What's Pokemon?

February 13, 2017:

Silk's spider-sense leads her to the aid of a very strange stranger. Juno just wants to blend in more.

A Mall

Hooray, capitalism!

Characters

NPCs: Oliver Pearce

Mentions: Peter Parker

Plot:

Mood Music: Cats on Mars (DMX Krew Remix)


Fade In…

He'd given her a few bills and told her to go buy things she wanted. That this was practice for being allowed a longer leash. Juno is fairly certain that her handler is just out of sight, but doesn't mind. She doesn't mind a lot of things, really.

The real problem is that she… doesn't know about anything /to/ want. She's always had what she needed - the concept of 'want' as something that can be satisfied is new.

In the meantime, she's standing in the middle of a shopping mall, a paper cup full of fizzy soda in one hand, and a really clueless, somewhat overwhelmed look on her face as she slowly turns in a circle.

—-

For the first time in forever, Cindy Moon is actually in a shopping mall.

The irony of this is that she barely has any money of her own— /barely any/. Her earlier living arrangement didn't necessitate money, as her needs were more or less always covered. Now, she's just working her way through a GED class with a colorful cast of characters that are a little more weird than she thought, and trying her best to investigate matters of the heart— and her missing family— with the assistance of her host, Jessica Jones.

Unfortunately, Cindy doesn't really own winter clothes like she should anymore. The weather was always climate controlled, and now… now, she's starting to get the hang of making her own clothing out of webbing, such as now— the coat is definitely something she took out of the closet, but her shirt and the thick winding bundle of the scarf around her neck was spun, homemade.

And what is she doing at a shopping mall in the middle of New York?

Running errands— picking things up for herself and Alias Investigations, given just enough of a stipend to pay for things: Some fresh bedding for the apartment, a new alarm clock (there was a broken one on the nightstand that looked like it was crushed, once upon a time), and a new, fresh skillet all sit in the few bags that she carries, walking straight past Juno.

Then she gets that weird, tingly, buzzing feeling in the back of her head. She stops there, looking pensive for a few moments, then she twists right around on her heel. Something's strange here— and it leads her right back to Juno Hart.

"Are you okay?" she asks, oddly concerned for a girl she's never met before.

—-

At first glance, there's little unusual about Juno. Her strangest feature, aside from the general air of complete and utter cluelessness, is her hairstyle, and it's one shared by approximately 1/10 of the adult barista population: pulled back into a ponytail, with braids and beads worked in. There might be a white girl dredlock in there somewhere. Maybe. The rest is all normal. A rose-colored hoodie, dark jeans, dark sneakers.

She stops that slow spinning, eyes locking on to Cindy as soon as the other girl is within four feet of her. "Okay?" Juno stops momentarily to consider this. /Is/ she okay?

"…Yes. I think." There's some vague accent there, Eastern European. "But there are too many stores. I don't know where to go. Did I bother you?" she asks, empty hands sliding out of her pockets. "I'm sorry. I don't know how this place works."

—-

Cindy looks at Juno analytically— not so much looking her up and down, but just trying to see if she can figure out what's making her Silk-sense start to rumble and tingle the way it is. It's probably nothing, really: More often than not, her extrasensory perception goes off for reasons that she can't fathom. Spider-Man's been trying to help her out a bit but it just … happens, now and then.

But she blinks owlishly at this strange girl, and then she starts to talk … strangely. It's not the words themselves, but the cadence. Strange people pick up on the strange things pretty quick. Maybe English is just her second or third language.

Trying her best to not let it bother her too much, the spider-girl lets her head list to one side. "Bother /me/? Nah. I'm like, the most unbotherable unbothered person to ever not be bothered."

'I don't know how this place works.'

Cindy lifts her hand a little, giving a brief dismissive wave. "Don't even /worry/ about that," she says. Her mind's racing over the possibilities of what kind of bunker /this/ girl was locked in that she doesn't know how a shopping mall works. However much it's written on her face, she stays polite. "There's a map on that kiosk over there," she says, indicating with a point of her finger.

"Are you looking for anything in particular? I k…ind of know a couple of the stores here— not all of them, though." She leans in a little, looking a touch embarassed. "I'm kind of new to the city, too."

