Is That You?

December 18, 2015:

A visit to the Guggenheim Museum and Astryd and Alex meet up again

Guggenheim Museum - New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Another Friday afternoon and the Guggenheim Museum isn't all that busy. There's a couple of groups of school children being shown around, the general babble of the noise they make echoing off the walls, as well as couples and singles taking their time to peruse the artwork on display.

One of those singles is a tall, strawberry blonde woman with grey eyes, the hard planes of her face and her bearing giving off a distinct predatory and haughty air. Dressed in a tunic top, blue jeans and hiking boots, the only jewellery visible is the stranded silver torc around throat, the bracer on her left wrist hidden by her sleeve.

The woman is looking at art in what appears to be labelled the Thannhauser Collection.


Alex isn't a stalker. But seeing this girl twice in a matter of a few days sure makes him seem like one. Presently, he's touring the museum casually. Just taking in things as they come. In reality though, he's still on the fence about his life and what he should do with it beyond working with the USGS.
Alex is dressed in hiking boots, jeans, a flannel shirt of red and black beneath a leather jacket. His hands are in his jacket pockets and he move silently through the various walls and fixtures.


Astryd is about to move on to the next exhibit, seemingly taking her time at each piece, when she notices Alex and her eyebrows rise as she recognises him. "Now, I really do have to ask if you're following me." At least this time, she's not challenging him and there's a small degree of amusement in her voice.

A group of school children pass behind Alex, chattering in the way young teens do … the snippets of conversation that the Astryd and Alex can pick up, aren't anything related to the museum or the art.


Hearing her voice, his blue eyes glance in her direction thinking that he wasn't the object of the question. When he immediately recognizes her he says, "Damn I wish that were the case.". His response has a story behind it but it's for something to be followed upon later. He will take a few steps and close the gap between them. His eyes are alight with her image being reimprinted upon their retina.


The response has Astryd looking at Alex in surprise and canting her head in question, but that's not the question she asks "I could ask what brings you, but … this is a museum and that would seem like a silly question." Although she had noted that he didn't seem to be viewing the art as one would. "So I'll ask how you are instead." an icebreaker, if nothing else.

"This is a wonderful collection… they spent so much time and energy putting it together. I'm glad to see they've kept it that way." She gestures to the art that surrounds them.


"You're right.. I mean this is a great collection." comments Alex as he glances to her handwoven gesture. Yet, after a brief second he looks back to her.
"Seriously though. I'm not stalking you." he had the urge to get that out. "I'm just killing time. And I'm great. As in, how I am." he pauses a moment realizing that he's being awkward and says, "Sorry. I'm rambling."


The amusement grows as Alex is awkward and starts to touch Astryds grey eyes. Most people try to avoid her, never engaging with the Midgard bound Goddess. That he is trying is something of a novelty. "I would know if you were stalking me." she sounds so confident of that. "Killing time till what? Most people, particularly in these times, are always busy and 'killing time' means they haven't found something to fill a gap. Times were, that taking time for the simple things in life was as much part of a persons day as not." Strange, the way she says that.

"If you're killing time, would you like to walk with me as I finish this tour?"


There's nothing he will argue about anything she says and he just lets the flow of her words please his ears. His hands remain in his pockets. Not out of shyness, but he really doesn't want to be imposing or threatening. This girl, er, goddess in his eyes, has really struck his fancy and she's got a lot of story which he wants to hear as he will move to parallel her in her walk, "There's lots of gaps in my life I'd like to fill. But I'd much rather hear about your life and its gaps."


"Lot's of gaps?" Astryd moves to the next piece in the collection, pausing to look at it. An astute observer may note a certain familiarity with the piece, the way she looks at it is one of becoming familiar with it again.

"There's not much to tell about me, really." she murmurs "What is it you would like to hear about? That you say there are lots of gaps in your life, is interesting…" Perhaps he's suffering some form of amnesia?


He won't answer her initial question about his gaps. Instead he will press forward with his curiousity. "Where you're from. Why are you so …. There's really not a word for it that comes to mind. But it's not gaps in my life, it's gaps in my interest. Right now I'm sort of between things."
He walks with her, soft footfalls, hands in pockets, eyes looking about but mostly back to her as he speaks and when she does as well. He finds a clear question finally and says, "I guess I'm asking about who you are. I'm sure your 'not much to tell' is just being humble because your whole demeanor speaks volumes."


"A common problem when one grows. I've noted that many times." Astryd turns to look at Alex in assessing manner. "What is it you're between? You have the demeanour of a Warrior about you."

His own statements about herself, has her glancing back to the artwork "These days, I'm an administrative assistant." the words murmured "but I was born in a little village on the border of Poland and Germany and life there was hard. I had to learn to survive…" Which might explain her demeanour.


