Who: Atwood and Taylor What: Meeting Where: Some coffee house by the UNLV campus When: Not even recent Warnings/Rating: Atwood being adorkable?
Tom Renwick or Atwood as Taylor knew him by, did not regularly ask girls out to coffee. More than that, he did not regularly spend quite a bit of time having a lively and interesting conversation with a woman who was also a prostitute. As he informed Max on the phone, such a thing did not even come to mind and would not be the subject of conversation. The latter was true since he didn’t want to be rude, but Atwood did find himself thinking and thinking about it. He had known all sorts of people. Strange people, normal people, battle ready people, cowardly people. He had known anyone from complete idiots to absolute geniuses. He had not, however, known a prostitute before. This perked his natural curiosity before he had to stuff it back down and insist that he was not curious at all.
The green man in his head who built things and was so deeply in love that Tom Renwick couldn’t even quantify it, insisted that there wasn’t anything special about her profession. In the depths of Gotham even legends like Catwoman started out as prostitutes and it never even crossed the riddled man’s mind anymore. The difference was that Tom, or Atwood or geek man or newsman, the difference was that he never lived in a place like Gotham. He knew the grit of a War, of true battle and the almost psychotic strength of the military, but he did not know a urban battleground like the place Eddie was from. This was weird. Tom was allowed to think this was weird.
And, in that singular acknowledgement that this was weird, Tom felt a little relieved. Weird was the world he lived in. Weird was what kept him from going crazy from a lack of sleep and bad memories from the War. Weird was comforting even if he wasn’t familiar with this particular brand of it. So, he relaxed, checked his phone for alerts and waited outside of the coffee shop.
Tom was a tall man, thin in an irreversibly bony way and had ruddy hair that wasn’t striking or impressive. His skin was covered in freckles and in the Vegas sun they seemed to melt together in tiny, numerous spots all over his arms and face. Just like he promised, Tom looked exactly how someone would imagine he did. Short collared shirt with a cheap black tie, long newsman slacks and thin glasses that practically screamed nerd man to the outside world. He wasn’t vain enough to try and fix his image for approval as the green man in his head did with his expensive suits and mobster haircuts. He figured there wasn’t enough time in the day to appear to be someone that he wasn’t. Besides, this was just coffee. Conversation. He had to put it out of his mind that he was here to impress anyone. A thought that was not so easily reversed.
Tom was the quintessential dork slash nerd from his hair cut down to the cheap black tie. If the dictionary ever needed a picture of one, surely Webster would come after him to get one so that everyone could look and know. On the other hand, Taylor was nothing like the quintessential anything. She wasn't the street walking hooker that had been shoved into clothes a size too small, fishnet stockings encasing her legs, hair a mess and face haggard from a life lived like a quarter mile of rough road. If anything, she was closer to the college kid that visited this coffee shop in her jeans and ankle boots that were more height than open toed temptation. Hair that had been curled before she began her gig last night was piled up and back in lazy dragging curls now and held there by a ragged toothed clip.
The only thing that differentiated her from the college kids inside was the silver halter top she was still wearing, the fabric falling like a ruffled cowl down to her waist (Taylor had learned long ago that wearing something without shoulders was a good way to flash everyone unintentionally if there was any jumping). College girls didn't wear it like she did at 8 in the morning for coffee. Around her wrist were the promised bells, little half cups of metal that rang when they brushed against one another, the sound cleaner, higher than that of more traditional bells.
Pushing her headphones back so they slid down to hug her neck, music barely audible from the ear pieces, she gave him a wide grin. There was no one else she could imagine looking like Atwood from the journals, a man capable of being utterly charming while being a complete dork. Plus one. "Hey geek man," she started, not caring that she could, possibly, be wrong as she looped her arm through his, because geeks were rarely threatening and pulled him towards the door of the coffee shop. Sometimes they wanted strange shit at the ranch, Princess Leia or Seven of Eight (whatever), but sometimes they wanted her to dress up like a female Han Solo and peg them for hours. Whatever. They usually weren't violent and they liked to kiss her hand, which she'd much rather deal with than the arrogant asses that showed up, cock sure of themselves without any reason to be. Those guys were the ones to come out and high five their buddies because they were the man. Yeah, right. She could have a better time with her vibrator. She never told them that because while they were often cuter than the geeks even if they had none of their charm, they were the ones that paid the bills and made it so she could come to snobby coffee shops like this one and spend the night DJing like she'd done the night before. "C'mon, plus one."
