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New Kid in Town IC


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Freedom City, New Jersey

Wednesday June 5, 2024. 11:03 AM


Summer had clearly arrived in Freedom City, as the sun began approaching its zenith for the day, the temperature was already above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But that generally pleasant temperature was offset by the rather high humidity that made the air heavier.


Jack Davydov was walking along 52nd Avenue along the east edge of Liberty Park, learning his way around the large city his family had recently moved to. Although Summer break had not officially begun (the local primary schools still had a week and a half left) the sidewalk was fairly crowded, a combination of tourists, college students, professionals taking an early lunch, and families with young children, all making their way along the sidewalk or gathered around the many food carts that lined the sidewalk along the edge of the park.

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Jack felt a smile blossom onto his face as he stood, letting the sunlight wash over him. It was turning out to be quite a nice day. He stood on the grass by the sidewalk, a burger in hand as he watched people pass by.


As usual since he had gotten here, he had nothing but time and nothing to do with the time he had. He watched a mother and daughter walk past, the daughter excitedly talking about something he couldn't hear. A man in a business suit walked briskly passed, phone glued to his ear. A bike messenger sped past like the city was on fire.


Jack chuckled, now that would at least be something fun.


He took a large bite from his burger as he continued walking the surprisingly crowded streets.

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As Jack stood at the grassy edge of the park, there were plenty of options for people watching. While there were those working, or at least on their way to or from work, many others seemed just happy to be out enjoying a sunny day that was not oppressively hot.


As the towering teenager finished his burger, the sidewalk in view suddenly became a bit more crowded, as a number of people emerged from the stairs leading down into the city's subway system. For the most part, the new additions to the crowd were similar to those Jack had been watching before, a number of additional parents and young children, more college age young adults and more people in business, or business casual, attire.


But as he studied the crowd, Jack spotted one individual that stood out a bit more than most. It was an attractive blonde teenage girl who appeared fifteen, perhaps sixteen. She was dressed in a grey and blue plaid skirt and a white short-sleeved blouse. The blonde teenager was putting on a pair of sunglasses as she looked about her, seeming as if she was reorienting herself. Her expression also stood out from the crowd, she was not happy or excited, as many of the young children (and some of the college students) were by the nice day, nor did she seem hurried or stressed, as many of the business people were. Instead, the girl seemed a bit down, perhaps even sad, as she seemed to be looking for something among a group of the nearby food carts.


Whatever it was the girl was looking for, she did not seem to find it, as a disappointed look crossed her face. Turing to her right, the blonde teen started toward one of the entrances to the park.

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For a moment, Jack felt like he was in one of those TV moments where time slows down and theme music starts playing. At first, he wasn't sure what about her had caught his attention, but it didn't take long to realize it was her expression. Something seemed wrong with her seeming to be so sad. 


Perhaps it was just his protective instincts kicking into over drive, but he got the sudden urge to want to make her feel better, though he had no idea how he could, or if he even should as he did not know this girl. But as he watched her survey the offerings from the food carts without success, his desire to help overrode everything else.


He carefully made his way over to her, hoping this would not end badly. "Excuse me, miss." He began, hoping his smile would put her more at ease then at alarm. "I could not 'elp but notice the food carts were not to yous liking. I am new to city, but I 'ave become quite familiar with most food places in area. Are yous looking for something in particular?"

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The girl seemed to be moving at an intentionally casual pace as she looked down at her iPhone for a moment and seemed to give a small sigh. As Jack approached her, his shadow casting over her when he drew near, she turned her head slightly to quickly regard him as he offered his help. Jack could tell she noted his size, and the scars that went up his arms and legs, but unlike many, she did not seem immediately intimidated or frightened by his appearance. In fact, despite being more than a foot shorter than him and likely barely weighing a third of his body weight, she seemed rather at ease.


"Not so much that those other carts are not to my liking, more I was looking for a particular cart I…once tried and it is not where I remember it being." The girl replied. Now that he was closer, Jack could see that the girl, unlike many teens her age, seemed to be wearing little in the way of makeup, not trying to highlight or enhance her natural looks. She also had bright blue eyes that seemed almost to burst with energy, a stark contrast to her generally gloomy mood.


"Anyway, I was looking for a cart called Turquoise Shawarma, have you heard of it?" She continued, a slightly hopeful expression at the end.


