2009-11-12: Caffeine and Drama



Date: November 12, 2009


Joel seeks out Lena to get some questions answered.

"Caffeine and Drama"

Midtown, NYC - Common Grounds

It's early, so much so that the street lights are still on outside. Steam is rising from the grates and manholes, and the sky has that watercolor streaky look that indicates a beautiful day ahead. It's going to be a cold one, though. Pedestrian traffic is bulky in their winter clothing, heads down and breath steaming in front of their faces.

Common Grounds is being hit with a rush. The place is packed, the line of cranky, chilled and uncaffeinated customers reaching almost to the door. Lena's at the tail end of the queue, looking bleary but resigned. She's bundled up in a man's old winter coat, a pair of dark oversized sunglasses covering a good portion of her face.

The lead customer is served. The line shuffles forward. Lena sighs.

The place is doing its brisk business, at least it's partially warmed up further by the press of bodies within. The bell upon the door rings repeatedly whenever someone wanders in or wanders out, so many times that one might discount its warning. It gives Joel enough of an edge that he's able to wander up into line partially behind Lena. She might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him in the reflection of the glass window where the line snakes around near its edge, or she might get her first warning of his approach by his voice lifting a tad as he offers her, "Why don't you go grab a table while I get the java?" And as easy as that there he is, standing in long coat, his own shades covering his features, a faint bruise upon the side of his jaw though it's still yellow in places.

It's the voice that does it, breaking through the dream-fog of being awake at an ungodly hour. Lena yanks her hand from the coat pocket it had been safely hidden in, and turns quickly only to break out in a lopsided grin upon recognizing him. "You're buying? Hell yeah…make mine a hot chocolate. Extra whipped cream." And then she'll leave him too it, after a brief hesitation in which shades and bruise are noted.

It's a fight to get to an empty table but Lena's not shy working the elbows to get through the crowd. A small two-seater in a corner is staked out, claimed when she removes her jacket and drops it on the back of the chair facing the door.

It does take a bit of time for him to proceed through the line, and luckily he doesn't seem to mind standing in it. He follows through, maintaining that somewhat jovial look to him as he gets through the line, up to the counter. From a distance she might witness him holding up two fingers as he places that order, then steps to the side to await its filling so that other folk can get their drinks.
A few more minutes pass until finally he has the drinks, carrying them both gingerly in his gloved hands he wanders over towards the table. Or rather he takes a moment to try and find her in the crowd, when he espies her again he gives a nod and starts his way again. His chair is nudged out with the toe of his foot, the cocoa is set down before her and then he settles in.

By the time Joel's returned with the gift of a sugary hot drink, Lena's settled herself comfortably. The hood of her sweater has been tugged up over her head, and one foot is propped up but quickly removed from the edge of his chair when he arrives. The shades stay on for now. "I take back all the shit I said about you," she chirps, wrapping both hands around the mug of goodness. "So what happened to you? Bus? Chair? Pissed off girlfriend?"

He slouches properly in the seat, looking to the side at the crowd, then back to her. He smirks a bit as he runs a leatherclad finger over that line of the bruise along his jaw, the faint swelling still there. Joel tells her levelly, "Oh you know how it is, I fall down a lot. I mean, I deserve it, I shouldn't sass back so often. Boohoo, lifetime movie cliche, boohoo." He takes up his cocoa and takes a small sip, just enough to get a bit of whipped cream on the end of his nose, which he removes tastefully.

"I knew you were a crybaby. Suck it up, buttercup, life's a bitch." Lena rattles the words off by rote, her heart not entirely in the banter. It's early, after all, and there's cocoa to be enjoyed. She manages to avoid cream-on-the-nose, but only just, and those shades remain leveled on Joel throughout the leisurely sip. "So…I'm kinda glad you showed up," the brunette goes on as the mug lowers. "You know that crap I texted you about? You can just forget about it. I'm like, moving on."

