1964-05-19 - Birds of a Feather
Summary: The awful bad luck of a mugging turns over a new coin for two singularly-feathery folk in New York City.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
rosemarie jay 

New York is a fascinating city. Even the best of neighborhoods bisect by questionable alleyways , and like any city full of opportunity, there are always those who see the easiest opportunity by nefarious means. One of the numerous libraries in the city not terribly far from this particular narrow stretch between a number of buildings that have been built together over the years and rise high into the air at least three stories, creating a corridor of sorts with dumpsters and debris speckling the pavement, interspersed with folded up ladders to fire escapes and heavy metal security doors. The only saving grace here is that at least it's not a sequence of food businesses, so the smell is down to only human refuse and normal trash, rather than rotting food from several restaurants culminating in a bunch of 'ick'.

It's down this alleyway that a single young man strolls. Hands in his jean pockets and red hair catching the dim lights hanging outside of each metal back door (if it isn't burned out). Jay is generally unassuming, though he seems to have some kind of small lump on his back, he counts on people's general rush and lack of observation to ignore the streamline of red feathers that hang out of the back of his loose button down shirt and down the backs of his legs. But coming straight at him from the other side, it's difficult to tell immediately. A soft clicking sound from his thong sandals marks every step he takes in quiet resonance.

A homeless man sits beside a dumpster, croaking out at Jay passes, "Spare change?" holding a paper cup out that's seen better days.

The red headed young man skids to a slow stop, digs in his pocket and pulls out a couple loose bills, dropping the folding money into the cup. "God bless ya, Sir," he murmurs sincerely and continues on his way. A dumpster down, three inquisitive, rough looking heads lift, having watched a homeless man get two dollars? Their attention piqued.

A shorter shift today meant getting out in the early afternoon rather than after dark, something for which Rosemarie is very grateful. After a run-in with the local shambling contingency of undead, in which she had assistance in a certain stronger-than-expected young troubador and new friend, it's been difficult summoning up the courage to walk home alone. Most of her work-mates have been kind, accompanying her to her door in understanding of the librarian's general fears, but today, she's out of luck. Only the sunshine peering out from potentially stormy clouds is her friend and it wards off some of the uncertainty.

Clutching her courier-style purse against her stomach, she walks along quickly, not making eye contact with anyone unless absolutely necessary. The nightmares had been bad last night and lack of sleep plus general anxiety means that the skin behind her ears, between shoulderblades, and along her forearms feels like sugar ants crawling about on it. Nothing seems to be going her way on this travel home to her apartment. Not paying attention, she trips over a crack on the sidewalk. Catching herself on a pole means the purse swings and smacks against it, upending some of its contents on the sidewalk. It's nothing critical, merely a lipstick, compact mirror, loose change, and a little brush, but it's enough to make her mutter something that would have made her grandmother gape as she kneels down to collect the objects, in clear alignment with the alley's entrance.

Luck is a funny thing, for every person's bad luck, there is very frequently a flip side to it where it becomes someone's good luck. This is one of those situations, though it isn't yet clear which belongs to who as Jay strolls down the long stretch of alleyway, occasionally coming to a narrow, single car break in the buildings used as an entry point to cars off the main drag. He's near enough to make out the figure at the end of the alley way, but the woman isn't clear by any means and he still needs to raise his voice to call out, "Y'allraght, Miss?" the lean of his accent carries the relaxed hum of someone from the American south. Polite. Genial. And genuinely concerned while he watches the figure crouch and begin picking her things up.

Jay hears the shuffling rush of several people behind him, but his attention is caught more on the young woman ahead of him. He doesn't quite notice the urgency of those shuffling sounds until he's grabbed by a couple of grubby hands and yanked clean off his feet, a short yelp of alarm is rather lacking in testicular fortitude , followed by a metallic thump as Jay's snagged and shoved up against the nearest dumpster with a rattle. Hands go up immediately, pale palms facing outward in surrender, "Whoa, whoa, man. What's the rub?"

The three crowd in close, one with a broken bottle shiv, shoving it right in Jay's face while another one roughly starts going through pockets. "Shut the hell up, kid."

Rosemarie flinches a little as she looks up at the voice. Assuming she's being spoken to, she searches out the body to the words and waves a completely awkard, dismissive hand that holds the lost lipstick.

"Y-Yes, fine, th-thank you!" Her reply likely reaches him, though it's up for grabs, given the half-hearted volume of her projection and then the sudden interference of the three rough-looking individuals. The lipstick makes a clatter on the cement as she scrambles to her feet, eyes wide and paling fast enough to make spots stand out brightly on her cheeks beneath her freckles. "Oh no!" It's a breath of a rejection to what she's seeing, glass weaponry and threat and all. "Oh no, ohno-ohno-ohno-no-no!"

With the upswing in heartrate comes the increase in blood pressure and hello, Otherness, sensing a means to play. The growing habit of wearing a shirt with a low-dipping back pays off well in this instance because there's no way to avoid the eventual appearance of her wings — though not just yet. First comes the shout, wavering but still loud enough to draw attention: "You let him go! RIGHT NOW!!! GO AWAY!!!" Sure, she's just standing there, but making enough noise is sure to get someone to look more than once in her direction…right?

