2008-02-19: The B-rated Actress' Bad Day


Niel_icon.gif Kimi_icon.gif Brennen_icon.gif Rudyard_icon.gif

Summary: A B-rated actress is confronted by her ex in a Starbucks, and defended by bystanders during an argument with him. Spiders and cockroaches somehow mysteriously appear and disappear, and coffee gets thrown around.

Date It Happened: Thursday, February 19, 2008

The B-rated Actress' Bad Day

Starbucks, Downtown, New York City, NY

Now that the post-work rush has died down, Starbucks has regained its manufactured ambience, with a handful of patrons scattered around the tables, each tending to his or her own business. They are not particularly noteworthy clients tonight: a middle-aged man sits by the window typing on a laptop; a man and a woman in their twenties, leaning over the table and chatting intimately; a woman with her back to the window, seated in the corner, writing in a notebook. All in all, it's a very quiet evening.

When everyone else is off home from work, Niel is just going in. Actually, he's probably been in all day, but the prerogative of a workaholic who hates his home life is to, well, work. All day. And into the night. And never go home. This requires coffee. So the nondescript be-suited man dressed in a sharp overcoat against the February chill pushes his way into the door of the Starbucks and casts a cursory glance around before heading right for the counter. The order of the night espresso.

Kimi rushes in, chattering away on her cellphone in Japanese in as subdued a voice as she can. She's not trying to be one of Those Rude Cellphone People. "<Okay, yeah, I found a Starbucks with a wi-fi. Let me set up and then you can send me the changes. You know how fast I am. I can get this sorted quickly and you won't lose the account. Breathe, Dexter. No, just breathe. I'm setting up the laptop now.>"

Rudyard settles into a seat by the window, a cup of coffee in one hand, and a briefcase in the other. In an almost OCD fashion, he sets his cup aside then sets up his briefcase so that he can rifle through the tidy and organized paperwork within. The wind from the opening of the door ruffles his paperwork and he throws down a hand to keep them in place.

The door gets pulled open by a man wearing a dark brown leather jacket over a white t-shirt. Brennen steps through and glances around the little cafe as he strolls to the back of the line, waiting patiently behind the fellow in the suit.

Outside the coffee shop, a tall, well-dressed man steps up to the glass windows, peering inside. His breath frosts the window lightly, prompting him to step back from the glass. For the moment, he doesn't seem interested in stepping inside. He's simply staring into the cafe, watching someone or something.

Coffee. That is what Niel is after. He doesn't particularly care about the rest, outside of the typical attention paid to one's surroundings when one is not on high alert. After receiving his espresso, Niel sits himself at a table somewhere between the OCD Rudyard and the chatty Kimi. He then sets about the riveting, spectacular task of drinking his coffee.

Kimi's situation is apparently so urgent she hasn't had time to stop and get coffee. She gives a frantic glance to her watch as she boots up her laptop, and then waits for her card to find and lock the signal. "Come on, come on, come on, yeah baby!" Then it's cracked knuckles, and flying fingers across the keyboard. Anyone who can see what she's doing can see her typing on a regular English keyboard but the characters are coming up in Japanese. "<I'm online, Dexter. I'm going realtime. Open up your chat window and capture, that's fastest.>"

Rudyard throws a grumpy look towards the door and the people who also keep opening it! He adjusts his briefcase to block further attempts from the wind to get his documents out of order. Documents he requires to write his latest paper. The man outside on the sidewalk only gets a passing glance, it's almost unnoticed. This is New York City, there's always people on the sidewalk, looking into windows.

Brennen steps up to the counter when the suit is finished ordering and smiles at the barista, "Hi. I'd like a tall java chip frappiccino please." He pays and then turns his attention to the window to watch the people walk by outside, still smiling, while he waits for his drink. He gives the window watcher a cursory glance and his eyes flit back and forth across the many people passing. Upon receiving the coffee, he walks to an empty table and sits down, still facing the window, to drink his newly acquired, and highly tasty, beverage.

