Stories At The Library

July 27, 2014: Alexander meets Olena in front of the NYPL.

Upper Manhattan

Not known for its tourist trade, Upper Manhattan is generally considered to start at the base of Central Park, along 59th Street, though you're just as likely to hear New Yorkers tell you to look north of 96th Street. It's one of the most affluent areas in the U.S., a center of business and commerce and upscale residences ranging from the mansions of the Upper East Side to the high-end condos and luxury high rises of the Upper West Side. While its most northerly neighborhoods may not quite rival the two sweeping swathes of ritz and power that flank the great park, even traditionally poor Harlem has seen considerable gentrification over the past two or three decades.



  • None

Mood Music:

  • None

The New York Public Library is a source of pride for most of New York. Even the most jaded of citizens might feel a bit of warmth at the tall marble and stone building that stands sentinel off of 152nd, a vast repository of knowledge that serves as a focal point for visitors to the city as well as the people who live there as well.

The long stairs in the front of the multiple double doors of the main entrance wend upwards, guarded on either side by large sculpted stone lions that are at an easy repose lying upon their dais. Even this late afternoon on a sunday there's a fait amount of activity. The place is due to close soon, yet outside tourists and visitors wander about the large sidewalk areas. A hot dog vendor serves the needs of the crowd while a nearby performer juggles for their entertainment.

And amongst it all, seated in front of one of those lions, is a lanky young man in jeans and a blue hoodie. His features are obscured by the raised hood and his attention seems to be split between the large tome in his lap and the urge to people watch. A light grey backpack rests at his side, leaning against him as he considers the comings and goings to that large building.

Olena Kovalenko is careful not to gawk like a tourist, careful not to look too out of place. And it's not hard, really. She's been in the city just long enough, now. She spends a few moments at the street vendor, grabbing a can and a dog, which she then slathers with a somewhat exotic combination of condiments.

She then retreats to the shade offered by the nearest lion and hunkers down not so far from the guy with the book. Her brown eyes never cease moving, even as she eats. Apparently, she's something of a people-watcher, too.

The book he at times manages to open is titled prominently, 'Guns, Germs, and Steel', and seems to be something that he cracks open now and again… gets perhaps a paragraph or two, then with the body language of a man visibly annoyed he closes it again. Luckily he manages to keep the place by leaving one finger in the page that he's needed, just in case he wants to reread the same paragraph a few dozen more times.

Then, when Olena steps over to take up a spot at _his_ lion, he glances at her sidelong. Those features of his are hidden by that upraised hoodie. From her place she can probably see that he's pale of skin, a decent chin, a hint of golden blonde hair. Little more is apparent as he tilts his head just so to glance her way.

A few moments pass as she enjoys her dog and soda, then his voice lifts to offer words that have no hint of accent curiously. "Those things'll kill you." Probably means the hot dog.

Olena glances sidelong at the young man as he speaks, though she's kept him in her periphery, especially whenever he displayed his annoyance. Movement attracts her attention. "I had worse," she replies with a shrug. Her accent is thick. Eastern European. But her words are still clear, still comprehensible. She finishes the dog before she cracks open the can, a sweet iced tea. The swallow she takes from it causes her to grimace, but at least it's cold. She'll settle for cold.

Pulling his legs up a bit so that he can rest the large book across them, Alexander turns his head to consider her. For a time she might get the sense that he was gauging her, judging her. Eventually he looks away nodding to himself as if to agree that most likely she had.

The book rests there calmly, he does not fidget, there is no nervous movement to him that might distract or focus excess energy. He's curiously at ease as he looks across the way. "That is quite the accent. Ukraine?" He asks as his eyes wander towards the family down the sidewalk some, the ones stopping at the street vendor and purchasing balloons.

Olena's eyes narrow at the guess. She peers at him closely, perhaps noting the unusual stillness, gauging his own physical reactions. "Tak," she replies. "Yes." She includes her own translation. "You know Ukraine?" Most people assume her accent is Russian. She doesn't typically correct them, despite how galling that assumption is for any Ukrainian.

A hand lifts, waving to the side as if dismissing the significance of his words. "I was young. Ten. It was a short visit with my father, Odessa I believe." His eyes distance, though she might only get the impression of him slightly lifting his head as he lets his thoughts drift nostalgic. There is definitely something about him, something vaguely curious. The casual movements graceful in their execution, the voice that offers little insight save through word choice.

