Log:Kites Are Fun
|Kites Are Fun
First of all, you gotta eat, fly kites, and have fun. If you don't have a kite, we'll help you make one. If you don't have any fun, either, then just you come on up here and you talk to me.
14 July, 2018
The Honorbright Foundation hosts the First Annual Tam Valley Kite Festival on the shores of Lake Brunsett.
Big, cherry red banners shout 'FIRST ANNUAL TAM VALLEY KITE FESTIVAL' in a looping, cheerful, vintage-looking white font all around the beach by the lake. In addition to announcing the event, the banners serve to mark off the areas where there will be grilling, kite assembly, kite flying, and the final battle to see which kite can stay in the air the longest. At the kite assembly tent, staffed with experts to help visitors build their kites, a song whose lyrics mostly seem to consist of the words 'kites are fun' keeps playing on a loop.
A nearby grassy area with trees provides shade, as do tents set up around each of the main areas, and there are beach umbrellas available to those who want them.
Over by the water, a large stage is fully rigged up with speakers and lights. At any given moment, there's likely to be a performance taking place there -- mostly musical performances -- with a jumble of folks standing before the stage watching the performers with interest.
The festival also abounds with balloons in all colors. Children running back and forth building or flying kites, in particular, seem to have taken to the balloons... Although they aren't so good at holding onto them, and many a pop of bright gold or silver or white has already disappeared into the endless blue sky.
Stalls are set up selling snacks, kites of all shapes and sizes, and T-shirts and other knick knacks to commemorate the occasion. There's also a first aid tent. A number of kite aficionados have already arrived and started comparing their kites with each other, flying their kites, and showing the different types off to onlookers.
Haruki's here, dressed casually, his brother's nowhere in sight. Haruki's been, well helping kids with kites mostly, just being generally cheerful and friendly and seems like he's come out of that slump he was in, or has acquired some medicated help.
A short man with very thick glasses and an even thicker mop of curly brown hair who looks like he'd be more at home working on the Large Hadron Collider keeps running back and forth between the stalls, the grilling area, and the stage, checking on everything. Despite the slight air of panic, he's smiling and seems to be in a good mood. He stops at the kite assembly instruction tent to help a kid in a commemorative red-and-white T-shirt put together a basic rokkaku kite.
Not far from the kite assembly area is a small mob of children, accompanied by the occasional hovering parent. It might be difficult, at first, for onlookers to figure out what it is that they find so fascinating, because Gert is hardly taller than most of them, but her position is marked by a cluster of balloon animals on long plastic sticks rising over the crowd.
The clown has set up shop beside a small wooden table with her creations stuck into little plastic holders, waiting for buyers. The selection on display is honestly very impressive - giraffes, dogs, rabbits, elephants, and a number of others are all there, and that's not counting the custom ones that she's constantly engaged in creating. The kids all around her are constantly shouting out for their favorites, and Gert obliges, producing long, thin balloons in a variety of colors from hidden pockets and working with surprising speed. Every time one kid runs away, beaming and clutching their new prize, another one joins the crowd.
The parents don't seem too happy about it, though. Gert's teeth aren't easy to ignore, after all, especially when she's grinning so damn wide. There seems to be almost more grin than face, at this point. The kids seem happy, though, so long as she keeps the balloon animals coming.
Logan's charity, The Honorbright Foundation, set this up, and so of course Logan is here, dressed in a white polo shirt with a purposely faded (no doubt to give it a 'vintage' look) rainbow stripe around the chest, blue shorts, and low-top white Converse. The Golden Boy is currently at the kite assembly tent, talking to people -- volunteers and kite-makers alike -- and eventually conferring with the short man in the glasses, looking at the kid's rokkaku kite and probably giving suggestions.
He glances up for a moment, watching Gert and her balloon animals for awhile, and smiles at the sight. Wait, shouldn't he be irritated that the parents aren't super happy about all this? No, so long as the kids seem happy, he seems happy, too.
Haruki's doing his best not to play the 'where's my brother' game and worry about Itsuki not being around. He's encouraged, by a child who's waving a balloon-sword around to look over to where Gert is, curiously, and whatever fear he might have is overcome by curiosity. He watches her moves intently.
Widget decided to come, mostly because she likes kites and it's a really nice place to watch them. She even brought her own! It's built like a classic fighting kite, thin wires running from the kite to the leather wrapped around her fingers. It's painted orange, decked out like an old fighter plane. Nose art bares its teeth and a pinup model adorns one of the sides, crudely applied but well-drawn. It's also got...bits attached, some of which look worryingly like rockets. It's resting, though, as the gremlin has a stall of her own! Well, more like a large blanket with her stuff and a cardboard sign. She's just selling snacks, drinks, and odds and ends. They're extremely cheap, mostly because they're almost definitely stolen. Sparklers, snap-pops, noisemakers, etc. Everything to make things a bit louder, a bit brighter, and a smidge more dangerous.
Nearby to where Logan and the man in glasses have been conferring, Dross loiters. Tall, thin, and dark, he's dressed in a white shirt with cream-colored linen vest and trousers plus neat brown shoes today. At first glance, he doesn't appear to be doing... Well, much more than looking around. On second glance, some might notice that he seems to be carrying something like a small trackpad with wheels on either side, which he occasionally moves. In the center of the little screen, there's what looks like a bird's-eye-view of the festival as a whole.
Balloon swords. Balloon flowers. Balloon lions and tigers and bears. Gert works quickly and steadily for several minutes, grinning that nightmare grin that, somehow, the kids just don't seem to /care/ about. Even if the parents continue to watch and mutter, and even if it looks like the top of her head might be in danger of falling off from how broad it is.
Eventually, though - /eventually/ - the crowd starts to thin out. There are only so many kids present, after all, and parents are only willing to shell out for so many trips to "the balloon lady". So, eventually, Gert sends the last kid on their way - with an enormously fat balloon hippopotamus in tow - and leans back against her little display table, smirking to herself and counting cash.
After a while, she glances up, and tiny, beetle-bright eyes land on Haruki. It's like being X-rayed, those eyes. The look she gives him is sharp and appraising, if brief, before she turns back and puts her cash into a little lockbox on the table. Then she unhooks her tiny cane from the table's edge, sets it casually over one shoulder, and wanders over towards Haruki.
"Afternoon, dearie," she says as she approaches, grinning like a shark. "Haven't seen you about before."
All the kites that look cool but might not do well in the upcoming kite battle are out on display. Big, colorful, dragon-shaped kites; enormous spinning wheels looping back and forth over the beach; kites that look like tallships or biplanes; kites shaped like many-legged insects; bird and butterfly kites; and a series of kites that all look like summer fruits, flown by a group of kids all standing together on a knoll, roll and sway against the warm blue sky.
One of the simpler kites, black, purple, and white, shaped like a curved arrow, takes a nose dive right at the strings of the group of fruit, almost taking out the watermelon. The kids start to yell and complain before the kite veers away again and they get the complete set of fruit right back under control. The owner of the arrow-shaped kite, a young man in a violet hoodie, laughs and walks away, taking his kite with him.
Once Gert heads towards Haruki, Logan looks away -- although he does give Haruki a little wave. Whether or not Haruki notices is a different story. He glances over and notes Widget there and smiles a little, though there's something sort of private to his smile, like he's just choosing not to share his thoughts. Because he isn't. Give him time and he'll probably make the rounds over there, too. He reaches a hand out to put on Dross' shoulder, leaning in to murmur something in the other man's ear.
Haruki flashes Gert a bright smile. It's as well Haruki hasn't noticed Widget yet because he'd be guaranteed to ruin her fun. "You're very good at balloons," he tells Gert. "Will you be performing later? You're Gert. I've heard of you. You scare the bad things and keep them at bay."
Nearby, another kite flyer, who looks like a lot of thought has gone into his very obviously personally constructed white delta kite, frowns hard at the blip of chaos overhead. He resettles his glasses on his nose and takes his kite in the opposite direction from the mean one. So focused on protecting his kite is he that he almost trips over a little girl running through the crowd and laughing with a cone of pink cotton candy almost as big as she is.
