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A Game Of Skill (But Mostly Luck) (IC)

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12:00 Noon

The Boardwalk

Freedom City, New Jersey.

Zeke tugged on the lapels of his coat somewhat self-consciously, adjuting his hat minutely for the umpteenth time. The term 'abject terror' wasn't something he was familiar with, but something rather similar kept poking at the edges of his thinking processes. Just how long had it been since he'd gone on a proper date? Since before he started at Master Li's, at any rate - and he'd been way too busy working on his music before then.

Not to say he hadn't had dates, technically. If you could call buying the odd music fan a drink here and there in between sets. He just had a very lousy track record vis-a-vis follow-up.

But now he had followed up. And for the life of him he couldn't explain why. Not that he was complaining, of course - he'd sworn up and down in front of his mirror that it'd be a pleasant outing at the boardwalk carnival, even if he had to go to max speed and hog-tie every villain in Freedom City. Not that he'd actually done that, but it was the sentiment that mattered, right?

He stood in a freshly washed and pressed pair of slacks, white shirt, and a dark blue waistcoat this time - a newsboy cap instead of the fedora this time. A timeless outfit, in his opinion - at least better than his usual sweatpants and hoodie. He leaned on the hood of Vera and looked up and down the street, tapping his foot in tune with an inner rhythm. And most definitley not in worry.

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Carrie approached Vera from the side, Zeke missed her completely. That wasn't saying much, she didn't make any sound when she walked afterall. Her outfit wasn't really one that would ruffle. She wore a pale blue spagetti strap shirt over some multie-pocket khaki capris. Her hair was french braided into one short thick light brown braid, curtiousy of her sister, who helped only after sworn that no other family members would be alerted (they were a gossipy lot). She was really just dressed for the weather, it was sunny and warm in the may sun, and looking at him in his nice old fashioned outfit she had to say,

"Aren't you hot in that?"

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This time, Zeke did most definitley not jump a foot into the air.

He jumped about half a foot.

Nerves. :argh:

The musician turned around with a half-irritated, half-amused look on his face, and he shrugged. He opened his mouth to speak - say something witty, you idiot.

"Uh...well, so I've been told. I make this outfit look good." Big grin.

...And he choked. He resisted the urge to facepalm.

"Heh...yeah...hi." The grin turned to a somewhat weak smile, and he waved.

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Carrie giggled at the reaction again. It may of been strange that she enjoyed surprising people, but then again, surprises weren't always bad. She turned a little revealing a bulky red flat backpack looking thing,

"Hi to you too."

Shifting her pack she glanced down the boardwalk. It wasn't too crowded, but the summer crowds hadn't really exploded into Freedom yet.

"So, lets go grab some tickets then?"

She stuck a thumb at the booth, just trying to keept he conversation moving a little bit. Trying to smile, to not start sweating, to not look over her shoulder expecting someone trying to grab her, or someone jumping out sticking up random carnival goers. Who would rob a carnival anyway, even in Freedom. Well other then say...... dang it, paranoia was too freaking honed for regular dating. the other shoe wasn't going to drop, this wasn't going to turn horrible, it wasn't.

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Zeke nodded mutely, pushing his hands into his pockets and affecting an easy gait to keep up with her. He relaxed a bit - or at least tried to; she had dressed well - looked pretty good too. Though the backpack was a bit incongruous - then again, he tended to lug around a duffel bag with him. But he was an incognito superhero, so he kinda had a reason to...

He shook his head to clear those thoughts - today, he was just Ezekiel Irons. Nothing was going to happen. At all. Just a nice outing at the carnival. That was it.

Irons really shouldn'tve handed the irony gods a straight line like that.

"Thanks for coming, Carrie. You ever been here before?"

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Getting in line she glanced back and smiled,

"Yeah, with my niece and nephew, they love it. It's also why I have this."

Taking off the backpack a closer look revealed it had thick wheels and when she pulled it apart it made a cloth folding wagon (though the canopy had been removed) in it.

"Excellant for totting tired toddlers, but I thought it'd be a good buggy for the side game prizes. Given, some of the harder games ones are grossly oversized. It's a good thing I cleared my trunk."

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Zeke leaned down to look at the buggy with a curious expression, and when he straightened he had an impressed and smiley look on his face.

"Okay, that right there? Clever. I was just gonna ferry the prizes from us to the car - I'm a midway fiend from a ways back. Dad taught me skee ball on vacations; shame they don't permit bank shots anymore, though. He could rack up a full score quick-as-you-blink with those; mom always wanted the big teddy bears."

He grinned, rubbing the back of his head. Good memories, those - coming here when he was a tiny tot and always trying to knock over the bottles with overhand throws. The line moved forward. He cast about for other topics - family, talking about family was good.

"Niece and nephew, cool. Tell me about them - what's their favorite games here? Maybe we can send them a couple of presents when we're done." Mischevious smile.

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"Where do you think all these plushies are going anyway? They're favorite game is watching Auntie Carrie win the biggest plushie in the stands. Bonus points for beating large crowds at games."