There's a faint quirk to his eyebrows as he looks at her over the lip of his cocoa. He lowers the cup down to let it settle upon the tabletop. Tilting his head to the side he lets her speak, listens, and when she finishes he responds in an even and conversational tone. "Can't rightly forget it, I mean that's pretty crazy. Guy with fire on his hands, and a guy who seems really strong." He folds his arms over his chest, body language closing off somewhat as he murmurs, "Talked to a few folks about it, actually."

Lena rests her elbows against the table, still and silent for a moment before her lips quirk in another of those crooked smiles. "I figured it was worth a shot anyway. It was pretty crazy, I probably wouldn't forget about it either…who'd you talk to? Find anything out?" The tone she uses is far too casual to be anything other than a mask for raging curiosity. When she lifts her brows to cap the question, a hint of the darker bruises around one eye are briefly visible over the edge of the sunglasses. "I haven't seen anything else in the papers about it."

"I talked to a few other witnesses," Joel throws that out there casually as he leans against the table. He takes up his cocoa again and steals a sip before continuing, "Got the low down from those there, took a glance through some of the official reports." All very curious actions for someone supposedly a security guard. He blows some of the steam off of his cup, then looks at her across the vapors, "This is the part where I tend to say something cryptic, lead you into thinking what I want you to think, then you confess all your secrets in a flurry of fear and doubt. But that would just be rude and to be honest you don't seem like a bad kid. But yeah, I kinda know, like, everything."

"Fuck you, I'm no kid." But that's just a reflex, a script prepared for such moments when Lena feels the need to buy some time while considering what to do next. The chair creaks as she settles in it, hooking an elbow over the top of the back and adopting an ever so casual slump. The plan, it would seem, is to feign total ignorance. And position herself at an angle, in case she needs to stand up quickly and head for the door. "So, like, you know where they came from and shit? Cmon, man, share. I'm not gonna have to worry about running into them again, am I?"

"I know you have an ability, a talent to affect someone just by touching them." Joel says this with the utterly calm surety of knowledge as if he were speaking the gospel. He looks across the way, meeting her eyes steadily. The white noise of the room, the hustle and bustle of the crowd is enough to at least give them some measure of privacy, but he does keep his voice projected somewhat specifically just for her in that corner there. He lifts his leatherclad hands and waggles the fingers a bit, "Hence the gloves, didn't want you to flip out and send me loopy."

The coffee shop might be bustling but in that corner, a heavy silence falls. The teenager seated across from Joel is entirely motionless, and presumably staring at him behind that barrier of darkened glass and plastic. When Lena finally does stir, it's to slowly reach out for the hot chocolate. Nothing says 'I'm cool' like pretending to take a sip of chocolatey goodness. But she doesn't look away from the man, and the tension in her frame is easily recognized.

"Someone must've slipped you something," Lena finally remarks, once the mug has been returned just as slowly to the table. "'Cause that's just fucking crazy talk."

"Look, I'm not trying to come across as a jerk. Not trying to scare you." Joel sits back in his seat, "I kind of have a similar thing too, it's kinda lame in some ways though. I can basically juggle decently well, or…" He looks around the room, frowning somewhat absently. He looks back to her and takes a deep breath, "Meh, I'm making a mess of this. Don't usually talk to folk so directly. But…"

With a certain panache he produces from inside his jacket a small box of tic-tacs. He opens it up with a 'pop' and proceeds to dump them out upon the table. "Here, watch…"

The legs of Lena's chair squawk when she pushes it back a little in response to Joel's hand disappearing in his pocket, and the hand she still has draped ever so casually against the table's edge clenches. Someone's a little jumpy. But hey, she's not running yet! "Then what the hell are you trying to do? You walk in here, try to soften me up with free cocoa and then go all spooky on me, what am I supposed to think? I fucking trusted you!" The 'asshole' is silent but implied. Lena leans forward, focused on Joel's face rather than the tictacs. "I don't give a shit what you can do. Who do you work for? If you lie, I'm out of here."

