2010-06-25: Accidental Hero



Date: June 25, 2010


Elle is back in town.

"Accidental Hero"

Odds and Ends Convenience Store

It's just after midday on a Friday in New York City. The innermost areas of the city are all hustle and bustle. In this particular area, that's not the case. In fact, this street is quiet-ish. But that's the way it is sometimes.

Odds and Ends is the kind of convenience store that carries virtually everything a person could possibly need at the drop of a hat. Junk food lines several shelves of the small store, the floor reflects a kind of luminescent light through the entire store.

Stacks of newspapers, magazines, and comic books line the racks in front of the cashier.

But what Odds and Ends is known for is the chilli dogs and coffee. They are by far the best hot dogs in this end of the city, and that's saying something. And the coffee?? It's to die for and can be smelled all of the way down the street.

Jetlagged and cranky, her blonde hair tangled and looking unwashed, clothes rumpled and hungry, this is how Elle returns to the City, a place worth the capital C with none of the emotional baggage other capital-C (read: the Company) things in Elle's life.

It's the smell of coffee that gets her. She's just walking from one subway stop to the next when she catches the scent, and tips her chin upward to take it in more deeply. Maybe that would make her halfway human. Shifting her grip on the carry-ons she'd brought from the plane - a handbag and one of those little wheelie suitcases in electric blue - Elle crosses the street and begins to make her way towards the source of the scent. All New Yorkers turn into bloodhounds at the scent of coffee. It's true.

The store itself appears empty. Yet the door is unlocked. The sign says OPEN and the lights inside are on. As is the coffee. The sweet aroma of the dark roasted arabica beans wafts through into the street. Yes, Elle, smell the coffee. Mmmm.

Yet, despite the smell, the store is quiet. Not a lot of scuffling save for the occasional noise from the back. Odd for midday New York, even in a quieter area this time of day.

"Stop that!" Elle's stern tone of voice was directed at the wheelie suitcase, which Did Not like the rising of the curb. With a firm tug to get in back in line, she blinks at herself in the warped reflection the convenience store glass gives her. "Great, now I'm talking to inanimate objects. And myself. I really need coffee."

With that, she pushes the door open, entering the oddly quiet and empty store. Her senses, dulled by a flight over twelve hours long, are not the quickest just yet, and she fails to notice anything out of the ordinary. "Hello?" She calls out, her voice making it a question.

Her call is immediately answered by a short, but urgent, din towards the back. Scuffling — a can of something or other scuttles noisily and then falls completely, hitting the floor with a dull thud and then rolling. Its metal lid scraping against the tile flooring is pointedly loud in the otherwise oppressive silence. If that other noise was someone answering, it's cut off much too short to even count. Really, just an intake of breath if it could even be heard at all.

Following the scuffling, stern whispers can be heard from the back, but the words they speak are nearly indiscernible. Moments later, a rather disheveled looking woman appears from the back. But her features are covered. Her hair is covered with a white hijab, yet she's caucasian skinned. She hums as she comes to the front and issues Elle the brightest smile she can muster. "Hello there~" she virtually chimes. Her dress itself is nothing too extraordinary: a short-sleeved shirt with the mandatory Odds and Ends maroon vest pulled over it along with a pair of capri pants.

"'Kin I help you with somethin' miss? We got a special on…" the woman's eyes scan the till area and she grabs a pack of gum, "… gum! A special on gum!" Strangely there are no posters featuring this particular special purchase.

Elle's heart jumps in her ribcage at the din in the back. That little jolt of adrenaline from being startled, as well as the awakening scent of coffee, causes Elle's instincts to begin to return. With that return is a prickle on the back of her neck, the hairs there rising ever so slightly. Grey-blue eyes narrow, and Elle begins to walk towards the origin of the sounds.

