Seeking Answers

isabelle_icon.png zan_icon.png

Where: North Las Vegas Library

When: June 1, 2012; Late Afternoon

What: Few were given, but it all came with the same warning.

The North Las Vegas Library is fairly typical of a library, if a bit better frequented than some of its older counterparts. There's a small line-up at the front counter, people checking books out; the librarian helping them is none other than Isabelle. While she may well look the part, the fact is Izzy is not the senior librarian: that honor belongs to an old lady sitting next to her, while Isabelle stands and is pretty much the busy gopher doing the bulk of the work. Right now, she's busy explaining the terms and conditions and late fees to a couple of University students.

Just behind those students stands another student, by the looks of him. In t-shirt and jeans, a backpack hanging by one strap from his shoulder, Zan's spent part of the day utilizing the facilities, though not just for pleasure reading. The perils of end of semester projects and other class-related requirements. A couple of hefty books are held under one arm, some form of research literature, while the other hand holds open a selection from the fiction realms. His attention rests mostly on the pages while he waits for his turn at the counter.

The wait isn't especially long, before the pair of students complete their checkout and head off. Isabelle, meanwhile, keeps her head down and scribbles away on the checkout card - she's left-handed, incidentally. Without looking up, she speaks offhandedly to the next person in line - namely Zan. "Library card please." Yeah, she looks likes she's running haggard, but that's not too different from the last couple of times Zan has seen her.

His books are put down first as he steps into place at the counter, heavier ones with a scholarly weight to them first followed by the lighter novel. He reaches into his pocket to pull out his wallet, giving Isabelle a glance before starting for his library card. He looks up again, a small frown forming as recognition sets in, though the card is slowly pulled out. "Looks like you could use a coffee break," he muses as he places the card down and slides it toward her.

"No time." Isabelle replies, her free hand reaching over for the card; she has to feel around a couple of times before finding it, and only when she starts reading it that she recognizes the name. Finally look up at Zan, Izzy quickly adjusts her glasses to focus her gaze. "Oh, hey. Didn't see you… how're you doing?" She actually straightens up, but her gaze drops briefly to see what books he may have in his hands.

"Not bad," Zan answers as he pulls the strap of his pack higher up onto his shoulder. And all things considered. The bumps and scrapes he'd earned in the exploding store have faded, though he still seems to have a penchant for trouble, if the cut, deep purple bruise on his cheek is any indication. The books are fairly mundane, one on civilization and the other revolving around literature. The fictional work might be of slightly more interest, a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. "How're you? Besides slaving away under the watchful eye of… your mentor?"

Said mentor glances up with a disapproving frown, but says nothing. That's enough to make Isabelle wilt, so the nerd girl clears her throat and holds out her hand for Zan's books. "I'm okay. Keeping busy, you know." If the books are handed over, she pulls out the card from each of the covers, but also peeks at each cover. "Neil Gaiman?" She has to comment on that last one. "He's like… brilliant. Have you read American Gods? Cuz you really should if you haven't already."

The books are pushed over while Zan gives the older woman a small grin and a tip of his head. Polite at least. Mostly. "He's really good," he agrees, attention returning to the conversation. "I've got the first couple of trade paperbacks from his Sandman series. I'll make sure to add American Gods to my list."

Isabelle bobs her head and refocuses her attention on her job for now. "Sandman. Books of Magic." She still counts off the books she's read while she works, swiping the library card on a scanner to check his information. Once that's done, she offers the card back to Zan, then starts to scribble checkout dates on the book cards. "How's your… was she your girlfriend? Rylie, right? How's she doing?" She asks conversationally.

"He's one of the authors I like," Zan adds in agreeably. "Something I can enjoy that doesn't make me look like more of a freak." He takes his card and returns it to his wallet, tucking both away in his pocket again. "Him, and Vasquez. Miller. I've got a bit of a collection of actual books, too. Not just picture books." He grins at the question, nodding. "Yeah, she's my girlfriend. She's good. You… with Paul?"

She looks up at Zan and blinks behind those thick glasses of hers. "With Paul?" Once again, Isabelle adjusts her glasses. "Oh! No. Nonononono." Now she shakes her head, along with a bit of a belated blush. "No. I'm not… we're not… he's just a friend. We have this common problem, y'know…" She stops abruptly when the older librarian speaks up. "Miss Paulus, please focus on your work. If you want to chat, chat on your break."

Zan shrugs slightly over Isabelle's chagrin. "Just assumed since you two were together when Rylie and I ran into you guys in the park." He glances toward the elder librarian when she speaks up again, brows lifting at the woman's interruption. A beat after he looks an apology to Izzy and shrugs again. "Shouldn't keep you from work," he agrees, a hint of sarcasm in his tone. "My dad's offices don't pay librarians to be social."

The old woman is the archetypical librarian, evidently without a hint of humor and doesn't know how to smile. But she turns back to her work after Isabelle mutters a "Sorry, Mrs. Rothchilde" and returns to scribbling on the cards. "Ahem. The checkout period is fourteen days; the penalty is fifty cents per day per book." She announces and pushes the books back to Zan, then quickly turns a sidelong glance at Mrs. Rothchilde. "Can I take my break now, ma'am?"

Nonplussed by the woman's response, or lack thereof, Zan nods in his understanding to the library guidelines. "Thank you," he replies, pulling his pack off and opening it to place books in alongside notebooks and loose sheets of paper. He zippers it closed again and pulls the strap up onto his shoulder in preparation to leave.