His hand returns to rest against the side of the book, "I mostly remember the sand on the beach. Some of the people." His lip curls to himself, "The food."

Olena nods to that. Her ears rise faintly and she resists the urge to grimace. "I not been to Odessa in many years. I was very young. Was family vacation." She pushes the memory away, for all that it was a happy one. Now is not the time to become nostalgic. She takes another deep swallow of her iced tea and, again, suppresses a grimace at just how sweet it is.

For a moment he seems to hesitate, some thought flitting through his mind. But then a decision is made as he pushes back the hood from his head, revealing that wild ragged mane of golden blonde hair, almost metallic in color. There's a tilt of his gaze as he turns to look at her. Those eyes narrow faintly, and should she glance over she will get her first look at her conversational partner.

Though those features of his are twisted slightly as he tries to take her measure, she will see them for what they are, which is beautiful of all things. Not the casual beauty that comes from a day of silicon and the surgeon's blade, but a classical look that speaks of renaissance artists who would have risked much to be able to bind his likeness to stone or oil. Yet the focal point of him are those eyes, they are red, a dark crimson and they gleam faintly as if leaving a trail of light in the air.

Then, almost too casually he reaches for his bag beside him, unzips it with the whir of metallic teeth. A closed bottle of water is within and he offers it to her. "With my compliments," He offers, then adds. "If its integrity is questioned I will sip it if you wish."

Olena glances over as the man reaches up for his hood. Her brows rise some as his appearance is revealed, though she doesn't seem the swooning type by any stretch. The metallic colour of his hair is distinctive and, in her own mind, she concludes he is likely a meta or mutant of some sort, though she refrains from saying as much. Instead, she simply reaches out to take the water, inspects the seal, and nods. "Spasybo," she says. Thank you. It won't stop her from finishing the tea, however. It'll just give her something to clear her palate with after. "It will be good, I am sure." She'd be able to tell otherwise, anyway.

That she didn't react scores a point with him, not that she would care about such a score being kept nor its end result. But he gives a small nod as he looks back. "That is kind of you, thank you." Though it is curious he thanks her for ultimately what is not offering insult. He sets the heavy book to the side after marking the page, returning his arms to rest over his knees as he murmurs. "I am someone that can sense stories at times. And everyone has them." He glances askance, then adds, "Some more than others."

Such words more or less confirm to Olena that the man is more than human. "Tak. We all have stories," she agrees with a mild shrug, eye lidding partially. "But we do not all tell to strangers, tak?" She gives a small smile that doesn't reach her eyes, though it might be argued that very few of the emotions she displays ever truly reach her eyes. "I suspect your story no much different." Something of a lie, actually. She doubts his story is much like hers at all — save that it is the story of a meta oppressed, which, in her experience, is universal.

So not a total lie.

A slight half-smirk flickers into being over his features as he looks across the crowd of normal people. Nobody has looked closely enough at him to notice the eyes, but really it would take some measure of concentration at range to see them at their current level of glow. Slowly he rolls a shoulder, the first unncecessary movement she may have seen him perform, but it is enough to cause the joint to crackle faintly.

"Alexander. Alexander Aaron." He tells her levelly, "Or Alex if you are feeling informal." He lifts a long-fingered hand towards her as he gestures, as if giving her greeting anew. "There. I am perhaps less strange to you." His lip twitches, then he looks away.

Some measure of concentration for most people, true. But Olena is hyper-perceptive. She notices such things. She simply rarely remarks on them. What other people don't notice isn't her problem. At the greeting, she glances away briefly. "Oksana Balanchuk," she lies easily, meeting his gaze again, but unwilling to give anyone her true name. A Ukrainian would find the name entirely common and unremarkable. "Do you prefer Alexander or Alex?"

"Alexander," As he says this he pauses to lift his gaze upwards, as if turning his thoughts as to the why of his preference for that form of his name. He scritches the side of his chin thoughtfully and then slowly he rises to his feet, gaining his full height short of six foot.

