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Dave ST

Chosen 03a: "This Is My Life Now"

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Maya Flynn wasn't hard to find but Mel was pretty sure he was going crazy. He'd been tailing this girl for the better part of a week and still didn't have much to go on. On the up side, Mel didn't feel so bad about his life once he got a look at how drab and boring this poor Maya girl was. From the Library to her home she was constantly on the wrong side of either luck, or circumstance. A missed bus or train, someone cutting her off in a line her having to move to the back, her rather simple lunch orders constantly being screwed up... it wasn't that Maya Flynn was in any kind of trouble, it appeared more like the universe had made her it's punching bag.

It was about two days ago when Mel had noticed another person watching Maya. An attractive woman with long dark hair and she seemed fond of faded denim jeans, Doc Martins and a faded leather biker jacket. Mel was about to throw in the towel and hope those weird little, whatever they were, came back and told him something that equaled more than nothing when she came into the picture. He still wasn't sure what her deal was, but she was definitely following Maya and learning her habits and daily routines. So far it seemed as if he'd managed to lay low and avoid detection from either of them, but as the days ticked by, it just seemed more and more eerie. If Maya was in danger, it was most likely arriving on her doorstep very soon.

“No!” Maya's raised tone caught Mel's attention from his place across the street. For a moment he thought she might be in trouble until he realized she was yelling at her phone. She was rolling her bike down the stairs of the apartment building she lived in, gracelessly trying to manage the bike while also juggle her phone on the downward slope. “No! Leticia, I can't! I have plans tonight. Why don't you go do it? Do you have any idea how out of my way that is with my bike?” There were several more moments of arguing until Mel shook his head at the obvious outcome. “Okay! Fine. I only have one night off this week and I'm giving it to you. You had better appreciate this, because no other sister would love you this much. I'll call Mason and tell him I can't make it.”

A furious finger smacked the screen of her phone. She missed and hit it again. And missed again which resulted in an angry barrage of multiple taps along her screen until the bombardment seemed to finally end her call and give her the much needed moment to angrily swear silently to herself and anyone nearby that could hear it. She stuffed her phone in her pocket and rolled her bike a few steps before swinging her leg over it and peddling.

Mel didn't see the other woman who had been following her, not yet, anyway. He knew her habits pretty well and began tailing her. Most people assumed it was hard to tail a bike rider in New York, but it wasn't too difficult unless they were actively trying to evade you. She still had to stop at unusually long intersections or ride around two blocks to avoid them, plus carefully maneuver through people and vehicles. It was faster than walking, yes, but no less complicated than trying to drive some days.

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Posted (edited)

The universe hated her. That was the only reasonable explanation.

Maya shook her head as she waited at the crosswalk of E 77th and 1st Ave, staring at the light on the opposite side and trying to ignore the sullen faces of the people crowded around her. Next time Colleen, or, hell, any of the kids’ parents from the library tried to do something nice for her, she was just going to politely decline. Especially if it was an invitation to a party, and especially if it seemed like a good chance to get out and enjoy herself for a little bit. Because, apparently, whatever cosmic jerk had written out the plan for her life had decided that having a good time wasn’t allowed.

The day after the creepy dream she’d had about the woman from the gala being in her apartment, she’d lost her debit card. Totally screwed. The absolute best part, though, was that she didn’t find out until she’d gone to lunch that afternoon, and wouldn’t you just know it? Her ex Nate happened to also be getting lunch there. What a coincidence! Sure, he offered to pay for the sandwich she’d ordered (and she let him, obviously, because it was nice to eat once in a while), but then she had to listen to Fuckboy Supreme go on for nearly an hour with his pseudo-intellectual nonsense about Kant’s ideas on race and disability being totally misrepresented as ‘problematic’ when really he was just a man of his time and unfairly held to account for modern sensibilities… And was she free on Friday? ‘Cause, y’know. Kind of a dry spell.

Yeah. She knew. In Nate’s case, she just also didn’t care.

The day after that? Her bike chain had broken in the middle of morning rush, for no discernible reason whatsoever, and she’d ripped the hem of her slacks on the pedal. That was a real delight, a happy little two-for-one bonus. Even after she’d gotten to work, things didn’t get much better; one of the regular kids had been sick upstairs, and came down crying her eyes out because she was so upset. It wasn’t Grace’s fault, obviously, but it was just… one of those things. It took forever to clean up, especially because Lorraine couldn’t seem to keep her narrow ass parked at the circulation desk, so Maya had been forced to keep running downstairs to help the patrons, and it was- she shuddered at the memory- weirdly sludgey.

