Idle Wishes

Preston Forest Shopping Center

The Preston Forest Shopping Center is large and classy. The entrance is open and spacious, a rectangular fountain surrounded by potted trees leading up the middle of the mall, with pathways on either side for shoppers. One can easily see both floors from here and the lighting is amazing - beside the typical electric bulbs, the roof is comprised of glass allowing the sunlight to filter in.
Shops and businesses spread out here both east and west as well as to the back of the mall. Hidden away in the back corner one can find the escalator to the second story, as well as washrooms and a bank of payphones.

The last time Ivan and Helen met, things were not all fine and dandy. Ivan had worked himself into a semi-frenzy, Helen was flustered, and it was all wrapped firmly in a pile of awkward. But, true to his word, Ivan has not been a stranger. It might have been rather uncomfortable calling his baby sister afterwards, but he did, and he did so happily. He even arranged a meeting at the local mall, since Ivan figures that his apartment could do with a couple of more domesticated items.

In the middle of the shopping area, there is a fountain that bubbles, filled with all sorts of coins made for wishing. Since that was to be the place of rendezvous, Ivan is currently sitting upon the ledge dressed rather casually in jeans and a black tee-shirt. In his hands are an assortment of coins, which he happens to be sifting through thoughtfully.

Uncomfortable indeed, but Helen was still quick to agree to the meet up. Now she's running a little late, but that's nothing terribly unusual. She always starts out with the best of intentions, but this and that distract her until time has completely gotten away from her. Still, here she is, dressed in her usual light and flowy style, as she drifts up to the fountain, spotting her big brother as he studies those coins in his hands. "Hey," she greets with a smile, slightly awkward but still sincere, slowing to a stop once she's a few feet away.

When Ivan glances in her direction, his smile becomes rather warm and inviting, a genuine expression that not many are privy to from this young man. "Hey, kiddo." He returns, grunting as he pushes himself to his feet like the old man he is. There is no hesitation in the way he takes a few strides closer to her, hand held out with an open palm to reveal a quartet of coins - one penny, nickel, dime, and quarter, all prepped and ready for her to grab. "There. You get four wishes. Choose 'em wisely."

Helen looks down at the coins offered, giving a little laugh as she reaches out to snag them, jingling them loosely in her own hand as she considers this challenge. "Hmm, that's a tough one," she replies, grin growing more amused and a little less awkward. "Though I guess it's one better than the standard three wishes. You're more generous than most genies." She wrinkles her brow in thought for a moment before seeming to come up with at least one fitting idea. With a little smile, the penny is lobbed into the fountain. "So, how are you?" she asks, glancing back over at him as she shifts the remaining coins from one hand to the other.

Ivan grins broadly when the woman is brought to laughter, proud and pleased by her eventual reaction. "Yeah well, what can I say? I'm a philanthropist, I am. So…" The lobbed coin is watched thoughtfully, looking at the ripple it produces in the surface of the water. "As your genie, do I get to hear your wish?" He inquires, cheekily, only to sober a bit more when she inquires as to how he is. He is still smiling, still happy, but in a more subdued fashion. "I'm good, I'm good squirt. You? And…I've been thinking lately."

"I don't know. Doesn't that mean they won't come true? Or is that only birthday wishes when you blow out the candles? I can never quite keep track…" Helen picks out the nickel next, though she just rolls it between her thumb and forefinger while she thinks, pausing when he speaks up to answer her question. Considering their last talk, she's a little bit worried as to what it is he's been thinking about, but she tries to keep her tone casual as she glances over at him. "Oh?" There's a slight pause before she goes back to answer his question. "And I'm good too."

Ivan shrugs sheepishly when she mentions that it might nullify the wish, his grin turning rather boyish. "I don't know. Isn't that just superstition? Why don't we find out, huh?" Beat. "Or…fine. Don't tell me. It's cool. I'll just…be here. Ignorant of the truth forever. No big deal." Cue a melodramatic sigh, designed to guilt. But then, she has caught up on the significance of his 'thoughts'. And with that, he purses his lips slightly, slinking his hands into his pockets in a rather defensive manner. "Yeah. And…I wanted to apologize. For the other day. It was…I don't know. Just shock, I think. But…it's your life. And you're going to live it whatever way you want. I just…I hope you'll be careful, alright? I can't imagine anything bad happening to you…I don't know what I'd do then."

