1964-05-25 - A novel introduction
Summary: Starfire is exploring other places in America and runs into Kamala in a food court.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
starfire kamala-khan 


Jersey City, New Jersey. Hot in the shade, and there's not much shade. People are wearing as little as they can get away with in general, but not in the Sammich Court. A deli shoppe in one of the growing allotment of Jersey malls that's springing up, one young lady is not only breaking societal norms, she's also wolfing down food like someone twice her size.

Humans are strange. She has this odd scarf that covers her shoulders and head, and the brown skin of her body isn't common in this city. But with a pakora in each hand, she dual-wields as she chews. Ladylike, she is not, but for some reason the crowd seems to be avoiding her.

*

You can't learn about a world without seeing more than one place. Which is why Starfire is on a little tour of North America. The joys of flying! And how better to learn about different places is to try the food. Especially in places which sell mustard.

And that's why has landed outside a shopping mall and head to the food court. With a white summer dress over her alien clothing Kori looks a lot like a mutant and providing she doesn't fly too obviously people are largely content to quietly give her a wide berth. After paying for a large fudge sundae and… a bottle of mustard? she begins looking for an empty table. "Excuse me friend, may I please have the use of one of your excess chairs?"

*

The food pauses on it's way to Kamala's mouth. It's a good thing that her mouth was already open, because the sight of the golden beauty in front of her would have made her choke otherwise. She looks around quickly, almost spastically, realizing that there is literally nowhere else for the lady to sit and then tries to get to her feet, choking on her food as she tries to say something. Anything.

Waving at the available chair, Kamala coughs out "'sall yours…" around bits of potato that was supposed to be going down, not up. Good job, first impressions are everything.

*

Starfire puts the big dish of icecream down and begins ever to casually squirting mustard on it. In the same way you'd add extra chocolate sauce. "You seem to have a very healthy appetite," she observes cheerfully. "Are you perhaps eating for the two?" She digs her spoon into the icecream.

*

Kamala Khan's eyes widen even further. "NO!" she spasms, that being the only way to describe it as her arms flail outward at the same time as she says the word. "Allah no, ew! What? Why? Wait, is this a joke from school again?" She leans in, looking at Starfire closely, her eyes squinting. "Are you from the drama team? I'm getting tired of being asked if I'm wearing the brown pants today. It was dumb the first time."

*

"From the drama team? No I am from Europe," Starfire explains earnestly. "Does that expression not mean that you are very hungry?" She mixes the mustard in and begins eating happily. "I did not mean to cause offense. Who is Allah? And why would it be important which color pants you had on?"

*

The brown girl in the head-scarf rolls her eyes, sitting back down finally. "Nooooooo…" she draws out, not sure how to take this. "Allah is god, and you're…So you're…you're really…what are you doing here? I mean, not here, here is nice, the meat isn't halal but it smells delicious, but why are you HERE? Are you here to take me away to some alien world and have me write about your exploits? Because I'm totally able to exploit. I mean, to record the amazing adventures of…"

She pauses, racking her brain for a name, then guesses. "Orange Girl? I swear I'm not stupid."

*

Starfire blinks a few times, then laughs. It doesn't sound forced at all. Honest. (It totally does) "But I am a mutant from Europe. Why would I take someone to another planet? I met someone recently who receives power from the god Thor." She dips the cherry in mustard and eats it stem, stone and all. "My name is Koriand'r, but people often call me Kori. Who might you be?"

*

Kamala Khan makes a face. It's not a good face, almost like she's just tasted something unpleasant. "I'm completely botching this, is who I am," she mutters and mumbles something in Urdu. Probably something unpleasant about herself. To Starfire, she says, "la ilaha illa'llah, the first pillar of our faith. There is no god but God. But I mean, Thor is an Avenger, right? I'm Kamala," she says suddenly as her brain connects with 'introduce yourself' and gets off of 'nerdlike ramble mode'. "Kamala Khan, I'm nobody important and this isn't normal, please don't think I eat like this all the time! It's Ramadan!"

*

"Oh. You speak that language? Would you prefer we use that instead?" Starfire asks, tilting her head. "I am unsure what an Avenger is. The man I met simply told me he was blessed by the power of the Norse god Thor. I have not had time to study the Norse yet, but I hope to in time. It is important to learn about new friends." With great care and attention she swirls all of her sundae into a bit of a mess. "I have never heard of Ramadan before."

