2007-06-28: Trouble Comes In Twos


McAlister_icon.gif Cass_icon.gif Elena_icon.gif Trina_icon.gif


Ali comes in for some books, Elena comes to talk to Cass, Trina comes to meet Cass and set up a Double Date of Trouble, a normal day at the bookstore.

June 28, 2007

Trouble Comes in Twos

Enlightenment Books

6PM. Outside, the streets of the Village are still busy, but at this time of day the transition is from Artist-Bohemians on their way to their day jobs to Artist-Bohemians on their way home and stopping for chai and a street-dog. Yellow cab seems the predominant vehicle species today, as well - an unusual splash of commercial color in a usually scooter-and-bike section of the city.

*beep* goes the security system, the front door swinging open and admitting a somewhat rough-around-the-edges DJ with stocking cap and backpack - frankly? She could use a shower and those jeans could use washing, but it's not reached the realm of offensive yet. She fits right in with the anarchist-patchouli crowd outside anyway.

She's obviously unfamiliar with the shelf layout, already scanning signage - taking a deep breath of the scent of /book/ with the air of one that has a certain appreciation for it, almost visibly relaxing in what is a bibliophile's intimate space.

Fitting in with the atmosphere of the store - possibly because it is /her/ store - is Cass. In fact, she's fitting in with the decor a little /too/ much. Hanging on to a top shelf and her feet on the second one, the bookstore owner is a little trapped and hanging. The beeping of the security system and the entrance of a new customer heralds her usual, "Welcome to Enlightenment Books! If you need anything, just…uh…gimme a sec and I'll be right down to help you. Once. I. Uh. Figure out how to get down." Looking down on her left and then her right, she smiles sweetly at a tall reader a shelf or two down. "Hey there, Gerald. Would you mind giving me…" Already moving before he finishes, she all but scoops her up and puts her back down. "Wow. Yeah. Thanks. You totally get 15% off whatever you buy today." Now. Back to business. "As I was saying!" She beams at McAlister. "How can I help you?"

Ali starts off startling - a friendly greeting from /up/ is certainly unexpected.. I mean, it's new york. Friendly? Who'dathunk? It's a startled look that softens quickly, though, fading into a warm grin and a slight shake of her head. "See, tall guys get all the luck. Accident of birth, he gets fifteen percent." That distinctive alto's wry, amused.

She does, though, come farther in, glancing up at one shelf's labeling almost instinctively before asking, "I'm looking for something like poetry. It sorta precludes Stevie Smith or Kerouac, 'cause I kind of prefer something horribly sappy and really bad for your brain with an actual meter and /rhythm/ and all.." OPINIONS. She has them. "But I'm really sort of Romantic'd out." Brightly. "But.. i'd settle for something /interesting/ and with a lot of pages, too. I'm kind of not picky, just mostly broke. Cheap's a good idea."

"That and placement, evolution in the making." Cass smiles and brushes off her hands, pulling the book she went climbing for out of her sweater pocket. It's a little hot to be wearing a sweater, but the air conditioning in the employee room of the store is turning everything into ice cubes. Tossing it onto the information slash cashier counter, she turns back to Ali, keeping the smile. "Ah. Well. Poetry we don't have a /lot/ of. Mostly metaphysical books. Stuff off the beaten path. Aliens, crop circles, time travel, that sort of thing. There was this /great/ book we had. Limericks on Time Travel and Aliens. But, it, uh, went out of print kind of fast." Sheepish grin. Then, she pauses to think for a moment. "You know, I /do/ have some slim volumes of Hafiz, though. And some Rumi. If you're into Sufi poetry. They don't have a lot of pages, but they're beautiful. Hafiz is one of my favorite poets of all time."

"I wouldn't mind it." Ali sidles up to another topic. "Uhm. Do you have anything on like.. psychic stuff? Not like that fake Gellar, but.. I mean.. " She shrugs, looking mildly uncomfortable. "Well, like.. uh. Thoughtwaves or something?" And she's quick to add. "I have a .. uh. Friend. She's into that kind of thing."

Already starting to lead the young DJ over to the proper Sufi section, Cass pulls out a slim volume entitled, 'The Subject Tonight is Love' by Hafiz and a thicker book called 'The Essential Rumi'. "These two are my favorites. The two translators really know how to make the lines alive again. Really, they're beautiful." And their sticker price isn't very expensive, either. As for the second question, the bookstore owner smiles. "Brainwaves? I do have a section on psychics, mind reading, aura reading, tarot card reading…is there are particular branch that your friend is interested in?" Even if it may be obvious to Cass that this isn't for a 'friend', she gets enough people in here embarrassed to be interested in this sort of thing that she knows how to play it.

"Er." Ali goes promptly into a state of vague loss - though she /does/ take both books. MOstly, without looking. "Well. She's sort of got it in her head she can .." A cough. "You're going to probably think this is silly - " Apologetic smile. It's not for me, honest! "She's sort of got it in her head that she can make people do things. Kinda like those visiualization gurus? I remember reading some Bach that talked about .. like.. magnetizing stuff, or something. It's kinda the same, right?"

"Make people do things?" Cass blinks and tilts her head at McAlister. Just the other day Peter was talking about meeting someone whom he absorbed the ability to do just that. Make other people do something just by suggesting it. It's not dark yet, but the sun is slowly sinking. It makes things a little creepier when a customer is talking about mind control. However, Cass seems to take it in stride. "You're talking to a woman who owns a bookstore dealing with the occult. I've got a psychic who comes in every Wednesday to read other people's futures," she gives a wry grin. "There's very little I'm going to find silly. Other than, you know, dogs dressed up in costumes. Because that's just hilarious." She's getting off subject, but she's also just trying to put Ali at ease. "Does she believe she can make people do things through touch? Through mind control? Through speech? Meditation and hypnosis is very powerful. Those gurus used something like hypnosis in order to make people fall into a trance and do what they were told. There've been many people over the years who have claimed they can control other human beings."

