2007-03-24: The Same Wringer


Jane_icon.gif Eliana_icon.gif

Summary: Experiences are compared and resolves bolstered.

Date It Happened: March 24, 2007

The Same Wringer

Outside the Den of Iniquity in Brooklyn and in Eliana Pasternack's apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC

Aaaaaaaand… out of the Den of Iniquity the two women go. Jane adjusts the guitar case and backpack on her shoulders, balancing the weight, as she attempts conversation. "Your place first, right?" A quiet smile shows, and her eyes show hints of recent experiences. "It's good to meet you and do this. I've been in New York only about six weeks, things haven't been entirely the best for me, and… well… I'm kinda short on girlfriends to share things with." Her mission to talk with and help Eliana is underway, she having seized the opportunity presented when Yael's spilt drink left the pink-haired writer needing a new dress to propose a shopping trip.

Eliana 's smile is a soft one. "I know that feeling," she says with a chuckle. "I don't even have that many friends from college that I hang out with much anymore. What brought you here from…?" and she lets her voice trail off as she lifts her hand to hail a cab, turning her head with an expectant look. Answer?

"Hartford, Connecticut, by way of New Haven and Yale University. The what is music," Jane replies with a grin. One hand pats the guitar case over her shoulder. "I make my living with this. I play where and when the mood strikes, out on the streets, and now at the Den. I'm pretty good with it." She walks along, following Eliana's lead on the street, and prepared to whistle up a cab if one is needed.

It doesn't take long for one to pull up, and Eliana opens the door to let Jane in first, since she has that case. She chuckles again and nods. "I went to NYU, and stayed thinking I'd make it in the writing gig. Here's hoping you have better luck than I have so far. But Jack's got a good thing going at the Den. It'll be steady, at least." Paychecks are /nice./

Her whistle to catch the attention of the driver was loud and shrill, delivered by placing two fingers in her mouth and blowing. The pitch? High. Effortlessly high, in fact, one might conclude this woman can match the soprano of the world's best operatic talent. "I know," Jane answers with a wider smile as she steps into the cab and slides over to make room. "I've played three gigs and he slipped me an envelope for $1200 when I showed for the first. Tonight will be the fourth, three hundred each, plus what customers throw in the case."

Well, Eliana wouldn't have guessed that business would have been /that/ good. Then again, it's Jack. "See?" she says once she's let the numbers sink in, sliding in next to Jane and shutting the door. "With any more luck, you'll get spotted by some agent and he'll sign you onto a label. Eastern Centennial," she directs the last to the driver.

"I'm aiming at that," she admits, "moving around, meeting people. Soon I'll start hitting studios and going after session work too. Now, if a label wants me, that's where my secret weapon kicks in." Jane leans back in her seat, glancing across at Eliana, and adds "I'm also a lawyer." She shifts the gear with her to make better room in back of the cab, and looks out a window at the streets.

"Talk about following your dreams," Eliana almost laughs out, regarding Jane with a look of wonderment. "Why not practice law?" Assuming the young woman has passed the New York bar. "I mean, it's more work, but it's definitely more lucrative. Or do you? Is that the day job?"

Her voice turns wistful, Jane answers "My passion is music, the 'rents pushed me into law school, and I wanted to be the dutiful daughter, so I set the dream aside and went. I had a plan, too. Lots of starting musicians get ripped off by contracts and agents, they only see the flash of money and fame, y'know? So I paid the most attention to the bits for copyright, trademark, and IPR law. I won't need an agent, won't be cheated by contracts, and I can help others cross the minefield cheap. If at some point I need a day job, well, there's ASCAP and BMI. Being resourceful, blending their goals and mine."

Eliana nods along with the answers. "My parents are scientists. It's interesting, but not as much as what you can make up, you know?" Writing is much more fun. "I'm glad that you've found that middle ground." With a small sigh, Eliana settles back into her seat and watches the traffic as the cab makes it way to her apartment building. "So how did you meet Jack?"

"I just went wandering last week, and found the place. Walked in, talked to him, played a bit, and scored the gig right there," Jane answers softly. "The Den is very rock and roll, the kind of place one pictures musicians starting out in, y'know? It just had that 'pay your dues here' kind of feel. And since I've been in New York, I've done my share of that." She seems about to add, to elaborate on that statement, when she trails off. Maybe she was about to confess something she doesn't want the cabbie to overhear. The topic is shifted, she smiles again and asks "Is Jack good to you, Eliana?"

