2008-01-07: Game Faces


Aspen_icon.gif Alicia_icon.gif Abigail_icon.gif KeLyssa_icon.gif

Summary: Alicia steps out for a bit of shopping before heading home, not expecting to run into Aspen and Abigail, two supposed parents from Alicia's son's school. KeLyssa finds help with a stranger - in this case, Abigail - and lets a little too much slip.

Date It Happened: January 7, 2008

Game Faces

SoHo, New York City

It's still early enough on Wednesday afternoon that Jamie isn't out of school yet. Sure, it won't be long, but he's old enough to get home on his own. Therefore, Alicia is out, doing a little nice shopping. After that night out with Dani and Celeste, she's decided that she needs to have a little more in the way of 'outgoingwear'. She's too used to having her 'I'm not leaving the house' clothes that it's time for a change. Thus, with bags in hand, she's leaving one store and heading to the next, to see what she might be interested in getting.

"…better things to do…" Cue the mumbled complaint of one Aspen St. James to her current partner. In more ways than one. Today, though, she's not Aspen St. James — her identity is quite a different one than usual. If, in fact, she has a usual. Her long hair is pulled into a ponytail that hangs neatly in front of her left shoulder; a red-orange shade, it's a bit too vivid to be natural. A pair of thick-framed rectangular tinted glasses perch on her nose, which, paired with her already bold brows, serve to give her the look of a haughty artist. Her attire is similar, packed with Bohemian sheik — a long skirt, boots that look like they were taken off a jungle animal, and a grey coat that basically consists of a whole lot of fabric and a thick black belt. She turns a corner, standing tall as she marches onto the Avenue several paces behind Alicia. She's going to complain the whole time.

Giving her companion a sidelong look as she keeps pace, Abigail Quinn can't help the wry smirk that finds its way to her face. Keeping her voice low, she says, "You don't do much work like this, do you?" Her tone is teasing and light-hearted, accompanied by a short little laugh. "At least you're not alone." But then, perhaps Miss Quinn isn't Aspen's preferred type of partner - reliable, dedicated to the task at hand, she doesn't complain. Not once. Tucking her hands into the pockets of her red peacoat, she raises her shoulders to hide part of her face behind her angora scarf, protecting her against the cold.

Phone ringing in her pocket, Alicia picks it up, a little annoyed at the loud complaining. "Hello? Hello?" She blinks, looking at it. Oh, it was a text. She tugs a bag onto her shoulder, and sends back a message. Jamie wants to go to the comic shop after work. That's fine. She glances back to see what the loudness is and shrugs, shaking her head and opening the door to the store. She doesn't really spend time looking at people on the streets. In some parts of New York, that'll getcha shot.

KeLyssa had decided that a walk along the town might be good, and she wasn't too far from home, relatively speaking, so she seemed happy with the distance and with her pace. You can't get enough walking in. She has her hair let down loose, hanging down past her shoulders and she's wearing a skirt. She looks around casually as she passes different stores, seeing what's inside, seeing if there's perhaps anything she might want to buy.

Aspen tosses her head, holding it high. Her paces are brisk, to say the least. Abigail better keep up! "Work like what?" she asks for clarity; her proper British accent makes it all the more clipped. "I'm usually on more important missions, if that's what you mean," she adds. Her smirk is somewhat self-satisfied by the time she reaches the door to the store Alicia entered. As she grabs the handle, she looks Abigail's way, quirking a dark brow. "Game faces on, hm?" Aaaand open.

And this is where Abigail lets Aspen's remark go unregistered, at least openly. Her expression offers little by which to gauge her feelings towards Aspen or their mission, though beneath the scarf there just might be a lingering smirk, hidden from view. "My game face is always on, sugar," she chirps, in a Southern accent that wasn't there moments before. "Don't you worry about me." There's a bright smile and a feigned look of fondness for her partner, and Abby pulls open the door to the store, sweeping her hand to motion her in first. "After you."

Oh great. The loud ones are heading this way. Either way, Alicia rolls her eyes and begins looking at a nice blouse. Cotton, breathable, purple. Three things she really likes. But… it's not exactly club-type fashion. Ah well. She holds her bag tightly to her shoulder, so as not to look as though she's doing something illegal. Glancing back up, she looks towards them, trying to remember if she's seen them before or not. The only place would be PTA, and she's the least popular member there. Doesn't matter. "Hmm. Ok. What would be more appropriate for going out with them. Not my comfort wear." She says, softly, glancing about the store, trying to find the right area. She's so not good at this.

