|Aleksandra Makarov ❅ Maržanna (koliada) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-13 11:15:00
|Entry tags:||marzanna, sigyn|
this icy force both foul and fair
Who: Alex and James.
What: A run-in at the gym leads to mistaken identities and...frozen hands?
Where: Pax gym.
When: Late afternoon on Oct. 5.
Keeping up an exercise regimen wasn’t all that difficult, even now that he’d moved someplace else. But honestly, a secret one must take to their grave, was that James hated going to the gym. He’d rather take a run on the beach, or even in the park, pounding pavement and cranking his iPod up to full blast. If he had a dog, that would be when he’d take the thing out to let it also run free, slobbery tongue flying in the wind (maybe he should get a dog).
But sometimes the gym was a necessarily evil, when he needed something well-rounded and to get time with weights in. Living in a building with one right downstairs was convenient so he headed there with his gear and, yes, with the required iPod cued up to his favourite playlists so he could complete the drudgery of the workout without bothering anyone and without anyone bothering him.
He’d started with some cardio, a good time with the full body heavy bag. Punching the fuck out of shite felt good, he had to admit. Then, the news was going on the overhead TV while he went for a run on the treadmill, but he had his earbuds in and wasn’t really paying much attention to the goings-on. When he was done he pulled out a towel to begin wiping down the equipment he used - not like sweat was germy but it was just bad etiquette to leave a gross mess behind for someone to find when they were trying to get a workout in. Especially nasty to lie down in a puddle of someone else’s perspiration at the bench press, but that was neither here nor there.
Slinging the towel over his shoulder, he quickly changed tracks and apologised when he just about ran into someone as he vacated the treadmills. “Oop!” James dodged left, grinning a bit. “Sorry, love.”
Alex certainly didn't love getting sweaty and gross, but she couldn't discount the endorphin rush she felt from a well-earned workout routine. That, of course coupled with a good diet, helped her maintain the rest of her semi-delicate form; the fact that this complex had an in-house gym helped matters even more, because it meant less chance for sun exposure. So when she'd arrived at the gym to see someone already at work, she frowned only minimally; she timed her workouts for the least possibility of running into someone else, but every now and again there would be some jerk hogging the weights and huffing like an out of shape bull.
But she'd ignored the brunette stranger, instead opting to select a few pairs of dumbbells and drag them toward the open space in front of the mirrored walls meant for ensuring one's pose was on point. This required her to walk past the treadmills and the man—who with every passing glance seemed more and more familiar—but she hadn't realized he'd come tumbling off the damn conveyor belt at the same moment she was trying to walk by.
That was, of course, the moment she saw his face, and memory clicked into place.
"Emmett? Emmett Murphy?" Alex bent down enough to drop one dumbbell to the floor, her now-freed hand reaching to pluck an earbud out. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Cripes, it figured. James, for a fleeting moment, wondered if there was any possible way everything that could go wrong would go wrong in this building. He hadn’t experienced the best luck, shall we say (besides finding out Nishka lived here too) - between meeting a surly resident or two, management believing that a creepy mask-in-a-box was an appropriate welcome gift, and someone recognising him as a person who technically didn’t exist, well. He’d rather have a fruit basket and some coupons.
Not that he was upset, mind you. Just startled. He hadn’t expected anyone here to know him as Emmett.
“Ah - “ James rubbed the back of his neck. “No, it’s - I think you’ve got the wrong person?” Still a terrible liar, he was. “I just moved in, don’t know an Emmett.”
Alex's eyes narrowed like the microscopes she used in her work; it seemed she might zoom in enough to scrutinize him and suss out the truth. She hitched the weight in her hand up again as the muscles in her shoulder started to complain.
"Oh, come on," she said, resituating herself directly in his path. He might have been a few inches taller than her, but Alex knew how to prove herself an obstacle. "The White Elephant? In Boston? It wasn't even that long ago, and I still have the pictures on my phone, despite how embarrassing they are," she continued, describing pictures her drunk self had insisted on taking with the bartender so she'd have "proof" of the sexy guy who'd been slinging her alcohol because she knew her friends would demand such things.
She tried on a level smile. "It's just weird, is all, and I know I was pretty much on the floor, but are you really that embarrassed to be seen with me again?"
Weird was definitely a word for it. Though the best thing was, James did remember her - it was hard to forget a face like that, and he didn’t meant it in a bad way. She was very pretty, the girl, ivory-skinned and reminding him of a porcelain doll. Though with the weights she appeared to be lifting, she probably was a bit hardier than one.
“I just - “ He took a step, and she was a mountain blocking his path. There was no getting around this, was there? “It’s not that I’m embarrassed to be seen with you. Your debauchery pales in comparison to some others, trust me.” Being on the floor was no big deal, not when he dealt with patrons who got so pissed they lost control of their bodily functions.