It isn't clear if he heard the young woman's reply or not, but Jay fights it a little bit, his hands getting in the way a little bit while other grubby hands try to work apart his pockets, searching for anything that might be worth their time. "H-hey now, you don't wanna do anything stupid," Jay tries to advise against the trio of rough folks on him. They aren't even particularly imposing as far as terrifying figures go. They're just desperate, and desperation paints its own portrait of terror.

With a single stroke of that figurative brush, one of the men socks Jay across the face when he mouths back, sending the young man teetering to one side and partially out of the grasp of the man holding onto the front of his shirt as he slides sloppily to one side on the dumpster. The sound of shuffling shoes and tearing fabric softly whispers in the alleyway as one of them growls, "Shut the hell up!" Apparently the more aggressive of the others as the two kind of give him a 'what the fuck' sort of look and try to reassert some grip on Jay's shirt. His front pocket torn off and sleeve torn, his outer shirt slumped down his arm some. The aggressive guy looks up, down the alley toward the tremulous shout. Apparently not terrifying enough. He scoffs and steps forward in a menacing fashion. Still a good thirty yards away from the librarian, the filthy man grabs his crotch lewdly. "Keep on trucking, bitch. Unless you want some, too."

Jay seems perfectly aware still and lucid as he scrambles to get his sleeve back up, trying to cover up. "Just go. Just take it and go! Just go!" Not putting up a fight at all until they pull at his shirt collar at all and catch something shiny, grabbing for a chain. That's when pale fingers reach for the man's hand and stop him. "No—hey!" Jay looks over at the man yelling toward the woman from before. "Hey! Leave her alone! Ah'll give ya whatcha want, leave her outa this. Miss, Ah-Ah'm okay." Yeah, you look like you've really got this, Jay. The guy with the bottle shiv punches him in the face again, wrestling over whatever it is he has under his shirt.

A shivering gasp as Rosemarie claps her hands over her mouth. Violence — dear god, it's come to violence as the young man scuffles to keep whatever is about his neck on his person.

Like the effervescence of champagne, the Otherness springs forth, sensing potential threat to its host and by extension, the object of her focus, which happens to take another set of knuckles to the face. The strap of her purse briefly flattens tight to her torso as the dusky-hued wings unfurl from their impossible pockets between her shoulders. What drives her into the half-shadows of the alley is some amalgamation of protective fury, the fear of her powers being discovered, and the primal bravado of the Shi'ar battle-blood come to life. It seems the lesser of the evils to menace the three roughnecks with a terrified scream that takes on metallic avian tones even as the fans of plumage unfurl behind each ear, crests spread wide and broad in emotion, and what nails on her hands have become talons curl outwards as she…bluffs.

Oh yes, it's a bluff, Rosemarie doesn't want to travel any closer across the ten yards that now separate her from the desperate group. Another cry, brassy and high, and the wings whump the air loudly, mantling wide behind her to block off some of the light. Her irises, raptor-gold instead of cinnamon-brown, betray both Shi'ar genetics and pinpoint-pupiled fright.

Jay pitches again to the side and actually hits the ground this time, pushed by the force of the thrown hand, though his pale skin doesn't seem to show any discoloration or laceration on it as he slides, scrambles and hits the pavement with the sickening sound of a body hitting cement. It's an awkward slide as well, his fist clenched tight over something at his chest, someone going through his pockets, pulling at his loose clothing with greedy fingers, the second fellow still near him grabs handfuls of Jay's denim overshirt and yanks as the red-head falls away from him with impact, making Jay spin halfway, an arm coming free and leaving the guy holding half of his shirt while it hooks around Jay's other shoulder.

"What. The. Fuck!?" Alarm and confusion sounds out just before Rose's Otherness makes itself known as the two men by Jay stop their mugging to recoil back, staring down at the figure flat on his face on the ground. A splay of bright red feathers lay scattered along his back, the back of his tee shirt cut open with a pair of scissors, exposing a very human, well-muscled back that blends into— "Jesus fucking Christ, the freak has wings…"

An avian scream draws their attention upward just in time to see the woman with the quaking voice moments earlier unnaturally sprint down the alleyway in a feint attack. Feathers! More goddamn feathers! "What the hell!?" The man with the bottle trips himself up as he turns and sprints away, stumbling over an empty cardboard box, his bottle drops and shatters while he flees. The man still holding Jay's shirt is frozen in fear, a fist full of crumpled bills in his hand, being squished against a half spent pack of gum. Jay's wallet on the ground next to his feet. The lewd brute who initially attacked Jay and thought he'd scare Rose off just stares at the figure of his impending doom. All color drains from his face, hands clamping tight over his ears when he hears that scream, eyes wide and terrified. "Wha…what are you!?" he chokes out in a gasp, voice cracking, tight with fear.

Jay lifts his head up, slowly gathering up to his elbows and watching through shaggy red hair as the woman from moments earlier…grows…feathers? Confused rather than afraid, he watches passively, heart rate ramping up as a swathe of heat prickles all over him. A visceral response to that scream. Feathers prickle and his wings twitch, shivering away from his back in a half cupped curve. But the other two aren't running. So, the young man on the ground takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, focusing for a long second or two, then bows his head, slowly getting his knees up under him.

The sound of sirens echo through the alleyway. Too close and too convenient. But that sound shocks the two out of their stupor. They know that sound. Confused, they start to bolt.

