2007-08-25: Have You Seen This Girl

Starring:

Bekah_icon.gif Cass_icon.gif Kory_icon.gif Mariska_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Randall_icon.gif

Summary: Mariska's mission to find her missing daughter leads to a paper campaign at Enlightenment Books. Also, everyone in New York knows Felix Ivanov. No, seriously.

Date It Happened: August 25th, 2007

Have You Seen This Girl?


East Village, NYC - Enlightenment Books

It's the just-after-dinner rush and folks who were previously occupied with their evening meals are now filtering into the bookstore for a little, light reading before they find their way home. Or something. In the corner, by the bulletin board, there's a dark-haired woman posting up a pair of flyers. From a distance, they appear identical - it seems to be the standard missing person or pet scenario - the word 'MISSING' stamped in big, bold letters across the top. She pauses after her task is completed and turns around to give the earthy-scented store a scrutinizing stare… as if whomever or whatever's gone missing might be on the table three feet away.

Enlightenment Books. It's been a long time. Outside the familiar bookstore — not exactly somewhere she ever thought would be familiar, 'cause it's kind of weird, seriously — Niki looks at the window. For a moment, she just stands there on the sidewalk in front of the little steps that lead up to the door, staring. She doesn't see anything or anyone inside the store. Instead, she's staring at the mystical logo and the hint of her reflection beside it. The last time she was here… the last time she was here, she wasn't herself. But she remembers glimpses. Horror. The blonde swallows the memories, hesitates a moment longer and strides up and into Enlightenment, the bell above the door making her presence known cheerfully. Like Mariska, Niki seems to have a purpose beyond idle shopping, because she moves straight through the little store, looking this way and that, obviously searching.

We're all searching for something… isn't that how the story goes? For Mariska, it couldn't be more literally true. Niki's arrival catches her attention in the same sort of way that a cat might notice a curious insect which requires further investigation. There is a boldness in the dark-haired woman's gait as she makes a beeline for the blonde. When she's close enough to initiate conversation in a tone of voice that doesn't constitute screaming across the room, Mariska reaches out to tap the other woman on the arm and says, "Excuse me…"

Niki is in the midst of touching a bookshelf and peeking down one of the aisles filled with books in her search for… well, whatever it is. Or rather, whoever. There's enough people here this evening that Mariska's approach goes completely unnoticed at first; so, when her arm is tapped, the blonde woman whirls a look over her shoulder pretty damn fast. When she realizes the brunette is not Cass, but a complete stranger, she seems mildly perplexed. She's not impolite, exactly, she's just wondering what the other woman wants. "Hi, can… I help you?"

Mariska flinches; the barest of recoiling punctuated all the more poignantly by her sudden stillness afterward. She's as if she's gotten stuck in time for a moment, freezing and then defrosting in order to bring up a hand and offer Niki a flyer as she asks, "Have you seen this girl?" Wow. That's a pretty thick accent there, Anastasia. The flyer itself appears to be a duplicate of one she'd just pinned up to the board. The photograph shows a little girl who looks to be somewhere between the ages of four and six years old. She has dark hair and light eyes, but the black and white copy makes it impossible to tell whether they're green or blue. Thank goodness for the text written underneath that explains the girl's name is Aleksandra and she's got black hair and, oh, blue eyes. There you go. Poor Mariska can't help but look at Niki with a naively hopeful look… as if this random encounter might be her big break. 'Sure. She's back at my house watching cartoons. I'll take you there.' Please. Say that. It's heartbreaking, really.

Bekah has arrived.
Kory has arrived.

The photograph gets Niki's attention right away — but, sadly, maybe not in the way the Russian woman is hoping. Her brows knit together, sympathetic distress lining her face automatically, and she reaches out to touch the corner of the picture for a moment before taking it into her hand. Blue eyes narrow and lips purse a little as she takes in the image and the description. She looks at for a few long moments, looking longer than she really needs to in order to know she's never seen the girl before. In a city this big… "I'm sorry," she answers, but offers a tenuous smile afterward and tells Mariska sincerely, "She's beautiful." It's with a touch of sadness that she says so, given the circumstances. The bold 'MISSING' and all on the flyer. "How long has she been…?"

Bekah makes her way into the bookstore through the front door. She's dressed in worn jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt that says 'I'm not bossy. I just know what you should be doing.' Her hands are tucked down in her pockets as she stops inside the door to look around. From the curiosity on her face, it doesn't look as if this is a place she frequents much, if she's been there ever before.