Turning slightly to look at her, Alexander is still leaning against that giant lion, letting it watch over them as they converse. His expression is carefully measured, calm, yet there is something primal in his gaze, bestial that threatens and barely perceivable from the way he stands, the tensing of the muscles around his eyes.

"What is it that defines you, Oksana?" For some reason she might get the sense that as he asks this he is comparing it to a veritable library of answers in his mind, as if he had asked this of hundreds of individuals.

"Why do you ask?" Olena counters, rising to her feet shortly after him. The scrutiny is unwelcome, though she holds her ground. That strength of will, thus, might define her, but it is not an answer she offers up. She registers the weight of his gaze and his presence. It raises the hackles on the back of her neck, suggesting a stirring of her flight or fight instinct. Neither half of that instinct wins immediately. Both merely hover, suppressed, in the background.

There is definitely an intensity to his gaze, that weight like several anvils dropped from on high. There is no hesitance even when she can sense he is aware of that tensing in her stance, that intensity entering her words and the quiet whisper of her body language telling him no further. Yet at first the only answer she gains is a slow blink. Most young men she has met his age she most likely has been able to cow them, simply by giving off those vibes of violent threat and danger…

Yet this young man seems utterly calm in the face of what she represents. It could be out of misplaced arrogance, or perhaps utter obliviousness if she misread the signs. But whatever it is, it leaves him there without fear as he tells her quietly. "Because of how you look at these people. How you move. The focus you place on the line of sight each person expresses and how some whose gaze seems to linger get more of your attention."

There's a beat as he lets those words float there between them, then he adds. "You remind me of a friend, and out of curiousity thus I ask you."

"We have not met before, you and I," Olena replies evenly, holding herself still, letting her perceptions begin to build up a picture of the best lines of movement as they present themselves. "I would remember." Her eyes narrow with careful curiosity. "You are not like most Americans I meet."

"No, I am not." The young man answers her, his hands still clearly visible on his hips and his manner offering no hint of attack, no good angle of a strike. If her were to uncoil tot he side with an abrupt forearm it would expose his throat for a clawed-hand counter. If he were to attempt a knee, it would be an opening for a step to the side and an elbow to the spine. He is not in a strong position, yet perhaps he grants it to her as if to give some silent message of his will to not attack, to do no harm, even if his questions are hard.

"You are not like him, but you share some of the same aspects. And so I asked of your story. I will respect your desire to not share of it." There's a pause, then he lifts his chin, those faintly gleaming red eyes holding hers as he says quietly. "I can offer, however, to answer a question you offer me. If you would value such."

Olena isn't looking so much to strike as to be able to move freely. She is not looking for a fight. But, she is very accustomed to watching her back. She can tell by his neutral stance that he's not actually trying to be threatening. It's merely the close scrutiny and unusual line of questioning that has her wary. As he's noticed, she does track those who pay too close attention to her. There are those who know her face, and are not friendly to her.

"That is… good," she decides as he retreats from his interrogation some, looking for the right words and settling for the basic one. She doesn't like people prying into her past. She is careful about how she pries into theirs for much the same reason.

At the offer, however, she considers for a moment or two. "You are more than human," she says. It is not a question. She can tell — though she assumes him to be superhuman, not semi or fully divine. "Why are you here?" Likewise, she expects the simple, semi-evasive answer she would give. That alone would confirm much.

At that, for the first time, he smiles. It's not an ordinary smile, it's a thing that compliment those seraphic looks of his. If those eyes of his seem so terribly devillish like the Morningstar's own, then that smile is the downfall of saints.

With a clear touch of amusement he answers her, "There are several answers to that question." The smile fades yet a ghost of it remains in his eyes as he says quietly, "The practical. The mythical. The biological?" There's a nod given to her, "The latter is most likely self-evident and can be had in most textbook. So we'll skip that one, which other would you prefer?"

Olena shifts her weight at his smile. She pushes off the lion, stepping around into the open, onto the stairs, though out of the way. It gives her far more movement options. "Mythical?" she echoes, a dark brow arching. "I thought practical, but… Mythical?" That means he's an order above superhumans, something she's not sure if she believes or not. Then again, he wouldn't be the first meta to appropriate myth and legend into his persona.

