Burgers and Conspiracy

rylie_icon.png zan_icon.png

Where: Pearlies Diner

When: May 16, 2012

What: What every first date should include.

It's nothing fancy, but it's fun and has some of the best, greasiest food known to man. Or at least Las Vegas. The smell of frying foods, chicken and fries and beef, all mingle together and slip through the cracks in the door and around the windows. It's tantalizing, tempting to the hungry passerby. And it's the perfect choice when Zan decided to make good his promise for burgers and shakes.

The invitation was given, time decided even if the place wasn't revealed right away. He made a trip around, first to pick Rylie up, and then to the eatery itself. He parked not far from it, a short walk given they're both continuing to recover from the trials they'd faced not too long ago. Zan is still sporting bruises and moving a bit stiffly, but it doesn't stop him from pausing at the entrance to pull the door open and let Rylie in first.

When they get within line of sight of their destination, Rylie's reaction is mostly a laugh, but hardly a disappointed one. And when they head to the door, she even seems excited to be there. But then, there was a rather rough week without the luxury of greasy food.

"I see you're keeping your promise to the letter," she says with a light, crooked smile as she heads through the door. She doesn't go far, though, not until he's through, too. There's still a touch of nervousness to be alone. Or alone in a crowd, as it were.

Zan isn't far behind, and with a light touch to her elbow, he points to an open booth. "I told you I was taking you out for burgers," he says with a small grin, for his part only a little more cautious while out in public. "Pick whatever you want, though. I plan to splurge. Appetizers and sandwiches and drinks…" The list could go on.

"Shakes," Rylie tacks on to the list, "and maybe a slice of pie." Because why not. "How are you doing, adjusting to life without nurses?" She smiles over at him as she slides into the booth. Her own recovery has been more mental than physical, but her back must still be bothering her and it shows in the way she sits up straight there in the cushioned seating instead of leaning back or even forward to lean on the table. "Go big or go home, that's what I say."

"Trying to get back into the flow of things," Zan admits with a small shrug. "Having some trouble focusing on the classwork I missed." He taps a finger against the edge of the table, what might be a small marker of hesitation, then slides into the booth beside her. "My mom's almost as bad as the nurses," he continues with a grin. "Sometimes. She's worried though, some things still hurt to do. Like laugh."

"Yeah," Rylie says with a dimming smile. "I know what you mean. It's so… weird. I don't know." She rubs a hand along her arm, gaze going distant until she notices and shakes herself out of it.

Looking back to Zan, she smiles again, a laugh coming along with his words. "Oh yes. Mothers. Mine keeps looking at me like she's expecting me to have some sort of breakdown any minute. And it's times like that that make me glad I have my own place," she says dryly.

Zan nods, his manner a little reserved. Truth is he's got the work he missed, but can't focus his mind to do any of it. Stray thoughts, bits of memory warping into unpleasant daydreams, invaders that take over whenever he's got a quiet moment to give the assignments his attention. "Already asked for extensions." It's followed with a shrug.

And then a smile. "Must be nice," he says almost teasing. "I still live with my parents." Which is fairly common knowledge. "And while my dad never seems to know what to do about my, my mom's gotten that way too, since… Anyway." Changing the subject, he pulls over a couple of menus, passing one to Rylie before looking at his own.

"Mayor's son, you're sure to get them," Rylie says with a wink that's a little too knowing. "And hey, college is all about blowing things off here and there. I mean, and learning, but mostly about when to blow things off." She laughs a little to herself, but it's a little forced this time. "It is nice. I haven't lived with my folks since before college. It was a condition. I did the degree they wanted, but moved out. I have an extra— well, it's full of my music stuff. But I have a couch, if you ever need a night off from, you know. Family." She takes the menu, even glancing over it, but the truth is she probably doesn't actually have to to know what she wants.

"Oh, I know I got it," Zan says with a grin. "Just… ugh." Ugh, school and everything that goes with it. The offer earns her a glance, a darting look there and back to the menu in his own hands. "Yeah, that… Sounds like an offer I might take up." He glances toward Rylie again, one corner of his mouth pulling upward to grin.

