2007-09-26: What Noah Doesn't Know...


Meryl_icon.gif Claire_icon.gif

Summary: Meryl. Claire. Starbucks. Awkward!

Date It Happened: September 26, 2007

What Noah Doesn't Know…

Starbucks, NYC

Not only does she have no partner, but now she's physically handicapped, too. Thus, Meryl's been assigned to surveillance until her hand - which is currently wrapped in an Ace bandage - is better. This suits her just fine… In fact, it means she gets to test out her elite spy skills. First rule of being a spy? BLEND. And so she's wearing the cutest tank top and jeans she could find when she enters the local Starbucks. Intel said her target would be here… Some Evolved guy who apparently has the ability to summon aliens from his nostrils or something - Meryl didn't catch that part. She was too busy playing Frogger on her phone. Or so she'd like everyone to think.

This is why she's here at the coffee shop… The last thing Meryl needs is coffee, but research… Research she can do. Even so, you can't sit around in a Starbucks without something to drink, and so she orders something with a whole lot of caffeine in it, takes her computer, and sits at the nearest table. With her WebCam on, she can watch behind her without turning around every few seconds. See? She's already a master spy. Her guy isn't here yet, but he should be. SOON.

With her father back in the Company, Claire hasn't needed to spend nearly as much time looking over her shoulder as she has in months past. While some days she feels guilty for the weight that her existence puts on her family, today would not be one of those days. Rather, her earphones are loudly blasting the loud and obnoxious tunes handed to her by a classmate. Her black heeled boots clack against the tile floor, though they are mostly hidden under the bootlegged lengths of her light denim jeans. As she gets near the counter, she pulls the earbuds out in order to better flash a brilliant smile at the barista. "Hi! Can I get a venti chai, please?" Her hand then dives into the pocket of her black peacoat, only to hand over a five. "Keep the change, thanks."

Order placed, the teenager with her blonde curls then moves towards the end of the coffee machine row in order to wait. There's a decent line, however, and she isn't waiting for more than a few minutes before her blue eyes peer about the room with an absent sort of curiousity.

The guy over Meryl's shoulder is picking his nose. This is after he checked to make sure no one was watching, but apparently he didn't count on one of the patrons being a SUPER SPY who is watching his every move, despite the fact that this isn't her guy. Despite this, she notates nose-picking guy in her open Notepad file. How interesting!

Her eyes travel toward the counter, with possibly more absence than Claire's. There's a Cute Guy working back there, after all, and Meryl can't help but look. It's then that she realizes that one of the guys coming out of the back room and tying on an apron is her mark, so she turns her seat to accommodate this, 'til she can see him in her cam. As she does this, she notices the distinctive blonde, Claire, as well. Hey, she looks kinda familiar…

Familiar in that 'isn't this one of the pictures the Boss-Guy has on his desk!?' sort of way? Well, truthfully, she'll be able to observe her guy from closer to the counter anyway. Much better than staring at a laptop screen - Claire is a good excuse. Standing, Meryl heads over with her coffee, setting her webcam on 'record' while it's still pointed at her buddy. "Hi," she says to Claire. "You look awfully familiar. I think we've met. I'm sure we've met. Maybe you go to NYU, or maybe I'm crazy… Some people say I am, but I never forget a face— Have you been on a milk carton before? Maybe a cereal box."
GAME: Save complete.

As Meryl makes her approach, and says hello, Claire looks to either side of her, as though it were some simple case of mistakenly assuming that the woman is talking to her. But there's no one else turning around. The younger of the two then curls her mouth upwards into a confused and bewildered smile. "Um. Not that I know of? I— I have a friend that goes to NYU. So I've been on the campus a couple times?" The likelihood that she'd be remembered for the few brief walks is not …really all that likely.

Unless this woman has a ridiculously amazing memory. But now is the time to think on that so much as it is to inject an incredibly awkward silence, as she is now completely at a loss as to what to say.

Awkward silences don't really happen too much round Meryl. Then again, no silences happen around Meryl, unless you catch her on an off day. Of course, she's a little torn regarding how much she can say, given that she really shouldn't even be talking to Claire. Noah will have her ass and play a round of football with it if he knew.

But it gets her closer to Her Guy. Maybe Noah will understand. What kind of name is 'Noah,' anyway!?

