A Fish Out of Stars
Roleplaying Log: A Fish Out of Stars
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Bart comes across an unusual girl of unique perceptions.

Other Characters Referenced: Flash, Tony Stark, Zatanna Zatara
IC Date: August 31, 2019
IC Location: Hell's Kitchen, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 01 Sep 2019 07:20
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The name Hell's Kitchen certainly evokes some awful mental imagery in the typical person who does not visit that part of town. For one who thinks in the way that Starfish does, it evokes entirely different mental imagery straight out of some horrible and very gore-filled horror movie. So it is an improvement in her way of thinking. After an incident in another part of town involving an experiment in outfit that went horribly awry, Starfish has decided to put on a …moderately normal-seeming look. It is definitely not what many think of as normal. The seemingly shredded jeans and the weird shirt make her stand out. She gazes at the front window of a small bookstore, peering through to see what is on display.

Mulling something over, Starfish decides to try something out. Her heart races when she enters the small store, but then she stops. Different thought. Moving to a shelf with four copies of a single paperback, she comes away with one and leaves four behind, bringing it to the owner and clerk who rings her up. Heart racing again. Even though she is doing nothing wrong. Technically. She sets exact change on the counter, and exits.

When Starfish rounds the corner of a nearby alley she gazes at the book in hand, thinking over what she had just done. Nothing wrong, but it would definitely seem like something wrong, so she feels a tinge of guilt. Or worry about being caught. She drops the book to the ground, rubbing at her forehead.


The area isn't one that Bart's been accustomed to visiting himself. It's not out of fear of the place's reputation or the name, after all, he'd been present back when the explosions had rocked parts of Hell's Kitchen. To him it seems like forever ago, and it's a little sad to see that some of the places hadn't changed at all since then.

But people still come through here, still go through routine, still live. That seems enough. A thought comes to him, one that he makes a mental note to speak with Pepper about when he gets back to the office, a place he's not all that intent on going back to so soon, even though he knows it will be inevitable.

He's had a lot more things on his mind ever since the happening in Metropolis but the previous night. The Flash, a Flash had exploded back onto the scene and it wasn't his cousin Wally. His excitement over confirming who he thinks it to be is overlapped with anxiousness at what he's supposed to do. A thought he decides he'll worry about later. For now, he's trying to keep incognito, hood of his maroon sweatjacket pulled up over his head, a funny thing when he's in plain clothes, but being known as Tony Stark's ward and head of Stark Industries happens to draw its own attention, and he's not sure how Tony nor Warren can manage it. It goes completely against everything Max had taught him.

There should be nothing untoward about the person dropping her book, and really there isn't. It's just one of those things that happen when one is passing by, so that one can't help but take notice. He steps in from the street into the alley, a hand slipping out of his jean pocket to pick up the discarded book.

"You okay?" he asks, amber eyes peering curiously at her as he holds out the book.


The bright-red head of the book-dropper turns, showing someone with weird taste in accessories. Her eyes appear to be solid green. "Uh?" Her gaze seems to look…vaguely in the book's direction. It's hard to tell precisely. The eyes widen at least. "Um…yeah." There are girls who seem to have a bit of trouble with meeting new people, and then there is this girl who stumbles over her words when she speaks. "Just had… thoughts."

Nervously she steps in the book-holder's direction, lifting one hand as she figures the book is to be returned, slowly putting her hand on it. "Um…thanks…" she says with some difficulty. She's definitely nervous, then closes her eyes, and the nervousness seems to wane. "Sorry. Just…new. um..I mean… here."


Not to be rude, and thank goodness Max has worked with him enough that he refrains from outright saying 'hey you have weird eyes', but the thought still comes to him as he blinks at her. Still, Bart offers a smile, and when the girl finally speaks he arches a brow, head tilting. The book still remains in his hand.

"Uh-huh. They must've been some pretty important thoughts," he suggests, book still held out, although just when he thinks it will finally be returned, the strange girl seems to halt on taking it altogether.

New, huh? He nods a little in that not-quite-sure-he-understands-but-he'll-pretend-he-does fashion. "Oh. Like, to the city? I can get that. It can be overwhelming."


"Uh…kitchen," the girl utters, providing not the best of clarifications. The book is experimentally lifted from its resting place of one young man's hand, stared at for a second again, and the girl who holds it now purses her lips. Did nothing wrong, she thinks again. "You um…thank you…" She thumbs through, more just to feel the pages pass than any other reason, and the book's insides are blank, which does not seem to surprise her in the slightest amount. "Sorry," she says again, backing up a step. "Spent… your time…"


Bart may or may not be entertaining images of aliens in his head as he continues to look at the girl oddly. "O-oh, Hell's Kitchen. Guess the same goes. Still part of the big city. Apparently some people call it Clinton." He shrugs, letting his hand return to its pocket burrow once the book is finally received.

"Dooo you live around here then? Or are you just exploring?" He watches her fidget with the book. "Are you lost?" She takes a step back- is he scaring her? That possibility seems to surprise him and it shows on his face before he blinks it away again. "It's no problem, really. Uh. Look, I'm not gonna hurt you or anything," he says, pulling both his hands from his pockets and holding them up to show them empty.


