1964-04-20 - Liaisons Dangereuse
Summary: A getaway from the everyday.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: Edith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
blackagar rogue 


A phone call might do, but a phone call lacks a certain allure to it. Better instead to rely on the oldest methods of all, the sealed envelope dusted by a few grains of her telltale neroli scent to register from the crisp heavyweight paper folded in three inside. Even a small blot of sealing wax in a deep, rich shade of forest green greets the eye, though the emblem sealed upon it requires knowledge of Old Norse to decipher the runes engaged in an elaborate design.

The envelope is delivered to whatever address Blackagar has deigned to offer, and failing that, more obscure methods of locating the Inhuman monk may be employed. However it happens, the letter will find him sooner or later. There is a magic in the delivery from the postal service, after all, one that regular denizens of New York take utterly for granted and entrust their fates in every day.

Sufficiently unmarked but for his name and ‘New York City’ on the front, opening the envelope reveals said message plied in a surprisingly lovely calligraphic hand. Black ink shines subtly cobalt, but in another light, glitters chrome. Only a few lines neatly stage themselves over a map giving a decent idea of where Washington Square on the edge of Greenwich Village is.

It appears at the break of day, no later, giving a window of approximately three hours to act.

//Mon cheri,

Would you care to take me for dinner and dancing tonight? I will provide the transportation. Dress warmly, gloves and scarf are a must! Meet me Monday at the arch in Washington Square Park at 9 a.m. sharp.

Affectueusement,
~ Scarlett //

That strange language belongs to French, if he recognises it, the abuse of multiple vowels sufficient to distinguish La Francaise from Deutsch, Italiano or Espanol.

*
Washington Square Park acts as the heart of Greenwich Village. If all roads in Europe lead to Rome, then all in the environs of the artsy quarter converge here. Literally. Radial pathways slice steadily inwards, beams of a concrete sun focused upon the concrete square with its famed fountain and elegant arch in classical style raised in the northern end.

Ironically for a place marked by neoclassical glory, iconoclasts and nonconformists have adopted the place wholesale. Folk singers gather around the central fountains, peering up at the brick library or dreamily plucking out their protest songs. Trees yet to come into leaf make it all the easier to identify beatniks in their black sweaters from the kids in their patchwork pants and leather vests who form the proto-hippies, and all between.

Morning dew gives way to a slight warmth.

She waits on a bench, clad in a black flared coat like something straight out of an Audrey Hepburn movie. White starkly outlines her throat, the wool scarf tumbling down her back and front despite all efforts to contain it. Even with those dark-lit braids confining her hair, the shock of flame sets Scarlett apart. So too might the task of reading a small, old clothbound volume of poetry.

Some church bell off in the distance might ring, depending on if he’s early or late, but she flips through the pages, expression unaccountably soft.

*
Having gotten the note, Blackagar looked it over with a sly grin on his lips. Where Scarlett had been gone for several days, he had taken that time to work on his own projects. Reading, research and acquisitions. It had nothing to do with a standard buying of real estate like many had been doing in the city; rather it had been focused on particular locations. An apartment complex here, a warehouse there. It had certainly kept Blackagar busy and focused on a task rather than letting himself fall to boredom. However it was the letter that pulled his focus in to Scarlett again, not that she was truly that far from his mind.

The request was odd, and finding a scarf was a particularly challenging request, yet he arrived at the precise time prescribed by the woman at the location. Hands tucked into pockets, eyes twinkling and lips curled into a shy smile as he makes his way towards her.

*

The stores in New York still stock those necessary supplies for the winter, albeit tucked into corners. A proper man about town dressed to be debonair or dapper can find something suitable, albeit with a little patience required. He holds the advantage on the redheaded bohemienne lost in the scrivener’s tales, her finger tracing along the margins of text wrought in dark ink. Without reason to look up immediately, Scarlett turns another page and loses herself deeper into poetry. Chiming notes resonate through the crisp air, blurred a little by folksingers practicing their chords on acoustic guitars and daydreaming of fame beyond the reach of a few quarters from busking.

