Three On A Match

Full Version: If the ocean can calm itself, so can you. We are both salt water mixed with air.
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The USS Seaglass was a beautiful ship. A replica of the original which had gone down in battle, as warships were wont to do, she was a three-masted wonder from the 1700s, or so the plaque mounted on the dock informed the curious. It had been converted into a restaurant for the season, serving lunch and dinner, reservations recommended - or so the man dressed as a pirate, stationed by the entry to the restaurant, told John.

That was his name now: John Smith. Until he thought of a better one or his real name, ideally. For all he knew, that was his real name and wouldn't that be funny? The people at the Exchange had given him the name. He'd been taken to the hospital after being found by Emily and someone there had noticed his potential birth defects actually weren't that at all. They had contacted an agency who assisted people like John and someone had come to sign him out of the hospital, a man in a suit, trench coat and fedora, not that John could remember what they were called. He'd asked the man once they were in a car and driving away.

“Call me Marlowe,” the man had added after he'd told John the name of his hat.

Now John had a room at a place called Lethe, a room which he shared with five other people, while he healed and 'got your feet under you again', as Marlowe had put it. John had looked down at his feet and the man had laughed. John had smiled, though he had no idea what was funny.

Now, it was the lunch hour and people were wandering the boardwalk, licking ice cream cones, window shopping, having lunch on the USS Seaglass. John had come to see the ocean, wearing borrowed clothing: blue jeans, a blue, button-down shirt with long sleeves that vaguely resembled the one the pirate by the restaurant wore, and simple canvas sneakers. He stood near the edge, not far from the diners on the ship and looked down. There were ruins down there, he'd been told, and he decided that now would be a good time as any to visit them.

A breeze played with his curly black hair and the sun was warm and wonderful as he toed off his sneakers, unbuttoned his top. He heard a whoop that seemed to come from a young female on the deck of the ship. She was holding a black rectangle in his direction, though he had no understanding of what a cell phone would be. She waved, so he smiled and waved back before folding his shirt over once and putting it on his sneakers. When he unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, more of a crowd had gathered, though he hadn't noticed. He was anticipating being in the water. Pushing his jeans down and tugging them off his legs revealed a pair of 'tighty-whities', as someone at Lethe had described them. Another whoop went up along with a man on the boardwalk yelling that he shouldn't stand there in his underwear.

John looked down and reached for the waistband of his remaining piece of clothing.
Markus had found himself coming more and more often to the beachside shores of Old Town. It was a pleasant enough commute from Baxendale, and there was usually good food, pleasant sights, and sometimes even interesting company. This time was no different. He was sitting at a bench, dressed more for a venue than for the water, as he took in the sights and sounds near the USS Seaglass. He had been to the restaurant a couple of times and enjoyed more than one drink from their bar, but that was not his goal today.

His attention was drawn, however, to a commotion on the beach. He heard someone cry out, not in fear or pain or anger, but in excitement, joy even, humorous laughter. Turning his head, he was treated by an unexpected sight. On the water coast, a man was quickly undressing himself. Nearby, other watchers seemed to be egging him on and taking videos.

Markus recognized the sight; he had seen it often enough in Europe. The man was obviously not local, and the citizens were about to let him cross a very serious taboo purely for their own entertainment. Someone was yelling suddenly, trying to get the man's attention, informing him that he could not undress. Still, the man reached for his underwear.

The redhead was already moving when it got to this point. Though he wasn't sure if he would be quick enough, so he spoke up himself. “Hey! Stop, one moment!” Markus would repeat the call in Russian, Gaelic, and butchered Mandarin, hoping that one of the languages would catch the attention of the man before he was plastered all over the news naked. It was bad enough that he will most certainly be seen on youtube in his choice of underwear.
Another voice went up and the only reason John thought it was directed at him was the movement he caught in his peripheral vision of a red-haired man running toward him. The man continued to speak, though the young man had no idea what was being said. He paused, turned to face the man properly, thumbs still in the waistband of his underwear.

“Are you speaking to me?” he asked with a small smile, genuinely not completely certain he was the intended target. John's accent was evident, though he didn't know it meant he was likely from New Zealand.

