A New Challenger Approaches


cassandra_icon.gif elaine_icon.gif

Scene Title A New Challenger Approaches!
Synopsis A chance meeting at Add-a-Ball finds Cassandra and Elaine reminiscing about the past, speaking French, and eating fries!
Date March 26, 2018


Part bar, part arcade, Add-a-Ball is a neighborhood fixture in Elmhurst and a favorite haunt for the Safe Zone's younger inhabitants and those with a weak spot for 80's nostalgia. The building's labyrinthine layout seems to go on forever, branching out into narrow, uneven corridors lined with old arcade and pinball machines, dozens of which are out of service at any given time. This said, it's impossible to get lost; every pathway connects with another, and eventually leads back to the bar.

Behind the bar, shelves of cheap spirits are stacked all the way up to the ceiling, creating a glass collage of eye-catching colors and shapes, not unlike the games themselves. Tall stools that swivel a full 360 degrees provide seating at the bar itself, but there are also a series of tables clustered nearby that are almost always covered in empty plates, crumpled paper napkins, and leftover glasses tipped with beer head.

Ceiling fans swing lazily overhead, providing the circulation desperately needed to prevent the room from turning into a furnace.

Discovering add-a-ball was one of the nicer things about the safe zone that Cassandra discovered. Stepping inside, the sound of pinball machines popping, cooling fans, and the everpresent smell of warm electronics brought back memories on top of memories. As a child of the 90's, the whole arcade scene had already started to wither by the time she started going out to malls. On the coasts, it was already completely gone, but in Cassandra's small part of the world, going and putting quarters into the machines in a darkened arcade in the mall was the height of summer fun. The arcades were cool and dark, generally air conditioned, and for a while you could forget about things while you put yourself into a space ship or a street fight or a car racing down a mountainside. Graphics were simple, but imagination filled in the rest.

Sitting at one of the few clear tables on a cool Sunday afternoon with a small cup of tea, Cassandra is spending a bit of time people watching in between flipping through an old novelization of The Lord of the Rings. She's read it a dozen times already - enough to be able to mimic the writing style if she wanted - but it's more of a thing to keep her hands busy while she sips her tea. Dressed comfortably in jeans and a light blouse, her jacket is hung carefully over the back of her chair, her bag looped around her ankle just in case it decides to go wandering all on its own.

Elaine wasn't a frequenter of Add-A-Ball, not really. She'd been once and thought it was pretty cool, even if she never really was into arcade games or pinball. She preferred games with save files. Still, it had a good atmosphere and some of the best fries this side of town. Moving from the bar with said fries and a glass of 7up, she scowls just slightly as it seems like the tables are full. That is until she finds a familiar face.

Walking over to Cassandra, Elaine stops nearby, holding her fries aloft. "Want to split these with me?" She doesn't sit, politely waiting to see what Cassie does. Once upon a time she might have seated herself without answer, but Elaine's changed just a bit over the years.

Sitting here in the bar proper, Cassandra was pleased to see all sorts of interactions going on - defeat, joy, disgust, elation - all etched on the faces of the younger people playing the games. She blinks, straightening just a little, when Elaine comes into view and offers to split, tucking a small braided bookmark in to The Lord of the Rings to mark her place as an automatic movement. "Elaine, right? Um, sure. Please." She hazards a guess at the name, scooting back a little in her chair before gesturing to the seat opposite her, cleared and clean.

"Oh good, you remembered my name. And you're Cassie, right? I'm pretty sure I got that right. I'm good with names." Elaine moves closer to the seat and slides into it, setting the fries neatly in the middle of the table and the soda in front of her, slightly to the left so her view is unobstructed across the table… and the fries are more easily accessible. "Hot, fresh cut potatoes, just lightly salted with no real greasy residue. These fries are perfect." With that, she picks one up and, very neatly, devours it.

Cassandra bobs her head, offering a small smile. "That's right. It's not often that a throwaway Irish greeting is responded to in full…what is it? Gaelic? I know about as much as those frat boys did when it comes to Irish culture. Things like that tend to stick in my head." Cassandra deftly takes one of the fries between thumb and forefinger, giving it a quick squeeze. "I haven't actually tried the fries here yet…." She takes a bite, blowing out a little at the heat of the freshly-cooked fry, cruching it down.
Cassandra scoots her chair to about a forty-five degree angle, where she can easily see the bar and pay attention to Elaine without having to move her body too much. "They're good." She finishes the fry and takes another, breaking it in half to let the steam out for a second. "Thanks for introducing me."

"Irish Gaelic. Not to be confused with Scottish Gaelic which is slightly different althoug the Scots would argue that it's very different," Elaine explains, chuckling lightly. "Languages are kind of my thing. I try to learn about the culture associated with each language I learn to give me more context, but I can get away with doing that during work hours, so I'm pretty lucky." She grabs for another fry. "Glad you like them. I tried them once and I was sold. Had to come back."

Cassandra takes a bite of her now-cooled fry and nods. "Kind of like the difference between Louisiana Creole and French Creole. Same basic underpinning as far as the cadence goes, but given a few hundred years and a few hundred miles - or an ocean or two - of distance, you get a million little differences that creep in over time." Cassandra shifts a little in her seat, smiling softly. "So languages are your thing? How many can you speak?"

Elaine eats another fry, regardless of how hot it is, finishing it and taking a sip of her soda before she nods in agreement. "Languages are complicated, so many different localizations. You can tell someone's from Glasgow based on their accent and their manner of speaking. A lot goes into a language." She stirs her soda with the straw, pushing it back down as the carbonation pushes it up.

"Creole isn't one I've used before, I hadn't thought of that. I'll jot it down, next on my list. And I'll be sure to learn the differences between the two locations." And then there's the million dollar question and Elaine is beaming. "Somewhere around 30, although several of those are sort of pop culture references, like Tolkien's Elvish. I really have gotten behind. There are so many languages I could be learning, it's just a matter of getting the material to do so." She pauses. "Oh, that's my Evolved ability, Omnilinguistics. I can learn and retain languages."

"Th…thirty?" That answer takes Cassandra off guard certainly, the woman sitting back a little, looking over Elaine with a bit of wonder in her expression. "And here I thought I was doing well with /three/, and you've got /thirty/ on tap." Cassandra takes a small sip of her tea, holding the cup with both hands, before she speaks again, in fluent French. "«The words are the same, a lot of the time, but when you add the proper diction and pronunciation, and the few unique words, it becomes French Creole. My grandmother compared it to speaking with a mouthful of marbles and trying not to swallow any of them.»" She giggles. "«I could offer lessons, if you were interested.»"

