Out At Coney Island

Summary:
June 22, 2014: Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman have an actual date, and again the world doesn't end. Yet.

Luna Park - Coney Island - Brooklyn - New York City

Coney Island is a residential neighborhood, peninsula and beach on the Atlantic Ocean in southwestern Brooklyn.
Luna Park is the largest of the many amusement parks and fun centers on Brighton Beach.


Characters

NPCs

  • none

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


«So which city did I wake up in today?» is Teddy's first thought lately. Yesterday, he woke up in Metropolis, and then rode a bus to New York where he competed in a Gymnastics meet, and then BACK to Metropolis for coaching and team practice, and then a whole blessed three weeks of vacation. Back in New York. His Mom is letting him stay at their old apartment, which was being sub-rented on one of the 'overnight B&B' online things, but now it's all his, so he's actually got his regular place. He has to check in every day though.

And, today, he woke up and called Billy — he'd done that once before but not gotten through — but this time it worked, so he arranged to meet him at Coney Island.

*

Billy Kaplan wanted to call Teddy a couple of times and even worked up the courage to do so a couple of times. There were other times when he thought to call him again, but Blood's words of warning continued to echo through his thoughts. However, when Teddy calls, he agrees to meet him at Coney Island. It takes a bit of time for him to get there, but he does show up and heads to the agreed-upon spot to meet. He's wearing jeans and a t-shirt with 'We're All Mad Here' written in ornate script. A hoodie is tied around his waist in case he gets cold and, while he waits, he checks his cell phone and glances, almost warily around at the others on the boardwalk.

*

Teddy finds the agreed-upon meeting place, and texts Billy, Look up.

He's standing on the upper stair leading down to the boardwalk.

*

Billy Kaplan does indeed look up and gives a grin and a wave before he moves towards the stairs to go join him. "Hey, so…you've been busy?" It's the unspoken 'Why haven't you called me more?' that he's not quite ready to be asking.

*

"Ridonkulus busy. Four meets last week, three the week before. It's like Extended Gymnastics Finals or something," Teddy answers. He offers a hug, because it's been too long and friends are allowed to hug, right? Especially if they're working on more?

"I was in town yesterday morning, then back to Met U for meetings. But now I have a whole month of vacation! Awesome!"

*

Billy Kaplan returns the hug after a moment's consideration — he does want more, but he's not entirely sure if that's the direction they're going. It's touchy.

"You have meets and stuff into June? I thought you were a Football Jock…and you do Gymnastics too?"

Obviously, they haven't talked as much as they probably should.

"What are your plans for your vacation?" It's asked almost coyly.

*

"I did football in high school but the coach at Met U says he wants me in wrestling and gymnastics. Kind of a pain, though, having to dress in tight spandex and grope around with hot guys."

Teddy says that TOTALLY deadpan, expecting Billy to snark. The boy gives good snark.

"Seriously? I have an apartment all to myself, and I don't know what I'm gonna do. I can't have anyone over without an adult, because 18 isn't adult yet. What're you doing?"

*

"Oh, I imagine that is such a pain. Imagine, being surrounded by hot, sweaty, buff guys in tight spandex. What a horrible, horrible way to spend time."

It's said with sarcasm just dripping from every word.

Billy then tilts his head, "Wait, why isn't 18 considered an adult? I mean…aside from being able to drink, I thought that it pretty much was an adult?"

"It's my MOM'S apartment," Billy says, grinning because the snark was good.

"You know Moms. You're not an adult until you're fifty, and then you're on probation."

He pauses, adjusting his windbreaker a little where it's binding.

"Hey, how have YOU been? It's been almost forever, you know. You could text me or email, what's been happening?"

*

Billy Kaplan scrunches his nose, "I dunno. My mom's a therapist so she's all about 'making my own choices and learning from the consequences'. I mean, not that she lets me go wild, but she lets me do stuff."

Like come across the city by himself to meet someone she doesn't know. His parents apparently trust him. He grins back briefly before he lifts a hand to rub at the back of his neck.

"Things have been…weird. And I was going to call more, but I didn't…I wasn't sure…I mean, I didn't want you to get annoyed or anything."

*

"Billy. Never ever will I be annoyed when you call or text me. You can even call me when I'm in a movie. I just won't answer because my phone will be off," Teddy says. He looks around. It's noisy and crowded but there's some fun things… oh, there's that hot-dog place.

"Would you like to get hot dogs?"

*

Billy Kaplan shoves his hands in his pockets but manages a smirk, "Kinky, but sure. And I guess I just…I mean, you haven't called me or texted me much either. So I guess I'm a little confused." They met, things went well, and then it was the end of the semester and time to go home for four months.

"Oh man. OK, I confess. I left your number on my desk at the university," Teddy says, almost shrinking from shame.