The backing away halts after the single step. "Clinton," she echoes, as though trying the sound of it. "…yeah, better…" She holds the book in both hands against her abdomen, loosely so. "Um…" The question of location, where the dwelling is, seems to give her reason to look out of the alley, as though seeing the street would help her mentally navigate. It does not. "Yeah, lost…" she replies truthfully. "…always lost… big city…" She looks from one hand to the other, as though trying to puzzle out why she is being shown. "you um…magician?" she guesses.


"Oh, okay, cool. I mean not cool that you're lost, but- …yeah, an easy fix! We just have to get you unlost!" Bart smiles brightly, confident in his words.

And then again he blinks as the girl looks at his hands and then asks… Wow, what? "Uuuh, no. I was just…" He looks at his own hands then before sighing and shoving them back into his pockets. "I was just showing that I didn't have anything in my hands so you wouldn't be scared. 'cuz you kinda seemed scared there for a sec. Or at least really nervous. Maybe you're just shy?"


"No…lost… it's fine," the girl replies. "For now…" She takes in the way the boy before her presents himself, each subtle change in posture and the way his lips move, which is not particularly unique but she fixates on it because she considers how weird mouths are to watch. "Um…why…scared of… things in hands?" she wonders aloud. A nod follows then. "Yeah… Um… seem shy."


"Really?" Her response is baffling. Bart by now is totally convinced she's some kind of alien. "If you need help finding…wherever you need to go, I don't mind helping." Why is she staring at him like that? Or is there something behind him? He checks- nope, nothing unusual. Is it him? Did she recognize him?

He just manages not to pull out his hands again to look at, instead peering at her like she'd grown another head. "Never mind," he says, trying not to groan. "Shy. Right. What's your name?"


The girl's gaze moves from mouth to nose, and that takes a few seconds for her to stop staring at, turning her head down when she realizes she's doing it again. "Sorry…" she offers. "Um…noses are weird… shape…position…hole direction…" She scratches hers. "Fulla snot…" She looks back up to specifically not the nose. Forehead. Nice simple unweird-looking forehead. "Starfish."

She says that word with some degree of acceptance, anticipating a very specific form of reaction.


Her statement about noses is weird in itself, although perhaps it's for that reason that Bart laughs. "Yeah, I guess they are, but that's how they are," he says, shrugging. His lips quirk in a crooked smile as she gives her name. At least he supposes that's what it is, given it's a direct reply to his question.

"Starfish? Like the sea creature with all the arms?" Beat. "Are you an alien?" Bart you don't ask people that.


To her credit, Starfish seems to be at peace with her name and how people tend to respond. Half of them check for clarification, the other half have their minds in the ocean. The alien question is also not new, but how it is asked, in earnest, changes matters considerably compared to the expected mockery. "…not quiet…" she replies regarding sea creatures. She points upward. "Stars." She's getting more creative about giving people the idea. "Parental mistake… born here." A pause. "Oh. The eyes… um… it's a trick…" One hand goes to each eye, drawing away what looks like a pair of very green contact lenses, and two different eye colors are revealed. One blue, the other red. They blink and the red one is blue. She offers the contacts.


His own eyes widen at that, and indeed the boy looks much more excited than ready to withdraw from a potential freak. "Ohhhh..! Like, in outer space, fireball stars? But then what part's the fish?" he asks, envisioning space whales and who knows what else as his overactive imagination needs little prompting.

She offers her eyes, or rather the contacts, and Bart's not sure if he's supposed to take them, much less what he's to do with them. However when her real eyes are revealed he stares, not in a way that suggests being horrified, but rather fascinated. "Wow, cool! How do they do that?"


The one word attempt needs work, Starfish determines. Worth a try. "Swimming fish. Among stars. Poetry." It's a subject she has zero trouble speaking about. She just has trouble with the normal speaking pace. "Um…do..oh." A look of dismay forms. "…couldn't decide?" she offers, sincerely, but it definitely is not a correct response for most people.

"Idea…" Starfish is about to lift up her t-shirt, then stops. "Um…not..what you are thinking…" she mentions, putting the hand back at the book as she thinks much better of doing what she was about to do.


That takes some wrapping around his mind to make any sense of that and it shows on his face, scrunched up as though he's mentally trying to shove these word descriptors into some semblance of sense. "Okay you lost me at poetry." Did she mean it was metaphorical? So there really aren't fish in space swimming amongst the stars? Clearly this is all the more reason to go to space for himself.

Dealing with her color-shifting eyes seems more understandable. Maybe. "So you change them yourself? Or it just…does that? If you can change it then you won't need contacts to hide them, you just need to pick a color. Ooh, and if you ever get bored with that color, you just change it to another color a different day. So it'll kinda be like wearing color contacts anyway!" This makes total sense to him- oh gosh wait what is she doing —

Bart seems to just realize what she's doing, or at least appears to, and in that moment it's his turn to step back, hands coming out of his pockets again in preparation to flail or cover his own eyes- which, he's not sure of but he's saved the trouble of deciding as Starfish thankfully reconsiders.


