2007-03-13: The Birds And The Bees And The Company


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Summary: Cass opens the store to let Alyssa take care of the shop while the boss is away. The employee gets The Talk about more of what happened the night The Anti-Hero team busted in.

Date It Happened: March 13, 2007

The Birds and the Bees and… the Company?

Enlightenment Books

It's early in the morning and Cass is twirling her keys to the store nervously. Time to open up. She's never been so glad that she's hired Alyssa than she is today so that she can keep the store open while still going out to talk to her father. Keys get inserted in the locks and she pushes the door open as soon as they're turned. There's a piece of paper slipped under the door and she frowns when she picks it up. Unfolding it, it's a very quick, one word note and it makes the woman frown all the more. Flipping on the lights, she tosses it and her bag onto the counter.

It is a hassle and a half to wake up in the mornings now, knowing she has to be somewhere, but working at the bookstore is a job and Alyssa could never ask for better. So, doing the typical yawn and stretch, she files in a bit after her employer has opened the store. Her iPod earbuds are in, pumping out some rock music or another to attempt to wake up brain up from the long night she spent. Shuffling into the space, she stops near the door. Sometimes, standing here makes her think about Lachlan and his terrible dog accident and that's enough for a pause.

"Morning Alyssa," Cass greets distractedly. There are a few things to get done in the morning. Sweep, clean up anything that was left over from the night before. It's strange for her to be doing something so normal after last night and what she's planning on doing today. Taking the broom and a dustpan from the back, she starts the sweeping. "Are you okay with running the store and closing by yourself today?"

"Definitely," Alyssa replies, breaking away from her spot of remembrance in order to stroll up to the main desk and sling her book-bag onto it. She hesitates for a second, shifting from foot to foot and then forces herself to add on quickly, "As long as I shouldn't be expecting any-" But that's about as far as she gets. She doesn't sound aggressive, like she's blaming Cass, just worried- the kind you try to pass off with a joke like she just did.

Cass finally gives Alyssa a look that is more than glancing. That's right. While she tried to explain herself to Lee and Nima, Alyssa is still kind of in the dark. "Well. I don't think so. But I don't know what each day will bring." She sighs and looks to the front door. Leaning the broomstick against the wall, she goes up and locks the door. They're technically not open for business yet anyway. "I should really tell you what happened that night. If you want to hear it. Or if you're not already too freaked out."

Alyssa turns to watch Cass and, when addressed, wavers her hands indecisively in the air, "I'd said I'm already in that freaked out range, buuuut… I mean, I guess it's probably to know. Uh, preparedness now brings… I don't know what it brings- but my point is that if you're involved in something, I'd feel better being slightly briefed. Unless, uh, someone's going to have to kill me later for knowing it." Another half-joke. There was talks about kidnapping, after all. Is killing such a leap?

Honestly, Cass isn't sure if it's such a big leap. But, as someone else quote to her, knowing is half the battle. "I'm not as good at this as the person who told /me/ about it," she warns. "You're not really involved in anything unless you want to be. Just by working here, though, you're going to meet some people who don't know what's happening to them and I want to be able to help them. I don't really remember what all you heard or remember that other night. I don't even really remember what was said. But, there are people who can do incredible things. Everything Dr. Suresh talks about in his book is true. And there's some organization called the Company that grabs people with these abilities and then tests them. I'm not sure on the details." This is where she pauses to see if she's lost the girl.

Alyssa seems to be surprisingly with it. Maybe it's the overactive imagination, but she understands everything put to her. She may not have processed it wholly yet according to her old rules of reality, though. At least that keeps her calmer when she works her hands into her pockets and nods, "You mentioned this… company thing. And about the book. And there was, like, break-ins and gas masks or something really weird involved with tapping cellphones and a hero."

Cass nods her head. "Yeah. Heroes sometimes have bad ideas." She turns her back to the door and picks up her broom again. She needs something to do with her hands now that they've gotten into the more problematic part of this conversation. "Gasmasks and stuff. Right. Okay, so the really important part of the conversation was the people with abilities talk. But, there's this group of people that I met - you've met some of them too, now - who went to try and rescue some people who were being held by the Company. It, uh, didn't go well. Obviously. That's really the short explanation of the story." Now is when the floor is opened up for any questions.

"… They just… broke in? Like, powers a-rarin' to go?" At first, Alyssa's face lights up with that old curiosity, her itching need to find out about the amazing parts of people's lives. But a couple seconds later and she's deflating, sighing, "It used to be… wow. I used to make up these crazy backstories for people, wishing it were true that life could be that exciting. But now, hearing it? I kind of want it to go back to being unreal." She considers, doing the old habit of biting at her cheek and staring at the ceiling to gather her thoughts. "But if I'm gonna be here… man, what do I even /say/ to people?" Her gaze drops to Cass, "There was a guy in here, like, yesterday or something buying the book. Seemed edgy and asked a lot of questions. Should I have done something then?" Oh no!

"Yeah." Cass makes a face to show what she thinks of the idea in retrospect. "I know. When I found out about this all, I nearly fainted. So you're taking this really well." But that's because it all happened at once and Jack made a book disappear from her hand before she could process it all. And now here she is going to negotiate with her father for release of her friends. How things change. "Say whatever you want to, Alyssa. Whatever you think is appropriate. People come in here because we're an off-beat bookstore. But don't push them and don't force them to talk. Sometimes they don't want to. And be careful. I don't know how this Company operates and I don't know what they may do to people who /don't/ have abilities. If you just want to forget we ever had this conversation, I won't blame you. It could be dangerous. But if you want me to keep you updated, then I'm not going to turn you away."

