2008-02-01: Nothing to See Here


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Summary: Randall isn't moonlighting as a food critic, Sierra isn't cheating on her expense reports, and Novak isn't working the Gray case. Move along, citizen.

Date It Happened: February 1, 2008

Nothing to See Here

Tabla - Upper East Side

It's surprising what the addition of a simple dark jacket does to change one's appearance. It wouldn't fly at the snooty bistro down the street, but here it manages to pass. Stealth-reviewer gig burning a figurative hole in his pocket, Randall steps inside the restaurant and does his best not to gawk; at least he's familiar with Indian cuisine in general, though this place seems to take it in some odd directions.

Sierra can be seen at a table near the entrance, dressed up in a one-piece black dress and with a nice little, simple necklace hanging down. She likes to dress up occasionally. And this is no exception. She appears to have a small purse resting on the table while she has a look at the menu that is placed before her.

Novak Garbaldi is still outside Tabla, having just arrived via taxi. He is supposed to be meeting someone here. Once Randall clears the entryway, the bespectacled man steps through the portal, and glances around, removing a pair of black leather-padded gloves from his hands and tucking them into a pocket of his coat. Though his glance is casual, he takes in a great amount of detail in that one sweep of the room. He can hear the light chatter of various people speaking as individual conversations in his mind, understanding and following every word. He can spot the yellowed-teeth momentarily revealed when one man in a corner speaks to a woman across from him, showing the man to be a smoker. He can discern the various perfumes of different women, and identify what most of them are at least SUPPOSED to be. Perfume is always grating on his senses.

More importantly he can hear the rapid heart-beat of someone scared. A man near the entrance, sitting at a table, looking very calm to outward appearances, but his racing heart and furtive glances betray him. Novak nods to himself and waits in line behind Randall. The scared man is the one he is here to see.

The undiscovered irony of Randall's life is that, while he has knowingly met a fair number of people with special abilities, and believes himself to be one of them… he really isn't. What he is doing is rooted in the same ground as Novak's actual ability, but somewhere along the way, it goes wrong. A mixture of actual perceptions that are somewhat better than average (he likes perfume, especially jonquil) and imagined red herrings (the afterglow of the restaurant's muted lighting), mixed with a healthy dose of numerology and other such claptrap… the end result is that he overlooks Novak's target completely, instead focusing on the black rings that seem to surround that one smoking man's head.

But he still maintains a basic social sense, and so his more immediate attention shifts over to Sierra as he spots where she's sitting. "Oh, hey," he says, "they've got you on this beat too, huh?"

Sierra looks up as she hears a familiar voice. She smiles. "Ah, bonjour! To be completely truthful? I just like the food. It is a wonderful place to come…if you can afford it, anyway. Would you care to join me?" She asks, indicating the seat across from her.

Once Randall has either chosen to be seated at Sierra's table, or not, Novak moves to seat himself at the table of his 'friend' for the evening. The table happens to be right next to Sierra's, or at least relatively nearby. When the nervous man looks up at Novak's approach, one hand starting to sink out of eye-sight below the table-edge, Novak notices immediately, and holds up a hand to gesture for the man to wait. He then takes off his coat and hangs it on the back of his chair. The other man watches, and for whatever reason -- perhaps Novak's body language has something to do with it — he decides not to go for the gun in his own coat after all.

Once Novak is seated, he smiles and says, "It's alright. I'm your contact." He holds up his wrist-watch to show the odd eye-shaped timepiece with its even odder hands. The other man nods vaguely and relaxes a bit. But only a bit. He opens his mouth and asks, "Wer—" but Novak interrupts him. "No. I checked. Neither of us was followed, and I didn't see anyone else inside or out who is paying any attention whatsoever." The man blinks a bit and then slides a menu over to Novak. The two then fall into silence.

Way to be conspicuous in public there, Novak! Fortunately, while Randall is close enough to overhear at least some of what the older man says, he has no desire to poke his nose into whatever the matter is; and most of the other patrons remain unaware, the curious words lost in the general background hubbub that permeates the room.

"Thank you," Randall replies to Sierra, walking over and easing into a seat opposite hers. "I've been looking forward to trying it out— not something that's likely to come up more than once in a blue moon." His recent relationship troubles continue to nag at the back of his mind, but it isn't much work for him to put on a good game face.

For her part, Sierra doesn't hear what's said at Novak's table. As for Randall, he wouldn't know a thing about his troubles, but she's not in a position to know or be told. "I have been here once before. Between you and moi, Monsieur, I just charge it to work, saying I was doing an interview or some such." She offers a sly grin.