Which is a lie. Technically. But it's changed a lot.

Technically.

—-

Sheeeeeeee does kind of look like she might have spent a few years underground or something, but maybe Juno is just naturally kinda pale. She's got some freckles though, so clearly /some/ kind of sunlight has been happening. She's probably not a mole person.

"That's good!" Juno beams. "I'm not supposed to bother anybody. I don't want to," she corrects herself.

A few stores down, a man in his late forties /who is totally not spying on them/ willfully resists the urge to facepalm.

She doesn't look very dangerous. Late teens, wide eyes, sincere manner. "Okay. I won't worry." This other girl seems to know how things work here, so Juno is going to believe her until proven wrong! "I'm supposed to buy something for myself," she tries to explain, hand straying close to her hip. "But I don't know what there is. I don't know what to want. Maybe something to put in my room?"

Juno leans an inch or two closer, because she has had an Idea. "Is there a thing that /you/ want? Which store is your favorite? Do you want a drink?"

Because clearly this nice young woman is going to help her, and she ought to do something nice for helpful people, right?!

—-

'I'm not supposed to bother anybody.'

"That's good, because otherwise they'd take you to the special Bother Box and you'd have to wait there until your parents show up," Cindy quips, in a manner that is somewhere between a little grave and one hundred percent sarcastic— perhaps a little bit of Spidey is rubbing off on her, there.

She's supposed to buy something for herself. Maybe for her room. Everything here feels a little strange— she's just not quite sure what's going /on/, and Cindy can feel that tingle in the back of her head again. For now, it's just attributed to the usual level of noise she feels in a mall. "Well, come on over here," she says, leading Juno toward the big map kiosk of the shopping mall.

"If it's something for your room— well, like. I'd totally get a pokemon."

Cindy looks at Juno for a moment, maybe a /touch/ worried.

"Pokemon's still a thing, right?"

Nobody will tell her.

"Oh, I— well, thanks, but I actually already stopped at the store and took care of what I needed to today. But you looked like you needed a hand. I know what it's like being in a new place and you just get so frazzled that you…" Look like and sound like something's wrong with you. That you look like you're having problems adapting to a new situation. Maybe it's anxiety.

Maybe there's something wrong.

"… just need a nudge along to know what you need to do."

—-

Juno gazes blankly at Cindy for .5 seconds before Getting It. "They would not," she grins. It was a joke! …Probably.

She would know about a Bother Box. Oliver would have warned her!

She follows Cindy over to the map, reading it slowly. Juno has never felt more out of her depth than she does today, but America has been very nice so far and the mall seems like a good place, even if it's overwhelming to be surrounded by so many choices. But maybe she's made this other girl uncomfortable, because while Juno is kind of a space alien, she still has /some/ awareness of how other people act.

Oliver had told her that if people got uncomfortable, she could apologize and blame any quirks on being from another country. That most people would accept that. She'd better start fast. "I'm sorry. This is very new to me. There wasn't a mall where I'm from." There wasn't much of anything besides the facility. "I want to seem more like an American girl," she tries to explain, although for Juno 'American' means something closer to 'passing for normal' than 'cheeseburgers and cowboys and casual racism'. "My uncle told me that American girls have cute things in their rooms and buy lots of clothes and… other things." She shrugs a bit helplessly, looking for anything that says 'CUTE ROOM OBJECTS' or 'GIRL STORE'. "So I thought…"

Wait. Back up. Juno tilts her head a fraction to one side. "What's pokemon?"

—-

'They would not.'

Cindy snaps with a smirk. "Y'got me."

Standing at the map, she listens to Juno's intentions— that she was basically sent here and her uncle told her to buy American girl things. Shifting the weight of her bags, the spider-girl's finger lifts as her back straightens. "Well I can unequivically tell you as an American that you do not have to buy anything cute or a ton of clothes if you do not want to. You buy whatever you dang well please and to heck with the rest of that."

"I mean unless you like cute stuff, because then rock on with your bad self."

