These Spectators are Underpaid

August 21, 2017:

Regan's uninspiring evening of late-night shopping is interrupted by a mysterious figure.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: Want - The Cure

Fade In…

The last few weeks of August are probably the worst weeks of Summer. It isn't the heat (which Gotham has plenty of) and it isn't the humidity, but it's the reopening of schools and the absolute influx of human bodies to pollute the city streets and create layer upon layer of roadblocks in Regan Wyngarde's daily life. By the time she's awake most days, it's lunchtime: TRAFFIC. Sleep a few hours? AFTER SCHOOL TRAFFIC. She can't get to any of her normal haunts without putting up with school busses and early twenty-somethings in 'GU' wear.

Luckily for her, money solves a lot of problems.

Queue the 'HANGING GARDEN'. With so tragic a name for a dimly lit, black storefront, it's opened its doors past the midnight hour thanks to the sly application of a few hundred dollar bills and a phone call. The downstairs boutique past rickety stairs is loaded for bear with gothling survival kits of makeup, music, 'accessories', and all manner of gothic stylings, emo wear, and intimate apparel to sit in the dark and read Sylvia Plath's 'The Bell Jar' in.

Regan, blonde and giving no care about her lack of dark hair or pale skin, is traipsing down the isles of the now open store in cutoff jeans and a shredded, black tee shirt that declares: SUNS OUT, GUNS OUT across her chest. The Prada bag hanging from her shoulder bears the slightest glimpse of a pistol's handle when she moves just right, shuffling through racks of dresses and humming along with Nick Cave and the Birthday Party on the sound system.

And is she speaking to the bored Cybergoth with pink hairfalls reading a fashion magazine behind the register? No. She's 'the help'.


Regan can browse freely, but if she hoped to have the place ALL to herself, all to the absolute tippie-top exclusive use of herself, she is unfortunately going to be a little disappointed.

Two people come down the stairs. One of them is a man in a well preserved early fifties. He has a white shirt and slacks that are obviously part of a suit. Glasses. Kind of hollow eyes. The most interesting thing about him is that he's opening the door for another person.

The other person is about Regan's height and fits in with this place. Maybe. If this sells things to gothlings, this is a gothella. Dala's hair is slickly black enough to be polished. She is wearing fishnet leggings underneath a pair of artfully tattered and extremely scanty black denim shorts, with an untucked blouse and a dishevelled tie in plaid suggesting a schoolgirl. She has on calf-high leather boots. She has a clove cigarette in a three-quarters-Hepburn length holder. Somehow, it doesn't seem like she's trying too hard. SOMEHOW.

She speaks briefly to her accompaniment. She is looking down on him, thanks to the boots, which have an inch of platform and three inch of heels. The man with the glasses goes out to sit on the stairs.

Soon enough, her voice ripples out from behind Regan. Her English is perfectly clear although there is a discernible Hungarian accent.

"I see you're planning for your fall wardrobe. Or did you just lose track of time?" Dala asks. She sounds like she's about to laugh.


WHAAAAT? Intrusion? Regan can hear the opening of the door and the bell above it, which puts her Gotham Survival Toolkit ears perched only slightly. When there's no yelling of lips through a balaclava, jabbering about 'putting money in bags', the purple and black knot dangling between her shoulders relaxes, and the browsing continues.

The purple lacquered nail swishes at the rack one dress after the other, and she's stopped at a sheer, thin material, slipping fingertips inside of the neckline to see just how sheer when she's interrupted.

"I read somewhere the style this fall in Gotham will be kevlar and a shirt that reads 'Please, No'." Regan replies, sparing a glance over her shoulder through flat-ironed strands of blonde hair, then back again. The bunch in her cheek from a lopsided grin is obvious from behind her ear. "But every now and then it's nice to go to the clubs that aren't weighed down with fist-pumping Guidos and spray tanner."

The dress is yanked from the rack with a clatter of plastic hangers grating against each other. Regan turns, holding the dress over her bosom. It gives her time to get a good, first look at the woman.

"Do you think your bodyguard will like it?"


Dala isn't crowding Regan too closely. As she brings the dress up, Dala taps her teeth with the far end of the holder, looking down at it for a lingering several moments. It lets Regan see her. Dala does not seem… /that/ unusual, at least in this context. Pale as shit, though. That might be body makeup.

