1963-10-10 - Behind The Music
Summary: The Pied Piper chose the wrong neighborhood.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
violet jono laura karolina 

The place: Greenwich Village, New York.

The time: October, 1963.

It has been coming up on half a year since 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' was released by Columbia, and the Greenwich Village folk scene is in full swing. The number of coffee shops staking their business on live music has gotten a significant bump, and the number of also-rans and never-weres trying to make their name with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a desire to be the next Bobby Zimmerman has risen considerably.

One such person is sitting on a stoop, strumming his guitar and singing a humble song. He's attracted a large crowd. Is it one of the stars of New York folk, doing a surprise performance? Well, maybe. The guy looks young, scruffy, and scarfed. He's playing in a way that suggests he's learned a couple chords, maybe. His singing voice is thin and, in all honesty, not very good.

But the guitar case in front of this guy is full of cash. Not just cash. Jewelry. Entire wallets and pocketbooks. Someone threw down a diamond-tipped cane. There's more money and material there than can fit in the case, and it's literally overflowing. "So, good people, just give up your cash, then make room for the next one so they can do it too," he's singing, keeping to a melody if not a rhyme scheme.

The people hear his commands, and do as instructed. A renegade mutant?! A Communist super-bard?!

Not far away, a young, dark-haired woman is walking her sheepdog, with bags on one arm from a variety of record stores in the area. "This is all so amazing, Garf!" the Englishwoman says in her London accent to the dog. "These records would have cost a fortune in London… can you believe it?! I— eh? What is it, boy?" Garf stops and woofs in the direction of the singer, clearly alarmed.


The weather does not really call for leather jackets and heavy scarves, but at least one young man in Greenwich doesn't seem to care. If it wasn't for his attire, Jono would be just another gloomy-looking fellow with messy brown hair and a guitar case strapped to his back.

As Jono walks, he's casting the occasional glance between a flier in his hand and the storefronts he passes by, clearly looking for somewhere specific. But once he gets close enough to hear the guitar playing, he stops, peering towards it to try and get a look at what sorry excuse for a musician is making his ears hurt now.

Then he sees how full the man's guitar case is, and Jono's upbrows go up. Seriously? Seriously. Ugh. Bloody Americans.


Laura has been spending an inordinate amount of her time In Hell's Kitchen since to became rife with Vampires and other horrors of the night. But she does still go other places, and it's on her way to one of those places that brings her through the area. She's… not dressed particularly normally, what a surprise— Heavy boots, black rugged pants, a bulky black jacket that is looking a little worse for wear by this point. Her hair has grown out from her Weapon X days, approximately a few weeks and a lifetime ago— approximately collar-length, more than a little messy, with a pair of small braids on the right side from her temple back over her ear an then disappearing into the loose hair on that side.

The man with the piles of money in his guitar case catches her attention, and her trajectory— Laura's ability to move around silently and undetected may one day be the stuff of legend, for now, it's how she seems to just appear near the Communist Super-Bard, sitting cross-legged with her hands in her lap and her head tilted, just a few feet away from him, atop a short wall.

"What are you doing?" she asks bluntly.


A Weapon X healing factor actually seems to be what the doctor ordered for whatever this guy's singing is doing to people's minds. Maybe Laura's healing factor is actually fixing redirected electrical impulses faster than her body can act on them! This is an issue for the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, though, which is still 20 years away from publication.

"Next set is in twenty minutes, go call your friends to come see," the bard sings, and then looks over at Laura for a brief second. Then his eyes are on the money, as he begins gathering it up and stuffing it into his pockets. "I'm busking," he replies to the young woman. "Why, you need something to eat? Take a dollar. Hell, take two. Maybe you wanna get a sandwich with me or something, eh? Or, tell you what, my apartment's not that far, we can get something to eat there." He winks, like a total creep. "My name's Max. Max Livingston. You got a name, honey?"

The people who were watching flock to nearby payphones and are almost falling over each other trying to call their friends. Garf barks a few more times at this busker hitting on Laura, and then suddenly breaks into a run, and Violet's grip on the leash slips. "Garf—!" she yelps, and starts to run after him, looking down to try and snatch the leash off the ground — and running headfirst into Jono's unguarded ass. "Oof! Ow!"


Poor, poor Jono. So distracted by his low esteem for Americans' taste in buskers that he ends up knocked flat on what remains of his face, with a startled <OWF!> that isn't heard by one's ears. Usually, people just /expect/ to hear words with their ears an overlook these things, though. Usually.

At least his guitar case isn't heavy. Awkwardly, Jono pushes himself up onto his elbows, first peering after the retreating dog before he peers over his shoulder. At least his scarf is still in place. Small favors.