"There's clothing stores here, here, here, here, and here, and if you need any gaming stuff this place seems pretty good though I can't afford any games yet." It's mostly because any games she can trade in are like six years old, minimum, and she can get about ten cents per title. Not exactly 'find your family' money.

"Let's— see. There's some more like. … like music stores! If you like music. Or movies! They sell a lot of stuff here," she continues, pointing at the map.

'What's pokemon?'

Glass shatters in the distance. It's that, or Cindy's entire world view just shattered. Her hand extends to brace her weight against the kiosk, and no matter how grim and dark this news is, she manages to keep herself from doing something stupid like accidentally breaking the map kiosk in half by suddenly slumping against it by her arm.

"The darkest timeline," she whispers aloud.

"Um. So just, um— you know. L-Let's find something you like, first…"

—-

She watches Cindy point to things on the map, clothes clothes clothes clothes clothes games? She doesn't know much about gaming, she'd better learn… it seems important, there are a lot of commercials for it. "That's good! I don't know if I want to buy a lot of clothes." Juno doesn't know much of anything, really. She thinks she likes cute things but there is no empirical evidence.

Is there a way to give this nice girl money, or games? Juno has what she thinks is a good amount, and if Cindy doesn't have any… Hmmm.

While Cindy has a moment of existential crisis, Juno sneaks a peek at her shopping bags. The shape of a cooking pan is pretty distinctive, and those look like cloth… These seem like useful household items. So she probably isn't going without necessities like food, which is good. Hmm hmmmmm…!

She'll have to be sneaky.

Juno is, surprisingly, pretty good at sneaky.

And now she's curious, to boot. What could be so important that ignorance of it is a grave sin?? "Can we look at pokemon? For my room?" Because that seems like a safe topic!! And maybe she'll find a chance to do something nice for… uh…

She turns from the map to face Cindy and offers her hand, as she has seen done. "Oh, I forgot. My name is Juno. What's yours?"

—-

The largest bag is full of fresh bedding. It's not too expensive, definitely meant to last rather than be fancy. The skillet falls into the same range, and the alarm clock is … well, an alarm clock. Having her own means that she doesn't have to worry about bothering Miss Jones for one and oh my god Cindy just realized there's an alarm clock app on her phone.

Well shoot, there's $10 she can't get back right now.

Pulling out her phone to glance at the time— she /does/ need to get back, but … nobody's going to mind if she's a /little bit/ late, right? So, she smiles at the weird girl. And this strange girl seems not strange enough that she can show her a few stores, right? "Oh, sure, I mean— if you want to! It's a game. An old one, but it's still /totally/ cool," Cindy says, lifting her finger a bit for emphasis. "But only the first one-fifty. The rest are just like. Posers. And epic fail."

Epiiiiiiiic. Faillllllllll. Also, Peter's probably having a heart attack through their spider-link with that dated slang.

Cindy takes Juno's hand and offers her a bit of a beaming smile. This would be the moment when Juno explodes into a million billion super spiders or flies or turns into the Hulk, if her life went the way it usually does. "Cindy!" she replies. Just totally normal not a Manhattan Mole Woman twenty-year old girl getting her education squared away and living a totally normal life, Cindy Moon. "Nice to meet you, Juno!"

—-

At least Juno doesn't /seem/ like the sort of person who would go all Misery if Cindy tried to go home. She's a totally harmless, definitely strange, possibly a space alien kind of person. "I want to!" Juno insists, because now she /needs/ to know. It's going to bother her all day if she doesn't find out!

A game. There are more than 150 of them. Only the first 150 are cool. "Epic fail," she repeats studiously, and shakes Cindy's hand carefully. She's seen it done! She practiced! …With herself, which was awkward, but she has a good idea of how hard is 'too hard'. "Nice to meet you, too!"

IVaguely, she wonders if Oliver is still watching. Is he seeing her make a friend? Look, she's doing so well!

Notably, she does not explode into anything or flip out and try to kill someone or rip her human mask off to reveal an actual space alien. She's just Juno. Isn't that great?! "So are pokemon at the game store?"

—-

'Epic fail,' she repeats. Cindy nods firmly. Her slang is cool, no matter what Spider-Man tries to lead her to believe. Or Jessica, or Az, or— basically everyone she's met so far that's given her the side-eye when she makes comments like that!! Is five years too soon to be retro? She'll have to look that up on her phone. Because you can do that now, anywhere, super easy. On your phone.