Score one for most attempts having to be made to actually translate the name, or something along those lines runs through Starfish's head. "sorry." She flips through the book, pulling from between its pages a distressingly good-looking stylized image of a carp set on a starry backdrop. "Starfish," she utters, hoping not to have to go to round four. She doesn't have anything in mind for round four other than… really length strings of words.

"…yeah," she says as Bart describes a significant part of why her eyes changed. "That. You um…not scared. …or weirded out…"


It's…a really nice picture at least? Bart chews on his lower lip for a moment as he wonders if he's supposed to take it literally or figuratively. It's making his brain hurt just to think about.

How 'bout we just focus on the whole eye thing, yes? Yes. That seems easier for him, and at her stilted words, he smiles again. "Why should I? Oh. Sure, I guess it's not really…normal? But I think it's neat. You need to be careful though, if you do that where people can see. There have been some pretty strict rules in this city lately." His smile fades then, his expression a bit more serious.


That makes Starfish look genuinely worried. "What…rules?" she asks, catching herself revealing a hundred things just by two simple words and admonishing herself mentally for it. If rules, complications just arose. A lot of complications and not sufficiently concealing what she has in mind. The worry melts away to neutrality. More mental admonishment in the form of sarcasm. "…somewhere private?" she suggests, quickly noticing the change in the boy's expression.


"Rules, laws. It's annoying."

Bart nods at the suggestion, looking around. It's not the greatest neighborhood to be hanging about in an alley, and while he's been through here it's not like he's personally familiar with every place to suggest somewhere better to speak in. He looks towards the flanking buildings, a smile returning to his face as bright as a lightbulb for the idea that pops into his head. He points to a nearby fire-escape and then upwards to the roof.


Up..that." Starfish considers the escape, and its options, not expecting that to be the direction of choice. "Yeah. Um…okay." One hand moves behind her back, then it's not behind her back when she turns to walk further into the alley, mentioning over her shoulder, "…Go up…I'll be there…" She abruptly ducks behind a trash dumpster. She does not come back out from behind the dumpster. A visual inspection? No Starfish.


"Uh, okay."

And of course Bart has to peek around the dumpster, brows lifting when he finds Starfish absent. "Whoa…"

He takes a quick look around before he does a few mild acrobatics to get to the fire-escape and haul himself up. Since no one seems to be watching and normal speed sucks, he speedsters it up the rest of the way, hopping up over the ledge in a sliver of a fraction of the time it would have taken to do so otherwise.


"You're fast," Starfish says, already up there when Bart arrives. Somehow. Her shirt changed, to the starry carp image. It's not well aligned considering the shape of her body, but it is a perfect replica. She's sitting on the edge, just out of line of sight from below. In her hand, a …tiny replica of Bart as he currently looks, in doll form. "Figured um… thousand words, one picture… hundred thousand, one doll…"


He nearly falls over (on the rooftop at least!), startled by Starfish's presence. It's not that Bart didn't half expect her to somehow be up there already, but he's still surprised. Thankfully he catches himself from a clumsy spill, scratching the back of his head, pulling his hood back in the process to run his hand through his hair, somewhat unkempt but still stylish in its shaggy way.

"Oh yeah," he says belatedly in agreement to his being fast, even as he notes the differences. So she can definitely do more than just change her eye colors, he decides.

The doll of himself does make him look quizzically between it and she who holds it. "Oookay, that's…kinda creepy actually. Cool, but still creepy." The way he says it doesn't seem like he's offended at least, nor even as creeped out as might be suggested by his words. He steps over to sit next to her, leaning in just slightly to get a closer look of the doll of himself in the way an overly curious child would. And really that's not all that far off from the truth.


Starfish is not particularly surprised by the speed, or rather that there is something unusual about Bart, though she is impressed. She has just dreamed a lot and her dreams have sometimes been outlandish enough to include super powered avatars of the Greek pantheon. Hermes gets to go fast. She is reminded, "I… forgot your name, um… if you gave it…"

She offers up the doll for inspection. Everything is perfectly proportioned, made of plastic like those really popular girls' toys trying to scold them for not being perfect about how they develop. The face is just a bit off, but recognizably Bart. Perfect mouth and nose. She was looking at those things. It's the eyes, she didn't make a lot of contact so she guessed and guessed wrong. "Um…I…could have made it much creepier," she suggests. "…if it moved… but… not a contest." Also if she made it scream, that might have definitely upset the original. She knows that. From experience. "…sorry for the creepy part. Tried to…make it neutral."


It's really weird holding a doll rendition of yourself. Really, Bart would prefer an action figure. Internally he can't help but think of stereotypical voodoo dolls and someone with a handful of pins.

"My name? Oh! I didn't- sorry!" He grins sheepishly. "I'm Bart. Hi." It's weird to say hi when you've been conversing a while now, but he does so anyway. "So um. Why'd you make it anyway?" he asks as he hands the doll back. "How exactly are you doing any of this? I mean, you even changed your shirt."


