2009-12-07: Dropping By



Date: December 7th, 2009


Tracy is not so good at being a covert fugitive.

"Dropping By"

Uptown, NYC - Deveaux Building - Anais's Apartment

Ms. Frazier's apartment is lit with the warm golden glow of a number of lamps, holding back the winter darkness that has fallen outside. Swirls of snowflakes can be seen just beyond the windows, blurring the dull glow of the city. But in here, it is warm and bright and fragrant. The occupant herself is in the kitchen, preparing dinner for one; Anais is dressed in the most casual of attire, black yoga pants and a pink tunic top that flows almost to her knees, both in some silky material that moves with her. She's stirring a pot of tomato soup to which sherry has just been added. A spoon is in one hand, the other cupped beneath to catch any spilled drops as she lifts a taste to her lips.

Beside the door are a number of shopping bags, all from nearby stores. They're set carefully against the walls, a few tubes of Christmas wrapping paper sticking up from their open mouths. Gifts that need to be prettied up in preparation for the holiday season, from the look of it.

All in all it is a tranquil and domestic scene, cozy, if someone lonely.

There is an alarming creak outside despite being numerous stories up; a metallic, grating sound that can only be metal, intent on disrupting the cozy tranquility of Ms. Frazier's apartment. Another follows, louder than the last and closer, besides: the sudden racket seems to be centered just above the lovely span of windows and to the right, where the building's fire escape happens to wind down.

Only a moment passes before a sheet of frost creeps across the windowpanes, a quick-to-form pattern not as whimsical as the shapes formed by Jack Frost. It's as though the temperature took a very sudden dip outside amidst the snowflakes.

The first sound is startling, the second frightening. Anais' concern with spilling suddenly seems less important in comparison to discovering what is going on, and if there's any danger associated with it. The spoon clatters to the stovetop, a spill of red washing across the pristine white surface as the woman hurries to the window. The sight of that frost is enough to make her hesitate, touching her fingertips to the surface of the glass. Has a cold front come through? But, the fire escape…that sound of metal…

Anais reaches out and carefully undoes the latch of the window, trying to slide it open so that she can get a better look at what might happening to the right there. Not that she intends to stick her head right out there; haven't there been stories of people decapitated by falling sheets of ice? Indeed. She's no risk taker. But it's difficult to see through the frost.

It's dark but, with the help of the glow from the apartment, the fact that there is a figure on the fire escape should become evident. Whoever it is, they're tall and wearing a long, black coat, gripping to the icy rail of the fire escape with their back turned. Also evident, after another groaning protest of metal, is that the fire escape is antiquated. Unlike the rest of the old building which is well looked after and lovely, the fire escape is rickety. This section would very much like to fall.

The figure's head turns quickly, a long, blonde ponytail following whip-like after it. Who climbs down the fire escape when there's no fire? Evidently, a pretty well-dressed woman. Pristine makeup replete with mascara and neat pink lipgloss. Small hoop earrings. An expensive peacoat. The surprised face of Tracy, whose attempts at being a covert fugitive are less than successful tonight, meets that of Anais. No criminal here! Honest. "U-uhm— " The fire escape rattles. Tracy smiles and winces at the same time. Awkward. "Hiii."

"Are…oh my…are you all right? Is there a fire?" Even startled, apprehensive, it takes all of two seconds for concern to flood into the woman's expression. Anais sets a hand against the window frame and leans out further, tilting her head at an awkward angle. She's trying to look up for that telltale glow of flames on the upper stories but the angle is bad and, well, there's another woman in the way. "You…they've been meaning to replace that for years, you shouldn't be out on that! Come in, we can go out through my door…"

She disappears for a moment, only her hands visible still as they wedge the window open that much wider to allow Tracy an easier entrance. Then Anais pokes her head out again and extends one hand to the blonde. "Here, careful…"

Tracy is slightly more than annoyed at the fire escape for letting her down when it was supposed to be an easy way to sneak out without having to waltz out the front door past surveillance and without having to use one of Peter's many talents. So much for that plan.

