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[personal profile] lastandleast
Ponyboy? Dally? Shoot, I-

I--

[Nervous shifting, followed by the sound of someone slapping down their pockets in search of cigarettes; eureka! Hiss of a match being struck, and shaky breathing.]

Ain't there supposed to be clouds here? Or... fire? Ain't I dead yet?

[ooc: Open for action by the fountain! And voice replies, too, but it's going to be a long while before Johnny figures out how to work a network device; I mean, the handheld calculator was first invented in 1967. Laptops, not so much.]

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Date: 2009-04-17 05:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
Johnny lets out a strangled yelp and drops his cigarette. You really don't even have to try to scare him halfway out of his skin, so when he glances over his shoulder towards where the voice had come from it's with wide eyes and a halfway open mouth. "... What?"

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Date: 2009-04-17 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
She laughs a little, tucking stray hair behind her ear before she tries again, making sure not to approach the boy too quickly, who looks more than a little startled. But that's a perfectly good cigarette he's just dropped, so she walks over and ducks down, picking it up and taking a drag before holding it out, in case he wants it back.

"Well. You're obviously not home. And while I can't take you back, I can at least get you settled here. Or at least answer any questions you have."

Hong Mei grins, tilting her head--the smile is almost apologetic.

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Date: 2009-04-17 06:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
Johnny goes bright red all the way to his ears, when he finds himself staring first at the girl, and then at cigarette, then at the girl again. He's, er, not really accustomed to talking with girls who don't have too much makeup caked on, mean grins and meaner attitudes. This one is not just talking but smiling at him, and- "... um..." Give him a second, Hong Mei. Even with people he's known all his life are lucky to get him to string two or three sentences together in a day.

He takes the cigarette back and just stares some more before blinking and looking down quickly enough to make it obvious he only just realized that he was doing it. He still looks like he might jump out of his skin at the slightest provocation, but at least he's working up the courage to ask a question; "W-where?" His brows knit, and he tries again; be tough, Johnnycake. "Where am I? I ain't- I ain't even supposed to be able to walk again."

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Date: 2009-04-17 06:10 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
After Johnny takes the cigarette back, Hong Mei stands at her full height again--although her height isn't terribly impressive, barely over five feet--and looks a little more closely at the boy. There's a familiar sort of air about him, overwhelmed and out of his element, but perhaps from a place where a quick rebound is necessary, judging from the terseness of his voice and furrow of his brow. Her smile fades a little at the mention of him suggesting that he shouldn't be able to walk, and for a moment she bites down on her lower lip.

She tucks her hands into her pockets, acting a little shier than she actually is. It's disarming, usually.

"You're in the City. It's not on Earth, but I also don't think it's any version of an afterlife that you can come up with. It's a place that seems to pull people from different places and times together without any real reason." Her grin is a little lopsided, sheepish. "Bet you think I'm crazy. People don't really... die here, though, if that's what you were hinting at."

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Date: 2009-04-17 06:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
They're probably about the same height; Johnny is the king of unimpressive stature, and it bugs him something awful. Makes him look fourteen, maybe thirteen, when he's already sixteen. Being skinny and always some shade of beaten up really doesn't help.

And yeah- it is disarming. Johnny glances back up to her, smoking again and fidgeting with the cuffs of his jean jacket.

Part of the reason he don't talk much is on account of the fact that he's way too nice to maintain an illusion of toughness. And that's important, to him. "Shoot, I don't think you're crazy," he might, a little, since most of what she just said went in ear and came out the other... but he doesn't want to make her feel bad. He's just not any good at grasping concepts that come at him too fast, so he goes with the flow and latches onto the last part of her speech. "Ain't they already dead?"

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Date: 2009-04-17 06:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
Hong Mei doesn't mind the height; if anything, it makes him feel more approachable, for what it's worth, and to that, she's always the most receptive. If you have to push too much to get to know a person, it gets dangerous, knowing just how to toe the line without making them lash back in some manner. She wonders if he's cold, considers lending him her jacket--but if he's always putting up such a front, that'd probably be a bad idea.

