2007-02-10: What He Still Carries


Cass_icon.gif Elena_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif


Ramon drives Elena up to Enlightenment Books to pick up the school book she needs, but ends up asking Cass for something else entirely.

Date It Happened: February 10th, 2007

What He Still Carries

Enlightenment Books

Ramon had a job on this side of town, so when he heard that Elena needed a school book from a particular shop, he offered to drive her. So it is that the sleek blue RTS van comes crawling up to the curb outside of Enlightment Books. Ramon stares at the shop for a long moment as he gets out. His eye twitches faintly. "Just what are they teaching you at college that you need some sort of school book here?" He walks around the car to open the door for his daughter, as if she were either a fine lady, or six. He also opens the door of the shop for her.

"It's not like I need it from here in particular, Papa," Elena says, shouldering her backpack and getting out of the car, smiling over at the older man. "It's just that -no one else- seems to have it. I read up on the doctor. See?" She shows him a folder detailing all of her research on this Dr. Suresh. "His credentials look very impressive….I mean there was a time when he could've been on the path to a Nobel Prize, but then he started becoming controversial. But after getting controversial, the scientific community stopped taking him seriously so now his books on Next-Step evolution are considered 'hack science' so they stick them in bargain bins, and some don't even carry them at all….this is the only shop I know that has it. I ran into the woman who owns it that night of the accident."

Elena continues chatting with her father as he opens the door for her. "And the paper class I'm taking is Theoretical Genetics. So….who better to study in that subject, right?"

Behind the information counter, Cass has got a couple of books laying open that she's poring over. Actually, they're less like books and more like catalogues. A closer look would reveal that that's exactly what they are: book catalogues from various publishers. She's got a highlighter out and is circling and flagging any books that look interesting and that she may want to order. When the door opens, she sits up straighter to greet the new customers. "Hello! Welcome to Enlightenment Books. Can I help you with anything?"

The older man looks around as if he's not sure what to make of all this. He grunts and simply gestures to his daughter. She needs something. He's fine. Every mention of the accident gets his eyes going very tight again, and his jaw clenching, and this interesting vein popping out on his neck. However, he does reach in his jacket pocket and start toying with something in there, and begins to sort of roam around the shop. And around Elena. Like a satellite. Or a large hairy guard dog.

She has the good grace to look embarassed when Dad hovers over her like a rabid rottweiler, but Elena only flashes him a smile before proceeding to the counter. "Hi, Miss Aldric. Remember me?" she asks cheerfully. "I was wondering if you managed to get more copies of that book. Sorry our conversation got a little short the other day with everything that happened. You doing okay?" She sets her backpack on the counter and looks at Cass hopefully. She's -tired- of chasing after this book. Ebay would probably have it, but she didn't want to wait that long for bidding and shipping.

The older man's actions really draw more of Cass' attention to himself than it does detract from it. Maybe that was the point, but the fact that he feels like he needs to guard his daughter in a hippie shop makes her a little curious and wary. However, she's all smiles and warmth when she focuses on Elena. "Yes! Oh, yes, hi. I do. Sorry, it's been a really weird week for me, you know?" Capping her highlighter, she drops it into the crease of one of her catalogues. "Please, just call me Cass. I actually just got a shipment in this morning. I ordered more than I normally do. This thing is just flying off the shelves! Funny, I picked it up on a whim and now it's like it's everywhere." She starts toward the Employee Only door, since she hasn't unpacked all the boxes she's gotten yet. "Oh, you know, I'm okay. How have you been doing? Pardon me just a second! I'll yank it out of it's box for you."

He finally takes whatever he was toying with out of his pocket. He holds onto it and comes to a stop next to Elena. He just stops there now, standing at the counter, three ridges appearing between his brows. He puts his unoccupied hand on his daughter's free shoulder, but this isn't a protective action. Its something else entirely.

"Okay Cass, thanks a lot," Elena says with a smile, watching as the owner moves over to the Employees only door, folding her arms over the counter. She blinks a little when she feels her Dad's hand on her shoulder, and she looks up at him. "What's up, Da —" Her dark eyes fall on the object he's toying with, and her eyes widen. "Dad….I didn't know —" She realizes her voice is quite loud when she says this, so she lowers her voice and murmurs. "Dad what are you -doing- with that? I thought….I thought you threw it away a year ago when the police closed the file…"

It only takes a little while for Cass to open the box and pull out a copy of Activating Evolution. When she comes back into the shop, the atmosphere has changed quite significantly. It's a small store and while she doesn't know what's going on, she can tell by tones of voices that it doesn't sound good. Closing the door behind her, she announces her presence, maybe a little louder than she needs to. "I, uh, I've got your book." The shop owner holds it up in one hand, cover forward, as if she's displaying it. "Yay?"