Hearing her story, Alex nods slightly and accepts the beginning and the current position she holds. Then needing to address her original question he states with a grin, "Warrior, huh?" then follows with a slight 'what could it harm' notation to himself and states, "I was a member of an organization. I decided I needed more so I went off, finished my education, and now I work contract for the USGS here and there. My 'inbetween' is sort of wondering if I should go back to my original organization or strike out on my own."


"You have a way around you, yes." The goddess listens intently as Alex explains. "So you joined this organisation as a brash youth?" the question is softened with a smile, not that it changes her predatory air. "What is the USGS, Alex? Forgive me, that acronym isn't known to me."


"United States Geological Survey. It's a job where I go out and check geological sites, survey them for weaknesses or do reports that detail the nature of the area. We mostly operate in National Parks. But this area has a fault line that runs the 125th street in Manhattan. I've done some work in that area recently."


Moving on, flowing through the museum, Astryd guides them to their next stop. "The addition of this piece to their collection, caused quite a stir." she says as she looks to Alex, a considering look on her face.

"You didn't get the stance you displayed the other day from conducting Geological Surveys." The amusement is back "But if you wish not to speak of it, I can understand that. We each have things we wish to keep hidden." Another look to the man walking with her "What would you do if you struck out on your own?"


"Nor did you being an administrative assistant - something that's really hard for me to wrap my head around. I would have figured Shield Maiden, especially with the chanting you were doing over the man…. which I'm still confused about." is his simple response. He's not following other threads of conversations yet as they continue to size one another up. He'll get to his part soon enough. But now he's just putting it out there that he knows she's got secrets too.


"Shield Maiden?" Astryd laughs now. "Well, now, I am an Administrative Assistant. I temp at the moment. I moved to New York not too long ago, and I've been … settling in." The laughter fades, but the smile remains "The man, yes. I was sending his soul on to the afterlife. He had passed by the time I had reached him."

Taking a moment to consider the implication of his words "Your words aren't too far off the mark though, I can fight. I've been training my whole life, but Shield Maiden isn't quite right either."

"Come, let us find the other display I came to see. Norse relics from a time long ago." It doesn't take them long to reach the new display. There's relics and weapons and artwork of Gods, Goddesses and Valkyries.


"Oh hell." Alex states as they approach the new displays. "No wonder you're here. This is your heritage. Your people were amazing. You wanna talk about warriors.. this is the stuff."
Alex's hands come out of his pockets. He's actually engaged now feeling more comfortable around her. Or at least he doesn't feel like she construes him as threatening or whatnot. The last encounter really made him think about his posture.


"They are…" Astryd responds to Alex "my people." Whether she's talking about the ancient Norse or the Gods isn't clear. "I was born into this culture … so perhaps my demeanour makes sense now."

Noting his change in posture and that he's relaxed a little more, she glances at him. She hadn't considered him a threat today - that had been cleared up the other day.

Stopping at one of the pieces of artwork, one that depicts an ancient battle that occured several hundred years ago. The opposing armies are arrayed on a battlefield, with a mist creeping up over it. In the skies, hover three women … one on a winged horse, another in a chariot and a third with strawberry blonde hair and giant black/grey wings of her own…


Alex looks upon the picture in silence. He studies the features looking about what transpires. He absorbs and processes it. He even sees the third strawberry blonde woman. He smiles, but says nothing because his imaginator just turned on. He asks, "So what's with the three women? Are they Valkyor?"


"They are…" Astryd responds. Alex should recognise the strawberry blonde as Astryd … if not her then it's a hell of a coincidence. "Each of them can see impending death, so they watch the battle, selecting the bravest and most of Warriors who fall and guide their souls to Valhalla."

For a moment, a shadow passes over her face, sadness and regret mingling … and then it's gone. "There are many tales about what a Valkyrie does but they are often called Odins Ravens… which makes them some kind of royalty."

Now her haughtiness should be explained.


He's about to say something about the strawberry blonde and her resembelance but then the shadow passes and she starts speaking of Odin's Ravens. He swallows and inhales, and goes for it with the hint of humor, "So I'm guessing the girl in the painting is you and that's what you were doing over that man the other day?"


"I was sending him to his afterlife, yes. Not Valhalla, he wasn't norse. He was a brave warrior whose time had come." Astryd explains quietly, perhaps admitting that the woman in the painting is her. "In this day, battles are fought differently, and I choose to honour Warriors from many paths and ease their crossing as I may."

Those grey eyes turn to Alex again, questioning. He knows her secret now …


"Wait.. what?" Alex says rhetorically as he turns to face her more squarely with the knitting of his brow and eyes of confusion. But then his lips part and ask with a lower voice, "You're what? Seriously? You're her?" nodding his head to the painting.


