Hot Town, Summer in the City

August 27, 2014: Kitty Pryde introduces Peter Parker to Lockheed.

Central Park

One of the world's biggest and best urban parks.

Spider-Man Kitty_Pryde

Lockheed
Lockheed_(Earth-TRN259)_001.png

It's a hot town, summer in the city, and Peter Parker, freelance photographer, is out and about, camera hanging around his neck, a few spare lenses in his backpack, and looking for something that might appeal to J. Jonah Jameson, or that just might make a nice photograph. Although getting paid is always nice, sometimes it's nice to just get a photograph of a facial expression, laughter, sorrow, other emotions, or neat angles. As he walks towards a park, he plays with some of his settings, focusing in on a brunette. She's cute and all, but it's really the girl that's got his attention. Could she be the one who offered Spider-Man a slice of pizza the other day? She looks about right, but he might be mistaken. So after taking a quick snap, he zooms in to get a good look at her.

*

Washington Square Park is nice during the summer. The large fountain near the centre of the park attracts children, teenagers, and even adults who are trying to beat the heat. Others just enjoy the mist from the jet of water toward the centre. The brunette that Peter has found through his viewfinder is, indeed the woman who offered Spider-Man some pizza a couple of days ago. She is sitting nearby the fountain, a large knitting bag set in her lap, the top open. Mist sprays about her as she is seemingly rooting about for something. Her expression is a mixture of concentration and amusement.

Though she has no sort of enhanced senses whatsoever, there is a feeling on the back of her neck that she is being watched and that is when she looks up toward the photographer. With the zoom in, he may notice her curiously watching him. However, a person taking a photograph of the fountain on a hot day isn't anything out of the ordinary.

*

He's found out, but that happens often enough with photographers. Some people like to be photographed, others don't, and fewer still show no reaction at all. The best photos are those that are taken unaware, capturing life, emotion, without interfering with it. Peter takes a few other shots, a child eating an ice cream cone, a kite in the air, a couple sitting on a bench, and then he puts the lens cap back on, switches it off, and heads towards the girl. She seemed nice enough the other day, and that fountain is tempting. His camera's not waterproof, but it's resistant enough to deal with the few splashes of water that might come his way from the fountain.

When he reaches the edge, he takes a seat on the dry stairs, removing his shoes and socks, and dips his feet into the water, which is cold, but that's just the sort of thing he needs on a day like this. It also brings him closer to the girl who gave him a curious look.

*

As the photographer moves closer, Kitty doesn't exactly watch him, but she keeps him in the corner of her eye. The knitting bag is put to her side, closed but not zipped up. It seems like it may be heavy - perhaps she is using it as a purse. Using bags not normally meant to be purses for that purposes is the new fashionable thing to do. Her own sandals are placed by her side, toes trailing in the cold water as a child runs and jumps by the pair screeching with laughter. As he does so, he kicks up a large splash of water, certainly getting Kitty and possibly even Peter.

With a surprised gasp and then a bit of a laughter, the young mutant starts to wipe herself off her arms and then her shirt, which now sports dark patches of fountain water. Her eyes automatically drift to the bag for a moment, but then she looks over to Peter. "He didn't get your camera, did he?" she asks with friendly concern.

*

While a minor incident, Peter's spider-sense goes off, and before the woman or the boy knows it, he's stood up, taken a step to his left, put a hand over the opening in the large bag, turned his back, and his camera to the water, protecting both his camera and the contents of her bag. "Oh, no, I was stretching my legs," he was actually sitting, but did she know that. With his hand still covering the bag, he removes it, pulling it back. Shivering at how much of his back got wet, he looks over her, "looks like we could both use a towel. I don't suppose you've got one in your… bag?"

*

Kitty blinks. The man that she thought was sitting is now actually standing with his back turned. That may start to get the gears of questions turning, but then, her eyes focus on the hand by the opening of her knitting bag. Peter may feel the tip of a scaly nose as Lockheed investigates who it is that has his hand so close to his hiding spot. The brunette, on the other hand stills, suddenly nervous.