And well and good that the remaining two muggers get to beating feet. There's a healthy imbalance of Shi'ar psyche overtaking the normally-shy librarian's logical decisions and in an absolutely unnatural reaction to their bolting, she sprints across the short distance after them. As a larger raptor might charge and scatter the crows, so does she, one last shivering shriek harrying them audibly farther down the alleyway.

Her sudden halt, the human hauling in the reins, brings her not too far beyond Jay. Her chest rises and falls, the crests behind her ear begin to settle down, and the wings in hues of twilight flutter once more before folding docilely behind her shoulders. When Rosemarie dares to check on the red-head with tattered clothing, it's with wide eyes that hold very little of the bravery shown not seconds before. She heard the sirens and now she's desperately afraid.

Acknowledging the curvature of his wings makes her mouth drop open in blatant surprise. The whisper is short and ragged, vocal chords half-blown: "I can't fly — they're coming!" It's a terrible admission given that the wail of the police cars are basically on top of them now, perhaps passing by the distant alley entrance given the uncertainty in location given by the telephone call that drew them in.

The sound of predatorial steps chasing them makes the men run faster. They aren't predators. They're sheep in wolves clothing, and even the most docile of sheep will become beasts if hungry enough and desperate enough. Loud shrieks follow the men out of the alley, taking the first hard left (slipping on trash and questionable water as they make that hard turn) to make it out of the alley and back toward the main road. Which seems somewhat counter intuitive with sirens going off all around them, but at this point, they may see the police as protection from whatever is down in that alley.

Jay is on his knees at this point, head bowed, breathing ragged to the point of his whole upper body moving with it, wings shaking as they hold out to either side, trying to make his silhouette larger than he actually is. The sound is deafening the closer that Rose gets to him, the reason becoming apparent when Jay sucks in a hard gasp, coughs, and suddenly the alleyway is quiet once again. Like a tomb, the silence is anything but empty and seems cavernous as the young man clears his throat with a polite cough and lifts his face up to peer up at his heroine; bright and clear green eyes looking up between scatters of red hair.

"It's okay," Jay's southern lilt quiet, almost a whisper. "That was jus' me."

Meeting those bright green eyes comes hand in hand with the realization that indeed, the alley is deathly silent in the wake of the sirens falling out of existence.

"Oh!" The breathy vowel of surprise comes with the complete flattening of the crests behind her ears like a fan closed shut, drawing her form suddenly sleek and far smaller than before. Even the Shi'ar battle-blood is given reason to pause and consider how it was so easily fooled — no, that its host was so easily fooled. Humans are such silly things.

Her own wings do a little flutter and settle once more as she gives him a more careful look-over, trying very hard not to stare at the red feathering clearly on display. It's nigh-impossible. "Are y-y-you okay? I'm s-s-sorry if I sc-scared y-you." Those talons, pale-peach curves in place of fingernails, are carefully curled away into her palms and her hands tucked to her chest. "Y-You're n-n-n-not hurt, are y-you?" Blotchy blush lingers beneath her freckles, but it seems like proper color is coming back after all as the adrenaline in her body becomes manageable in this moment. It doesn't take away an iota of the unearthly gold in her irises.

It's hard not to be rude and stare. Jay's been here two weeks and met all manner of people, but she is something different entirely. Similar and still starkly different, Jay's gaze flickers over her at a rapid pace. Talons. Check. Feathers. Check. In unexpected places, even. But for all the madness which just transpired, he seems…okay. Maybe not calm, but for taking two hits and falling over, Jay is completely lucid and clear-eyed, one fist clenched tight against his chest, a very delicate looking silverish chain broken and hanging out from his fingers.

"Ah, uh, yeah." Suddenly very aware that he's still on the ground, the young man pushes up to his feet and slides his hand discretely into his pocket, depositing whatever he held onto there. He doesn't even bother checking himself over before shaking his head and slowly plucking his fingers at his overshirt as it hangs from his right shoulder. "Ah'm not hurt." There's a red stain on one of his knees and a similar one soaked into the elbow of his shirt where it still clings to his arm. Nothing dripping or fresh, though. There are dirt smudges where he fell, but filth is nothing. Jay rubs his palms off on his pants and flicks his gaze curiously toward one of Rose' ears, then her hands. "It…feels real weird t'say, but, thank y'fer stoppin'. Are you ahl raght? You look…more startled than Ah am raght now."

She tilts her head slightly, collapsed dual crests of plumes and all, because that accent is not only different, but a bit hard to figure out. A little frown betrays her processing his statement before she blinks, realizing that she too is staring. It makes sense that he would…after all, she's not normal in the least. But then again…neither is he. Her averted gaze doesn't stay that way long and returns to the arc of one rufous-hued wing-joint behind the line of his shoulder.

"I-I-I'm f-f-fine, y-yes." Her bottom lips trembles for all of a second before she jams them shut, cutting off some line of questioning that's probably personally construed as rude. A hard swallow and she glances to both sides, making sure that no one's peering in at them and considering calling the actual police.