Apparently, Ali and Cass are discussing /literature/. Yes. Definitely literature. "Didja see the .. I guess not. Weinerdog. Central park. Shirt that said 'emopuppycicle'. I can't stop snickering at it." She picks a bookshelf, leans. "I don't know. It's just kind of silly, isn't it?" A wry smile, if a bit sad. "I wish I knew - maybe it's something like that? I guess that's the trouble with not believing in this stuff - you don't really know where to start." A slight shift hoists the backpack on her shoulder into a more comfortable spot.

Literature, yes. And the finding thereof. "Now that's just adorable," Cass laughs. Dressing up dogs is something she's pretty sure Lachlan would be horrified at the very thought of, but she would be lying if she said she hasn't thought about buying Bonnie a knit sweater. She'd just look so adorable with it. "Well, many people believe many different things. I think in Japan they find it silly that Christians think they only worship one God, but then also worship his Son and his Spirit. Which makes three. Very hypocritical." Smiling, the woman leans against another bookshelf, easier to do the casual talking thing. "Well, that's what we're here for. Hopefully to give people a start on alternative thinking. So, you mean control through speech? Well. I think we /may/ have something on that. Or at least something similar. It might help if your friend came in, so I can find something that would help specifically for him or her."

She had worked as a Starbucks barista for most of her young life. So naturally, Elena would normally have an aversion to it. Hell she made a promise to quit coffee by the time she hit junior year in high school. Now, given everything she's doing, the long hours, she's slowly getting back into the habit. Take today, for instance. She opens the door to Cass's store, her hair pulled back in a loose twist, and dressed in business casual attire. The Evosoft ID is clipped in one of her belt loops, suggesting that she had just gotten off work. She has her satchel bag slung diagonally across her chest, and black, ballerina flats to keep walking comfortable. She has no jacket — it was getting too warm for that.

But she looks EXHAUSTED. There are bags under her eyes, a book tucked under one arm, and her other hand? Has a GIANT cup of coffee. Yes. It's from Dunkin' Donuts, essentially being a traitor to a brand she supported for years. But Starbucks didn't serve The Big One, and D&D did. So she has a huge plastic cup of iced coffee almost as large as her head. And she looks grumpy. She trudges towards the counter.

"Yeah, well - I"m thinking maybe it's best she doesn't learn much about it anyway. The more you know, the more you want to mess with bank tellers and all that." Ali keeps her grin, tucking thumbs into battered and (in need of a wash) jeans. "So where would you start?"

The grumpy new arrival gets a smile anyway, an extension of that grin, a nod — and a moment of watching. Smiles are cheap to share, after all.
The door opening and closing again grabs Cass' attention. That's just the way she is at the store. Ducking her head out from one of the bookshelves, she notices Elena and grins. "Hey Elena, we're back this way." She notices the cup of coffee as well as the exhausted look on her face, but she doesn't ask. Not quite yet. Mostly, she just gives her friend a 'what's up' sort of look before turning back to Ali. "Well, that's true. Messing with bank tellers is definitely not the sort of thing you want to have happen. There are a couple books that might help as a start." She moves up a couple of shelves and pulls the books out slightly so that Ali can take a look at them. Most of them mostly talking about theories of mind control as opposed to any actual statements of fact. There are none of those. "It's something I wouldn't want everyone to be able to do," she grins.

Walking over, Elena pauses - her expression is almost comical, giving Cass a bug-eyed, bleary expression. At Cass's 'what's up' expression, she grumbles. "Drunk dialed." TWO WORDS females don't want to hear anywhere -past- midnight, or ever, but that would explain the grumpiness. She and Cass can talk later, but she drinks her coffee, and flops like a drunken baby seal against the counter. "I've been trying to stay awake all day. I was typing up this press release at work…and I spelled 'characteristics' with three i's and thought the 'Bay of Pigs' was an herbal tea." She looks over at Ali and quirks her a faint smile. "Hi," she greets - she can still look friendly to perfect strangers at least.

"Nobody should." That comes with an odd certainty. "But I figure if she's dead-set on it, might as well do it informed, right?" Ali very quickly points out - "It's a load of crap anyway, but it'll ease my conscience, I guess." The DJ starts poring over books (admittedly paying some attention to cost), falling silent as Elena responds, offering her that grin again. "Hiya. Sorry about the day, anyway. Can't have two in a row, though, right?"

"Okay, maybe nobody," Cass agrees with Ali for the moment. Elena's expression and explanation gets a raised eyebrow. Who in the world would be drunk dialing Elena that she would be exhausted. "That sucks," is her reply. Not exactly eloquent, but it gets right to the point. "I've heard that the Bay of Pigs tea is really quite good. Not bacon tasting at all." It's the most she can do to try and help cheer up her friend. "I'm not sure about a load of crap. People can do strange things and there's a lot out there that just isn't explainable by what most people take to be normal science any more. But, like you said, it's good to read up on it."

She doesn't comment on it, but Elena takes several other gulps of her iced coffee, but she grins at Ali. "Yeah— tomorrow'll be a better day especially if I can sleep a human eight hours." She props her chin on one hand, and listens to the conversation the older store owner is having with the other woman. It's odd though - something about Ali was familiar, she knows she's never met her before but she can't…quite place it… "Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…bacon tea…" She follows up Cass's comment with a grin at her direction. But the latter's end comment causes her to lift her brows. She said Science! She had to pay attention!
The small group is in among the stacks, in that section on aliens, mind control, and conspiracy. You know the one - right next to stonehenge builder theories and new-age pyramid crystal life-changing homeopathy.