A moment or two after Bekah walks in, a young woman glides past the front window and stops, eyes widening and brightening. It's almost literally written all over her face: ''A Bookstore''! Her lips curl into a smile and she skates forward, then pauses, looking down. She has a quick conversation with something below her, then skates the rest of the way in. Once she pushes the door open, it's clear who she was talking to. There's a tiny dog in a tote bag hanging from her shoulder. The dog gazes around curiously, but makes no sound.

There's an appreciative inhalation from Kory before she sighs and smiles like someone coming home.

Mariska's shoulders, having been held tense with anticipation, fall slack by a degree as Niki sorts out to be… not the one. Just another disappointing encounter. Still, the blonde at least has the heart enough to be kind… and in New York, that counts for brass polished enough to gleam like gold. "Thank you," says the Russian quietly. Having a beautiful abducted daughter is understandably little consolation. She then adds a sorrowful postscript. "Two years." This means that picture’s at least two years old. The arrival of Bekah and Kory draws Mariska's attention out of the moment and away from the blonde she'd been lingering next to and it offers Niki the perfect excuse to slip away before things get too sentimental or awkward. The dark-haired portion of the pair parts from the fairer with, "Please… if you see her… call." Must be a phone number on that flyer somewhere.

Two years. Niki doesn't even want to imagine what that would be like, not knowing where your child is for that long, if they're safe— and she's been forced to think such things before. She understands, to some degree. Mariska is heartbreaking. It's painfully obvious that, if Niki had any way of helping the other woman right this second, she would. She regards Mariska with that same blue-eyed sympathy that sparked from the get-go, but looks to the door when the newcomers head in one after the other — and promptly gives her head a subtle, dismissive shake after the fact. It's not her job to pay attention to who's coming and going here anymore! "I'll hold on to it," she says quietly. With Mariska moving away, Niki glances around Enlightenment again — and strides to the door that leads, presumably, to a back room. "Cass…?" she calls out, not too loud. Knockknockknock.

Bekah gives the dog in the tote bag a rather disdainful look and a snort before she moves off towards the shelves. Mariska and Niki are given quick curious looks as well, but she didn't hear enough of the conversation to learn anything. A hand actually comes out of her pocket to run lightly along the spines of the books as she reads the titles.

The little windowsills with the little pillows! The stacks! The shelves! The hesitant smile bursts into the full megawattage. Kory absently pets the tiny dog at her side, then takes a careful glide forward toward the periodicals. Her nose wrinkles thoughtfully, but the smile never fades. The subject matter she finds must appeal. She does overhear the woman with the accent, though, and that makes her glance sympathetically over her shoulder, the smile disappearing, before she returns to her browsing, shoulders hunched a bit. She knows what it's like to miss someone and hope they come home.

The Russian's departure from Niki's personal space comes complete with a second-thought pause, but as the other woman's proceeded on to search for someone herself, Mariska lets her be and makes her way over to Bekah. "Excuse me," she says to the young woman. "Have you seen this girl?" Cue the flyer pawning. Perhaps if she times it right, she can manage to hook Kory's attention, too.

Bekah turns as she's addressed and blinks at Mariska. But after a moment she takes the flyer from Mariska giving it a look. She takes the time to really look at the picture, biting her lip for a moment as she thinks. "I don't think I have. I see a lot of children on a regular basis, but I don't remember seeing this one." She says honestly. Bekah is dressed in casual clothes as she speaks to Mariska near one of the shelves of books.

"Huh? Oh…" Kory looks up, startled out of her reverie. The dog looks up too. Kory skates away from the periodicals, cranes her neck to look at it over Bekah's shoulder. There's a tiny crease between her brows as she scans it quickly. "Oh, wow," Kory murmurs with a sincerity that is genuine rather than faked. Brown eyes leave the flyer and fix instead on the face of Mariska. "I haven't. But I really wish I had." But she dutifully reaches a hand past Bekah to take a copy. "Got a few to spare? I can post a few up on campus and in my neighborhood if you want."

Ask and she shall appear! There's a bit of a stumble and the door to the back opens. A startled and slightly rumpled Cass appears. She rubs at her eyes a bit and blinks at the sunlight in front of her. "Oh. Oh! Niki! Hi!" Then, she looks out and sees that there are people in her store. Which there weren't just a little while ago. Oh dear, did she fall asleep? She's been working long and exhausting hours lately. It's possible. "Hi! It's good to see you. What can I do for you?" Her eyes dart about to check to see if anyone else needs help, too.