"Oh, that must be it. I have a good memory. Short attention span, but I remember everything. Seriously, everything, ever. Except I wasn't so great in school because I can't remember a damn thing. Weird, huh? But I don't forget a face, I'll tell you that." She ponders this for a moment, then, "Or, rather, I //do— // The point is, you look familiar. Hi, I'm Meryl." Placing her coffee up on the counter so she can reach out with the correct hand, she aims to grab Claire's with or without permission.

After a brief pause, Claire's head gives a tiny start to one side before she finally pushes her hand back out to meet Meryl's. Everything her father has said in the past comes crashing back into her brain at the woman's odd behavior, laying there like a lead weight that brings an immediate sobriety and reservedness. Distrusting would be one way to describe it. "Hi, Meryl. I… I hope that's not a bad thing." To emphasize her point, Claire's left hand goes up to check her hair, patting it down to make sure that no stupid pigeons left their calling card or the like.

Careful for good reason, too, unfortunately. Meryl isn't about to drag Claire in kicking and screaming today, though. Why? Well, she's not the mark, for one, and second, the agent's hand is bandaged and hurts like hell, and she's not so sure it's such a great idea to, say, throw Claire over her shoulder and carry the girl around that way. So, that's out. Umpire yells SAFE. Game is over.

"Oh, no, not bad at all." She just wants to have a word, or perhaps several million words, with the photograph she's seen previously. Releasing Claire's hand, glancing toward Her Guy, who's actually really boring, she gestures toward the table. "You want a place to sit? You can sit with me, over there. It's an awesome place, 'cuz you can see everyone in the cafe. Well, almost. It's hard to see directly behind you, unless you turn around— Hey, do you watch House? I love that show."

"I don't," Claire confesses. "But a seat wouldn't be so bad." For this place, like many such shops of its ilk throughout Manhattan is packed. For all of Meryl's suspicious behaviour, she is, at the very least, friendly. "I mean, as long as you're sure." Turning around, it is to her pleasant surprise that she finds that the line has grown much shorter. She takes a few steps backwards in order to grow closer to the Place of Promise that is the delivery counter and indicates it with a wave of her hand. "I'll be there as soon as, you know, I get my coffee." And then, PING! There it is! Another winsome Bennet smile.

"I don't either," Meryl announces. Coffee in hand, she motions toward the table where her computer's at. Still open, and somehow miraculously not stolen. Good thing, too, since she's got a report open behind her cam about how she's spying on the guy working behind the counter. That's a secret that no one can ever know! Because there's no such thing as a creepy stalker.

"I'm over there," she says to reiterate, heading away from the counter with her own smile. Sitting down, she checks her cam, where Mister Boring is still just serving coffee. Yawn. At least she'll have someone to talk to!

When Claire finally gets her tea latte, the young woman thinks momentarily on the wisdom of bolting out the door without so much as a glance in the other woman's direction. But then she gets a better idea. Gathering up her courage with her caffeine, the young woman proudly strides over to Meryl's table and then settles into the chair. It's time to handle this like a mature adult. When she speaks, it's with a low, unassuming tone. It wouldn't do, after all, to have other people look their way. Looking down at the lid of of her drink, she finally decides on what to say. "Who put you up to this?" It cuts right to the point.

Still watching her cam as Claire sits down, she taps out a note on her document: 'This is the most boring thing I've ever done. Remind me to eviscerate Benjamin later.' It takes awhile, because it's difficult to type at the moment, but when she's done, she looks up at Claire. Who put her up to what? Talking to her? As a trained Company agent, Meryl has a million lies and covers up her sleeve to pull at a moment's notice. Clever, carefully planned, tried and true— She throws all these out. "The aliens," she answers without missing a beat. After this, she takes a sip of her pure caffeine. "The aliens, from Chiron Beta Prime. They sent me to talk to you, to find out if you know the secret to opening the portal on Pluto, which leads to the Promised Land. They said they'd evaporate my blood if I didn't. Sorry."

"Th- the aliens?" Oh, good night. It's worse than she feared! She's managed to stumble across a Genuine New York Nut Job. "Well, I guess I can understand why you'd do what they say," Claire finally manages, entirely caught off-guard and at a total loss for anything else to say. Once again, she seems to have chosen the WRONG THING TO DO. She should have just bolted for the door. "Well, it was really nice to meet you, Meryl," Claire lies, rising once more to her feet. "But I'd better get going. I have a huge book report that's due Monday, and I haven't even started it."

