2007-05-01: Boil Boil Toil And Trouble


Elena_icon.gif Aspen_icon.gif

Summary: Elena decides to accept the invitation from Aspen St. James to go out for coffee, despite Dr. Suresh's warnings. She learns of Aspen's ability, and that she has been touched by the Company.

Date It Happened: 2007-05-01

Boil, Boil, Toil And Trouble

Serendipity Cafe, New York City

May was finals crunch, simply because by the last week of May, everyone was out for the summer. This was a good thing, considering Elena was hoping to get more hours down in EvoSoft and pad up her resume a little. She is waiting outside the Serendipity Cafe, made even more famous by the movie with John Cusack. That, and they invented "frozen hot chocolates," which were infamous by the sheer paradox presented by the name.

She's dressed in jeans, and a black jacket. A baby t-shirt can be seen underneath with the words: 'You'll Regret Reading This T-Shirt When the Sketch Artist Asks You To Describe My Face'. Boots tap lightly on the cement, checking her cellphone absently to look at the time.

She's seriously second-guessing the intelligence of letting herself do this. But if she didn't, she might think something was up.

It is from the direction Elena happens to /not/ be looking in that Miss St. James appears. Oh, it's not out of nowhere; she simply slips out from behind a crowd of people heading down the sidewalk in front of her and is, for all intents and purposes, just suddenly… there. "Good evening. Elena, is it…?" The Brit's greeting is more or less jovial, but almost antsy or nervous if you listen closely enough. Her brown hair is left down, falling in waves past her shoulders. She's wearing an NYU sweater with a zipper - unzipped, though, with a red shirt underneath. Jeans, sneakers, reading glasses perched on her head. Nothing special. "Nice day, isn't it? Have you been waiting long?"

"Oh no I wasn't. Hello Aspen, now that I finally know your name," Elena says with a laugh, extending a hand to give her a quick, but hearty handshake. "Shall we?" She gestures into the cafe, before stepping in and opening it. "I have to admit I was a little surprised when I got your e-mail. I didn't think you knew who I was…I can't remember whether I told you my name in the library or not." She gets a corner table, and shucks off her jacket so she could take a seat and peer at the menu. "So biochemistry, huh?" She looks up at Aspen and grins. "You sure you're up for more dry boring sciencey stuff?"

"I'm really just terribly sorry for tracking you down as I did and arranging all of this how I did, but I was at a loss. As I said, I found you through one of your professors; I gave him a very detailed description, and thankfully, you're memorable," Aspen explains apologetically with a little smile tagged on to the end of her spiel. She lets the younger girl - granted, it's hard to say how old Aspen /is/, really; she has one of those faces that could put her anywhere from eighteen to twentysomething - lead the way. "Weeell," she begins through a grimacing sort of smile as she settles across from Elena. "Yes and no." Letting her vague answer sit there, she too picks up a menu, looking it over casually. And a little skeptically. Anywhere that sells "frozen hot chocolate" deserves some variety of skepticism.

When the waitress arrives, Elena orders a frozen hot chocolate, having been trying to cut down on the caffeine intake for a while now. After Aspen's apology, she shakes her head and laughs. "It's okay," Elena says. "I mean, if you went through all the trouble, it must be really important or something. You working on a thesis?" She inclines her head at Aspen a bit and she grins when she looks at the menu. "They have some really interesting stuff in the menu, have you seen the movie Serendipity? This cafe's been famous before….but after the movie came out, it's gotten even more popular."

Despite her skepticism, Aspen orders the same thing as Elena, offering the waitress a painfully polite smile as she puts her menu down. "I'm afraid I don't watch many films," she answers, first of all, then pauses with her hands fidgeting gently together on the tabletop. Big, bright eyes the cliche colour of aquamarine watch the student across the table. "I am working on a thesis. It has nothing to do with biochemistry," she admits. "I didn't ask you here because /I'm/ interested in biochem. I asked you here because /you/ are."