Hearing the name of the cart, Jack believes he recalled seeing it among the carts set up toward the center of the park, in a small plaza near the bandshell.

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It was the eyes that struck him the hardest. They were a light grey that he had been told was the color blue, but even though he couldn't see their true color, the energy behind them was intense and alluring, enhancing her already beautiful features.


But the eyes...They didn't match her demeanor...which Jack found curious. Her eyes held an almost endless supply of exuberant energy, which contrasted her gloomy, possibly bored mood.


Jack decided he made the right decision to approach this girl, and was glad he did so.


"Hmmm...yes, yes I do remember dis cart." He said with a nod, searching his memory of all the food carts he'd encountered today. He looked off in the distance. "Yes, dis vay..." He stopped after one step and turned back to her a hand running through his hair apologetically. "I yam sorry, it is appropriate to introduce myself." He offered his hand awkwardly. "My name Jack."

Edited by Jack
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"You do?" The girl replied, her hopeful expression brightening a bit as Jack indicated he knew where the food cart she was looking for was located.


The girl had been about to follow after him when he turned to introduce himself, awkwardly offering his hand to her. She only paused a fraction of a second before taking the offer hand. "Nice to meet you Jack, I'm Lynn." She said, offering a faint smile as she shook his hand.


Lynn regarded Jack again as she asked. "So, based on your accent, I take it you are originally from somewhere in Eastern Europe?" She clearly sounded American herself, with perhaps a trace of a Jersey accent.

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"Lynn is nice name." Jack said with a charming smile, noticing she a nice smile of her own. He turned back towards the center of the park and restarted walking now that appropriate introduction had been made.


"Da, about as far east as can go." Jack said with a nod. "Am from Russia. You sound very American. You from dis city?"

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"Thanks." Lynn responded as Jack commented on her name and the pair started walking toward the center of the park. "Named after a close friend of my mothers." Even as she spoke, her expression saddens for a moment, but she seemed to force herself back to a more neutral expression.


Instead the blonde focused on Jack's comment about being from Russia. "Yeah, that is as East as Europe goes. I sort of figured, but didn't want to assume."


At his comment about her sounding very American, Lynn gave another faint smile. "Through-and-through." But then her expression darkened some as he asked if she was from Freedom City. Again the blonde took a brief moment to collect herself before responding. "Yeah, born and raised in Freedom City." She replied, though Jack felt there was something that seemed "off" in the statement.

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"Am named after mine Uncle, so father tells it." Jack walks a little more erect after mentioning his uncle, a touch of rare pride in his tone. Jack flash Lynn a grin to try and lift her spirits.


"Yous ist first American gurl I've met. So far am liking this country." He let out what he hoped was an infectious chuckle. Lynn was actually the first girl he had met in awhile that wasn't related to him, but he felt that information probably could be kept hidden.


Jack's senses were telling him that something was off with Lynn, but he wasn't sure how far their connection allowed him to pry. Jack was generally an open book, but he was learning not everyone liked talking about themselves.


"I don't believe I've had Shwarma before..." 


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Lynn gave another small smile when Jack mentioned being named after his uncle, this one seeming to come a bit more easily. "Unfortunately I never got to meet my namesake, she died before I was born. But she had been a very good friend of my mother's."


Jack's chuckle about her being the first America girl he had met did earn another small smile. "Well, you did say you are new to Freedom. I imagine when you start at FCU there will be plenty of opportunities to meet American girls. Or are you going to Freedom College?" The blonde teen responded.


When Jack mentioned not being sure if he had had Shawarma before, Lynn shrugged. "Well, it is mainly just a way of cooking meats, and can be served and called a number of different things. Ma…" She suddenly stopped herself, seemingly uncertain about what she had been about to say, another dark look crossing her face before she continued, "I mean, some friends and I found this particular place a few years ago…it used to be something of a regular place for us." Although Jack did not think Lynn was lying, he had a suspicion there was something she was omitting, or trying to gloss over.

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Seeing her small smiles brought a small smile to his own lips. He enjoyed making her smile. "You as vell?" Jack asked, slightly surprised by the coincidence. "Uncle Vayna was father's little brother...he and father in bad accident before born. Uncle not make it..." Jack's eyes closed for a moment as he walked, he didn't talk about this often.


