2007-09-16: Conspiracy Over Coffee


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Summary: Monica and Ian chat over coffee about what they know of the Evolved.

Date it Happened: September 16th, 2007

Conspiracy Over Coffee

A small, quaint coffee shop in Midtown, New York City, Common Grounds has become something of a hotspot in this part of town. Known for its excellent coffee and friendly atmosphere, Common Grounds is popular not just among college kids, but high school kids and adults as well. A bright red 'CG' in cursive letters sits above the entrance, which leads directly into the main portion of the shop.

Inside the shop, to the left is the coffee bar, where there is always at least two baristas on duty. Immediately to the right is a small stage that's lifted up off of the floor, which allows an area for the weekly jazz band to play on Tuesday nights. The other nights of the week people rely on the digital jukebox set to just the right of the bar. To the right, all along the wall, are several tables of which each have four chairs for people to sit, drink their coffee, and socialize with friends and family.
A bit further down the way is an open arch with a small set of stairs that leads down to the lower area, where plush chairs and couches have been arranged into groups that turn in on each other, providing a more comfortable place to enjoy the company of friends. Beyond the stairway is another door, which leads to the back of the coffee shop, opening up into the back alley.

Whichever one of them called the other doesn't really matter, regardless, Monica is waiting for Ian in the coffee shop. She's perched at a table, an iced mint chip mocha at hand, and nose deep in a book: Activating Evolution. Man, that gets around.

The book has him grinning one of his little tight-lipped faun's grins to himself, as he saunters up to the table, pulls out his chair, and turns it around to straddle it and rest his arms on the back. "Hey, hey,"

Monica smiles. "Hey, Ian." she says. "Things have been so crazy lately, I didn't think I'd have time to just sit around and you know. Get yourself some caffeine." She starts to slide the sleeve of the book jacket into the pages to hold her place.

Ian offers a salute, pops up, and heads for the counter. Not before noting, over his shoulder, "Oh, good book, that."

Monica blinks, mid-reach for her mint mocha. "You've read it?" She manages a sheepish smile. "I guess it does kinda qualify as science fiction."

"Someone I knew gave it to me, when she found out my interest in that kinna thing," he says, glancing at the counter, waiting for them to make his Spanish mocha.

"You're interested in this kind of thing?" Monica gestures vaguely at the book. "I didn't know you were a science major. Do you think this stuff is real, then?"

'I'm a bio major, though I'm in my freshman year, so I'm still stuck with all the basic requirements. And I do," he says, earnestly, before bobbing up to get his coffee from the counter.

"I'll bite, what makes you think this stuff is real?" Monica asks. She's a little too earnest to sound skeptical, mainly because Monica's kind of a lousy liar.

Ian leans back in. "Personal experience," he says, in a conspirator's whisper. "I've met some of these people."

"Reaaaally." Monica drawls, putting on like he's pulling her leg. "And what were they able to do? Heal themselves? Levitate?" She recalls her encounter with Peter. "Walk through walls?"

"She could manipulate light, as if it were an object. Something that could be molded, poured, sculpted," Ian says, in all apparent earnestness.

"You're not teasing me, are you? Going to make fun of me if I buy into it and say wow?" Monica peers at him sidelong.

Ian lifts his hand in a scout's honor gesture. "My hand to god, I will not," he says, putting on a very solemn face.

Monica grins at that. "Wow." she supplies. "Ever see anybody else do stuff like that, or just light bending girl?"

"I've seen a boy do some crazy ass Force Lightning stuff, "he adds, still barely above a murmur.

"Electricity from his hands?" Monica clarifies, leaning back thoughtful. Yeah, it makes sense in a bizarre way that doesn't at all. "I don't suppose you could introduce me to any of those folks? I mean, if it's not a big deal."

Ian spreads his hands. "Not up to me. I'll ask the ones I know?" he says, offering her a big grin.

Monica flashes Ian a brilliant smile. "I'd be really grateful." she says. She's equally pleased he didn't ask why. "So what got you interested in this sort of thing?"

"I saw the girl who could bend light," he says, simply. "I couldn't believe it when I saw it. There was no explanation…."

"So it started with that, then?" Monica nods. She shakes her head. "I think I - promise you won't laugh?"

Ian curls his fingers around his mocha, and eyes her over it, expectantly. "I won't."

Monica sucks on her mocha a moment and then, "I saw a guy walk through a wall." She doesn't necessarily have to add that it was just the other day.

