Kensington Quarter 

Kensington Quarter was awash with all types of festivities of the season. Tonight was all about Oktoberfest. Various live music with the audience singing along could be heard provided graciously by local bands making it their sole purpose in live to perform polkas, waltzes, jigs, and just general merry music throughout the venue. Visitors were meandering between the many tents showcasing crafts and wares for sale as a few here and there adorned drindles and lederhosen. Walking amongst all the happenings brang warm smells of fresh baked goods and poured alcohol caked on breath or cups. This corner of Cordova was alight with joyous fun and laughter even as the sun went down. If anything, the party actually kicked off then as people milled in after work and snowflakes began to fall with the leaves.

Natalie had made her way into Cordova after work, which she assumed would be safe considering the sheer amount of people present and how could she not go! Plus, she had Boris to keep her company. It was Oktoberfest, one of her favorite festivals of the year, partially because it was in the fall and partially because it was always super fun to go around dancing and making things. The food was an absolute bonus.

With a dressed up Boris on leash walking with her, she had made her away around for a bit until a particular tent had stood out. It was a station just to make Edelweiss hats out of paper in a sort of origami way with many things to decorate them with. Walking up, she sat down and watched how to do it before taking a crack at the craft. Halfway through folding the hat and Boris stood up to put his paws on the table, wanting attention and curious now that his sniffing rounds were done. Pushing a nose against a bottle of glitter, the golden was successful in making it wobble a bit. Natalie turned to look just as the whole thing fell onto his head in a colorful rush of plastic metallic squares.


Zachary didn't know what he stumbled into. A drive into the downtown area to visit his bank's main branch had been redirected due to an unexpected build up of traffic. As he had tried to leave from the bank he was surprised to discover a large pedestrian crowd moving towards the square. There must be some kind of festival going on, and well, he had the time, so Zachary drove along the backstreets until he found a parking spot.

Following another group to the festival, he immediately was struck by the loud music and the massive mugs of beer being passed around like currency. Oh, he realized that he must of have walked into an Oktoberfest celebration and a quick mental check did indeed prove they were in fact in October. Finally all the knee high socks and odd hats made sense. He didn't know much about the festival in general besides the goal of drinking and eating your way through a German feast.

Well he was hungry, so sign him up.

Nearly every tent had beer and some kind of food, so it was easy to secure his own mug and a fresh pretzel. Weaving his way through the crowd, excess foam splashing out of the mug, he spotted an open seat right outside a couple tents. Sitting down he tore off a chunk of pretzel and happily began chewing the warm dough. Zachary let his eyes wander as he people watched. He caught the movement of a big yellow dog in the tent beside him, wagging its tail and attempting to jump up. The dog moved forward and in one second to the next had managed to tip an entire jar of glitter down its body.

A loud laugh escaped Zachary as he watched the poor thing shake its head, trying to dislodge some of the sparkly dust now clinging everywhere.


Negin sat at a table outside of a cafe. Her legs were crossed and an elbow rested atop the table's surface, allowing her palm to hold her chin. She stared at the festival happening only a hundred yards away from her. It had been Peter's idea to go. He had thought it would be fun. Negin thought staying at home and watching a movie would have been more fun.

The large and mighty Bubba lied at her feet while they waited for Peter to return with beverages. Negin tore her gaze away from the festival to stare into the cafe. She stared at his back as he stood at the counter, waiting for the drinks to be made.

A few seconds later, the drinks were handed to him and he turned to walk back out to her. Negin rose from her seat. Bubba pushed himself up to his paws. His tail wagged at the sight of Peter as he handed Negin her latte.

They strolled through the festival. A smile was put on her face to mask how tired she had already become. It was overwhelming: the large cluster of people, the urge to have her light eyes trained on Peter like a hawk. Fortunately, the boy stayed at her side while the dog walked on her other.

Loud laughter caught their attention, causing them to look to see a dog with glitter coating its face. Peter giggled before turning to look at Negin and said "Can I ask to pet her dog?"

"Uh — 'course," she replied. The smile remained, despite the prickle in her chest.