<That's yours, then,> Jono says wryly to Violet, tipping his head after Garf.


Laura tilts her head in the other direction, watching the busker gather up the cash. "I am not hungry." It is true. She ate recently. "That is quite a lot of money for someone that is not very good," she observes. Then her eyes narrow. "And they seem very intent on calling their friends. What are you doing?" she repeats the first question. Still hasn't moved from her perch.


Lucy has been out looking for work, again, and it's going much better now that she no longer looks homeless. The irony is not lost on her. She's walking down the street at a good clip, hardly recognizable as the girl she was two days ago, when she spots an odd scene.

Laura! She doesn't shout, but she does take her chances crossing the street to dash in that direction. She notices the dog running loose toward her and is diverted.

"Doggie, don't go in the street!" She gets in the way and holds her arms out. "Come here, doggie! You want a treat?"


The dog was also running to Laura's position — though whether at Laura or the busker, who knows. Lucy manages to distract him, though, and he stops rather than barrel through her. A fine opportunity to grab his collar, or his leash. (Laura may recognize this familiar dog-smell from around the Xavier Institute.)

Violet is on her butt on the sidewalk, rubbing her forehead. Her bags of records have fallen over too. Miles Davis, 'Seven Steps to Heaven'… Mingus, 'The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady'… James Brown, 'Live at the Apollo.' There are a few more but those are the ones that have fallen out of the bag. "Wh—? Yes, he's my dog, I'm so, so, so sorry, he doesn't normally run wild like that," Violet apologizes, and then blinks. She doesn't say anything, but she gives Jono a Look. The kind of Look that says 'You're not actually using your lips to speak, are you.'

Max Livingston, the coincidentally named busker, is opening up wallets now, taking the cash out, and then casually throwing the wallets onto the sidewalk like discarded wrappers. "Everyone's a critic," he sighs at Laura and rolls his eyes. "Look, maybe they just like the music, huh? They're rewarding talent. They want to spread the news. Maybe they know an A&R guy. That'd be nice." He doesn't seem especially concerned about Laura while he talks to her — his mind is more on gathering up all that money.


The corners of Jono's eyes turn upwards in a smile. <S'alright. No harm done,> Jono replies easily, waving the apology off. The accent means, in his estimation, that Violet is already infinitely more tolerable than most people in New York — though he does visibly stiffen at the Look. Oh. Right.

Rather than do the nice thing and help her gather her spilled records or, you know, get up off the ground, Jono just hauls himself back up to his own feet and dusts his hands off on his jeans. There. Better. He reaches up to straighten his scarf and casts another look towards the busker, his eyes narrowed. Judging him SO HARD.

He just also doesn't care enough to actually intervene.


Laura wrinkles her nose, and peeeeers at Max. Kind of like she doesn't buy it. Like she can SMELL DECEIT (she can't). Or HEAR HIS LYING HEART RACE. (That, she probably could.) "If you say so…" she murmurs suspiciously.

And gets distracted by a familiar Voice. And also a familiar smell, that's peculiar. "Lucy!" She replies, and hops off her perch, giving Max the 'I'm watching you' point with her index and pinkie fingers in parting. She's pretty sure he's Up To Something, and one of her friends is present now. So he'd best watch himself, because now she's likely to care.


"Hi, doggie." Lucy takes the dog's leash and scritches its ears. "What a cute doggie you are."

She straightens up, leash in hand. "Hi, Laura. Did you see where this guy came from?" She settles her bag across her body and tugs the dog along as she goes to meet Laura. The whole scene with Violet and Jono and the curse of all music has her interest but Laura is just a little more important.


The dog seems pleased with having its ears scritched. For whatever reason, it seems to just naturally trust Lucy. Perhaps her species and dogs shared some common root millennia upon millennia ago, like the Inhumans and the Kree. Or maybe that's just baseless speculation!

Still, when Lucy approaches Laura and the busker, the dog flips out again. It starts barking at the busker, and violently, like it's going to to rip loose of the leash and bite him right. on. the. dick. In fact, if Lucy doesn't keep a strong grip, that's what might happen!

The busker is alarmed by this. "Jesus Christ, goddamn!" he blurts, in what is actually pretty sensational swearing for 1963. "Lady, keep your psycho dog in check!" He actually stops collecting money — there's not much left, but plenty jewels — and drops his guitar with a 'SKONG' kind of noise, as he clambers up the stoop.

Violet, meanwhile, is busy meeting cute. "Oh, cheers," she says, as Jono helps her with her records. "I hope none of them cracked… You know, I think you're the first fellow countryman I've met here. It's like a bucket of cold water, hearing a familiar accen—"

Violet's thought is interrupted by Garf's wild barking. "Oh, Garf, no! Sorry, I need to go collect him," Violet says to Jono, patting him on the chest once before rushing toward the scene of When Dogs Attack Shady Musicians '63.


