Not All Of Us Are Wizards Or Time Lords


cassandra_icon.gif zelda2_icon.gif

Scene Title Not All of Us Are Wizards or Time Lords
Synopsis Two women get lucky in the food lottery, and end up getting to know each other as a result.
Date July 26, 2018

Red Hook

Ever since the discovery that her father was instrumental in covering up a lot of less-than-scrupulous things using an ability that was otherwise unknown, Cassandra has been stuck on desk duty, as to stay out of the limelight and not potentially compromise any ongoing investigations. This was something that she really, really didn’t enjoy, either, considering she was used to going out and rooting around, using her ability to learn the past and help solve problems. Sure, she was given a few things to look into, here and there, but always at SESA headquarters and always without any concept of exactly what she was looking at. She was given an object, the approximate date, and was let loose to take notes about what happened. Through the grapevine she discovered a few things - lack of movement on the whole food theft thing in the Safe Zone was a particular thorn in her side - but otherwise she went to work, did her job, worked out at the gym, and went home to her little second story brownstone in the Safe Zone.

She tended to spend a lot of her time at SESA headquarters - even though she lived in the safe zone, power sometimes wasn’t a constant thing. She did manage to get an idea of when a potential brownout might happen and tried to not be around when they did. In the event that she had to be, she prepared a few things to keep herself cool - a large fan that ran off of a car battery that was constantly connected to a trickle charger first and foremost on the list.

This evening, though, with the sun dipping low in the western sky, she’s in the process of closing down for the evening. Her next stop is a quick workout in the locker room, a shower to wash the sweat away, and then a trip into the city to hopefully find something to eat and then home.

It’s been a long day for Wilhelmina Falkenrath. She’s finally catching up on all of the paperwork that comes with swimming through the international laws and paperwork and red tape that comes with being the face that deals with Yamagato’s relations with the United States Government, and has started working to resolve a few outstanding issues that were simply waiting for her to catch up.

She’s had a nice long run for the night, and cleaned up back at her place in Yamagato Park, using that delightful waterfall shower that was included with the apartment, and now that she’s freshened up, the Brit has gotten dressed in her casual outfits, septum ring and all, and has made her way out to Red Hook.

While the food shortage is still a pretty big thing, there’s still the simple New York pizza stand that has been set up, and Wilhelmina immediately made a beeline for it upon seeing it — one of her coworkers mentioned New York Pizza and how vital it was for her to find and try it — and to tell him about it after the fact.

Quietly, the slender woman takes her place in line, pulling her wallet from her purse and idly leafing through the contents as she waits for her turn to purchase a slice.

Cassandra’s workout took about an hour, the shower after took about fifteen minutes, and getting out of SESA headquarters took another fifteen once she was dressed in her casual, comfortable clothes. By that point, twilight was well and truly happening and hunger had started to prick at Cassandra’s stomach, suggesting that she get something to eat as quickly as she possibly could. Thankfully, the ferry doesn’t take long to get from A to B and, once she’s off the boat, the more important question of where to get some food starts to take hold. The food shortages are still a thing, but with pizza requiring flour, sugar, yeast, and a little oil, you can quite easily make pizza, even if the cheese quotient is a little light. The shop that Zelda heard about, Cassie heard about too. You tend to listen when someone mentions that a pizza shop has real cheese for topping the pizzas - mozzarella is difficult to find in this post-war cityscape! It’s in Red hook, near the coffee stand that’s closed for the evening.

When Cassandra arrives, she frowns a little. The line for the pizza shop is long, even though the prices are reasonable. Two slices for eight bucks and it tastes good? Where does she line up? She resigns herself to a thirty minute wait as people are served and slices are pulled fresh from the brick oven built into a trailer, joining the queue right behind a slender woman with a septum ring and a kinky mass of dark curls on her head. A small book is withdrawn from a messenger bag slung over her left shoulder, turned to a random page. She’s apparently going to read a little while the line moves.

And man, is it ever a long line. Zelda is fortunate enough to have her nice Yamagato-issued smartphone on hand, and she idly scrolls the screen for a few moments, reading some insanely long legal text that must be incredibly boring for onlookers. She’s always enjoyed her work, though — there’s something cathartic about getting lost in legal texts, at least for her.