"I, uhm, broke my old phone, and then I didn't have it memorized. I am the worst boyfriend candidate ever."

*

Billy Kaplan chews his lip briefly at the explanation…it's not really the most believable.

"But you called me to invite me here," he points out. "And there was always email…" he might not be quite buying the first explanation.

*

Teddy pulls the slip of paper from his pocket. The phone number, "Billy" on it, and an email address at the university.

"I should've called you to make sure you got home OK, I'm sorry."

*

Billy Kaplan considers the slip of paper for a moment before he looks up at the taller teen.

"You get one more chance," is offered. "You mentioned hot dogs…and, I'm assuming, something more than a snack since I've trekked all the way down here to spend the afternoon with you?"

*

Behold the chastened Teddy. The shoulders hunched with guilt and fear, the usual easy confidence completely missing.

"Sure, I mean, Coney Dogs, it's Nathan's Famous, it's the ORIGINAL. They don't really have fancy food here, though. Just the classics, dogs, fries, burgers, that kind of thing. You want to go somewhere else after?"

Teddy decides not to bring up the weird thing in the park yesterday, because, relationship repair time.

*

"I don't need fancy food," Billy admits, even as he steps a little closer to Teddy and reaches to crook his arm in the his. "I think here is good. Maybe we can even sit on the beach some." He really just needs to see if he's being played or not, but Teddy's remorse seems to be genuine.

*

Body language suggests forgiveness, Teddy realizes. Note to self: the Kaplan is a nervous kind of fox and must be lured and tamed like the one in the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book.

"Awesome. Hey, what movies have you seen yet?"

*

The Kaplan is hesitant to dive headfirst into what might be his first real relationship without trying to figure out if his crush is trustworthy. It's what happens when you're the son of psychologists. Trust is important. At the mention of movies, Billy shrugs.

"I saw 'Maleficent'. It was different than I thought, but it was still good. The costumes were amazing. You?"

*

Teddy orders a truly appalling hot-dog with everything, and waits for Billy to order his. He then pays for both because he offered to buy lunch earlier so there. Once Billy's order is in, he says, "Didn't get a chance to see that one yet. I managed to see How to Train Your Dragon 2, though. Man, it would be so amazing to be a Night Fury. Blue lightning breath, ZAP! Pew! Pew!"

*

Billy Kaplan's hot dog is less full, but it has cheese, relish, and gobs of mustard.

"Thank you," is offered politely as Teddy pays, and he begins to eat as Teddy starts in on the movie. Brown eyes blinks and he waits a moment to chew before asking, "Is that a dragon? I haven't seen the first one. I could tell that it would probably upset me and I don't like being upset by animals and stuff being hurt or anything in movies."

*

"Why is a Viking named 'Hiccup'? I mean, that's not a Viking name, is it?"

Billy takes another bite of the snack.

"I've seen the dragon in previews and stuff. He's cute."

He can't help a smirk though.

"How do you know I'm brilliant?"

*

"Oh come on, I saw your class schedule," Teddy says. "You were taking way more credit hours than me."

NOMF, chew. swallow.

"He's named Hiccup because Viking chiefs name their sons terrifying names. Hiccups are terrifying, I guess."

*

Billy Kaplan blinks.

"When did you see my class schedule? And I thought Viking chiefs named their sons things like 'Leif' and 'Kristoff', and 'Thorin'…and 'Beowulf'?"

There's a smirk then.

"Do you think hiccups are terrifying?"

Gulp. Well, Teddy saw the schedule when he wanted to know what classes Billy was in after the rooftop encounter, so he went to the registration office, impersonated one of the people who works there, and looked it up. But that would sound creepy and stalkery and unbelievable.

"Isn't it in your notebooks like everyone else's? We did live in the same dorm and sometimes even see each other in the cafeteria, I'm pretty sure we did actually talk to each other once or twice. Didn't you know MY schedule?"

Change of subject.

"Hey, speaking of dorms, you want to try to be in the same dorm again next year?"

*

Billy Kaplan tilts his head at the explanation.

"No…I didn't. I mean, I saw some of your books and guessed at classes, but never knew your schedule."

Dark eyes narrow some before he stops and puts his hands on his hips.

"All right. Out with it. What's going on. I mean, you flirt…a lot, but then you don't call and now you're being kind of weird. I admit, I haven't been on a lot of dates, but something's not adding up."

"OK. All right," Teddy says.

"I had a crush on you before the roof. I got your schedule from registration, which before you say it, I admit, is totally creepy and stalkery. I just wanted to know if it was possible to accidentally run into you on the way to class."

He sits down on a really pretty scrungy-looking wooden bench, splinter city. It's disheveled enough that it isn't being swarmed by kids, and it's a little out of the way, so more private.

