2011-12-09: In Theory Consumerism Works


Dashenka_icon.jpg Evelyn_icon.jpg Jill_icon.jpg Nicholas_icon.jpg

Summary: A sour spirit slightly spoils a salutary shopping spree. Also, there are dirty Commies.

Date: December 9, 2011

Log Title: In Theory, Consumerism Works

Rated: PG-13

Westchester - Salem Center Food Court

Entering the mall brings its visitors right to the Food Court. A wide open area with tables and chairs sprinkled around it, its edges lined with a wide variety of fast food choices. Pizza, burgers, ice cream, chicken, Chinese, smoothies, you name it, you got it.

Realizing there were still a few things he needed to get, Nick reluctantly asked his teammates, Jill and Evelyn, if they would head to the mall with him, having explained he had no idea how to get there. He's been quite most of the trip there. "I just need to find an mp3 player or something, I don't care if it's an iPod or not just something for music." He says as he, Jill and Evelyn step into the mall that seems to be in the full holiday swing!

Dashenka, having never experienced full fledged American Christmas Mall Madness first hand, has decided to do a bit of shopping herself. The list of people she has gifts to give is relatively short seeing as the majority of the people she knows are all fellow Barnes classmates. She's wearing a full length thick wool dress to fight off the cold outside, and an equally thick wool Russian military jacket that looks like it's seen use for the better part of a century. The big girl has a shopping bag in one hand, and an honest to goodness checklist in the other. "Tabitha," she says to herself in an almost comically thick Russian accent. "Check. Now. For Rashmi."

Though Christmas is still two weeks away, here in the mall it's already in full bloom. Tinsel and twinkling lights and fake holly and fake evergreens and incessant Christmas music assail the senses. "You need more than just *that*," the hologram-enhanced blonde and blue-eyed Jill advises Nicholas, breathing on her hands to warm them. This does nothing however, as she has no body heat to spare. Despite that, she's still dressed warmly in white thermal tights, plaid wool skirt, and an olive drab army surplus jacket. "You need clothes and stuff to put in your room and… and *stuff*! You definitely need stuff."

Finally adopting sensible clothing for Winter (if by sensible you count a skirt short enough for her tail to peek out from under and a t-shirt with bright Japanese characters and a cat on) Evelyn leads the trio onward with an assertiveness that alas has nothing to do with her knowledge of the mall or which shops she actually wants to visit. "Mp3 player. Got it… Any kind of brand? Is there an apple store or something you'd like to check out?" To draw attention away from her tail she's even wearing a cunning disguise in the form of a hairband with catears on.

Nicholas shoves his hands in his pockets as it seems he’s gotten grumpier since walking into the mall. "No, I already went clothes shopping and I don't need stuff." He says sounding irritated. "And the quicker we're out of this place the better. I just want something that plays music, I don't care what kind." He says as he looks around the mall.

Dashenka is too busy paying attention to her list and figuring out what a good gift for her roommate is to be paying attention, so she ends up bumping into Evelyn. "Oh!" she says, looking up, "Moi izvineniya…. uh… Apology for running onto you."

"Any old mp3 play… GAH!" Evelyn says, knocked flat on her ass from the collision with Dashenka. "Ouchies my tail… my precious uhm cosplay tail… It's okay, no harm done. I've had many years experience at falling over." Carefully she picks herself up, carefully keeping aforementioned tail out from underfoot and away from the passing crowds of people. "That's an interesting accent," she wonders her own accent shifting a little as she tries to match it. "On vacation here?"

Nicholas sighs as Evelyn seems to strike up a conversation with the girl who just knocked her over. Though he does offer a hand to help her up if she needs it. "Really, the less time I spend around this shitty music the better. I should have just waited until after Christmas." He says bitterly. "Or I should have just ordered online, they ship crap to the school right?"

Dashenka's eyes shift to the tail, then back to the girl it's attached to. She was about to offer to help her up but it seems that the other girl has that covered. "Is Russian," the big girl explains. "Nyet. I am living here now. What is cosplay?"

Jill gently prods Nicholas in the side. "Oh come on, you'd be missing out on the genuine shopping experience if you ordered online. Stuff like… crowds, pushy salespeople, annoying Christmas music." She glances a little worriedly at Evelyn and the taller girl and hopes the conversation won't need an intervention in the name of school security. "Or getting run over by Russians," she adds to the list under her breath.