After a few moments, however, she grows bored with her glowing screens, and starts idly casting her gaze about, looking for something of interest. Her attention falls upon the woman behind her, brown eyes trailing down to the book, then up to the woman’s face.

“Can I ask what you’re reading?” Bored, Wilhelmina decides to make some small talk. Friends are always good, right?

Cassandra has angled herself to catch the light from the window of the store they're standing in front of. SESA doesn't pay for smartphones, the one cell tower means that getting any more than email here is difficult, and don't even think about streaming music from the internet. People still have problems doing that even on a hard line. Bandwidth isn't plentiful or cheap; so those that have it are lucky or, as in Cassie’s case, just go without and take the dead tree route.

She's in the midst of turning a page when the woman ahead of her in line speaks, the mousy-haired girl looking up after a second to blink owlishly at the other woman. “Um, sure.” She flips the book around to reveal the cover embossed in silver tilt. “It's A Game of Thrones by a guy named George Martin. Pretty well written so far. Lots of chivalry and backroom dealing. I'm only through the first few chapters, though so….”. She gives a one shouldered shrug, tucking a bookmark in between the pages to save her spot, the book vanishing into the darkness of her bag. “Got it at the market today. Seemed interesting to flip through, and it was better than the selection of romance she had on offer so I went with the swords and battle book.”

The Highland Blacksmith’s Lady? Tender is the Storm? The Daring Twin? No thank you.

“How about you? Anything interesting in the news? I saw you scrolling through some stuff but didn't stare long enough to make it out. And besides, staring is rude.”

Zelda smiles faintly. “Oh, that’s a good series,” she replies, nodding toward the woman. “Just don’t let yourself get too emotionally invested in any of the characters.” She chuckles softly, pocketing the phone. “I made that mistake with the first book. And all of the others, as well.” The woman smirks over to Cassandra.

Blinking, Zelda laughs. “Oh, my reading was much less exciting than yours. I was reviewing legal documents — I’m Yamagato’s liaison to SESA and, by proxy, the American government.” She shakes her head. “Most people would probably fall asleep if they had to read what I have to read.”

After a moment, she turns her brown-eyed gaze to the woman, smiling. “I’m Wilhelmina Falkenrath, though I prefer to go by Zelda. Named after the author, not the video game character,” She preemptively counters — apparently, she gets that one a lot.

The book, safely hidden in Cassandra's bag, gets a sidelong look. “And here I was starting to like a couple of the characters….Pity.” The bag gets a gentle pat. “I'll just have to have my heart broken a few tokes before deciding to go on to the next one. Books are good about doing that sometimes.”

Yamagato’s liaison to SESA? That gets a small shuffling step back, the shorter woman looking the other woman from head to toe. “Surprised I haven't seen you around the island, then, since I'm an investigator for SESA.”

“I could never get the hang of the civil law stuff.” Cassandra says with a smirk. “Even though it was a small of my coursework to make agent. Lots of criminal law, though.” She shuffles along, the door of the pizza place drawing closer.. “I mean, it's like a foreign language. So much minutiae, hanging on the meaning as written. It seems like a lot of finding a way to do what you want and prevent others from doing what they want according to the letter of what's written.”

“A knack I don't have.” She offers a hand. “Cassandra Tibideaux Baumann, since we’re giving full names. Pleasure to meet you, author not video game Zelda.”

The curly-haired woman laughs softly, shaking her head as she shifts forward with the rest of the line. “You’ll want to continue. Most people do. Something about the way he writes inspires masochistic tendencies. You know he’s just going to hurt your feelings more, but you can’t stop.” Another soft laugh escapes her mouth, and she dips her head down slightly.

“I haven’t been there much,” she replies, lifting a hand to brush a ringlet of hair out of her field of vision. “I’m on the Yamagato side of things, though I’ll certainly be going back and forth more in the future.”

She shuffles forward again; seems they got a fresh batch going, and the line moves a bit faster for a moment. Not enough to get them to the front, though. “It’s not always easy, even for me. And it kind of comes naturally to me, I’ve always loved diving headlong into texts. Busies my mind and distracts from the real world.”

