Chimichurri Chicken Melt


vf_kaylee_icon2.gif vf_shaw_icon2.gif

Scene Title Chimichurri Chicken Melt
Synopsis Kaylee and Shaw meet up to talk about things in this strange world like hellions, doppelgängers, and repaying debts.
Date January 27, 2012

Perk Elation Coffee Shop

New York City hipster-style coffee shop serving coffee, desserts, and sandwiches. A small reading room is located up the stairs but it's often packed with those people lucky enough to find a spot with a plug for their wifi device. Downstairs, a group of tables, skinny countertop bar, and one couch reading area resemble the typical Starbucks-type cafe model but with a more worldly decor.

Of all the places to end up in after a fight for one’s life to get to live as another. The craziness of New York City is, perhaps, a perfect fit for it. Now that the few survivors have escaped into a greener, brighter world and find their lives flipped all around or completely taken over by alternate identities, at least one man has found the city to be a confusing sprawl of people, sights, dogs, smells… taxi cabs. Shaw used to spend hours ducking from alley to alley, corner to corner, shadow to shadow. Back when the Vanguard and Kazimir had a chokehold on the city. On the world. He’s still doing so, not having broken out of that habit as much, but he has learned a few things. One of which: texting.

Once he’s figured out the numbers, he’s gotten in touch. It’s taken a few tries, but he has managed to contact a few people. More with Izzy’s help. But today is a day spent wandering alone in a section of the city, something he used to do before… everything. His hands fidget with a rectangular, plastic card in his pocket and the other hand his phone. The man paces along the sidewalk, others ignored and manuevered around. Every so often he stops in place and looks around, causing more than a fair share of people annoyed at him for the road block.

“Watch it, man!” A voice sharply berates him for his latest stop at the corner, nearly colliding with a coffee-carrying pedestrian coming out of the nearby shop. Shaw scoots to a side with a mumbled half-apology, half ‘What am I watching?’ before he squints outward again.

“Ignore him,” says a familiar voice not far from him. “People ‘round here are impatient pricks.” Kaylee sounds annoyed, though looking, it’s obvious that she means the coffee wielding man. Her comment gets her a middle finger, to which she only smirks. “Not even worth my time,” she murmurs into a knit scarf of multiple shades of red. Huddled in her old worn leather jacket, hands tucked into pockets against the cold, she looks like a little dejected and worn down.

Blue eyes turn to Shaw, her face framed not with gold, but earthy tones of brown. One might wonder if this is his Kaylee, but the scarring line along one side of her head marks her as the one that traveled with him into this strange world. Those darker strands of hair, help distract and hide the healing gash. Her smile, however, is still hers, even if it doesn’t hold the brightness it once did. “I got your text,” is offered tiredly.

Shaw should just ignore the man as suggested. It would be easy to just tweak the man’s taste buds and turn his coffee disgustingly bland, though the sense negator doesn’t act on the impulse. He’s behaving, for now, but also given his own unfinessed wielding of his ability, it would result in a much larger target area than he intends. And not all the people in the coffee shop deserve that.

When Kaylee appears, he sucks in a breath at the change, blinking and taking in the color shift of her hair, the healing strike down her face. He resists the urge to reach out to touch by fiddling with his pockets. “Yes, good,” he comments with a small smile, a look upon her up and down. “You changed your hair. That’s good too. Hides you. I didn’t see you earlier, was looking for a blonde. I don’t think I should change my hair… but nobody looks at me already.”

He shifts his weight from one foot to another, leaning towards the coffee shop entrance, then away indecisively. He’s discontent to stay where they are, though, and eventually queries, “Did you eat yet?” They’re in front of a coffee shop though, not a restaurant or a take-out place. “There’s a lot of coffee around again. A lot of… of everything.”

Long fingers push through her hair, a little conscious of it. The act pushes the hair away enough that the damage to her face is noticeable. It gets pitying looks, from people nearby… possibly comments, but these are ignored. “Well, the important people notice you,” Kaylee points out gently. “The rest of them can go.. Well… they don’t matter anyhow.” There might be a touch of protectiveness for one of the many who shared the same hell as she did.