Oh well.

"You probably should think that I'm crazy," Hong Mei points out, pulling her sleeves further down until they stretch past her fingers. "Stuff like this doesn't just happen anywhere, right? But... no, not everyone here's dead. I'm not. Still have a heartbeat."

She pauses. "But those who are dead can still walk, talk, breathe while here. That's why I said that they don't really die, at least it doesn't feel like it. I've heard that their hearts stop beating, their bodies grow cold."

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Date: 2009-04-17 07:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
For the past couple days, while Johnny was holed up in the hospital with 3rd degree burns, everything seemed to alternate between being hot as hell and freezing cold; he hadn't noticed the difference until Hong Mei mentioned it.

"... Oh." An awkward pause. "No, I guess it don't..." Definitely not; Johnny's barely hanging on to the idea that he isn't dreaming or something, mostly out of the wild hope that he won't wake up soon and be back in the hospital, lying on his stomach and about to die... again. He hadn't thought, after he killed that kid, that he would go to Heaven, but... Well, regardless of what he did or didn't deserve, he still wanted whatever was happening right now to keep happening, at least for awhile. "If you ain't dead then how'd you get here?"

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Date: 2009-04-17 08:14 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
For a while, she wonders how much he's holding back and how long he'll keep all of this secrets to himself, because undeniably, Hong Mei's curious. Curious about this boy who seems to possibly be from her own time, even, judging by the clothes he wears and his hairstyle. But more importantly than being from her time was the fact that something in his eyes was telling. His posture. Like he'd done something wrong and was waiting to be punished for it, yet somehow stumbled upon a lucky break.

All of those half-formed sentences, and Hong Mei could think of a million ways for each to be completed. Ah, well. They'd have time.

"Rumor is that there are a group of so-called deities here in the City. People with really powerful abilities, able to pull people from one reality to another. They brought me here, they probably brought you here, just no one... really knows why." Hong Mei shrugs, before holding out her hand. "I'm Hong Mei, by the way."

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Date: 2009-04-17 10:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
"Deities?" Johnny works on processing that, but gets distracted by her extended hand and he blinks before reaching for it. "Johnny Cade," it's a little obvious that he isn't so used to introductions - nobody wants them in a place like Tulsa, not from some wrong-side-of-the-tracks, hood lookin' kid, anyway.

She's pretty different from anyone he's ever talked to, though... definitely so, judging by her foreign name. Living in the same town all his life - not so much as leaving once until he was on the run and wanted for murder - means Johnny hasn't seen much diversity before. He's curious about her as well, he's just also sorta overwhelmingly shy. Besides, Steve had near enough scared him away from women forever, after Dally's girl tried chatting him up while 'ol Dal was in the cooler.

"I dunno why anyone would bother bringin' me anywhere," he shuffled his feet slightly.

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Date: 2009-04-17 10:27 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
Hong Mei tries his name out a few times under her breath--it's a whole lot easier to type them, as names seem to be the one thing that the City refuses to automatically translate for her. 'Jani' is the way it ends up sounding, a heavy accent on the first syllable before she grins again. As per usual, she doesn't even try to tackle the last name yet, apparently the family name by Western standards. "It's good to meet you, Johnny."

And if Hong Mei is a little unique to him, then he's the same to her, although in this City, diversity has obviously been multiplied several times over to her from the get-go, Chinese people forming at best a minute portion of the people she passes every day. She knows that the rest of the world varies greatly in skin tone, facial structure, and otherwise, yet that impression of Westerners being pale and blonde-haired is still something ingrained in her mind. Not helped by the fact that arguably her closest female friend in the City looks just that--like a Barbie doll.

"I don't know why they brought you here either," Hong Mei starts again, cautiously. "But it's not a matter of 'bother' or 'not bother.' They wanted you here for some reason, and you're worth something to them, at least. We just don't know why."