The books Ali has relate to theoretical mind control, of course. And the DJ? The Dj's apparently doing her best not to look mildly put off by the price tags. "Everything. And I mean everything. Is better with bacon." That comes with utter conviction - and a grin. "Tea would have to be tasty, right? And.. I once new a guy who could put his ankle behind his shoulder. He was a lot of fun - but just because you're flexible doesn't mean you're some kind of guru." Inherent disbelief tinges her tone - "Maybe science doesn't explain everything, but that's kind of the point, right? Give 'em a chance and they will - but there's just so many people who believe something and then assume it's true. It bugs me, I guess."

There's an address scrawled on a cocktail napkin that Trina holds in her hand. After a crowded ride on the subway, the dark-haired motorhead looks up from said chicken-scratch to the numbers tastefully identifying the shop to any new mailmen and anxious barwenches. Standing outside for a good ten minutes, debating on whether or not she should turn around and wait to come back with Jack, finally there's a sharp inhalation of breath taken in via the nostrils, and the young woman crunches her mostly finished cigarette beneath the ball of boot-clad foot.
Pulling the door open with a projected confidence that only half-sinks into her being, Trina then plunges herself into what might possibly be one of the scariest nightmares conceived and realized by the mind of man: the bookstore. Too late she realizes that she has friggin' clue what Cass looks like, but now it is seriously too late to chicken out. Time to find a body. C'mon, she coaxes herself, this will be a Good Thing when it's all said and done. "H'lo?"

"As opposed to vampiric eight hours? I'm not sure what the difference between those would be," Cass grins and goes back to leaning against the bookshelf. It helps a bit. "Well, science can explain a lot, but not everything. Even if they're trying. There's another book that may be more your speed if you're into science. It doesn't explain control over anything or the like, but it does talk about science. And abilities. It's not /all/ about what your talking about - the mind control - but it does touch on it briefly." Crossing the store, she pulls out a copy of Activating Evolution. It seems to be her go-to book lately. As she's crossing back over to give Ali the book, the door opens again. "Hey!" she greets Trina as she enters. "Welcome to Enlightenment Books, if there's anything I can do to help you out, just give a word!"

"Well, way back when in Jolly ol' England, beef tea was a remedy way back one. I wouldn't be surprised if bacon tea actually ends up being marketable out here," Elena quips, grinning at Ali. But she's right. Everything tastes better when bacon is involved. Vegetarians would probably disagree - though the thought of vegans makes her grump again for some reason. At Cass's remark, she laughs a little bit. "Well wouldn't that be ten hours for vampires this summer? The sun doesn't really sink these days until a little past eight or nine, and the sun is up by four in the morning." How does she knows this? Late hours. Probably why she's been so grumpy in the first place. However it seems a newcomer has decided to join them. She cranes her neck over her shoulder….and blinks. Wasn't that…? "Hey," she says, giving Trina a wave. Wasn't that Jack's new girlfriend? She didn't really catch her name though.

And Ali takes /that/ book. Now, juggling five books isn't that tough? Add in a pack, a purse, and a need to paw through and look at price tags and it's gettin' more than a little interesting over there.

Nevermind that, though - Ali grins, goes to say something.. and looks back as Cass and Elena do. "Oh! Hey, Trina!" Happy. Warm - surprised, mind you. "Wouldn't have picked you for having the crystal urge." A wink. "Hiya!" She adds an aside for Elena, though. "We really need to market that. Bacon tea. I'm drooling thinking about it, you know?"

Okay. Body found. Plunging the napkin into the pocket of her faded black, skinny-cut, low-riding jeans, Trina reaches a hand up to brush back the bits of hair that have escaped her ponytail and tuck them behind her ear. "Actually," she begins, silently praying to whatever thing akin to God that might be listening that she doesn't sound like a total dope among the brains who would occupy this place by choice, "I was hoping you maybe knew a Cassie All—something? Shit, I'm blankin' on the last name, but I was kinda' under the impression that I'd find 'er here."
At the turn of a Elena-shaped head, Trina recognizes what is probably the closest thing that Jack has to kin in the city. Her head rears back for a moment in surprise, and then there's a small tentative smile as she lifts her hand to return the greeting before quickly return her hand to her back pocket in order to keep any nervous fidgeting at bay. Cool, calm, collected. Yes, that is Trina. "Oh! Hey. Really wasn't thinkin' to see y'here." Then her eyes narrow as she tries to recall the name. She has no idea that she's butchering everyone's identities thanks to Jack's relentless use of nicknames. "…Scrappy, right?"
And… now there's another familiar face. A co-worker. A name she will not be butchering. "Oh! Heya, Ali!" Then there's a pause. "Am… am I interruptin' on some book club or somethin'? I can totally come back." For Trina must flee all discussion of books.

With a smile, Cass gestures to the window sill filled with all the pillows for Ali. "You don't have to buy them all immediately. You can sit and take a gander through them and pick which ones you want for sure." She'd rather have happy customers than people who just bought books only to try and return them the next day. "Well, you never know, vampires may just be lazy and like to sleep a lot. Though I could envy their schedule lately." Not enough sleep and being almost indestructible would be handy. "Though I've got to say, beef tea sounds ridiculously gross." Then, turning to Trina, her eyebrows raise slightly. "Aldric? Cass Aldric? That'd be me." There's only a few people who call her Cassie and the name of Trina jars a memory. "Trina? Jack's girlfriend? You're the one that sent me the food basket. Thanks for that!" Because people who brought her actual food made her very happy. "No, we're just, you know, book selling. And talking about bacon tea."

