2007-02-21: Not a Dirty Handful of Nickels and Pennies


Hector_icon.gif Jane_icon.gif Sydney_icon.gif oldXander_icon.gif

Summary: Appearances aren't always what they seem.

Date It Happened: February 21st, 2007

Not a Dirty Handful of Nickels and Pennies


Warm wood paneling and forest greens serve to make this Starbucks as welcoming as any other to New Yorkers in need of some quick energy through the course of the work day. Even so, by chance perhaps, patrons here are scarce — currently limited to a pair of college students seated in a corner, and a scruffy, homeless, hungover-looking older man squinting at the menu at the counter. Charming!

Sydney has a habit of working nights and catching up on sleep during the day, but this morning she finds herself shouldering open the front door to the Starbucks that's on the way to the cozy little Italian deli where she likes to buy her groceries. A hot cup of coffee is just what she needs to help her make the trek without freezing her nose and ears off. Tote bag tucked under her arm, she gets in line behind the scruffy man and begins ferreting through her jacket pockets for loose change.

Xander's job is one that doesn't allow for easy sleeping. Being a lawyer working for the district attorney, he's a very busy man, and in fact he was here to do additional work. Seeing the scruffy older gentleman, Xander does, for a while consider the guy, before heading to a table to set his things down. He'll order coffee later, he needed to work.

Hector does not shuffle for change, or bills, or anything else. A single card is withdrawn from a pocket hidden in the interior of the shoddy suit he has on under his overcoat and passed over the counter with a mutter for something along the lines of the house blend. Grande. And then he is stepping aside to grant Sydney access while the card transaction is carried out, and he waits, tall and somewhat awkward in the clean, organized environment all around.

As Sydney steps forward, clutching a five dollar bill in her grubby little hand, her eyes dart from Hector to the barista and back again. She squints. "Since when do squatters use American Express?" she asks, deciding to wait until the transaction is complete before she places her own order. Anyway, this new development is much more interesting than the mocha she was planning on buying with her tip money.

Xander had stepped back to the line after having set his things down, in time to hear Sydney speak of the apparently homeless man with an American Express, and allows himself an amused grin, "And here I was actually going to go through with paying for whatever he was going to order." He was, too.

"It's the twenty-first century," Hector replies without batting an eye, though the half-smile he manages is somewhat forced when his card is handed back to him, and he tucks it back into place. "The age of technology. Besides — paying with a dirty handful of nickels and pennies is so dreadfully cumbersome." Xander gets a measuring glance, and a nod that may qualify as lazy thanks for the thought, at least.

Sydney is so busy staring that she doesn't hear the barista ask her what she wants to drink. A loudly cleared throat snaps her out of her stupor, however, and without looking over her shoulder, she answers in an abrupt voice. She's not sure which is weirder: the fact that a seemingly homeless man has a credit card, or the fact that the other, sharply-dressed man speaks with the same foreign accent as the first. Is she still in New York? Or did she somehow pull a Hiro Nakamura and end up in another country while blinking? "Don't you need a billing address for those?"

For your information, Sydney, Xander's accent is NOTHING like Hector's. How can anyone POSSIBLY mistake a London accent for a Southampton accent? HOW? Regardless, Xander arches an eyebrow, and replies to the older man, "This also implies that you've a line of credit that belies the appearance that you have of a homeless man…" Before taking a moment to glance at Sydney, and tells her, "It's your turn to order, Miss."

"God no. They come by twice a week in big trucks and throw them at us. Perhaps they've invented a numbering system to keep track of the various alleys and dumpsters on their agenda." Gifted with a certain talent for gravitas, despite the ridiculousness of what he's saying, with brows knit and shoulders back, it is difficult to read Hector as a liar. Soon enough, however, he's gone back to eyeing Xander, who gets a slight roll of his eyes before he's interrupted by his cup of coffee being pushed out over the counter.

London. Southampton. It all sounds the same to Sydney's untrained Yankee ears. She slides her five dollar bill across the counter to the barista and deposits the change in the appropriate tip jar, then moves aside to join Hector while he waits for his order. Who hasn't heard of professional panhandlers? Until now, Sydney assumed that they were just another urban myth—like the alligators in the sewer system, or the blackout baby boom of '65. Still, she's not entirely convinced that's what this is. "Oh," she says finally. "I get it. You're an actor." Like that explains everything.

"Am I?" Brows lifted as he blows at the steam rising from the mouth of his cup and eyes the tables and chairs scattered about for a likely place to sit, Hector seems disinclined to argue with her assessment. "That's quite a promotion."

It doesn't take long for the barista to follow up with Sydney's order, and soon the blonde is warming her own cup between her gloved hands. She really should be going if she wants to get to the deli before she has other places that she needs to be, but it isn't every day that she encounters a character like Hector. The sopressa and provolone can wait. "Quick, do King Lear."

The door opens, and through it comes a twenty-something woman in a charcoal grey business suit and skirt with complimentary colored pumps. She walks toward the counter and addresses the barista. "Could I have a vanilla mocha cappuccino, please?" A nod is her reply, the order is started and she sets down just enough money to pay for it. It's left there to be counted and put in the till as Jane waits. She adjusts the purse over her left shoulder and lets her eyes wander slowly.