"Boris, oh nooo!" Grabbing the glitter bottle off the ground, she placed it back on the table before turning towards the now happily wagging and sneezing golden who seemed pretty unfazed about this turn of events other than shaking its head repeatedly. Natalie took both of her hands and tried to pet off the glitter in long strokes, apologizing to the crafting lead, but it was kind of a lost cause till the dog had a bath.

A laugh had her looking over while wiping around Boris' face. Seemed some young guy that vaguely tickled with recognition was getting a big kick out of this, and it was definitely funny, she could agree there. Turning back her attention to her dog, she stroked his cheeks, still trying to get what she could off. "Y'know what you're absolutely right. I think this was needed for your costume. Who could resist a sparkle dog?"

And as if on cue, an approaching little kid had Natalie looking up with a smile, still holding the golden retriever's face in her hands. "Hi, there." An ask to pet her dog had Natalie moving the leash around so Boris could have more free reign as she replied, switching around in the seat so she could face him. "Of course! This is Boris." The dog in question wagged its tail happily and leaned immediately in for pets. "I think he likes you. What's your name?"

The dog looked quite pleased with all the attention now being lavished on him. Zachary's lip twitched in sympathy for all the glitter that poor girl would be finding for weeks after today. That stuff got everywhere.

She had turned briefly towards him, his laughter louder than he had previously assumed. At least she didn't looked annoyed at his outburst, but she did look familiar. Maybe she had been a customer at his shop recently? He'd have to look at her again to be sure.

His view became blocked as a mother and child duo entered the tent, followed by a dog of their own. The nice wholesome gathering of pet lovers made Zachary wistful again for one of his own. He'd need to go back to the shelter someday soon.

Taking another bite of pretzel, he chewed unhurriedly and watched as the family and girl interacted.

Sam okayed for Negin to fade out

The kid was quick to respond with his name, Peter, and Boris continued to soak up all the attention without need to prompt. After a bit the kid decided to say thanks and that he had to go. "Well it was nice to meet you, Peter," she beamed before waving as the kid took off to where she assumed his mother was.

Boris sadly watched the kid go, pausing mid tail wag until with one sniff in the direction of the guy sitting close by, he pulled forward on a mission to get closer to the tasty treat. Not expecting that, the leash fell out of her loose hand. "Boris, no!" Natalie immediately got up with a quick sorry to the booth before running after the dog as he made his way over, trying to grab the loop at the end of the leash. "Sorry, sorry! He's nice I promise," she called out to the guy her dog was about to antagonize.

He washed down half the pretzel with his mug, licking his bottom lip to catch leftover salt. The wind picked up a bit, shifting the stack of napkins. Zachary set his mug down, holding the stack by the corner. His eyes drifted up back towards the tent, just in time to see a very happy dog flying towards him.

"Whoa-" He was cut off as a rush of fur planted their feet on his thigh and a wet nose bumped into his chin. Startled, he gripped the back of the dog's collar and pulled the face away. "Whoa boy." A determined tongue licked his cheek, causing Zachary to let out a laugh. The big guy just wanted a little love. He stroked the dog's side, listening to the happy pants. One moment the dog was looking at him with big soulful eyes and in the next, the other half of his pretzel disappeared off the table and into the dog's mouth.

The betrayal. Eye wide, Zachary reached for the bread, only for it to gobbled down in seconds. The dog returned to panting happily, clearly pleased with his successful mission. "Ah, sorry! I tried to get it back." He looked helplessly at the owner.

The owner in question had turned fully around and was following after the leash. She looked up then, and Zachary's mind instantly made the connection. Oh, shit. He knew this girl.

She watched helplessly as her dog ate the guy's food, successfully grabbing the leash as he explained that an attempt had been made to stop Boris from eating it all. Natalie looked up flustered, but triumphant l in the fact the retriever hadn't continued its escapade and was safely in her grasp again. Walking up to grab Boris' collar to pull him back from the man. "No, you're fine. I'm so sor-," she stopped halfway through an apology realizing then why he looked so familiar, grip loosening on the collar. Now up close, Natalie was surprised that it was this guy. Last time they'd met at the SummerWeen festival and now, would you look at that, they were meeting at Oktoberfest. Hopefully, he wouldn't teleport this time and try to scare her.