A moment later Jack opened his eyes. "Vait, college?" He chuckled under his breath. "Should probably finish high school first, am more artist then book smart..." Without much flare Jack Pinched his thumb and first two fingers together as if he was holding a flower stem and the air cooled around his hand and an icy rose grew from his hand. For a moment it sparkled in the sunlight. Lynn seemed uncomfortable at the mention of her mother, and Jack decided it best not to pry.


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Lynn gave Jack a sympathetic look as he mentioned his uncle dying in an accident before he was born. "I am sorry about your uncle." She said softly before the conversation turned back to more lighthearted topics.

When Jack corrected her about not yet being in college, the blonde teen had a slightly mortified look. "Oh!" She replied, pausing a moment as she seemed to be considering something. "I…you just look older. Wait, that is not quite what I meant." For perhaps the first time since Jack had approached her, a slight sense of awkwardness seemed to cover over Lynn as she went silent for a brief moment.


But as Jack mentioned being an artist, Lynn focused back toward him. "Oh, are you…" she began before halting mid-sentence as she watched him form the ice rose. Her mouth remained open a moment, but not from shock or surprise, instead her expressions seemed more…concerned. The blonde closed her mouth, her jaw ever so slightly clinched, as she glanced around, looking to see if anyone else was nearby or noticed.


Satisfied no one seemed to notice, Lynn looked back up at Jack, her expression having softened. "It is very lovely Jack, amazingly realistic and an incredible ability. But…while this is Freedom City, sometimes being a bit more…careful with demonstrating a power can be a good idea." She paused a moment, giving a faint smile. "Least, unless you want to become in demand as an ice sculptor, or just an ice machine."


She glanced back down at the ice rose and then back up to Jack. This time, when she spoke it was a bit more quietly. "So….are these powers why you moved to Freedom City?"

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"For you." Jack offered her the ice rose. "Vhere I come from ist wery isolated...sometimes I forget not everyone comfortable vith vhat I can do." He returned her smile. "But with praise like that, I could likely make it big as ice sculptor I think." He gave her a playful wink and grin. Enjoying her slight awkwardness about his abilities, and glad they didn't freak her out.


He nodded as she asked her question. "Partially, I lived with grandparents for long time after my accident." He gestures to the scars. "I didn't always look like I do...but They teach me about control. But then parents find new jobs in America and vant me to move vith them, so I yam here now." Jack stated, as if it was that simple. "I also draw, make sculpture, and grow normal flowers vhen I can."

Edited by Jack
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"Thank you Jack." Lynn replied as she took the ice rose. Looking at it a moment as the cold chilled her hand slightly. As he teased about a grander display of his powers, the blonde looked up and gave him a slight smirk. "Well, that could certainly be a way to attract the attention of more American girls, especially in this town."


As Jack mentioned having an accident, Lynn glanced at his scars briefly once again. When he finished the brief explanation of how he come to live in Freedom City, the blonde was quite a moment, almost as if she might have been expecting some other answer. But then she replied. "I am glad your grandparents could help you with learning control."


She seemed about to comment on his mention of his hobbies when the pair reached the open plaza towards the interior of the park, where a number of food carts were set up around the edges of the space. Lynn stopped a moment as she looked about, her gaze falling on a food cart off to their right.

"There it is." She stated, the tone of her voice sounding a bit hopeful once again. The blonde paused a moment before turning back to look up at Jack again. "Thank you for helping me find it. Care to try your first Shawarma? My treat." 

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"Pretty girl and good food..." Jack said with a big grin. "Good thing yous not super villain or I vould be in trouble." He laughed heartily and nodded. "It vould be my honor, Lynn."


The Plaza seemed to have a fair number of people roaming about as they slowly made their way towards the Shawarma cart.


"Father teach art, Grandfather teach my people's Shaman vays. He is one who saved me after accident and heal vounds." Jack offered, wanting to continue conversation with Lynn, but not wanting to pry into her life.

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Jack was pretty sure he saw a slight blush in Lynn's checks as he referred to her as a 'pretty girl.' She gave him a slightly awkward smile as she brushed a lock of hair behind one year. "Well, hopefully the food lives up to the hype." She managed to reply as the pair got into line for the Shawarma cart.


