Grey and Blue

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Laggy Lagiacrus, May 31, 2013.

  1. Gate City Septembers were rarely a picturesque affair. While the movies would have one believe Autumn is filled with leaves crunching underfoot and the warm glow of the sun on a breezy day, it was rarely like that. Instead, the most a person got were rain-sodden leaves sticking to the soles of their shoes, light drizzle whipping them in the face on a cloudy, windy day, all while the temperature never went above ten degrees Celsius. But, it was like that in many places, and complaining didn’t help. Not that that stopped anyone complaining, but it was worth mentioning.

    John Taylor looked from his window seat, surveying the scene outside the school gates. A typical Autumn, one he had seen many a time before, each one something he was not particularly fond of. He strained his cobalt eyes, but only slightly – his rectangular-framed glasses weren’t doing their job properly, so it seemed. He had considered going to the optician’s, but as of late, he had little time to do so. However, his mess of oak-brown locks was a different matter entirely – that was just his hair being too stubborn to budge at all. Yawning, he slumped over his desk, awaiting the beginning of the school day. Not actions befitting the year’s finest, but he was tired, and felt sore all over. He felt he deserved to be cut some slack.

    “All right class, settle down,” the form tutor called out, having the students settle into their places, “We’ve got a new student arriving today. Please treat them kindly – I know what happened to Terry wasn’t the fault of anyone here, but please, it’s worth keeping in mind.”

    This development caught John off-guard, slightly. He hadn’t expected a new student, but then again, nobody had. He regarded the announcement with some vague form of interest or other, eventually regaining his composure once he realised he had a reputation to maintain. He was supposed to be the enigmatic, eccentric genius of the year – he couldn’t slip up now.
    #1 Laggy Lagiacrus, May 31, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2013
  2. Charlotte, or Charlie as she'd been called since birth, was not excited about being "the new one." It was like being a piece of meat to be fed to the hounds. She wasn't particularly fond of the instructor's way of introducing her either - keeping her outside the classroom, out of sight until the instructor had called all eyes forward. Why couldn't she have just appeared with no warning and no introductions? For Christ's sake, she had a job to do, and being incognito would've been helpful. Nonetheless, it was time to step inside.

    Despite her distaste for the job, and equal dislike for the introductions, Charlie prided herself on her appearance. It was peoples' first impression, and that first impression would help her get on the inside. She had pulled her wavy honey locks up and back into a loose pony tail, letting a few tendrils dangle and frame her face - a touch of eyeshadow and mascara brought attention to her green eyes, accompanied by rosy lips. She stepped into the room quietly, with a sort of emotionless gate. She scanned the room, flashing a small yet shy smile at the students. Never had Charlie enjoyed being the center of attention...

    "Hey. Uh, I'm Charlotte, but everyone calls me Charlie. I... just transferred here from out of state and I can see that this is a really... friendly place!" She smiled and searched the room for her empty seat... and this John fellow. Perhaps she'd be lucky enough to have been seated next to him. It would make things easier.

    She spotted an empty desk and promptly took her seat, wanting nothing more than to get on with class.
  3. The rest of pre-lesson time forged on without much more activity going on. Nobody seemed to take much interest in Charlotte – either that, or they were just talking about her, as opposed to talking to her. John, on the other hand, was more inclined to make it look as if he was actually interested in being her friend, and helping her settle in. He had an identity to keep up, and being unsociable to the new girl was hardly going to help at all. Following on from this, he turned in his seat to face her, and adopted a fairly warm expression.

    He smiled politely, extending his hand towards her, his acting honed to the point where he could even fake the expression in his eyes. He did have a nervous twitch that flared up whenever he was lying, yes – but that was his left big toe twitching. And, unless Charlotte was able to see through his footwear, she would likely not pick up on the fact that it twitched profusely while he talked.
    “John Taylor. Pleased to meet you.”

    Though his acting was enough to fool even amateur interrogators, he couldn’t fake what he was thinking. And what he was thinking was far more bitter.