“Plus one?” Atwood asked with a funny, awkward little smile as she took his arm and pulled him inside. No he was not used to sudden, grabbing, taking, contact. He was used to a woman resting her hand on his arm after a couple drinks at the bar. The type of women that had every kind of boundary up and didn’t let anyone but herself take them down. Taylor seemed more like a mirror maze in a funhouse. Atwood didn’t know what barriers she had up, which ones she was willing to take down and what he’d see if she stepped away from the jagged mirrors. He was supposed to say something weird and at convention or with someone who bored him that was easy. He’d just start dreaming things up to get away from the normality. The buzzing fluorescent lights. The tapping iphones. Here though, he actually wanted to get to know her. Weirdness could come later.
He adjusted his tie, squinting a little as he brushed the hair out of his eyes and glanced at her wrist. “You’re actually wearing bells.”
"Plus one," she started, navigating on precarious heels through tables that had probably been picked up from someone selling their grandma's old end tables and chairs that were cloaked in 'fashionably' distressed fabrics. "Remember the points? You've got plus one for being almost exactly how I pictured you would." Her lips pulled wide, grinning, as she twisted around one collection of chairs around a table, headphone cord swinging jump rope wide, quite used to maneuvering in tight spots full of people without the knocked back sprawl that happened to those with less balance. It was a good thing that he looked like he did, a comfort in the known. If he had looked like a jock, or worse, like that guy at the gas station, she would have slid the bracelet off her wrist, into her pocket, and kept on walking. (These boots were made for walking.)
Taylor was just getting back on the proverbial saddle. She wasn't going to plunge headlong into getting knocked off again. "I am!" A little twist of her wrist set them jingling cling cling cling. With the exception of Hal's ring (and key) she wore on her left hand, it was the only noticeable jewelry that she wore at all. "I told you I would," she added, all cat-with-cream coy as she finally stopped, destination found at one sorry looking loveseat that was probably once sage green but was now looking more like olive drab. Maybe once they got seated he'd look less like she was a puzzle he was still trying to find the pieces for. "And I want you to know that I have been up all night. Not doing what you probably think," she grinned, because she could bet money whenever people were thinking that she'd been up all night fucking, "I DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. And I happened to have a gig last night. So. I wouldn't have been to sleep yet anyway, even if I didn't have to rescue someone from the tyrannical grip of what he 'should' do."
Atwood grinned brightly as she shook the bells at him. Delighted by simple things that were used as inside jokes. A pen given to him by a fellow reporter after borrowing her pen for years. An apple left on his desk by a coworker after a long discussion about their favorite kinds of pies. Truth be told, all of his inside jokes tended to be with people he worked with and the more he thought about it, the more Atwood realized that he didn’t have many friends outside of work. Sure, fellow internet celebrities and convention enthusiasts, but wasn’t that, in it’s own way, work too?
Anyway, he liked the easiness of her, which might have been an inappropriate thing to say to a prostitute, of course. No, he simply liked that warm kitten smile. The way she sashayed towards the couch and declared that she wasn’t what he thought at all. Well, maybe not at all. “You don’t say.” He responded, taking a seat next to her and crossing his arms thoughtfully. “Why do you like DJing? Is it for the performance? The music?”
Taylor didn't have many inside jokes, or any jokes at all, nevermind inside ones. Too much time was spent with someone being inside that she didn't want to offer up her life and mind to them. Atwood was different though, crowning her battle technician in lieu of sex robot. Inside jokes and bright grins were far more welcome from him and she found herself grinning in return, all engines set to go.
And then he asked journalist questions. Were it a play, Taylor knew that she should have sat up straighter for her interview, crossed her legs at the thigh, soothed her clothes down so she wouldn't appear unrumpled by his direct line of questioning. Instead she reached down to lower the zipper on her shoes and kicked them off, toes curling in their freedom and turned so she could lay her calves across his thighs, slightly above his knees. It may have bordered on rude, but it definitely nuzzled up to intimacy and made itself at home. "You don't mind, do you?" She asked, head tilted slightly against the arched shoulder of the loveseat, naked feet flexing in the open air. "It's both. At least a little part of you has to enjoy performing to do what I do." Both jobs required it, but her words slowed, not quite as brash as the rest of her as she said, "I like the music though. There's music for everything, for every mood, all the poignant moments in life and all the less than significant ones. There's music for dancing, for relaxing," and she grinned, giving another little jangle of her bells, "and for meeting someone new."
