2007-02-10: Chances and Choices

Starring:

Drake_icon.gif Ianto_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif Marcus_icon.gif Tamara_icon.gif

Summary: Several people drop by the coffee shop of an afternoon. While some wait in line, others contemplate philosophical questions. Then there's a coffee explosion and people scatter.

Date It Happened: February 10th, 2007

Chances and Choices


Starbucks, Lower Manhattan

Midafternoon on a Sunday means the coffee shop isn't exactly empty. Although it could be more crowded, there's a number of people scattered around the tables, with a few bare tabletops here and there. There's music somewhere in the background, the sounds of various beverage-making machines at work, a few dozen conversations, and people tapping away on laptop keyboards. The girl seated near a side door is somewhat of an exception - neither talking nor working, she has a half-finished smoothie on the table before her, both hands curled loosely around its base. Her gaze flicks over the various customers in the shop, then to the street outside the main door, lips pressing together thoughtfully.

In the smallest, dimmest, quietest corner, (a matter of relative opinion in a Starbucks,) A lean, youngish man sags in a chair with one arm leaning heavily against a table large enough for several, but deserted despite the heavy flow of traffic. Several empty dispoable cups are arrayed in front of him, and he sips black coffee from another half-full container. In case anyone was wondering, getting a cup of black coffee at a Starbucks in NYC is about as fun as being punched in the groin. Speaking of which, Mr. Jack-in-the-corner appears to have seen better days. Red-rimmed eyes, creased forehead, rumpled clothing, and a noticeable lack of his usual sunny disposition are all tell-tale signs of a hangover.

Marcus comes in the door, not looking around at the other customers, a little bell goes off as he does so, the young man in the three piece suit on a sunday heads right toward the front counter with a list of some sort in his hands.

Coming from the street outside is as somewhat unusual looking man, looking to be around college aged. Mainly this is due to his hairstyle. It's somewhat curly and looks blown back. Hands in his pockets, the man walks in from the cool outdoors of Manhattan and immediately makes his way to the barista. He has to wait in line behind a man in a three piece suit with a list. So, patiently, he waits, glancing around the room from time to time.

Tamara gives the line only a brief sidelong glance with its new additions, then slides out of her seat and moves to where orders are supposed to be picked up, requesting a glass of water from a barista. Simple enough to get. With it in hand, she makes a beeline for Jack's table, placing the cup in front of him. "This helped more," Tamara remarks - despite being clearly too young to know much of anything about hangovers, by all rights.

Marcus waits quietly in line, about 6 people back he is concentrating on his list, going over it. His foot taps a little and he looks pretty miserable, looking at his watch every few seconds

Jack downs his coffee with several more long gulps, then adds the empty cup to his growing crowd of disposables on the table before wordlessly picking up the glass of water and draining it with a similar motion. He clears his throat and speaks, his gentle, rolling basso profundo clearly audible through the buzz and clink of coffee-shop activity. "That it does, lass, though each beverage serves a purpose. More importantly, why's a tiny thing like yourself so familiar with man's most miserable condition?" True to both their words, moments later the cup of water and a bit of conversation have done much to improve Jack's demeanor. His crooked smile is now in evidence, and a trace of humor finds its' way into his eyes.

The man with the odd hair continues to wait in line behind the suited man. The line does advance a bit, and out of boredom, this man can't help but peak over the suited man's shoulder to take a gander at his list. Is there a lot on it? Will his order make him wait a really long time? Hmmm…

"You assume every what brings its why." Tamara gives the line one last quick glance, then sits in the chair opposite Jack. Her own voice is far quieter, both by inclination and out of a desire not to attract certain attention. "Knowing is very little."

"The only true wisdom lies in knowing that you know nothing," Jack paraphrases. "You're a bit of an odd one, aren't ye? But helpful, of course," he quickly adds. Following her repeated glances and body language, he cocks his head to the side quizzically, then wordlessly slides into a chair between the young woman and the moving line. He sticks out a smooth-skinned hand that's obviously never held the rough handle of a shovel or seen any more strenuous work that a bit of shoe-tying or piano-playing. "The moniker's Jack. Pleasure to meet you."

