|Percy I. Chapman | Ἑρμης (polytropus) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-04-16 17:09:00
|Entry tags:||bastet, hermes|
I’m Out Of This World, Come With Me To My Planet
Who: Max and Percy
What: Max needs to connect the star dots for a job assignment, but Percy has already snatched them for himself.
Where: The Griffith Observatory
When: 8:30 p.m., April 7th
He needed a quick break, a place to clear his head. There was no better place for such a thing than either one of two situations: under the open road, or under the open sky. Both could equally be combined into the same outing, a win-win deal that Percy would relish.
It was how he found his way to the Griffith Observatory for the first time. Having wrapped up work matters for the night and ensured his small yet steadfast turtle was fed, Percy had headed out, zipping down the highway until he reached the famous observatory. The array of constellations overhead that had seemingly followed him to the building were reassuring; they reminded him of many fond childhood memories spent under the stars, his fellow boy scouts scattered around a campfire. He’d often found a way to sneak their snacks out from under their noses, laughing and hiding in the woods when one of his friends would notice.
He wandered the space exhibits after purchasing a ticket, mindful of the hour. There was a decent crowd at the observatory for a Friday night, many of them likely tourists.
Max had been given the heads up that she would be needed on the weekend to escort a rather high-profile kid through the nearby observatory. Apparently, while he had a full schedule shooting a TV show, he was still completing his schooling and was supposed to go on a field trip for some practical hands-on experience. His manager had arranged the whole thing, and contacted her agency to make sure he’d be safe while taking in the exhibits.
And so she was here, scoping out the place, noting the locations of the various exits, security stations, cameras, windows, alarms, and anything else she needed to know. All the while attempting to look like just another ticket-holding geek spending her friday night looking at the stars. Indoors. ’Nerds,’ she thought, scanning the handful of people around her with a little smirk.
She walked around, stopping by a lit up model of the solar system, pretending to be interested in the glowing glass orbs and the information laid out in front of them.
Meandering through the exhibits, a vibrant display of the modern solar system caught his eye. Percy slipped through the tourists and locals, itching to get closer and inspect it. Would Pluto still be included? That was the important question of the hour.
There was a woman blocking some of the information placards, but Percy could be patient. Possibly. Either way, he sidled up next to her in order to read about Neptune. It was possible he gave her a quick sidelong glance before speaking.
“Can you believe a sea god would have a planet named after him? Doesn’t that defy common sense?”
Max turned to look at the source of the words, her brows rising with interest. Her eyes raked over the profile next to her, a smile of approval tugging at her lips. “Any more than a war god or a love goddess or a god of the underworld?” she asked playfully. “And there's Mercury...I mean, so he can run fast and deliver messages...that makes him a god? What's that about?”
To his delight, she took the conversation bait and ran with it, poking fun at a few of the other planets’ namesakes. He couldn’t help but laugh, amused at her playful criticisms. “Well, if you ask me, none of these imaginary deities should have planets named after them. Restaurants might have been a better idea. Or...” Percy nodded towards the globe meant to represent Uranus. “Not that I want to be crass, seeing that we’ve just met, but I would have left that planet out of the mix.”
Max smirked up at the blue globe, “ahh, but Oo-ranos was a Titan,” she said, using the Greek pronunciation in order to avoid any of the obvious cliche jokes. “Sure, the gods eventually kicked their asses, but for a while there the Titans were the shit."
For a moment, he appeared to be mulling over a matter, a quizzical expression cast over his face. “I’d keep Mercury in the overall planetary scheme, though. Even a UPS worker needs someone to look up to, wouldn’t you say?” The crowd moved and shifted around them, several small children racing by towards a giant display of the moon.
Max’s eyes danced and met his. “So all of the lovers,” she pointed at Venus, “warriors,” she refered to Mars, “and...fishermen?” she shrugged, gesturing towards Neptune, obviously blanking on her own metaphor, “don’t deserve their own planet? But the guy who delivers my Amazon order does.” She was definitely playing with him now, and subtly moving closer to him, leaning back against the writeup on the display as if it were a bench.