She almost runs right into the woman - the proprietor, if her proclamation about gum was any clue - and offers a smile of her own. Her nerves are still ragged, so her smile isn't particularly bright and shiny. "I like gum, but my favourite type is almost never stocked. I can never remember the name, either, but I'd recognize the packaging if I saw it." Her eyes scan pointedly over the gum display, and she shakes her blonde head.

"No, it's not here. I think I've seen it here before, though.. would you let me look in back for it, maybe?" Elle works harder on her smile this time, her old Company agent instincts kicking in. Something was amiss, and she was going to figure it out.

There's definitely something. Amiss is seeming more and more likely as, muffled though they are, the strains of someone in just unrestrained hysterics is noticeable when no else is talking. It's difficult to tell whether it's laughter or crying, but certainly in that ballpark.

As for the rolling can, it's stopped. In fact, it's not on the floor at all anymore but has subsequently vanished by an invisible hand.

Tugging on the bottom of her vest, the woman shakes her head a touch. "No. Everything we have is out front. Like more stock, but one of everything here. Annnnnnd I don't think my boss would want me to let anyone back there…" Subconsciously, the woman takes a step towards the door, as if trying to block it entirely from Elle's view.

She takes a small step forward towards Elle's space. Almost nervously, she twitches around to glance at the door and then back at Elle. She forces a grin onto her lips. It's a strained smile first, but it eases into something more sedate at the sounds still permeating from the back. "Uh… just my… my like… colleague… broke up with his girlfriend the other day… kinda choked about it…"

As the woman tries to block the back room from view, Elle sidesteps her, and the vantage point she has now lets her a view at the doorway. What she sees, however, she can't make sense of, and her attention is drawn back to the woman as she resumes talking. Oozing with charm years in cultivation, Elle's smile warms. "I'm sure your boss wouldn't mind. I mean, you're helping a customer, aren't you? Customer satisfaction and all that?"

As she talks, Elle is moving steadily forward, her body readying to get into that back area. Her smile never leaves her face as words continue to leave the blonde's lips. "Oh, that's so bad to hear. Break ups are hard. Maybe he can come out and get some cheering up? I've always been told I have a way with people." Elle absolutely oozes with sincerity, moving subtly but steadily forward.

"NO!" the woman states all too emphatically. "I mean… he said no. The boss said…" the woman grows in uneasiness as Elle inches forward. "AH… it's … uh… No. You… you can't go back there." She tenses and plants herself as firmly as she can on the floor, attempting to meet Elle's gaze, but she's wavering. A lot. In fact, instinctively, she's moving back a little bit at a time. "N-n-n-no one goes back there…"

"SHUT UP." The male voice comes from the back and isn't directed towards the colleague out front, it's not really loud enough for that, but it's certainly audible.

"He … uh… hates it when… I … don't move customers along sooooo… you should go." Like now.

Okay, sweet and gentle wasn't working. Luckily, Elle wasn't sweet and gentle. It was time to switch tactics. "But I need my gum. You said there was a sale." Elle's eyes narrow, and one hip juts out in time for a hand to be placed upon it. Yes, she's playing up the Valley Girl Blonde stereotype, despite her rumpled appearance. "I really must insist," the petite woman moves forward one step, then two, "that I see what's in back."

"Your colleague could be suicidal for all I know, with all that crashing and sobbing. What if he's hurt? We should check on him. Unless you'd like me to call for some help?" With that, Elle pulls out her ace in the hole - her cell phone. With a quick flick of her wrist, she flips it open, then smiles expectantly at the woman. "What do you say? Let me back there, or let me place a few calls?"

And at the flip of the phone, the woman pulls a semi-automatic weapon from the back of her pants. Yup, it'd been there all along. "PHONE DOWN! NOW! AND Get in the back!" she hisses now, stepping aside to usher Elle into the back with the rest of her hostages. And her colleague who is shaking as he levels a gun at the man on the floor.

The male robber yells at his colleague now, "FUCK! What were you thinking?! You were SUPPOSED to get rid of her!!! FUCK! DAMMIT LISBETH! What were you thinking?!"

