Pizza Parlor Conspiracy Theories


bf_cassandra_icon.gif emily_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif

Scene Title Pizza Parlor Conspiracy Theories
Synopsis Cassandra's just trying to live her new backstory, Silas is trying to play interference, and Emily is wondering what the hell is going on with them.
Date February 20, 2019

A pizza place in Red Hook

The city is bustling with life. Narrow streets teem with people heading home after a long day of work. Most are manual laborers or blue collar workers, dirty from a good day’s work rebuilding the safe zone into something a little more like it was before. Others run the shops and food carts that provide the sustenance for this hungry throng, and those are the unsung champions, giving people a taste of what they remember from before the war, each dish prepared with the perfect amount of spice and savory to really make things work just right.

Grimaldi’s Pizza, in the shadow of the ruins of the Brooklyn Bridge, was one of the few pizza restaurants to survive from before the war. Before, its coal-fired oven and hand made dough produced pies with a nice crisp crust with a chewy inside that couldn't be beat. Fresh homemade tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and cured pepperoni from the butcher across the street were the basics, and it only got better from there. For Cassandra it was the thing that she's been craving the most since her arrival in New York, and once she was situated in her apartment, she went out in search of that thing she craved the most.

Dressed comfortably for the weather in hiking boots and khaki pants with a long-sleeved shirt over it all with a bag slung across her chest, she looks like she belongs here. A little cleaner than most, but still…

The key to being successful in just about any endeavor you'd care to name is to know who else is playing the field. Whether it's salvaging, confidence games, illegal package delivery, or running a restaurant, the game's the same: if you want to succeed, you've gotta know who else is out there and what they can do. That's why Silas is paying a visit to Grimaldi's on this grey Wednesday afternoon.

Also because he's hungry, and it's been literally years since he's had good pizza.

The first thing Silas notices as he walks through the door is the smell, a melange of cheese, tomato sauce, spices, and meat. His lips curve up into a smile, mouth starting to water a bit. The second thing he notices, a few seconds later, is a familiar face in the crowd. He blinks. I'll be damned, he thinks, his grin widening; he hasn't really talked with Cassandra much, but he's seen her often enough to put a name to the face. He considers, for a moment, not bothering her… but the smell of good pizza in the air is enough to put him into a pretty good mood, and hey, good food's all the better when someone else is also enjoying it, right? Right. Why not? he thinks to himself, and eases over her way. "Hey," he says, giving an amiable smile.

"Damn," Emily breathes as she walks through the doorway, seeing how many people are already here. Already, she feels her chances of a quick duck-in-and-back-out takeout order slipping away from her. Pulling one of her earbuds down, she looks for an open space round the bar, edging her way in to make sure her order's heard as quickly as possible. She keeps her offhand over the bulk of the small brown shoulder bag slung across her body, unzipping it to pull her wallet out. "Hey. Hey, over here." The wallet is gestured with to emphasise her readiness.

The waif-thin teenager sharpens her gaze as she waits, the severe expression only breaking when she's acknowledged. She forces a polite smile, leaning over the bartop. "Hi, I'd like a…" Her voice is lost in the din of other conversations. When she's done, she pulls her phone from her pocket, tapping the screen to kill her music while she waits for her card back.

A world where a pizza shop is in operation is a wonderful thing. Enveloped by smells and conversations murmured from tables covered in the traditional red and white checkered vinyl tablecloths, Cassandra can almost forget the world outside being what it is and remembers it for what it was. She’s already in line for her pizza, cash at the ready. The pizza choices today are slim, based on what ingredients the Grimaldi’s could get - as is the usual for the New York Safe Zone. The family had a small farm outside of New York, with their own small herd of cows to provide milk for the mozzarella, so that wasn’t an issue. They were also talented in trading and knowing where to go. They managed to find a few other things, like mushrooms, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and sausage. Still, given the choice of ‘no pizza’ versus ‘some pizza,’ Cassandra will quite happily take the latter.

“One pepperoni, one sausage and pepper, please.” Cassandra orders confidently. The man behind the counter jots down her order, grabs a clean plate and takes two of the requested slices - slices almost the size of a paper plate - from already made pies, puts them into an oven, and gives the brunette a number. “Alfonso will yell your number when you can come pick it at the counter, doll. Water in the jug in the back. Sodas are $3. Got some beers too, but they’re $20 each. Good stuff.”