“Tell me you’ve never had your day made by an Amazon delivery,” Percy asked her, the smile on his face belying the serious tone of his question. “Happiness comes from a box in this day and age. I’d like to give the UPS drivers their due,” he added thoughtfully, attempting to cast a noble gaze upon the dusty looking planet. He did not miss the woman’s obvious interest, but chose to act, for the moment, as if it came second to defending the gray planet.
She chuckled at his attempt at thoughtfulness while talking about the noble UPS drivers. “Depends entirely on what’s in the box, now doesn’t it?” she asked with a smirk. “I know I get excited when the pizza guy rings my doorbell. That comes in a box too,” she pointed out. “And then there’s always smaller boxes...they often contain the best things. Jewellery, chocolate...condoms,” she smirked, eyeing him for a reaction.
His eyebrows arched in amusement at the woman’s comment, and he cast a sidelong glance at her. “Lascivious already? But we’ve only just met. Buy a guy dinner first, at least.” His lips curled upwards merrily, a physical reaction lacking any true aggrievement at the woman’s forwardness. “Do you always use planets as pick-up lines, or am I the first victim of your astronomy dalliances?” Percy turned to face her, one hand resting upon a display placard with information about the planet he’d recently defended.
“I'm sure we can get some takeout if you're that worried about it,” she said with a smirk. She laughed at his next comment, subtly shifting closer to him and looking up at him through her lashes. “It's a work in progress,” she said with a careless shrug, a slight grin. “You're my first guinea pig. How’m I doing?” she asked, catching his eyes with hers with a little mischievous sparkle.
Large, brown, doe-like eyes filled his vision, and their charming owner continued to disregard the crowd in the observatory; naturally, this lack of propriety heightened the playful sense of their flirtation, and Percy felt himself drawn to further explore its entertaining qualities. It wasn’t as if he was particularly focused on the planets anymore, was he? His fingers danced restlessly along the Mercury placard--not anxiety, per se, but rather an overabundance of natural energy.
“I’d say you’re not doing half bad, but if I were you, I’d ease up a little on the batting ‘lashes. You might give me the wrong idea, and I’ll think you’ve gotten dust in your eye.” Dust from the gray planet, perhaps.
He nodded towards the looming moon display, some of the children having dispersed from viewing its cavernous craters. “Feel like going over the moon with me? If you’re not busy right now--I know studying Jupiter can be such a tiresome task.”
Max grinned impishly at him, following his gaze to the moon exhibit. “Only if you bring me safely back down to earth after,” she teased, pushing off from her makeshift bench of the planetary writeups and following him towards the moon.
“That was always my intention,” he quipped with a touch of sincerity. Pleased that she'd accepted his offer, they arrived at the giant display of the moon. Up close, it was slightly less impressive than from across the room. “This is probably no match for the real deal,” Percy said, pointing out a nick in the moon’s surface--made of plastic, silicon, he wasn't quite sure. Perhaps it was nothing more than polymer clay.
“And,” he added, with a cheeky grin, “you'll note that it isn't made of cheese, either. I know you're probably disappointed; I certainly am.”
Max smirked at his joke, standing closer to him as she examined the moon’s surface. “Not as disappointed as when I learned there was no man living on the moon,” she said. “I literally spent my childhood believing that the moon had some guy living inside it, because of the craters that sort of make it look like a face.” She chuckled at her own ignorance, shifting so that she could see the exhibit but still keep him comfortably in view. She shrugged, “but then, people still think the moon landings were fake, so I don't feel so bad believing in imaginary faces.”
“But who's to say what’s imaginary and what isn’t? That was the entire idea behind the postmodernism movement.” Which may have temporarily killed journalism, Percy thought to himself, although he refused to speak his thoughts outloud. He wasn’t here to discuss work or business matters, merely to enjoy himself. She’d moved closer to him, and he was by no means setting out to discourage her--but nor was he overtly emboldening her efforts. It made life more interesting to treat many of his interactions with others as a leisurely game, one which concerned barters and deceits, as well as half-truths and merriments.