The Briton turns, briefly looking Cassandra up and down, before taking the offered hand, offering a polite shake. “Pleasure to meet you too, Cassandra.”

Now that they’re introduced, Cassandra offers a shy little smile that could be considered cute by just about everyone that might be looking. Seeing as it’s a summer evening in New York, most people are dressed casually in light, airy clothes. Sure, there are a few people in jeans, but shorts and short sleeved shirts seem to be the way to go since the heat of the day has soaked into the concrete sprawl and the first law of thermodynamics says that the heat has to go somewhere.

Cassie is dressed in a pair of shorts that end about mid-thigh, a light blouse with a horizontal blue stripe across the chest, and a wide-brimmed hat that, right now, is basically doing nothing besides keeping her hair out of her face. Equally useless are her sunglasses that are perched on the brim of the hat. She reaches up to remove both from the top of her head, her brown hair tumbling down around her shoulders as both are put into the cavernous messenger bag, scrubbing her scalp with her fingertips before giving another smile.

“There really isn’t much to see out at the island. Lots of training rooms, conference rooms, offices…basically take the usual office building, put it on an island, and add a few cells, evidence lockers, and a gym and you’ve got SESA headquarters.” Yes, there’s a lot more to it, but the best thing one could do is keep things mundane for anyone who might come wandering out to take a look. “There is conference room and an office set aside for Yamagato’s use. We could get a desk in there if you ever decided you needed to come out and visit, or do work. There really hasn’t been much movement from you guys, since the whole bombing thing.” She frowns. “Understandable, really. But still. I’m sure SESA would be willing to assist if you had any official requests.”

That’s Cassandra - building bridges while maintaining separation. We’ll help, if you officially ask.

The line moves slowly, Cassandra taking a couple of steps to keep the conversation going. It’s interesting, so she’s going to stay with it. “You sound like my dad, when he was talking about cases he was about to prosecute in front of a judge. You could go downstairs and see him working on the computer, or writing on one of those big legal pads, for hours…it was like meditation to him, I think.” She sighs and frowns a little. “That was a long time ago, though.”

Zelda, in turn, is wearing her own version of a summer outfit — a slightly loose black tank top is tucked into a pair of high waisted shorts, which are a good deal shorter than Cassandra’s — they stop just below her rear end. The entire outfit is tied together with a pink belt, which seems more for show than functionality. A pair of comfortable heeled sandals adorn her feet, and a pair of pink sunglasses rests atop her poof of curly hair.

“I’m sure I’ll have some business there coming up. I’ve been here a month and a half, and most of that time has been spent catching up on the mountains of paperwork left behind by my predecessor.” She rolls her eyes slightly, as if she is judging whoever came before her for the fact that she had to clean up so much.

“I used to do prosecution, for about nine years actually. I was over at Southend on Sea, in Britain.” She sounds a little morose when mentioning her homeland. “The nine years of the same thing, not to mention the worries that came with being SLC-Expressive over there…” A frown hints at the corners of her mouth for a moment, before Zelda shakes her head, smiling over to Cassandra. “Yamagato has been a delightful change of pace for me.”

“Is being the yamagato SESA liaison one of those jobs that burns a person out from all the paperwork?” Cassandra’s honestly curious when she asks that question, shifting her pack from one shoulder to the other. She bobs her head as Zelda speaks. The accent is British - that makes sense. It's a lot like talking to someone in one of the Harry Potter books, if you squint your eyes and imagine Hogwarts instead of New York. She finds herself smiling back until the mention of SLC expressive comes out.

Everyone who has a hint of expression knows what's going on in Europe. An author, Alan Moore, imagined a totalitarian regime built in fear and persecution - he probably never imagined that it would be people with bonafide super powers. She lets out a soft, sad sound. “I can imagine, probably better than most. Didn't have my career taken away, but pretty much my entire early twenties.” The line shuffled forward more. “It nearly got that bad here in some of the southern and western states. I was lucky - I was able to hide in a bayou for the duration of the war to avoid those what would want to cause me and mine harm.” She runs a hand through her hair. “And now here I am, SESA agent with the SLC ability on top. A lot of us seemed to land on our feet when the curtain came down, and it's my job to help bring people to justice when I can.”

