2007-05-25: In Ali We Trust


Jane_icon.gif McAlister_icon.gif Elle_icon.gif

Summary: On the NYU Campus, Jane and Elle meet Ali, and in Ali they trust.

Date It Happened: May 25th, 2007

In Ali We Trust

New York University, Manhattan, NYC

The sun is riding low in western sky as the four part company on this particular Sunday evening. Two of the group, a nearly six foot blonde and her shorter not blonde friend, wander off together for off-campus apartments. The third, a guy, takes a different direction in his departure, leaving the fourth on her own. She who remains is a twenty-something brunette of five feet and eight inches in a beige cotton skirt which stops about two inches above her knees, a tank top, and two inch heeled ankle height boots. Over her shoulders are a backpack and guitar case. She watches the others head away and sweeps her eyes over the mostly deserted campus; there aren't many people around since classes ended earlier in the month. Her mood is good, doing this, and the feel for playing comes over her. So Jane sets her gear down near a bench and takes out the Fender Strat, then the portable amp, and plugs in.

Nope. Not many people - but a few, among them the grey hoodie and battered boots that marks Ali, as she cuts across the quad, sipping at a cup from Starbucks and rummaging through that rough bag as she goes. She's singing - it's not bad: ".. I fought the law and the.. unh.. law won…" .. no, she's not winning grammies anytime soon. But, you know, that's a pile of distractions. Enough that, frankly, she's not paying a huge ton of attention, and, though she walks the quad with the easy familiarity of a student, those benches up where that other lady's setting up the guitar? They're potentially dangerous landmarks.

Her eyes rest on this one, and her head shakes. She must be boiling under there, a hoodie on a ninety degree day. The singing reaches her ears, and a smile forms. Jane's fingers start to move across the instrument, producing chords to match the tune being sung, and soon her own voice joins in. It's a soprano pitch with qualities reminiscent of Ann Wilson and Pat Benatar.

You know, it's a hell of a thing when your bad rendition of a Strokes cover gets picked up by a better voice. But, hey, Ali rolls with it - looking up in time to go over instead of into that bench, giving a wide grin over to the guitarist, "yeah! I fought the law.." There's not much to that song. Never has been. But she sings it with gusto, on pitch but belting in that throaty alto. In a break for a guitar riff, she calls over, "Hey, thanks!"

"No problem," the woman replies with a grin while her fingers keep going until the end is reached. "You've got a decent voice." The head tilts, Jane asks "You're a holdover doing summer classes?" There are a few of those, after all. She did some of that herself in college a year or four.

They aren't alone in the area, a fact the guitarist isn't yet aware of. There's a person rounding a corner behind a leashed dog and starting to head in their direction, too far distant yet to make out details on.

Ali drops her bag on that bench, shamelessly shedding that hoodie - beneath is a green cotton sleeveless thing, shapeless but undeniably lighter - with visible relief. "Nah. Well, I would be. Mostly I'm just riding out a favor - I graduated a couple of weeks back. Ali, by the way." That voice is distinctive, the DJ's alto easy to pick out. The hoodie's dumped with the bag. "I promised WNYU I'd stick around for a few weeks until they filled the slot, ya know? You're pretty good. Tell me you play the clubs - that's a waste in the subways."

"M. Jane Forrest," the brunette answers, her features curving into a smile as she extends a hand for shaking. "Jane will do." Her skin is smooth and soft, except for the callused fingertips which testify to how much she plays guitar, and that would be a lot of a lot. "Congrats on graduating. I got my final degree just last year."

Dog and owner get closer as the two speak, now visibly determinable as a young woman, maybe nineteen or twenty, and the canine as a spaniel.

"Alyssa McAlister. Ali. Please. A Jersey girl doesn't need that many syllables." Her handshake is firm, her grin wide - and yes, the owner-and-dog are noticed and dismissed, just as easy. Then? She drops on the bench next to her bag. "Yeah? Congrats - I'm telling ya, I already miss campus housing. The hike here sucks."

Not weak, nor crushingly strong, Jane's grip in shaking hands. "Three degrees. Music, Political Science, and Law." She doesn't spot the dog and owner, being engaged in conversation. "Walking's easy to get used to, I do a lot of it myself. Subway singing isn't so much my thing, I pick spots here and there around the city, just start playing where the mood strikes. But I've also got a studio session gig and a band formed to record some things of our own there."

Oh, that piques Ali's interest. "Yeah? I'll have to hear it sometime. You guys any good yet?" She stretches out her feet, head tilting. "You were busy. Hell, I was lucky to manage one, much less get a band together."