    Truth be told, he wanted to be at home, sleeping. He didn’t want to have to speak to somebody he would never bother to initiate a conversation with in future. In fact, he figured that if he left now, then he would still be able to brush it off, and people would be none the wiser. And yet, something about Charlotte intrigued him. Not in a way that made her seem any better a person to him, mind. No, he felt something was off about her. It was solely a gut instinct – or, more likely, his breakfast. But, he had needed some entertainment lately, and investigating Charlotte would have to do.
  4. She smiled as kind a smile as she was given, shaking his hand firmly. But as he said his name, a jolt ran through her arm from his hand to her spine. So this was the guy...
    "Charlie, but you already knew that. Nice to meet you, John," she said, eyeing him directly for a second. While her smile was bright, her eyes were a storm of inquisition, as if sizing him up. And she knew he could feel it, too. Alright, fine, he was good looking, but it didn't soften her up as she'd hoped it would've. What came from her lips next was nothing short of a surprise, even for her.

    "Hungry? Let's get some lunch. You can show me around." It came out, and it was too late to take it back. She pulled her hand away from his and brushed a lock of hair from her face, keeping her eyes on his. This guy? This guy? The intell must've been off. This couldn't be the guy.. A pang of hurt in her stomach forced her to look away from him.
    Get ahold of yourself, Charlie, she thought, Don't lose your cool.

    "Sorry, that was really forward of me. I'm just... eager to make friends. Let me rephrase. Is there any chance you and I could grab some lunch?"
  5. The look in Charlotte’s eyes was nothing short of disconcerting to John. He knew people would often take interest in him, but to this level? Something was wrong. His expression involuntarily hardened, but only slightly – not enough to alert the common man, but to someone trained to read facial expressions, he was an open book. This was fixed but a split second later, but when it came down to it, he had displayed weakness. And, in his line of work, that was a bad thing to do. Nevertheless, he kept up the charade, and nobody seemed to notice. Nobody was paying any attention either, but that was beside the point.

    John seemed taken aback by her request to eat with him. Not out of suspicion, but out of genuine surprise that he was being asked so bluntly. There was nothing to read in that reaction – he was as shocked as she was, but experience allowed him to keep his cool.
    “Lunch, huh?” he answered uneasily, his suspicion creeping back in, “And showing you around? Sure, why not?”

    He knew perfectly well why not, and it was likely that she could read what he was thinking as well – that she was as suspicious as all hell, and he felt uneasy around her. He kept eye contact, but it was forced. There was no way that he was going to let her go off on her own, even if it was a trap.
  6. She smiled. "Well, great! I appreciate that." Of course she had read him like a book. She had lost her exterior cool and now they were both aware that neither of them could be truly trusted. This was something Charlie would hear about once she went back to update her superiors... And it would mean training for the next three or six months... Great.

    As class was finishing, Charlie gathered her things, the nerves and excitement that had collected in her throat had been swallowed, and she was feeling more confident as the bell rang. She shoved her books in her bag and looked to John, smiling a legitimate smile. She was actually hungry, and getting her blood sugar back up to normal would be helpful.

    The halls were packed, but she walked beside John, her attention focused on him. "So, did you grow up here?"
  7. If there was one earthly combination that should never be applied to a particular person, it would be hungry and tired, to John. And, given his activities, and the fact that his breakfast was far from satisfactory, he was not a very happy bunny by the time the lunch bell rang. And yet, he managed to put on a mask of some vague form of tolerance, with a forced smile and a hunger in his eyes. As in, a literal hunger. He wanted food, and a quick powernap. As soon as he was able to to, he stood, and followed Charlotte out the door.

    John raised an eyebrow at the question, but decided to answer it regardless. After all, where he grew up was common knowledge among students – if he didn’t tell her, she’d likely hear it somewhere else anyway.
    “Well, you can probably guess by the accent, but I haven’t lived stateside my whole life. Spent my first ten years in England, if you couldn’t tell.”

    He let out a soft chuckle – not a forced one, but one far from genuine. It was a polite one, the kind of chuckle you would make to lighten a situation. “So how about you? I mean, where did you grow up?”
  8. "In a little town in the northern regions of the states." Non-specifics were good. "My family moved us out here to be closer to what they felt to be important. Whatever that is," she said with a tone of bitterness. She looked him up and down in a split second, and then kept her gaze forward. She continued asking the very basic questions about his life, what he wanted to do with it, what he did for fun. Nothing too personal.