"Uh, no, sorry." Kitty does not even need to look in her bag to know that she doesn't carry a towel around, but she drags the whole thing a bit closer to her body anyway. "I don't." Drying herself off can wait. "I'm glad your camera didn't get wet."

*

His brow furls at the brush of a scaly nose against his hand. It kind of tickles a little. Peter withdraws, and Kitty pulls it in closer. So much for investigating. "Oh, well, in this heat, it'll dry pretty quickly." And a glance at the kids playing in the water, "assuming nobody else splashes us." Checking on his camera, it goes off as he accidentally presses the shutter button while it's aimed at the bag's opening. The whole ordeal is so smooth, so absentminded that it may have been an accident. If Peter knows he did it, he shows no sign, not even looking to see if it was in focus. "Oh, where are my manners?" With the camera in one hand, he offers his other one, "name's Peter, Peter Parker."

*

While Kitty certainly takes note of the camera going off, as well as the general angle it is pointed at, she doesn't call Peter out on it. She legitimately believes he accidentally took a picture and if she causes a fuss, that will only call even more attention to what she may or may not have in her bag. For now, she'll just pray that the picture is out of focus. Or that Lockheed is covered in enough yarn and her book that he's hard to notice. From her seated position, she stretches upward to take his hand. "Kitty Pryde." Her eyes follow to the people frolicking about in the fountain. "It's almost refreshing," she smiles. "I can't even be mad. So, how long are you in the city?" Taking his camera and the somewhat tourist destination, she assumes that he's a traveller.

*

"I hadn't really thought that far ahead. Maybe a couple of hours?" he treats it as an incidental question. "I'm a photographer," he neglects to mention he does freelance, "for the Daily Bugle, but I live in Queens." He gave her his name. It's on YellowPages.com, so it's not like there's anything to hide there.

"It's nice to meet you Kitty. Are you from New York? With your accent, I'd guess you're from I don't know, Missouri or around that part of the country?"

*

"Oh!" Kitty laughs, seeing her mistake. "Sorry, I thought you were a tourist. The camera thing." Plus, everyone is always visiting the big city, especially in the summer. "I see. I only read the Daily Bugle every once in awhile." She's more of a New York Times sort of reader. "So, you're working on a story about the heat wave? They call that a human interest story, right?"

After a moment, she stands. No need to put a crick in her neck looking upward at the man. "Yes, well, sort of. I'm staying in Westchester right now." At the mention of her accent, she blushes a bit. "See, I thought I'd gotten rid of it by now. I'm from Illinois. Some little town no one's ever heard of."

*

"I get that a lot," he lies to make her feel better. He's lived in New York all his life. He never travels. Why would he when there's so much going on in New York? The world comes to this town, not the other way around. At her mention of how she only reads the Bugle once in a while, he lets out a sigh, "yeah, it's getting tougher and tougher for newspapers to stay in business. Everything's got to be instantaneous or else it's old news. I'm trying to work on a story about the heat wave, a human interest piece as you say. It beats climbing up fire escapes and trying to get photos of Iron Man, Thor, or Spider-Man."

He's far more interested in her story than his own. "Westchester, I've heard it's nice up there. I've always wanted to go and check it out for myself. And I think your accent is nice." He smiles and his cheeks turn a slight shade of red as he tries not to check her out, being wet from the water that still clings to her body, just like it does his back.

*

As a transplant, Kitty is more susceptible to thinking everyone else may be like her. Or is just a visitor. "Yeah, I'm sure. Well, I'll buy a Daily Bugle tomorrow to help out," she promises, suddenly feeling guilty that she just told him that she doesn't read the newspaper he works at. "Ah, I can imagine. Those guys are pretty fast, too. And you'd basically have to be in danger just to get a good shot. They're never out and about in their citizen saving gear just having an ice cream cone or something. Better to stay by the fountain." She grins.