"We're always good," Jane replies with the smile broadening, confidence in the expression. "And I like being busy. Keeps my sanity on. What's your taste in tunes, Ali?" Her fingers move idly across the instrument. "WNYU. Your degree, it's in broadcasting?"

Dog and owner get closer still, but escape Jane's notice. Spaniel suddenly pulls free and darts across the grass toward a tree, maybe spotting a squirrel or a bird and doing that which dogs do. The owner pulls out a whistle.

"Yeah. Midnight McAlister - " That comes out sort of wry and self-depricating - "Stay up tonight and you'll hear. I'm partial to rock, punk - if it's got a good beat and guitar, it suits. Metal sucks." A shrug, and Ali leans back a bit. "Radio's dying, but it's in my blood, you know?"

"Metal has its time and place," Jane replies wistfully, it's a thing she's become well acquainted with in her New York life. "When I'm angry, or just on edge, it helps me get it out to play hard and fast, come up with stuff that mixes quick with classical, kind of like what Metallica does. But my influences, well, they're classic rock. Ann and Nancy Wilson, Pat Benatar. Led Zeppelin, the Beatles…" Fingers move across the instrument, chording out a ten second riff from Crazy On You with lyrics sung in her rich soprano.

The dog owner blows the whistle she pulled out, the sound produced by it beyond the range of human hearing, and the spaniel stops in its tracks. On hearing this Jane starts to wince, her fingers falter on the guitar, and the voice stops. Lips remain pursed, however, with no apparent sound emerging. Then a hand lifts to cover the ear closest to the offending whistle.

A DJ lives or dies by music - and when the playing falters? That's when Ali blinks, and peers over. "I guess.. but." It's a mild concern, but a genuine one. "Hey, you alright?"

Crap. It'd been so unexpected, the whistle blast, and Jane's cursing herself inwardly for not being more alert, not seeing it coming. Eyes scan quickly for the source, spotting owner and spaniel as they reunite and a handle is gotten on the leash. Then she's cursing herself more for not practicing and getting a better handle on the counter technique she tried and failed in using. All of this produces a partly distracted "What? Yeah, I… I'm okay." when the question is asked. She tries to play it down, act like nothing happened.

McAlister frowns.. "If you're sure - I mean - you get migranes or something?" She leans forward, clearly confused, but.. yes, earnestly helpful. Darn those good samaritans.

"No," Jane replies simply, her expression betraying the fact she's trying to draw attention away from that even happening, while her eyes partly keep track of canine and human in the distance, so she can be more ready if the whistle is used again. This possibly also gives her away to some degree, as fingers take up position on the strings and frets. "So… what's your favorite, Ali Midnight?"

"Just Ali." The woman still looks worried. "You're not alright - " She notes the distraction, apparently, but not the source. "I can see that much. Look, I know you don't know me, but - to hell with it. I can help, right?" And that, too, seems earnest. "The campus docs aren't far."

Her features soften as something subtle comes over her, bringing a bit of relaxation and the cessation of efforts to move on and put the incident behind her with no further dwelling. Jane actually smiles again, a slight one, as she answers "I know what it is, I don't need a doctor, really. I… hear ultrasound." Fingers on the guitar go still as she watches Ali, waiting for the inevitable expression of disbelief, but somehow not really worried about spilling.

McAlister blinks, and cocks her head to the side. "Uh. You hear.. " And there's an obvious and lengthy process of gears grinding, for a moment, and then a wry, "Uhm. Ultrasound. LIke.. you know, the machines that show you babies, or something? I don't think they have one of those on campus." But it's teasing, and wry, a 'just between us' kind of joke. "I'm not carrying one. I don't think, anyway."

"Dog whistles," Jane replies quietly. She glances in the direction of the young woman and her dog as they fade into the distance. "I've worked on countering it, but need practice. Maybe a lot of practice." It doesn't seem to occur to her she's explaining this to someone she just met, someone who she doesn't know has an ability of her own and she maybe shouldn't. The ability and her basic desire for being honest have combined against secrecy.

Ali nods, as one would nod when humoring a friend. "Uh-huh. Look, no offense, but you're not that much of a bitch." Grinning, and apparently pleased with the pun, she rolls her eyes, waving a hand. "It's okay if you're not feeling well, seriously. You don't have to BS me or anything."

"Got anything glass on you?" Jane asks, not seeming so much offended by the disbelief, and not taking the opportunity to leave the topic behind as she at first tried to. No, the effect upon her and that same basic honesty are leading her to trust and offer proof.

