2007-02-04: Spooked


Desiree_icon.gif Paige_icon.gif Danny_icon.gif Anders_icon.gif Sarah_icon.gif Clint_icon.gif Hailien_icon.gif

Summary: Several visitors to a coffee shop (residents and visitors to the city both) come together, and some get more spooked by others for various reasons, be it by spilled coffee, the strange words of a possibly crazy woman, or a bratty little girl.

Date It Happened: February 4th, 2007


Common Grounds, Midtown, New York

Evening wears on in the city; the chill in the February air lures people into more welcoming locales. Glancing behind her as she heads inside, out of the cold, is Desiree. It's a coffee shop that she walks into, one of the cozy types with lots of overstuffed, well-used seating and warm lighting. The woman gives the place a curious look around as if she's never been here before - because she hasn't - and likes what she sees. Not that she's picky. Stretching out her arms behind her and swaying them a little, the woman walks toward the counter in her clunky heels and toys with her generous dark curls as she waits.

Gathering up her drink in one hand as both arms struggle to keep a pile of books against her chest, Paige offers the server a fleeting smile before she starts to shuffle to the side. What would best be served by patience and carefully planned movements, Paige does all too quickly; she all but runs into Desiree on her way to a table, stopping so abruptly that the books fall from her arms with a clatter and her drink, some sort of coffee concoction, spills down the front of her school uniform. "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry," she says quickly, as if she'd done anything to anyone other than herself, looking to Desiree apologetically.

Desiree blinks heavily a few times as she stands there - that is, in the brief moment before Paige nearly collides with her. The woman's consciousness pops back to existence, as it were, and she automatically wears an expression of apology to match the teenager's. And surprise. But mostly, she's wholly sympathetic. "Oh, don't be sorry. I have a habit of just standin' in the way like a big ol' post," she says, her Southern accent obvious. "Here, let me help you with that." She crouches down without another thought to gather some of the fallen school books. "Are you okay?" she queries, hazel eyes looking up. She's almost painfully sincere. "You didn't scald yourself on that coffee of yours?"

"No, it's okay," Paige replies with a shake of her head, dragging as many books as she can over to an empty table and dumping them on top, along with the bag over her shoulder. "It's not even hot." She trudges back to the counter to grab napkins - a lot of them - and mashes them against her stained blouse, trying to extract as much of the coffee as she can. "God. I just washed this." Switching gears, she works at her books to try and salvage her notes. "Thanks for picking up the books. You didn't have to."

"Oh, it's no problem," Desiree answers, unintentionally singsong. Tucking the remainder of the books under one arm so that she can use the nearby chair to haul herself up (it's been a long day!), She lends a friendly smile to Paige. With her helpful disposition, it's easy to tell she's not a typical New Yorker (of the cliche fashion, at least). Of course, her accent didn't gives that away off the bat. "That's a shame, it's a nice blouse," she comments, pointing swiftly at it around the books as she places them on the table also. "You a high school student? That's some pretty serious studyin' you have there."

"Yeah, at Counterpoint," comes Paige's reply as she settles down into one of the chairs, heaving a sigh. Her blouse is still pretty heavily stained, but she's given up trying to clean it, for the moment. "They kind of bury you in homework, you know? I don't even know how long I've been here." Probably fairly long, since she's in her uniform and it's long after school would have let out.

Desiree bobs her head along with sincere interest in this random stranger's life. "Counterpoint," she repeats, clearly without a clue about what it is. "Sounds like a spy school - but what do I know, I barely know how to get to and from Manhattan. Well, it's certainly good to see someone young as you look takin' their books seriously. I was the same way, I was your age," she adds congenially, brows raised. So the woman is a little on the chatty side. With another bob of her head, she steps the short distance to the counter to order coffee.

Paige glances down at the books, her uniform, as Desiree speaks. "I wouldn't say I'm serious about it," she replies, huffing quietly in disagreement. "It's just that my parents would probably kill me if I didn't spend all of my free time studying." She pauses, considering her words. "Okay, kill is an exaggeration. Ground me until next year, though? So not out of the question."