Bless you!
Markus would stop once he got to the man and take a deep breath, looking back at the cameras and hearing a couple of people boo him for stopping the show. “Oh good, you speak English. I just assumed you were not from around here,” the redhead would start by saying. Reaching down, Markus grabbed the man's shirt. “You can't undress like that here, it is against the law.”

Despite trying to advert his gaze, Markus could see that the man was pretty, tall, and seemed normal at first glance, outside of stripping in the middle of a city. “There are other places it is much more... acceptable, at least where people turn a blind eye.” Markus would try and hand the man his shirt.
John accepted his shirt, only slightly puzzled by the turn of events.

“I'm not from around here, ” he replied. “At least, I don't think I am.” John decided to put his shirt on rather than just stand there holding it. “I didn't know it was against the law.”

Shirt still unbuttoned, he bent to collect his jeans and sneakers. Standing straight once more, he added, “Thank you for letting me know.”
Markus would give the man a smile, as he collected his clothing. “You don't think your from around here?” Markus asked curiously, he wondered if the man just meant he wasn't sure what Markus was saying. Or, if there was something else he meant. “It is no problem, lots of cities in America have nudity laws, some more progressive places are less strict about it.”

With the man's thanks, Markus would offer him a hand. “Its no problem, I am Markus by the way.”
The man introduced himself and John wished he could do the same with equal confidence. He accepted the hand and gave it a firm, but not painful shake.

“Nice to meet you, Markus. I'm John.” The last week or so had been a bit of a blur, but he was getting used to the name and the freedom he was experiencing. Anything was better than being on that ship. “I'm... new to the area.”
Markus would smile as the man shook his hand. It wasn't surprising that the man was new to the area, but it did seem strange. He seemed too unsure. But Markus was not one to pry. So instead, he contemplated. He was free at the moment and more than willing to help. “Well, I am not a local by any means, only having lived here a couple of months myself, but I would be happy to show you some sights. At least... Some better places to swim than the waters right next to downtown,” Markus would offer while gesturing back towards the city.

“You hungry? Now is the lunch rush, but we could probably find something, and I can tell you about the city. Without all the camera's on us.” Markus would say, looking towards the now parting crowd. A couple of people still had their phones out, and the girl that had been trying to record the whole show gave Markus a dirty look. But, the worst of it seemed to be over.
John was surprised that Markus was offering to give him a tour of Easthaven, including a more acceptable place to swim. He had just rescued him from being potentially arrested - and being naked on Youtube - so this was going above and beyond. Then lunch, as well?

“That's very generous of you,” John said with a big smile. “Are you sure you have the time?” It had been his observation that time was frequently in short supply for a lot of people, judging from what he'd witnessed in the downtown area. Another reason why this part of Easthaven was more appealing.
Cinder Exceptional Success | Collector, Whispers on the Wind(Good)
Markus would shrug, “Happy to help, and I have plenty of time, one of the reasons I am out in the city today. I have nothing else planned. We can eat here or somewhere else if you prefer,” Markus would offer, gesturing towards the ship as he started walking.

As they were walking, Markus would feel the strangest of shivers roll down his spine and feel a hint of magic in the air. As he listened, he could almost hear whispers in the wind, jokes, or comments about the practically naked beachgoer of the day. Without even thinking, the redhead would move his hands upwards and make a movement that almost looked like a wave. He could see, touch, and hear it; the whispers for him and him alone almost seemed to manifest as a physical concept. As discreetly as possible, and while asking the other man a question, he would grasp at them and pluck the whisper from the air before placing it within a container to use later. “So, where are you from if you are not from here?”
John looked at the ship and shook his head. “Maybe we can eat somewhere else,” he said, still walking along in an open shirt and his underwear. Should he stop to put his jeans on? “Somewhere I haven't nearly broken the law.”

As the walked, Markus seemed distracted, but then, so was John. Why had those people wanted him to get into trouble? It didn't make sense. When he realized the man beside him was reaching for something, he slowed and tried to understand what he was doing, more puzzled than concerned when the item he pulled out was a container.