On your cool touchscreen smartphones. That were only just getting released the year she was already behind a door thick and heavy enough to contain a Hulk.

"You've got all of this so totally down pat. You're gonna fit in great here," Cindy says in reply to Juno, giving the girl a thumbs-up and a stern nod. Whether or not it's a fact that Juno notices with her grip, she does not in fact crush the nice young lady's hand with her super-grasp, either.

She instead points to the near-distance, toward one of the more multi-purpose toy-music-movies-games media stores. "Oh ho ho, we got this. It's time to get you educated!" Then she stops, leaning back to look at Juno. "I mean as long as you have money to buy yourself stuff. Because then I'd look really stupid because I'm basically broke, too."

She's got a whopping $6.15 right now.

"Just make sure you have enough money for the bus. Or the subway, however you're getting home. That's another big important thing to remember! And make sure you know where your uncle is meeting up with you, if he is, because America's a funny place where weird stuff happens all the time."

—-

Juno thinks Cindy is very cool. Juno's experience with cool is very limited, but she'd like to think she can identify it when it crosses her path. "Thank you. I hope so." Cindy's smile is contagious, and so is her good mood. Juno can do this! She can totally learn how to act like a normal, non-Kindergarten graduate! One that doesn't kill people for a living!

America is a truly great country.

"I have some," she nods, because Oliver gave it to her. She reviews her mission again out of habit: 1. go to mall 2. buy something she likes 3. return to food court. Extra parameters: casual interaction with public allowed, no violence allowed past level 5, conditional upon being attacked, because 'mall cops' are here to enforce peace. "We're going to meet in the food court."

Yes. She's totally got this. Even if weird stuff happens!

The store Cindy's pointed out is really bright, full of things she can't identify. Juno's expression firms as they approach it. She won't fail!!

And then they get close enough for her to see the screens. What's an Assassin's Creed? Nobody ever told her about one!!

The character on the screen sneaks up behind another person and stabs them in the back. Juno carefully looks away. That sound was completely wrong, dying people don't make that noise! The knife-into-flesh noise was okay though.

The place is /full/ of things, some of which she can identify, others she can't. Honestly… it's a bit overwhelming. "Uh… which one is pokemon?"

—-

"Oh, good! I mean, it's crazy out there. Alright, good— so."

Games! And more games, and more games, and there's walls of DVDs and some books, and then there's a small section set aside for those seeking to express their inner nerds through toys and t-shirts, available at affordable prices.

Cindy's head also turns at the sound of someone getting totally assassowrecked. She remembers when there were only three games. … Oh god, how many more are there? Must be on four or five right now, right? Right?

Hurrying ahead a few steps, Cindy turns and gestures to a wall of strange plush monsters and toys that all have big eyes or weird claws or they just look like some kind of over-emphasized characature of something in real life. A few of the iconic ones are there, including a plush star with a weird ruby in the middle that she makes special point to hold up. "I have one of these. This one's my favorite," she says, stage whispering for emphasis.

"Anyway," she says, setting the toy back on the shelf, "there's a lot of stuff here! I mean, go ahead and pick something out. I'm sure you'll be able to find at least something you like— and there's a bunch of CDs and movies and stuff over there, though I guess now it's a lot easier to get music like, on your /phone/, than it used to be, so. It's crazy! I mean, go wild."

Because Cindy really needs to see this girl finally smile and have some fun because there is something /so off/ about her.

—-

The wall of 'pokemon' goes further and is brighter than she imagined. Some of them are animals - sort of?? Some of them are… she doesn't know what they are. Some are just /shapes/. "A star…?" she mumbles quietly, reaching out to touch gentle fingers to the plush toy's surface. It's soft. "Do they have names?" Juno asks, feeling a little overwhelmed again. Is she going to have to learn them all?!

There are just so many. She doesn't even want to think about music yet, when there's so much of it. "I heard a song once that I liked a lot, but I don't know the name of it. One day, if I find out, I'd like to have it. On my phone," she adds, because that part seems important.

