2007-05-12: How Not To Make Friends


Nova_icon.gif Megan_icon.gif

Summary: Nova and Megan meet at Common Grounds. Megan is traumatised and Nova didn't even mean to.

Date It Happened: 12th of May, 2007

How Not To Make Friends

Midtown, NYC - Common Grounds

It's a lazy sort of afternoon in the Common Grounds. The place is not all that full, but mostly it's the kind of people that are alone and hogging up a table for themselves. Megan is one of those people. A steaming mug of something dark is on the table in front of her while she slouches in her seat and half reads and half people watches. It's been a weird sort of week for her and while she's been trying to keep a low profile and away from people, she can only stay cramped up in her apartment so long.

A slow day indeed, and a woman lingers outside Common Grounds, apparently finishing off her cigarette. Now and then, she glances over her shoulder, into the cafe, waiting a little longer before she drops the cigarette to the ground and crushes it out. Nova doesn't glance around once she steps inside, dressed casually in jeans and a sporty kind of T-shirt, a messenger bag draped from one shoulder, hair pulled back in a low pony tail. Her boots, sort of cowboy in design, give her an inch of height she really doesn't need, the barista behind the counter already looking up at her when she approaches, smiles and orders herself a coffee, hold on cream and sugar. As it happens, no tables are completely empty. Coincidence! Nova meanders her way over to Megan's table, stopping once she's within conversation distance. "Don't mind sharing, do you?" she asks, her accent distinctly Australian.

Staring off into space, Megan straightens quickly when she's addressed by Nova. Quickly pulling her coffee closer to her, she blinks and tilts her head up to look at the newcomer. "Uh, n-no," she stammers slightly. The suddenness has thrown her off-guard. Right from the start it's possible to hear her own accent - Scottish. "'S fine. Don' mind." Trying to recover from looking like a spooked horse she pushes some hair behind her ear. "Dinna realize how few tables there were."

"I'll go take the next one that's free, how does that sound?" Nova says, with what /could/ be a friendly smile, maybe, if a little frozen. She's drawing out a chair as she speaks, setting her coffee down on the table and making herself comfortable, otherwise dismissing the person she's sharing a table with as she pulls a folded up newspaper from her bag, the paper rustling as she opens it up, presumably for reading, though keeping it compact rather than spreading the thing all over everywhere.

Now that she's recovering a little, Megan looks a bit more at ease with talking to this complete stranger. She's seen this happen in movies and books. Strangers meet in cafes and talk. Normal! "No, 's fine." Giving her own version of a friendly, if a little nervous smile, she bobs her head. "Don' mind 'f ye don'." Pulling her book over, she opens it up distractedly and pretends to read. Mostly, she's just kind of staring at the page, though. So caught up in her thoughts, she doesn't remember that she should be turning pages once in awhile.

…except this totally isn't a movie, or a book, and so silence ends up descending between the two women when Nova makes no effort to reply, just nod Megan's way before she's reading the newspaper, as people do. Rustle rustle, page turns, a sip is partook from her coffee, which is about as bitter as cafe coffee can get. After a moment, something she reads seems to cause Nova to make a 'oh, how horrible' noise of sympathy, setting the paper down. It's not front page news, more like a weekly follow-up of recent events, and if Megan can read upside-down, the heading says something about a shooting at the stadium. "Terrible, isn't it," she says, now, the only impression that she's addressing the stranger being that there's no one else to address. "World just going to hell in a handbasket, isn't it?"

This time, when Nova speaks, Megan is less surprised. It's harder to spook her whens he /knows/ there's someone who may speak sometimes. Since her own book isn't really interesting her at the moment, she looks up from it and glances over at the headline. She can, in fact, read upside down, and she frowns at what she can read from her seat without leaning forward obviously. "Tha's horrible," she says quietly. "Forget how dangerous this cities s'posed ta be sometimes. Wish everyone'd jus' get along sometimes."