“Just a soda.” Cassandra responds with a grin, paying for her meal and taking the little slip with her number - 29. She makes her way to one of the open tables after getting a dented can of Coca-Cola from the cooler next to the water, her bag kept safely across her chest, glancing over as Silas sidles over slyly. “Hello there.” she responds politely to the man, slipping into her seat and turning to watch the crowd. “Didn’t expect it to be this crowded today.” She glances to Silas. “Might want to get your order in. They’ve got plenty for now, but in ten minutes’ time, who knows?”

Conversation. Quiet, simple conversation.

"Heh, yeah. Probly better," Silas replies, with a grin that's at least part grimace. Food shortages are going to put a real wrinkle in things, both because it'll make getting ingredients to start with a pain, and because it'll drive prices up — not a good thing for a fledgeling establishment, and even less so for an establishment that's planned to provide both food and entertainment.

His grin fades into a frown as he considers that… then back to a grin. "Yep. Pizza it is. Back in a minute," he says, turning and making his way towards the counter. It's crowded there, too; luckily, he sees a spot open next to a blonde girl. "'Scuse me. Pardon me," he murmurs, hands smoothing his coat as he slips his way through the crowd.

He settles into a position at the counter, offering a nod and smile to the blonde… who he now sees has an expression suggesting that someone recently handed her a rotten lemon. Yikes. Stormy expression for someone who looks like a good wind would carry her off to Kansas. Of course, you can't always judge by looks. He shrugs and turns his attention to the man behind the counter, raising a hand silently when he sees the man looking his direction. Once he knows he's been seen, he settles in to wait. Looks like it might be a bit before he even gets to place his order.

Emily sidles away from Silas automatically, without even looking up from her phone. Her head tilts to one side as she pulls the other headphone out, wrapping the wiring up around her phone with a patient expression before shoving it into her bag. Only then is there a half-second glance toward the man beside her, more to judge if there's enough of a bubble of space between them. She leans in again on the bartop still holding her wallet, thumb drumming on the surface until the man behind the counter comes back with her card and she can scribble her signature down.

In the process of tucking away her wallet, she accidentally elbows Silas. Her attention is immediately up, steely blue eyes locked on him in a split-second judgement. "Sorry," she mutters, taking a step back from the counter to ensure there's not a repeat offense. When she looks back to get an idea of a better place to wait at, her eye catches on Cassandra, narrowing in a moment of thought, like something's on the tip of her tongue.

Okay, Cassandra was told that people might recognize her. This is okay. This is okay.

The little brunette takes a deep breath and stays quietly at her seat, one fingertip rotating her sealed soda can back and forth in a nervous motion. Hundreds of ‘what if’ situations run through her head. What if these two were close friends? What if they worked with her? No better trial for a backstory than one by fire. At least Silas is someone she’s familiar with. The blonde? Not so much.

“Twenny-NINE!” A portly man who could only be Alfonso yells from a small pickup window near the back of the restaurant, leaving two steaming slices there on the plate. This jolts Cassandra back into mindfulness, the woman standing and retrieving her order, her soda left on the table, her bag still with her protectively. She moves carefully through the crowd, as if she’s not used to having so many people in such close proximity, but finally, with a bit of side-stepping to avoid one woman who’s bending over to block most of the aisle leading to the window, she successfully gets her pizza and returns to her seat. She glances to the blonde and the man who seems to know her before lifting the slice, folding it in the appropriate New York way, adds a little grated parmesan cheese, and takes a bite.

Ah, bliss.

Silas lets out a grunt as the blonde elbows him, looking over her way in surprise… but it seems like an honest accident. "No worries," he says with a quiet chuckle before returning his attention to the counter… and now, at last, the pizza guy's headed his way. His expression brightens as the pizza guy looks to him, waiting for an order. "Gimme three slices with the works. And I'll take two Cokes." A not insignificant amount of pizza, but that delicious aroma is calling his name, and hey, what good is three hundred thousand dollars worth of government hush money if you can't enjoy yourself a little now and again? He presents his shiny new card from his shiny new bank account with a bright grin.

There is a bit of envy at seeing Cassandra get her slices first, but that's to be expected. Emily's waiting on a whole pizza. That'll take a few minutes. Certainly not just to enjoy the pizza vicariously through her, or stop her from said enjoyment, she turns to the table Cassandra is seated at and inclines her head in a silent hello.

