Almost Strangers


laura_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Almost Strangers
Synopsis …because you're not really strangers anymore once you've introduced yourselves. Particularly over an impromptu shared lunch.
Date January 17, 2010

A Deli in Manhattan

A brief break in the weather has Peyton out, eager to be out of her apartment for the first time in a few days. There hasn't been a lot of reason to go anywhere, and she's a touch stir crazy. Starting off with Aaron, she'd gone her own way, wanting to shop while he needed his daily fix from the masses on the subway. After meandering through the typical clothing and accessory stores, the socialite carries just one bag from a shoe store — a pair of cute sandals in sanguine hopes that spring and summer will in fact arrive, and looking forward to being out of the ugly walking cast on the one foot, and the practical snow boot on the other.

As the snow begins to come down once more, she sighs — she needs a break from walking, as the next subway station is down at the end of this very long, very busy street, and she doesn't trust taxis unless she calls them herself. Peyton looks up and heads into one of the ubiquitous generic coffee shops of Manhattan. "Seat Yourself" a stand up sign tells her, and so she does, sliding into a red vinyl booth. There aren't many available seats, so it must be a popular place.

It's snowing outside; probably every coffeeshop is popular today. Along with every deli, and anywhere else that serves warm drinks. Laura isn't immune — far from it, even bundled up in a powder-blue coat with its black faux-fur ruff, ends of her pale hair poking out from the hood in a way that suggests more snow has been caught in the fur than is actually present. The woman takes one glance at the sign in front of the door and heads for the nearest empty table — one that doesn't have the debris of former patrons still there waiting to be bussed, anyway. It's an actual table rather than a booth, a skip or so — as opposed to the measurements hop or jump — away from Peyton's seat, which gives Laura leisure in which to notice the solitary girl with the cast on her foot. Hm.

Peyton glances up at the woman as she passes, perhaps only to covet the blue coat, then turns her attention to the laminated menu stuck between the ketchup and the napkin container. She peruses it for a moment — she came in to rest her foot and to get a warm drink, but finds herself hungry enough to attempt eating something here as well. It's not her usual venue, so she wrinkles her brow as she studies the menu. She glances at the petite blonde woman. "Ever been here before? Anything in particular worth eating?" she asks, looking dubious at the thought.

The question is as good as an invitation, in Laura's book; besides, she didn't want to hang out alone anyway. The pale-haired woman arches one brow at Peyton, then slides out of her own chair in favor of the bench across from Peyton, impish grin daring the girl to protest. "I haven't the first clue," Laura replies companionably. "Not one of my usual stops, either. I'd suggest you stay away from anything with a name bigger than the sandwich, though." She glances over the menu headings. "And most places can do decent with the classics."

Peyton smiles at the amiable response — you never know with people. New Yorkers can be as friendly and as neighborly as anyone, but when they're not, they can be downright rude. "And anything with fish, I'm not touching," she says with a smirk. "Maybe just a cobb salad, it's hard to screw that up, right?" the tall brunette asks, moving her walking cast out of the way so Laura can sit without kicking her.

The server is heading their way — a cliched middle-aged cafe waitress, complete with smacking gum. "Can I get you ladies a drink?" she asks. Peyton smiles. "Diet Coke, thanks."

"One would think," Laura agrees. She turns her attention to the waitress as the woman comes over, nods briefly. "Hot tea, please. Earl Grey if you have it; any black if you don't." When the waitress moves on, Laura looks back at Peyton. "No fish, huh? Allergic or just don't like it?" She casts a glance towards the departing waitress, quicksilver smile brightening her expression. "Or do you think a little place like this wouldn't handle it well?"

The clairvoyant glances around the room, and gives a shrug and a little bit of a smirk. "I don't know… tuna would probably be okay, something canned, but not sure about fresh fish. I'd rather not take my chances." The place isn't dirty per se, but the tile has seen better days and there's a slightly oily residue to the formica tables, as if they were cleaned with a not quite clean rag. "I'm Peyton, by the way." She gave up trying to use fake names.

"Laura," the woman who never started using fake names — yet — replies readily. She glances over the menu again. "Hey, I don't think they use any fish that isn't canned, anyway," Laura points out a minute later. Tuna is really about it. She plucks the menu out of its holder and brings it closer, the better for intensive study. "In here hiding from the weather, too, or actually out to lunch?"