The mention of an evolved ability? It doesn't seem to phase Cassandra in the least.

Elaine seems kind of pleased with Cassandra's reaction. It was something she was proud of, Evolved ability or not. The French is met with French, accent included—she sounds like a native speaker. "«Accents are kind of my thing. I mean, I know languages are but accents I learn on my own… they're something I practice, I don't acquire them like languages. But that sounds like a challenge and I like that when it comes to languages. I do warn I learn very quickly, all you really need to do is start speaking to me in a language and the more I hear it the more I pick up. Same goes with reading.»"

"«You must understand, dear one, that being one who can speak to so many, so clearly, is a unique and wonderful gift. In the world before, you would be in such demand at the United Nations as a translator and I would expect that even now, your talents are quite useful.» Cassandra bends down to retrieve a shard of record - the same one from Eve's St. Patrick's day party - and holds it up. «Replaying the past from objects? My ability? Has its own interesting applications.»

"«I thought about working at the United Nations once. I was young though, at the time. No one took me seriously. I thought about teaching, too, but I was young and no one took a chance. I only really got respect from.. well, the Ferry and others during the war. Yamagato was the first to really give me a chance.»" Elaine pokes at the ice in her soda, then suddenly brightens.

"«So you replay the past from objects, that's what you did in the bar! How… far back can you go?»"

The two women speaking French do get a few looks from people in the bar. It's not somethign that's often heard around here, so it's more quaint and unique than anything, bringing a dose of culture to the war zone. "«It seems Yamagato is doing a great deal of good here in the city. I"m not familiar with their work other than the results which, so far, have all been quite nice.»"

Cassandra taps her nose with a grin. "«Exactly. Everything leaves an echo wherever they go, and my ability, allows me to read and project those echoes. From emotionally charged objects, like this record, and from charged places themselves. It helps me with my work as an investigator. And as far as I can go back….»" CAssandra actually thinks on this for a second. "«Theoretically as far back as I can get an echo. The furthest I've ever seen is around 1820 in a Chinese Opium Den, thanks to a pipe in a museum, but I've never really stretched past the modern day.»"

Elaine is more than happy to continue the conversation in French, it's just as easy for her as any other language. "«Yamagato's great. I maybe work too hard, but I feel like most of us these days do. Throwing ourselves into our careers. We've lost touch with people.»" She muses on that, but then grins.
"«So if I were to find some way to let you get your hands on something really old you might be able to project something? I wonder if we could get some kind of 'echo' off something that could teach me a dead language. Can you imagine that?»"

"«I think we all do. The food thefts are what I'm having to focus most of my time on right now, but once that's done, I'm sure there's something else that'll need a look back into the past. It's okay, though. It's actually a lot of fun, seeing what pops up.»"

Since Cassandra grew up speaking English, French, and a couple of versions of Creole, switching from one language to another isn't that big of a deal. Some words do default back to English, but she's comfortable in all three. The thought of reviving a dead language? She taps her lips with a fingertip, thoughtful, before leaning forward, a soft conspiratory tone in her voice. "«If you could get me something that old? Almost certainly. I replay things, even if I don't understand exactly what happened. That said, the larger the sample, the better. My replays are only about…ten minutes at most, give or take.»" So you can't just sit down and get a dictation in ancient Sumerian, for instance….

"Sitting and watching the past…" She switches back to English. "is one of my favorite things to do, really….just sit and listen. Like my own private History Channel."

Elaine nods slowly as she takes in the details. "«Ten minutes… I can only get a bit in ten minutes. Enough though, like I said, I learn fast. If I can hear conversation for ten minutes, just pure conversation, I can probably speak the language on the level of someone just learning to talk… the most cursory. Clumsy sentences lacking vocabulary. Still, I'd know more than many scholars! And if we did a bunch of different artifacts, well…»"

A sip from her soda, and then she's back to conversation without missing a beat. "«I can understand that. Languages… I jump at the chance to talk in them, talk about them, to translate… that's why I feel lucky to be a translator. I get to do what I love, even if it's a little nerdy.»"

"Now…if I drink, we might be able to get a little more out of me." Cassandra giggles softly at that, a little teasing in her tone. "My ability tends to work a little stronger once I get a little liquor in me. Not drunk - just tipsy. But ten minutes…yeah." She takes another sip of her tea, taking a bite of fry. "I can give you ideas of what would work /best/ for conversations, if you somehow have a few things you could pick up. Scholarly texts, cups and plates from banquets, and personal items, like clothing, hairbrushes…even buttons."

And then, she switches languages on Elaine totally. Instead of French, she starts speaking in French Creole and, like she said, there are a lot of similarities but very few of the things a trained French speaker may be used to hearing. "«I love to speak my language, Cher. I don't get to do it nearly enough, and with someone interested in learning? I may even have to make a pot of gumbo and bake some bread in thanks.»"

"Well, I don't know about ancient languages, but I could certainly see about arranging something old you could read off of. I have strings I could try pulling within Yamagato. I'd have to ask just the right person though." Elaine's already trying to think about what might work best when the language is switched. The redhead perks up, listening intently.

"I'm picking up some of it… you're right, some of it sounds French. I won't fully understand you, but if you keep talking I can pick up the basics just from listening. Give me a day of chatter and I'll be as fluent as if I had learned it as a child. I think you said something about gumbo and bread?"

"«Exactly! You do pick this up quickly!»" Cassandra continues in French Creole. "«I'll be a good girl and stick to this dialect for a while. Hatian Creole is a totally different sounding animal. I don't want to give you too much information to work with right out of the gate.»"

She gestures to Elaines glass. "«Can I get you more to drink, cher? I need to refill my glass with something a little sweeter than tea. My treat, since you shared your French Fries with me.»"

"I love this phase of learning. It's like a puzzle as the pieces slowly click together as to what you're saying," Elaine says, then sips the last of her soda when her glass is gestured at. She can pick up from context that Cassie is asking about her drink. "Another would be great, if you could, thank you." She catches the word French Fries and grabs one, popping it in her mouth before she nods at Cassie. "Thank you for being so accomodating."

Slipping from her seat after unwinding her leg from her bag, Cassandra makes her way over to the bartender, leans in to whisper something and then, so Elaine can hear. "«One, two drinks please. Two sprites, with ice, in glasses.» More than likely she told the bartender what was being said before she said it, just for Elaine's benefit. She leans against the bar and relaxes, watching the tall, leggy redhead sitting at the table she just came from, returning a few moments later with two glasses, each with a slice of lime on the rim as a bit of a flashy accent from the bartender. "«Here you are, cher, your drink!»" It is presented with a flourish and a bow, Cassandra winking as she takes her spot in the chair opposite Elaine. "«Thank /you/ for giving me the chance to practice. Speaking a language is like keeping the engine running in a boat. Much easier to get going if you stand ready, rather than having to start it and go.»" She lifts her glass. "«To new friends?»"

