipping as they draw close. It reaches out with its front paws to sweep Liv off her feet.

It hisses again, this time louder than the first.

Jack, meanwhile, has taken a step back towards the car rather than the bike now, to coax the puppy out of the vehicle. "Come here baby… come here…" she coos gently. But the puppy has turned into a whimpering pile of fur, requiring Jack Pace to climb into the car to coax her out.


Three-headed serpents, okay, this is not the most alarming thing Liv has ever dealt with. That's fine. As they snap at her, she brings the car door up to ward off their fangs, not wanting to take for granted that its teeth can't pierce her flesh. She doesn't know that. Most things can't, but these beats are not most things.

The first attempt to knock Liv off her feet doesn't work, but the second lands her flat on her back in the middle of the street. Great!

"Jaaaaaack..! I'm going to get this thing away from the bike!" Liv calls, feet scrabbling against the pavement as she backpedals away from the monster. "As soon as there's an opening, the key's in the ignition, you hear me?"


One of the serpent mouths snaps back at Liv. There's a loud clap clap as it bares its fangs against the asgardian. It slides alongside her, sizing her up, and measuring how long she is (and whether she's not too long. To be ate.

One of the heads slides towards her, aiming to coil around her legs. The third head eyes the car, dog, and brunette who tries to coax the puppy to her.

"What?! I can't drive this thing! I don't know — " the objection comes as Jack drags the puppy out of the car, shovelling it from the back seat in one foul swoop. She draws it close to her chest, and then sees that the third head is, indeed, eyeing her — looking for another snack. It hisses. Jack shrieks. Loudly.


"Well don't stick around," Liv calls back, kicking her legs back to send herself rolling over backwards and up onto her feet. With an irritated noise, she lunges forward with the car door held up, trying to slam it into the side of the third head. No, look over here.

"If you can run — "

aaaaand Jack is screaming. Well, no point trying to talk to her right now. With a scowl, Liv takes a swipe at one of the heads with her sword, instead. She's read too many stories about multi-headed serpents to try and decapitate it, so the eyes seem like a logical place to strike instead.


"Hark! A damsel!" Max quips, a hand to her ear as she flies by somewhere vaguely overhead. No, she does not have super-hearing or anything, she just… doesn't fly very high or fast, yet. There is a practical envelope of flight for getting around town, anyway, and— nevermind.

This does mean, however, that it's not that hard to find the source, which… is one of her roomates. Of course. Well, can't ignore this one, she can't afford *half* an apartment worth of rent.

she touches down, rather gently, one toe pointed to the ground to make contact and her arms to her sides. She still has to windmill for balance as her density returns to heavier-than-flight. Landings… not that easy, frankly. Then she stands, fists on hips, in visibility-tape striped coveralls and work gloves. Got to strike a pose. Now for the witty comment.

"Geeziz Liv. What the hell?" …or not.


The puppy is drawn closer to Jack's chest and Jack finally slowly edges away from the snake that now has taken an interest in her. She moves towards the bike, and climbs aboard while the snake continues to watch her. "Uh… Liv… should I… do I… do I get…" she turns the key in the ignition and continues to stare at the snake. "Should I wait?!?!?"

The eye of the beast is struck, and like hitting a massive blood vessel, the eye pops. The red spurts from the beast's eye socket, almost like a popped pimple on the eye of the snake. Angrily, it recoils, aiming to slip around Liv tightly.

"Aaaah! Max! There's a snake thing! I don't know if — " if she should drive off or not.


Oh good, Liv got its attention! She brings the shield up in anticipation of a strike — and ends up with coils around her instead. Well, shit. "Little help, Max!" she calls awkwardly, wincing as she loses her grip on the car door. Dammit.

"Drive!" Liv snaps towards Jack, straining against the beast to try and get her sword in a position to stab something. Anything would be great, honestly. She's a fan of hugs, just not ones like this.


"…if you should drive the hell away?" Max finishes incredulously. "Are you serious!?" She dashes in on the hydra to help Liv, body density increasing until her final bootfalls leave hairline cracks in the pavement, and she lays into the side of the nearest hydra-head with her— well, gloved, not actually bare— fist. "Are. You. Serious." The second one seems to be more like a general comment about the situation, rather than Jack's delimma, though.


The hesitation is more so whether Jack should take their getaway car while her roommates clearly deal with the snake monster. She clings to the puppy with one hand and then puts the bike into gear. She revs the engine and pushes the bike forward. It putters and veers left and right as she attempts to drive the bike back towards her apartment. The front wheel wobbles as she tries to drive the bike one-handed (puppy isn't going to be left behind).