Looking back to him, she tries for a tremulous smile and somewhat succeeds. "I'm Rosemarie. I-I'm glad y-you're alright. I-I-I w-w-w-was afraid f-for you." And there's no helping it, despite the fact that it's prying all as hell: "Y-You have w-w-wings t-too." The dusky-blue wings behind her own shoulders spread wide briefly, as if stretching in greeting, before shaking loose feathers into place and folding blithely back along her spine again. Even the spread behind each ear seems to perk a bit more.

The stutter is a little difficult to think around, so they're both at a slight disadvantage when it comes to understanding one another, but seem to make it work. Unsheathed, Jay's wings are little tattle tales; soft 'fwip-fwip' sounds of curiosity and excitement as they flex and shiver with tiny slivers of anxiety, feathers rubbing against each other like gentle whispers while the extra appendages tentatively stretch and fan slightly along his back, like a curtain. Excited, curious, uncertain. She's clearly different, but still similar. And much like a bird who has never seen another bird, it's confusing how Jay feels like he understands some of her own alien body language. Why he wasn't terribly terrified when she charged, for example.

"Rosemarie? (Rose m'-ree)" Oddly enough, his accent doesn't seem to lean too heavily on her name. Enough people back home with names like that. His cadence is just a little bit off, with the lazy cadence of almost dancing that southern accents seem to have. "That's a real nahce name. M'name's Joshua, but you can call me Jay."

Her wings spread out, giving him the chance to really get a look at them when he's not face first on the ground. His shiver briefly and stretch a little wider, then subside once more. "So do you," Jay points out with a cautious curve of a smile, a fizzy bubble of excitement exhaled in a whisper of sound that sounds like it might've meant to be a chuckle. "We should, uh, get outa here. Do you…" Jay drifts as he stretches his arm around to try to find his other sleeve, trying to read her expression. "…mind if Ah walk with ya?" A pause, then joke. "Ah mean, if those fellahs come back, Ah's be a raght mess without you, Miss Rosem'ree."

"Jay. A g-g-good n-name." Not that it should matter and this does occur to her. The blush returns and her attention shies away for a moment as she goes to tuck hair — and brush talons along plumage — behind her ear. "It-t-t… I m-m-mean…" A little laugh, uncertain but true, and Rosemarie looks to him again. "Y-You're w-welcome. B-B-But I c-c-c-can't g-g-go w-walking just y-yet, th-th-the…the w-w-wings, they n-need to g-go away f-first."

Only, the feathering isn't going away anytime soon. The Shi'ar Otherness does note the parallels to this singular oddity in the big city, the only other one of its host's kind to share such physiological traits thus far, and it tries to 'speak' again. Perhaps it's like a pidgen-English, the way that the crests open up and settle, open up and this time remain fully-spread. Curious, absolutely. A little shifting on the part of the wings, major joints lifting and falling; it causes the largest primaries to rustle together as well behind her legs, seeing as their length nearly reaches her ankles.

"Yours go away?" Jay boggles immediately, leaning forward a little bit, unable to control the curious movement, the young man swiftly recoils and holds pale palms up to Rose in apology. "Ah'm sorry, Ah'm sorry, that's rude a'me. Ah've just…" Jay trails, his eyes following back over her shoulders. Color brushes along his ears and spreads to Jay's cheeks, making his fair skin a few hues closer to his hair and wings. "Ah've never met anyone else with wings. Or even feathers."

Then again, it doesn't even seem like Jay needs to lean in to inspect his savior for the evening when Rose's plumage unfurls once more, casting a backdrop. Jay's personality has become…muted recently. His life — like anyone who discovers alien parts of themselves and undergoes some pain for it — has taken some twists, so he has grown weary and uncertain in some aspects. Muted. But as he watches Rosemarie's crests open up once more, his brows loft upward and eyes go wide in wonder. "Wow…" Jay whispers, awed, his mouth curving into an open-mouthed grin. A short, frantic sounding laugh huffed up from his chest. Excited. Elated. That smile reaches his eyes, warmth radiating off him like a tiny little crimson sun. It's almost enough to make his chest hurt.

Without much thinking about it, Jay doesn't have all those little crests and whatnot, but in the middle of that weird little alleyway, the ever-present shadows that hang over his shoulders shiver, then expand, wide and at their full breadth, hitting the far walls of the alley, primaries scrape a little bit as he gives a couple of short, abortive flaps, kicking up tiny gusts of wind. To offset the balance, Jay's posture straightens and despite his loose clothing, he's a perfect blend of birdlike anatomy on a human—lean muscle, lithe and athletic. Almost like he was made on purpose. Almost.

Jay whispers another soft chuckle, practically tingling with joy. A hint of minor dampness in his eyes, or maybe it's just a play of the light. "Wow. Wow."

Under the sudden spotlight of attention, it takes all of Rosemarie's well-hidden stubborn nature to not quail away. Mind you, a goodly portion of it is simply aborted for the fact that the Otherness might as well preen for the attention. The Shi'ar psyche is a simple and brutally plain thing. To be admired is to engender appreciation and more showy displays. The host might be suddenly very interested in her cuticles, if they even exist given the smooth transition from human skin to talons, but the alien wings mirror their acquaintances in carmine though not to as much a broad literal extent.

Being a failed mutagenic experiment means that the librarian remains earthbound. The dusky wings are simply not wide enough to counter the only slightly-lessened weight of her skeleton. They still manage to kick up some dust, send an errant scrap of dirty paper flipping away, and the young woman grimaces.