"Westchester's lovely, yes. But, it's also a bit far from the city. I've been debating if I should stay there or move into the city, but you know…" she shrugs her shoulders. "It's hard to leave a place that feels like home." Her wet shirt doesn't seem to register to Kitty. It's just what it is, but she smiles at the compliment. "You're just saying that because you feel bad, but thank you. I appreciate it."

*

"Thanks, my publisher would appreciate it. And I'd really appreciate it if you bought any issue that had photo by Peter Parker tucked away in the bottom right hand corner, at least when they remember. Once, it said photo by Peter Porker. Everyone thought that was a riot." As she talks shop with him, he probably loses her as he nerds out, talking about shutter speeds, f/stops, and ISO. She may even zone back in to hear him say, "if I were Iron Man, and I saw a girl like you by the pool, I'd make my way over here. Though I'm not sure how I'd eat the ice cream through the mask. Or go the bathroom. I hope it's not done like in an airplane."

He smiles and laughs at his own joke there, but then he sees what looks like movement in the bag. He looks at her, then the bag, then at her, then the bag, and finally back at her. Must be his imagination playing tricks on him. "I know the feeling. I live with my Aunt May, have for most of my life. I've been thinking of getting a place in the city, but, I don't know if I can leave her alone. That and I'd have to find a roommate to split the bills. I couldn't afford a place in the city on my income." Yeah, Parker, girls love hearing how poor you are, he chides himself internally. "No, I mean it. I do like your accent. It's sweet and folksy, just like you. Do as much tech support as I do and trust me, sweet and folksy is what you crave. And sunlight too."

*

Actually, Kitty likes technical talk. While she doesn't know much about cameras or the inner workings of cameras, she knows enough about the inner workings of computers to keep up and ask a few interested questions as to the differences in ISOs. It's, actually, more of a surprise to hear the compliment. She blushes. "I think Iron Man has more important things to do than stop to chat to me. Like, rescue children from drowning, or stopping terrorism. Or whatever else he might think up." She wrinkles her nose at the thought of how Iron Man goes to the bathroom, but then laughs at the image of him smearing ice cream all over his mask in an attempt to eat it.

Catching both the movement and Peter's darting eyes, she attempts to look just as bewildered as he is. As droplets spray on them again in the wind, a bit of a pink tongue flicks out to catch them and then disappears back into the bag. What, does she have a snake in there or something? "That's very sweet of you, to look after your aunt," she quickly adds, though she's being sincere. She hopes to drag him back into the conversation and forget about the bag. "Yeah, it's expensive in the city. I'd probably have to find a place in Brooklyn or Queens. So, for now Westchester it is." Not about to argue about how cute her accent is, she smiles. "Well, thank you. Though, I do enough tech support to know that an accent isn't really enough to stay folksy. But, you're definitely right about the sunlight. Does the paper ask you to moonlight as tech support?"

*

When he realises that she doesn't know much about cameras, he explains that "the F-stop, sometimes called the aperture, refers to the amount of light that is let into the camera." He holds it up to her, so she can see the dial. "When shooting at night, you want to let as much light in as possible. ISO, in camera speak, means how sensitive the sensor in. Again at night, you want to raise it to get a faster shutter speed, but it also makes the photo grainy. So if I were shooting at night, I might shoot on aperture priority with an F/2 and ISO of 6400. If there's another light source, street lamps, apartment windows, storefronts, I can lower that ISO, but I'm staying on F/2 the whole time."

But as the talk goes back to his Aunt, he blushes some more, "she's the only family I have." But then that bag catches his attention and she tries to drag him back to apartment hunting, he listens to her, but the bag's been bugging him. What's going on there? Raising the camera up, he takes a quick snap of her, probably to her surprise, and when he tries to show it to her, he had accidentally moved back one photo too many, showing a surprisingly in focus Lockheed. There's a scaly nose, toothy grin, and an eye looking right at him. At least it does make sense now that he can get all those usable photos of Spider-Man. Good equipment and a lot of skill, even when he's being abrupt… or surreptitious, "Awe, it's so cute. Some kind of… komodo dragon or something?" For now, the talk of tech support is forgotten.