Widget's own balloon is tied down with a rock, floating next to her ad-hoc stall as she sells her questionable wares. It's a turtle, cute smiling face drawn on by the gremlin herself. She liked the turtle. It didn't judge, because Geoffrey was very nice. Yes, she named it. It seemed right, given Gert made it. Those were special, surely.
Trade is good, at least. Widget's basically set up like the penny-candy store of inattentive parenting, so it's more often than not a kid with some quarters and an eye for fun stuff. She'll demonstrate something if they ask, give a quick warning (That would keep this going, right? Right.), and sell them /things/. Water pistols seemed to be pretty popular, as were the refurbished mini-fans. Of course, little displays of pyromania start cropping up, because who doesn't like pretty colors and bright lights? And the snacks, of course. Everyone needs snacks.
Her attention is mostly drawn to the kites, however. More often the not a child will just drop his coins on the blanket, take what he wants, and leaves. And that's okay! The mean kite gets an odd squint. Hm. Destroying something is all well and good, but when it's /time/. And it's not time.
"Oh, I scare /everyone/, dear," says Gert cheerfully. "Good or bad. It's a gift." She hooks her cane over one elbow, smiles another nightmarish little smile, and pushes up the brim of her bowler hat with her left hand while reaching out for a handshake with her right. "Pleasure to meet you, I'm sure. But you've got me at a bit of a disadvantage here, I'm afraid. What do I call /you/, hm?"
As she says it, she glances past Haruki, over his shoulder, towards Widget's stall. There's a brief moment when her too-red lips purse slightly, and she looks thoughtful, but she doesn't say anything. She just looks back to Haruki and resumes her crooked grin. "I take it," she continues, "since you've heard of me, you actually pay attention to the clowning scene? Not many people who do, nowadays. More's the pity."
"Ah, that's not what the children said," Haruki smiles. "I'm Haruki." He nods. "Yes. We're in competition, I'm a Magician after all, but there's lots of crossover."
The man with glasses, whose name tag reads 'JEREMY,' nods at Logan's directions and scurries away from the kite assembly tent over towards a podium near the stage. He starts testing the microphone and speakers. Once everything is in order, Jeremy waves over a man with hazel eyes, a goatee, and a smile big enough to fit the entire lake into. He's wearing a plaid blazer, black T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. As the emcee of the event, he's been standing by, presumably in readiness for just this moment, but somehow, he also seems to be eating a hot dog with everything -- EVERYTHING -- on it just at the moment that Jeremy tries to call him over: "Mr. O'Crehan... Hey! Mr. O'Crehan... "
Obligingly, 'Mr. O'Crehan' widens his eyes and points to himself with a look of intense surprise, like he had no idea that this was going to happen. Jeremy starts nodding and pantomiming furiously, which makes the man laugh and disappear his hot dog in about two bites, after which he steps up to the podium with obvious glee.
"Hello, hello!" the emcee calls into the microphone. He has a thick New Jersey accent. "Welcome to the First Annual Tam Valley Kite Festival, all of you beautiful people. I'm Lonnie, your host for the afternoon. I want to give a big thank you to the Honorbright Foundation for putting this on for us all to enjoy. At least, I hope that you've all been enjoying the kites, the great weather, and the food. I know I have." He laughs to himself.
Smile still audible through the speakers all over the festival, Lonnie continues: "Let's do a quick run through of the program of events for today. First of all, you gotta eat, fly kites, and have fun. If you don't have a kite, we'll help you make one. If you don't have any fun, either, then just you come on up here and you talk to me, kids. We'll sort you out, don't you worry." He laughs again. "We're gonna have some great performances for you coming up right here at this very stage soon. And then there's gonna be a kite battle and the winners will take home one hell of a prize." He gives the crowd a big wink.
Logan, squeezing Dross' shoulder, has started to move towards the stage, passing Widget, Gert and Haruki along the way. Each of them gets a big grin, a nod, and a greeting: "Hi! Glad you could make it." Several others get the same. Jeremy has scurried down to meet Logan as he approaches, bottle of Evian in hand, which he quickly gives to Logan, who smiles and takes a quick gulp. He looks like he's ready to get up on that stage, and perhaps he is. No doubt Dross has also trailed along after him.
"Oh, well, the kiddies." Gert waves one gloved hand dismissively. "There's a time and place for the scaring, you know. I take my clowning quite seri- don't even /think/ about it, young fella me lad." She spins on the spot, her cane suddenly coming up to point its tip accusingly at a hoodie-wearing teenager lurking suspiciously close to the little cash box on her balloon table. The boy freezes in mid-movement. With her back to Haruki, Gert's expression is a mystery, but whatever it is makes him go pale, slowly push his hands back into his pockets, and lurch away at speed.
"Feh." Gert sets the tip of her cane on the ground and turns back to Haruki, shaking her head. "Kids these days. But a magician, eh?" Another twisted smile. "Always good to see another carnie about. Even if there haven't been any proper carnivals to perform in for quite some time now." She pauses, then turns, squinting after Logan. "Who's the shiny one?"
Indeed: Dross follows Logan in the direction of the stage, although he hangs back somewhat, hidden in part by one of the supports for the sound and lighting equipment, focused on... Whatever it is that he's controlling. That bird's eye view of the festival is still scrolling over a little square in the center of the screen in his hands. On the way, he glances around and makes eye contact with those he's met before, like Haruki and Widget, and also with the odd stranger talking to Haruki. Unlike Logan, that brief look is about the extent of what passes for a sign of acknowledgment from Dross.
"That's Logan," Haruki smiles. "He's the guy who organised all of this. He's got all the money and ideas. His shadow's Dross, although not quite so shadowy today." And then he admits. "I'm not a real carnie, since I'm more of the stage. OH! But you should speak to my brother, he's making this museum and carnies are part of magic's history. And some of the present. He should be around here, somewhere." There's a faint frown at this.
Widget perks up when the kite fighting is mentioned, turning away from her blanket to check that everything were in order. Wires oiled, special fabric coating still fresh, tubes clear, art awesome... Yes. It was ready. Yesssssss....
Geoffrey was the only one who witnessed the hissing and the smile, finished when she turned around at a tap on her shoulder. Oh! A customer! He was looking at her wares, like...the mason jar where she kept the money? "No. Not that. These. Yes?" She pointed to her piles of stuff, reaching up to grab at her jar. Tug. Tug. Tug. "Not for sale. Yes." Maybe he couldn't hear her. That hoodie must make it hard to do so. Orrr maybe the teen mistook her for a kid, which might be why she's on her rump, the teen just kinda walking away after shoving the insistent gremlin away. Aw.
Well, that's how it /would/ have gone if someone hadn't just tried to take money from Widget. She pads behind him, following the youth behind a tent. There's a yelp, a thud, and the gremlin walks back out with her jar in tow. And maybe some more money than before. The youth? He's at the medical tent, trying to claim the bite was from a dog.
"Oh, so /that's/ Dross, is it?" Gert squints across the fairground at the man and his tablet. "Apparently I need to meet him at some point. Though, to be honest, there's quite a few people I need to meet around here. I'm not so good about introducing myself as I should be." She glances back at Haruki over her shoulder and bares her teeth again. "Stage performers, carnies," she says, waving her free hand, "it's all the same in the end. We're not in competition, dearie. We might be playing the same game, but there's nothing that says we have to play against each other." She pauses, then adds, "But yes. I think I'd very much like to see your brother's museum, dearie. Always nice to see someone paying attention to history. And it's a shamefully neglected field."
Haruki smiles at Gert. "I can introduce you, if you want?" And without waiting for an answer, he's shouting "Dross," as he waves a hand in the air, trying to attract Dross' attention. Haruki's short, mind you, and there's crowds around. And lots of things in the air too, and balloons to obscure the views. He somehow manages to miss Widget taking down the thief - stupid crowds.
When Gert squints at him and Haruki starts to shout, Dross looks up from his work and turns, looking back through the crowd towards her and Haruki. He studies the petite clown intently for a minute or two, then looks at Haruki, whom he scrutinizes just as intensely, as if the reason he looks so much better today than he has recently could be found out just by looking. Whatever he sees, his expression doesn't change, however. And after that minute or two, his pale gaze cuts back to the recording in his hands; then up to the podium, where Lonnie and Jeremy seem to have taken a moment to confer about something.