Mrs. Rothchilde scowls at Isabelle's question and checks her watch. "Fine. But be back in 15 minutes sharp, Miss Paulus. You will not be a second late."

"No, no I'll be back on time." Isabelle bobs her head hurriedly to her older counterpart, turns to grab for her shoulder bag, and steps out from behind the counter. "Can we, uhm, talk a little?" She comes up to join Zan and lowers her voice.

Doesn't entirely stop his departure, though Zan slows enough to give Isabelle a questioning look. "Um…" He pulls out his cell phone and thumbs on the screen to check the time. "Yeah…" The agreement comes a little slowly, drawn out while his phone is put away. "Supposed to meet Rylie soon." He gives Izzy another odd look, then nods toward the exits. "Talk while I wait for my ride?"

Isabelle bobs her head and hurriedly catches up to Zan. "Yeah, that'll be fine. Won't take long." Even so, she doesn't speak right away, until they're far enough away from the counter that no one will overhear the pair. "Listen, you know that craziness at the mall? The explosion and the, uhm, eclipse? Did you notice anything weird? You know what I mean. Weird like, uh, back at the elevator?"

It's an odd look Zan gives Isabelle as he leads the way from the counters and through the exit. "How would I've noticed anything," he asks. One corner of his mouth ticks upward slightly, inching toward a grin. "Besides the explosion, I lost a couple of seconds right as I got blasted through that wall. After that, I was just trying to get out and make sure nothing was broken again."

She furrows her brows at the response. "There was someone… something weird happened there. Look, I figured now that you know people like, y'know, me exist, you might be paying more attention to these things. We're…." Isabelle stops and backs up immediately. "…I'm trying to find other people who can, uhm, do /stuff/. But I guess if they're out there, they're like me and don't want to be found."

"The building exploded," Zan says again, as if that could explain away any weirdness. Truth is, he knows what caused the explosion, and it was weird and wasn't the bombing that was reported. He slows a little, brow pinching together while he descends toward the sidewalk. His dad's warning about not trusting anyone is all too clear, and after a beat he angles a look back to Isabelle. "It's probably… better not to go looking too hard."

Arriving at the sidewalk as well, Isabelle stops and frowns at Zan for a silent moment, as if she can tell he knows something and is just not telling her. She purses her lips, which just looks like a pout. "So you're just gonna…. okay, forget I asked. I don't want to get you in trouble." Isabelle pushes her glasses up and takes a deep breath. "I guess I'll see you around." She pauses to gesture up and down the street. "I gotta go grab a coffee and you… should go meet your girlfriend."

"What," Zan asks, a little more forcefully than intended. He turns to face Isabelle, frowning. "I'm just gonna…?" But he doesn't wait for her to continue or fill in the blank. He shakes his head instead. "Look. Things happened because of …he could do something different and I saw it. Just like I saw your secret. But this asking around, even out here. It's not a good idea. You don't know who to trust."

She does stop, and now? Her eyes widen at Zan's words. "So you did see someone else?" Isabelle is more excited than scared, really. "Who was it? What can he do?" It takes her a couple of seconds to catch up to Zan's words. "Wait, what? I don't know who to trust?" Beat. "Do you know something else?"

Zan hesitates, buying time by checking his phone again. "I don't know who it was, just what happened." He can't stall too long by just looking at the display on his phone, so it's soon returned to his pocket. "What I know is, some things are better kept secret. Especially out here."

"Look, other than Pa…." Isabelle spreads her hands, but she cuts herself off and restarts at this point. "…I mean, I know like nobody else who can do this stuff, but I think they're out there. Are you saying… are you suggesting I just forget about this and go back into hiding?"

Zan's brows tick upward, and he nearly finds himself asking who else she knows. It's a moment's pause before he collects himself. "No," he answers, drawing the word out. A hand raises to rub the back of his neck. "Just… It's not something everyone should know about. Especially if you don't trust them. Or aren't sure." Another pause follows, though it's shorter this time. "That doesn't mean… I'm not going around telling everyone what you can do."

"I know." Isabelle purses her lips at him, pulling her shoulder bag to her chest like her life-saver. "But, I mean, what about you?" She gestures at Zan with an upturned hand. Before he can panick - assuming he's going to - she continues. "I mean, I didn't know who you were, but I blew… I… my secret in front of you. And now you know, and you haven't told anyone. Not everyone's a bad guy."

"Yeah, well," Zan shrugs slightly, tugging his pack up onto his shoulder again. "I'm enough of a pariah without telling my dad that I met someone who can phase through solid objects. And it'd bring publicity none of us would want. Ever." So it's as much self preservation as it is being a good guy. "Suffice it to say, I know there's more than you out there, but I'm not going to blow their covers. Just warning you to be careful."

She frowns again, but this one is a bit of a thoughtful frown. "Okay. So there are others out there. That's… it's a start." Isabelle nods slowly to that piece of information, then heaves a sigh and checkes her watch. Yes, that cheap plastic one. "I won't keep asking if you're not going to tell. It's okay. I'm going to…" She points over her shoulder. "'…grab coffee before my break's over. So, uhm, if you change your mind, you know where I work?"

Nodding, Zan turns for the sidewalk again. "Don't work too hard," he calls over his shoulder, a hand raising to wave though he doesn't look back. "And tell your mentor to lighten up a little." That's definitely meant as a joke, and he grins, though it's unlikely Isabelle can see it. "I'll see you around, Miss Paulus."

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