THE ALIENS. Oh, Meryl knows this tone. Claire thinks she's crazy. That's not the case, though. High-strung, yes. A little immature, sure. Not crazy, though. "Hey, you did ask," she states, passively observing the cam and typing out a couple more note, while sipping her coffee. "Of course, there's more to it than that, and I'll tell you if you sit." Looking up, Meryl gives Claire an odd look. "…Besides, it's Friday Afternoon. No one does homework on a Friday. Anyway, if you walk outside, the aliens'll get you, too. I'd stay, if I were you." Offering a knowing expression and a wink, she goes back to her surveillance. "Why'd you ask who put me up to this?"

"Because I'm just a kid. And most of the time grown women don't tell kids, 'hey, you look familiar but we don't know each other won't you please sit with me?'. Especially in New York." Claire arches an eyebrow as she looks down at the other woman, not yet reclaiming the seat. She just tilts her head and crosses her arms. She hasn't even gotten to take a good sip of her tea, save the initial 'walking away, is this even my drink?' verification sip.

"Well, you do have a good point there," Meryl concedes. She folds one hand under her chin, looking away from the computer for the first time since she sat down. "Really, though, there's this horrible problem with society, where people won't even say hi to each other on elevators, and half the time, the only interaction we have with people is when we say thank you for holding the door open. How're we supposed to get to know other people if we never strike up a conversation, huh?" That hand under her chin gestures toward Claire. "I could be interesting. You could be interesting. You walk up to someone who's a million years old n' ask them how their life's been, you get a damn interesting answer — For example. I've seen you before, I thought that was interesting, you know? How often do you run into a person twice in New York City. Sit for awhile. At least tell me your name."

Very, very slowly, and against her better judgment, the teenager finally sits back down, tentatively perching on the edge of her chair with back very straight. "Paige," she lies before taking that first real sip after all, lower eyelids squinting up just a smidge as she awaits some flicker of recognition in the other woman's features. "And, yeah. I guess it's kinda weird."

Claire's safe. Meryl's not about to make Noah mad, nor is she in any shape for active duty. There's a pause when Claire gives the wrong name, a brief look of confusion. "…Really?" Wait, recover! RECOVER! "I haven't ever heard that name before." And… Maybe that's true, given the accent. Maybe Paige just isn't a name in Australia, see? It. Makes… Sense. yeah. But beyond that, she's pretty sure she needs a cover now, because she balked. "All right, you caught me. /I'm/ actually the alien. And I'm here to learn about you Earthlings."

Claire peers in Meryl's direction, entirely unsure of what to make of the human-looking thing that is sitting across from her. Meryl is so… weird. "…right." Then an eyebrow pops up over one still-wary blue eye. "Where you from, then?"

"Australia," she says simply, taking another sip of her coffee. That still makes her an alien. Meryl looks back to her laptop screen, tilting her head, turning the screen a little so she can keep the guy in her window. So far, he's still done nothing worth noting. Even so, she types out something else, just in case, for the people back at base.

Following this, there is a silence, as if Meryl's finally decided that this is a bad idea. She sighs. "Okay, Paige, here's a question for you." She looks up, back at the screen, then back up again. "Why didn't you give me your real name?"

"Because you lied first," Claire replies, her heart bouncing up to reside in her throat, and fingers clenching more tightly over her still-steaming cup of chai. She may be safe, but she doesn't know that. "So you know me." Because the other woman wouldn't know, otherwise, about the false name. The blonde's lips curl downward into a frown. "Who put you up to this?" she asks again.

Meryl momentarily seems to be vaguely annoyed. The truth is really a conversation she can't have here, or at all, really. She never signed a contract, she never swore herself to secrecy, but she does have pride in what she does, and she's well aware that the Company's method of justice doesn't match up with the nation's ideal. Eventually, she dodges the question without actually dodging it; in summary, if Claire already suspects, she'll get it. If not, well, there's always the cover of the paper company. "I saw your picture on my boss' desk," she notes, green eyes looking at Claire pointedly. "No one put me up to anything."