"That's…not related," Starfish admits. "Hi, Bart." She sets the doll down out of Bart's line of sight. "I can… have things. If I want to. But…" She pulls that same book from where it was. "I don't know what's in it…" She lets it flap open, showing the blank midway inside. "Uh…so… laws. That's why privacy. I…kind of like sharing this…I shouldn't. but…you probably shouldn't be sharing the fast thing. So…win for both of us."


Out of sight out of mind? Well, maybe not completely- Bart's got an excellent memory, but he's also easily distracted. Starfish has his attention again, his eyes falling to the book she brings out once again. "I…still don't think I get it. But you're right about the fast thing. It's…well, I'm supposed to keep it a secret." He smiles crookedly. "Better that way. Also it's why I wanted to tell you why you needed to be careful about what you do, too. The law thing."

Ugh, where to start though? "So in this state, New York, that is- they passed this thing called the Registration Act. See, most people don't have powers and abilities to do stuff like you or me, and sometimes it scares them. I guess it's understandable though, because some people with powers do bad things with them. But there are people that do good things with them too. Anyway, the new Act is a law that basically wants everyone with powers to register themselves so that their name and abilities will be known and recorded. Supposedly it's to make people safer, but a lot of the people affected- metahumans, mutants, aliens — they don't think they'll be safe with people knowing all that."


"Oh." Starfish muses as Bart explains the law, the Act. "…what if someone lies? Like…um… strong enough to eat a tank and can um… produce rabbits from a hat but just.. rabbits thing… provable when registering?" She does not look even slightly worried, more analytical. "Then… crime with rabbits everywhere, send insufficient force to detain…" She shrugs. "Seems dumb. You're right to think it."


The example she gives makes him snicker a little as he can't help but picture it all. Except he knows someone who can pull infinite rabbits out of a hat and now he's picturing Zatanna chomping tanks, the image just being entirely ridiculous.

"That's…different, but no, you bring up a good point. But they'd still know who you were, and they don't play games with the people they do catch who aren't registered." Bart makes a face. "They have these big robot things called Sentinels aside from whatever manpower they've got for the DPS."


"Um.. I'm going to sound ungrateful…" Starfish says apologetically. "Well, not…fully ungrateful. Thank you for the warning. You uh… haven't. Or you wouldn't hide it…" She puts the book out of sight, then stands up, and nothing is concealed where she placed it and the doll. "I um… try to avoid showing…anything. To anyone. Um…personal reasons." An eyeblink and her shirt is back to what it was. Her eyes blink and the green "contacts" are back in. "I can't register. I'm uh… mental patient. Probabation. Not going back."


"Oh, I'm not registered either. Which is why I gotta keep the whole being fast thing a secret. I guess it's not so different than I'm used to, because I've always been told that it's important to pretend I'm just a normal human being, keep that separate from the whole super-powered side."

Bart still can't help but marvel a bit as things are just different or no longer there, without anything to have tracked even with the rate of which he's able to perceive things. He might be staring a bit where book and doll should have been before he looks up at Starfish again.

"What happened? Where do you stay then?" he asks, blinking.


"…yeah," Starfish nods. "Appearances and um…all." She produces another book, comic style, black and white cover stylized image of herself curled up against a wall in patients' scrubs, no words on it, except for the hair colour, which is the same bright red as Starfish has. If not for the distinct hair colouration, could be anyone. The pages depict a somewhat depressing setting as the story wordlessly follows Starfish through a day of being interviewed, being given injections, being questioned after the injections, being locked in a room, looking distressingly ill. The girl depicted looks about ten. If that. The one that is walking out of a mental hospital escorted by a very normal-seeming couple illustrated with warm colours compared to the cold ones of the hospital staff, that girl is in her teens. "…they put me in because… um… I saw things. And…I told people I saw things. I can see them whenever I want to. And…more now. Practice."


Bart loves comics, although not like this. His brows furrow as he looks over the pages that portray a very personal thing, and he glances at Starfish again, sympathetic. He points at the couple. "Are…they your family? What kind of things do you see?" Maybe if Tim were here he'd tell him to rein in on the questions but being curious by nature, Bart can't help himself.

While he'd never been stuck in a mental ward the images strike a chord with him. There'd been a time when he'd been kept away from his family, an object of study with no real help offered. But he'd had Iris then. He hoped Starfish had someone too.


"They…aren't really them but… parents, yeah," Starfish replies. Then considers. "Image changed to hide them. Also… me. I don't um..that's not really me. That's..just what I um.. look like. Now." She gets a thoughtful expression when she is asked what she sees. "…I can show you…" she offers. "Um… not… scary stuff, just… I can show you. Oh. The more… can do more, not…see more. Seeing was always infinite."


"Oh…" comes Bart's reply, in that sort of way that suggests he probably doesn't quite follow, but at the same time thinks he does. He sits back again, still looking at her as she offers to show him, head tilting. Pfah. Scary stuff.

