2009-11-05: Uncommon Ground



Date: November 05, 2009


While the world explodes in emo, two unlikely rivals find a common ground.

"Uncommon Ground"

Common Grounds

There's something about a coffee shop when the weather's bad; the rich scents, the low buzz of conversation, the comfy seating all contribute to a warm, genial atmosphere that seems completely removed from the rush of rain and traffic outside. That may be why the place is full of people from a broad range of ages and social status. Common Grounds is doing well today.

In the lower area, Lena's staked a claim to one of the seating areas by sprawling sideways in an overstuffed chair. One of her legs has been draped over the chair's arm, the toe of that foot bouncing restlessly in the air as she fiddles with a Nintendo DS. It must be a racing game the teenager is playing, because every few minutes she tilts the hand-held device as if she were steering a car. Also, she must be losing, because her full lower lip is protruding at an alarming angle and there's a deep line etched vertically in the center of her forehead. An obscenely large mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle is sitting, untouched, on the table that serves as the centerpiece of that particular seating area.

What a crummy New York evening: wet, cold…just nasty New York fall weather all over. Even the dozen or so feet from the cab to the coffee shop entrance warrant pulling out and unfolding the umbrella! Of course, it gets folded back up as soon as she's inside, shaking off once inside. It has, thankfully, saved the overcoat from getting very wet, so standing in line for coffee isn't especially nasty or cold. While waiting, umbrella held in one hand, dripping, adjusting her bag over the other shoulder, Alexandra shakes out her hair a little, and peruses the selection. Something big, and hot of course, but…plain coffee? Something more elaborate? Either way some caffeine would be pretty welcomed right now, with a ton of work to finish before the Friday meeting…in addition to the tons of other things non-work related swirling through her head.

In an opposite corner of the building, at a table for two near the window, is Hallis and Chelsea. Recently arrived from a day of shopping, the two look nothing less than perfect: Thank you designer caps, umbrellas, and leather boots. As the dripping woman enters the building, a glint of recognition makes itself known in Hallis' eyes and she nudges her counterpart and tilts her head in the other woman's direction.

Chelsea is quick to lean across the table and begin whispering, "Oh my gawd, is that the woman that was all over Trenton the other night?" The catty murmur might be hear a table or two away, but no farther than that. With a smirk, Chelsea turns her head and narrows her eyes at the scientist, the air of superiority is thick around this table.


The exclamation is loud enough to earn Lena a look from a nearby couch, where a mother is enjoying a pastry with her young daughter. The brunette catches the tail end of that disapproving glance when she swings her feet around and sits up like a normal person in the chair, snapping the game shut and shoving the device into a back pocket. But, being who and what she is, Lena just pretends that it flew right over her shaggy little head. The mug of hot chocolate is picked up in both hands (its size making that a necessity) and the whipped cream licked at before she takes a sip. Cold! This will not do!

Grumpy expression fixed firmly in place, Lena stands up and proceeds towards the counter. Alexandra gets a glance before the teenager cuts directly in front of her. "Hey! This is cold, I need another one."

"Uh…well…ok, I guess?" Alex looks a tiny bit miffed that she's being cut in on, but…well, there's something about the girl that says she probably needs that cocoa warmed up a bit more than Alex needs her coffee-fix. For the moment, Alex is blisfully unaware of the Hallis and her crony over in the corner, the storm brewing a bit. It's not much of a rivalry, except on Hallis's part! As Alex waits in line, about 3…well, now 4 people back, she pulls her phone out, having gotten a text or something else to keep her distracted and unaware of Hallis.

Indeed, Hallis is quite embittered at the comely woman, this is quite evident as the pair begin to speak a little louder. Not on the subject of Alexandra, of course, on flighty things, mainly to get her attention. "Did you read the bit in the paper about the bar last night?" Hallis says in a rather bored tone of voice, "I guess DNA got fined for all the people they found with drugs in their system."