The mention of food has Kaylee looking at the coffee shop. “I haven’t eaten, yet,” she admits glancing at the one who summoned her. “You hungry? Pretty sure they have muffins and stuff like that in there. Lord knows I can’t seem to get enough coffee now that we don’t have to ration it.” Her smile turns something a little more genuine. “How about I treat today, hmm?”

The angry wound gets a sidelong stare and slight wince of sympathy. Not because Shaw thinks the disfiguring mark will be a shame, but simply because it looks like it hurts. “Do you think they’ll matter later?” he wonders at her, a rather philosophical and rhetorical query but when he says it, the anxieties about all the people around them feels immediate. At least in his mind. They went from a world of barely enough people to be considered a community, shoved into a livable space, to so many people it’s impossible to remember faces all their faces. But Shaw does try, with darting eyes and still body like a caffeinated spider.

Perking at the question of sharing a meal, Shaw bobs his head, a short affirmative “Yes” answering her. “How are you going to get more?” Money, that is. Hands dig into a pocket. “Do you know what you’re supposed to do? Where to go? It’s not like with the Hub. I… It said I should deliver things, but.” The man extracts his hand, scrubbing at his neck.

“Not sure if they will matter later,” Kaylee offers with a shrug and a soft smile. “Sometimes, the ones you thought didn’t matter, they suddenly matter a lot.” Much like the man standing before her. Someone, she barely noticed before, now he was a part of an exclusive group of people.

Reaching over to lightly grip his elbow, Kaylee guides him into the cafe and steps into line. “It’s called having a job. Much like you helped K-mart before. Except, now we are paid money for doing things we are good at, which we then exchange for food and things we need. I work in food service. Bartender or waitress. Doesn’t pay a lot, but it is just enough to survive and to pay for a meal with a friend.” She studies the sparse menu for a moment. Then a thought occurs to her. “Do you still have your packet they gave you when we got here?”

Head tilted, Shaw looks back at Kaylee with her initial words, her smile. A reflection of it flickers back from him to her; he caught her meaning. Guided by the hand on his elbow, he scans the interior of the coffee shop in much the same way he used to scout and scavenge. Threats assessed first, points of access and paths available, then items of interest. Of which there are several, but the enticing display of baked goods and bustling activity behind the counter are the eyecatching parts of the shop. As the planners of the shop originally intended.

His attention switches back to Kaylee in moments, the conversation drawing a lifting of his brows at the mention of “friend”. He might not need a coffee after the buzz of the word lingering. “The packet? I left it with Isabelle and Magnes and Elaine,” he names of the people he’s staying with at the moment. A hand digs into a pocket, drawing out a beat up generic looking wallet and showing her with a flip open the comparatively pristine and new driver’s license within. It’s got his face on it, somehow, but not his name. Wherever did they decide to come up with “Morris Morrison” for a name for this man… but he doesn’t seem to mind. “Do you have yours, still? Are we supposed to hide them?” On the seemingly random thought through-line as he spies the menu, he murmurs, “Chimichurri chicken melt?”

“I’m thinkin’ that roast beef sandwich sounds good. I hear they make their bread here,” Kaylee murmurs as an aside, as she moves forward in line. “I think I’ll do that and an iced mocha.”

Her attention turns to the license in his hand, she takes it gently and turns it where she can get a good look. “Morris, hmm?” She looks up from the card and squints a bit as she trying see if it looks like him. Even taking a moment to hold it up next to his face. Finally, she hands it back to him with a grin, pulling her own license from her back pocket to show. Thought this one was blonde. The name Leanne Edwards on her own. “I just can’t seem to get myself to use these names.”

Kaylee sighs softly, “And my packet is at my place, tucked away safe.” She gives a slow shrug. “You might sit down with Izzy or you can bring your packet to me. See where you are suppose to work. Or at least where you are suppose to try to get work at. Delivering things can be a good job. I imagine if you get people’s stuff delivered safe and sound, they might tip you a little extra money.” After a moment, she holds up a finger. “Best not to mention that to anyone. People hate being reminded to tip.”