Conference finished, Lonnie steps back up to the microphone. "Before we get any further ahead of ourselves, I'd like to introduce to you the reason that we're all gathered here in this beautiful place on this beautiful day. The creator of the Honorbright Foundation, who are a great, hard working bunch who help smart kids get smarter and are sponsoring this wonderful event here today, not to mention a real bright guy by any measuring stick, I'd like to welcome up to speak to all you lovely folks... Logan Brenner, ladies and gentlemen. Let's give him a hand!" With another big laugh and an even bigger grin, Lonnie starts the applause himself, right into the microphone.
Logan hops up onto the stage, smiling at Lonnie, then out at the audience, waving at everyone. He takes the microphone and speaks into it, his clear, boyish voice echoing out over the crowd. "Thank you, Lonnie, and thanks everyone for making it out today for the First Annual Tam Valley Kite Festival. So named because I hope we have more to come." He laughs a little and continues on. "You'll notice we've got donation centers set up around the festival. You're certainly not required to donate, but I hope you'll consider giving. We support initiatives for STEM programs for kids of all ages, offering after school programs, summer camps, and special classes in the hardest-hit school districts. Dozens of boys and girls are enrolled in our programs thanks to donations by at sponsors like you, and we hope to increase the number of children we reach by at least 100 this year. So thanks, again, for coming out, and thanks to all of our volunteers helping out as well." He gives them a round of applause, others joining in. "I'd also like to thank our corporate sponsors -- " He rattles a few off, most of them local, some of them not. "Anyway, I'll let Lonnie get back to the fun. Thanks again, and I'll see you at the kite contest, where I'll be one of the judges." With another smile and wave, he hands the mic back and hops off the stage, returning to Jeremy and Dross.
Noel has been gone, or something -- who knows? She's here again in all of her itty bittyish glory. Wearing a Golden State Warriors jersey and a pair of shorts made of denim that would break every school dress code in the United States, she's decided to don some matching Nike Air Max sneakers. Her hair is wild and kinky, a purple-streaked and flowered thing that heralds her arrival usually before she does. She gives a yawn, slinking through the crowd with a slight bounce in her step -- her pink ears turning for and to sound.
Lonnie takes the mic back from Logan and says, "You heard the man, people! It's time to eat, drink, and be merry. And don't forget-- " Here, he gives the crowd another huge wink. "Kites are fun." He laughs heartily at his own reference to one of the songs that's been playing in the kite assembly tents and launches into introducing the performances for the afternoon, starting with the first musical act.
Noel pulls a Luna bar out of her purse and casually opens it, taking a bite -- and then another bite. She's casually eating like usual, chewing slowly as she looks up at the sky for any kites. She watches the sky with her chin lifted, eyebrow furrowing as the wind runs its way through her hair. Her nose twitches, nostrils flaring so that she can curiously and clandestinely huff the scents of the world surrounding.
The first act is a folk-rock act with a Scottish lead singer, Rooklin and the Groundlings, who come up on stage with all sorts of stringed instruments and percussion from all over the world and a large mess of singers. They start into some kind of rollicking jig with a hurdy-gurdy solo. Meanwhile, Logan and Jeremy and Dross are making the rounds, walking to the various booths, keeping an eye on the kite-making activities, and eventually ending up at the kite flying fields themselves, where plenty of people are flying kites for pleasure as well as to prepare for the contest ahead. It's there that Jeremy dashes off, leaving Logan and Dross to contend with a green and white kite. Logan looks plenty pleased about it, however.
Haruki's watching the musicians now, with a fascination greater than he has for the kites. He's found himself a nice, pleasant spot to do so. Everything's good. He's all serene and happy now.
As Jeremy jogs through the crowd after Logan, whom he always calls 'Mister Brenner,' any time that he sees someone without a kite, he stops to talk to them and make sure that they know they can make one, with help, for free, at one of the kite assembly tents. This includes Noel, Haruki, and any other new arrivals... Or people who've been there for a while but still don't have a kite! His nervous but friendly voice just keeps popping up here and there: "Excuse me..."
Noel is enamored with all of this kite action, finishing her Luna Bar and narrowing that dark gaze to look around for some more food. She doesn't go to make a kite; she has some other aims, it seems. Her eyes are bright and curious as she looks at the likes of everyone around her. She pulls one of her headphone buds out and tucks it into her pocket, looking from face to face.
There are several food vendors here, including no small amount of barbecue, some weird sort of hipster Asian fusion (not something one normally sees in New England), a Mexican stand, and a vegan ice cream truck, Like No Udder, with no small amount of customers. Who knew so many kids loved vegan soft-serve? The prices look reasonable on almost everything but the hipster Asian fusion. It figures.
Hark, a bohemian. Through the hustle and bustle, comes Franklyn. Has she been in the kite assembly tent? Possibly. The Mortal woman is dressed in a gauzy white dress with long sleeves and a short skirt, which paired with a white fringe vest? Very summer of '69. Over one arm she has a big-black-bag, and an unlit cigarette hangs from her lips - but it seems Frank has given up trying to light it, in favour of hauling around and examining a mid-sized, diamond-shaped kite.
It's white. It has a long tail. It's blocking her view, as Franklyn stumbles in Noel's direction - if she's not careful, the Mortal woman might just walk straight into her. Sheesh! Pay attention, Franklyn.
Hipster Asian Fusion.. the Mexican place... VEGAN ICE CREAM. She does this thing where she pulls out her money and goes from food truck to food truck. Noel gets something from each, greedy to try things. She gets herself a sushi burrito from the Asian fusion. She picks up carne asada fries from the Mexican place, and then gets herself some delicious ice cream as well. She has this armful of beautiful food and it might be about to end in tears thanks to the dastardly Franklyn. Little does Noel know. At least she's eating the sushi burrito before she even makes it to the table.
Lonnie raises a round of applause to cheer Rooklin and the Groundlings off stage and welcome up the next group, an all-girl surf band from Canada in identical outfits with matching retro hairdos who do covers of pop songs. They get a big screech of excitement out of the crowd down by the stage.
Logan, meanwhile, gets his green and white kite off the ground. Since he's judging the contest, one guesses he isn't competing, but he definitely wants to fly! He does happen to notice Franklyn and Noel over yonder, and even though he doesn't know the latter, he flashes a brilliant grin in the direction of the two ladies. "I hope you're filming this, Dross," he says to his somewhat shadowy companion.
Franklyn glances over in the direction of the stage, as the bands switch over. Is she going to head in that direction? Hmm, no she's wandering somewhere else, although it means Frank has to cut through the food area. Where is that lighter? Franklyn's struggling to reach blindly into her bag while keeping ahold of that kite - somewhere along the process, a scrap of newspaper hangs out of her bag, and she twists to try and shove it back it. This? Is successful. What is not successful is Franklyn's footwork -- the Mortal girl, she tilts her head - is that Logan smiling at her from over yonder? - and ups her speed just in time to walk smack-dab into Noel.
Unless someone's got real deft reflexes? Food, it will go everywhere: sky, ground, clothes, faces...
"Ohmygod!" Frank's cigarette joins the fray, bouncing around in the air before gravity takes it's toll.
The more serious kite fliers -- those who brought their own kites, and in some cases more than one of their own kites -- are starting to check their watches and put some of their display kites away. Down go the giant caterpillars and reproductions of castles complete with pennants. They start going over the remainder of their kite arsenal. Unsurprisingly, the kites that they plan to fly in the contest are generally smaller, more aerodynamic, and less likely to resemble a mythical creature... Although there are a few holdouts.
Dross allows a faint gleam of amusement to show in his eyes. "Yes, Logan," he answers. Turns one of the controls that he's holding and looks around the flying field. His gaze pauses on Haruki, to whom he nods, then follows Logan's over to Frank and Noel.
Haruki's started to look a little worried as he checks his phone, and then looks around. He's not paying so much attention to the kites or the music or anything anymore. In fact he's sort of lost in his own little space.
Logan grins as his kite catches the breeze, floating up there beautifully. He does some tricks with it -- loop-de-loops and dives and the likes -- before bringing it back down to earth, just in time to turn his head and watch Franklyn smash into Noel. Oops. His eyebrows raise in surprise; did he just stifle some laughter? He doesn't head over there just yet, but, having also noticed Haruki, decides to go over and check on the magician. "Hey, Haruki. Aren't you up soon?" He glances up at the surf band on the stage, grinning. "They're pretty good. I think we have you down last. How are you feeling about the act?"
