2007-09-29: Unsavoury Hobbies


Ian_icon.gif Joule_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif

Summary: Lee encounters Joule in a Starbucks attached to a bookstore. They both briefly encounter Ian in Jedi mode.

Date It Happened: September 29, 2007

Unsavoury Hobbies

A Starbucks somewhere in NY with a big name bookstore attached…

Joule has a newspaper open in front of her at one of the tables nearest to the bookstore proper. She has a red pen tucked behind one ear, and is thoughtfully fingering her way down column after column of ads. But then something seems to catch her eye. A headline. FIRE IN HARTSDALE. She wrinkles her nose thoughtfully, and dogears the page she's on to keep her place. Then she turns the paper so she can scan quickly through the article.

Lee is on his cellphone, working. "I know you've got budget left, I just need one purchase order, man. One purchase order. That's all. Trade? I got forty yardsticks from circa 1987, never been used?" He is browsing in the 'cheap paperback versions of classics' section, examining the various editions intently. "I'm saying the kids need the…hang on. No, Middlemarch. Look, I have to go. Is this purchase order going to go or not? Yeah. /Yes/. Thanks. Thanks a million. I'll pick it up tonight." He is looking at the discount row. He espies Joule, does a quick double-take at her eccentric dress, the red pen, and says, "You a teacher too? Or an editor." with a charming half-grin, leaning on the bar separating the li'l bookstore from the coffee.

There's a microsecond of irritated pause, as if Joule had to mentally leash her annoyance at being interrupted before she actually does look up. Another tiny moment while she parses what he says, and the flintiness growing in her eyes is doused, replaced by crinkled amusement. "Teacher? Me? God, no," she tells him, amused at the suggestion. "Photographer by trade, but freelance is a little precarious. Thought I'd look for something a bit more steady, y'know?"

"Can't hurt." Lee says. "If you're handy with a red pen, there's plenty of kids ready to turn in exposes about the terrible state of food in today's cafeterias and investigative reporting about the debate team's underdog victory over the school rivals." He puts out a hand, still smiling. "Hey, sorry to interrupt. Name's Lee."

"You're suggesting…" Joule says, slowly, in that let's-make-sure-I-have-this-straight sort of way, "…that I take up teaching journalism while looking for a real job?" She appears to consider it for a moment, before shaking her head. "Sounds like a trap to me, Lee." She kicks out the chair across the table from her. "Joule." Pronounced 'Jool' rather than 'jewel' and not even close to like 'Julie'.

Lee replies: "It /is/ a trap." He seats himself - backwards in the chair, straddling the back. "Have you taken any pictures I'd remember?"

Joule gives a shake of her head. "Doubtful. I haven't been in the city very long, and I've mostly been doing weddings, bar mitzvahs, that sort of thing. Which pays well, but you get really bored, really fast, and it's not professional to drink to ease the screaming mental pain." She gives him a slow, appraising look up and down. "What about you, then? Is there some teaching thing you've done I'd be aware of?"

"I hope not." Lee says musingly. "I'm kind of in the middle of looking for a new job too, except I'm already hired and have - pretty uselessly - been drawing a paycheck for two years at various schools. Can I ask where you're from? Can't place your accent." Lee's, by contrast, is the Village, through and through. Natives can probably even narrow it down to a particular /block/.

"And they've kept you on. In this messed up economy? You must still have been doing something right, mate," Joule chuckles, shaking her head. "Me? England. London." She pauses, as if considering, before she continues, adding, "By way of New Delhi. Spent a bit over a year there before I came here."

"That would be the combo I was looking for. Listening for." he says with a grin. "Actually it's sort of hard to get fired when you're a teacher just for doing a lousy job teaching. Now that's a story that could use some reporting on. Anyway, I'm turning over a new leaf. Fighting the system - the assistant principal wants me gone, the PTA thinks I need a stay in the loony bin, the state assessment people are tired of taking my phone calls…"

"You sound like a man with a mission," Joule muses, brow quirked. "So you've gone from useless to driven. Those must be some very interesting students. Or you've had a head injury." She gives him a smile that's half flirtatious, half smirk; clearly writing all over her face that she thinks he's cute, but perhaps not too bright.

Lee replies, "Can't it be both? Anyway, we'll see if it sticks. So why New York City?"