Elaine leans forward, as if somehow that will help her understand more as Cassandra speaks. She listens though, attentively, taking in every word said for her benefit. "«No need to thank me.»" She attempts, listening carefully to her own words to determine if they sound right. When Cassie lifts her glass, Elaine lifts her own, echoing the words. "«To new friends!»" Although they sound like words of understanding rather than a mere echo.

"«Oh, so close!»" It's not patronizing in the least the way Cassandra says it, repeating the 'thank you' phrase a couple of times to get the pronunciation seated better in Elaine's mind. "«I picture you plucking my words out of the air and putting them into a frame, like a puzzle, and when you get enough pieces you can see the picture clearly.»"

"«Thank you.»" Elaine repeats the word a few times herself, enunciating carefully so she gets the pronounciation right. She squints at the next set of words, tilting her head to the side as it's like things slowly falling into place. "You said something pretty. Something about a puzzle. My ability is like that. It works for codes too. I did a lot of coding and decoding messages during the war. It's a language."

It's Cassandra's turn to look impressed at that. Elaine said she picked things up quickly, but she's making connections as quickly as a supercomputer would. "«I said,»" She switches to french. "«That you were taking words from the air and placing them in a frame, like building a puzzle.»"

The war causes a bit of a nod. "«I was young, during the war. Hidden. My ability happened just before the war started and some people took me to a safe place in the bayou. To learn. There were five of us. One, two, three, four, five. Hidden at the school. We were safe, but heard many things about what happened.»" Cassandra lets out a soft sigh. "«I felt like I was useless then, but I was only a child. Now that I am larger, my job is to try and help. And to make friends.»" She takes a sip of her drink, blushing faintly.

Elaine nods. "«So you did say something pretty about a puzzle,» she says in French. «And you're right. That's about how my ability works. Well, in simple terms. It's a very complicated puzzle.»" She leans forward again, this time listening to the story of the war.

"«I stayed out of trouble, mostly. Just relayed messages, never really went on 'missions', just taught elementary school. But trouble came our way once and I shot a guy who tried to get to one of the kids I was teaching. The war was a hard time, and I'm glad it's over. I'm glad I can sit at a bar and talk in different languages and hang out with delightful company. And I am sure you are good at helping now. You're good at making friends.»"

The conversation continues, with Elaine in French and Cassandra in French Creole, translating when necessary to get the right vernacular, diction, or cadence. "«The less said about the war, the better.

The conversation continues, with Elaine in French and Cassandra in French Creole, translating when necessary to get the right vernacular, diction, or cadence. "«The less said about the war, the better. It is not something to be forgotten, but it is not something to be glorified, either. I like this quite a bit more than having to fear for my life in a swamp.»"

In French, now. "«I am glad that we can sit in a bar, speaking as friends, of our abilities, without the fear of vanishing in the night to the echo of boots on the streets.»" Her eyes flick down to the table for a second, snagging a french fry from the rapidly dwindling pile. "«I've not had the chance to make friends very often. It's something I've not had much practice in. I hope it's going well.»"

Elaine seems to be catching onto the words rather quickly as it appears her understanding is pretty strong for being a short amount of time in. Not enough that she's going to try speaking much of it, however. So she sticks to French while Cassandra keeps talking in French Creole. "«I am certainly glad you made it out of a swamp, even if the Safe Zone is not the most ideal home.»" She pauses. "«Although my apartment is pretty ideal.»"

Snagging another fry, Elaine nods her agreement. "«I haven't made new friends in a very long time. I've not been very good at keeping up with all of my old ones either. Some of that, well, that's a mess.»"

There's enough comprehension between the pair to where an outside speaker would have no idea what was being said, while these two seem to have no problem understanding each other. Perhaps a little difficulty going towards Elaine, but that gap is quickly shrinking. A few more conversations like this and Elain will be speaking like a native Cajun!

Cassandra makes a soft sound of….well, consternation is the best way to put it. She fixes Elaine with a bit of a mournful expression and nods. "«I understand the difficulty making friends. When I manifested in high school, I lost all of the friends I had there. The five I was with at the school…they all moved away…and…»" You can almost see her visibly cringe as she says this part, in french, so there's no misunderstanding. "«As a SESA Inspector, I find a lot of people who I would very much like to be friends with suddenly find other things they'd rather do and quickly shuffle me off any social calendar there might be. No chance for friends. No chance for romance. No chance for conversations or anything.»"

"«I got shot once, because I was faster than the other students in a language class. Guy pulled out a gun and shot me in a cafe. People don't always react well to people with abilities, even still, but it's better than it's been.»" Elaine smiles gently. "«But working for SESA shouldn't be a death sentence. My ex works for SESA and she has a few good friends. Well, she has some. Some she pushes away because of her job.»"

She straightens up, taking a sip from her soda. "«But don't give up just because things are complicated. Maybe there are people who like SESA agents.»"

Cassandra sits in silence as Elaine tells all about getting shot, about how her ex works for SESA, and how she, despite the SESA connection, managed to find good friends. "«thankfully, I've never gotten shot. That's the advantage of being an investigator. lack of gunfire.»".

Cassandra goes quiet and blushes quite cutely. "«Present company included, I hope, in liking non-ex SESA agents?»" Cassandra murmurs in French, glancing up to the redhead sitting across from her.
Elaine nods a little bit. "«Lack of gunfire is important. Being shot hurts. It's a good thing that you're an investigator. It would be awful if you were hurt.»" She says that genuinely as she takes another sip from her 7up. Then she grins. "«Present company included. I happen to think SESA agents are very helpful and noble in their pursuits. Some of them are cute, too.»"

"«I've actually been shot before - during training, in a vest.»" Cassandra taps her chest just below her breastbone, about where her cleavage would be if it wasn't hidden by the blouse. "«Right there. So we'd know what it felt like if it happened but thankfully I've never had the experience in the real world, as it were.»" And the things that Elaine is saying? They're apparently hitting all the right notes, because Cassandra blushes again, glancing down and away, giggling softly to herself. "«I'm not going to tempt fate and ask if present company is included in that comment, too. I'm just going to assume because it makes me feel happy.»" And it does.

The giggly blushy side of Cassandra causes Elaine to beam. She likes it, and it's been too long since she could ply a compliment on someone without it being complicated. "«That's a very bold assumption to make, one of course, you are right in… but a very bold one indeed.»" Elaine laughs lightly, taking a sip of her 7up. "«I like it when people feel happy. Especially if I've a hand in it.»"