"Weell…" Desiree says, high-pitched and conceding, as she pays for her coffee. "I guess that's how it was for me too, 'til high school's over and you start to see how important it is to go studyin' all on your own." After she turns around, large cup in hand, she quirks one corner of her lips down, lost in a world of her own considering for a moment. She looks casually around the coffee shop. "You mind if I steal that extra seat for a few? I won't interrupt your homework, cross my heart," she says, actually crossing her heart affront the fluffy green collar of her sweater jacket.

Shaking her head, Paige takes a sip of what's left of her coffee, waving a free hand at the empty seat. "Are you kidding? Please interrupt me," she says, all but begging the woman to sit down and talk. "I've been studying calculus for so long that English looks like a completely different language." She sets her chin down in her hand, elbow propped against the table. "How come you're in New York? You don't sound like you're from here."

Desiree flashes Paige a tight-lipped, yet still wide smile of thanks and settles down in the chair. It's cockeyed, not quite facing the high schooler. "Well alright." She laughs as she sets her cup on the table. "Work. Sort-of-speaking. It's more like a favour, for a friend," she explains, then realizes how vague she's being and waves a hand. "I'm deliverin' her baby. I was at the hospital all morning, then it turns out it was false labour, but I was still with her all day, just incase," she plucks up her cup thankfully. "This's the point I need some caffeine."

"You deliver babies?" The look on Paige's face is not quite one of disgust, but it is… a strange, mildly turned-off kind of curiosity as she scrunches her nose. "That's… cool, I guess. I totally couldn't do that. Just the thought of seeing any of my friends like that…" She shudders, in the way that teenaged girls have mastered to show when they're creeped out by something.

The little bell on the door (because there is always a little bell on the door) chimes, and Danny walks in. He looks a little tired, understandable, given he'd just gotten off work, and he makes his way over to the counter. He, thankfully, isn't dressed in full riot gear and uniform, but instead, wears a loose black t-shirt and jeans. And a heavy pair of boots.

He gives the coffee shop a long, slow look, perhaps looking for any familiar faces, but, finding none, simply waits patiently to be served. After which he'll order himself an espresso /and/ a cappuccino, before settling down to read the newspaper tucked under his arm.

Desiree wraps her long hands around the oversized cup on the table and leaves them there for a few moments instead of drinking the coffee she just said she needed. She laughs at Paige, not the slightest bit offended by the girl's reaction. Teenagers will be teenagers. "Aw, well, I wouldn't wanna see any of your friends like that either if they're same age as you," the Southerner points out before taking a much-relished sip of that coffee, going so far as to close her eyes to savour the moment. "Mmm." When she opens them, she's looking down at the assortment of books and notes Paige has on the table. In fact, she starts to stare pretty intently. And she goes silent, which might strike even someone who just met Desiree as odd.

The bell distracts Paige momentarily, and she watches Danny for a few seconds with the faint hint of a smile as he orders quite so much caffeine. It's the silence, however, that pulls her attention back to Desiree. Ducking her head, she peers curiously at Desiree and waves a hand before the woman's face. "Are you alright?" she asks, sounding genuinely concerned. Because, well, Desiree is not exactly the quietest woman ever.

Danny settles down a little way away from the pair, although a friendly nod is given to Paige, after all, it'd be rude not to acknowledge her, he doesn't want to intrude upon a private conversation. And by the look of it, there was some serious Coffee House-Related business going on there. What with all the books and papers. He sits down with a grateful sigh, and the espresso is downed in one shot. That wakes him up a bit, enough that he can actually concentrate on the paper he has brought with him. Flicking through the first few pages with little interest, it seems.

A tourist joins the line behind Danny, the full nine yards, sunglasses, garish hawaiian shirt, sunhat, hell, if he wasn't six-three, he'd be totally unremarkable for NYC. Anyway, the big man is standing there and reading a map whilst he waits for his turn, apparently baffled by the layout. He glances around the coffeeshop, apparently debating asking someone for advice before his phone rings. When he answers, he speaks in thickly accented norwegian, just in time to get to the front of the queue and leading to a stilted and split conversation, only half in english, eventually managing to order himself a coffee and a pastry.
This done, he folds the map up and goes to sit at a table, peering at the exposed page of the map.

