2007-02-13: Casual Brain Picking


Desiree_icon.gif Hailien_icon.gif TC_icon.gif oldXander_icon.gif

Summary: Desiree, T.C. and Hailien educate the masses, Desiree generally looks like a crazy person, and Xander tries to gain outsiders' insight on a case.

Date It Happened: February 13th, 2007

Casual Brain Picking

Common Grounds, New York

It's wearing on into late afternoon, verging on evening, and Common Grounds is just getting over the rush it saw earlier when people were running inside out of the rain. Smack dab in the middle of Common Grounds is one Desiree Russo. The central table was chosen at random, but it does the trick - she doesn't really care that she's surrounded by people coming and going. This is a woman lost in her own little world at the moment. Her coat folded over the back of her chair, and an umbrella looped over it as well due to the spat of rain earlier, she's been here for awhile. There's a large cup of coffee sitting in front of her, as well as a half-eaten chocolate chip muffin - and more oddly, an assortment of objects. A blue flower. A pile of paper clips. Some crumpled up money and coins. A few jellybeans. The woman appears to be having a staring contest with the random paraphernalia.

The rain. Hailien loves the rain, honestly, and she was out playing in it, but as she pushes her way into the Common Grounds, she's all dry and stuff now, and she actually is nibbling on a croissant as she heads up to the counter to get her traditional hot chocolate. She looks to be in a very good mood, for all things considered.

Already at the counter, T.C. is having a staring contest of his own, though his is with the assortment of baked goods beneath the glass. He is looking at them with thoughtful intensity. These decisions cannot be rushed, not even by the steadily-growing irritated impatience of people behind him in line. The teenager is oblivious. Hands in the pockets of his khaki pants, he chews on his lower lip and stares. Cookies. Muffins. /Decisions/.

After what happened the day before at the Starbucks over a ways away, Xander would much rather be at a coffeeshop that DIDN'T have Haitians that liked to strongarm barristas. The Attorney seems to be humming a little tune to himself as he gets out of the rain, and heads over to the counter, ordering, "I'd like a mocha-frappaccino, and a roast turkey sandwich, please…" Before heading over to a nice, cozy armchair so he can open up his briefcase, and pull a few casefiles out of it. There was something in there that was bothering him, though he was going to have to ask around about this one…

Desiree… does not notice anything going on around her, it would appear. In reality, she's trying hard not to look up every time the door opens. Without breaking her focused stare - and, in fact, squinting her eyes even more - she shuffles about restlessly in her seat, leaning forward, leaning back. Stare, stare, stare, STARE. After a few lengthy moments in which she barely moves an inch, save for a few twitches of her mouth during her concentration, she reaches to poke at some of the paperclips. "…" She crosses her arms tightly in a huff. "Well FINE."

Hailien continues standing in line, nibbling on her croissant, even as she throws the paper to it away, waiting imaptiently. "Hey!" She finally calls up to T.C. "I recommend the blueberry or chocolate chip muffins!" Gotta nudge him a bit, here.

The person manning the counter, unfortunately, is not paying attention to Xander's order, due to the wiry teenager already at the front of the line whose turn it is (not to mention the line of people behind him who were there already, too.) T.C. looks up from the glass at Hailien's prompting. He seems oblivious to impatience, still, but smiles thankfully at her suggestion. "I think I'll have a chocolate chip muffin," he decides, much to the relief of the people who have been waiting. "And a large coffee. Black. Please. Thank you for the suggestion," he adds, over his shoulder, as he pays for his order. He doesn't immediately move, leaning back against the counter instead. "D'you think," he remarks to nobody in particular, "that those paperclips /did/ something to her?"

Well, Xander had simply skipped the line altogether, as he's English, and therefore entitled to being a sadistic bastard if he felt like it. Not that he is, but he's entitled to be. So while he's waiting for his Frappeccino and sandwich to arrive, while inspecting his case files, he takes a glance across the coffee shop, and spies Desiree poking at her paper clips, and takes a moment to call over to her, "So, what are you trying to do, make the jellybeans fly with your mind or something?"