*

"Huh." Kitty listens to the camera speak much the same way she would listen to any new information - with interest and curiosity. "Interesting." And she means it. She's not just saying that to humour him. Talking to someone who obviously has some skill in a subject is always fascinating to her. "I'll have to take a look at cameras one day. It's like art with something of a mathematical bend to it." All the talk of numbers and formulas.

The picture that Peter snaps of her will most likely show a look of surprise if he looks back to it. However, as Lockheed is presented to her in all his magazine quality glory, she pales a little. "Uh, something like that?" This is a reporter - a photo journalist - and he just caught a picture of her dragon. "Would you mind deleting that photo? He's…" how to explain Lockheed to a stranger? "I just don't want him as part of a human interest story." Despite it being something of a plea, she adds with a smile, "Though, yes, he's very cute."

*

Peter deletes the image without hesitation. He deletes it with her still looking at the camera display, and he checks to see that he only got the one photo of him, flipping backwards, to a photo of a couple sitting on a bench, and then a photo of her looking surprised. "No problem, already done, Kitty." Looking around, he says, "I'd love to meet him fully, you know, without the bag around him. And it does explain that cold feeling I had when I protected the bag from the water. It must have been his nose." But he's not going to press if she says no. "And in an unrelated thing, I'd be happy to teach you about photography."

*

Kitty glances about. It's too crowded for her to comfortable show off Lockheed. So, instead, she bends over to pick up the knitting bag. It's a bit heavy, but she's used to carrying him about when it might not be best for him to be flying about. She gives Peter a grateful smile to see that the picture is gone and then gestures with her head to follow her. "Thank you. Come on. I'm sure there's a place around here that has a booth in the back or some place secluded. He likes to meet new people, for the most part." As long as those new people aren't trying to hurt his friends. "And I'd love to learn about photography, if you don't mind. I like learning new things."

*

Sensing how heavy the bag is, Peter offers her his camera, "if you'd like, I can carry him for you?" He looks pretty scrawny, but he is a guy, and by the look of it, he's offering his camera as collateral. Between the body, the lens, the memory card, battery pack and two batteries, there's got to be quite a lot of money there. Probably not as much as Lockheed would be worth to the world, but still, it's what he can offer, since she may not trust him. He is after all, a perfect stranger. Though he did give his name, who knows if he was telling the truth. "He's not going to bite me or anything, is he?" Peter asks, suddenly worried about a pet reptile.

*

Lockheed might take offense to either of them considering him heavy. But, there's quite a difference between the dragon being carried about on her shoulders and her heftily lugging him to and fro in a bag. "No," Kitty tells Peter firmly, but politely. "Thank you, though. I do appreciate it." Perhaps it is because she does not trust him, but more likely just that they are hopefully not going far. But, she grins at his question. "Only if you poke him. Or poke me. He tends to be polite."

Taking her polite, but firm answer in stride, he follows with her, to wherever she leads him. She began walking, so he's kept pace, but isn't directing it since she seemed to be intent on finding a place her own. He puts the camera back around his neck, adjusting it just so that it feels comfortable. "No poking? That's a bummer." He winks at her, and says, "One of these days I want to poke someone and hear the Pillsbury doughboy laugh. Just once."

*

After exiting the park, it's not far before they find a bar. On a Wednesday afternoon, the only people inside are the hard drinkers. Kitty, of course, gets immediately carded by the bartender. Lockheed, helpfully supplies her ID within the purse. It's a New York State license: her permanent address is still listed as Xavier's. With such an empty space it's not hard to find a booth in the corner. Kitty places the bag gently down beside her as she slides into the booth and sensing that the coast is clear, the purple dragon slides out of the bag and onto the table, taking in his surroundings with intelligent and curious eyes. "Lockheed, this is Peter. Peter, this is Lockheed."