<Go on. I'll watch yer tunes.> It is probably the nicest thing Jono has said to another person since coming to this country, even accounting for the rather derisive look he's aiming at one of the records. Jazz. Well, no accounting for taste, he supposes.

When Violet pats his chest through his jacket, it doesn't feel quite right. It's roughly the correct shape, but it isn't as solid as it should be. Close… but off.

Jono tries to ignore it and busily scoops up the last few records, eyeing them with far more interest than he can muster even for a very angry-sounding dog and a frightened busker. The man is a butcher, he deserves it.


The dog smells familiar. And Laura is pretty in-tune with the whole… animal instinct thing. So when Garf starts raising a huge fuss about the busker, Laura changes her mind about not really caring that much. She barely even looks away from Lucy. "No, but he lives at the school," she comments, taking a couple steps to snag Max by the back of his shirt and pull him backwards firmly, as if… well, scruffing an errant dog, or a cat or something. "Curious."

Turning her eyes toward Max finally, she eyes him. "So why is this animal so upset with you? It is unusual for this behaviour to happen without reason."


"No one turns over stuff like that for a busker," Lucy says thoughtfully, in an aside to Laura, as she wrestles Garf. There's jewelry in there? And wallets? "I bet dogs don't like telepathy or whatever he's using to jack people's pockets. You can't trust anybody these days. Don't vampires have telepathy? Maybe he's a day vampire." Yeah, like that's a thing. "What are you doing, buddy? I'm gonna let this dog bite you in your no-no place if you don't explain yourself and give that shit back." She really did used to be a nice girl. Now she's a New Yorker… with a dog.


Somewhere, a very young Wesley Snipes is stung by Lucy's comment.

"What the— you crazy broad, leggo of me!" Max Livington, Shady Bard, flails but is unable to actually get free of Laura. His jacket is heavy. It's full of money~! Like, his pockets can't take much more of this. "Call your dog off! Jesus! I don't know, I sing and people do what I sing! So I'm making a little money off it, what do you care?! Look, I'll give you " Max L. reaches into his pocket and takes out a wad of bills. " there's gotta be fifty bucks here, just geddoffame!" Will the bribe work?

Violet rushes over and moves to take Garf's leash from Lucy. "Garf! Bad dog! I'm so sorry," the English girl says to Lucy — and the busker. Garf actually moves between Violet and Busky-busk Livingston there, like he wants to protect her. "I— wh…" Violet seems suddenly confused by this grungy looking dude waving money at two women and her dog.

Meanwhile, in Jono's Misery Corner, there's more than just jazz LPs in the bag. There are a bunch of Motown 45s: Martha and the Vandellas, Little Steve Wonder (he's so little…!), the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, that stuff. There's also an LP with a white sleeve that says 'DEATH CHANTS BREAK DOWNS & MILITARY WALTZES' in stark white type. That is, if he's snooping.


Would Jono snoop in a stranger's bag? …yes. Of course, what he finds mostly just fills him with regret for having done so, but as Violet is a countryman, he will forgive her. Probably. The dropped LPs get tucked into the bag without first being checked for whether or not they're broken, because that isn't his business, oh no.

Bag in hand, Jono finally wanders his way towards the growing kerfluffle, peering between girl-and-girl-and-girl-and-dog before finally settling a pair of very unimpressed eyes on Mr. Livington.


When Lucy suggests the man might be a 'daytime vampire', laura arches an eyebrow, and the claws on her hand that *isn't* forcing Max to stay put SNKT out. "You think so?" she asks Lucy. Because Laura does very specific things to vampires.

Then Max explains, and she shakes him by the scruff a little. "Do you think perhaps you have sung a little too much? You appear to have gotten more then you need," she notes. There's soemthing about the way adamantium claws glisten in the light that makes one's arguments so much more weighty. Or maybe it's the way it pops out from between her fingers like that.


"Man, you don't need that much money. You didn't earn that." Lucy hands Violet the leash so now she's got her hands free to pull money out of this jerk's pockets. She doesn't know what to do with it but she's not letting him have it. How much does a busker make? She has a pretty good idea. She'll leave this jerk that much.

"Even the dog doesn't like you, buddy. Do you have some kind of magic thing going?" Lucy has an idea. She'll split the money between the wallets, most of it, and then return it. Take it to the police, so maybe people will come get it. "Don't hurt him too much, Laura. Just enough so he learns not to be greedy. We'll do something to get this money and stuff back to people. Life in this city is bad enough without some jerk stealing."