The NYU campus this evening isn't exactly busy; summer classes haven't really kicked in yet, and with the spring term done? Well, there are a few students, a few folks about, but by no means the usual clog and press of busy college kids doing whatever it is busy college kids do in the Apple.

The quad, though, does have a pair who are using it for what a quad should be used for: Ali and Jane are on separate though nearby benches, Jane with her guitar and a portable amp, Ali with her bag and hoodie piled nearby (she's got a green, sleeveless, shapeless shirt on, as warm as it is this evening). The conversation is a friendly one, Ali giving Jane a wry, vaguely disbelieving (though humoring) look - "Not really. Uh." She heads for her bag, the DJ rummaging.

"I don't think, anyway. I don't usually just carry glass around, you know?"

Elle is not usually a college girl. And she isn't tonight. She's here to find one Jane Forrest. It's a warm day, and she's on a college campus, which means Elle's being Elle. Black stretchy miniskirt, black heels, green low-cut top. Cause, college boys. How does she know Jane's here? Company…and it really takes no more than that. Her path of approach is an intercept for the musician.

"Oh," Jane answers, "I can prove it, I just need a bit of glass to work with. But if you don't believe, you don't believe. It's probably not a good idea to do it out here anyway." She takes up the guitar and runs her fingers along it again, asking "We were talking about music. What's you favorite, Ali?" Her eyes glance to the west for a moment, not seeing Elle's approach as she checks the setting sun.

Ali smiles, wryly. "Sure. Right. Okay - " She shakes her head, but lets it go. "I'll find you a nice salt shaker later or something, right? Oh, if I had to pick a band, I'd probably go with the Stones. I'm old-fashioned, I guess." She leans back again, letting her hands rest on the bench. "But if you forced me to listen to one track over and over? I'd pick anything by the Ramones."

Elle smiles as she gets closer, and calls out to Jane. "Hey there…" she says, looking tired despite the smile. "How's it going?"

Having chosen to trust and being called a liar by someone she just met might normally cause her to want being elsewhere, but for some reason Jane's sticking around. "Stones," she replies, taking a moment to think and positioning her fingers on the guitar. A focused expression returns, she's about to play, when the approaching Elle draws her attention. The smile returns, she faces the blonde to answer. "Elle. Hey. I'm all good, just talking with a music lover and strumming a bit. You?" That tired expression doesn't escape notice.

With a wave, Ali.. doesn't move in the slightest, offering Elle a sunny smile. "Hiya." That she's curious is obvious, but.. hey, she doesn't seem inclined to move, just yet. Comfortable good!

Elle looks back. "Just keeping busy at work. Had to work late." Which in her case usually means an assignment of some sort. "So I thought I'd see if you wanted to go out and get some dinner." She looks over at Ali as Jane semi-introduces her. "Hey there." she offers to the other blonde.

"That's a good idea," Jane answers. "Elle, this is Ali, she's a late night radio DJ. Ali, Elle. My roommate." With introductions made, the brunette goes adrift in thought. Foooood. "What're you thinking? Maybe Italian, or… German." Yes, she seems to have a taste for German cuisine tonight.

Said DJ makes a face, laughing. "Bratwurst and sourkrout? Eww." She shakes her head, moving to stand - but it's reluctant. "Hi, Elle - good to meet ya. You in the band?" A nod Jane's way, as if that explains the question, of course.

Elle blinks at the DJ comment, and nods to Ali. "Nice to meet you. And no, I'm not a musician. Jane's trying to teach me some, but if it's more than singing, I'm probably not the person you want." And she turns back to Jane. "I'm good with most anything. Not French. Comfort food."

Comfort food. That raises an eyebrow. Pizza. Chocolate later. And learning what causes the need of comfort. "We can do that," Jane offers, curiosity and concern entering her features. She turns back to Ali and offers "I should probably be moving on. I'll listen in for your show. And hey…" She stands, extracting a pen and paper from her pocket to write Jane, 283-2260 on it and offer the info.

McAlister takes it, of course, blinking - clearly, the woman's a bit surprised, but at least in a good way. "Oh - sure! My.. uh. Phone's up in the air at the moment. But I'll tell you what - I'll call you … I'd kind of like to hear the band. You know they give us our choice of airplay.. and I abuse it anyway." The woman flashes a wry grin, "Good meeting you, ya know?" Ali scoops up her bag as she nods to Elle - she's not wholly unperceptive, it seems. "hope your night goes better, right?" The bit of paper goes into the bag, ayup.

Elle smiles. She doesn't seem overly eager to go running off anytime soon. "Whenever you want, Jane. And it was nice meeting you, Ali. It's just work stress. I don't mean to be a downer."

