2007-02-24: Vague Answers To Vague Problems

Starring:

Cass_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif

Summary:

Ramon stops by the store to check in on Cass and the two have a roundabout discussion about what has been happening to them lately.

Date It Happened: February 24th, 2007

Vague Answers to Vague Problems


Enlightenment Books

Normally, Enlightenment is closed on Sundays. And that's still the case today, as the sign on the door is flipped to read closed and the doors are locked. However, the lights are on inside the little bookstore and anyone who actually peers inside the doorway will find Cass inside, balancing on a chair and the information desk, leaning over and trying to unhook the painting that's hanging there. It should be an easy process, but she's trying to be careful not to drop it and the thing is hung awkwardly high. "Come on, come on…You just /had/ to be really tall and hang this stupid thing really high, didn't you, Tom?" she mutters to herself as she works.

That works out, cause Ramon almost always only comes around when the store is closed or closing. The RTS van comes rolling up — it sat idle for so long! And he peers inside. "What the hell?" he murmurs softly. He taps twice on the door, just using his finger.

Luckily for both Cass and Ramon, she's just gotten a hand on the painting when Ramon taps on the window. It makes her start, as she wasn't expecting it, but she doesn't fall off her perch, breaking either herself or the painting. It takes her a couple of moments for her to navigate herself down off the counter, but when she does, the painting has come with her. Deciding not to hang on to it whens he goes to unlock the door, she props it up against the back wall, pushes her hair out of her face and then goes to look to see who's tapping. It only takes a moment to identify Ramon and when she does, she immediately unlocks the door and holds it open for the man to enter. "Ramon! Hey. Wow am I glad to see you. Come on in."

Ramon does enter. He says, "Cass, why didn't you get someone to hold your ladder if you wanted to change your decorating?" His brow furrows into a faint frown. That's his way of saying he's glad to see her too, actually. He looks better than the last time she saw him — well rested, and while not relaxed, at least he doesn't look on the verge of snapping. "I wanted to check on you. Make sure you're okay."

Once Ramon is inside, Cass closes the door and locks it behind them. "That would imply that I had a ladder to hold." Once the door is taken care of, she steps more into the store proper. The mention of him checking on her brings a wry grin to her face. "I've been hearing that a lot. If I didn't know any better, I'd say people didn't think I could take care of myself." This is said lightly, knowing that he's just keeping an eye out for her. "How are you doing? Any new breakthroughs?"

"People just like you," Ramon says gruffly. He pauses and says, "I don't know. I went back to work. Things seem to have settled back to — as close to normal as they're going to get. Any more weirdness for you?" He shoves his hands into the pocket of his jacket and looks directly at her.

"Well, thank you." Cass heads back to the employee door and opens it. "Coffee?" She remembers at least that much from when he was here last. "I'm glad to hear that things are slowly getting back to normal for you. You looked so…tired when you were in here last time." Not to say that she doesn't understand why, but that she was curious. Getting out two mugs, she pours Ramon and herself full mugs and heads back into the store proper. As for weirdness, she doesn't know how to reply to that. She doesn't know what she can or wants to talk about from her encounter with Jack and Hiro the previous night. "Well, no one's been in asking about you or about that book I found. So, that's good." She holds out a mug for Ramon to take.

Ramon takes the mug with a grateful smile. "Yeah — I — that bit of mystery got solved at least. I'm not sure you're in any danger. Part of what spooked me was all about this man Benjamin being in some trouble, and he's apparently back home safe and sound so…" He shakes his head from side to side. "The rest was my wife's murder, and things were unfolding about the case." He glances down at the painting leaning against the wall. "That's kind of a grim picture."

Cass nods her head at Ramon. "That's understandable. When a friend's in danger, that can definitely spook you. I'm glad to hear that he's back safe and sound." It doesn't connect that Ramon's Benjamin might be the one that she met - there are a lot of Benjamin's in the city. "Yeah. I went to talk with my father after we talked on the phone and he actually ended up making matters worse. It's just that everyone's been acting so strange lately and everyone keeps implying that by me simply having something or knowing something I'm in danger." When Ramon mentions the painting, she frowns, looks down at it and shivers just a bit. Covering it with taking a sip of her coffee, she walks over to it to study it a bit. She hasn't really wanted to look at it at all since last night. "Yeah. I haven't really looked at it since Tom bought it years ago. I…I just thought it was time to move it." Plus, she doesn't want the wrong people to see it now.

He watches her while he sips his coffee, listening both to what she says and what she doesn't say. "Is that painting part of the weirdness?" he asks. He's learned how to address what he hears without making it seem like he heard it outright in a very short time, after all. He asks it evenly, his voice rumbling low.