Peter also gets carded, being the younger of the two, though he could probably pass for older, older than her. He's hardly mature looking, but he looks a little older than his twenty-two years. When Lockheed finally does show himself, Peter knows better than to gasp aloud. "Wow, hello Lockheed. Aren't you cute." Looking to Kitty, he asks, "wherever did you find this guy? He's… like a real dragon, wings and everything. Does he breath fire too?"

*

Lockheed, for his part, looks over to Peter with curiosity and interest. With a cursory sniff, he leans back on his legs and offers a serious little hand to shake in greeting. At the seriousness of the meeting, Kitty can't help but grin. "He can be a pain, sometimes, but he's a good friend." A friend, not exactly a pet. "He, uh, well, he kind of found me. And, yes, he does. But, only on special occasions. Or, if you have a proper BBQ." She tilts her head to Peter slightly. "The fact that I have a dragon in my knitting bag doesn't weird you out at all?"

*

Peter offers his hand to Lockheed's claw. His hand dwarfs the dragon's claw, but the gesture is understood by both parties, to Peter's everlasting surprise. "I'm from New York. Nothing weird's me out anymore. I think it's pretty cool. Besides, that's got to be the next great thing. First there was buddy cop films, then there were chickflicks, and next it'll be cute girls with CGI animals, but, Lockheed isn't CGI." Peter treats the dragon with respect, but he's looking at him like a scientist, curious about the wings, the scales, the teeth, eyes, everything. "Next time I have a BBQ, you're definitely invited. Not sure if my Aunt May would be okay with a real live dragon. We could just order BBQ ribs here or something?"

*

Seriously, Lockheed takes Peter's hand and then moves across the table and drops down into the seat next to Kitty. For all the world, he looks just like a young child waiting for his drink. But, he's also close enough to the bag that he can quickly hide should someone attempt to disturb them. It's possible he also does not wish to be studied and prefers to be somewhat hidden by the table.

With a grin to Lockheed, she turns again to Peter the grin carrying over to the photographer. "A cute girl, huh?" She pauses for a moment and then laughs. "Well, Lockheed is definitely not CGI. He also snores. But, I'll take you up on the offer of a BBQ. Though, I wouldn't want to ruffle any feathers by bringing him if your aunt is not okay with it. And, I think if we order ribs, they'd already be cooked. Lockheed would just burn them. And I'm not sure how the bar might feel about fire inside."

*

That little dragon is seriously cute. It's good that he moves to the other seat, where he can duck back into the bag should anyone come over. And that's just what happens. A waitress comes over, asking what they'd like. Peter orders a Fruitopia for himself, then, remembering Lockheed, he asks, "you know, I'm really thirsty, why don't you get me two of those." He also orders some mozzarella sticks, since he's a bit peckish and imagines Lockheed or Kitty would enjoy them too. After Kitty's ordered whatever she wants, or suggested changes to his order, the waitress will leave, and Lockheed can pop up his head again. "On the BBQ, we'll figure something out. Maybe we could get one up onto the roof of a building, or I could make the trip out to Westchester to visit you…" or is he being too forward.

*

When the waitress comes by, Lockheed has disappeared into the bag. For her own order, she gets a ginger ale. And while she may have gotten something else for Lockheed, she grins as Peter orders a second one. Once the waitress is gone, Lockheed re-emerges, looking between the two humans with interest. "I've never done a rooftop BBQ. I hear that's a very New York City experience I've never had." As for Westchester, she blushes. He's already invited her to his own home with his aunt, so she doesn't take it to be much more than that. However, she says, "Uh, well, Westchester is fine. But, I'm staying at a school at the moment. I'm not teaching there, but it's where I studied and they're letting me stay for now. There'll be a lot of students and teachers who like grilled things."

*

Since they only ordered appetisers and beverages, Lockheed has to duck back into the back under the table after only a couple of minutes. But when the waitress again leaves, there's hot food on the table, and Peter will slide the extra glass of strawberry Fruitopia towards Lockheed, with a little straw for him. Peter watches, curious if he'll use the straw, or just drink from the glass. The little thing looks almost humanlike. He did a good job of shaking hands. Maybe he has some intelligence too. "There you go, Lockheed."