Garf remains protective of Violet. Violet is reduced to asking, eyes wide with confusion, "What the devil?"

Max flails more as Laura produces knives from her hand. That actually makes Violet grab Garf around the neck and pull him back, or at least try to. It certainly doesn't make Money Max any less panicked. "Hey! Come on! I learned my lesson, I swear! Don't cut me, please!" He sounds genuinely terrified, and more concerned with his personal integrity of bodily wholeness than with Lucy rifling through his pockets. "I'll never play music again! I swear to God! Just don't hurt me!"


<We should be so lucky. Yer a butcher,> Jono opines in a dry 'voice,' staring balefully towards Money Max. Well. Mostly. Now he's keeping half a wary eye on Laura, because she's gone and produced knives. Somehow. As long as she isn't trying to use them on him, though, it's… probably just for show. Right?

It probably says something that Jono seems utterly nonplussed by the talk of vampires. No surprise, no doubt. Just glosses right over it.


Laura's claws vanish as fast as they appeared, while she considers Lucy thoughtfully. "I do not think injury will be necessary." She doesn't let him go until Lucy has decided how much he'll get to keep. She leans down a bit closer to Max, so he can see she means things she says. It also gives one a good impression of how violent she can really be, somehow. It's hard to stare a born killer in the eye and not know it.

"That is not necessary. But I suggest you write new songs that do not encourage such uncharacteristic generosity. If I hear another, I will be upset." She tilts her head. "Listen, do you hear that?" Of course he can't. "It is a truck. Three streets away. The water pump is failing. Do we understand each other?"


"She'll come for you," Lucy warns. "Don't take more than you need, asshole." She gives Max a fierce glare, then she shoves his shoulder like she's a real tough. In a cute little dress. And mary-jane shoes. "That's the real crime. Not taking what you need." She gives Jono and Violet a look over, then decides they're not a real threat.

"I'm gonna sort this out and then maybe we get it to people who need it even if we can't get it to the people who lost it." Lucy huffs righteously. "What are people gonna say about people with powers if guys like you do this? Making life hard for everyone."


"I get it, I get it!" Max bleats, basically one bladder twitch away from peeing himself in fear-of-God. Or actually more realistically: fear-of-Laura. The killer-eyes thing isn't just a good party trick, it really works. By the time our friend Mr. Livingston is able to get away, unbitten by dog or by Weapon X, and with remarkably dry slacks, he has a couple of bucks in his pocket. He doesn't even take his guitar. (Free guitar!)

Garf barks at the fleeing Max, and Garf's owner turns to the group. "What was all that about?" she asks, still totally befuddled by the whole thing. "…why are there all these wallets on the ground?"


<Either Americans are more tone-deaf than I thought or he was a con artist,> Jono says to Violet, still sounding rather unenthused. He offers her the bag of LPs back without another word, peering down at the abandoned guitar and cast with a thoughtful tilt of his head.

He's already got a guitar — in a case, on his back at this very moment, in fact — but it would be a shame to just leave it there. Jono glances between Laura and Karolina before he points at it, raising his eyebrows. <Either'a you birds want that? Play it or pawn it. Anything's better'n letting him come back for it.>


Laura tilts her head at Jono a little curiously, but her time in the Project with XIV has left her rather used to telepathic communication, actually. "I don't," she replies simply, adding, "Some sort of meta-power. He said he sings and they do it. Like… that story." She frowns. She's read too many fables recently. Some of them are blurring together. "With the mice."


"The Pied Piper of Hamlin. I used to play guitar at summer camp," Lucy says, a little wistfully. Not terribly well, but better than that guy. It's more the innocence of summer camp that she misses. "I'll hang onto it if you don't want it." She puts the guitar in the case and closes it up. "Laura and I will try to make sure that people get back what they lost — though I guess it's not going to be easy. I hate people who cheat. And that guy was a big cheater. And dangerous, if he can do more than just make people toss him money."


"Cheers," Violet murmurs to Jono as he hands her the bags back. "Well… as long as it's all settled now, I suppose," she comments, though she has no idea what she'd have done — probably nothing as decisive as Laura and Lucy here. She squints a little at Laura for a second, like the other dark-haired girl looks familiar. "Thank you for catching my dog," Violet says to Lucy. "He's a sweetheart, he truly is, but when something bothers him…" Violet shrugs to finish the thought.

Meanwhile, Max Livingston gets the hell out of New York and changes his name, so shaken is he by his encounter with Laura.

In the coming years, he will become a record executive and will be the man who decides to take a gamble on signing an unknown band that no one's ever heard of.

That band's name… is Metallica.

And now you know The Rest Of The Story.


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