Ramon just squeezes his daughter's shoulder again. "Thank you," he says. He's got this low, rough, growly voice, somewhat flat and tinged with the faintest hint of his Hispanic accent. He looks up at the store owner for a long moment. "I have this thing," he tells Cass. What he's clutching appears to be some sort of necklace, or pendant, by the long leather strap trailing out of his clenched fist and onto the counter. His broad hand conceals it for now. "I'm wondering if you might be able to tell me what the symbol means. This seems a good place to find the answer."

"Thank you so much, Cass," Elena says with a hint of a grin, and she's already digging out her wallet when her father……inquires about -that-. The symbol. She falls quiet, setting her wallet down and pulling out the necessary bills. She falls quiet though, a look of apprehension is on her face, and concern when she watches her father's profile as he looks at Cass.

Cass gives Ramon a skeptical look. Not because she doesn't want to help, but because she owns a book store and not a jewelry store. Then again, a jewelry might not actually know what a symbol means, that would take research. She doesn't answer right away; instead she looks from Elena to Ramon. This seems serious, though she can't say why. "Well, I can't say for sure. I'd have to see the symbol. And I'm no expert on symbols by any means. If you're looking for a rare book or something, I'm dynamite at that. But, a single symbol is a little more difficult." While she talks, she hands over the hardcover book to Elena. At least there's one thing found for certain.

Ramon opens his hand and lays the symbol on the counter. Its an ugly necklace. Its made of twisted black metal, and is unweildy and poorly made. It's circular. Then there's a triangle inside of it. Then a square in the triangle, then a circle in the square. The pieces are joined, almost welded together. He looks up and meets Cass' eyes, his own eyes serious and intense. "I thought you might have seen it in a book," he says, sounding gruff.

She watches between the two 'adults', before Elena speaks up softly. "A crime was committed at our house a couple of years ago," she tells Cass, giving her a little bit of background. Sure, it wasn't really necessary to give someone she just met a few details, but by how Cass ran into stopped traffic to make sure people in an accident were okay, she seems a helpful sort and hopefully her father isn't scaring her wearing the expression he was right now. "That thing was left there. We were just wondering what it was."

Cass takes the few steps needed to take a look at the symbol. The gravity of the situation has definitely leaked into the atmosphere. She takes a long look at the pendant as it sits on the counter. Reaching out, she pauses and looks over at Ramon to see if she has permission before picking it up to take a closer study. Though it's really only meant to be hung one way from the leather strap, she turns it upside down and backwards, trying to see if she can make some sense of it from other angles. "It…no, I don't know what it is. I'm sorry." Her face is set into a concentrated frown. "I feel like I've seen it before, though." Carefully, she holds it out again for Ramon to take back. "I'm sorry to hear about the crime." Her lips squish to one side of her mouth while she pauses to think some more. "I can look into it, though. If you'd like. I research books for people, it's not quite a stretch to research a symbol."

The man wraps the leather strap around the pendant, around and around, like there's an air of ritual about it. "I think Miss Aldric's made of too tough stuff to be afraid of a look on someone's face," he says to Elena dryly. "And you shouldn't say such things, chiquita. Its not polite." Ramon then looks up at Cass and holds out his hand. "Thank you, ma'am. You'd have my deepest appreciation." Now he takes out a white man's hanky and ties it around the symbol. He's drawn a cross on the thing in dark black marker. He ties it tightly and returns the whole package to his jacket pocket. Then he changes his mind and puts it in the inner parket. He takes out a card with his phone and pager and home phone number on it. It says 'Ramon Gomez, RTS' on it. And under that 'IT Specialist.' He hands this over to Cass.

"….." Elena gapes at Ramon. "…..Papa, I didn't say anything," she says sincerely, still looking at him befuddled. What? She didn't say that out loud. She is still looking at him, and then she glances at Cass. Did she say something out loud without meaning to? "I'm sorry," she utters, in case she did, but she looks confused - like she doesn't know what she's apologizing for.