She remembers the face, but not her name. She can't recall if it was given, honestly. And she missed a certain piece of important news regarding the fate of this world's Cassandra Baumann, anyway.

"Hey," she greets absently, hand still over the strap of her bag. Emily doesn't make an attempt to smile, her brow actually furrowing slightly. Her fingers lift off the bag in an approximation of a wave. "Emily," she introduces herself, because that hadn't been done previously. Her weight shifts as she explains, "I saw you a while back, with Squeaks."

"Did you ever end up making it to Raquelle's?"

“Um…” Cassandra glances to Silas waiting at the counter before she turns her attention fully to Emily, sitting back in her seat a little once she put down her half-devoured slice. Okay, she can do this. She shifts a little, her bag between the pair like a buffer. “Cassandra. Cassandra Cain.” She taps herself on the chest. “And no, not really. I never managed to make it over there. I’ve been busy with work. Lots has been going on.” Vague enough to be true without saying anything. Can you tell she had been raised by a lawyer?

“Raquelle’s.” She states again, shaking her head in the negative. “I’m sorry, but I don’t recall that name. Lots has been going on.”

If there was an understatement of the year award, that last one would be in the running for certain.

Once Silas has his card back and a number for his order, he steps away from the counter and finds a wall to lounge against and take things in. The place has a nice decor; it's cozy. Silas approves. But even beyond that… it looks like the blonde who gave him the elbow knows Cassandra. Interesting. Maybe he'll ask for an introduction, if she's still around when he gets his order. Knowing more people isn't a bad thing, after all… but for now, he elects to wait. No sense elbowing through the place if he's just going to have to go back to get his pizza; he wants to be able to devote his full attention to the food once it arrives.

"Oh," Emily voices in return, surprise polite as it is hollow. "Right. I'm sure." SESA business was probably like that, she figures. Busy, distracting, and all that. And she hadn't known Cassandra's name before now, but she knew she was a SESA agent. "Maybe I can help with that soon, the work thing." she suggests with a thin smile, wondering if that'll work as a conversation starter. Surely she had to know about the group of interns getting ready to start at Fort Jay.

She shakes her head, though. "Anyway, that's all right. There was a lot going on, after all. But Raquelle's place is out in Elmhurst. He does hair and nails and probably the whole spa thing before long." Emily's smile is a little more genuine, hand lifting from her bag to gesture vaguely as she describes it all. "I'm sure he'd be happy to have another customer come by." Her brow quirks up as she adds, "And he's great at making people feel relaxed. Maybe help strip some of the work stress off." As another number is called out, she looks down to the stub in her hand, shaking her head before looking back to Cassandra.

Cassandra practiced situations like this for the weeks before getting let out. She trained for this and got pretty good at it, too, but still, it's different actually having to actually do it. She finds herself getting flustered, taking a too-big drink of her coke, coughing and wiping her mouth once she sets the can down. “I'm sorry.” She finally says, the words magically shuffling into the right order, her throat clear. She bobs her head apologetically, her tone soft. “I don't think I'm who you think I am. Or you have me confused with someone else. I'm pretty new to town…I mean, I only just arrived a few days ago.” She finally says, picking up her pizza, taking another bite. “I was adopted, so…maybe a twin I don't know about? Quite possible.”

Cassandra knows, vaguely, what happened to her double - that she worked for SESA - but she never thought she'd run into someone who potentially worked with her. “Raquelle’s Place sounds great, though. There wasn't much personal care out on the coast. A good haircut and wash would be welcomed. Should I tell him you referred me? For brownie points or credit for getting him another visitor?”

Silas gets a glance, hoping he picks up on her worried expression. Little help?

Silas's order comes up, brightening his expression; he picks up his three (exceptionally large) slices of pizza with an expression not unlike a small child sizing up the biggest present under the tree on Christmas morning. He heads over to the cooler for his Cokes… and it's there that his gaze slips back to Cassandra. The message of the look she's giving him is clear: Help.

Looks like I'm up, he thinks jovially, starting towards the table with pizza in one hand, one Coke pinioned beneath his arm and a second in his free hand. "Finally! Took awhile, but with the way this smells, it's definitely worth the wait," he exclaims, plopping down in a seat at Cassandra's table. His gaze flickers to Emily, then back to Cassandra, then back to Emily in a thankfully relatively subdued double take; he visibly blinks, then his grin returns. "Elbows!" he exclaims, grinning. "You a friend of Cassandra's, too?" he asks jovially, his gaze flicking once to Cassandra, then back to Emily. "Small world, huh?"