"Okay, show me," he says, not hesitant in the least.


As Starfish sits down, Bart starts to notice that the world around him is slightly different. Everything looks like it's at a very subtle upward angle. The gravel on the roof changes to look a lot like a watery surface that Bart is standing on. It feels wet, too. Sounds wet. Smells of water. Beneath, a thousand vague fish-blobs that don't move like one of those toy plastic aquariums. The other buildings, they change to enormous trees. Starfish approaches, but what Bart sees is a golden light in the form of a girl. "…I can see more than I show you," she informs quietly, almost sadly. The light changes to shadow, black shape of Starfish with eyes that are darker still. Her voice is the same, and something about her seems soothing rather than frightening. "But I can show you a glimpse…" Within the blackness of her body, it's like looking at a mirror, from the perspective of her eyes. Bart is Bart, until his clothing changes to appear like a blooming garden worth of life, a dragon-like creature just popping into existence on his shoulder, and rising behind him, an enormous blue balloon that seems to reflect everything in it, and a vast cityscape worth of fantastic elements is seen within.

The return to reality, or at least unchanged by Starfish is almost jarring.

"…I can see whatever I want to," she adds. "Showing other people…much trickier."


Bart Allen does not scare easily. Raised in a world of virtual reality for over half his life, he grew up believing that everything could be solved by charging right on through and mistakes could be righted with unlimited continues. Problems came in the form of monsters and boss battles and the landscape he dwelt in was largely fantasaical in structure and operation, changing to occupy a rapidly developing mind.

This is different. Different aesthetics. This is like a mindtrip, which is saying something even for the boy whose mind goes through any number of random imagery like someone boredly flipping channels.

Having the addition of an external influence of emotion not his own is also new, although it blends with his increasing curiosity as he tries to take in everything he can. He reaches out like one would in trying to touch 3D effects or a hologram in experimentation, and despite in the back of his mind noting that he might be concerned if they were truly underwater because he'd never learned to swim, he's utterly amazed at everything despite understanding nothing of it at all. Does it mean something? Is it just how Starfish sees things? What is this?

All at once it's over, and Bart jerks back with a start and a gasp, suddenly unplugged from Starfish's unique world.

"…whoa…"


Starfish moves to Bart's side as though expecting gravity to take hold of him and re-orient his upright position to become much more left-right. "Sorry," she offers out of reflex. "…um. That was… really blatant. Better if the change isn't noticed. Like uh. Your pants." Nothing fantastic results of Bart looking at pants. They just shifted to a darker shade. If Starfish hadn't pointed it out, may have gone unnoticed, if a bit nagging at the back of the mind about how dark they used to be versus now. She steps back again. "You…know others," she guesses. "I don't…yet. …can I?"


Thankfully he doesn't lean so far back as to go falling off the roof. Perhaps it's to be taken as a positive thing that Bart's still beaming, like he'd just gotten off of an amusement park ride.

"…huh!" is all he says as his attention is directed to his pants. He rubs a finger on it experimentally, as though half expecting the color to come off or the spot to lighten.

Lifting his head at her question, the speedster looks at Starfish blankly at first. "Others? Oh, like…just other people? Friends? I don't see why not. Anyone can!"


The pants, they do not seem to make any progress toward reverting to their natural or original shade. Starfish sits again, playing with the tassels of her jean legs, letting them cascade from her hand and lifting them in a cycle. "I mean… unregistered… registered… um… friends I guess? Okay. Friends. I uh…don't…have many already…" Which may come as no surprise. "…hoping you. Once the uh.. euphoria wears off…" She looks suddenly really sad. It's brief, and well concealed when she catches it.


Bart seems content with leaving his pants to their newly darkened state, letting his hand drop back down beside him. He bounces the heels of his sneakers off against the concrete as he waits for Starfish to work out what she means to say.

"I know lots of people who are unregistered. Friends too. And if you need help with anything, they'd be willing to offer it." He smiles reassuringly. "We can be friends too. I mean, if you want, anyway." Gotta start somewhere, right?


Mysteriously, the pants return to what they looked like before when next examined. Starfish seems a little nervous, apprehensive. "…when the euphoria wears off," she says again. "Um…then …official? Yeah. I do want. Just…really friends. Not um…novelty again…" Her eyes move like she's putting her brain to work at solving a riddle. "I don't… need help yet. Maybe someday. I uh… good at hiding stuff…" An extreme sort of nervousness comes over her as she puts to words the next thought. "Can um…can… I meet…them? Um…soon. Not.." She closes her eyes, calming the severity of what she's going through. "Not a…rush. Eager."


"Sure. Yeah, it's not something you need to decide right away. And just so long as you're careful, you'll be fine." Bart nods, deciding that he agrees with her ability at hiding stuff. "Okay. But anytime you might need any help, you can let me know, all right?" His smile returns easily, and he nods again. "Yeah, you can meet them some time. That'll be fine."


"…that. Let you know… how?" Starfish asks. "Um… not allowed a phone. Overstimulates. They uh…don't know I can still see things. I just… lie about it now. Because of…you saw." The comic is gone.