The blonde teen listened as Jack talked about his family a bit more. While she certainly seemed interested, at the same time a sense of uneasiness seemed to come over her, as if she wanted to reply, but was unsure about something. But Jack did not have long to consider that when the two reached the front of the line


"Hi." Lynn said to the young woman behind the counter as she turned to face the pair. Lynn glanced a moment toward the back of the cart, where another employee was working in the kitchen area, almost as if she was looking for someone. She then focused back on the young woman looking to take their order. "Sorry, let's see I will have…." Lynn then stopped, her body going ridged as she looked off to the side of the main menu, intently focused on something.


Jack heard her take a deep breath, that seemed almost combined with a sob before she spoke again, her voice uneven. "I…I'm sorry…" She had remained focused on whatever she was looking at as she spoke, but then turned away, brining one hand up to her eyes as started moving away from the cart. Jack thought he saw tears going down one of her cheeks, and while she did not exactly run, she moved rather quickly away from the crowd and toward the edge of the plaza and towards a group of trees.


Glancing to what she had been looking at, Jack saw it was a In Memoriam that was put up just to the right of the menu. It included a picture of a man, who based on the dates listed had died about a year ago in his late forties. From the quick glance at posting, it appeared that he had been the originally owner that had started the cart.

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Jack noticed a bit of a blush from Lynn and he allowed himself a small smile. He was glad to see her happy even if for the briefest of moments. It felt good to brighten her day a little bit. "Grandmother alvays say, good food is good, but good company is best, so the 'hype' ist already good I think, no?."


They made it to the front of the line and Jack was scanning the menu when he heard her gasp and began fleeing the cart rather abruptly. Jack looked at the paper she had been staring at. It looked to be the original owner of the cart and he had passed away last year. 


Jack apologized to the cashier and stepped out of line. He stood for a moment, scanning the crowd trying to spot Lynn. Everything being grey really made it hard sometimes, but he managed to spot her as she entered a stand of trees. He considered his options, as this seemed to deeply upset her. Jack was not a particularly smart bear, but he reflected on the small bits Lynn had told him over the last few minutes. Could the shawarma owner be the friend of her mothers she had spoken of? Seemed reasonable, but the theory was still on thin ice.


Jack's heart always went out to anyone hurting, and he couldn't abandon his new friend now any more then he could abandon a plant dying of thirst. He slowly walked over to where he'd spotted Lynn entering the treeline, unsure of what to say, but maybe just being here would count for something to her.

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Lynn’s sudden departure had caused a bit of a scene in the plaza, with a number of people looking over in the direction of Jack and the general direction the blonde teen had gone. At the moment, no one seemed overly alarmed, perhaps a bit concerned (or in some cases just curious).


As Jack grew close to the group of trees, it was not hard to spot Lynn, who had taken a seat with her back to one of the trees, generally facing away from the plaza. She had her knees up toward her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs. Jack could hear her softly crying as he came close to the group of trees.


She apparently heard his approach, reaching up to quickly try to wipe tears from her eyes before glancing over toward the large teen. Lynn was clearly upset, and while she tried to force a smile, it did not really last.


"I'm sorry Jack." She managed to say as she wiped one of her eyes once more. "But…I am probably not very good company right now. This outing was probably a bad idea for me."

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Jack felt a pang of Empathy in his chest as Lynn tried to wipe away her tears. She tried to force a smile, which garnered one from Jack in response. She looked very small all curled up against the tree, arms wrapped around her legs. He sat against the same tree as her, but at a right angle to her, so she wouldn't feel confined, and he was correctly positioned so that no one from where they had been by the shawarma cart would be able to see past him, giving her some small measure of privacy. "Vell...." He paused for a moment, trying to think of what to say. "..ist prolly good thing I yam good company then, no?" Jack said softly. "Good thing about being giant farmer boy, is 'aving big ears, and being comfortable with silence."

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Jack could see a couple of people looking his direction when he sat down. But as things seemed under control it was not long before they turned back to whatever they had been doing.


"Thank you Jack." Lynn said as the soft sounds of crying soon subsided and her breathing seemed to calm. "Its just…my life has had such a major upheaval recently." As she spoke, Jack could detect an ever so slight hesitation, as if she was carefully choosing her words. Although to most it probably would not even be noticeable.


"If it wasn't for medication, I would probably be at least ten times worse off right now. Let alone probably not have been even able to leave the house due to anxiety."


She went quiet for a few moments, then spoke up again. "I'm sorry Jack, but I am not really feeling all that hungry anymore. Is it okay if we take a rain check on my buying you lunch?"