The sight of the familiar blue book catches her attention. Elena meets Cass's eyes from across the counter, but she doesn't say anything about that. When Trina mentions that she's looking for Cass, she grins at her a little more openly. "Well you've come to the right place. You're popular today, Cass," she says, to the woman behind the counter. When Trina identifies her correctly as Scrappy, she laughs. "You're Jack's girl, alright. Yeah, it's me. I'm Elena," she says, at least giving her real name to the blue-eyed motorhead as she steps further inside. "And nah this is just the way Cass conducts business. She's a lot more casual than the hoity toity big-chain bookstores around." She's teasing of course, evident by the wink she sends Cass's direction.

Her and Ali seem to know each other, but Elena as of yet does not connect 'Ali' with 'Midnight McAlister' for the NYU campus's radio station. She's curious how Trina and Ali know each other though, looking between both of them curiously.

Cass's quip about a vampire's sleep schedule over the summer makes her laugh, inclining her head at her friend. "Yeah, that's what I heard. Some dining columnist actually tried to live the life of an 18th century gentleman once with the high fatty food intake and all that - he got a stomachache, so he was prescribed beef tea….it was especially gross according to the article."

Ali answers Trina quickly, "Oh, no. No. Just trying to sort out.." Is that guilt? Yes. A little. "Something. Don't let me get in the way, right?" And she's drifting for the pillows, calling back to Cass - "Thanks." Flop. Yup. She's settled, dropping pack and bag behind her. "Hey, is Jack on the bar tonight?" A wave of her hand - "Don't answer. You're looking for books. You can answer when you found books." She grins - but puts nose to paper.

Tea is gross. Bacon tea sounds downright foul. However, so as not to offend Jack's friends when he ain't about to gloss over her insensitivities. But at least she's got the right place and the right people. That's something at least! Lots of use of Jack's name; it's no real surprise that she's dating Mr. Popularity. Her hand extends outwards towards the store's owner, smiling in some measure of relief. "Hey, hospitals suck. 'm just glad the assholes up there didn't take it. Never know if you're gonna get some prick needin' someone to boss around. Pleasure to finally put a face to the praise."
Over that hand, Trina addresses the Gomez girl with a wry grin. "Elena. I'll try to remember that, but Jack's got about a month on you feedin' Scrappy into my brain."
Then to Ali's question, there's a nod. She hasn't quite taken in the state of her co-facilitator of rampant debauchery in the Den, but she can at least answer. "And yeah. S'far as I know. Was gonna check in sometime tonight, just to make sure he doesn't find himself in trouble."

"Oh, I dunno. I buy some books from Barnes and Noble sometimes. They seem pretty friendly there, too." Cass smiles, never one to make gross overstatements. Unless dealing with certain evil organizations. "Maybe I'm just popular every day," she teases her friend right back. "You just haven't seen me in my popular element." As Ali makes for the window seat, she smiles. "Just let me know if you need anything else, or need to steer in another direction." Then, to Trina, "Oh, you don't have to tell me twice. My doctor was really…well, he was very competent. Lachlan and Jack didn't seem to like him much, though. Something about taking their bottles to make bottle ships? I don't know…I was on a lot of morphine. He had awesomely curly hair, though."

"You -are- popular every day," Elena says with a laugh, dropping the banter for a moment. Cass had oodles of charm, it wasn't surprising that so many people flock to her store despite the subject matter. Hell, she was going to be a scientist one day and she finds herself entering an occult bookstore at least once a week. Granted some of the subject matter -is- interesting, plus there were a lot of fascinating finds. Nothing could top the collection of alien poetry by someone who swears he had been abducted several times in the 90s though. To Trina, she laughs. "Well you can call me Scrappy too. I don't mind, really," she says agreeably, her eyes sliding over to Ali surreptitiously as she buries her nose in paper. She can't help it, anyone who held Activating Evolution catches her attention rather easily these days.

And.. apparently.. that's the one that has Ali's interest. Though she does (without looking up) sort of vaguely ask over in everybody else's direction, "Hospitals? Doc? Everything's okay, right?" It's a genuine sort of worry, if very, highly distracted.

Trina may be the only person who's got powers who hasn't read Activating Evolution, and she'd honestly be fine with that, even if she new. Crazy people and their unfathomable fascination with books. "Waste of good liquor, that was. Doc's fuckin' lucky that he didn't walk outta the room with two black eyes and two teeth in his hand, way I heard it. Either way, s'a damned good thing you're back on your feet. Jack was worried shitless 'bout you. Guessin' a lot of folks were."
Then her wry attention goes back to Elena. She waves a hand in her direction, dismissing the permission. "Nah. Scrappy don't sound right comin' outta my mouth. Only Jack can pull it off, really. To me, you're… more a Laney."

"Oh, no, I'm fine now," Cass assures Ali. "Just a bad run in with, uh, well, I'm fine now." No need to go into the gory details of getting shot and being in the hospital on morphine for a few weeks. "Wait, liquor? It was liquor bottles? They should have known you can't bring in booze to a hospital." She sighs. On this she's going to side with the doctors. "Well, I kinda scared myself, too. Thanks for the concern. And the food. Wow, that was good. It made me think back about alien kittens, which is what I was talking to my father about before. But…uh, that was while I was still on morphine. Not really a reflection on your cooking."