KeLyssa looks at a store that looks like it might have something she'd be interested in. Opening the door, she enters the same room store that Aspen and Abigail had just entered not too long ago. She starts to look around at different shirts. "Hmm…I don't know…" She says as she looks at one of the shirts. "It looks nice an' all, just don't know if it's my style…" She holds it up to her chest to see. She shakes her head. "Nah. Definitely ain't my style none." For anyone who could hear her, she has an obvious southern accent.

"Thank you, darling," Aspen says as she steps inside the store after Abigail, already plucking her fine gloves from her hands finger by finger. She glances about at the various articles of clothing immediately on display; really, it's the occupants of the store that she's paying attention to. While KeLyssa garners a glance just for having an accent not unlike Abigail's contrived one, it's Alicia who her gaze lands upon, lighting up as if she just now recognizes the other woman. "Isn't that Ms. Osborne from the school? Look, it is." She keeps her own accent; if anything, accentuating its London lilt even more. She elbows Abigail lightly. "Honey, look, let's go say hello."

Like Aspen, Abby is briefly distracted by KeLyssa and her authentic accent, garnering a fleeting glance. But they're on a mission, as the dark-haired agent is quick to point out, and she turns away. Lighting her hand on her partner's elbow, Abigail follows the woman's gaze to Alicia, adopting an even brighter smile at the sight of their mutual acquaintance. "Jamie's mother, isn't she?" Needing no more direction than that, she leads Aspen towards their fellow pattern. Her free hand raises above her shoulder, and when near enough, she calls out cheerfully, "Ms. Osborne!"

The author looks up as her name is called. Blinking twice, she looks at the women. "Uhm… Hi?" She asks, tilting her head. She glances left, and right, wondering if it might have meant another Mrs. Osborne. Who knows. Nope. "Do I know you from Brubaker?" She asks, since that's about the only way she knows anyone anymore. Either that or they recognize her from a book. But she's not THAT popular.

KeLyssa sighs, taking a few shirts of a variety of racks, not finding the right shirt, much to her frustration. She's never been a fan of shopping anyway. But she needs some new clothes. "This just ain't right!" She says with a frown. "I need somethin'!" She shakes her head.

Aspen keeps pace with Abigail — almost mimicking every footstep — and so they descend upon Alicia. The author may not be as familiar with them as they are with her, but no matter. "Mhm, our son attends! How are you, Alicia, we missed the last PTA meeting, poor little Timothy came down with the flu and you know how that is— took us both and a nanny to take care of him." She touches the purple fabric of an article Alicia had been eyeing. "That's just darling, but can you believe the price?"

"But you're payin' for quality," Abigail replies in her adopted accent, tracing a finger over the rack of clothing as she passes. Holding out her hand to Alicia, she offers the woman a warm smile. "Bridget Johnstone," she says, not at all perturbed that the woman doesn't recognize her. "Our boy is a year ahead of yours." A glance is cast over her shoulder to KeLyssa at the woman's remark, taking on a sympathetic look for a moment before she turns back to Alicia.

"Yeah, but it's not quite what I'm looking for. My therapist says I need to go out more, so I plan to hang out with a few of my friends, but they like to go to clubs occasionally, and I have absolutely nothing that's… good for that." Alicia says, in response to the blouse remark as she blinks and nods. "Ooooh, ok. I thought you looked familiar, but I wasn't sure. Most of the PTA ignores everything I say." She shrugs. It still feels a little creepy. But, hey. At least they're talking to her.

KeLyssa sighs deeply. "Shoulda just sent for stuff from Louisiana." She mutters to herself. "This just ain't…it ain't workin' here." She shakes her head. It's obvious she's still talking about the clothes. She sighs. "Just gotta cool down for a second, KeLyssa. Just gotta cool down." Oooh, more than one meaning there! And she doesn't usually talk to herself…honest.