The woman in the corner rises from her seat and carries her empty cup over to the trash, keeping her head bowed. Anyone who might catch a glimpse of her face through her reddish hair will notice her red eyes and pink cheeks, suggesting she's recently been crying. Rather than collecting her things to leave, however, she moves towards the counter to order another drink.

Outside, the man steps towards the window again, laying his hand on the glass. He's tracked her from her seat all the way to the counter, and now he's watching her with a sad look on his face. Pitiful, really.

The briefcase and Rudyard get a brief look, then Kimi with her laptop. Then Niel's attention naturally drifts to the woman when she rises. The recent crying is noted, but he continues to remain in his seat sipping his coffee. Not really his business, the tragic crying-into-coffee stuff. The man outside at the window is also still not noticed.

Kimi pauses, and smiles, at whatever was said to her over her bluetooth headpiece. "<That's right, I do rock, and don't you forget it. Have you got it? It didn't garble in transmission? Just in case, let me fwing you the file too, okay? Yeah. Sending …now. Mm-hmm. I know, I know. Yeah, right, whatever. Just make sure you come by when you're in New York next.>" And she switches to English. "I know I rule, yes. You can thank me properly next time you're in town. Dinner and dancing. Go on, finish nailing it."

Rudyard tunes out the man in the window as nothing more than an irritant. How long can one man stare in a window before making a decision to move on or come inside? From inside his briefcase he pulls out a legal pad and pencil. The briefcase is shut and then set on the floor at his feet so that he can have more tablespace to look over his notes and resume writing. The visible problems of other people aren't really noticed by Rudy. He's kind of in his own world much of the time.

The briefcase and Rudyard get a brief look, then Kimi with her laptop. Then Niel's attention naturally drifts to the woman when she rises. The recent crying is noted, but he continues to remain in his seat sipping his coffee. Not really his business, the tragic crying-into-coffee stuff. The man outside at the window is also still not noticed.

Brennen has stopped watching the random people crossing the window and his vision has settled on the man outside. Indeed it is odd that a man would stand staring into a starbucks for so long. Brennen is now curious, and curiosity must be satisfied. He sucks delicious chocolatey coffee through a bright green straw as he watches that man in the window. He leans foward in his chair and rests his elbows on his table.

Drink in hand, the woman at the counter turns away and starts back towards her seat, glancing absently to the window. Stopping dead in her tracks, she takes in a sudden, sharp breath. The cup slips from her hand and falls to the floor, spilling coffee over the floor, splashing on her shoes and pants without her notice. "Oh, you— " Contrary to the spooked look on her face, the woman doesn't sound particularly frightened. No, she just sounds angry as she stalks towards the door.

In response, the man pulls his hand away from the glass and steps towards the door, pulling it open to move inside.

Brennen is startled and jumps in his seat a bit when the lady's drink hits the ground. He snaps his head in her direction for a few moments until it clicks what startled him. Then he looks back at the door as the man walks in.

The dropped cup gets Niel's attention again and he glances at the woman once more. Without all that hair in her face, he's better able to recognize her, though it takes a while. Oh hey. Wasn't she in a movie? That's the fleeting thought that goes through his head right before his eyes follow hers and he spots the man now entering the shop. Uh-oh. He feels this is quickly starting to become his business. Niel sets his cup down and watches the situation, ready to jump up at any second.

Kimi was on her way to get into line, but the coffee cup drops and nearly splatters. She has to make a sudden couple of steps back to keep splashing coffee off her shiny black boots. "Hey!" she squawks, indignantly. She then looks up, and sees the woman who dropped it looks tearful and angry. Her own displeasure is forgotten in a moment of concern for the woman. "A-Are you all right?" She takes a careful step toward the woman, avoiding the puddle of coffee.

Rudyard glances irritably towards the window. Inwardly, he toys with the idea of doing something to make the man move along. To do anything except for staring through the bloody window. Or, well that. He groans audibly, annoyed that there appears to be some sort of domestic dispute or similar about to take place. Rudy must be a bit on the insane side to even think that he could get in some quiet writing time in a public establishment.