"Hmmmm… It would probably remind him of his daughter, so: Yes. Why, did you want to borrow him?" Dala arches her dramatically plucked-and-lined eyebrows as her red lips quirk up. "I could call him in. He's not much of a performer, though. I use him for his money."


Regan nudges her Prada bag against her hip. Blue eyes bounce from Dala's cigarette holder to her hip, quietly searching with her own style of 'ocular patdown'. Gun? NO. A gun wouldn't fit anywhere in this picture. Then again, neither would it for Regan's own cutoff shorts with pale, blue pockets sticking out of the legs. #PradaRepublic for the win.

"What? Borrow? Noooo." Regan purses her lips and turns towards a mirror with a cackle. She dips a knee, sizing up the dress, and then sets it onto a rack of other dresses that constitute as her try pile. "But when I saw him waiting for you, I had to think: Is this girl walkin' a sugar daddy around at midnight, or is there some kind of secret society of Intergang darkwave fans lacking a Reddit feed?" Regan turns on her heel back to face Dala with a serpentine grin. "Either way, as a fan of making entrances? I approve."


If Dala has a gun with her, she would need to REALLY love that gun. She takes a small clove-scented drag and exhales leisurely.

Dala sort of blends into the background in the mirror. She's not absent but you have to look for her. "Ugh, Reddit," she says: "I'm told it's a sty, other than the picture ones. I don't spend much time on the computer." Her lip curls back a little, scenically. "How about you?"

Then Dala smiles. Complements work on dragons quite well. "Thank you, /thank/ you. I missed yours, of course. You are from Gotham, or are you only visiting, maybe on vacation?" With this Dala shifts herself, resting a hip against a structural support that has been blessed with posters for a range of bands over time, like so much geological sediment.


As if Regan would look for anyone but herself in a mirror. The blue-eyed woman pries a lace-lined skirt from the rack and turns back towards it, beaming her confident, spoiled grade of arrogance to the reflection that matters. Hers.

"I don't do computers for the most part because they're for, you know, people who intend to work for a living. My phone, on the other hand…" Regan holds up a hand to see-saw waffle it in the air and throws the skirt on the pile. "…being connected by hand to every interesting person or mouth breathing shithead on the planet's hard to pass up."

Regan turns back to Dala, planting a hand to the back of her hip. She looks over Dala, chewing her lip, considering…

"I'm always passing through somewhere, but for right now, here. I'm a New Yorker, but just got back from a vacation that took me through Budapest." Regan reaches behind her and pulls a long, black skirt with a high split at the leg and holds it out towards Dala's hips. "And where's that accent from, Daaaaahlink.?"


"Oh, I know, it's wonderful." Dala then says with a sly smile, "I run a bed and breakfast. Very rewarding to be on these things." Then she's examined, and she seems to accept this, letting out a leisurely breath of clove-scented smoke.

"Budapest! I haven't been there in years," Dala says, all smiles again. She then lapses into Hungarian for a moment: "''I was born in Komarom, but who wants to live near Slovaks? And now I'm in Gotham, life is funny this way.''"

Well: Gotham was recognizable. Dala then continues, lowering her voice into a conspiratorial range. "I play the accent up a little bit, since it's charming to idiots. If you want, I could teach you. You sounded more Russian, but I know to English ears, the difference isn't so big."

Inwardly, Dala's estimation has shifted significantly, although, she notes to herself, she says she's a traveller. So that's convenient, Dala reasons, in case. "Anyway, with a dress like that, you need to accessorize or you will look like Coco Chanel."


"Better Coco Chanel than Donatella, if you know what I mean." Regan captures her lip with her teeth and slow-winks. "But you're right. I hadn't made it over to that part of the shop just yet, so…" Regan looks out to the test and snaps her fingers three times to get the clerk's attention. The gothling looks up, blinking incredulously Regan's way.

"Yes, you, put these by the booth and this one for her?" Regan points to the dressing booths in question, and leaves the clothing behind.

"You know, I speak a little Russian. I've picked up a few languages here and there, but accents are where the money's at." Regan turns to walk backwards, dipping her head in stage whisper as they travel down the circular racks. Arms extended, the brief hint of a tattoo on her ribcage shows through the tears in her fabric. "Free drinks when they think you're exotic and stupid. Free swag if they think you're exotic and not stupid."