"Mm, I suppose," Aspen replies off-handedly, sounding skeptical as she ruffles the shirt a little and leaves it alone. "Melissa," she adds to the introductions with a winning smile and an offered hand as well. "Do you want some help? I admit, I don't hit the clubs all that often, Bridget isn't a fan of the scene, but I like to think I have an eye for fashion." On that note, she adjusts her glasses, regarding Alicia expectantly — until the (real) Southerner garners a sidelong glance and a vaguely questioning look that then turns on her partner. Is everyone here insane and fashion-deprived? "Looks like more than one person could use fashion help," she murmurs in a manner that can only be described as gossipy.

Clucking her tongue admonishingly to her partner, Abigail shakes her head, pulling her hand away. "Don't be catty," she chides the other woman, though it's half-hearted at best. "It's true, I'm really not the clubbin' type. Excuse me a moment, would you?" With a swift smile, she ducks her head and turns away from the two women, sensing that the two-on-one conversation may be a touch daunting for Alicia. Also, it's amusing to leave Aspen to carry on the charade. Abigail turns to KeLyssa then, approaching the younger girl oh-so-casually. "Havin' trouble, sweetheart?"

"Sure, I suppose." Alicia nods quickly, breathing a huge sigh of relief when Abby moves over to assist Kel. She's not used to so many people talking to her at once. "I'm kinda surprised anyone recognized me from there, but anyway…" She says with a slight smile. "So… any idea?"

KeLyssa looks up at the woman who approaches her and speaks with a similar accent. She smiles. "I just…I can't seem to find nothin' that suites me right. It's so hard, ya know? And I ain't the greatest shopper none. I just…I ain't good at it. I like clothes, I hate the shoppin', ya know?" She shakes her head.

"I like to keep note of all the mums and dads. Come then, I know this store — they keep the stuff with a bit of glamour over here." 'Melissa' places a friendly hand lightly on Alicia's shoulder and attempts to guide her toward a far wall where, indeed, the clothing is a little more suited to evenings on the town. "How is your Jamie?"

"Oh, don't say that!" This is a woman who apparently quite enjoys shopping, if her disappointed tone suggests anything, and Abigail waves a hand dismissively. "You don't know what you're missin'. Try everything and always go with someone." Her eyes fall to the racks of clothing, though not without a surreptitious glance cast to Aspen and Alicia on the way, and she leafs through the shirts until she finds one in particular, pulling the hanger from the rack. "How about this?"

"Distant. But then, he has been ever since his dad died." Aly says, letting herself be led to the corner. She should have called Celeste for shopping advice. At least she's someone that Aly knows better. Oh well, it can't hurt. She looks at the clothing where she's guided and begins glancing at a few tops, with some actual interest. "Huh… This one's not too gaudy and flashy."

KeLyssa looks the shirt over and shakes her head. "I don't know…do ya think that'd look good on me?" She sighs. "I suppose I'm also fearful someone'd think I look horrible in it. Ya ever get that feelin'?"

Aspen gives the other woman a sympathetic look; her face is made to pout, so she does it well, all while examining the outfit Alicia notes. "That's too bad. I'm sure he'll perk up, is he very involved with friends?" Almost without pause, she says of the shirt, "I'm not sure if that's your colour, darling. Try the one behind it?"

"Oh, honey." Canting her head with a look of sympathy, Abigail shakes her head slowly. "All the time. I think it's only gettin' worse the older I get, but at least my partner doesn't care none how I dress most of the time." It's a convenient excuse to flick another glance over to Aspen and Alicia, trying to divide her attention between the conversations. "I think this would work. Here, we'll hang onto it and find some more. What kinda things are you lookin' for? Fancy ones, ones to wear every day, work ones— you've got lots of options."

Nodding softly, Alicia shrugs. "He'll get past it or he won't. That's what the therapist tells us both. He has friends, but he's distant from me. I think he's just… scared of me disappearing on him like Mark did." She explains as she places the top back and picks up a nice blue one, holding it to her chest to get a look.

KeLyssa sighs and shakes her head. "I don't need nothin' for work. It's just casual dress there…I work at a…a comic book shop sorta place." She says smiling. "The Secret Lair. It's a wonderful place." She thinks for a moment. "Some fancy dress might be nice I suppose. Gotta look nice for my boyfriend after all." She says giggling lightly.

