ArchivedLogs:Game of Groans
|Game of Groans|
Joe makes a little magic, and some new acquaintances
<NYC> Strand Books - East Village
The Strand manages to pack a whole lot of character into one bookstore, but they have a lot of space to fit it in. They advertise themselves as having eighteen miles of books, and whether or not that is true, it certainly is true that they have an enormous number of shelves packed into their rows and rows and rows of books. A book-lover's haven, this East Village landmark boasts an enormous collection of volumes of all types among their stacks, crammed into the narrow aisles. Well-known for their rare and out-of-print collection, they have many hard to find volumes tucked away in their labyrinth of shelves as well.
The weather outside is -- actually pretty excellent, considering the season, low 40s and clear. Perhaps it is this brief spurt of pleasant that has lured Hive out of doors to /contaminate/ it with his perpetual grump. He's in the sci-fi/fantasy section, glaring at the shelves with his lips pressed thinly together. Nothing particularly eye-catching about his attire, faded old jeans, ratty worn sneakers, a blue denim shirt unbuttoned over a white undershirt. And a lot of glare.
His companion is making up for this with a warm dose of cheer. Flicker's smile is bright as ever, even if the face it resides in is still marred with a pitted run of scars. "-- could /all/ use a little pick me up. And this /is/ the time of year for it."
Hive just answers with a grunt. His eyes close, his fingers lifting to rub at his temples beneath his shaggy too-long hair, a slow wince screwing up his expression. "This is the time of year for /too many goddamn people/."
Doug's cheer is probably felt well before he comes within sight. His mental landscape is a /tumble/ of happy, recent accomplishment, mixed with images of Stark Industries and a need to collect a gift for Sebastian. His current quarry is nowhere near the sci-fi section, but he turns up here, anyway, dressed rather /business-like/ under his leather jacket in dark charcoal slacks and a tie to match around the neck of his white shirt. His laptop bag is slung over his chest, and his fingers drum along the top of the bag as he skims the shelves. The sound of familiar voices brings his attention around, and he grins widely when he spies Hive and Flicker. "Hey guys!" he chirps, abandoning his search to come over, bouncing on his toes for a moment. "You out last-minute shopping like the rest of us?"
In the tune to 'Happy Birthday', Joe is trawling the scifi/fantasy section and singing in his head, <'Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to /me/, Merry Christmas to me-eeee, Merry Christmas to /me/.> He's even stepping in time to his horrible, horrible song. He stoops down next to Flicker, muttering something like "'Scuse me," but he's kind of hard to hear. From the bottom shelf however, he retrieves the massive box set of hardback Game of Thrones series. By the look of his struggle though, the set must weigh more than fifty pounds, which is quite a strain for the feeble-looking man.
Hive's fingers rub harder against his temple as the others approach. "Fuck you," he grumbles in answer to Doug, no real heat in his voice and his eyes still not opening, "I'm not Christian. -- The hell's gotten you so cheery." Maybe he's speaking to Doug with this, but when his eyes open they narrow on Joe.
"The holiday spirit," Flicker replies lightly. "Did you know they have a first edition copy of the Wizard of Earthsea here?"
This at least does perk Hive up. Just slightly. Not that you'd necessarily know it from his continued scowl, but he does straighten and flick his eyes briefly to Flicker. Then down to Joe. He leans back against the shelves, slumping there like holding his weight up is proving /difficult/. "Jesus, you look as much of an invalid as I am."
Doug is unbothered by Hive's greeting, his grin slipping wider. "I just had the /best/ interview at Stark Industries," he says, the auto-replay of the event running unbidden through his head. "I start their paid internship after the New Year." The teenager bounces on his toes again, and brightens at Flicker. "Dude. In spite of all the shit, this might be my favorite Christmas /ever/. I have /extra/ holiday spirit to hand out." He might explain why that is, only then there is a Joe, and he peers at the man struggling for a moment. Then his lip quirks as Hive addresses him, and he shrugs. "Maybe he's just a heavy reader."
