And Also Fuck You


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Scene Title And Also Fuck You
Synopsis This coffee is gonna be so… bitter.
Date December 1, 2011

The Hub

There's news that a scavenger team came back not long ago, which isn't exactly a run on the bank, but fairly close. Supplies always being in high demand, and the best items are usually traded to K-Mart or given to the Hub in order to keep the wheels turning. But as it's known by now, the scavengers keep their own stashes of goods, and they charge their own prices. Amongst the little pop-up market of items that Shaw has laid out are staples of a corner bodega. But there was rumor of a prize item that the scavenger's returned with, one that he's keeping back for those who can afford it: coffee beans. But the question that no one can - or is willing to answer… At what cost?

Coffee is like a siren song to some, perhaps especially to Lynette. She heard, now she's here, ready to throw herself on the rocks. She has a cigarette between her lips, lit and smoking. "Shaw," she says sharply. She always seems to be on the edge of yelling. Pulling the cigarette from her lips, she blows smoke out to the side and comes to a stop at his little market.

"Heard you were back," she says, "word is you brought in something good." Since it is still just a rumor. Until the beans are on the table, that is.

His eyes closed briefly but by no means asleep, Shaw nevertheless twitches like his body wanted to be startled and just didn't manage to move those muscles enough to do so. He looks up from his crosslegged sitting position at the electrokinetic, though his focus is not directly eye to eye but eye to cigarette. "Yes, it's all good," he replies, angling his head for her to look at the most obvious spread before them. A box of curiously strong mints here, a toothbrush there. The real prize isn't on the table for all to see, but there is a lumpy shape of a faded blue hoodie draped over something beside him and within arms' reach. A beat skips. Quieter, "And some grrreat."

"I'm not here about stale breakfast cereal." Lynette sighs and drops down to sit across from him, and also cross-legged. The cigarette moves: back to her mouth, a puff taken in, away from her mouth, a puff let out. "I heard there was coffee. What do you want for it?" She's blunt, it takes the fun out of negotiations, but if she ever had the knack for it, she gave it up in the apocalypse. She doesn't seem to have brought anything with her, though, so maybe she's just getting the lay of the land before deciding what she's willing to give up.

Ah, well then. That's the thing with Shaw, who has always been a bit of a tough nut to crack. Not because he's harsh, but because he's just a puzzle. He blinks as she plops down before him, speaks her piece. The man carefully gathers up the items spread and tucks them to the side before sitting the lumpy hoodie down and unwraps the top of the cloth to reveal none other than a shiny metal bag, crimped closed at the top by a wooden clothespin. The familiar stamped Starbucks logo in green and white peeks out, and he carefully pulls off the pin to open the bag and reveal the contents to be actual coffee beans. Whole beans. She can examine as he ponders a price, and when he finally comes up with one he asks, "How about a story?" Of all the things to ask for, really.

Lynette watches as the items are put away and the treasure comes out. Her fingers tap against her knee, possibly without her realizing it. When he opens it up to prove that it's real, she leans forward to look. And to smell. Her eyes close, because this is as close to heaven as she's likely to get.

His price brings her crashing back down to earth.

Her eyes open. She straightens up. A puzzle indeed. "Are you serious right now?" Because… she kinda doesn't think he's serious. "A story?"

She can smell it, the aromatic scent slowly drifting up, teasing. It's probably why he's keeping it under the sweater so that it doesn't attract people, because who knows what people can sense when they're desperate. Well, he kind of knows.

"A story," Shaw repeats, his tone leaning on the interested side of neutral. He is indeed, serious. Dark eyes watch Lynette intently, trying to gauge if she'll agree to the price or negotiate further. Perhaps he's asking a lot, especially for this particular woman at this particular time. And perhaps that's exactly why.

Maybe it is a lot. Maybe it's too much, although some might wonder why. For Lynette, it is not a comfortable request. "For the whole bag?" The bag is eyed. While she calculates how much she really wants it.

"Okay, so. This is not my thing, but I'll do my best." Bad. She wants the coffee bad, as it turns out. "Okay, so back in the day there was a girl. I don't remember her name, so we're going to call her Susan. So back in the day Susan wanted to go to school, but women weren't allowed. But her dad was, like, progessive as shit so helped her disguise herself as a guy so she could go. Right?" Got it, Shaw? "At school, Susan meets this guy— Barry— and he's smart and cool and they become friends. They talk about art and philosophy and write poetry and read books and it's generally pretty great. So Susan falls in love with him, but she can't tell him because he still thinks she's a guy because he's smart but also really oblivious, like… it's super clear that she's not a guy and is also in love with him, but he's dense.

"So by the time school is over and they all have to go back home, Susan as come up with a plan. She invites the guy— um. Bob? George? Let's call him Freddy— to her family's home to meet her 'sister' because they would totally hit it off and she's single and her parents are making noises about her getting married. But there is no sister, Shaw, it's just going to be Susan-as-Susan and not Susan-as-a-Guy." Lynette pauses there, glancing around like she might be worried someone else is going to hear her telling this story. But, the coast is clear. "Anyway, so as it turns out, her dad was not as progressive as previously thought and was not okay with the idea of marrying for love when the guy— fuckin'— Barry? Barry is just a poet. So he's not allowed to marry her and he goes home. But they write letters in secret, because they're in love and Barry knows that Susan was Susan all along now because she eventually just had to hit him over the head with it. But her parents promise her to some other guy, someone wealthy and noble or whatever. And Barry hears about it and dies. Because he cannot live in a world without her. But she doesn't know, she just thinks he stopped writing because he was upset. So she goes through with the wedding, but on the way there she walks past the place where he's buried. And even though she doesn't know that, she can't move a single step past his grave. But she knows she can't marry this other person. So she runs. And she finds his grave and sees that it's his and she throws herself on it and fades away. Because she can't live in a world without him, either. And when she died, their souls lifted out of the ground as a pair of butterflies. And they were together."