Desiree rakes through her curly hair absently, an unconscious, frustrated gesture that only serves to frustrate her more. She clamps her hand around her dark locks, making a self-made ponytail over her shoulder, and eyes the mess of objects in front of her. Bitterly. Giving up on the paperclips, she starts to narrow her hazel eyes at a particular red jellybean. The woman is so lost in her strange little experiment that she doesn't even hear the Englishmant call out to her. She swipes her own chocolate chip muffin off of her plate and takes a slightly vicious bite. "Yeah, I see you," she says with her mouth full, entirely to herself, it would seem - except for the inanimate objects. "Sittin' there. Thinkin' you can mock me. Well, Iiii'm onto you, Mr. Jellybelly," she nods and points around her muffin before snatching the bit of candy and popping it into her mouth. "You ain't gonna tease /me/ no more."

Hailien, quietly: "I think she is." There's a pause though, as Hailien peers at Desiree more intently and for sevreal seconds. "But I don't think it's working, to be honest. Not with those paperclips or the jellybeans. Then, louder to Desi- "Try something else, perhaps, miss?"

T.C.'s brows furrow in perplexity. "Jellybeans don't have brains," he says, moving away from the counter to inform Desiree of this fact. His tone is quite serious, as if he is imparting wisdom she might not be aware of.

Line or not, Xander placed his order regardless, and is NOW waiting for his frappecino and turkey sandwich. Regardless, Xander just listens to the people talking about the bizarre woman seeming to be trying to command the items on her table to dance or something. He sighs a little and shakes his head. He'll not comment on the whole deal, deciding to just get back to his work for a while…

Desiree, very gradually, starts to chew her snacks a little slower as she realizes she's being watched - and spoken to, namely by Hailien and T.C. Oopsie? Ever-so-slowly, she looks sidelong at the people near the counter, automatically sheepish. She glances about the coffee shop, just to make sure they're not talking about somebody else, before she puts her muffin down and wipes the crumbs off her hands. "Uh…" she shoves all of the random objects into a pile. Then, she shoves them again, just for good measure. "Yeah. I kinda… forgot… y'all could hear me… I just space out sometimes. You know… how it is."
Hailien covers a grin. "I think I understand." She says boldly, eyeing the other two in the room as she yawns slightly, waiting for her said drink. "What were you trying to do, though?" She inquires, politely. "I dunno how to make anything out of jelly beans and paperclips…”

T.C.'s puzzled frown grows even more puzzled. "Of course we could hear you, ma'am. You were — er. Talking. To the jellybeans." There's a brief pause while he turns to retrieve his drink from where it now waits on the counter, before he adds, (not-so)helpfully, "The jellybeans can't hear you. They don't have ears /or/ brains."

Xander archs an eyebrow as he listens to this whole thing for a while more, before commenting, "The functions of ninety percent of the human brain still haven't been discovered. Call it theoretical genetics, but she could be trying to make the paper clips dance with her mind." He smirks a little, and shakes his head, "Or something like that."

What was she trying to do? Desiree hesitates over that simple question, gaping slightly at Hailien for longer than the inquiry ought to warrant. "Sure you can!" she pipes up suddenly with a giant smile that's a bit manic around the edges. "You can make, um, crafts, outta anythin'. People make sculptures outta q-tips, and put 'em in them fancy art museums." Glinting eyes flicker to the boy. "Oh I know," the Southerner reassures him with that same smile. "Of course they can't hear me. Psshhh. That's silly-talk. I was talkin' to… myself. I got ears. Two. And a brain." One would hope. She makes herself talking by taking a very long drink of coffee. "Actually," she says afterward, looking to Xander. "That's a myth. That whole ten percent thing's BS brought on by media goin' overboard. We don't give our poor brains enough credit."

Hailien shakes her head, and in near unison with Desiree talks to Xander. "That's wrong." She says. "It's all over-blown, we actually use our brains more than people say we do; we just don't realize it so much." She tsks softly. "You look smart enough to know that, why didn't you?" She's a slightly arrogant fifteen-year-old, at that.