"It's you," she breathed. And no sooner had she said that that her face instantly fell into a more serious one. "You owe me an explanation and an apology, Mr. Funnel Cake. This time without all the mojo." Her free hand not holding the leash moved about to accent that last word in a 'magic' sort of gesture with her fingers. An explanation of why he was so freaking rude back then out of nowhere and if he had indeed died of a stomach ache. Boris happily leaned against the pretzel snack friend to ask for more pets.

If Zachary could sink further into his chair and melt into the floor, he'd do so in a heartbeat. She had effectively trapped him and by the look on her face, she meant business. Truthfully, he did feel guilty for freaking her out and bolting, but what other option did he have? "I'm sorry about last time." He murmured, eyes refusing to meet hers. "Not sure I can give you that explanation."

Keeping his gaze averted, he mentally pushed out with the new trick he learned, eager to see if she too had something different about her.

He got back nothing. Zilch. Nada. Relief swept through him and oddly enough, disappointment.

The guy's eyes dropped and even with the apology, not even a glance back up. That was body language she was used to seeing on a kid caught doing something they shouldn't or being significantly guilty. He fit both in some capacity. Natalie crossed her arms as he ended his answer. That was it? Nope, that was hardly one. She knew pressing wasn't the best thing to do, advice noted, but color her curious and self righteous at the moment. Plus, they were in a public place and there was very little he could do without others noticing so it felt like the perfect opportunity to do so. If he was going to play like he hadn't teleported right in front of her back then, then he had another thing coming. Questions were bubbling up and, gosh dang, she needed him to at least confirm things and make her feel a bit less crazy here. It wasn't that she doubted he'd done it, it just would be a final nail in the coffin of confirmation.

"Thank you for the apology," she sighed. "However, if you can't give an explanation, I'm going to give my best guess here. You're a," Natalie looked around. Then, with in a hushed whisper, a hand covering the side of her mouth while leaning forward a bit, she finished with, "A wizard. You can teleport." So there, check and mate white-eyed zombie Harry Potter. Leaning back to normal, a question couldn't help popping up. "Is it as cool as Jumper makes it out to be?"

He hadn't felt this properly scolded in a long time, probably not since that old nun smacked his knuckles with a ruler on Easter Sunday. That was nearly ten years ago and he swore that the indents were still visible.

Lips downturned and his brow creased, Zachary braced himself for what the girl considered "her best guess." She definitely knew what she saw, so there went his opportunity to lie until she she couldn't make heads or tails of the actual truth. Hmm. Wasn't that considered gaslighting? No. Well, yes. Maybe.

Instead, she gave a pretty good explanation. A wizard sounded interesting. He'd been calling himself a superhuman or mutant in private, but so far hadn't found an exact term he liked. Could he really be considered a wizard if he only had two abilities? Granted, even just one was pretty spectacular. Looking at her, he picked nervously at the table cloth. What should he tell her? What should he omit?

"Okay, I can teleport." He leaned in, lowering his voice. "I don't know why, it just started happening. My control was acting up that day and I freaked out. "

His voice hardened. "Look, you can't tell anyone. We keep this stuff secret for a reason." At this moment, Zachary wished he had never left home that day. Telling others like himself was one thing, you shared a secret and in return got a secret. With this girl there was no telling what she'd do, who she associated with. She looked harmless, but he knew now that didn't mean anything.

Clarification on her question didn't come on swift wings. Instead, he looked more and more like a child and she really tried not to feel pity here, but it came nonetheless. Questioning if she had been too upfront or direct welled up as he picked the tablecloth.

And then, he leaned in and she blinked, listening, a concerned expression mixed with a vindicated smile. Aha! So he was indeed a wizard that could teleport, she'd seen correctly. She wanted to jump around, but his follow on had her pausing. Control wasn't a thing she suspected was needed, but it made sense. Anything took practice and magic seemed to be part of that as well. Poor dude was probably just as shocked as she had been. No wonder he'd been looking sick, he'd probably not only had too much sweets, but had been internally freaking out. Understandable, by all accounts.