"Three were killed," Nova adds, glancing up at the woman. "Guess you hafta expect this from the big city. Still." She straightens her back a little so she's not slouching over the newspaper, a habit of hers, and she flicks through the pages. "Look at this - someone set a cat shelter on fire the other day. And there was those suicides a little bit back, and that explosion in uptown, I think it was. World's just getting madder every day, y'know?"

Not big on reading the newspaper, as it's just too depressing, Megan's frown turns down and down at the mention of all the things that Nova lists off. "Always seemed kinda mad ta me," she replies quietly, still staring at the newspaper. She can't read anything since the pages are flicking by so quickly, so she's mostly doing it so that she doesn't have to stare awkwardly at the other woman. "Mebbe not this mad, though." Pulling over her mug of coffee, she doesn't take a sip of it, either. "'S why I don't read the papers anymore. 'S terrible. People always manage ta do the worst things ta each other."

Nova gives a noncommittal 'mm' at this, and goes back to studying an article, perhaps again dismissing the other woman. But no, it seems that there's a conversation now going, as she speaks up again. "It's not always doom and gloom, at least," she says. "Sometimes it's just plain weird." She flicks a glance up at Megan, with a half-smile. "Which can be entertaining, I reckon. 's mostly why /I/ read the news. You just never know what's gonna stop making sense."

If Nova's about to dismiss Megan, the woman doesn't seem to mind. Already drifting off into thoughts about violence and the pessimistic view of the world, she sighs and finally takes a sip of her cooling coffee. When she's spoken to again, she blinks and looks at Nova. "Weird? I guess so." It's the first time she's given her an extended period of eye contact. "Life seems ta be a lot weirder than any of the stuff 've read lately. What's no' makin' sense lately?" She's trying to be polite and continue the conversation, but she's also curious.

Nova waves a hand dismissively, distracting herself with taking her coffee into the other and sipping from it. Once she's done, she absently wipes away whatever coffee froth is left on her mouth with the back of her hand. "Oh you know," she says, almost casually. "Not just in this state or anything, but just unexplained instances. There was a kid in… I dunno, Texas, somewhere like that. Only ever been between here and Jersey, really. But anyway, they still don't know what's wrong with him. Just that one of his family members is dead, from burns of all things, and they found him in a coma, and no one can work out what happened." Her tone is flippant, as if they were discussing the weather, and all the while, Nova has given up on reading the newspaper and is almost studying Megan. "I mean, there's just some things people can't explain."

"Did they ever find whoever did it?" Megan asks, horrified by the story she's told by Nova. Book forgotten next to her arm, her hands tighten around her coffee mug. The flippant tone of Nova's is just as frightening as the story is. As for things that people can't explain, well, Megan has her own brand of that and the mention of it makes her inadvertently drop her eyes to the table. Lach told her to be careful about who she tells or talks to about what happens to her, so she doesn't bring it up. But she's uncomfortable. "Yeah," she replies, softly. "I guess so. The world 's a weird place." She still doesn't look up.

"Well no," Nova says, shaking her head. "No one was there at the time, is the thing. They can't find any evidence to say otherwise. Articles are almost making it sound like the kid, did it." A bright smile. "Which is impossible, of course." She flips the newspaper closed. "More'n likely the family member tried to kill themselves or something and the kid went into shock. I mean there's an explanation for everything, in the end, there has to be." Now, she extends a hand towards the stranger. "I'm Nova, by the way. Nice to meet you."

Thinking of her own mystery, Megan keeps her eyes downcast. The story she's told doesn't really match up with what Lachlan told her she might be able to do, but it's gotten her thinking about it. "Poor kid." Blinking, she rubs at a spot on the table that may or may not be there. "Why 's it impossble fer the kid ta 'ave done it?" she asks curiously. "'Ve heard of kids lightin' people on fire before." The hand extended to her is eyed nervously by Megan. It's rude to not shake someone's hand, but it's also a possibility that she may pass out if she does. "'M Megan," she says. "Sorry, would shake yer hand, but 'm gettin' over a cold. Don't wanna pass it on." Hopefully that will be a sufficient explanation.