Noel has never been into anything like she is into these carne asada fries. Her already roundish cheeks are puffed out with the food she's currently stuffing her face with. She does not miss Logan's bright smile to her, and in turn she raises her hand and wiggles her fingers -- and just as that happens, the food she'd stacked in her arms to start a show of abject gluttony. Desire isn't all tea parties and love notes.
But wait, there's more! She has no idea that Franklyn is careening into her. Everything stops and the carne asada fries go flying into he air. Cheese, sour cream, guac.. everything. The icecream is lost. She has her burrito hanging out of her mouth as she slow-falls right onto her butt in a pile of food. Noel doesn't flip out, the brown-skinned girl just looks down at her food spattered Golden State Warriors jersey.. and the chocolate syrup all over her brand new Nike Air Maxes. She looks crestfallen for once in her life. Press F to pay respects.
The surf pop group exits to wild cheers, followed by more enthusiasm up-whipping from Lonnie and a rock group, this one with male and female members and a more casual look. The lead singer is wearing a kite festival T-shirt. As they take the stage, waving and talking loudly to the crowd, Lonnie ducks out and comes back with a big paper cone full of French fries.
"Itsy's not here." Haruki says to Logan. "I did plan for the eventuality but my backup assistant isn't here either. She's sick. I didn't think to organise a backup backup plan." He sighs. "I like the musicians. They're all good." He's too caught up in his own worries to notice other crisis going on.
The young man in the violet hoodie who terrorized a group of children flying kites shaped like fruit comes back onto the field. He looks at the people preparing for the upcoming kite battle and smirks. He's carrying the same kite that he had before, but before he can send it up again, Jeremy jogs over to him and starts talking to him ("Excuse me... Mister...") nervously but earnestly about something. Maybe his chance to participate in the competition?
White is an ideal background to start a composition. Franklyn, teetering over Noel as the smaller woman tumbles down into fairground fodder, is left standing with an action painting's worth of carne asada fries over what was, until a literal second ago, a perfectly pristine white outfit.
It's like Carrie. Only sad, because while Franklyn stands there horrified? No obvious telekinetic effects can be witnessed.
Neither can an apology. Franklyn just makes this crumpled sound, like all the air has been compressed out of her - blinking at herself, the asymmetrical planes of green guac and red hot sauce, which haven't quite resolved themselves with the textured expanse of chilli. Crestfallen? No. Possibly furious and despondent? Yes. Franky stares down at Noel, like it's entirely her fault. Then? She frowns; rapid shift to possible sympathy, because... Well the other woman does look quite bummed out about it.
At least Frank doesn't scream. Just, stares.
"Yeah. They're all pretty great, huh?" Logan glances at the stage, but then back over at the mess on Frank and Noel -- perhaps he will stop by and see what he can do for that, in a bit. Then he puts a hand on Haruki's shoulder. "You don't think you could go up there alone? I know you'd be able to pull off something great. But if you don't feel you can go, I understand. Just let Jeremy know, okay?" He points to poor Jeremy, running around trying to get the volunteers together for the next part of the day.
Crestfallen, truly. She is so crestfallen that she reaches down and picks a carne asada fry off of the ground. It's not quite touching the ground, it's just.. in the container still. Noel eats it, and then eats another. With a flourish of grace, the Beastling climbs up to her feet -- and quickly shakes off the disappointment and sadness over her now stained clothing. She's picking her burrito up again, too. She's not about to waste that. "Five second rule," she informs Franklyn suddenly.
After the terrible letdown of the events that had just occurred, the little Flowermaus has allowed this tragedy to roll off her back like water off a duck's ass. She strips her jersey off then, leaving herself in a white bikini top. Franklyn staring gets her a quirk-browed look, before she peers over at Logan and the rest of the happening.
Haruki looks so sad and despondent and he just gazes up at Logan. As if he's trying to find the courage to ask something. And he can't quite. "I need an assistant." And then he says. "You know a little magic you said you could wear the rabbit outfit and nobody would know it was you and it'd be a secret and..." he takes a breath, "I'm sorry I shouldn't have asked and... can you just tell Jeremy I can't. I'm sorry to let everyone down."
Dross keeps filming. =Just= the kites, or anything that's taking place down here on earth...? Admittedly, he isn't the only one walking around with a camera (or, in his case, the controls to, presumably, a kite or drone flying a camera through the warm summer air), so maybe things like guacamole quakes are going to show up on =someone's= editing floor. He glances at Haruki when the magician starts to leak despair like a struck fire hydrant... But his attention goes back to his work before long.
There's a beat, and then Logan tells Haruki, "I'd be your assistant." He grins. "No rabbit outfit, though. If that's enough to get you to do the act, then sure. I don't see why not!" His eyes wander over to Noel, watching the...carnage going on there with a sort of blankly amused look. That is a helluva thing.
Franklyn blinks twice, slowly - watching the tiny Beastling consume fairground food from the fair ground. How many people are paying her attention? Aren't there better things they can do? The Mortal woman, she blinks once-or-twice as Noel starts stripping down to her skivvies - although somewhere along the way, she finds herself carefully turning, putting down her bag and oh-thank-the-LORD undamaged kite.
"Aren't you supposed to be more, you know." Franklyn squints at Noel, leaning forward as if to help her up. She's not. Franklyn is scrutinising her while fidgeting with her rings; four gold bands and a ludicrous chunk of yellow topaz surrounded by onyx. A waft of flowers is evident on the air - but what flowers? Something alien, something possibly Wyrd... Any Flowering's around? A Woodwalker maybe? No. Just Frank. "Agile - that's the word. You /look/ like you would have a heightened sense of your environment. Why are you here? What's your objective?"
So conversational. Franklyn twists a ring as she peers at Noel, and... Was Franklyn ever really covered in food? Because she's standing up, and her clothes? Well, they're back to pristine. Meanwhile, the Mortal's acting like nothing's happened. Sort of. "You know if you're a pick pocket--- oh, oh I get it." Frank side-steps, putting her foot down on the strap of her big black bag. "Crafty."
Haruki throws himself at Logan, hugging him tight. "But it's not the same without the outfit. Will you wear the mask, the ears? THe top hat? You'd look so cute with the fluffy tail." But he's rambling and not expecting a yes of it. And he's still hugging Logan. "You're so handsome everyone will look at you and not me at all and I'm going to look silly enough as it is. I suppose we'd better get ready?"
Noel is hilariously unbothered. Her desires are mercurial anyway, so there's no love lost. She still has her burrito, and that's truly all that matters. "Vegan ice cream seems like a scam anyway," she says to herself as she looks at the puddle of melting cherry chocolate on the ground. There is something intoxicating that clings to Noel; the heady scent clinging to her sweetly. She sniffs the air carefully, and then looks back at Franklyn. "I guess I'm as agile as you are perceptive of your surroundings." The little Beast rolls her shoulders -- both of them.
Noel preens a hand through that wild mop of her hair, her pinked ears twitching toward sound in the Wyrd world. "And why, pray tell, would you think I'm a pickpocket?" Noel asks Franklyn, rather forwardly -- her eyebrow furrowed. Previously unbothered Maus snorts. "What, the only black girl at this function has to be trying to steal from you all?"
Lonnie finishes eating his fries and comes back on stage in time to usher off the rock group, then welcome a band who've agreed to cover a set of songs about kites. The songs come from all different genres, time periods, and countries. "Last music act of the afternoon, folks," comes his big, friendly voice over the speakers as they take the stage.
Logan laughs, so easy and bright, hugging Haruki in return. "I'll just fade into the background. Don't worry about a thing." He starts to maneuver Haruki along to the stage, saying after a moment, "If the mask isn't too animal-like, I'd be happy to wear it, okay?" He glances back over his shoulder at Dross with a grin, definitely expecting him to still be following along.
Haruki leads Logan off to their 'tent' or whatever the space he has backstage to get ready.