It's an odd sort of question, but then again, Jane meeting Eliana with the immediate offer to help her replace a ruined dress was odd too. Did Jack want some spy-work? Eliana squints, then smiles broadly, though it's not hard to tell there is some nervousness behind the expression. "Too good," she says with a softer but no less genuine chuckle. "I can't imagine Jack ever treating a woman he was close to poorly. He's not /perfect/, but who is?" Jack's good qualities definitely make someone question his faults.

"None of them are," Jane shares, something to her voice hinting at recent experience of that sort. "I met a guy myself here in the city, it seemed to be going well, but… he just stopped and hasn't called since." She runs her fingers along the guitar case a few times, clearly holding back, as she asks "Is your place close? Some things are… really private to me, and…" Her head tilts slightly toward the driver, to say without saying she'd really rather he didn't hear them.

Eliana squints a bit in question, but then just looks out the window once more. "A few more blocks," she reassures, falling silent until the cab pulls up out in front of the run-down building. Eli hands over the necessary fare and a small tip before she opens the door and holds it for Jane. In a matter of minutes, they're up in her apartment and Eliana is on her way to her bedroom in order to change. "What's on your mind, Jane?" she asks, her voice loud enough to carry but not loud enough that she could be heard by her neighbors. If her neighbors are home at this time of day, and if they're sober enough to be putting their ears to the walls.

"It's embarrassing, and I don't talk about it very often, Eliana," Jane replies once she's out of the cab. "Just short of two weeks ago I woke up somewhere south of AC with pills on and around me. I had a bunch of messages on my phone from a sponsor who claimed I left rehab and was worried about me. Soon after I got home to my apartment in Greenwich Village, it hit me. I spent the next three days going through the cold turkey wringer, and I've never done drugs in my life. Seven years in college, three of it law school, and the only stimulant I took was caffeine by coffee."

Eliana stops short in the doorway to the bedroom. A tabby bounds from somewhere inside to curl around her legs and meow, but Eliana pays him no heed. Slowly, Eliana turns, lifting one hand to press against the door frame. "Hardest thing I ever touched was a single puff of pot in college, but a few weeks ago, I woke up in a police station being told I was selling drugs at a club. Last thing I remember before that was meeting this guy named Suresh." Eli squints again. "Did you talk to Jack about this?" Is this why he had subtly set this up?

"Jack knows," Jane answers quietly. "And I know the question you have to be asking yourself, Eliana. Did he ask me to make contact with you? No, he didn't. I'd be asking the same question myself now if I were you. He's concerned, said he was trying to help you, but he can't. It sounds so much like my experience that I volunteered to talk with you myself. He cares for you, he really does, and is worried, but… he can't really understand. He hasn't lived…" she pauses, "… this. You may be angry to have this conversation, if so I apologize, but, truthfully, maybe you and I both could use the company of someone who knows exactly how it feels." She watches Eliana, sincerity, openness, and compassion on her features.

When it hits, it hits like a ton of bricks. Eli's been horrible to Jack lately, especially given how compassionate and caring he's been. True, she's been getting out of the apartment more - and that /is/ a good thing - but she's taken Jack for granted. "…you're right," she finally says, leaning against the door jamb. Convinced he's not going to get any attention, Maimonides starts toward Jane. You! Humanthing. Pet me! "He's trying though," Eli adds, looking away. "God love him for trying. He even tried to help me…put it together. Some of it, anyway." How much does Jane know?

She holds her hand out to scritch behind the cat's ears, and chuckles at him/her. Eyes lift to Eliana as she speaks, and a reply is framed. "I've been told some things, but they don't connect in my head. Part of me wants to believe them, part of me tries to insist these people are fellow addicts having a shared relapse and hallucination, it's surreal. But the gist of it is I helped someone out of trouble, and what happened to me is like stepping in front of someone and taking the metaphorical bullet. That itself helps me cope. It's more attractive than thinking I fell on my own, but… the cold turkey experience is real, and very vivid." A pause is taken, after which Jane continues. "I can't ask you to trust me without laying all my cards out. Do you have something glass you don't mind losing?"

