Pink Headache

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.

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It's funny, really, the transformation that happens to the malls as soon as October 1st hits. Skeletons, ghosts, and ghouls war against elves, deer, and Christmas trees. Landscapes are littered alternately with gravestones and spider webs or snow and evergreens that seem remarkably out of place in the sunny, southern climes. Emerging from a bookstore, a heavy book wrapped in a white bag under her arm, Rachel McKendrick shakes her head mildly at one of the more graphic displays leering out of a temporary kiosk in the middle of the broad passage between stores. It plays up the vampire theme, unsurprisingly.

There is so much that Hope needs to buy for the house. So, so very much. Bachelors don't tend to decorate for the holidays, they just tend to go home. Now that Hope is a married woman, she's got to change all of that. So she's here buying decorations. With a bag or two already in a small shopping cart, she's standing outside the Cerebral Deli. She was going to stop there for lunch since the owner was always nice to her when she used to work at the pretzel place, but she heaves a heavy sigh when she notes that it's actually closed.

Glancing down the mall to see where the next store she needs to hit, she grins. She's going to head right toward Rachel, because while the shop may be trying to play up the (icky) vampire theme, they've also got those flameless candles that flicker in different colors.

Rachel's eyes sweep the broad corridor, just out of simple habit. She notes faces, notes demeanors, spots fairly quickly a couple of college-age punks the mall cops are currently shadowing. It causes her to smile faintly, but she ignores the action, generally. The mall cops will be fine. The young woman in pink, coming toward her, catches her eye, however. In the first place, it's a lot of pink. Even in suburbia. In the second, the woman's face is familiar. It's the girl from the FotS. Rachel's faint smile twists wryly. In the aftermath of Katrina, she found the answer to the bizarre vision she had the last time she was in the crystaline church. One of those world-changing events she could have done nothing to stop, even had she figured it out in time. Her steps slow as the younger woman nears.

Perusing the flameless candles, Hope tries to recall the woman's name. When only meeting someone once, it's sometimes a difficult thing to do. Especially since it was one of those rushed sort of meetings and…

"McKendrick, right? Doctor McKendrick?" She glances over at the woman and smiles. "It's good to see you smiling, and not having a killer migraine. Did you ever make it back to the church to talk with the Newlin's?"

"Hope Tyler," Rachel says, raising a hand to gesture at the woman by way of greeting. "I thought I recognized you. Yeah," she nods, then. "Yeah, I met with them briefly, anyway." She had no doubt the pair were in earnest, when she spoke to them, and no doubt they were absolute fanatics in their anti-vampire stance. Indeed, she's got it on her list to go chat with them again. All the anti-vampire demonstrations in the city… they've landed on her desk. And a chat with the FotS folks might be in order. Providing, of course, she can do it fairly discretely. "And how about you?" her eyes glance down to the woman's hand, noting the addition of the wedding band. "Ah. How was the wedding?"

It's hard to not recognize Hope, what with all the pink. Though she's quick to offer another smile and a flash of the pretty ring Bobby bought her. "It's Cornett now, but yes." Catching sight of herself in a shop mirror, she fluffs her hair then turns back to the doctor-lady. "Wonderful! I'm glad you had a chance to speak with them. They're really very lovely people." She, at least, finds them so. Mostly because she is pretty much their largest supporter and is quite a bit like a dark-haired Sarah Newlin Jr.

"It was wonderful. Went off without a hitch, and without any nasty vampire interruptions." Her nose wrinkles a little bit. "Although, I have to say I'm a bit worried about Halloween. That they're holding such an event is likely just a way to get people in the door so they can use them as midnight snacks."

Rachel gives a bit of an oblique shift of her head at Hope's words. "Could be," she concedes. It very well could be. Indeed, the FBI agent wouldn't be at all surprised if it were the case. However… it's not something she can stop, either. People have free will. If they want to be snacks, and offer themselves freely… there's not a whole lot she can do. "Still, congratulations, Mrs. Cornett." Her mind filters details into place. Right. The woman from the Aquarium… and the Clef… she was a Cornett, wasn't she? McNaab's aid. The connection is filed away in the back of her mind. "I hope you and your new husband are very happy, together." Happier, certainly, than she and Owen ended up being. A mild shrug is offered. "I don't think there's much anyone can do about Hallowe'en. Not as long as they don't break any laws."

"Thanks. We are, and we will be," Hope says, voice still cheerful and quite determined. They've already been through so much, that she's surprised they both actually survived to get to the altar. Thankfully, Hana was able to talk her down from her hyperventilation so everything turned out wonderfully.