"W-W-What?" she asks quietly, daring a fleeting glance to Jay, who's still smiling like the sun. Oh goodness, doesn't that ever make her stomach do flip-flops. She's not used to getting anything beyond the time of day.

For the first time ever, the crests manage a horizontal wiggling motion before flicking flat and up again. Look at you, you're like me, yayayayay!

It doesn't matter that Rosemarie is earthbound. Not right now it doesn't. Her wings kick up that little dirt devil of a wind and Jay exhales another huffing sound of near laughter, overjoyed. But boy, doesn't she look uncomfortable! Jay breathes out another, nearly sobbing sound of laughter, his emotions freewheeling it from one side of the gamut to the other. After that quick little hello display, both of his comparatively massive wings fold and enclose into a perfect little package on his back, no longer compressed tight to his scapulas, but settling as they would naturally if he didn't run around with them hidden all the time. It takes all the strength of will in his body not to surge forward and do something undoubtedly alarming, so instead, he just rocks forward on his sandaled feet and curls his still very human hands into fervent little fists. "That's amazin'! Yer amazin'. Ah jus'…" He drifts off and swiftly rubs the back of his hand against one eye quickly, trying to pass that quick emotional outburst off as dirt from the fight. Jay shakes his head, letting his longer hair fwip along his shoulders. "Ah've never seen sommun even close t'me. Ah'm sorry. Ah don't mean t'make you uncomfortable, Miss."

"Oh!" Oh geez, now she understands and the little smile is completely forgiving, imploring him to not be uncomfortable in turn. "N-No, y-you're fine! I j-j-just…" Rosemarie fades out for a moment as she contemplates precisely how she feels. It's not too far off, that odd pendulum of relief at one end of the swing while the other contains trepedation, as if this might be all one lucid daydream and she's going to wake up at her desk at the library having dozed off.

"I th-though I w-w-was the o-only o-one too. H-How…" She bites at the little scar on the corner of her lip momentarily before catching herself. "S-Sorry if it's f-f-f-forward, b-but h-how…h-h-how did y-you g-get y-your w-w-wings?" She thinks hard through the maelstrom of baser emotions; the dusky plumage behind her shoulders fluffs a bit and communicates the exact opposite feeling of contentment. No wonder there's some confusion in that pidgen-English in comparison to her actions.

"Ah mean, clearly we're different," Jay begins again, but still elated for all the similarity between them. He rubs a hand through his hair, ruffling it around, letting his fingers drift thoughtfully down to his own very human ear. "But this is … this is amazin'." That level 11 excitement dims to something more manageable, but Jay is still visibly trembling with excitement. Or, at least, his wings are. The soft friction of feathers rubbing against each other audible and visible. He shakes his head softly, "No, no it's ahl raght. You can ask." Jay jumps on that reassurance as if it were a grenade. Jay glances backward, over his shoulder at one of the looming red shadows. "They just…grew in." He shrugs at the underwhelming explanation. "Took a good long while, but they just…happened."

Jay's turn to be uncertain and curious, habitually licking one corner of his mouth as his fingers pluck at his overshirt, slowly pulling it onto his other shoulder and over his wings. They still stick out over his collar on his back, but he looks like less of a raggamuffin now. "Uh…so, can Ah ask about yers?"

There's a diminishing to Rosemarie's expression, as if she were expecting something less…normal. Her lips thin and her shoulders drop all of a centimeter. Not that having wings on a human frame constitutes 'normal'. Still, she feels the need to answer his question with her own possibly-underwhelming explanation.

"Of c-c-course. I…d-d-don't r-remember h-how m-m-m-mine came…t-t-t-to be." The blush is profound now, up around the outer arc of her ears, and the crests fold away down and flat against her skull. The wings, once proud, shiver and curve out around her arms to engage in a mimicry of a hug. She looks down and off to one side, clutching at her own forearms with those dangerous hands. "I…h-h-had a n-nightm-m-mare and then it-t-t start-t-ted h-h-h-happening. They appear w-when I'm str-r-r-r — " She visibly grits her teeth and tries again. "Stressed."

Rose's reaction to Jay's explanation makes his face flush with color, deep and dark when he notes her disappointment. Both of them red in the face and shuffling sort of around the subject at hand after that initial wave of excitement. Though he doesn't seem to really understand the difference between how his happened and hers, Jay ruffles a hand through his hair once more, his abashedness making his wings slick back and compress to his shoulders, hiding. "So. You had a nightmare an' one day you got stressed an'…all that came outa ya?" He gestures gently toward her, his tone tender. Empathetic. "You change. See. Mahn are just…here. All th' time. Ah can't hide 'em like you can. That's super handy."

Blushers, unite! The librarian's attention is draw up by the softening in his tone and she worries immediately that she's trod on delicate feelings. A little sigh of sympathy comes in turn and she nods, brows quirked up.

"Y-Y-You c-c-can't h-hide y-yours? I'm s-sorry." As if she had anything to do with Jay's predicament, but habitually apologizing is a hard one for her to break. "I w-wish…m-mine were m-more predictable, b-but…" She wrinkles her nose and for a critical hovering moment, seems on the verge of tears. The midnight-blue crests slowly unfurl once more, however, as the Otherness puts a firm damper on the pity party. She echoes its inclinations with the whispered, "…it is what it is." Those raptor-gold eyes meet his and a weak smile is attempted. "Yours are l-lovely though. R-R-Red is a n-n-nice c-color." Her nature dictates that she can't stand to see someone else saddened. Perhaps the compliment will cheer him up, disheveled clothing and all?