And to Kitty, he agrees, "yeah, rooftop or balcony barbecues are all the rage here. Though out in Queens, a lot of people have small backyards. We do. So I've never tried a rooftop barbecue either. What did you take at Uni? I focused on Chemistry and Physics. Yeah, I'm a photographer with a science degree. How weird is that?"

*

For the curious, Lockheed delicately takes the straw and starts to slurp up the strawberry Fruitopia without care. From what can be examined of the little creature, he seems to be enjoying it - a little smile on his face between sips. There's a little bit of a garbled cry, which Kitty translates. "He says thank you."

Sipping her ginger ale, she plucks a mozzarella stick from the plate and takes a bite. Once finished chewing, she answers Peter. "Oh, I didn't go to college. This was a private high school. I was mostly interested in computer sciences. I'm good with computers. I then, uh, studied abroad for a few years. In Japan. I only got back a few months ago." With a grin, she shakes her head. "That doesn't sound very weird. Life takes you weird places. I didn't think I'd be in Japan for two years. But, you do what you have to, or what you want to do."

*

Grinning broadly, Peter is quite taken with the little guy. He's just so cute. But Kitty is cute in an entirely different way. "Konbanwa, Kitty-san, ogenki desuka," he asks in his best attempt at a Japanese accent. It's a bit garbed, but he says good evening Kitty, how are you, "and I've just exhausted the entirety of my Japanese in that one sentence. Did you pick up any karate or ninjutsu? I've always wanted to learn how to defend myself. I used to get my butt kicked back in high school and I really could have used it."

*

There's an amused laugh from Kitty as Peter attempts to speak Japanese. The woman is fluent in it, but does not respond to him in the same language. "Well, I think we have a good exchange here, then. I learned quite a bit of karate and ninjutsu in Japan. If you teach me photography, I will teach you some martial arts." With a grin, she drinks some more ginger ale. "And, if you ask nicely, I'll teach you some Japanese. Because your accent is atrocious," she teases.

*

"Sounds like a good deal to me," and he pulls out his phone, handing it to her, "can I get your number?" If he's going to teach her about photography, and learn martial arts or Japanese, he'll have to see her again, so of course, she could give him her number. And he'd give his own to her. While she has his phone, he sips at his beverage and takes a mozzarella stick. "Mmm, these are good," and he offers one to Lockheed, hoping the dragon doesn't bite his finger off.

*

"Sure." Kitty readily gives Peter her number, punching it into his phone and then taking his own down. If they're to exchange lessons, it only makes sense that they have a way to contact each other again. After typing her number in, she hands the phone back. "They are," she agrees. Lockheed carefully nibbles on the proffered stick, careful to not bite Peter's fingers. He's an intelligent dragon and not about to harm someone he thinks may be a friend. "I should probably head back to Westchester soon. But, give me a call when you're free. We'll photograph things and then fight about it."

*

Grinning, Peter suggests, "we could always use Lockheed as your subject matter. You'd keep the photos of course. I can understand why you wouldn't want anyone to learn about him. I'd be protective too if I had a pet… dragon." Though as she seems to be heading back, he sends her a quick text message, to ensure she got his phone number correctly, that it was great meeting her and he looks forward to getting beat up by a girl, and her pet dragon. "My schedule is pretty open though. As a photographer, I get what shots I can when I can, but don't really live by a clock."

*

"Now I'm just picturing Lockheed posing like a Botticelli woman." The very image is enough to send Kitty into giggles. She reins herself in, however, at the question about the photographs and why she doesn't want anyone to learn about him. Though she still seems somewhat upbeat in her explanation, there is a definite tone of seriousness that edges her words. "He's not my pet. He's my friend." As Lockheed buries himself into her bag again, she starts to gather her things, drinking the last of her ginger ale and putting money down on the table. She also takes a mozzarella stick for the road. "Though, I look forward to him posing like a renaissance lady." Her phone beeps and she grins at the text message sent by Peter. "Then, we'll plan for sometime soon. It was nice to meet you, Peter."

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