Shaw isn’t as fancy in his choice of drink, just a regular coffee will do. He does not yet know the glory of the iced mocha. Given the ordering line moves somewhat slowly, the exchange of licenses and conversation of their packets are a welcome distraction. Fingers take ‘Leanne Edwards’ into possession, framing the edges and holding it as one might a disposable camera on the top and bottom edges, held up beside Kaylee’s current features in a similar to her movement from before. Her currently distinguishing features get remarked upon again. “I like how you look now, too,” Shaw says, handing back her card.

“My…” He slips off the thought as he listens carefully to her tip on tips. All of this is very important, so his attentivel expression indicates. Shaw bobs his head a few times, while he tucks his license back into his pocket, fingers tapping it in place. His head perks as he belatedly notices, “Hey! If you’re a bartender, then Isabelle could—” He pauses as the line moves up a couple of people, shuffling with the rest. “I mean. We could see you, right? And, I can bring you stuff.” It’s an old habit, offering to supply for those in demand. The alternate identity occupation somehow fits him. How did they know?

“Thanks,” Kaylee offers at the comment of how she looks now, eyeing the blonde on the card. She runs a thumb over it. “Felt like I needed a change. New world, new me.” Repeating that little mantra, there is a rueful smile that touches her lips, glancing up at Shaw as she steps forward.

Finally, she tucks away her own ID as she gives him an amused looked at the question. This is probably the longest conversation either of them have had. “You and Isabelle are absolutely welcome to visit me. It doesn’t have to at the bar either, you know where I am staying. Whenever, you need someone to talk too.” That offers stands as their turn comes up.

Turning towards the counter, she is faced with a young man, looking rather bored at life. He waits a little impatiently for them to order. Kaylee puts on her best smile, “Hi. I’d like… ah… Roast beef sandwich, leave off the horseradish. Add mayo. An iced Mocha. Annnnd… whatever my friend here wants.” Stepping aside, a little, Kaylee motions to Shaw to order.

A broader smile pokes its way up along Shaw’s face to that standing invite, his eyes large and gleaming. The world seems right for the time being.

Kaylee’s half of the order is received with the same bored look and rote tapping of the register’s touchscreen. As Shaw steps up to order, he flashes a counter cashier a smile too, starting to say the ‘churri’ of the ‘chimichurri chicken melt’ when the cashier suddenly blinks as if he recognizes Shaw.

“Hang on, aren’t you… you’re the flooring guy.”
“Yeah, yeah you’re that guy in the commercial! ‘Let our flooring prices drop your jaw, call 1-800-YEE-SHAW’ right?”

A confusion and slip of panic enters Shaw’s expression and he steps a pace back from the counter. Thin shoulders hunching, he ducks his head and shakes it a few times rapidly, mumbling, “N-no, I’m Morris… Morrison.” He shoots an apologetic look to Kaylee and quickly turns away his face, the rest of his body following as he means to beat a retreat and put distance between him and the cashier.

An arm snaps out to stop Shaw’s retreat, arm across the front of him, though her attention is fully on the cashier instead. Giving a false chuckle, Kaylee quips, “he gets that all the time, but I assure you that, my friend is not that flooring guy.” Kaylee wrinkles her nose a bit, as if she doesn’t have much of an opinion on that guy. It’s all a lie, but she is good at those. Or mostly a lie. On some level, Morris is Shaw.

“They say that everyone has a doppelgänger. His is just famous,” Kaylee glances at Morris and asks, “You wanted the chimichurri chicken melt right?” She knows the answer so she repeats it a little louder for the cashier. Her head tips a bit to catch, Shaw’s eye, so that she can offer a soft, “Hey. It’s okay,” in reassurance.

