2007-03-06: Book And Dagger

Starring:

Jane_icon.gif Elena_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif Bryant_icon.gif

Summary: A book hiding secrets is transferred, info is shared, trusts are shared, Ben is outed as a singer, and the topic turns to music when someone else arrives.

Date It Happened: March 06, 2007

"Book and Dagger"


Starbucks, Lower Manhattan, NYC

She doesn't look the same as she has at past encounters this morning when she arrives at Starbucks. There's emotional pain in her eyes, mixing with anger and guilt. Jane's clearly facing some variety of disquiet. Her clothing is jeans, coat and hoodie, her hair pulled back into a loose ponytail. No guitar, but the backpack is present, and a textbook of some collegiate nature is in her left hand. She looks around to perhaps pick out a seat before heading toward the counter.

She's working the earlier shift again. It is six in the morning, and Elena is once more behind the counter setting up shop for the day. She sees Jane enter, and she smiles at her - turning to clean up a bit. She looks busy. Then again, she's responsible for keeping the shop pristine after the uber-early morning crowd has run back to work. She stows her mp3 player away in the backpack situated behind the counter, and she folds her arms on the counter, waiting for Jane to place her order today.

"Hey," she offers in a quiet greeting, making eye contact for only a few brief seconds, before speaking her caffeinated desire. "I… Today I think I want a straight coffee, black." The textbook is placed on the counter, her fingers rest atop it. "I was thinking, y'know, that I could loan you a few of my old textbooks, it might save you some money. Not certain if this one relates to your coursework, but… even so it could still be useful."

"Are you sure you won't need them?" Elena asks, turning to pour Jane coffee in a giant, black mug and sets it in front of her, watching her for a moment. "It's on the house - it's just black coffee anyway. Columbian blend." She props her chin one hand. She can't help but look a little concerned when she watches the woman, she doesn't look well. "Are you okay?" she asks. She also rifles around the freshly delivered pastries so she could feed Jane.

"I will be," Jane solemnly replies. "In time. It's just something really valuable was stolen from me. About the book, I won't need it, at least for a while." It's a first year college level history text. Her fingers slide it toward the barista slowly. "I'm taking back command of my life. I spoke with a doctor about my blackout, and… it really helped last night when I played guitar for the first time since that happened. There's a guy in my building, same floor, who doesn't seem to have much fun. I got him to let loose a little."

"…okay. But if you need it back, just say the word, alright?" Elena says. She loves books, so she'll keep it - but it's a loan. She intends to give it back at some point. She takes it, and hunches a bit so she could slip it in her backpack. She looks over at Jane and returns with a small plate with a fresh slice of marble poundcake on it. She sets it in front of Jane with her coffee, in case she wants some. She pauses - seeing a doctor? "Oh? Who are you seeing? I can recommend a couple of good ones if he doesn't pan out," she offers.

"If you need to read about the circumstances around ditching the original Articles of Confederation for the 1787 Constitution, Elena, you can find it near page 95 in there." Her fingers take the cup of coffee and bring it up to her mouth so she can blow on it and reduce the temperature. "The doctor was a nice enough guy, from India by his heritage. Suresh was his name. Is he one you know about, or might recommend?"

Epiphany strikes her upside the head with all the blunt force of a Mac Truck plowing full speed into a tire factory. Elena stares at Jane from across the table, the realization reflecting in her eyes. Still, she smiles…after she makes sure Jane sees that brief expression on her face. "I'm so sorry for ranting to you about my homework that day. Of course you'd know more about the Constitutional stuff than me, given you actually studied it," she says. "Thank you so much, I'll take a look at it later." But at the name, she blinks. "Doctor Suresh? No…well. Not personally. I'm more familiar with his father's work. His father was a brilliant geneticist. We covered him in class, actually. But as for Doctor Suresh himself, I don't really know much about his work."

There's a hint of a smile across Jane's features, one that doesn't quite meet her eyes, while she speaks with Elena near the counter. It fades fairly soon after forming, however. "You were onto something, though, Elena. And college is, after all, about forming one's own opinions, along with not being afraid to express them. Controversy and conflict aren't always bad, debate has its value." This is followed by some speculative silence, broken with a simple remark, perhaps regarding the doctors Suresh. "Oh."