"Ivan," Helen mock whines as he turns on the guilt, rolling her eyes as she looks over at him with an indulgent smile, reaching out to nudge him lightly. "Well. I guess if we're going to be scientific about it, I should tell you two and keep two secret, and we'll see which ones come true," she muses. "That one," she nods towards the fountain, "was for everyone to be okay." Now inspired with another wish, she wordlessly tosses the nickel into the fountain. As he goes on with the apology though, she turns to face him, growing more serious and awkward again. "Ivan, look," she begins, trying not to let herself get flustered again into making a mess of this. A quick glance is cast about at the other shoppers before she drops her voice a little more. "First of all, apology excepted, but- Scarlett talked to me, and it's not- it's not what you think, okay?" She opens her mouth to add something more, but then decides against it with a shake of her head.

"Hey, that sounds fair to me," Ivan offers, perked when she seems to be bought by his guilt trip. But the wish, when he hears it, prompts the lad to let out a broad laugh. "Ah, generic wish number one down! Okay then, kiddo. What's the second one going to be?" The frivolity of the wish-granting/making business keeps him occupied and pleased, but the solemnity of their other topic of conversation steals his happiness away. Instead, he becomes confused, brows furrowed in a thoughtful manner. "It's…not? Wait - hold on a second. What do you think I think it is? What is it? What…are we talking about again?"

"Well, with four wishes, I figured at least one had better be selfless. It was either that or world peace, and this one seemed a little more specific," Helen explains with a shrug. "And the second wish is a secret, but I'll tell you the third. As soon as I think of it." She's distracted from such thinking though as the topic turns serious, and starts getting utterly confusing again. She goes a bit pink, finding herself getting flustered again. "I- Well, I thought that you thought… I mean, we're not… We're just dating." That seems a safer way of putting it, though perhaps not as clear as she could be.

Ivan can return to the wishes once this current misunderstanding is cleared up. Unfortunately, it looks as though it's never going to clear up. Ever. Damn women and their aversion to crudeness. "I…what?" He is still as ignorant as always. Still as confused as before. And still as utterly terrified and bothered by his thoughts, despite his assurances that it's not his life and his apologies. "Just…just say it, kiddo. If you can do it, then you can say it."

Which is brilliant logic, except: "But that's just it. I'm not." Doing it, that is. Now Helen's starting to get more flustered and also a little frustrated at how hard it is to get this idea through to him. Her hand closes more tightly around the coins, and she glances over at the fountain for a moment, bringing her free hand up to rub her forehead before looking back at him. "What you think I'm doing, I'm not. We're. Just. Dating." Yes?

Ivan is tired of this. His brain is hurting, and closing his eyes, he processes the words that are coming out of her mouth, turning them upside down and inside-out to try and figure out exactly what the actual meaning of her words happen to be in this situation. Finally, he breaks. "Okay…So you're not having sex?" There. He said it, guardedly and uncomfortably, but he needs to hear it vocalized.

"Ivan, shh!" Helen chides, glancing around at the other shoppers out here trying to enjoy the fountain. Chances are, they're paying no more attention to this conversation than the siblings are paying to the others, but she's still a teen girl who is really not wanting this spread around. And then dropping her voice while giving him a rather urgent look, she finally concludes, "No. That's what I've been telling you." God, boys are thick sometimes.

Ivan doesn't even register her reprimands. He doesn't even realize the pain and the humiliation he has just heaped upon his beloved sister. Oh no, Ivan is busy staring up at the ceiling, the broadest, happiest of smiles on his face. "Thank you!" He cries out to the Lord, pumping a fist into the air with equal parts joy and relief. It is only then that green eyes swivel downwards to meet with his youngest sibling, glinting with pride. "You mean you've never? Ever?"

"Ivan!" Though she's starting to feel like a broken record, and it's clearly having no impact whatsoever, Helen can't help but chide him again as he continues making a spectacle of them. She reaches out to smack him - not hard enough to hurt, but to hopefully get through to him and make him realize that they are in public here, and his beloved sister is quickly turning the colour of your finer beets. Through gritted teeth, she replies in an undertone, "No. Not- No. Okay?" Part of her wants to argue about how it will be her decision when she does, but … she just can't quite bring herself to do that to him right now. Nor does she want to open up that can of worms.