The Briton offers a slightly sad smile. “I’m fortunate enough to be unmanifested, but that was…nerve-wracking back at home, to say the very least.” She tilts her head toward the other woman as she shifts forward a bit in line. They’re so close to the door, and yet so far — they’re making more pizza almost constantly. Looks like they’re starting to discourage others from getting in line, estimating a shortage of ingredients.

“I knew a girl who manifested with telepathy of some kind. A day later, she was summarily disappeared. Separated from her spouse and everything, nobody saw her again.” She frowns. “I’m glad I got away before that could happen to me. Did you know that we’re not allowed to even breed without special permission back there?”

If nothing else, the horrific country she comes from is a good conversation starter.

“Well, not all of us are so lucky.” Cassandra says, smirking a little, the pizza joint’s door just right there, within grabbing distance. There’s a pause in the line as a few more pies are put in - a few more minutes of standing and Zelda and Cassandra should have piping hot pizza. “Where I got lucky was that my ability isn’t so…offensive? I guess? It’s not something that can really hurt someone and, to be honest, is fairly useful, as far as abilities go. No fire or ice or brain control from this little gal.” She taps herself in the middle of her chest. “So I get a pass. I do work mentally, but nothing that really could be considered an attack so…”

She could probably visit England, she tells herself. But she won’t. The whole evolved unable to breed thing - hadn’t really come up in her personal life, but the seizing of that option from British evolved is something that sticks in her craw something awful. “I had heard that evolved were vanishing off the streets there. It was only rumors, of course, nothing official but….I had heard that. And the whole breeding thing….that’s just….” She shakes her head. “They’re doing it out of fear, but it’s not nice when you’re the one they’re afraid of. And you, unmanifested? That’s just…” she struggles for the words. “Stupid.” Is the one she finally settles on.

“Not rumors,” Zelda replies, shaking her head. “It was a regular occurence. If you’re evolved over there, you’d best hope for a boring ability. Flashy abilities got relocated. I’d never been to the relocation sites, thankfully, but I heard whispers. If a man was evolved but his wife and children weren’t, and his ability happened to be one of the scary ones, they would separate the family — his wife and kids wouldn’t be permitted to be with him.” She shakes her head again.

“Less depressing topics, though, should probably be kept to on a first meeting, right?” Zelda does what she does best, and shoves those sad emotions down into her little pit of emotions, on top of the rest of them. It’s remarkably empty right now, thanks to her forced explosion on the fourth — thankfully her bruises are healed from that incident.

“So in any case, I like camping. Do you like camping?” She never claimed to be any good at social activities — Zelda was always good at the technical side of being a lawyer, and always won her cases by quoting the law books ad nauseum and finding the loopholes that nobody else thought about. She certainly lacks the charm that other successful lawyers employ in the courtroom.

Being told something like that - that there’s an injustice in the world that is known to be going on - and not being in a position to do anything about it makes Cassandra feel a lot smaller than she normally does. With the power of SESA behind her, the woman feels like she can take on the world and, in some cases, does, bringing people and corporations to justice thanks to her ability and investigative expertise. “Less depressing, yes. There’s far too much of that when you have to deal with it on a daily basis.”

“I’ve camped before.” Cassandra says. “My family had a little john boat we’d take out, find a beach or something, pitch a tent, do some fishing for dinner…stuff like that. We were positively eaten alive the one time we forgot insect repellant.” She giggles at the memory - running from the tent to the boat, struggling to get the motor started so they could outrun the bugs bent on sucking their life away. “I swear I was more bugbite than skin for the following couple of weeks, and the itching….” she doesn’t go any further explaining that, shaking her head and waving her hands in the negative.

“Lately, though…not much camping.” She looks to Zelda. “I guess you camp some, since you brought it up? Any good spots or stories you’d like to share?”

Cassandra’s statement brings with it a firm nod of agreement from Zelda. It’s a pretty helpless state of affairs, really, and it’s especially difficult when there’s little that can be done in the face of a large and oppressive government — Zelda never got into the legal fight against the UK’s awful treatment of Evolved people, in part out of fear that someone would find a way to disappear her too — it’s not like it would have been that far of a stretch, since she’s already Evolved.

