Studio Surprise

November 24, 2016:

It's Black Friday and apartments in the Big Apple are on sale: rent one get a ninja free! Eli gets an unexpected surprise when he comes home and Maris picks the worst of hiding spot.

Eli's Apartment, New York


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

So far, there's been nothing particularly interesting about Eli Cox's Black Friday. He hasn't treated himself to any of the big shopping deals that the day is all about. He got his tall, lean, strong body out of bed, and proceeded to use it to walk down to a bodega.

Eli's apartment is pretty small. It probably is listed as a 1BR, but it's really more of a studio with an attached office nook, one where his bed and secondhand dresser are kept. There are a few chairs, a bookshelf, a rug on the floor, some wall art in the kitchenette… everything looks like it was thrifted, except for the MacBook plugged into the wall. Another feature of Eli's apartment is that there's a fire escape right outside, and as he walks up the steps with his bag of groceries in hand, he's blissfully unaware that he left his window unlocked.

Eli needn't worry, not because an unlocked window is safe this high up the fire escape, but because the lock on his front door isn't that strong anyway. Barely two minutes earlier, a pair of patrol cars screamed down the adjacent street, their lights and sirens disrupting the sounds of shopping mania as much as their bodies disrupt the crammed flow of traffic.

Secluded out of view of the window, a black silhouette is leaning quietly against his studio wall with her arms folded across her chest. She's waiting, counting seconds in her head, but the sound of footsteps on the stairs outside jars her from the silent routine and she hastily dives to the front door - rolling soundlessly before coming back up and pinning herself beside the doorframe, on the same side it opens to.

Eli futzes with his keys, unlocks the door, and enters. Nothing out of the ordinary. He closes the door by pushing it with his foot, without actually looking over his shoulder. He heads right to the kitchenette to set the groceries down.

Eli's a tall guy, bundled up against the winter cold. He's wearing a thin blue down jacket and a grey scarf. He undoes the scarf and takes off the jacket, and seems like he's going to turn around to face Nerina's position… but doesn't quite, instead draping the jacket on a chair, and the scarf over it.

The ninja uses the cover of Eli's door as he enters, finding familiar seclusion in the shadow, but it doesn't last nearly long enough. When the light from the main room hits her, she barely changes color at all; black legs, a black jacket, a black face, only the whites and orange of her eyes disrupt the inky silhouette. It's a disguise that works much better outside a well-lit room and Rusalka freezes like a moth under a lamp as Eli works in the kitchenette.

Taking an opportunity as he turns towards his groceries, she slips from one hiding place to another… and disappears inside the suite's small bathroom.

The problem with the bathroom is that there's only one way in and out. There's also not a view of the main room. There's the sounds of Eli moving around. The fridge opens, the fridge closes. He exhales, and it sounds like he's rubbing his hands together. It's cold out, so it's understandable. Some more rustling around.

After a moment, Eli advances towards the bathroom. He's already stripped to the waist, and barefoot. His belt is undone but his jeans are still buttoned. With his shirt off, and his long dark blonde hair untied, he looks like the cover of a romance novel. There's so little body fat on him it looks like he's never eaten a single carb or a dot of dairy in his entire life.

Outwardly Eli's bathroom looks the same as ever, all ten square feet of it. Hiding behind the shower curtain, doing her best to stay out of the light flooding the room, the ninja's black silhouette is frozen and tense. She's holding her breath and her hands twitch as she strains her eyes and ears, waiting for the curtain to move.

The curtain moves, all right. It's not swept aside. Eli just pokes a hand through one side, across from where the ninja is huddled, and turns the water on. Unfortunately, the switch on it is still set to the tub faucet, not the shower, so the ninja isn't sprayed just yet. "Shit," Eli says to himself, and then resumes taking off his jeans.

A coal-colored eyebrow twitches. That was close. Orange cat-eyes watch the stream of water flowing from the faucet to the drain, disappearing into the dark, unguarded plumbing of the building on its long journey to sea. The ninja frowns, at the escape route she's far too big to fit through and at the man's voice. At least it confirmed the apartment's smell.

Sliding as stealthily as she can towards the middle of the shower, Rusalka tries to shrink away from the towel rack on one side and the faucet on the other, while ignoring the cold water splashing against her sandals.

The hand comes in again to feel at the water coming out of the faucet. Apparently the temperature is getting warmer. That's enough for Eli to pull open the curtain. Of course, sweeping open a curtain is one thing. But Eli doesn't have the explosive quickness of a ninja, so he's already lost the initiative challenge before even realizing he's part of it.

Surprise rounds are fun like that. The ninja springs through the gap in the curtain and thrusts a soaking wet cloth at his head while her other hand grabs for his wrist. It's just water, but large enough to cover his whole face. Naturally, the towel's black too.