"Thank you for understanding - I'm just glad I found someone who could help out a bit in that regard," Elena says, playing along as curiosity burns within her. She can't help it. Just what did Jane pass on to her? She'll have to wait until she gets to a place she is alone so she could read the designated page. She starts wiping down the bar counter, rubbing the cloth on the wood as she looks up at her. "Still, Doctor Suresh isn't without his reputation. His father overshadows him, I can't say I envy him, it must be tough being in the same field as a parent. But from what I understand he does great work himself. It's just that I'm not as familiar with them as I am with his father's. How'd you get in touch with him?"

"It was the night after my… episode," Jane replies. "I went back to the last place I remember before waking up in bed, trying to fix things with the musicians I'd been there to meet. They want nothing to do with me now, to them I'm a flake who can't keep appointments. I was crushed, kind of a basket case. He and some other guy named Anders were walking by. The doctor and I spoke, he gave me the address of his lab, and the next day I called him. Wanted to be tested for drugs I might've been slipped. He wasn't in. But yesterday he came to visit me."

"Oh? What'd he say?" Elena asks curiously. She props her chin on one hand as she listens to Jane, occasionally darting her eyes towards the door and quirking her brows. She'll be on customer watch. She doubts Jane will say anything more if there are others in the shop.

"It was something scientific," Jane answers quietly, "involving a form of unusual phenomenon." Her eyes close for a moment, when they reopen she's changed subjects. "It felt good to play again last night. To draw someone out of his shell like that, right there in the hallway. I think we both needed the release. It was the first time in three days I hadn't felt like screaming." Her lips part, she takes a careful sip of her coffee.

"I see." Not like Elena didn't know that already - but what was puzzling to her was how he brought it up. Jane was a stranger to him, she only called him a couple of days ago and save for the encounter at the bar, he doesn't know her and Jane didn't look like an alien. So how did he know to talk to her about that stuff without seeming crazy? "How'd he find out he could talk to you about it? I mean, he's a doctor. When someone sees you they don't automatically think…you know. Weird. You're very normal looking."

"It's interesting," Jane admits. "The guy who was with him lives in my building now too. A large guy, looks kind of like a viking. The viking and his friend, Angie, both know my neighbor. The one I got to sing last night. I haven't figured it all out yet, might be nothing. But… there was the blackout I had, can't say what happened then. Elena, I…" Her voice breaks, she trails off to compose herself for a few seconds with eyes closing. "I feel like screaming. I feel… violated."

She freezes at the name. Elena glancing slowly over to Jane when she spits it out. "….Angie…" she murmurs, dark eyes falling towards Jane as she flashes back to the goth-looking woman strolling past Ramon that night in Central Park and who murmured those words to him. That they would be visiting him soon. She swallows a little bit. "….and you said she's friends with….a viking-type guy? Where is your apartment building?" she asks. After Jane's words, she nods, feeling her fingers grow numb. Dr. Suresh was with a viking guy who's friends with an Angie. Viking guy lives in Jane's building. Suresh visits Jane after she calls. She suddenly feels something akin to nausea well at the back of her throat.

"Greenwich Village," Jane replies. "It's one of the high rise buildings, I'm on the first floor, number 108." Her eyes reopen to settle on Elena and take in her reaction. "Does all this have some kind of meaning to you?" But no sooner than the question is asked she glances swiftly over her shoulder and around the room, making sure, doubly sure, there's no one else present before continuing. "I want command of my life back."

The sick feeling was growing. Elena shuts her eyes. "It depends," she whispers hoarsely. "What's your exact address, and what is this Angie's description?" She crosses her fingers under the counter. Make it not. Make it not. Please make it not. It could be a different Angie. It could be someone else. She could be blonde. She probably goes by a benign name. She could be a homeless bum visiting a friend for all she cares just don't let her be that woman in the park that day, the one her father identified as one of Benjamin's supposed kidnappers. Was it this widespread? Oh god don't let it be that big.

"She was short, about four inches less tall than I am," Jane answers. Dark hair, she had a goth look to her." The address she provides matches what Elena fears it will. Watching the reactions, the guitarist/lawyer becomes steadily more curious. Both of them, she and Anders, knew my neighbor Ben. He's the one I got to come out of his shell last night." She's pensive, quite likely working to wrap her mind around the whole thing.