When someone behind them starts to complain about the line being held up, Kaylee’s eyes narrow at him and suddenly, he doesn’t seem as bothered about it. A little louder she asks him, “What do you want to drink, Morris?”

His retreat barred by the appearance of Kaylee's arm blocking his path, Shaw looks down to the limb, then up to its owner. He could push his way through if he tried, but the man instead slowly turns back around to face the cashier. At her prompting, he nods slowly in silence for the choice of sandwich melt.

The catch of eye contact is fleeting at best. He's not trying to hold anybody's gaze. Maybe he's just found something interesting on the floor.

The complainer in line silenced with a look from the telepath, and the cashier draws the conclusion that no, this odd man couldn't possibly be the boisterous advertiser as seen on TV. Alas. Back to being bored then. "Alright, chicken melt. Anything else?" adds the cashier, waiting on Shaw's choice.

Shaw scratches one hand against the knuckles of the other. When he dares to glance up, to respond to the alias used, he states simply, "Coffee."

"Hot or iced?"
"Hu— Hot."
"What size?"
"Normal… Regular?"
"A regular hot coffee," adds the cashier to the order with a valiant effort to not state the obvious 'god, this guy' that he thinks.

Once the cashier's totaled up the order and the meal is paid for, the pair are ushered to the side with their order number clipped on a stick stand. Shaw sticks close to Kaylee's side as they move, and once they're in a more quiet spot waiting, he apologizes. "Sorry, I forgot… I was on TV. Isabelle and I saw me on it. Lots of times." By his tone, he’s not sure what to make of it, the revelation obviously still in processing for the man. His eyes lift slightly, dark moving to blue. “Do you have a you, too?”

Folding the receipt around her debit card, Kaylee gives Shaw a curious look. So he has seen himself. “Me? Yeah. She works for the New York Police Department. She’s a detective.” There is a bit of a dismissive shrug and the card is tucked away into her pant pocket. “More power to her, I dunno how she did it. Especially, with a past like ours, but I guess here I calmed down from the hellion I was.”

A hand touches Shaw’s arm, to make sure she has his attention, “Hey, just remember next time someone mistakes you for that guy, you ain’t him. He’s your doppelgänger. You get it a lot.” Kaylee gives him a wink. “No reason to run.”

Taking the stick, she looks about the cafe and finds that luck is in their favor. A small table tucked to the side with enough chairs for two. Fingers snag his coat sleeve briefly, “Com’on.”

The reveal of Other-Kaylee’s occupation draws a reflection of the curious look. Wow, a detective. Police. There are only vague memories of his interaction with police officers, before the virus. Most of them just being told to not stand around in places and be in the way. Loitering. He did a lot of it, when he was younger.

“Hell lean, Hell leaning, hellion…” He tries out the unfamiliar word, digs around in his pockets for his phone, and pokes at it to unlock it the way he had been shown, and finds a button that lets him speak into the phone, recording the word. “Hell-Leanne…”

His distraction is partly interrupted with the touch to his arm, and he blinks at her. The wink from her brings up a smile from him again, brief though it may be. He nods, repeating, “No reason to run. Doppel, dapple, apple,… d-doppelgänger.” That’s recorded too.

Successfully pulled away to sit at the side table, Shaw lowers into a chair and sets his phone down on right in front of him. While they wait for the food to arrive, he occupies the time with fidgeting on the phone’s recording app. “What does it mean, Hell-Leanne? Does it mean your other name, Leanne? How did you calm down from being you? And what about dap— doppelgänger?” Seated across from her, he leans forward slightly, head angled as if he were attempting to not miss any word, any definitions provided. The app continues to record.

“Hell-Lee-yun,” Kaylee pronounces each syllable for Shaw, very carefully even, once she realizes he is recording it. Arms are folded and leaned on the table. “It means, that when I was young I use to get into a lot of trouble. Use to drive my mom crazy.” There is a touch of sadness when mentioning her mom. “I didn’t run with a very good crowd of kids.”