It's not like Cassandra has had a lot of time for things like this. Or any at all, really. The war was the war - you worried about incoming troops more than being cute, and after? That was packed full of training, classes, training classes, the occasional day off, which was spent sleeping, and more classes to rush her through to become a SESA agent. "«Fortune does favor the bold, doesn't she?»" An old quote, but one that still rings true to this day. The comment that she was right, that Elaine thinks that Cassandra is cute…that sets her off giggling again, the amber-headed woman sipping at her 7-up to try and salvage a little bit of her composure. And, for a time, it works pretty well, too. "«It's something I've not felt in a very long time. Just…happy being somewhere, with someone. Thank you.»"
"«Well, fortune favors you today, Cassie.»" Elaine seems to be enjoying herself as well. Her stance is relaxed, at ease, but at the same time she leans forward when Cassie says something, genuinely interested in what she has to say. "«I am genuinely glad I can help make you happy. I think it's been a long time since I've had such an influence in someone's life. I'm glad you're happy here. I'm happy too.»"

And now, Cassandra is genuinely tongue-tied. She's not felt like this since sitting across from her first crush in junior high school and the less said about that train wreck, the better. She just sips at her 7-up, blushes cutely, and tries to untangle her tongue as best she can for the next go-round. Fianlly, she does manage to say something.

"«T…thank you.»"

Shakespeare, it ain't.

"«You don't have to thank me.»" Elaine waves off the thanks with a hand before she sips from her 7up, maybe just as something to do. "«Just be happy. It's been a long time since I've just sat with someone and felt happy. Since before the war. Since before…»" She leaves off the last part, clearly not liking her train of thought. "«Well, before a long time, let's say that. So I'm going to just straight out say I enjoy your company. You're a breath of fresh air.»"

"«It's kind of an unfamiliar position to be in.»" Still French. "«It's a nice one to be in, though. I could think of far worse places to be than with a lovely woman such as yourself on a nice Sunday afternoon.»" The fries are long cold, the pair's conversation lasting long enough for the heat to go elsewhere, Cassandra turning to face Elaine a bit closer, her hands closed around the cheap plastic glass used for their drinks. "«What happened before has happened and can't be changed. As someone who makes a living looking back, that's one of the few things I'm fairly certain of. Another thing I'm certain of is the power of the present. Of living in the moment and enjoying things as they come.»" She smiles. "«Much like this chance meeting in an arcade in the middle of New York.»"

"«You're wise beyond your years,»" Elaine says, shaking her head a little. "«You are absolutely right. Someone made me think of the past recently and its weight on a person, but I think for a while my present has been… dull. A chance meeting on a Sunday afternoon has done me the favor of mixing things up a bit. I think I'll trust you when it comes to the past, you know it better than I do.»" Her own hands come to rest around her glass, lifting it briefly to sip from before returning to her hands, one fingertip tracing the condensation on the cup.

"«Socrates said the only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing. I'm not wise…I'm just experienced enough, or lucky enough, to fake it better than most.» Self depreciating humor there from the little brunette as she smiles coquettishly. "«Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment and watch the wonder of the world reveal itself to your gaze.»" Cassandra must be quoting something there, or can come up with poetry on the fly. She takes a sip of her drink and sets it down, her fingers almost grazing Elaine's as she does so. "«I admit, you have me at a disadvantage. I'm not very talented when it comes to talking to beautiful women.»"

Elaine is impressed. If it was a quote or poetry Cassandra made up, it doesn't matter. She's clearly impressed, and it's written all over her face. She, too, lifts her cup to drink before setting it down, but she lets their fingers graze and simply leaves her hands where they lie. "«Be very careful, because you're right, you're at a disadvantage. I'm very well versed at talking to beautiful women and giving them compliments. I'm very charming.»"

"«That you are. That you are.»" Cassandra's hands stay right where they are, her fingertips barely touching Elaine's across the table, the glasses acting as a kind of barrier, as if to say 'hey! We're not touching hands!' without actually saying it. A secret contact in view of everyone, if only they knew where to look. "«I do not think I mind terribly, being at such a disadvantage.»"

Fingers remain touching as Elaine grins broadly, unable to hide it as she looks across the table at Cassandra. "«I try to be charming, at least. Sometimes I get nervous because someone's so pretty that I trip all over my words and don't know what to say. It is good you don't mind being at a disadvantage. I'm sure you can find some time to practice talking to beautiful women.»"

"«Someone is always at an advantage. Can you imagine how much nothing would get done if people only waited until they were in a superior position to talk?»" Cassandra shakes her head with a small smile, her index finger stroking lightly over Elaine's, just barely to the first knuckle, blushing cutely as she is called beautiful. "«You do not need to be nervous around me, cher.»"" She combines French Creole and French there, but it works. "«If you don't mind me practicing on you, from time to time.»"

"«Power dynamics are very complicated. Especially in business… and especially in personal relationships. But I think it's important when you're at a disadvantage to try your best. Sometimes it's more impressive than if you had been in an adventageous position.»" Elaine muses, leaning down to sip from the straw without moving her cup. No, she keeps her fingers right where they are.

"«I'll do my best not to be nervous or stumble over my words. And believe me, I don't mind you practicing. You bear with me learning French Creole, I can certainly enjoy your continued chatter.»"

There's a slight shift in Cassandra's posture, the woman leaning into the table a little more, fingertips still touching the other woman's, gently tracing the curve of her fingernail as they speak. "«Boiling it down to power dynamics makes a wonderful meeting something to be analyzed. You, with your work at Yamagato, and me, with my work at SESA, probably get quite enough of that on a daily basis. Sometimes it's just nice to sit and talk and follow the conversation wherever it may lead.»" She gives a small smile and a one-shouldered shrug. "«And who knows? If later meetings are as pleasant as this one, it may become a regular thing for us.»"

Elaine smiles faintly. "«What am I doing, talking business-like at a more casual meeting. I suppose it's reflex… I've come to realize when you work a lot you build up a wall and keep your distance from a lot of things. Sometimes it's hard to keep from falling into that in your personal life.»" She nods, her own finger shifting, just slightly, but not moving too much.

"«I'm glad to hear you're already planning later meetings. I mean, at the very least I need a day or an evening or two to finish learning French Creole. And then I believe you said you know Haitian Creole as well, so that'll take a few nights. So those are some good excuses to see each other. Not that we need excuses.»"

