Not On The Menu


abby_icon.gif brand_icon.gif christmas_icon.gif elle_icon.gif milton_icon.gif tim_icon.gif

Scene Title Not On The Menu
Synopsis A few people end up in a diner one night for dinner. It's a nice, normal night…except they end up getting something that wasn't on the menu, and that they didn't want. And it can't be sent back.
Date September 15, 2010

The Nite Owl

While diners have gone out of fashion for some people, the Nite Owl gets a good amount of business. This evening, however, it's not very busy. It's warm and early though, so maybe it will get busier as the night goes on and people leave their preferred after-work locales.

There are only two employees working, a cook and a waitress, and there are only four customers. An older couple seated at a table, a teenage boy sitting in a booth with a skateboard, and a mid-30s guy with a mustache and goatee sitting at a table next to the door.

All in all, it's the perfect time to be in the diner. Service is bound to be fast, and from the smell of the place, the food will be good.

There is actually one more patron in the diner - Christmas, but the lack of his notation is not surprisingly. Easily overlooked, the smaller man is obscured in a back booth, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. He hasn't ordered yet, and he may need to actually get the waitress' attention if he wants to. That is, if he wants to. He looks comfortable enough sitting alone and unbothered.

She can't really leave behind the place that was happily hired her when she was fresh from Louisiana and just barely 17. Abigail's forays into the Nite Owl, in chelsea are frequent enough even though she hasn't worked there in nearly 2 years and her life has improved. If one can call it improved. But Abigail's pushing open the door, easing towards the counter with a glance to the current patrons before doing what is so customary to her after all the years.

Helping herself to the coffee instead of waiting for the old redheaded waitress, and starting to scribble down her order. Maybe tom will still recognize her short hand. Maybe he won't. But it's to the counter and a stool there that the blonde takes a seat at.

On leaving work tonight, Milton doesn't head for his tiny apartment in Brooklyn, but turns north and takes the subway uptown towards the surviving segments of Manhattan. Should be time to grab himself a meal before he heads on to the new poetry slam night. Unfamiliar with the area, he picks a diner that looks cheap without being sleazy, and pushes open the door. "Seat myself?" he calls out to the waitress as he enters. Even though he's now inside, he doesn't take his shades off.

Elle Bishop isn't looking like herself these days. Her normally blonde hair is brunette, and her normally fashionable clothes are not present. Today, Elle wears comfortable clothing, wearing blue jeans and a long-sleeved blue shirt, complete with a pair of somewhat worn sneakers. She sits in a booth, nursing a cup of coffee, with a half eaten sandwich resting on a plate in front of her, reading a fashion magazine all the while. She seems to be ignoring the rest of the world right now, more deep in thought than actually reading. There's a lot on the little brunette's mind these days.

Christmas' newspaper is neatly folded back into shape, a feat to be sure to anyone who has handled a city paper before. He sets it down beside him, lifting his cup of coffee and taking a sip from it. He lowers the mug, but keeps it held in both hands, his icey blue eyes scanning the occupants of the diner. Hm. More people coming in. Never a good thing.

Natasha is busy, it seems, and there's a wave to the woman, Abby's sweater peeled off, the blonde drops it on a stool and eases back around the counter. Jeans, tank tops layered and tattoo's visible across her back, a black soft strap emergins from beneath that holds something close to her chest. Not the pink old fashioned waitress garb that they wear here with the white apron.

Up goes her order, a ding of the bell when it's up on the turnstile so that Tom in the back can get the order. The next act is to grab one of the fresh pots of coffee and start easing by the tables, help with the influx of customers till natasha can get a handle on things. Not uncommonly heard of in truth and well remembered from her days here.

Which brings her by one table, a smile and offer to top off the cup, and so starts that oh so familiar routine. The next being brands which she almost goes right on past but spots the cup and realizes there's a person there. "Refill?"