    Lunch was awkward, and every time she made eye contact with him, it was as though she was shooting daggers through her charm. But she was trying to be understanding. What about him could've been so special? What about him rendered her so useless to her family... It was then that her cell phone vibrated in her pocket. She dug it out, and looked at the screen. It was them...

    She frowned for a second, and then looked up to him. "Sorry, I have to take this. I'll be back in a second." She rose from her seat, heading back for the hallway to search for a secluded place. The girls' bathroom? Maybe.. She looked back over her shoulder as she rounded a corner and scooted into a janitor's closet. She opened the phone.

    "I found him," she said in a hushed tone, cupping her hand over her mouth and the microphone to stifle the noise. "But sir, you can't really be serious. I mean, he's--" She was cut off by a stern-sounding voice. She sighed and listened while nodding, biting her lip to keep her from saying something out of bounds. "Yes, sir. Y-yes. I understand... One week. Mmhmm. Right."

    And she snapped the phone shut, bringing her hands up to clench fistfuls of her hair before taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. She wasn't ready to go back to look at that boy...
  9. Non-specifics. She was playing his own game on him. Purposefully vague. Whether due to personal reasons or otherwise, he had no idea, but she was hiding something. John answered her questions in turn, all the while making note of her tone, while giving answers that were practically common knowledge throughout those who had bothered to ask, but nothing more. He kept thinking back to her bitter tone, however – something was definitely off about her, but it might not have been her intrigue in him. Sure, that was suspicious as well, but he couldn’t ump to conclusions about anything – that wasn’t how he worked.

    John was, quite incredibly, oblivious to how tense lunch was. However, he was not stupid, but merely hungry. Hungry enough to devour his lunch without paying more attention to Charlotte than a disinterested cat would its owner. He knew she was there, and he knew to interact with her somehow if the need arose. However, he was more interested in keeping his stomach acids from eating away at his innards, as bland as his sandwich, crisps and juice were. He did, however, snap back to attention when her phone went. Normally, eh would have kept on eating, but would secretly listen in on a conversation, aving nothing better to do. Now, however? He paid extra close attention.

    Discreetly, John followed Charlotte, blending into the crowd when necessary. People knew him, and stopped to greet him in the halls, but it would be rare to see anyone in his year in this part of the school at lunch. His seniors would nod towards him politely, which he returned, but it was never anything more than that. His suspicion only raised when he saw her go into the janitor’s closet – quite an odd place for a phone call, let alone for her to take one. He edged closer, and he could hear her talking, but was having a hard time making out anything being said. After all, he couldn’t make himself too suspicious – he’d have to have ample distance to pretend he was going to the little boy’s room, once she exited.
  10. Charlie choked back a tear and shoved her phone back into her pocket. She composed herself and listened for a minute before stepping out of the closet. But she sensed something. A presence. She stepped out quickly and scanned the hallway, looking for him. Her stomach dropped, thinking perhaps he'd heard her and what she had said. She narrowed her eyes and collected herself, walking slowly through the quickly-emptying hallway towards the restrooms. She spotted him and her stomach gave another nervous ping.

    "John?" She called. "What are you doing?"
  11. “I’m just popping off to the toilet, you know? Sorry, lunch’ll have to wait a bit?”
    John gave another chuckle, and rubbed the back of his head, pretending to be his usual, approachable self. However, when he was sure nobody was within earshot, he drew close to her, until they were practically shoulder-to-shoulder. His tone took a turn for the colder, and there was no indication of any hesitance in his voice.
    “I don’t know who you really are. I don’t know what you want from me. But drop the act – you’re not fooling anyone but the plebs around us. I’m watching you.”

    With that, the expression of distinct malice left John’s face, and he headed off. Of course, he didn’t need the toilet, but he sure as hell knew Charlotte was dangerous. As soon as he was sure she couldn’t detect him, he turned back to look at her, and waited. Waited for her to make move, so he could see what to do about her next.
  12. She stood, dumbfounded, and equally angry. Her cover was partially blown. Fuck... She whipped out her phone and pressed a number, holding it to her ear.