Even as a writer, it's hard for Eliana to follow what Jane is saying without going over it again in her head. Having an idea already where this is going, Eliana jerks her head in the direction of the small kitchen. "One of the low-balls," she mutters as she steps into the bedroom to change out of Jack's t-shirt and jeans into a set of her own.

She enters the kitchen and gets a low-ball as was suggested and returns with it, picking out a surface to set it on which will contain the aftermath of her activity and make it easy to sweep into the trash without residue being left. Then she waits for Eliana to return, quietly.

Having added Jack's dirty laundry to her own, Eliana returns and joins Jane in the kitchen. Satiated, Maimondies perches on the couch, where he curls up to nap. "Show and tell is always the most interesting part of these encounters," the pink-haired writer remarks idly as she awaits the demonstration.

"Test that, satisfy yourself I didn't weaken it somehow, Jane offers with a grin. She watches Eliana, waiting near where the cat curls up.

Eliana looks back at Jane with an arched eyebrow, then lifts a foot to press the ball of it down on the glass. It's just as firm as any other glass in her cabinet. Maybe that's why Jack hired her, in addition to muscial talent. She's got that magician's flair. "Alright," Eliana says as she moves her foot away. "Do I need to back up?"

"You might not want to be near it," she suggests, and once the way is clear Jane fixes her eyes on the glass. Her lips purse, as if to focus the sound of her voice, and stays that way for a few seconds. It's a targeted effect, this one, intended only to get that single item. No sound, however, seems to come from her mouth. And under her seemingly silent attack, the glass splinters and splits into two uneven pieces.

Eliana looks between Jane and the glass, but once her mouth is open and there's no audible sound…Eli's eyes focus on the target. They widen when it breaks, and Eliana can't help but lift her hands and clap a few times. Maimondies, however, hisses and flees to the bedroom. That /hurt./ "I can't really /show/ you mine," she says, knowing her turn is next. "You'll take my word for it?"

She nods slowly, studying the glass, and winces when the cat flees. "Damn," she murmurs. "Sorry about that, cat. I… even though I've got issues with dog whistles now, I keep forgetting animals might hear me. And that one was even a little off, things usually shatter." Jane looks up from the glass, she states quietly "It's your choice whether to tell me about you, or not. I didn't know you had anything, I just took the leap, to come clean."

"They only go after people like us," Eliana says darkly, resting against the back of the couch. She's taking a leap too, assuming that Jane's lost days are the Company's doing. "God only knows how many people they've nabbed who've bought whatever story they've cooked up to explain why they can't remember where however so many days went." Sighing, Eliana closes her eyes. "I make people happy. It's…it's like a drug. But it's not easy to control." She lifts a hand and taps three fingers against the left side of her chest.

Jane's eyes widen a bit, as she nods. "How far is the range?" she asks, thinking of her own issues, and not wanting to risk whether or not exposure could trigger a return of the cold turkey hell. "I don't know much about who did this to me, made me think I had an addiction, and… I don't really want to. I've no real desire to tangle with them again, taking this one metaphoric bullet is enough. I'm told I helped someone escape them." She pauses, back to mulling over Eliana's thing, and softly makes a simple request. "Please, I hope you can and will do this, for me. If you feel it coming on, let me know so I can leave. I don't know what they shot me up with, but it was enough to make me spend three days in hell. Don't ever want to feel that again, and if I'm exposed…"

Eliana has given /some/ thought to the long-term effects of her powers, and so Jane's concern brings a soft smile to her face. "If you see me get red in the face, book it. And…well, I dunno. Twentyish feet? I haven't ever really tested the distance in a scientific setting." Clubs and bars and coffee shops are hardly controlled areas. "And airflow would factor in too." The idea of the Company being able to test her, were they really the ones behind her capture, pales Eliana. Fuck.

There's a quiet reply in a nod, she being silent for several seconds further. When the quietude is broken, Jane says simply "Thank you, Eliana. This is what was done to me. No matter what anyone says, no matter I didn't touch drugs on my own, the fact remains I was dosed and suffered getting clean, so I'll always worry about falling again. Can't completely trust myself again." Another few moments is spent with eyes closed, forcing herself to focus in another direction, and she states "I had control issues myself, at first. Got hit with something ultrasonic in Times Square one night, and I screamed. A street lamp shattered nearby, but no one heard me let loose. Since then I've learned to keep it held back until I can safely let go, away from glass."