“You know,” he continued, leaning forward slightly and squinting at the moon display. “I can almost see a face in there. Tell me what you see. Unless you’re beyond a man living in the moon--would you prefer that he live in a nice penthouse instead?” Percy paused for effect, before breaking character to laugh. “I don’t live in a penthouse, by the way--if you were wondering.”
She hummed low in her throat, “neither do I. As long as you don’t live in a cardboard box, I’m happy.” “A cardboard box would be too confining,” Percy added as an afterthought. She turned back to the display, squinting at it as if trying to make something out on the plastic surface of the moon. “I see...it’s the shape of a man...is he buying me dinner, or is that a bottle of tequila and a takeout burrito?” she mused aloud, a playful grin tugging at her lips. She glanced over at him, her eyes dancing. “It’s so hard to see with these things, it could just be a blob of moon dust or an alien footprint.”
“Tequila and a cheaply made burrito?” Percy scoffed at the idea. “Maybe, oh, ten years ago that would have sounded great. But that was another time.” There was an almost wistful quality to his reflection, although it conveniently did not include the aftermath of messy tequila and vodka nights in college; two aspirin and a raging headache the next day had never quite suited Percy’s tastes--but experimenting in life was a necessary factor.
“Moon dust would be a better nightcap, in my opinion. I’ve always wanted The Sandman to bring me moon dust instead of magical sand.” Crossing his arms, Percy studied his flirtatious companion, and not without a grain or three of interest. “You know, I never asked for your name. I can hardly consider dinner when I don’t have the pleasure of formally making your acquaintance.”
Max’s eyebrows rose at the mention of moondust...that could mean any number of things, especially with the playful quality of their banter. “Just as long as it’s not the illegal kind of moon dust,” she said carefully, but still keeping up her playful grin.
Illegal? Percy laughed, shaking his head to indicate a firm no. He'd simply been working off her own comment about the appearance of the observatory’s model of the moon. “Anything but illegal. Otherwise, Neil Armstrong would've been a convicted criminal when he returned to earth.”
“Max,” she said, answering his question. “Short for Maxine, though nobody who really knows me calls me that,” she said with a shrug. “What about you?” she asked, eyeing him with open interest.
“Percy. No relation to Sir Percival. I don't care about finding the holy grail.” He shrugged, unconcerned. “I'll call you Max, then. It suits you.” He stepped back from the moon exhibit, nodding towards the extending hallway containing various other exhibits. “Listen, what do you say we finish our tour of this place and then get out of here? It's too nice of a Friday night to spend it completely alone under a ceiling of fake stars.”
Max grinned and followed his lead, heading towards the next display, this one containing photographs of distant nebulae in various bright colours. “You’d rather spend it with company under real stars?” she asked playfully, considering one photo that was a riot of purple and blue. “You know this light is millions of years old by the time it reaches us here? It’s like...looking back in time, seeing the same light that was born when the world was young…”
He indicated that he hadn't with a quick frown. Curious, Percy listened to Max’s exposition; whether or not she was in actuality a secret astronomer, he had no idea. Perhaps it was a pet hobby of hers. Regardless, Percy certainly wasn't going to turn down a chance to listen to a pretty woman wax poetically about scientific facts. He studied the galaxy photo as she described it, moving silently closer to Max.
She hadn’t really expected to enjoy any of the exhibits in the Observatory, it wasn’t what she was here for, after all. But she found herself suddenly fascinated by that one fact. She’d been paraphrasing a little blurb attached to the photo she was looking at, but her eyes looked dazzled as they traced the colours and dots of light, thinking about how far away it was, how old it was, how beautiful it was. “They say the ancient Egyptians were experts at reading the stars,” she said, absently, as if distracted by the display. “Did you know they aligned the pyramids with certain constellations?”
“They must have had a reason for doing so,” he suggested, gaze shifting from the photograph to Max herself. She seemed suddenly distant, as if something about this select scene from the galaxy had completely enraptured her. “Hidden meanings for the pharaohs? Or the gods?” He tried to think of the few matters he knew about Egyptian lore, remembering something about the embalming process and the soul's path to the underworld.
He'd possibly picked up this knowledge from an old mummy film.
