2007-05-21: The First Rule Of Holes


Daphne_icon.gif Jane_icon.gif Natalie_icon.gif

Summary: The recently Aussie accented Daphne encounters Jane outside her building, and Natalie too. The First Rule Of Holes is explained and ignored.

Date It Happened: May 21, 2007

The First Rule Of Holes

Outside the High Rise Apartment Building, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NYC

On her way home from work, Daphne figured she'd stop and see if Laurel was around, just for the hell of it, really. Calling ahead might have been a good idea, since a knock at the door proved that her friend wasn't there. Now, Daphne's headed back to her car… It's going to take her awhile to get home, considering the time, but the trip won't be wasted. She'll be practising her American accent by listening to the radio. It's pretty embarrassing that she has to do so, and also amazing that she's not better at it, since she used to /speak/ it. It's like there's some kind of block in her mind or something, though she's definitely getting better. Though there's still an accent, it's not nearly as strong as it was. Time to go home and watch some movies while working on classwork!

Coming around the corner on approach to that High Rise building, Jane is as usual carrying her guitar case and backpack over shoulders. Her two inch heeled boots tap the pavement as she walks, eyes focused ahead of her. As she passes the spot where Miss Newly Australian's car is parked, she shifts the weight slightly so it settles better. There's a tune of some sort in her head, her lips move without sound from the lyrics they form.

Okay, that was pretty easy. No randomly running into people she knows today, parents didn't randomly show up at work to chat - they still don't know, and wouldn't understand if they did - The other people at work are already used to the fact that Daphne's a little odd, so all she needs to do is get in her car an— UNEXPECTED JANE.

It's far too late to hide, and even if she could, surely Jane would notice her dashing out of the open and into a more secluded place. And so she'll have to hope to get by by just playing it cool and offering a casual wave as she passes… Also a smile - smiles are good. Hopefully Jane's in a hurry and doesn't want to stop and chat. It's not because she's afraid of being laughed at. Granted, that makes her a little irate, but… She's just tired of explaining why she's talking funny.

There's a nod sent in her direction, and a returned smile as the animal handler is spotted not so far away. "Daphne. How are things?" Jane stops a few feet away, her eyes settling on a pigeon flying near some unfortunate man's head. It might be about to dive bomb him, so her lips purse… but then she remembers this wouldn't be good to do around Daphne. The birds would tell her, after all. No rescue is afoot for the man's pinstriped suit.

Or maybe it's just a friendly pigeon! Some pigeons do like people, because generally, people mean food, whether it be crumbs or whole pieces of bread. Daphne's learned this over time - generally, pigeons think about food. Food, or other pigeons, or sleeping. Though they can hold a decent conversation, they're not the smartest animals ever. Anyway, it seems as if Jane isn't going to let her go without saying something. Drat. Daphne smiles, shrugs, nods, and … continues on her way. Kind of rude, but… Okay, so maybe she's just a little tired of people making fun of her. Of course, then she realises she's at her car, and can't really keep walking, so she stops, sighs, and turns. "Things suck," she says. Maybe the other woman won't notice. Maybe.

Her head tilts to one side as she regards Daphne and forgets about both man and bird some distance away now. "How do they suck?" Jane asks with mild concern entering her voice. "You sound a little off, did you catch cold or something, Daphne?" The man suddenly scowls and pulls a cloth from a pocket, beginning to pat a spot near his shoulder. "Stinking pigeons," he mutters under his breath. "This was an expensive suit. Hopefully the cleaners can fix it."

A little off. A little /off./ "Yeah, a bit," she says, and now that the cat's out of the bag, she's making no effort to conceal the accent anymore. It's a lot less noticable than it was before, since she's essentially spent the past two days practicing, but it's no New York accent like Jane would be used to. As she catches the man's words, she smiles, holds up a finger to indicate that she'll need a second, then she looks skyward. The man will soon have another pigeon relieving itself on his other shoulder. To Jane, quietly, she says, "I don't really like pigeons, either, but you have to admit, that was bloody funny." Wait. "Damn funny. Damn."

"To you, maybe," Jane replies quietly. "But then again, you don't have to worry about being the target." Her head tilts a bit more, and a smile returns. "You're developing an Aussie sound?" Maybe Daphne is thinking about a stage or film career and practicing. "It's not bad, really," she enthuses. "One of my favorite bands is from there. And a couple lesser known others I've enjoyed."

She does her best not to look annoyed, but fails. Miserably. "No, I'm not." Now she'll have to explain again. Coming closer to Jane so that there's no way anyone can overhear them, she says, "Someone a' the zoo kinna changed my voice. It's weird, Jane. I'm re-learning my old accent as I go," It's strange to refer to her normal voice as an accent, "but it's the whole thing that I have to do it at all. Gel just looked at me, and— that was it. 'F I meet 'er again, I'm not gonna be happy."