Milton winds up seated at the counter with a menu in front of him. When he catches the waitress's eye he calls for a grilled cheese sandwich and a side of fries, and then pulls a sheaf of rather dirty paper out of his inside pocket, scanning the words written on each sheet with intense scrutiny and occasionally muttering something to himself. He pays little or no heed to anyone else in the diner.

Elle quietly sips at her coffee, staring down at her magazine without actually focusing on any of the words or pictures. Her sandwich is raised to her lips, and she takes a bite, quietly chewing on it in silence. There's a lot on the little brunette's mind, apparently, and she is quiet content to ignore most of the goings on in the diner. She has bigger things on her plate than who is here, though she does occasionally glance around at the faces gathered.

Even as Abby goes about filling coffee, the waitress is coming out from behind the counter to start taking orders. With a smile! Better tips that way. She heads towards Christmas, getting out her order pad and smiles at him. "Hi, can I take your…" The smile fades and she takes a step back, looking at Christmas with as much fear as if he just pulled a gun on her. "I…I…I'll…" That sentence never gets finished as she drops the pad and she runs into the back, the old couple and the 30-something man watching her.

Well. It isn't actually that uncommon for people to run away in fear from Christmas, but they usually have a good reason. Christmas doesn't know this lady from Eve, so he actually raises an eyebrow in confusion when the woman drops her pad and runs away. His eyes drift to the other occupants (only oh so briefly over Brand), his shoulders shrugging slightly. "I guess she can't," he muses before quietly sipping again from his coffee.

The notebook is forgotten for a moment, its pages covered in numbers and math operators, the young male looking up to the waitress. Brand's very mildly surprised, but takes it in stride. "Thank you." He scoots the mug closer, letting her fill it up for him. He stares into his mug, and turns his head slightly as the bruhaha happens. His heartbeat spikes slightly.

Dark liquid pours in, topping off a centimeter from the top. "You're welcome. Holler for Natasha if you need anything" The less than sincere smile offered up, like it's just on her face because it needs to be on there, and there's no real outright joy to support it.

Abigail moves on, stopping at Elle's table, about to inquire to the electrifying blonde whether she wants a refill when Natasha's backing away from Christmas and then heading away back towards the kitchen. Abigail cranes her neck to look to Christmas as if she might see what was wrong or not. "I bet she's just not feeling well" She offers, voice loud enough to be heard by Christmas from elle's table. "Natasha's a good Waitress, she'll be back. I'll come and take your order once i'm done here.." She looks to Elle. 'Well… hello" INSTITUTE AGENT. Fabulous.

Elle's eyes raise toward Abigail, blinking a few times. A glance is cast back toward the waitress and Christmas as the server runs off, her brows crawling up her forehead, before turning back toward Abby. "Hello." This is all that's offered as the electric brunette slides the coffee cup toward Abby. Hooded blue eyes travel over Abigail's form for a moment, the Company turned Institute agent taking in her facial expression in silence.

Milton's attention is drawn away from his poems when the waitress flips out and runs backstage. He looks up, head swivelling back and forth as he looks around to see what's the cause of the sudden disturbance, and his gaze focuses in on the table with Abigail standing over Elle. He peers over suspiciously, his always rather sullen face in more of a frown than normal.

Unfortunately, Natasha was just the first to seem to be afraid. It must be something in the coffee. First the older couple starts looking around, their expressions a bit wary, like they fully expect for one of the 'youngsters' to hold the place up. Then Milton starts to feel it. A growing fear. Playing on his weaknesses to make him scared of something in this room. Soon though it's spread, to Brand, then Christmas, until only the cook in the back seems unaffected. A diner full of people looking afraid of something only they know.

Christmas is really good about handling fear. In fact, his expression doesn't change at all. Though the blood begins pumping in his veins, adrenaline levels rising, head beginning to pound, his lips remain straight, his eyes focused. He continues to scan the room, looking for just what is causing the fear to shoot up his spine. Then he finds it. Milton. Slowly, the sociopath rises from his booth.