When she realizes the man is stepping inside, the woman - whom at least one person has recognized as an actress - stops advancing, hands on her hips. "Oh, I'm fine," she hisses dismissively to Kimi, rolling her shoulders in a shrug; but her voice isn't conveying nearly as much conviction as it had been moments before, even if she's putting up a brave front. "Just a jerk of an ex."

Said jerk is now inside, staring at the woman from a few feet ahead of the door. "Cynthia…" His voice is hoarse, his expression still sad. He holds a hand out to her, sending her back a step reflexively, towards Kimi. "Cynthia, please."

That's when Niel rises from his chair. "Think you better keep moving," he tells the other man flatly, smiling in the tight polite way one does when trying to peacefully resolve such things. "Don't make this ugly."

Turning his attention between the pair now locked in a battle of possible domestic magnitude, Brennen sets his cup down and sits back. In the process he also scoots his chair backward enough to allow for a quick exit, but he doesn't stand. Looks like enough people involved already.

Yeah, right. That performance and four bucks will get her a venti chai latte. Kimi doesn't look convinced. But neither does she look cowed by the jerky ex. She steps protectively in front of the other woman. "Okay," she says, slipping easily into her do-not-mess-with-me dominatrix role, which fits perfectly with her outfit, "You want to turn around and walk out the way you came. The lady clearly has no interest in dealing with you just now."

"Bloody Yanks, no means no. Go have a row in private," Rudyard mutters to himself as he starts packing his stuff back up. If there's going to be a lover's spat, he might as well go track down Miss Rousseau and argue with her. Or something. He looks between the named Cynthia and her charming ex, debating with himself.

While some people might be appreciative of the help, the woman raises both her hands as Kimi and Niel step forward. "I can handle this," she says to both of them, keeping her eyes locked on her supposed ex-lover. "Stay out of it." To the man now, taking a step forward, she asks, "What, have you been stalking me?"

"You don't understand," the man stammers out, shaking his head stubbornly at the warnings, but otherwise not addressing them. "I just want to talk to you, but you won't— ever since you left…"

And that's when something drops from the ceiling onto the man's nose. At first he doesn't notice, trying to brush it away as if it were simply a piece of lint… and then he lets out a very manly 'gah!' and steps back, trying to shoo the black spider off his face.

Niel doesn't argue, but he doesn't sit down and he doesn't take his eyes off the situation, especially the ex. His eyes flit briefly to Rudyard as the man starts packing up to leave. Can't blame him, really.

And then something drops from the ceiling onto the other man's face. The moment Niel sees what it is, his composure takes a turn for the worse. His face pales and, though he tries to hide it, the terror is very evident as he takes a small step back. Shit. Spider. Spider.

Watching the soap opera come to life, Brennen is shakes his head ever so slightly in wonder. Wonder as to how he got a front row seat to a kind of performance he never even watches on tv.

And then something drops from the ceiling onto the man's face. And the corner of Brennen's mouth twitches upward for a split second. He looks around and notices Niel paleing and stares at the man incredulously. Really? Just from the spider?

Kimi looks startled that the woman has decided to fight her own battle, given she seemed a little wigged. But okay. Fine. She goes back to the barista. "Venti tazo chai, double squirt of classic syrup, and you might want to call the police to be on the safe side." She shifts her laptop bag on her shoulder. "Oh, and you have the mozzy sandwich! My fave!" She reaches down to grab one from the refrigerated case. She only looks up curiously as The Ex makes that noise.

Mind made up, Rudyard does something foolish. Yet seeing as it's a very subtle thing to do. As the spider comes down and distracts the annoying man, he smiles to himself. It's a self-satisfied sort of smirk. Then there's Niel's reaction. Oh this is getting better. Even if Niel was doing nothing, it's still amusing. Picking up his cup, he takes a few drinks of his coffee.