Evelyn accepts the hand Nicholas offers and smiles. "Thanks," she says, her accent getting a little more Russian. "Nyet is no I'm guessing?" She pauses as if getting her mouth used to the word. "Nyet… Tricky. I've never had cause to do the accent, one of the few countries I've never visited. Cosplay is costume play, dressing up because it looks cool. Hence these." At which point she takes off the cat ears and holds them out for inspection. "I'd offer the tail, but it's sewn into my clothing."

Nicholas gives Jill a look filled with pure venom right now. "The last thing I want to hear is any shitty Christmas music right now, or have to deal with stupid foreigners." He snaps. "This was a bad idea, this whole thing was a bad idea. I could have just used my laptop and listened to YouTube." He does know it was his idea to come here though. "Christmas is the last thing I want to celebrate, thank god I have a Jewish roommate."

Dashenka takes the fake ears and looks over them curiously. "Is interesting," she concludes before handing them back. Nicholas' unsolicited venom towards her causes her to look a little nervous. "Well. Must be going. Your friend is…. how you say… ants in pantsy to get out of mall."

Jill shies away from Nick's death glare and she glances to the side then finally down to her sneakers, her happy-go-lucky expression withering away. The image inducer picks up some nice biofeedback and colors her face rosy-red with embarrassment. "Sorry…" she mumbles to Nick, nearly inaudible. "I'm sorry about this," she repeats a little louder to Dashenka.

Evelyn puts her ears back on, then nods. "It was a pleasure to meet you," she replies reverting to her usual English boarding school pronunciation. "And don't worry about his mood, he probably just means me when he's talking about stupid foreigners!" Spinning around to face her squadmates she unleashes another smile. "Indeed it's pretty horrific in here. We can get some chocolates or something to make up for it, my treat."

Nicholas gets a little flustered and awkwardly runs a hand through his hair. "Sorry, just, it's me. Christmas is the last thing I want to think about right now." He says quietly feeling a bit bad about his reaction towards Jill. "Whatever Evelyn, if you want to get chocolate…" He says avoiding the eyes of the girls.

"Well /I/ don't really care," Evelyn admits, glancing between the two. "I can't eat it. On a diet and suchlike. But I thought I'd do something nice for my classmates. You guys hit the mp3 stores and I'll find somewhere which does something obscenely delicious and sugary, then I shall live vicariously through you both as you do the actual eating bit." And with that she springs off into the crowd.

"Is okay," says Dashenka with a dismissive shrug. "Russia is still bad guy in many movies and games, da?" She looks back at her list and turns to look down the hall to see what she can find for the rest of her classmates.

"Only the communist kind," the blue girl in disguise replies quietly to Dashenka. Jill is left blinking at Evelyn's rapid departure, mouth still open to say something that isn't forthcoming anymore. An awkward and extended pause follows. "So, umm." She rubs her upper arm through the sleeve of her jacket. It's doubly easy for Nick to avoid her eyes now because she's avoiding his too. "Did you… did you still want to look for an mp3 player or should we just go home?"

Nicholas nods to Evelyn and sighs, almost having a look on his face like someone kicked his puppy. "I think that's more Germans than Russians." He replies blandly even though he's got a lot of German heritage. "We're here, we might as well look. Then we can go back to…there." He says avoiding using the words home and school.

Having won at least a partial success, Jill starts to look a bit less hangdog. It's a slow progression, though. "Well, there's an Apple store. And a Sony store. And a Microsoft store. If they haven't killed each other with corporate assassins yet." Stuffing her hands into her jacket pockets, she glances around to find a mall map, still avoiding Nick's eyes.

"You know, back home, we just pretty much went to Wal-Mart for everything." Nick says quietly. "The nearest mall like this was quite a drive away so, I don't know. I guess the apple store." He couldn't tell you the mp3 player that Song or Microsoft put out. "I'm sorry Jill, I just, I really don't want to be here right now. I just…wish things weren't so…fucked up."

"A7… A7…" Repeating the location of the Apple store to herself so she doesn't forget, Jill starts to lead the way through the throng of afternoon shoppers. Her stride falters a little when Nicholas apologizes and explains. She turns to face him but fixes her eyes on his chest. "I'm… sorry too, for what it's worth. Dragging you here," she says, even though she did nothing of the sort. Hesitantly, she starts to walk again at a slower pace. Features murky and troubled, she looks like she wants to say more but doesn't.

"It was my idea." Nick says in response to her apology. "I just forgot it was the holidays, it's been the farthest thing from my mind." He follows along with Jill trusting her direction sense. "I know I'm being a jerk, I just can't help it. I feel irritated at almost everything. I'm sorry." He says trying to explain as he does feel bad for putting Jill in that position. "Anyway…uh…do you like horses at all?"