Niki is about to head away from the back, her search turning up with nothing (her hunt for the store's friendly owner is not quite so dramatic as Mariska's hunt for her missing daughter, mind you), but suddenly-Cass. She actually looks surprised to see the woman, despite being the one knocking on the door. "Cass," she steps back, "I was around and I— " Pause. A vague smile plays on her mouth. "… You look like you just woke up."

No? Nothing? Neither of them? Mariska does her level best not to look drenched in disappointment but, you know, she is. And, yet, the surprisingly prevalent outpouring of sympathy from the everyday New Yorker has instilled the foreign woman with a hopeful reserve. She very willingly hands over to Kory a small stack of extra fliers and it quickly becomes apparent that there are actually two versions — one in English and one in Cyrillic script. She then offers the same to Bekah. Maybe she's got places to post them, too? Welcome to impromptu canvassing! "If you see her, you call this number, please?" It's a little bit query, little bit statement, all muddled up in her accent. And then that second-thought creeps in again and she tacks on a follow-up question, "You know a man name Felix Ivanov?" Sure. Who doesn't, right?

Bekah shakes her head to Mariska. "I don't have good places to hang them. I'll keep this one, though." And likely take it to the ER with her. Just in case. "Felix? You know Agent Ivanov?" Bekah asks with a shift of her head to the side, curious. Niki and Cass get a quick look, but this more interesting. Not interesting enough to keep the little dog in the bag from getting a dirty look, though.

Sincere? Yeah, Kory is all about sincere. She plucks a cellphone from a pocket, eyes darting from flyer to device as she keys the number into speed dial memory. While she does this, the little Yorkie gives an equally disdainful huff at Bekah. "I'll call, you bet," she says, tucking the phone back away. The flyers get folded lengthwise and tucked in a long pocket on the leg of her pants. She drops silent, again, though, as the name Felix Ivanov doesn't mean anything to her. Figuring she's done all she can, she begins to turn away to return to the shelves.

"I. Maybe sort of kind of fell asleep at my desk." Quickly, Cass checks the clock on the wall. "Oh. Good. It was only for a few minutes." Rolling her neck a bit, she puts a hand there, as if that will help. "I'm glad you stopped by." The woman smiles at her old friend. "I've been worried about you." The other customers seem to be talking and chatting to themselves, but she calls out to them, "If you need help finding anything, please just ask. I'm the missing employee here. Just call out for Sleeping Beauty if you need me."

Wait… for serious? There's a little light that suddenly shines from behind Mariska's green eyes and her posture adjusts to something straighter and more resolute. "I… really? You know him?" Bekah's just bought herself a new best friend with little more than repetition. "Have you seen him?" The /lately/ is implied with an intense stare. Cass and Niki? Kory? Where? Mariska's just tuned in to the 'all Bekah, all the time' channel and she's not going to click off for commercials until she gets a (hopefully recent) response.

Niki can't help but smile at Sleeping Beauty. "It's good to see a friendly face, you know? I kind of—" Kind of is in another mess, but when Mariska says the name "Felix Ivanov," behind her, Niki squints, distracted from her conversation with Cass. She doesn't turn around right away. It doesn't click. It's only a moment later, when she hears Bekah say Agent Ivanov, that she suddenly goes hurriedly digging in the cheap but fashionable black purse that's slung loosely over one shoulder. She comes up with a card. Felix Ivanov, it says. Federal Bureau of Investigation. A bit bewildered, she looks over her shoulder at the group of women. After a concerned glance back to Cass, she trails off, card in hand, to appear behind Mariska. "… he's at an FBI office in New York. Right?"

Bekah stops to think for a moment before she shakes her head. "I don't think I've seen Agent Ivanov in a couple of weeks now. He's not precisely my best friend. I just see him out and about sometimes." Especially times he's been gravely injured. She looks over to Niki and nods. "That's where he works, yeah." The other woman entering the conversation doesn't seem to strike her as abnormal.

Kory drags her hair out of her face, and grabs a magazine with a picture of Carrot Top on the cover, speculating on whether he's actually Of This Earth. Amused, she turns toward the front of the store and the registers. The Yorkie gives an urgent little yip, and Kory speeds her pace, carefully weaving around the other customers.

"I'm sure." However, the moment that Niki's attention is dragged away to Mariska, Cass stays silent. There's something with the fliers and a worried face, so this is obviously important. It's a small bookstore, so it doesn't take her very long to discern who is occupied and who may need help. Instead, she focuses on the person not in conversation at the moment and takes a small step toward her. "Do you need help finding anything?" she asks Kory.

