2009-10-21: Please Come Again



Date: October 21, 2009


Gillian runs into Aaron again and they go out for tea. Well, Aaron has tea, anyway. Gillian remains mysterious as always.

"Please Come Again"

All Over

It's supposed to be way easier, doing something he loves, and yet it was with a great deal of effort that Aaron managed through the last song he would be performing at the club, before exiting through the stage door and going out into the alley for some air. Here he is, only covering for a local band between sets and he can barely make three songs without nearly flashing back to that night. It's supposed to be easier.

Aaron sits down against the brick wall of the building, making sure the ground beneath him is only dusty— some pretty ugly things go on in alleys, and he'd rather only get dust on his pants. He leans his head back against the wall, fingers feeling for his carotid pulse as he breathes to his heartbeat. Eight beats in, eight beats out.

Even in the middle of an alley, there can be people. Still, no one'd been there a second ago. But suddenly someone's kneeling down in front of him, arms resting on knees covered by nice black slacks. "You were doing great up there, you know," a raspy voice says. Gillian's got a dimpled smile on her cheeks as she looks across at the guy she'd met briefly in a clothing store. It's an odd place to meet again, considering she ran out on him as soon as he tried to give her his number. The top she wears is light colored, and attractive, and her shoes look nice as well.

Suddenly is precisely why Aaron startles. Thankfully, his head was already against the wall. "Oh my God," he says in a loud whisper as he lowers the hand he was feeling his pulse with. The startle, of course, helped him get his mind off of why he was nearly having an anxiety attack. "Yeah, I usually do, though I haven't worked my voice much in the past year, hence sticking to songs that don't require much range— where did you come from?" Because he certainly didn't see her inside and heard absolutely nothing before she spoke.

Obviously, the red scarf Gillian picked out for him isn't with him since his coat is still inside, but he did arrive with it. All he has on right now are his jeans, shoes, a short tee over a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a thin layer of perspiration on his brow line. Whether he was sweating from the hot lights or something else even he can't tell.

"I came from that way," Gillian says, pointing toward the main mouth of the alley. The way she waves her hand it seems like she's almost trying to dismiss the question. The smile stays on her face, dimpled cheeks visible, breath coming in and out. It's cold, and she's without a coat or scarf as well, but she doesn't look bothered, really. "I was watching you sing. The first two songs were really good, but you started to have trouble on the third one. Your voice shook a little, and you seemed to rush through the end. So I followed you to see where you ended up."

The news that he started to falter on the third song dries out his mouth and he bites at his lip a bit. "I'd hoped nobody noticed," Aaron says. "Kinda hard to concentrate on doing what I do when it's too big a reminder…." He rubs at his eyes. "I guess it'll take a bit longer to get back into the swing of things than I thought. But whatcha gonna, do right?"

"I'm surprised you did okay on the first two, considering everything you've been through," Gillian says, moving to sit down on the floor of the alley in front of him, bending her knees and sitting a bit on those nice shoes. She seems unconcerned with dust (or other things). "I don't think anyone else noticed. Heard a couple people saying they wished you'd stuck around for another song while I was leaving to find where you'd gone."

Aaron smacks his forehead. "I should go get my coat and guitar before someone makes off with them. Don't want to go losing either, frankly." He seems to cleverly evade remarking at all on what he's gone through, partially out of having beaten it dead with his shrink and because part of him wanted to bite back with a comment about how she couldn't possible have any understanding of what he went through. It's with marginal effort that he manages to scramble off of the cold alley floor and he's soon walking back towards the stage exit. "You're not going to go running off again, are you?"

"Asks the guy who ran off into the alley and forgot his coat," Gillian says, pushing herself up to her feet and making 'dust off' gestures with her pants. Mostly in the front, which never even touched the alley, but also a light brushing in the back. After a few moments, she follows after. "I don't plan to go running off anytime soon, but you never know. Sometimes I just have places to be."

"It was either go get air or have a panic attack on stage. I took the least embarrassing." He opens the door and heads into the backstage area to collect his things. It doesn't take too long to put his coat on, which given the rather warm weather is really a bit of overkill, and after a brief word with the manager and the receipt of a wad of bills, he grabs his guitar case and heads right back out that door. Once back in the alley, he sets his guitar case down and fumbles through his coat. "I know I have it here somewhere," he says, pushing part of his scarf aside to get at one of his pockets. "Ah, here we are." He pulls out a folded piece of paper from his notebook, the same piece of paper that seemed to incite in Gillian the need to run last time. "Want to get some coffee? Not that I actually drink coffee. More of a tea person…."

"I'm not much of a coffee person," Gillian says, having followed most the way to the door, but not making it all the way inside. Instead she waited in the alley, standing there when he got back finally. It almost seems like she was tapping her foot. Impatient! "But I wouldn't mind sitting down to talk for a bit. Might help to talk about it. Get back in the swing of things that way. There's a coffee shop a few blocks away. Probably tea, too. I usually go there to read the books they have on the shelves. They have a bunch. People try to walk off with them all the time, but the guy at the front door keeps that from happening.