Cass watches the ritual wrapping of the symbol with curiosity. She can't help it. However, she's confused by his comment. She didn't hear anyone say anything. Was she studying him so intently she missed something being said? It doesn't appear so since Elena's just as confused, but she tries to break the tension, or at least the confusion by speaking up. "I don't know about tough stuff, but I'm not exactly…" she trails off, trying to think of the right word, a better word than the one she's got, okay, she can't think of a better one and just ends up ending with, "Squishy." It's the best she could do under pressure. Reaching forward, she takes the business card and puts it in the pocket of her sweater. "You're welcome. And…don't worry about it. I'll call you once I find something."

The man reaches up to slowly tug at his ear, those three ridges settling between his brows again, which inch across his face like a pair of sluggish catapillars as he looks from woman to woman. He half shakes his head and makes a noncommittal noise. He looks down at Elena's book and then pulls out a debit card, sort of jerking his chin at the thing as he holds the card out to Cass.

"Papa, I can get it. I made extra from tips," Elena says. After all, she took the job so she could help out the family….and to provide for herself for her school stuff. With Ramon shelling out to pay Gonzalo's electric bill again and everything the least she could do is offer. She looks at Cass again, and she smiles at her cheerfully. "Thanks so much, Cass. We really appreciate it."

Cass moves behind the counter again so that she can ring up Elena's purchase. The weirdness isn't exactly gone from before, but she's perfectly fine with moving on from it. Pulling out her carbon copy receipts, she writes everything down and states the total. "Don't worry about it. This is what I do, after all." She smiles right back at the brunette.

In response to Elena's offer to pay, Ramon's mouth merely twists, and he just sort of waves his hand in her direction before handing off her debit card. A moment later he puts an arm around her shoulder and gently squeezes her for about thirty seconds before letting her go. The thing will come back approved and just fine, and he pulls out a dayplanner to retrieve a pen so he can sign the little slip.

She sigh, but Elena smiles ruefully at her father - as always when it came to money she was deferential to the only parent she has left, and she stows away the wallet. "This store's really nice," she says, making small talk. "Cozy, and it's close to everything. I hear the sandwich shop down the street is awesome. Have you been running it long?"

Cass hands over the slip to sign, along with the debit card. Once she's gotten it back, she hands over their receipt and slides hers into the proper drawer. "Thank you." The smile that she gives Elena is one of pride and warmth. Everyone loves to hear compliments about something important them. "Actually, no. I mean, the store's been here forever. Twenty years or something, but the man who opened it, Thomas, he was running it then. He…left it to me a couple months back." There's a bit of sadness in her voice when she explains the last bit, but she really doesn't want to dwell upon it, so she plunges forward, bright again. "Anyway, yeah, that sandwich shop is killer. You should try it on the way out."

This weird expression that might bear some sort of distant cousin's relationship to a smile flits over Ramon's features. He steps back, but he's no longer rottweiling; just letting the more verbal of the father-daughter team do her thing. He looks more relaxed, more respectful, than he did when he first came walking in here. But at the mention of the sandwhich shop he just gives his girl a nod. One of those 'whatever you like,' nods that indicates that if she wants lunch there is no problem with this.

"I'm sorry….he sounds like he really trusted you," Elena says with a sincere look of sympathy in her expression. Not 'he must really like you' but rather 'he really trusts you'….which in this case, she thought, was a lot more important especially when passing on a business with something else. Still, this Thomas guy sounded like a nice old man. "It looks like the shop's in good hands though, I'm sure wherever he is now, he's really happy about it." She takes the book and steps away from the counter. "Anyways yeah, I think that's a good idea…I'm pretty hungry and I have chem lab this afternoon. I'm really going to need the sustenance. Later, Cass! Call us if you find out anything, okay?" She starts moving for the door, waving over her shoulder cheerfully. It's as if she's forgotten the earlier, serious tension already.

Cass gives Elena a glowing smile. Of course, she knows Elena didn't know Thomas nor really knows what she's like, it's nice to hear it. "Thank you, Miss Gomez. I hope he is." She doesn't need to gush about it or run at the mouth like she normally does. It's a simple, sincere thanks. "Thank you for stopping by, Miss Gomez, Mr. Gomez. I'll call you as soon as I find anything. Enjoy your food." She waves and smiles at the father and daughter team from behind her counter, still musing about how strange life has been the last couple of days. Grabbing a pen and a notebook, she quickly jots down a sketch of the pendant, just in case she'll need something to check against her memory.

"Elena!" she calls over her shoulder. "It's okay to call me Elena." And with that, she's out the door with her dad.

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