Jay's expression softens and a smile barely curves his mouth as she apologizes. A small shrug rolls his shoulder. "Ah can't hide 'em, but Ah can fly. That's not a bad trade, Ah suppose." He doesn't seem terribly put out by that fact and how differently their cards were dealt, inhaling a deep breath and letting it flow off him, like water off a duck's back. Slowly, he shakes his head, still awed as he allows his gaze to dally along those feathers once more. "It /is/ what it is. Ah'm just…" He shakes his head again, drifting off midsentence. "Ah'm sorry. Ah keep sayin' how glad Ah am to just meet someone else."

Wings stretch slightly and ruffle at the compliment, slightly abashed. "Thanks. It's…just because mah hair's red. Somethin' about hair an' feathers bein' made out of the same stuff, Ah don't know. Yers are amazin'. They're little, but the way they're built is really…delicate lookin'. They suit you. They're perfect fer you."

Coaxed more still out of her doldrums, Rosemarie's smile deepens, but not enough to flash teeth. Still too shaken for that — but she's trying! The soothing enfolding of her own wings lessens to expose her arms again but the protective wall of feathers still clings about her shoulders, not too far off from a drape or even a cape.

"Th-Thanks, and it g-g-goes b-both ways. I n-never thought I'd c-c-come across anyone else e-e-e-either." Perk, a full bloom of the fan of plumage behind both ears; the Otherness senses a return to moderate comfort in its host. "It's n-n-nice that…" Her voice fades out and that concerned quirk to her brows returns, but there's an element of bone-deep reduction in anxiety that nearly jellies her knees. "…I'm n-n-not the only one."

Suddenly, there's a laugh…and then another, followed by a cascade of helpless giggles that serve to bring a glistening to the corners of her eyes and her taloned hands up over her mouth. It's absolutely a dam breaking and poor Jay, subjected to it. She nearly bends at the waist and those smaller wings spread wide again and flap, almost as if they're mildly disturbed by the confliction of their host's emotions.

Relaxation is sort of Jay's default setting, but the recent happenings have shown an unnatural array of emotions from the mild mannered young man. Still, as things begin to settle, there's still that immediate warmth and sense of trust that emanates from him that doesn't seem inclined to fade from existence just yet. He opens his mouth to say something back to her when that sudden stream of giggles erupts from the young woman with the petite wings.

Brows arch upward in startled surprise. But…it isn't sobbing, right? It's alarming and sudden and not entirely sensible, but doesn't seem entirely…bad? Jay's wings shiver once more, not entirely certain what's going on, but it sends a ripple of feeling through him none the less. Confused, manic feeling, drawing his mouth up into a broad curve as he tilts his head slightly to one side in a decidedly birdlike gesture. "Y'allright there? Don't fall over on yerself, now." Jay reaches a hand out with every intention to help steady her, not quite touching the young woman, the limb falls short, but the intention is still there.

Another long reel of giggling and one hand departs to clutch her stomach. The mildly concerning laughter begins to lose its helter-skelter speed, lengthening and allowing for breaths between chortles. The stretch of her wings, not much wider than the ends of her outspread arms in total, lessens and the impact sounds of the sturdy flight feathers are audible against her legs as they draw in close. It's almost as if the Otherness is giving an annoyed swat: You scared me, STOP THAT.

The offered hand is dismissed with a shake of her head and the outwards turn of her palm towards him as she inhales an unblocked lungful of air and sighs it out with one last giggle punctuating the end. "I'm f-fine, thank you." Indeed, Rosemarie seems no less for the wear if not a little wrung-out, not too unlike the end result of a good workout at the gym. The eyes that rise to meet Jay's bright-greens are clearer now, still a brilliant gold. "I feel better."

Even the stutter's gone for the moment!

Better or not, the stretch of her extra limbs is still impressive to watch. Even with the dainty nature of the things, Jay understands now some of the looks he gets occasionally from people he trusts enough to see his wings. His expression seems set in that gentled smile, watching while she calms from that manic high, reassuring him enough that Jay pulls his hand back and nods. A little hesitantly, perhaps. Needing a little bit of that reassurance before withdrawing completely to let Rose stand on her own. Watchful. "Okay. Good," the crimson-feathered one agrees, then repeats again, as if to reassure himself. "Good." Verdant gaze squinting slightly as his smile rises up a little. "You an' yer wings don't always agree, huh? Sorry to say, Ah just noticed a little. You talk different sometahms." Flicking a finger back and forth between her and the feathers he can still manage to see. "You'll look afraid but yer wings are jus' about screamin' hello. It's fun t'watch." Sure, his words might be a little blunt, but it's guileless. Without judgment. Without malice. "So, ah…were you…always here? Ah met another mutant recently that grew up here but it seems like more often than not folks are from somewhere else. Ah got so many questions, Ah'm sorry, Ah don't mean t'pry."