“Uh, I don't know where I'm from... hold up,”he replied, deciding to stop to pull on his jeans. He dropped his shoes and hopped on each foot in turn while he pulled the denim back up and zipped and buttoned the fly. Whatever Markus had been doing, he seemed to be done by then. John stuck his feet into the canvas sneakers and used the forefinger of his right hand to pull the backs of them up properly.
Markus would give a small chuckle as the man brought up not wanting to go somewhere he nearly broke the law. “Understandable; what are you in the mood for?” He would ask as they stopped in order for the man to get dressed. Honestly, the redhead had been surprised that it wasn't the first thing the man did, but in the end, it seemed he had a different way of thinking than Markus himself. The redhead didn't feel like explaining that; technically, he hadn't broken the law yet. Probably only a city ordinance or two; since he didn't expose himself and wasn't doing it for his own gratification. Really, it's not much different than swim trunks.

“Don't know where you are from? Like you have forgotten, like amnesia, or do you mean you were orphaned and don't know where you were born?” The most likely option was that the man had amnesia, but he couldn't be sure. So many options could explain it, and it was fascinating to think about. Markus had never met anyone with amnesia, but he could only imagine how hard that could be.
John knew exactly what he felt like having for lunch.

“Seafood, if that's alright with you, Markus.” He didn't require anything lavish, but he had discovered he was very fond of fish, crab, lobster, octupus -

“Amnesia,” he said, deciding he'd do up a few of the bottom buttons on his shirt but leave the rest alone. It was a warm day. “That's what they said at the hospital. I don't remember a lot of things, like where I'm from or what I did before coming here. Things like that.”

If John didn't sound concerned, it was primarily because he didn't want to dwell on what he couldn't change. His memories would return, eventually. Maybe.
Markus contemplated what the man said, it seemed like it didn't bother John much, but still, it must be a lot to deal with, especially in such a city. “Well, I am sorry to hear that. It must be tough,” Markus didn't add much more than his sympathies. It wasn't something he could help with.

“Do you know if you're a sushi kind of guy, or do you prefer it cooked?” The redhead was taking them to a city district far from the coastal edge. There were plenty of options there for seafood. Glancing back at the man, Markus wondered if he should treat him to one of the many fine dining options the city had to offer. There was one multi-course sushi meal Markus had been craving for a bit now. Usually, you needed a reservation, but the redhead thought he might be able to swing something.
John shrugged a little. “Thank you, but I'm living in the moment, as best I can.” It was a fairly comfortable place to be.

If his smile could get any bigger, it did at the suggestion of sushi. He was well aware of this type of food. It was the closest he could come to eating it uncooked safely on the surface, as far as he could tell. “I love all kinds of seafood, but I am definitely a sushi kind of guy,” he said, almost jumping as he walked. He turned and walked backwards as he considered Markus.

“I can... eat a lot,” he said. The smile made his slightly pointed canines more visible. It wasn't unusual for people to have sharp canines, but the thought of food might have made John's face look vaguely predatorial. He also looked very happy.
Markus would chuckle as the man said he was living in the moment. The redhead understood that entirely, especially with everything had been going through recently. As he watched, the man smiled; it would almost take on a shark-like appearance; in his opinion, it was almost disconcerting. Though, the redhead tried not to think anything of it. He learned the hard way that if you assumed everyone was some sort of monster, you looked like an ass, or worse, you were right.

“Good, then sushi it is. I just have to make a call.” He would say with a smile. The place he knew would be perfect for someone who could eat a lot, though it was not cheap, that wasn't something Markus worried about. Instead, he would walk them in the direction of their destination, bringing out his phone and making a phone call.

“ I would like to book a table for Eldridge and the company.” Markus would say into the small device, smiling at the other man. “I need it within the hour... I know it's short notice... Tell them I will buy out their table and pay for their meal if they clear out by the time we are there... Good... Good... Alright, see you soon.” Hanging up his phone, he would turn towards the other man.

“All set. You'll love this place.” Markus would say with a knowing look.
John couldn't help but look predatory when he was hungry. Markus was in no danger of being eaten, though, in case he might have been concerned. Of course, he didn't know John's true nature, so it hardly mattered at the moment.

