A Conversation on Swords, Pocket Universes, and Ice Cream

Crestview 
#1


Rowley had timed her meeting with Zachary for when Addison wouldn't be due home for several hours. Not that she was hiding the meeting from her, but the subject of the impending conversation was one Rowley found herself uniquely incompetent at. She'd much rather keep her failings private from Danger.

She spent an hour fretting over the state of the flat, which she logically knew was pristine, but that didn't stop her from scrubbing the bathroom a second time. Ultimately it was only the knock on the door that forced her to surrender the can of Scrubby Bubbles and attend to her guest.

She checked through the peephole first, then worked up a polite, carefully manicured smile before opening the door. "Welcome," she greeted, standing aside with a flourish of her arm to let him in.
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#2
The first look into her apartment confirmed his initial belief, Rowley was as much a perfectionist in her private life as she was in public. Everything was spotless and Zachary felt the need to remove his shoes immediately and keep his arms firmly at his side. Ah, this brought back memories of his great aunt's home, only with far less plastic on the furniture.

"Thanks for having me. I felt it appropriate to bring a gift, for offering to host this uh- meeting." He only stumbled slightly on his prepared speech. Stiffly, he held up the simple cloth bag he had brought with him. He pulled out the decorative dagger and scabbard and placed them on the bag for her inspection.

"You said you were a collector. I found it at an antique shop in Larkspur. Suppose to be 19th century Algerian, but you'd know better than me."


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#3
There were stars in Rowley's eyes when Zachary presented his hostess gift. "Oh, that is just lovely," she effused. She gingerly took the dagger in both hands, unsheathing the blade to lie the flat of it across two fingers. The scabbard was just as interesting as the dagger itself, and she ran the pad of her thumb down the carvings on it as she carefully slid the blade back home.

This was very possibly the nicest gift she'd ever received.

"This is too sweet of you, Zachary," she said warmly, looking back to the young man in question. "It can't compare, but can I offer you coffee or tea?"
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#4
She liked the dagger. He ducked his head at he praise and couldn't stop the dopey grin that spread on his lips. In truth, he had gone to Larkspur to look for a bottle of wine, but something felt wrong and very impersonal at that choice of gift. The antique shop had come out of nowhere and before he could comprehend his actions, Zachary had walked inside and started browsing. The small collection of antique weaponry at the far back had instantly changed his mind of what to get Rowley. He had his own (secret) collection back at home and the joy of adding to it was difficult to recreate.

"Ah, I'd appreciate the tea. I'm not much of a coffee drinker." He actually couldn't stand coffee. The smell was acceptable, but nothing could make the flavor improve enough for him to drink it.
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#5
"That's my preference as well," Rowley agreed with a smile, already immensely pleased at how this meeting was progressing. And possibly the slightest bit guilty for the initial judgment she had passed on him.

"If you'd like to take a seat in the living room, I'll be out in just a second with our tea. I already have the kettle running."

The living room in question was neat and tidy, centered around a two-piece sectional and coffee table, and largely bare of decorative knickknacks. Well, other than the array of sheathed swords mounted on the righthand wall, each spaced and leveled with precise detail.
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#6
Zachary settled himself on the coach while he waited for Rowley to return. He didn't let himself sink fully into the plushness of the couch, still feeling a little out of place among the pristine condition of the furniture. He wanted to do something to ease his nervous mind. Using his powers to sculpt always helped, but while he was sure Rowley wouldn't fully hate him using his powers in her presence, it felt rude to do so before they got a chance to really talk.

Instead, he focused on the mounted swords on the wall. From what he knew of Rowley, there must be some system to their placement. Perhaps by date or country of origin. There were a few that looked far more decorative than functional, although they probably could still do quite a lot of damage in the right hands.

He wondered if Rowley ever used any of these, or if her favorites were kept somewhere else.
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#7
"Zachary, would you like sugar?" Rowley called from the kitchen a minute later, stirring a spoonful into her own. She'd add a bit of sugar to his, if he answered affirmitively; and either way, she would emerge from the kitchen in short order, a mug of earl grey tea in either hand. (Although it wounded Rowley to forgoe proper tea cups, she acknowledged the efficiency of regular mugs.)

She handed one off to Zachary before perching on the edge of the couch, leaving a cushion's space between them, with her legs primly crossed. "I must admit," she began after a small sip of her tea, "that I haven't met anyone else with, ah... skillsets like ours."
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#8
He thanked Rowley and then followed her lead, taking his own sip. The heat was a lovely contrast to the constant coldness of his core, there was a reason he preferred hot beverages. He kept the mug close, enjoying the warmth.

"I've actually met two others. Both had very different abilities, but neither seemed particularly interested in hiding them." Zachary took another drink, this time drinking for a longer period, his throat feeling a little dry. Once done, he cradled the cup near his lap.

"I used to never be so bold as to show my ice in public like with you, I'm still surprised i did. Meeting them has made me a little more reckless, knowing their are others out there who understand."
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#9
Rowley pursed her lips to the side.

"I don't mean to entertain hysterics, but I can't imagine the revelation that people like us exist would be well-received." She could, in fact, only imagine sterile white rooms and government facilities in that future.

She laughed self-consciously then, realizing her hypocrisy. "Although I'm not helping maintain any secrecy, given my butter knife incident. That's also why I had a sword on the metro—I had accidentally conjured earlier."
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#10
Zachary looked up at Rowley, letting their eyes meet.

"No, I completely agree. This isn't something I want to share with the world." The two most dangerous reactions would be terror on one side and utter fascination on the other. Both ended terribly for people like Rowley and him.

He let his eyes drift back to his tea, head bending down. "I want to blame it on exhaustion that caused me to be so shameless with my abilities on the bus, but I won't lie and say that was the entire reason. It's...nice to meet others like me."

There were a number of things he wanted to ask Rowley. It was difficult to know where to start. "Can I ask more about your ability? How does it work exactly?"
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#11
"That is a very good question," Rowley began with a brief, dry smile. "I... conjure things, as you saw. Swords, mostly, but occasionally silverware." She pressed her lips together, vaguely irritated by the whole concept. Why did it have to be swords? Why couldn't she conjure items of use, like cellphone chargers?

"Sometimes they're part of my own collection, teleported right off the wall here. I'm not sure where the others come from—such as the smallsword I had on the metro. And I haven't the faintest idea how to consciously use my powers; my conjurations are always inconvenient accidents."
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#12
That sounded very similar to his own experience. His first year with his powers was a nightmare. "When I first discovered my ice I had absolutely no control. I ended up locking myself away at home in fear that I would freeze something or someone. It took time, but eventually, I learned how to call on it when I wanted. Not perfectly, but it's been a while since my last accident."

His own reply brought to mind something else. He set the mug down on the coffee table, careful to use a coaster first. Bringing his hands up, Zachary let ice form just on the tips of his fingers. Only enough to catch in the light if you looked closely. "It may only be me, but I found that trying to block out the ice all the time always ended in disaster. I have to let out the...energy or whatever this is out at least every few days."
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