Logs:Just the Messengers

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Just the Messengers


Characters: Slip & Ian as ST
Date: 2020-03-20
Summary: A message is passed from one stranger to another, nudging the Lost toward proper integration into the Accords.
Disclaimers:

The neighborhood is that odd combination of ritzy and desperate that characterizes yuppies and the like on a mission - nice clothes, frequent display of smartphones and fancy watches, worried expressions, all while doing their best to get absolutely nowhere very fast. Contrasting that mindset are the students, wandering through life in a daze of confusion, some with masks and gloves - those would be the medical students - and some with cheerful, bright energy like they just haven't even seen the news in the last month. There's a pack of them at the counter right now, violating the no-more-than-ten-people recommendations the CDC has been giving out, gleefully ordering frosties and junior burgers depending on how much cash they can scrounge up between them. A faint odor of weed drifts from the whole lot.


Slip doesn't quite fit in with either lot. Her clothes and her smartphone are all a bit too old to sort her in with the yuppies, her accessories more mismatched than stylish, including a small locker key hanging against the faded logo on her dark grey tee. She's a little too old and indifferent to fit in with the kids at the counter, the few years between her likely age and theirs seemingly vast for the way she smirks at them like she's been there and done that. She waits at an almost reasonable distance, those few feet doing her no good if one of the students turns and sneezes or coughs in her general direction, but it's close enough so that anyone else wandering in doesn't get the wrong idea and step in front of her. Besides, it's kinda nice over here, the giddy hints of hunger suggesting threads she could pull for a fuller meal. If she were itching for something other than burgers.


Naturally there is a presence behind Slip almost immediately as a teenaged black boy in a loose basketball jersey steps up to join the line, keeping a polite distance. The crowd up ahead dithers. "Can I get an egg mcmuffin?" one girl asks a little loudly. Another says, "Oooh, I want a chicken biscuit!" And then of course the cashier has to explain that chicken biscuits are only served at breakfast. The girl argues back that she read an /article/ and it /said/ they were serving them and...

From right behind Slip there's a polite little throat-clearing. "Scuse me," the teenager says, "May I have a moment of your time?" He pastes on his most winning bright smile just for Slip, the better to seem unthreatening.


Slip doesn't glance back when another steps into line, though the reflexive pivot of an oddly metallic ear toward the sound sees her hand coming up to push through her hair as if to fix something that had fallen out of place. As if today's barely brushed style were exceptionally intentional. The bid for her attention earns, first, a curious glance over her shoulder, her easy smile apparent in profile, growing when she half-turns when it seems the stranger's addressing her. "I've got all the time in the world," comes with a gesture toward the chaos at the counter, not one little lick of annoyance in her tone, her expression casually curious.


"You're patient," the stranger says with a low laugh, and then, "My name's Jamal. I work for the Uptown Warden's office." He almost offers his hand, then withdraws it with a self-conscious little grin. "Sorry. I keep forgetting. Nobody wants to pass this bug on." On cue, someone near the counter coughs. Jamal shoots them side-eye and sort of edges away. "I got a baby sister, she don't need that." Yep, he disapproves. Back to Slip, "You're with the Lost contingent, right?"


"Easily entertained," Slip corrects of the accusation of patience. Nevermind that he might be more right than she is on that point. She glances down at the offered hand, smile tilting toward smirk when he thinks better of it, but the terribly timed cough cuts off any remark she might've made. Yeah. Side-stepping seems a good idea. Just in case. She watches the cougher for a moment longer, up until her place in their melting pot is picked out. With her mirth a little bit dimmer, she nods to Jamal and waits expectantly for whatever that question might be leading to.


Finally the lot up ahead seem to be speeding up - and going easier on the poor cashier, who looks like she has one nerve, exactly one, left, for their bullshit. The cougher says, "Allergies!" and heads for the bathroom.

Jamal makes a face and shakes his head just a little. One can almost see the exasperation. He takes a deep breath, though, and says, with the look of someone trying real hard not to be taken the wrong way, "I've been asked to talk to you about something important. Maybe we can sit down once we've got our food?" Earnest, hopeful, friendly, and driven.


Slip keeps her eyes on Jamal as she pivotas an ear--just one, independent of the other, the movement sufficiently hidden by her hair that it may well go wholly unnoticed--toward the dimming din behind her, toward the promise of her due turn. Even as the register clears, she takes a few seconds to run down what she's done since arriving in New Orleans, anything that might've drawn attention to her in particular. If she finds any indiscretions worth listing, they aren't significant enough to color her expression as she nods. "Sure." She even smiles again before turning to the counter to order her pair of double-cheeses, small fries, medium coke. She pays in cash with a mutter of apology to the cashier.

It doesn't take long for the food to make it out, the burgers already made, the fries and drink easy enough to sort into their respective containers. Bag in hand--oh, how they hope their customers would leave--she heads toward a table far from the counter and settles down to unpack what somebody else just packed up. And wait. Listening's easy, really. Silence never lasts long.


Gift card is Jamal's choice of payment, and he picks himself up a big mac and fries and a large sprite. He's a minute or two behind and he slides into the seat and arranges his meal, getting everything just right before chomping a fry like they're going out of style. "Mmn. Okay." Make that three fries, real quick, because if there's anything McDonalds does well, it's fries. Then, focusing on Slip, "So. You might not know this, but we didn't have any Lost in this city up until November last year." Nomf. "Now we've got a bunch of them. How much do you know about the Accords? I don't want to bore you with a history lesson if you've already heard it."