Ivan looks ecstatic, and as he glows, the man gives into his impulses. Suddenly, just like that, he swoops down with his arms spread, pulling her into him for a tight hug. There are some things Ivan knows aren't like what they seem, but it's rather heartening for the man to pretend that some things will never change - that his baby sister will always be the pure, innocent one of the brood.

Helen makes a little squeak as she finds herself swept up in that tight hug, though she doesn't try to fight it off. As mortified as she is, she can't help but laugh a little, relieved, if nothing else, that they are actually okay again. And it's about now that she makes some sort of decision that he can just go ahead and think she's chaste right up until the day they die, whatever may happen. "Okay. Good. Now, it's kinda getting hard to breathe…" she teases him, with a fake choking noise.

That philosophy will take her far, and it will keep Ivan quite happy and content. When she proceeds to tease him, the man lets out a bark of laughter, reluctantly releasing his sister from his arms to beam at her. "Alright, alright. I guess you can have some of that oxygen thing I've heard so much about…" Ahem. Now would be a good time for a change of topic, and luckily, the fountain provides the perfect opportunity. "Hey, kiddo. You still haven't made all your wishes. And I'm owed one, as well."

"Thanks. You're too kind," Helen replies with a grin as he allows her free use of oxygen. She takes a deep breath, still playing it up a little, and then smoothes down her clothes with a quick brush of her free hand. All for a change of topic, she opens her other hand to look down at the two remaining coins. "That's right. Well, this one will be for…" She pauses to think. "A job. Any luck on that?" The coin is tossed in before he can reply, in case that helps the outcome any. At least she hasn't changed her mind in the time since they last talked - that's progress.

Ivan furrows his brows thickly, although his smile is more wry then anything else. "A job, huh? Figures you'd tell me the sorry, boring wishes. But, alright. A deal's a deal. Actually, I haven't quite yet…but, I know of this flower shop that's fairly nice. Maybe I can drop by sometime soon and see if they're hiring. Then you wont be surrounded by the smell of greasy fries all the time. What do you say, squirt?"

"Yeah, but I didn't have to tell you any of them," Helen points out with a quick grin, finishing up with her final wish by tossing in the last coin. This one gets no explanation, as per the rules. "Sure, a flower shop could be fun," she decides, turning her attention back to that matter. "Definitely smell better than fast food, you're right about that." She wrinkles her nose a little at the idea of working with a hair net and fried food.

"Well…can you at least tell me if any of them were about me? I'm vain like that." Ivan offers with a boyish grin, his hands stuffed into his pockets as he begins to turn his back on the fountain, already beginning to walk off. Clearly, he's under the impression that Helen will follow. "Okay. I'll look into that this week. And if I don't, you can…harass me or something, if you would. As for right now…" He glances around the mall curiously. "You need anything?"

"Oh, they were all about you," Helen replies with a quick laugh. Surely enough, she does move to follow since it's practically coded into her baby sister DNA by now, a bounce in her step as she quickens her pace to catch up, step up beside him. "I can definitely look after some harassing, sure. As for shopping, well…" She trails off, taking a quick look around herself. "I wouldn't mind seeing if they've got any cute shoes. Spring is finally on its way." It's a light suggestion though, as she's not too sure how he'd feel about getting dragged along to the hell that is shoe stores.

Ivan blinks, casting his eyes over his shoulders to meet with the blonde-haired teenager curiously. "Really?" He sounds surprised, and archedly so, at that. He's uncertain as to whether she's joking or not. But then she has that suggestion in the air. And then, she demonstrates just how powerful she is. Automatically, Ivan cants his head to smile over to Helen brightly. "Well, we can go take a look, if you'd like. If it doesn't take a while and it isn't too expensive, I'll even treat you," he offers, all graciously and happily. It's how happy he is that she's still a virgin.