"Yeah, don't you know almonds are draining the water supplies and soybeans are ruining ecosystems? There's no winning -- dairy destruction, veal -- I don't know how you can eat anything, it's just---" Motor mouthed Franklyn fidgets as she speaks, chattering and weaving her hands through the air like it's perfectly normal to subject jump and chatter with someone they've knocked over, covered in food, and accused of petty crime.
She continues, as the fair whirls on around them; "Perceptive? I wish - I got distract- - it's all the /noise/, you know? Aural, visual; have you ever--" Wait. What? Franklyn blinks. Oh. Yes, the Mortal looks embarrassed. Mortified? Only significantly worse than being covered in food. "I'm sorry - no that's not the reason - it's the - just you're eating off the ground, I thought - very little?"
Noel stares at Franklyn, her lips pressed into a rare line -- well, as much of a line as plush lips can manage. Her neatly groomed brows are drawn into a furrow as she listens to the motor-mouthed mortal. She doesn't seem to give a shit that she's wearing a bikini top and denim shorts like she's in a Nelly video in the early 00's. When Noel's question about race sinks in as she watches Mortal. "Why in the hell would I snatch your purse when I just obviously spent like forty dollars on overpriced fair food that I did not get to enjoy? I'm just saying. Maybe think before you run your mouth at people."
Noel's ire melts away pretty much instantly after that; there's no way in hell she would hold a grudge or continue on to beat the dead offended horse. "I'm Noel. I sometimes eat food off the ground because the five second rule is a thing and those fries never touched the ground."
It turns out there are only so many songs about kites, even when you scour the entirety of time and space? Because the kite song band isn't up on stage all that much longer. "What a creative bunch of guys!" says Lonnie, coming back out to take the mic. He's in a great mood and it echoes throughout the entire festival grounds. "Now, we've just got one more act for you today and I promise you, it's a real doozy! You won't believe your eyes. You're going to be thinking about this performance for a long time."
He pauses and beams at the crowd. "Please put your hands together for... Haruki the Magician! And his mysterious assistant." Lonnie laughs. "Big round of applause. Come on out, the water's fine!" He starts... and finishes... the applause himself, with big, hearty claps.
Dross does move towards the stage after Logan and Haruki. On his way, he brushes past Noel and Franklyn. Although he doesn't speak to either of them, he looks at each of them, briefly, and then in the direction of the upcoming performance. After that, he seems to fade into the crowd again, reappearing near one of the towers supporting the sound and lighting rigs.
Haruki stands on stage, dressed in stylish red and gold formalwear, that's perfectly tailored to his figure and includes a pair of stylised gold bunny-ears.
The first notes of a song that might be strangely familiar begin play. The melody slow and haunting, like those twisted cover songs that are currently all the rage in movie trailers.
Haruki's movements are graceful, fluid and in time with the music as he picks up a sheet of news-paper. He ties a string to it, creating the most pathetic looking kite possible, and and tosses it in the air to get it to fly, only for it to fall flat on the ground. No wind.
Looking frustrated he tugs on the string to no avail. He then stoops down and picks it up, and tries again to the same result. Frustrated he rips the paper it to pieces. The musical cues emphasising every action. And a haunting voice cuts in with the first words that have been heard since the act began. "With tuppence for paper and strings. You can have your own set of wings."
Logan has come on stage with Haruki as well. He's wearing the beach-casual clothing he was wearing earlier, except he also has on a golden domino mask. Somehow he manages to make that work without looking silly. He is here to be Haruki's assistant, so he assists: at one point he does some slight of hand with two coins while Haruki sets up, and then, at the appropriate time, waves his hand near the kite so he can help the magic -- shazam! There's a flash of light from seemingly out of nowhere.
Audrey ambles away from one of the snack booths, the precious secured. The precious being: a fried snickers bar. It's on a stick. It's one cliche away of asking someone to hold its beer. Audrey is certainly not helping things either. She's in cut-offs and in one of those triangle top, string bikini tops that isn't overly concerned with modesty. Her tank-top has been shunted to a back pocket and is hanging down, lazy in its occasional brush against the back of one knee. Her hair has been put up into a high pony tail.
And she's just sort of standing there, looking up at the sky behind sunglasses and eating this bar on a stick and it's probably really not the visual people with kids were hoping for at a kite show. But here we are. The crowd gathered at the stage seems to encourage her to wander in that direction.
Franklyn blinks down at Noel, then squints and looks at her hands - chocolate sauce covered shoes - face again, opening her mouth to try and-- what? Explain herself? Make an excuse? Frank just ... nods. Conceding to the Beastling. Then a glance to her sweatshirt, and Frankly gestures to her - hand extended, to pick Noel up. "Wrap that around your waist, give me your hand." Is she taking off a ring? Is she proposing? Chatty mortal chats on; "Franklyn. I don't believe you, about the fries - but that's your business. How can you eat them, even on a plate? I bet they use palm oil. You're so small. Where's your kite?"
It sounds like Franky could continue grilling Noel -- but alas, she gets distracted by the sound over by the stage. Oh! She blinks a few times, looking strangely dazed, then turns to chatter to Noel; "Haruki is the region's premier magician - and by that, I mean he's the only magician I know about. Unless they have a secret club. Jesus. Imagine. I bet the politics are cut throat. Do you have a lighter?" Chatter-chatter, as Franklyn watches Haruki and the masked Logan start their act. Oh boy. Magic! Hey, is that Audrey? Franklyn's retrieved her bag from the ground, searching for cigarettes, but the other Mortal gets a casual wave.
Haruki startles back at the flash, looking surprised and, in his hands, where once there was just string and ripped up paper most pathetic attempt at a kite in the world, is now a shiny new silver glittery kite. Haruki tosses this kite into the air and this time it does stay up there.
"With your feet on the ground, you're a bird in a flight, With your fist holding tight, to the string of your kite." After starting the slowly, the music begins to speed up, and Let's Go Fly a Kite is more obvious, although still not very like the Mary Poppins version.
The kite gets out of control, diving and soaring, as Haruki is pulled after it, frantically holding onto the kite string, as it almost tugs him and along a few times and he leaps seemingly impossibly high but always landing on the ground afterwards, until he's not, and he starts to fly. He spins and twirls across the stage, in an impossible feat of magic (or wires, surely there's wires).
Noel lets the things happen -- she's always letting something happen, going with the flow -- trying new shit. She wraps her jersey around her waist, doing as the mortal says with not a care in the world. When she mentions palm oil, Noel winces a little bit. "I hope it wasn't palm oil. Poor orangutans," Noel says mournfully. Her hand sinks in her hair, and she fluffs the side of it.
Noel's eyes follow Frank's to the magician and wordlessly hands her bic lighter -- covered in origami cranes -- over toward the likes of Franklyn. On the subject of being small, she simply cants a look over at the mortal woman -- "I didn't get a kite. I was just.. hungry." She's always hungry. Nothing new.
Logan hesitates for a moment -- and then springs into action. He picks up some rope on the stage and starts to run after Haruki, trying to tie him up so he can bring him back to earth! He lassos the rope around Haruki's torso, whenever the little magician gets close enough to the ground, and makes a big show of reeling him in, gritted teeth and all. Turns out he's just fine being on stage. No stage fright whatsoever. Go figure.
Haruki gets lassoed and dragged back down and there's meant to be more to the trick... but this isn't his assistant and this isn't his plan and this isn't... okay no stage fright, no freezing, he can do this. He reaches up to grab for the kite, but he's short and he gestures for Logan to help him, and the Let's Go Fly a Kite, keeps playing, but it seems somewhat off with the actions of the stage now, whereas to begin with everything was in synch.
Audrey masters double tasking by both working on that fried snickers bar and waving at Franklyn back, as she ambles closer to the stage. Or she's en route but then Haruki's act seems to be acting on him and then Logan is springing to their aid. She stops, head canted just slightly as she's watching this all go down before she looks back at Franklyn. Her free hand pointing to the action and then gesturing at Franklyn, in a sort of 'what's this?' before just keeps walking towards Franklyn and by extension Noel.