"Oh, just this," Kory replies, quickly. "Ring me up quick, wouldja? I think Triv here needs out right quick, and then I have to take him home to Mrs. St. John-Smythe." She checks the tote bag quickly, and smiles with relief. The dog appears to be well behaved at the moment. "What're your hours, by the way? I am a bit of a night owl…"

For the love of Liberace! Everyone in New York /really does/ know Felix Ivanov! Or, at least, (almost) everyone in New York that Mariska has so far to meet /really does/ know Felix Ivanov! The import can't help but look just this side of stunned and, hey, Niki's back. This is enough to very nearly coax out something akin to a smile. Bekah's declaration of weeks at last sighting drains the cheer from her expression, however. The conference on the missing federal agent begins with Mariska explaining to the gathered pair, "That is him. He is missing, too. I am looking for them both." The agent and the girl; their daughter.

Bekah blinks over to Mariska very intent on the conversation now. "Felix is missing? How long has he been gone?" The wheels are spinning, but so far there's no steam coming out of her ears. Not yet, anyway.

"I only met him once," Niki says with a shake of her head that jars her hair, just a touch of defensive. She doesn't wanna seem like she's some fount of information. She doesn't know the guy. "It was just… one of those freak things," she adds, tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "I… have his card." She shows it, face-up, to Mariska as some kind of evidence, but lets her hand fall to her side. "It was… like a month ago. Sorry. But," She offers up a shrug and a tentatively optimistic word, "If he's with the FBI, they're probably gonna find 'em. It's their job." Isn't that what they're good at? Finding missing people of importance. And people who're supposed to be dead. Niki frowns, restless, despite her attempt to encourage Mariska.

"Ah." Cass takes the intended to be purchased item and gestures Kory to follow her the few steps to the back of the store with the old fashioned register by the information desk. "Sure. No problem." Quickly calculating the total, she gives it to Kory before also reaching into a drawer and pulling out a card with the store's address and hours on it. "We're only open till 8. Hopefully that's night owlish enough?" There's a smile as the store owner starts to put the purchase in a bag and write out the receipt on a carbon copy pad.

"Not nearly, but I'm sure I'll find a way to squeak in before you close," Kory assures the proprietor. She digs in her wallet and pays cash. A $10. "Here you go, keep the change." Always pays to make a good first impression in a store one hopes to become a regular in. "Thanks a lot! This'll be a great read!" She tucks away the wallet, fishes out a metro card, and starts for the door, magazine tucked in the same pocket in which she stuck the flyers.

"Ever since I show up," says Mariska. Well, uh… that certainly doesn't seem to be conveniently conspiratorial at all, does it? Maybe New York hit a Russian equilibrium — one more showing up meant another had to leave. Still, she perseveres with the resolution of a woman not to be hindered by the simplest explanation possible. Clearly, there were shenanigans involved in his perfectly-timed disappearing act and, by God, she's going to get to the bottom of it! (… right after she finds her daughter.) Again, she all but begs, "You see him, you call, okay? Please." A hard-knuckled finger gestures to the telephone number listed at the bottom of the flyer for the missing Aleksandra. Even Cass and the departing Kory gets a dose of the pleading look. After two years of searching, you better believe that's a look Mariska's perfected.

Bekah looks over to Mariska. "Are you sure he's not just avoiding you?" She mutters, under her breath. It may or may not be loud enough for Mariska to hear, depending on how well she's listening. Bekah gives Niki a curious look. "I guess that's what the FBI does, sure."

The momentary smile caused by the magazine with the Carrot Top cover story vanishes in the face of Mariska giving her That Look again. Oh, God, not the puppy dog eyes. Kory nods again, lower lip quivering a bit. She murmurs, "Will if I see her. Call, I mean. Promise." With that, she makes her way to the door. Outside, she bends. Obvious that the dog she addressed as 'Triv' needed walkies. When she rises, gloved hands holding a well-wrapped puppy present to drop in the trash can. There's a suspicious glimmer in her eyes.

Randall has arrived.

Surprised, Cass takes the money and hands over the bag. "Th-that's really not necessary!" She tries to call out to the other woman, but she's gone. Frowning, she writes something down on a sheet of paper, makes a copy of Kory's receipt, circles the change and posts it behind the counter so that should Kory come back next time she'll get her change. Cass just doesn't feel right about keeping it. The sudden pleading look given to her by Mariska freezes her mid posting and she nods without even realizing what she's nodding to. "Who am I calling about?" She manages to ask after a few moments.