The stirring metal spoon falls with a small clatter- not that anyone notices. When the wave of fear washes over Brand and his fight or flight reflex kicks in his Ability spikes. No minor effect, it ramps up into high gear as the strong teenager sinks deeper into his both, seeking refuge behind his table and the shrouding effect of his power. His breath comes fast, his heart pounds, and his eyes dart across the other patrons as they begin to move.

It creeps up, whatever it is, just sinks it's fingers into Abby's mind, sinking down into her brain and tickling the part. A bad day to not be on negation pills, as abby starts to sweat, the heat of a low fever if touched as whatever it is affects the blonde and she's looking at Elle. She knows. Eye's widen in panic. She knows. She knows and she's going to take me to the insitute. Her knuckles remain white around the handle of the coffee pot, a slight tremor even as numbers on the phone in her purse start to slowly creep up.

Suddenly, Elle's breath catches in her throat, and her eyes widen. She scoots away from Abby with wide eyes, before looking up at the ceiling. Isn't that grill smoking just a little too much? What if the sprinklers go off and she gets soaked and loses control? Elle turns a look to Abby, then, and suddenly she starts shoving her various items back into her purse. No…she must know that Elle's Institute. All of these people must, and they want to kill her for it. "A-actually, could I get a to go box and a check? I-I think I'm gonna take this home…" This probably doesn't help Abby's fears in the slightest, what with the suspicious look on her face when she regards the woman.

Milton's eyes swivel from Elle over to Christmas as his heart starts to suddenly pound in his chest and a cold sweat breaks out on his brow. All of a sudden he knows, and the knowledge makes him sick to his stomach. That guy. The one looking at him. He's a criminal on the rampage. A criminal who has vowed revenge on the entire justice system that he thinks has mistreated him. A criminal who knows that Milton works for the court service. The dark-haired young man snatches the knife up from his plate and jumps to his feet so quickly that his chair tumbles over backwards. "Stay back!" he suddenly blurts through dry lips. "Stay back or I'll use this!"

Maybe a diner knife wouldn't worry most of the people in here on a normal day. But now? It has the older lady screaming and clinging to her husband, who looks almost as afraid as she is. The skater slouches down in his booth, holding onto his skateboard, like he'll use it for a shield in case Milton decides to go stabbity in his direction. The cook, while he doesn't seem afraid, does hear the commotion and ducks down in the kitchen, no doubt hiding while he calls the cops. And the waitress? Well, she's still hiding in the back somewhere.

The only person not hiding is the dark man by the door. Is he just that stoic in the face in fear?

Christmas laughs at Milton. Not an evil laugh, or even a maniacal one - one of genuine humor. He doubles over briefly, catching his side as he sucks in air to recover from the brief laughing fit. "A knife? Boy, you are going to need a lot more than that." The rest of the diner is more than forgotten to Christmas as he hones in on the source of his fear. This man is Evolved, he knows it. He will tell the world about Christmas' goals. His.. hobby. "Make it easy on yourself, kid." Christmas's eyes level on Milton. "Take that knife, and slowly ease it into your gut. C'mon. Do it." A pause, then his face contorts as he screams. "DO IT!"

Brand pushes his hands together in front of him, forcing his breaths to come a little less raggedly, more controlled. Watching the interplay around him and trying to put it in order and calm himself. While it may help his pounding heart, it doesn't crank down his Ability. His booth is practically a white hole, pushing away all attention and notice from him and his chair. He's watching Christmas closely.

You won't get your order to go, she can't bring you the check. Christmas starts screaming and there's more heat coming off Abigail, to match increased breath and heartrate, little beads of the stuff gathering about her hairline and upper lip. her hand relaxes, dropping the pot of coffee, even as the blonde breaks into a run, palms slapping down on the counter as she bolts. Fight or flight, and while brand may hunker down, Christmas may be going after Milton and Elle is looking at her mighty funny, Abby can't chance staying near the woman and bolts. Bag left behind as numbers creep up, hitting 102, her sneakered feet hit the floor running for the door.