    "Plan B." She closed it just as quickly as she opened it and shook it off, kicking herself for letting this happen. Maybe this was why they had chosen him, instead of her. But it wasn't like she hadn't been smart to his bullshit too! She just wasn't as good at hiding hers...

    She slung her bag over her shoulder, looking around for another sign of him. She would have to ditch class for the rest of the day... After securing both straps of her bag over her shoulders, she quickly headed out of the cafeteria towards the main entrance of the school, her heels clicking on the linoleum floors. She hoped John was as suspicious as they had briefed her to believe. She slowed her pace, letting her phone vibrate in her pocket - putting up with her superior and his bitching wouldn't make this any easier. She had her methods, and they would work. She had to prove herself in that respect.

    Another boy about her age and freakishly similar looking to her jumped out from behind a fence that enclosed the eating area. He grabbed her arm and whipped her around to face him.

    "What the fuck, Charlie! Is this your first time?! Jesus Christ, it's no wonder you weren't picked. Do you have any idea what you're doing?!"

    She yanked her arm from him and said calmly, "Michael. Shut up, just shut up. This is not the place to berate me, okay? Just go."
  13. (Must go, back in an hour or so)
  14. ((It's fine, it's fine. Do what you need to.))

    John continued to tail Charlotte, well aware of the fact that even his following her could be her leading into a trap. Or maybe it was all a bluff. A double bluff? Maybe a triple bluff. He shook his head – he knew always looking at things suspiciously was bad for him, but it was how he approached work and life, and it hadn’t hurt him so far. He wasn’t even sure that it was a trap he could be walking straight into, but he had known something was wrong from the moment she had taken her phone out. Nobody uttered two words into their phone and just hung up – no normal person.

    John ducked behind cover the moment Michael emerged – fortunately, he did not make any noise that would be out of place in the area, but his heart raced regardless. Keeping his cool, and maintaining a position allowing him to observe the situation carefully, he strained his ears, listening out for anything concerning him. Which, most likely, there would be. He did note, however, that Michael – who was, supposedly, a remarkably girly boy – looked scarily like Charlotte. If he didn’t pay attention, John supposed this would be a problem later on. He knew he’d have to pay special attention to how Charlotte acted, and to what she looked like. It was the little things that would separate the two, he hoped.
  15. "Charlie... I think maybe you should be taken off the mission. You are clearly incapable of handling it. Maybe with a little more training--"

    "No! Do you not understand how hard I've worked for this? And for more?! I've been training my whole life for this, and to have it taken away by some..." She sighed, and threw her hands up in dismissal. "By some boy that I don't even know. And he doesn't even know! How can the alliance put so much faith in him? What does he have that I don't?!"

    Michael sighed and looked with pitying eyes at her, saying nothing.

    "If I can't have that, at least let me work my ass off for what I can do... I need your trust. And the alliance's. Just... go. Tell them I'll report in the morning. And not to lose faith in my abilities."

    He sighed and nodded, reaching his hand out and placing it on her shoulder with a small yet reassuring smile. Charlie nodded, and it was then that she felt John's presence nearby. Her heart gave a thump or two, hoping he hadn't heard all of it. The yard was dead, and everyone was inside. She peered around, scanning the surroundings for him. Michael then faded, as a smoky apparition, leaving Charlie alone in the sunlight, the birds tweeting and whistling merrily around her.

    "John, come out. I know you're here. Just come out."
  16. John paced out from behind cover, his expression comprehensive, yet the sense of foreboding in it was both undeniable, and outright eerie. Nobody in the school that thought they knew him properly would guess he was capable of this kind of expression – he was always seen as the outgoing, constantly cheery guy. Not the one capable of having storm clouds gather around him simply by having himself be annoyed. With the malicious intent clear in his eyes, he moved towards Charlotte, and though he had no weapon, he was just as threatening as if he had one. He drew close, but only enough for her to make out the look in his eyes.

    “I’ll repeat myself. I don’t know who you are. And I don’t know what you want. I gather some people are interested in me. Well, you can tell them to take their interest me, and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Because, quite frankly, I have no idea what you people want with me. So back off, before I punch your teeth in so hard, you’ll be finding enamel in your toilet for the next three weeks.”