"Wow," Jane remarks, now studying Daphne a bit more closely as the pair talk near her car outside the High Rise apartment building. "That's a new one on me." She falls silent for a moment as a few people pass by, waiting until they're beyond hearing range before she resumes and speaks in a voice calculated not to be overheard. "There's someone going around making people speak differently, someone like… us?" She doesn't seem at all surprised, just concerned. Maybe scared. "That's… dangerous. I like myself not killed in witch hunts."

And the someone in question has actually been keeping an eye on Daphne since the zoo incident. Cause she does feel bad about it. She parks her car, and gets out to start down the street.

At least at this, Daphne has the presense of mind to actually manage to look a /little/ embarrassed. "Not exactly," she returns. "I mean, yeah, she's— Got some sort of ability, but she was— Put it this way, I had a bad day, I took it out on 'er." In other words, she probably deserved it. "Didn' tell her I've got one, too. S'kind of what caused all this, I guess." In a very, VERY roundabout way, since Daphne hearing the puppy dying is what made her so upset in the first place. "No' like anyone can tell if she does it, either. I'm no' kidding. She jes' looked at me an' that was it." She hasn't noticed anyone else in the area yet. Instead, she hops up on the trunk of her car and sits. "Didn' even get a name."

Jane winces, her features showing a bit of sympathy for Daphne as she takes the trunk perch. "That might not have been a good idea," she quietly suggests, "but still. I've been pranked myself a time or two, and had worse things happen. I can't guarantee we'll be able to find her and see if this can get undone, but I do know some people and can ask around. If you want to meet one of them, I'll take you to her."

Natalie approaches from behind. "The name's Natalie." she says, as she hears Daphne's comment. She really does feel bad at this point for losing her temper.

Well… No, it was a horrible idea. Natalie's words just went too far, though, and given the rotten day she'd already had, she had to lash out at someone. She's still angry about it, too, which is probably why it's a bad idea that Natalie's lurking nearby. "Nah, Jane, I'm already on me way to unlearnin' it. It'll take awhile, but trust me, it was much worse bef-"

And that's when Natalie appears. Daphne might seem like a calm, well-adjusted and friendly person to Jane, which means the look she gives the blonde nerd-girl is probably uncharacteristic, at least as far as the guitar-player knows Daphne. Daphne slides off the car, staring at Natalie and scowling. When she speaks, she makes absolutely no effort to hide what was done to her voice, because she's just too angry. "Whuh th'ell? D'you followr me 'r somethin'??"

She looks between both women, adding things up. There's a mental curse of herself for not having spotted someone coming close enough to hear with the realization someone did, given the way this new one shared her name. Jane places herself between the two of them and asks "Is this her?" just to confirm. The words are quietly spoken, it wouldn't do to be overheard again. "Chill out a bit, Daphne. Think it through."

The earlier-described nerdgirl tries to keep her expression neutral. "Yes, I followed you from the zoo. Look…I shouldn't have lost my temper." she says, as she verbally offers the olive branch.

"Natalie, eh?" Daphne says. She imagines the girl came back to gloat. Doesn't even cross her mind that Natalie would seek her out to apologise, or because she felt bad. "Yeh, Jane, this is 'er." Daphne doesn't make any move to attack her this time, but the blue eyes are glaring nevertheless. The wheels are turning, but she's got Jane in front of her now. And she's probably going to do something incredibly stupid, because she's pissed off, and because Natalie has no idea that she has an ability herself. "You're some sor' o' freak, ain'tcha?"

The insulting words cause Jane to loose a slow sigh and turn to face the animal handler. "Easy now," she begins, speaking in a way that will hopefully calm her a bit, "this isn't going to help you at all, y'know?" Then she glances back at Natalie to ask "Can you fix her, please?" A hopeful expression settles in. "I don't think of anyone like me as a freak."

Natalie looks upset at Daphne's accusation. "Hey!" she says, hurt and a little defensive. "I came here because I was feeling -sorry- for you. You don't have to say things like that."

"She al'ready did enough damage," Daphne mutters. Really, she'll be happy just to be left the hell alone by this girl for the rest of her life. Like she said before, she can unlearn the accent; she's already well on her way to doing so. Bristling when Natalie attempts to use the guilt card, Daphne's scowl deepens. "You're no' a freak, Jane." Just people like the blonde, is the unsaid insinuation at the end of the statement. Notably, Daphne looks hurt as well. "D'ya know 'ow embarrassin' this is? Y'know I 'had t'go to bloody work, righ'? Or wazzah part o' the plan!?"