Bobby has arrived.

Looking up and meeting Lena's gaze, Joel tilts his head to the side. He grimaces and then sets the empty box of tic-tacs down. He had it all planned out too, nobody lets him show off. He straightens up and tells her levelly in a quiet tone that most likely won't carry across the room's hurble-burble of crowd-noise. "For people who try to protect folk from craziness like what happened at Ling's." He takes a deep breath, steadying, then crinkles his nose. "Anyways…" For now he leaves it at that.

Bobby takes a break from playing outside and makes his way in for a coffee. Black, 2 sugars. What? no espresso? No cafe whatever? No.. coffee. Ground bean, water, filter, cup. After that enlightening conversation with the barista, Bobby pulls out a fiver from his wallet and places it on the counter, making his way to the tag-team partner making the drink on the other side of the counter. he nods and smiles in appreciation and finds a stool at a counter up against one of the plate glass windows, so he can watch both the people in the shop, and those that pass by on the street.

Somehow, Joel's answer does not appear to reassure the scruffy little teenager. "To protect folks from people like that?" she suggests, her face twisting in a grimace behind the sunglasses she's wearing. "Well, fuck you!" The obscenity is delivered in a louder tone; she can't be arsed to keep her voice down now. Too agitated. The shades are finally pulled off, revealing the yellow and purple swelling of a black eye. It detracts only a little from the brunette's glare. "You think it's cool to go around scaring the shit out of people? Accusing them of crazy shit? It make you feel better? Big man."

The girl's chair squeals loudly this time as she stands abruptly and reaches for her jacket. "If I get disappeared, I swear to god, Chi's gonna find you and he's gonna rip your fucking head off, ass hole."

There is nothing more delicious than caffeine and a big dramatic scene in the wee hours of the morning.

Looking up, Joel's eyes narrow just a touch. He crinkles his nose as he looks down and sweeps a hand over the display of tic-tacs upon the table. "But… but… my trick." He looks back up at Lena and perhaps most folk would be put on edge by the display of dramatics and the raised voice, he seems to take it at least visibly in stride. A small shrug is given as he then offers, "Sorry, of course, my suppositions must all be utterly unfounded." Then again judging by her reaction…

Bobby looks over at the couple. Outward apperances would make one believe that they're having a lover's spat. The man attempting to intimidate the woman, obviously unsuccesful. The black eye raises a brow, perhaps the man gets too handy, however Bobby's not one to get macho. He's more Sancho Panza then Don Quixote, and he sits back to watch this one turn out. The truth is never what it looks like at first glance anyways. the incident might not be blog-worthy, but it could prove interesting just the same..

"You're fucking right they're unfounded! I don't know who you are, but you just leave me alone, alright? Forget my number, forget my name. You and the government can kiss my ass!" Lena's voice cracks, hysterics rising above the anger implied by all of that earthy swearing. She fights her way into her oversized winter coat before jabbing a bare finger at Joel's face. "And screw your trick!" Final line delivered, the girl wheels around…and ends up meeting Bobby's gaze. Hers is a little wild-eyed, afraid and aggressive.

"What the fuck are you looking at?" Lena snarls. Cue the stompy exit towards the door, a few unwary patrons shoved rudely aside in her haste to reach the exit.

A few dollars are uncurled from inside Joel's pocket as he rises. It's a small tip placed upon the table for whomever is going to have to clear it. His own jacket is swung over his shoulders, arms snaking through the sleeves. He's not quick enough to chase after her, but quickly enough that it's clear he has no real desire to linger. A faint grimace flickers over his own bruised features, but he seems to come to a decision and starts walking on out as well.

Bobby raises another dark brow and then turns to the man… Government… Bobby's catchphrase, lately. Unfortunately the man heads out as well, before Bobby could ask him any questions. Not letting a possible scoop get passed him completely, he makes mental note of the two, in case he runs into them in the future.

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