Widget's been watching the magic show, eyes glued to the stage as much as they were able. There was still a lot to see /around/ it, but she did what she could. It was going well! Well enough that the crowd slowed her business down, given that most of the children were watching or being made to watch by their parents. Really, it was her, Geoffrey the balloon-turtle, and her stuff. A bunch of stuff on a large blanket was not normally a stall make, but she had /fun stuff/. And snacks. Which she was now eating, having not much more to do. Her kite was ready, slumbering behind her.
Logan, big, shiny grin in place, reaches up for the kite, dragging it back down again. He's a lot taller than Haruki, so it's no trouble for him, right? He probably gets it close enough so that Haruki can grab onto it, too -- what will happen next?
Down on the ground, Jeremy has momentarily paused his frantic running around to watch the show. He clutches a binder close to his chest, positively on the edge of his nerves!
"Right? Those fries could be responsible for the death of you don't even know how many orangutang." Franklyn agrees - and as she chats with Noel, she cups her hands around the smaller woman's - placing, just for a few moments, a ring on her finger. A synchronised dance troupe of engagement well-wishes does not appear -- but if Noel ever had dirty clothes, they're a thing of the past. She looks fresh to death. Frank mustn't like the way the ring looks, though, because it's slipped off and put back on her own finger with casual ease.
Like it ain't no thing.
Besides, Frank's getting distracted with the magic -- pausing for a moment, before speaking in sotto voce; "Will this turn into magic shibari, yes or no?" The kite in her hand, it's lifted up for Noel to inspect, although Frank's attention is still on the stage. "There is something meditative about kite flying - feeling the wind pull you, staying anchored - the push and pull..." Franklyn, having noticed Audrey, fades out -- but her rings glint as she gestures to the other woman, miming 'jazz hands'.
Haruki reaches up to grab the kite from Logan, it tears and then explodes in a flash, bang, cloud of glitter and the small magician, still bound in the rope startles backwards, trips on said rope and falls over while the music continues to play on. That was intentional, right? Haruki leaps up on his feet anyway, steps out of the lasso, spins a graceful spin, and then does a bow as the music ends. Should he stay for an applause? Nope! That's Logan's job for Haruki's making a mad dash off the stage.
Logan looks surprised when the kite explodes! Oh my! Who knew that was going to happen! But yes, he does stay for applause, and bows quite well. Maybe he should get up on stage more often, apart from TED talks...but all that being said, he gets off the stage soon enough, because there are kites to judge in the very near future.
Noel looks back longingly at that pile of food she had dropped. She lets Frank touch her hands and slide the ring on. Her eyebrow furrows, and then she looks away for a moment at Haruki and Logan, distracted from Frank's trick. "Shibari is magic but I'm not sure of the source." The little mouse says with a shrug of her shoulders -- before she looks at her fresh to def jersey -- and then back at Franklyn. Her eyes narrow at the woman, and she pulls the blessed thing back onto herself. It's perfect, and beautiful. Her stomach growls.
"Let's fly one then. I mean.." She shrugs her shoulders, her eyes darting over to Audrey.
The stage is still absolutely covered in glitter when Lonnie comes back out. It gets all over his sneakers but he doesn't seem to mind about that at all. "What'd I tell ya?" he demands, cheerful as ever, grinning at every person he can see out there in the crowd and also all the ones he can't. "What an act! There's one for the ages, folks. Tell your kids about that one when you grow up and have kids, okay, kids?" He gives Haruki and Logan some extra applause, too, and then clears his throat.
"And now... The moment you've all been waiting for... It's time for... "
Lonnie leans into the mic, watching the audience, for as long as he can draw the moment out. "KITE BATTLE! Report to your stations, soldiers. We'll be getting started in just a minute. Last kite in the air wins $5,000 with a matching donation to charity and a private air tour for two around the Tam Valley! Logan Brenner will be your pilot for the tour, which I, personally, thought was plenty exciting =before= I saw him and Haruki do magic. But now!" He whistles to communicate the sheer force of his awe.
"Let's get this battle of the skies started, you wonderful people!"
Dross, standing in the shadow of one of the rig supports, has been watching the stage and the controls that he's holding at the same time. At the end of the performance, after Haruki and then Logan vanish from the stage, there's a rather thoughtful look on his face. He keeps watching the empty space for a minute or two after they've left and Lonnie has shooed all the festival patrons over to the flying fields before disappearing again behind the structure.
Kite battle?! Kite battle!
The cardboard sign is left on the pile of loot, now marked FREE. The owner of said stall is scrabbling over to where she's supposed to go, hauling her kite behind her. Widget's kite is designed like some type of fighting kite, lengths of wire trailing from it to strips of leather wrapped around her fingers. Oddly, she's got them on both, but surely that won't mean gremlin tricks are afoot. Surely not. Ignore the bits on it that look worryingly like rockets, or the nose art right out of WW2. Or the pinup model.
"Here! Here! Wanna fight!" She held up her kite proudly, the oddly-menacing thing looking like it was about to detonate, move under its own power, or both. Hopefully it'd stay aloft.
Franklyn looks dreamily mesmerised by Haruki's rope-trip and Logan's surprise, as the kite exploded and glitter goes floating everywhere. Cue applause - which gives her opportunity to act like Noel isn't looking her funny, while Franklyn's attention gets wrapped up, distracted by the glitter and flash-bang smoke.
While Franky probably should reply to Noel beyond a slow nod, when she does she sounds kinda hazy; "...Does everything always have to be a battle, though? Why can't we just appreciate what there is, without having to insist who's best?" Franklyn rummages through her bag with one hand, holding the white diamond kite up with the other; letting the tail flutter. "Surrender can be beautiful, in its own way..."
A flask is pulled from her bag, and Franklyn nudges Noel along - en route via Audrey, "C'mon, lets find another kite or two. I think there was some guy handing them out." Quick nip from the flask. It'd probably medicinal.
Audrey pauses to react to the performance, even if it's hard to tell if she caught all of it. She sort of seems pleased with it on a delay, which might indicate how high she is at this movement and clapping with the rest of the crowd - even though she's more just kind clapping against the inside of one arm- before Franklyn's movement forward and her movement forward close the gap between the two. "Yoooo," she says languidly, in greeting, eyes moving between Franklyn and then Noel. She opens her mouth to what seems like the prelude to an introduction for Noel's benefit before the Kite Battle is announced. "-what up, I'm Audrey." She says finally, getting the words in edgewise over the general murmur of the crowd as the crowd starts to pivot towards the announced battle.
Logan eventually returns from the tent, Dross once more in tow, mask off. Now he's all business, heading to the table where the judges are assembling. There's a few people from the community, including a Miller, maybe even a Garreau...
On his way there, he turns around -- and looks right at Frank. Huh. He smiles, but that's normal enough. But did he also just wink at her?
Noel pulls another Luna bar out of her purse, frowning thoughtfully at her now pristine clothes. She smells intoxicating, dragging her scent with her everywhere she goes. It's a thing. Noel is distracted by the glitter, which makes her give the most thoughtful little frown. "I wonder if it's biodegradable glitter. What do you think?" She asks Frank side-long -- her eyes darting over to Audrey. The wildhaired thing gives the most broad, toothsome smile at Audrey. "Noel," she provides quite easily -- sniffing the air once more. There's gotta be pot around here somewhere. When Franklyn mentions competitions, she shrugs her little shoulders. "Go with the flow. That's what I try to do."
Everyone with a kite -- homemade or otherwise -- has flocked to the main flying field. It seems like the young man Jeremy reprimanded will be competing after all. So are the kids with their troop of fruit-themed kites. Kites of every shape, size, and color are going up: diamond kites, box kites, delta kites, bowed kites, foil kites, and many more. The big blue sky with its border of green mountains stretches out behind them.
Another sip from the flask, and Franklyn is not sharing -- she's twisting the cap and slipping it back in her bag, like nothing has happened. Because it hasn't. The kite in her hand is lifted, wiggled around the current as she walks with Noel, "I think the likelihood is low; I hope after we're dead, it still leaves its mark on the river and earth, entirely fractured from the memory of today. No context."
Huh. Kite streamer flows along behind her, and Franklyn gives Audrey an upnod, "Hey Missouri - where's your kite?" She looks ready to say more, but she gets distracted -- little double take, looking over her shoulder to spot Logan gleaming over yonder. Did he just wink at her? Franklyn doesn't smile back at him -- but she doesn't not-not smile either. Look she gives? It's complicated. Whatever.