He was still walking backwards when his new friend lifted a small, black rectangle to the side of his head and talked to someone. This was a mobile telephones, he knew. Why would people be holding them in his direction when he was getting ready for a swim? He couldn't talk to them that way, especially since he didn't have one himself.

“You don't need one yet, kid,” Marlowe, the Exchange agent, had told him. “Get used to talking to people face-to-face first.”

John frowned a little and spoke when Markus ended the conversation. “I don't understand. You've purchased someone's table and bought them food?” Some things he was still wrapping his head around.
Markus would raise an eyebrow as John asked him what he had done. Markus wondered what the man's experience had been before. “Yes, and no. The place we are going to is a bit exclusive; normally, you have to book in advance unless your a regular,” Markus wasn't quite sure how to explain without coming off as snobby. “There is a certain... weight... to my family name. That, plus a certain amount of money, means that even though my usual table was booked, I could persuade the current occupants to give it up. So, I offered them a free meal and provided funds to compensate for any inconvenience.”

Markus wasn't sure how the other man would take it. He was usually careful to flaunt his money or influence with unknown individuals. After all, oftentimes, people tried to either use him or fake befriending him in order to benefit from it. Markus, however, was generally pretty open to anyone, happy to pay the means, and more than anything, just enjoyed good company. Though, he preferred it with people who wanted to spend time with him and not his money.

However, there was something about John that Markus liked; perhaps it was his amnesia or the fact that he had almost wound up in prison through a mistake. But Markus trusted the guy. For now, at least. And, if he really was in such a hard straight, the redhead wanted to help.

Markus knew they would be nearing their destination soon, but he wasn't going to rush them, if anything arriving there early just meant they might still have to wait.
John decided to turn and walk like a normal person, facing the way he was going. Matching the man's pace, he nodded when Markus explained the process, waiting for him to finish before speaking.

“Yes, that's... familiar now you've explained it.” He shook his head. “This 'not knowing, even some simple things, is frustrating. You made a reservation, ehara i te mea uaua ki te mohio, but there's this... block. Anyway, it sounds like you sorted out so everyone is happy, and that matters.”

He gave Markus a friendly punch on the bicep. “Good on ya.”

Trans. "...ehara i te mea uaua ki te mohio..." (Te Reo Māori) - "it's not hard to understand".
Markus would nod as John commented about his frustrations and raise an eyebrow at the language he used. Markus didn't recognize it, but perhaps it would give a hint to the man's origin. As the man gave him a nice punch, Markus gave him a grin. It had been a while since Markus had hung out with someone in such a way. It was nice.

“Well, your bilingual, so that's gotta mean something,” Markus would say as an almost off comment. He was puzzling it out for himself more than anything else. However, his musing quickly ended as they arrived at their destination. The building at first looked rather normal, it was a large upscale tower in Old Town. The tower wasn't as tall or as grand as many of the new constructions that could be found in Newton, but its height near the waterway gave stunning views.

With a smile, Markus would open the door for the other man. He knew where were many businesses, shops, offices, and restaurants to be found here. But, their destination would be near the top. Markus would call for an elevator as they waited.
John nodded, glad Markus had picked up on the significance of this information. “Yes,” he said. “It means I'm bilingual.”

Apparently, they'd reached the restaurant, though when the man opened the door for him, he stepped into an area with several businesses on either side that were not restaurants. An elevator was situated in a central location. This seemed to be the route to the sushi, as Markus crossed to it and pressed the button.

John followed and stood beside him.

“Are we going up or down?” he asked, curious.
Markus would chuckle at his comment. “It also means, with how comfortable you are with the language, using it in casual conversation, that if you know what it is, you might discover more about where you are from.” Markus would say, still very interested in the mystery now.

As they got into the elevator, Markus pressed the button to the second to topmost floor. “We are headed up; the restaurant is above the skyline in Oldtown, which means we can look out towards the water and see a beautiful view of the lighthouse while we eat.” He would answer the question as the door closed. Luckily they were alone in the elevator, and Markus knew the ride wasn't long. The Old Town buildings are not nearly as tall as some of the others in the city.
As they entered the elevator, John turned to look up so he could watch the numbers as they changed.