She doesn't explain -that- either, though thinking back can't help the more somber mood on Elena's face as she remembers all the blood. Still, she slides her bag from her shoulder and looks over at Cass. "I'll stash this in the back room, is that okay?" She doesn't really work here, but Cass was like an older sister to her, and she had a custom laptop in there that was weighing her down. She was tired enough, and it's only the tender mercies of the large, caffeinated drink in her other hand that she's still awake and functional. Still she's wondering what Trina's doing here - Trina, she heard, was a car enthusiast much like her little brother, Manny….even now she looked out of place in a bookstore. It was kind of like putting Lachlan in the middle of a library.

And Ali? Once reassured that apparently nobody's in critical condition mid-bookstore? SHe's paging through the introduction to that relatively weighty tome.

Typical book-lover. You could probably set a bomb off out in the streets and she wouldn't notice.

"I gotta confess, I didn't cook a lick of it that wasn't cornbread. Figured you were already sick, so there wasn't any use in givin' you food poisoning on top of it." Plunging both hands back in her pockets, Trina watches as Elena makes her way off. "Look, I really didn't mean to interrupt nothin'. I'm sure you're busy as Hell, but I got to thinkin' maybe it might be nice for … for me, you, Jack, and Lachlan to maybe… do… something."
Then, just as quickly as its said, the slender young woman pulls her hands out of her pockets to put them up defensively. "Just thinkin', s'all. Haven't even said anything to Jack." Tilting her head, she crosses her arms over her stomach. "Just figure, he thinks you're good folk, so…" What was she gonna wrap it up with? "…Yeah," she finishes lamely.

"Of course, Elena," Cass waves her toward the back room. Mi store es su store and all. The familial background goes both ways for her. Elena's like the little sister that she never had. Seeing a fellow book lover in Ali, she allows the woman to read in peace, though keeping an eye on her should she want anything else. But that doesn't mean she's not listening to Trina and her suggestion. In fact, the idea makes her grin. "I think that's a great idea. It'd be good to go out and do something nice that's not related to work or medical stays." There's been too few of fun things lately. "Well, I think Jack's good folk, too. And he seems to think the world of you, so that makes you good folk, too. I'm sure Lachlan'll like that too. Just…we're going to have to make sure that it's not something 'cute'. He's adverse to cute things."

"Thanks!" Elena looks less grumpy now, and more like her cheerful self - she either bounces back quickly, or, maybe even worse….the sugar and the caffeine are starting to kick in. When Trina proposes a double date, she grins. "You have to promise me you're going to take pictures, because Jack and Lachlan together are a -riot-." Also she hasn't been to the Den in a while. Wait till she comes in and sees the mural of feminine underthings on the walls. So with permission given, she turns around, toting her heavy satchel thing as she walks to the back room to store her bag there - but the sudden, sharp pain explodes at the back of her head. She grits her teeth, and rakes her hand through her hair. How many bottles of aspirin has she gone through already? Knowing Cass won't mind, she starts shifting around to hunt for Cass's bottle - she finished her travel bottle of Excedrin at Evosoft earlier.

Perhaps not even coming close to noticing Elena's move into the back room, Ali.. apparently half-listening.. offers in answer to 'pictures', apparently, "The good ones are on my phone." Who that's aimed at? Who knows. Introduction! Words on paper! But the vague - "It's in my bag. Feel free, ya know? Priceless."

"Hell, sittin' 'round playin' Go Fish with a bottle of Jose Cuervo would do. Ask Jack. I ain't exactly the bon bons and powder puff type, anyway." Tilting her head to regard Elena as she goes about her business, Trina's brow furrows and then she leans in to speak in low tones to the other woman nearby. "And… it's kinda a sad thing when you're the closest lookin' thing to health in here. No 'fense." A glance to Ali, and then back to Cass. "…They alright?"

"They are at that," Cass agrees with Elena. The last time she saw the two together they were dressed up as a ninja and a pirate and did battle with each other. Hilarious is right. Elena will find an aspirin bottle right on the bookshelf along with a couple of other first aid necessities that people may need in a pinch. "Which good ones?" she asks Ali curiously. If they're of Jack, then that's going to be quite hilarious. "I think that might be pretty hilarious all on it's own. Go Fish and Cuervo it is." She may just be teasing, but who knows. "I. Hm. Well, Elena was up late last night and I believe…I don't think I caught her - your - name is just reading."

Popping two, she chews them dry. It tastes disgusting, but Elena knows they'll dissolve in her bloodstream faster if she does. Making sure it's stowed carefully underneath Cass's desk, and out of view, she puts the aspirin bottle exactly where she finds it, and moves out of the back room. She props her chin on both hands, having reached the counter, elbows resting on the worn, polished wood. But with Ali reading, and Trina and Cass chatting fondly about their significant others, she couldn't help but smile - be a little envious, of course, because Lachlan and Jack were two of the best men she knows. But she's content to hear the stories, her lashes falling somewhat halflid over her eyes as she listens. As chatty as she was, sometimes it was….well, she might miss something hilarious if she didn't listen once in a while.

"Uh-huh." Ali, with great maturity, sticks her tongue out at Trina. "Look. I /know/ I need to work out, alright? Sheesh." But - you know? Her eyes never really came off the page. "Ali." Helpful, that - and with her free hand, she fumbles around for the bag that goes with that pack, "Alyssa McAlister. Ali, though, 'cause I don't really like having that many syllables. And yeah, they're of Jack. And that party thing a while back. As for if they're well or not? I have no clue. But they're talkin' about hospitals and doctors and bacon tea. Seriously, though, are any of us 'well?' Crazy word. You have an underwear collection, remember." It's not helping that she's not really addressing anyone in particular. "Oh. And I caught one of senator-hopeful Petrelli, too. I really really need to give that one to somebody. Remind me later, Trina?"