Trusting Jill's sense of direction may be one of the bigger mistakes Nicholas has made today. Though she keeps repeating "A7", she quickly finds that the stores aren't actually labeled like that. "It's okay. I know things have been-… I mean, I sorta hoped it might cheer you up, not make you mad." His question catches her attention and she momentarily forgets that she's trying to avoid eye contact. "Horses? Umm, sorta. They're pretty and I've ridden a couple of times at summer camp. Then one bit me and now I'm not so sure."

Nicholas shakes his head. "No, just there really isn't anything that could really cheer me up." He says more being honest than being pessimistic. "Orion, he's the only one that makes me feel a bit better. He's my horse, I figured, maybe if you didn't hate horses you could meet him when we get back. He won't bite you, promise."

"Time," Jill answers, though her tone is a little flat. "Time helps." A crowded mall at Christmastime isn't really the place to go into her own old wounds, and to be fair her story doesn't really compare to what she's heard about Nick's. "I don't hate horses. It's more of… healthy respect." She bites her lower lip. "Okay, and a little fear. Just a little."

"I grew up around them." Nick says latching onto the subject change as he needs to talk about something that won't piss him off. "My Mom inherited the stables so I grew up learning to ride the, compete in horse shows and teach others how to ride. Orion is my first horse, I got him when I was thirteen as a gift. I never learned to fear them I guess." He says before looking around. "Where is this Apple store?"

"The only ones I've ridden have been old trail horses who are probably so tired of little kids sitting on their backs that… Huh. I wonder if that's why he bit me." Jill shakes her head. "Anyway, nothing faster than a-… what's just one step faster than a walk? Trot or canter?" Lost briefly in trying to rack her brain, it takes her a moment to realize Nick has asked her a question and a moment more to formulate an answer. "… I don't know. A-something, but there aren't any numbers on the stores. Just look for the one that's all white and chrome and full of hipsters."

"Trotting is faster than walking. It goes walk, trot, canter than gallop." Nick explains. "I guess that works, I figure I'll warn you now, I have no direction sense so I couldn't even tell you where the entrance to this place that we came in is." He says sounding a bit embarrassed by mentioning that. "We had a few horses like that, trail horses, but they were more my parents horses that they had for the stable."

"I don't really know much about horses, except they're what people had to use before cars were invented. So it's walk, then trot, then canter, then gallop," Jill repeats and nods in understanding, her eyes half-closing as if to keep the new information from leaking out. "Oh, that's easy. We came in by the food court, so we can follow the smell of popcorn and bad pizza if we get lost. Wait, is that it? I see skinny jeans and 'ironic' ugly glasses." Jill makes the quotation marks in the air.

In the food court there's a familiar looking Russian girl, looking hopelessly lost at all the food choices. She walks up to one of the booths and asks, "Excuse me. What is 'Gyro?'"

"New York is so different than North Dakota. We really don't have hipsters there." Nick says awkwardly as he's very much a small town boy. "But I guess I'll head in there and see what they have. Do you want to head in with me or I we can meet up after I yell at a sales person a few times?"

Jill waves her hands like she's warding off a large and fierce creature. "You're on your own with that. Just don't let them sell you all the extra crap you don't need." She jerks a thumb over her shoulder. "Follow your nose. I'll be in the food court, getting some coffee or something, 'kay? Evelyn should be by sooner or later, so I'll just be the meetup point for everybody." She twiddles her fingers at Nick. "Have fun and enjoy the Apple Lifestyle(tm)."

Dashenka gets an answer from the lady behind the counter about the Greek sandwich. After a bit of consideration she decides to pass and move onto the next booth, which is an Indian restaurant. "This tan-du-ri," she asks. "Can I try a sample?'

Wandering slowly back to the food court area, Jill's shoulders look slack as if a weight has been lifted but enough of it remains to dampen her mood slightly. Hands thrust into her coat pockets and head angled down, she's more lost in thought than she realizes and actually double-takes at the sound of the thick Russian accent again. It only takes a moment, but her jaw sets in something like determination and she approaches cautiously. "Umm, hi?" she begins weakly, lifting a hand in greeting. "We, uh, we ran into each other earlier? Er, you ran into my friend actually, but still…" Drawing a short breath, she launches ahead. "Listen, I'm sorry about what Nick, that boy, said earlier."

Dashenka turns around with a chunk of Tandoori chicken in her mouth, looking a little surprised to see Jill there. She waves a hand at the apology. "Is okay," she assures the other girl. "He was… having bad day, yes? I have had bad day, too." Her face scrunches in concentration as she talks trying very hard to make her English intelligible. "Not today. But other day, da?"