Suddenly, everything is exploding into insanity. Milton is waving a diner knife around, Christmas is screaming and generally being rather frightening, and everything is just going crazy right now. Elle is no different. It is a matter of fight or flight right now, and Elle Bishop was never one for flight. She suddenly stands up in the seat of her booth, her hands raised in claw shapes. Abby is running from her. That must mean that she's done something. She must have stolen from Elle, somehow! Or maybe she knows that Elle is Institute, and is running because she's done something to warrant their attention!

What happens next is far more likely to terrify the crowd than Milton's display with the steak knife. Electricity crackles over the little brunette's hands, arcing across the restaurant, aimed straight at Abby's back. The shock isn't enough for death, but it's enough to give the woman a few burns on her back, and possibly knock her out.

Milton hears, but doesn't really understand, the words addressed to him by Christmas. The thumping of his own heart in his ears is almost as loud as the short guy's speech anyway. As he stands, knife poised in his fist, the already strange situation becomes weirder still, for Milton at least. Christmas suddenly blinks out of his vision. So do Elle and Abby and the other customers, and the man by the door. He doesn't see the lightning shoot from Elle's fingers. Instead, all of a sudden, he's looking at a peaceful scene.

The old redheaded waitress is back, but somehow she seems less worn, more energetic, as she bustles across the floor taking orders. There's a second waitress too, who wasn't there a moment ago. And there's sunshine coming through the windows that a moment ago were facing away from the afternoon sun. One of the waitresses bends over to take an order from a customer who's sitting where no customer was sitting a moment ago. Her mouth moves, and so does his, but Milton hears no sound from them. All his ears hear is the thump, thump of his panicing heart, and the distorted words Christmas is snarling at him.

Milton drops the knife in sheer astonishment. He doesn't see it fall, but he hears it clang off the leg of the overturned chair in front of him, and bounce away onto the floor with a clatter.

While people are starting to go nuts, the other, less violent customers are just getting more and more scared. The skater boy is now fully beneath the table, cowering as he stares out at the scene in front of him. The older woman nearby lets out another scream and actually faints when Elle goes all electric, and her husband is quick to join her on the floor, though his landing is much more gentle than hers.

The cook and waitress are still missing, though no doubt there will be police sirens soon, if the cook was smart and did call the cops. Yet there is still one person who looks rather calm about everything. He's not hiding, he's not running for the door, just a few short feet away, and he's not screaming. He does, however, rise to his feet when Elle zaps Abby, and glance towards the door.

Christmas wasn't expecting Milton to actually stab himself. That would make things too easy. No, like many things in life, he'll have to take it into his own hands. He walks towards Milton, head moving back and forth as examines the man who looks like he is in a trance. His lips curl into a snarl as he bends down to pick up the knife Milton dropped. Then he leans in and whispers..

"You shouldn't have found out my secret." Then he licks Milton's ear before slowly easing the knife into his stomach, nice and slow. It is a function of his fear that he makes mistakes. He doesn't pick the knife up with a napkin. He misses the right spot to stab.

But he does stab, red flowing from Milton like a river of crimson. Christmas doesn't even notice the electricity in his tunnel vision. The knife is extracted from Milton, and then Christmas takes off for the exit.

Brand is not a coward. He's traumatized, sure, and a little freaked out. At the same time, he's got a feeling he should do something - somebody just got stabbed! He wouldn't want to get too close though, so what can he do? Wait! He slides out of his booth, and scoops up a two-top by its base. Four square feet of wood he can lower like the point of a lance, the beefy jockteen able to swing it easily. He puts his sneakers to the floor and puts the burst speed he using in thew wrestling ring to cross the diner for the slam. The stabber can't see it coming - its simply beyond notice until the heavy table hits him with the full force of a teenage locomotive behind it. Brand releases the table, stumbling backwards - for a moment in the strike, his Ability falters in regard to Christmas - but for a moment. After the teen rolls away, there will be so much going on the serial killer could barely recall a description of who hit him.

