“Are you okay?” she asked. “No,” he said, “but I will be.” [Link to post.]
Jasmine Lee walked through the crowd searching for a mark. Any sucker that looked like he had a heavy wallet. She spotted a short man with his blue hair standing upright in a well kept mohawk. He wore gold chains and a dim look on his face. On his feet she saw the gaudiest white snakeskin boots she ever laid eyes on. Literal dumb luck, if Jasmine ever saw it. Elaborate tattoo sleeves decorated both arms. He walked next to a young woman in a purple and gold hoodie. Jasmine decided to follow them to try and get him alone. She decided to do some side jobs while she followed her blue payday.
Jasmine spotted a hurried man approaching from the other direction, almost shoving people out of his way and glaring at those around him. He wore an expensive watch, and Jasmine felt good about giving the jerk what he deserved. She changed her course slightly, then bumped into him. He looked ready to blow his top at her, but Jasmine smiled at him with a gleam in her eyes.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“No,” he said, “but I will be.” The man’s anger melted into a smile and he nodded at her politely. Then he continued forward and Jasmine heard him whistle as he walked away.. She looked down at the watch and wallet she ‘found’. The wallet held a couple of bucks, and the watch was fake. She sighed and kept walking. She spotted the blue mohawk and kept following it. The girl still walked next to him. Jasmine pocketed the worthless items and searched for another victim. The lunch rush offered her plenty of opportunities, usually she only needed to work about an hour a day.
She spotted another jerk barreling through the crowd.
He almost shoved over a stroller in his way, and did not bother to apologize. She stepped into his path and shoulder checked him.
“Are you okay?” she asked with her practiced smile.
“No.” he said, “but I will be.” He smiled at her and walked away at a more peaceful pace. She checked his wallet and found it loaded with 100 dollar bills. She looked up to check for the blue mohawk. He and the girl walked past a policeman and then stopped in front of a pizza shop a few stores ahead of the cop. The girl in the hoodie nodded and disappeared into the pizzeria while the short blue haired man leaned up against the wall to wait.
“Perfect!” Jasmine said. While walking she pulled a couple of hundreds out of the richer wallet and put them into the poorer one, then she pocketed the rest of the money. She did not understand her power, but she always felt an empathic flash whenever she used it. The first guy was in the middle of having a very bad day, and she felt guilty for making it worse. The second guy was an asshole through and through. She stopped and handed the wallets and watch to the police officer.
“I found these on the ground.” The officer looked at her with skepticism.
“Yeah right kid. What are you? 13? 14? So you picked some pockets and trying to ditch the evidence?” The officer grabbed her wrist. Jasmine did not want to miss her window with the blue haired guy. She stepped forward and bumped into the officer.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“No,” he said, “but I will be.” The man walked away smiling. In a few hours when her power wore off he’d have some vague memories that the items were lost, but with no idea of where he found them. With the officer gone she walked towards the short man leaning against the wall. She walked towards him while trying to figure out how to best bump him. Him not walking made it a bit more awkward. When she walked near enough to make her move her ankle shifted. She stepped wrong on something and tumbled toward the man. She managed to think quick enough to activate her power as her body pushed the short man against the brick wall of the pizzeria. After the contact she looked at him.
“Are you okay?” she asked with her dazzling smile. The contact alone was enough to use her ability, but over time she learned that being personable helped it take effect faster.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He pushed against her slightly to help her find her balance. “How about you?”
“Huh?” Jasmine panicked slightly. It was the first time her power did not work on a man. She recovered quickly. “Yeah, I’m fine. I tripped on something I guess.” She looked back to where she took her misstep and saw a small red translucent cube. It looked like a dice, with no spots on it. As she looked back to the blue haired man she noticed he also had a pair of red dice tattooed on the back of his hand. The dice sat next to a golden beer bottle that showed the number 25 on its label.
“Shouldn’t you be in school?” The man asked with a goofy smile. Somehow it was endearing without being creepy. At 14 she was used to creeps, and this was not the first time she’d heard that line from creeps. Usually a sinister smile accompanied the question. Something seemed different about him. Instead of telling him to mind his own business, Jasmine shrugged.
“I’m on lunch break, and I’m working to take care of my parents.” Both were true, though she never admitted it to anyone. Both parents were sick and unable to work. Jasmine’s lunch hour managed to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, so they knew better than to ask where she was getting the money from. After she realized what she said she gasped, and her hand flew to her mouth to cover it. The stranger’s smile became friendlier. “Why’d I say that?” she asked.
“Feedback,” the man said. “My name is Vegas, by the way.”
“Feedback?” Jasmine’s eyes went wide. There was no way that was accidental. He knew exactly what he said, which meant he knew exactly what she could do. He nodded.
“Your power doesn’t work on people who are expecting it,” a female voice said. Jasmine turned to see the young woman in the purple and gold hoodie standing in front of them holding a pizza.
“I’m Jenny by the way,” Jenny said. She pulled her hood down to reveal her short, spiky hair glowing blue. Jasmine saw golden finger tips coming out of her black gloves. “Want some pizza?”