He’d had some long nights in the good ol’ White Elephant.
“Most call me James these days,” he added with a sigh. May as well try to make a friend. He could use a few more.
Alex's brows rose, tempering the smile from one of hopeful greeting into confusion.
"That's...quite a switch from Emmett," she said, hefting the weight again. "Middle name? Or..." She shrugged, running dry on excuses for switching things around. New name, new location; there were lots of explanations, and the fact that he'd tried to play it dumb underlined only a specific few.
"Don't tell me you just up and decided to try out a whole new identity or something," she teased, making a poor attempt at putting him at ease. Clearly she'd thought their relationship more friendly than they actually were, which, now that she thought about it, was probably par for the course for bartenders. The thought made her feel slightly guilty.
“Middle name,” James confirmed immediately - of course, his surname wasn’t actually Murphy but he’d burn that bridge when he got to it. Fucking fuck, he was so tired of lying to people - felt like that was all he’d been doing for the past few years. He had to break his loved ones trust in him so he didn’t get riddled with bullets or blown up, so they didn’t, and it was the most goddamn painful thing - he didn’t have anyone now, not a single friend or mere acquaintance. The dust was settling and that solitude was a harsh realisation to face as he attempted to cobble together something of a life again.
He was aware that his general hesitation could be misconstrued as ‘get the fuck away from me, former drunk lady in a bar’ but that wasn’t it at all. His weariness was all on him, no one else. Thus, he attempted to perk up a bit. “And you’re...Alex, right? I do remember asking for your name before you took a photo of me,” he smiled. “Need a spotter?” he motioned to the weights.
The lack of explanation irritated her; not that she felt owed it, necessarily, but Emmett—James—whatever his name actually was, continued to avoid the subject.
"No," she replied simply. She leaned down and grabbed the weight she'd dropped; as she rose, her eyes passed over his face once more, the certainty of what she was seeing there only galling her anger more. Alex frowned, and moved away from Emmett-James-Jingleheimer-Schmidt toward where the rest of her equipment lay. As she reached the matted area, she meant to all but throw down the weights—certainly not proper form, and there was a good chance she'd accidentally smash a mirror in the process, but few ever think clearly when seeing red—but they didn't go. In fact, as she looked down, she couldn't even move her fingers.
Much to her surprise, a layer of ice had appeared over both hands, sealing their grip around the dumbbells' handles.
"What the...?" She shook her hands again, trying to dislodge them, but there was nothing for it. The actions were clearly visible to James via the mirror that ran all the way around the room, even with Alex's back facing him.
Alright, Queen Elsa, now just settle down a bit here. James had to blink a few times - mostly just to confirm that really just happened. As in, Alex - a run of the mill woman, for all he knew - froze her hands to a couple of weights.
She was obviously distressed though, and it seemed to be his fault (what else was new? At this rate, he might just seek out an Uber driver just to talk to someone who - for ten minutes - didn’t know him from Adam and didn’t loathe him) so he could try to help. Approaching, the look on his face was neutral - nothing horrified, that was for sure. He was curious, he’d admit, but he didn’t wish to make her feel like something was wrong with her.
Maybe if she relaxed, her hands would unfreeze themselves. Worth a shot.
“Alex - I really do apologise, and you’re right, I went by Emmett at one point. The reason for the change is just quite a long story. I’d like to tell you about it though? Over tea? If you like tea. There are a couple tea places ‘round here that remind me of home,” he offered. “Seems boring to go alone though.”
Alex looked up from her frozen hands to James's reflection in the mirror; how could he be talking about tea at a time like this? Her hands were iced over when it was between 70 and 80 degrees outside! Of course, that didn't account for the A/C pumping heavily throughout the building, keeping the gym in a stately 65, but that certainly wasn't enough to cause her hands to do this.
She turned, still trying to undo her hands from their moorings—how was he so calm?
"Tea..." she slowly replied, shaking her hands again. "I'd go for some right now, if you think it might help." The strangest part of all of this was that the ice didn't hurt, really; it was just there, like it had always been. She'd put her hands in snow before, and she had pain receptors; intense temperatures affected her the same as anyone else. And yet here she was, trying to comprehend just what was happening. "Normally I'd be more into some Irish coffee, heavy on the Irish..." She muttered, shaking her hand again.
“I could go for some too - spiked, maybe,” he chuckled a little. “And Irish coffee happens to be my favourite, how did you know?” Perhaps it was the accent, smooth like that very cream poured into the adult beverage. He did enjoy a fine whiskey, warm and rich - the kind with a myriad of flavours, not the kind that tasted like ashtrays and medicine. “Well, rain cheque then. First, I think, we ought to get rid of those accessories.”