The tension melts away as the subject is changed to something that Zelda’s always found much more relaxing, a small smile pushing the corners of her mouth up. “I went camping all across Europe. I think my favorite place would have to have been camping in Egypt. It gets cold at night, but slipping out of the tent and seeing the Pyramids…it was beautiful.” She chuckles. “But then, France is also beautiful.”

She turns, peering over at Cassandra. “So yes, I do camp. I haven’t gotten out recently, but I have mapped out a few likely locations. I intend to, at some point, go out with my gear and my bow, and just…survive for a week or so, you know?” Apparently, she’s also an archer.

“A lot of people did that during the war. I heard that there was a place up in Minnesota for evolved people in the middle of a forest, but that was a long time ago, and I only heard during the trials.” The line shuffles forward, the doorway looking in front of Zelda, the scent of pizza tantalizingly close. “And the only experience I have with a bow was in Mr. LeBeau’s gym class in tenth grade. Recurve bows firing blunt arrows into hay bales across the football field.” Cassandra rubs her left wrist. “I still remember how much it stung getting smacked by the string, and I think only one person actually hit the target out of all of us.”

Cassandra shifts her bag from her side to her back, tightening the straps across her chest so both hands are free and she takes up less room to go through the door after Zelda. It also makes her appear that much bustie, so there's that; too.

I'm pretty sure some parks upstate are pretty much left alone. Might be a chore to get to them, but once you get there, it's basically you and a thousand deer.”

“Sounds peaceful…” She adds, almost as an afterthought.

The woman grins. “I was thinking of taking a boat, actually, there are a few places I could go out on Long Island that would be perfect for camping. Some old parks surrounded by land that’s surely abandoned by this point — or if it is occupied, they probably want as little to do with me as I would want to do with them.” Zelda grins shifting her own bag.

She straightens up, enjoying the smell of the pizza. “Mm, that smells amazing.” Toward the back of the line, a few people are shouting in anger, as they have officially closed the line to newcomers. Looks like they got there right on time.

“I did archery competitions back home,” the curly-haired woman mentions, turning back to Cassandra with a soft grin. “Won my fair share of trophies. It takes a lot of patience and a steady hand, and even I miss my shots sometimes.” She chuckles.

“If I want to fell a deer, I would need company. I’m afraid I’m not quite strong enough to get one back by myself, boat or not. Usually, rabbits and squirrels end up being much better options when out and about.” Zelda grins — whether she’s inferring that she wouldn’t mind the company or not is up to Cassandra, apparently.

It takes a moment for Cassandra to look the dark-skinned woman over again, for the second time really - spending a few quiet seconds to take a much closer look, as it were, as they step into the cool darkness of the pizza shop. The seating to their right is sparse - red vinyl benches and linoleum-covered tables sit opposite the counter where choices of pizza are offered. Glass containers of powdered Parmesan and red pepper flakes nestle next to napkin dispensers, and a slice of butcher paper acts as a plate. Most slices are reasonably priced too, but for a town that rarely sees cheese, just being in the presence of the ovens and soaking in the smell is enough to bring a person to their knees. Figuratively speaking, of course.

“There are a lot of boats available. Pretty much could have your pick of them. Gas may be a little trickier, and picking the right spot…”. Cassandra is getting thoughtful, it seems. “There are still a few places that militias control, too, and they generally don't like outsiders. I could check a few maps and things to make sure that the place you picked was a safe one.”

The thought of a deer…there are thousands of them around the state, running wild. “It would be an accomplishment, to take down a deer. I haven't dressed anything bigger than a hot since I got here from Louisiana.” Seems the smaller woman is amiable to the idea, a little.

The door of the pizza shop closes behind them, the remainder of the line dispersing, planning to come back tomorrow to try again

“Wow, good timing,” Zelda marvels as the door closes behind them, a grin forming on her face. “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty lucky.” She laughs, dipping her head toward the ground briefly.

She straightens, returning Cassandra’s glance over with a thoughtful look on her face. “So here we are in a pizza restaurant, freshly introduced to one another, and I’m about to propose something crazy.” Her head leans toward her shoulder, a bright smile on her face. “Want to go camping sometimes? I don’t often find others who appreciate camping, and I need someone to share the venison with.”