"…that. Is a good question."

Bart taps a finger against his chin as he folds his other arm across him in an expression of consideration. Abruptly he springs to his feet, looking around across the cityscape.

"Mmm….can we see it from here? Ah-hah! Okay, see that building?" Thank goodness for a billionaire's ego. "Stark Industries. You can go there and just ask for me."


Starfish takes time to find the one Bart speaks of. To her… it's not exactly the same so things contrast a bit differently until she tells herself to cut down on the creativity. "oh…" she says when she finally spots it. "Uh…just… ask for Bart? Or… 'Me'?" Either one does not sound like it would work to her desires.


Stark Tower probably isn't too difficult to locate for its sheer height and structural finesse. Bart nods and then hesitates before clarifying. "Bart. Ask for Bart," he says. So that might not exactly be a free pass to the office because security and protocol in big name offices are so stuffy but at least he's confident that SIRIN will let him know of any particular visitors.


"Oh. Okay," Starfish says, going over possible scenarios where she wanders into a strange place, asks for someone by first name, and the bad outcomes don't overwhelm the not-bad outcomes. None involve being arrested just for walking in. And people who sit behind security desks are supposed to treat everyone with the same cold respect until something happens. Then she considers the possibility of running into a lot of people with clipboards and labcoats, worst case scenario, but shakes her head. "…I should go home. Can't stay out late… again…" She turns until she spies something familiar. "Um..it's that way…" She goes to where the fire escape stairs are, measuring the distance go get onto the top portion of it.


The only people in labcoats that might be about were more of the technological studying sort, at least. Bart knows that security's been a bit tighter ever since the Joker invited himself in and held his own party, which the speedster still feels responsible for if only because he'd been the one who'd given Harley Quinn keycard entry. But no, no one should be turned out just for asking for him, and Bart's proven himself to have his own streak of Tony-ness in a way when it came to doing as he pleased.

"Oh yeah, it is kind of getting late, huh." He nods at her, looking off where she does then. "You going to be okay getting there? Or you want some company?" Or is that a silly question, he wonders, given that Starfish had managed to just forgo climbing up to the roof earlier.


Starfish is crouching, ready to lower herself down to the uppermost fire escape landing, then she is asked That Question. The one where she isn't alone and going toward home. And she thinks about her answer. On one hand, explaining to parents about boy following who has done nothing wrong and is actual friend, which they might notice as out of place which means call to doctor to report strangeness and… then there's the more likely scenario where they think it's normal that she has started making friends. While she mulls this over, a peculiar, worried and hopeful at the same time look comes to be on her face. Risk it. "Um…company," she nods. "Want that. Just um…gotta change on the way." She pulls up what looks like a small dufflebag from over the ledge that probably wasn't there.

"…need…something to um… pull out change…"


Bart's lips quirk again in a smile as she accepts his accompaniment. "Okay," he says, seeming to already be adjusted to her ability to conjure things from nowhere. He gestures. "Just um, lead the way then!"

It's a good reminder, changing. He tugs his hood back over his head. All right, so it's not much of a change but it's the little things.


Starfish approaches Bart again. "So um…I can't…do that thing while you um… see me." She holds the dufflebag in both hands, looking apologetic. "So…go ahead. I'll meet you down there." She walks to the edge over the alley, sitting on it, resting her chin on one end of the bag which leans on her chest, nestled on her lap.


"Huh? Oh, right. Sure," Bart replies, snapping off a salute before hopping over to the fire escape and swinging down onto it. "See you on street level!"

And down he goes, around and down again, not that it's quite visible as he just seems to be down in the alley again. He may not be able to teleport but being speedy is the next best thing!


Only when Bart is on the level of street, not looking upward, not looking behind the dumpster, that Starfish emerges from it, to join him, and to start leading the way she believes will help her reach the place she thinks of as home. Her mind isn't fully on the getting home part, but she has an idea of how to get there and does try. "So um… you got… work?"


Admittedly he does have to look, because it's like a game of hide-and-seek, and still Starfish manages to surprise him with her appearance. Bart falls into step beside her as she starts along, his hands nesting in the pockets of his hoodie.

"Work? Yeah, kind of. I'm still not really sure what all I actually do and a lot of the time it's super boring."


Starfish does not have pocketry, at least nothing she can slide hands into. All very tight on the jeans, almost as though they are decorative. As she walks, the tassels get less… tassely. Fewer of them, larger, as they join. The change is very subtle, until they are gone completely. The shirt changes too, losing letters here and there. "Maybe…it's busy work," Starfish suggests. "Um… you could ask um… subordinate. Where your… paperwork? goes."


Bart grimaces at the thought, sufficiently distracted from his idle observation of the various shifts Starfish's attire goes through, if for only for the moment.

"I could," he agrees, sounding reluctant to even admit as much. "But then I'll get a headache trying to follow what all it's for. …okay so it's not always like that but it's still pretty tiring. I sign a lot of stuff. And sit in meetings. I really hate meetings. No one ever agrees on anything half the time."