"Hm. In that case maybe I'll do a tuna melt — hot food sounds better than a cold salad today," the brunette says thoughtfully. "Just needed out, bit of cabin fever. And then it started to snow again, so I peeked in here. I needed a break from walking before braving the walk to the station. You?" The server is on the way back with their beverages, but waits politely for them to finish conversation.

Laura lifts a hand, palm up, and smiles at Peyton — up to you. "Had business in the neighborhood, and this looked like a decent spot to grab lunch before I go off to other places. Convenient, anyway." She smiles at the waitress when the woman returns, setting up her tea to steep and ordering a turkey club sandwich. Not hot, but definitely classic. "Convenient figured pretty highly when the snow started up," Laura adds, casting a commiserating smile Peyton's way.

"Definitely," Peyton says in agreement. Convenience outweighs her would-be gourmand's palate at any rate. She orders the hot tuna melt, french fries on the side, ranch dressing, thank you very much. Hardly gourmet, but comfort food has its place. "This storm is getting really really old," she adds to Laura with a shake of her head. "Especially with the stupid broken ankle," she adds.

"I imagine," the (slightly) older woman agrees. "Can't say I envy you — that's one difficulty I've never had to work around." Laura gives Peyton a quizzical look, as she toys with the tea bag suspended in the clear mini-carafe of hot water. The one gradually becoming less clear as pigments leach from the dried leaves. "Can I ask what happened to your ankle, or is that subject off-limits to almost-strangers?" she asks with a cheerful smile.

Peyton unwraps a straw and places it in her soda, her brows knitting at the question she isn't sure how to answer. There's the whole truth, and there's the part of the truth. "I was running and twisted it in a pothole," she says, her eyes not lifting to meet Laura's. It is the truth; she is just leaving out the fact that people were shooting at her and the pothole was in Midtown. "It sucks. At least I'm not on crutches anymore. Try Christmas shopping on crutches. It sucks."

It's pretty hard to find potholes in pedestrian areas someone with Peyton's wardrobe would frequent — except maybe if you're in New York City, where a substantial portion of the budget has been sacrificed to the repercussions of the Bomb. Stirring a small amount of sugar into her tea, far less than the amount oh-so-conveniently bundled in a packet, Laura shakes her head. "I've lived in a few cities," she remarks. "Never saw one with as many maintenance problems as this one. And I'll pass, thank you," the woman continues with a grin, evidently accepting Peyton's explanation at face value. "I don't even do the Christmas shopping, never mind on crutches."

"It could have been worse," Peyton says with a shrug. That's pretty much the story of her life, the past few months. "So what do you do? That you had business nearby. On a Sunday, at that. If that's not nosy to ask an almost-stranger," she asks, with a smile, echoing Laura's words from a moment before. "Must be good business. I like your coat."

Her— Laura looks down at the blue fabric of her coat, and chuckles. "Thanks. Picked it up in Denver, actually, oh — three years ago now, maybe a little more? Hard to keep straight, sometimes." And as for business… she pours water from the carafe into her mug, waves her free hand in an airy, dismissive gesture. "I don't keep standard hours," the woman replies. "I'm a security consultant. People want to pay for me to come look at their space and systems on a Sunday, then hey, I'll come out on Sunday." That impish grin reappears. "Costs them quite a few pennies, so it's certainly no trouble for me."

"Security consultant," Peyton echoes. "I could use a personal security consultant, to be honest. Friend of mine says every time he saw me before we became friends, I was always falling over something. That was six months ago. As you can see, it's still true," she says with a chuckle. "Though it sounds like you mean buildings and not keeping klutzes off of crutches." She smiles at the impish grin of the pixie-like blonde, deciding she likes the woman.

Laura chuckles, and shakes her head. "Nah, for that you need a security guard. Mind you, they probably come cheaper," she adds with another quicksilver smile. "At least for a while. I mostly do places, yeah. People don't come under the job description." Picking up her mug, she sips at the tea. "Too much hassle, really. People are the weak point of any security — mostly because they don't follow directions."

Peyton nods at that. "I… probably am guilty of that. At least in the past. Rebellious youth and all that," she says with a smile. Now she just breaks laws in the name of freedom and justice. She can follow directions though. She just looks to people like Cat and Cardinal to provide them to her. The server brings their food at that moment, asking if there is anything else they need, to which Peyton shakes her head and thanks the waitress.

"Oh, everyone is," Laura assures the young woman across from her. She also thanks the waitress, and demurs at the query; nothing else needed. Setting the mug down in favor of the sandwich, she gives Peyton another quicksilver smile before starting to eat.

"The trick is just to not get caught or compromised in the process."

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