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Title: YOU APPEARING
Description: [ KRISTIE/BIRDIE FLYNN ]


ACE MESSNER - January 10, 2012 12:13 AM (GMT)
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A suit was all well and good, but this was a mall. A mall was a place for comforts, indulgences, life, pretence and image. Vanity was an unnecessary commodity now. It could be argued praising the various labels and fabrics hidden inside was a lost religion. One with many followers before. Now gun shops had taken over that aspect of human culture. Not for Ace. He didn’t carry a handgun. He had been handed several on more than one occasion for various reasons. Most recently the day previous, outside on the parking lot. Feeling the weight of it in his hand had made him draw the conclusion he would be expected to fire it if necessary. So he had clicked off the safety for appearances sake then simply continued walking his dog. If push came to shove, he’d get out of the pickle. Didn’t he always?
<p>
Somehow he survived.
<p>
Somehow he was standing in Zara.
<p>
It was an odd stroke of brilliance that had come over him that morning. This wasn’t a fresh past-time he had recently acquired. There were not many possibilities for recreational activities in the mall that interested him. Saying trying on clothes interested him was pushing it. He didn’t hate it. He also gathered wearing clothes in the public forum was encouraged, so why not acquire something new? Or old, depending. They had been lying there for a while, folded perfectly and stacked by colour and size. Though the straightforwardness and anality of it appealed to him, he had started off by tossing random garments around for the sake of doing so. The result was a floor of Skittles. Colours jumbled and scattered. He wanted a red and yellow-striped sweater. But greys seemed to be the thing. Blasé. That did not avert him from trying.
<p>
He noticed Jack, from a pile of silky scarves, paused his chewing of a sock to perk his ears at the entrance. Ace pulled the current t-shirt over his head, not succeeding in liking it. Hair tousled, he turned to see Birdie.
<p>
Oh. Hello.
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Birdie Flynn - January 10, 2012 12:54 AM (GMT)
Birdie, for her part, was bored. The Mall wasn't a place she would have come if she'd known that life was going to be so… quiet. Quiet and boring and a little bit repetitive too, which made it just that much more frustrating. She liked being outside, the sky always changed, the weather was never the same. But there were THINGS out there, horrible things that were always hungry, always deadly and so very scary. She wasn't the bravest person by a long shot, so staying inside, huddled in her little kiosk was an easy thing to accomplish. She'd often hug the ladybug pillow, just to keep herself from feeling so lonely… and it helped.

Most of the time.

But that day, it hadn't. And that's why she roamed.

Normally she didn't go into that section of the mall, since it was a bit far from her little kiosk, but she had a feeling that walking would settle her nerves, and so… the further she walked, the more she felt… free. A bit better and even began to softly hum under her breath. She wasn't going to deny that she didn't enjoy the things in each storefront, that window-shopping took on an entirely new bent… but when she caught a snippet of purple in the window of the Zara store, she turned to go in, hurrying on nearly silent feet.

And it was when she took a further step into the place that she first noticed not only a man, half-dressed and standing in the middle of the store… but also a dog sitting in a pile of scarves. She stopped, going completely still as she learned to do from running away from the other things outside… and then blinked before immediately covering her eyes with both hands. "Hi," she greeted back, her eyes squeezed tight underneath her fingers as she tried to be nice this stranger. "Um…" She licked her lips and pointed to the clothes he was rummaging through, her other hand still covering her face. "Aren't you cold? You should put one of those sweaters on."

ACE MESSNER - January 11, 2012 11:53 PM (GMT)
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Standing there with jeans that had seen better days, a belt that looked like it had just arrived from the farm and a bare torso were not sources of discomfort for Ace. The air condition had not worked for a while now. The smell of perfume sprayed over the shop prior to its official close had finally muted to a slight waft. Perhaps he should’ve substituted the old pants for some new ones and maybe he would start looking after finding the sweater. Perhaps he should wear a belt more often so it didn’t come off quite so shiny. And perhaps he could’ve halted the motion and brought the t-shirt back down rather than completely off when he understood they’d be having visitors.
<p>
But why worry?
<p>
He liked Birdie. They hadn’t really sat down and talked, but really sitting down and talking could mean so many things to different people. They hadn’t sat much. They hadn’t talked much. Those were the essentials. But she had always been kind to him. And every time she opened her mouth to speak he recalled exactly why their time as conversationalist hadn’t bloomed. She had a very peculiar way of speaking. “I… I don’t understand, I think?” Ace was no expert on accents or dialects. He hadn’t attended school and learnt the basic workings of the English-speaking community. He could tell a British one, probably. He had once, at least. It had been the Queen though, so it was debateable if that counted as facial recognition rather than speech.
<p>
Body-language. He got that. He got her body language. “Want me to put something on?” It was a question uttered but ignored even by its creator as he looked around for an adequate cover. In context he had an epiphany about what she had said. “It’s not that cold. Air condition is out.” He looked at her and pointed at the ceiling. “I’m no electrician, but… it’s not working.

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Birdie Flynn - January 12, 2012 01:23 AM (GMT)
Oddly enough, when that voice came ringing out again, Birdie felt a little stupid. Why? Because she recognized that voice.. oh yes. It was one she was very familiar with, and only because she'd heard it so often in the past few days.

It's Ace.

Ace… was a peculiar one. A sweet one, if she was being honest, and no, she didn't mean because he wasn't exactly Mensa material. It was because he always greeted her with a smile, always seemed happy to see her, always was warm and inviting when he came 'round her kiosk. He seemed to enjoy the simple things, like sitting with her and just talking, or even just walking around the mall, which was how she first spotted him to begin with.

But here, with his clothes mostly off as he changed, she couldn't help but keep her eyes covered, though she knew that she was being silly. It wasn't like he was flaunting herself and it's not like she hasn't even seen a naked man before, but there's something about being inside with a man she's barely talked to that made it awkward. Still, she didn't move them away until he asked about clothes and she peeked around her fingers.

"Um… only if you want to," she said softly and then pulled her hands down from her face. "If you're comfortable then… I guess it's okay," she murmured and then took a step, only to drop down to pet the dog, her baby talk coming out in Swahili just before glancing up and up at the ceiling. Now that Ace mentioned it, it was a bit warm in there… and it's why she shrugged out of her sweater, mostly for how she'd started to sweat. "Yes, you're right. Maybe it's just in this part of the mall. Everywhere else it's okay…"

She got back to her feet and took a few steps closer, only to rummage though a pile of sweaters before pulling out a blue one. "Try this one… it's a nice colour, don't you think?" she asked him in a hesitant voice. After all, what if he HATES blue?

ACE MESSNER - January 12, 2012 04:24 PM (GMT)
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Ace wasn’t one to get embarrassed easily. It was a virtue he had discovered fairly early in life and it was a good one to carry. Especially considering he had been such a stupid fucking kid. Braces and a penchant for corn dogs hadn’t landed him in the good graces from the get-go. He never did fit in at school. He didn’t see it himself but his foster parents had. They had tried their best, those two. But they had been old and useless and how much can a boy be helped by substitutes like them anyway? They couldn’t fight his fights for him. They couldn’t read his books for him. And neither had he. There had only been one way out and that was out of school. It hadn’t helped him but it hadn’t hurt him.
<p>
He wasn’t socially inept, so he comprehended that though he might not feel any embarrassment over his half-way nakedness, she did. But perhaps it had only been the initial shock of seeing him there so sudden that got to her. She seemed ok now. “I’m comfortable, yeah. Are you?” He eyed her with a smile as she sat down in front of Jack. That dog always got attention. The apocalypse had turned a lot around but not that. The mutt wagged his tail immediately and crawled forward on the floor to greet her hand with an enthusiastic tongue. “He likes you.” Jack liked everyone. A well-meaning pet went a long way in his book.
<p>
She was talking very oddly to him though. Ace strained to make out words but now it was just mumbo-jumbo. “That’s not English, is it?” If it was, they needed to sit down and she needed to teach him a thing or two. It sounded different. Much so. A bit more like a song, a rhyme… More poetic than normal. Not French. He had heard French multiple times and could speak it fairly fluently. The amount of designers hailing from France was ridiculous.
<p>
Though she had removed her hands from covering her eyes, she still handed him a sweater when she got back up. A blue one. Ace extended his hands and grabbed the fabric. “That’s very soft,” he remarked, satisfied. “I’ve never liked wool much. The knitted sweaters too look great from a distance but when you move up and touch them it’s horrible.” Putting the one she handed him over his head, he pulled it down and took a step back. “I’ve been looking for a red and yellow-striped one. Can’t seem to find the perfect sample.
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Birdie Flynn - January 12, 2012 08:13 PM (GMT)
Birdie wasn't about to stand there and make Ace feel like she was uncomfortable around him… mostly because, well, that would be a lie. Ohh yes, she's noticed how handsome he was, kind of like how she'd enjoyed the animals on the plains, viewing and enjoying from a distance… but more than that, she noticed that he was just nice to her, and it was only the shock of walking into a store with a half-naked man on display that caused her to have that momentary lapse.

It's why she dropped her hands down to her waist and just shot him a sheepish sort of smile even as she shrugged one shoulder, doing her best to set him at ease. After all, why shouldn't she? He isn't going to do something horrible, he wasn't going to turn on her… if he wanted to, she's sure he would have done that already on the other times they've spotted one another. No, he's a good guy and it's why she just took a second cocked her head to the side and then wave a hand between them. "Yeah, I'm comfortable. Sorry. Just the shock." Reaching out to pet the dog, she all but giggled for how the little animal came trotting closer for a pet and snuggle, his muzzle in her face at once, licking her cheek as his body all but wiggled from side to side from the force of his wagging tail. She slung an arm around the medium-sized dog's back, fingers playing in his ruff of fur around his neck as she once more turned back to look at Jack's owner.

It was his mention of if she was speaking English that got her to stop, widen her eyes… and then try to remember what she'd said. Did she slip into Afrikaans or Swahili without thinking? It wouldn't be the first time, but instead of repeating herself, she turned more fully towards him and blinked. "Yes, that was English," she said slowly, letting every syllable be perfectly enunciated. Her accent's thicker when she's been too much in her own head, alone and thinking. "I'm sorry, did I say something that didn't make sense? I sometimes do that," she added with a sheepish twist of the lips. Honestly, the way HE talks, she could listen all day. She thinks he's fascinating.