Helen just meets his blinking curiosity with a laugh, not divulging whether that was a joke or not. Let him half-believe her, even if it maybe is more encouragement than some might say his ego needs. She, personally, has no problems with his ego most of the time. As he not only agrees to the shopping excursion but also agrees to pay for his darling but currently unemployed baby sister, she claps her hands together happily and gives him a beaming grin. "Oh, awesome. Thank you!" She doesn't bother to argue when people want to buy her things.

Ivan's ego is a magnificent thing. Large, commanding, but surprisingly delicate at times. It's a rare thing, much like a unicorn or a gryphon. "No problem, squirt. Just think of it as my long overdue 'welcome to Dallas' gift, eh?" He prompts her with a grin, practically glowing now that he's provoked such a pleased, happy reaction from the young girl. Holding his arm out for her to take if she would like. "Lead the way. Anyway…how's living with our esteemed sister? S'all good?"

It's a talent that has long worked in Helen's favour, that she is just so darn delightful to please. It isn't something she does on purpose, but it's still certainly to her benefit. She's still grinning broadly as she takes his arm. "Still though, thanks." Not knowing this mall, but figuring there's bound to be a shoe store eventually, she just sets off in a random direction. "Yeah, things are fine. We're having fun. Though," she pauses with a little sigh, mood flagging slightly as she ponders heading down this path. "Well, there was something I wanted to ask you about, but I don't know if this is the time and place."

Ivan lets out a pleasant laugh. "Having fun, huh? S'not exactly what I associate with her, but to each their own, I guess. I suppose it must be like one giant sleepover to you, so it's probably good." But then, the girl sobers slightly, prompting Ivan to cant his head in her direction with pure, unadulterated curiosity. "What is it, Helen?"

"Yeah, but that's because you're both too hard on one another," Helen points out with a shrug. Just a simple fact. "But it's just nice getting to spend time with both of you again." There's a sincere smile with that, before she turns to gaze into one of the display windows as they pass. "Well," she begins hesitantly, glancing around to make sure no one is listening, before looking back at him. "It's sort of about our grandfather…?"

"Great," The sigh Ivan lets out signifies the fact that he had expected this question to come, and so with a roll of his eyes, he purses his lips tightly. "She's getting to you, isn't she? I…it's no matter. What questions do you have, squirt? I'll try to answer them to the best of my abilities, and as honestly as I can."

"She's not 'getting to me'," Helen insists, though her next question might contraindicate that. "Did he really…" She glances around and then lowers her voice again. "…try to wipe out an entire family?" That's the most pressing question, at least, though it seems she does have a few follow up ones, either way. She watches Ivan closely, even if she's not quite sure she even wants to know the answer.

"Helen," Ivan speaks, looking to the younger woman with a quirked brow. "Answer your own question. You know who grandfather is. You've met him, and talked to him, and spent time with him. Do you think he could have really wiped out an entire family? Really now?" There is a pause, followed by a roll of his eyes. "Do you think we'd still be in contact with him if he was so…so evil?" There is a sigh. "Do you know what I do, Helen? For a living, out of curiosity?"

"Well," Helen replies, hesitating just a moment before rushing in with a quick, "No, of course not. I just don't understand why- I mean, Scarlett says she has proof, and why would she even think it? What am I missing?" She crosses her arms over her chest, glancing away at a display window, but with a vacant stare, too lost in her thoughts to really see the display. Slowly, she turns back to him, lifting her shoulders in a slight shrug. "Something for the mayor, right?"

"Essentially, Helen, I spin stories. I take facts, and contort them to fit my agenda. And when there aren't facts to contort, I plant them." Ivan explains easily, calmly. "I make the truth, so far as you know it. So, I know how easy it is to fake documentation. I know how easy it is to make people believe one thing in contrary to the other. I know how impossible it is to trust anything." There is a pause, during which he licks his lips thoughtfully. "There was a family, back in Chicago, I believe. They worked for grandfather. They died in a fire, and ever since then, the extended family of said family - the Niveus - has been going around saying that grandfather killed them."

"So you … lie for a living?" Helen asks delicately, not so sure she likes that idea. She might not be quite such a wide eyed innocent as Ivan believes her to be, but she's still pretty naive to the ways of the world sometimes. Still, she tries not to fixate on that one fact, to take his point as a whole. "Yeah, Scarlett mentioned them. She said that some of them are here, and we need to be careful? But why would they lie about it?" It's so very confusing and she's almost regretting opening this can of worms.

