2007-03-04: Starting Over


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Jane looks for a fresh place to find musical partners, and encounters Elena during a dance team practice.

Date It Happened: March 4th, 2007

Starting Over

New York University

Still shaky after recent experiences, with that lost evening in her thoughts, Jane ventures out to try looking in new directions for musicians to link up with, hoping maybe she can recapture some of what she felt years ago while playing with her Yale friends in their band. That, and right now she wants to lay low fearing the word might have spread around the East Village scene that she'd just be a flake who doesn't show up when she's expected to. Feet carry her slowly across campus, her eyes drifting to take in the area and the people around her.

There seems to be something going on ahead on the side of Washington Park. This are of the NYU campus is quite active, what with students playing hooky from classes and tossing a frisbee around. There's a group on the other side by the Vanderbilt buildin's side doing Tai Chi. And nearer to the Park's proper is a mixed group of guys and girls. Music is blaring from the boombox set up nearby, and whoever's leading the group is right in front. A few students have gathered to watch the university's Dance Corps group practice for their upcoming battle against other local university dance groups in the next week or so.

"Alright, take a break, people!" calls the lead, a pretty, African American girl in her twenties. The group starts to break apart, grabbing some water bottles and chatting with one another.

One of them seems to spot Jane, Elena burying her face into a towel for a moment, and then trotting over to where she is, slinging the terry cloth over her shoulder and her ponytail bobbing a bit. She's dressed in a pair of comfortable yoga pants and a tank top today, with her hoodie tied around her waist. "Jane!" she calls.

Music. It reaches her ears and draws her in that direction. Jane walks along, dressed in musician garb as she would be for these pursuits. It's warmer than normal, the winter coat is left behind at home, so today it's the Yale hoodie under her guitar and backpack. She stops near the practice and watches for a bit, her eyes starting to wander a little when they break, until a voice calls her name. Turning to face it, she flashes a slight smile which only partly shrouds her lingering pensiveness. "Hey," she answers. "How's things, Elena?"

"Good," Elena puffs, resting her hands on her knees. "A little busy. Tia's murdering us today. We have a competition within the next week or so." She brushes a lock of dark hair from her face and smiles at her. "How are you?" she asks. And while she catches the not-so-okay look on the other woman's face, she doesn't pry. Not unless Jane wishes to divulge anyway. "What about you? How's the job hunt? Everything going okay? Did you read the papers?"

"You're a performer too," she notes. "I'm sure you'll do really well with the competition. "The hunt is… going. I'm hoping to hear something soon from ASCAP and BMI. Among other things." The other things, however, she sounds less than hopeful about, a state reflected in her face and eyes. "What's in the papers? " Jane's shoulders shift and she sets down her gear, glad to be relieved of the weight.

"Yeah, it's just for fun. Stress reliever, you know? I'm a biology major on the pre-med track," Elena says. "So I sort of need to have some kind of respite outside of the classroom, library, and labs." She takes a drink of her water bottle and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. "And the papers? The Johanssen Foundation building burned down." She lowers her voice, and inclines her head a little it at Jane. "Is your friend okay? Miss Rockford-Johanssen?"

Her brow furrows when the question is asked, confusion showing on Jane's features now. "My friend? Who is that? I… I haven't seen the papers today, but, oh, yeah, I do remember bits and pieces mentioning her from time to time. City Councilwoman, right? Runs some kind of charity too? But we've never met, Elena." She shrugs it off. "Freshwoman year's going well for you? I remember all too well that first year stress."

Dark eyes remain steady on Jane, Elena seeing the signs. Never met when the last two conversations they've had were -about- that woman and what she knew and how she approached Jane? Not to mention she, too, had been in the receiving end of it all. She doesn't speak for a while, her eyes searching her face and gauging her sincerity, even while her fingers dig into her water bottle. She could remember their last conversation.

'Just be careful,' she had told Jane that day. 'I don't want you to be next.'

Part of her was sick to her stomach. She wanted to wretch on the side of the street.