"Maybe I can get them together and do some sort of studio appearance, give your audience a taste of live music, Ali?" Jane asks, mulling the possibility over. With Elle not moving to leave, she herself is content to stick around. Her fingers are moving over the instrument again lightly. "Congrats again on graduating."

Ali pulls up short - "Don't start /that/." She winks at Jane.. rummaging in that bag a moment. "And you're not a downer. No worries, right? Stress sucks anyway - what do you do? If I can ask. I mean, you don't have to say, but if it's got you stressed…"

The petite blonde smiles a little, and looks back to Ali, and does something that she certainly probably wouldn't. "Pretty much anything that the Company needs me to do. Sometimes it's pretty nasty."

An eyebrow raises as Jane hears this said, and a doubletake follows. Elle is talking about the Company and not making up some cover story? Odd. But then again, she thinks, it's probably safe. There aren't people around to overhear them talk, besides, Ali is cool, she's trustworthy, and she did herself admit to what she can do. Not that she was believed.

Ali laughs, still rooting through the bag - wallet. receipts. A handful of yarn. There! A paddleball. "Yeah? You must be a lawyer or something - my last roomate worked for Prudential; she was always griping about that kind of thing. In claims, you know?" With a certain mock gravity, she turns to offer Elle the toy - "Never found anything better for being all stressed. Everybody likes paddleball, you know?"

Elle laughs. "No, Jane's the lawyer. I wouldn't have the patience for that kind of thing. I deal with things on a more final basis." Yep, that's right. One AssassinBlonde at your service.

"Playing guitar and singing is much more fun than practicing law," Jane shares with a laugh. She's not about to elaborate on anything Elle says about her job, but neither is she stopping her. The blonde is a grown woman, and can make her own choices, if one of them is to share, well she knows what she's doing. Besides that, what's been said so far can easily seem innocuous. "I got my doctorate because the 'rents wanted me to."

Ali does seem remarkably clueless, still holding the toy out to the blonde - "Doctorate? See - you /really/ have me beat. Overachiever. Makes us normal people look bad." there's no venom in it - a wink to Jane is likely intended to make sure that the DJ's words aren't taken with any sting. "Final, huh? You /have/ to be in claims. Rough work, but at the end of the day you're helping people, right?" She shrugs, slightly - "I'm glad I don't wear a suit, though. No offense - it'd drive me crazy in a week. Gimme radio any day."

Elle looks at the Paddleball in confusion. "What do you do with it?" Because someone here doesn't remember her childhood. "And no, not claims either. I retrieve people. Or get rid of them. Depending on what needs doing." Great job, Elle. Tell that to the press.

"Lawyers are doctors," Jane replies with a chuckle. "I said I had three degrees, just took seven years to get them all." Elle's remark causes an eyebrow to raise, it certainly seems a bit odd she'd say that, but then, it's hard not to trust Ali. And she doesn't expect the DJ to believe the claim anyway. "It's not what it sounds like, she actually works with a mental hospital, handles admissions and discharges for them."

"Oh, yeah?" Ali happily demonstrates (it takes three tries for her to get the thing going… a bit clumsily), the red ball flying. *whock whock whock* … She chatters on, happily, "I would have guessed HR, what with all the layoffs lately. Don't tell me it's Bellevue? I've got an uncle in there somewhere."

Elle looks at the paddleball, and then looks to Jane, confused. Why would she lie? Wait…why did she… Elle starts to review her own actions, now looking a little confused. "Something's going on." she tells Jane. She's a little more trained to watch for the unusual. At the same time, her background makes her a little more susceptible than most to mental-foo.

Exposing herself is one thing, giving trust and knowledge of herself is something she's done before a number of times. But letting someone else keep going like that, past what might be easy to play off? That's another thing entirely for Jane. Her own antennae go up a bit when Elle suggests something is going on. "Is there?" she asks, quietly, pondering.

Ali whiffs the paddleball - more for her distraction than anything. "Huh?" A shrug - but the change in both of these women's demeanor certainly causes her a bit of concern. "You two okay?" Yeah, she holds the toy back out to Elle, but - well, anybody that lives in New York for any length of time gets their fair share of paranoia. All of this concern has her looking back, across the mostly empty quad, that quick scan for people that vents the feeling a bit. It's perhaps unconscious, that slight edging closer to both Jane and Elle.

Elle looks around. She doesn't suspect -Ali-, of course. She can trust her. But someone else? Yeah. Paranoid Blonde is paranoid. She looks all around the area, and then addresses both of the other two women. "We should get out of here."