Her smile widens, and that hand is withdrawn. "No worries," she says. "And appreciated, I work at a gym, can't afford t'get sick either." Another sip from the coffee, and Nova shrugs. "He coulda done it," she agrees, tone vague. "But you figure, a kid at 8-years-old who passed out after wouldn't be so great at hiding away the evidence. That's what got it into national newspapers, I figure - the fact that there wasn't anything lying around. No matches or petrol cans or anything like that, and no indication of some accident, seeing as the house was pretty much umdamaged by any fire." A pause, Nova bites her bottom lip, in a gesture of contemplation. "Guess that also sort of ruins the theory that he did it to himself, yeah?" This time, her smile is almost bashful. "Sorry, I hafta be ruining your time out and about with this kind of talk. Just, these sorts of incidents stick in the brain, don't they?"

Giving a weak smile in response, Megan nods her head. "Sorry. Dinna want ta be rude." But, since Nova seems alright with it, she lets the subject drop. "8 years old? Jaysus." In her mind, this kid was fourteen, fifteen…not a /real/ kid. "Wha' else could it of been? Dinna think spontaneous combustion was real." She's heard about that sort of thing, but she thought it was totally fake. "Don't really read the papers. Never heard 'bout this before," she confides. "Yeah…it really does." That's for sure. 8 year old kids possibly frying their family members without any sign of what caused a fire? That's certainly distressing. It's probably going to give her nightmares.

"Spontaneous combustion?" Nova repeats, raising one thin, expressive eyebrow. "Well I guess there're stranger things." There's a couple of tables freed up, now, but Nova doesn't seem to notice. "Found all that kind of stuff hard to believe," she says. Emphasis on the word 'found', but she doesn't allow time to linger over it before she continues with, "What do you reckon? About, you know. People being able to do stuff like that." Perhaps not a natural, nor subtle way of turning the conversation, but really… she's an axe, not a scalpel.

"If 's no' the guy lighting himself or the kid lighting him dunno wha' other explanations there are. Impossible or no'." Megan shrugs, but she doesn't really sound convinced about the subject. It's not something she can speak confidently on. "Do stuff like wha'? Spontaneously combust? 'S horrible. Never would want it to happen ta me." While it may be a blunt way of steering the conversation, the whole 'other people might be able to do what my brother and possibly me can do' is something that still isn't forefront in her mind. Not to mention the fact that she still wants to deny that she can actually /do/ anything. The other tables emptied aren't quite noticed yet.

Fair enough. Nova's met people both in utter denial as well as full acceptance, and all that's in between. Of course, there are no certainties surrounding Megan, but that's alright. Nova just wanted to test the waters herself. Certainty can come later. "Wouldn't be a pretty picture, no," she says, seemingly dropping the topic. Her coffee is polished off and the newspaper is rolled up. "I gotta get going, got a class at the gym in about ten." She drops a vague version of the address of it, because Nova's player doesn't know enough about crazy New York streets to make one up, and grins. "Good place to take your mind off all this," she adds, gesturing with her newspaper as she stands.

"Canna imagine it bein'," Megan agrees. Unaware of any certainties or uncertainties about herself, she just raises her eyes to give the other woman a bit of a smile. "Was nice ta meetcha," she tells Nova. Even though it was more scarring and worrying than anything else. "'ll remember it." Will she? Well, that's up for debate, but it's polite to pretend like she will. Once again it's back to her book and coffee. Once again it looks like she won't be able to concentrate.

Scarring and worrying is Nova's forte. "Maybe," Nova says, backing up. "If not, have a good life." One last friendly smile, and Nova turns away, heading out of the coffee shop. The smile is instantly gone - doing that makes her face hurt, she swears - and a phone is pulled out of her bag as she walks down the street. Time to ensure a little bit of surveillance.

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