Marcus moves up again, taking another step, hes now only fourth in line, looking at his watch he sighs looking over his shoulder he gives Ianto a apologetic smile.

Ianto looks a little spooked suddenly when Marcus looks at him while he was peaking at his list. Nervously, Ianto says, "Um sorry about that." Now, by the sound of his accent, he's definitely not from around here. Definitely foreign. If you can tell it, definitely Welsh. Then, he glances about again. The line advances to one more! Excellent!

Tamara smiles gratefully at Jack. She accepts the offered hand; her own is similarly smooth, but has a faint smattering of dirt on the skin. Not 'unclean' so much as slightly neglected in its care, which is true of everything about the girl. "Tamara, now. It only matters when the mirror's in focus." But 'focused', she isn't very; with the line hidden from direct view, her gaze skips over the clientele again, curious rather than apprehensive. They eventually settle on Jack again, the teen's head tilting a hair, her expression thoughtful.

Jack scrubs his long, nimble fingers across his eyes as he nods sympathetically. "Aye. Your mirror isn't the only one that's out of focus on this cursed, morning-comes-too-early Earth." Tamara's unique speech patterns don't seem noteworthy to him, he's lost enough in his own thoughts anyway. Peeking out from between his hands, his fixes the girl with piercing grey eyes. "Now then, didn't your mother teach you not to talk to strangers with hangovers? I'm not complaining, mind. The water was a damn good idea."

Marcus makes it up to where he's second in line now, making Ianto third, he takes a little time to look around the room, smiling at some of the other people filtering around starbucks, but he doesn't quite see Tamara in the corner, behind jack.

The line's moved more! Good! Just a little closer to ordering his latte. Ianto becomes just a little more curious, and he ventures to tap Marcus on the shoulder. He still looks a bit sheepish when he asks, "Excuse me, but I was just wondering, what exactly is this one?" He points to one of the items on the list. He hasn't seen that one before.

Tamara regards Jack for a long moment, blinking slowly. She gives the impression of thinking about how to best respond. "There were no strangers," she finally concludes, voice solemn. "Only shadows which could be walked, and those which must not."

Marcus says, "Something Indonesian I think….I'm not completely sure, honestly I'm just picking up an order for the rest of the office." he grins a little sheepishly, running a hand through his hair, "New job and all that""

"Just do me a favor and stay away from the 'must not's' then, eh? You don't have to be here for long to learn that this town is full of queer characters who aren't of the friendly sort." Jack produces a deck of worn, red-backed playing cards and riffles them smoothly from hand to hand as he speaks, then begins to lay them down in a series of intricate fans without diverting his attention.

"Ah. Right," Ianto replies with a shrug. "Thank you." The Welshman looks around again, and his eyes stop at Jack for a second. He even peers for a second before averting his eyes. The teenage girl doesn't grab his attention, but Jack does only because he's seen people looking like that before. Drunk or hungover. In the back of his mind, he thinks to himself that he sympathizes. The line advances! Oh, boy! Ianto might just make it to work in time!

To that, Tamara offers another smile. "I try. But it is always in the hands of the river." Her eyes unfocus slightly, as if she were to look through Jack, at something beyond him - maybe that line from which he's shielding her. "Chance and circumstance," she murmurs more quietly. "Choice." The girl shrugs one shoulder, her attention returning to Jack. "Some were worth risk."

Marcus takes a deep breath, looking over his list the Barrista smiles as he reaches the front asking for his order, and he starts reading off "Costa Rica Terrazu with double cream, Organic Shade, Black as Night, Arabian Mocha Sanai with a shot of Butterscotch and Peppermint, Komodo Dragon two shots of Tobasco, Sumatra extra sugar, Espresso Roast with strawberry foam, Half Gold Coast half Serena with buttermilk, Yukon Blend on Ice with a shot of Bannana, And a black plain coffee" he looks up with a winning smile and the barrista just kind of looks at him like he has grown a second head.