“Hey, sir, wanna hear a tune about…” One voice flows out behind Blackagar, vibrant and hopeful.

“I wanna hold your hand, and pray you understand…” sings another.

Her head lifts and her gaze shifts, marking the hour in a vague measure of alarm common to anyone sucked into a literary fantasy land. Time stutters or halts in such moments, and she glances about the bench to be sure the city hasn’t fallen asleep on her watch. Not so, and there he is, marked by a sudden flare of a blithe smile, hot as any star gone active rather than restive. A small curl of her fingers makes for a wave, almost private, an intimacy in public.

*

The offer of listening to music is given momentarily by Blackagar's attention before he shakes his head. It is a polite shake, but one that indicates that his focus is to be elsewhere, the sort of dismissal of nods with a small smile. Then he is making his way to where Scarlett is at and reaches out a hand towards her when he is in range. That private moment of smile and wave between them extended further into a reach of touch. His notebook, tucked under his arm, remains there, posture and demeanor expressing, «You wrote?»

*
How easily other couples walk hand in hand is, for them, something different. An expression wrapped in onionskin layers of meaning, enough to cause a moment's pause to assess and appreciate the monk-prince's gesture. Closing the book with a ruffle of papers, Scarlett extends her gloved palm to slip into his, enough to draw herself up with a little assistance. The ninth gong of a bell answering another church is already fading out over the park. "Does this mean you accept my invitation?"

White limning her throat and shoulders flutters when she steps in to his side, giving Blackagar a quicker, radiant smile that hides a surprise, rather than a secret. Secrecy between them is so hard when he can read every electric line of satisfaction and anticipation shot through her posture. "We need to be going if we are going to reach our destination in time for dinner."

*
Blackagar glances up at the sky, noting that it isn't quite the right time for dinner, however he cannot refute the offer from her to head to whatever destination she has in mind. His eyes return down and he nods in the affirmative. Gesturing with shoulder and with hand towards her, the motion that says 'At your guidance'

*
She can parse affirmation over the finer details, still learning to navigate the intermediate strata of Blackagar's unspoken dialect. Not that she lacks for experience interpreting everything from telepathic extraterrestrials to direwolves. "Then let us be on our way." Warmth kindled across her soprano collapses into sparks of laughter glinting in her emerald eyes and lilting across her vocal chords. Hand in hand, they make a normal sight through the park, though beneath the surface, neither is. Their direction steers northeast, away from the university grounds and into the tangle of artists' workshops and galleries succumbing to gentrification. Once on the sidewalk, the conversation with him is much easier, with fewer to hear. "Would you rather be kept in suspense where we go, or have a hint? The choice is yours. Though I will have to lean on your forbearance, because the most direct way there is through me." Her fingers curl warmly around his, the glove no barrier to the heat she radiates. "Meaning, specifically, taking you there by flying. Hence the scarf."

*

Flying, that pulls a quirk of his eyebrow as he looks at Scarlett with a bit of surprise etched over his features. Slowly nodding, he ascents his agreement to both the method of travel and the purposeful suspense that he will keep himself in. No need to ruin the surprise, rather he'd simply enjoy the venture, the journey in this case to the unknown. There is so little that gets to surprise him, that this will be a rare treat.

*

Catching the upraised brow, the smile falters a moment and then reignites hotter than before. Squeezing his hand in the cage of her fingers, the redhead carries on that way into the dense circle of higher brick buildings separating Greenwich Village from its neighbours. "Under normal circumstances, I might head for the Long Island shore and take off from there. Would you rather live a little dangerously by leaving in here?" A question charged by possibility lies between them while they cross intersections and follow the sidewalk, accompanied by the shield of privacy New Yorkers give one another. Around a corner in a quiet street she halts, poised in front of him for a moment, measuring the cloud cover and scant traffic around them.

*
Dangerous? That just makes Blackagar grin a bit further but he nods his head yet again, squeezing the hand in his own tightly with a gesture that means yes. Yes to what is a toss up, living dangerously? Leaving from this place? Really they both combine into one. But there is a strong outward sense of trust he directs at her, demonstrates to her that what she opts to do in this situation, he trusts her.