As they approach the counter, Zelda lifts on her tip-toes, eyeballing the remaining selection. Understandably, it looks like they saved enough for the crew, who looks exhausted. The gesture by the owner is a sweet one, and it earns an appreciative smile from Zelda to those working.

The woman pulls out her cash, ready to pay for her serving — and after a moment, she pulls out another bill, taking advantage of her spot ahead of Cassandra to pay for the other woman’s pizza as well. “This looks delicious.”

It is a crazy suggestion. You usually don't just meet someone in line at a pizza joint and, after a little conversation, ask them to go camping. That's what serial killers do, a lot of the time. “Well…”. Cassandra says softly, looking over the remaining selection and choosing two slices - one supreme and one with pepperoni and what looks like sausage - “I do like camping, but I think we should know a little more about each other before heading off into the wilderness to camp and hunt deer. See if we click, or something first. At least go on a date or two first. See how things work out.”

She's not discounting the idea entirely - she's just being cautious. And what did she just say about dates?

When Cassandra’s meal is paid for, she tips the cooks plastic pitcher with what she would have spent, getting two bottles of root beer for herself and Zelda from the fridge next to the cashier and buying the kitchen a round of the harder stuff, eliciting a cheer from the gathered cooks who are in the middle of pulling the last few pies out of the oven.

She shuffles over to a bench and slips off her pack, sliding in after it and watches, waiting to see if Zelda joins her and trying not to blush.

The suggestion of a date prompts a small grin to form over Zelda’s face, and after waiting for Cassandra to slip into a seat, Zelda doesn’t wait for an invitation — she just slips in across from the woman, setting her purse down in the seat next to her. “Well, today’s a good start. Ever have an impromptu dinner date with someone you just met?”

She grins. “Because I haven’t either.”

With a small chuckle, Zelda opens her root beer; once Cassandra has hers open, she’ll clink the neck of her bottle against the neck of Cassie’s. “Cheers, to new friendship and possible stocks of venison for days.” She takes a swig of her drink, before promptly digging into the pizza.

She can’t help but roll her eyes in bliss as she bites into the slice. “It’s so greasy.”

A woman after her own heart. Cassandra grew up with food that, even with the most lenient view, would be considered unhealthy. Jambalaya, Gumbo, andouille sausage, boudin, étouffée - all packed full of oil, flour, grease, fat, salt, and flavor beyond the edge of what could be even remotely considered healthy. But this crunchy crust with pools of orange grease from the pepperoni atop bone-white cheese? This is heaven, and that doesn’t matter right now.

“I do have to admit.” Cassandra says, blowing on her pizza after tapping the necks of the bottles together in an impromptu cheer. “There’s always a first time for everything, and considering my lack of experience in the dating pool, those first times come pretty often.” She grins, peering at Zelda through her bangs before taking a bite and doing that ‘o’ thing where the cheese is too hot and you have to blow out to keep it from scorching the roof of your mouth too bad. Still, it’s good and she admits it after swallowing. “Eating like this regularly is going to totally ruin my swimsuit body, and you’re going to have to live with that.”

“Well, there we go, then,” comes Zelda’s response, a small smile on her face. It’s always nice when her gaydar works properly and an awkward attempt at flirting actually works for once. “Impromptu first date. We’ve already got the dinner bit down.” She’s sure her accent helps — she always heard that Americans almost fetishize British accents.

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’m that obnoxious arse who goes running at the crack of dawn, and then does it all over again at the end of the day.” She pats her stomach, before taking another bite of the pizza. “Mm, Alvin was right, New York style pizza is unlike anything I’ve ever had before.”

She chuckles. “I usually fill up on noodles — there’s a magnificent noodle shop in Yamagato Park.” She turns her gaze down to the pizza, smiling. “So this is a pleasant change of scenery.”

Bidar, actually, as Cassandra has come to discover after a few dates with another Yamagato employee. Just two girls having a good time over language and bad movies and, it seems, some good times might just be had here, too. And as someone who’s prime dating years was during the middle of a war, flirting works better on her than most. And add in a British accent? Rrowl. “I don't know. Awkward would be if our grandparents were here staring at us while we flirted over pizza, giving advice.” She snickers. “Just imagine a seventy year man old in Cajun telling me to compliment you. “<You go catch dat bee, Cassie. She look like she got a galette slicker dan a frog’s belly.>” This is spoken in Creole, and she even lowers her voice an octave when she speaks, her own swampy accent coming to the fore before she breaks into giggles. She just said something naughty!