She pauses.

"The butterfly part is a metaphor. Because like, their souls met in the afterlife or whatever."

Quiet for the duration of the story, Shaw remains focused on Lynette and strangely not fidgety. It's the same as when he's paying attention. There's a small nod here and there, a brief confusion with the multitude of names but he eventually susses out the characters. By the time Susan's unable to walk past her love's grave, Shaw is stock still. And the ending is not what he expects, because the young man's mouth opens partially out of surprise. And he's a little bit slow to recover, but when the souls meet in the afterlife (or whatever), his mouth clamps back shut.

Shaw remembers to breathe. He looks down to the coffee beans, cants his head, and then lifts his gaze back to Lynette sitting across from him. "The butterfly is a metaphor," he utters softly. And with that he reaches into the bag of beans and lifts out a rather conservative amount in a styrfoam cup, the kind used at office water coolers everywhere. But at least it's up to the brim with beans. This he offers out to the woman as her due.

In the apocalypse, they're all learning just how non-biodegradable styrofoam really is. But this fact is not appreciated by Lynette at this moment.

"You're kidding, right?" she says in a voice that implies he better be. "That was the best story you've ever heard in your life, Shaw! There was disguises and fate and fucking— fucking butterflies."

This… is an outrage. If only there were a manager to demand to speak to.

The styrofoam cup is slooowly drawn back as Shaw sees the look on Lynette's face. The look in her eye. Hears the tone of her voice. The coffee is, for the time being, protected by a hand over the top of the cup. "It was really good," he agrees, trying to placate but sounding confused all the same. After a beat he ventures, "Did you want two cups?"

Lynette narrows her eyes at him, like she's not sure if this is all part of the same joke or if he's genuinely confused. So she reaches out to snatch the bag while he protects the cup. Two cups indeed. And worse, she holds her hand out for the cup, too. "Come on. I would have done a shittier one if you'd said it was for one cup. Fucking Princess and the Pea or some shit."

No, no joke here. He's not that type of joker, evidently. Shaw leans away like that's going to even help in the presence of a non-negated electrokinetic. Tension and confusion radiate out of him, and he's caught off guard when she snatches up the bag of coffee beans. "H-hey!" he protests, but withers at the approach of her hand. He glances down to the hand, then back up. He doesn't appear to be willing to risk her ire further, though, and places the cup into her waiting hand. "I don't know that one," he admits with wary drop of volume.

"It's about the impossible standards society places on women and and exploration on why those societies then use those standards to judge a woman's worth. It misses the mark a bit, because marriage is still seen as winning, but an interesting thought all the same." Lynette takes the cup, pours the beans back into the bag, then passes the empty cup back to him. "A kingdom makes women sleep on a stack of mattresses with a single pea underneath. No one can marry the prince unless they're sensitive enough to feel the pea under, like, twenty mattresses."

The beans getting poured back into the bag are watched with a sort of longing regret. But Shaw recognizes he's lost this battle in a way. When Lynette goes on to tell, or rather describe, the story he doesn't know, he once again listens. A pause for consideration. "I bet I could feel it," he claims, "if I wasn't negated." His brow furrows. "Then I'd marry the prince." Well, there was some progress, at least. His expression relaxes, as he looks back to Lynette. "Social standards aren't the same as they were before though, now…" He adds, apropos of a stray thought, "You're worth saving."

"You're a man, Shaw," Lynette says with some side-eyeing, "you would never be forced to feel a pea under a bunch of fluff. You don't even get it." Gosh. But, he makes a point and she acknowledges it with a sigh. "That's true. Not much room for princesses or misogyny down here." There's not enough of them for that luxury. There's not enough luxury for that luxury. His last words pull her out of her thoughts, though, and she looks over at him with a furrowed brow. "What's that mean?"

The man cants his head back at the note, and seems to be trying hard to find what he's supposed to get. But there's no success in the scavenging of his mind there, only what's happening at present. He shakes his head slowly for the loss of the rest of the world. His last note that earns him a new furrowed brow gets a blink in reply. "You're worth saving," he repeats, "you matter to people here, to the whole grid. To Ruiz."

Then, he reaches back to pick up an odd looking paper and holds it out to Lynette for her to see. It's one of the pamphlets that Dirk's been handing out in the common room, this one with big letters written across it saying: It's Your Civic Duty to Have Children. "Dirk thinks so too."

Lynette is not comfortable with the direction this conversation has taken. She's not comfortable with her worth being discussed at all, generally, but definitely not right now. There's an expression on her face. Poised for anger, but not quite there. A get on with it look.

Then that pamphlet comes out and she tips over. There's a sort of strangled growl in her throat and she shoots up to her feet. "Okay, so there's some room for misogyny down here after all." And societal expectations. And one pissed off electrokinetic. "And also fuck you." She's taking the coffee, Shaw. And she's going.

For all that she's uncomfortable, the sincerity of Shaw's statement does not take heed of the woman's discomfort. He's genuine in stating what he means and his observation. The man's honesty and naivete carries too far, perhaps, when he brings out the pamphlet to show her. The reaction out of Lynette, though, is far from what he's intended. He falls back when she stands, eyes large and full of angered woman. The man says nothing to defend himself, as he has no idea what to say. And he stays that way as she curses him and storms off, leaving him to watch her back in confused wonder.

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