Clearing his throat, the young man before her looks about. There are still a few citizens around, though not as many as before. In the time they've shared words the library has closed, the hot dog and performer have moved on. The remaining folks are mainly him, her, and a handful of sidewalk travellers that are most likely set to set course for another locale.

Deeming the moment is right, perhaps just the same moment when the wind picks up just so, enough to send a faint breeze through the two lonely trees that serve to grant shade to those lions, he begins.

"In the past there once was a child, born to father and mother. This child's mother passed, leaving the father ill-suited to raise him." There is a certain rhythm to his words, his voice loud enough for some around to hear though most just give him a 'look' and move along their way. It might serve to cause Olena some discomfort, but then she may have to just wage if listening is worth the risk, or flight is all the more important.

"Their lives were quiet, yet they were able to live on through love for many years. Until half a score of years had passed, the great lord Amatsu-Mikaboshi dared much in taking that boy from his father. The great despoiler carried him off and taught this child of blade and blood."

There's a pause, "This child accepted such knowledge, being turned from his father. Mikaboshi then set his plan into action. Accosting the very gates of heaven. And with the child leading the way he became very nearly victorious. That is until… the city's last defender stood before him. The child's father.

Another pause, purely for effect. "Not knowing this man for who he was, the child struck. His father would not fell his own son, yet they grappled. In the conflict the strength of the father's love won out and the child turned upon Mikaboshi and slew him."

"Having earned his place at his father's side, having learned of his heritage as one home in this place of mystical heaven, the child took up his mantle as his father's son. For this child was to be known as Phobos, son of Ares."

And then with that same wry smile, as if daring her to call bullshit or as if he didn't take the whole madness of his life seriously, he bows and adds, "And I am he."

Olena's gaze darts across the square as the young man's raised voice attracts attention. She takes a step back, into the shade of the lion once more, pulling up her own hoodie hood. Because, really… he can keep the attention on him, thanks kindly.

She doesn't call bullshit at the end of his story. She merely nods slowly, once, brows drawn together. "I see why you prefer Alexander," she says dryly when he is done with his grandstanding.

A glimmer of mortality touches him as he looks back to her, smirking a bit as he walks over, giving a small apologetic shrug to any on-lookers that might be looking at him like he's a freak. Once again he's leaning against the lion, back in his spot as he says, "Exactly. Doesn't really flow off the tongue, does it? But such is life."

Olena crunches the can from her iced tea under foot. She picks it up and gives a light toss. It bounces off the lion's nose, then off the backpack of a passerby, and lands with a tinny skitter into a trashcan near where the street vendor was. The bottle of water is pocketed inside her jacket. "Such is life," she agrees. Again, she smiles, though her eyes remain sharp more than anything else. "At least you can name father, tak? Some are not so lucky." She, however, is not one of them. She knows who her father is. Was. Whatever.

Those eyes follow the arc of that can and he cocks an eyebrow at the precision of the throw. Looking back towards her he meets her gaze and replies to her calmly. "True, but we all have our crosses to bear."

His head turns to the side and she can almost perceive him gauging her, her stance, her reach, her weight. As if doing some form of calculation but then coming up with an incorrect answer he shakes his head. "Are you heading on your way now, Oksana?" He seems to have accepted the fake name given to him.

There's no reason not to accept the name, after all. Even were he telepathic, Oksana is the identity Olena holds topmost in her mind. Particularly around other metas in this city. Just in case. "Maybe," she replies with a mild shrug. "I have finished food. Library is closed." Not that she spends much time in it, anyway. "I do not wish to take too much of your time."

The conundrum she presents him is at play in his thoughts. If a passerby glanced at them they might think his attention was given to her like a young man considering a girl wishing to court her. But she can tell that he does not look on her as a man does a woman. He looks on her as his namesake considered the Gordian knot, though for now he seeks merely to solve it with questions and introspecive thoughts.

"And if I were to give it freely to you?" Then there's that faint smile as he that most might find a gentle thing, "For apparently I have a lot of it to give in the coming years." Something faintly sardonic in those words. Then he furrows his brow, a question occuring to him to ask but he fails to word it properly for now so he holds it back.

Olena knows when she's being studied. She's been studied a lot. It usually lead to Very Bad Things. "You are still seeking my story," she says evenly. "There is little I wish tell. This is new country. Land of opportunity. Past does not matter." Again, not necessarily true, but that's the story she's sticking with at the moment.