Elle's shot rings true, much more than a taser, less than a lightening bolt and down Abigail goes, footsteps faltering before she crashes to the ground, rolling with the hit to land in front of the door with her heart skipping a few beats and stuttering before it carries on as normal. Sears skin, char's clothing where it hits and where it exits, and some point, along that way, the former waitress, EMT, accepts the unconsciousness - She won't ignite - even as the monitor under her shirt crackles and gives up the ghost as well. Five thousand dollars destroyed by Elle in a heartbeat. Won't cat be delighted to hear that Abby needs another.

Elle's hands are still sparking as she leaps down from the table, glaring daggers at Abby as her fingers spread. It is perhaps Abby's saving grace that Christmas runs through the electrokinetic's vision right as she's approaching; the woman is in a predatory mode right now, and Christmas has gained her attention.

Blue eyes narrow on him as he runs, and her hand flits out in his direction, sending more of that electricity arcing toward him. But she's distracted by the table coming out of nowhere, and that zap isn't as strong as she had hoped, nor as well aimed; it ends up scattered into a much less concentrated area than she had intended to strike at him with, and in turn, less powerful than she had intended.

Milton is transfixed by the scene he sees, the everyday bustle of a diner and its clientele at breakfast-time, so completely different from what he was seeing only a few seconds ago. "No!" he yells, and "No!" again, but none of the people who he sees in his vision of the diner pay him one atom of attention.

They continue to eat, chat, and relax with total serenity as he hears a whisper in his ear, coming, as it seems, from nowhere. "You shouldn't have found out my secret." And then there's the sudden disgusting feeling of a moist tongue on his ear. He jerks his head instinctively, and as he does so, there's a thump somewhere in his stomach area. No pain, for a moment, just a heavy thump as though someone's given him a punch there.

All of a sudden, Milton's knees seem to go weak, and he reaches out to hold onto something, anything, to support himself. One hand just touches Christmas, but he barely notices; what he does notice is that he should be able to see his hands, and… he can't.

He's become invisible to himself.

And with that knowledge comes the sudden pain in his stomach, and his hands drop there, feeling the wet sticky feeling of his own blood. His legs give way completely and he lands in a heap on the floor, letting out an involuntary scream of pain.

But the worst part, the worst part of all, worse than the stabbing, worse than the tongue in his ear… is that as he goes down and lies there, all he can still see are happy content people eating their food and ignoring him as he crashes down, and consciousness begins to ebb and flow for him.

While three of the patrons of the diner hide, and one lays unconcious, and the rest freak out in various ways, one calmly steps towards the door and opens it, walking outside with a smile on his face, as if the entire scene had amused him. The kid under the booth starts to cry, silently, but there are definitely tears. The big bad skater isn't as tough as he'd like to be, and he follows the other man's lead and darts towards the door, and out.

Yet, just moments after they leave the diner, the unnatural fear…fades. No more paranoia, no more fear of everyone else in the diner. There's pain, certainly, and there might be regret, but the reason for at least most of the insane activity of the past few minutes is gone."

It seems cruel that perhaps the luckiest people in the room right now are the ones who have broken minds, Christmas and Elle. Elle is lucky because her fear was unfounded, and she'll get out of this just fine. Christmas is lucky because what could have been a bad electrocution, ends up being inaccurate and spread through himself, the table, and the kid holding the table just as it impacts his side.

Okay. Maybe not as lucky as he could be. He collapses to the ground with a loud oomf, clutching at his ribs. His eyes dance around to find who hit him, his body shaking a moment like he just stuck a finger in a socket. He crawls to his feet, still clutching his side, but the knife has been left behind. He stumbles through the door of the diner and out into the street.