Ivan shakes his head slowly, carefully. "I manipulate for a living. There's a difference. I do the same thing an advertisement executive would do for a product, only for Mayor McNaab. And there's a method to my madness, at that. McNaab is a good man. He wants to help the people, and do well for everyone - but the people are often fickle and confused by politicians. That's why I'm here, in Dallas. Because here, I can make a difference, and make sure a good man stays in office.

But then, she asks a difficult question. He shrugs his shoulders idly, pursing his lips. "I can't tell you for sure, Helen. I don't know these people, or what their motivations are, but there are plenty of logical reasons for them to lie. You know Grandfather is quite well to do, right? And that his politics make him arguably the most important witch in all the Midwest? They may be jealous, and hatefully so. They could be trying to replace him. Or, hell, they could genuinely assume that he had attempted to assassinate their people. But…why would he kill them, Helen? What's the point in doing that? And how, if we know him to be such a kind man?"

"I don't know. Manipulating people doesn't sound very nice either," Helen points out reluctantly. She's really not trying to judge, but she can't just grant that it's all okay. "But I'm glad you're doing it for someone good, at least. Just … try to remember that the ends don't always justify the means?" she suggests delicately, before deciding to just leave it at that, turning her attention to the even more difficult topic. "I don't know," she admits, frowning slightly. "I don't understand any of it. I mean, if it's as simple as them lying, why does Scarlett believe it? She knows Grandfather too…" She lets out a little sigh, now thoroughly confused. "Do you think they're dangerous?" That's at least a slightly simpler matter to confront.

"If it wasn't necessary, then we'd have a government free of corruption. But this is impossible, Helen. You know why you can say things like that? Why you can afford to take into account the means as well as the ends? Because there are people like me out there. It's fine and dandy to think that the best way to be is one hundred percent straightforward, and in an ideal world that's true. But this is not an ideal world." He pauses then, eyeing the young woman thoughtfully. "Scarlett believes I'm doing bad too. There are plenty of people that consider me a horrible person, and is that the truth? I've had more contact with Grandfather then you have - I appeal to him for my job at time. And he is positively ruthless at time. Almost harsh. But he is not evil."

"I know it's not an ideal world," Helen replies more quietly, having turned more thoughtful than she usually is. "But that doesn't-" She cuts herself off with a little sigh, shaking her head. "Never mind. I'm sure your job is just way more complicated than I can wrap my mind around. If you say you need to do it, then - I believe you." It just doesn't mean she has to like the idea of her beloved big brother lying and manipulating. "Of course you're not a horrible person. I know you always do what you think is right, and if you can do it despite people thinking you're horrible for it, then I guess that actually makes you braver than most. I'm just … trying to understand, that's all."

"Yes, I understand it's difficult and confusing," Ivan assures her, letting out a sigh. "But…just don't believe everything you hear. Don't forget that you're the best judge of what's going on, what you experience. I know what it's like the have lies spread about me. I know what it's like to have enemies because of your position. I can appreciate Grandfather's position - really." Shuffling a bit uncomfortably, he smiles over to her frankly. "About the Niveus - just be careful, alright? I don't intend for anything to happen, and I'm hoping that they'll leave us be if we don't bother them. After all…even if they do believe Grandfather is evil? We're not him. So if they're as good as they claim to be, then they should leave us be."

"I know. That's why I'm talking to you too. I just … wanted to hear both sides." Helen gives him a soft smile, giving his arm a reassuring squeeze as he mentions having lies spread about himself as well. "And for the record? I'll never believe the lies about you." That much faith is unflagging. She considers the matter of the Niveus before giving a little nod. "Yeah, I'll be careful. I promised Scarlett too. I'm not looking to go around causing trouble for anyone. And I'm definitely not looking to start being evil," she adds with a small smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes. "Anyway - thanks for being honest with me."

Ivan watches his youngest sister carefully, and he finds that his lips are curling upwards into a broad smile. "I know, Helen. I know. And…thanks. Seriously. You don't know how much that means to me - you can't." And he reaches over to nudge her with his elbow merrily. "Anyway! Enough of this - we've got shoes to buy!" And with that, the Fontane siblings are off.

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