Chelsea gives the other blonde a solemn nod as she speaks, lifting her non-fat, soy latte to her lips to take a sip. "Yeah, I heard that the police have a bunch of suspects in the drug ring too. I guess some mayor or something is mad about all the drugs." She smirks and glances toward the dripping brunette again, adding cattily, "Oh my god, look at that coat… and I actually thought she might have been someone."

It's so much easier to fake a smile when you're working someone. Lena does just that with Alexandra, rewarding the woman for leashing her annoyance by offering a cheerleader-worthy grin. "Thanks, there's like nothing grosser than cold cocoa, you know? Especially on a shitty day." Words of wisdom, indeed. And spoken as if the lady weren't currently occupied with something other than paying attention to one snotty emo punk. The first person in line is served, leaving Lena to take a step forward. But an idle eye is kept on Alexandra. "You like your phone?" Yeah, she's nosy. Witness the way her head suddenly cocks to better hear a nearby conversation, eyes widening and face splitting in a grin. "Shit, that's hilarious…" *That* remark is meant only for herself.

"Well…I actually happen to find my phone a bit outmoded for what I need it for. Really need to get an update, but it's not so old as to be hilarious!" Alex replies with a bit of annoyance toward Lena. She's looking at Lena with a little bit of annoyance, but she's really not one to fly off the hook about something so silly…she's, well, a little old for that shit, you know? When the line shifts forward, Alex goes with, clopping along in her pump heels, fresh out of work and wet with a few drops running down her overcoat from her shoulders, where the umbrella just wasn't quite big enough.

Hallis's efforts to garner attention seem to work…but not just for Alex. A few people in line and in the seats turn to look at Hallis and Chelsea, including the woman with the little kid who once again has to put on her mean face when the subject of drugs is raised around her daughter so casually.

The mother's glare earns a polite smile from Hallis, who is immediately recognized by the woman's daughter. "Hey! That's Princess Maribel!" This earns a guffaw from Chelsea, who barks a loud laugh and then quiets immediately… though is quite unable to stop shaking. "Can I go see her Mommy? Please please please?!" Hallis will never live down the two time stint as the live representation of a popular children's toy.

"Oh gawd…" Hallis murmurs, the poor tortured soul, always paparazzi and fans everywhere. "Hang on a sec, Chels, game face time." And she gives the girl the widest smile possible as she treads over in her knock off Target-wear.

"What?" Lena darts a startled look at Alexandra, taken aback by the woman's mild scolding. "Oh! No, lady, I meant…um. No, your phone is cool, I've been needing to get one, you know? I was just…uh…listening to…" Here she glances furtively at the table occupied by the princesses, doing a brief double-take upon realizing the identity of one of the. Hallis, in particular. The assault by the little girl earns a smirk. "See that chick there? I saw her like a week ago, barfing in a garbage can on the sidewalk," she says, not bothering to keep her voice down. Throwing Hallis to the wolves, in order to keep attention off of herself? Sure! Why not?

"You don't say…" Alex replies, turning to look at where Lena's pointing. "Oh yeah…doesn't surprise me. I think…she was in a restaurant I went to a few days ago, trying to have a day off. And she was flirting with this one guy, and I guess that rubbed her boyfriend the wrong way, since he came over and tried to pick me up. I wound up smacking his face when he grabbed my butt!" she exclaims with just a hint of reserve. The line moves up one more notch, but now, Alex is watching Hallis go into publicity mode, from back-stabbing bitch to kiddy's best pal.

Hallis spends more than a few minutes with the girl at the table, smiling and chatting, signing a little autograph on a Princess Maribel sticker that the girl just happens to have in her notebook. The smile is as genuine as it can be, since the young woman is being forced into a hug with the girl. Chelsea is nearly beside herself, trying to keep the laughter in, her eyes watering at the brim and threatening to loose a small river of tears.