But then, she did the unthinkable and handed him a sweater of her choice, but her eyes widened when he actually put it on. Cocking her head to the side, this way and that, she gave him a happy little approving nod and then patted his shoulder. "That colour looks very good…" she told him with a grin and then nodded. "I'm the same as you. I don't like wool. I never wear it. Too scratchy. This is softer… is it cashmere?" she asked and sped around him to tug the back of his sweater down, to peek at the label. She doesn't really see the problem in it… she's curious, there's an easy way to answer it. And seeing the tag, and noticing that it WAS cashmere, she just nodded once, proud, to herself and then slowly walked back around him. "Well, I could help you look for a sweater like that. There are lots of other stores around… we can have a scavenger hunt!"

ACE MESSNER - January 12, 2012 10:56 PM (GMT)
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His heart sank in his chest as she said she’d spoken English. She’d spoken English to his creature and he hadn’t understood a word. He knew many people put on different pitches and accents when talking to a cute animal, but not to the extent it was unrecognizable. He wasn’t about to question her reply. The person who knew best what language she has spoken was Birdie. So if she said she’d spoken English, she had. “I guess it doesn’t matter to Jack. To him it’s all good as long as the tone ‘s good.” Ace had never called Jack anything malevolent in a benign manner to laugh heartily at a wagging tail, but apparently this was a common practice for dog owners.
<p>
She had a good taste in sweaters. It fit well and didn’t itch in the slightest. “Ehm, I dunno.” He lifted his hands above his head and tried to grab the label, succeeding only in curling it further before she came to his aid. “Were you right? Even though I’ve made my living off of wearing clothes I’m not good with fabrics. It isn’t something that mattered much.” He couldn’t recall ever being asked what he thought of the texture of a garment. They were just pulled over his head and he made do with them.
<p>
Then she said she’d help him look for his dream sweater. “Would you really?” he replied whilst a smile spread across his features. He had grown accustomed to not expecting anything from people. It made for an easier transition into the positive rather then expecting that and receiving the negative. Rather he preferred expecting the worst and welcomed the surprise of being wrong. He had never understood people who always had to be right. Depended on the road towards rightness, didn’t it? “I’ve never been on a scavenger hunt..!” Enthusiasm was bubbling and Jack sensed it, snapping out of his petting-reverie and tilting his head sideways. “Where do we begin?

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Birdie Flynn - January 13, 2012 01:16 AM (GMT)
Birdie watched Ace's face, watched his expression look pained and hurt, and glancing away and down at the dog, she shook her head as she tried to understand what might have happened. Had she been silly? Did he hear her say something wrong? She just reached out and tugged her fingers back through the ruff of fur and before she knew it, she was babbling in Swahili again, and that's when it hit her… SHE HADN'T USED ENGLISH. She had, in fact, switched without realizing it and it was why she turned to Ace so fast she felt something pop in her neck. "Oh… No.. No, I spoke Swahili! I'm sorry, I hadn't realized until just now!" she told him in a hurry and then glanced down. "I think he doesn't mind it… do you?" she asked and then slid her eyes up to his face with a wince. Did she upset him? "I can teach you if you'd like… it's not a hard one to learn," she says, though Afrikaans, she might not bother with. She hardly uses it and she doesn't prefer it anyway… though she still reached out and patted the dog. Yes, he was a happy little soul, and was obviously loved.

She helped him settle the sweater around his shoulders, twitching it here and there while he stood there, but then moved around him slowly. "Yeah, I was right. It's cashmere. Feel how soft it is? Like feathers against your skin," she says and held up one side of it to brush it against his cheek, the blue making his eyes appear brighter and bigger and shinier, just a tough. She dropped the shirt, though, when she noticed a hint of abs, and then smoothed a hand down the back of it, just along his spine, to settle it firmly around his hips. "There, all done. I think you were very good at your job if that's what you did for a living… lucky," she teased him and then winked. No way would she be able to flirt with him… she's feeling too silly.

She stopped and grinned. Maybe it was easier flirting than she thought? "Yeah, I would… I can't imagine that there would be too many places to hide a sweater like that. And if worse comes to worst, I'll knit one," she offers with a wink and then turned away to lean down to pet the dog as he approached, as if curious what's going on. Birdie couldn't' stop an answering grin from spreading across her face for his very real excitement and because of that, just giggled. "I've been on one, a very long time ago… but we can pretend it's a scavenger hunt with only one thing to find…" she says and then blinked. "Oh let's see… we could go in one big circle. There's a few stores just next door.. maybe one of those would have it? Me, I think I'd love a purple t-shirt. Think you could help me?"

ACE MESSNER - January 18, 2012 09:26 PM (GMT)
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He didn’t mind being wrong in the manner he had with whatever language she has spoken. Nor was he able to contain himself from showing it outwardly, exhibiting for a moment not only confusion but disappointment. When it happened the second time, Ace was already prepared for it to sound odd. Therefore, as she turned to him with a snap of the neck, he was completely baffled when she corrected herself. Many wouldn’t own up to such. “I didn’t know you spoke Swahili,” he said. And he didn’t. It had never been brought up in a conversation. Which wasn’t such a strange thing. “Jack doesn’t mind. He speaks the only language that matters, and it doesn’t require a tongue.” Ace gave the dog a warm nod, then turned to Birdie to politely decline her offer. “I’m good. My mind is cluttered enough as it is.” Amending, he added, “Maybe something… very basic?” There was no reason for him to stop being polite.
<p>
The politeness extended from her side as well. “It is like feathers.” Birdie’s hand on his cheek was warm. Warmer than his. It granted her a soft smile. He did not take notice of having his stomach exposed, for that he was too busy looking at the fabric covering his arm. “My job was easy.” Ace was used to being appraised after having recently put on clothes. Not in a deluded sense. He knew it was because of his looks but that was what got him the job that allowed him this appraisal. He had always liked to think it could fall away without his life changing. And that was precisely his delusion. “It wasn’t a very satisfying one. I made no difference in the world. But thank you. I appreciate it.” His tone indicated he had no qualms against the ridiculousness. He was merely stating the obvious.
<p>
Did you ever try modelling?” he asked. She was pretty. There was no denying that. And why would he. “You are more beautiful than half the people I’ve worked with. And you’re nicer too. Perhaps your looks mirror your mind?
<p>
But really, none of this mattered. They were going scavenger hunting. “You would knit me one? Really?” This is where she triggered a laugh. A hearty laugh that seemed to bounce off the walls. Happiness? It wasn’t a cruel one. He wasn’t laughing at her. He was laughing at the idea of her knitting him the sweater his mother had taken in the snow so long ago. “That can be a last resort if we don’t find it. But with your help, and Jack’s help, I have confidence in us.” His dog was smitten with the general excitement surrounding him and had now gotten up. His head was tilted to the side and he was eying the two humans with expectation. “Purple? Got it. We’ll match. As good as blue and purple can…” Ace looked down at his mutt and nodded at the door. The four-legged creature immediately sprung to action.
<p>
And his human followed suit.
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Birdie Flynn - January 19, 2012 12:22 AM (GMT)
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She felt like SUCH a heel for misleading him, even unintentionally and that was why she was quick to try to fix whatever ill will he felt. Who knew if he did feel lied to, when she hadn't noticed she'd lapsed into her native tongue, but on looking at him and having noticed that look of confusion and disappointment he wore at first, she had to hurry and make sure he knew that she was honestly sorry. Shaking her head, she got to her feet, Ace now taking up all of her attention, and not his dog. "Yes, I speak Swahili. Afrikaans too, but I will try not to forget from now on," she told him with a slow nod, just so he'd understand and wouldn't feel like she'd done it on purpose. "I grew up speaking it… it's something I guess I use without noticing." She turned to look back at the dog who, on his name being mentioned yet again, seemed only too happy to have their attention, tail wagging and tongue lolling out happily. "That's true! He's a smart dog… and such a sweet one too. I wish I could speak Dog, don't you?" she asked Ace, smile turning cheeky just before cocking her head to the side. She could tell he didn't want to be confused or overburdened with a language he'd likely never use, but… his politeness and kindness? It was exactly what she needed. "Well… I can teach you something basic. How about… hello?" she asked and then grinned. "Jambo," she told him with a wave, her smile wide and cheeky. "Means 'hi'."
<p>
But when she came nearer to him, she couldn't help it, she had to smile for how he agreed with her. "I like soft things," she said and then as she dropped her hand from his cheek, stared up into his face a moment before looking away with a sheepish sort of smile. It was a momentary bit of bravery that fled just as soon as he smiled at her and she knew that he must have really liked his sweater if he was so happy-looking about it. She reached down to tug his sweater down around his middle and then cocked her head to the side. "Well, you're very welcome. I think it would have been fun, trying on clothes, getting my picture taken… but I don't think it's a bad thing, what you did. If you made one person smile, that was enough, wasn't it?" she asked. Sure, she's naive but she honestly thought that. There was nothing more important, to her mind, that leaving someone better off than the way you found them… and that's exactly why she wanted to be a doctor.
<p>
Yet… his compliment to her? She glanced up at his face, as if he was teasing her… but when he looked so honest and truthful about it? She flushed a little red and then ducked her head down. "Thank you…" she began and then blinked. "Me? Modelling? No, never… but that's very sweet of you. I mean… you're the handsomest man I think I've ever seen. Must mean your mind is pretty special too. I like it," she tells him honestly back before smiling back at him, completely touched. "You're very nice too. Makes me feel… comfortable here. It's nice."
<p>
Though then it was time for scavenger hunting. She was relieved to have the few seconds to try to calm down her blush and counting to ten, she turned back to him with a grin. "Of course I would! My knitting's not the best, though, so you might wanna cross your fingers for a better one during the hunt," she remarked and then grinned at him, realizing that his laugh wasn't him making fun, but honestly happy about it. It was refreshing and if she wasn't careful, she could definitely develop a crush on this tender-hearted and very sweet man. "Sure, last resort. But I think you're right. We'll have luck and with Jack's nose… we'll have all kinds of chances." She turned around to give the dog's head a pat and before she could say more, she had to laugh. "Yes, purple and blue… we'll match as well as a bruise," she teased him and before she could say more, she turned her head at the knowledge that the dog was off… and so pushed herself to walk fast beside her new friend, eyes huge and warm as she caught up to Ace's side. "Are those your favourite colours? Red and yellow?"