There's a nod to Cass. Guess that explains it well enough. And then there's a bit of chat coming from the DJ's direction. "…You got it," Trina replies to Ali, following that conversation as best she can. And then it dawns on her. "Hey! They are not *MY* fuckin' panties! I told you that!" Then there's a moment of horror that registers plainly on the motorhead's face as she turns to Cass once more. Then to Elena. Then… a blush. So much for first impressions. "They… came in the mail. After the article. So… Uh." WHAT ELSE WAS SHE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THEM? Thumbing over her shoulder, her smile becomes nervous. "I think I better go before you take back the Go Fish and Cuervo." To Elena, there's another tight smile. Watch as her hands get shoved deeply into those pockets once more as she bobs her knees once. It takes everything in Trina to just keep talking. DAMMIT, ALI, way to blow her cover! Now she sounds like a freak. "And sometime you should come up to the Den when I'm working, Laney. Can't give you any of the good stuff, but I can hook you up with soda and a few cheap laughs at other people's expense. It makes the time fly."

"I think I've seen those. Glitter and Posion outfits." Cass laughs. "I think I've actually got some copies of them somewhere. Blackmail for later. As for the panties, well, the bookstore owner just puts her hands up in a defensive gesture of her own. "No judgements. I'm sure you're not the only one with panties on the wall. Of the place that you work." That didn't exactly come out like she meant it, but that's alright. "Don't worry, we're on for that. I'll talk to Lachlan and we'll stop by the Den sometime. A double date sort of thing sounds like just the ticket."

"There's a….-what-?!" Elena hasn't heard this before, and she bursts out laughing from where she's standing, breaking out of the dreamy reverie she's got going on. In her head, in Elenaworld, it's Jack and Lachlan in chibi-mode, arms around one another and doing the can-can in front of Chibi Cass and Chibi Trina, with plates of Italian food in front of them and sweatdropping at their boyfriends. And the blush on Trina's face just makes her laugh harder, swallowing the rest of the gale. "I'm sure it was all -Jack's- idea, Trina," she says with a nod. "If anyone says otherwise you can always blame him." The new nickname, she doesn't mind. In fact, she kinda likes it, and she beams at the motorhead at that. "Sure, I should stop by soon anyway to see Jack. Maybe I'll walk with you if you intend to go back there." When Cass mentions the costumes, she laughs. "I took -so many pictures- that night. I have a pictures of Nate…" Yes, Senator-to-be Petrelli is 'Nate' to her. "Arguing with a four-foot tall Care Bear."

"For the record, I never sent Jack panties." Ali closes the book, then - "Is it priced as the cover? I.. think I really want this one." Finally, she focuses on Cass, offering a grin. But.. Elena's mentioning of 'Nate?' That merits a blink, a curious study of the woman for a moment.

"Great!" Trina replies, taking a few steps backwards. Now she can tell Jack that she went and was social! See. Making an effort! And then Elena suggests passing off her brainchild as Jack's work. There's an almost childish frown. "No, *I* came up with the idea, fair and square. Hookers wanna send their hooker panties to my man, they pay the price: hooker panties go on the hooker wall. But, yeah, goin' back to check on him, if you wanna walk with." Then two fingers point at Cass, hot-shot pointer-finger-gun style, a broad grin on her face. "And I'm totally telling him that he and your man are on the spot for entertaining us."
Pausing, Trina then turns her attention to Alyssa, head tilting. "You swinging by tonight, or you got plans?"

Whatever is going on in Elena's head, Cass can't see it. If only she could. That would be quite hilarious. However, there's business to be done, and she nods at Ali. "Yup. Price on the cover is the price." At least she found something that she wanted. "Oh, we're on the spot of entertaining you? That should be interesting." She'll have to just disregard anything that Lachlan suggests that they do.

"I think she means that the boys put on a show for you guys, Cass," Elena teases. "Hence why there must be pictures." When Ali asks who Nate is, she laughs. "Sorry….Nathan Petrelli." Sorry Nate, YOUR SECRET IS OUT. At least she's not showing the pictures! She feels a little relieved inside now that her headache seems to be gone for the moment. "I've become pretty good friends with….his wife." Which is true. Heidi wasn't exactly a big sister figure, nor was she a mother figure. She was this fluid presence in her life that she could talk to about anything. And while Peter was one of her best friends, she was -so- avoiding any mentions of him today.

Oh, look at that! Guilt! Luckily, it's covered by Ali obviously being confronted with sticker-shock (danged academic hardbacks!) on the book. BUt.. with a determined set to her jaw, digging in bag anyway.

"Sorry. Just.. small world. Even in New York." She drops it lightly. "I'm sort of the one that broke her kid's arm. So. There you go." Aha! Battered envelope in bag - "Oh. Yeah, Trina - I want to catch him tonight. I sort of need to talk to him, and I still have to finish up yesterday's receipts. Kinda got sidetracked by Ed falling off the barstool again."

At Ali's mention of Ed, Trina rolls her eyes. "I swear to gawd, we need to get a fuckin' vat of Gorilla Snot and put it on the damn stool when he gets up to take a piss." Isn't she eloquent? Yes, she fits in at the bookstore like all the other intellectuals! "And yeah. We're ladies, Cass. That means it's their job to entertain, right? But I better get goin'." Holding out her hand for Cass to shake, Trina offers a wide grin. "'Was awesome to meet you."

"Oh! Right," Cass nods when Elena explains her misunderstanding. "That I'm totally fine with. They should entertain us. Just. I don't know if that's such a good idea. Those two have funny ideas of what's entertaining. Funny in a bad way. And in a good way, I guess. It's kind of 50/50 with them." Grinning. "Here, well, I can hold that book for you if you need to run off or I can sell it to you super quick so you all can get going at the same time." Taking Trina's hand, she gives it a warm shake. "It was great meeting you, too. I look forward to our double date thing. Also, I kind of fear it."