Lots of them are cute, and some are… not /scary/, but they aren't nice to look at. They don't make her feel the same way as the 'cute' ones. It seems that Juno does like cute, after all. A yellow… gerbil? Some kind of dog-cat-squirrel in several colors, some cats, what might be a ghost-cat-witch… "There are so many." She's never seen so many stuffed toys in her life. "What about… is there one other than the star that you like too?"

She picks up the wizard cat, running fingertips along the edge of its hat brim. Puts it down, picks up something she thinks may be a snake. She doesn't like that one as much. Puts it back, picks up… she doesn't know what it is. Something covered in a cloth, with a face scribbled on. The sheet is sewn to its body when she tries to peek underneath. "Mi mi kyu. Thirty-five dollars," she reads from the tag. She doesn't know tha M-word. But she likes the drawn-on smile. It looks friendly! "Maybe this one…"

And then, Juno sees it. Another smile. Even friendlier. Some… purple thing, like a wad of gum, with a wide smile. Tucking Mimikyu under one arm, she picks up the other one. "Ditto." It costs the same. She examines the sewn-on faces closely, experimentally hugs the soft purple thing. It feels nice.

Holding them both, she turns back to Cindy with confidence. "I like these!" Juno pronounces, with the air of someone who has disarmed a bomb. "And the star too, of course," she adds. Because that, too, seems important.

—-

Thirty-five dollars might as well be a million to Cindy right now, but if Juno was sent here to pick up some stuff and decorate her room… well, uh. She can't complain too badly. Hopefully 'Uncle' is more like 'Uncle Moneybags?' She does manage to hide her surprise at thirty-five dollars for a plush doll pretty well, though.

"Well, everyone likes Pikachu," she says, squeezing the fluffy foreleg of the yellow gerbil with the lightning bolt tail. "But he gets a bit too much hype since he's the mascot. There's some other good ones here, too. Squirtle and some of 'em like this," she says, indicating to turtles, and other ones, and— and—

— and Juno picked her own. She picked /two/ on her own. And she also likes Staryu. Cindy swells with pride and a deep smile while nodding and reaching out to pat Juno on the shoulder. "Both are excellent choices," she says, even though she doesn't actually recognize one of them. this wonderful spring child and her pride in her picks, though, it's so great

Lifting her phone from her pocket, the spider-girl takes a quick glance at the time before returning her attention to Juno. "If there's anything else you want, you should take a look around!"

—-

There. She has fulfilled 75% of her mission, and she will have thirty dollars left (unless there is sales tax, which she has been informed of). "Pikachu." These names are strange. Maybe they're meant to be like human names. Is there a pokemon named Juno, or Yuliya? What would it even look like?!

She notices Cindy glancing at her phone. Not to make a call, or listen to music - she must want the time. Did she have a mission of her own? Is Juno jeopardizing it by taking up so much of Cindy's time?!

She gets brought out of her reverie by a pat on her shoulder. It feels warm. …Nice. Juno feels herself smile without having to think about it. "Thank you, Cindy. This is all I want, though." Because she can't handle making another choice like this today!

"I can finish up on my own if you need to go," she offers, because Cindy doesn't deserve to fail in her own mission just to help Juno adjust to Outside. She'll have to think hard about something nice she can do for her. She has Cindy's first name. She can certainly find someone with such an unusual name in a single city!

Maybe she would like another star.

—-

Juno points out that Cindy can leave, if she wanted to. Her back straightens a bit, and she shakes her head with a bit of a grin. "Awesome. Well, just remember that you can pretty much come back here whenever and pick up more stuff, too— and it's no big deal, I just have to make sure I head back soon. I mean, I had to just snag a few things and then get back, and — it's a long story."

Her host is a superpowered PI, and her roommate is a masked vigilante that beats the snot out of people, and by the way she was bitten by a radioactive spider and got superpowers that allowed her to basically weave half of her outfit out of her fingers.

The dark-haired spider girl winks, though. "But you'll get used to that in New York, trust me."

"I hope I run into you again soon, Juno! Good luck with settling in and your uncle and all that— welcome to New York, too!"

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License