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ACE MESSNER - January 20, 2012 05:20 PM (GMT)
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Jambo?” he repeated. His tone and expression conveyed he had some trouble pronouncing. Some trouble not only with pronouncing, but understanding how a language could be so different from his mother tongue. And he had only been delivered one word. French too wasn’t the same as English, but since he already knew it that made sense. “And the wave, that’s important too?” Though he didn’t want to come off as ignorant, Ace hadn’t had much experience with African culture. For all he knew body language was equally as important as the words spoken. Maybe all spoken words had an accompanied reaction. Like the deaf people who attempted to wheeze out words whilst communicating with their hands. Something he had never laughed at. So in an effort to really try, Ace mimicked her motion as well. “Jambo.” It sounded better the other time around. To his ears, anyway. But he wasn’t the fluent one.
<p>
For all her knowledge on languages, him communicating that he thought her fair seemed to cause some embarrassment. Ace understood the reaction, even if he couldn’t quite relate to it, and watched with a light tingle of amusement as her face turned red. “You’re welcome.” For him being the handsomest man she’d ever seen? That not only rivalled his claim but superseded it by a thousand, and he’d have to amend this by the end of their meeting. It wasn’t very cordial of him to have her give him a bigger compliment and leave it at that. Hardly a decent approach from a man’s perspective. “I haven’t been told by many that they feel comfortable around me,” he said with a smile. “Though I have been told by many that I have a special mind. I think you mean it a much better way than they ever did.” He didn’t as much think that as he knew it to be true. There had always been enough things that bothered people that didn’t seem to affect Ace in the slightest – this apocalypse included – and for that he’d been given many a disapproving frown.
<p>
He didn’t think Birdie was capable of a disapproving frown. And that pleased him.
<p>
With Jack in the lead, they exited the Zara. Had it not been for his four-legged friend, Ace would’ve stopped right there and asked her what direction to proceed. But the dog was adamant on going right. So right it was. “If we match like a bruise then I hope we won’t be matching anybody else,” he mused. “There has been so much bitterness here. Both before –” He didn’t quite know what to call it. End of the world? It wasn’t though. They were still alive. The continent hadn’t folded up and left yet. “– a lot of people died, and after. Malls always attracted so many stories.” People. People equally stories. Each person with a different reason to be there. “Oh, my favourite colours? I don’t really know. For a sweater they are. I used to have a red and yellow sweater. It was great. But it’s a lot of years ago now.
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Birdie Flynn - January 20, 2012 09:43 PM (GMT)
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Birdie nodded along slowly, trying to help Ace see that he got it right, the pronunciation, though she could tell he wasn't comfortable with the word. Swahili, she'd learned, was something that most people felt that was too unusual, too unwieldy… but she knew that he had to be familiar with some terms. She'll bring them up… eventually, because anyone who'd seen The Lion King, like she had, would recognize the words 'simba', 'rafiki' and 'hakuna matata'. She had a feeling that he probably hadn't seen it, though… which was why she had a thought that it could be something they might be able to share. After all, she loved the movie… it reminds her of home and who wouldn't want to share that with a friend? "You're doing fine!" she told him with a little jerk of her chin in an encouraging nod, her smile widening at once. She didn't want him to get uncomfortable. "You don't have to do the wave-thing, though. Unless you want to. You're just telling me 'hello'," she added then blinked. "Have you ever seen the 'Lion King?" she added in a rush, thinking it might be a good start to a discussion on what words have been adopted into the English language.
<p>
But she couldn't help it, no matter how many times a person's complimented on their looks, it is always a surprise, and though she's sure many have complimented Ace on his, not many have done that to Birdie. Usually she was covered in dirt on the Reserve, she was in shorts and t-shirts. Nothing but the most comfortable of things. Being in the US and not having her own things, she'd taken whatever she could find. It's why she raised a hand to her cheek to try to shield her face against the blushing she knew she was doing. So embarrassed… that's her. She smiled at his politeness, her eyes flicking up to his face and then away again in a moment of shyness, just trying to see how he took her own compliment. It was his comment that made her glance back up from the floor, trying to see if she upset him, and for a split second, she was worried she had… but with a little gulp, she realized… he was touched. And that made her smile back. It was… sweet. HE was sweet. "Well… I do. I don't know how they meant it, but you're… well, you're you. And I like you," she admits quietly and turned away with that blush turning even brighter red.
<p>
Yep, she'll be embarrassed later. Now? They have a dog to follow.
<p>
Her steps hurried behind the pair, she fought to keep up beside Ace and his dog, Jack obviously sure of his nose. Birdie couldn't help it, she had to laugh softly to herself for not the dog's obvious excitement… But it was Ace's comment that drew her attention back to him and cocking her head to the side, she blinked at him and then patted his arm. She didn't want him to feel like she didn't agree… in fact, she did. "We'll just match each other. That's all we need," she told him with a quick smile that faded as he went on. Frowning a little, she kept pace with him for how the dog slowed down, her shoes making little rusks of sound on the floor, tapping along with the tick of Jack's nails and Ace's shoes. "You know, you're right. There are going to be more stories and more bitterness, but we can't let it get to us. Then we'll get bitter. Who needs that?" she asked him with a jerk of one shoulder… and then slid an arm under one of his and wound them together. For a moment or two, she just wanted to have a little bit of something that didn't remind her of loss. "Well, we'll replace that sweater with a better one. I mean, yellow and red together… you'll look like a sunset. A nice way to end the day," she added with another jerk of her chin, this nod just to show him she wasn't going to let this one go. She was going to find him a sweater like that, even if they had to scour every store in the mall.
<p>
As they approached another store, she yanked him to a stop and glanced up at the facade. "What about here? Do you think that they'll have one here? It's a men's clothing store…" she added and then leaned WAY over to peek into the open doors, her eyes narrowing. "It's too dark in there to see…"

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ACE MESSNER - January 22, 2012 06:25 PM (GMT)
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Before, the mall would be filled with noises of children screaming either in joy or irritation. Old ladies bustling around doing their daily training. Impatient boyfriends sitting around on their phone waiting for their girlfriend to finish up at Victoria’s Secret. And that one in-love couple that didn’t seem to do anything but talk to each other and giggle at their own jokes. Ace didn’t feel like the latter example, but it was much closer to the truth than the former ones. He wasn’t a child, nor was he screaming in joy or irritation, and he wasn’t old, or waiting outside a lingerie shop. He had a companion by his side, notwithstanding the dog in front, and they were in their own little bubble. “I’ve seen The Lion King, yes. Saw it in 3D a couple of months before I moved in here.” He hadn’t seen it as a child. He hadn’t been interested in films back then. His foster parents had meant spark his attention with sporadic viewings when he entered the living room but he had always just continued past, completely oblivious to their attempts. “I didn’t like the part where Mufasa died.
<p>
Birdie’s hand snaked its way into his and they continued their journey bound to the side. Ace smiled down at the smaller woman next to him. Why they hadn’t talked more before eluded him. Maybe it was that they hadn’t been within sufficient radius of one another to connect. Just brief conversation. He had known who she was and that was the extent of it. He had found her accent fascinating and difficult and still did, but he had had time to get somewhat used to it before she surprised him mid-way getting dressed. “I’ve never been bitter,” he mused, a frown falling onto his features as he contemplated this. He couldn’t recall. He had never felt the need to. Though it was one of those things that happened rather out of the blue than as a conscious choice, Ace didn’t think it was necessary to be bitter if it wasn’t a genuine wish. It rarely aided people. It wasn’t a positive thought or feeling.
<p>
What was a positive thought, was imagining himself as a sunset. He had never seen it that way. “You’re right,” he said, amused by the idea. “Imagine living in one of those places up north where the sun goes down for months at an end. Darkness and no light.” That also summed up their next destination. It was she who stopped them, and Jack noticed they had shifted their attention, quick to trot back and vanish inside. Always the brave soldier. “I have a flashlight.” In his pocket. He had taken it from the bookstore not soon after arriving there. It was one of those lights intended to use for checking at a car engine or find the last tool in the box. It was bright red and small, but Ace extracted it and turned it on like it was the beacon of hope.
<p>
The first thing he shone a light on was a purple sweater. “It’s purple!” he exclaimed, and hasted over. He didn’t take notice of the manly cut and quickly plucked out an extra small one. “You should be wearing something more fitting to your figure, but this is purple. So our quest has officially begun!
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Birdie Flynn - January 23, 2012 01:18 AM (GMT)
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The silence was a little off-putting, when she considered that the space wasn't supposed to be that dark and calm. Birdie hadn't spent much time in American malls… when it came down to it, she was used to little shops, the bazaars back home being as close as she'd come to one of these places. But even she knew that she was safe there beside Ace, and she was oh so very relieved when he took up the question and answered it, making her lean in a little as they walked along. She was naive, sure, but she completely trusted this man not to hurt her. She didn't think he was capable of it. Call her silly, but any man who didn't like cartoon lion-death… well, that was her cup of tea. "I didn't see the 3-D version, but I didn't like Mufasa's death either. Scar, he scared me," she confided in him with a sheepish look up and into his face, as if she fully expected him to make fun. "But Mufasa itself means 'King' in one of the African dialects I learned as a little girl. And Simba… means lion," she added with a little smile. "So all along, you knew Swahili words and didn't know it."
<p>
And if that wasn't the best part of the afternoon, being able to share a little bit of home with her new friend, the way that he smiled and didn't throw her hand off. She smiled back up at him, a bit shyly before glancing down and away again, her eyes skittering here and there as she tried to find a place to focus on, a place that would have his sweater. She really wanted to find it now. After all, for a friend like him? He deserved it… something that he wished for, and if she had to scour the entire mall, she'd find it for him. Besides, he was kind to her and didn't make her feel strange… that on its own was enough of a real rarity that she had to do something nice for him in return. "I wish I could say the same… but when people treat you badly, sometimes it's hard not to feel a little bitterness. But it's easy to throw off with the right encouragement," she confided in him and then turned a bright smile back on him. "Don't worry, never being bitter? That's a good thing. Don't frown."
<p>
But she was relieved to see him smile again at the thought of being a sunset and yes, she was rather relieved to see him relax a little… but she just looked shocked about what he said, making a face after a moment. "That would be horrible, wouldn't it? I don't think I could live without sun… could you?" she asked him offhand before turning away to look in the nearest store. She wasn't happy to see Jack go inside with out them because she couldn't see a much ahead of her… "Uh, is he going to be okay?" eh asked quickly just before she glanced back at Ace and noticed the flashlight with a blink, and when he turned it on and stepped inside, she stayed close, the little beam very pointed, but bright.
<p>
But when he found that sweater for her? She stood there, shocked, because it was the PERFECT shade… How did he know? She didn't have a clue, but she couldn't help but grin at him, excited and followed at a run and then slid to a stop beside him, nearly bumping into the table. The sweater he held up for her, though, she reached for with a murmured thanks and then yanked it over her head. "Well, this will do too, you know. It's nice and warm," she reminded him with a smile. "And the colour is perfect. How'd you know I liked lilac?"