"You're fine," she confirms with a little nod. "I didn't know that they disagreed with me though." It gives her cause to glance left and right at the major joints of the dusky-blue wings. A flutter with a susurrus of noise follows and now that she's paying attention, Rosemarie can feel the movements of the crests' collapse and spread, not too unlike a pair of cockatoo's decorative mohawk of plumage. Her fingertips explore the skin about the base of one of these fans momentarily, distracted, but she comes to some unspoken conclusion and meets his gaze again. "Here? In New York City? Yes, I was born in Greenwich Village."

A pause and the hint of dimples show at her cheeks, shy in their own way. "But you're not from around here, right? You're from the southern states." She reaches up to adjust the fall of her shirt about her neck and, already, the transition from talons back to fingernails is beginning. The peachy hooks aren't nearly as long, more like a clever Halloween costume touch than biological weaponry. A little frown and belated query: "Is it like the wings are saying something? Like a language?"

"Well, maybe not disagree," Jay tilts his head slightly, reconsidering his words. He doesn't have so many of them at his disposal, after all. "Maybe it was jus' the surprise, earlier." Smiling very slightly, endeared nearly while he watches Rose delicately touch the base of those unusual bits of plumage. Jay's fingers twitch slightly, flexing slowly with the curious inclination to touch, but knowing from experience how obnoxious that gets, the young man restrains himself.

When she guesses from where he hails, Jay tips his chin downward mildly, he's learned to be a little embarrassed of the impression most people up here have of down south, but nods none the less. "Yeah…Kentucky. Ah just moved up here t'be with mah older brother a couple-a weeks ago. It's, uh, different. The only other mutant Ah ever saw were mah brother and sister before I came up here." Offering up entirely too much information all at once, Jay's mouth runs a little wild on him while he watches the transformation slowly lean back toward the human side once more. Fascinated, his attention very keenly queued in on all those little details.

The belated question has Jay's attention jumping back to the quiet woman's face, away from her nails. Jay shakes his head, then hesitates, as if unsure of his immediate answer. "Ah…can't much explain it? It's jus' one of those things that sort of…like…intuition. Y'can figure a little bit what folks are thinkin because of how they act." He doesn't have the words for 'body language' though it should be self explanatory. "Ah don't understand all of it, but when Ah saw you runnin' forward at that bruno, Ah could feel somethin'." One of those lily white hands touch at his stomach, right around his diaphragm. Which is apparently where intuition comes from.

Unable to find the proper explanation that doesn't sound like a lame come on or just phoney bologna, Jay sighs and flushes just a little bit around his cheeks, casting an apologetic smile across the little expanse between the two avian types.

Rosemarie tucks her chin as a slow nod is completed and worries at her lip again. Interesting that the Otherness would have its own language. It doesn't precisely bother her, but…it is absolutely something to consider over a cup of tea on her couch. It drives home the point that while there is the potential for symbiosis, her psyche isn't having it just yet.

Her nails are normal now, back to manicured perfection as to avoid hurting the books about the library — not a ragged edge to be seen. The feathering remains, stalwart, stubborn as the day is long. It's not going away, not while it can flutter in the pinions of the main plumage and flick in the fans, further up and then back to neutral spread. It's a private conversation on some level with the red plumage across from it.

That he hails from Kentucky means nothing negative to her, somewhat sheltered as she was and is in her current position at the library. "You said your family are…mutants? Is that what you call yourself? A mutant?" She's curious, uncertainly so, her hands curling into the loose weave of her shirt.

Blissfully oblivious, Jay simply assumes that Rosemarie is another mutant, what with her description of how she got her wings. The private contemplation of the differences between her urges and the Other's something he remains unaware of just yet at this initial meeting, just thrilled to meet another winged mutant. Eyes still flickering down toward Rose's hands, every little bit she reverts back to human is another marvel to behold. Not at all weird and alarming—Jay's mind has been blown almost non stop these last two weeks — he's reacted a certain state of shock and overstimulation when it comes to peculiar things.

The conversation is a little one sided mostly for the fact that Jay and his wings are not separated by anything aside from perhaps some ligaments. He can see that there's something going on, but while the fancy plumage show does tickle something in the back of his brain, beyond his consciousness, somewhere back in his evolved lizard brain (would that be a bird brain? hah!), he gets some little feeling that something's going on, but he doesn't entirely get it. But it makes him smile and another shiver ruffle through him. A gladdened little fluff of his feathers. Strut.

Brows lift and Jay nods gently. "Yeah. Well, me, mah older brother an' older sister are mutants. We don't yet know about the rest. Mel maght be one, but it's hard t'tell. But our momma and daddy are human—well, normal humans." He squints, still trying to find a word for a non-mutant that doesn't make him feel like he's talking badly about his family, or himself. "You're…not a mutant?"

The shirt is slowly tightened and loosened about her fingers, a fidgeting that keeps her from chewing at the scar on her lip or shifting from foot to foot.

"I don't…think so." Her brows knit, but she doesn't look away from Jay. She might miss the fluff of the rufous feathers, but the dusky-blue wings do flutter back. Yes, yes, hello, nice to meet you, you're related to me in some distant manner some thousands if not millions of years back, how's the weather? Aren't human hosts weird? They always overcomplicate things.