The wave of Paige's hand jars Desiree from her Very Serious Daydreaming, but she ducks her head down to continue to stare at the girl's homework - more specifically, a certain piece of paper in a notebook. There's nothing remarkable about it: it's on regular lined paper with just a few lines of work on it, perhaps more doodles than anything, and two amorphous stains of coffee, but for whatever reason, it takes up all of her attention. "Yeah," she says as a tenuous reassurance. "Yeah, yeah, it's nothin'." The series of creases on her brow say otherwise. She looks up and flashes Paige a bright smile. "Do you…" She trails off, frowns, starts again. "This is going to sound real funny, but can I have that sheet of paper? The one with the coffee stains on it? Is that important work there?"

"Um." Paige seems torn, at that, as she peers down at the paper questioningly, appraising its value to this stranger. "You want to keep my homework?" She picks up the sheet of paper, narrowing her eyes. She sits up a little straighter then, casting a swift glance around the coffee shop, lingering on a few people in particular. One of them is the tourist in the Hawaiian shirt. Frowning, she turns back to Desiree, looks at the paper once more, and says, "Sure, why not? It's just my rough work. I'm not going to miss it."

Danny smiles slightly as he looks up and sees the tourist. He seems quietly amused by this, chuckling to himself. Not in a malicious way, but, it was always nice to see the tourists wandering aimlessly around New York. It was, after all, one of the defining traits of the city. He gives the tourist a long look, trying to weigh up just how lost he seemed to be. And how likely it was he'd be worried if he randomly wandered over and offered help.

The tourist still appears to be pretty lost, peering intently at the half-folded map and sipping at his coffee. Must be too warm for him, tourists, eh? He does, however, look up when Danny looks at him, offering the man a smile and pointing to part of his map wordlessly, as if asking for help.

"Thanks, you're a… a doll. Thanks," Desiree wastes no time in setting her cup down so that she can grab for the notebook to tear the paper from its coils. She flashes Paige more than one silly, apologetic smile as she does so. "I know it's /weird/…" she flattens the paper out in front of her. "And I'm probably goin' crazier than a coconut, but I just… I just need to /have/—" Suddenly, the woman huffs in frustration, but it's at herself, not her teenaged companion. Vexed, she points a hot pink nail down onto the paper. "You can't /see that/?"

Well, this has all gotten pretty strange. The girl looks down at the stained paper, narrowing her eyes again, considering it at great length. "No…" They're pretty much just coffee stains. Shifting uncomfortably in her seat, Paige casts another glance around the coffee shop, rolling her shoulders anxiously. "What should I be seeing?"

Approaching the door of Common Grounds, a shadowy figure reaches out one of its arms, stubby fingers casting a secondary shadow on the door as it reaches for the handle/doorknob to open it. The door creaks open, and darkening the doorway is… …! A thirteen year-old girl with a stuffed rabbit!

Sarah Kain steps through the threshold, holding rabbit under one arm, and clutching a posh leather designer bookbag in her other hand, that probably cost more than the club itself is worth. The black-haired girl glances around with her gray eyes, sniffs the air, and apparently finds the aroma of coffee unpalatable judging from her sour look towards the coffee bar. Ignoring the people at the other tables for now, she finds herself a place in a corner, not because she is insecure and wants the safety of a wall at her back, but because she always takes a booth whenever one is available. Chairs are for chumps, yo.

The girl places her bag on the table, and evicts a rather large stack of novels and history books from its dark confines, ordering them neatly about her, as though she plans to be here for awhile, and thus requires a proper fortress of solitude. If anyone glances at any of the titles on the books, they seem to mostly be of a rather dark and horror-esque nature, with the history books being about various methods of torture employed during the middle-ages.

Danny shrugs slightly, no harm in helping out a tourist, is there? He stands, taking his newspaper and drink with him, and walks over to sit down near Anders, casting a brief glance at the map. "Hey buddy, a little lost? Don't worry. Happens to all of us sometimes. What're you looking for?" A brief glance back as the door opens… a double take as he realizes that there was no other adult /with/ that thirteen year old little girl. But. He lets it go. It wasn't his place to go telling other people how to bring up their kids. Still. It did strike him as just a little bit peculiar. Especially with the rabbit.

A brief shake of his head to clear it of that line of thought- none of his business- he turns his attention back to Anders and his map. Hoping that he could, at least, make himself understood.