"So casual and fancy," Abigail summarizes, nodding her head once, definitively. "This, we can do." Draping the shirt over her arm, she holds out her hand to the younger girl. "Bridget, by the way." The girl's enthusiasm for her boyfriend is touching, bringing a soft smile to Abby's face. "Okay. Let's find some pretty things for steppin' out with your boyfriend." As she moves to a new rack of clothes, she peruses them quickly, holding an item up to KeLyssa every few seconds to gauge whether or not it works. If it does, it gets draped over her arm, like the others; if not, it's placed back. "What's it like to shop at a comic book store? I've never even set foot in one."

KeLyssa nods firmly. "Yeah…if it's doable, that is. I ain't wanna be lookin' too hard for somethin' that ain't there, ya know?" She shakes her head. She holds out her own hand at the introduction and says, "M'name is KeLyssa. Nice to meetcha Bridget." She smiles softly. Her hand, during the handshake, would've felt much colder than a usual person's hand. Especially for having been inside as long as she has now. It should've warmed up a /bit/, but that just doesn't seem the case. How curious. She shakes her head at the one item before going to look at others.

"Good heavens, your hands are freezin', sugar!" Frowning at KeLyssa as the handshake comes to a close, Abigail takes the girl's hand in both of hers and rubs it between them as if to warm them up. "I hope you're wearin' gloves outside. It gets cold here in the winter." She draws her own hands away again, full of sympathy now for the younger woman who clearly needs maternal attention. "Here. You oughta try some of these on before we get too far." Offering out the armful of clothes, she offers KeLyssa an encouraging smile.

"Very nice— you should get more than one colour, here, try the plum," Aspen goes so far as to take a top off the rack and hold it toward Alicia. "What happened to your husband?" Almost immediately, she holds a hand up as if to stop herself, and she gives the woman a woefully apologetic look. "I'm sorry, I'm too curious for my own good sometimes." She checks in on Abigail with a glance. "Bridget, darling? Making new friends?"

KeLyssa giggles nervously, with eyes looking away anxiously as Abigail mentions her hands being cold. "It's…it's…umm…I think it's a medical condition." She manages to stammer out. "I should probably see a doctor 'bout." She stammers out quietly. Yes…medical condition. That's it. That's all it ever is…she smiles at the clothes. "Yeah, ya probably right. Don't wanna get to far in an' find out that none of 'em fit me just right, eh?"

"It's alright. Really. It was a car accident. He swerved to avoid something. I lived… he didn't. I barely got injured even." Alicia shrugs. It's sad, but she can deal with it. She can avoid breaking down in public. She's strong enough for that. She reaches a hand out for the plum, testing it with her skintone. "I don't know. Maybe something closer to lilac."

If Abigail takes note of KeLyssa's discomfort with the subject of her cold hands, she certainly makes no indication of it. "Oh, yes. Cold hands could be a sign of big problems, you know," she chirrups absently in her Southern accent, but she's already moving away from the racks of clothing in search of a sales associate. In a store like this, it's easy enough to find one, and Abigail looks back to KeLyssa with a smile. "You go try them on. She'll take you. If you need a second opinion, I'll be right here."

Aspen affects a tiny pout of sympathy once more, along with a tiny cluck of her tongue. "Sounds like you're quite the miracle, doesn't it. I'm sorry, that must be awful losing someone like that, but, there I go again, talking too much. Look at you though, shopping, hitting the town. Good for you! And the plum goes splendidly with your gorgeous brown eyes, lilac's going to wash you out and you don't want that, do you."

KeLyssa smiles at Abigail, taking the clothes that have been taken off the racks. "Thank ya very much. It…it means a lot to me." She nods and smiles at the sales associate, going into one of the change rooms as she does so.

She can't help but feel a little self-conscious at that. But Alicia smiles softly anyway. "I suppose so. I just always felt that lighter colors were better with my earth tones." She blushes slightly. "Nah, nothing miraculous about it. Just lucky, I suppose." Well, there's more than luck to it, but as far as she knows, only her doctor knows for sure.

When the girl is gone into the change room, Abigail pulls a cell phone from her pocket and flips it open. While she waits for the younger girl to reappear, she types out a text message, humming a quiet song beneath her breath. The message, though no one is around to witness it, reads: 'Kelissa? Secret Lair, cold hands, v. nervous.' When she hits send and the message is on its way, she flicks a glance in the direction of Aspen and Alicia, rocking back on her heels.