"Bad week. Month. I dunno." Jill seems embarrassed by proxy and shrugs helplessly. "But still, it was kind of rude so I'm sorry." Her head dips in apology. "I mean, it's like Russia kind of got a bad rap during the whole Cold War thing and now we're supposed to be okay but then America got kind of aggressive and people started not to like us very much and I didn't want you to think we're not welcoming, 'cause we totally are, it's just, well, this is New York and that kinda thing can happen a lot. Not so much here but if you go up in the city you'll see it a lot more but we're not *all* like that, so…" Jill rambles on, probably not the best thing to do with someone whose English is marginal.

Dashenka nods slowly, trying to follow the rambling. "Is okay," she reiterates. "Almost everybody has been good to me since I came here." She shrugs, her potential lunch entirely forgotten. "Communism is good idea. All peoples working together for the good of all. But people in power forget, and work for the good of themselves. Is true for Russia, and is true for America." She gestures expansively to the crowd, "But people are people, who are mostly good, so I do not judge."

The blonde teenager looks like she's about to say more but decides not to. She wrings her hands a little, still uncomfortable about the whole thing despite Dashenka's reassurances. "Well, yeah, and we're more than just the country we came from. Oh, umm, I'm Jill. The girl with the-" Here Jill raises her fingers on either side of her head. "The cat ears? That was Evelyn. And… Nicholas. Nick."

Dashenka holds out a hand, and gives the fretting a girl a smile. "I am Dashenka Ivanov. The girl… Evelyn? Her tail it was…" she pauses and then shakes her head. "Never mind. I do not wish to pry."

Jill looks down at her own hand briefly. Pink, not blue. Reassured, she puts on a smile and shakes, though her hand is a little cold. Her mouth moves a little before the words come out hastily. "Uhh. Realistic, wasn't it? Yeah. She really, uh, puts a lot of effort into her costumes. Really devoted." If she could sweat, she probably would.

Dashenka's grip is firm for a girl. Well, considering the size of her it's probably not that surprising. "Da. Realistic," she agrees with a knowing grin. "You are from… what is name…. Xaviers, Da?"

"Yes?" Jill answers, her voice rising slightly in pitch. "You know it? It's, uh, just up the road a little ways. So a lot of the students, y'know, come here to do… stuff." With an effort, she tries to calm herself. As far as most people know, it's just a boarding school. And nothing else.

Dashenka nods slowly. "I go to university with people who use to go there," she explains. "And this Evelyn. She smells like cat." And a dismissive shrug. "Is talent I have."

"You do? And they've… talked about it?" The blonde girl squints suspiciously, her mouth slightly open. Her vivid blue eyes flick sideways to the guy behind the counter of the Indian fast food chain. "What have you heard?" Jill tries to ask as casually as possible, which is still painfully transparent.

Dashenka decides that Indian isn't to her liking so she starts to wander over to another booth. "It is school for kids who are gifted," she says nebulously. After perusing its contents she just shakes her head. "There are too many choices. What do you…. what is word… suggest?"

Jill takes a moment to process that cryptic statement. She's still in the midst of doing so when Dashenka asks another question, shoving her thoughts into brief disarray. "Huh? Oh, umm, hmm." She puts the tip of her index finger in her mouth to consider. "Not the pizza, it's terrible. Panda Palace has good orange chicken. The menu says it's spicy, but it really isn't. I'd get that, if I were you." She adds helpfully, "Big portions."

Dashenka gives Jill a quizzical look. "Orange chicken. Is that not the baby chicken?" She pinches a thumb and finger down to look through it. "Tiny, fuzzy one? Go peep, peep, peep?"

She might as well get used to having the slightly confused look on her face, because it's been staying there a lot. Jill blinks. "What?" With realization, she shakes her head quickly. "Oh! No, no no. It's an orange *sauce*. On normal chickens." She mimes holding something substantial between her hands. "Big ones."

"Ah!" declares Dashenka, looking enlightened. She marches over to the Chinese place and when her turn comes, she gives her order. "One orange chicken, pazshalusta!"

With a somewhat bemused expression, Jill sidles over to the Starbucks kiosk and gets a chai latte. She slowly exhales a long breath, blowing steam from the cup and sinking into a chair at an unoccupied table. Wrapping her hands around the cup, she greedily sucks in the warmth and tries to let go of some of her tension. And it was supposed to be a fun trip. Still, she keeps a curious eye on Dashenka because of… something. "God," she moans quietly, pressing the heel of one hand into her eye. "Having a secret identity sucks."

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