Well, that was a little strange. Elena leans back and folds her arms over her torso. "Alright, you mean like an interview?" she asks, tilting her head at Aspen. Even despite knowing she ought to be wary about this woman, she's still at a loss as to what she was getting at in the present moment. She also nods. "Well, I'm pre-med so I'm interested in it, I don't know what field I'm going for once I get into medical school, there's a lot of possibilities. I actually thought about becoming a neurosurgeon, but I could also easily see myself developing new drugs…antibiotics, heart medication, things like that."

Aspen settles back in her seat, though she never looks quite comfortable, shifting about as if slightly nervous while Elena speaks. She brings a delicate hand up underneath her chin and leaning on her knuckles. Nervous or not, she's paying close attention to Elena's possible career paths. "That's very— it's interesting. See, the thing is— I don't know how to bring this up…" Peering about Serendipity with her wide eyes - maybe for eavesdroppers? - the woman leans forward over the table, looking up at Elena. "I was thinking about how you were talking about that book, Activating Evolution?" There's an imploring tone to her voice. There are words behind her words are 'please, help me, please, believe me'. "Do you think it goes beyond theory? Do you think… do you think it could be real /today/?"

There is a blink, and Elena hesitates for a moment. She chews on her bottom lip, and she props her chin on her hand as she looks out the window. Finally, she speaks up slowly. "The honest truth?" she says simply. "I think it's possible. I mean, there's a whole chapter in that book on psychic abilities like being able to predict the future and all that, somehow being able to tap into the 'flow of time' to see a set future, or a possible future. Things like that have been around for centuries. Nostradamus was said to be the greatest one. Maybe all of that stems from all the stuff from Activating Evolution - stuff we considered supernatural before given a bit of scientific cred."

There is a moment of silence. There's no way in hell she's telling a total stranger about Desiree. Who lives in her home. Who has a date with her father to see Phantom fo the Opera. Elena scrunches up her eyebrows in thought as to how to answer this question, but finally decides to tell her a story from her childhood. "When I was a very small child, Mama hired a babysitter to watch me a bit. She had a tarot reader come into the house to read her fortune through the cards. I was curious about it so the lady humored me and read my cards and, of course, told me one of my loved ones was going to die. I was so freaked over it that I told Mama, and she fired the babysitter and never used her services again. She was a deeply religious woman, the fact that something like that was in her house offended her." She leans back on her chair. "Of course several years later, Mama did die. I wonder now if it was the truth and that she saw it in the cards, or she was just making a guess."

"I never gave much credit to psychics and prophets," Aspen admits; after a pause, she adds, "I'm sorry about your mother." Heaving a sigh - the heave is great, the sigh itself considerably daintier - she's quiet a moment, seeming thoughtful, before speaking up again. "What about the other things in the book? Some theories of evolutionary adaptations are arguably stranger than seeing the future." And, apparently, more interesting to Aspen. "What would you think, if you saw someone grow back a limb, or set something ablaze without a match in sight?"

"It's alright. It happened….a long time ago." She tries to remember what she felt when Kellie held her hostage, and when she first saw Peter regenerate. Elena pauses, and she smiles at Aspen sheepishly. "I'd probably be really scared if someone just threw a fireball at me, or something like that," she says, remembering her terror when she felt the hand on her back sear her skin off. "As for regeneration, that would probably make me…..extremely surprised. Granted I'd be extremely curious after getting over the initial shock." She looks at Aspen curiously. "May I ask why? You sound like you actually believe these things could happen yourself."

"I've had bad experiences with talking about this sort of thing in the past," Aspen says quietly as she tells Elena, practically a stranger, now. She ducks her head down, looking at the table. It's then that the waitress appears with those so-called frozen hot chocolates, gaining a quick smile and barely a look from Aspen when it's set in front of her. She tucks a wavy strand of mousy brown behind an ear. "Maybe I trust people too easily. Can I trust you, do you think?" When she peers back up at Elena, her eyes are shimmering, doe-like. "Of couse, I'd hate to … scare you."

She picks up her frozen hot chocolate and takes a quiet sip. Elena pauses for a moment. "…..well…..if it's scary…" she says faintly. "I mean, it doesn't have anything to do with any crime or anything, does it? If it's not then…" She pauses. "Are you saying that you've been looking for a sciencey person to trust? Why? I mean, I live in Queens. I don't scare easily." She gets a dry expression on her face. "I mean, there are very few things that are scarier than male Brazilian hairstylists who like prancing around in high heels on occasion, you know?"