It's not a surprise that the wobbly bike falls over a block away with Jack stuck. Underneath it.

Snake blood spews all over Liv as it coils around her, attempting to squeeze tightly. Except then one of the snake heads receives a fist into it. It falls backwards, reacting with the force of the blow. It complains loudly at the force, collapsing against the pavement with a loud thud.

And when one head falls backwards from the force, the one hugging Liv loosens slightly, allowing room for the bade to pierce it. It makes an angry near-hiss like the sound of a cat falling off a roof with a near meow sound.


It's okay, Jack. Liv has absolutely no reason to expect that her motorcycle will survive Jack's attempt to drive it — as long as she gets some distance between herself and the threat, however, Liv is content. Bikes can be repaired and replaced. People… not so much.

The instant Liv can wrest her arms loose, she grabs the sword in both hands and plunges it as deep into the creature as she can, still too paranoid to go for the necks.

"Thank you, Max," she says quickly. The fact that Liv and her work clothes are covered in blood… does not actually seem to phase her.


Max scowls mightily as the hydra recoils from being punched, and follows it up with a good ol' Brooklyn curb-kick. Just… with a hell of a lot of force behind it. "…get two twenty minute breaks a shift and I'm wasting one on this thing," she grumps.

"I could be sneaking a beer before the rest of my shift, jerk!" The hydra.. snake.. thingie gets another unhappy boot to somehwere Max hopes is sensitive.


Jack tries to lift the bike, but she can't. With a puppy still tucked under her arm, she can't manage to get the bike upright again. She mutters to herself, "Come on come on come on — " she can't get the bike vertical. It just isn't happening.

Plunging the sword into the creature causes it to screech mightily — a nasty noise that bounces across midtown. It angrily tries to bounce back, but plunging the weapon into its would be chest seems to be working.

The kick also causes the head to bounce against the pavement. It thuds loudly again. It recoils back to hiss at Max, trying to gain some semblance of control as it cuts the ground in front of her to knock her off her feet.


Now that her arms aren't pinned to her sides, Liv seems intent on plunging her sword into this thing as many times as she can, as quickly as she can. And with each stab, she gets a few words out through gritted teeth:

"Max, would you — be a dove — and make sure — that Jack — and our dog — are okay?"

Liv staggers backwards a few paces and gives the sword a sharp, short swing to flick the blood from the blade onto the pavement, and blows some loose hair out of her face. Pfuh. "We… have a dog now, by the way."


When the monster tries to knock her off her feet, Max… falls. Right through the ground with a cheerful "Whups!". She pops back to streetlevel on the other side, and plants a much-denser boot low on the back of the thing's skull. "Stupid— Oh, what? A dog? Cool, yeah, okay, one sec!" She hops, letting her density fall with a practiced sort of speed, and swoops low through the air in roughly the direction Jack… um… rode.

Alighting near the pinned jack, she tilts her head, a corner of her mouth twitching upward. "Uh… Jack. You're supposed to get on the bike, not let it ride on you…"


And with each stab, the beast falters. It stumbles until it becomes lifeless along the pavement in a giant mess of snake heads and limbs. It slumps over with one final recoil as all three sets of eyes drift closed.

"I'm stuck!" Jack declares as Max flies over to her. "I can't move and poor Christmas," yes, she has already named the dog, "is stuck in my grasp. She needs me to keep her safe." So Jack just holds onto the puppy.


Liv is not going to let a little thing like 'eyes closed and no longer moving' convince her the monster is actually dead. Not after the hellhounds. If anything, she looks more wary now that the creature has stopped moving, hurriedly bringing her sword up into both hands. Intense, attentive blue eyes stare out from a mess of wet red and she slowly, warily creeps closer to prod it with a foot.


ROLL: Liv +rolls 1d2 for a result of: 2


"Yeah," Max notes, trying not to laugh. *Too* obviously. "I can see that." She reaches to haul the bike upright, calling back over her shoulder. "Found 'er! Your bike was valiantly protecting the poor girl!"

After a moment, she blinks. "…Christmas?" she asks, swinging herself onto the bike and revving the engine. Sounds like it's in one piece. "Little early, isn't it?"


The kick yields NO movement. The beast seems to be dead, and doesn't at all react to the movement. Evidently Liv managed to take this one down relatively quickly — smart not slicing off its heads.