There was a shift in tone and expression and she smiled lightly at his words. "I know." Whelp, with that said, Natalie plopped down at the table with him, making sure the leash was held in a way Boris could still seek attention from him. "You're not the only wizard I know. Your secret is safe with me." Natalie threw up a hand in a 'Scout's Honor' pose before laying it flat. Scrunching up her face, Natalie looked at him critically. "Unless you're secretly plotting to kill me, which I don't think so. You seem nice."

That caught his attention. "Oh? I'm not. What could they do?" His false bravado broke way to the excitement of yet another one like him out there. He really must start some kind of support group or a superhero gang, only without the actual fighting crime. Leave that to the professionals.

The second part of her comment had him slumping back into the chair, rolling his eyes at the ridiculousness of it. He was a lover not a fighter and the one time he caused any creature harm, he ended up holding a hour long memorial for the frozen bird in his backyard. A bedazzled coffin-slash-shoebox came curtesy of his sister. Laughing quietly, Zachary shook his head. "I'm the opposite of an evil mastermind."

The atmosphere changing, he reached for the mug and brought it to up, peering at her from above the rim. "You also seem nice." A lazy smile stretched across his lips.

Very quickly, she was seeing tension leave his body the more she'd talked. See! She was the least harmful thing he could run into. Boris over here was probably the only thing that could really do harm if she put it into perspective. That was both sad and funny at the same time. His assurance that he wasn't some psychopath was a nice addition and his bonus that she was nice as well had her grinning. "Thanks," she said sweetly.

She laid her hands on the table, leaning forward and shifting her weight to a more comfortable position. His question about whom else she knew still had to be addressed. Natalie really wasn't at liberty to discuss anyone's identity to some random wizard that could teleport, but he'd asked for their power and that was a thing she felt could be addressed. "And, nope, you're not. They kind of do a bit of everything like the Avatar if you ever saw that." There was a questioning lilt to her voice, wondering if he had indeed done so. Maybe, she'd have to provide a different example if not.

They seem to have settled into a friendly exchange, one that bystander might mistake for friends meeting to catch up. He held out his palm to the dog at her side, trying to coerce it over. If she was going to stay around longer Zachary could at least make the most of it. The dog took the bait and Zachary soon had a fluffy head on his knee. Animals were so therapeutic and if he had been any less of a cat lover, Zachary would seriously consider getting a dog himself.

Hand now full of happy fur, he took the time to process her last comment. The word Avatar brought to mind long blue alien people and the barest remembrance of a plot. Surely she didn't mean there were also aliens walking around Colorado. He ran through it again, finally connecting her actual meaning. It'd been a while since he watched that Nickelodeon show, but he may have been a bit obsessed with it in the past. "Avatar." He schooled his expression into one of disinterest. "So like elements? They can control fire, water, and such?" If true, he wondered where his ice fit in to that. A secondary element for sure. Zachary would keep his second power to himself for now. They hadn't even exchanged names yet.

Off her peripheral vision she noted Boris going in for snuggles. Good! Boris deserved all the snuggles every moment of every day. What a spoiled retriever. Natalie was content enough to wait for a response and got one of someone not really into whatever it was they were talking about. But, before he'd seemed more than curious, so why the sudden change? At least he knew the show which helped explain some things, but not quite all of it.

"Well, yeah, all of those, plus well, everything else I suppose. Probably, yours as well, but it's not like they could've shown me, I don't have anything they can pick up on," she ended amusingly. That reminded her of the question Amber had asked of what power she'd want to have. All the various possibilities there probably were was fun to think about.

Realizing they'd met twice now, this time a lot better by far so far, she was aware they hadn't even introduced themselves. Time to rectify that! "I guess we never got to swap names before." Extending a hand to be shook, she smiled brightly. "I'm Natalie, and that fuzzball down there is Boris."

As Zachary reached across, shaking Natalie's hand, the dog-now known as Boris- whined at the sudden lack of attention. With a huff of laughter, he pulled back and resumed petting the affectionate hound. "Nice to meet you. I'm Zachary." He was surprised to find he sincerely meant the 'nice' part. Initial distrust aside, he felt oddly comfortable in Natalie's presence.