"You're right. There's very little that can be done now." In the future that might just change. In the future, when her candidate wins, and he changes the city so that it's safer, everything will be wonderful. It won't be until then that Hope actually considers having children. "Mayor McNaab lets all sorts of things go on in this city that shouldn't be. Mr. Wright is going to change that. I know he will. He's got such a good sense of community, and he'll make the streets safer again."

Yeah. Rachel hasn't quite made up her mind who to vote for, truthfully. There are pros and cons to each candidate. Still, her head cants. "Chloe Cornett," she says then, brows dipping curiously as she smiles. "Is she related to your husband at all?" A beat. "She works for the McNaab campaign, doesn't she?"

"Chloe? Oh, yeah. That's Bobby's sister." They don't exactly see eye to eye, but Hope always just shrugs it off. She is who she is, and Chloe? Well, Chloe and Mellie are in a very separate class as far as she's concerned. "She does. I think Ivan got her the job or something. I liked her better when she was a librarian, but to each their own, right?"

Rachel nods to that, offering a light smile once again. "I've bumped into her a couple of times, both before and after her job switch. She seems nice enough." But, Rachel can't claim to know her nearly so well as Hope. Still, it's an interesting tangle, the politics in this city, she's coming to realize. Tylers, Cornetts, Fontanes all twisted up together, on opposite sides of the fence, it seems. So, who's neutral ground? Probably none. Of course, the Fontanes are the only ones she hasn't met personally. She's just heard talk about them on account of some questions she's asked about the city's politics. "To each their own, though," she concedes, "yeah."

Hope's nose wrinkles a little. "Nice enough, I guess. She's into them." Discreetly as possible, she points to the vampire display and clears her throat. "Still, she's Bobby's sister so…" In-laws are always problematic though, right? "In a way, I guess that party at the Medieval Times will be a good thing. Maybe it'll keep those nasty vampires occupied enough so that I won't be stressing all night over the little ones that are out trick-or-treating."

Rachel's eyes flick to the display of fangs and stage blood and occult symbols. "Into them?" Her tone doesn't imply disbelief or misunderstanding. Rather it's an echo to be sure she understands. "Huhn." She does. "Well, don't forget: The police will be running a lot of neighborhood patrols, that night. The little ones will be as safe as they can be." Under the circumstances. She reaches out to pick up a plastic jeweled cross in the midst of the gore. A shiver runs down her spine, manifesting as a brief expression of startlement. The cross slips from her fingers to the display. She frowns faintly and gingerly picks it up again. Laying it on her palm, she looks at it for a moment. Then, she flips it over and glances at the back. Finally, she lays it down again. "Stupid," she comments dryly. "Crosses actually don't usually work, I'm told."

"Doctor McKendrick, I'm sure you and I are both aware that the police aren't really any match for the strength of a vampire." Why else would the Fellowship be creating their own special task force or whatever it is? She watches as the woman picks up the cross and then blinks. "Another headache, or just the creepies?" Hope does get the creepies from touching certain vampire-looking items. "Oh, I don't think they do." Her voice drops to a whisper, "Unless they're pure silver. That's why I developed that Silver Spray. It might actually give some people a chance to get away."

Rachel eyes Hope sidelong. "You developed that?" She knew it came out of FotS circles. It would never have occurred to her that the pink poster child was scientist enough to make such a thing. "I might have to pick some up," she adds as a brief afterthought. Is it a legal weapon? More that grey area mace falls into. Could it be useful in her line of work? Hell, yes. Not to mention the fact there are some Bureau scientists back in Houston that'd love a canister to peek at. She gestures to the cross, then. "But, eh, no. Not a headache. Just… Yeah. Creepy." She actually can't explain it. It's like a vision wanted to hit her… but didn't. Perhaps the connection was too brief, lost the moment she dropped it.

"Well it was my idea, my patent. I didn't actually make the formula." Hope doesn't care though. It works, she's tested it hands on more than once. "Here," she says, dipping her hand into her purse. A new packaged Silver Spray is retrieved, in blue, and she offers it over to the woman. "It's legal in the states of Texas and Louisiana so far. Daddy's got a friend in the senate. They're trying to pass it off in more states, but they're allowing each state to decide whether they want to accept it as a legal concealed weapon or not."