"Take notes," Starfish suggests. "You um… think fast too?" She spies a store window that displays a bunch of novelties, decorative junk that is almost certainly a waste of money. From her dufflebag she pulls a suspiciously similar brooch featuring a false diamond studded dragon, attaching it to her shoulder. "I…might have another one if you want to um.. have… temporary decoration…" she informs with an attempt to be subtle about it.


"I take lots of notes." Pause. "That usually end up more comic strips and scribbles." Bart nods as he glances at the window of miscellaneous items. "Yup. I basically function on fast, so I had to learn how to do things at regular-people speed."

He quirks a brow at the brooch that Starfish removes from her bag, glancing back at the window and then to the one in her hard. "Hehe, kind of on the shiny side for me," he chuckles.


"So… maybe you were chosen. To um.. reach conclusions to both arguments… before they are made," Starfish suggests. "Just uh… make notes, logical conclusions based on um… what is said. Adapt if you need… you could make the meetings shorter." She puts a hand in her bag again, drawing out a rabbit depicted with 'tude, like from a couple of decades ago when every video game mascot had to be super edgy, as one of those claspy pin things. "I got…other options if … you want one. I..can stop offering too."


He blinks at that. It sounds like a perfectly reasonable suggestion, even though he knows he hadn't been put in charge of Stark Industries because he was a speedster. That was all Tony having another of his wild schemes. But Bart seems to be seriously taking Starfish's advice into consideration. "Hmm. Hey, yeah. Maybe I'll try that next time." Added bonus, making meetings shorter? Score!

Bart watches as she pulls out another accessory, beaming. It's like watching a magic act. "That one's cool. Can I wear that one?" He seems to like this randomness that she encompasses in general. "Why stop? It's fun."


There is a look of some relief as Starfish is made certain of not being a pest after an excruciating two attempts, genuinely worried she had somehow annoyed Bart by not catching some very simple and obvious hint. With a genuine smile, she presents the rabbit pin. "It um… gets lost really easy," she mentions. "Sorry." She gazes at the sidewalk during the trek, not volunteering a lot, but responding to everything to… some degree. "Uh..here," she says when a fast food place is reached. "Just…changing." She heads in, moving fast enough toward the washrooms that she certainly looks like it's some kind of emergency, the place she chose being not too worried about random persons taking advantage of the facilities. She comes back out a minute later, much plainer clothes, and looking different, leaving the dufflebag behind apparently, if it still exists. She looks like a natural redhead, green eyes, not quite as pale but still pale skin. The dragon brooch is still there too, on a plain pullover blouse, khakis instead of jeans, runners instead of sandals. "So…me," she says.


If anything Bart's amazed that he hasn't annoyed her with all his previous questioning. His own smile brightens upon seeing her's finally free of anxiousness or concern of potential faux pas. Happily he takes the pin, slipping it in place on the left of his hoodie just over his heart. "It's okay," he assures. He'll just enjoy it while it lasts, then.

When they reach the fast food place, he looks at her, fresh confusion on his face, but he okays all the same, waiting by the doors outside because for once he's with someone who does things at considerable pace that he'd be the one delaying them if he thought to place a food order.

"You look nice," he offers, unsure about the need for all the clothes changes but suspecting perhaps it's to do with anonymity, and at least she doesn't have to try too hard to be careful in lieu of the Registration garbage, because she's already doing so. "Do I still call you Starfish?"


Starfish takes the compliment with a little confusion, unsure how to reply to it. "Um…thank you," she tries. That usually works. The khakis have pockets! She uses two for her hands, finding it to be a very good place for them. Outside the pockets, too much temptation to play, to do the weird things that she makes strong conscious effort to avoid doing. "Yeah, um…that's my real name," she says. "…I only tell it to friends…or…friend hopefuls. Like…you're still here and…euphoria probably gone so…friends." Conclusive, rather than questioning.


Pockets are a great place for your hands when you don't know what to do with them. Aside from putting all sorts of things. Like his phone, his wallet. Random cat toy.

"Yeah?" Bart grins then, nodding. "Friends," he agrees. He's fine with this. He feels like they've made a lot of progress from when he'd first picked up the book she'd dropped.


As the walk resumes, Starfish looks more at ease when they cross into a particular neighborhood of two-story homes arranged in rows, all neat and proper looking. Almost certainly a Homeowner's Association controlling the aesthetics. While she does look at ease, she also looks with disdain, and turns her eyes away from the decor. The samey decor. The one home she stops at and looks upon again, it's clear she finds it more appealing despite the sameyness. Up the steps, she pulls a key from one of the pockets before trying the door and gaining entry without having to use the key. "…is…weird to invite you?" she asks Bart, looking uncertain and worried again.


They're nice looking homes, not that he has a particular like or dislike for house designs. Starfish's reaction doesn't go unnoticed, another curiosity, especially when they come to one place in particular and again it changes, subtle changes, but still there. Given that she pulls out a key, Bart wonders if perhaps it's all a matter of perspective of her home being her home and the others infringing on that.