    This was no bluff. John was not averted to making hollow threats, but there was no mistaking that he truly meant it. He was more than capable of taking on people far taller and far more powerful than him, and had even managed to outdo his teachers at times, when it came to combat. He didn’t think Charlotte would be much trouble.
  17. Charlie noted the look in his eyes, and she knew she'd have to tread lightly here, or face getting in a full on fight with him. It wasn't that she couldn't beat him, but she didn't feel like drawing attention to them. She rolled her eyes at his remarks and took a breath.

    "You don't want to be doing that. You need to know that I am not your enemy, John. I know my methods are a little... unorthodox, and my friendship skills leave something to be desired, but please understand that you and I are not enemies."

    She gazed him intently, her face conveying a genuine explanation, almost a pleading.

    "I've given you absolutely no reason to trust me, but... could you come with me?"
  18. “You’re right. You’ve given me no reason to trust you. And I don’t care if you say you’re not my enemy – if you’re keeping secrets from me about me, then as far as I’m concerned, you are not to be within fifty feet of me. So no. I will NOT come with you. You can’t be trusted on your own, and you can’t be trusted with me. Get out of my sight. Don’t speak to me again outside of anything to make yourself blend in with the crowd. And tell your bosses I’ll have no part in whatever they’re scheming.”

    Shooting Charlotte one last glare before he left, John turned on his heel, and left. He wasn’t going to accompany her – and he wasn’t going to follow her. He was aware that it could possibly have been the reaction she was looking for. He was aware that she could have actually been telling the truth. But, as far as he could see, there was no reason he would want to go with her. If she was the type of person he thought she was, he would have guessed that she would be just as able to fake expressions as well as him. And his solution to that? To not get involved with her at all.
  19. Charlie clenched her jaw in anger. Why couldn't he have just made her job easier? Why?! She sighed heavily and looked around the area - it was time to find shelter. Her phone vibrated yet again and she opened it up, peering at the screen. "Don't come back until your mission is complete."

    "Perfect." She muttered, shoving her phone into her back pocket. Where in the hell was she supposed to stay? With no money, no mode of transportation, and no identification, it was going to be difficult. Michael wouldn't come back for her, and she knew it. She took to wandering the streets, keeping an eye open for an empty alleyway or some nook or cranny she could huddle in for the night. She'd been through worse, without a doubt, and with nothing to do, she would be able to contemplate how in the world she could get near enough to John for him to listen and not kill her. Not that he could succeed, but he could try.

    The night approached quickly, and already the sun was beginning to disappear behind the horizon when she stumbled upon a park. The playground was deserted, and the only sounds to be heard was the distant hum of traffic, and the babbling of a brook nearby. Safe bet. The embankment was steep, but the water was clear and cool. A small stone bridge hung steadily over the water, and Charlie took refuge there, crouching low, her thoughts trained on John, her job, and what could've been her real mission. But they needed him...
  20. John had managed to keep up a cheery façade in the presence of others that day, but the very moment he was in his room, he abandoned it completely. Pre-patrol warm-ups and training would have to wait. He knew his sensei would be rolling in his grave, if he knew his student was skipping out on what was supposed to be daily practise, but this was something he knew he’d have to do, before he put himself in needless danger. After sitting hurriedly in his chair, John booted up his laptop – the aged casing hid high-end parts, and though it had cost a pretty penny to build, no thief in their right mind would steal a laptop that wasn’t worth the effort required to carry it.

    Instead of his normal login, John chose his pseudonym, Mr Black, and initiated contact with one of the few allies he had. The less people involved with him, the better, but he had to get information from somewhere. Not all of it was detectable, to him.
    Mr Black: Someone might be onto me.
    Mr White: Elaborate.
    Mr Black: Her name's Charlotte - at least, she says it's Charlotte. New girl. Blonde hair. Green eyes. Working for someone.
    Mr White: I’ve got nothing on her. Nothing important, anyway.
    John trusted Mr White’s judgement enough to trust him when he said it was “nothing important.” After all, he was the detective of the two – albeit a backseat one, but it was better than having nobody. They continued their exchanges long into the evening, until it was time for John’s nightly patrol – and neither was feeling particularly comfortable with Shadow Man appearing on the scene.