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ACE MESSNER - January 25, 2012 04:47 PM (GMT)
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The death of Mufasa had been no different in 3D. Ace only assumed here. He hadn’t seen the regular version. He couldn’t compare. But as far as he knew they had only re-released it. They hadn’t changed the story or anything. It was all a ploy to lure parents and their children to the theatre. They cashed in on the countless grown-ups with memories and kids with new ones to develop. Ace was caught between these two classifications. He was a grown-up with no memory of The Lion King and now had developed some. If making it 3D was what it took for others to discover it the same way he had, there really was nothing to be sorry about. “Scar was scary yeah, but he had some good songs didn’t he?” Ace started bobbing his head and hummed the chorus to ‘Be Prepared’. “Maybe I should be happy I didn’t see it when I was younger. The green smoke would’ve freaked me out.” He was a fan of horror movies now, but younger? Probably not.
<p>
He had never considered how the names of the lions could mean anything. To him they had been nonsensical names that fit each feline well. Mufasa was just Mufasa, Simba Simba. “So it actually means something?” This was common knowledge, perhaps. Not to Ace. He hadn’t been told this before. Probably because he’d gone to the movie with a pretentious fellow model. She hadn’t connected to the story like he had. She had chewed her gum so obnoxiously he had had to ask her to swallow it when Simba got chased into thorns. “That makes sense. Disney has a lot of Easter eggs in their movies.” He turned to her. He’d read about this. “For example, you know Pizza Planet from Toy Story? Ok, so technically Pixar wasn’t Disney’s in 1995 but still. Pizza Planet is referenced in –” He lifted his hand, beginning to count on his fingers. “A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3 and, lastly, Cars 2.” The grin on his face was palpable. “Basically the only Pixar-movie not referencing Pizza Planet is The Incredibles. How about that?” The fact she might be completely uninterested eluded him. Who wouldn’t be enthralled by this piece of trivia?
<p>
Was he to ever live in a place of constant darkness, there would always be such things to light up his day. “I could live without it,” he said. “If it came to that. I’d probably get one of those lamps that mimic sunlight though.” He had read that those were recommended by psychologists even. It was called the Winter Depression for a reason. Apparently being without the sun and a natural feed of vitamin D could do the worst of things to man’s mind. “As long as I got Jack with me, I’m good.” He smiled at her concern about the dog disappearing off on his own. “There’s probably nothing in there to be scared of. And if there is, he’s a fast little devil.” That there could be zombies in there didn’t occur to him even. They were safe inside the mall. Whatever was going on outside these walls only mattered when they were out taking strolls. And even then it was like it had been before.
<p>
The sun still shone. It was just a little more crowded.
<p>
Birdie’s face lit up far brighter than his little flashlight when he gave her the sweater. She didn’t seem to care of the size or fit and pulled it on. His expression started of anticipating then grew into a smile as her head popped out on the other side. “You look lovely. That colour really suits you.” With her dark locks and bright eyes, there were few things that wouldn’t. “You told me, remember?” She had told him, had she not? “You said you wanted a purple one. And I can see why now.
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Birdie Flynn - January 26, 2012 03:25 AM (GMT)
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She was pretty surprised to be able to discuss Disney movies with another adult, let alone a man, and standing there beside him, her eyes wide, she just let out a soft giggle, not at him, but in such happiness that she had to elbow him lightly before pulling just enough away so she could allow them to walk together. Perhaps she should have known right then that they were meant to be friends… because how many people would admit that they liked the songs too? She nodded along, walking with Ace at an easy pace. "He did have some great songs!" And while he hummed the tune, she murmured a few of the words along with him and then grinned up into his face, only to reach out to pat his arm when he mentioned the green fire. "Yeah, it scared me when I first saw it. I think there's something just unnatural about it… evil. But what scared me more? The stampede. I've been near one… they really ARE that scary," she confided in him with a shake of her head. It wasn't a good memory either.
<p>
She couldn't' stop her smile from stretching across her face, those quick nods of hers making her ponytail dance behind her head. "Yeah, it really does mean something. And you know? Rafiki? It means friend," she says with a grin. "I loved that character because of it," she told him without a hint of shame and kept walking along, her hand still clasped with his, happily talking about a cartoon monkey. Who else would understand the simple pleasures that provided? Probably very few people… maybe Aiden, possibly. But Ace really got it, and for that she was grateful. "Yeah, they do. This time, though, I think they were going more for… authenticity, maybe," she shot back just before he went on. The more he said about the movies, her eyes widened, and by the end of his speech, her eyes were likely the size of dinner plates. She wasn't about to deny she was very surprised… and really really into the idea that she had someone here who she could be herself with. It was a relief. and… it helps that she found him pretty cute too. She could be shallow sometimes. "I had no idea about any of that. Maybe we can watch them sometime and find some ourselves?" she asked him, looking curious and more than a little bit excited over the idea.
<p>
"Mimic sunlight? They have those? Lamps that do that?" she asked him even as she cocked her head to the side, trying to imagine it. She couldn't, curled around a lamp and trying to pretend it was sunlight? She was sure she'd get even more depressed if she couldn't go outside. Likely it'll be the death of her someday, that need for fresh air and sun…. she's hoping just not anytime soon. "Well, you're lucky. Jack's a fine friend. And a good boy," she agreed, but really was quite worried over the dog's just taking off the way he had. The fact that she couldn't see where he went, it just bothered her more then she wanted to let on. But as he went on, trying to make her feel better, she paused, weighing his words… and then sighed, nodding. He's probably right, she thought and then nodded. "I just worry. He's too cute to get hurt." Though that didn't work for Ayo, she thought to herself and then frowned deeper. Oh yes, not a good thought.
<p>
But she couldn't stop herself from grinning that huge, beatific smile for his compliment, and she reached out and squeezed his hand, not even sure she could trust herself to say anything. It was sweet, what he said… and because he seemed so sincere… she trusted him at his word. "I know I told you but… sometimes what we like doesn't necessarily mean it's the best thing. But… I'm glad you like it," she said and then reached over, picking up a bright green sweater with a smile. "I dunno about yellow and red, but I definitely think green would bring out the colour of your eyes. Keep this one for another day," she told him and then tucked the green sweater under her arm… just before turning back to him with a shy little smile. "Thank you, Ace. You're the best. If I wasn't sure it was too soon, I'd kiss you for that."

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ACE MESSNER - January 31, 2012 09:14 PM (GMT)
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Birdie did not frown at his extensive knowledge on Pixar Easter eggs. He felt sorry for even wondering if she would. She was the type who liked these things. If there was a type for it, she was one of them. Few people he had attempted to impress with these things reacted the same way she did. Big eyes, glee, attentiveness. These were qualities he searched for in any listener. Ace wasn’t used to good listeners. He was used to being the listener. It could be debated whether hearing somebody talk about animated movies and their quirks could be equalled with hearing somebody talk about their dead parents and how that affected their lives, but still. Listening was listening, regardless of the content. “I suspected you’d like that.” Suspected, a word often associated with something negative. Not in this case. There was nothing negative in the way he appreciated her response.
<p>
Do you think we could watch them here?” he asked. It was an intriguing idea. “Is there enough power?” He was not very electrically savvy. In the slightest. Once he had fried a patch of hair when he attempted to change the bulbs in the kitchen. It had resulted in a curse and a smoke, a rub of the head and a beer, but no desire to try again. So he had lived without light in the kitchen for a year before Lucas got tired of it and fixed that. Lucas had also fixed the bathroom sink and the TV when the owner spilled beer on it. Lucas had been a good friend actually. Still Ace had left him heaving by the stairs with blood pumping onto the floor from the gaping shotgun wound on his chest and he had not looked back once. He still wasn’t looking back. He was looking at the woman next to him, smiling as she marvelled at lamps that could mimic sunlight. “Yeah, they do it to battle the depressiveness that can set in with the lack of real sun. It’s strange to think even our psyche needs it, isn’t it?
<p>
Nothing about him indicated he had just had a brief flashback to the bottom of the stairs where he had left his best friend to die. Not a muscle.
<p>
He was too busy marvelling at the purple colour against her dark hair. He wasn’t just saying she looked beautiful because he could. He was saying it because he meant it. And it didn’t hurt how her reaction placed a grin. “I haven’t seen you in all the colours of the world,” Ace admitted. It was an admittance that was also pretty obvious, come to think of it. “But you definitely suite purple. Or, purple suits you. Very much.” She handed him a green sweater, and he would have put it on in a heartbeat hadn’t she tucked it under his arm. Maybe they’d need a bag in the end. At the mention of a kiss, his lips shied upwards in the smallest of smiles and he leant down, placing a kiss on her forehead. “There’s more than one type of kiss, Birdie.
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Birdie Flynn - February 1, 2012 05:38 AM (GMT)
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"You must know me very well, even if we've only just met," Birdie said even as she knew they hadn't really known each other very long at all. But she's always been a great believer in what Anne of Green Gables spoke of: kindred spirits. She knew that though they might have been so very different, Ace got her love of animation and she couldn't help but understand how he could like the shock of seeing those hidden surprises in the movies. She really wanted to see them… especially with him so he could point them out. But how likely was that? Even his word choice had her smiling up at him. He could turn a word she'd only heard in a bad way… into something positive. He truly was a marvel.
<p>
"Sure! I don't see why not. There are electronics stores all over," she reminded him and then pointed up along the hallway where there was a Radio Shack. "But about the power… I dunno. I hope so. I really want to watch a Pixar movie with you now." And if that wasn't the truth, she couldn't be more honest. She didn't know exactly how much power there was in the Mall, but maybe she'd bug Aiden to find out. He was the one person that she knew could do pretty much anything with electronics and he'd HAVE to know. Anyone else would likely only guess… then again, she did have visit with him again…. he was kind. She's sure Ace would like him too. Then again, she'd have to ask him about those sunlight-lamps too. They might come in handy. "Not really, when you think about it. Vitamin D comes from sunlight. Vitamin D is something our bodies need. Maybe it goes hand in hand?" she asked him and then blinked. She hadn't ever considered that before… and she should have.
<p>
She kept walking beside him, her eyes ahead, only to turn to look at Ace with a blush. He was staring at her and in such a way that didn't make her feel odd… but somewhat… admired. She ducked her head down but then let her eyes slide up to his face and pursed her lips, smiling after a moment or two. He was kind… and it was something she hadn't known she needed, his version of kindness. "Thank you… and you suit blue… remember?" she asked him even as she stopped and then held up the green one she'd tucked under her arm, setting it against his chest. "Green might be even better. Do you like it?" she asked him… but before she could open her mouth again, he'd kissed her forehead… and before she knew it, she went bright red. His smile and the kiss?
<p>
If she's not careful, she could get very smitten by him. "Well… um, that was a nice kiss. I could always take another… maybe once I deserve it," she added, teasing him. After all, it's always better to earn something than take it.