"There's no fire," she assures the stranger. The offered hand is looked at longer than it should be, given her obvious need to get inside, but it is taken, clamped onto with a faintly unsettled but grateful smile. The gap between step and window is a bit intimidating, but she manages to climb inside with as much elegance as one can muster under these circumstances. "Thanks," she says under strain. "I'm— sorry. About that.

The redhead has some strength in her arms, enough to make that transition somewhat easier, if no less anxious. She keeps a firm grip on Tracy's hand and supports her arm as well until she's safely in the apartment. Then it's a slow, polite retreat to give the other woman some space. Anais is sensitive to the awkwardness, oh yes. Her smile is uncertain but warm, intended to be reassuring. "Please, don't apologize. It's…it's somewhat reassuring that I'm not the only one who's found herself in that situation. Are you sure you're all right? If you're trying to avoid someone, you're welcome to wait here for a moment until you warm up, or feel it's safe to go?"

There's a minute pause before she gestures to the living room, with its arrangement of couches. "I could make some tea." It isn't a question; Anais heads into the kitchen to prepare the kettle. That it gives Tracy an opportunity to slip out unobserved is not a fact that's been overlooked.

As she gets her bearings after the climb inside, Tracy brushes down the front of her coat with a few idle sweeps of her hands and glances around the residence she's… stumbled into. She smiles at Anais politely as the redhead moves away. "No, I'm all right, it's…" She starts to point upward — at the ceiling and thus the floors above — but as she trails off, so too does her gesture. The explanation she already had ready isn't as handy at Anais's. "…Y'know what, that'd actually be great."

"Ah, you like tea, then? You fell into the right apartment then." Her voice drifts from the kitchen, touched with light amusement. "I have more than I could possibly ever enjoy by myself…let's see. I have Arabian mint chai, rooibos honeybush, raspberry spice…or Earl Grey, if you aren't feeling adventurous." Having already had one adventure tonight, the offer of Earl Grey is somewhat skeptically toned.

It's a quick process, filling the kettle and putting it onto boil. It takes another moment after that to grab a sponge and wipe up the mess left by the falling spoon. But once the kitchen has been returned to tidy order, Anais appears again. Her arms are folded loosely across her belly and that smile is unmistakable.

"It will take a minute for the water to boil. Would you like to sit? I…ah. I'm Anais, by the way."

The blonde woman strolls a bit further into the apartment, so much more well-decorated than the one she just left. Her poise remains respectful and a touch guarded, not exactly making herself at home. "Uh— mint. Thank you," she answers with a smile that, while perhaps not as warm as the redhead's, is pleasant. Polite. "It's … nice to meet you, Anais," Tracy says and laughs lowly under her breath. "I'm… glad you were home." Else she may have had more of an adventure. She steps in to offer Anais her hand. "My name is— " The conversation with Micah AKA Rebel fresh in her mind, she catches herself swiftly. " —Linda." Lie smoothly delivered, she obliges and moves to take a seat on one of the couches. "I'm sorry to intrude, I won't take much of your time, I promise."

The hand is accepted and given a gentle squeeze, less formal than a true handshake. But then, Anais has been caught off guard, dressed in what practically amounts to jammies. It's so much easier to be polished when one is decked out in full business attire. Perhaps out of consideration, or simply not noticing, no mention is made of that little pause. She inclines her head to the blonde. "It's a pleasure, Linda. Please…don't feel badly. I really have been there before. While I was attending university, there was a party…it was all incredibly embarrassing. I don't think I've dared set a foot out of line since, for fear of suffering that feeling again," she confides with a soft chuckle.

With 'Linda' safely settled on the couch, and the whistle beginning to shriek in the kitchen, Anais retreats. But she picks up the thread of the conversation after removing the kettle from the burner and beginning to prepare the cups of tea. "I'm glad I was home as well. I hate to think…oh, do you take sugar?"

Tracy's grip is firm by contrast and cool from being outside, friendly but businesslike otherwise.

Settling down on the sofa's cushion, Tracy smoothes the length of her coat behind her and unbuttons a few of the top fastenings. Though her throat is bare of jewellery, there seems to be a modest blue cardigan underneath buttoned all the way up. More polished than jammies. "Yes please," she answers. "Ah— yeah… well, I think I'll save the fire escapes for emergencies from now on."