*

Kamala Khan blehs. She isn't sure if she should be even talking with a hero, or whomever this is. "Kori. Sounds like a brazilian name almost. Oh, Ramadan? Don't feel bad, I think I got stuck with all the dumb holidays." Sighing, she looks at Starfire's perfect face, then realizes she shouldn't be being so informal. "Ramadan is a month of fasting, to celebrate and understand the gift of the Quran to earth. It starts tomorrow, and we're supposed to feel the pain that the people felt in hearing the word. The poor, I mean." She looks at the feast in front of her, and shrugs. "It has it's moments. I get to eat after sundown."

*

Starfire shrugs. "I do also speak Portugese. But I have never been to Brazil before," she assures. "I would very much like to visit though. I like jungles, they are so full of life. I must admit I do not really understand this custom, but I do not see how it hurts anyone. And understanding those who do not have enough would surely make people feel more compassion towards others." She glances at her icecream. "I do not think I could follow such a tradition though. Due to my 'mutation' I eat light, solid food and drink is purely for enjoyment."

*

Kamala Khan hms.

Looking Starfire over, she adjusts her hajib and nibbles on some of her samosas, thinking about what Starfire's just said. "You know," she says between bites, "You might just understand better than most of the Americans I've met." A moment of eating, and she adds, "So. You're. A mutant, then. Not sure how to respond to that, you're actually less common than Pakistani in Jersey." She'd actually thought that Jersey HAD no heroes. Heroes, yay!

She absently opens her notepad and jots down a few things. 'Rememb. Kori orange slash? Brazil rainfrst jngl boi'

*

"I am travelling around the country," Starfire explains. "I usually spend my time in New York or along the coast. It is nice to watch the sun rise while on a beach." She scoops up some icecream. "Would you care to try some mustard and chocolate sundae? It is very good."

A brief frown crosses Kori's face. "It is not a very hard concept is it? It makes more sense to me than the comments people have made to me about flying while wearing a dress. I have been told I should consider other people more and it may offend them. Even if I am wearing /two/ skirts."

*

Kamala Khan slowly spreads her hands helplessly as she hears about the skirt issue. It takes her a moment to process it, since she's still inwardly in shock about having Kori at her table. "I..sure? I mean, it's…" She pauses, then takes a clean spoon and takes a spoonful of Kori's Special Delight. "The dress…um…see, I get yelled at if I show my ankles half the time." She takes a bite, then squints as she tries to process mustard ice cream.

*

Starfire pauses. One eyebrow raising. "Show your ankles? Do you get sunburn very easily?" The mustard icecream is a world of tastes. There are chopped nuts, fruit, chocolate sauce and all sorts. And mustard. Far too much mustard. "I do not really mind what other people wear providing they are comfortable. It is a shame they do not extend the same courtesy to others."

*

The brown girl raises an eyebrow, remarkably sardonically for a person her age who's currently faced by her first superhero. "Yes. I also like working on my tan," she adds, not sure if sarcasm is working in this particular situation. Looking at her tongue and wondering if amputation is an option, she is unable to speak for another moment. Then drinks from her water and says, "Ammi and Abu say that we need to be an example for the world. But you, you're a hero! You can do politically incorrect, it's expected! You're not like, the little nerd girl from Grove street." You're not like me.

*

"Why do you think I am a hero?" Starfire wonders, having some more icecream. Eating a few more whole cherries. "I am just a totally regular mutant travelling around the country. I can assure you it is perfectly normal to wish to explore when you can fly. The sun gets very hot and can burn almost everything if you take it close enough." She glances around. "Everyone is unlike each other. Even those who are twins are not the same because of experiences."

*

Kamala Khan wonders. The girl never said that she was a hero. Why did I think that? "But you're so adorable and happy! You're obviously a hero." Logic. And her own dreams of being a hero are so slim, this is the closest she's ever likely to come. "My stories are about heroes, and you're the first one I've ever met! Please don't be a villain, I couldn't handle the disappointment."

*

Kamala Khan is very much about black and white. There is no in between, you're either a hero or a villain.

*

"I helped stop a bank robbery once," Starfire muses. "Would that count as being a hero? One of my tutors once told me that we are all the hero in our own personal tale. Even those who you may regard as evil will likely think themself a paragon of virtue. I hope in time I am able to understand all the wisdom they passed on to me." Her expression turns solemn. "But you should be careful about involving yourself in danger situations. You must first know your limits and then do the most good you can within those limits."

