2007-04-27: Dangerous Line of Work


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Summary: Niki drops by Enlightenment to find out what happened, gets the watered down version of why it's dangerous to work in the bookstore, and Cass draws a Punnett Square of Awesome.

Date It Happened: April 27th, 2007

Dangerous Line of Work

Enlightenment Books, East Village, NYC

Enlightenment Books certainly does not look like itself. The large plate-glass window from the outside is blocked up with a sheet of ply-wood. The back door is chained shut (as there's no other way to keep it locked). The front door, for now, is left open to try and keep some air circulating into the store and hopefully dry off all the contents. Despite it being a couple of days, there are still some corners that are still moist from the drenching they got. Most of the books have been laid out over the counter to dry or already packed up into boxes. Cass stands in the middle of the mostly book-deprived store, mopping up and sweeping up all the stray glass pieces that she might have missed in her first go through.

Stepping up to Enlightenment Books is Niki Sanders, understandably wary as she eyes the patched-up window. She's not scheduled to work today, but, well, it doesn't look like /anyone/ is going to be working unless it's to help clean up. A hand on the open door, she's quiet as she slips inside. It's hard not to look a little melancholy, taking in the sight of the familiar store without its usual trappings and in… a state like this. "Hey," she says gently as a hello. "I was by the other day and— I couldn't get anyone on the phone. What happened?"

Looking up from her mopping, Cass gives Niki a weary smile. "Hey Niki. Sorry, I was going to call you." She sighs and goes to go rest her soaking mop up against the wall and grabs another, drier, one. "Some crazy blonde woman came in, threatened me and Alyssa, knocked me out. I don't know what happened after that, but the sprinklers went off. And, well," she shrugs and looks around. Books and water don't exactly mix. "Don't worry, we're opening back up and you'll still be paid for the time you /would/ have worked during this. Plus, if you're looking to get some extra hours, I could really use someone to help clean up and put everything back together."

Holding tightly onto the strap of the black purse she carries, hitching a shoulder up tensely, Niki gives the bookstore another sweeping glance around. "I was just worried when I saw everything like this. Are you … alright?" At least she's saved from being the 'crazy blonde woman' this time. Cass would remember that part, presumably. "Why'd she attack you?" Robbery gone wrong? She slants a look to the window, to the wet corners, to the boxes of books. Intense robbery. "And I'll help you out, it looks like you need it. Don't worry about the hours I missed."

Needing to keep doing things, Cass just shrugs again. This store is more of a home to her than her own apartment, so to see it in such a state is understandably heartbreaking to her. But, it's not going to stay this way. There is no way Cass would allow it. "No, thanks for coming by. I feel bad about not getting in touch with you. I should have. And I don't know. She wanted some sort of information that she thought I had. When I didn't, she went…crazy. Tried to electrocute me." Maybe she'll explain that one later, but not right now. "Thanks, I really do. I've talked to the insurance company, and I've ordered more stock, but it's still going to take a week or two before everything is back up and running normally."

"It's okay. You've been busy," Niki says, giving Cass a smile over her shoulder while she slides her purse off onto the nearby counter - apparently, she plans to stay for awhile. Electrocuted? She's just going to go the mundane route and assume that means /by a taser/. "Information…?" Furrow lines mark her brow as she looks at her boss. "What information could /you/ have that would make someone go crazy for?" The question is so casual as to almost be rhetorical, and she just laughs good-naturedly - maybe trying to inspire a good mood in her boss. She steps over to where Cass is with the mop. "Let me help you. D.L.'s off with Micah, I don't have anywhere to be for awhile. What do you need?"

Not about to bring up electrocution again if not necessary, Cass sighs and nods. "Yeah." She frowns and seems to think something over for a second. Niki works here and if people are going to start coming in and threatening her employees, they should know what they're getting themselves into. "Do you remember that book I gave you to read? Activating Evolution? The one that's been selling like crazy?" She doesn't really wait for an answer, though, she keeps going. "Well, this woman took it very seriously. She thought I had the number of a telepath and attacked me when I told her I didn't." She frowns. "So I really want you to be careful. This store attracts all kinds. And some of them are very unstable."

This store certainly does attract all kinds, given its nature, and given the fact that it carries that particular book, and still… Niki is thrown off guard by what Cass says then. That guard is quick to come back up, however, as she folds her arms and obtains a decidedly uncomfortable demeanor. "Maybe if people take it so seriously," she starts to shrug one half-bare shoulder up, "We should stop selling that book. I mean - it sounds kinda dangerous."

Stopping her mopping, Cass frowns and leans on the handle slightly as she turns to face Niki. "I thought about that. Back when it first started to get big and weird things started to happen. But, I've checked and we're the only store in New York City that carries it. People come here for alternative answers for their problems and I can't just pull a book that might help someone because of one crazy chick." Sighing, she looks to the corner where that book used to be on prominent display and then back over at Niki. "All knowledge can be dangerous. It just depends on how you use it. If you don't want to stay here, I understand."

"No, it's not that." Cass's employee gives her head a small shake. "I guess it's a good thing. The book, I mean. People want answers," she says casually enough, shrugging again, this time paired with a smile that tries to be encouraging. "I can handle myself!" Niki crouches down when she spots a missed piece of glass; as she retrieves it, she looks up to say on a serious note, "I just hope the store doesn't get trashed again, or worse."

Cass gives Niki a grin. "Oh, I know that. The first time I met you, you saved my life." Moving to another corner, Cass starts to mop up some of the left-over water. It's a seemingly never-ending task. "I hope not, either. Whenever happens to this store, it's like someone trying to rip out a piece of my heart." It's the keeping busy and the simple overwhelming amount of things that need to be done that has kept her from dwelling on this disaster. Time to change the subject so that can continue. "You never told me what you thought of Activating Evolution. Did you finish it?"