"Oh to be a fly on the wall," Elena says with a laugh, her chin propped up in her hand, but since Trina and Ali want to walk back together to harass Jack, she doesn't want to intrude on them. "I'll see you two later at the Den, then?" she inquires. "I think I'm going to bug Cass some more about nerdy things."
Ali settles for cash, hopping up to bring back the books that aren't getting bought.. and what looks like the bulk of her folding money to pay for the one that is. "No - I think I want to dig in tonight. Thanks, though - " A grin to Trina, "You mind me walkin' back with you?"

"Fear isn't always a bad thing. But it'll be okay! Promise," Trina assures with a gleam of mischief in her eyes and a careless shrug as she turns towards the door. It's the gleam that says that Trina's more likely to encourage them than anything else. Poor Cass, God only knows what horrors await her. To Ali's question, she simply offers a bright smile. "Not at all, babe. C'mon." One last smile is then cast in Elena's direction, head tilting. "I'll catch you later then, Laney. Be careful headin' over, 'kay?"

Taking care of Ali's transaction quickly, writing up the ticket and giving her change back in record time, Cass slips the purchased book into a bag and hands it over to the other woman. "There you go. It was nice to meet you, Ali. Stop by again soon." With a grin, she nods at Trina. "Oh, not always. But, at the very least it should be an interesting time." If she minded the things that Lachlan and Jack got into, she probably wouldn't still be seeing Lachlan. She may seem like a square, but she can put up with a lot. And get into enough trouble herself. "I'm looking forward to it." Then, to Elena, her eyebrow raises. "Nerdy stuff, huh? You've got my attention."

"Who, me? I'm always careful!" Elena says, beaming and waving at Ali and Trina as they head out. When they leave, and the door is closed, she exhales a breath, propping her chin on one hand and looking over at Cass. "…..I don't know if …Peter…" Hesitation, the way she says his name. "…told you but I managed to get something to him a week ago. They're the Sinai files. I managed to find out that the paper copies got carried away to someplace offsite, but the electronic files were still there. They were locked in the accounts of the Chief of Pharmacology and Toxicology of Mount Sinai."

Ali does at least remember her bag and pack on the way out, waving back - "Thanks!"

"Here, let's go to the back room," Cass leads the girl to the back, but leaves the door open so that she can keep a watch on the store. She doesn't really expect people to steal from her, she does want them to know where she is should they need, help, though. "Woah. Wow. No, he didn't. What'd you find?" Her voice is kept low. Even if they are in the back room with some expectancy of privacy, that doesn't mean someone couldn't overhear something.

She follows Cass to the back room, looking over her shoulder cautiously, before she starts speaking again. Elena murmurs quietly. "Nothing much. He….has the flashdrive so he can show you whenever he's at work. But….it looks like nobody in Sinai even knew what it was. They couldn't identify it. All they knew was that it was highly contagious. But the files didn't explain how they found that out, which is -weird-. If something was as contagious as they say this thing is….the only way they could determine that is if a bunch of people caught it real fast. So now we might not be looking for this Hayes woman as the -only- affected person. There could be more that they're not saying or reporting." She pauses. "The files also say where they brought the Hayes woman. She's in Texas. Private care facility."

Dropping into a chair by her desk, still in view of the open door, Cass thinks this over. "So Peter's got the whole deal? I'll have to ask him to see it." It's easier to figure things out when you've got everything in front of you and not just second hand. "If it was highly contagious, this woman was in a very populated city and a very populated ER room. Why hasn't anyone else shown up with it? Did it say what the symptoms were? There could be hundreds of people with the same disease and we'd never know." Only the Company would. If it really was them that took it. "Maybe we should go visit her. Did it say what facility it was?"

She takes up another chair, flopping on it heavily and rubbing her eyes over closed lids. "The symptoms were listed, but they're many - you can grab the files from him," Elena offers. "And I think….I don't know. I think they got her out of there too quick for it to spread. Or maybe….something -has to happen- first before it ….I don't know. Releases. It's hard because I don't think they even KNOW what it is. Or if it's even a natural pathogen. If what they're saying is true and there was military presence carting off the files, it might be man-made, which would explain why no one can't seem to peg it." She blinks. Visit her? In Texas? "The files said it was a private care facility in Texas, but the files didn't specify which one."

"Well. That makes it more difficult. We could literally have the next biological weapon sitting in our laps without any idea of how to diffuse it." Yes, she's seen Outbreak. And many other horror films with disease as the center. "That's strange. It's possible that it isn't airborne. But, if it isn't, than the painting of a vial breaking isn't that big of a deal. It'd just kind of, die on the floor. I don't know. I guess I'll have to talk to Peter about it." Cass pauses to think this through and get a clearer picture. "Hm. Didn't say where in Texas?" It's a big state. "If we find out the city, we could probably just start cold calling facilities. I figure, if we don't know what it is, maybe if we talk to her we can narrow a lot of things down. If it /is/ the Company, then, well…" she may not remember anything. But. If it's not… "But otherwise, she may hold a key to something. Something just a file wouldn't tell us."

"Or maybe it is and they got lucky the first time," Elena remarks quietly. She sighs, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She wasn't really operating on all cylinders, she was exhausted, and her headache was coming back. She looks over at Cass. "There might be something in the files that I missed - I don't have it with me, I figured it was best if I got rid of it as fast as possible to someone I trusted and someone who saw you every day so he can pass it onto you whenever." She hopes Peter kept it in his emergency lockbox so he could summon it to him whenever he wants. "I mean, what….was orchestrated is pretty illegal. It's not like I grabbed these with the full consent and support of Mount Sinai. And yeah, that works…plus through the phones, it could be pretty anonymous. No one has to see our faces, we'll be fine so long as we don't call from our phones just to be safe."