"Have more than thou showest, Speak less than thou knowest, Lend less than thou owest." The gravel in Hector's roughs over elegant words projected with only the mildest air of drama, and he pauses in his visual search for a seat to lift a brow at Sydney. "What are you? A detective?" Wandering eyes meet wandering eyes, and still standing stiff at the counter, Hector squints at Jane.

"Not even close." Sydney does not elaborate. Her gaze follows his instead, but rather than settle on Jane, it settles on Jane's pumps. "Nice," she says lowly, though it's unclear whether she's complimenting Hector's performance or the woman's footwear. Sip.

The sound of Shakespeare from the nearby man and his eyes upon her draws Jane's attention, she takes a moment to look him over while remarking "Well performed, sir." A glance is also turned toward Sydney, then it's back to waiting for her muchly hot beverage. A pensive expression settles on her features, she seeming to mull over things occupying her mind.

"I merely assumed — with the interrogation." Rather than wander off to a table or overstuffed chair, Hector turns to lean back against the counter edge, much to the evident distaste of the barista behind it. The fact that he smells a bit like a damp ash tray probably doesn't help. "Thank you."

"If this was an interrogation, I'd have my thumbscrews with me. But I guess a cup of hot coffee could work just as well." The expression on the barista's face causes the corner of Sydney's mouth to twitch up into a faint smirk. To Jane, she says, "It wasn't /that/ good."

A chuckle emerges, as the woman replies "I didn't say excellent, or bravo, or simply stupendous, did I?" Jane's eyes settle on Sydney briefly while speaking, then turn back to the barista just in time to receive her cup. Fingers clutch it carefully, wary of the heat within scorching her fingers, and she begins to scan for a place to sit while enjoying it.

Regarding thumbscrews, Hector keeps a brow lifted and sips his coffee. He opts to take the no comment route until a minor disagreement stirs up over the quality of his performance, whereupon he contributes, "I thought it was good."

"/You/ would." Sydney uses her sleeve to wipe some traces of foam from her upper lip. A quick glance at her invisible wristwatch tells the blonde that she's put off venturing back out into the cold for long enough. "Well, it was simply /stupendous/ to meet you," she says by way of farewell, nodding briefly to Hector, Jane — and finally — Xander. Then she's on her way out, multicoloured scarf trailing behind her like a patchwork rainbow.

A grin spreads across her face as the blonde makes her exit, and she lifts the cup toward her mouth. Air is blown across the surface to cool it, Jane hoping to bring its temperature closer to one which won't burn her tongue when she drinks. Nothing is said, and she resumes the scan for a place to sit.

"/Stupendous/," Hector echoes with similar emphasis, though he offers little more than a nod in terms of his own farewell. Still serving dutifully as a scruffy, homeless counter decoration, he does not seem to notice any sort of negative effect that he might be having on other patrons winding their way up towards the barista. "Well. She was cheerful."

She doesn't seem offended by him, at the very least Jane doesn't let on any disquiet his presence might cause her, but then again she's also not treating him like someone she's known and been on good terms with for years. A chair is spotted, and the woman moves to cross the room so she can sit in it. Along the way a tentative sip is taken, one which makes her wince and lower it. "Not quite ready yet," she murmurs under her breath.

"You don't think so?" Leaned even further back over the counter to address the barista once it seems likely that no one intends to answer him, Hector straightens only when she gives him an extremely dirty look and something in his back pops in protest. "Fine, then."

From a few feet away, Jane replies "Yes, a veritable fountain of joy, that one was." And her path continues on, the woman sits in the chosen chair and relaxes slightly. Her features still show the pensiveness, one might guess her prime goal was the acquisition of comfort and coffee while thinking over something which weighs on her mind more than normal issues might.

As transient within the confines of Starbucks as he is elsewhere, Hector trails after Jane once he's been answered, perhaps more inclined to bother someone who actually intends to pay attention to him while he finishes his coffee. Regardless of his motivation, he doesn't take a seat; content to stand nearby, where the stink about him is less offensive, and he cannot be caught off guard and tasered. "Difficult day, hm?"

"You could say that," she remarks quietly, as the cup lifts and is tasted from. Elaboration doesn't occur, her eyes drift over the man for a moment then go back to a wall opposite her seat. Finding her drink apparently cool enough now, she takes a bit more from it, eyes closing with the enjoyment of it.

"Could be worse," is Hector's sentiment, muffled down into his cup ahead of a sip and a longer swallow that proves to be unsatisfying in its lack of warmth. Like her, however, he does not elaborate, moving instead to the nearest trash can to deposit his cup therein before he turns for the door.

"Yes," she muses, speaking to the open air just as much to the man's turned back when he starts his exit. Jane's mind fills with the ways that could be true for herself and others, things she can't, won't, speak of for general audiences. Her fingers pull out a phone and it's looked at as if she hopes it'll soon ring. Perhaps the answers to whatever she's pondering would come from that device and a person or persons at the other end.

Hector passes out into the February chill without so much as a glance back over his shoulder, breath clouding thick before he's even all the way out the door. The barista sighs relief, and the next customer steps up to make an order. The coffee shop marches on.

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