Zoie - Park Partners

From Masq
Date: Setting:

IC:  10/19/2008
RL: 04/19/2011

Highland Park -- Main Quad -- Albuquerque

 Highland Park is a lush, well-maintained neighborhood park. Trees such as cottonwoods, pinon, Russian olives, elms, and willows are scattered freely along the west side of the area, in a copse which covers about half the park's territory. A paved sidewalk meanders into the trees, dotted with old-fashioned aged wood and black wrought-iron benches, never quite hidden from general view, but providing some small measure of privacy.

 The park's east side is dominated by a children's playground, complete with slides, a jungle gym, and a swing set. Soft native grasses and flowers have been in carefully arranged strips of greenery. All through the area, shadowed by smaller trees, are picnic tables surrounded by simple wooden benches. A fitness parcourse trail, approximately a mile in length, runs the perimeter of the park.

~*~places are available here~*~

Obvious exits:
Parking Lot <PL>

It is getting dark, almost eight, and the park is slowly emptying as the sun sets and darkness rises. Most of the people who frequent the area are making their way out or have already left, leaving those misanthropes who prefer the evening and beyond.

Esme is one such. She's sat on one of the wrought iron benches, not overly far from the entrance, enjoying a cigarette and the peace of the evening.

Gustavo has finished several runs through the course - cutoff tshirt and shorts and fannypack, iPod on and camelback - and now is finishing securing a heavy punching bag to a huge tree limb to hang just so, with heavy rope and an old tshirt over the limb to keep it from being chafed raw. He checks the swing of the bag and begins to wrap up his hands, humming along to himself to the music in his earbuds.

Zoie enters with an ease of movements, though it just screams 'shy'. Her green eyes move over the park as a smile plays upon her lips. It seems her destination is the benches as well. Hmm. Exercise in the park? It's certainly a valid use of the green space, though not one Esme has ever considered applying. She turns slightly to eye the ex-marine and his punchbagging, and as part of that eyes Zoie as she enters. Hmmmm.

Gustavo gives Zoie a welcome smile, and finishes taping up his hands. Then he faces the bag, and starts punching. Left jab, jab, circle, right hook. Left jab, jab, jab, straight right. Right jab, left overhand, so on and so on.

Zoie blushes instantly at the smile from Gustavo as she moves to sit next to Esme. She gives the woman a sweet smile. "Hi." The voice is light and soft before she looks back to the man working out. "You know him?"

Sweetness. Light. These are things Esme does not know. Zoie continues to get a look, not unfriendly exactly, but not opening and welcome either. "Yeah. He's a detective," she offers after a long moment. As she refers to the boxing man again there is no particular animosity, but neither glowing warmth.

Again with the left jab, the former Marine's huge arms flexing as he throws a quick combo, then a knee. A rolling left and right motion, as he kicks, and throws a right right hand, then a left, an elbow and a short upper cut as his lips move to the music that he's listening to.

Zoie nods her head to that as she tries to look away from the boxing man. She smiles towards Esme and offers her hand. "I'm Zoie Croft. I um.." She looks around the area and then sort of hugs into herself. "Esme." The redhead doesn't take the hand; shaking hands isn't something she does. "He's Oso." She nods towards the ex-marine, introducing him even though he's both out of earshot and boxing to music. "Whatcha doin' in the park after dark?"

And now it's combination drill time. 1-1-1 - jab jab jab, right left right. 1-2, left jab, straight right down the pipe. 1-2-3, jab, straight right, left hook that causes the bag to swing, a right kick and shoves the bag up and out, swinging back into the final flurry - the 1b-2b-3-4-5-6-7. Body jab, body straight right, left hook, right hook, left uppercut, right uppercut and a powerful overhand right bomb that has all his powerful upper body strength and trunk like hips into it - the punch that that sends the bag looping back up into the air and down again as the Marine catches it. He stills it and pulls his earbuds out - rap music can be heard in them as he paces his way over to where Esme and her new friend are. "Esme," he offers, "Miss," to Zoie.

Zoie watches the combo with a mixture of curiosity and well, he is a guy. Her eyes widen as he walks over and she drops her lashes over her eyes quickly. "Hello Oso.." She tries the name on her lips before looking back to Esme. It's like she's trying not to look at the woman's man too much. "Are... do you both..." There is a shuddering breath as she tries to still her nerves. "Have you both been in town long?"

"Albaquerque born an' raised," Esme replies with a vaguely amused expression. "Mostly in the zone, if that even counts." Gustavo gets a glance and smile, small but genuine, a rare occurrance for the redhead. "Oso. Ain't got a gym back at the station?"