Rachel takes the spray as the woman offers it to her. She's looking at the packaging as she takes it, and her hand brushes Hope. With that connection, her hand spasms and tightens around the spray and Hope's fingers. She stiffens, gasping as, for only the span of a heartbeat, the vision that flirted with her earlier flares.

The mall is gone. In its stead is the nave of church. The sun is bright, filtered through dirty windows. She's running, panting, fear beating in her chest.
"Hurry," Hope says, dragging her forward by the hand. "we'll be safe here."
"Where are we going?" Her own voice, ragged, tired, scared.
Hope smiles at her as she kneels to flip a latch. "The Foot of the Cross."

It takes no more than a second for that to flash through her mind. Rachel's hand falls from Hopes, though it is tight around the spray. The headache that usually follows is mild, at the moment. Nothing like after the hurricane. But the terror is harder to shake, and it leaves her pale and shaken.

If Hope weren't the generally good-natured person she is, she'd figure that the woman has an issue with her. Instead, she just reaches into her purse and takes out a bottle of Tylenol. "I know it's not very strong, but you've got that look. Like you're about to get another massive headache…" The pills are given a bit of a shake, and she laughs nervously. "I seem to have that effect on some people I guess. Maybe it's the pink. I know that certain colors can cause seizures so maybe it's the same thing?"

If Rachel didn't know better, she'd say it was Hope's fault, too. "I wouldn't blame yourself," she says generously, however, reining in the fear and swallowing it. She's fine. She's in the mall. And the girl's wearing pink, not the black from the vision. She eyes the gaudy, plastic cross. "I have a feeling this one would've hit even without you here," though she won't swear to it since, unlike with the vision of Katrina, she quite clearly saw Hope. Or someone that looks like her. "You wouldn't happen to have a twin sister that favors wearing black, would you?" She can't help but ask, however facetiously, even as she accepts the Tylenol.

"I…" Hope stares at Rachel for a moment, eyes wide. It takes another moment before she can actually speak again, and when she does, it's almost warily. "Yeah… yeah, I do. You've likely seen her on the news." The purse is zipped up, and she glances back at the flameless candles. Grabbing a few, she holds them in her hand and peers toward the lineup at the cash register. "She's generally on the news these days."

Rachel blinks. She was, in fact, being facetious. And, yet. "You do— Holy crap, yeah. You do. I've seen— Geez." She shakes her head now, inhales a deep breath and lets it go. "I'm really sorry," she says. "I never made the connection, but I should've." As her pulse steadies, the headache increases slightly. Enough to be a bother. Without water, she sucks on the insides of her cheeks to gather moisture and then swallows the pill. "Thanks for this." Seeing the woman's expression, she tries to allay her wariness. "When the headaches hit, I often get double-vision." She waves her hand dismissively. "It's like having a photo negative superimposed beside everything." She chuckles. "So, you know, I see two of you — one of you in black." She thinks fast, she does.

"Oh, uhm, sure! I've heard of that." Even if she hasn't… which she hasn't… she'll say she has just to make things less awkward. "I get it. Double vision and all. If it's any consolation, she's not here. Actually, I've not seen her for a while. I guess she's still working on the house. Trying to get things fixed up before winter." Hope fidgets with the flameless candles. "Pity they don't have pink ones. I suppose that wouldn't be very Halloween like though…"

"Probably wouldn't be," Rachel concedes. "Better luck with that in February, I expect. Though y'know, you could hit up a dollar store for some pink tissue paper and put that around them." Consider it a conciliatory gesture, the idea. "Or check out the Christmas decoration in Walmart. They've usually got the pastel stuff as well as everything else." It's a thought, anyway. Rachel hasn't done any entertaining since arriving in Dallas. And even in NYC, she wasn't much prone to it.

"Ooh! I never thought of that. That's actually a great idea." Hope looks at the candles, grabs a few more of the yellow and white ones. "I think they actually carry that tissue paper at the back of this store. I need to get some red, white and blue for Mr. Wright's office anyhow." Since she'll be doing the Halloween decorations for him as well. And she goes to school atop this, and is a prominent figure in the church. How on earth does she have time for it all. "If you stop by the church again, I'd suggest coming in the last week of October. They'll have hayrides and a haunted maze."

"I'll see what I can do," Rachel says, offering a smile now. Color has more or less returned to her cheeks, though her eyes don't quite sparkle. "Thanks for the tylenol. I promise, somehow, I'll make it up to you, someday." With any luck, but solving the vision before it happens. God, but she hates that sort of pressure. "Right now, though, I should probably scoot; leave you to your decorating. Good luck with it."

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