Cassandra bobs her head in assent, turning her chair just a little, her hand moving from Elaine's for just a second until she settles back down. She takes a small sip from her 7-up through her straw before lowering her hand to the table again, two fingers in contact with the other woman's hand instead of the one that was previously there. "«It's the nature of who I am. When I find something I enjoy, I try to….experience it as often as I can. Or, at least, make it a priority. With work and basic maintainence taking up so much time, finding these little moments - With pleasant company - is something to be savored.»"

Elaine shifts her fingers just slightly to brush against Cassandra's own as she speaks. "«I like that. I'd certainly like to meet more often. It would be a priority of mine as well. Making free time to meet up would be good for me in the first place. I work too much and then hide away. I shouldn't lock myself away in my ivory tower too often.»" She laughs lightly at that.
ORDER: It is now your pose.

"«I'm not exactly a knight in shining armor.»" The brunette admits, brushing her hair back behind her ear. "«I'm more like an investigator in an overcoat, but a princess is perfectly capable of rescuing another one or, in your case, the princess can save herself.»" Cassandra turns her hand, palm up, fingers, out, on the table, curling her fingers slightly against Elaine's with a smile.

They aren't quite holding hands, but they're approaching something like that. Elaine smiles faintly as she glances at their fingers, but then her gaze shifts back to Cassandra. "«I think I've learned to save myself over the years, but it never hurts to have a little help from an investigator in an overcoat. A cute one.»" She slips that last bit in with a sly grin.

It's close to holding hands. Adjacent, certainly. Mabye even parallel. If they were in grade school, it'd definitely be a holding hands thing to be pointed at, but here, in the bar? It's just two girls having a lovely conversation that happen to be touching hands across a table. "«While it is good to be able to save yourself, it's nice to be saved, now and again, wouldn't you think?»" Yes, they're flirting or, at least, trying in the case of Cassandra.
Elaine has partially disconnected.

In grade school they'd already be considered holding hands. Elaine is happy to settle on something in between with their little brushes of skin that mean something but don't mean too much. "«It is nice to be saved. I was… let's just say I was put in a position where I should have been saved and I ended up last second having to save myself in a situation that was way out of my control. I was let down and so I did my own saving after that. But I think I'm ready for a little help with the saving.»" She laughs slightly. "«Sorry if I got serious there.»"

"«It's fine, it's fine.» Cassandra giggles merrily, fingertips curling against Elaine's lightly. "«We've all had our moments that we wished we could have been saved from and ended up having to save ourselves. And a little seriousness never hurt. Call it a palate cleanser.»" She pauses, touching the other woman's hand gently, fingertips barely moving against the other's skin. "«May I ask what happened? If you can share, of course.»"

"«I warn you, it's a sad story.»" Elaine squeezes her fingers together against Cassandra's, just slightly. "«When November 8th of 2011 happened, I was in Manhattan, in the apartment I shared with my fiancee. I saw a couple of Evolved individuals fighting and I knew something bad was going to happen. I grabbed the cat and just got out of there as fast as I could. I got very lucky.»"

She leans in to take a sip of her soda before continuing. "«My fiancee and I had made our own… well, I guess safehouse outside of the city in case something happened we'd meet up there. So I went to the safehouse and I waited. I knew it would be a while because cell towers were out, but I figured she'd come. Instead, one of her friends showed up, giving me a manilla envelope with a letter and the ring. She left me. And so I had to figure out how to navigate the utter chaos that happened after November 8th without the one person I thought I could rely on. Sad story, but I turned out alright. Doesn't mean it didn't hurt.»"

As the story is told, Cassandra wrinkles her nose a little, her brows knitting as she considers what she would have done in that case. And Elaine was right - it was a sad story, with capped by the return of the ring. "«Your fiancee should have at least told you to your face. A letter and a friend is so impersonal.»" she says quietly. Even though she's never /had/ a relationship with anyone, she knows that to work they're more than disposable things to be thrown aside. Relationships are something to help protect you from uncertainty, not to cast you deeper into it. "«Oh, cher, how awful…»"

"«It was bullshit is what it was. I mean, who does that? It was impersonal and unkind and disrespected our relationship. We reconnected end of last year but talking with her is… it's very hard. We're trying to be friends again but I think we're both doubtful if it's possible. Talking with her feels very cold because I don't know if I can open up to her fully.»" Elaine finds herself rambling a bit and shakes her head. "«I'm sorry, I didn't mean to drag you into my pity party. The bottom line was that it was sad and it was hard and it has been hard to trust ever since.»"
ORDER: It is now your pose.

"«Everyone has a plan until they get hit.»" Cassandra nods slightly to that, leaning back in her seat, still maintaining contact across the table with her left hand, her right plucking her drink up to take another sip. "«I'm not going to try and justify anyone's actions, but the thing that I've learned in my philosophical study is that people aren't against you; they're for themselves. And sometimes the ones who deserve it least, get hurt.» She actually squeezes your fingertips lightly with hers at that. "«It was disrespectful and unkind and impersonal. I believe that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Experiences, both good and bad, make you who you are. By overcoming that difficulty - by trying to reconnect, even if you're unsure if you even should, you grow as a person. You gain strength and maturity.»" She smiles. "«Don't be sorry. You're far too pretty to feel sorry for yourself.»"

Elaine nods slowly along as she listens to Cassandra's words. "«I've certainly had a lot of rough experiences in my time, but I believe I've ultimately developed into a good person. I'm not perfect, but I'm not too bad when I weigh the cards stacked against me.»" She pauses. "«I agree that people are for themselves… it's just bad when they take advantage of someone who is for others to get what they want. I mean, Robyn was selfish and what she did was stupid but she never took advantage to get ahead when it came to me.»"

And then it's Elaine's turn to blush for once. She uses her free hand to lift her glass up so she can sip from it, unable to hide her wide smile. "«I think someone is learning how to talk to pretty ladies. And flirt with them.»"

Cassandra nods, adjusting her glass on the table with a fingertip, the condensation leaving a small pool beneath the glass as she adjusts it just so. Robyn may not have ever taken advantage of Elaine. Until she did. "«You have. In the brief time I've known you, Elaine, it seems that you are a model good person. You're not afraid to approach someone in a bar for a conversation. You share. You listen. You don't pretend to be perfect.»" Cassandra giggles quietly. "«We'll have to see if that holds true after we've d….visited a few more times.»" She very nearly says 'dated' instead of visited, but catches herself.

On the compliment about her flirting, she smiles, biting her lower lip, one fang showing for just a second as she does. "«I…ahem…learned from books, more than anything. My experiences with flirting are minimal. A little in high school, before the war. It's…nice to see it kind of works in the same way.»"