“A view of the water will be nice,” he said, grinning. He appreciated the idea of eating while he could see the ocean. Eating in the ocean was ideal, but this would work, too. Marlowe had mentioned he shouldn't spread around that he could breathe underwater. Only share that information with someone he trusted.

“You're absolutely correct,” he added, “Though knowing a language and being from that place are not necessarily connected.” He turned his head to look at Markus. “You spoke to me, back at the docks, in several different languages. I only recognized English. Where are you from?”
Markus would nod at the man, “True enough, I think it comes down to how comfortable one is,” he would contemplate as the other man asked his question. “I am from the West Coast, a city known as Seattle. I only speak English fluently. I am somewhat conversational with the others, depending on the situation.” Markus would say with a smile. He actually missed Seattle some days, but Easthaven was starting to grow on him, despite all the issues he had run into.

As they continued to ride, getting closer to the destination, Markus would feel out of the space with small talk. “But, I have lived in a lot of places, both in America and Europe, so being conversational in a few languages helped in my previous line of work.” Though he didn't want to ask too many questions and overwhelm the other man, he also didn't like talking about himself. “How have you been enjoying the city so far? Is anything really catching your fancy?”
He was fine letting other people talk. He learned a lot and absorbed it, like a sponge. At times, he felt like there was all this space in his mind that needed filling to replace all the things he had forgotten.

It wasn't as if he had much to say about himself, really.

“I've never been to Seattle. Oh, wait, no, I don't actually know that...” John shrugged a little. “I don't think I've been to Seattle.” Markus elaborated on the other languages he knew and all the travel he had experienced. It was impressive. “And I can't imagine knowing so many languages.”

There was a pause and then Markus asked some questions that weren't too personal, something he could actually answer. John appreciated it.

“The city is nice, though I don't recall anything to compare it to.” He had forgotten some of the strangest things. Surely he'd seen cities before arriving in Easthaven? “I like that it is near water and I'm enjoying the food.” John grinned. “I've seen many beautiful women...” Did that count as something 'fancy'? He thought so.
Markus would nod, “I absolutely recommend it; beautiful city, with really good sushi and an amazing fish market.” Markus would say, describing things he thought the man might be interested in, before giving a small chuckle to the man's statement, “Just practice and necessity. Learning an additional language isn't that hard after your first.”

After that, Markus would listen to the remainder of the things the man said. He would laugh as the man gave his answers. “Yes, there are quite a few of those here.” he would say about the beautiful woman's comment. “It is good to hear you're enjoying yourself, at least.”

After a short wait, the elevator would arrive on its floor, and Markus would step through the opening door. Markus gestured towards the entrance of the restaurant, and they made their way inside. The greeter welcomed them and led them to their table. The restaurant was exquisitely designed, inspired by Japanese sushi houses, with tables spaced out to provide privacy for customers to converse.

“Hi, I have a reservation for two under the name Markus Eldridge,” he said while handing over something from his pocket. In no time, they were escorted to their table situated in a private area with bamboo-like walls. The table was located next to the glass wall of the building, offering a breathtaking view of the lighthouse shining beautifully against the water.
He nodded at the recommendation regarding Seattle and the opinion about learning languages. He added this information to his mental of list of 'Things I Now Know'.

When the elevator stopped, John looked around at everything, trying not appear to be a tourist. The agent, Marlowe, had warned him against looking lost or too amazed. “A smart thief will think you don't know any better and go for your wallet,” he had said. When John had pointed out that he didn't know any better, because he couldn't at the moment, Marlowe had raised his eyebrows and John had understood.

Markus told someone standing at a podium his name and that he had a reservation. Then he gave them something John couldn't see before they were escorted to an area with more privacy and the view...

He stopped and stared. The ocean looked beautiful and so welcoming. He noted the lighthouse and a few other structures that looked interesting. All he could say was, “I want to stay here...”
Markus would smile broadly at the man's reaction to the view. He remembered thinking very similar thoughts when he first saw it. Sitting at one end of the table, making sure John would be able to sit so that he kept the best view, he would look towards his new companion.