The look he gives her when she turns to him with a question is almost blank. If she knew any better, Bart was probably the last person to be asking for verification of acceptable behavior. "Uh. I dunno. If you want?"


It does not take long for Starfish to overcome her apprehension, see that Bart is just as unaware as she somehow, despite him… she never asked if he also was recently released from a lengthy stay at an institution. If so that could explain a few things. "Okay," she says, and moves inward, leaning on the door to allow entry and a glimpse inside. Really typical place for a couple in their early forties, pictures on the walls, some of them showing Starfish herself, very few of those being a smiling Starfish. At least past a certain age. "I'm home!" Starfish's voice is clearer than usual at that volume. It's a phrase she has said with practice. "…guest!" That one, completely new.

A man featured in the photos makes his way to the front door area, astonished. "Oh hi there. Did my little girl just say guest?" He's beaming. "I'm Jason, Starfish's dad. If you're not comfortable with first names, Mr. Winedrum will do." He hugs his daughter, who apprehensively returns the gesture, then eases into it. "Your mother's out with some of her friends. She might be back after a few hours." Then Starfish is released, which seems to take just as long for her to accept. "Are you staying for dinner?" he asks of Bart.


There's a lot of things that Bart's had to learn by ways of do's and don'ts, heavy on the don'ts for lack of real rules in his virtual upbringing. He'd always been the weird kid back in high school, trying to adjust to an age of technology a century behind what he'd been used to. He's not used to being the one sought for advice, even though he's considerably more accustomed to how things work now, how normal people work.

At least with Starfish reaching a decision, he doesn't seem at all awkward about the invitation as he pokes his head in after she's entered. He has a quick look of the pictures on the wall, the decor, normal family things. At least it would be easier to believe had he not gotten to know a bit about Starfish prior. Even then he can see the slight hitches; it's there in the interaction, in the transition of ages portrayed on the wall.

"Hi. Um, Mister Winedrum?" He smiles. "I'm Bart," he offers, along with his hand to shake. "Oh, I don't wanna impose. I was just walking Starfish home…" he says, surprised at the invitation to dinner. A glance is cast between Starfish and her father.


Starfish seems very comfortable around the man named Jason Winedrum. She takes to closing the front door, gently, but not inaudibly. "…if you want to," she utters after dinner invitation is made. "Dad cooks pretty well… likes to show off. So… no burden." Jason puts an arm over Starfish's shoulders, a comforting thing for her. She leans into it. "But…if you aren't um… comfortable, that's okay…" She still has a little trouble with getting all the words out even here, in a very safe environment.

When Jason has decided his daughter has been given the chance to express herself, he chimes in. "She likes you. First boy, girl, anyone she's brought home. Frankly I'm elated to see you, Bart." The handshake is firm without a demonstration of strength. "Give it about a half hour I can have something whipped up. No imposition. You're welcome to it. Also welcome to back out if you prefer." He gives a warm smile. He recognizes the apprehension. "I'll get started on something. If you stay, fewer leftovers." He shows a humourous grin, turning to head down the hall into probably the kitchen.

"Thanks for um… walking with me," Starfish offers. "it's um… really okay either way. Stay, have to go, he'll understand."


It's nice to see that she has a place she can be at ease in. Bart smiles as he shakes Jason's hand, mentally considering whether to accept and stay or take his leave. If anything, he's more concerned about making sure he didn't eat too much so that they had leftovers.

"Thanks Mister Winedrum," he says. "I should probably be getting back though. Maybe another time?" He means it too. Half an hour is just half an hour too long right now. But that's just him.

Turning to Starfish, he smiles at her, waving a hand dismissively at that. "You're welcome. It's late and I have stuff I needa take care of before I go home. …also I might eat all your food because I could totally do that and then I'd feel terrible." His smile turns lopsided. "Next time." He's open to a next time, why not? "It was nice meeting your dad too. And you."


"Oh," Starfish gives a nod, not completely understanding how the devouring would happen by accident but her mind offers a dozen scenarios. She asks, "um… just..wait." She turns to some stationary sitting by the front door, scribing both her name and a phone number and Home, then another one with Dad, offering this. "So…dad's phone, cellular. It can take text. Home is…well, I can use that when I want to. …not secure…" She says those two words just loud enough for Bart to hear, without moving her lips, nor opening her mouth. Also there's an echo behind it, and it may be one of her illusionary effects.


Hoping he hasn't disappointed her by turning down dinner, Bart watches as she goes off, fidgeting a bit in typical speedster manner until she returns with written info. Everything's committed to memory automatically as he reads it, eyes flicking towards Starfish when she adds the last verbally but not. He meets her green eyes, nodding. "Got it."

He folds the paper carefully, tucking it into his back pocket. "Thanks. Guess I should go now. See you around?"


"Yeah," Starfish assures. "Kind of…neat having a guest. Even…few minutes." She takes the time to accompany Bart to exit, waving a farewell before she closes the door with that same ease she closed it earlier, letting the latch click at the last moment, not letting the door itself make much noise on impact with the frame.

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