*
Slowly but certainly, the Chronicle of Blackagar Boltagon is opening to the insistent scholar of ancient lore and esoteric topics. Scarlett raises his hand to her chin and kisses his knuckles before releasing his grip for a moment. Preparations are done with all the careless grace of long-established routine, tucking her braided hair beneath the collar of the coat. Reaching under the hem for a hard tug straighens the full length of those plaits securely. Ends of her scarf form an infinity knot, looped securely around her neck in layers without throttling herself. She gives him a once over and then gestures to his coat, aiming to make a few critical adjustments. "Then we shall first dance on the sky before properly upon the ground, mon cheri." French adds a note of affection conceivably more silken than the silences shared. "Two simple rules if you have never done this. Hold me close and enjoy yourself. I can teach you the basics up there if you want to learn to fly." Careful word choice matters, as she rests her palm against his chest briefly, the echo of his heartbeat a pattern against her own.

*
If he wants to learn to fly. A concept that he has never considered but now that it is in his mind, given root to take hold over the coming days. Blackagar may have to take time to think that over, if his abilities could be harnessed in such a way. Even as the thought is beating through his mind his eyes settle on Scarlett and with a smile, he nods readiness. Arms reach out to entwine her, tightly at that; she did afterall instruct him to hold her close.

*

And well flight may enter his fantasies in an idle moment. The girl's capable of it and, given a fair portion of his psychic talents for days on end, has to meditate about something other than the catastrophic effects of a sneeze or talking in her sleep.

Large land yachts rumble by a few streets out. Snug between the buildings, the short alley boasts nothing but a mailbox and bikes chained up to a lamppost. Scarlett slips her arms around Blackagar's waist, pulling him closer, as if it were possible. The scent of neroli will tease his senses, given her head is tucked under his chin, cheek to his shoulder. That specific placement matters, because his feet clear the ground a few seconds later. She gives him a minute to grow accustomed to floating in space, her embrace naturally tightened to support his weight, an effortless task. Let him feel out what is most comfortable in the way to hold her, as she in turn moulds to the contours of his frame. "Good?" A muffled question, all things considered.

*

A subtle nod of his head comes as response to the question. Good is a solid statement, a relative one but solid. He was aware of the sensation of flying, somehow, even if it had been in a more absent state of mind than a direct one. This is new, but not uncommon and a difficult concept to grasp his mind around. How could something be new, but common?

Even as he attempts to process this his arm slips about Scarlett’s waist as both support and a balance, eyes casting downwards to the ground then to her. Another nod comes, assent of the situation and the comfort that is found there.

*

Risk falls in the moments between lifting off the sidewalk and abandoning the cover offered behind brick and stone buildings. Partly overcast skies high overhead require several thousand feet exposed to wandering eyes, one pair of eyes among five million living souls enough to register their existence.

Scarlett remains closely pressed to him, paying heed to the nonverbal cues indicating Blackagar is ready for the ascent. His heartbeat and breathing rate satisfy curiosity, and the adjusted grip assures all is well. Her murmured words lie a few inches under his ear: “Hold firm. We start out fast until we reach the cloud bases, then the acrobatics begin.” A quick lift of her head allows for a reassuring brush of her lips against his jawline, the crackling incandescence of her accursed gift mostly absent.

*
Ascension comes with all the kick of a motorcycle, a sports car lined up on a straight stretch of road and the accelerator floored. A tremor of anticipation races through corded muscles and then they’re rising. The atmosphere itself offers some resistance, friction sloughing off clothes flattened to the body, but the arrow-straight rise comes with the force of a divine hand firing mortal projectiles from a bow. Without mechanical limits, Scarlett can hit rapid speeds — nothing to break the sound barrier yet — but the sprint to get them out of harm’s way means tearing through open space with the proverbial afterburners on.

*
The nerves of flight begin to settle in as the ground vanishes and then begins to flash by. There is a difference between flight such as this and that in a plane, or the even easier transport via teleportation. The speed is not the concern for Blackagar as much as it is the lack of control. To feel at the whims of another despite the level of trust.