It had been weeks since she’d been able to hang out with Mason, drink a bottle of something local, and work on storyboards for “Greetings From Black Lake,” so obviously Tisha would call on her one day off to have her pick up the cake for some stupid dinner thing she and Mr. Perfect were hosting. What kind of spoiled brat bullshit was that? They both had cars, and it’s not like Leticia actually worked, so there was no reason she couldn’t-

“You gonna fuckin’ move, or what?” a surly, lumpy woman in an ugly green coat snarled at her, jostling her out of the way. Maya sucked in a sharp breath as a hundred different flavors of vitriol mingled on her tongue- but instead of loosing it, she bit it and lowered her head, pushing her bike through the crowd with the silent, seething fury of a woman who was just. fucking. done.

Edited by Maya Flynn

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Posted (edited)

Way, way back in basic training, Mel remembered, there was a fellow rainbow named Bradley Roberts. Lanky guy, had a guilty pleasure for romance novels, and seemed to always get into trouble or have the worst luck. Everyone called him 'Hex,' since he was black and came all the way from New Orleans, so obviously someone had laid the voodoo on him. Hex would occasionally complain about stereotyping, but in a good-nature fashion, since even he could not deny the odds of being put on punishment duty for stumbling onto the same pair of DIs fucking twice in the same week beggared reason.

Maya, Mel had concluded, made Hex look like a symbol of auspicious fortune. Every bit of small but constant ill luck added up and up until it became a towering stack bearing down on her. But also simply it sounded like she was surrounded by people who seemed intent on using her. That former boyfriend whose academic-sounding blathering only showed he knew nothing of life. The sister who clearly sounded less of a sibling than his brothers-in-arms back in the Rangers.

At least the kids didn't seem like brats. And he was pretty sure that one kid was crying because she was sick and not suddenly scared by seeing his face. He'd just been sitting there, reading. Nothing for the mother to give him the fish-eye over.

So while nothing seemed to justify Jack and Seth's warnings yet, everything just gave Mel the instinct something was going to happen, right? Perhaps if the watcher in the biker jacket showed up again? Mel took a bite of the hot dog he'd picked up from a vendor along the way, wiping a spot of ketchup off his face with a paper napkin, frowning. After encountering that rude toad, Maya was ready to explode like a C4 bomb.

The former Ranger held no pity for the fool who tripped the detonator.

Edited by Mel Grimson

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"One roast beef on garlic bread, add lettuce and tomato, fries on the side for here, please, with a water, and a dozen mini knishes to go. Thanks."

Ahhh, Pastrami Queen. Twenty bucks for a sandwich wasn't ordinarily within Maya's budget but considering the week she'd had, it was either going to get spent on lunch or boxed wine- and since they didn't make straws big enough for the latter, she'd just go with the roast beef instead. As she waited on her food, the off-duty librarian leaned against the wall, watching people pass on the sidewalk outside and surreptitiously glancing at the few other diners crammed into the tiny deli. Normally there'd be conversation, right? Even just commentary on the tongue or the egg salad or the Matzoh ball soup, all of which were pretty solid here. New Yorkers were notoriously chatty about food- asking someone about their favorite burger or the best place to get soup dumplings was the easiest way to strike up a conversation with a good-looking stranger. But... Nothing. They just sat in solemn silence, mechanically chewing what was arguably some of the best pastrami on the East Side, occasionally poking at their phone screens. In its way, the weirdly subdued atmosphere was even creepier than the haunted books at the library or the freaky/sexy dream she'd had of SoHo Salome.

"Order up!" The clerk at the counter glared pointedly at her, then disappeared back into the kitchen. Oh, well. Good food didn't always mean good service, and at the rate things were going, she should probably just be grateful she'd been served at all. She grabbed the one empty table against the back wall and eagerly started to dig in to the monstrous sandwich- then paused, cautiously checking under the bread for any unpleasant surprises, because it would be just her luck to find half a spider or something after the first bite. Reasonably satisfied there was nothing untoward lurking in the lettuce, Maya set about the serious business of devouring what was likely to be ninety-percent of the sum total of her caloric intake for the day.