Eli's wrist feels like it's made of flesh stretched over granite. There's really no word to describe how he feels other than 'unusually dense.' He's also unusually strong, but he's too focused on other things to make use of that. "What" is all he's able to get out before he's toweled in the face mercilessly. "Ack!" All of this happens while he's buck-ass naked, too, just to make it even more humiliating for him.

Nothing about this situation reassures Rusalka that she made the right choice hiding in his shower, but at this point she's far too committed. Her hand keeps the cloth clamped against his nose and mouth as she plants a sandal on the lip of his tub and leans out of the shower.

"Stay calm and I won't hurt you," she assures in a voice that's young, feminine, but weighted by a heavy slavic drawl.

Eli struggles with the wet cloth over his face. Like most folks, he needs to breathe. That loss of air comes with some flailing. Unfortunately, Eli can bench-press trucks. So when he flails, the wrist Rusalka is holding lifts up, and if she doesn't let go, he's going to end up lifting her off her feet without even trying. "Mm ff fm-mm m mf m ffmfm!" Eli protests through the wet cloth. Even his lips feel strong.

And into the air she goes. The ninja's eyes widen as she's suddenly holding herself up instead of Eli's arm down. Her grip stays clamped on him for a whole new reason as she ragdolls beneath the man's prodigious strength, flinging the curtain open wider and knocking her legs against the wall. "Waah! Net, I said calm. Calm!"

Eli shakes his head, with such strength that he's able to loose himself from the cloth. He lets Rusalka stay held up, but he doesn't seem angry, just… really confused. "What the hell?!" he gasps. "Who are you?! Why are you in my shower?!" These are the pressing concerns on his mind, clearly.

Well, that's really not how this was supposed to go. Rusalka lets go of Eli's wrist and drops back to the ground with a splash as one sandal lands back in the tub, frowning sourly beneath her facemask. The cloth disappears back up her sleeve as she gives the strong man at least a little personal space.
"Getting warm?" She offers. "Is cold outside."

Eli still doesn't look angry. He mostly just looks… tired, and confused. "Oh, sure, that makes sense," he says, as he steps back from the tub. His body language is enough to indicate he's not itching for a fight. It's only when his butt presses against his sink that he realizes he's starkers, and grabs at something to cover himself with — a hand towel, that he has to keep held in place. There were better choices. He still seems at a loss for words.

The ninja steps out as well and inches towards the bathroom door, hoping to get towards her escape route. While he might look cast out of bronze, more pressing thoughts keep Rusalka occupied - like what one of his punches would feel like.
"I'll stay out here," she suggests with a furtive glance towards the doorframe.

Eli lets out a grumble. "Yeah, yeah, sure," he says, and scoots himself to shut the water off. He awkwardly tries to reach down for his jeans, giving Rusalka an opportunity to flee, or whatever else she might have planned. In a moment, he emerges from the bathroom, newly re-jeansed. "Seriously, what's going on?" he asks, to an apartment that may no longer have Rusalka in it.

The ninja is gone from the doorway with the door shut behind her as quickly as Eli can look away. Surprisingly though, she's still there when he reopens the door, albeit back near the window again. While warming up might not have been her first reason for trespassing, it was a lot warmer in the young man's apartment.
"Mmm?" The ninja looks up from sucking a finger she's somehow fit through her facemask. A very sharp and now faintly bloody batarang on the floor gives a clue to why.

Eli looks from the ninja, to the batarang, to the ninja again. He still isn't terribly startled. "Look, can you at least not make a mess, please?" he asks. "And do me a favor and don't break anything, okay? I just lost my job, I don't need more expenses." He goes over to the kitchenette to start… preparing coffee. "You can have some coffee if you want."

Rusalka crouches down to pick the batarang up and resumes spinning it between the fingers of her other hand. Her eyes watch Eli warily, finding his sheer calm disconcerting. He'll have to wait until she's done sucking to get his answer.

Eli gets the water going for the coffee — he doesn't have a sweet K-cup machine — and turns back around. He raises his eyebrows slightly, like he's surprised the woman is still in his place instead of having bailed already. "Do you need a band-aid or something?" he asks. For a guy who just got attacked, he's behaving downright decently. "Look, no offense, I can see you're some kind of… warrior of some sort. But this stuff happens to me way too often."

That's enough for Rusalka's finger to come back out with a *pop* and the ninja waves it blandly at her side. "Welcome to New York: home of everyone afraid of Superman and too sun-loving for Gotham," she cracks. It happens to her a lot too apparently.

Eli nods. "Something like that," he agrees. "Sorry about exposing myself to you. Wasn't intentional, obviously." He gets out two mugs, both of which look like they were picked up at thrift stores. They don't look chipped or damaged, they just look… out-of-date. "So, what's your name? Because I don't want to call you just 'ninja' or something. Unless that's your name, I suppose."

"Ninja is good," the young woman replies unconcerned, and with the same hand waves off the matter. "Net problem, I have seen naked men before."