Claire's features go from suspicious to downright hardened in a matter of moments. A sneer faintly lifts half of her upper lift. "You people are supposed to be leaving me alone," she points out for Meryl's benefit, just in case she forgot, voice dropping to nearly a hissing whisper as she slightly leans her head in. Then it's back to a normal volume and sitting straight. "Dad and I decided the paper biz' wasn't really right for me." That said, she takes another sip of her tea.

Meryl bites her lip. There's really no way to convince Claire that she really was just curious, just wanted to say hi. Meryl likes familiar people. It's cool to run into someone she's seen before - plus as Claire's surmised, she's a little odd. She doesn't use knowledge of the girl's actual name to intimidate, either. Closing her eyes - she's been caught, oops - she says, "Paige, I'm here for a cup of coffee. I'm saying hi." She can't really say more than that, though. "If you don't want to be in the paper business, that's your call. Go, be president of the United States. Be a teacher, work in a mine, become an astronaut." Raising her hand briefly, Meryl adds, "You think they'd send me to recruit for paper salesmen if my hand was in a bandage?" She gives a reassuring smile.

There's a few moments of consideration that pass in silence. "Dad wouldn't like knowing you're talking to me," Claire says, blue eyes narrowing again, but chest heaving a larger sigh. At least now it seems like she's getting less 'angry' and more to just a strange, sullen acceptance. Then there's a flicker of sympathy, surprisingly enough, as she again allows her gaze to fall to Meryl's hand and it softens just that much more. She remembers when she had injuries that didn't heal right away — it wasn't all that long ago. They suck. "How'd you hurt your hand?"

Meryl makes a face. "T'cha. I know," she says, and looks back at the screen. "He'll hand me my ass, I'm pretty sure. Still, this goes back to the whole talking on the elevator thing. I mean, a troll from World of Warcraft could get on an elevator, and no one would say anything to him, 'cuz no one talks on elevators, or at all, really. Seriously, people need to open up a bit more. Or at least drink more coffee or something." That's part of the reason there is a Company - because people don't trust what they can't understand. "Then again, if a troll got on an elevator," Meryl goes on, eyebrows lowering, "Then I don't think many people would still be alive to get— … off the elev— That's beside the point, though. I… Actually don't remember my point, sorry." Oops. At least she remembers how she hurt her hand! And actually looks excited as she explains! "Oh, I was at a firing range with a friend. He's not a very good shot. Thankfully, there's no permanent damage, and I'll have a neat scar to brag about later." People go to firing ranges all the time, see. That's not classified. "First time there. Luckily, he hit the cellphone I was holding. Shattered it to little tiny pieces, he did, but missed anything vital."

As Meryl continues to blather on and on, it takes everything in Claire to keep her gaze from just starting to go glassy. What do trolls have to do with anything? Or elevators? The teenager is very, very confused until finally Meryl answers the question that's on the table. "Oh," she finally manages. "That's… that's good." Another pause, and then the blonde continues. "Look, it's not just you that'll get in trouble if he finds out I sat down and was talking with someone from work. So how about this? You let me go out that door, we pretend that we never saw each other, and neither of us tell my dad that this ever happened."

The one thing Meryl doesn't like about being in the Company is that it's hell on her social life. She likes to talk, but she has certain obligations. And then there are people who know about the Company - like Claire here - who can't talk, anyway. "Well, I never intended to keep you," Meryl says with a shrug, another smile. She'll spare Claire the 'We're not all Bad' speech. Meryl doesn't think the Company's bad at all, really. They have strange tactics, but they are for the right reasons. "Probably a good idea," Meryl admits. "Ah, well— " Raising her eyebrow at the screen, she closes the top after hitting stop on the record. There's evidence there that she'll have to erase! But, she's gotten what she needs. "Look, you can stay, I've got to go, anyway. Don't worry, I won't tell the boss about the botched recruitment." In other words, no one has to know!

"I was really going anyway," Claire offers, pushing herself to her feet once more. Indecision aerobics! Great for the thighs. Up down, up down. "I hope your hand feels better soon." Geez, that sounds lame. At least it's mostly sincere, as is evidenced by the struggling attempt at a smile that now replaces the unhappy look from before. "Be careful, okay?" Because while Meryl is weird as all kinds of hell, she doesn't seem that bad. …That doesn't mean that Claire trusts her any further than she can throw her. Without a second glance, Claire turns on her heel and starts walking out the door.

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