Ice floods in her veins, and the nausea was almost overwhelming. Benji. -Eric-. Elena leans against the counter, her eyes fixing on the window to calm herself. How widespread was this? Who were these people? Was it really that gigantic that it's starting to swallow up every person she's met and liked in the past month?? Her mind unconsciously drifts back to her conversation with Jack at lunch yesterday. Fear keeps you sharp, he said. She didn't feel very sharp at the moment. She just felt cold. But the fear was there. Oh yes. Though not for herself - not anymore. At least, not lately. And Anders. The viking guy. Another growing list of names.

She closes her eyes, remembering Eric looking her right in the eye and telling her he wanted to keep going on with his tests. His 'training', despite a serial killer running loose.

She remembered her father telling her about going with Cass to see Dr. Suresh to ask about Persuaders. She remembered Drake telling her about approaching Suresh and asking for his help.

They were everywhere. It was too big.

She forces herself to calm down. She needs confirmation first. "I might. But I need to see someone first," she tells Jane softly.

Her expression shifts quickly to concern as she watches Elena's reaction, and seems ready to envelop the latina in a comforting embrace, give her something to lean upon. Jane's own disquiet is placed aside for the moment, more altruistic tendencies taking over. She has questions, yes, but they'll keep, and some of them were already inside the book. For the moment, all she does is offer quiet support.

She doesn't embrace the barista, there's no physical contact she doesn't consent to, but the arms are open as an offered choice to be accepted or not.

Well with the counter between the two of them, the gesture would be a little awkward. Elena appreciates it though. Instead of hugging the woman, she reaches out to take both Jane's hands, lowering them to the counter to squeeze them. "Jane," she says softly. "Before I tell you anything I just need to make sure about a couple of things, okay? I need to talk to someone. I could just be…needlessly wigging." Though it seems unlikely. "The last thing I want to do is to scare you. So I'm going to go dig around. And then we'll talk - but not here. It's not safe here." Or anywhere.

Her hands squeeze back to offer comfort. "I've got a lot of books, Elena," Jane replies softly. "I'm not scared, well, yes, I am, but… I won't let it rule me. I feel violated, hurt, angry, guilty, so many things, but I'm taking command of my life back. So will you." A pause is taken, she studies the barista's face. "I want you to tell me, now, are you like me, Elena?" There's compassion in her eyes, understanding, borne of her own recent experiences.

"So do I," Elena murmurs, glancing down at their joined hands. "Books, I mean." She squeezes her hands again, tighter this time. She felt sick. She felt cold. All she wanted to do was crash into Eric's current space (which she can't - he's in that building and they don't have any classes together today), and drag him out and -tell him- that…she takes a deep breath. Need confirmation. Need facts. Need to talk to Benjamin before flipping out. But the question catches her offguard. Elena looks at Jane, and she nods almost imperceptibly. "Yeah," she says. "I am."

"It's okay, Elena." Her hands keep the pressure, the hopefully comforting contact. "You can scream if you want, need, to get it out," Jane softly states. "That's one thing you've probably got on me, chica. It won't make you need a broom afterwards."

Speak of the devil and he arrives. Only, not so much. Stifling back a yawn, despite having an actual rested night of sleep, Benjamin enters the Starbucks. Just a quick cup of coffee flavored coffee on the way into work is what he wants. Rose seems to have claimed all these fancy frou-frou flavors, and he just wants plain coffee. Inside the door, he heads straight for the counter, not really paying attention to anyone already inside.

Well screaming at present isn't an option. Elena smiles and withdraws her hands away from Jane to turn and see….just the person she wanted to talk to. "Mr. Winters," she says with a tired, if not somewhat strained smile. "How are you? What will it be today?" she asks. She waits for Benjamin's order, casting a glance towards Jane. Otherwise, however, she'll keep her attention to her latest customer.

Her own cup is lifted and nearly sipped from when her hands are free again, but Jane stops at the name. Her head turns, she looks him over. "Morning, neighbor," she greets quietly. Some of that same disquiet she exhibited last night at their meeting is upon her again, but less so. "Hope it's a good one for you." Her eyes then move back to the barista and linger for a moment, as if to silently ask if she needs her to be elsewhere so she can tend to Ben and later make whatever contact with whom she needs to speak. It doesn't yet occur to her it might be the man himself.