“My workouts are at the island. Just before and just after my shift. Showers out there, then home for dinner and bed. Except this time, dinner seems to be at a pizza place with a cheeky Brit.” She takes another bite of the now less volcanic pizza. “I've had worse dinner companions.”

The restaurant is quiet, now that the pizza is done being served, and the cooks are enjoying their beers in the back. The few customers left eat and converse just like Zelda and Cassie are, paying the pair no mind.

“I've been there once. Lots of selection and the noodles were fresh. I can't eat there often - SESA salary, after all - but I try to make it there every couple of weeks. They make this ramen with pork and garlic that I could just swim in. Figuratively.” She giggles again. “You inviting me on another excursion, Zelda, to the park where we can eat noodles?”

“Oh god. I can’t even imagine. My grandmother was Jamaican, she probably would have just told both you and I to eat more because we’re both too skinny.” The woman laughs softly, taking another small bite of her pizza. Seems she’s determined to savor the food as much as possible. The creole phrasing goes right over her head — possibly a good thing, because otherwise she’d end up blushing profusely.

Another swig is taken from her root beer, as Zelda glances around at the quiet restaurant, a smile on her face. This is undeniably pleasant, and a very good end to the day.

“Perhaps I am,” Zelda replies with a soft chuckle as she takes another nibble of the pizza. “I have become quite proficient with chopsticks since coming here, so I probably won’t even make a fool of myself!” She laughs. “Make sure you get the egg added to your broth. It’s a thing of beauty, an egg soaked in a sweet-ish soy sauce.”

“I’ve had that there.” Cassandra says after swallowing her bite of pizza. “I thought it was a pickled egg at first, but when I looked closer, it didn’t have the smell. It almost looked like it had a color gradient, from dark to light closer to the yolk, which was perfectly runny and gooey.” She sighs, her head tilting a little, her eyes closed in happiness. “I could eat a bowl full of those things.”

Perhaps she is, though…that gives Cassandra a little time to think as the pizza and root beer is consumed. Is she actually ready to dip her toes into the dating pool again? The dates she had with Elaine were nice, but the two of them kind of moved apart thanks to time, distance, and her living outside Yamagato and Elaine living inside, so she just chalked it up to moving apart. Zelda, though, she’s a little different. Back in Louisiana, it’d be a little…difficult…to date someone of African descent, but here, it might not be that bad of a time. You’ll never know until you try, after all.

“I think…” Cassandra finally says, setting her empty bottle aside, the plate that contained her slices now covered with a fine dusting of cornmeal from the pan and a few crumbs. “You and I…we should go eat again sometime at that noodle place. Regale each other with tales of heroism and derring do, or, just talk about nice, quiet things like the weather, the city, and old movies. See if we click. Or however it’s supposed to work.”

Technically, Zelda is of Jamaican descent — but people in the south generally don’t go too far into where people are from, when it comes to the color of their skin. “I could too,” she replies. “I actually figured out how to make my own,” she adds with a laugh. “I have them with my breakfast.”

Cassandra’s acceptance of her offer prompts a small smile to form on her face. “I like that idea,” she replies, nodding. “I’ll even try not to talk ad nauseum about international laws and the like, even!” She laughs, finishing off the last of her pizza with a smile, before setting about demolishing the last of her root beer.

“I’ll try not to bore you with SESA , tales from the swamps of Louisiana, or different recipes I’m wanting to try once more exotic foods start making more regular appearances. Just the basic, safe stuff. Evolved stuff sometimes if we’re comfortable. We’ll just have to converse, feeling each other out, finding where we mesh and where we conflict. You know…stuff like that.” Cassandra smiles, leaning back a little in her seat, looking at Zelda for a moment or two. “I’m sure you have a lot of stories about childhood in England. It’s so exotic - England was always this line in a history book. Just over there across an ocean of time and distance. Dr. Who and Harry Potter land.”