"Oh. Okay. Talking to yourself is okay. You have ears. And a brain." T.C. smiles at this clarification. "They're right, you know," he adds to Xander. "That's what you get for watching television. Corporate media can't be trusted."

Xander blinks for a moment as he listens to all three Americans, correcting him regarding brain usage, before shrugging with a bemused grin, "What do I know about that part of biology, though? I'm an attorney…" He doesn't think too much of his mistake, though, as he soon finds the barrista brings his frappeccino and turkey sandwhich over, and he takes a sip of his drink, before waving dismissively, "Get back to your paperclips, will you?" As he chuckles a bit.

Desiree regards Hailien with a touch of surprise, although what started as an impressed look fades as she flaunts her teenage arrogance. The woman takes another sip of her coffee, still rather sheepish. "I got medical background…" she says by way of explaining to Xander, then cracks a little grin. "But kids these days!" She winks at the teenagers. And then-oh, right. The paperclips. She eyes the assortment of objects. "I think I'm done with tryin' to make them dance," she jokes. "They weren't listenin' to me anyway. Guess that's 'cause they don't got ears."

Hailien snerks softly to herself as she wraps her hand finally around a hot cup of cocoa. "I just have a still-going high school education." She deadpans. "Glad to see everyone is learning, though, to be honest. Just, hmmm. We'll have to work on the paperclips, I think. That way they'll listen next time."

"The paperclips aren't going to grow ears," T.C. says with confusion. "I mean I don't think /talking/ to them will work so well." The boy, it would seem, does not do all that well with non-literal turns of phrase. His confusion dissipates somewhat as he looks back at Xander. "It's okay. You don't have to use all your brain to be an attorney, anyway," he says solemnly.

Xander simply points at T.C. and tells him, "We'll see about that when you're knee deep in lawsuits that you'd have to pay off with your soul." He pauses for a moment, before shrugging, and just dismissing it, "But I work at the District Attorney's office, so Civil and frivolous cases are beneath me. Let me know when you've committed murder so I can get you convicted…" He's just saying this as dryly as possible, and not being serious at all, while he munches on his turkey sandwich. After swallowing his bite, he continues, "Anyways, that book on Genetics is a nice read… What's it called… Activating Evolution, or something or other."

Desiree plucks a piece of muffin off and eats the chocolate chips out of it while she listens to the others. (She may be the oldest of the people conversing, but that… apparently doesn't make her the most mature at the moment). She half-veils a chuckle at T.C. with her knuckles over her mouth. She's still smiling with good-natured amusement when she turns to regard Xander with curiosity. "I ain't never heard of it," she says. "Now, how come you've read a book on genetics if you don't know biology, bein' a lawyer?"

Hailien deadpans, dropping into a seat by Desiree, "Probably because of a murder case that involves a biologist, or something killed someone that's definitly bio or biotecnological and he nor anyone else can identify it." She pauses in her long-winded thoughts to sip her hot chocolate. Yummy.

"Why would I be knee deep in lawsuits?" T.C. just blinks at this, and nibbles at his own muffin. He remains standing. His posture tenses, somewhat uncomfortably. "I've read books on law, and I'm studying neuroscience." That is all he has to say about that particular subject. His eyes drop away from Xander to examine the table.

Xander takes a moment to shakes his head at Hailien, telling her, "No, actually, it was just incidental reading." Before glancing at T.C. long enough to tell him, "You wouldn't, because I wouldn't waste my time trying to make you pay for a slight that's insignificant in the long run." Before grumbling, "Like suing McDonald's for being fat…"

Xander takes a moment to tap at his folder, and asks, "Here's a case that I'm trying to wrap my brain around, though. A woman is found dead in her flat, knife in her heart, her hands on the handle. No negative psychological history. No sign of toxins. No money troubles. No evidence of marital troubles. Woman lived a happy life. Her husband and children have solid alibis."