But he follows the request, he holds firm to her and the flight is closed out of his mind a bit as he focuses on the sights of the sky above rather than below. Where she leads him, he has little control.

Beyond the clouds, a crystalline blue sky awaits, the vast limitlessness of the stratosphere eventually fading into the starry void separating Earth from the outer spheres. Their vertical trajectory to reach the cloud tops eventually changes and Scarlett rotates to shield Blackagar from the brunt of the needling cold of the wind more than once. Hence the value of the scarf, though in truth, nothing is likely to prepare a man for hitting Mach 1 and breaking past those speeds in the arms of a very much mortal woman.

When the gossamer veil parts, it reveals the grey, choppy Atlantic several hundred feet below. Few islets break the surface and the rare freighter making the transatlantic journey earns a wide berth. Heat alone exists between them, her arms securing him tightly against gravity’s harsh drag. They chase the sunset over those long minutes, though it takes no more than two hours to achieve their goals unless diverted. Drawing a great circle takes them over the western flank of Europe, until moody waters surrender to rearing, sheer cliffs and broken coast. Slower, then, he gains a bird's-eye view over the patchwork of brown, rusted fields and peat soils tilled for the next planting, green hedges and orderly towns radiating around church spires. Roads unfurl towards the heart of the Gallic Rome; Paris, rooted on the banks of the Seine. Her arrondissements stretch out in visible wedges, ringed by roads instead of walls.

Rather than dropping the man dead in the centre of it all, the bohemienne elects a park downriver some. Plunging from the clouds while nightfall gathers its stride means their presence is less obvious, and they can regain their land legs. Or topple in a heap together onto the grass, either is fully possible.

*
The landing for Blackagar is far from smooth, he tumbles a few steps as the transit had taken a weird affect on him, casting him in an unstable way. Vertigo passes, but only after he closes his eyes for a time to let the effects wear off, leaving him now both mute and blind for a time, hands pressed to his temples. It was an unexpected discomfort, one he was not anticipating for certain.

Finally when he is able to steady himself he look sup and catches several sights that are familiar; a place he has been before although not recently. A tentative, unsteady step is taken to test his footing before he slows once more and tries to regain his balance.

*

The girl's lack of fatigue toxins certainly helps her land, though she goes to her knees in the grass, a wispy laugh marking the moment. Caught briefly on all fours, she waits for the forward momentum to cease before attempting anything risky, such as standing up. Giving the dark-haired monk a wide smile, she asks, "All is the way it should be? We are in the Bois de Vincennes. The Seine is to your left, and we should be able to take a bus or trolley into the city. Unless you prefer to walk or bicycle?" Her windblown hair cannot fully be helped. Straightening her garments and unwinding her scarf takes very little time, accomplished by smooth practice.

Further proof she stitches airborne trails across North America more than she lets on. Checking her gloves to be in place, she gets to her feet and walks over to him. The sky won't be bright with spring sunlight for long. "Thank you for trusting me. For this."

*

Blackagar nods, smiles softly and extends his hand towards Scarlett to take her gloved. Pointing to his feet, he indicates the direction she meant; «Walking.» The feel of ground under his feet certain to help him get back into a state of balance and comfort. Teleportation was so much easier as a means to travel, clearly flight was an endeavor that would take some time to adjust too. As he glances around however, at the city, his eyes come back to Scarlett and the expression in his eyes relays the message, «Why?»

*

They have time before dinner and promised dancing, at least. Her footsteps are light, the transition period for her a matter of minutes or seconds. Teleportation would be lovely, but short of draining a passing teleporter, out of their reach for the moment. Thus, they form a normal couple taking one of the alleys through the wooded sprawl. With almost a thousand hectares, the park covers a good chunk of territory. The famous Parisian skyline on the right bank takes shape beyond bends in the brown river threaded through its heart. Walking suits her well, and she can lean in a little against Blackagar's side, pressing her arm to his in another front safely. "The City of Light has a special place in my heart," she says softly. "I wanted to share it with you."