"Just far warning, I sleep late on the weekends. If you wake me up early, I make no guarantee you won't need a hospital again," Rylie adds with a smirk. It might be a joke, but rooted in a touch of truth. Just a touch. "And I can see you're diligently trying to get through all that work." That one really is a joke, though. "Nothing like a little fuel first, huh?"

"Not the hospital!" Zan presses a hand to his chest as if to still a thundering heart. "Please not that!" He pauses dramatically, especially given that a couple of other patrons have glanced their way following his slightly louder than normal volume. It's short lived as he grins and shrugs one shoulder, dismissing the questioning looks of the onlookers. Nothing really is amiss or worth ogling over. "Yeah, I'm ready for food. Where's the waitress?" He slides his menu across the table and looks for someone who works in the diner.

That Rylie laughs a little too loud for a public place probably doesn't help, but she doesn't really seem to notice people looking until she turns to wave over a waitress. They looks away then, but Rylie can only roll her eyes. "You'd think it was a library in here." But at least the waitress does decide to come over to take their orders. It's burgers and fries on Rylie's side. And a shake, too.

Zan wasn't kidding when he talked about splurging. He's also got a burger and fries coming, a chocolate shake. But an order of fried mozzarella accompanies his selection, and a request for the dessert menu. Once she's gone, he breathes out a quiet laugh for Rylie's comment, the immature sort usually reserved for when an adult just doesn't get it. It's followed with a hand wrapping around his ribs, though it doesn't temper his smile. "I know, right? Maybe," he pauses, feigning seriousness for an instant, "we should keep a lower profile."

"Sorry, I should try not to make you laugh," she says, although with a smile still on her face. She worries, but manages to keep it lighthearted. When he gets that serious look, Rylie plays along, too, peering around the room for a moment. "Hmm. Yes. After all, the man in the gabardine suit is a spy."

A furtive glance angles itself toward the man in the suit. Zan sidles a touch closer to Rylie and speaks from the corner of his mouth. "He's probably got the place bugged. Quick! Act natural." Which he does, mostly, for a moment looking completely innocent with his hands folded and resting on the edge of the table. And after another earned round of glances toward their booth he chuckles again and looks at Rylie still with a smile.

For her part, Rylie's version of 'acting naturally' is to look off to the side and whistle. Which looks the exact opposite of natural. But then that's the point. She can't help a laugh when she notices the glances coming their way, and while some of the older folks about shake their heads, she just lifts her eyebrows, "Looks like we'll have to use a code."

Wrapping an arm over his middle again, he chuckles more. Clearly, Zan's trying to keep it a little more quiet, discreet in his poking fun at random strangers. But given the chance to feel normal, it's not an easy task. He gets himself under control, more or less, when the waitress comes by with shakes and cheese sticks, though she leaves with an amused curl to her lips and a shake of her head. And it only intensifies his own amusement after she's walked away.

"We should give her a nice tip," Rylie points out as she reaches out to take one of the cheese sticks. Of course, it's far too hot and she ends up pulling her hand away again with a whispered ow. "So those are hot. Just FYI." There's a chuckle there, but it fades into a sigh and she pulls the shake over to take a spoonful of that instead.

"So I think that guy is following me around." She doesn't explain who that guy is, but seems to think he'll be able to put it together.

"We will," Zan confirms of the tip, once he's gotten himself under control. It doesn't take much after her next statement, the one that follows the cheese sticks. He picks one up, juggling it between his fingers while he takes a more serious — more paranoid? — look around the diner. "The suit," he asks for confirmation, chasing the word with a careful bite of hot, fried cheesiness.

"No, thankfully. I don't think I would have made it through the doors, sadly." Rylie looks over to the man in the suit, managing a slight smile before she shakes her head. "No, but I've seen him around. Just a flash in the crowd. My shrink says that I'm using him as a repository for all my fears and — well, seeing things. But I dunno. I just see him around and he's always looking at me." It makes her roll her shoulder. Uncomfortable. "I don't know who else to talk to about it."

"Don't tell my dad." For some reason, that stands out as important in Zan's mind. He tries to maintain a look of casualness, though concern puts a crease into his brow anyway. He glances around the diner again, then looks to the barely touched shakes and cheese sticks. "You want to get this to go and …" Go? Where, he doesn't know, but talking might be easier where there aren't a hundred other ears to worry about.