Another "Oh." escapes the teen. Eyes sharpening, Emily swims in a momentary confusion. What? They were just having a perfectly normal conversation when it all the sudden started to fall apart in … whatever the hell this was turning into.

Her expression goes flat when Cassandra starts insisting she's not the woman she was just admitting she was a few seconds ago. The tilt of her head makes it perfectly clear. Excuse you? is almost audible in her look. "The coast," she repeats back, skepticism dripping. "Really."

"Listen—" she starts, interrupted by Silas' reentry into her greater bubble of space. She blinks twice at the nickname she's bestowed before looking back to Cassandra directly, unphased and with one hand lifted. "Cassandra. If this is getting back for brushing you off before? Whatever. Was just trying to be friendly."

At which point she finally glances back to Silas, gaze still flat and sharp like a blade. "Don't know her at all." Her tone is as unenthused as his is friendly. She flattens her palm in Cassandra's direction, starting to turn away back for the bar. The suggestion to offer her name up as the referrer for the salon isn't going well. "Do whatever you want."

One could swear something is muttered under her breath after that.

Cassandra starts to protest. Starts to explain that no, she’s not the person that Emily thinks she is, to defend herself from the accusation that she’d be so petty as to make up crazy stories. The raised hand and Emily turning away toward the counter are pretty much the final word to be had in that conversation. She should stay quiet, turn to her pizza, and just sit and wait for the inevitable fallout. “You really don’t.” she finally says, turning back to her pizza, her statement an underline to the entire meeting as the other woman turns her back.

“It’s a smaller world than I thought it’d be.” Cassandra responds to the rhetorical question with a frown, reaching over to squeeze Silas’ hand lightly, shaking her head slightly in the negative to deflect any more conversation on this track before starting in on her pizza again. There’s no sense in provoking Emily to investigate - if she worked with this world’s Cassandra, and meets this world’s Cassandra, that’s going to open up all sorts of questions that she doesn’t want to answer.

This stuff wasn’t supposed to be this complicated!
Silas's jovial expression fades, and is replaced by concern as his gaze flickers back and forth between the two. He starts to open his mouth to say something, to drop some allusion to the whole Institute facestealer bullshit cover story that SESA had worked up…

…but Cassandra's a step ahead of him. He looks to her as she grips his hand, sees that slight shake of her head. His expression twists a bit; he glances to the blonde, then back to Cass, who's already turning back to her pizza, and lets out a small noise of frustration. This had not been how he'd pictured this playing out… but Cass seems resolved to let it go at that.

"Sorry," he says quietly as the blonde turns away. He knows this mess isn't his fault, but he feels like someone in this conversation ought to be sorry for something, anyway.

The sorry was heard, but if it was meant for Emily, she doesn't turn back at it. Her phone, looped wires and all, are fished from her bag again so she can check her messages. There's a frown directed down at the screen at the low signal, given the shop's location on the edge of the Safe Zone, but she pushes the bundle up the screen anyway to key a reply to a text and hit send. Maybe it'll go through before she actually gets where she's going after this.

She doesn't so much as glance over her shoulder back to Cassandra and Silas, fully intent on collecting her order and leaving as soon as it's done.

“I’m sorry too. It’s nothing you did. It’s nothing I did. It just happened. Unexpected. I fell back into old habits…you don’t know someone, you keep it vague in hopes that you get social cues to figure out where you should fit in the conversation. Worked perfectly that time, didn’t it?” That’s another one of her understatements, Cassandra letting out a sigh before making the crust of her pizza disappear into her mouth. “I missed this.” She gestures to indicate here. People. Pizza. No threat of imminent death,drowning, enslavement, or other hazardous things. There’s just a whole different set of hazards to discover, and hopefully she’ll be situated before she encounters one of those.

Cassandra tries to salvage the conversation between her and Silas, letting Emily eavesdrop if she wants. She’s honestly new in town! Really! “So, where’d you get set up, Si? Got an apartment somewhere, a building.” She grins, nudging him. “A riverboat? I know that’s what Rem was going for.”

Silas lets out a noncommittal grunt at Cass's comments, rubbing at his chin with the back of his hand. Leaving this as it is troubles him a bit… but as it stands there's not a lot he can do about it, either.