"Not a caffeine addict. That's good," Aaron remarks, "But is it really a few blocks away? That far?" He gives a faux roll of the eyes and then smirks. "I could have sworn there were coffee shops on every block." He gathers up his guitar case again and starts walking until he's reached the mouth of the alley. "Probably only be another few months before Starbucks realizes they missed a street. Personally, I prefer the mom and pop coffee shops. Cozier environment. What's this place you know of, book lover? Oh, and lead the way."

"There are ones on every block, but they're not all… mom and pop shops. If you just want Starbucks, then that's pretty easy to get to," Gillian says, before she begins to walk toward the street. There's something in her expression that resembles a grimace. Maybe her feet don't really want to walk that far to her preferred location. A cab would probably be better, but… it doesn't look like she has a purse. Not that all women carry them. She could keep her money in pockets. "So do you have any hobbies besides playing music and singing?"

"Starbucks doesn't even have good tea, let alone coffee. Rarely has good music, either," Aaron says, lost in thought for a moment as his mind wanders to memories of such coffee shops. No, he has never really liked coffee, but Annie did. He gives a shrug, observing Gillian's near-grimace only for a moment. "I collect socks. Does that count?" His tone screams that he's not being serious, and he confirms as much when he goes on. "I'm just kidding. No, I mean, I do a bit of composing. Haven't found whatever it is a person needs to find to become a lyricist of any form, so I pretty much stick to instrumentals and covers. At least for the type of gigs I've been able to get, it's been songs they want, and I can't quite bring myself to play our old material yet."

"Socks are important if you want to keep your feet nice and cozy," Gillian says, continuing to walk along the street, her hands moving into her pockets as she goes. She sets a fairly solid pace, too, not slow, but not faster than a walk, but very consistent. It's very fluid and efficient. If someone can be said to walk efficiently. "I can understand that. I've never had people… die like you did, but I— okay, I probably don't understand at all. But I won't ask you to sing one of their songs." That's about as much as she can promise. "My only real hobby besides books is art. I like to draw. Do a lot of stuff on the Internet too."

"It's where I get most of my shopping done. Terribly useful thing, the Internet." All the while Aaron carries along a guitar case in clothes that are absurdly warm for the weather. He breaks into a sweat after the first block. "And that's a relief. I don't think I could possibly oblige you if you did. I was afraid people would request that, and actually one guy did. I had to turn that gig down. Apparently it was the old music or no music…" Which bugged the hell out of him. "And I don't think anyone has, really." The therapists had a field day.

"It was kind of a freak accident, from what I read about it," Gillian says, continuing the walk down the street. A few blocks could take a lot longer if there were more people around. And there are people, just not a whole lot right this moment. Cabs drive by, cars crawl at times, but never a lot in the way. "Did they ever find out exactly what happened with it? Bad wiring or something totally normal like that?"

"I can honestly say I don't really remember. I think they couldn't quite tell where it had started, but figured it was the wiring. Usually is, I mean there's so many wires and then there are the hot lights. Could have been anything, really…" Aaron stops for a moment, a small issue with him getting that deep into thought is that he completely forgets what he was doing prior. "Oh," he says suddenly, and starts walking again. "I think it was ruled an accident, at any rate."

"Accidents happen," Gillian admits quietly, looking around the street beside them for a moment. "Well, good thing about freak accidents is they don't tend to happen a second time." And who would want them to. "Kinda like that whole lightning strike thing. Never hits the same place twice."

"Not true. Lightning can not only strike the same place twice, but it can strike the same place twice in a row," Aaron says. "At least, I think that's right…. I do know lightning can strike the same place twice, though. That I know for sure." He squints to see across the street. "This the place?"

"Yes, that's the place," Gillian says, stepping out into the street without even glancing to the sides, at least not until a taxi suddenly stops and honks loudly at her. She makes a gesture, but not a terribly crude one and then remembers to look around and back at him, "Sorry. I always forget to look both ways these days." It sounds lame, but she hops the rest of the way across the street and toward the door.

And she heads out into the street even before Aaron can hold her back. "These days?" he asks, incredulously, as he rushes across the street to finish the voyage at the same time Gillian does. "There are these things called crosswalks. You really should try them some time." He opens the door, "After you," and follows once Gillian's inside. He spots an empty table near the bookshelves and sets his guitar case there before jumping into line with the one whole other person other than Gillian and himself. Once he's up, he says, "I'll have a cup of Earl Grey and…. did you want anything, Gillian?"

"Hey," Gillian says, waving a hand at the woman minding the counter with the coffee and tea. It seems she wasn't lying when she says that she knew this place fairly well, cause the woman recognizes her too.

"Gillian! It's good to see you again— you look… so much better this week. And you have a friend! Nice of you to bring us more business." But there's something that seems to show her surprise in her voice, like a friend being with her never happens. "Do you want your usual?"

"Nawh. I'm just here for the company today, thanks." She gestures towards a table in the corner, one that's fairly large, with a lot of clearance on one side, so another chair could get pulled up. "I usually sit there." It has it's own bookshelf, even. She walks over and sits down on the side against the wall.