That idea does make Rylie laugh, although not entirely from mirth. "Could you imagine? He'd probably have me committed. Or worse, bodyguards." Why his father has always been a little overprotective of Rylie is probably a little more clear now that Zan knows what she can do, but she doesn't really seem to resent it.

"Yeah, actually… if that's okay with you. Greasy burgers taste just as good out in the desert." Her expression is apologetic, though. All too aware it's her hang ups ruining their night out in the world.

"Bad enough he's got me to have babysitters tailing," Zan says with a smirk. To her own concern, he shakes his head, smiling gently. "Hey, it's okay. We run into him, I'll convince him that following you is a bad idea." He flags down the waitress who's been putting up with their antics since arrival, lucky she's the good natured sort, and agrees after a short exchange to bring their food in a bag, along with a couple of cups for their shakes.

"If we hang out together, he can probably cut his babysitting fee in half, huh?" Rylie tiles her head as he goes on, her smile barely there, but still. There. "I hope you're good at convincing. Aren't on the debate team, by any chance?"

She waits, mostly patiently, until their stuff comes to the table. And while she might leave the check to Zan, she's the one that pulls out a healthy tip to leave for the waitress.

"We should hang out together more," Zan says, turning a faint smile to her. "And shake the sitters as easily as other things." Her question gains a shake of his head, worry again touching his expression. "It'll be okay though," he offers, placing a hand over hers. A look to the walk way shows him the waitress returning with food, which he exchanges for enough cash to cover the tab and then some, added in with Rylie's tip offering.

Sliding from the booth, he grabs the food and a drink with one hand, his other offered to Rylie. "C'mon."

Rylie takes the little that's left, and while there's a glance to his hand first, she reaches out to take it after that brief moment. Her grip is a little tight, enough to get an embarrassed expression on her face, but at the same time, she doesn't mind feeling embarrassed about it, either.

She only speaks up again when they're outside, and she looks over at him with a little smile. "I'd like that, you know. Hanging out more."

Zan's own grasp is firm but not gripping, and he leads the way out of the diner and toward the car. Much to the relief of the other patrons, the two crazy kids have left the diner! He glances toward her as they walk the short distance back to the parking area, casting a smile at her. "Me too."

Rylie returns the smile, her steps slowing enough to set her behind briefly, but she catches up again before her hold yanks him back, too. "Hey," she whispers when she comes up next to him, "think you could take us up to the roof?" Given that she reaches for the bag of food, it seems like she thinks he can. "No windows around the side. And everything's prettier from up there. What'd you think?"

He does a fair job of keeping step, even half turning when Rylie falls behind. Zan glances behind and then toward the buildings, hesitantly relinquishing the bag of food. "I… I can't really control it," he says, though he turns his gaze toward the rooftops. How hard could it be, after all? He's done it once before, he should be able to do it again.

"Hang on," he says, taking a step closer to pick her up. One arm wraps around her shoulders and the other aims to hook behind her legs. It's an unsteady moment when Zan straightens, injuries protesting as he lifts Rylie off the ground and looks toward the rooftops again.

"Well, here's a chance to try," Rylie says. And her smile only grows wider when he picks her up. An arm hooks around his shoulders, and when she turns her head to watch where they're going, she doesn't even bother to look nervous. "Just think about where you want to go, think about the control you use to keep your foot from slamming down the gas pedal. It's the same sort of thing."

In contrast, Zan looks nervous. It's a small thing, a tightens around his eyes and mouth. Though after a breath he seems to steel himself. The worst that happens is he crashes, earns a few new scrapes and bruises, finds himself a cushion to keep Rylie from biting it if he fails. He takes another breath and thinks. About going up, pushing aside the alternative. Furrows run across his brow with the concentration put into focusing only on getting to that rooftop, so much that he pays little attention to their surroundings.

Rylie looks back to him, and there's a gentle chuckle. "Relax. It'll never be easy if you force it." She, having much less pressure on her, glances around to make sure no one is really around. It goes against the idea of going out to the desert for privacy, but everyone is inside and there doesn't look to be anyone hanging around. Plus, you have to take your opportunities when they come.