“Maybe the souls of the departed kings used the constellations to guide them to their eternal resting place. It would make sense, giving how much humans rely on the stars to find their way.” And true, it was an idea that was a tad cheesy, but somehow pleasant to consider all the same. “Are you into Ancient Egypt? The animal gods and mummies...it's all always sounded so complicated to me.” Not to mention confusing, but he didn't feel like letting that slip.
Max tore her eyes away from the picture, looking up at Percy instead. Then she shrugged dismissively, looking away again. “Not really,” she said, “I mean, I'm pretty sure I did a project on it in high school or something, and I saw all the Mummy movies.” She smiled fondly, “I dressed up as Cleopatra for Halloween one year…that was a cool costume, though I usually always dress up as a cat. Meow,” she said with a suggestive grin.
“Queen of Egypt, huh?” He fixed Max with a conspiratorial look, mouth curving upwards in a private smile. “But I suppose a cat isn't a bad choice.” He moved quietly around her to the next set of photographs, galaxies spinning and swirling amongst the stars and darkness of the more infinite spaces. Along the way, he gently touched the small of her back, letting his hand rest there for the briefest moment.
“I wouldn't mind cats, but for their claws. It's always a risk trying to pet one of them. Sometimes, it's worth it.” Percy, pleased at his own cheekiness, hummed in a satisfied manner. “But you probably know that already.”
Max grinned when he circled her, tilting her head just a little when she felt his touch on her back and letting her eyes close just slightly with pleasure. “It depends on where you pet them,” she said with a wicked grin, glancing up at him over her shoulder. She turned so that she was standing close to him, the barest inch of space between them. She lowered her voice to almost a purr, “and how you pet them. It needs to be gentle, but not too gentle, and firm, but not too firm.” A hand lifted, fingers gently tracing down his chest in front of her, a coy smile on her lips. “You keep them purring, and they’re all yours.”
It was a good thing that the loud and rambunctious crowd of school children were no longer in this area of the observatory; likely, their bedtimes were quickly arriving. Fortunately for Max, Percy’s bedtime had not yet arrived. Her breach into his personal space was not unwelcome, and he made no motion to disengage himself--at least, not at this juncture. Looking down at the wide-eyed and sultry ‘friend’ he’d met, Percy’s gaze paused on the perfect pout of her lips, wetting his own lips subconsciously. “Cats have never liked me,” he admitted. “You might be the first, although Halloween isn’t for awhile.” He stilled her wandering hand with his own, clasping it lightly for a moment, the air between them nigh palpable with a lighthearted and playful tension...
...one which he broke when he stepped away from Max, light on his feet and nimble in his steps. “Feel like joining me to look through a telescope? I read in the brochure they’re out on the lawn, and tonight’s a good night to look to the sky.” He nodded towards a set of broad doors, which led out onto the front lawns. “I’ve a few coins to spare if you have a few minutes,” Percy added, in reference to the telescope fee.
Max had been enjoying the closeness, her hand in his, but then it was suddenly gone, and he was leading her away. Her brows rose a little, and then the playful grin returned. “I've got all night,” she said, moving to follow him outside into the cool night. She'd done what she'd come here to do before running into him, so now she was free to play.
The night sky was clear, dark velvet the perfect backdrop for the winking stars above them. The telescopes were set up not far away, and she was suddenly glad he'd mentioned it, because she hadn't been aware of this area. She took a moment to scan the lawn for potential threats to her later visit, then nodded to herself and focused back on Percy. “They say diamonds are a girl's best friend,” she said casually, eyes on the stars above them as they walked towards a vacant telescope. “Me, I'd rather be wined and dined than gifted with a shiny rock someone arbitrarily decided was valuable.”
Percy pulled a small handful of various coins from his pocket while their steps were muffled on the grass, fishing through the coins for the quarters needed. “You’re not a fan of the wedding industry, either?” he replied with an acute wryness; if Percy hadn’t already enjoyed Max’s company, he was certainly enjoying it now. “Not that there’s anything wrong with marriage,” he added, approaching a lonely telescope. “But there’s too much pomp and circumstance involved for my tastes.” Inserting the appropriate number of coins into a small metal box attached to the base of the telescope, Percy swiveled it towards Max, affecting a mock stage bow once he’d finished. “Ladies first.”