He continues after a brief pause to sip his frappecinno, then says, "Only thing out of place is the necklace she's wearing when found dead, husband claiming it wasn't hers, with only a partial fingerprint with no match. Phone records trace a call from a pay phone using a prepaid number. There's no sign of struggle, no sign that there was anyone else in the apartment." He then looks to the others, and asks, "How would you rule this case?"

Desiree stares at Hailien a moment. "I hope that's not the case! Is it, Mister…?" she trails off for a moment in lieu of Xander's name. "Oh hey!" She's distracted by T.C., smiling brightly and gesturing at the young man. "I studied neuroscience once upon a time. Good for you." She quiets then, entranced by Xander explaining the case; her gaze lies on her table, however, as he speaks. When he poses the question, the woman's brow furrows, she moistens her lips and looks at the lawyer. "That's… awful. I ain't a expert, but it sounds like she was murdered. Only, the person who did was real careful-like. You know, sneaky."

"I don't think I would rule," replies T.C. with a shrug. "How would I make a ruling with no — uhm, /case/? Isn't that something for the police to investigate? You only need lawyers if you have suspects. Do you have something besides one payphone call?"

Xander takes a moment to tell Desiree, "Marx. Call me, Xander…" Before explaining to T.C., "Therein lies our problem. Due to a lack of suspect, and any proof of the presence of a murderer, this case had since been ruled as a suicide, despite the victim showing no history leading to such."

Xander shuts the file that he's holding and takes a moment to sip on his frappe, before continuing, "I should like to think of it as a murder, but as I said, nobody else in the room. The only other way anyone could have murdered the woman would have been if she had been forced to kill herself, while on the phone, which was incedentally off the hook…"

He then says, "Thus, murdered over the phone… Possible, or not?"

"That'd be some mighty persuasion," Desiree says, shaking her head. Throughout this sudden cafe-turned-courtroom turn of events, she's looked decidedly uncomfortable. "There had to be someone in the room with her 'n' someone's just overlookin' a detail. That happens, right?" She takes a sip of her coffee, preparing to listen, but the thinks to add, "My name's Desiree, by the way, Desiree Russo."

T.C.'s stiffened posture reflects the same uncomfortability. "Possible," he allows grudgingly, eyes still fixed on the table and not looking at either of the other two. "Unlikely. But possible." He nibbles again at his muffin, brows creased deeply. "I'm sure she's right. They're just overlooking something."

Xander nods as he listens to their opinions, biting his lip as he says, "Of course, something's missing… It probably has to do with the necklace. If the husband insists that it didn't belong to her, then someone must have given it to her at some point…" He finishes up his sandwich after a mometn, before setting the files into his briefcase, "Pardon me, I must have ruined the mood. Better to not talk business at the lunch table…" He stands up, and nods to the both of them, "I'd better get going… I need to question the husband again about a few things…"

"Weird. I don't envy your job, you know? It's like a puzzle. That's a skill I'm tryin' to work on myself, figurin' out puzzles." Desiree starts gathering the strange assortment of things on her table and sweeping them into her purse, which she takes from one of the empty chairs beside her. It's not exactly a neat and tidy process, making for a very messy purse, but c'est la vie. What're you going to do when you have a pile of paperclips, jellybeans, a flower and spare change, right? "I have to get goin' too. It was nice meetin' y'all, and uh, I'm not crazy, by the way, incase you think maybe I am. 'Cause. I'm not. … Good luck with your case Xander!" She gives the random group a friendly smile as she stands up and slides into her jacket. Grabbing her umbrella, and the rest of her muffin, she's ready to leave.

T.C. does not seem displeased that the other two are leaving, the teenager still rather uncomfortable-looking as both of them prepare to go. "Good luck," he agrees in a near mumble, and offers them a tense, tight smile before he slips away to the other side of the room to claim an empty table.

Before Xander walks out, he pulls his wallet out, and sets his money down to pay for his food, followed by pulling out two dollars, and handing it to TC, "Here, have the coffee on me. I must've bored you out of your skull… Later." With that he saunters back out into the rain, to get to business.

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