Instead, however, she forces a smile. "Not too bad. Made some friends, involved with the school. The academic load is close to murder but I can handle it. It's not all too different from what I took on in High School."

Nothing about her seems to suggest she's faking anything for public appearances, Jane very clearly believes what she said. Her head tilts for a moment as Elena speaks, a lingering wonder why someone asked about a friend she never had, but she lets it pass. "The main difference is the professors don't care so much if you show up or not. That, and wanting to provoke thought. When you take your core stuff, the history and all that, it's not so much about naming dates and places of events, but forming an opinion of why they happened, and what happened as a consequence."

"Well why would they? They have tenure," Elena jokes with a laugh. "At least most of them do anyway." She rubs the back of her neck, still with that strange look on her face as she regards Jane for a while. Finally she speaks up. "You don't really remember mentioning Ms. Rockford-Johanssen to me?" she says, folding her arms behind her back and inclining her head at her. "The past couple of days must have been a blur, huh?" She treads carefully, her choice of words deliberate.

"Tenure, yeah," Jane replies with a chuckle. "Not so much that, as they expect you to be serious students. If you don't show, they just make sure you fail and get the boot, so someone who wants to be there takes your place. High schools have to try making you attend." She grows uncomfortable when being looked at like that, her features showing it, being about to ask what's up but holding it in when Elena asks her questions. That makes her entire body tense, her eyes pained and sharply searching the latina's. "What. Are. You. Talking. About?" Her blackout is brought back to full focus, she stands there wondering if the barista had anything to do with it, saw her do anything that night, or knows secondhand. The pained look to her eyes suggests embarrassment about the whole thing, her unwillingness to admit any of it.

"Yeah I know, considering how the college admissions process is so competitive these days," Elena remarks, tugging her ponytail slightly on her head. But when Jane fidgets and otherwise makes her embarassment or frustration felt, she glances over at her and her expression turns a little more serious. There is a long stretch of silence, as Elena ponders what to do. Jane was safer just not knowing. At the same time was it really fair? She didn't know about most of this stuf until Jane came along and told her what she knew. And now someone torched the Foundation. While there were coincidences, she didn't find that likely. She spoke with Jane recently, she mentions the Foundation, now Jane doesn't know anything and the Foundation was torched.

If that was a coincidence, she'll eat her hoodie.

"I was thinking maybe we can hang out today," she says, trying a different tact. "After my shift. I need a couple of books, and then maybe we can grab something to eat afterwards. Are you busy later? You can stop by the Starbucks when I close up."

And she definitely can't do all her explaining here.

"I… I can't figure out when or where, Elena," she quietly remarks. It was two nights ago, I went to the East Village to link up with a few musicians I met recently. It all seemed to be going so well, they needed a guitarist and singer. We were supposed to meet again and play, work things out. I was early, waiting for them. Next thing I know it's yesterday morning, I'm in my own bed, and no memory of anything after showing up to see them. I ate someplace on the way, had a cola, but I didn't leave it unattended or anything. How'd I get roofied?"

"Elena!" Tia calls from the group. "Break's over! Get your salsa-lovin' ass over here!"

Elena glances at the rest of the Dance Corps, and then she looks at Jane. "After work," she tells her. "At my coffeehouse. Meet me there 'round eight, okay?" she says. "I gotta go. We'll talk then. I'm sorry." She does look incredibly apologetic, moving backwards before turning around and jogging back to her group. She hated that she can't tell Jane -now-, but it was folly to talk about this stuff out in the open, not when people could be watching. God, what the crap is she doing? She was a kid, she wasn't some spy.

She just nods, and slowly picks up her gear as the latina backs away and runs off. Feeling and looking numb, Jane lowers her head in shame and begins to wander back the way she came. People in the East Village might think she's a flake, now someone here knows she had a blackout too. NYU no longer feels comfortable to look for fellow musicians. And that other thought that came to her. What if she was drugged? By who, and why? Minutes later, she reaches the street running by this university's entrance, turns in the direction of home, and is gone from sight.

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