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ACE MESSNER - February 3, 2012 06:11 PM (GMT)
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A kiss could mean anything. A kiss could be a ‘hello’, a ‘goodbye’, a promise to meet again. A way to be cordial in the archaic ways of passed, with a touch on the hand, or a brush against either cheek in passing. Some cultures cultivated it as vital, crucial, to everyday happenings. Friends meeting friends, employees their boss, mothers their daughters. Movies associated it with romance and lust, depending who delivered and received. It could be the last thing you ever gave a person, and the first thing you wanted to give them if meeting again. Theirs was a coy and childish kiss, innocent in nature. Though there were no lust behind it, there was a healthy amount of tenderness and – not easily admitted, with the heaviness of such a claim – love. Ace was not in love with Birdie. He wasn’t opposed to the thought, but for that they hadn’t known each other long enough. No, he wasn’t in love, but he did love her.
<p>
Even he realized she might confuse his intentions if he uttered it, however, and he cleverly kept his mouth shut. It was enough to see the colour on her face turn a healthy red glow, the physical proof he hadn’t acted out of place by placing his lips against her head. He surmised as much. He wouldn’t have done it had he thought she’d object to it. Had he thought she’d push him away and stalk off, he wouldn’t have done it. The last thing he wanted right now was for Birdie to walk away. It would ruin the moment of them together. Their moment. “You deserved that one.” He lifted his hand to her forehead and brushed lightly against the spot he had kissed. Since he didn’t wear lipstick, it didn’t leave a mark. He had never been able to agree with himself when it came to lipstick on girls and them planting marks on him. A part of him wanted to be flattered and appreciated the old-school style of it. Another just found it annoying to have a greasy stain on his skin.
<p>
I like it,” he assured her, patting the sweater under his arm. “And I’m going to get a bag.” Even in these times, when the stores were closed for obvious reasons, Ace didn’t feel entirely comfortable going behind the counter to fetch what he needed. It felt almost wrong. He wasn’t supposed to be there unless he worked there. And he hadn’t worked here. He didn’t have to rummage around for long before emerging with a paper bag however, lifting it triumphantly and letting his head pop up behind the desk. “Now we’ll have room for plenty more. You’re getting this.” He picked up a blue scarf of silk and waved it around before he put it in the bag along with his sweater. “I’m feeling generous today.
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Birdie Flynn - February 3, 2012 10:09 PM (GMT)
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It was comfortable there with Ace. Their kiss may have been pleasant, sweet and chaste, but that suited Birdie just fine. She wasn't the type of girl to rush into something huge and shattering, and though Ace was a sweetheart, she'd only just met him. She'd been taught, though various horrible methods, to shield herself a little from those 'thousand natural shocks' that Shakespeare alluded to… though, she had to admit, she cared about him. It was hard not to, when he was so kind, so sweet… and made her feel so much a part of something, even if it was something as simple as finding clothes. What person wanted to do any such thing alone?
<p>
She honestly tried to turn her face away, just to shield her blush from him, but she wasn't sure she did THAT great of a job. He may have been the kind of man who noticed far more than anyone realized… and she found herself marvelling at just how much about him she didn't know. Sometime, she wanted to sit down, talk to him… find out the things that no one else knew about him. And that was why she stepped closer and gave him a sweet smile before glancing down and then away. "Thank you…" she said softly and as she moved to rummage through some sweaters, she let her eyes slide back to his face. "You deserve one too. But I'm going to surprise you with it." And what could be more fun than by attacking a friend's face with kisses? Or even just one?
<p>
"Good… okay, I'll find more for us while you're doing that," she said while turning away, and slipping around the side of the table, she moved until she spotted the prettiest pale gray jacket and grabbed it, stuffing it under her arm for Ace. So far, she'd hardly collected anything for herself but that was okay.
<p>
His voice calling out behind her, though, she grinned at the scarf and then giggled. "That's got to be the prettiest scarf ever… looks soft," she added and then held up the gray leather jacket she'd found for him. "What do you think? Doesn't it look as soft as a cloud?" she called out and then popped up onto her feet to do a barely disguised wiggle of excitement. "We need something for Jack. Do you think there's a pet store? We can't leave him out... he's your best friend!"


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ACE MESSNER - February 5, 2012 02:59 PM (GMT)
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Ace wasn’t as prone to blushing as Birdie seemed to be. He had always liked blushing. It was a charming reaction. The only way he could achieve it was by working out or holding his breath. When he was a child, the latter had been an attempt pulled once or twice. Never to achieve anything. He wasn’t the type to hold his breath to get a point across. For that he had been too timid and naïve. “You’re cute when you blush.” No, there had been a couple of times that he had. Once at a birthday party he had peed his pants as they brought forth the cake, and everybody had laughed at him. It wasn’t the best memory. It wasn’t one he would cherish for years to come, nor was it easily forgotten. Embarrassing moments rarely were.
<p>
I love surprises,” he said, smiling at the thought of her surprising him with a kiss. Just like he had her. He didn’t necessarily favour the surprises that involved leaps and screams, but rather the ones that walked hand-in-hand with grins and rapid heartbeats. A kiss would definitely fit his image of the ideal surprise. “But now that I know, won’t I be expecting it?” He winked then, indicating it didn’t matter. Besides, they were on a scavenger hunt and soon his mind would be preoccupied with other matters. He had never had a scavenger hunt before. Not counting charities that found it a fun way to engage their clientele. He had participated in such hunts before, keeping the façade of a pleasant companion when all he wanted to do was go outside and smoke in peace.
<p>
Birdie didn’t inspire the same reaction in him. Though he was noticing he needed a smoke soon. And Jack probably needed a pee. So the jacket Birdie was bringing him might come in handy. “Look at that,” he said as he gently took it from her hands and pulled it on. He corrected the collar and the cuffs before turning sideways. “It fits.
<p>
In the midst of clowning around they had forgotten about Jack. Moreover, Ace had. Birdie hadn’t. “You’re right!” Spinning around, he threw a glance around the room and whistled. The quickening ticking of claws alerted them the dog would be arriving from the right, and rightfully so. Tail wagging, tongue lolling, expectant. “There’s a pet store one floor down. It’s where I’ve gotten him food so far. I didn’t think of grabbing him clothes. It seemed something a fellow model would do, of the female sex. But for you Birdie, I’ll make an exception.
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Birdie Flynn - February 5, 2012 08:04 PM (GMT)
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Birdie honestly had a problem with compliments, and as she'd hardly had them for years, ages really, they were something she found herself not sure how to react to. Of course, since meeting Ace, she'd blushed more in those few days than she'd ever had… and at the same time, he'd offered more compliments than she'd likely ever received. It was… nice, really, when most people just considered her silly or twee or even a little more awkward than she actually was… and because of that, she sheepishly smiled back at him even as he gave her yet another one. She licked her lips and then slowly let herself glance up at him. "And you're cute… uh, all the time," she shot back, and though she's sure, being a model, he heard that before, but here, she meant it. He was cute even when she's sure no one else was even looking, even when he was looking through clothes for himself and her. When he handed her a simple blue sweater with a grin on his face.
<p>
Yeah, she's smitten.
<p>
"Me too! I think surprises are the best thing," she says and turned around to dig though a few more piles of clothes, hoping to surprise him with not only that sweater he was so anxious for… but to build up the nerve to kiss him. That would take more than she was capable of, she was sure. Especially when he spoke again and she jerked her head up to look at him with a blink… and then another. "Maybe… but I don't think I'll kiss you just yet. I'll wait until you aren't expecting it and then… then, it'll happen," she informed him with the cheekiest of smiles before looking away again.
<p>
But then she'd found that jacket and she'd honestly thought he might like it okay, kinda-sorta, but when he took it and put it on, she stayed close by, tugging the cuffs down and then grinned widely up and into his face. "It does! It fits like it was made for you. And the colour… it's so shiny," she added with a giggle and then turned away.
<p>
Yet… maybe it was good that one of them hadn't forgotten the dog, and listening for the sound of claws ticking along the floor, she dropped to allow the dog to come up to her, her hands sinking into his fur as she stared up at Ace with a nod. "Well, I was thinking treats… but maybe a new collar? He won't need clothes… he's got fur," she reminded Ace with a soft giggle, mostly because she got a lick along the face and started to sputter. "See? He wants a new collar… maybe blue to match your sweater?"