Cass frowns, not looking at Ramon while she thinks of how to phrase her response. She moves closer to the painting and studies it a bit more, using that as a cover to let her gather her thoughts. "Mmm…" she hems undecidedly, not really wanting to lie, but unsure of what she can say without sounding completely and utterly crazy. "Sort of. I just realized that all those paintings that were stolen were done by the same artist as the man who did this painting. Someone pointed out that someone might try and break in and steal it." Not exactly the whole truth, but not a lie either. She doesn't feel good telling it, but she doesn't want to mix up Ramon in whatever it is she's gotten herself into.

Ramon puts down his coffee cup and nods. "Put it away," he says. Like that book, the painting is something he now knows to put under the header of 'trouble'. He waits for a long moment and then says, "Nothing you could tell me is going to make me think you're crazy. Too much has happened to me over these days. Anyway my main concern is that you stay safe."

Cass turns away from the painting, realizing that she's just as disturbed by it as Ramon is, though perhaps for different reasons. If this painting really can tell the future, what future does it depict? It was done years ago, so has the events already taken place? It brings up so many questions that she, once again, has no answers to. "Yeah, I plan on it. That last thing I need is someone breaking my windows to get at this thing." Sighing, she takes a longer drink of coffee. "You know, I really prefer tea, but if I keep on needing to stay up, I may start liking coffee more." Ramon's words are comforting and she doesn't think about them for too long. Her thoughts are so wrapped up in each other, that she might not even realize that's he addressing something she thought rather than something she said. "Thanks, Ramon. I think I'll be okay." She pauses and looks over her mug at him. "I run a store dealing with the occult. I thought I would never hear something that would be too crazy. But, lately, you know, it's like everything's just conspiring to see how much crazy I can take."

Ramon listens to this without interrupting. He finally sits down, just like he did the first time he showed up. He rumbles, "I imagine that's because as weird things happen to people, this is the sort of place they might come to look for answers." He pauses, and then says, "The thing is, when you're trying to evaluate what's crazy or what isn't, you've just got to look at the facts. /You/ are not crazy. So you just have to decide what the facts are and then take the world as it is. Not as you think it ought to be, not as you assume it is. Just the way it is."

Cass takes her own seat behind her desk. Sinking into it, she slides her mug over so that while it's within reach, it's not right be the edge. "Yeah. I was thinking of that. Which is what makes me so weirded out that I can't figure out what the facts are or how to figure out /what/ the facts are. If people are starting to come here for help and I don't know how to help them, then I feel a little lost." She sighs and starts to take down her hair out of all it's crazy pins and clips. It's hard to rest her head against the back of the chair with them there. It's something she does absently while she's thinking. "It's just that the crazy people don't think they're crazy, you know? It's like Catch-22."

Ramon scrubs a hand over his face. He sort of makes a half-growly sound in the back of his throat, like he's not sure what to do. He drops his hand and says, "Half our problem is we're talking vague. I'm giving you vague advice for a vague problem. Just like I gave you vague information over the phone. Because we're both trying to protect each other, you know? And I already went and gave you a headache the once."

Cass has made a pile of pins and clips on the desk which she scoops up and places in an empty cup so they won't go scattering. "All I really have right now is vague information, though. I'm working on making it less vague. I wish I had something less vague to share." She purses her lips in thought. "And you giving me the headache wasn't entirely your fault. It was just everything kind of happening at once. I don't really seem to have a strong constitution when it comes to the strangeness." Headaches, swooning, maybe she's just not cut out for all of this.

"You deal how you deal." Ramon says, hitching up his shoulder and letting it fall. "If you're still up and running then I'd say you're doing fine." He scratches at his beard. "It can be an isolating thing, when you encounter things that are crazy, and don't understand them. Especially when it comes with a lot of dire warnings. Its odd. You're very grounded. I'd have expected you to be the /first/ one to be willing to put credence in things out of the ordinary."

Cass finally gives a grin, picking up her mug and sinking down into her chair. "You know, I take most things pretty in step. Every fourth person who comes into the store and tells me about alien abductions and dinosaurs living in the center of the earth and I'll listen to them. It doesn't bother me. And I normally think of myself as being at least a little grounded. But the past couple of days the ground just…shifted." She frowns at Ramon's last words, thinking for a moment. "Yeah. You know, I really should be less judgemental. More open minded. At least not dismiss some things out of hand." Even if those things seem so completely impossible.

Ramon nods his head, and he rumbles gently, "And then the other thing I guess is to ask yourself if what's bothering you is even relevant to you. If it even requires any action on your part." He crosses over to a copy of Activating Evolution and holds it up. "When I first told you to stop selling this, I honestly thought it was trouble for you. I am not sure if I was right or not."

Cass blinks at Ramon's suggestion about thinking over her part in all this. Does she have a part? She told Hiro and Jack that she is in to help, but she wasn't really sure that she meant it when she said it. Thinking back over it, over everything they said and how they're out to save the world, she wonders if she can just sit back and stay safe knowing that she could be helping some sort of catastrophy. "Yeah. You're right." If she really believes in this all or not. Standing up, she follows Ramon to the bookshelf. "What made you change your mind?"