"Santa Fe born 'n raised, till the service at least. Been here since oh five," Oso says as he flexes his hands and smiles at Esme. "Yeah but that gym smells like bitter, cynical old cops tryin' to get back their twenties six pack," he teases back to Esme. "I needed some fresh air. So I humped out the bag and got it set up."

Zoie looks between the two and shifts her weight from side to side as she sits there. A blush flits upon her cheeks again as she nods her head. There is a look of confusion though towards Esme. "The zone?" Then those venus greens turn towards Oso again. She runs her eyes over his form as she tries to figure out his age. "You..." There is a clearing of her throat. ".. do you um.. teach .. um.. self.. um.. defense?"

"Mmn, fair. Nothin' like the smell of a mid-life crisis in the mornin'," Esme remarks to Oso, vaguely amused. "The Warzone. Doubt you've ever been there, nice girl like you." There's a hint of bitterness, but mostly nonchalence.

"Warzone. That's where I met Esme, coupla years ago. No no. I mean, I do teach I guess, now and then. But I met Esme about what ... year two? Year one? I can't remember. I spent around three years in the 'Zone, which is three more than most rookie uniforms do." Oso says as he begins to undo the wrappings on his large hands with a grin. "I kept insisting on staying. Told them if I could handle Fallujah, I could handle the 'Zone."

Zoie lowers her eyes away. "Well you two are um.. cute together." She stops to that as she looks between them. "Maybe you can.. um.. suggest a class or a teacher or soemthing?" She touches her fingers to her hair, twirling a piece of hair around her index finger.

There's a faintly choked noise from Esme. Surprise? Amusement? Some combination, no doubt. "We're not together," she assures the blushing Zoie, trying to keep the amusement from her voice and failing entirely. "And it was about the end of year one, if I remember rightly. Sure, it ain't Iraq, but it's hardly pleasent either. Most cops don't last more than a few months."

"Most don't," Oso agrees, with a grunt. And a grin as Zoie speaks, "We're not. Grudging friends, is how I'd describe us. Acquaintances," he tells Zoeie. "Most folks in the Warzone, they have a pretty negative opinion of law enforcement - some of it pretty well deserved. Do you need self defense to protect yourself, for physical exercise, or for confidence?"

Zoie is twirling that hair so much that she might get her finger wrapped and stuck in it. "Well um.. I.. um.. both?" She turns another shade of red at misunderstanding the relationship. "I.. um.. it.." She takes a deep breath and looks away.

"Most cops in the zone act like turds. Taking bribes, playing favourites, coming down too hard on some people and ignoring others - or they get shut down by the gangs." Esme explains simply. "Oso doesn't, but he's one of a minority at times." Her opinion of the law isn't too bright it seems, in keeping with her upbringings, but apparently Gustavo is an exception.

Gustavo nods, "Indeed. Indeed." Oso agrees. A smile at Zoie. "Well, there's plenty of fitness places in town. You don't get out much miss, do you?" he says gently. He finishes unwrapping his hands and tosses the wraps into his bag and sits down to open his fannypack - pistol and phone there - and pull out a notebook, pulling out a business card. "This guy does work at a gym near the university area. He'll teach Krav Maga, and womens self defense."

Zoie nods her head to that. "I.. I just spend a lot of time.. um.. reading." She lowers her eyes away before looking back between the two. "You um.. why aren't you together? You seem to like each other." Look at her trying to be Miss Matchmaker. Beautiful and foolish all in one tiny package.

How do you answer a question like that? Esme peers at Zoie for a moment, then to Gustavo, then back to Zoie. "Friendship is good too," she remarks. "As for why? I dunno." Deep answers from the redhead, who shrugs a shoulder. She's not cut out for this sort of discussion.

Gustavo hands the card over and reaches into his bag for a bottle of water, taking a sip. He grunts as he seems to consider this. "WEll. I don't know either. I guess it never came up. She -does- not like the po-po a lot," he tells Zoie, but it's an easy enough grin, good natured.

Zoie pushes her hair back behind her left ear. "Do you like other people? I was like.. seeing someone.. but like.. he got busy." She lifts up her shoulders easily and then drops them back down. Her own smile is soft as she sees the truest of love blooming.

"I don't object to you Oso, just some of your lesser brothers in arms," Esme allows grudgingly, and without any blooming to speak of. "Is this really the conversation we're having at nine in the evening in a park with strangers?"

"It is pretty bizarre," Oso admits. "I'm not seeing anyone. Being a Marine's boyfriend when he's deployed five, six times in a handful of years isn't good for any relationship. Since I got back I've just been working. How about a change of subject? What do you do Zoie, for a living?"