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ACE MESSNER - February 5, 2012 08:38 PM (GMT)
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Ace had instantly thought Birdie was talking about clothing his dog. The idea was foreign to him. Well, not foreign as in he hadn’t heard it before or didn’t understand it, but foreign because the notion of putting clothes on an animal that already had fur to protect it from the weather was bizarre. Unless it was a fashion statement. Ace had no count on the number of girls he’d met that had their canines tucked under their arm, much like the sweater he had held, and that too seemed arbitrary. With four legs, they could very well walk themselves? Lucas had owned a German Shepherd, a huge thing, and trained it to jump into his arms on command. Once they had walked their respective dogs when a Chihuahua approached, whereupon Lucas had whistled for his monster to clamber up on him, following up by reprimanding the owner of the little rat – a lady much older than them – for scaring his specimen.
<p>
Just thinking about it had a smile on Ace’s face.
<p>
But she hadn’t meant garments, she had meant treats. And a collar. “Oh ok. I thought, since we have been picking clothes, that you wanted to dress him up. I wouldn’t have been opposed to it, but in this case I’m happy to be wrong.” Jack in a bubble-vest? No thank you. The mutt had a Mohawk shave, and there was a reason for it. The sun could be unforgiving and brutal in Texas. To add fuel to the fire was unnecessary. “Yeah, blue collar. Let’s go.” With the bag hanging from his left arm, he grabbed her hand with his right and led them out of the shop. The silence could also be seen as peaceful. Like going to the mall at an off-hour, before most got off work and right after it opened. Only nobody was busy flaunting the goods and getting ready for a day behind the counter. The Mall Rats lived there now and what was previously strictly a day-time area was now an around-the-clock hotel, of sorts. That was how Ace liked to see it.
<p>
Also, when we’re going down, could we go out for a bit? We can go past Borders and to the parking lot that way. Jack needs a run and I need a smoke.” He wanted to ask her before taking her there. From talking to others, Ace had the impression some didn’t like going out. They were afraid of what was lurking there, waiting to pounce. From his various trips, he could say that few things were waiting to pounce. Standing around shuffling, certainly. Pouncing? For that they weren’t nimble enough. Easily avoided. “It’d be nice with some fresh air.” That wouldn’t be as fresh after he lit his first cigarette, of course.
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Birdie Flynn - February 6, 2012 12:18 AM (GMT)
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Ace's smile had Birdie grinning up at him, a little relieved that he hadn't taken the idea to heart, especially since she hadn't really wanted to dress his dog up. REally, to her, that was silly and as the dog was obviously already warm and contented, she didn't see the need to make him uncomfortable. Dogs with clothing on? Only Americans or the bored would think of such a thing, and that was why she simply wrinkled her nose up at the idea. "Oh no… no, never. He's happy… look at him…" she says and then helped Jack to his head to look up at Ace, the dog's obvious and Birdie-influenced smile stretching between her fingers before she let him go. "See? If he was cold, he'd be shivering and he's not. He deserved something that tastes good… like liver-snaps," she added, her shoulder raising and lowering in a shrug before getting once more to her feet from the crouch she'd been in.
<p>
She honestly didn't think it was fair, putting an innocent creature in a getup where they'd be uncomfortable.. and in fact, she was going to be very careful about getting him a collar, even. "Alright. Blue collar… he'd look handsome in that," she added with a tickle of her fingers behind the dog's ear just before taking that hand and carefully slipped it back into Ace's, enjoying just how… normal it felt, to have him hold her hand. And how comforting.
<p>
Walking along the darkened halls, she kept her gaze ahead, watching for Jack, keeping Ace in her peripheral, the silence a little unnerving and that was why she kept close to his side, their footsteps loud as they walked along. The ticking of Jack's claws was a soft counterpoint to their footsteps, though, and she was relieved to keep hearing it… because it meant he was okay. She didn't want to consider how Ace would feel if the sweet dog was taken from him.
<p>
Ace's question, though, caught her off guard and turning to look at him, she blinked a moment, to digest the question, and then just nodded. "Yeah, please! I've been stuck inside for days and I'm going mad. I just need some sun," she says and then sighed. "And fresh air… so yes… I don't mind… if fact, it might be nice to be away from all this for a little while," she added with a wave of her hand around them. "Do you want to go out now, and do the rest of our shopping afterward?" she asked, head cocked to the side as they walked along. "You both must be dying for it, and I could really use a breeze."


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ACE MESSNER - February 6, 2012 03:40 PM (GMT)
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They were two people having a stroll in the mall. It was as normal as could be. A few observations would reveal the slight off-putting reality, however: They had a dog with them. Houston Gallery had always been a non-pet-friendly mall. Ace had found out a day when he had waltzed it with Jack and had a security guard run up to him. Ace had never had any security guards run up to him before and had been momentarily stunned, fearing that somehow, without his own knowledge, he had shoplifted. Which was ridiculous. But being charged at like that apparently made him draw ridiculous conclusions. But it was all solved by simply exiting again. Now that security was long gone and none had voiced an allergy, Jack was allowed to saunter around with the rest of them.
<p>
Another thing that did not make sense, was how they were alone there. The three of them. The trio. No stores were open, yet all the stores were open. Nobody worked. Even after a recent opening, a mall would bustle with life. Three souls could hardly be called bustling. And two of them had simply walked in and taken with them garments meant for selling. “I wouldn’t call it stealing, would you?” he asked suddenly. He lifted the bag up and waved it a little, frown deep. It wasn’t stealing, surely. “The stores aren’t open anymore. They’re our home now. And in a home, if the clothes aren’t already yours, it’s just borrowing.” Though it might sound like he was justifying, he was simply thinking out loud. He had found he did that around people he was comfortable with. That way there was never any doubt what was going on in his head.
<p>
Yeah, if it’s no bother for you I’d like to go out first.” The escalators were not working. In the beginning, Ace had attempted to fix them. Since he was rubbish at fixing material things, he had gotten nowhere. But he had always liked escalators. Just floating up to where he was heading, with the opportunity to look around even a glass elevator didn’t offer. “Watch your step,” he joked to Birdie, and took a longer stride as if getting on a motioning staircase. Jack had never liked escalators. It just occurred to his owner. Ace stopped, threw Birdie an apologetic smile for having to let her hand go, and picked his dog up. Jack wasn’t a small thing. He wasn’t the largest or heaviest, but not the tiniest and lightest either. “I think it’s the metal coating the stairs, the ribbed part? His paws are soft and sensitive. So I’ve spoilt him.” As he emerged at the bottom, he set his four-legged friend down, who thanked him by licking his hand and wagging his tail in anticipation for Birdie to follow.
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Birdie Flynn - February 7, 2012 04:21 AM (GMT)
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This was nice, allowing for the quiet not to completely freak her out. Walking hand in hand with a nice looking man, a dog trotting ahead… it could have been a nice Sunday stroll through the mall but for the strangeness of the lights being off of the near seclusion of the place entirely. It was strange, having their footsteps just echo that way, and in fact, she would have been a little nervous but for the company. He was making it nice and comforting… but the fact that they were headed outside, where they could feel the sun on their faces, let Jack run around, have some fun… it was making her want to run and pull Ace along, make him hurry.
<p>
As it was, her steps were growing in speed until she was almost skipping along beside him, her ponytail bobbing as she moved along beside Ace, her smile growing wide for the expression on his face. This… was good. It was nice to have something to look forward to but pain and fear.
<p>
But his question brought her up short and she turned to him, slowing down just a little so she didn't seem flippant about his worries. Was he actually worried about stealing? She scanned his face and then squeezed his hand encouragingly. "No… not stealing.." she said emphatically and then turned to look at the stores around them. She patted his chest with her other hand. "That's exactly it. We're just borrowing. If we could pay, we would… but things are a little different. I mean, we could always do something in exchange, like clean up, but it might be a little silly. Right?" she asked him, head tilted just faintly to the side. She didn't want him to worry, not when he was so happy a moment before. No one deserved such a thing. "Really, don't worry. Borrowing is the way of the world now, I think. We're… we're not the only ones."
<p>
She waved him off. "Nah, I want to go out now… I think I need some sunlight," she reminded him with a quick grin even as they approached the escalators. She watched him playfully approach it, winked at him as she let go of her hand… and she honestly melted when he picked up his dog. "That is the sweetest thing I've ever seen. Be careful!" she called out. Yes, Jack seemed so grateful i his own doggy way that she just stayed at the top and watched him go down, her smile growing wider just as he turned to set the dog down. She just jumped on and pretended to let it take her down, going slowly with her legs walking down them slowly, her chin resting just under her hand as she mugged for the two souls at the bottom. Once she stepped off, she reached up and kissed Ace's cheek. "There, I think that's unexpected," she told him even as she took his hand and tugged. "Cmon! Let's go outside!"


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ACE MESSNER - February 7, 2012 09:22 PM (GMT)
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Birdie didn’t think it counted as stealing either. That was good. And it couldn’t be stealing. They hadn’t taken anybody else’s property. Nothing was anybody’s property anymore. That was a huge advantage of this situation. Ace wasn’t going to grab this opportunity in any way, but it never hurt with options. “Had anybody still worked there, I wouldn’t have taken it in the first place.” He nodded in agreement to the words she said. “This is our house. So, it’s our home.” A strange notion. It would’ve been a strange notion in the previous life anyway. Now it was the way of the world. Things changed quickly.
<p>
Ace hadn’t changed. His love for Jack hadn’t changed. Which is why he carried his best friend down the escalators, to the glee of their female companion. “I’m always careful.” This was true. Well, most of the time. Actually, not the he thought about it, he had to amend. “Ok, not always. But I will now.” He had never tripped and lost Jack before. He was not going to do it today either. The dog was safe on his own four paws shortly after, and Ace turned just in time to receive a kiss on the cheek. She was right. That was a surprise. “And you didn’t even wait very long! Very clever.” He beamed at her as she tugged him towards the exit. It wasn’t supposed to be easy to get in anymore. That made it a bit tricky to get out as well, but there were ways around that too.
<p>
It was warm out. He had expected as much. It only took a brief look at the various windows to deduce the Texan sun was heating up the premises. Ace surmised it would be colder if he turned the corner. Heat had a tendency to exude from walls that had been exposed to the sun for long. When out on camping trips in the Rockies with his friends, he had often been found soaking up rays by the cottage rather than roaming around in the snow. This had earned him a plethora of disapproving remarks, but he was the one returning with a healthy tan, not them. They returned with frozen fingers and painful teeth, having let them clatter for too long. Ace loved a good snow-ball match like the next person, especially if he had the option to go sit in the sun after and regain all lost temperature.
<p>
Ace squinted against the sun as he reached inside his pocket and took out a pack of cigarettes, slapping it against his palm until one popped up and he could extract it with his lips, lighter already up. After an inhale, he turned towards Birdie. “I’m sorry. It’s a vice.
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Birdie Flynn - February 8, 2012 03:41 AM (GMT)
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"Me neither. My conscience would have never let me forget it of I took something without paying," she said but at the same time, she thought very much the same way as Ace did: that it was their home. Borrowing from others in their own home was just that. Borrowing. She didn't think that there was any harm that could come of such a thing when most people needed things as time went on… and she was indeed thinking of cooler months, where sweaters, jackets and long-pants were going to be a must. Most of these stores were filled with warmer-weather gear, so she wasn't sure what was to come of them all when bad weather struck. Then again, she's glad they're in Texas: no snow. "I think everyone would understand… this IS our home. We're just… we're at home. We have to be comfortable."
<p>
She was comfortable with Ace and Jack, which is why she wasn't surprised at all when her two-legged companion bent to carry their four-legged one down the escalator, which she couldn't' help but grin about. The dog seemed so relieved, his Master happy.. and Birdie? She was pleased to have surprised Ace with that kiss, an even that made her smile stretch across her face… so wide, in fact, that she's sure she looks silly but she doesn't much care. Not when he seems so happy about it too. "Well, I couldn't! I told you I'd get you when you didn't expect it… and I did." She giggled softly even as she tugged on him, trying to get him to hurry along with her. Sunlight was calling… though his smile was almost as bright.
<p>
And in fact, when they did get outside, it was quite a bit brighter than the nearly gloomy interior of the Mall, but she stopped to lean her head back and soak up the sun, her chest rising and falling with a contented exhale of breath. This was worth being in some danger, even if she's sure that in time, they'll be running.
<p>
Popping her eyes open at the sound of Ace's voice, though, she turned to him with a little confusion colouring her expression.. just before blinking at the cigarette between his lips. "You don't have to apologize to me…. but you should to your lungs. It's not good for you," she added flippantly before turning away and crouched down, her hands out to the dog and then glanced up once more at Ace, hands in the ruff of fur around Jack's neck. "But really, if it makes you happy, you should do it."