"What? Fuck /you/," Joe says hurriedly, also without much heat, but the confusion in his mind makes it clear he thought Hive was talking to him at first, instead of Doug. Struggling to stand up, and eventually managing to balance the box set on his shoulder, Joe heaves a sigh of relief. His mind flashes through a mental rolodex of suitable insults as he looks Hive over. The thought process is halted abruptly though, and Joe just says, "Hey kid, this thing's fucking heavy." His eyes take in Flicker and Doug now too, and as he does, his thoughts instinctively start making astonishingly accurate value judgements about all kinds of things from Doug's sexual orientation to Hive's enthusiasm about Ursula K. Leguin, correct on both of those counts, at least. The former leaves Joe feeling kind of 'squicky', the latter piquing his interest. Perhaps more interestingly, he's also mentally catalogued everything in Hive's pockets, though it's not clear exactly /how/. All of this is evaluated in a fraction of a second.
He frowns briefly at Doug's joke, and then actually grins. "I like that one," he says, adjusting the weight of the box set on his shoulder while they stand there. "And you don't have to be Christian to like Christmas, guys. There was a pagan holiday this time of year way before those assholes took it over."
"Fuck /you/." This time it's directed at Joe, actually. "I don't celebrate goddamn /Yule/ either." Hive starts to stand up straight again but ultimately just slumps back against the bookcase, shoulders drooping as his hands shift to his pockets. His mind hones in just that much more acutely, actively paying /attention/ now to the paths of Joe's thoughts. His fingers absently squish and mold at a cluster of tiny spherical magnets mooshed together in his pocket, his eyes narrowing again on Joe. "Internship," he grouses at Doug, "keep your frakking spirit and come boast at me when you've got a real job."
Flicker actually smiles, though, bright and warm. "Oh, wow, congratulations, Doug. That's awesome." He looks down to Joe, brow faintly furrowing. "Do you need a hand with that, sir?" he asks when Joe mentions the box being heavy. He nudges Hive in the ribs with an elbow. "S'ok, Scrooge. I'll have enough cheer for the both of us."
Hive chuffs out a snort, his eyes lowering to the ground, eyelids falling half closed. "You always do. Fucker."
Joe looks like he's about to add something in the way of a comment toward Doug as well, when Doug lights up, looking at something across the room. Joe just shrugs when the young man excuses himself, and then nods at Flicker. "You know what? Actually, that'd be great, thanks man." Joe hefts the box again with both hands, passes it to Flicker, and sighs with relief. "Got a bum knee, and a - well pretty much bum everything else down that side." It's a slight exaggeration, but not much of one. He flinches when he rubs at the shoulder it was sitting on, trying to work out the pain which is familiar in his mind. Taking in Hive's expression, he consciously acknowledges Hive's headache as 'an obvious detail'. After a moment, Joe reaches into a jacket pocket and produces a bottle of Advil. He shakes two into his palm, dry fires them, and lifts his chin in Hive's direction. "You want? Look about as bad off as I feel."
Hive snorts again. His eyes close /all/ the way, now, hand inside his pocket balling up into a fist with a quiet crunch of magnets rubbing against each other. "Fff." Briefly, his teeth grind together, and though his eyes have been closed the whole while he pulls his other hand out of its pocket to hold it out towards Joe. "Shit. Thanks, man. I swear /holidays/ give me a goddamn headache."
Flicker's smile is crooked, looking even moreso with the wealth of scars amassed on one side of his face. "Oh, man, yeah, I know that feeling." He takes the box, tucking it under his arm to rest it on a hip. Joe's comment to Hive draws his eyes towards his friend, a quick flick-shift of gaze that he pulls away soon to study the bookshelves instead. "S'how he always looks. His face is set to 'Grinch' year 'round."
Joe shakes out the pills and suppresses the inappropriate joke in his mind about not taking candy from strangers. He does get a mental chuckle at his own crassness though, and it spills over onto his face as a smirk. He closes the bottle and rolls it across the back of his hand, almost like a force of habit, but it turns in to fairly complex handjive by the time he's done. The bottle flicks from hand to hand in what could easily be a regular sleight-of-hand technique, except for the bizarre twisting of Joe's mind. It's not entirely unlike trying to think through a novelty bendy straw. the bottle reappears a couple of different times before he just pockets it again.