The spider is thrown to the ground at Niel's feet, and the man lurches back, shaking his head to snap out of his surprise. "Cynthia, look, I didn't mean what I said. You have to trust— "

"Trust you? How could I trust you?" If the woman still had a cup in her hand, she just might throw it at him. …in fact, that's precisely what she does: she snatches a cup from the nearest table and hurls it at the man. "After you called me a freak? Get away from me!"

Brennen tries to grab his cup when he sees the woman going for it, but is too late, and watches sadly as his wonderful sugary delight is heaved across the Starbucks at a man he does not know. "Aww…that was my drink, lady!" He sighs and leans back in his chair, defeated.

Never has a spider been killed so fast nor so thoroughly. STOMPSTOMPSTOMPSTOMP CRUNCHSQUISH. Spider is = dead now. Not the manliest of dispatches, but Niel is glad to have splattered the damn thing all over the floor. Heaving a quiet sigh of relief, he's able to catch just that last tidbit and his composure returns just a little. Freak? His eyes go to Cynthia, then to the ex, then back again.

Kimi is just leaning against the counter where she picked up her own sugary delight, watching this as if it were a spectator sport. She's already glanced around and realized there were no cameras, so they're not being Punk'd or subjected to some other reality show's sense of humor. The freak crack gets a sneer from her. "You go, girl," she says softly to Cynthia. Clearly she's better off without the slimepuppy if he's calling her a freak and stalking her.

Domestic spats aren't really Rudyard's scene. He has a hard time when arguing with Miss Daphne Rousseau as it is. When you talk to insects, communicating with people just doesn't work so well. Not for him anyway. So when the row continues and then Niel stomps on the spider.. the entomologist firmly snaps his briefcase shut, takes another drink of his coffee. And remains quiet.

The cup hits the well-dressed man square in the chest, soiling the front of his coat and falling to the floor with a splat. He keeps his cool remarkably well, however. "Cynthia…" Desperate much? He still has that sad look on his face. "I told you, I was spooked…"

"Deal with it, tiger," the woman replies to Brennen, though she does sound mildly apologetic despite her clear frustration. Niel's reaction to the spider is enough to draw her attention briefly, and she turns away from the man for just a second.

That one second is long enough for him to step forward, reaching out to take her elbow in his hand. "Listen to me, Cynthia. Please."

Scuttle, scuttle. A little yelp from the corner, and the young twentysomething lovebirds jump up from their seats. Some more scuttling from the other side of the room. One roach, two roaches, three roaches, four… and then a dozen or so more come out of the woodwork, scurrying around the floor.

Breathebreathebre— and when the ex steps forward to grab Cynthia, Niel does too. Not to grab Cynthia, but to grab the other man by the wrist. "All right, I think it's time you leave," he utters.

Then there are roaches. His attention snaps to the couple, the roaches, and then he casts a glance at Cynthia. Tagging comes to mind, but obviously it can't happen right this second. Is she the one with the bugs?

Kimi steps forward again. "Uh-uh, no touchie," she says, stepping up again with her drink still in her hand, as though the man were beneath her contempt and she'd only need one hand to deal with anything he tries. She looks down her nose at him; neat trick as she's not taller than he is. It's all in the body language. The roaches don't even merit a glance.

Rudyard finishes his coffee and sets the mug down. It's tempting to say, 'Someone should call the health department.' Yet, he takes this opportunity to exit the coffeeshop quietly and hopefully unnoticed. He's not a physical sort, the disruptions have put him in a foul mood and he has a deadline to meet.

Sighing purposefully loud enough to be heard, Brennen rolls his eyes and then turns toward the sound of the yelp. His eyes widen a bit as he sees the roaches and he lifts his feet off the ground whenever any of them near him. He murmurs, "Well that's odd…place should be fumagated." As of now he's more interested in why there are a bunch of roaches all of a sudden.

The roaches may not garner a second glance from Brennen, but Cynthia certainly doesn't seem to be a fan. Or that could be her ex-lover's hand on her arm. Either way, she has that freaked out look again, trying to pull away from the man and dodge the roaches at the same time.