"«You are very kind to say so, Cassie. And I think you'll find that I'm a very consistent person. Consistent, but still full of pleasant surprises.»" Elaine grins. "«Oh, we'll definitely… visit. A few times at least, I'm sure. We'll see if you can handle my company on a continued basis.»"

The comment about books? Elaine's grinning again. "«Flirting is a dance of compliments, emotions, and instincts. You want to be honest, but respectful in what you say, hint at your interest, make them feel good about themselves. It's a lot of fun in practice, and you can learn a lot from reading books. I learned most of mine in practice. I've had a tiny handful of people to practice on.»"

Now it's Cassandra's turn to blush, her hand inching forward just slightly, four fingers on Elaine's four fingers. They're certainly holding hands now. Kind of. "«Romance novels, young adult fiction, and old issues of Cosmo: Teen were my go to for learning. I was kind of the quiet girl in school, and by the time I got the nerve up to actually…flirt….my ability manifested and scared everyone off.»" There is definitely a story there to be shared sometime.

"«I think I would like to see if I can handle your company going forward. And being one of the tiny handful of people you practice flirting with.»"

Elaine brushes her fingers against Cassandra's, but for the most part she just lets the other woman dictate the pacing of the touch. She listens with a smile. "«Sounds like you had some good literary experience though. Writers are often good at depicting flirting because they can add the details about how their fingers brush against each other and just how they might glance at each other when the other isn't looking.»" There's a playful tone in her voice.

"«Currently you're the only one in my small pool of people to practice on. The rest have all been excluded because they're exes. But the thing about practicing flirting is that it should be authentic… it doesn't quite work the same unless you're attracted to the other person.»"

Surely by this point Elaine realizes exactly how inexperienced Cassandra is. She's several years younger, speaks of high school before the war, and a SESA agent? They must have pushed her through for her ability's sake. "«Good literary experience?»" She giggles, lifting her hand to make a see-saw motion. "«While there are some interesting ones, 'Seduced by the Werewolf of Wall Street' was a particularly odious text. Thankfully, I was able to find a used bookstore to deposit it, while the memory remains.»" That said, she makes it a point to look away, giving Elaine the perfect chance to glance while the other isn't looking, a deliberate motion.

"«I wouldn't call that a pool, so much. Perhaps a bathtub. Or a puddle. But…I do agree about the attraction. It does make it easier to flirt.»" Her hand moves just a bit closer to Elaine's.

"«Oh, but there are so many great romances out there. Perhaps we'll go shopping sometime, find someone more versed in literature than I to help us. I mean, not that I'm not well versed in literature, I just prefer classics… in their original languages. Less about romance more about the joy of linguistics.»" Elaine takes the moment that Cassandra looks away to do just that—she observes her. She takes a moment to really study (and admire) the brunette, and when Cassandra finally looks back, she doesn't move her gaze, she simply meets it. She watches for a brief moment before looking away casually.

"«Okay, my puddle of potential flirters. I'm trying to think of how many would even be there. One, two… okay definitely three. Maybe four, casually. Four, unless I'm missing someone else. And then there's you.»"

"«Weeding through the chaff takes time. a part of me wants to pull rank and go outside the walls, find a library and just see what's left and bring it home for Minou and me to read.»". Her cat. When Cassandra looks back, a coy little smile appears as that gaze is held. and when Elaine looks away, Cassandra takes the opportunity to do a little studying herself. It's not that she ever discounted finding another woman attractive - it's just she never thought she would. it's an interesting dilemma to be on the horns of, but a thrilling one nonetheless.

"«Puddle, lake, or ocean. I'm just happy to be in the water. I'll need to be sure to pick out a cute swimsuit for when it gets warmer.»=

"«Oh, that sounds like a dangerous adventure. Kind of fun, but probably unnecessary. There are bookstores and libraries with very well informed people to tell you what's good based on what you've liked in the past.»" Elaine chuckles, glancing back over at Cassandra. "«You know that's what librarians do for a living, helping people find books.»" A pause. "«Minou?»" She's got a guess it's a pet but one can never be too sure.

"«Well, I'm glad you like swimming. I can imagine there'll be a lot of it in the future. And sunbathing. Lots of summer fun-in-the-sun. Gosh it's been cold outside lately.»" She cuts off the chatter about beaches for a comment about the current weather. But then she's right back to it. "«I look forward to seeing that cute swimsuit.»"

"«Minou, my cat.»" Cassandra dips down to her bag to pluck something out of it and, after a moment, a little tabby cat appears sitting in the middle of the fries, posing like an Egyptian queen. "«I swear, she gets more spoiled every day, but she's a lovable girl.»". The cat looks remarkably lifelike, even though Cassandra reaches through the image and slides the plate out of the way.

"«Swimming, sunbathing…just relaxing and reading under a parasol beneath the sun. The weather outside isn't fit for man nor beast, but it's starting to get better. at least it's not freezing anymore.»". The comment about her in a swimsuit? That's left mostly alone but she does blush faintly. "«Perhaps.»"

"«That's so cool,»" Elaine remarks in regards to the cat. "«I have a cat, Inger, short for Schrodinger. I sort of inherited her. She was my ex's cat and she got it from someone else but I'm not sure who. No one knows where she came from these days, but she's got this adorable little squished-up face that you can't help but love. I'm sure you'll get to meet her at some point.»"

«Maybe the weather isn't great but my apartment complex has a pool with a skylight and it's temperature controlled so that's about as close as we could get to the beach right now. If you ever have the whim to go swimming, that it. Just putting it out there.»" She laughs a bit. "«Not that buying a swimsuit right now would be easy in this weather.»"

Opening her hand, Cassandra reveals a little bell that rolls around in her palm, the image of the cat fading away like smoke a few moments later as she tucks it back into her bag. "«I try and keep a few little things with me, like a living photo album, to show off if people get interested.»". Or to quell a potential riot with the sultry sounds of Queen. She doesn't say that part, though.

"«You did say you were a Yamagato employee….your place in….the wave, is it? Probably makes my little brownstone second floor place look positively quaint. if I wanted to swim, I'd have to fill the bath and turn on a sun lamp. and by that point, I might as well just forgo the swimsuit entirely and soak in a hot bath.»"
[OOC] Cassandra says, "rest of my pose."

"«I like the idea of a living photo album. But I have a weird relationship with memories now, I've nothing to paste them to… they're just memories. I've had time to collect a few things, but everything that's happened to me since 2011 hasn't been so memorable. Before that I had a photo album, I had notebooks, ticket stubs, things to recall. To start that over has been hard.»" Elaine pauses for a long moment. "«I still have the ring she gave back. I think it's the only thing from my old life I have left.»"