"Followed m'dad here when he came," Joule explains, getting up to purchase a coffee without preamble. This time of night, it's pretty quiet, so she gets it in short order and returns. "Didn't have anything tying me to India or England, so got my green card, decided to stay. May even go for my citizenship. Haven't decided." She glances suddenly into the store proper, as if the conversation has reminded her of something. "Good luck with your sticking, then," she tells him, turning back and visibly putting aside whatever made her pause.

Lee blinks. "Thanks. What, uh…" He glances into the store too. "Sorry, did you see someone back in there?"

"No. Just…my dad's favourite book," Joule says quietly, following that with a quick sip of her frippery cream-topped autumnal coffee drink. Smells like pumpkin pie. "Occurred to me I should pick up a copy. Haven't read it in a while." She shrugs, though, and sits back down. "Nothing that can't wait."

Lee smiles, falling silent and looking deep into his own cup of coffee. "I'm jealous. My dad never read anything more significant than a comic book. Ran a shop full of them." he remarks, but that's not where his mind is. Father issues. You'd think this show had something to say about that.

"Never? That must've made him really interesting at parties," Joule mutters. Although the phrasing is sarcastic, there's something gentle and sad in the tone of her voice. "But the thing of it is — they're all human, and they're all fallible, and as our kids, we forget that. We expect more because they're /our/ dads, hmm?"

"He only invited Star Trek fanatics and Warhammer players to his parties. They were terrible." he says. He shrugs a little at Joule's statement. "I don't know. I had really low expectations of him my whole life. Maybe that was unfair, even though he's done his best to live up to them recently."

Joule looks at Lee for a long, silent moment, before she answers him. "I know that feeling. My own dad and I had a falling out for a bit, too. I thought he'd gone completely daft, but I gave him a chance. I didn't find out until too late that he wasn't daft. He wasn't daft at all." She takes another hit off that pumpkin cinnamon latte monstrosity.

Lee replies, "I thought my dad was a little kooky too. It turns out he was really scary crazy, and just hid it very well…" but it's more of a space-filler until he can find the right, gentle way to ask "…too late? What happened? If I can ask."

Joule's eyes widen slightly as Lee describes his father being genuinely crazy. But then he tacks on the question. Maybe it's the fact that they seem to have these weird intersections, but she shrugs and answers this man she's just met. "Crackhead killed him, robbing our flat a few months ago." She swallows hard for a moment, follows that with a sip of coffee. "It occurs to me I should maybe finish what he came here to do."

Lee says, "I'm so sorry, Joule." sympathetically, his eyes turning soft. He listens closely and lets the words hang in the air as he mulls them over. "That's…a woman with a mission." He gives it right back to her, and makes it sound positive when he says it, even with a smile. "I assume it's a good one."

The flintiness returns to Joule's eyes for a second, but it goes back out again as her gaze picks out that he's not just reflexively spouting platitudes. "Like to think it is. It was all he thought about for years, since my mum died. It'd be worth goin' to his grave and telling him he was right." She smiles faintly, but tightly. "But it's precarious too. People'd think I was daft."

"You did." he admits. "And you think /my/ mission is daft. That's an excellent word. Maybe we should team up."

"I did," Joule concedes, smiling genuinely. "Maybe the world needs a bit more daft in the good way, and a bit less of the bloody crazy we have to deal with most days." She tilts her head to regard him uncertaintly. "Team up, then? What've you got in mind?"

Lee says, at his most charming: "Right now? I'd just be happy with a phone number."

Ian is….well. He's in robes. Black ones, over black tunic and trousers. With what can only be a lightsaber at his belt. He insinuates himself in line, utterly insouciant, and bounces on his toes, impatiently. Quite obviously fiending for the java, and really unconscious of how silly he looks. Like he just got done attending a Sith graduation.

"Oh, you're good," Joule begins to say, and then she stops, because a Sith Lord just walked into the coffee shop. "I'm sorry, were we to begin fighting evil right away? I don't think I'm exactly strong in the Force." She tosses her head, pointing her chin at the guy in black. "Then again, I shouldn't be surprised, should I? This /is/ New York City."

Lee looks like he wants to fall over and die when he sees Ian. "Oh Christ." he groans. "Another goddamn Jedi. Growing up, every time I dumped one of these guys in the dumpster out back of the shop, two more popped up."

He's followed by a handful of more Jedi, and a couple of troopers - both clones and some of the original movie style goons. "There's a signing next door," Ian explains, overhearing the chatter and turning a positively beatific grin on the pair. He's awfully sweet-tempered for an apprentice Sith. "One of the Star Wars authors."