Fingers flick in a dismissive manner, “But that is in the past.” Mostly… he doesn’t need to know. “Now a doppelgänger. That is just someone that looks just like you, but is not you. They say that everyone has someone that looks like them out there in the world.” She motions towards the door. “Though, they mean someone born into the same world, but it works for us too.”

Reaching over to tap on the glass screen with a nail lightly. “So while you have this thing going. Any other questions?” She was rather enjoying the company of someone who wasn’t surly or drunk… or a backstabber.

The app stays on, recording Kaylee’s voice as she pronounces the words and defines them. Defines herself. The way Shaw watches her, dark eyes lacking with dark judgments, the young man is an open book of rampant curiosity. He’d been one of the scavengers who would accept a non-material trade back in the Hub. The stories, songs, poems. Merely an intriguing word, apparently, could lure his attention. Like she has his now. He nods slowly with each explanation, taking mental ntoes. Once she asks him if he has any questions, he tilts his head and eyes look to a spot in the middle distance above Kaylee’s brunette hair. He thinks.

“My family got in trouble too.” The statement sounds like something being dragged up from the depths, squelching in the mental muddy puddle that is Shaw’s deeper memory. He ducks his head, eyes downcast to the recording phone before squinting closed. Flashes of it, like silvery fish fins rising then diving back into the depths, sweeping through. A white out blizzard. Bright lights. Screams. Screeching tires. A hard jolt. A sickening, weightless, spinning sensation and then falling. And cold. So much cold.

“Roast beef, chicken melt.”

With a start, Shaw’s eyes snap back open and his whole body shivers hard, once. Their food and drinks set down with the soft clinks of plates on the table concludes with the server plucking the numbered stick up and walking away, a small “Enjoy” offered. It’s marvelled at, the sandwich in front of Shaw, more food than they’d ever had received in the Hub. He sniffs in the scent of the sandwich deeply. Eyes flick back up to Kaylee, and a faint smile of pleasure returning to his expression. Like he hadn’t just remembered the trauma of a past long ago.

After a pause, Shaw realizes he’s left on the recording and scoots the phone into his hands carefully. “Don’t want to drop it,” he murmurs, cradling the device. Then he fiddles with turning off the recorder and the phone finds its home in his pocket.

Unfortunately for Shaw, he wasn’t the only one to see that memory. Kaylee stares at the man across from her with a mix of pity and guilt. Guilt for the fact that she never really gave the man much thought before or what might have made him who he is today. His memory leaves so many questions, but she doesn’t want to drag him through it all.

Luckily, the server pulls her attention, eyes snapping over to the food as it is set down at their table. “Thank you,” she says before inspecting her own sandwich. “Sure beats what we use to eat,” Kaylee comments lightly, picking up a pickle spear from her plate. “Probably the best thing about ending up in this world is the variety of food.”

She offers her companion a bright smile, “Thank you for dragging me out here like this.”

Some would say that Shaw knew already what it was like to die. It doesn’t seem to affect him on the day to day, although there are likely several studies that could be done about it. The memory tucks itself back into the folds of his mind, beaten away with the arrival of food and drinks, friends and conversations. Picking up his chicken melt, he sniffs at the scents of the sandwich, the chimichurri sauce oozing with herbaceous and tantalizing new odors. New visuals, new textures. The bread alone… they didn’t have this kind of thing in the Hub, and the past before the virus was an even further memory.

“I thought it was going to melt,” Shaw realizes after the moment of inspection. He sets it back down on the plate, carefully. And suddenly looks unsure of how to approach the food. It seems like a lot, even without taking a single bite, like he’s eaten with his eyes and is full. “Maybe I’ll bring it back to Isabelle. She likes hot things,” he considers with a twist of his lips together and down in thought.

Dark eyes flick back up as she smiles at him, thanks him. A flush of color darkens his cheeks and Shaw drops his look a touch, a subtle dip to avoid direct eye contact without seeming impolite. “But,” he protests mildly, “dragging is, you didn’t want to come… I’m sorry.” His eyes round widely as another recollection sparks by his rampant jumps from thought to thought. Here, he focuses a stare at Kaylee. It’s very serious. “Consent is very important. Always have to have consent from your partner.”