KeLyssa comes out a few minutes later, with a couple shirts in one arm, but most of them in the other. She smiles at Abigail. Lifting up the arm with most of the shirts, she says, "Don't think these are goin' to work none. But these ones," she raises the arm with less on it, "are perfect." She smiles widely. "I think I'm goin' to get 'em."

"You need jewel tones," Aspen corrects, but it's with a well-meaning smile. "There now, you just need a skirt-but, oh," she stretches a slender wrist out far enough to glimpse her watch. "Bridge and I should get some shopping in before the day's through. I'll just be over here, but Alicia-" Charming smile! "If you ever want to get together outside of school, for tea and a chat, do give me a ring. I know how the other ladies from Brubaker can be." She whisks a business card from her pocket. It says //Melissa Johnstone-Hemmingway. Apparently she's an interior designer.

Spreading her hands as KeLyssa steps out of the change room, Abigail meets the girl with a welcoming grin. "Oh, wonderful," she says excitedly at the girl's success with the clothes, even if most of what was chosen is on the other arm. "He'll love them, I'm sure. But then I bet he'd love anythin', huh?" As she motions KeLyssa towards the cash, she tucks her hands back into her pockets and asks, "What's your boyfriend's name?"

"They don't seem to have a clue!" Alicia says with an eyeroll. "They don't seem to have a clue what the actual issues are. All they want is BAKE SALE." She takes the card and places it into her purse. "I just might. I'm supposed to get together with Dani and Celeste sometime soon, but more friends can't hurt." She says with a chuckle. She pulls her own out and offers it to the wrongly named person. Of course, hers is simply 'Author' and her name and number.

KeLyssa smiles at Abigail. She's so pleasant! How nice…it's nice to be around someone who's just…happy. "I don't know…I suppose Dani'd like me no matter what I wore, but bein' self-concious ain't all it's cracked up to be, ya know?" She smiles softly. Well, there informs the name of the boyfriend. "I just worry sometimes. I should probably stop that." She says with a wide grin, walking up to the counter to pay for her clothes.

"You got it." Abigail reaches out to nudge the girl's shoulder gently, to reinforce her words. "There's no point in bein' worried about what other people think about you, darlin'. You've got people who care about you, and that's all you need. Melissa and I gave up worryin' about that a long time ago." Sighing quietly, a quick and wistful sound, she shakes her head. "I just hope my son gets to that point. It isn't easy for him."

"Bake sale. Please. All they care about is competing for who has the most delectable almond cookies." Aspen waves a hand before taking Alicia's card. Beaming, she tucks it in the pocket of her decidedly swishy coat. "The more the merrier, but quality over quantity, I say. I want to see you try that plum on before you sneak out of here." With a wink (she's so totally not hitting on Alicia, really), she whirls about to saunter toward Abigail — and thus KeLyssa. She loops arms with the former and waggles her fingers at the latter. "Productive?"

"Oh fine." Aly sighs, taking the plum and going towards the dressing room, herself. "Though I still need to think about a tattoo. Dani and Celeste want to give me one, but I can't figure out what I want." she chuckles, walking past KeL. "I don't bake. So, they don't like me." She's not realizing any sort of flirtatiousness. She, after all, hasn't been that visible to the public for a while.

KeLyssa smiles at Abigail once more. "Thanks…really. You've been a great help. Honestly. I'm glad I ran into ya today, ma'am." She says happily to her, while paying for her clothes. "I'm sure you're son'll get it one day too, just keep workin' at it." She nods.

"Oh, it's no problem at all, KeLyssa," Abigail replies brightly, flashing her a smile in return. She may not know how to spell the girl's name, but she pronounces it properly, at least. "I like helpin' people, and kind ones like you can be hard to come by. Maybe I'll stop by your store and pick somethin' up for Timmy one of these days." She rests a hand on Aspen's own when the woman appears beside her, ducking her head in a quick nod to her partner. "Sure were, sugar. You ready to get our own shoppin' done?"