"I'm not poor! The chances of this happening," she explains as the bike is removed from her person, "are," a second passes and she notes, "four hundred and thirty seven thousand to one. That is ALMOST impossible! See," she points towards Liv, "this would count as an act of god. No one in their right mind would have coverage for this because you would never need coverage for this!"

Her cheeks flush slightly at the remark about her chosen dog-name, "I thought… Chrissy for short? We don't have to tell the super do we? I feel like he wouldn't like her… and she's so pretty!"

"Yes you are! You're the prettiest puppy, aren't you Christmas?"


No movement? No splitting open along the spine to reveal an eldritchian nightmare? No earth-shattering kaboom?

Liv finally lowers her sword and lets out a quiet sigh of relief. Well. That… that wasn't so bad, was it?

Still absolutely covered in blood and not at all self-conscious about it, Liv starts trudging her way after Max and Jack. Her slacks are already ruined so she just cleans the blade of her sword off by dragging it across her pantsleg, then returns it to its scabbard.


Max turns the bike off and rocks it forward onto the body-stand before she swings back off. To be honest… her policy is always 'The less the super knows the better'. But she also detects an opportunity. "Alright, but you gotta housetrain her. And no more about me leaving through the door. Deal?"

She eyes the approaching Liv critically. "Bike looks okay. Better then your pants. How d' ya keep getting into these things?"


An offended scoff emits from Jack's lips, followed by a point and an obvious question Who me? at Max's thoughts: "Use the door! We PAY for the door! You should use the door! If we pay rent for it, it's intended to be used! You know that right?" Her nose wrinkles and she looks back towards Liv, "Also — if you really need clothes for work, you can borrow some," they won't fit and everything will be flood pants. "Honestly. I'd loan them," ever willing. "Especially after you so skillfully took down that monster. I have no idea how that happened. This city is a death trap," she declares.


"There's something Wrong in the park," Liv replies to Jack, managing to pronounce 'wrong' such that the capitalization is clearly audible. "Very, very Wrong. If you can, you should steer clear until it's handled. Tell your boss. It's not safe."

Liv doesn't even check the bike for damage, just goes rummaging in one of the saddlebags for something to wipe her face and hands with. Ah, a rag, that will do. Yuck. "I could always show up to work in my armor," she says in a too-bright voice. "They might be too intimidated to fire me."


Max points at Jack. "That's the deal. You want the dog, I want to come and go as I please. You get the dog, I get no complaints. Fair." Especially since she's gonna walk out the wall anyway, honestly.

Max digs a memo pad out of a pocket. It's pretty stained and ragged, but so's her coveralls most of the time, and one was inside the other. "Either of you see a pay phone or soemthing? I gotta find out if our city contract covers monster corpse removal. Long as I'm here already." She scribbles down some notes and checks her watch. "Maybe we could sell it to, I dunno, school lunch program, donate to a soup kitchen, something."


"You've clearly never met my boss," Jack replies to Liv. "If I could stay clear of disaster zones, believe me, I would. I need to go where the work is," which is where the property damage is. Which is the park.

"But I'll bring up the insurance nightmare it is to send workers into fields of disaster. That might work." Probably not.

A pained expression takes residence on her face when Liv has no interest in her clothes and instead wants to wear amor. "No armor to work. Please. I'm sure that would be grounds for the Super blaming us for the hallway damage." She's probably not wrong. "Because honestly!"

She pets the dog at the complaint about the coming and going. "Sure. No complaints," that's not likely to last. "As long as Christmas can stay long term." The thought of eating monster causes sheer disgust, "Ew. No one wants to eat that. No one knows where that sword has been…"


Once Liv is as clean as she's going to get, which is… not very, she stuffs the rag right back into the saddlebag and closes it back up. "I was kidding," she promises Jack, trying not to laugh at her. "I will not wear my armor to work, I promise. But I will need to go shopping this weekend."

As for a payphone, Liv casts a quick look around before she points, looking to Max. "Don't know if it still works, but…" She doesn't even say anything about the suggestions for what to do with the monster corpse. She knows Max is kidding. She… is 75% sure. No defense offered for her sword's cleanliness, either. It's a fair cop.

"Christmas?" Liv echoes, finally turning to look at the puppy. Hm. "…yeah, sure."


"You ever eaten lunch in a Brooklyn public school?" Max asks Jack pointedly, then ambles off to try the phone. She's… probably kidding? Hard to tell sometimes. Sometimes the joke is she's serious.

"Doggo stays then," Max throws over her shoulder with a wave. Honestly she was for it anyway, but even a few weeks of peace is worth the effort.


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