She grinned, approval at his words written all over her features. “So does this count as our first date?” she asked playfully, leaning in closer to him on order to get to the telescope, “or do we go Dutch on the quarters?” She grinned and pressed her eye to the telescope, her brows rising at how clear and detailed the image was.
“You know, I've never actually looked through one of these before,” she said with a touch of awe, “at least not one so powerful.”
He didn’t move away, making it clear he still hardly minded if Max invaded his personal space. “I’ll be generous and pay your share of the quarters,” Percy joked, his gaze traveling skyward when Max pointed the telescope to the heavens. Despite his current lack of a telescope, the night sky was nonetheless breathtaking; whoever had built the observatory had picked the perfect spot. Away from the smog and dust of the city streets, the stars were able to fully shine, blinking in and out amongst their blanket of darkness.
Percy slipped his hands into his pockets, head still tilted upwards to view the sky. He smiled warmly at it, a nigh unconscious action on his part--there was just something about such a wide expanse of open, free space that thrilled him. The warmer the weather became, the greater his urge to head out to the countryside grew, and this view certainly wasn’t helping to tame the temptation. “It’s magnificent, isn’t it?” the spellbound man intoned. “Even without a telescope, the sky goes on forever. I don’t know how you feel about skyscrapers, Max, but this is a much nicer sight than steel buildings. I’m glad that I found a place around here with a decent view.” And speaking of views, Percy looked back towards his kittenish companion. Well...he supposed that he could wait his turn.
Max smiled at his words and straightened up from the telescope, her back almost flush with his front as she looked up at him over her shoulder. “Some views are better than others,” she purred with a playful grin on her lips. “Or do you have eyes only for the heavens?” she asked him, a little more forward than before, but then, she was enjoying herself. A lot. Far more than she’d thought when she’d first come here. And pleasant surprises were some of her favourite things.
“Both,” he answered easily, lazily smiling back at Max. “Both views are just fine with me.” Given their closeness, Percy invited himself to rest his hands lightly on Max’s hips. He breathed in the scent of her hair, resisting from any form of salaciously scandalous acts in the public yard of the observatory. No, he’d been raised better than that, hadn’t he? “When you have a minute, I should give you my number. We can do this again some time,” he suggested, breath close to her ear. “Or tequila and tacos. Lady’s choice.”
She bit her lip against the wide smile that broke out on her face, her cheek pressed to his as his words tickled her ear. “You can buy me dinner,” she said, “and I'll let you in for a nightcap, like in the old movies.” She pulled away just enough to look at him, her hands on his on her hips, her dark eyes smoldering. “Maybe we'll see some stars.”
“Is that a promise?” Percy’s question was direct and unflinching, interest piqued at the notion of one-on-one time with Max that didn’t involve quarters and moons--however delightful this evening had quickly become. “Because if it is, then it’s a deal,” he continued, the warmth of Max’s hands on his proving to be slightly distracting; the feel of her hips, hidden beneath layers of fabric, might have been slightly distracting as well. “I prefer scotch for a nightcap, if you have it. Or I’ll bring my own.”
“Scotch, or something better,” she teased, her eyes dancing with mischief. She nipped at her lower lip with her teeth, and then pushed forward, doing the same to his. Not a kiss, but not a bite either. Then she turned slightly in his hands, sliding a hand into her pocket to retrieve a pen and paper she’d brought with her to make notes on about the Observatory. She quickly scribbled her number on it and tore it off, sliding it deftly into his pants pocket. “Call me,” she said, before sliding from his hold and walking away, glancing back at him over her shoulder a few times with a wicked grin.
It didn’t take a full three minutes before Percy removed Max’s number from his pocket, adding the digits to his contact list by the light of his iphone. Although he planned to stay at the Observatory for slightly longer--he wanted his own chance to look through the telescope--he nonetheless was finishing up the night pleased as a cat with a canary.
Now this was a lead worth following.