So he lets out a long breath and puts it out of his mind. "I've not run into anyone who recognizes this face yet. Lucky, I guess… but that kinda worries me in and of itself." Ya’ll gone and made a fool of yerself, Smiles, he hears again in the back of his mind.

Luckily, Cass's question draws him back to the here and now. "Heh, Sunshine told you about that, huh? Yeah… she got the idea to try and snag a boat, and I'm gonna go in with her. She made some good points on it. A floating dinner theatre; gonna be…" he hesitates, then snickers. "…primal, I guess."

He shrugs. "For now, though… yeah, I've got my own little bolthole. From what I've heard, it normally takes longer; guess I got lucky, huh?" Silas snickers. "About the same as I had before, honestly," he says with a shrug, "But that's fine. Mostly I'm just trying to gear up for the restaurant. I've got an opportunity, and I don't mean to waste it." For a moment there's a flicker of something hard in his eyes, but it's gone almost as quickly as it appeared.

Silas grins. "What about you, Cass?"

Looking away doesn't keep Emily from hearing, and she's still tuned in to the sound of Cassandra's voice whether she wants to be or not. She follows the conversation as it turns back over to 'Si', still facing away and staring at the ovens intently.

Old habits. 'This face.'

Her brow starts to knit as she continues to look at nothing in particular. She doesn't turn. The fuck? she wonders as she continues to listen.

Something about the way Silas says 'primal' makes Emily stand up a little straighter. She hears her number finally called and begins to edge her way around to the end of the bar to collect the box. Maybe it wasn't the Cassandra she knew after all. But if that was the case, who the hell was this face-stealing duo?

If she only knew, reality as Emily knew it would be completely blown off the hinges.

Cassandra shakes her head slightly, grabbing her second slice of pizza. “Yeah, she did. Mentioned it while we were out in Kansas. She thought it would be something that she could fall back on as a familiar thing and if it turned out she didn’t like it around here, she could up anchor and head somewhere else.” Mentioning Remi’s thought about adding gambling tables is left unsaid - laws around here are still kind of up in the air as far as things go, in Cassandra’s view.

“Primal, huh?” Cassandra snickers. “That’s going to be the fun thing - picking up the slang around here and figuring out where to splice it into polite conversation. I’ve already heard evolved people referred to as slice, so that’s a new one for me.” She goes quiet for a second as she thinks, rocking her head back and forth. “To be frank, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I mean, I’ve got a small apartment in Bay Ridge. Like two blocks from where I used to live.” Implying before. “And I’m just trying to figure things out. See if anyone can use my talents locally. I’m on retainer with RayTech for research purposes, so I’m not going to worry entirely about running out of things to look into, but it’d be nice to find somewhere I could put my history degree to use…”

Cassandra trails off. “A museum might be something nice to see if I can set up around here…if there’s not one already.”

Silas shrugs at her comment about slang, amused. "That's one I picked up from one of yours, I think. Jac?" he looks to Cassandra questioningly, then shrugs. "I liked it, though. It was pretty gnarly, as we used to say back in the dark ages," he says with a grin.

He takes a bite of pizza as Cassandra's talking. "Mmf. God, I missed pizza," he says, shaking his head. "Gonna have to come here more often. Anyway. I'd check around. If this place doesn't have a museum, I'd be surprised…" He drums his fingers on the table for a moment, looking thoughtful… then he turns his attention to one of the Cokes, popping the top and taking a swig of it. "Ahh," he sighs.

That bad feeling that had started to crawl down Emily's spine claws into her at overhearing Cassandra's comments about local slang. Pizza in hand, she starts to turn back in their direction but pauses upon hearing 'Raytech', taking a moment to open the box and check her order. She stares intently at the pepperoni, thoughts starting to race.

What kind of place did these face-stealing people come from where there wasn't pizza?

The coast, Cassandra had said, but something feels off about that. Why would they be talking about 'this place' the way they were if they were just coming back from 'the coast'?

And then there's the mention of Raytech. Jac.

Emily considers it for a moment longer and seals the pizza box back up hastily, swiping it off the counter. She shoots a decidedly not inconspicuous glance in the direction of Cassandra and Silas, openly looking them both over before she beats a path for the door. Shoving it open with her elbow, she heads out into the mild February chill at a decent clip, just barely still making sure to hold the box at an angle the pizza will stay level at.

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