Getting up to the front she pulled out some cash for her tickets and waited for Zeke to go forward,

"I'm best at more reflex games then aiming games honestly. I don't have the best aim. Also, I'm decent at bell ringers."

Pulling the cart around she leaned against the booth as she waited for Zeke to get his tickets and smiled,

"Hey, how about a contest to see who can get the most prizes?"

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Zeke grinned - now he really was relaxing. Or at least he was a bit more at ease. The smiles were becoming more genuine and appearing easier.

"That must be adorable - them bouncing up and down while you put some oversized plushie into the basket. You ever win one bigger than they are?"

He had a few of those in his loft - mostly for decor. He did want a really big-huge one to put in the corner, though - maybe one what's head would touch the ceiling. Just to freak visitors out. Hi-larious. He chuckled a bit and picked up his own tickets, walking over and offering an arm to her.

"Contest? Oh, now you're just being mean - what does the winner get or the loser forfeit?" Smirk.

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"You'd be hard pressed to find the ones that are smaller then they are, they're only five."

Stretching she thought about it for a second,

"Loser pays food bill for the day, that includes all snacks, drinks, lunch and dinner, and don't you say you'd cover it anyway, chivilarious spending is a luxury item not covered under the expenses of most jazz musicians."

She chuckled, she could probably shock him with how much she eats. Her powers increased her metabolism to about twenty percent higher then the average person. It wasn't insane, but still, she could pack away carny food without getting sick.

"Now rules, we have to all do the same games one after the other for single ones, and of course against each other for competitive ones."

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Zeke chuckled - oh, she had no idea what she was getting into. The pain of the Woosh, more often than not, meant his metabolism was somewhat...different. He often went about slightly hungry, no matter how much he ate. It was a thing.

"Deal. I was going to say the loser had to kiss the other, but that works too." Mischevious grin.

Oh gods why did I say that whydidIsaythatwhydidIsaythataaaaaagh

The smile looked somewhat dented for a moment, but he valiantly kept the cheery demeanor. "And those rules mos def appeal; we'll hit the rides after the midway? I hear they opened a new roller coaster a few weeks back."

Yeah, it was slightly childish, but hey - new roller coaster.

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"That works, cause I really can't eat anything before I hit carnival rides, what with motion sickness and all."

Moving back, she walked over to the nearest game. The Ring Toss, which had predictably several plushies, as well as a motor scooter (skinny razor scooter with a motor, not a sitting one), for high scores.

"Nice challenging one to start then. One try each,"

She put her ticket down at the booth and waited as the man brought out the three rings for each of them to try and get on any particular bottle. She leaned and smiled as she looked over the bottles,

"Gentlemen first."

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Zeke took the requisite three rings, and stood on point - tossing things wasn't his strong point, sadly. Take a moment...sight on target...on a whim, he tried one of the breathing exercises he'd learned at the dojo - center himself, just slow and relax...everything slowed...

Toss. Clink. Toss. Clink. Toss. Clink.

When Zeke refocused, he noted the three bottles at the back had rings spinning around them. His eyebrows shot up into his hairline.

"Uh...that...doesn't...usually happen."

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Carrie burst out laughing, as the person in the booth let Zeke have his choice of prizes, which included shark plushies as big as she was, some cheap tiny guitars, and for all three the rings the electric razor scooter.

"Well hopefully lightning will strike twice,"

Picking up the rings she took her time and tossed each one carefully.

Clink, one ring, clink, two, clink three, three on the same bottle,


The booth owner's eyebrows were at the top of her head, but she got down the prizes. Carrie snagged the scooter box and placed in in the bottom of the wagon.

"Alright, you choose the next game."

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Zeke took down a huge shark plushie, posing with it like he'd just caught the fish. He mused that next time he'd bring a camera along. If there was a next time. If he didn't mess up huge. Which was likely.

Still, it was a Kodak moment, and he grinned. The shark went on top of the scooter (covering pretty much the whole basket) - her niece and nephew would adore that big fluffy thing. He would have way back when.

"Oh, I'm savin' skee ball for last, Car. How about..." He looked around - skeet shooting, no...water pistols, no...ah, that'll work. The classic ball-and-milk-bottles game. He pointed at that one. "How's your pitching arm?" Grin.

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She laughed as she adjusted the sharp between the polls so it wouldn't fall off the cart. She walked over to the ball and milk bottle game, the prizes were much smaller then the other one. Mostly a bunch small keychain prizes, and a couple medium sized plushies like monkeys, teddy bears and unicorns. She glanced at the bright green monkey noting it,

"Okay, I'll go first this time."

Putting down the ticket she took the balls and threw it at the bottles. She hit more towards the top, toppled the top bottle and one of the side, not a completely winning, but she still got a keychain which she tossed on the pile,

"Your turn Babe Ruth."

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Zeke laughed and mimed like a baseball player, winding up exaggeratedly and lifting up his front leg, before whipping his arm forward in a decidedly not-sports-like toss. The ball sizzled through the air, hit the top bottle of the stack with a loud crack, and hit the back net. He rubbed the back of his head with some chagrin, but still smiled - and picked up a small keychain with the picture of an adorable panda.