Benjamin stops in his approach of the counter and looks up, smiling a little. He forgot briefly that Elena worked here. "Oh, hi, good morning. Thanks again for the cake. I'm glad I got a slice when I did, cause Rose, well, she's a teenager." And Rose kinda wears the pants in the apartment because he lets her. "Just a medium cup of coffee." No. He refuses to tackle the fancy size names. "Hey Miss Forrest," he greets, looking in Jane's direction. "It's alright, how about yours?" If there's any sort of discussion that he interrupted, he remains unaware.

She gives Jane a slight shake of her head. Elena turns to smile at Benjamin and laughs. "Coming right up," she says, turning to the coffee machine and getting him some plain coffee in a grande cup. As she works at it, she looks over at the man inquisitively. "Jane was just telling me that she met some of her neighbors the other day including yourself," she says. "A big viking guy by the name of Anders. It must be nice….to have so many neighbors. I don't think Papa's letting me move out anytime soon." She She caps the cup, slips the heat insulator on it and hands it to Ben, leaning over at the counter. "….is he one of them?" she asks softly. She's still smiling, but her eyes look serious. That's all she needs to know.

"I'm well enough, Ben," Jane replies with a dry chuckle. "It's actually Dr. Forrest, but there's no need to be formal. We sang together, after all, so Jane will do." Her head turns back to Elena, she nods, and from there goes quiet to enjoy her coffee slowly.

Benjamin hands a few bills over to Elena to pay for the coffee. "Yeah, I'm a bad neighbor really. I've kept to myself a lot, and it was surprising to see /him/ moving in." Surprising? How about distressing! At Elena's question, he looks confused and asks quietly, "Who, one of what now?" He then flushes with some embarrassment at Jane. "Right, okay, sorry about that.. Jane." The whole formality thing? Blame his mother for guilting it into him.

She takes the bills and rings up her change. Elena's eyes are on her register, but she does look up at Benjamin from where she stands. She seems to miss the tone of his voice at that - but she does ask him quietly. "Is he…like Angie?" she asks. She doesn't want to say it outloud, slowly simmering in her current nightmare.
Jane seems entirely unphased by Elena's question, although the mention of Anders seems to cause an expression of distaste. Nothing is said by her, she silently sips at her coffee and eats from the food before her, but there's an attempt to make eye contact with the barista and share a look which indicates consent to telling Ben about her.

Benjamin is now officially confused, "What do you mean like Angie? They've got really different personalities that I've seen." No, he's not really /this/ clueless, but he's feeling incredibly lost as to what Elena's getting at. "I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean." He looks between Elena and Jane, trying to comprehend.

She was….so NOT cut out for this. Elena was actually surprised she's gotten this far without being 'visited' again. She rubs her face slightly and looks at Benjamin. "I was just wondering if Anders worked with her. Same places. Maybe the same employers?" she says, hunting down a glazed donut and presenting it to Benjamin. "Did you have breakfast yet?" Hooray employee discounts. Not even discounts really, it's not beyond herself and her coworkers to get free coffee and pastries while working here.

Her cup is lowered, and her eyes fix on Elena for a moment. Jane calmly suggests "If you like, tell him how effective a scream queen I can be. Those Hollywood actresses have nothing on me." And it's back to sipping and eating for the guitarist/lawyer/ultimate soprano.

Benjamin stands there, looking a little uncomfortable, coffee cup in hand. "I don't know if I should say, or if it'll cause trouble… but they're together a lot." He'll leave it at that. "Not really, just an apple." He takes the offered donut, and tries to pass money over in exchange for it. The donut wasn't asked for, but he'll pay for it, if allowed. "Look.. Miss Gomez.. I'm trying to put it all behind me." Closing his eyes, he steels himself before looking at Elena and continuing. "Yes they work together, they both came after me that night." Blinking, he looks back over at Jane, puzzlement all over his face.