Luckily, Cass doesn't know about Alyssa's less than composed crying phone call to Namir right after that whole ordeal. She sheepishly takes the compliment about keeping it together. "I like being here, with you and…" She trails off, shrugging again. Turning to her bag, she pulls out a couple of books, walking around to the other side of the register and seemingly done with her own questions. Her stool is pulled into place, the tally note about 'Activating Evolution' is checked for, and then she slides onto her seat- ready for the day. But a frown is slowly growing and her hands come into her lap, pulling at the fabric of her jeans nervously and she can't seem to sit comfortably and it's so /terrible/ that she finally announces in a hurry, "Okayso-the whole 'not having abilities' thing might not be the issue…….. with me."

Cass smiles. "I'm not going to fire you if you don't want to know about any of this, Alyssa," she replies kindly. Having gotten a nice little dust pile, she makes for the dust pan. "I like having you here." Alyssa's confession is met with a raised eyebrow and a hand on her hip. "Oh? Really?" She doesn't sound surprised or as if she'll pry if Alyssa doesn't want her to. It seems like everyone around her has one sort of ability or another and new people telling her about theirs is starting to be like telling her where they went to college.

"Yeah, really," Alyssa immediately replies, leaning forward till her elbows are on her knees, "It really isn't… well, anything, but if these people are al hardcore, well. I haven't told anyone else! Mostly. This was before it all got crazy, of course. I bet it seemed extra dumb of us, then, when we were harassing the girl with the flower power thing. Well, hey, Cass, how did /you/ get involved in all this? I mean, was it just blabby people in the bookstore?" She's recovering, relaxing, and it's obvious the way she can ask the questions more easily now.

Cass stoops down to sweep up the dust pile and then dumps it out in the trash. "They're not all hardcore, really. At least as far as I know. I don't know what everyone can do. And, mostly, I just didn't want you guys to freak her out." Taking her cleaning tools, she stashes them in the back again. "I got involved by just kind of being around. Kind of like you, I was in the right place at the right time. Or the opposite if you want to think of it like that. I mentioned something to someone and they then called in someone else and the next thing I know, I'm elbow deep in all this and I can't just turn away." The frown returns when she remembers what she wants to do today. This little diversion has helped restore her calm, but she can't just stay all day. Checking her watch, she looks over at the door.

"Sounds like…. something," Alyssa jokes somewhat lamely, giving a small cackle that reveals exactly how lame she knows she was being. She's feeling better, too, and at first she misses Cass' distraction in her own feeling of content. But the watch-checking is proof enough and good ol' employee offers, "I am staying in here all day for a reason. So if you've got somewhere…"

Caught! Cass doesn't want to seem rude, but she does have to make it out to Hartsdale and then back. She gives Alyssa an apologetic smile. "It's…certainly something alright." Lowering her arm so that the temptation to check her watch again diminishes, she shakes her head. "I want to make sure that you don't have any other questions and are okay with this all. But, yeah, I do have to go somewhere for the day. It can wait a little while longer, though, if you still want to talk about this."

Alyssa sits up straighter and goes back through everything they've said so far about… all of this. Her gaze flitters to the ceiling again when she thinks, attempting to file it all away for later. "Actually," she comments, "I kinda like to have some quiet time to process when it's all said. I mean, you've probably got more important things to do for sure. But, there is one thing. How— well, how long do you think this has been happening? As long as there've been powers, there's been some company or evil people or whatever, right? But how long /is/ that? Is there anything that tells us?" She drifts a hand to one of the books she pulled from her bag; it's one of the selections on Kensei. Tucked into the pages is the paper with Stan's phone number on it.

"I understand." Cass needed the same think when she got indoctrinated into all of this. "And it's not really more important as kind of time sensitive," she adds. "I honestly don't know, Alyssa. I'm hoping to find out more about it. And as soon as I do, I'll let you know, too. I mean, the fact that most people don't know that there are people with abilities /now/ makes the research a little hard. What do you consider a real source and what is just a fairy tale?" Thinking about this makes her not notice her employee's hands on the Takeo Kensei book.

Alyssa gives a light lopsided shrug, "I was hoping someone else could help with that. I embellish fairytales, I like the unbelievable parts. It all needs a little grounding anyway. But I guess… other people's reactions is what you can start going with. Small… coincidences," Another shrug. She's pulling up hesitant. Even more than when she finally blurted out about having an ability.

Noticing the hesitancy, Cass tilts her head slightly to Alyssa. Now she's curious. Remembering that all information and help could be a good idea - this is the sort of thing she's supposed to be recording for their now severely depleted group, after all. "If you want help with that, Alyssa, I'd be glad to. Remember, part of our job is to find hard to find books for people." She smiles. "So, if you have some ideas as to where to start, feel free to give me a list of books and I'll see if I can get them for you." As for other people, she nods. "Some people don't believe in coincidences. I'm starting to be one of those people," she sighs. "Keep your eyes open. And be careful."

Alyssa nods with more confidence this time, obviously encouraged by what Cass has said. "Yeah, I'm working on that with someone. Or, well, I'd like to be. I think he'll appreciate this new information," With a bigger, more enthused smile, she glances to the door, "You can trust your shop with me, boss."

Cass smiles at Alyssa, though she certainly is curious about who it is that she might be working with. "Alright. Well, if you wouldn't mind keeping me in the know about what you find, I'd be really grateful." Coming back behind the counter, the boss figure gives her employee a nod as she gathers up her things. "Oh, and one more thing. This is important, too. The son of the guy who wrote this book, Activating Evolution…I don't know if you'll ever meet him, but don't trust him." A little public service announcement in the vein of full disclosure. "I know I can. If it's a small crowd tonight, feel free to close up early. Thanks, Alyssa."

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