"Okaaaay," Jane begins, "you're angry, we get it. When you're angry, you say things you might regret later. That day you two met, you were angry, and said things you shouldn't. Be careful , now, you're not so much helping yourself." Then she faces Natalie and extends her right hand to shake. "I'm Jane Forrest. Can you undo what happened?"

Except now Natalie's getting angry too. "I did it cause you were acting like a total bitch! And you're -still- acting like a total bitch!" Angry look from nerdblonde. "And after I came here to make nice!" Her eyes narrow at Daphne, and only after does she take Jane's hand. "Natalie."

/Bitch!? BITCH!??/ "Do you even — /unnerstand/ what happened?" she asks. Because there was a reason Daphne was so upset, and… And… Natalie should have thought to ask! Except Daphne never offered anything, so it's really kind of her fault that the death of one of the zoo animals was never revealed. But—

There's a really uncomfortable pinching sensation behind her eyes, though she doesn't pay it much attention. She's /angry,/ after all, so it's probably just the start of a headache. However, the accent she's been using is mild compared to what comes out of her mouth next. "F'r yer infermoishun— " she begins, stops, and tries again. "Oi— Whuh'th'ell?" Blue eyes meet Natalie's again, and they narrow. She's confused, obviously, because she can't even seem to lose the thick Australian even a /little./ For once, she's speechless, one hand raising to rub at her throat. Like that'll help.

That'll just about cover Jane's point on not pissing the language mixer off further. She closes her eyes in a bit of exasperation. When they reopen, she fixes Daphne with a look that means please, stop talking now. "The first rule of holes is to stop digging when you're in a hole." Then she faces Natalie again, and studies her for a moment. Her experience is consulted as the two shake hands. Her skin is warm and smooth, with short fingernails, except for the calluses caused by playing that guitar across her left shoulder. "Will you fix her, please, Natalie?"

The blonde seems to be a scholarly, bookish sort. Glasses, a little nebbishy. She looks over to Jane. "Why? She doesn't seem to have a single nice thing to say about anyone! All she's done since I first saw her is get on my case!"

By some extreme measure of will, Daphne manages to keep herself from actually sticking her foot in her mouth, at least for now. She doesn't want to say anything else, because at the moment, she's barely able to understand herself, and that's saying nothing about what Jane and Natalie are hearing. She does glare, though, lip curled just slightly. Natalie's right, though. The only thing the girl did wrong was manage to accidentally get on Daphne's nerves when she was upset.

"Because you can," Jane replies quietly, "and because I asked you to?" She's hopeful some progress can be made now that Daphne seems to have finally heard her. "She told me it was a really bad day when you two met, and she took it out on you. I get why you did it, you made your point, so you can fix her now." Ethics of power use? Maybe later, after the animal handler sounds like herself again.

Natalie frowns. She looks over to Daphne, then to Jane, and answers "If she apologizes for being a total bitch, then I'll fix her. Otherwise, she keeps it." Seems fair enough to her.

"/A'polergise?/" Daphne spits in a ridiculously exagerrated accent that she can no longer /stop,/ Dammit, that pisses her off, but the scowl turns to a grin. Speaking of ethics of power use, well… Daphne's really no longer listening to Jane. Those pigeons from earlier? One flies directly over Natalie, and poops. Of course, there's no way to tell that Daphne did it, except for that smirk on her face, and the fact that she just cracks up after it happens, whether the bird-bomb hits or not.

And except for knowing that Daphne can communicate with animals already, as Doctor Forrest does. Now she starts to become seriously annoyed. She's been here trying to play referee and get the handler's voice fixed, only to witness this and the cracking up. She hadn't expected the bird thing, and thus had no time to prevent it, but now? Jane's of a mind to make her own subtle demonstration. She eyes the bird, then Daphne. Her lips purse, although no sound audible to humans or not emerges yet. She hopes the simple action of doing so is enough to warn that if any more bird pranks seem about to happen, she'll act.

And nerdgirl gets splattered. Dead on, square on the top of her hair. She gasps, looks up, feels at the top of her head, brings back her fingers and looks at them, and then looks back at the other two, only to see Daphne laughing. Her eyes brighten and shine and she blinks fiercely, trying to hold back tears. "All that talk about freaks, and you do this? You're horrible!!! Why do you have to be like this?!"

Daphne's done, don't worry. She's proved her point and used her powers for AWESOME. Pigeons are generally happy to oblige her, because they're a little too small-brained to not. Occasionally, she'll get the headstrong ones, but they travel in flocks, so there's bound to be at least one who'll be willing to poop on people.