"I did think it was an emergency…at the time." Again that glint of humor, there and gone as Anais arranges tea bags and pours water. After a few minutes, she emerges again with a tray balanced between her hands. This is carried to the low table and set down; Tracy's cup is nearest Tracy's side, with a small porcelain bowl full of old-fashioned squares of sugar inside of it. A spoon has been set out as well. "My father sent this tea blend," she confides as she sinks onto the opposite couch. "He's something of a traveler, you'll have to tell me if you like it." Anais pauses for a beat. "If you do, I have a box of it that you can take with you. You'd be doing me a favor."

"Well I picked the right place to fall into," Tracy says of the woman's hospitality and generosity (or at least desire to pawn off tea). She leans ahead to whisk a sugar cube into the hot tea with the spoon. "You have a lovely apartment," she comments — casual smalltalk, but sincere. It's a nice place and it makes her wonder when, if ever, she can go back to her own miles away. As she sits back with the tea in hand, crossing her legs with a quiet swish of black dress pants, her eyes keenly sweep past some of the decor and its various wordly treasures. "More travels?"

Anais picks up her own cup, resting it in her palm. Ah, small talk. "Thank you! It's a work in process…most of this he's sent back to me, but there are some pieces I was allowed to choose while traveling with him as a child." She pauses, smile quirking oddly. "The gaudier masks, for instance. My taste was…not the best."

A sip is taken from the tea, more to test the temperature than to savor the taste of it. Her eyes linger on the blonde over the rim of the cup. "It is good to see you again. I thought you'd moved out, actually," the woman goes on after a brief pause. She's still warm, still casual, but there's no denying the curiosity. Here is a creature who has become a cozy little granny well before her time. It's plain that Anais is trying to gently tease out just why 'Linda' might have been on that fire escape. Being a former resident and all.

Tracy's attention veers away from Anais's art collection and looks very suddenly upon her with critical wonder; it's just a flash in her eyes, coming and going. She keeps her revelation effectively well-masked, otherwise. "I… did," she answers slowly, with a smile. It's the truth: she did take an apartment here but promptly let it go. She couldn't even be called a resident. "I was visiting. A bad idea, obviously." The blonde takes a sip of the tea and calmly watches for a reaction.

"Ahh. I understand. I apologize for prying, I shouldn't have." She's quite sincere in offering that apology, lowering her chin after that flash is seen. Anais regards the shivering surface of the tea before tipping another look up at the blonde. "The boys are well, I hope?" That should be safe territory. Who wouldn't want to speak about their children. But an instant later she is reconsidering even that question, shaking her head to dismiss it. "I am sorry, Linda. I don't often get company…especially coming through the window."

Anais pauses and then offers a smile that borders on a grin. The humor on display is self-deprecating. "I'd hoped to keep it from straying into awkwardness but I'm doing a poor job of it."

Oh no. Boys. That means Niki was here for sure and all of a sudden Tracy's cover has gotten more complicated. Even with her silver-tongued practice working in many a political ring, she can't stop her face from dropping. She blinks a few times and looks away, lowering her tea closer to her lap.

"U-uhm," Tracy murmurs in her throat, reaching up with her free hand to uneasily touch the back of her neck. Sure, she could lie, but just how tricky her new identity could be is striking her awfully fast and hard right now. "Y'know what, I think I should go," she says with a tense, dismissive smile, hurriedly setting her cup back down and getting to her feet. She holds her hands up. "Im sorry— sorry," she gets out quickly and starts to march toward the door rather quickly.

Anais rises a second after the blonde, her expression the very image of rueful surprise. "I…I am so sorry, Linda. I really am. Of…of course, here. I'll get the door." But she is behind Tracy by several steps, trailing after her and looking rather pained. By the time she catches up, it's likely the door will already be open, leaving her to simply hold it that way. "Please don't apologize. Take care."

Tracy is out the door like a rocket, but she does pause in her course, briefly, just past the doorframe to look back at Anais. Her expression is somewhat… conflicted. The woman says nothing else, ultimately, and strides at a brisk pace down the hall, a determined saunter at odds with the way she keeps her head down as she disappears looking for the stairs.

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