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ACE MESSNER - February 17, 2012 01:20 PM (GMT)
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He didn’t know why he apologized. Or what he expected her to say back. Ace had gotten used to judgemental looks here in America. Whenever he placed his hand inside his pocket and brought out the dilapidated pack, even the gentlest of elderly ladies scrunched their faces to poison through psychic projections. He had yet to fall down dead from their attempts, and surmised it wasn’t working too well. “I apologize out of habit, I think.” Wasn’t that how you were supposed to behave in a social setting? Apologizing even when you didn’t mean it in order to play the cards right? “Plus some people claim to be allergic. Take it you’re not one of them?” Ace had always doubted those that brandished such a thing. But it might very well be a real thing. Some were allergic to cold after all.
<p>
Whoever was allergic to cold would be having a good, reaction-less time outside the mall. Birdie seemed to enjoy the brightness. Her way of tilting her head back and soaking up the warmth made him smile. “I love the sun too,” he said, and inhaled from the cigarette. It felt too long. It hadn’t been that long. Jack needed his daily walks after all. Preferably more than one meagre one. They rarely ventured far. The mutt had the will to run around on his own. He was quick on his feet and sufficiently trained. If he was called, it never took long. Lately Ace had stopped calling too loudly. It attracted unwanted attention.
<p>
The dog was looking up at him now, tongue out, expectant. Ace stared right back, not understanding what the intention was before realizing he needed to give the word of approval. “Sure buddy.” He tossed his head to the side and the animal was off in a sprint. Barely discerning which direction, Ace turned back to Birdie. “We don’t have to follow him around. He goes places we can’t go.” That sounded more dramatic than he intended. “But I want a little stroll too.” Offering his elbow, he quirked his brows. “Care to join?
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Birdie Flynn - February 17, 2012 05:58 PM (GMT)
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"Well, you shouldn't," Birdie told Ace with nothing but a head-tilt and a sweet smile before looking away, not because she didn't want to see him smoke, but because she was giving him a chance to light the cigarette and take a few lungfuls in peace. Who would want to be stared at while they did something like that? She just liked, though, deep down that he cared enough to apologize. It was kind and HE was kind, which was why she stayed with him at all. It wasn't his habits, though they were funny to her… no. It was the man himself and glancing back over her shoulder, she shook her head. "I think people who use that excuse are just trying to make you feel bad," she told him with a shrug of one shoulder. "There's nothing in it that I can think of that anyone should be allergic to. It's not made of shellfish or peanuts," she teased him and then turned back to sun herself like a cat, eyes closed as she leaned her head back to soak up the blinding sunlight.
<p>
She loved the brightness of the sun, the slight burn of it on her cheeks and forehead, the burn of it behind her eyelids. Smiling a pleased and catlike smile at the feeling, she could hear the smile in Ace's voice and so smiled back without opening her eyes. "It's the best thing ever," she breathed quietly and just took a deep breath, letting it out a moment later with a contented look on her face. Yes, she knew that this wasn't something she could do all the time and thus it really was a treat. She just hoped that whenever Ace brought Jack outside, that he was careful about it. She figured that if something happened to him now, she'd never forgive herself.
<p>
Opening her eyes at the sound of Ace's voice, though, she blinked at the glare of the sun, just in time to see Jack take off and she turned towards Ace with a worried frown. "He'll be okay?" she asked him with a little divot of a wrinkle forming between her brows, only to nod at him for how he said they didn't have to follow. She was about to turn her head to see where Jack went when Ace offered her his arm and blinking, she slowly but widely grinned and stepped towards him, giving him an eager nod. "I'd love to. Where to?" she asked even as she curled her arm around his elbow and grinned up at Ace. "The last time I went out, I was chased so… a stroll would be nice… a nice change."


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ACE MESSNER - February 22, 2012 05:26 PM (GMT)
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He’ll be fine,” Ace replied. Her worried frown was evident and sweet, but wasted on the dog. The owner himself did not bother to see where his canine had taken off to. The entire ‘danger’ side of this ordeal was not lost on him. Contrary to popular belief, Ace had picked up on something odd happening lately. He had not traversed part of the city in his car that first day without realizing things had changed. Though his mind might be slightly closed to the gravity of the situation, his eyes were not. He had seen kids on the side of the road getting eaten by their parents. He had seen neighbours shooting neighbours in some grotesque replica of an old Western. He had seen a weeping bride shoot her betrothed and left them both to be devoured by their guests on what should have been the happiest day of their life.
<p>
Still he managed a smile without effort as Birdie’s arm fell in with his and commenced their innocent stroll through the decay that was Houston.
<p>
He had not contemplated where to. He had just thought a walk would be sufficient. “We can head over to William’s Tower?” he suggested. It was not far. Just the other side of the street really. Only they had to walk the length of the mall first. It was a big mall. But their destination would be bigger, albeit in height not width. Then he caught up with what she had just said. “You were chased last time? What happened?
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Birdie Flynn - February 22, 2012 10:03 PM (GMT)
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"Okay," Birdie replied with a little smile that was aimed directly at her newest friend, her smile twitching but only because she really was worried for his dog. There were things out there that would eat him and not care that he was Ace's companion, that he would be heartbroken if something happened to the overgrown puppy. Maybe that was why she watched Jack go for as long as she could, just until he was out of sight and then she turned back to look Ace. He was so strong… so brave.
<p>
And she was completely entranced. Silly Birdie, she told herself, as she smiled back at his smile, her own turning her face cheeky and playful and a little silly. And not for the first time, did she want to skip around, but here, with him, it was probably one of her goofier impulses. So she battened that down and just nodded at him, trying to keep herself from being silly.
<p>
"Sure… William's Tower," she said but it was all too possible to tell she hadn't a clue which one that was… but she honestly didn't mind. She just wanted to be out in the sun. It was the first time she felt safe outside since Grayson appeared at the mall… because, let's face it, zombie guts does nothing for ensuring one's good feeling. But turning to look at Ace, she nodded. "I went outside for some fresh air and then ended up running when those things came at me. This man named Stan helped bring me back. I was lucky, I think…" she said and then turned to look over his shoulder. "I'm okay though… have you been chased too?" she asked him, worried now. "It's terrible to be afraid."


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ACE MESSNER - February 24, 2012 08:48 AM (GMT)
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Many of his fellow inhabitants in the Mall had told him stories of how they were chased. If not told, he had overheard it many times. No matter how it was conveyed to him, the common ground they seemed to share was fear. They had ran for their lives and feared this was the end. Ace didn’t like the idea Birdie had run flat-out and had her pulse and adrenaline heightened not only because of the physical strain but also the terror. “They don’t discriminate much,” he noted. Children, women, men, black, white… It never mattered. “I think a lot of people could learn from that.” This wasn’t a popular opinion, and he managed a small laugh. “I’m not saying we should eat one another. But we should strive to be blind in regards to the differences in others.
<p>
This entire situation had put such agendas at the bottom of the priority-list, yet people were still people. They still held on to their arbitrary beliefs, even if those beliefs were overshadowed by the more immediate need to not die. “I’ve been chased, yeah. But I’m faster than most and it’s never been difficult to loose them. I don’t want to walk around being constantly afraid, so I simply don’t.” He turned to her with a bright smile, courtesy of whitening products. “I nurture a healthy respect for them though. I wouldn’t poke an angry bear, so I won’t poke them either.” The former model suddenly wished he could meet a bear. He had always liked bears. “Do you think there are any bears left?” His brow knitted together, thinking.
<p>
At that moment they rounded the corner and their destination came into view. Ace didn’t plan to actually enter William’s Tower. He was not too fond of heights and at 902 feet, the Tower was tall. Still it had been a long time since he stood at its foot and felt insignificant. He often felt insignificant without the aid of a gigantic building, but skyscrapers were odes to humanity – to their strength and brains and creativity. They showcased how nature could be defied should it be wanted. Ace believed in humanity. He also believed they wrecked everything around them. Their self-destructiveness had always been undeniable.
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Birdie Flynn - February 24, 2012 11:03 PM (GMT)
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She knew that she had a good friend when Ace actually took that tactic, when he told her that he thought that they weren't that different from them, the zombies. Of course, everyone else she'd ever met thought her silly or crazy for feeling that way, but she couldn't help herself. They were human beings at one time and to her eyes, they were merely sick, and if there could have been some kind of prevention, they could have been helped, or they could have never suffered at all. It was why she turned to him with huge eyes nodding along eagerly. "I agree! You would not believe how many people think that they are so different from us. They… they really don't understand that there's no reason to look at our differences. They're people…" she said almost in a whisper-tone, her eyes on the view instead of his face at the last. Yes, it was just too nice to have someone who understood, she thought, even as she turned pink.
<p>
Honestly, she liked that her opinions were actually listened to, and though she wasn't the kind of person who could attract much attention, his was good enough. And that was why she looked well and truly sick to her stomach for the thought that he'd been chased as well and she couldn't' stop herself from reaching out to pat his arm. "Well, it's nothing that anyone would blame you for. We all run sometimes, when we're scared," she murmured, but the quick change in topic made her blink. "Bears? Probably. There's no one to hurt them, really, right? They'd be out there," she said quietly and then blinked. "Let's not go looking for them, though. I think they'd be more angry than the zombie-people."
<p>
But the moment they stood beneath the Tower, she leaned her head back, her ponytail pointing straight down even as her hand twisted on his sleeve to keep from falling backwards, her eyes widening. "I've never been around this building… do you like it?" she asked and jerked her head forward to look at Ace. She figured he had to, if he wanted to come see it.