A gust of wind blows by, and Hong Mei looks back towards the apartment buildings. "Do you want to... head inside? Or maybe grap a cup of coffee? On me, of course, since the currency here's a little different than wherever you're from."

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Date: 2009-04-17 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
Johnny opened his mouth, then shut it, staring at his fraying shoes. The gang is one thing, but it's always a surprise to hear anyone else tell him he's worth anything. Even if that 'anything' is undefined and a great big mystery. He tried not to think too hard on it so his ears wouldn't start going red again.

He did glance up at the next part, though, insistent. "You don't gotta pay for nothin'," he said quickly; as a rule where he grew up, nobody paid for anything but food. Two-Bit had too much fun swiping everything they needed from stores for them, anyway, and money was so tight that a group of seven teenage boys with almost no parental supervision/intervention only had enough money to feed themselves. Everything else meant sneaking in or sneaking out with, which Johnny really didn't have a problem with. He honestly didn't want anyone else wasting what he assumed would be hard earned, or hard swindled cash on him, especially since he couldn't pay them back.

"And you ain't gotta invite me anywhere either," he couldn't help but look slightly more interested that offer, though, crowds and strange places make him nervous. Or more nervous, as it were; plus he hadn't expected it from a nice looking non-greaser girl. "Don't I look like a hood to you?"

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Date: 2009-04-17 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
Feigning confusion, Hong Mei gaped for a little while, fiddling with her sleeves again before tucking her hair back again, the wind having blown it out of place. Well, perhaps 'feigning' confusion wouldn't be entirely accurate. Although Hong Mei was more than familiar with the concept of not having enough money to eat extravagantly from her earlier years, ever since the onset of the CCP, pride in accepting other people's help hadn't been such an issue. Not unless the person whose hand you were eating from was an enemy of the state, anyway. Things were shared, willingly or not--pride never really factored into the matter, although that was what seemed to be holding Johnny back, from what Hong Mei could tell. "It's not a big deal, just how things work around here. Well, actually, people who are under eighteen get free room and board here anyway, but no one arrives with cash in hand and it's hard to get a job within the first day, or first week, even. But people are generous. We all go through being empty-handed here once or twice."

She shrugged then, though, weight on her heels as her brow furrowed at his question. "I know that I'm not obliged to invite you anywhere, but, um... what's a hood? I'm not familiar with the term."

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Date: 2009-04-18 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
As though waking up in a new place dead weren't enough to throw Johnny off, now even the basic way the world worked is getting turned on its head! In his experience, generosity didn't come from a whole City, it came from a gang. The very few who care about you, because you care about them, and the whole thing would fall apart if it were any other way. Socs don't have gangs because they already have money, and maybe that meant they didn't have anything to care about but it would be a lie to say Johnny could actually feel bad for them the way Pony seemed to.

"That don't make sense," he said; the only place people under eighteen got free room and board was in the system, and the only thing worse than going home to a drunk man that beat him senseless and a woman who ignored it was the idea of living at a boy's home. Besides, even if people go through being empty-handed every now and again, only the ones who don't have took what they could find and shared; people who had kept it to themselves. That's just the way it was.

He shifts uncomfortably then, turning a little red. He had always wanted to find a place where there weren't any greasers and socs, where people were just people no matter how much money they had, but he hadn't actually expected to. "Means I don't got any money," he said, heatedly, because some hoods like Tim Shepard loved the reputation, Johnny only pretended to be as tough as he needed to be. "And I pick fights and steal things, and I ain't too smart either. I ain't the kind of guy you invite anywhere, I'm just trouble."