The tourist also notes the thirteen year old, but either doesn't think her that unusual or is simply too caught up in asking Danny questions about the map in thickly accented english, "This is how I get to the Statue of Liberty? Und this is how I get to the Empire State bildink?" of course, the routes he points out are horribly wrong, but being a tourist you have to allow for it really.
He moves around the table in such a way that Danny has to move his back to Paige and the other girl in order to see the map, nodding to the man and smiling.

Desiree shakes her head dismissively at Paige, as if the whole thing is silly; her multitude of dark curls sway together. In doing so, she happens to look down again at the stained paper. Her eyes narrow on it, then trail up to Paige, who she looks at evenly for a span of several moments. "You," she answers with relative calm given the oddness of it all. One more thing: she sounds awfully sure. She taps one of the pale coffee-hued shapes and curves around it with a thumbnail, intending the paper faintly, giving the shape an outline. It's not /entirely/ out of left field that it could look like a head or face. …to a toddler using finger-paints. "You and this man." She nods, decisive. "He's reachin' out, like he wishes you was closer even though you're standin' right there. It's sorta…" Desiree tips her head to the side; her mouth twitches down, a half-cocked frown. "It's sorta sad."

"Oh. That's… weird." That's about all Paige can think to say, at first, as she looks down at the paper, searching the lines for what Desiree says she sees. After a short few seconds, however, she raises her shoulders and begins gathering up her books. She takes the paper, too, it should be noted; it gets stuffed down amongst her notebooks, all of which are thrown into her backpack hastily. "My parents are gonna kill me for being out so late. It, uh. It was nice talking to you." But that doesn't seem quite accurate, because she looks awfully spooked. "Bye! Good luck delivering your friend's baby!" As she weaves around the table en route to the doors, she flicks a glance around the coffee shop for a third and final time, her brow twitching in a faint frown on her way. Just like that, she's out the door.

You know, Clint could just go straight home from work, normally. Literally. But he drove to work today. So now he's driving back, and he finds himself parking his rather nice Dodge Charger in the parking lot of this coffee shop. He stops a moment after he steps inside for a brief moment, and then heads up to the counter.

Sarah finishes setting herself up, but seems to be a bit antsy, unable to sit still. Finally, she gets up and heads over to the coffee bar with its repugnant odors, to not-quite-politely demand, "Give me chocolate." Assuming she is asked what kind of chocolate or in what form or any of the other questions one might be likely to ask when presented with such a demand, the girl rolls her eyes and sighs heavily. "Well, let us examine the immediate environment. There /appears/ to be a rather full container of chocolate bars approximately three inches away from your left hand, and it /appears/ as though they are available for purchase, if the 'FIVE DOLLARS' sign stuck to the box is any indication. I /suppose/ it might have been left there by accident, but are the chances of that likely, do you think? I don't. Which is why I shall repeat myself: Give me chocolate."

Assuming, once more, that the worker behind the coffee bar can get their tongue working and ask 'how many', Sarah throws her hands in the air, and asks loudly, "If I have to explain everything to you, why are you even being paid? Does it /LOOK/ like I have come here prepared to spend only the time required to consume a single chocolate bar, or does it look like I might be planning to stay awhile?" She indicates the dozen books or so on her table.

She finally just waves one hand dismissively, closing her eyes and furrowing her brow, as she holds her rabbit a bit closer. "Just give me the whole box. Here is one-hundred dollars. Keep the change and buy yourself some common sense." She drops a hundred-dollar bill on the counter, grabs the box of chocolate bars, and turns around to return to her table. She encounters Clint when she turns, and pauses to forcefully say, "/Excuse/ you." Then she waits for him to move aside before heading back to her table. If he doesn't move, then she'll sigh again and walk around. Nice girl.

Danny chuckles, nodding slightly. "Sure, you /could/ go that way, but… I'd suggest going this way. It's a bit more scenic, you know?" This is, in fact, not entirely true. However, the paths that Danny outlines with a few brief motions would, however, ensure that he A) Stays away from the rougher neighborhoods in the area, and B) Reaches his destination in /less/ than three or four hours. A definite bonus for any tourist! He blinks slightly, then, as Sarah makes something of a scene.