"Although, it seems appropriate, I guess…" It's a quiet admission, rueful in a way. She wouldn't like to be pigeon-holed, but it is what it is. "Mutant." The word seems to be savored, tested upon tongue and lips. Jay treats it like a title of sorts, like 'middle class' or 'Frenchman'. Simply a distinction. It isn't so bad. "If your siblings are mutants, yours must be genetic. I'm not sure if mine is, but…it must be since it came out of the blue." A soft laugh follows and one hand emerges to tuck hair back behind her ear — or at least attempt it, since the arcing plumes are in the way.

It's fabulous to have such a talkative, lovely set of mindful feathers. Unfortunately, the conversation from Jay's side is a little more simplistic. Wow. You're //pretty. I'm so glad. I was lonely. The breeze is nice, don't you think so?// Not able to track things quite as well, though the general agreeability of the situation is delightful.

Luckily, Jay is a little more able to carry on a conversation and follow it, a little bit of concern touching his gentled features while he watches Rosemarie struggle with the terminology. "Appropriate? Ah suppose. Ah didn't pick it." He shrugs gently and pushes his fingers through his hair, a little self-consciously shifting his weight from foot to foot. "Ah'm not really sure of all the science an' reason fer it. Ah met a man the other night who was a doctor an' had all kinds of theories and explanations on what makes folks," Jay's eyes flick to the plumage Rose bears. "Different. Whether or not we're supposed t'be this way. He has this power that if he touches ya, he can tell everythin' about yer body an' what makes you you. It's pretty incredible." Considering Rose for a couple moments, Jay hesitates, gingerly chewing on the inside of his cheek. "If…yer not sure where you came from or what y'ar, Ah'm sure he could help. If you were interested." Jay smiles gently and shrugs, some of that light and warmth reaching back into his gaze. "It doesn't much matter t'me /what/ y'ar one way or the other. You stopped when ya didn't have to and helped me. Yer incredible."

I wouldn't know about breezes, this human host has a heavy skeleton. We glide, not fly. Sometimes we don't get hurt. Those crests rise and fall and then wiggle horizontally again, disturbing some of the brunette's hair. The wings behind her indulge in one more stretch before ruffling flat and then seeming to begin to subside, to slip away behind her shoulders. Another time, perhaps. The host is calm.

"This doctor…he'd be able to tell me what this is? What causes the feathering?" Her breath catches on the inhale and a slight flush of excitement returns to her cheeks. "Oh. Could you…could I meet him?" The realization that Rosemarie has been complimented belatedly lodges in her forebrain and she has the grace to look aside, a little smile hovering on her lips. "Th-Thanks, you're just as…singular." It's a mildly awkward word choice, but nonetheless true. They both are in this city. "B-But yes, the doctor. How could I meet him? I have a phone at home, does he have a number?" This betrays her need to be finally getting back to her apartment. Lola the cat has been left alone long enough.

By the time she asks about a number, the wings are gone and the fans behind her ears have all but melted away back beneath her skin, not too unlike retractable claws. She looks normal again, a simple young woman in an alley awaiting an answer with bated breath from a young man with reddish wings that remain immutably present.

Jay watches attentively as her wings finally seem to calm and abate, slipping back toward their hidden places that, honestly, Jay is terribly curious about, but will not ask, even if his wings shiver with curiosity. Byyyyyyye!

Singular is a funny way of putting it, but Jay laughs softly in abashed agreement over the awkward soup that they seem good at getting themselves in, scrubbing the back of his neck with one hand. "Thanks. An'…yeah, of course. Whatever Ah can do t'help a fellow feathered friend, y'dig? Ah can introduce you some tahm if you…" Jay hesitates and smiles bashfully to Rosemarie with a gentle tip of his head forward. Reaching into his front pocket, he pulls out a pen and mimes writing with it, extending a hand out in silent askance toward her hand. "If you'd lahke, Ah can give you the number you can reach me at. Someone else maght answer, but you just gotta ask fer Jay. Jay Guthrie." If allowed, he'll step a little closer, the click of his sandals following him. "It looks lahke yer just about set to head home, too. Ah'm still a little jealous of that trick, you know." Jay shrugs his overshirt up a little more, carefully pulling the back of his collar up to cover his wings up as best he can. They compress down and slick back, creating just a small bulge on his back.

Having extended her palm out after a moment's hesitation, she watches the number appear upon her hand. It's a ticklish sensation, the point of the pen, and she fights curling her fingers in upon the notation. When all is written and done, she balls up said hand lightly and tucks it against her sternum.

"Jealous of…?" It takes Rosemarie a moment to realize that Jay is referring to, the vanishing feathering, and she shakes her head wryly. "No, don't be jealous. Your wings are larger and…" A beat and a shadow of mourning across her features, the Otherness come to the forefront briefly in a dying flash of gold disappearing into cinnamon-brown eyes. "…you can fly." She blinks as if faintly confused by this moment, but it passes quickly enough. "Thank you again, Jay. I'll call you about setting up an appointment and we can decide on a place to meet the doctor." A flash of a nervously-excited smile appears and disappears back away into her naturally shy nature. "Get home safely, okay?"

She doesn't run out of the alley, but it's a brisk walk and emerging back into the open air feels like embracing comfort once again. There's an answer…or the hope of one, at least, and hope springs eternal. The librarian makes her way home post-haste.

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