"You said you wanted to be completely truthful? Well, here's me being completely truthful," Teddy says in a low voice.

"I'm a mutant. I think. I made myself look like one of the registrars so I could snoop your records."

Now's the chance for Billy to be horrified and run off, or offended as hell. Teddy holds his breath.

*

Billy Kaplan follows Teddy over towards the bench but doesn't sit. Instead, he sort of leans against it, watching the other as he offers his explanation. The thing is, he doesn't run away…and he doesn't seem to be offended. Instead, an eyebrow arches.

"You made yourself look like one of the registrars? You can shapeshift?"

There's another pause before he grins.

"That's so cool! I mean, yeah, it is kind of creepy and stalkery…you can just sort of ask. But…you're a jock, you're gay, and you're a mutant? Dude, you're sort of the trifecta…"

But there's no pity. Instead, he offers, "I'm touched that you're trusting me with that information. I won't tell anyone."

*

The beach seems to be moving by itself. Teddy blinks, and swallows, and remembers to breathe, and it steadies.

"Couldn't just ask. You were skittish of jocks. Also, previously mentioned swarm of protectors."

He does a few more deep breaths, before looking up at Billy. He believes it without even wanting proof. Wow. Teddy's eyes change color going from blue to green and back.

"Yeah, I can shapeshift… Thanks. For being trustworthy."

*

Billy Kaplan shrugs.

"Jocks used to beat me up. They don't anymore, but I don't really want to tempt them."

It's his own admission.

"I'm not really the biggest, strongest type," and he gestures down at himself.

When he looks back and sees Teddy's eyes change, his own widen.

"Wow."

There's a pause before he licks his lips, glances about, and then leans in a little closer to whisper, "I do magic."

*

Teddy nods at the 'got beat up' — though he's pretty sure that Billy has potential to be a total kick-ass … like the comic, so to speak. Just a little practice and training.

He almost misses the secret because he's looking hopefully at the mouth that's coming closer… but "I do magic" … he's serious, this isn't just … ordinary…

"Wait, like Zatanna Zatara? That kind of magic?"

Teddy's voice has the same kind of excitement as Billy's did when he revealed being a mutant.

*

Billy Kaplan wasn't quite expecting that question.

"Not stage magic. Real magic."

He tries to think of something to do to show him without calling too much attention to him or any Chaos deities to his side. There's another moment before he slowly seems to get taller. However, he's not growing. His feet are no longer touching the ground and he seems to be levitating about six inches above it.

*

"Awesome," Teddy says, excitement present, volume well suppressed to not draw attention.

"But Zatanna does real magic too, remember that thing when the UN General Assembly building was sucked underground by that crazy Mole guy? She zapped all the people out safely."

Teddy is also a subscriber to certain underground (pun entirely accidental) news media online, and that particular operation was on the media sites before the lava even cooled.

"So were you on the roof that night for the same reason I was?"

*

Billy Kaplan did read about that and wanted to try and find Ms. Zatarra, but life got in the way. Well, life and Jason Blood. Lowering himself back down to the ground, he looks a little sheepish.

"I actually think I set off the fire alarms that night. I had all these candles lit because I was trying a spell. I just didn't want them to find out it was me."

Dark eyes then look to Teddy.

"Why were you there?"

*

"I was about to go out on patrol. I've been going out two or three nights a week to find things — muggers, rapists, thefts — and basically stopping them. Usually don't even have a chance to fight, they see me and run."

Because he's Hulk Junior with dragon wings, but he can't really show that off here.

*

Well, he's certainly a presence!

"You really go out and do that? I was thinking about it… I even started putting a costume together, but…"

There's hesitation in Billy's voice now.

"I've met some people and they're…they don't like that I'm using magic. Yet they won't teach me! Argh! It's so frustrating!"

*

"What? Why don't they want to teach you?"

Teddy looks somewhere between outraged on behalf of his friend and confused that people wouldn't teach.

"If you can do real stuff, isn't it dangerous to leave you untrained? Doesn't it get all blocked up and go sour? I mean, if you don't use it?"

*

Billy Kaplan gives a sigh and leans back against the back of the bench, turning over his shoulder to look at Teddy.

"Because they say that my magic is too dangerous. I mean, of course it is, because I don't know how to use it all that much! But this guy went off about chaos and how it'll one day hurt everyone I love, which I totally wouldn't let happen because I love them, you know? And then this weird, magical, god-like guy came and tried to get me to use my magic and go with him and be taught with him, but he was really creepy and so obviously evil. So I haven't really used much magic since."

He then looks pensive, "I don't think it gets blocked up or goes sour. I think maybe I just get frustrated."