"Wind in your hair, you and the sky," she goes on, her voice a calm whisper, "the ultimate escape, hmm? You can just go. Whenever you like."

Zan lets out another breath and gives his his head a small shake. He looks at Rylie, a smile finding its way out before his gaze turns upward again. He takes a slight step forward. It is easier said than done, with worries creeping in. But somehow a modicum of control is found and expanded on. He doesn't rocket upward, nor is the ascent particularly sluggish. There's an unsteady quality, a boat in choppy waters that rises quickly enough to be unnoticed by anyone on the ground and stops a few feet above the rooftop.

"Alright, that's not bad at all," Rylie says, glances down toward the ground, then back to Zan with a brighter smile. "Now, I know you know how to go down," she says with a tease in her tone, "but try it feet first this time and you won't ram me into the roof. And gently! Don't worry too much about going too slow, as long as you're moving. Speed can be worked on." And she at least sounds like she knows what she's talking about.

"Hey, at least I got down," Zan points out with a grin. It's nervous, still. He glances toward the rooftop, then back to Rylie. "Don't worry, I got this." If only he felt as confident as he hopes to sound. Feet first is easier, like an inverted jump. "Get clear if It looks like I'm going to crash," he says as the near the roof, tension creeping into his arms and shoulders the closer they get.

Zan's feet hit first, momentum carrying him stumbling even as he throws on the proverbial breaks. One foot drags, going to a knee while the other slides to slow his forward motion.

"And ruin the food?" Rylie grins up at him, eyebrows ticking upwards just briefly. Playfully. But she means it, because as he goes in for a landing, she just hangs on tighter. But once he drops to one knee, she hops up, taking a few steps out of the way with a laugh. "Progress! Hey, can you see your glow when you do that?" The gentle glow is gone when he lands, of course, but it's possible she didn't ask when he was in the air for fear of distracting him.

"I glow too," Zan asks as he picks himself up. Either he hadn't seen it, or it might not have registered, so focused on not face planting or worse. He dusts his hands off and turns to face Rylie again, holding a hand out to her. He's smiling, relieved, pleased with managing what little bit of progress he had. True, if his dad finds out he was flying, in the city, that might not go over well. But that doesn't seem to concern him just nose. "Next stop, the Stratosphere."

"You glow. Lots to figure out about this ability of yours." It's a puzzle, that glowing. Rylie puts the food down in favor of coming over to take his hand in both of hers. "Suggesting a hotel already," she says with a tsk. And yet, she must not mean it seriously, because she tugs him over to a place to sit. "I suppose this is a good time for any questions you have. If you've got any."

Avoiding the subject that brought them out of the restaurant in the first place? Maybe.

"I glow." It's said with a huh, though wondering about it is put on hold when she tsks at his rather innocent comment. Zan stares at her for a moment, a grin twitching one corner of his mouth upward. He goes along with her as he's tugged, settling onto a patch of rooftop before pulling Rylie down after him. "Questions," he begins, looking up at the sky. "I… do you know of others that are like us?"

Rylie gives him a little punch to the arm when he starts staring, and she looks about to explain her play on words, but the grin stops her. Probably mercifully. So instead, she sits down, reaching for her shake again. A firm believer in desert before dinner. "Not many. I know one or two personally. Others I suspect… seems rare to run into people like us. We're quiet, I guess. I have no idea how many of us are out there, but I think it's more than we think," she says, her gaze tilting up toward the sky. "More than people would like. That I do believe."

She looks back to Zan again there, her head tilting. "Are you interested in meeting others?"

A quietness is a first responder. Zan doesn't show surprise exactly, that there are others out there. How could he with proof sitting beside him? He fills the space for answering her question by stretching for the bag of food and pulling it toward them. But he doesn't open it to retrieve a styrofoam clamshell containing a burger. It's moved and then abandoned as he turns slightly to look at Rylie.

"I am," he says slowly. Though he's already met two besides Rylie, circumstantially necessary meetings, closer to encounters perhaps. It possibly shows in his hesitation that he's not completely in the dark about others.

"Alright. I think I could manage an introduction or two," Rylie says with a chuckle. "Ones with less violent tendencies that that last group."