She can’t help it, Kaylee chuckles and reaches across the table. “Shaw. No no. It’s okay. I promise. You are not in trouble.” Gripping his arm in reassurance, she gives him a smile. “The fact that I am here means I consented. If I had not shown up, I wouldn’t have. It is… “ She trails off, trying to think how to explain it. “It just means that I didn’t really want to go, but I came along anyway. You didn’t really force me. I am very happy to be here.”

Patting his arm, Kaylee picks up a half of her sandwich. She studies the meaty contents with a bit of a nod. “Perfect. I can’t remember when I had a roast beef sandwich.” Taking a bite, she chews it a bit, before asking. “Yeah, that’s good.” She plucks a dangling bit of roast beef from the edge of the sandwich and eats it, too. “I will have to drag Kain and Ling here sometime.”

“Oh, okay.” Shaw calms to a point, glancing to her hand on his arm, glancing back to her. “I’m glad you are happy to be here. That you came,” he then says with a renewed pick up of a smile. “I think… I think I am, too. Happy. To be here.” He glances around the coffee shop in indication of their current surroundings. Maybe even the world as it is. “Izzy likes it too,” he observes with a thoughtful, ceilingward glance then a return of his gaze to Kaylee.

When the woman picks up her sandwich to take a bite, Shaw utters a quick ‘oh’ and looks back down to his own. The man pushes one half of the sandwich aside on the plate gingerly, reserving it. The other half of his chicken melt, by contrast, finally gets a big chomp down off one corner. Is it more than he can chew? Maybe… but there’s a coffee to wash it down with. “This is amazing,” he claims after the first bite. And goes to take another. He pauses, though, at mention of Kain and Ling.

“Do they like it here too?” Shaw wonders, into his sandwich. “What do they do? What are their new names?” Suddenly a thought crosses his mind that makes his shoulders hunch, clutching the sandwich closer in both hands to his chest. “I still owe K-mart…” The running tab of back and forth, supply and demand, that happened between some of the scavengers and the man who ran the Hub’s main supply depot, remains fresh in Shaw’s mind. The half a chicken melt gets a second glance. He’d meant to pass it to Isabelle later, but.

“Amazing how having to subsist on barely edible food makes fresh food taste so much better,” Kaylee says after working through another bite. “Makes you really appreciate it.”

The questions about Kain and Ling make her a little wary, Kaylee doesn’t want reveal too much about what all has been going on. So… she redirects and distracts a bit. “I hear what you are thinking… You don’t owe K-mart your sandwich.” She leans forward her own sandwich still gripped in her own hands. “You like Izzy right? I know you wanted to take it to her.” She tilts her head towards the sandwich, with a knowing smile. “You should give that to her if you are not going to eat it. She’ll appreciate you for it, I’m sure.”

Taking a small bite of her’s Kaylee nudges her plate closer to him. “Can take my other half, too, I’ll get you a box. Then you two can have a meal together tonight.” Ever helpful… sometimes.

Carefully, Shaw again brings up the sandwich and chewing on another, smaller bite he waits on the answers to his questions. He ducks his head in apology for what he assumes is thinking too loud. What must it feel like for a telepath, he has to wonder somewhere in the back of his mind. Her redirection tactic takes, and he looks reassured that the sandwich she’s treated him to is his to do with.

He can’t help the shy smile that comes to his face when she mentions Isabelle. Or rather, his liking her. “I do,” he admits, “Very much.” He glances down to the remaining half of his sandwich and then back up to Kaylee when she nudges her half of roast beef towards him too. Shaw’s eyes widen in surprise at her generosity. “Really? O-okay.” He starts to reach, hesitates a moment with a double checking glance to her when she mentions getting a box. He hadn’t thought of that. Maybe he was just going to carry the sandwich in his hands, wrapped in some napkins.

It’s a very good thing Kaylee is helpful. Even if it’s just sometimes.

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