On the surface, a charming statement. Underneath, it could be a great deal more.

*

They walk, arm in arm, and with his hooked arm Blackagar holds a notepad, his free hand jots in it with writing while looking around. Holding it out to her, he lets her read while glancing. «Paris has always been special. I was here about 5 years ago. Not for touring however.» The vague response does lend a bit of potential for further story in it. But at the moment he doesn't elaborate, instead following her guiding steps to the destination she has in mind.

*

"What for?" Give her an opportunity to seize hold of a story of his past, and Scarlett readily becomes the audience. Her arm steals around his and she casts her gaze down to the notebook. Blackagar leads whilst she reads, and then they can easily exchange roles when he takes his turn at playing the royal scribe. "I promised to surprise you. Our destination for the moment is the Champs de Mars. I lose nothing saying that much."

Neroli weaves around them, a distant scent of summer and sunshine embodied in the juiciest of Valencia oranges. It mingles with the more masculine impressions of him, and that gives a quiet calm even her serene presence rarely reaches.

*

«An assassination attempt by the NLF. It was a front however. A group of Nuhuman terrorists were attempting to use the distraction to break in to the Louvres for an Inhuman artifact.» Blackagar's scrawl explains to her. «I learned of the plot and came to stop them. That is what I did for most of my decade of exile, worked to stop my brother and others from disrupting the planet with items that they should not have.»

*

Of course, it would never be something like 'Came to see a football match' or 'Needed to check on my accounts' or 'Studied law at the Sorbonne.'

Halfway through reading, the amused curve of her mouth takes herself to task, chiding, though not aimed at him. Her arm bars him from walking across an intersection, and not a moment later, a small red Renault comes roaring around the corner, tires squealing as the driver runs the light. "Pardonnez-moi." Apology comes on many fronts, the distant glimmer in her eyes returning to the present. "What is the purpose of the thefts? Does your brother still try to achieve some end that puts you at odds with him, or has he quieted down?"

*

«He gives the appearance of quieting, but that does not make it so. I suspect he is biding his time, hatching some kind of plan. Good intentions but often bad actions, it requires a delicate touch. As for what they were after, it was an ancient Kree artifact that would help to accelerate the transition of Inhumans, but with dangerous side effects.» Blackagar glances at the car speeding past before turning his attention to Scarlett again. «It is a still a pleasant place to visit however.»

*

Their ragged course follows the natural bend in the river, and more fanciful buildings overtake the nineteenth century tenements and rowhouses. further signs of opulence and wealth build while crossing into the Fourth Arrondissement, the spires of Notre Dame and the black, imposing bulk of the Eiffel Tower fully in sight over the rounded rooftops. Faint beams of softened blue might give way to rose, soon.

"The responsibility to safeguard yourself and others never really changes. It lies heavy no matter where we are." Her fingers curl softly around his, a squeeze for familiarity. Their route weaves along the river and turns over a bridge, leading them onward and closer to the black spires. "What is your favourite place?"

*

There is no hesitation there, «Attilan. Home.» He writes it without thought before adding, «But of places that are accessible, I do enjoy the mountains of Nepal, the Himalayas. There is much peace there, people who will understand the need of being.» Showing it to Scarlett, he glances up at the Tower's dark looming presence, nodding almost in greeting to it while pausing in just a moment's stride to avoid the quick skittering of a cat that crosses path. «What is yours?»

*

Three hundred meters of glistening black steel rears over a long plain formerly turned over to civilian market gardens, now reshaped in the grandiose sense of balance and form where converging alleys and roads form neat green lawns and handsome squares. People throng there at all hours, lured as tourists, drawn as denizens to their famous birthright. If the Statue of Liberty leaned in the middle of Central Park, it might feel the same.

She stands on her toes with the cat galloping across her path, teetering and bending from the waist. "Oua!" The exclamation fades away. "The need of being. Something higher than existing." Her lips form a crescent smile, gaze bedimmed. "The sky is my consolation. I love here. London. Sydney." Places scattered widely. Her hand reaches up to paint a line down Blackagar's jaw.

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