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"Rain check? So yous vant to hang out again, eh..?" Jack chuckled softly. "Da, of course Miss Lynn. Full on hamburgers anyway." He added, trying to deflect some of the guilt or anxiety she might be feeling.


There was a long pause between them as Jack didn't want to push too much conversation if she was already feeling anxious. "Life..." He said softly. He looked around and checked no one was paying attention this time and opened his hand revealing a cluster of snowy cherry blossom petals. He let them float away on the breeze. "Life get so messy sometimes. Feels like everything goes everyvhere and novhere..."


He nodded to himself to give himself a bit of courage. "I can not imagine what kind of 'upheaval' yous 'ave to deal vith. Must be pretty heavy though..." He let a moment of silence pass again before continuing. "After bear attack, life took Wary big turn for me. Did not know how to cope at first." He looks at his hands and his scars. "Life got messy fast."


He looked over towards Lynn. "I yam glad that you came out today. Yous is first person I've met here, so yous been big help today." He flashed her another smile. "Because of yous I now knows about shawarma"

Edited by Jack
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Jack thought he heard Lynn give a faint laugh at his teasing about her wanting to hang out again. She was then quiet for a bit, her breathing having steadied. As Jack started talking a bit about his past, Lynn turned so she was slightly facing him, one shoulder leaning against the tree and she lowered her knees down so they were on the ground almost as if she were riding sidesaddle on a horse as she listened.


Jack could see her eyes and cheeks were a bit red, but she had stopped crying. "That sounds terrifying Jack." She said with a sympathetic look when he mentioned the bear attack. "Did that have anything to do with…" Lynn held up the ice rose that had slowly begun to melt in the warmth weather.


When Jack joked about now knowing about Shawarma, Lynn blushed ever so slightly. "Well, I think you could have gone happily through life without knowing about Shawarma." She then replied before a brief pause. "But..I am glad I chose to go out today as well. I…I tend to have trouble seeing much of anything positive right now."


The blonde teen sat up from the tree and fully turned so she was facing Jack as she kneeled in the grass, her lower legs tucked under her. Setting down the ice rose, she took off the small backpack she had been carrying over one shoulder and opened it to take out a sketch pad and a pencil. "Trying Shawarma might not have worked out today, but so you have something." Lynn stated as she opened the pad and began drawing, glancing up at Jack ever so often before focusing on the pad.


After a couple of minutes, she stopped, took one more look at Jack and the pad before, removing the page from the pad and holding it out to Jack. "I have never been much of a sculptor, but I do draw, and paint, a bit." On the page she was holding out was a very detailed and realistic pencil portrait of Jack.

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Jack hadn't sat for a drawing in a very long time, his dad had drawn him once before Jack began living with his grandparents, but that seemed like a lifetime ago. He smiled at her soft laugh, glad that he seemed to be helping her through the rough patch. Her eyes were a bit red, almost as red as her cheeks, which he took to be a good sign.


He looked to the ice flower. "Da. My grandfather is Shaman. After bear attack leave me almost dead, he saved me with spirit magic." Jack flexes a little. "Gave me new body and new ability, but left many scars." He was quiet for awhile while she drew him. He was curious to see how he looked through her eyes. That was one thing he loved about art. It let you see others perceptions and thoughts.


When she handed Jack her drawing, a large grin spread on his face. "Yous ist amazing Lynn." He ran a hand through the back of his hair, a nervous habit he had always had. "Amazing artist, I mean. This ist best gift." He gave her another giant sized grin and studied the picture again. "My father drew me once, long ago...but I definitely like this picture more." He wished he had something to give her in return that wouldn't melt.

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Lynn had briefly stopped her drawing when Jack mentioned the severity of the bear attack and what his grandfather had done to save him. The blonde looked up from the sketch pad to regard Jack a moment. "That…that sounds horrible Jack. It may not mean much...but I think the scars fit you." She stated before focusing back on her drawing.


When Jack complimented her drawing, the blonde teen blushed again sightly. "I am glad you like it." She paused and then looked back up to Jack. "It is the least I could do to thank you. I would probably still be crying, if not spiraling into a full panic attack if you had not been here Jack."


Lynn then looked away as a bit of gloominess seemed to come over her. "Speaking of, I should probably not push my luck and head back home." Turing back to Jack, she took out her iPhone, which she seemed to regard with a brief look of annoyance. "I am serious about the rain check. Let me get your contact info so we can plan to meet for lunch."

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