Jack nods sagely. "Aye. Life is little more than a series of choices. Risk versus reward, and all. You're mighty insightful for an odd little lass." He tucks his cards into one of his jacket's many pockets and cups his hands together above the table. He closes his eyes and nibbles thoughtfully at his lip for the span of a few heartbeats, then smiles. When he spreads his fingers, a tiny, perfect porcelain doll pirrouhettes atop a equally tiny brass stage. "For you, lass. My way of saying thank you for brightening my spirits."

Ianto peeks over Marcus's shoulder again, this time to look at the barista. The look on that person's face is rather priceless! He smiles and let's out just a slight bit of a chuckle before stopping himself! He simply continues to wait, now in amusement, for this order to be fulfilled.

Tamara doesn't seem surprised by the figurine's presence in his hands; she simply reaches up to carefully take it. The girl studies the porcelain ballerina, then lifts her gaze to meet Jack's. "It was fragile. The mirror was never the best keeper; ghosts get lost." It's not a refusal - she did take the figurine without hesitation, after all - but a warning that she may not be able to keep the present.

Marcus says, "I'm sorry sir…but we don't carry that…I can get the others for you thought" The barrista's tone is kind of acidic, Marcus looks confused, "Umm which one….?" She just looks at him like hes from another planet she takes the list and begins ringing up the ones she can fill, "The last one.""

"Not all who wander are lost, chere. Keep that in mind, yes?" Jack's grey eyes remain fixed on Tamara's serious, young face. "Fragile. Ghosts. Mirrors. I've the distinct impression that the message you carry is a bit more meaningful that the usual Village jibberjabber. Could it be that you're trying to tell me something specific, m'dear?" His basso voice is softer now, gently inquisitive as he folds his long fingers together.

Now, Ianto can only lift an eyebrow in a little surprise. This place can fulfill all of the orders except a regular, plain, black coffee. He never thought this place was /that/ eccentric. It certainly killed his urge to laugh.

Tamara smiles crookedly. "Not all lost must be found," she seems to agree. Curling her fingers around the figurine's base, she draws it closer, apparently accepting that she's keeping it. For now. When Jack continues speaking, the girl blinks up at him, brows drawing in to form a faintly puzzled frown. If he's observant, he may notice her eyes darken, the pupils dilating somewhat. "Was there something you wanted to know?"

Marcus blinks himself, frowning a little, "Ummm…..well…I….you don't have just a regular old plain coffee?" she rolls her eyes a bit, "No sir, we have imported flavours from over 50 counteries, and several house blends, there is no such thing as a generic coffee sir, not here"

Jack smiles back and leans forward slightly. "Only if there's something you wish to tell me, p'tit. I find that money is the only thing easier to come by than information." He unlaces his fingers and cups his hands once more, then nods with satisfaction. Where before there was only empty air, now a tiny male dancer dressed in an old-fasioned, long-tailed tuxedo spins on his own brass stage. He sets the figurine down and quietly nudges it over next to it's counterpart.

Did Ianto just hear that right? "Excuse me," he chimes in just past Marcus to the barista. "You're saying that you don't have regular coffee.. in a coffee house?" Then, he works up a grins and adds, "That's crazy, isn't it? I mean, that's like going into a McDonalds and not being able to get a hamburger!" He begins to laugh a bit. "Seriously, have you ever been to a cinema and been told they don't show films there? Just popcorn, hotdogs, and badly mixed fountain soda. How do you not have regular coffee at a bloody coffee house?" He says all this with a smile on his face, a chuckle, and an ever-so-slightly sarcastic wit.

The Barista shakes her head, "No sir, we do not carry regular coffee, all of our coffee is out of the ordinary, we don't do ordinary here. might I suggest a dark italian expresso roast blend with a twist of cherry and lime?

The second figurine's appearance elicits about as much surprise from Tamara as did the first. Which is to say, none. She smiles slightly, but her attention is clearly elsewhere. The girl sits back in her chair, leaving the ballerina in its place on the table; head canted, she seems to look at thin air, her gaze occasionally flicking to one side or the other. Thinking, maybe?

Marcus blinks as the Barissta gives him this winning smile with her suggestion, he looks a little at a loss for an answer.