Eli doesn't seem sure how to respond to that, so he just nods. "Okay," he says, and the little water-heater he has for coffee-making lets the world know it's ready. "What do you like in your coffee, Ninja? I'm Eli, by the way."

"Black is good," ''Ninja'' answers as she switches the batarang back into her good hand and tosses it a short distance into the air. How she got it might be a better question than where.

Eli watches the batarang, then shakes his head, as if to say 'I don't even want to get into that.' His method of making coffee is totally archaic — a well-used plastic funnel with a filter. He scoops the grounds in, pours the water, and in a moment, Rusalka's mug is ready. He then sets about making his own cup. "So, why my place, if you're just looking to get warm? Am I just the card you picked out of the deck?"

"No one home, and an open window," Ninja answers as she walks over to accept her cup. With the light of the room on her, it's easy to pick out the little details of her outfit - or rather how many there aren't. Below the hooded jacket that covers her from head to mid-thigh, the ninja is wearing nothing warmer than a skin-tight suit and sandals. It's hard to judge her age through all the cotton, but her voice suggests young - in her twenties at most. Asides from the athletic figure one might expect of a ninja, she's remarkably unremarkable.
"Spasibo," she offers before inhaling the warm air from the cup then taking an experimental sip.

Eli looks like he's in his twenties, himself. Rusalka's taste of his strength probably goes a long way towards explaining why he looks as fit as he does. Beyond that, he has blue eyes, high cheekbones, full pink lips… and long blonde hair that he still hasn't tied back. "Sure," he replies, and sets about putting cream and sugar into his own mug. "You have anywhere to stay?"

The ninja pauses from enjoying her coffee to cast a skeptical look at Eli. "I am not sleeping with you," she dead-pans.

Eli chokes on his coffee. He's either turning red from, well, choking on hot coffee, or from her suggesting that. "Wh— no! That's not— no!!" Eli has to set the mug down and breathe for a second. "I'm asking if you broke in to my place because you're homeless! I'm trying to see if I can help out, not— jeez!"

The ninja watches Eli choke without doing a thing to help him as she returns to sipping her coffee. The mouth of her facemask stretches over a very amused smile. "Where else would I sleep, your bathtub?" she asks plainly, looking around the tiny apartment.

Eli rests his hands on his hips for a second. He still doesn't seem mad at 'Ninja.' He mostly just seems like he's exasperated by the situation. "Look, if you need a place to sleep for the night, you can sleep in the bed," he says. "I'll sleep in a chair or something. Just don't make me regret it, please." He even says 'please!' What a gentleman.

"I'm not sleeping in your bed," the young woman asserts, wrinkling her nose, "and it smells like you."

Eli squints. "Well, whatever makes you happy, then. If you want to stay here for a night, feel free. If you don't, I won't stop you there either. I'm just trying to be a good host, is all." He picks up his coffee and goes back to sipping it, leaning against the counter of the kitchenette.

Ninja drinks her coffee for a good long time before replying back. "You are weird."

Eli shakes his head, and goes to grab his shirt from where he draped it over a chair. "You're a ninja who broke into my place and hid in the shower," he says as he pulls his shirt back on and starts to button it up. "Weird can fit a lot of definitions."

"I was hiding," she defends smartly. "You're too calm," the ninja complains, folding an arm. "Bulletproof?"

Eli shrugs. "Probably. I've never tested it. But like I said, this stuff, weird stuff, happens to me way too often. It's a lot less stress to just roll with it. If I got angry, you'd probably try to fight me or something, and like I said, I don't wanna wreck the place." Eli sits down with his coffee, now be-shirted.

Rusalka raises an eyebrow. "Knifeproof mahybe?"

Eli shrugs again. "I don't go around seeing what works and what doesn't. Just because I can lift a lot of weight and take a lot of punishment doesn't mean I go out looking to do either of those things, you know? I'm just a normal guy." Eli sips, and thinks for a moment. "As normal as anyone can be given the circumstances, I guess."

"Hmph, too many people aren't like you," the ninja gripes as she drinks from her own, nearing the bottom. "Always making messes."

Eli nods, apparently sympathetic to Rusalka's point. "Agreed," he says. "Let me know when you need a refill." For a moment, he just sits, drinking his coffee and settling down. "Make yourself at home," he gestures. There are at least other chairs to be had.

The ninja tilts her head in surprise at the young man's hospitality and grudgingly takes his desk chair for herself. Her legs cross as she sits down and a small groan escapes her as she gets settled. "It is easy to be generous when you have no fears, da?"

"Pretty much," Eli says, and gives sort of a smirk. He doesn't seem smug. Instead, it's more rueful. "I've got more important stuff to be scared of. Like bills." He gestures back towards the bathroom. "If you feel like using the tub or the shower, help yourself. Likewise if you want to grab a blanket out of the bedroom. Unless they smell too much like me."

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