Aspen squints and battles a small smirk at that last comment, breaking her tense stare. "No, no, nothing like that; no crime, that is, though it doesn't involve Brazilian hairstylists either," she assures Elena more light-heartedly than she has been so far. "It's just that sometimes I wish…" Ah, there it is; anxiety, back on. She gnaws on her lower lip a little bit. "I wish I had someone to go to who was involved in this sort of thing, the science. To help me." Help her with what? To provide an answer to that unasked question, she reaches for her drink, wrapping her hands around the cup, which she slides to the center of the table.

After several seconds of seemingly /very/ intense focus (if the knitted expression and intense stare of the woman is any indication), the frozen hot chocolate becomes not-so-frozen. And then it starts to bubble. Miss St. James looks up like a puppy expecting to be kicked.

"….oh, no thanks. I have my own," Elena says with a laugh when Aspen pushes the cup into the middle, mistaking it as a gesture to have it. Maybe she doesn't like it? But it's delicious! Maybe Aspen was the coffee type after all. When the cup suddenly starts bubbling, however, the sudden, unexpectedness of the ability causes her to nearly jump out of her chair. She gives a bit of a jolt, jerking her knee against the table with a thud. Her hands come up to steady the table quickly, and she looks around quickly. "Wh…wha…" she says, her breath a little hitched and her heart hammering. She's evolved. She can DO THINGS to…liquid? "How did you….??" she sputters. She pauses, and then she speaks up, lowering her voice.

Aspen is leaning ahead in anticipation ever-so-slightly, as if perching on an edge, waiting to either tumble off or be urged back to safety. Elena's reaction invokes neither option one or option two; instead, she remains metaphorically hovering. "I'm sorry," she quickly withdraws her hands from the cup. They disappear under the table. "I scared you. That's what I do." Wounded puppy: check, again. "I'm one of them. All I want to do is understand." She hangs her head, her hair falling around her face and the glasses on top of her head threatening to slip down.

On one hand, Mohinder told her not to tell her anything important. On the other hand, Aspen looks like she just got kicked in the face. Elena glances down at the cup in the middle of the table again, and she exhales softly. "I….I didn't mean….I mean, I was -startled-, but I don't think you're a monster or anything." She pauses, and she looks over at Aspen. "How long….have you known that you could do this? According to Dr. Suresh's book….there's really no set 'time' for these things to manifest. Is this a recent thing? Is this why you sought out Dr. Mohinder Suresh?"

"You don't?" Hello, (false) glimmer of (false) hope! "A few… months? It was… no, almost a year now. Time flies, hm?…" Aspen fidgets with her hands underneath the table; of course, Elena can't see this, so it just looks like she's staring at her lap. "Yes. I went to see Dr. Suresh," she answers. "I asked him to meet me. I showed him what I could do, and it just got away from me when I tried. It— it does that a lot, I'm afraid."

But Mohinder told her it wasn't an accident. No wonder he was pissed if she could do that to liquid. Elena can't help the scientific curiosity - can she do that with ALL liquids? What ELSE could she do? Can she turn them into gas? Make them hot? Cold? She didn't know, and she wasn't sure she wanted to find out. But what if it had been an accident? Mohinder said Aspen was harmless, didn't he? "So sometimes you….I mean sometimes it just happens?" She ventures slowly. "Whether you want it to or not?"

Thankfully, Mohinder doesn't know Aspen very well. But neither does Elena. She gives her head a tiny shake. "Not quite. There'd be reports of floods in the streets if that were the case," she says with a ghost of an embarrassed-looking smile. "But in a way, yes; sometimes if I just touch something," A pale hand appears again, fingers moving to touch the rim of the cup, skimming it. After just a moment, the contents leap out, half of the drink splashing out onto the table. Emitting a soft 'oh!', Aspen rushes to pad numerous napkins onto the table. "Well. You see. And it's hard to stop once I start. … You're sure you don't think I'm some kind of monster? I mean, I'm clearly a freak."