She needs to know for one purpose and one purpose only - so she could warn the people closest to her. It was selfish. It was self-serving. It was as unheroic as it got given that all she was focusing on was her feelings of worry and anxiety and can't see past that at the moment. Elena smiles - it's a tired one, and it doesn't reach her eyes. She shakes her head at the bills. "You can have it for free, so there," she says petulantly, and finds it in her to stick her tongue out at Mr. Winters and grins. "Just call me Elena, Mr. Winters. And thanks…for that." She gestures between Jane and Ben. "Since I was given permission….Mr. Benjamin Winters, this is Dr. M. Jane Forrest." She turns around to work on other things behind the counter. "The two of you have more in common than you think."

"I'm a real screamer," Jane remarks, turning toward Ben as she continues sipping her coffee. "Things can break if I really let loose. But you'd never hear it. I've also learned to be fairly good at navigating dark rooms. And oh, yeah, I recently had a blackout. Went out, didn't drink, I don't do drugs, but somehow the entire night's a blank. I woke up in my own bed the next morning."

Benjamin sighs, then drops the offered money into the tip jar. "So there," he says in a teasing tone to counter the petulant one. "Alright, if you insist," he was only showing respect for the young woman. Again, he looks between the two women and blinks. "Beyond sharing an annoying neighbor you mean?" Not sure how to take Jane's comment about being a screamer, because if he had a gutter mind, it could be taken so wrong. ".. I'm feeling so lost right now. You're saying.. you can break things with your voice, and doing things in the dark like some kind of bat?"

The barista keeps working at the counter, trying to calm herself and not think about her classmate, or Drake, or her father - one who lives in the same building as a Company operative, and two who want to see Dr. Suresh, who was -seen- with said operative. She can't help but seem a little preoccupied, her usual cheer gone in favor of scrubbing the varnish off the wooden counter behind the bar. When she realizes she was scrubbing on the same spot for a while now, she moves on. But she doesn't join in the conversation.

"That's what I'm saying, Ben," Jane answers. "I make and hear ultrasound. It's loads of fun whenever someone blows a dog whistle nearby." A rueful chuckle escapes, as her eyes settle on Elena and her vigorous scrubbing. She reaches over with the intent of placing hands on the barista's and trying to calm her a little. "So you could call me batwoman, or the ultimate soprano, or…" The voice trails off, as if she were thinking of more ways to name her for that ability in an attempt at humor, she thinking it's needed now.

"… Elena.. are you alright?" Benjamin asks, eyeing the young woman with a good deal of concern. Donut and coffee are forgotten, and at the moment he doesn't care if he starts running late for work. The daughter of someone he considers a friend is looking rather upset. He looks a little flabbergasted at Jane's revelation. By now though, he really should stop being surprised at the number of abilities out there and who has them. ".. I see.. I think."

She doesn't look up until Jane rests her hand on hers, Elena's head snappng up and blinking as she watches her face, and Benjamin's as the latter's words sink into her head. She pauses, and carefully removes the rag from the counter and stows it away. "I'm okay," she says, with a hint of a laugh - though it sounds hollow. "I've had a rough couple of days. School and…stuff. Plus I have this dance group competition thing next week that I don't know I'll have the money for. I'll think of something though, I just….I think I'm just feeling a little bit under the weather with everything else going on." Ugh. Well to her credit, that wasn't -all- a lie, she was preoccupied with those things. It's just not the ones she's preoccupied with -now-.

Bryant ambles into the coffee shop, following that unseen trail of karmic wandering that subconsciously guides him. I.E., he decided he wanted coffee, and possibly something to munch on. Though he's careful at the door, waiting to make sure he's not going to get plowed over by tense people running away first, before he makes his way further in.

"It's all good, Elena," Jane offers. "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. And, you know, all the times we talked, we never got to the fun stuff. What's your taste in music, for example? Ben here is a pretty good singer, and he likes classic rock." She manages a slight grin, glancing toward the accountant before drinking more of her coffee and continuing to enjoy her food.

"O-okay, maybe you should take some extra time and rest then?" The stretched truth works on Benjamin. He's such a trusting soul. Tsk. His eyes go wide and a little panicked as Jane outs him. "No, she's just being nice, that's all.. I should get to work.." That's his cue to scram like a spooked bunny. Donut and coffee in hand, he scurries for the door.