"You don't understand. I really," with that word, Elle's clenched control over her power begins to slowly open, until she can access it easily, "want some gum." A shock of electricity jumps from Elle's hand at her side to the woman with enough force to knock her off her feet. The phone gets tucked quickly back in her purse, and an orb of electricity is now in her hand, aimed at the male robber. "I'd put the gun down now, if I were you." All her voice needs is a cherry on top.

The man, middle-aged and Middle Eastern, has his arms flung over his head already in the surrendering position he's taken on the floor. At the sound of what is possibly more violence, he only begins to mutter rapidly and nervously not in English. Him on the floor, there's also a woman there, sat harshly on the edge of a few boxes with her hands clasped over her mouth — likely to stop the sobbing she'd been letting be heard before. At the sight of Elle's attack, her eyes widen to a painful extreme and she lets out a scream of hysterics into her fingers and dives to the floor as well.

The shock strikes the woman and she quickly crumples to the floor, the weapon along with her. "SH— " the word doesn't even get out. And unlike his female colleague, the male won't confront Elle. "F-f-f-freak!!!" even though he says the word, he doesn't stand his ground; he's not about to get arrested if he can help it. Instead, he cuts to the backdoor (the one out of the STAFF ONLY area) barreling towards it as fast as he can. With a quick push, he's partially outside.

Oh, damnit. While Elle could wield her power with relative ease, this whole 'superhero' thing wasn't something she was used to. Elle Bishop is here to save the day? Not so much. Still, she's not one to do something shoddily if she can help it. Quickly, Elle begins to take off after the second robber. "It'll be okay!" is thrown over her shoulder at the two no-longer-captives, in what she hopes is a reassuring tone. After that, she's racing after the man, an orb of electricity readying to leave her fingertips. Given an opportunity, Elle would unleash the ball on the man.

Elle's quick exit is almost as jarring as her wielding of electricity — but after a couple of moments to ease her wild breathing, the young woman leaps to her feet and scrambles to shut and lock the Employee's Only side door, unwilling to bargain whether or not Lisbeth is going to be standing up again any time soon. A few rapid-fire sentences to her boss do nothing to rouse him from his own prayers, so it's up to her again to make an actual phone call. Elle Bishop is surley heroic… but the police are nice and normal!

The man runs as quickly as he can, but he keeps looking behind him to check for his pursuer's location. And in doing so, he trips on a bag of garbage, tumbling to the ground. Within seconds the electricity connects to his body, pulsating through him with a massive shock. The bzzt makes him twitch and shake like he's touched a high voltage electric fence.

And this is when Elle pulls out her phone again. Before she makes any calls, however, she checks in her purse for something she is never without: a taser. She couldn't exactly tell the authorities she'd shocked these criminals with her hoodoo, could she? No. She couldn't. Her fingers begin to dial: 9-1-1.

"Hello? Yes, I'd like to report an attempted robbery.. no, everyone's okay.. well, except the two… yes, I came in during… they tried.. yes, I did, I had a taser… yes, liscensed to carry… the store is called Odds & Ends.. okay.. bye." Click.

The man continues to twitch awhile longer. He's going to need medical attention, that much is obvious, but when he finally manages to stop twitching just a little, his voice comes out in a gruff kind of whisper, "W-wha-what are you?" His eyes narrow and he twitches again, staring at the blonde enigma in front of him. His mind races as he considers the options of all things supernatural: angels, demons, aliens… the possibilities are endless.

Elle smiles grimly down at the man, trying to find appropriately profound words. Nothing particularly memorable comes to mind, but she does her best, "I'm just a girl, trying to live a normal life. One that apparently includes impromptu convenience store rescues." Stepping over the twitching man, she begins the jog back to the store to fetch her wheelie suitcase and maybe obtain the coffee that had smelled so good. "Oh, and I'm taking some gum!" With that, distant sirens could be heard, fast approaching.

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