Yeah, it’s a stereotype, but they’re stereotypes for a reason.

Finally, Cassandra looks over at the counter, the cooks finishing their beers, then back to Zelda. “And to think we just met in a line at the pizza shop. Is there anything more stereotypical. If this was the 50’s, we’d go to the barn dance and have a malt at the diner after.”

She can’t help it — Zelda cracks up a bit about the stereotypes over in her home country. “I have lots of stories, but they’re pretty boring — probably more monotonous than life in Louisiana. Unfortunately, not all of us are Wizards or Time Lords — though we do have good entertainment.” The woman chuckles.

“To be fair, I would love to hear more about the gators and how you lot eat water rats.” She snickers, downing the last sip of her root beer and sitting back, patting at her belly. “That was satisfying.

“It’s all in how you cook them.” Cassandra says with a straight face and a nod. “You cook them wrong and they kind of melt around the bones, and the fur just…yuck.” Of course she's kidding. Cassie pokes out her tongue playfully before sweeping her trash into the nearby bin. “Gator stories I can tell, though like england, if you grow up with it, it’s just kind of the same old thing, day after day, instead of something exotic, like you having a Queen.”

Zelda wrinkles her nose. “Sounds unappetizing.” She laughs. “The Queen’s a figurehead, though you wouldn’t know it if you’d seen the fit my mum went into when Diana died.” A shrug rolls over the woman’s shoulders. “Our government isn’t all that different than America’s.” A pause. “Except America at least has human rights down a little better.”

She glances around the restaurant — looks like the employees, done with their beers, are cleaning up. With a smile still on her face, Zelda throws her trash out. “That was a satisfying meal like I haven’t experienced in…ages.”

Nothing like a literalist to take the winds out of a little sarcasm. Combine that with the horrible things that go on in England now and it’s kind of….yeah. Sobering. Still, Cassandra chuckles and bites her tongue, sitting up a little. “Well, cooked rats aside, I’d like this to be the first of many, if it all works out.” Cassandra gives her best ‘cute’ smile and flips her hair playfully, sitting back in the bench seat, finishing off her root beer.

It turns out rather well, actually. For someone not experienced with flirting, or being cute, she pulls it off rather nicely.

It’s true — Zelda is probably about as much of a literalist as one can get without being a 2x4. She occasionally busts out the sarcasm and wit — but usually, she’s the quiet bookish one. Add to that the culture shock, and she’s just…not good at banter. Or she doesn’t think she is, at least.

The woman turns, slinging one leg off the edge of her booth and crossing the other over it, leaning against the table slightly and resting her chin in the palm of one hand. The subtle flirting doesn’t go unnoticed, thankfully — the gaydar is mildly okay in this one — and she responds in kind with a coy smile of her own.

After a moment, she reaches into the large purse she carries, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. Onto this, she jots down her name and phone number; with a rip, she then slides it across the table to Cassandra, the coy smile still flirting its way over her lips. “I would like that, too,” she replies, lifting a hand to tuck a stray curl back into the mess of the rest, out of her eyes. “Noodles next time.”

Wow, exchanging numbers. Cassandra takes the bit of paper, the pad, and the pen, makes a show of tucking the number into a pocket of her bag - a bag filled with all sorts of little things that could be considered interesting, before scribbling down her own ten digit phone number and sliding the whole thing back to the dark-haired woman. “So…another date, then. Noodles at Yamagato Park and then…what? Conversation is a given, of course, but what else…”

Cassandra giggles, blushing faintly. “I’ll guess we’ll have to see, won’t we?” She slips out of the booth, dusts the table off with a napkin, and gives Zelda a brilliant smile. “It was wonderful running into you here, Zelda. Give me a ring sometime and we’ll plan our….next date?” There’s a lilting question at the end of that sentence, a little hanging question mark for Zelda to define what this exactly is.

“We will indeed have to see.” Zelda takes the pad back, flipping it closed and making a show of carefully tucking it back into her purse. “I’ll be in touch about our next date,” she adds, winking. “It should be fun.”

Then, she’s turning, leading the way out of the restaurant — where the pair will endure the resentful glares of those who missed out on the pizza as they head their separate ways.

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