Almost comfortable enough to blurt out the name of his fellow superhuman. Her description matched Cris and he wasn't that surprised. Shyness could never be associated with Cris, especially in the realm of the supernatural. She probably wouldn't mind her name being used, but there could also be another person with copycat abilities running around. Shifting slightly in his seat, Zachary decided to play it safe. "I also know someone who can copy abilities. Pretty cool in my opinion."

He leaned back and leveled his stare at Natalie. There was one thing that had been bothering him. "How did you get involved in supernatural stuff?" Curiosity explained some, but this girl knew others out there and that meant she had a history.

The name fit him well and she smiled, letting go from the handshake and laughing a bit at Boris' whine. What an absolute spoiled dog. "I think you're his new best friend," she said amused as the guy resumed petting Boris.

The mention that Zachary also knew someone with similar powers was super neat. "That's quite a quinky dink then. I guess maybe its a prevalent one to have. It's definitely cool." How many other copy cats were there then? Maybe, Cris knew who he was talking about and they were kind of power friends.

His gaze on her got serious again and Natalie blinked, face going to one of concern, wondering why he was jumping around so much. But his question had her lips thinning. Oh, that's why. "Umm, well, I kind of got pushed into it literally kicking and screaming," she explained, hands playing with the loop of the leash with a tight grip opening and closing. "By a vampire. So that person I told you about helped me out to know what to look for," she ended with a determined expression after it all came out in a giant rush of words and air. "So, yep, that's how."

Whoa, a vampire? That's a rough way to get introduced to the supernatural world. Zachary's own induction was far more pleasant, he take random ice and teleporting over a mouth full of fangs any day. Luckily, it appeared she got away mostly intact. Her being out in the open and under the sun testified to that.

He spoke sincerely, hands reaching for the mug. "I'm sorry that happened to you." Zachary drained the rest of the beer, wiping his mouth discreetly with a finger. "Any advice you wish to pass on?"

His own experiences with vampires boiled down to the news and one incident at the shop a while ago. Although, the guy involved was just as likely an addict with a sense of humor than an actual creature of the night.

There was a certain way that was said as if he was brushing off this all even though he'd asked her the question in the first place. It was kind of off-putting. Which was fine, but he didn't have to be rude about it.

Even with not knowing exactly how to place that response, she empathized with the want to know and maybe not be a snack. "Umm, let's see...". Natalie tapped her chin. There was a lot, but number one hot tip seemed like the best to inform of. "Don't look people in the eye that you don't know. Which, is kind of hard, I know, but even strangers in a library might be one. That's how they do all their mind magic and make you do stuff."

He looked her directly in the eyes, startled by the new information. Quickly, he diverting his gaze as the meaning sunk in. "I can see how difficult that can be." he grimaced at the table.

He didn't doubt she spoke truthfully, and the example of the library suggested a personal story there. She sure dropped a lot of hints, but none that he could ask about without knowing her better. Unfortunately, this did not bode well for his future. Looking someone in the eye was almost expected in polite conversation and with his job? It was more of a shock it hadn't happened yet.

Or maybe it had? It wouldn't be difficult to wipe or alter a memory with a little mind magic. Zachary found himself running through previous encounters, trying to find clues. His world view kept turning on its head every few weeks it seemed.

"Thanks for the tip. Really. And, uh, tit-for-tat. Anything you want to ask me?" Only fair. She gave him something of real value. Hopefully he could return the favor.

That fact was something he quickly absorbed, his own gaze dropping, and she offered a small comforting smile. She still sometimes slipped up so it was a major challenge, he'd get it though, she had faith. Zachary though was in no way a vampire if he was out with the sun in both their visits, so she wasn't worried here of keeping her own on him. Which was nice! Just a nice friendly conversation. It kind of reminded her of talking with Charlie whom had just turned out to be a nice guy teacher, willing to give her some company while she waited. This one was was also paired with super talk though which was cool when the person talking it wasn't thinking of eating you. And she hadn't scared him off yet, so this was officially better than their first meeting.

His thanks had her smile growing a bit, happy to offer a tip. "Of course." The offer to ask him a question in return had her face thoughtful for a moment. "Umm, what does it feel like to use your powers?" Natalie gave a curious look, happy to catalogue this information for later. She had a lot more of course, but best to start with one.