That gets another amused smile. "I might be, the likeness is remarkable is not?" Astryd murmurs. "Or perhaps it's just a good story …." She's not going to make it that easy for the warrior.

An electronic chirping sound comes from her pocket and she takes her phone out. It's a message that scans quickly. "I've been asked to fill in a shift in an hour and a half." she explains. "And I'll need to eat before then."


"Then we should eat together and I'll tell you about that organization." Intones Alex, not letting her lure him away from the fantasiful tale of her being the Valkyrie because he's actually very interested to hear more. But not now. She has things to do.


"A shared meal would be pleasant." Astryd responds, casting a look back at the exhibit. Whatever she wanted to see here, she hasn't and it's likely she'll return sometime soon. "Shall I pick the place?"

Whatever Alex answers, she's striding towards the exit, they'll find somewhere nice enough to eat nearby.


The place is picked, nearby for convenience. It's a small bakery that serves light salads, sandwiches, wraps, and the like. A long narrow building with a eating bar on the left and booths on the right with the kitchen in the back.
Finally settling into a booth, Alex is able to face her squarely and even on eye level as they are nearly the same height. He's been thinking about what she said the whole journey over but he will focus on his story now because she brought it up earlier. He says quietly, "I was a member of a team called the X-Men. Not sure if you've hear of them or not, but we basically fought against bad guys. There was a heck of a lot of tactical training thanks to my brother, Scott, and power usage. I'm a mutant."


Settling into the booth, looking across the table to Alex, Astryd listens. "The X-Men. Yes, I've heard of them. They were involved in protecting Metropolis against those … SENTINELS. At least that's what the news report said."

It's also difficult to be around as long as she has and not be aware of these things.

That he's a mutant has her head canting "So you're a trained fighter who uses their gifts." that explains a few things at least "But you left the team … and are now thinking about going back…" She won't question … yet. She'll let him tell his story.


"Really, no. There's too many memories there. I don't think I want to relive a lot of the angst and crap that I went through as a teen. My brother .. sorry. I'm really over sharing." he silences himself thinking that he would have had too much non adult male conversation with a woman of her stature and prowess.


Taking a sip of water from the glass in front of her, Astryd looks Alex in the eye. "Do you see me, running away? No, you don't. I'm interested and I want to know more." She's stern, but that's just her demeanour, her emotions nearly alien … certainly not entirely human.

"We all have our challenges growing up. And returning may not be what you want. So … what is it you want to do Alex?"


There's a smile of comfort that crosses his face. Air is pushed from his nose in a silent chuckle and he inhales deeply. Leaning back in the booth he says, "I have no idea.. guess that's why I'm here and not up there or somewhere else specifically. However, I do know that I want to be in the action again. I want to know what it's like to stop villains.. and it's been a really long time since I blasted something… My power. I project fiery plasma. It sort of obliterates things."


"A handy power to have." Astryd remarks lightly and considers the man across from her. She's aware that the X-Men prefer to use Non-Lethal techniques to detain and disable offenders. "Do you require a team to work with or can you work on your own?"

Taking another sip of the water, she pauses a moment "Honestly, Alex. With all the trouble there is here and in Metropolis, finding action like that won't be hard."


"I'm good on my own and have handled trouble in the city before - on my own. It's just hard, you know. Or maybe you don't. It's good to be with people you can work with. People you can trust to have your back. But with those people comes drama and all the collateral crap of following orders and doing things you don't always enjoy." He sighs and lays it all out. Pros, cons, and of course annoyances (which to him is more than just a con).


"I understand about working others" Astryd speaks quietly. "I prefer to. There is power in the pack… as well as comfort." As he lays out his concerns, her grey eyes watch him, assessing "We all have to do things we don't like, either working with others or alone. As to following orders, that's called teamwork and maybe it's just that you haven't found the right team." Or maybe there were other issues with the teamleader.


The smile returns and he nods, "Yeah, Scott. My brother and the fearless leader. Number one pain in my ass." he reaches and takes the glass to take another drink then places it back on the table.


"Siblings are often difficult to work with. I know this from experience. As is working with ones parents." Astryd responds "Whatever you decide to do, will be the right thing for you at this moment. Just be open to possibilities and you'll be fine." Whilst she doesn't say it, there's a possibility the two of them might end up fighting together at times.

Looking at her phone, she goes to stand "I really must be moving, if I'm to make this shift. It's been a pleasure meeting you properly this time… perhaps we'll meet again."


Sliding out with her, he will stand and Alex will say, "Hang on a sec. I'm not going to count on the fates to deliver you back into my … I mean, random encounter. Give me your number. We'll go to dinner."


Astryd laughs and recites her phone number to Alex before heading out the door. "Dinner might be nice … " she says over her shoulder and then with a wave is gone, out into the street.

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