*

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that," Kamala says in response. "If my parents found out that I'd even been within ten blocks of anything dangerous they'd deport me to Karachi in, like, two seconds." She sounds depressingly teenaged as she says it, slumping over the remains of her food, which is looking rather bleak itself.

Reaching up and pulling off her scarf, she wraps it around her neck, exposing long brown wavy hair that she pulls out to hang loosely. "I'm old enough to be a hero too, though…I mean, I'm not one but someday I will be!" She actually poses a little, fists on her hips, and looks ..actually pretty heroic, for a moment.

*

Starfire smiles. "I wish you the best of luck with such an undertaking," she says, nodding with approval. "But remember that it is not the way someone looks which matters. It is the actions they take. My sister was often complimented on her beauty but she tried to kill me." She glances up and sighs. "Twice."

*

Mmm. Evil sister. Classic. Probably looks a lot like her, but dark haired. They were separated at birth, and raised by different factions of a warring society that needed each one a champion. Someday they will be pitted against each other and fall in love, knowing that they are each other's…wait, this is probably not going to get published. Better get rid of the hair color thing.

With her brain in writer-land, Kamala seems to have drifted off for a moment as she fiddles with her hajib. Blinking, she eventually returns to the world of conversation and says, "I'm sorry, what? I think I need to write something down real quick."

*

"If you need to resume your studies I can be quiet," Starfire offers, eating more icecream. Getting closer to the end of the sundae. "I will not be much longer with my food and then I think I will fly for a while. And I shall see where I end up. I think I will try to find somewhere sunny to rest for the day, then perhaps return to New York."

*

"No, that's alright," Kamala says, realizing that she's got a hero on the line for a few more minutes, and needing to do research! "Do mutants like you feel different? Like, does orange skin hurt? Or feel stretchy? Are your eyes green or is it just something my eyes are telling me due to the way that we've learned to perceive light? If I were from mars would I see your eyes as blue or plaid or something? Why mustard? It's like the darkest type of condiment. I think it's made by squid or something. Do you wear armor? All the time, I mean, I assume that you have super armor for special combat occasions."

Stops to breathe, gets ready for another assault.

*

"No, that's alright," Kamala says, realizing that she's got a hero on the line for a few more minutes, and needing to do research! "Do mutants like you feel different? Like, does orange skin hurt? Or feel stretchy? Are your eyes green or is it just something my eyes are telling me due to the way that we've learned to perceive light? If I were from mars would I see your eyes as blue or plaid or something? Why mustard? It's like the darkest type of condiment. It's like Allah said to put pain on your hot dogs, and we decided to go with yellow. Do you wear armor? All the time, I mean, I assume that you have super armor for special combat occasions."

Stops to breathe, gets ready for another assault.

*

Starfire looks blankly. "I do not know what other people feel like," she points out. "Being me is not painful. I quite enjoy it." She holds her arm out. "You may touch my arm if you wish. Color is very subjective, I have read about people who are 'color blind'. So I am unsure how you see my eyes. To me they are the color known as green." She keeps eating while her hand is held out. "I like it? It is tangy. I have clothing under my dress, but people frequently ask if I am a 'Gogo dancer' and act strangely. They do become very generous though."

*

Kamala Khan writes down the answers to her questions, and reaches out. She extends a finger, touching Starfire's wrist barely. She peers at it, then jots down more information as she plans her next work of fiction where Kori tells the world how it feels to be a mutant, and where to find the best mustard chefs in the northern hemisphere. It might sell, but she'll have to actually get someone to read it. When she glances up again, she says, "I'm not sure why…you're wearing more clothing than most kids I see at the cinema. I mean, obviously not Muslim kids, but Amreeki can get away with anything."

*

Starfires skin is a little on the warm side and her arm about as solid as something carved from marble. "Oh I would show you my regular clothing but people would stare if I removed this dress," she notes glumly. "The shorts come down to here." And she points to her leg far enough up the thigh that Kamala might just choke. "And the top from here to here."

*

Kamala Khan glances at the clock. She blanches, going as pale as she ever can, and says, "I…you have no idea how much I hate to say this, but I have to go. I'm going to be late for dinner and I can not handle being sent for prayer again. Not after Sheik Abdullah had me for dress and dating for two hours last night." She grasps Starfire's hand in both of her own, then turns and dashes. Ungrateful, she didn't even comment on Starfire's outfits. Took the notepad though, apparently Kori will be featured in a story. Very soon.

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