Novak was actually speaking somewhat quietly, though to him, of course, his words are plenty loud. However, concealing what he is doing is not part of his plan. He opens his menu, and looks over the pages within, eventually finding an unmarked manilla envelope inside. He slips it off the table and tucks it into his jacket. He then slides the menu back, after depositing roughly $5,000 dollars in hundreds into it, in a similar manilla envelope. "Seems I am not hungry after all," Novak offers to the silent man across from him.

The man barely blinks his bleary eyes, as he says, "That's too bad. Remember to eat when you get home." He accepts the menu slid back to him, and removes the other envelope. He starts to get up, and Novak says, "I'll cover the tip." It's at normal conversational volume, as was the last few coded phrases these two have said.

The man hesitates for only a moment, then gets up and walks out of the restaurant, hands in his pockets. Novak stays right where he is, as behind him, the smoking man who was chatting up a lady, along with the lady herself, both pretend to have finished their meal, leaving cash on the table for it, and rapidly leave the restaurant to follow Novak's mysterious contact.

Seems maybe Novak wasn't trying to be inconspicuous after all. He leans back in his seat and just listens for now.

Randall smirks and nods to Sierra. "Well, you can 'interview' me if you like, maybe it'll help you keep a straight face." So much for loyalty to large faceless corporations. But at the same time, he's still watching the smoking man out of the corner of his eye, and when he suddenly rises to his feet…

"We might need to duck down in a hurry," Randall adds, lowering his voice and turning his attention back to Sierra. "I'm worried there could be a mob hit."

Sierra giggles lightly. "Ah, but I do not know if it is possible for me to keep a straight face! It is very hard. Oui, I have tried on many occasion!" She raises an eyebrow slightly at mention of ducking down. "Mob hit? Don't be ridiculous. Not around here, surely! In the Bronx, perhaps. But not here."

Novak waits as the man and lady both exit the restaurant, and soon hears the sounds of running footsteps outside. The noises of the city are only a painful distraction, not enough to muffle the three people currently hurrying away from the restaurant. Eventually they move even out of his range of hearing -- for the moment at least. It tends to fluctuate — and Novak decides now is the time to get a move on.

He rises from his seat, and as he is slipping his coat on, he mutters so that Randall can hear, "No, not a mob hit. Just helping out law-enforcement. My apologies for not sharing the details, but I don't think they'd appreciate it." Whether those two were actually law enforcement or not is something Randall probably won't find out for awhile. Assuming, of course, it doesn't show up on the news.

Looking concerned, Randall begins to formulate a reply to Sierra - only for Novak to jump in on the conversation first. Turning and blinking, he finally just nods, making a point of turning back around. Us chickens didn't hear nothin', man, now go on about your business.

"Anyway," he continues, picking up the earlier thread of conversation with Sierra where it left off, "what're the hot stories lately? Anything come of that Therapy session?" The capital letter is inaudible, so their subsequent discussion may be confusing to anyone not already familiar with the locale in question.

Sierra smiles a little at Novak as he speaks to Randall. When asked about Therapy, she shrugs. "Well…what can I say about the Therapy session? I went around, talked, had a little bit to drink. Not much came of it, however. Just your average, run of the mill sort of thing. Decided to call it 'Therapy Release'." She smiles.

Novak finishes putting on his coat, reading correctly that Randall doesn't want to get involved in whatever is going on, and would appreciate Novak staying out of the conversation he is having with Sierra. He heads away from his table, and up to the front desk, leaving some money for his long-gone companion's meal, and then heading out. Nothing to see here.

Outside, Novak hails a taxi, and once inside the cab, he checks the contents of the envelope he was given. Inside is a photograph of a man with somewhat short hair, a bit of stubble on his face, thick eyebrows… Along with it are some pamphlets for Pinehearst, and other miscellaneous things. At the bottom of the photograph is the name 'Gabriel Gray' in red marker.

Novak tucks everything back into the envelope, and puts it away. He has work ahead of him.

It's just as well that Randall kept his distance. If he'd happened to catch sight of that photograph, he would be even less interested in having anything to do with it. "I'm impressed you got 'release' past the censors," he offers to Sierra, meanwhile looking around for a menu.

Sierra chuckles and nods. "Ah, well. You see, I can be tricky. I know the ins and outs of the business." She shrugs and goes to her own menu, attempting to decide what she wants to order.

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