When his hand is grabbed by Niel, the man - whose name is James, incidentally - looks up to him with that lost puppy look. "I just wanted to apologize," he says, shaking his head, making no real effort to pull away. He does release Cynthia's arm, however.

…which allows Cynthia to crash backwards, towards the counter, away from both James and the roaches. "Go. Get out."

STOMPcrunch. Roaches check in? Niel releases the other man's arm and takes a step back as well. "You heard the lady: get going." Quickly. Because the bugs are spreading. This statement would be a lot more threatening if he weren't shaking roaches off his shoes. They're not as terrifying as spiders, but they are annoyances. He shoots a glance back at Cynthia, "I think we should all head out. I'll walk with you." To keep the guy from following her, no doubt.

Brennen finally returns his feet to the floor as the last of the roaches leave his immediate vicinity and he looks back up just as the woman starts to fall. Reacting out of instinct, he leans forward and pushes off of the ground hard, coming to his feet and leaning forward. At the same time he reaches out and closes his hand around the falling woman's forearm. Planting one foot firmly in front of him to counter the gravity pulling on her, he pulls, trying to keep the lady upright. At least enough so she can regain her balance before hitting the floor.

Kimi tries to set her drink down and make a dsah to help Cynthia remain upright too, but she isn't quite fast enough; the drink falls toward the barista, and Brennen gets to the woman first. Kimi just makes a disgruntled noise and pulls another five out of her jacket to replace the drink she just wasted.

"Alright, alright." Heaving a plaintive sigh, James casts one last lamenting look to Cynthia. "I'm sorry. You know you can come home when you're ready…" And then, because he isn't interested in pressing his luck any more than he has, and Niel looks downright antsy for a fight, James turns and walks away.

Cynthia, on the other hand, is suddenly glad for the hand on her arm. Brennen successfully keeps her from falling to the floor with all of the roaches and spilled drinks. Still, caught or not, she doesn't seem to calm down straight away. James is gone, she's on her feet… but there's all those damn roaches. Her eyes are wide, her palms sweaty, and she tugs at Brennen's arm to try and pull him with her, away from the roaches. "Oh, god. Ohhhh my god."

Without a sound, one of the roaches seems to flatten against the ground, stretching out against its exoskeleton and losing colour. A few seconds later, there's nothing left of it except a tiny spot of water on the floor. Then another roach goes. Then another one. It's a slow process, but they're disappearing, one by one.

Brennen stands up straight once Cynthia is safe and no longer weight pulling on him, and lets out a sigh of relief, "Well that was close…" His voice quiets as if trailing off when he notices those roaches strangely melting, and his eyebrows knit together. "What in the world…?" he asks noone in particular. As Cynthia tugs on his arm, he glances up at her for a second before pulling gently away from her grip and looking back down at the disappearing roaches. "That's weird."

Very weird. Though not if you're Niel. This just cements it. As the roaches start disappearing (including the pathetic boyfriend), he purses his lips and turns back toward the others. His eyes go to Cynthia. "You all right? Can I get you something to drink?"

Kimi doubletakes as the roaches seem to turn into water droplets, but she figures she must simply be seeing things. She glances from Brennen to Cynthia, also a bit concerned. But she's had enough of trying to get involved tonight. She'll just watch unless things really demand her attention.

"Wuh… wuh…" The normally articulate movie star seems to have lost her ability to speak for the moment, and she shudders in Brennen's grip, shaking her head. "Water," she manages to say to Niel, reluctant to meet his eyes. "Please. I— I'm really sorry you all had to witness that." And oh boy, won't this make quite the tabloid story tomorrow. Her manager is going to kill her.

At least the roaches are gone. The last one fizzles into water like the rest, mingling with the spilled drink on the floor.

"Water." This is spoken in an authoritative snap to the barista. "Don't worry about it," Niel adds to Cynthia. "I'm sure nobody's going to say anything about it." This is said as he eyes the other two present meaningfully. In other words: don't say anything. Meanwhile, Niel is reaching into his pocket for something: a cell phone. He starts tapping the buttons, firing off a text message.