“It really is beautiful,” his voice was honest despite all the bad that had happened since he got to Easthaven, he couldn't help but love the city the more he saw it. “By the way, order whatever you would like on me. If I could make a suggestion, however, the chef does an excellent chef's choice platter.”

Markus would watch as the server placed menus in front of them and asked them for their drinks. “I would like a Dr. Pepper and Saki for the table,” he would say with a smile before turning back to his companion, waiting for him to say what he wanted before speaking up. “So, how long have you been in Easthaven? Where are you staying? I am guessing you don't have the means to rent at the moment.” His ask was of genuine concern; he didn't know how the city dealt with such situations, and with the man's amnesia, it would be easy for someone to take advantage of him.
Markus sat so John sat, though he had to make a conscious effort to turn his focus away from the beauty out the window.

After listening to his new friend's recommendation, John nodded and said, “I will have what the chef chooses. And... water and... green tea. Please.”

He set the menu aside, folded his hands together on the table in front of him and proceeded to answer the questions in order to the best of his ability, his dark eyes directed at the red-haired man.

“I've been here about two weeks. I am staying at a hostel and share a large room with five nice people who are like me.”

John thinks about his answer and decides to clarify. “Not 'like me' in that they don't know who they are, but 'like me' in that they have nowhere else to go. At least, I don't think any of them have amnesia, but if they've told me, I forget.”

Satisfied, he finished and smiled.
Cinder Collection 4 Hits, Complete Success
A pleasant conversation on the breeze(Average)

Markus would listen with a smile as the other man talked and confirmed with the server that he, too, would take the chef's choice. It was intriguing for the redhead to watch the man. Despite the dire situation and the awful position John found himself in, he seemed one of the most carefree people Markus had the pleasure of meeting.

“I am glad to hear you have found like folks,” Markus said with a bit of a chuckle to his clarification. “Not everyone in this city will have your best interest at heart... And, there are certainly dangers waiting for the unprepared.” Markus would add, half cryptically, as his mind thought back to the subway. “But, you seem to be in good company, and that makes me glad.”

While Markus spoke and listened, he would feel once more the twinge of excitement in the air, an almost imperceptible feeling of magic, and mystery, and the allure of something... useful. Without even thinking, he would keep his hands under the table while muttering a minor incantation to himself, grasping at what he felt with his mind. Until finally, he grasped what he was looking for, a pleasant conversation on the breeze. He would store it away for later.

“I feel like I have been grilling you this whole time; please, if there is anything I can help with or any answers I can give, let me know.” Markus would say with a pleasant smile, opening the conversation while they waited for their food.
John had occasionally wondered over the last two weeks if this was his true self, if he really was this apparently nice, happy-go-lucky person who was, perhaps, too trusting. When he fully regained his memory, would he be someone this John wouldn't like? Of course, this John would have disappeared, so how would he know?

“Don't worry, I do not feel grilled, though I'm fortunate to meet people like you,” he said. A small frown formed and he added, “Should I be asking about the dangers?”
Markus was glad John did not feel he was being asked too much, but the redhead still thought he could do better. “Well, knowing about the dangers one might face is always good.” Markus said seriously, though still trying to keep it lighthearted. There was no way the redhead could tell the man about the underworld in the train station or ghosts attacking clubs, but maybe Markus could use mundane threats.

“It is a big city; we have gangs and criminals. Any number of them might try and steal from you or even kill you if they think they can get away with it and it's worth their time. I suggest you stay away from the train stations late at night, and don't spend too much time near the water alone in the evening or early in the morning. They are good hotspots to be attacked.” Markus didn't feel the need to add that the attack wouldn't be from humans, but there was no real way to explain that.
John listened attentively as his new friend described the dangers of living in a big city, something he had no recollection of ever experiencing before. Then again, he doesn't seem to remember anything before being held on that ship against his will and being beaten and --

“There are dangers everywhere,” he said quietly, his eyes briefly focusing on something that wasn't there. His gaze returned to Markus. “What sort of criminals?” he asked, genuinely curious. “What do they do? I have nothing of value to steal. Do they ride the trains in gangs? Is that why it isn't safe? Why would the water attack me?”

That last question addressed something he found quite unnerving.