She's normally not a cruel person. Actually, since leaving high school, she's become pretty nice; she would have stopped after the pigeon incident for sure, because she's had her revenge and she's happy with it. However, that's when she feels that pinching behind her eyes again, and this time, she recognises it, because after what happened last time— "Whuh th'ell d'you do this toime?" she asks, eyes wide. Accent's still the same, she's still speaking English, as far as she knows. She turns to Jane questioningly. Anything seem different?

"You don't sound any different," Jane states. "But you can't hear for shit, apparently. What'd I say about the first rule of holes?" She shakes her head a few times and turns toward Natalie. "I'm sorry for her, and apologize on her behalf. When she's calm, she and I will have a long talk about the non-wisdom of further pissing you off."

Natalie starts leaking a few tears despite herself, and then she does what nerds do when they get bullied. She backs down. She turns and runs for her car, crying as she goes. She reaches the car, and gets in, starting off at a quick pace.

Did— Did Jane just say 'shit'? This kind of just snaps Daphne's temper in two so it can be replaced by momentary amazement and amusement. That is, until she sees the billboard over Jane's shoulder. Then, well, her expression becomes something close to horrified.

She looks at it, rubs her eyes…

Says something really, /really/ inappropriate…

And then Natalie is running away. Oh, god. Oh no. No, no, no. "N—hn!!" she says, but she can't get the words out. Don't go, oh god. Please don't go. Suddenly feeling /really sick,/ Daphne drops to her knees and retches. Yeah, this is far, /far/ worse than the accent. She could live with the accent. She can't live with /this./

Stuck with a retching Daphne, and a fleeing Natalie, Jane looks bewildered. Her eyes go from the ill handler to the billboard she was looking at, then the language scrambler. "Natalie?" she calls out, hoping to stop her from leaving and talk a bit more, to at least learn enough to see if contact can be made when Daphne's got her good sense back. "Please don't leave," she asks in a hopeful voice. "Can we talk some, or at least know how to reach each other?"

Natalie doesn't answer. Busy crying. She drives off, wiping tears furiously out of her eyes. Humiliated.

Daphne didn't cry when she ended up Australian. She doesn't /want/ to cry now, and so she forces herself not to, even if her eyes water a little. It's because she's sick, really. Staring at the ground because she doesn't want to look up to discover that what she's seen is actually true, she tries to pull herself back together. Yeah, they can say that Natalie's won this round, too. Natalie: Two, Daphne: Zero. "Jane. Jane," she says quietly. This can't be happening. This is /impossible./ This is far beyond the realm of comprehension.

As Natalie drives off, Jane stares at the license plates on the car and commits the number to memory so she can use it to hopefully find the woman later. Then she glances at the billboard again, and back to Daphne. Her annoyance with the Australian accented handler remains, but she keeps most of it out of her voice. "I'm here," she replies quietly, moving to hold her hair back out of the way.

"Git 'er back 'ere!" Daphne exclaims, finally looking up as Natalie's car vanishes. It's a little too late for that, of course. Her eyes catch the billboard again, as well as a few other things - the names of stores across the lot, license plates of other cars, even the writing on the back of some guy's shirt. "Jane, Oi cawn't read." Blue eyes stare at the billboard, trying to make sense of the writing she /knows/ is there, but they just look completely unfamiliar. And what's worse, that pinching feeling she had behind her eyes is starting to really develop into a headache. Coughing again, hands planting against the ground so she can steady herself, Daphne just tries to breathe. "'ow th'feck's someone do thah?" she asks. "Oi can'— Can' stop talkin' loik this, eithah'. Can' make it go'way."

"Daphne," Jane states quietly, as she reaches to draw the animal handler into a hug and offer comfort, her voice meant to soothe, to reassure, "I'll try to find her. I think I know how to do it. For now, I need you to trust me. To come meet some people I know who can start helping you." Eye contact is attempted, she seeks to hold the focus on her face. "But when and if we see her again, you have to help me help you."

Despite the fact that Daphne doesn't know Jane that well, the hug isn't unappreciated. Looping an arm under Jane's, Daphne's eyes remain fixed, focused on the writing she can no longer read. There's a slight tremor from the girl that goes through her body… Sort of like a cold chill. When it passes, there's another. And another. "Me'ead 'urts," she says, blinking, finally meeting Jane's eyes. "Oi can' live loik this. Can' werk. Oi 'ave t'be able t'read fer moi job."