Zoie smiles. "I would totally date you." Wait. No that wasn't how she meant it. "I mean like I would totally date you if we knew each other. I mean not that we don't. I mean I've just met you. I'm sure you are great. I just don't you know I mean.. you know there are people and I didn't mean to just say that in front of Esme. Oh goodness I hope that you can forgive me. Sometimes I talk without thinking." All of that last part comes out in a rush. She blushes vibrantly and then looks up at Oso like she wants to crawl into a hole. "I'm in college. Don't suppose you need to hire someone or like.. need a roomie?"

It's like watching a train crash. As much as she usually doesn't care a great deal for how other people are feeling, Esme does feel a slight pang of sympathy for Zoie. "You're like my sister. Mouth before brain." Her words arn't unkind, just vaguely amused.

"I don't need a roomie, thank you though Zoie. I live a bit outside of town in a small community, in a cabin," Oso explains with an easy grin. "What sort of work do you do? Research and the like?" he asks. Dodging and weaving, verbally!

Zoie pushes her hair behind her ear again, only to let it fall forwards. "Um.. I..." She nods to Esme and the more mouth tnan brains. "No.. I mean.. I could I.. I don't really /do/ anything. I'm a um.. erm.. dance major." She does have a beautiful voice though.

"And you wouldn't wanna live in the zone. You'd be a statstic within the week," Esme finishes with a slight shake of her head. "So get a job dancing? Or teaching dance? Or writing about dance?" she suggests.

Gustavo nods, "Just don't live the stereotype and start dancing at one of those strip joints, telling yourself it's just until you finish school," Oso adds. "That rarely, if ever, works out."

Zoie shakes her head. "I can't teach until I gradu.." Zoie just clams up at Gus' words. She just stares at him with these huge green eyes. There are no words for that.

"Get a job as a waitress? Be a checkout chick? Flip burgers, or stack books?" Esme runs through a list of the normal college undergrad jobs. "And no. Don't turn to pole dancing. It's a bad life." She seems to have some personal resentment there, though she doesn't look like she has the anorexic-chic body for stripping herself.

Gustavo nods, "Well. Just keep it in mind. You strike me as ... well. Just keep it in mind, okay?" he tells Zoie with a smile. A grunt at Esme, 'Library could be a good job. NIce and safe. Or waitressing, that gets you in front of the public and used to talking to people," he adds.

Zoie nods her head to that as she looks between them. Her lower lip is caught between her teeth as she takes the card Gus gave her and tucks it into the back of her jeans. "I um.. do you.. um.. know anyone um.. hiring?" Her eyes move over Gustavo again, but mainly because he's muscled. Then she looks towards Esme. "You have a um.. sister?"

"Yeah. She's a waitress at a place in the Zone. I'd say I'll talk to her about any jobs going, but seriously - stay out of the warzone," Esme cautions mildly. "Apply for basic jobs, maybe work at a cinema or something, punching tickets or scooping popcorn."

"You don't want to be in the 'Zone. Battle hardened folks get chewed up and spit out there," Gustavo agrees. "I can talkto a few people, see if anyone is hiring."

Zoie looks around. "Do either of you like.. have a pen?" She looks a bit curious about this zone place. "Well could I go with you two, I mean now I'm curious." You ever have the feeling you are around a girl that isn't good at lying or keeping thoughts to herself?

"Go? Into the zone?" Esme sounds like she doesn't quite believe what she's hearing. "No." A flat, firm no at that, though she shakes her head slightly at the pen thing. "Girls like you don't go into the warzone."

Gustavo digs into his bag, rips off a piece of paper and grabs a pen, handing both to Zoie. "Seriously. If you walked out only raped and shot up with brown tar heroin, addicted the rest of your life, you'd be lucky. Most likely folks would never, ever see you again," he tells Zoie.

Zoie writes her name and number is flowing, beautiful handwriting. Then she copies it and hands each of them a piece of paper with her info on it. "Well I'd be safe with you two." Her eyes flow over to Esme. "Girls like me?"

"Nice girls. Innocent girls. Girls who couldn't defend themselves from a couple of guys looking for trouble between a pair of nice legs," Esme replies bluntly. "I have no interest in babysitting, and Oso is as much a target for being a cop as he is a defense."

"And, no offense, it's not like a zoo. We take you in there, we'll be lucky to get out. I'd have to be worrying about watching your back, watching Esme's and mine, all at the same time.," Gustavo says as he takes the paper with a grin.

Zoie pouts a bit to that. "I'm not.. innocent." She says innocently. Her eyes move between the two. "But.. you two /live/ there. So like.. if Esme can do it. Oh and you said your sister works there."