When Flicker suggests he can relate, Joe looks him over again. "Yeah man, I bet you can." He shakes his head, dying to ask Flicker what happened, but his limited politeness filter kicks in and buries the question again. "Look, I really appreciate the help. Now, don't make fun, but I can't go hiking up and down this crazy place to find out - do either of you know if they sell Magic the Gathering cards here?"
"'least my face isn't set to ugly-ass melting wax year round." Hive apparently has no politeness filter, limited or otherwise.
Flicker doesn't look /bothered/ by the comment on his scars, an /amused/ smile curling his lips, though he does reach out his free hand to /thwap/ Hive in the back of the head.
Hive snorts again, but his startled jerk knocks one of the headache pills out of his hand. He downs the other dry, but opens his eyes to frown at the floor. "He lost a fight with a dragon." He answers the question offhand, even if Joe doesn't ask it. A very faint upward twitch pulls at his mouth at the question of Magic, his half-lidded eyes shifting briefly to Flicker and then down to the floor.
"Oh!" Flicker's eyes light, a more animated bounce in his posture. "No, no they don't /here/ but there's this /awesome/ comic shop -- uh, /just/ next door, have you been to Forbidden Planet?" He gestures out towards the exit. "Anyway if you're looking -- they've got plenty of Magic cards and also a really great selection of graphic novels and -- sci fi and. A lot of things, actually."
"Don't make fun," Hive echoes in a dry murmur.
Joe's eyebrows pop up when Hive insults Flicker's melted face, astonished that Hive would say such a thing. But then he just shrugs, deciding it isn't any of his business how these two talk to each other. He nods when Flicker explains, holding his hands up when Hive warns him off of teasing. "Hey, I'm not giving anyone shit. I'm not into comics, but I actually want to see the new MtG sets. I haven't played in years, but the new shit sounds kind of cool." His mind flashes to the memory of successful tournament play in a casino somewhere. He gestures at Flicker then. "Can you just help me to the counter with that? I'll have to go check out Forbidden Planet next."
"The new stuff is incredibly convoluted," Flicker says with a wrinkle of his nose, "but it's definitey worth checking out. -- Oh, oh right." His cheeks flush darker red at the mention of the box. He shifts his grip to hold it more securely, offering his other arm to Hive. "Get you home while I'm at it."
Hive grits his teeth, pushing himself off of the bookshelf only with a concerted effort. His hand grips the crook of Flicker's arm, his weight leaning into the younger man as they start for the counter. "Our house is. Pretty full of Magic cards. Wouldn't have pegged you for a nerd," he admits. "Let alone a serious one."
Joe laughs, actually out loud, at Hive's comment. "Why's that? Because I'm such a fucking sexy ladies' man?" Joe shakes his head, still chuckling. "Guys, I was playing Alpha when it first came out. I have /first edition/ shit in my apartment, right now." Joe leads the way up to the front and goes through the steps to pay and be able to leave. Curiously, his mind flicks through and comes up with numbers for exactly how much cash is in the till he's paying at, but dismisses the number after 'counting' it.
Hive's eyes narrow on Joe as he silently counts the money. He exhales sharply, leaning a little harder on Flicker.
Flicker's brows raise; he glances from Joe to Hive and then back once he's put the box on the counter. "Those cards are as old as me."
"Not saying much, you're pretty much a baby." Hive's eyes drift over Joe once more, then drop away. "Yeahno. Wouldn't have pegged you for ladies' man, either."
"Yeah, I'm definitely not a baby. I'm an ugly old man," Joe says, laughing again. Once the set is paid for, with $150 in cash, incidentally, Joe makes his way towards the doors. "Thanks again for the help, guys. My name's Joe, by the way." He holds out his hand to shake Flicker's and then Hive's hand, before accepting the box set from Flicker to carry out himself.
Flicker shakes Joe's hand, quick, his hand faintly roughened with newly developing callouses. "I'm Flicker. This is Hive." He nods towards Hive, who doesn't take the handshake, just /frowns/ at it. Scowl. "Joe. Yeah. Enjoy your --" He waves at the anthology, and then presses his fingers to his forehead again.
"Merry Christmas," Flicker says with a warmer smile. "Try not to get trampled, the stores are a madhouse." He curls his arm around Hive's waist, though the gesture seems more given out of support than affection as he helps Hive towards the door.