Well…at least she can say the name right, that's what's most important for now. KeLyssa nods at Abigail. "That'd be nice. I'm doin' closin' alot these days, so if you're so inclined, feel free to come 'round the shop in the evenin' and I'll help ya to find one for 'im, okay?" She nods, taking the clothes. "I should probably be off now. But hopefully I'll see you soon!"

Aspen turns a feigned smile of affection on Abigail. "Quite." She even takes Abby's hand and swings it cheerfully to and fro. She gives the real Southerner a polite smile, her gaze wandering between the two of them somewhat curiously before she twirls as if she's going to haul her partner off toward one of the racks.

It takes her a few moments to get the blouse on, as she had to hide her straps. After all, she wasn't expecting anything with a neck that wide. Stepping out of the dressing room, Alicia glances towards Melissa with a smile. "It… actually does work, I think." She chuckles.

"Hopefully so. Bye!" Abigail raises her free hand in a wave as she is led away by Aspen, humming quietly beneath her breath. "She was a lovely girl," she muses in her Southern twang, her eyes passing absently over the clothing as they move through the store. "Oh, now that is pretty," she says brightly as Alicia steps out of the room.

"Fabulous!" Aspen calls out to Alicia, and can't help the smirk that crosses her lips. See, she knew what she was talking about all along. "'Lovely'?" she murmurs to her partner quietly, placing special emphasis on the word. She pretends to be interested in a black dress hanging from the rack she stops at. She eventually takes it, since they're supposed to be shopping, draping it over one arm. "Everyone seems to be making friends," she says under her breath.

Alicia can't help but chuckle as she ducks back into the fitting room to get back into her own sweater and top. That's why it takes so long. Layers. As she comes back out again, she nods. "Ok, so that one's a keeper." She chuckles, actually agreeing with the others on it.

In the time that Alicia is in the dressing room, Abigail turns her attention back to her supposed wife, maintaining her character even when they're alone. "Oh, yes," she says cheerfully, rocking in her heels again. "Very lovely. She works at a comic book store. I think I'll drop by and pick something up for Timmy. You know how he likes comic books." When Alicia returns, Abigail grins. "All set, then?"

Aspen's brows are still faintly lifted to Abigail by the time Alicia reappears. "Glad to be of help," she tells the author with a smile. To Abby, she says off-handedly, "Don't forget that you need a new cocktail dress before we leave." Seeming content with the dress she's slung over her arm, she busies herself momentarily with her cell phone, punching in some text. Angled slightly toward Abigail, it reads: 'Friends: Danny & Celeste ??'.

"Yeah. I have a few skirts at home that should go well with it." Aly chuckles, moving towards the cash register to pay for the blouse. She's easy to convince when it comes to clothing. After all, it's just not her cup of tea. She pulls out her money to pay for it, using actual cash, rather than cards. It's just the way she's used to, even if it's old fashioned to some.

"Oh, that's right." Of course she needs a cocktail dress. Abigail hums a chipper tune beneath her breath as she peruses some of the dresses, pulling several out to appraise. "Mm, I think I like the first one better," she says distractedly, giving a pointed look back to Aspen as she removes a red off-the-shoulder dress from the rack. First, in this case, very well might mean more than one thing. They're sneaky like that. She tracks Alicia's movements for a second or two, then looks back to Aspen. "What do you think?"

"The first, hmm," Aspen says thoughtfully, looking at the dresses with a critical eye. "Mm, I think you're right. It'll be stunning on you. Red's your colour. And look, it's your size. Shall we, then?" She gives a nod toward the counter, where Alicia is paying for her things. "Definitely charging this to the Company," she murmurs. It's nice and ambiguous all the same.

As she finishes paying, Alicia gets the blouse in a bag and smiles happily. Turning to the women, she grins. "Well, I hope to see you both out again." She means it, too! For all that it's worth. She reaches back to stretch her arms behind her back before picking the bag up. It's a good, hard stretch. "But I should get home before Jamie does, I suppose." She offers a little wave as she picks up the blouse and heads to the door.

As Alicia moves towards the door, Abigail turns to call out, "See you at the next meeting!" Then she steps up to the counter beside Aspen, setting her dress down beside the other agent's. "Good. Then you can get mine, too." The smile she offers Aspen is more contrived now than before, and she slides the dress over to the cashier.

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