Regan smiles slowly, eyes narrowing to shift the air in the conversation to lower tones. A drastic shifting of the winds.

"Did you say you run a bed and breakfast, or own a bed and breakfast?"


"For me?" Dala asks, philosophically. She then saunters forwards, raising her eyebrows a little as Regan speaks conspiratorially. The clove-tinged scent of Dala, who is also wearing a little of some BPAL scent or other, leans in closer as Regan explains. She gives a knowing smile, not quite showing teeth. "You're wiser than most people in shirts like that," Dala murmurs.

Then she says, with a modest pause, "Own. And the rest of the castle, of course." With extremely false modesty, she says, "I owe the bank a little money for the improvements, of course. You cannot host things without proper lights, you know."


Regan slows to a stop at the last rotunda of gothwear, where velvet-stretched placement holds all manner of silvered and black jewelry, cameos, chokers. Truly, anything but gold, despite how well it goes with black, gold isn't worth nearly as much to gothlings these days as steampunk brass.

"Could I share a secret with you?" Regan lowers her voice to a whisper and narrows one eye. Red-painted lips stretch in a grin that draws Regan in for a lean. "The shirt is a lot more ironic when I've got an actual gun in my hands. Call it a sense of humor."

Wink. Regan reaches out to snatch the long-handled cigarette holder from Dala.

"Tell me about your castle," Regan demands in her grabby-handed attempt to imbibe clove smoke. Ah, the little dominance games begin. "And is this castle a family thing? Inheritance?"


"Of course you can," Dala says, raising the holder to her lips for another leisurely pull. "I like the one in your purse, it's very charming."

Regan moves to snatch the cigarette holder. Despite being black plastic of whatever kind, and smooth to the touch, Dala's grip seems really hard to break. It wouldn't be /impossible/ to do so, but it wouldn't be /sly/.

"I call it Nocturna, but that was just because I did not like 'the Rallstone house,'" Dala intones, as if reciting. There's a sardonic air to it. "It was something of a happy accident… the old man died and disowned most of his family, but he did not mention his son's wife's sister, who - if you understand me - was my grandmother. So, last woman standing."


Regan's slender, manicured fingers come to a stop at the stem of the cigarette holder. She isn't a strong woman, the thin cord of wire wrapping her arms is only marginal muscle for her svelte frame, but she stops herself, hesitating to tug on the cigarette holder when the stealing of it doesn't come easily.


"So nice of you to notice." Regan slinks her arm back towards her body, fingertips twitching. She dips one knee in a mock curtsy and spins, straight, blonde hair flowing over her shoulders as she turns to face the myriad accessories.

"I love homes with names that matter; you were right to change it from that dreadful name." Names? None of which have been shared, yet. "Nocturna has a certain ring to it, which, last woman standing that you are, your grandmother should approve if she doesn't." Regan lifts a large, dangling body-chain before her.

"The Plaza in Manhattan's gone downhill." Regan offers, distantly. "I'll have to come check it out."


"We only have four rooms," comes Dala's clove-scented breath from behind Regan, as she examines the heavy and dramatic chain. "But they're very comfortable. No guests right now, so I would be making breakfast just for you…"

There is a note of smugness in her voice that is perhaps subtly maddening.


That one was camp, at least.

"And wi-fi, of course," Dala adds a moment later.


Though she holds the chain before her like a demented game of 'Cat's Cradle', exposing the silvered chain and black beads, nearly rosary in appearance, before her, Regan's attention is distracted from her shopping. The subtle shift of her eyes, mascara lashes sweeping as her eyeball slowly hooks to the corner of their sockets, is apparent to heightened senses.

Regan turns, clutching the chain to her chest and tucking in her elbows. The sole of her boot squeaks against the industrial black and white checkered tile, transporting the blonde to stare at Dala with a lightly cocked brow and a point of curious humor at the edge of her mouth.

"You have a way about you, don't you?" Regan reaches out, fingers splaying to open the neckline of the chain, moving to drape it around Dala's neck. "Consider me sold on a visit with complimentary breakfast and wifi, Ms. Nocturna." Regan narrows her eyes to slits, letting through the latent intelligence she's hidden thus far. "After preparing for Fall, of course."


Dala's still there. She's like a statue for a moment. She permits the drape of the chain, which tangles up in her tie and pools down the centerline of her chest. With this, she takes a final drag of the clove and tilts her head back to breathe out.