*

"When I was first learning how to shift well, I had to do everything in baby steps," Teddy says.

"And I'm not sure but … did you ever read the Princes in Amber series? This royal family over all of reality that uses a magical pattern that imposes order on the universe, and Chaos is their enemies, but they themselves are pretty much random, and their enemies are all honorable but evil because they want to destroy the pattern? But neither of the two was really good or evil of itself."

He reaches over to rub gently at Billy's shoulder.

"I don't think you are going to create great evil. You might change things up, but if things never change, they're dead, right?"

*

Billy Kaplan shakes his head.

"The thing is, I'm not trying to mess anything up. I'm not trying for chaos. I mean, perfect order isn't something either because I realize that everything is fluid, but to say that I'm going to destroy things? I think that's taking it a bit far."

He's even sulking a little bit.

"I just want to be able to help and I'm good at magic!"

*

Teddy decides that this is probably a) over his head, and 1) a good time to just listen and apply hug therapy. So he nods, and offers a hug, or at least more shoulder rubs. He also makes a mental note to find out if there is anything trustworthy or reliable about 'chaos magic' anywhere that he can research.

*

The shoulder rubs do seem to help some as Billy deflates a little.

"I just don't like some old, magic guy jumping to conclusions that I'll just destroy things, you know? That's like assuming that Superman's going to destroy the world because he can."

And yes, he just compared himself to Superman.

*

"Maybe old magic guy's just projecting," Teddy says, continuing the shoulder rubs.

"Or he wants you out of the way so you won't stop HIM from destroying the world. Besides. Superman will probably destroy the world long before either of you get around to it."

*

Billy Kaplan sighs into the shoulder rub.

"I don't know. It's just…why would someone do that to another looking to actually learn?"

He then turns some to look at the other.

"You really think Superman could destroy the world? I mean…that he would?"

*

Teddy's got a slightly teasing grin on.

"No, don't think he would, but I really do think it's more likely for him to do it than you."

He extends the shoulder rub into a neck and back rub, because it feels like Billy's got a LOT of locked up tension.

"Honestly, I think your first choice was the wrongest possible teacher you could have chosen, and maybe even the reason why the creepy weird magic guy showed up?"

Even if Teddy knew that Witch Boy showed up first before Blood, he wouldn't change his mind on that — because magic is not always linear in time. At least in the stories.

*

"I didn't choose him, though," Billy corrects. "I was on my way to Hoboken, to Carlo's Bakery, and the GPS took me way off course and I ended up on this creepy street in Gotham. The only shop open was this creepy antique shop so I went in to ask directions from the creepy guy at the counter. He was the magic guy who said he'd teach me. But then, right in the middle of the day, when I went to Gotham again because this store had opened," one that is popular with the hipster, younger crowd and has mostly been online until now, "the evil guy showed up and just wrecked stuff.""

*

"So your GPS went off course to GOTHAM from Hoboken? Are you sure magic doesn't go stale? Cause that sounds like a curse."

Teddy says that jokingly, but he's kind of wondering how Billy's magic works. Well. He DID say just to ask.

"So, Zatanna says spells in some weird backmasking language. How do you make yours work?"

*

Billy Kaplan makes a half-grimace of thought.

"Magic does sort of do weird things sometimes. The creepy guy said that the magic was doing it on purpose, to bring me there."

It just really wasn't a great week for him. The question causes him to fall silent for a moment.

"I don't really know. I mean, I just want it to happen and I say it and…sometimes it happens."

*

"So, force of will? Like Yoda lifting the X-Wing? What do you have to say?"

Logical shapeshifter is being logical. After all, magic is simply insufficiently analyzed science, that's Heterodyne's Statement of the Occult.

*

"Maybe? Like I said, I want a teacher who will tell me this sort of thing. If I want it, then it usually happens." (It often even happens the way he wants it to.)

Billy gives another shrug but is careful not to upset the back-rub.

"I just say what I want to happen. It's not like there are weird words for specific things. Not like 'Abracadabra' or 'Alohomora'."

*

Teddy causes his jacket to unzip when Billy says the Word of Opening, just for grins. At least, he's grinning. Billy might not even notice it.

"How about you make it very specific then, and ask for a teacher who can show you what you need to do without endangering the world? Be exacting?"

*

Billy Kaplan turns around fully at that and looks up at Teddy.

"You mean…ask the magic itself?"

Because it's never dawned on him.

"I never thought of that. Couldn't that be dangerous?"

Because he's now rather gun-shy.

*

"Well… if it's just randomly reaching out for someone anyway, then you might be better off if you deliberately give instructions, right?"
Teddy smiles, but he's not really sure it'll work. Couldn't hurt?

He finishes the back rub and then suggests they go play a few Carnival games.


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