Eliana nods to Jane, enjoying the calm atmosphere and the ability to voice concerns about control and The Company. "If I could afford a trip to Nepal and convince a monk to teach me how to control my heart beat, I would. Closest I can get is that yuppie meditation stuff." And practice keeping calm in rough situations. "Can you…just scream normally?" Normal. Ugh. Eliana can't believe she just said that, and winces.

"I can," she replies, "if I'm trying to. But a reflex scream, well, it goes to the top of someone's voice, usually. It's a matter of personal training, too, in that I can hear myself but others can't, a thing of recognizing what pitch I'm at and keeping it down." A grin crosses her features, and she asks "How'd you like my cab whistle? I tell you, these Hollywood horror scream queens got nothing on me."

It /had/ been an impressive whistle, and so Eliana chuckles. It's also a nice tension-breaker. "Maybe you should try that instead of music? Though I guess the whole 'siren' thing works too, hm?" Assuming Jane sings in addition to plucking catgut. "God, what a pair we'd be in a sticky situation. I'd freak out and make everyone…and you'd impale them with glass shards." Eliana sighs again, shaking her head. "I wonder how many people they snag that are actually /useful./" Useful to whom is left unsaid.

"You'd be good in a riot, I think," Jane replies with a chuckle. "People suddenly lose interest in fighting and setting stuff on fire, y'know?" One hand runs through her hair, and she adds "Eventually I might work out how to incapacitate someone with my voice, defuse situations that way. If nothing else, a well-timed burst of breaking glass is a useful distraction. Like, say, the man with a gun suddenly has a window shatter behind him and turns, giving the cop a chance to seize the gun? And I'm already good in the dark. A little thing I taught myself to do."

Eliana shrugs her shoulders. "Maybe. It depends. I mean, if causing destruction and hurting people makes you happy, I might make it worse. I /can/ focus the… well, it's a gas," and Eliana blushes just a little bit and a small amount leaves her cheeks before it rises up into the air. Saying that is always a little embarrassing. "I can make it come out of one part of m-… my skin. Like a punch…but gas. Does that make sense?"

She thinks for a moment before replying, and nods "It does. So… maybe that's the key to your control, figuring out how to expand that. If you can make it come out one part of your skin, then you can find a way to maybe untie it from your heartbeat, with practice. Can you do the gas punch at a resting rate? My thing… not so much about hurting people as about shutting things down so people don't get hurt. A broken window is better than people being shot."

Yes, distractions are always a plus when trying to diffuse situations. Look at the shiney! Eliana nods, then hums, rubbing her chin. "I've only ever done it when I've been riled up," she murmurs. "I'd have to try." But obviously not on Jane.

She smiles slightly, watching Eliana. "I think about practical uses a lot. I taught myself to echo-locate like a bat, how to shatter a single item as opposed to a general scream. It fits me, being a singer. Plus, I've been into making the best of situations for years now, y'know? Mixing musical dreams with law school, working to my own goals and still being the dutiful daughter, it was good practice for now."

Eliana straightens up, moving away from the couch and toward the door. "Well, I don't see any practical uses for mine. I mean… it's a drug. It's a drug that messes with your head, and I don't really feel like hanging out with depressed people my whole life. And…well, it's not like Prozac."

She moves to follow, speaking softly. "I refuse to be depressed about what I've been through,to me it's a badge of honor. It's okay, though, to occasionally feel lost. It hits me sometimes, and I let it out best I can. I'm a better musician now than I've ever been, because I know pain." Jane tries to make eye contact, and offers "The oddest gifts have ways to show their value when least expected, Eliana. The key is just mastering it, and being prepared when the time comes."

Not moping around an apartment or making a significant other's life miserable. Eliana looks over her shoulder, offering Jane a weak smile. "Yeah. You've got a point. And… well, thanks." She puts her hand on the door and chuckles lightly. "You still going to help be pick out a dress?"

"I'll help you best I can, because we understand each other better than others can, we've been through the same kind of wringer and survived." The question brings a quick happy reaction. "Of course I am," she replies, the smile turning wide and playful. Jane looks back at her guitar and pack, then to Eli again. "Can I leave these here until we get back, collect them in time to go play? What're your musical tastes anyway? I'm into a lot of classic rock, legendary guitar heroes and singers. Big surprise, yeah?"

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