When the little girl finally moves off, Hallis' face smooths in relief. The mother didn't miss a thing, but puts on a happy face as her daughter returns so pleased with the small amount of celebutante interaction. "Seriously, why don't these people dress their children properly." Hallis murmurs in a low tone, rolling her eyes subtly as the mother and daughter duo pack up their belongings. "I wouldn't mind being nice to these people if they at least didn't smell like poor."

Lena crinkles her nose as Alexandra's tale is told. "For real? That's not right, messing with you like that 'cause *they're* messed up. Want me to fuck with her for you? I totally would, she's like…" Well, she'll just let Hallis' most recent nugget of wisdom stand as evidence. The mug of "hot" chocolate is shifted around in her hands as if she were debating setting it aside. But then there's the matter of the line finally moving, meaning that the brunette must move with it. She slides forward another step, just one person left before she can receive a replacement drink.

"You'll…do what now?" Alex can only raise her eyebrows at that. Boy, this girl is a little out there. Really, though, Alex is totally not the sort to hold grudges, just not her personality. She's too even-keeled to worry about the ups-and-downs like that. So she's not some famous celebutante. Doesn't seem to bother her much. And frankly, the thought of some hot…well, tea now, yeah, some hot spiced chai, that makes her smile. "If you want to, I guess," Alex tells Lena. "I really don't care that much. I guess that's how they raise them out in Hollywood."

"Oh come off it Hal, you're really not one to talk. I mean.. you live in Greenwich Village, hello?" Chelsea, surprisingly, comes to the rescue of the less fortunate. The bright smile that passes between the blondes is laced with a little bit of venom, apparently they're getting on each others' nerves. "I mean, if you were really cool, you'd have a loft in SoHo or the Upper East Side or something."

"Gawd, Chels, you seriously need to get with it." Hallis murmurs in an admonishing tone. "SoHo was so five years ago, Upper East Side? Yeah right, I'm not some forty year old cougar looking to get laid at every bar in the city." With a groan of frustration, the mother cups her hands to her daughters ears, trying to protect the poor girl as they pass by the girls' table on the way to the door.

"Fuck her up, you know? 'Cause she messed with you. But I guess she's not worth it." Lena "reluctantly" allows herself to be talked out of performing retribution on Alexandra's behalf. Mostly because the head of the line has now been served and she can step up to demand fresh cocoa. "This is like…cold. And I need it in a to-go cup, right?" While the barrista attends to that, the teen shoves her hands in her pockets and turns to the side, to resume observing the princesses and conversing with Alexandra. "It sucks, doesn't it? How shitty people are to each other, these days. No one has manners anymore."

"I'm so totally the wrong person to ask about that. Number one, I spend all day in a downtown engineering office with a bunch of other eggheads, and number two, I was raised down south in Louisiana." Being so rude isn't really in Alex's operating files, so while Hallis might be a little princessy around folks, maybe even gabby emo teens like Lena, Alex just makes the best of it. That, and when she gets flustered or angry, stuff seems to, well, rumble and tumble.

"Really?" Lena pauses to give Alexandra a quick once over, blue eyes bright with curiosity. "Huh. You don't *look* like a nerd. But that's cool! I'm from Florida, it's like Louisiana except with a lot more pedophiles." Probably for the best that the poor bystander mother has long since departed with her innocent daughter in tow. This has been such an educational conversation!

It's around that time that the barrista returns with Lena's fresh hot chocolate, now in a paper to-go cup complete with lid. The teenager accepts it gratefully. "You're pretty cool," she tells Alexandra while stepping aside to give up her place. "Thanks for letting me cut and all." Cradling the cup, Lena then veers towards the exit, taking a slight detour to stroll by the rich girls' table.

Her eyes lock with and hold Chelsea's while she approaches, the look on her face grim. She comes closer, and closer, and closer. And just when it looks like Lena's going to walk right into the socialite's legs, she lunges her head forward and yells, "BOO!"

After that, she leaves. Casual. As if nothing just happened.