"I know, I know, Daphne," Jane replies in what she intends to be a soothing voice. Given that Daphne didn't refuse to meet people she knows, the guitarist takes out her phone and dials a set of numbers. The device is held to her ear, and a sigh escapes when it goes to voicemail. "This is Jane," she begins when the tone is heard, "I need some help with a situation that popped up. No one's physically injured, but… I'll have to explain in person." Then she ends the call and dials another number.

PHONE: You dial the number 283-9721. It begins to ring.

PHONE: The other end answers, "Hello?"

"No y'don't," Daphne mutters angrily, temper creeping back into her voice, despite the fact that Jane's trying to help. This is what got her in trouble in the first place, to be fair. "Y'don' 'ave any oidea." Pushing Jane away, Daphne gets to her feet, pulls her keys out of her pocket, and starts to unlock her car door. She doesn't need to read to drive, but god help her if she gets pulled over. Of course, that's about the point she realises she can't read her dashboard, either. Granted, she could /guess/ where the little arrow is supposed to go, since even the numbers look like gibberish. /Crap./ Dropping her keys to the ground, she presses her head against the glass, then bumps it a few times. "Me fren', Laur'l. Oi c'n stay with 'er t'noit. She's gonnah be roight pissed off, tho'."

"I do, in a way," Jane replies quietly. "Not quite like you right now, but…" she trails off when the phone is answered and speaks into it.

PHONE: Jane says, "It's Jane. Hey, are you busy? I've got a bit of a situation here."

Daphne grunts as Jane speaks, giving the woman a dirty look and a snort, before going back to looking herself in the car window. Getting an idea, she breathes steam onto the glass, before trying to write her name. She /knows/ she should be able to, but when she's finished… Before the fog fades away, Jane might note that Daphne's scrawled nothing sensical across the glass.

After saying that, Jane glances toward Daphne and addresses her again. "I once, twice actually, had memories stolen from me. I know the frustration, the fear. They made me think I was addicted to drugs." Her eyes settle on the glass and what was written there, seeing it means nothing, and her heart sinks. It's close to the same, in her eyes. Daphne's been stripped of her memories of reading, and this has her free hand starting to clench into a fist. There's a scream starting to build.

PHONE: Elena adjusts her phone to cradle between her jaw and shoulder. "A little…..I'm….Jack got shot, I'm patching him up. What sort of situation?" she asks, furrowing her brows and looking at Jack. She just gives him a shrug. She has no idea either.

PHONE: Jane sounds like anger and stress are building in her as she speaks into the phone, with street noises in the background. "Someone I know suddenly forgot how to speak like an American citizen and how to read." Then she pauses, the pitch of her voice rising a bit. "He… Got… what?"

The scrawling makes no sense. She couldn't even read it if it was actual letters, though. Tears threaten to sting at her eyes again, but anger takes precidence over the despair for now. Next time she sees Natalie, she's not going to hold back. This is too much. No one should have this done to them, and… What if she can't get it back? Does she have to learn how to read all over again? Daphne presses her hand to the glass to smudge the unintelligable 'word' she just wrote, then looks back toward Jane. "Whuh?"

PHONE: "Uh. WHAT?" Elena says, frowning a bit. "Jane that's….that's -weird-. Even if I got there right now I wouldn't even know how to fix it. And I'm patching Jack up right now. Look, we'll catch up later, okay? Get your friend out of there, Jack's bleeding all over the place. I can't be in two places at once no matter how much I want to right now.""

PHONE: Jane replies quickly to what she hears through the phone, sounding stunned now. "Yeah, yeah, first things first. Your thing is priority. Talk later, soon." And she doesn't distract the person at the other end any longer.

PHONE: You end your current call.

Soon as the call is ended, she's headed over to Daphne and seeking to re-establish the hug. "We'll figure it out. Let's go inside, wait at my place, and when Laurel gets home she can come for you, okay?"

Daphne just nods. She doesn't want to talk anymore, doesn't want to see anymore letters, doesn't want to be awake. This has to be some sort of awful dream, and even if that's cliche, she really wishes it were true. How is she going to call off work tomorrow if she can't read the numbers on her phone? Sure, she could guess, it should be easy enough to count from one to nine, find the zero, and avoid the asterisk and pound keys, but the thought of doing so just seems… Daunting. Plus, the accent. She can't call out if the accent is worse, they'll think she's joking.

No thanks is offered for now, since she's just not in the mood for it. Daphne will, however, return the hug, though it's half-hearted. "Oi'll leave er note ohn Laur'l's dooah," she says quietly, then realises she can't leave a note because she can't write. "…Ohr mebbe you oughttah do it." Sigh.

"I will," Jane offers, starting to lead the woman inside. She'll get her settled first, then leave the note. "I got her license plate number, I think I can find out who she is and where she lives, Daphne."

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