She reaches into the bag to get her order out, although she starts with the fries instead of the burger. "You just have to be sort of… careful. With who you show off to. Even the others like us. Your dad's endlessly reminding me there are people out there who'd be more than glad to make use of what we can do. And not always with good intentions. Just like politics, everyone's got some kind of agenda, some angle. It's never trust anyone over thirty all over again."

"Less violence would be nice." Zan grins, though there's a touch of tension to it. Left overs from the memories of captivity. He scrubs a hand against the back of his neck, glancing toward the food again. "My dad made it pretty clear I have to be careful. Not sure he trusts me not to do something stupid and not to trust anyone. Except you."

Rylie reaches over to touch his arm, possibly to try to ease that bit of tension. "Can't promise they'll be at all sane, but nice, at least." The note about what his father said makes her laugh a little, head shaking. "Is that what he said? Well, it's good to know I'm considered trustworthy. And it isn't you he doesn't trust. It's everyone else. These abilities, at the start, they're not always… predictable. And he knows that. We get too frazzled, and things happen. It isn't you. It's who might notice you. It's why he's so keen on you getting practice. So there's less a chance something might happen you can't control."

"He doubts that I can keep this quiet," Zan points out, serious but lacking the intensity. Like he almost finds it a joke, despite the very somber topic. "Probably worried it'll hurt his elections and Mom's career." He glances toward her at the touch, and gives his head a shake. It doesn't quiet pull him back but it unlocks another question that's been niggling. "How does he even know any of this anyway? He's… He can't do anything. Neither can my mom. How'd they know?"

"He doubts everything. It's why he's a good politician," Rylie says with a laugh. Cynicism isn't her thing, which is why she would make such a very bad politician, to her family's dismay.

"You know… I don't know how he found out about it all. He already knew by the time I met him. I'm sure my dad talked to him about me, but he wouldn't have if he didn't know your dad would be able to do anything about it. I never thought to ask." She might be thinking about it now, though. "He seems to know the… community, though."

Zan's mouth opens to protest, then closes with a shake of his head. And possibly a grin. "You might have a point about that," he says, of his dad's greatness in politics. Following, though, he goes quiet again, that crease once more returning though his gaze rests on an inconsequential point on the rooftop. Moments pass before he speaks again, words slow as if carefully chosen. "Don't go alone if you ask him at all? Please?"

Rylie looks over at him, her head tilting gently in silent curiosity while she finishes a fry. "Don't go alone? That sounds a little like a warning," she says with a playful smile. But there's a tone in her voice that gives away the thread of actual worry lacing through it. "Or are you just overly curious about it, too?"

"Yes," Zan says as he leans back slightly, putting his back against the ledge that borders the roof. "And yes. I'm curious, I mean I didn't know anything about any of this before. And now…" He holds up his hands in a what can you do gesture. "Maybe I'm just paranoid. Still shaken and being overly cautious if you're being followed, and serious about my dad's insistence not to trust anyone. But…" He looks at Rylie, head tilting toward her, smiling in spite of the worries.

"You know, life was just a lark not all that long ago," Rylie says with a wry chuckle. "Can't blame you for feeling paranoid, I'm feeling that way, too. I suppose don't trust anyone but Rylie could have been a hint not to trust him, either, but that is a chilling thought."

When his words trail off, she looks toward him, eyebrows lifted. "But what?"

"Just that," Zan answers, nodding to her words. "Does it include him? My family? —Your family? I just think …maybe it's not a question we should face alone. Surprise him by actually heeding his own warnings." Even if it is taken against the Mayor.

"My family. It's hard to think of them in some sort of conspiracy. And your dad's been keeping me away from bad intentions at the cost of bits of his own reputation. But hey, you fly, I… boost, anything's possible, I guess." Rylie lets out a heavy sigh, but she nods in the end. "You're right, though. If any of it's true, better not to find out alone."

"The perils of growing up in politics," Zan offers, though it's not meant as apology. He sits up a little, placing a hand gently against her back, looking at her again. That is meant to be an apology. This isn't how he'd envisioned the evening, theorizing on conspiracies. "I'm sorry," he goes on quietly. "I didn't mean to ruin things."