Jack strokes his stubbled jaw thoughtfully, concern now beginning to show clearly across his features. "P'tit? Do you live near here? It won't be terribly long 'till the sun goes down, and it's been my experience that nowhere in this city is particularly friendly after dark." His gaze is searching, probing. Understandably a bit confused, he seems determined to understand nonetheless.

Grinning, Ianto just shakes his head. He keeps his place in line. He's starting to wonder if a latte will be a problem unless it was made from the beans, fruits, and goat hairs of Fiji. He, then, looks to Marcus and shugs.

In the end, Tamara shakes her head slightly, gaze refocusing on Jack. She leans forward to tap one finger against one of his discarded cups. "Sometimes it was better to see the morning in the mirror. They can be pretty. And seven," she adds as an afterthought, settling back. The final statement doesn't seem connected with her previous ones - but it isn't clearly distinct, either. On the topics of home, sundown, and city friendliness, Tamara doesn't comment; she idly looks down at the table, her fingers tapping out a rhythm.

Marcus "Um…yeah…whatever…uh…sure…a italian roasted cherry limade with a blended shot or whatever you said…." He still seems a bit out of it, over the whole conversation the Barista just nods ringing it in, "47.53 please sir" Marcus hands over the money and change is prepared as his drinks start filling up the pickup window side.

The worry lines creasing Jack's brow grow deeper at this new turn in the conversation. He leans back now and surveys Tamara from head to toe, mentally noting each detail of her disheveled appearance. "You look like you've spent a fair amount of time handlin' yourself well enough. I guess I shouldn't intrude. If you'd like, I can call someone for you, or a cab." That said, he shrugs.

Great! Finally! Ianto steps up to the barista. "Okay, could I get a medi… sorry, grande latte? Um… vanilla, please." With a nod, he's rung up. "$3.65, sir," the barista asks. Ianto pulls out his wallet, pays the woman with a fiver, gets his change, and waits for his order to be fulfilled.

The tapping stops, and she leans forward again, setting one hand on either side of the figurines. "Just remember," she says, as if it's important. Then it's Tamara's turn to give Jack a baffled frown, as she turns his statements over in her head. After a few moments' consideration, she reaches a conclusion. "I'm missing something." It's not a question. But even as she's talking to him, the girl looks away into the room, resting both hands palm-down on the tabletop, fingers splayed.

Marcus turns from the counter, he has finally got all nine balanced precariously, as he does his gaze crosses the room, and his eyes meet those of the girl in the corner, he stops in his tracks, and forgets everything when he sees her, normally this would be just fine…unless you are carrying 8 hot, and 1 frozen drink in your hands in not quite a perfect balance. strawberry foam, and butterscotch ice make pretty designs on a new suit, and radiat out on the floor around him like some picture of a star going super nova.

Heading into the Starbucks is Drake, walking with a bit of a limp, and a stiff composure to his body. The newly hired Barista was banged up fairly badly in that bus accident yesterday, and he just got released last night from the hospital. As he makes his way to the counter, he talks briefly with the manager, then hands him over a doctor's note which discusses his work duties. Looks like he'll be doing the basics for about two weeks while his rib heals.

Though Jack's not usually one to take interest in the affairs of others, it's clear that this young girl's open, earnest demeanor and calm, strange way of communicating have provoked an exception. He unbuttons his coats and slips one hand inside for several long moments. When he withdraws it, he's holding a thick manila folder which he sets down on the table. He looks at it thoughtfully, but his musing is interrupted by the clatter and splash of coffee hitting cheap floors and nice clothing. "Whoo.. Boyo, you look like you could use a towel," Jack calls out to the mussed stranger. With a flourish, he produces a tea towel that's embroidered with posies at the corners and tosses it in the direction of the mess.

And some of that nicely spilt coffee slashes on his pant leg, around the lower cuffs. No harm done, though; it does make him skitter back slightly. He gives Marcus a look, wondering if he's alright and what was going on. Then he sees him staring at someone and Ianto turns to follow his gaze. If goes toward the man he glanced at before, Jack and a girl he hadn't noticed before.

Now he looks to the girl, then to Marcus, the bewilderment on his face is most apparent.