Atwood watched with almost alarmed curiosity as she slipped her shoes off and instinctively felt like he should move farther down the couch to give her space. He had interviewed plenty of eccentrics and he was something of an eccentric himself, but she was more of a gypsy wanderer than a Lovecraftian scientist. “Oh!” He exclaimed softly as she propped her feet up and then gave her a look like she was a cat who knocked over things on a shelf just to grab attention. He didn’t mind, though, it showed as he settled back down and looked at her wiggling toes.
“Most people meet in coffee shops for the first time and all they play here is old Norah Jones and jazz no one has ever heard of.” He looked over to her and then pointed to her toe next to the big toe. “Can you wiggle that one without wiggling anything else?” A serious question from a serious journalist.
She considered this for a moment, lips curled into a cat smile that had not only knocked over things on the shelf, but also helped herself to the canary. The pink tip of tongue jutted out between her eye teeth as she considered, and stayed there as she removed her phone from her pocket. A few flicks of her fingers and she had her whole music list pulled up, with some Norah Jones, but lacking in jazz. It took her another moment to find the song she wanted, an older song, but one that was accurate and she tilted the screen towards him so that he might see the cover art for Cypress Hill's 'What's your number?' on it.
"I do have some old Norah Jones, but no jazz." There was very little new jazz she liked, but some of the older stuff, older than her, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, those she liked. It made her think of long straight dresses and hair pinned back into spiral curls, the flash of jeweled fringe at her knees, the stereotypical 20's flapper. The area of big bands. Maybe one day she'd learn how to swing, and dance around her apartment in her bare feet where no one gave a damn about anything.
"Do you know how to swing?" She countered. Her tongue once more appeared between her teeth as she stretched her toes out and managed to make the big one wiggle, a little back and forth, not much, but the second one stayed flexed outward and would only move when she relaxed it and moved her big toe as well. "No one's ever asked me to do that before," she said, vaguely awed by that. "What does it mean if I can? Does it mean I have some strange gene? Dexterous toes? Or do you have a toe fetish?" The last she asked squinty eyed and teasingly curious.
Atwood liked how visual she was, how she managed to have a prop for every topic of conversation and make it all the more witty with just a flick or her wrist of a flash of her phone’s screen. He made a face at Norah Jones as he was clearly not a fan, but it was all in a teasing manner. “Jazz is good. Not coffee shop jazz most of the time. Big band stuff. Pianos that don’t make you think of aromatherapy.” Atwood, clearly, felt the same way she did about jazz. The only difference was that he probably knew and liked a lot more than she did. And, the green man in his head knew even more.
“Swing dance? No, I’m too awkward. I do know how to swing on a swing, but I can’t do that anymore either actually. My legs are too long, they drag in the sand and make for awkward distance jumps.” His voice grew fond at the end, like was remembering childhood parks and swinging with his sisters. They usually won the jumping contest, but Atwood wasn’t afraid to land practically face down to at least come in second place. “It’s not a genetic thing, no. It’s a way to check for nerve damage. When I pinched a nerve in my leg I couldn’t wiggle my toes for months.” He smiled and then laughed, embarrassed and a little red faced at the toe fetish thing. “No, no. It’s just, there are small things that I appreciate. Wiggling toes is one of them.”
"Definitely big band," she said, grinning like she'd hit a small lottery. It wasn't something she could often talk about with people her own age, they were often into the same music she pumped out at clubs, spun and respun, digital editing done on a computer instead of on the fly with a turntable. Though if someone took big band there, she would have winced and likely done her best to ignore it. Some things just shouldn't be changed, like the classics. It was like graffiti on the face of the Mona Lisa. "Though I always thought I'd like violins more than pianos. Never played either though." No lessons as a child.
Not for music or for dancing, barring the moments when her mother would swing her around the apartment, all arms and legs and swaying hips, turns with her arms high above her head. "I haven't swung on an actual swing in ages." There were the swings at work, but those were completely different and no one actually jumped off them, either in awkward or in graceful leaps. She settled her phone back in her lap and stretched her toes out again in the cool cafe air. "Well, I'm glad to know that my nerves pass inspection," she grinned, all imp as the toes of her opposite foot did the same wiggle and pop. "And that you don't have some sort of toe fetish. You never know what someone likes when they like toes. They're a gateway to all sorts of depravity. Overwatered drinks for example. And Norah Jones in coffee houses."