"I guess, not," Aaron says, idly straightening the napkin dispenser as he waits for his tea, then handing out bills from his wallet. He brings his cup of tea to the table and sets it down before going to get his guitar from the table next to the other bookshelf. Finally, he takes a seat. He tosses the little slip of paper from his notepad, which he apparently carried the entire way from the club, onto the table. It's the one with his phone number on it. "You forgot that."

"Oh, right," Gillian says, reaching down to touch the piece of paper with a finger and slide it closer to her. She doesn't put it away yet, looking down at it and repeating the numbers in her head. After a moment, she says off seven numbers, and then adds, "That's mine. It's a cellphone. If I don't answer just leave a voice mail and I'll get back to you." She waits until he gets pencil ready, and will repeat it again if needed.

Aaron bobs his head a few times and then gives a seven tone whistle afterwards, and then writes something down with the pen and notepad that he's pulled out again. He holds up Gillian's number, "That's right, right?" There's that quirky grin again, "I almost never forget a tune, and numbers are remarkably easy to transpose into musical notes." He lowers the notepad and draws a staff, then writes the phone number in musical notation, with 0 as middle C, and shows it off. "See?" He pulls his phone out and goes ahead and enters the number, "You weren't feeling too good last week?"

"I have good days and bad days. I think that's true of everyone, though, isn't it?" Gillian says, waiting til she's sure he's got the right number, before she leans back into her seat. It's a comfortable slouch, really. "So you seriously just turned my number into a little song? Do you ever use that to start off an actual song? Cause that would be kinda cool. You could write me my own song, based on my number. But then anyone who listens to you and has the same kinda thing going on in their head would have my number, and that would be creepy."

"Don't I know it," is Aaron's response. He can't help but laugh as Gillian thinks of the possibilities. "No, I've never done that. Usually pretty good figuring out a little melody on my own just plucking random strings, really. No, my first piano teacher, she taught me that trick. Pretty useful, too. Music, math, and numbers all go together pretty well, it's no surprise to me now. Seemed like magic when I was seven."

"Do you do anything besides music?" Gillian has to ask, tilting her head to the side and letting her hair fall into a cascade as she does, a curious look crossing her face. "Not that music isn't interesting, I'm just curious if that's all there is to you. Especially since it reminds you of something so terrible."

"Wow," Aaron says, finally attending to his tea and burning the tip of his tongue with only a sip of it. "An… wow, that's a deep question. Umm… I don't really know. I mean, music was my life until it wasn't. I still want it to be my life, but clearly that's not going to be as easy as I'd hoped it would be." He leans back in his chair, giving it some more thought. "I cook. I mean, I can't survive on takeout all the time."

"Nothing wrong with cooking," Gillian says, suddenly leaning forward a bit. "Damn, just the mention of a guy who cooks is better than I can do. I can microwave." There's a pause, before she glances up toward a wall clock. "Do you feel better? I know you were having a pretty bad time in the alley, but you haven't burst in to tears even when we talk about what happened." A little blunt of her to mention that, but— there it is.

"Someone has to go on with the family recipes," now that there's no more family. "Yeah. Compartmentalizing. I spent ten months in an institution for it. I don't cry about it much anymore. Not in public places, anyway," Aaron admits before giving the wall clock a glance. "Am I keeping you from something?" This time he doesn't burn his tongue when he takes a sip of his tea.

"You know, I know so much about you, and you haven't asked me much about me, yet," Gillian says, moving to stand up. There's a sweep of her hand and she picks up the piece of paper. "Maybe when you get a chance to call me, we can meet up again. But yeah, I do need to get out of here. But try to avoid those break downs." That's said with a smile, before she's already walking away. And rather quickly. She didn't say she wouldn't walk out eventually.

"There's still plenty you don't know, thankfully," Aaron remarks with a bit of a smirk, "But that's one of the side effects of any kind of fame. I'm just glad I dropped out of the public eye for a year and they didn't manage to get any press on me. Maybe the press have scruples, after all." He leans back from his chair and reaches an arm out towards the door, "By all means, leave me here. Maybe I'll steal your usual spot. And always."

"Hey, I said I sometimes have places to be, and I have places to be," Gillian says with a wave of her hand, without even glancing back. She waits a few moments until someone opens the door, and then she heads outside… and hurries away until she's gone from sight.

Leaving a small piece of paper with a phone number behind on the sidewalk.

Which is a terribly odd sight. There was a moment there she could have simply opened the door herself. Aaron lowers his raised brow and returns to his tea, almost ready to sulk about it. That's the second time she's run out on him. At least this time there was a little bit of warning beforehand, but still. He drinks his tea. Only when he's mostly finish does he bring his mug near the counter, seeing no customers to bug the poor barista, he decides to do so himself. "She always so…. Does she do that a lot? Run out like that?"

The barista looks up at the young man, before glancing back toward the corner table. "That's the least amount of time she's ever spent in here." It's a very surprised sound to her voice, and it just continues as she expands what she has to say. "I guess she has a better doctor than she used to have. It's good to see her out of the wheelchair." And just as she says that, a customer appears. "Please come again." And then her attention turns to other customer.

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