There's a flicker of recognition in his eyes, and then she can see his body language relax faintly, almost as if her words gave life to a touch of guilt. Alexander gives a small nod and lowers his eyes for a moment, as if offering the faintest hint of a bow. Those faintly gleaming eyes meet hers and he says quietly, "You're right, and you deserve that." As easily as that, he cuts the thought of her origins loose. It is her story she will tell it in her own time, if ever.

"Do you have a place to rest? YAn occupation?" There is no insult meant in those words, but he did not sense an overdeveloped sense of pride. Hopefully he has not crossed a line with those questions.

"Tak," the Ukrainian says in simple answer to the question, though she shares details on neither aspect of her life. Yes. She really is that private. Frustrating to some people, to be sure, but for her… it's a way to protect herself. She's very big on keeping herself protected. Trust comes slowly. "I get by well enough." Again, that small smile, sharp and a trifle cavalier. "Is land of opportunity, this. Much I can do." Most of it illegal, but that doesn't bother her any.

One eye scrunches up as he looks at her and when she smiles he returns it with his own, though edged. It's a smile that tells her he is at least aware of what she is doing. "Good, then I don't have to act so terribly concerned, content that you are safe and able to make your way in the world. I can just enjoy your company guilt-free." For a time he watches her, then he looks aside as he shakes his head, amused. "Why do I get the feeing that if I asked you of your favorite book you'd tell me the dictionary?"

Then he holds up his hands as if staying her answer, "Here, how about this. You tell me something you'd like me to know, and in return I'll answer a question you might have of me. Is that not a fair bargain?"

He'd be wrong, about the dictionary. But Olena doesn't bother to tell him that. Her head cants faintly, however, and a dark brow rises. "Why does my story matter so much to you? Where I sleep, what I do. We are strangers. We know names. Is nice. Alexander. Good name. I had friend in Ukraine. Alexei. Was nice boy. Pain in neck, but nice boy. Have not seen him in years. But have learned, answering questions from strangers can be… dangerous. Bad for health." She shakes her head, evaluating him.

"You are dangerous. Red eyes that glow, war-god for father, want to pass as human. I can understand why. Is not fun, to be different. People… expect things. Sometimes good things. Usually bad. Is saying, where I come from: May gods never know your name. Gods already know mine. I prefer not to tell them where I live."

Listening to her words, he leans there against the lion even as it solemnly watches over them. "You answered your own questions of me." There's a pause as he considers his own words, but then takes a breath and gestures to the side. "When I accepted who I was, it became difficult to maintain perspective. Difficult to cling to moments, individuals. Things seem to… blur together. Time, people. I look out across…" He stops, realizing that there are few people left in front of the closed library so he smirks at himself, "Well when I look out across many people I don't see faces. I see just… time fleeting."

The young blonde man's eyes lower for a moment, then he looks up towards her. "So when I espy someone whom I can tell is… different. I do perhaps try to discern too much. It is like finding one of the few voices you can truly hear. If that makes sense."

Then he laughs and tosses away his own words with a wave of his hand to the side, "Bottom line, you are interesting. It's a pity you do not wish to be so."

Olena's lips quirk at one corner, less a smile and more simply a wry pull. "The last time I was interesting," she notes dryly, "I lost my home, my family, and the future I wish. I will not let that happen again." Perhaps she can empathize with him, to some degree. But she will not compromise. Not until she knows him much better. Trust takes time and must be earned. It takes more than a pretty face to turn her head.

There's a pause as he looks to her and he words strike home as he gives her a solemn nods. "Of course, you're correct." He shakes his head as he recalls those whose lives have crossed with his own, those cords of Fate that strained too near his own and were in turn frayed and then severed.

Alexander lifts his backpack from beneath the lion's paw and slings it over his shoulder. "Your safety is more important than my momentary curiousity." And that having been said he pulls up the hood of his sweat shirt and gives her a nod. "Good luck to you, Oksana. Where you can find it." And with that he starts to move off.

Olena watches him go. Just before he's out of earshot, she says quietly, "Keep your eyes open, Alexander. Is not bad thing." That said, she circles around the lion, and heads away in the opposite direction.

Back to: RP Logs

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License