An idea struck him. Moving forward, he hesitated a few steps away - and held it up with a look that implied asking permission.

"Uh...this one's for you."

Awkward smile.

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Carrie laughed but stopped when she looked at the keychain,


She looked at it then tucked it in her khaki pockets,

"Thanks, umm,"

She turned her head,

"Okay, that one there."

She pointed past him at the strong man contest. A really high Bell Ringer one. Walking quickly to hide her blush as she walked over. This one had a couple of different prizes, biggest was the giant teddy bear variety, not as big as the shark, but definitely the large huggable variety.

"Got some amp moving muscle music man?"

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Zeke tried to squash an obvious blush, and moved towards the game she'd pointed to with almost indecent haste. He looked up at the bell and the mallet, and flexed slightly. Even smirked.

"Well, I wouldn't say it's amp-moving muscle..."

He passed a ticket, picked up the hammer, and took a few test swings...focus...see the target...wait for it...and...

Breath hissed between his teeth in a silent kiyi, and he brought the hammer down with quite respectable force. The weight shot up, up, up...DING!. A big grin crossed his face, and he let the mallet drop. Then let himself flex. And promptly rubbed the back of his head in an embarrassed manner.

"Uh...heh...I take classes at Master Li's School of Self Defense. It's bag-punching muscle." Smile.

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"Never heard of it, but looks like it got some results."

The booth owner passed Zeke a large teddy bear as he tried to offer Carrie up the smaller bell. She smirked as she picked up the hammer,

"I've trained a bit myself, different training of course,"

She took a few practice swings as she spoke pulling up and backing away from the bell.

"In college I took some classes,"

Picking up the mallet she did a long overhead swing that hit the little thing. It went up, up, up all the way to muscle man, just before the bell and then, fell.

"But that was a while ago. You win this round, pick the next booth."

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"I'll take you one of these days. Uh...if that's okay." Head-rub, awkwardface. "Li's a great teacher - actually, that's putting it mildly. He's the best teacher. Knows every style from savate to the most esoteric kung fu you can imagine. I've seen him spar once, and it was just..." The term 'wondrous eyes' would have been apt - it was a big memory of his. "Unbelieveable. You practically can't even see the guy move."

He shook his head to clear his thoughts, and looked at the bear in his arms. Then put it on the shark. A bear riding a shark. There would be two happy kids soon - the thought made him smile warmly as he looked about the booths. There was the water pistol one - shoot the target long enough to get the horse to the other side...

"Hm - you a horse race fan, Car?"

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Walking over to the booth they both put down their tickets and took their spots on the stools. Some others played as well. Holding the gun up to the spinning nozzle wasn't that hard, but they both did rather poorly, by poorly they both went at the same pace, and as such were outpaced by a fourteen year old three seats down. Carrie laughed it off as she stepped away,

"Guess that's a stalemate, one go rule."

She glanced at the prizes, they weren't that good anyway, turning she saw an inflatable that made her smile,

"Ohh, look, a Jacob's ladder."

It was two ladders next to each other on a pivet with a bell at the end of each end, there were prizes but it could be race,

"That's the next one, a real race, just one on one."

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He nodded with a wide grin - a climbing game; now that he was solid at. The Fastest Fighter Alive took a few stretches, limbering up - he'd learned the hard way numerous times what a lack of stretch or exercise could do to the muscle. So very sore...

Bend left, right, backwards, forwards, quick toe-touch, ready to go. He waited for her go, then hit that ladder like it owed him money. Swing, grip with the legs and up, grab the hands and swivel, watch the pivot, over the side, up and u-whoa, that girl was limber.

Zeke blinked as Carrie hit the wall, and his jaw practically dropped. He took a moment just to hang there and watch her walk up the ropes...then promptly blinked and started scrambling to catch up with her...too late. Zeke stared at the girl from his upside-down position, the corners of his mouth twitching. He snickered. And then just started laughing.

Totally worth it. "Okay, you gotta teach me how to do that, Car!"

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Carrie didn't go the same way he did, she didn't even lean over. Instead she put one foot in front of the other, and walked up the jacob's ladder up to the bell. Still she had to take it about as slowly as he did to keep her balance and he got close to matching her speed, but her method was effient enough.

"Four years of gymnastics, they had one of these in the gym."

She jumped off the side onto the bounce and collected a giant character plushie that she added to the cart.

"Favorite game in the booth. I think this is a good stopping point for now, if you want to go on some rides I mean."

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Zeke nodded with a chagrined smile. She'd just schooled him quite thoroughly, and he was highly amused by this fact. Plus, more plushies! He pondered mentioning skee ball, but changed his mind - some rides would be just the ticket, if he didn't miss his guess.

"Yeah, I don't think my rear can take much more kicking." Grin. "Seriously, I think your foot's left some dents." He laughed, a nice sound. "Nicely done. Very nicely done."

He hesitated a moment, then offered a hand to her with a warmer smile. "Any favorite rides, madame?"

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