The man turns, blinking, at the outburst. One eyebrow raised. If he was the clerk, he wouldn't take being talked to like that. Honestly. Some people just have no idea how to raise their children. The fact she's throwing such large amounts of money around was further indication, in his mind, that someone -really- had no idea what they were doing with that one.

He looks back apologetically to the tourist. "Heh. Guess you can chalk that one up as one of the odder sights in New York, eh?" He flashes a grin, quiet enough, he hopes, that the annoying child wouldn't hear and take offense. He really wasn't in the mood to deal with that tonight.

The tourist thanks Danny for his help, cutting him off mid explanation if he has to, "Ja, thank you," he says. He stands up suddenly, his coffee half-finished (and cold, coincidentally, it having lost its steam more or less the second the man touched the cup), and his danish left behind on the table as he walks briskly out of the door.

Clint just blinks in uprise as, while he's stepping up to the counter, he's cut off by a young girl, who procedes to chew out the coffee slave, and then drop a c-note on the counter. And then turn around and start to get lippy with him. He shakes his head and steps out of the way, mumbling to himself. "Brat." He grumbles under his breath, as he steps up to the counter and gets his coffee. Large cafe mocha, with extra whipped cream.

"Wh--" Desiree looked spooked as well as she watches Paige gather her things hastily - she instinctively tries to keep the oh-so-mysterious paper on the table, but it's being shoved into the backpack before she even has a real chance. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean t--" Twisting in her seat, she watches the teenager make for the exit. As she slumps in the Paige's wake, she notices the various newcomers to the coffee shop; mostly because of Sarah. She stares at the girl throughout the majority of her outbursts, widens her eyes, and promptly turns away mouthing 'okaaaay' to herself as she reclaims her coffee cup. Hunkering down in her seat, she drinks her coffee.

Luckily for Clint, Sarah doesn't hear the 'brat' comment. Seriously. He has no idea how lucky he is. This is a girl who does not take well to disparagements about herself. And not just in the 'will tear you apart verbally' manner, either. She makes it successfully back to her booth, with chocolate bars in hand, and begins unwrapping each one individually, and placing them on a plate which she extricates from her book bag. She then likewise withdraws a knife and fork, and begins to slice up and eat the chocolate as though they were fine steaks, rather than Twix.

She occasionally takes a moment to flip a page in her currently open book, which discusses how torture was considered a legitimate way to obtain testimonies and confessions during the Middle Ages, and the most common ways of doing so. This is accompanied by a graphic illustration of a man having bits of his flesh twisted off with white-hot iron pincers. And she hasn't lost her appetite?

It looks like she'll be here awhile.

Danny blinks slightly, surprised as the tourist runs off. "Well. There you go." He says, "Still. Can hardly blame the guy. Hard to relax when someone brings that kind of atmosphere to the place." A glance to Sarah, and a light smirk. Yeah, Danny was musing aloud. He's allowed, it's a free country after all. And the fact that one thirteen year old girl was capable of bringing such a… horribly /oppressive/ air with her. Well. It bore commenting upon.

Not that he seems determined to let it ruin his evening. The man takes a long sip of his coffee, and then returns his attention to his newspaper, flicking through, this time, to the sports pages. He'd had a hard day at work, and if he wanted to sit here and read his paper and drink coffee, then by god that was what he was going to do. No matter /how/ indignant or angry the other patrons of the coffee shop might become.

It has been a day of exits and entries, of meetings and greetings, of small, weird little teenagers with stuffed bunny rabbits and people walking out the door. However, the next person coming into Common Ground, Hailien, doesn't exactly enter through the door, she just enters, almost as if she wasn't thinking about it from the way that her head is down and staring at a small notebook she has in her hands. She does remember to eventually look up, and smile wryly to herself, as if there's some joke she's sharing with herself.

Desiree huddles down in her seat even more, creating quite the pensive moue as she holds her cup under her chin. She stares at no particular thing, in no meaningful direction. She comes in and out of her thoughtfulness in waves as she sips her coffee now and then; at one point in time, she glances at Sarah. Frowning at the girl's choice of literature (and screwing her face up in mild disgust), she looks away. Downing the rest of her drink, she stands up, leaving her cup on the table, and wraps her sweater jacket around herself. She gives a tiny, friendly polite smile to the teenager with the notebook (what is it with teenagers with notebooks today?) on her way out, then pushes into the street.

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