Half of a double cheeseburger has already been demolished by the time Jamal joins Slip at her out-of-the-way table. The burger wasn't fresh, plucked from under the heat-lamp. It doesn't deserve the half-lidded pleasure with which she enjoys it, but sometimes cheap and greasy just hits the spot. She flashes a smile across the table, but doesn't interrupt his preparations. Or her own enjoyment. One brow arches at the note about how very recently the Lost started filtering into the city, her own arrival not that far off. The shrug comes before she swallows, misleadingly dismissive, but corrected quickly enough. "I read what I signed." As any Lost would. Contracts should always be scrutinized. Chances are, she could infer some history from that document, if not much in the way of detail. "Why?"


"Well..." Jamal chomps his fries with a healthy appetite. He'll save the burger for when he has a moment between speaking. "So apparently it all started when some bloodsuckers pissed off some fuzzbutts and the fuzzbutts went to war. Long story short, the Wardens stepped in to work out a treaty. Ever since then, the city has been reasonably at peace. With me so far?" That should be a long enough pause for him to take one big delicious bite of his Big Mac.


Slip, on the other hand, has enough time to polish of that first burger, with only a little hitch when a snort of laughter at 'fuzzbutts' inspires a quiet cough of her own. And a little sinking in her chair for any errant look that sound might earn her. She washes it down with some coke, an, "Mmhmm," around the straw preceding a more intelligible answer of, "Sounds consistent with all the wording. Disputes of territory and power. Enforcement of hospitality." For all that her words are clearly a statement, there's something in the way the last remark curls that suggests a question.


"Yup," Jamal says, once he's washed that bite down with sprite. "Thing is, that balances the werewolves and the vampires. There are enough of you Lost now that we need to get you all on the treaty. Now, from what I've been told about your power structure," here his student nature is leaking through, he's definitely in college, "you don't pick the leader. The season picks the leader, and it could pick anyone it likes. Right?" An expectant look flashes over and he sips his sprite, then pops a couple of fries in his mouth.


One burger down, Slip lets the second sit for now, slouching back in her chair as she picks at her fries, as she studies Jamal. "Something like that," doesn't quite fully confirm his understanding, though it's difficult to tell if she's being squirrelly or simply accepting that the broad strokes are there. "Spring should crown someone soon." Holding up a hand--and, with it, a pair of french fries on their way to her mouth--she assures, "Not me," as if she has any say over it. "Do you want me to relay a message?"


Jamal pauses to consider carefully, munching on a fry - the long ones are the best - before saying, with the sort of care reserved for repeating the words of others verbatim, "If you are crowned, we want you to work the Accords into the Freehold oath." He glances up from his fries with curious brown eyes. "I hope that makes sense to you, cuz it's Greek to me." Chomp, and that fry is history. He picks his burger up again.


Slip probably should react to that second-hand request. It's kind of a big deal. But she's pretty sure that she, personally, is not being asked to forge the oath herself. Just relay the information. Which, really, is what Slips do best. "Perfect sense," she promises with an easy smile. "It's sort of like our own personal version of the Accords, assuring we all play nice and take care of our community together. Except instead of Wardens, we've got magic--" Complete with wiggled fingers and widened eyes. "--to enforce it." With a head-bobbing nod, she confirms, "I'll relay the message. I can't make promises on anyone else's behalf, but I can make sure whoever gets saddled with the responsibility knows what the Wardens want from them. Us."


"That's cool," Jamal says with an easy-going grin. Magic is definitely cool - he wiggles his fingers and winks to add, "I got a little magic myself, though you won't see me doing it in here. Thanks, Slip." She didn't introduce herself. "Sorry, got that off the Accords." Seeing as how she signed and all. Jamal stuffs his own mouth with his Big Mac so he'll stop talking.


Slip's dark brows arch inquisitively when Jamal indicates he's got some tricks of his own, but she concedes to his point about setting. And proves easily distracted by the unanticipated use of the name she never gave him. Her, "Uh huh," is telling, the way it rises in subtle inquiry, a gentle tug at some half-caught thread. She's not sure she buys it, but maybe she's just feeling a teensy bit defensive now that she's been pulled, very personally, into the discussion, no longer just a conduit for information only incidentally concerning her. She sucks up the last bit of her coke then starts to pack up her trash, evidently intending to take the second burger to go.


"Okay, fine, I might've had to get directions from a Warden," Jamal says wryly, slurping the last of his Sprite. He fishes out his phone and waves it. "Believe it or not, they text." A waggle of brows, playful. "They said 'Find Slip' and I said 'how am I gonna do that' and they gave me directions." He chomps another few fries. He's about out. "Sorry if I spooked you."


"Still spooked," Slip assures with an off-center smile, her tone and expression at odds with the actual substance of her words. "But that doesn't change anything. I'll relay the message. And I imagine somebody'll be in touch with someone about the specifics." Those aren't hers to worry about. Until somebody says otherwise. She's rather happy to remain an intermediary, if not precisely cheerful at being a named one. "It was nice meeting you, Jamal. I trust you'll be able to find me again if you need to?" Her smile brightens further at the scenario playing out in her head.


"If I don't someone else will," Jamal assures. "Don't worry, we don't bite. The Wardens are nice people, promise." He flashes his most charming smile, all white teeth and happiness. "Good luck with the Spring thing!" He doesn't get up - he's still got a bit of burger to finish and he's spooked his target, so probably best not to chase her.


Slip looks like she might comment on the assurance that there won't be any biting. It's a spring thing. A verdant courtier simply can't hear those words without the (in)appropriate retort trying to escape, but she's got good enough hold of her tongue not to let it out. Not in anything more than a grin, anyway. It's a friendly enough parting thought from the darkling who, upon exiting the restaurant, keeps to the dark side of the street and takes an intentionally meandering path to wherever she's staying. Needlessly. Just in case.


Jamal, meanwhile, finishes up his burger and taps out a text message. Tada - mission accomplished! Now hopefully the Warden gives him a cookie.