Park Avenue was going to be a nightmare, she decided, taking a long pull from her water bottle. She could take 77th over to Madison, and then up to 78th, but it was... What time was it? Swallowing a mouthful of gloriously salty fries, she checked her phone and instantly pulled the face her mother had always warned her would stick if she wasn't careful. Great. So, another 20 minutes or so to Lady M's for the cake, then down to Tribeca to her sister's place, which was almost another hour. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

It was not, of course, absolutely perfect, as Maya's inborn sense of irony had already suggested.

"I'm sorry, it's how much? Did you just say this cake is a hundred dollars?" Half an hour after leaving the deli, the tall, dark-eyed woman stared at a tiny blonde behind the polished counter of the upscale pâtisserie. Between them sat a neat white cake box tied with a crisp blue ribbon. It wasn't even particularly large, from the looks of the packaging. Just your normal, average, could've-bought-it-from-Trader-Joe's-sized cake.

"$103.43 after tax. Yes," the little porcelain princess chirped with saccharine precision. "And how will you be paying for that today?"

"For a cake," Maya repeated.

"No, for our new, limited edition 'Slice of the Best' mille crepes. Now will that be cash, or charge?"

"Let me get this straight. My little sister ordered a hundred dollar stack of pancakes?" she asked, unable to keep the rising note of incredulity out of her voice. She had given up her day off for crepes. Freaking pancakes. She was rearranging her life so that her sister could feed her dinner guests fancy breakfast for dessert. The thin, taut smile of the cashier suggested that she, too, would rather not be having this conversation right now, but propriety dictated that both of them maintain some thin veneer of civility. "...I swear to god, Tisha, you better have cash. in. hand. when I get there," the long-suffering older sister muttered under her breath as she pulled out her debit card.

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Mel had noticed her about three blocks from the little pâtisserie that Maya was currently loosing what was left of her mind in.  The young woman was simply there, was the best way to put it, and after Maya had passed an alleyway, she took one last drag from her cigarette, pressed off the wall and off she went shadowing Maya.  Mel knew she'd broken eye contact more than once, but despite not being able see Maya, she seemed to possess and uncanny ability to just go in the same direction, the woman on the bicycle had taken.  He didn't believe in coincidence, but still, Maya's new pursuer made it easier for him to track them both.

Maya was outside the small shop, lips pursed and fuming to herself as she secured the expensive (that she wasn't going to get to enjoy) dinner breakfast dessert to her bike.  Mel wasn't quite sure what the deal was, but he was certain that he'd never seen anyone so angry at pastries in his life.  If you didn't like the place, or the food, why would you shop there, lady?  The pursuer was may twenty five yards away, blending in between the crowds and the parked vehicles along the roadside.  She rolled her shoulders, obviously antsy about something, and the pulled her leather jacket down, tightening it on back as she seemed to be doing some sort of boredom ritual.  The grissled ranger had seen it a million times, soldiers would alway find some manner of developing a nervous or bored tell that would remind the Senior Enlisted that it was time to start giving people something to do.

His eyes narrowed as they captured the matte black finish of a gun in an underarm holster.  9mm, semi-auto, looked to be a KC9, a custom designed handgun of the incredibly expensive variety... custom enough that she certainly was no cop or private dick.  As his heart began to thunder up and those old instincts began to kick in, he knew, the stakes had just been raised.

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Mel breathed slowly through his nose, as he began to evaluate the woman in leather. Hostile, likely military training. Armed with KC9, Model 1911 variant with 9 round magazines. Objective... scare, assassinate, or kidnap Maya? Truthfully, Mel had no idea who or what had sent the lady, or why. That should teach him for rushing off into situations on the say-so of a talking rabbit and big ogre.

Mel's own equipment: Glock 19 with concealed inside the waistband holster, and a combat knife in an ankle holster. Environment: in the middle of New York City and a whole ton of bystanders. Likely the hostile would wait until a more secluded location presented itself. The important question, did she was she aware of Mel's presence? It didn't look that way, but he couldn't be sure. The temptation existed to pick up speed, but that would likely twig her to his own tailing. Surprise might be his only edge.

He rolled his shoulders as well, in his case to make sure his body was loose and ready to move quick if he had to.

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