Elaine grins widely as she nods. "«They do a good job of making you loyal to Yamagato. And if you like hot baths… wait until you see the tub at my place. It's unreal. If you told orphaned, teenaged me that she'd one day have a job where she felt important and an apartment that looks straight out of a magazine, she'd have laughed in your face.»"
ORDER: It is now your pose.

"«I have to be a little careful. My ability works on the echoes of memory that people leave as they go about their lives. I could get info from a coffee cup - not much, but I could - but things with more emotional moments are what give the best images. Your ring, I could definitely get something from, but it may not be very pleasant, depending on the quality of the emotion that's soaked into it.»". Cassandra actually strokes Elaine's palm lightly, her touch delicate.

And there they sit, in lovely silence for a few moments, the sound of the arcade fading into the background as they look at each other. Finally, Cassie smiles. "«I think that would be nice. I adore hot baths with lots and lots of bubbles. I tried it in a whirlpool tub once….I looked like one of those rave foam parties once the jets kicked in.»". Cassie finishes her drink and cocks her head at a jaunty angle, her hair hiding one eye, looking all the world like she's trying to be sultry and finally just giving up and smiling. "«I think seeing your apartment would be an eye opening experience.»".

"«There are a lot of emotional moments that ring has gone through. It would be interesting to see what sticks to it, although dredging up the past could be a painful thing.»" The gentle touch on her hand causes her to smile a little, noticibly relaxing. Elaine continues to smile, gazing across the table at Cassie for a long moment. "«I think we've got a few plans made. You owe me some gumbo and bread and Creole. I'll owe you swimming and a tour of the apartment to meet the cutest little squishface cat.»"

"«I can get tastes….let you know if it's pleasant or not before I go all out and delve into the past.>". Cassandra will let Elaine make that decision before doing it herself and even then, it'll be with a lot of warnings about this not being a good idea. "«is this a date?»". she asks shyly. "«I've never had one of those before.»"

Elaine seems to think about the memories that would be possible to pick up off the ring. "«Maybe. There could be some good ones, there could be some things I'd rather not live through again. It was her ring. There may have been things she did that would have hurt me to see.»" She shakes it off, though, glancing across the table again.

Her hand moves, slipping underneath Cassandra's own before she lifts her hand, and leans in, pressing a kiss along the back of Cassandra's knuckles before returning their hands to the table. "«Consider it a date. And if it is your first, then I am very honored.»"

Cassandra's power is a lot like peeling an onion - you have layers on top of layers to get through, and even then, you may not even find what you're looking for. it's only with experience that she can get as close as she does as easily as she does, and with time and practice? or amplification? who knows what she could come up with.

She watches, entranced, as her hand is lifted and turned, a gentle kiss against her skin, goose pimples appearing at that unbidden, a little giggle and a big smile appearing as the hands are lowered to the table, now well and truly holding each other. "I…". she's been shocked to English. "I'll need your number. and you'll need mine.. so we can coordinate.". times, outfits, or just conversation late at night. "«It is my first with anyone. It's kind of exciting.»"

Mission successful. Elaine had intended to see a flustered reaction to the kiss on her hand, and she received it. As she switches to English again, Elaine does too, still smiling across the table. "Exchanging numbers would be good. I'm easy to reach, Yama Park's got cell service so it's reliable. I'm usually there." She switches back to the French. "«Then yes, I am very honored. And you have every right to be excited.»"

Target, Cassandra. The younger woman ducks into her bag a second time, pulling out an iPhone which she fumbles around with for a second. "«Say cheese »" is followed by a mut d click as she takes Elaine's picture, swiping a few times before passing the phone over to the redhead. "Number and email, please…." she prompts, wondering what Elaine's last name might be. "My place is near the one cell tower, so I can get calls and texts most of the time. it may sound like I'm underwater, but it works. I….I'm really glad we met today. It's like the beginning of a romantic comedy or something, or at least a good friendship."

ELaine catches it in time to smile brightly as her picture is taken. Then, with a smooth motion, Elaine takes the phone and types away her name, number, and email—it looks like she left her personal email, not her business too. Sliding it back, she moves to take a picture of Cassandra too, mimicking the action as she hands her phone over. "I'm sure we'll manage a number of fishy conversations then." She nods again. "I like the idea of a romantic comedy, we'll see where things go but I will say I am very glad we got to do this and I quite like you."

Cassandra manages to strike a lovely little pose as the picture is taken, giving a cute little smile as the flash goes off. she takes the phone as it's slid over, adding her details and a small note, making her ringtone one of the other ones in the phone so, if she calls, Elaine will know who's on the other line. The phone is passed back with a smile, Cassandra adjusting the photo of Elaine so it's centered properly, adding a different ringtone to her picture too. "Just having…." She trails off again, blushing, squeezing Elaine's hand lightly. "I'm glad we got to do this, too, and I think I'm fairly fond of you, too. And this is only the second time we've met. imagine the next time.".

Elaine laughs, squeezing Cassandra's hand back while she uses her other to tuck her phone back in her purse. "Fairly fond of me, huh? I think I can accept that but my goal is very fond by the end of next time." She winks. "And really, I think we've done very well for only having met twice. I feel like I've learned a lot about you in a short period of time. Maybe not all your history, but I've learned more about who you are as a person."

Cassandra's phone was tucked into its little pocket to stay safe - Elaine's. I'm er is one she doesn't want to forget or lose. And what's the protocol? this isn't a date, but a meeting. does she wait for 3 days and then fall for the next date? or is the next time they meet the first one technically? Does she need to dress up? how about what to do on a date. who goes first? the options have her reeling a little. "Keep up what you're doing and you'll move into fond fairly rapidly. And you may eventually learn all about my history, just like I will probably learn all about yours. I may even give you a show.". She's already seen Queen. what else does Cassie have in store?

Elaine may have a hunch that Cassandra is waffling as to what to do and she offers a comforting smile, one coming from a place of knowing. "The rules they tell you about these things? They're bullshit. You decide the rules. That's something they don't tell you in books." Then she smiles again, but this one is more of a flirty one. "Well, I'll have to work to get into very fond territory, I like a challenge." Then there's something Cassie says that makes her turn red for a moment. She knows that's not was was meant—at least she thinks it's not. Still, she blushes all the same. "I'm sure we'll get the opportunity to share histories," she says quickly.

The rules, or lack thereof, is comforting and freeing and panic-producing all at the same time. With rules, she'd know what to do, and now she can do what feels right. "Well, since we're winging it, I'll give you a call….Wednesday evening? just to chat and find out how your day went.