"Let's flow." Franky chimes to Noel and Audrey, ushering them towards the main field; following along with another introduction - kite weaving through the air, as she bops her hand up-and-down. Practice before the battle? She chatters on airily; "Audrey, Noel is gourmand doing a food-truck tour of Fort Brunsett - Noel, Audrey is a beverage entrepreneur with considerable assets."
Ha! It /did/ get aloft! It doesn't look stable in any way, but maybe that's the point. It's not staying in one place, after all, jerking and bobbing oddly as the many wires twinge with Widget's twitchy Wizened fingers. She's only using the one hand, the other tense and ready to do something assuredly unwise.
Widget's crouched on the ground, looking excited but more than a little crazed. It's probably at around this point someone might realize they never told her what a kite battle actually /is/.
Noel's nosy ass catches Logan winking at Franky from a mile away. She sniffs the air, eyebrow furrowed as she watches Logan with her big, dark eyes. She sharply sizes him up with all of the curiosity in the world. She rubs the back of her slender neck. "Hi, Audrey," she offers to the other woman - her demeanor is warm, polite. She stuffs a hand in her pocket and pulls out a piece of hard candy before tossing it in her mouth. She is still hilariously kite-free but watching the others in the air.
Audrey is not a judge, representing the Alexander family, and that's probably a good thing, since the event doesn't reward speed money washing, the most elegant way to make expensive electronics fall off a truck, or knife fights.
Audrey also lacks a kite, which is probably fine with her on a lot of levels seeing as she's pretty blissed out on this fried snickers bar, instead. Audrey's eyes drift over Noel and come up back to her face, the details sought and obtained. Her mouth splays open into a grin as she forces her glasses up on to her head, revealing glassy eyes with a touch of a gleeful, predatory spark for the pleasure of the view. Kite? Audrey's attention rolls back to Franky and she offers a shrug. "I don't need a kite, I got a fried candy bar on a stick." As if this is the answer to the question: What's best in life? She ushers along at Franklyn's behest, listening to her introduction. "Yeah, like- I run a bar," she clarifies. "I'm not rich though."
Dross is still walking around and filming the kites. He drifts past the Frank-Noel-Audrey conglomerate without a word, pauses for a moment where Widget is fighting with her unruly monster of a kite, and keeps moving in and out of the other fliers, never seeming to run into any of them somehow, in spite of the fact that for the most part, he's looking straight down at the screen and controls in his hands.
Even though Logan is sitting at a table with the other judges, and even though he's in the middle of judging a /contest/ -- he /still/ manages to catch Noel's look, or so it seems. He manages to just glance at her, like it's really nothing -- like, yeah, he's acknowledging that she's looking at him, and she gets a small smile for her trouble -- before he's back to examining the construction of kites and watching how long they can stay in the air. He smiles again, possibly to himself, and makes a few notes on his clipboard.
So maybe the rockets weren't very fair. Or the sparkler chaff. Or the little ribbons of fire. Or the little homemade Stuka siren she added to make the dive-bombings fun. But...y'know. It was fun! But /hard/, even for her. Her Wizened dexterity was working hard, tongue out in determination, breath exiting in a manic hiss, it's...not comfortable to see. If anything, whenever her tricks and traps go off, she looked borderline aroused. That's probably a red flag to /somebody/, but she doesn't care. She's in a kite battle! Time for focus!
The other judges are taking notes, too. These must be for the individual awards for kites constructed at the festival -- Best Decorated; Most Right Angles; Biggest; Most Creative; and so on -- since not much is subjective about which kite stays aloft for the longest and takes home the =big= prize. There's some animated whispering going on at the table, which is also set up with monitors transmitting footage of the kites in the air.
Yes. Why did Franklyn watch Logan with that complicated expression of hers? It lasts maybe a little too long to be purely polite -- and stops, only when she turns to spool off some of that kite string, giving a nod in Noel and Audrey's direction as they start to get acquainted. Excellent. It gives her the chance to start running around -- passing by Dross en route. Does she look at him?
Frank's gliding across the field - white dress, white vest, white kite with streamer. She hops, she bops, she gets the kite in the sky; spinning around to catch some updraft, the white ribbons billowing in the air, bright against the pale blue. Excellent! Her tactic here? Dodge. Evade. Dart. Purely defensive, no aggression so much as agility. Does she look happy about it?... Uh, Franklyn looks preoccupied. Quiet and reflective and focused. Kite's are fun - and also serious business, apparently. Compared to Widget, Franklyn may as well be representing a nunnery.
There's a good amount of people in this contest, like a blonde teenaged girl wearing a cherry-red sundress who's doing /really/ well with her red and white kite...until the breeze drops, and she seems to lose interest almost instantaneously, abandoning her kite right there in the middle of the field. There's a young guy with red hair and a very determined expression who's having a hell of a time with his kite; he keeps getting tangled up in the string. And there's Purple Hoodie and Guy with Glasses, who, despite their aggression and perfectionism respectively, keep having their own issues. But that's a contest for ya.
Maybe Widget isn't the only one who didn't get the memo about what a kite battle is because a couple of kites have collided in the air. Purple Hoodie is laughing and Guy with Glasses is squawking about the former perfect integrity of his white cellular kite. Jeremy rushes on to the field to separate them.
Most of the kites stay aloft for a good amount of time but the wind is tricky and sooner or later, they start to drift down, down, down. Some of them run into each other, too... Some on purpose, and some by accident. Soon, the only kites still flying belong to the determined-looking young redhead who's been fighting with his kite the whole time; Widget; and Franklyn.
The judges seem to have reached their conclusions about the awards for kite construction, too, as their pens are down and the secretive whispering has tapered off.
The redhead looks briefly triumphant: his kite stays in the air! It's up! It's up! And then -- woos! It's down, as soon as it came up, and he lets out a bellowing "FUCK!" Then he grabs his kite and stomps off in a huff. Those with eyes to see certain /things/ will notice the flames literally coming out of the top of his head. Hmm.
Widget is having fun, dogfighting kites like a tiny flying ace. Only there's fire instead of bullets. And she probably /really/ shouldn't be doing that. At last the kites aren't getting set on fire, but there's only so much that can be done when a roaring rocket-powered kit slams into a normal one. She gets another hit, trailing smoke and ribbons of shredded fabric in her wake, doing a corkscrew for good measure. Oh yes. Oh yesssssssssssss. Then there was the one. The white one. Right there!
Widget cackles triumphantly, plumes of flame spewing from the back of her monster as it barrels towards Franklyn's kite, siren wailing a final descending note.
A swirling cloud of embers floated by the white kite, leaving it totally unharmed as Widget's craft disintegrates in a flash of light. Whatever was about to happen wasn't going to go well /anyway/, but at least it went wrong in a way that didn't hurt anyone.
Speaking of interesting things, Logan is, as always, a miniature sun, a beacon of light in a sea of mundanity! Or at least, a sea of perfectly ordinary mortal judges, not like there's a lot of them. Just three or four other people. The judges watch the skies, waiting to see who will be the last in the air. Logan grins when Widget's kite falls -- not because he wanted her to fail, but because she seems to be having so much fun.
Audrey isn't seeing any of these meaningful, yet down low glances happening. She's got a candy bar on a stick and she's with two other people and there's kites and Franklyn's in the fray and that's about her capacity for details, at this point. So all this glancing is going over her head like a 777 taking off in stealth mode. She does linger near Noel, watching things unfold. "Go for the touchdown!" She yells at Franklyn, unconcerned that this isn't the right sport. It's the support that matters. "So foodtrucks?" She asks of Noel, in between bites. "What's that gig like?"
Franklyn may have missed the battle memo as well - she's not really trying to fight anyone out on the field, so much as survive. Survival, evasion, escape: that's her tactic -- all the while, running about in her white boho getup, like a tuft of dandelion caught on the wind. Her kite? Simple. Very simple - just a diamond with a streamer. Classic kite. Vintage. No bells or whistles or pyrotechnics - just good old fashioned kite engineering.