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Date: 2009-04-18 01:43 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
Hong Mei considers Johnny carefully, eyes unfocused and staring slightly into the distance as she tilts her head, ponders his words. So maybe he's not quite as young as what she initially anticipated, and by not young she doesn't mean age, but instead experience, the things that truly make a person feel old, jaded, worn out like leather on a pair of shoes worn far too often. "No, it doesn't make sense," she agrees, eyes narrowing slightly as she looks back to Johnny. "Because people are supposed to be self-serving, selfish, hoarding things to themselves because you never know when you're going to hit a rough patch, so you need to look out for yourself at all times. I get it. Maybe I don't look like a 'hood,' but I get it, and I've seen more than most people think that I have. And this place... makes you soft."

After chewing on the inside of her cheek for a moment, fighting the urge to ruffle his hair like a little brother of sorts, Hong Mei sighs, hooks her thumbs in the belt loops of her jeans.

"Like I said, I know you don't have any money. I don't have anything much that you could steal back in my apartment, being low-maintenance and the like. And you're smarter than you give yourself credit for if you're suspicious of this place in a way that most people arrive here aren't." Although hesitant, Hong Mei's lips still curve slightly upward. "But you don't seem like the type of guy who'd want to hit a girl. Sure you don't want to head inside? My apartment's about five minutes away."

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Date: 2009-04-18 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
Johnny opens his mouth, and then closes it. Opens it again a second later. He really hadn't expected-- appearance was so important to him, to everyone he knew and understood, that he had believed it would translate even to someone from somewhere completely different. In Tulsa, the length of your hair and the clothes you wore dictated who you could talk to, where you could go in town without gettin' jumped or chased out or stared at real bad. Here, as he was starting to understand, it was totally different; Hong Mei said she'd seen more than he thought, and Johnny believed it.

Maybe it was the way she could put it into words real good, maybe it was just the way she said it; either way, he closed his mouth the second time and ducked his head down, nodding.

It was true, anyway; Johnny wouldn't hit hardly anybody unless they were already hitting him (and even then, he had the unfortunate tendency to not bother defending himself unless it was real, real bad), but he certainly wouldn't ever be violent with a girl. Most greasers wouldn't, unless they were old already and friends with the bottle like- "I," he looks indecisive for a moment, before finally just shrugging. He is pretty cold, and he hasn't seen any empty lots that he can hide out in yet. "I guess I could. If it don't bother you none."

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Date: 2009-04-18 09:31 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
The reluctant agreement is more than enough for Hong Mei, who turns on her heel and drapes an arm over Johnny's shoulder, squeezing his upper arm encouragingly before guiding him in the direction of her apartment building. Physical touch is something which is treated a little bit differently where she's from, not really a sign of great intimacy if people link arms, but instead of camaraderie. Things aren't taken in a romantic sense, not on face. Instead, everyone's a cadre, everyone ought to be on an even playing field, everyone ought to feel comfortable with one another and that type of mentality makes Hong Mei very much a character reliant on trust. It makes her feel normal, like she blends in, even when in all honesty she should probably be the nail that sticks out, ajar.

"It doesn't bug me at all," Hong Mei grins. "Actually, there's this thing about the City... whenever you're alone, not talking to anyone, not occupying yourself with a task, the City ticks. You'll just hear it in your ears, a steady tick-tock that a lot of people think comes from a clock deep down underground here.

"You're keeping it from ticking, for me. So instead of bothering me, you're doing me a favor. Are you hungry at all?"

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Date: 2009-04-18 10:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
Johnny glanced over at her, fast; at least one person in the gang seemed to have an arm draped over his shoulder whenever they all gathered somewhere, but she was... well, a girl, and that made a lot of difference to him. She didn't look like she thought anything of it, though, so his ears just went red and he stubbornly looked forward again.

"Tick-tocking?" he asked, looking a little dubious; she'd been there the moment that he arrived, so he hadn't had the misfortune of being subjected to it quite yet. He did relax slightly at the last part, though. Whatever matter of pride that was there before had disappeared, since it was for her benefit as well. That settled, he considered her question, and surprised himself.