For a moment, Alex is left standing slackjawed in line while Lena drifts over towards the two women, who seem to have gone quiet at her approach. While the barista sits behind the counter, uselessly calling "Excuse me, miss, are you ready to order?" and all the other standard greetings and what have you, Alex can't help but watch and smirk as Lena strolls on over and makes it a point to get right in their faces. By the time she's BOOing, Alex is giggling a little; she can't really help it. Those girls have done nothing to her, but here she is giggling at them for no good reason other than Lena doing something so…silly! It's quite possible the two at the table see her giggling, before she straightens her face and orders her tea.

Without a doubt, Lena's aim to scare the duo has hit its mark. While Hallis starts and grips her chest, Chelsea lets off a little shriek. "Gawd, freak…" Chelsea murmurs as the emo punk goth makes her exit. "Remind me to never take their side again, 'kay?" The woman murmurs to her friend, she is also the one that first notices the scientist giggling. "I bet she totally had everything to do with this, and to think, Olivia was actually nice to her."

"Yeah, well, no accounting for taste, right? I guess Trenton likes slumming it." Hallis is literally green with envy as she stares at the petite brunette. Her eyes are narrowed and her lips pursed into a thin line. She has no idea that Alexandra and Trenton are not a couple, she had left the restaurant a few minutes before they did and left Randall at the door. "So yeah.. hang on." She gets up and sashays over to the line, standing extremely close to Alexandra so that they might have a little 'chat'.

Hallis is so close that when Alex spins around to walk off toward the sugar and cream, she about spills her tea all down her front. Thankfully, she'd had the foresight to take it to go, so her cup comes with a lid, and the drink sloshes around uselessly. "Uh…hi?" she speaks to Hallis. This is one of the few times when she can mostly be face-to-face with her conversation partner, given that they're both pretty danged tiny.

Hallis places her hands on her hips and furrows her brow together. "I just want to know what you're doing with Trenton. You do read the society pages, right? He's mine." Yes, Hallis is a little possessive, one of the qualities that she's not known for. And there they are, face to face, Hallis with her jaw set, and taking a rather aggressive stance toward the other woman. "Besides, I don't want to be mean or rude or anything, but you're really not his type. That's just a bit of friendly advice." It's true, Alexandra isn't his type. She's a bit too nice and too naive for a man like Trenton Hawthorne.

"Well…first, I don't read the society pages. I'm more of the arts and science sections myself. And second…well, clearly you didn't see what happened with…Trenton? Oh, that's his name huh? Well…in the restaurant the other night, he tried to get a little too touchy-feely with me, and he wound up leaving after me…with a nice handprint on his cheek to go with the one on my butt." Hallis adopts a sort of aggressive stance, and Alex tries to match, as best she can with a bag over her shoulder, umbrella tucked under the opposite arm, and holding tea in her hands.

Hallis sputters once, a small and quite unattractive snort exploding out of her as she hears the tale. Whether it's true or not, she'll have to check the papers. Olivia et. al. have led the champagne tressed woman believe that the scientist and the ex have been inseparable ever since the fateful night at the restaurant. "Seriously?" comes the reply, with a little bit of a laugh, "You slapped him?" She throws a galnce at a very guilty looking Chelsea and the furrow of her brow deepens a little bit. "Huh… I guess I didn't hear the whole story. Thanks." She turns on her heel and makes a beeline for her table. All the while scolding the other girl for making her look like a fool.

"You knew…" hisses Hallis.

"I'm sorry Hal! Olivia made me promise not to tell! Anyway, it's okay now, right?" It's a lame apology and that is what Chelsea's left with as Hallis storms out of the door, shopping bags in hand.

Alex isn't far behind Hallis, but! she's in a bit of a mood now too. She knows she's probably going to be smited (smote? smitten?) for this, but she can't quite help herself, as her inner bitchy cat bubbles to the surface. After Hallis storms out, Alex takes her tea, adds sugar and milk, and turns to leave. Before she does however, she makes sure to look right at Chelsea, smiling just as sweetly as she can, lifting a hand, and giving little finger wave; then she spins on her heels and makes for the door.

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