The glass is dropped into the trash, but Niki is paying more attention to Cass, on full-speed-ahead sympathetic mode for the woman whose livelihood and second home has been threatened. Over her boss's first comment, Niki just returns the grin and doesn't say a thing. As for Activating Evolution… "Does it count if I sort of… skimmed the last half?" The blonde winces, just a tiny bit, but it's through a smile. "It's like a textbook. I was never any good at science. But I get the gist. Evolution and DNA and people… changing… being different." The woman's smile fades. "It doesn't seem real."

Cass laughs and turns around to face Niki again. That corner is mostly taken care of, anyway. "No, that's fine. It kind of repeats itself and then just goes over lots of other evolutions that people have gone through. I just wanted you to be able to talk about it competently to anyone who might ask." The mop rustles over some small pieces of glass, which make a clinking sound on the floor. Cass frowns and moves to get the broom and dustpan. "Yeah. I know. It sounds so weird, right? But there are people who really believe in it. And it makes some sort of scientific sense. If we evolved from apes, then, well, that doesn't just stop. Science doesn't just decide, 'Oh, here we go, end product'. There is no end product. People, animals, everything, just keeps changing and changing. It's just at such a slow rate that we don't notice it in a lifetime until suddenly we find we're different."

Niki steps back to lean against a wall, folding her arms lightly beneath her chest as she listens to Cass go into science mode. She looks quite thoughtful for someone who just admitted science was never her strong point; she's quiet for a moment until a thought seems to occur to her and she speaks up, a tentative tone to her question. "Do you think… do you think it's random? The people who find that they're different. If that was all true. Could it be arranged?" Aware that she's being as clear as mud, she shifts about in her heels and says as much. "Sorry, I'm not making sense. I'm not sure what I'm even trying to ask."

After sweeping up the stray glass and making sure it's in the trash can, Cass leans against the counter. She slides over some of the damp books so that she can rest her elbows on it. This is definitely more interesting than just mopping and sweeping up her ruined tore. Plus, it's talking about something other than how disastrous the whole thing is. Her face lines with thought as she thinks it over. "You know, I met the son of the man who wrote that book. Mohinder Suresh. He was still continuing his father's work. And he explained it to me as being kind of like ordered chaos. It's far more likely that if two people had abilities that their child would have them. But, it's also possible for a child to have abilities without their parents having them. So, it's random, but not so much, you know? Here." Reaching over, she pulls out a pad of paper that's wet, but a couple of sheets down is usable. Tearing off the right couple of pages, she draws a square with four squares in them. Then, she draws out the squares to have symbols of N E on top and N E on the other side. The four boxes list, NN NE NE EE "Okay, so this is Punnett Square. People use it to trace inheritance traits for children. So, this one is of two people who are evolved. Out of all of these, it's possible for a normal child, but a very small possibility because it's only one box out of four. And the other three possibilities passes on the trait. Two out of three is a normal passing on, the fourth would be like super-Evolved. It's just as small of a possibility as being born without an evolved trait. Does that make any sense? Sorry, there's a reason I'm a book seller and not a teacher."

A flicker of recognition touches Niki's eyes when Cass mentioned Mohinder, but she says nothing on the coincidence. So many coincidences. Is that even what they are anymore? She pushes off from the wall and moves to the counter beside Cass to watch her draw the square. She has matching lines of thought on her face as she follows along as best she can - with vested interest. "Yeah," she says quietly. "I think I get it." She touches the paper, running a finger with a short, neat nail over along one edge of the Punnett Square.

As she's focused on getting her Punnett square right, Cass doesn't notice the flicker of recognition. Even if she did, it could be chalked up to so many other things. "Good! It's been awhile since I did one of these," she grins. "Anyway, there's a theoretical Punnett Square for theoretical Evolved Couple." Ripping that page off of the notebook, too, she crumples it up and tosses it toward the trash. "It's interesting, though. And really starts my old scientific brain working. I used to think about this stuff a lot in med school. The 'what ifs' and everything."

Niki watches the crumpled paper fly through the air into the trashcan, her gaze lingering there as she dwells on it. "What're the chances…?" It's under her breath, low, to herself. After a moment, looking back to Cass, her demeanor is a brighter one. "Your dad's a doctor, right? How come you went for the bookstore instead of being a doctor? Not that there's anything wrong with owning a bookstore. I think it's great."

"What are what chances?" Cass asks, carefully folding up the water-logged books that have dried and putting them in another box. She's close enough to the woman and it's an empty store, so it's not hard for her to pick up the under the breath comment. "Oh, well, I started to go to med school. But it was just too…insincere to me. It made it too much like a business and everything was way too cut-throat. Wasn't for me." She smiles. "I like having a bookstore. Though it's certainly not as quiet as I thought it would be when I first started working here."

"It's— nothing," Niki dismisses offhandedly, reaching for another stack of dried books to help out Cass. "I was just thinking outloud." Of what, she doesn't say, but she lends the other woman a warm smile that seems to say 'it's nothing to worry about' - even though it translates as 'please don't ask' in her eyes. She carefully slides the books into the box. "I didn't expect working in a bookstore to be a dangerous line of work, either." Who knew, right?

No stranger to the 'please don't ask' look, Cass gives Niki a frown, but doesn't seem to press the subject. It's not her place to ask, really, if Niki doesn't want to say anything. "Alright. But, if you do need someone to talk to, I'd be glad to listen." Just so that the woman knows. Then, the frown turns into more of a smile. "Yeah, seriously. You know, I've got this for now and I'll be closing up soon, anyway. It's a really nice day out, you should enjoy it."

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