"Oh shut up, you didn't ruin anything," Rylie says with a shake of her head. "We were kidnapped! We're supposed to be a little off for a while. You'd know if things were ruined. I'd be storming off to try to find a way down," she says, a gentle laugh on her words.

He's staring again. And quiet. Then, just after she laughs, Zan speaks in deadpan. "Totally ruined it." He sits back again, folding his hands as one arm drapes across a knee. There's a small grin, however, a little easier than it had been moments before. "You'd be stuck up here," he continues, teasing. "Forever. Somehow."

Rylie gives him a little shove there, little because she doesn't actually want to hurt him. But there's a smile from her, too. "I've have to wait until my hair grew out long enough to fashion into a rope so I could climb down. If I didn't bake in the desert sun first. Like a terrible Vegas fairy tale."

"You're rather violent," Zan says as he exaggerates the force of the shove. A little. He's teasing again, or still, glancing toward her as he smiles faintly. "I wouldn't leave you up here forever. I'd fly you off somewhere."

"I don't know my own strength," she says as she lifts an arm to flex. When she leans back against the edge of the roof, she looks over at him with a crooked smile. "I shudder to think where you'd leave me instead. Somewhere with shade, I hope."

"You really think I'd be so cruel as to leave you somewhere unpleasant?" Zan feigns indignity. "I'm hurt. After all I've done… bought greasy food. Milkshakes." He sounds a little self deprecating now, and motions to the bag. "Offered to take you to the Stratosphere for dinner next time."

"Oh, is that what that offer was?" Rylie grins and sets her food aside. And even though it gets her clothes dirty, she scoots over the gravelly roof to sit closer to him. "So where, huh? Give me an example. Flyboy." Which is apparently his new nickname, because it widens her grin.

"Oh yeah," Zan answers, overemphasizing his answer is though dinner had been in the plans all along. "Why stop just for the view. We could picnic just beneath the antenna and watch the whole of Las Vegas like viewing ants. Flyboy?" He looks at Rylie, brows raising a little as he considers. "I'll accept that." As if he had a choice. He grins and bumps his shoulder lightly into hers. "Wherever you wanted to go," he decides. "Italy, or Beijing. Minot, if you wanted."

"Minot, North Dakota? Oh, however did you guess my dream vacation." Rylie smirks there, head shaking, but amusedly so. But when she looks over at him, her expression softens. "I like that idea, though. Picnicking all the way up there. I suppose it's a good thing you're not afraid of heights, having the power you have, huh?"

"Something told me the flat expanse of grassland and the smell of bison was your thing," Zan muses, angling a glance toward Rylie without actually facing her. His grin eases into more of a smile, losing the edge. "Not much to be afraid of now," he guesses, "being able to fly. So it's settled then. The Stratosphere next?"

"Bison. All I need to be happy." Rylie manages a straight face for that one, but not for very long at all. "Yeah, I suppose it's a comfort knowing that falling off something tall isn't going to be much of a worry anymore." She looks over at him, an eyebrow lifted. "I think that'll make a decent second lesson. We'll say it's an assignment on how to keep stealthy. And I swear, we'll actually get out to the desert to really get a test drive out of you, too."

"Now I know what to get you for Christmas," Zan says with a nod. Bison. "I'll make a test run of it before I take you up there," he says, turning his hand over in offering. "Make sure I can even reach the top. Let's make a weekend out of the desert. Soon. This weekend?"

"They'll love my living room," Rylie retorts. Bison. "Oh, test run. Good idea. I don't know what I'd say to emergency services if I got stuck up there." This time, there isn't her earlier hesitation when she takes his hand, letting her fingers lace lazily with his. "This weekend? Yeah, let's do it. We can tell people we're camping."

"Easier to explain why they have to scrape me off the sidewalk," Zan says with a chuckle. He tilts his head back, looking toward the sky, a small smile still playing in his expression. "Promise you won't laugh too hard when I crash and burn," he asks after a moment.

"I promise. And I'll bring along a fire extinguisher just in case. And a first aid kit. And just a little laughter." She holds her fingers up, not touching but very nearly so. "So long as you aren't hurt too bad. Mel Brooks says tragedy is when I cut my finger, comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die. But I like to think he meant that just for the movies."

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