"I live there. I've lived there for almost thirty years," Esme tells the dance student levelly. "I could also break your neck if you threatened me. You've said yourself you've got no self defense skills, so why the hell would you want to go there? It'd be like taking raw meat into the big cat enclosure."

"I live outside town. I don't live there. And .. she's right. You are innocent, Zoie. You get there, you're going to get changed - in a bad way. A very bad way," Oso adds.

Zoie nods her head a bit to that and pulls on her tresses again. "I just.." She takes a breath and releases it with a small smile. "What do you do for fun? I mean other than date each other."

There's a low snort from Esme. She doesn't bother protesting the latter. "I leave the zone for fun. That's why I'm out here," she responds shortly. "Movies are good, too, when I can afford 'em." Gustavo nods. "Movies. Go for a walk - walking is good for cardio. Try swimming. Pick up a hobby - like cooking. Make friends. You don't want to go to the Zone for fun. It's not fun. People there, they want to be anywhere but there, most times. OK?"

Zoie perks to that. "Oh! I can totally cook." Suddenly she claps her hands and bounces. The beauty in the girl showing when she gets excited. "We'll have a dinner party at Oso's!" SHe just declares it. "I'll clean and cook, so like you totally don't have to worry. Then like.. we'll all just eat and talk and hang out. Then we can walk or something."

"So get a job as a cook, then," Esme responds, glancing to Oso and shaking her head, perhaps a little private shared despairing of the oblivious dancer-girl.

Gustavo glances at Esme, "Well. I live with some other folks, and there's a communal eating area. But I think that'd be okay. I can set it up. You can come out and see the place, Esme. It's outside town. I'll be fun," he adds, with a grin at both. "We'll set something up."

Zoie is already making plans in her head about this. "OH! You could invite them too. I mean I didn't know you lived with people." She shakes her head. "Noooo.. I like cooking. If I had to do it as a job, I might not anymore, you know?"

"So you'd rather have a job doing something you don't like?" Esme seems not to fathom that. "Eh. Well, I'm in if it's happening, as long as you don't expect me to cook or tidy. I'm shit at both."

Gustavo grins, and reaches for his wallet, pulling out a card and handing it to each of them. "I'll talk to my roomates. It's a sort of .. community, outside town. Used to be a motel, back in the door. It's refurbished and I live there with another detective - separate cabins, and a psychologist and her editor boyfriend."

Zoie waves a hand dismissively. "I can cook and clean. I'll even stay after to clean it back up." She looks between the couple again. "It sounds fun. Um..." She blushes a bit. "Could I maybe see the um.. area before um.. the night I cook?"

"You're not going to be cooking anything fancy, are you?" Esme asks of Zoie, as if harbouring some nasty suspicion that the girl is going to spring canapes and caviar on the unsuspecting dining party. "Because anything else, you just need an oven and a hob, right?"

Zoie thinks that over. "I.. I doh't know what I'm going to cook until I cook it." She gives a beautiful smile. "I promise it will like taste good though." She reaches uot to touch Esme's hair to study the color. "It's a pretty color."

Gustavo grins at Esme. "We can do simple food. SOmething grilled out maybe, or something. SUre. I can invite you two over and walk you around the place sometime," he offers.

Flinching back - touching is not on the cards here, and Esme does her best to avoid the hair being examined too closely. "Don't do that. It's natural. It ain't gonna be any less natural for touching it." Apparently, she's big on personal space.

Zoie lets her hand hang there awkwardly when she pulls back. Then Zoie snatches back her hand and twists her own hair. "I um.. s-s-s-s-s-sorry." She stutters a bit before she looks away.

"People like their personal space." Gustavo explains, as he puts his phone away. "I need to pack this up and get out back to work, we have a raid to do. It was nice to meet you, Zoie. Esme, always a pleasure," he adds as he grins, moving to grab his bag and undo the punching bag, heaving it over his shoulder and heading on out.

"Laters Oso," Esme bids, frowning at Zoie briefly. "Don't touch people without asking, it's not nice," she reproaches, though mildly. "What do you want to touch my hair for, anyway? It ain't a wig."

Zoie chews her lower lip. "It was pretty. I... I.. i just didn't think about it." For a moment, it looks like she might break down in tears at the mild reproach. Instead, she looks away.

Refusing to feel bad for chiding the other woman, Esme rises slowly. "Well, be more careful next time," she replies. "I'm gonna head home. Don't wanna go back too late, or I'll find junkies sqatting in my flat. Peace." And with that, she heads down out of the park.

Zoie smiles in that sweet knowing way. Awww the couple is going home together. "It was good meeting you, Esme."