New York wasn’t a place Elana visited regularly.
Most dense cityscapes were the same: layers upon layers of old and new heaviness floated stale in the air. Every possible path that she could walk, every avenue and every street, carried a persistent stress that remained beyond the people-watching one could manage in the present. She referred others to take her deployment to the area whenever she could, or at least, request the next day off to sleep away the fatigue of experiencing a near day’s unarrested exposure to hundreds of others’ random moods and stressors.
A particular Noh mask back in Kaidan gave her an enlightened discussion and introductory lesson to emotional synaesthesia. What Kan’ami could do was a branch of empathy Elana could never pull off on her own, but he helped her refine her own senses to make crowds and cities more manageable.
It was the talk of the #hivehum that night, an angels and demons party that blasted her phone with invitations from girlfriends. She hadn’t visited this particular club before, and opted for some quick costume pick-ups from Juliena to pass for an outfit. It was hard finding time to be with Julie, especially after she had her daughter Gene–regardless, the metalhead still made more effort than she did to bring the two of them out of their respective houses. It was the least Elana could do.
The headache stepping out of the Agartha portal to Brooklyn wasn’t as bad with a friend at her side to anchor her. Julie’s phone had the address, and the tweets to follow it–landmarks and signs, and as Elana narrowed her eyes and clenched her fists, she raised a brow at what she felt ahead of them: a continuous, warm path of anticipation, welcome and intrigue feeding her in a linear direction. She felt it physically easier to move in its invisible space than outside of it, as if it were deliberately planted in place. Not only that, but it seemed she wasn’t the only one aware–Julie was laughing and giggling and walking in place without Elana’s prompting. The further they walked, the more magnetic the pull seemed to be.
Entering the club was like entering a different atmosphere on its own, a coat check for the mind and a complimentary cocktail of spotlessness. Julie wore a smile that failed to wear off for the remainder of the night. And when the two made their way to the dance floor, Elana’s eyes widened and she looked over the crowd with a sigh.
Perhaps it was expected out of non-mundane nightlife; a more emotionally sober Elana would make an assumption of confirmation bias, but in that moment Elana found herself in a strange oasis. For once in a long time, the unspoken euphoria of the club patrons was lifting and supporting her physically, not the other way around. Even the dress code was seldom negotiated among the patrons: angels and demons sighed, shuddered and shook along to the music in everything from cheap costume store novelty to actual spiked metal pieces that could very likely have been personal trophies salvaged from Hellscape.
She felt a tugging on her arm, and some goading in French sneaking into her ear. Julie pointed an open palm ahead to the dance floor, eyeing across the room other familiar faces peering back at them with even more flashes of delight and energy against her face with their gazes. She grew less aware of the itchy burden of her fake plastic horns or the costume tensor band against her waist. Elana shook her head at Julie in agreement, letting her pull her by the hand into the middle of the packed movement.
And she danced.