"More questions." A pause. Save the world? What the hell is /that/ thought about? "I thought I had answers and just ended up with more questions." He puts the book down and is silent again for a moment. And now he's got a few more. "What happened with your father?"

Cass smiles. "I know the feeling. Just about every answer brings up more questions. But, you didn't even really answer mine. What made this book less dangerous than it was before?" The question about her father makes the smile fade into more of a shrug. "Oh, he just told me that I was being crazy. Though he was interested in Dr. Suresh's book just as much as I was for some reason. He said it could be dangerous, too, even if he thought it was complete tripe."

Ramon turns to look at her again. "Because nothing's happened to you so far. Because…someone who I thought was in great danger just ended up right back at his home saying he was absolutely fine. Because I make one assumption and then find out something else and don't know what to think anymore, Cass. This book seems to be on the edges of it, only I don't really know what I know and don't know." His mouth twists into a grimace of frustration. "I think…its a lot more serious than the rest of what you sell here. I think its going to continue to attract a — certain kind of person. And those certain kind of people," he's speaking very slowly now, but not looking at her, "Can be trouble. But I don't know why. I don't know how much. The more I see, the more I learn, the more I'm convinced I don't know crap. But the book's out of the box now, isn't it. All this is already swarming around you. You've seen what you've seen. You can't put it back in the box, so you might as well not attract even /more/ attention by freaking out and trying to shove everything back in. Play it cool."

This time it's Cass' turn to listen to Ramon without interrupting him. As she does so, she wears a thoughtful expression, if a troubled one. "I know what you mean. Lately everything that I thought I knew turns out to be different. Or at least changed from what I knew." She frowns and watches Ramon. "I know. And I'm not sure I want it to go away or put it back in the box. If I didn't know anything, I wouldn't be able to help. It's always the people who know nothing don't know the right things that get killed in the movies…and I don't want to be one of those people." She sighs. "I've heard about the dangerous people who might be attracted to this book. And it scares me. But, like you said, I can't just stop."

Ramon trails down the shelves. His eyes land on another book and he stares at with incredulity for a second. Then he plucks it up. Apparently Ramon has a need to buy "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Telepathy." He gives this absolutely /no/ explanation as he says, "I'm sorry I scared you. I was just trying to…do right by you, you know? I hope you don't mind if I keep checking up on you."

Cass blinks at the sudden change in subject. She doesn't comment if she's curious about why he's buying the book, but the inquisitiveness is written all over her face. So, she continues with their current conversation. "You didn't scare me. Or, well, you didn't scare me a lot. In any respects, I know you're just trying help." She smiles. "And I certainly don't mind if you stop by as long as you don't call it checking up on me. You can call it visiting."
"Visiting. Okay." Ramon stands there with his hand on the telepathy book. He can't bring himself to lie about it, nor can he bring himself to tell the truth. So he just…keeps not explaining it, leaving one broad palm sitting on the cheerful orange and white cover. He opens his mouth like he might say something else, and then clamps it shut.

"Makes it sound more like we're friends than like you're my parent or something." Cass moves to the information desk so that Ramon can pay for his book. When Ramon opens his mouth, she looks at him expectantly, but he doesn't say anything. She's not sure if she should push, since he hasn't asked or tried to pry any information out of her when she's been obviously avoiding direct information just as much as he is. So, she just restores her smile and resolves that he'll tell her when he wants to tell her. She gives the total and writes out the receipt.

He looks down at his left hand for a long, long moment. And then he looks up for a second. Gruffly, he says, "If you want coffee. Or something. Sometime. I could take you." He digs out his wallet then, watching the wallet as he digs out cash for his inexplicable purchase.

Cass smiles as she takes the money and gives him back his change. Taking a bag, she puts the receipt in it and then holds it out so that he can put the book inside of it himself. Just in case. Then, she holds the bag out for him to take. "I'd like that. You can never have too many friends. Especially ones that look out for you so readily. You know, if you need anything, really, call me."

He takes the bag from her. "Friday," he says. "We're not having coffee here. Elsewhere. I've been drinking up all yours here. Friends are good." He sort of tips an imaginary hat at her all old fashioned like and says, "Do you want me to get that thing locked up in your safe for you before I go?" He indicates the painting.

Cass nods. "Friday sounds great." She grins and puts her hands back down onto the counter. "Elsewhere also sounds good. My coffee isn't really the best there is in town." Looking back at the painting still against the wall, she frowns and shakes her head. Turning back to Ramon, her face sets itself into a small smile. "No, that's alright. I'll get it. Thank you."

Ramon nods his head. "I was just remembering how you nearly fell over earlier," he says. "Of course you're probably not going to need to reach up for your safe or store room." And with that, he slips out. Its like he's got some sort of anathema to 'hello' or 'goodbye' like normal people.

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