It wasn't crowded, so Joule's not surprised he picked up her conversation with Lee. Plus, she wasn't really whispering. "Ah. That explains it, then." She nods at the smiley Sith. "You seem a bit too happy for a proper Sith Lord." There's an irony to her tone that implies she knows full well the line is 'aren't you a bit short for a Stormtrooper?'

Returning her attention to Lee, she chuckles. "Wow. You really don't care for the sci-fi at all, then, do you?"

Lee groans even louder, like Ian just punched him in the stomach. "Not at all." he admits to Joule, and adds: "It just gives me chills that this dingbat waited in line wearing that to get some garbage signed by the garbageman and I was the only one that turned up at The Book Nook last week to get Nina Bouraoui to sign a copy of Mes Mauvaises Pensees."

Joule gets a florid and elaborate bow at that. "I know. I'm still in training," Ian says, facetiously. Lee gets a quirk of a black brow, but he doesn't look like he's willing to get into it.

"Way I look at it is everybody likes what they like, and as long as nobody's forcing me to spend my dosh on it, do whatever makes you happy." Joule considers for a moment. "I should —" she chuckles as Ian bows at her. "I should be delighted if my neighbors put up with what I'd like to do to unwind, but I'd get bloody evicted."

Lee replies, long-suffering rather than nasty: "I guess I should be used to it. My sister does the Jedi thing too. What's your particular unsavory hobby then?"

Sith apprentices like caramel macchiatos, apparently. At least, that's what Ian gets. He glances over. "Does she? Did she come out for this?" he wonders, indicating the little stream of geeks in garb with a dramatically outflung arm. Like Death in the Seventh Seal, only with the utterly incongruous white coffee cup in his other hand.

Joule quirks a brow at Lee, then glances into the crowd to see if his sister will admit to being in the crowd. As for her own unsavory hobby, she does not comment. Not when her new acquaintance's sister might be a Tuscan Raider.

"No, she's in Philadelphia. Opening a new branch of the comic store I mentioned earlier. The Secret Lair, in the Village. When mom and dad disappeared, she picked it up and actually ran it into the black." Lee says. It's clear that no matter how little he thinks of the store, he's gangbusters about his sister.

Ian steps aside from the counter, out of the way of a Sandwife getting a couple of tall lattes, and stalks for one of the free tables. "I shop there a lot," he says, innocently. "Nice place. Luck with that new one."

Joule tilts her head. How sweet. He's devoted to his sister. She hasn't got a take on this one, as she has no sibs of her own. "Very impressive. It's not an easy task, making a small business work in a city as big as this. Certain things one picks up right quick in this town." She smiles, though, as Ian speaks. "And a glowing customer testimonial, too. I'll have to visit this Secret Lair, then, won't I?"

Lee replies, "I can't argue with success… Sure, come on by. I'll give you the snob's tour and explain exactly why everything in there is inferior." He looks /so/ serious that he /has/ to be cracking wise. He then confirms it by grinning. He nods to Ian: "I'll pass it on next time I talk to her."

Ian gives Lee a puzzled look. "If you don't like what you're selling, why not do something else?" he wonders, tentatively.

"The man asks a good question," Joule admits, folding up her newspaper and tucking it into her bag. "But the teaching keeps you out of the store well enough, is it?" She glances from her bag to Lee. "And this is all old wounds not quite scabbed over?"

Lee says, "Oh no. It's not my store. It's my sister's store. I just live above it. Honestly if it were up to me, I'd have closed it a long time ago. But she wanted to keep it going, and she did." He nods to Joule, "Thought it had…but you know how it is. The past isn't dead, and isn't even really past." Faulkner, casually cited, un-ironically, he's a /real/ snob, not just a wannabe. He rises. "You'll stop in then?" he asks Joule. "In lieu of your number." He'd like that more.

Ian smiles to himself, amused, and turns away - finally seating himself in one of the little clusters of stormtroopers.

Joule tosses back the remainder of the autumn themed Starbucks thing she was drinking, and flows to her feet like an underwater sleepwalker. "In fact, it's just getting late enough to bother the neighbours with that unsavoury hobby. Think I'll go do that." She does pause, however, to flip a card out of her camera bag. A deft motion of her other hand flips the pen out of her hair. On it she scribbles something quickly, and flicks the card to land on the table in front of Lee. "I'll see about stopping in, too, though." Ian gets one more indulgent smile, before she heads for the door, frowning pensively at her PDA.

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