Is she having a good time? Frank's not really paying much attention to what's going on around her - the squawking nerd, the disappointed girl, the determined once-tangled redhead, the ecstatic glee from Widget - she's just doing her own thing, moving around in some unchoreographed dance with the wind. She never quite stops moving - she remains animated, never comfortable staying in one place long, always avoiding the others but somehow making it look almost effortless - but eventually, Franklyn smiles. Just a little.
Right after Widget's kite goes down. Kites are fun.
For Fae eyes, Noel has a pair of wide soulful eyes that reflect the blue sky and a few of the kites in them. They're big and dark, taking in every detail with all of the candor and quickness of prey. She is prey. There is nothing more prey-like than a mouse except maybe a 99 cent McDonald's cheeseburger. Still, the wildhaired thing is watching the kite-off with a little bit of interest -- her teeth worrying her bottom lip. When she notes Audrey lingering, her big dark eyes flick over toward the woman. Audrey can see the rounded tips of her ears pricking in the mop of curls that is her hair. "It's real, real hungry work." She informs Audrey, eyeballing her candybar briefly before Frank gets a look, but Audrey wins her attention back. "She's gonna get a goal."
There's the sound of a whistle, coming from Jeremy. "Contest over!" he calls out. There's a mic at the table, which Logan turns on. His clear, boyish voice reverberates out across the field. "Thank you all for coming, everyone! We're pleased to announce our winners. We'll start with our Kite Construction Awards. For Best Construction, the award goes to Number 72. Congratulations!" There's applaud as Guy with Glasses, looking somewhat peeved, steps forward to collect his prize, a little gold kite trophy. He goes on to award some of the other prizes: Most Creative, Biggest, and so on. All of those people get little golden kite trophies.
"And now, for our Kite Battle contestants: third prize goes to Number 16. You win a $100 gift certificate to Cat-22 Cafe and Collective in the Industrial District. Well done!" The sulking redhead looks surprised, but he bounds out of the crowd to collect his prize and shake Logan's hand.
Audrey nods sagely, as if Noel fully understands the stakes of this situation at hand. "And then she's gonna high stick it and that's how you win the World Cup." Clearly. "FUCKIN' KILL 'EM ALL FRANK!" She bellows, in support in Franklyn's direction before she shifts her attention back to the kite battle at large and the conversation with Noel specifically. "Yeah, I mean I deal mostly with drunks and people who want the Irish experience but who have come to the wrong bar and are totally unable to figure out how to back out gracefully. So demanding in its own way. You should come by sometime and get a drink on me." She offers in distracted invitation, as the the final whistle is called and the winners are being announced.
"Second Prize is $1,000! And that goes to Number 8." Logan's grin goes wide. Yeah, he knows Number 8's name, but he's not going to say it, apparently. "Congratulations, Number 8! We probably would've given you Most Creative if your kite hadn't stayed in the air so long." The audience laughs, seeing as Widget's kite was certainly creative.
The whistle has blown, but Franklyn hasn't stopped -- people are getting trophies, and she's still got her ring'd fingers wrapped around the kite string, letting more of it spool out so the white diamond rests on the very end of its tether; skipping as the kite soars way up, up, up against the blue. Did she score a goal? The Mortal woman doesn't seem aware of the hub-bub around her -- not of her sweet toothed companions over yonder, not of the judges over by their tallying table, not of any silent observers lurking in the peripherals. Nothing. Frank's focus is in the activity at hand.
Wait. What was that? Okay, okay - she's in the zone, but Alexanders have a tendency to break into Franklyn's zone on the regular. After Audrey's bellowing? Franklyn starts to laugh -- genuinely, bright and loud, possibly with some glee, as she ups the pace and just runs. Well, frolics really - darting across the field, free.
Widget's switched gears already, tending to Geoffrey. No! Burned by an ember of her own making! Truly she had gone too f- Oh. No. It was just one of his green balloon feet. She could fix that! A little bit of wood, some tape, aaaaand there! Peg-leg! Now her turtle was at least 40-percent pirate. Hm. Wait.
Once she realizes things are still going on, the gremlin leaves the now-eyepatched balloon animal bobbing in the air. She remembered to take the wire off of her hands, and...Oh! Oh! She won something! For something she'd built! Actually really won something!
Widget...doesn't know what to do, padding over excitedly to claim her prize. She looks close to tears, really. This was kind of a first.
Noel stares at the mortal woman for a moment, and then at the girl beside her. She preens her hair with little fingers; Audrey can see the flowers that shift -- giving off that sweet scent. The little flower mouse sighs dreamily, looking back up at the world at large. Her Mantle is dewy and sweet-smelling in particular. She frowns at something, her eyes darting between the winners.
Logan offers his hand to Widget to shake. Should she take his smooth, manicured, golden hand, he will pump hers enthusiastically. Some people are just very good at shaking hands, okay. A little more quietly, big grin on his handsome face, he says, "Great job, Widget! I'm proud of you! Spend it well." He hands her an envelope next. It's actually a thousand dollars /cash/, not a check. Ten crisp one hundred dollar bills, which isn't terribly traditional for a contest like that. Widget's lucky day.
The field has cleared to allow the winners to come up and accept their prizes... And Frank to keep running around with her simple white kite. Dross stands at one end of it, still filming. The screen between his hands shows, alternately, a bird's eye view of the judges' table and the lone remaining kite, looping in long, graceful arcs with the light and variable wind.
Widget isn't good at shaking hands, mostly because it turns into a tearful hug. Once she's pried off, the cash is shoved into her jumpsuit, the gremlin padding off to do...something. She looks awfully determined, sort of slows down about a quarter of the way through the crowd, starts wandering about half-way through, and when she finally makes it out of the crush she's chasing a bug.
Give her a break, she's really wound up. That was a great time!
"Finally, our first prize -- $5,000, which our sponsors will match for the Honorbright Foundation, and a flight around the Tam Valley, piloted by -- well. Yours truly." Logan grins. "First prize goes to -- Number 33, still flying her kite over there. Hello, Number 33! When you're done, come on over and collect your prize." There's just a little bit of laughter in his tone, gently teasing "Number 33" as she frolics along.
Franklyn's running finally stops - somewhere in the field, when she comes to a halt she's still not /really/ still; she sways in the wind like a riverside reed. Above, the kite jerks at its tether - looping those arcs, reacting to the tension in her arms. With the sun to her back, Franky stares up at the sky - pink cheeked and flushed, taking a chance to catch her breath.
No more laughing, no more frolicking. Just contemplation. Long enough that at first, Franklyn doesn't seem to process what Logan is saying over there on the mic. 'Hello number 33'. There's just the Golden Boy's laughter, and then eventually Franklyn seems to remember the number. Oh. She's a number now? Finally she looks back over her shoulder, to where others are gathered; fae and mortal alike. Ah.
Is it all over? Franklyn chews on her lip for a moment, then looks up at the kite again. Someone seems reluctant to leave the field -- but... Instead of reeling the kite in, Franklyn just lets go of the string. Without pause, the wind tears the kite away -- letting it soar up, up, up and away and over to wherever kites go. Frank's not watching now, she's just turning and walking back towards the group - flashing a smile only when she's in view of Noel, Audrey, Widget and Logan.
Audrey had turned in the direction of Noel- the scent of the flowers in her hair a powerful catnip in general and more so, when your senses are perhaps dialed up to 11 because: drugs. From the outside looking in, it just looks like the mortal is having some weird reverent moment of pause, perhaps overcome by the power of kites.
The announcement of Franklyn's winning though seems to snap her out of a Noel-flower induced reverie and she shifts her attention back to the field. "HELL YES BITCH!" She shouts in gleeful, celebratory vulgarity for Franklyn's win before she takes an aggressive bite out of her snack.
Dross isn't looking up at all anymore. Only down, at the viewfinder of the camera that he's guiding remotely through the blue summer sky. He makes a minute adjustment to one of the wheels. He seems to have recorded, in between the escape of Franklyn's kite and the handing out of some of the prizes, a long stretch of that glimmering sky... But the camera is on the judges again now.
Logan has his hand all ready and extended to Franklyn when she arrives. He's grinning, of course, bright blue eyes focused on her face. Jeremy trots up along behind him with one of those BIG checks to represent her prize. Get ready for handshakes and photos, Miz Garreau, because there's about to be plenty of them. Way to be a cornerstone of the community, or something!