"Well; that was an easy sell," Dala editorializes lightly.

But then she extends her other hand. (Her fingernails are immaculate, thin, and painted purple. In the light here, they look black.) "But such is not my name. Call me Dala. Four letters, mind you; I know it sounds like money."


"You threw in wi-fi." Regan replies sardonically, extending her arm to rattle the bracelets on her wrist and slide her hand into Dala's. She squeezes the woman's palm…and hesitates. "One moment, I'm trying to decide if you're worthy of a pseudonym."

Regan lightly closes one eye and retracts her hand. A float of mutant energies, invisible and telepathic, reaches out to try for a sample of surface thoughts.

"Regan." Ree-gan, the uppercrust Country Club name for girls. Not like the former President of America.

"So," Regan turns to wraps her fingers around Dala's wrist and turn for the booths where their clothes await, intending to bring her along for the ride. "I've noticed a few things. That you're not exactly shopping, that your 'help' is dirtying his trousers on the stairs, and that you're more interesting a duel than that tired bitch behind the counter." A beat passes and Regan looks past her shoulder to Dala's eyes. "Did you know I was here?"


The power of the mind reaches forth to Dala's own hidden thoughts!

Dala is relatively veiled, although it is the veil of a strong-willed and domineering sort of person. Regan can get a good view, anyway, past nebulous impressions of 'she smells good' and an entertaining of the concept of necking. It's abstract, though. She follows once her wrist is taken, letting out a laugh. "Regan, then. It's a pleasure."

Then Regan renders her judgment. Her observations. Dala turns her head to meet Regan's eyes and there is an attitude there which is very soothing. Dala then answers.

"Not the foggiest idea." And that is apparently God's truth.

"I did notice the shop was open. There's shit-all else to do on a Monday night, so I had the pay piglet bring me here, to see if it were mere accident. From there, you were simply too charming. Besides," she concludes - and reaches out as she passes a key area, grasping /three/ black votive candles in one hand and raising them up, like some sort of Thinglike salute: "This was most of what I was here for, anyway."


"Piglet!" Regan cackles loudly, throwing her head back and baring her teeth in a wide grin when she does so. Her laugh chimes, but croaks at the end as she rolls breath back through her lungs. "Oh my god, I love that!" Blessed Schadenfreude. The thought alone makes Regan skip like she's a few years younger.

"I had to ask, because, Dala, this is Gotham, and when people who are important enough to have drivers meet by accident, it's either truly by accident, or someone's about to get kidnapped." Regan gives Dala's wrist one final tug and then guides her with a press to the hips towards the second changing booth. "So it's actually kind of relieving that you're buying candles, not that I was afraid, but I was bored, too. Boredom to attempted kidnapping isn't half as fun as this has been."

RUSH. Regan rips the curtain to her booth aside and slides in, grinning darkly to the pale woman. Twenty pounds of clothing awaits, and obsession rules the blonde clothes horse.

"Try on your skirt, and don't light those candles while you're in there." Regan lifts her fingers in a little wave to bid goodbye for the moment. "Because if you do there would be smoke, and if there's smoke…"

Regan rips the curtain closed behind her. Queue Wyngardian 'power move' in three…two…

"…then you might miss out on how good I smell."


"So does he," Dala tells Regan, which may help matters. She grins then, dark lips spreading. "Oh, you have a DRIVER! Would they be staying over as well? We parked a few blocks away. I hope the Batman didn't steal our car."

As she is given her skirt to try, Dala says as she slips into her own changing room, passing by a mirror with a surprising lack of flash: "I would not miss it for the world."


"I have a driver when I want one?" Regan, keeper of the flame of the annoying habit of making statements sound like questions. "It's complicated, Dala. I have a knack for finding drivers when I don't feel like shelling for a towncar. Let's leave it at that."

Bendy, tanned arms stretch over the booth, throwing off clothing, throwing clothing on in its place. The arduous process of judging every cling, every hang, every necessary sense of trust in the clothing begins.

"Trust me, we're going to need a car when I'm done here and another when I have to take all of this stuff back to my place, but if Batmans stole your ride?" Regan snorts. "That ride is gone. Now don't distract me too much while we're in here."

Regan's bare feet shuffle on the small square of carpet, checking the skirt from all angles.

"I'm working."

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