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ACE MESSNER - February 26, 2012 03:42 PM (GMT)
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Birdie agreed with him. Ace was not surprised, and he was not surprised because he was so smug he expected her to agree with him out of awe. He was not surprised because she was kind-hearted and amiable. There were probably a lot of kind-hearted and amiable people out there who still found it inside themselves to hate those who attacked them with unparalleled contempt. Though Ace was not a genius when it came to reading and understanding people, he was not a complete imbecile either. For all his lacks, he had foreseen the woman by his side voicing her agreement. “That makes two of us, at least.” He had encountered few others so far. Any at all? Jack didn’t count. Jack was equally as oblivious as his owner.
<p>
Her expressed sympathy for him having been chased caused him to fix her with a baffled look. He didn’t expect sympathy for that. It would be strange if not all had experienced the same. “You really are caring,” he stated with a smile. He wondered why they had not bonded before, and concluded shortly after it was because they had not talked. If they had, they would’ve noticed each other earlier. At least he liked to think so. Since he would never be given the answer to that equation, it was a satisfying thought. One that couldn’t be proven wrong. “I’m glad you walked into the store today Birdie. You specifically, and not somebody else.” Once again he squeezed her hand.
<p>
The walk to the foot of the Tower didn’t take long. They didn’t encounter anything malevolent on their way. Twice Ace spotted Jack sprinting around somewhere, just in sight but quite far in the distance, and twice he let his head bob a short nod in reaction. In-between these two nods, they talked about bears. “I don’t think hunting has flourished lately. Hunting predators, I mean. People with guns are busy shooting their former neighbours.” No reason rekindling their earlier conversation, however much he liked how they agreed. “So maybe there are bears left. Maybe they’re having a great time. I hope they are.” With nothing to ruin their natural habitat anymore, they should.
<p>
Bears were huge and furry. Albeit not furry, the building they found themselves under was huge too. Ace did his best supporting Birdie as she leaned backwards to take it all in. “Yeah, I’ve always liked it. It’s built to function as two separate towers stacked on top of one another. It's unique that way.” He mimicked her motion and looked up. “I like that. I like the uniqueness.
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Birdie Flynn - February 27, 2012 01:35 AM (GMT)
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"Yes, two of us… against so many. I think that we could talk more into understanding if we tried," she told him with a quick glance over at his face, seeing the very real concern in his eyes. He honestly felt the same way that she did and it was touching when no one else every agreed with her point of view. Those poor people… so many were out there, being killed and they may have been dangerous, but she still felt sorry for them. And she was relieved that Ace felt the same because if she had to get that look from one more person, she'd probably cry.
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Yet, when he turned to look at her, she turned to him as well and nodded, somewhat shyly. "Well, it's hard not to. No one deserves to be scared and you're really nice," she reminded him with a little tilt of the head but then glanced down at the tips of her shoes, red beneath the bright sky-like blue skirt. Yeah, she was embarrassed… just until his voice rang out again and she jerked her head up to look at him once more, her eyes widening. She hadn't expected such a thing from him, but the words… they were kind and sweet. She was touched. "I'm glad I did too, Ace. Very much. You've made today really special without doing hardly anything at all." She squeezed his hand back and then smiled shyly up at him again, her ponytail swinging as they walked.
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She wasn't quite sure how the talk got around to bears, but she was really glad that it was something a little less scary to her than the sick and twisted people she sometimes saw in the distance. Jack, of course, was a sight that made her relax here and there, though she did worry about him, but since Ace didn't seem worried, she tried to hide it. "You're probably right… I mean, guns are being used to protect themselves from… well, you know," she said with a sigh and then glanced over at him. "I hope there are bears, lots of them and they're thriving… and eating honey. That really happens, right?" she asked him with a little smile that quickly turned cheeky. "I always loved Winnie the Pooh."
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But it was funny for the pair to be talking about bears, both real and imaginary, underneath the awning of the Tower, but she couldn't help it. It seemed fitting, like something from a fairy tale if she squinted just so. "I've never really looked at it much before… it is unique…" she told him with a soft laugh and then glanced over at him, just in time to squeeze his hand again. "Thanks for bringing me… it's so pretty, with all the glass and the sun."



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ACE MESSNER - March 12, 2012 05:00 PM (GMT)
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Ace wasn’t sure bears ate honey. Did they? “Well, they are omnivorous.” And that could definitely entail they digested honey too. When he thought about it, it did seem peculiar. Bears were huge animals, feared animals. How could they reach that size from honey? “What are the nutrients in honey?” Surely not good enough to yield such a result. Ace was embarrassingly enlightened on calories and maintained a healthy intake versus outtake ratio, even when the priorities of the world had faltered from the bodies on fashion billboards onto pure survival. “I always liked Tigger the most. He’s so energetic and random.” The thought brought a smile to his face. He would need to go the bookstore later and ask Virgil how the cartoons were faring.
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If they leaned any further back, they’d both fall over. Albeit a funny picture in his head, even encouraging a small snort, he doubted he would feel the same after his head had hit the asphalt. Better stay upright. Better support Birdie so she didn’t suffer that painful faith. “I think people take it for granted in their busy lives. Just walk by it, not looking up. The observation deck is clo – actually, we could probably go up. But I don’t think I want to climb all those stairs inside when we just escaped from the Mall in the first place. Do you?” He looked over at her. If she wanted to, they would walk up. It really was that simple.

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Birdie Flynn - March 12, 2012 08:56 PM (GMT)
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She wasn't so sure about bears, never having really studied them back home, so most North American animals were completely out of Birdie's wealth of knowledge. Then again, if anyone were to ask her about meerkats or lions, she'd probably talk their ears off. "Are they? They'll eat anything?" she said and then made a face. Yes, she was reasonably sure that a bear would eat a person… but she didn't want to see it tested anytime soon. "Uh, there's not much nutrition in honey… so I think they'd probably eat other stuff too. I've heard that some bears even eat bees," she said then her eyes widened dramatically. "I hope they have strong mouths…" She honestly didn't want to consider how much that would hurt… she was once stung between the toes and it made her hobble around for a good hour. She can imagine just how much one's tongue being stung would be cripplingly painful. "Me too. I liked Tigger the most too, though there was something comforting about Kanga. And Roo. Actually, I liked Owl too. Piglet always reminded me of someone who needed a hug… hugs are important." And if that wasn't Birdie in a nutshell, then what was?
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But still leaning far back, she kept her eyes on that high building, the thought of going in it making her dance on her toes. But there was something nice about sharing this with Ace, because she hadn't ever considered that there was anything mysterious or mesmerizing in the city anymore. He's slowly convincing her otherwise. His hand on her back was comforting, though, and it's why she turned her head to smile at him, even as she straightened up a little to keep from falling backwards. "I think you're right… they get used to it being there, and then it's not special anymore. That's pretty sad, isn't it?" she asked him… but then when he mentioned going up, she just shook her head. "No, thanks. I'm afraid of heights and I think that would be a LOT of steps, right?" she asked him, her hand still in his. That was all she needed. Sharing a view with a friend, a warm hand to hold… and the sound of a dog's tags rattling as Jack came back again. "Besides, Jack wouldn't like those stairs, right?"


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ACE MESSNER - March 14, 2012 06:01 AM (GMT)
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When they started talking about the inhabitants of Hundred Acre Woods, Ace had to smile when Birdie basically mentioned all the animals as her favourites. For various reasons indeed, but he still found it charming how she saw the good qualities in all. Most had a definite favourite – like his was Tigger – and she did too, still she spoke warmly of all. He gave her hand another squeeze. There couldn’t be enough of those. “Piglet and his knots,” Ace mused. “I think Eeyore needed that hug even more. Those sad eyes, how he was depressed... I always thought of him as the ‘pin the tail on the donkey’-animal who escaped.” He glanced at her to see her reaction but was already shaking his head. “I don’t know why he’d escape from a kid’s birthday party though. I guess getting that nail stuck ever five minutes would hurt.” The thought alone hurt.
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Jack seemed to materialize out of thin air at their side as they were contemplating going up. “You wouldn’t like a nail to the butt, would you?” Ace asked his four-legged friend, leaning down to mess up the fur. Back to Birdie, he liked her excuse. He was not too fond of heights himself. It was the feeling of getting pulled over the edge that didn’t sit well with him, though he had been to the Eiffel Tower multiple times without making a fuss. He rarely made a fuss of such common things when nobody else did. He didn’t need to steal attention that way. “You’re right; Jack would be disappointed if we went in now. He’s house-trained and wouldn’t dare pee.” The dog tilted his head and perked his ears, somehow aware they were talking about him. “And I didn’t bring any poop bags. Even if this building is deserted I don’t want to leave excrements in there…
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Birdie Flynn - March 14, 2012 03:49 PM (GMT)
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Who else, really, could Birdie talk over Winnie the Pooh with, and all his little friends? No one, that's who and it was comforting, having such an easy camaraderie with someone. So what if they'd only met… it was obvious that he understood her better than most people. That quick squeeze of her hand warranted a glance down at their fingers all but entwined just before she yanked her gaze back up to his face with a quick smile of her own. Yeah, these two should stick together, and she knew it. "Piglet and his insecurities. And poor, dear Eeyore too. I can't believe I forgot him. I'm glad you didn't," she said with a quick nudge of his side with her elbow, and then sighed. She hadn't considered Eeyore having gone through that… it was almost depressing! "No wonder he was so sad.. that sounds painful. Can you imagine it, being the entertainment at others' expense?" she said quietly and then shook her head too. "If we find a Disney Store… we need to free the Eeyores…" she suddenly thought, and then grinned widely. "Can we do that?"
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She glanced down at the dog and with her free hand ruffled the fur just at his ears, her smile turning cheeky. "No, he doesn't want to have a nail sticking into his bum," she said in near baby-talk and then bent until she was nose to nose with the dog, her smiles turning into giggles as she was licked. Wiping a hand down her face as she straightened to look over at Ace, she gave him with blink and then nodded. "Well, I wouldn't want Jack to be unhappy. This is as much his outing as ours… and wouldn't it be unfair to leave him out?" she asked him, her hand still in his. "Then where should we go? There's got to be something else around here… is there something else you'd like to see?"


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