He hadn't eaten anything since he got burned, the doctors just said he was getting nutrients intra..something-or-other; Johnny wasn't too quick to get things sometimes, especially when overly large words are being thrown around, and he'd been distracted by the paralysis and searing pain besides... so all he knew was that he should be hungry but he wasn't.

Maybe it was on account of being dead.

Most likely, actually. "I don't think so."

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Date: 2009-04-18 10:36 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
The longer Hong Mei's arm draped over Johnny's shoulder, the more she began to realize that there was no heat coming from him whatsoever, and that was something that his thick jacket alone couldn't explain off. Every now and then her hand would rub against Johnny's upper arm, almost as though trying to warm him up, even if Hong Mei knew that it wouldn't work. She pulled the apartment building's front door open, not holding it open for Johnny exactly, but keeping it ajar behind her for the boy to slide through.

"Ticking, yeah. You probably haven't heard it yet, because you happened to arrive in the middle of company," Hong Mei explained, jabbing once at the up button for the elevator.

"I guess it makes sense that you wouldn't be hungry... or, well. Anyway." She pushes her hair out of her face, ruffling it and working the strands into tangles. "You don't seem to be from the same time as most of the people I've met here. When are you from? The sixties? Seventies?"

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Date: 2009-04-19 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
Johnny glances around when they enter, and he looks uncomfortable. The apartment building is nice - much nicer than he's used to. The kinds of houses that are on the North side of Tulsa - the poor side - are rundown and crumbling, with bad paint jobs and worn floors, stained carpets and fraying furniture... it'll take some getting used to, and for the time being he can't seem to shake the feeling that he's somewhere he's not supposed to be and he'll be kicked out in short order for it; probably painfully.

He tries concentrating on the floor and smoking while they wait for the elevator, but it doesn't help much. He tries not to shake too much under Hong Mei's arm and does an okay job of it, but his hands still tremble a little and he jams them deep into his coat pockets.

Well, that strikes him as a weird question. "What do you mean? 1967," he said, brows furrowed when he glanced over at her again. Even if he would have tried looking through the guide that someone sent him he wouldn't have gotten far; he isn't exactly a speed-reader, and he hastrouble understanding things shoved at him too fast.

Which is the long way of saying he didn't get the everyone-is-from-the-past/future/whatever talk yet.

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Date: 2009-04-19 06:37 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hundredth
Before she can answer his question, the elevator dings and the doors slide open, but Hong Mei tugs the cigarette away, crushes it on top of a nearby trash can before guiding the both of them into the elevator. "We're not supposed to smoke indoors," she explains, peering up at a smoke detector in the elevator that blinks red, now and again. "Not in a public place, anyway, so the entrance, the elevator, the halls--can't smoke there, have to wait until we get into the room. It's bad for people's health. Or, well. Most people's health."

His tremors reach her hand and she runs hers comfortingly over his shoulder again, trying to ease the tension away.

"And what I mean is that people here are from different times. A lot of people are from the future, and some are from the past. Different times, different worlds... I guess in that way, this place acts a lot like an afterlife would. Heaven doesn't reject people just because they were from the sixties, right?"

She smirks, inwardly pleased at the actual response he gave.

"I'm from February 1967, myself. So we're year buddies."

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Date: 2009-04-20 03:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thelastandleast.livejournal.com
Johnny blinks in surprise, but doesn't argue - it was almost down to the filter anyway, with the way he'd been puffing on it for the past couple of minutes. The teachers wouldn't allow students to smoke in school, that much he remembers, but with everywhere else he went no one seemed to take issue; he'd have to get used to that, too.

"Yeah," he agrees - it makes sense when she puts it that way, about the different decades. He relaxes just a little under her hand and pulls his hands back out of his pockets so he can fiddle with the lapels of his jacket; make sure they're flipped up. It doesn't look tuff the other way, alright?

Anyway, he grins a little, sheepishly. Her 1967 may not be familiar to him in any way, halfway across the globe, but it was something. "Shoot, it was just March, for me."

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Johnny Cade

April 2009

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