"Who knows," Cass agrees with a sigh. "That makes sense. I'll ask Peter about it next time I see him. He was supposed to be in to work today, but he called in sick. Hope he's feeling alright." Already moving on, she nods her head again. "Yeah. Well, I wasn't planning on using the store phone to call random hospitals in Texas," she grins. "I'll use a payphone. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere Manhattan or something. I figure we might get lucky. She may know something. Of course, it all depends on what we can get from those files, too."

"Exactly." She winks. "You're more educated about medical jargon than me, you'd probably glean more from them than I will." Elena sighs and groans, rolling her head back. "Besides, if we have to go there in person….well, I always wanted to see what Texas is like. I hear they've got great barbecue." She grins over at Cass. Oh sure, Elena, bring up the food. "But yeah we could certainly use a certain level of luck. And now that I saw you today maybe I could get some decent sleep. Also….." She ponders, and she frowns a little bit. "I don't have them with me right now but….there are a few brainscans I want to show you. I found something but….I wasn't sure what I was looking at."

"Oh, well, I've been reading up on it a lot more. It's amazing how much can slip away when you don't use it all day." Cass shrugs and looks away, leaning over to make sure that everyone is still at ease in the store. It seems like they're all okay, so she sits back and grins. "That and beer, I've heard." Not that Elena will be doing and drinking of beer while they're there. If they go. "Brainscans? I'm not sure if I'm really qualified to give them any sort of actual medical opinion on brainscans. But, I'll definitely take a look at them if you want me to."

She laughs. "I wouldn't know about beer. Besides, I don't think I can get drunk with the way I am." Elena nods when Cass expresses her doubts. "I know I just want…someone knowledgeable than me to take a look at it and tell me I'm not on crack." Granted what she found was pretty worrisome. She has a suspicion as to what she's had seen, but …..part of her didn't want to believe it either. "Thanks, Cass. How are you feeling, by the way? You look pretty up and at 'em today." She quirks a tired little grin towards the bookstore owner's direction.

"That's quite a shame. Being drunk can be…entertaining." Cass gives a small laugh and leans back as well. The day has been a little tiring without the help she was expecting. "Well, that I can do. I doubt you're on crack. And even if you were, it probably couldn't do anything with what you can do, too. You're just the walking PSA, aren't you?" Resting her arms on her stomach, she kicks her legs out so that she looks very relaxed. "You know, if you wanted to, I could try and help you with your ability. Like I'm doing for Peter. See if we can test what it is you do…make it more controllable and if there's more." As for how /she's/ feeling, well, the smile stays right where it is. "I get tired more easily than before, but I think that'll get better over more time. I'm feeling a lot better than I was before."

"I know right?" Elena grumbles, a little sore still of one life experience that is denied her yet again. She was bad enough with the entire 'dating' business, now she can't even get drunk. "Yeah, sort of," she admits with a laugh. When Cass offers to train her, she nods. "I've worked with Eric, Papa, Manny, and Drake in terms of their abilities," she tells her. "But I haven't actually trained….Peter…in using my abilities either - it's odd though….he's been getting better at it even without my help." Sort of. "He was limited to using it by touch but when you were in the OR….he was able to use it remotely. It's weird. It's like….the more involved he is with the source of one particular ability, the better he gets at it. He's fought Sylar several times, and he can wield his telekinesis without too much effort. Claire's his niece and he can regenerate no problem. He dated Elle, so he's pretty good at playing Zeus. He….said recently I was his best friend so…I just started to think that maybe the 'emotional' aspect of his powers figure in more than was thought initially."
She sighs. "I'm sure training with the benign side of my powers won't pose any problem…it's the other side I'm kind of….balking at. Truth be told….part of me is afraid of it. The extent of it. I don't even know what my limits are, when using the bad side…"

Thinking the logistics over, Cass nods. "I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. Peter told me he as kind of like an empath. An empath of powers. So, it would make sense that he'd have to feel like the person who's ability he'd absorbed from them in order to use the power. And so, it's easier to use a power of someone you're familiar with. Emotions help or hinder his ability. Depends on how you look at it." Once that particular thought is through, she moves on to the next scary one. "Well, I don't mind helping with most of your powers. I'm sure we can figure out a way to practice on your more dangerous ones in a safe environment."

"Yeah…" Elena's voice is absent at that, her eyes shifting away to look at the doorway. "He feels too much sometimes…." The last is a quiet mutter. But she doesn't explain what she means. She closes her eyes and rubs her face, and looks up at Cass. "If you're sure," she tells her. "I don't……want to hurt anyone. I mean I'm pretty good with the control as is but….the effects. When I first tested the bad side on Jack, I thought I killed him. I just don't want any…..accidents to happen."

"I understand that," Cass tells Elena gently. "No one's getting killed or maimed on my watch." Unless it's by things totally out of control. "I'll think of something where it's a controlled environment and without live subjects. Or, even if it is through them, a way to temper the effects." Standing up, she grins at her friend. "We'll think of something. Remember, we're the nerds of our group. C'mon. I should get back to the storefront before people think there's nobody actually working here."

"Works for me," Elena says with a grin, standing up from the chair. "But you're right, we're the nerds of the group. All we need for that I think is some sort of….click. Divine inspiration, if you will." With a newfound sort of energy, she bounds towards the door after the bookstore owner, to chat about other things before she heads out.

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