Ian glances down, as if trying to divine from his coffee grounds. "I'm willing to believe it," he says, simply.

Monica looks relieved. "Scared the heck out of me." she confesses. Well, that is true. "I wonder how many people are out there that can do stuff. Could be anybody. Isn't it crazy?"

"Odd to think of," he agrees. "All these oddities,living in secret. Very X-Men."

Monica snaps her fingers. "Like in the comics, yeah. But I guess it could go down really bad for them if they uh, came out. Right?"

Ian lifts his arm, to expose his under arm. There's a new tattoo there - a stylized phoenix. "Yeah. Like… barcodes on the arms."

Monica leans forward, peering. "How many tats do you have?" she asks, in a seeming conversation switch.

"Right now, just the one," he says, with a wink. "Mom made me promise to wait until I moved out. This is to celebrate college, and becoming someone new."

Monica says approvingly, "That's really cool. I don't think I'd do it, but I like looking at other people's. What are you looking to get next?"

Ian beams at her. "I don't know, honestly. I've had this design in mind for years. I'll have to see what I'm moved to get?"

"It's a big deal." Monica says, nodding. "Permanent art on your body." She starts to say something else when her phone rings. She unclips it, looks at the source, and sighs in disappointment, shutting off the ringer and tucking it back. "Sorry about that."

Ian shakes his head. 'No worries. You need to head out?" he wonders, sounding only a little hangdog.

Monica shakes her head. "I was just hoping it was my cousin Niki. She's in Las Vegas, only I haven't heard from her in a bit. So I'm kinda working and taking care of Micah, AND applying at the Jaden Foundation."

"Who's Micah?" Ian wonders, arching a brow at her.

"Niki's son. She married my cousin D.L., he - " Did he? "Passed away. Micah's brilliant with computers. Seriously brilliant." Monica offers.

Ian says, gently, "I'm sorry to hear it. How old is he?"

"Twelve." she says. "He's handling it as best he can, but he's real young and his mom kinda…" she trails off. She shouldn't air this kind of family laundry. "Niki tries real hard," she asserts instead, "But it's tough."

"It always is, if you're both a single mother and a widow," Ian murmurs, reaching for his mocha again.

"She's been sick." Monica admits. "But we're managing. Anyway, I think she might be in some trouble, and I - " she hesitates. "Sorry. I shouldn't be talking about family stuff like this. Change of subject! How are your classes going? I'm jealous."

Ian blinks at that, gently. 'Well enough. I'm not gonna screw 'em up, I've determined. It was sort of a leap of faith for my parents to let me go this far abroad, you know? Opposite coast, and all."

"I remember you mentioned, but I forgot. Where you from again?" Monica inquires, taking another sip of her drink.

"Venice Beach. It's a suburb of LA," Ian says, draining the last of his mocha, and sighing contentedly.

"Wow." Monica smiles again. "It must be beautiful. I ain't ever been to the west coast. Of course, New York is the first place I've ever been that wasn't in Louisiana."

Ian's smile is gentle. "It is. I miss it a lot, wonderful as New York is."

Monica admits a bit shamefacedly, "I thought I'd miss New Orleans - I mean, I do miss people, but the city? Not so much." Understandable, perhaps.

"Why not?" he wonders, setting aside the empty cup absentmindedly.

"No jobs, things still falling apart, they try to clean up the city," Monica shrugs. "It just felt like one big trap to me."

Ian nods, looking a little shamefaced. "Never has gotten the care it deserved, even after Katrina."

Monica seems surprised at his reaction. "You look embarrassed. It's not like you were part of FEMA or something."

"I know, but….it's just sad," he says, still looking uncomfortable.

"Yeah." Monica says. "A lot of people were lost that didn't have to be." She grows quiet, and then softly, "Didn't mean to bring ya down."

Ian waves it off. "It's fine. I just….I know I've got it good. And always had it good."

Monica grins at that. "So I should be mad at you because you got a silver spoon in your mouth?" she teases.

Ian snickers. "I hope not. But it's true, I do."

"Hell, I shoulda waited and let you pay for my mocha." Monica teases. "You can spend all that guilt on me!"

Ian laughs aloud. "In the future, I will? And then you can absolve me of my privileged guilt?"

"What else are friends for?" Monica grins. "So tell me about Venice Beach. Did you live next to movie stars?"

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