The weights, that is. He presumed it was a spike in emotion, akin to someone having a panic attack, that led to the freezing - thus he would attempt to lure her away from that feeling with conversation. It was a tactic frequently used when someone was having a panic attack, since simply telling them to calm down or ‘close your eyes and think of shooting stars~’ tended to be rubbish. “Have you got a place you usually go to, for Irish coffee? Or drinks in general?” he asked, leaning against the stand where those barbells were stashed. If talking didn’t work, he’d start a bonfire she could warm her hands over. But if it was magical ice, well. Maybe it just didn’t disappear with fire.
Magical ice, panko-crusted Christ, what was happening in this building.
"Uh, no," she replied, still confused as to what he was getting at. She flexed her arms, a few curls to warm up the muscles that were starting to forcibly complain. "Not yet, anyway. I just moved out here myself... Very much on a whim." Making another attempt at flexing her hands, she noted that the ice had started to dissipate a little; it was cracking, flaking around the edges. Maybe the temperature of the room was starting to get a foot in the door? Curling her left hand into her chest, she held out her right and tried shaking the weight away from her—accidentally in James's direction—but it still refused to part.
"I'm open to suggestions, though," she added through gritted teeth, wondering if putting the weight on the ground and stepping on it might help.
Let’s just hope that the weight suddenly didn’t become dislodged when Alex was attempting to shake it off - the momentum might mean James got a barbell in the face, and he could think of better things to happen. A trip to the dentist might be more pleasurable.
“Well - “ He stilled the weight in her right hand, holding it in his - helping to hold it, rather, despite the chill that seeped into his skin. Still, he did notice that the ice was cracking a little. He wondered if her fingers would turn blue after this. “I did a little research before and there’s a place called Muldoon’s. Seems like it’d be Irish-themed, though probably fake Irish. I was considering checking it out for legitimacy.”
The Americanised version of Irish anything tended to be laughable and oftentimes offensive though (see: St. Patrick’s Day) but he would reserve judgment until he got there. They might have decent whiskey, after all.
She wrinkled her nose a touch. "I do have some drinking standards, and that sounds like picking a Ruby Tuesday's over a Sweetwater Tavern," she replied, smiling just a little. The ice made a loud sound, like a floe parting over warming seawaters, and the weight in James's hand loosened enough from hers that it dropped away from her grip. Alex caught at it quickly, though her arm was overly tired. Still, she felt relieved to be free of at least one impediment.
"But I guess it's good to try anything once." The left hand made the same sound as the right, and once Alex could, she put both weights on the floor. Hands brushed over the lycra of her pants, though there was no moisture to be had. Her skin did, however, feel unnaturally cold; she turned the palms face up, as though trying to find the source of the ice.
"That just happened, didn't it?"
“That it did,” James confirmed with a huff of a laugh, mostly out of relieved. He immediately took both of Alex’s hands, gently, with the palms up - just to examine them as well, because he had been to medical school. He wanted to ensure that there was no damage. “You’re alright, though? Your hands are a bit chilly but no frostbite or anything. Alex, Queen of Ice and Snow. Must be your superpower.”
He was teasing, but - it could be true? How utterly bizarre. If the building was going to give out superpowers, he really would like to request teleportation. That one seemed the most useful, though frost-hands might be good at parties for chilling drinks.
Alex snorted, letting him look her over. At the very least, it was good to get a second opinion, and her stress over dealing with the apparent ability to make ice distracted her from the usual dislike of being touched. After a minute, though, she gently extricated herself from his examination.
"Never heard that one before, Em— I mean, James." Her brow furrowed, the dual identity making her rethink the whole encounter. She frowned, and then wiped at her eyes with one hand.
"I think I'm going to go take a hot bath, instead of working out," she said decisively, suddenly feeling the need to be somewhere far away from the gym and what had just happened. Leaving the weights where she'd left them (bad form, leaving things out where people could trip; usual Alex would have scolded herself for such things, but this Alex currently didn't care one whit), she stepped around Emmett-James, pausing for just a moment. "If you were serious about that bar crawl offer, though, I'll still take you up on it. Whatever your name is, it's nice to see a few familiar faces around here."
After that, he couldn’t blame her for wanting respite from the cold. Or a whole bottle of wine. That actually sounded grand on his end, perhaps to negate the effects of his whole workout. “My name’s actually James,” he shared. “And like I said, it’s a long story.” Perhaps unbelievable to some, but if you were going to live in a building and accept that keys sometimes appeared on the ceiling, then a person actually having to erase their existence because of a mob threat shouldn’t be too out there.
“But I was completely serious. I’d love a bar crawl. I’m in 205 if you need me, my lady.” In the meantime, he’d just finish up here (maybe by putting the weights away - what, he was all about good form as well) and then hit the showers. Plus the hard liquor. Fuck him, what a night.