"I don't know. I think pedophiles are freaks," Elena remarks dryly, throwing that bit of social commentary in. "If all you can do is ruin people's drinks, I say you're free in the clear in terms of freakiness." She pauses. "I'm not saying it's not weird." Because her LIFE IS WEIRD. And her FRIENDS ARE WEIRD. And her BOSS is WEIRD. "Because it is. This sort of stuff shouldn't be happening outside of comic books…." She looks at the chocolate soaking into the napkins that Aspen puts there, and with a sigh, she starts helping clean up the mess. "….but….I mean, unless you have some fancy device hidden under the cup…" She lifts it up to look underneath it. "…it clearly is."

"Thank you." Aspen manages to direct a smile toward Elena in between mopping up the not-frozen hot chocolate, which is now faintly warm and living up to /part/ of its name, at any rate. "I mean that. Really. Contrary to what it sounds like, I don't tell /every/ stranger I meet. And the last time-as I said, didn't go over very well." Timely moment to swipe her hair off of her neck oh-so-casually and look over there <— to reveal the twin marks on her neck? Not a vampire bite, no, but a mark Elena might recognize, or not. It's a gamble. "There's just something trustworthy about you." Baby steps. "Look," she gets a dry napkin, then a pen from her pocket, and writes down 283-5663. "That's my number. I don't know what I'm asking, to be honest. I'm just… I'm looking for all avenues these days. Keep your mind open?"

"Well, yeah I was wondering about that. Why tell me?" Elena says. "I mean….something like this…..people would find it hard to believe. Back in the 1600s you would've been burned at a stake. Things haven't changed that much in the 21st century," she remarks dryly. But when she watches Aspen closely - she could see the marks on her neck, and she almost drops her cup. She remains a good grip on it however, she just wasn't expecting it. "And…I'm not sure what you're asking either. But….if you're looking for a sciencey person who believes things like this could be possible…." She pauses. "And you're looking for answers, yeah? I could…try to help. I mean, I'm pretty curious too, about how you do that. Plus….you'll never be invited to another party again if you don't stop making other people's beverages leap out from their cups, right?"

"I suppose it's a good thing I don't attend many parties." No movies, no parties. What a boring life Aspen must lead, right? "Thanks again. I'm tired of going out on a limb just to fall off." This is said as she inches to the edge of her seat. Finally, she stands, swiping the ruined napkins off the table with her. "I should be going," she says, regretfully. Or is it that she's frightened? She's said a lot here today. "Call me," she said with a timid smile before turning around and making for the exit.

"Wait." Elena pauses, and stands up. She puts a bill on the table, and she walks over to where Aspen is going. She pulls out the spare napkin from Serendipity, and she uses her own pen to scrawl down her number: 283-9721. She hands the napkin to the grad student. "In case…." She pauses. "I'll read the book again, and see what it says about liquid control. Maybe we can figure something out, okay?" She hands the folded sheet to her. "If something goes wrong….I know you don't really trust a lot of people and I must have those kind of faces….but I'm not a slouch in the brains department, I think. If you need any help with….you know. The thing. Give me a call. Seriously."

She tosses the napkins in the trash, and then — bingo. "Thanks. Again. I appreciate it, truly," Aspen says with her best sincere voice once she stops, turns, and faces Elena one more. The number is taken and slipped into a pocket in her sweater; in exchange, a few bills, which she hands to the other young woman. "For my drink. What's left of it." A smile and she's off.

She waves when Aspen leaves, and then Elena looks over to the cup again. "….what am I doing…?" she mutters under her breath. For all the warnings, the best thing she could do was stay away from Aspen. And yet…. "I hate being me sometimes," she groans. She had the marks in her neck. She had to wonder how she got them. Or if she even remembers. What's the use of all this information if she didn't use them to -stay out of trouble-? Hanging around Aspen would only increase her chances in being found out, if Mohinder's warning her about not telling her anything important.

'You're doing it because you want to know more,' comes the traitorous whisper at the back of her head.

She grumbles, turning on her heel and leaving the cafe.

Stupid curious ouchie.

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