And from the way the offer for a show just rolled out, it's evident that Cassandra really didn't mean it that way. Really she didn't. it takes her a moment to realize what Elaine is blushing, and that sets her off too, giggling, blushing fiercely, shaking her head in the negative. "Not…not like that just yet." meaning that later potentially Elaine could get that kind of show. "I meant with my ability.".

"See? Wednesday is just fine. I'd like that a lot. So I'll be sure to expect your call." Elaine nods, then giggles as Cassie joins her in blushing and in laughter. "I figured that's what you meant, I just couldn't unhear it, you know?" She grins and looks back to Cassandra after wiping her eyes with the back of one hand. "But I'd love to see what your ability can show me. I wish I had something that would show me back before 2011. I'd love to see some positive memories. Maybe I can see some of yours instead."

Cassandra's hand squeezes Elaine's gently, the brunette getting a thoughtful expression for a second. "If you don't mind little silly memories, I have a few from way back before I could share. And if you find anything from before, let me give it a shot. You never know what I can pull out.". She gives a soft chuckle, crossing her legs beneath the table, touching her face as she gazes into Elaine's eyes. "So Wednesday night I'll call after dinner, and we'll chat. and then sometime soon we…go on a date.". a real, live date. sure, it'll be simple, but simple is the best.

"Little silly memories sound like the perfect way to get to know you better, to be quite honest," Elaine says, returning the squeeze. "All I've really got is Inger and my bookbag with a few books that got grabbed when I left. You might be able to get something off of the bag? I took that bag everywhere." She gazes back at Cassie, smiling gently. "Wednesday after dinner sounds great. We can plan for the date then. And if you get bored you can text me before then." She laughs.
ORDER: It is now your pose.

Those little silly memories are just that - silly memories, growing up in Louisiana with an interesting little family, cousins, friends, family friends, and neighbors all swirling around a town of around 2000. "You know…no one has really ever asked about me and my past. It's….different. And you'll learn all about me once I start pulling out Mama Marie's things." Cassandra giggles and stands, actually scooting the chair she was sitting in next to Elaine, lowering herself down so they're sitting next to each other, their hand holding that much closer now. "I probably could get something off of all of those, but not Inger….living things don't work very well for me, since they're affecting the world around them as I'm trying to read them. It's like trying to read a teleprompter and not being able to look back."

"Really? So no one's taken the chance to get to know you? I'm curious. Especially if it's different. Most of my childhood was fairly normal until the bomb." Elaine squeezes Cassandra's hand, rubbing her thumb lightly over her hand. "Well, I'm sure Inger will be very happy we won't be trying to make her sit still. The bag and the books, though, those could be worth a shot. I don't think they'd have anything too painful attached to them."
ORDER: It is now your pose.

Cassandra shakes her head in the negative at that question, giving Elaine's hand another squeeze. "Aside from family, no. Not really. I mean, you have to remember that I was in high school when my ability triggered, which ostracized me, and then there was a war, where people like us were the targets. Worrying about things like that meant that getting close wasn't a thing to do." She holds Elaine's hand lightly for a moment, reaching over to snag her drink and taking a sip of the 7-up and water. "Mine was fairly normal, as far as things went for Louisiana….but I guess you'll get to see that, won't you?"

Elaine nods enthusiastically. "I definitely hope to get to see that. I think you're really interesting, Cassie, I'm I'm sorry that all those people avoided you for so long. I can't make up for what they did to you, but consider me someone interested in your life. I'm curious what made you you." She goes for her drink as well, snagging it with her free hand and sipping it before settling it back on the table. "I know very little about Louisiana, to be honest, other than bits you see in the media. But I'd love to know more."

Elaine's saying all the right things to Cassie, the younger woman smiling a little, actually reaching up to wipe her eyes briefly, able to hold back the deluge because there's nothing sexy about a crying woman in her opinion. "Let's have that conversation over dinner, hmm? I don't mind sharing my past, but if I do, I'd rather do it in the privacy of my home or…well…yours."

"Certainly. Got to save something for a date, right?" Elaine grins a little, then nods. "But I understand the need for privacy. Not everyone needs to see your private memories. Plus not everyone likes open use of abilities. I'm lucky because using mine is very low-key. The only time it really gets me in trouble is in an academic setting." Her thumb traces over Cassie's hand.
ORDER: It is now your pose.

Cassandra's hand turns over slightly in Elaine's grip, palm to palm, giving it a squeeze and a nods. "Thanks for understanding. I know there are some abilities that are a lot flashier than mine…not many, but still." She gives another one of those cute one-shouldered shrugs, another squeeze of the hand in hers. Suddenly shy.

"I am nothing if not understanding. I try very hard to understand people, especially ones I want to get to know." Elaine glances at their two hands, returning the squeeze. "Should I let you go or would you rather hold my hand for longer? I can't blame you either way. I've probably kept you longer than you anticipated but my hand is also nice and warm." It does sound like she's teasing slightly.

"I like holding hands." is Cassandra's simple reply. "And I wasn't planning to stay nearly this long at all but…what can I say? The fries were good, the drinks weren't that expensive, and the conversation is nice, too. But…" She delicately disentangles her hand from Elaine's. "I've got work in the morning, just as you do, and while the bartender will gladly serve us until midnight, it might be a good idea to start heading to our respective homes before it gets dark."

"I like holding hands too," Elaine says, squeezing Cassandra's hand one last time before disengaging. "Curse the weekend ending." She shakes her fist at the sky before chuckling, pushing back her chair to get up to her feet. "You're right and responsible. Getting us back home in time for a decent night's sleep. You just might be a good influence on me."

"The present becomes the past right in front of our eyes." Cassandra says softly, pushing the chairs back in, the plate of fries - half eaten - and the glasses left on the table to be cleared later, along with a few bills as compensation for letting them sit and take up a table for so many hours. "That said, the future stretches out in front of us with all of its possibilities." She reaches out and takes both of Elaine's hands, giving them a squeeze, smiling again. She can't stop doing that when Elaine is with her. "You'll call, won't you?"

Elaine squeezes Cassandra's hands in response. She nods. "Of course. I suspect we'll call each other a lot at this rate." She says this with a grin before looking at her seriously. "I think you're an amazing person, Cassie, and I look forward to knowing you're an amazing person."

"I suspect that's the case. Just sitting with you over this little bit…I can't wait to learn more about you, too." Elaine's hands get another squeeze and Cassandra picks up her bag. "Sweet dreams, Elaine. I'll…um…text you when I get home, I guess." She's giggling like a schoolgirl.

Elaine shoulders her bag, giving Cassandra a quick wink. "Text me and let me know you got home safe. Can never be too careful," she says before she turns towards the exit. "Sweet dreams to you too, Cassie. I look forward to our phone call."

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