Tamara doesn't move. She just looks right back at Marcus, measure for measure. "Chances and choices," she murmurs. "Just keep walking." The words aren't loud enough to carry to her brother, although Jack probably hears them - being at the same table and all. "You can still keep walking."

The barista at the counter who just had the co"conversation" with Marcus giggles a little, one of the others gives her a whithering look and comes around the counter and picks up the paisley towel and starts trying to dry off Marcus asking if he's ok, "Um yeah I" he doesn't even realy look at her, still looking at Tamara

Coffee-spill crisis averted, Jack turns his attention back to Tamara, then follows her gaze back to Mr. Spill. He lowers his voice to match hers and asks, "Is everything ok there, lass?" Mr. Spill's newfound gawkiness doesn't escape him either, and his brow furrows contemplatively. The folder on the table forgotten from now, his eyes shoot back and forth from girl to mussed young man.

Glancing over to the spill, Drake gives a wry grin to the girl at the counter, glad that he's not on shift until at least tomorrow. "That sucks." He chuckles, brushing a hand through his blonde hair for a moment, before leaning back some, waiting for his manager to come back from his office with an updated schedule. Reaching out, he touches his side with a slight wince, giving the bandages a bit of a poking beneath his shirt.

Ianto still looks to Marcus, then Tamara, and then to Marcus again, and in his bit of confusion he simply mutters, "All right, then…" He turns to the barista (whoever's there) and asks, "Is my latte ready yet?" He seems to suddenly feel a little weird about being here now.

Slowly, Tamara pushes herself up from her seat. "Not today," she states, the words clear enough to carry to Marcus' ears. Then she turns away, moving towards the side door at a quick clip. Walking, not bolting, but only barely. The ballerina figurine is left behind (as well as the now-melted smoothie she forgot ages ago).

Marcus says, "Tammm…." he takes about two steps her direction, before tripping over the poor barrista who was bent over trying to clean up and help him, he ends up in a tangle with the girl on the floor in the middle of the spill."

Jack blinks slowly, a trifle bewildered. Then he shrugs, scoops the thick folder up off of the table, and leaves his scattering of empty cups and glasses behind. Though he hurries after Tamara, he doesn't pause to pick the figurines up from the table either.

Squinting his eyes at the scenario, Drake looks amused as he watches the group scramble about. Glancing over to his co worker, then back to the others, he rubs the back of his neck once more, then shrugs his shoulders. Taking his schedule from his manager, he gives a quiet thanks, then shoves the paper into his pocket. "This is why I love New York.. it's comedy at all hours of the day." He mutters to himself, before heading for the door himself, trying to create a bit of space between himself and those who dart after Tamara.

Only the very alert would see or even feel Jack's presence as he ghosts by. He doesn't stop to talk, only pausing long enough to covertly slip a small envelope that rustles thickly with the sound of paper money. The envelope is one of many just like it, and it contains a thousand dollars in various bills. Enough to soothe Jack's worry over what he takes to be a lost, wayward girl.

"Oh, jeez!" Ianto blurts, bending down to help Marcus up, then the poor barista he toppled upon. "Are you both alright?" After finishing the assistance, he looks to the door where Tamara and Jack left, and now another employee seemingly injured goes, and he asks a bit sharply to Marcus, "What was /that/ all about? That's bloody creepy!"

Marcus lets himself be helped up, leaning down to help the girl too, "That was my sister, shes….been missing for several months, shes a run away.

The expression on the Welshman's face softens now. Ianto lets out a sigh. "I'm sorry," he says a bit solemnly. "I didn't know. Your mind must be racing itself right now." He looks back to the door which his sister left, and continues, "Shouldn't you follow her?"

Marcus says, "I….yeah….I should but..work…crap" he takes off out the door technicolour suit and all.

Ianto just watches Marcus as he dashes out. Before he has a chance to follow, another barista calls to his attention, "Your grande vanilla latte's ready!" He turns to look to her for a second, and takes his drink. He flashes a quick smile and a "Thanks" to her before leaving the Starbucks, himself. He has a job to get to as well.

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