He took in a deep breath. She didn't hold back, something he could admire, but man did he wish she started smaller.

A deal was a deal, so scratching the back of his neck, Zachary looked skyward and answered. "That's hard to explain. I'm still learning myself. I guess - I get this initial tingling, like a warning, and when the power's in use I can feel this sharp tug in my gut pulling me forward." There was more he could say, like comparing the differences between his teleportation and Kaylee's. They accomplished the same goal but in very different ways. He didn't quite understand how all this magic powers stuff worked, it felt like a complicated mix of mental and physical effort working together and resulting in something pretty incredible.

So many questions. How many others were out there? Had this been happening for centuries or did some nuclear spill have all these powers manifesting in just the last few years? These were mostly rhetorical of course, he doubted anyone knew the real answer.

As he explained, she listened, face becoming more and more quizzical. This was several cans of worms in one answer. So, Zachary was still learning, which probably meant the powers were a recent development. Second, his weird spider sense thing that gave him a heads up about himself before it actually happened was a cool warning. Then the fact he actually felt when the power happened was pretty great too. Though, with teleportation you probably didn't need that indicator since you'd just be somewhere else. Still! This was exciting and she felt a bit giddy learning about this.

"Is that why you looked like you were going to puke last time?"

"What, puke?" He made a face, confused by her accusation. He rarely ever threw up, the last time being years ago with an actual case of food poisoning. The one thing the Ellis family could pride themselves on was their iron stomachs. Zachary immediately started shaking his head. "I rarely throw up. That day at the park was me feeling an impending jump and trying to get away from the public."

He flinched again at the mention of their first meeting. "Sorry again you had to see that. I was pretty frantic."

That explanation made sense and she was somewhat relieved to hear he hadn't just gone and barfed after running away. It was partly why she'd started to carry tums in her bag, just in case someone was really having a bad stomach time. Natalie smiled warmly at the apology, waving it away with a hand.

"No need, I understand. I'm just glad you were okay." It was all water under the bridge at this point as far as she was concerned.

"At least it seems you've got better control now. I bet you could do a lot of cool things with it. Like, umm, hmm, not have to drive to work or never be late to an appointment again." Just zipping around without a care in the world, neat.

That last quote got a smile. He wasn't there yet, but a future with less gas tank fill ups and the convenience of literally popping in to grab a late night snack would be so worth it.

"More practice is needed, but soon." He laughed and held up one finger. "However, I still have to be careful about where I jump. You already filled my quota of unintentional spectators." He didn't think the others really counted as they had powers of their own. Natalie would hopefully be his only exception.

It was a goal then and Natalie hoped he achieved it with flying colors!

"Again, no worries. My lips are sealed." Natalie nodded, finishing, fully understanding the concern here. Every supernatural related thing it would seem had issues with people knowing. But for wizards, or was it warlocks, it was probably even more concerning since they were people people. You could go up to their door and ask them to buy a catalogue like anyone else. Out of everyone that could know, she was the least of his worries.

"There's some open land in North Glenn from what I've seen. Might be worth practicing there," she said thoughtfully.

Ah North Glen, that's where that diner was and coincidentally the exact place he met Kaylee. Now that she mentioned it, North Glen did have plenty of wide open spaces, he had driven next to huge plots of empty land on the way there. Prime practice locations.

"You're right. I'll have to check that out." Zachary smiled appreciatively, already thinking of his next day off.

With his food gone and the reassurance Natalie would keep his secret, Zachary felt safe enough to leave. He pushed back the chair and set his hands on the table. "Hey, I'm probably going to walk around the festival a bit, but it was good talking to you and I'm glad I was able to explain myself." He offered some light laughter. Undoubtedly, he must have looked a fool that last time.

She met his smile with her own, hoping the advice helped overall and he got really great at his power.

At his push back, Natalie realized that was a move to leave and she pulled on Boris' leash enough that the retriever got the picture to get out of the way. With a whine and one last wag of his tail, Boris stepped back and sat back by Natalie as Zachary said his goodbyes. His laughter at the last part had her doing so lightly as well in amusement.

"You as well! Good luck with everything and have a great rest of your evening," Natalie said and gave a small wave.

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