"….really Mr. Winters? You sing?" Elena asks, blinking at Benjamin. But he was so….mild mannered! Kind of shy, even. She looks at him, and then she manages to crack a smile when his eyes bug out and decides to leave. "Have a good day at work!" she calls, and she turns her attention back to Jane. "I like all kinds really. Classical. Opera. They're great to study with. I listen to mostly Hip Hop and Jazz for Dance Corps routines, but my favorite is…well. Definitely the eighties and early nineties," she says with a sheepish look. "Old Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, Pat Benetar, things like that. I do like rock, too. I listen to all kinds." She blinks when Bryant enters, and she smiles. "Can I help you, sir?"

Yup. Bryant shows up, people head for door. He sidesteps Benjamin's exit with a thoroughly ready air to his movements, and gets to the counter. "I'll have a large coffee mocha thingie," he says. "Go easy on whatever it is that makes people so jittery they race out of here like bats out of hell, okay?"

"See you, Ben," Jane offers to the departing accountant, chuckling softly. "I'll get him to have some fun again soon, maybe. All I really had to do was start playing, and he joined in after a while." Her eyes drift to the arriving Bryant next, then back to the barista. "Joan Jett. Benatar. I know them, good strong women's voices. Have you heard of Ann and Nancy Wilson?" A slow breath is drawn, and released as she begins to sing softly in mezzo-soprano pitch. "Saw him there by the record machine…"

"Coming right up," Elena says, smiling at Bryant as she moves over to fix his coffee - and she does what she asks. She just gives him decaf. But after mixing it up for him, she slips the cap on and the insulator, before setting it on the counter and ringing him up. To Jane, she shakes her head. "Not really," she says softly. "But I ought to check them out." And while she listens to Jane sing, she'll go about her work.

Bryant grins at Elena. "Thanks," he says, paying and taking his drink. Then he peers over at Jane, blinking and listening to her sing. "Huh. Know any Bonnie Tyler?" he asks hopefully. "I totally dig, wassit, Faster Than The Speed of Night. Or Holding Out For A Hero."

"They called their band Heart," Jane replies after a few bars of I Love Rock 'n Roll. "They're from Seattle, got started in the mid-seventies. You could say they were the leading edge of the Seattle Sound. You've probably at least heard Barracuda somewhere." And she's singing again. "The real thing won't do the trick, you'd better make up something quick. You're gonna burn, burn, burn it to the wick, barracuda." When she finishes, Bryant is given her attention. There's a somber quality to her demeanor, as if she recently suffered something heavy on the emotions, but is healing. The brow furrows, she appears to think for a moment, then belts out "Once upon a time I was falling in love, but now I'm only falling apart. There's nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart." Her voice rises in pitch for that one, taking on a full soprano.

Bryant makes a face, commenting dryly, "I had a girlfriend, totally obsessed with Heart. To this day, I can't hear them without thinking of her." He drops into a seat, and listens as Jane segues into another song. "That song's not too awful, though."

"Oh," she remarks. "That sucks for you, sir. For me, though, it was the courage they showed. They weren't afraid to rock it like the guys, but at the same time weren't manly, you know? The power of Anne's voice and the way Nancy plays guitar… But anyway, that one was the first of Tyler's work I heard, and the only one I really remember." The discussion of music causes her to look him over carefully, and ask "Do you play?"

Bryant waves a hand, dismissively. "Me? Nah. My musical skills are limited to air guitar and hitting drums really hard until I make something that kind people call noise." He shrugs. "Sometimes I get lucky and hit the right note."

"No worries. I'm just hoping to link up with some folks and start or get into a band. I think I can make it as a musician in New York. Maybe, though, I should start hitting the studios and see if I can get known as a sesssion player too. I'm a guitarist, among other things." Talking about music seems to lessen some of the moodiness about Jane, though it does linger.

Bryant nods thoughtfully. "I figure, there's gotta be parts of New York where you can't swing a dead groupie without hitting a musician or three," he allows, before taking a sip of his coffee. "Good luck."

"Thanks," she replies, before finishing her coffee and eating the last of her pastry. "Got to run and make a phone call." Jane looks back toward Elena, calls out "See you," and makes her way out as her phone is being extracted from a pocket.

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