"Yes," Jane agrees. "Mind if we invite her along to our place for dinner, Elle?" She also takes a moment to scan the area around them. "It is getting dark, after all."

The DJ, /still/ having not retracted the toy, runs a hand through her hair - apparently, their apparent concern is reflectd in her, and she frowns. "Uh.. look, I've got to work in an hour, but it's not far. WNYU is right over there.." She waves a hand, pointing up past the student center - "There's always security there, too - and they know me. If something's wrong, you know, we can talk to them." That's offered diffidently, worriedly.

Elle looks back. She hasn't moved for the toy, despite Ali holding it out. She wants her hands free if trouble starts. "I don't mind." she tells Jane, but then she looks at Ali. "Security may not be able to do anything. We should at least make sure you get there safe." She considers herself the best defense anyone here has.

A quick nod leads her reply. "We should do that." Jane seems to have total confidence in Elle's ability to provide defense, and skepticism about the effectiveness of security. Her eyes settle on the radio station when it's pointed out and she begins to pack her guitar away. It's unplugged from the portable amp, which goes into the open case first.

Ali gathers up that hoodie, and stuffs the toy in the bag again, self-conscious. "I know they're only campus cops, but they're pretty good - " Defending the Alma Mater? Probably. But she goes on - "Uh. What.." It's sort of a diffident question, but she trusts, it seems, herself. "What's going on?" Again, she's rummaging, but this one's easier… she comes up with a key ring, upon which a mighty, one-ounce can of mace, in a holder so ancient she's likely had it from high school, dangles. It's unlikely it even works, honestly.

Elle frowns. Her eyes sweep around, looking for some sign of whatever might be messing with the three of them. "I'm not sure. I'm pretty certain that someone…" she scowls. "Look, right now it's probably safer for us indoors. Once you get to your work, you're probably fine."

In goes the guitar, atop her single copy of Black Canary, and the case is closed. Then both it and her pack are hoisted and placed across shoulders. Jane herself doesn't say anything, she just waits to move out and escort Ali to her nearby job.

"O… okay. Sure." Ali starts across the quad, setting a pretty good pace, clutching that can of mace like a talisman, keys jingling. "Man. I need to /pee/.." It's more to herself than anyone, and largely embarrassed. But hey, she's sharing.

Elle moves up towards Ali's side, the better to help keep an open eye. "I'm sure you'll be able to do that once you get there." A smile crosses her face as she says it. She keeps an eye on Jane as well, though more of her attention is on Ali.

Taking a flanking position, Jane moves along with the others, headed for the radio station. Her eyes search out ahead for any sign of trouble, and from time to time she emits an ultrasonic tone. Its echo is listened for, to possibly detect any invisible people between them and the destination. All the others will see, however, is her lips pursing. The tone is well beyond their audible range.

It isn't far to go - just as the DJ said, "Yeah, well. Here's hoping I don't before we do, ya know?" Ali offers that as they make a turn and head down between the student union and the broadcasting and commercial arts building. And there, a door - she heads right for it, fumbling in her pants pocket. "Does… this sort of thing happen to you often? 'cause.. uh. For some reason I'm scared shitless, and you're not."

The other blonde can't help but give a wry grin. "No. Usually it's lots worse." She keeps going till they get to the door, and she takes out a card from her purse. It's very simple, just her name and a phone number. "If there's any trouble, call me." She offers it out.

Nodding, Jane adds "I know I can trust you to keep that thing we talked about before between just us, Ali. I know you didn't believe me, but it's true. And not something I tell just anyone." There's not the slightest bit of doubt her secret will be kept by the DJ.

Ali raises a finger - and juggles a newly-produced station ID, her keys, and her bag … long enough to re-produce that paddleball. And, Elle willing? She trades it for the card, "If your'e serious about running into… whatever this is? You need this more than I do." It comes with a worried smile.. and that card's tucked away. "yeah. I'll.. I'll call." Bewildered indeed, but.. she's doing what she can. "Thanks." And she looks past the blonde to Jane - "I keep secrets, you know? Don't worry." Then, to both. "You two be careful, huh? Whatever.. whatever's going on, I'd rather not read about you on the wire tomorrow."

Elle does accept the paddleball, finally. She chuckles. "All right. And don't worry. I'll keep us safe." She looks to Jane, a momentary shared secret. "Stay safe" she tells Ali, before looking back to Jane. "And now -we- should get somewhere inside too.

No arguments. Jane departs, headed home with Elle the Electric.

Ali swipes that ID - it gets her in the door with no trouble and a flat electric beep. But yeah, she's inside and gone. And.. hunting for the bathroom.

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