"You bet." Niki still has that flyer curled up in her hand. It gets tucked away in her purse with Felix's card, two puzzle pieces. "Good luck," she tells Mariska; something she's heard before, probably, but there it is anyway. She smiles, well-meaning, before sneaking off to the counter area. "I think… there's a flyer up," she explains for Cass's sake. "Missing persons."

Mariska must have missed it — Bekah's sotto vocce statement — because it doesn't appear to earn any audible acknowledgement or reply. The look on her face does darken somewhat, but that could just be due to the weight of the moment and the dissipation of a lead now less… leading. Instead, what she says to Bekah is, "I hope you are right. If I find him, I know I find her." And, suddenly, the scenario is spun again. Did Felix Ivanov kidnap the little girl she's looking for??

Just before the door closes behind Kory - or just after, perhaps - it opens again, more slowly. Randall slips inside, eyes squinted nearly shut at first, before he blinks and rubs them. "Who's missing?" he calls out, even before looking around to see who said that in the first place.

Bekah gives Mariska a curious look at that statement but then she just shakes her head and looks back to the books. She pulls one out and starts to flip through it, almost aimlessly.

Puzzle pieces, missing persons, fliers. Cass takes this all in and nods. "Oh!" Wow. That's something that she should look into. "If you want, I can post a few of the fliers over on the events table." The store owner points over to where other people have stacked up fliers and postcards, advertising for events and things going on in the neighborhood. There's a poster or two about missing animals, but it's the best she can offer the woman. "I'm not sure if many people would see it, but it's something?"

Bumping up against the counter opposite Cass, Niki looks back at Mariska, thoughtful; but she says nothing more to the desperately seeking stranger. Randall gets a passing glance, familiarly associated with this bookstore. She's quiet, while Cass does the helpful thing, idly looking around the store. She spends a moment looking at the empty space on the wall that looks like it used to house a painting. "You're busy," she interjects politely, smiling in the store owner's direction. "I gotta get back to Queens anyway. I'll see you?"

Not one to let an asking opportunity like Randall's arrival go by unexploited(?), Mariska is at once set upon Randall with a flyer in hand. "Have you seen this girl?" she says to the curly-topped lad, her voice heavily tainted with an unmistakably Soviet sway. Cass' extended offer is acknowledged with a pale-eyed and appreciative look. Of course, there's already a pair of Mariska's new 'MISSING' posters pinned to the board but that doesn't seem enough to discourage the woman from digging in to the threadbare bag she's toting around to retrieve another thin stack of spare flyers to leave in Cass' care. "Please," she pleads. It's becoming apparent that her English vocabulary might be startlingly limited… at least in the company of so many strangers.

Bekah catches a glimpse of her watch as she turns the page. After a real look at the face of it, she slides the book up off the shelf. "Good luck finding them." She states towards Mariska's general direction. She's heading for the door, though, on her way out into the street.

Randall turns promptly toward Mariska, taking hold of the flyer and squinting at it. "I'm afraid I haven't," he replies, "but I'll keep an eye out. Have you put these up around the schools nearby?" As Bekah heads out, he blinks again and steps out of the way, setting the flyer down on top of the nearest shelf for the moment.

Stepping around the counter, Cass takes the fliers from Mariska. She says nothing about Mariska's vocabulary or even her accent, as that has nothing to do with finding the girl missing on the poster. "You fall asleep for a couple of minutes and suddenly your entire store is filled," she smiles at Niki fondly. "We should meet up non accidentally sometime. I'll give you a call?" People leaving and coming in, Cass just greets and says farewell where appropriate and goes about getting the posters put where they can be seen.

"Non-accidentally. Yeah, sure," Niki agrees, smiling, and as Cass does her thing, she winds her way around the various customers on her way to the door to slip out into the East Village.

Mariska tosses a heavy but appreciative brand of bobbing nod at Bekah's back as the young woman makes her way out of the store. Cue mild mass exodus. One can hardly be blamed. After all, odds are that sticking around will likely entail a fair deal of hearing the same sad story spun over and over again to anyone who happens to walk through the door. It makes for a less than relaxing environment to inhabit… and Mariska at least has the wits to be aware. She turns to Randall, since he's nearby, and asks, "Where is closest school?" Perhaps it's time she found other places to plaster with photocopied posters…

Randall pauses. "I… don't know offhand," he replies, scratching his head. He missed whatever broken English went before, but the latest example - combined with the accent - is enough to tip him off. And evidently he's willing to postpone his own shopping plans for a bit. "But we can find out, there's gotta be a phone book around here somewhere…" Making sure to stay in sight, he looks around to see if one can be spotted nearby.

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