Getting shocked sucks. Oh sure, its not like Brand has a pacemaker to explode or pins in his leg to give him burns, but its really painful. He hits the ground, a combination of planning to do so and getting shocked just as he started the maneuver. If he wasn't trained to take a beating, he might have been hurt kinda bad. His tumble to the ground and roll under a booth is not purposeful nor graceful, with his muscles all twitching, but thanks to his Ability no-one should notice.

Milton twists in pain on the floor. His eyes screw shut as his face contorts, and his sunglasses slide halfway off his nose. Another wave of unconsciousness breaks over him, though even throughout it his hands grip with the ferocity of instinct at the knife wound which continues to spill blood. And then a strange calm seems to come down over him as, unknown to him, several people leave the diner. Whatever part of his mind is still rational enough to notice the calm analyzes it and decides that it's shock. His eyes open again for a second, and the vision is gone. His head's next to his overturned chair, and a little way away, a table is also lying in an upturned state. Milton groans, and floats away into shock and semi-consciousness again.

As the fear fades, the electricity sparks and sputters out of existence on the electrokinetic's hands as she surveys the scene with a new sense of clarity. Her eyes widen after Christmas, cursing under her breath as she moves to follow him…then, she stops, staring at the unconcious Abigail who is crumpled on the floor. She glances around once, frowning.

"Shit, Abby…" She frowns, shaking her head and moving to the woman's side, gently turning her over onto her side. Her hand reaches into her pocket, pulling out her cell phone and typing out a quick text message. Then, she's frowning at the scene, letting Abby's head rest in her lap.

With two of the original four customers gone, and the sounds of zapping and screaming gone, the cook pokes his head over the counter. Apparently there was no phone call, just ducking and covering. "I want you guys the hell out of here! What were you thinking?" he shouts, looking at the sight that greets him. Oh god. Blood. Now he moves for the phone to call 911.

In all the chaos of people coming to their senses, who would notice a teenager recovering from a zap under a table? Probably no-one. Or notice the tough little bugger scuttle out and back to his own booth. In fact, he'll probably just claim he was there the whole time if someone asks. Though they probably won't.

Everything is becoming fluffy for Milton. The floor underneath him begins to feel very comfortable, like the mattress of his bed back in his Brooklyn apartment. Dimly he realises that he's fading out, and wonders if he will ever fade back in again, and whether he'll ever make sense of the weird things that just took place. And he realises, too, that there's no way he's going to make the poetry night now, and those verses he was looking at before all hell broke loose will remain unperformed. His lips part and he murmurs three words in Latin, "Qualis artifex pereo." And then he knows no more.

With Abigail's head still resting in her lap, Elle whips out that nice, shiny HomeSec badge. "Homeland Security! Nobody leaves." She waggles the badge toward the cook. "Call 911, we have two injuries, and two potentially dangerous men on the loose." She may not have been thinking clearly, but Elle has felt something like this before, with Huruma.

Then, Blue eyes turn towards Abigail, the little brunette frowning. "Dude, Abby, you can't hear me at the moment, but I am so sorry for zapping you." She tucks the woman's hair behind her head, sighing softly.

When will she ever get a chance at peace and quiet?

Badges? He doesn't need to deal with no stinking badges! Just as he was starting to calm down and about to try reeling in his Ability, badges come out! His jaw firmly set, Brand snags his notebook and bag, then turns for the door. Under full cryptic steam, he high-tails it out the door.

Flashing a badge won't stop Christmas and the others who have already left. Beyond that, Elle's a little behind on calling 911, as the cook is already on it. Before too long they'll hear sirens of cop cars and ambulances, coming to help and possibly put some people in handcuffs. Not that Milton or Abby can really care much about either of those things at the moment.

They may have all come in to get a bite to eat or cup of coffee. What they got was a hefty serving of paranoia and more pain than a diner meal normally causes. The only question left is, how will their consciences feel in the morning?

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