"I didn't see anything," is Kimi's story, and she's sticking to it. She has replaced her chai and has a long sip off the green straw. She's mostly concerned that stalker boy isn't going to do anything else to the lady. The water thing? That could be any number of things, including that she's tired from a very, very long day.

Brennen looks curiously at Niel, and then laughs warmly. The laugh you get when too much serious has happened and it needs to be lightened. Or maybe he's laughing at how silly it was to think he saw roaches melt into water. And he doesn't even care if the other laugh or look at him like he's dumb. He just laughs. Then when he's calmed down a bit, he smiles at the whole room, "There's no point to making a big deal about this anyway." He looks at the barista and asks hopefully, "So…any chance I could get that frap replaced?"

When she just looks back at him with an 'are you crazy?' expression, he sighs again and pulls out his wallet, "One java chip frappiccino, please."
Rudyard has disconnected.

"H-he's just been following me around since we broke up," Cynthia sniffles, taking a glass of water from one of the baristas and downing it quickly. She wipes at her face with the back of her hand, brushing away a few tears. "I know he seems like he's harmless, but he's good at faking it." Looking up to each of them gratefully, Cynthia smiles awkwardly. "The press is going to have a field day with this. They love a good domestic fight in the middle of a Starbucks." Drinking the last of her water quickly, she glances to Niel now, specifically. "Did you— kill the roaches?"

Niel doesn't even hesitate. "Some of 'em. I think the others scattered." Pocketing his phone again, he adds with a slight smile, "Can I walk you somewhere? You have a hotel or somewhere else away from that guy?"

"The press isn't in here, and they don't have my permission to use my image, which means they can't legally slap you up on gawker or TMZ.com," Kimi tells Cynthia. "And fortunately, we don't have a bunch of teeners with cellphones in here trying to MySpace this. "I think unless neanderthal boy decides to go public with his end, you're in the clear with this one."

Taking his fresh drink from the barista and walking back toward Cynthia, he nods to her and says, "The lady's probably right. No one here would gain anything from it, even if we did want to tell someone." He takes a drink of the sugary goodness and smiles a very satisfied smile.

"Y-yeah, I have a hotel." Cynthia sets the glass back on the bar for the baristas to collect, standing up straighter now as she regains her composure. "It's near here. A walk would be great." To Kimi and Brennen, she offers a warmer smile now, looking more like the face they might have seen in magazines or on screen now. "Thank you, again. And I'm really sorry." As she turns away from them, she glances sidelong to Niel. "I just need to grab my stuff."

Niel nods a little at that. Let her get her stuff, he's not going anywhere. But she might be!

Y'know, to the hotel. Right.

Kimi gives Cynthia a card. "I'm certified for teaching martial arts," she tells the other woman. "You need to learn, I can help. Or if you want a bodyguard, I can do that too. But you shouldn't have to live in fear of an ex who can't come to grips with reality. Seriously. Call if you need me. I'll make time for you."

Brennen yawns and blinks his eyes several times. "Good luck to you," he tells Cynthia, "And you should definatley take her up on that. At least learn enough to defend yourself effectively." He looks at Kimi, "What do you teach?"

…riiight. Very inconspicuous, Niel. Except he IS inconspicuous, and Cynthia is none the wiser. The card is taken from Kimi with a nod. "If he doesn't back off, I just might take you up on that." Then she's off, traipsing to the other side of the room to gather her coat and purse, the notebook shoved inside. Returning to Niel, she motions to the door. "Alright. Ready to go," she says, the strap of her bag over her shoulder, coat on, hands in her pockets.

"Judo and Jujutsu," Kimi replies. Arts of redirecting the opponent's energy rather than trying attacks and moves of strength. "In my own line of work, it's important to know." She finishes her own tea and begins moving for the door. "Everybody stay cool." This was a weird evening, on several levels. As calm as she seems, a hot bath with her name on it sounds like a great idea.

Brennen grins, "Fun arts. I like watching Royce Gracie on UFC." He laughs to himself and then waves at any of the people still here and looking before heading out the door. "Lata."

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