Time To Switch To Decaf

isabelle_icon.png jake_icon.png paul_icon.png rylie_icon.png zan_icon.png

Where: Freedom Park

When: May 22, 2012

What: A group run into each other in the park for awkward reunions.

Evening following supper still has quite the crowd enjoying the park. The goers coming from all walks of the city; families of dads chasing toddlers while moms chat and laugh with the older kids, groups of teenagers trying to one-up one another in the skate park or the pool, a few young adults - college age - toss a frisbee between the four of them. The laughter and yelling of kids can be heard coming from somewhere. There's others mingling, couples sitting close, a runner cutting a path along one of the trails, a young family pushing a stroller with its cargo hidden under a blanket.

And another pair made up of Zan and Rylie are walking, chatting, and generally out to enjoy a fairly normal evening. Bruises still shadow the mayor's son's face, new scrapes leave their mark on his knuckles and near his temple, but he seems in good spirits anyway. "He's probably not going to be happy," he says in some line of conversation. "But I got a couple extra weeks to get caught up."

"He's never happy," Rylie comments with a crooked smile, "But he'll live." She walks along next to Zan, her hands slid into the back pockets of her dark jeans, the warm weather of the day leaving her without a jacket over her wide-necked t-shirt. She'll regret that once the sun's down, but for now, she hasn't given it too much thought. "And hey, if you need someone to thoroughly distract you from studying, I'm always just a phonecall away. And tend to come bearing food."

Further down the path are Isabelle and Paul. Sitting on a bench, this is one time that they haven't met on pure coincidence; in fact, Isabelle has called Paul and asked him to meet her at the park, so here they are. As usual, Izzy is dressed in clothes that look like she stole from a Salvation Army store, with her everpresent 70's-style shoulder bag on her lap, but today she's added a big Band-Aid on her forehead, where a lump is still visible.

"…don't know who else to talk to. I mean, you're really the only other person I know who, uh, y'know, know." She can be heard saying. "I don't want to, uhm, take too much of your time."

Paul shakes his head, glancing out at the crowd for a moment before returning his attention to Isabelle. "Under the circumstances? I was just about to call you anyway." He's still dressed for the office, a brand new briefcase leaned up against the foot of the bench. And he's got some bandages of his own, here and there. "Besides that… there's whoever broke all the stuff in the first place. I didn't see any dynamite or C-4, did you?"

That frisbee flies through Paul's field of vision, chased by a guy in shorts and a t-shirt. From the skatepark comes taunting laughter followed with a chorus of 'Ohhh'. On one of the many stretches of grass a group of kids has gathered, their jeers and teasing tones drifting amongst the din created by the other park goers, unremarkable for the most part though the laughter that sometimes rings out has a cruel tone to it.

A sidelong glance angles itself to Rylie as Zan grins. "You do realize how tempting that offer is," he answers. He steps close enough to accidentally bump into her, looking away in complete innocence as he does. "I should just skip the phone call and take up studying at your place instead."

When she's bumped into so innocently, Rylie makes an overdramatic stumble off to the side, making a show of having to catch herself and all. She looks back to him, letting out a playfully vexed huff. "This is what I get for being a perfectly lovely shoulder devil. Honestly."

But she comes back over to his side with a chuckle, nodding at him. "You could, but absolutely no work has ever gotten done there, as a warning. It's immune."

Isabelle shakes her head, after quickly adjusting her glasses. "No, no, I don't, uh, I didn't think there was any explosion. But there was some huge scream right before things went all crazy." She pipes down abruptly and takes a deep breath. "Anyway, when that piece of debris hit me in the head? I don't know why, but I couldn't… uh, you know, get /away/. I was trying, but it didn't work." Beat. "I wanted to ask, did that happen to you…." Isabelle's words are cut off, distracted by the frisbee flying by. And beyond that? "Hey, isn't that the guy from the elevator?"

"Go long go long go long!" someone yells from across the grass, and another frisbee comes flying through the air, dropping to scrape along the path behind Zan and Rylie.

"Go long, he says!" Jake calls back over his shoulder, sneering good naturedly at the other grown men standing about the grass. "Jackasses!"

"C'mon, Jake! It was just your ribs! Now are you claiming you hurt your legs, too?" There's a chorus of laughter, and Jake flips the group the bird before trotting over to the frisbee at a sedate pace, not noticing Zan and Rylie just yet as he side-arms it hard back towards the group. "Go long, motherfuckers!" he calls, and one of them breaks out into a sprint to try to catch the frisbee as it hooks wide to the left.

"I didn't try," Paul replies, ducking his head just in case the frisbee ends up veering low at the last second. "You saw how well it worked the last time everyone was getting shaken up—" He leaves off there, following after Izzy's gaze. "I think so. Don't recognize the girlfriend."

Laughter wells up from that group of kids, disbelief and goading as only kids can be. "I can't believe you did that," one of them crows before the others have a chance to hush him. Two sets of eyes scan the area around the pre-teen gaggle, though with no parents or adult types drawn to their antics, they go right back to their activities. The first frisbee thrower wings it back, sending it high overhead and past Isabelle and Paul and back to its original group.

Too late to catch her, Zan makes a slow motion attempt to keep Rylie on her feet. He grips her hand after she's already caught herself and clings as though afraid she might suddenly topple again. "You're a terrible influence," he chides a beat later, though it lacks any seriousness behind it. "So it'd be like studying at home anyway." He grins then casts a glance toward the noise behind him, his gaze passing over Paul and Isabelle to Jake, then back again. "Huh."

"Well, you see, I'm done with school. So I get to be a bad influence now. It's in the graduate paperwork." Rylie watches the frisbee go over Paul and Isabelle with a crooked smile. Kids. But when he gaze finds Jake out there, too, she stops in her tracks.

Her mouth opens and she points in his direction, but instead of saying anything, she just looks back at Zan. Her expression matches his huh quite well.

Well… awkward. Reaching up one hand, she uses the back of it to push her glasses up, when Zan finally notices her and Paul on the bench. Yeah, she looks a bit uncertain what to do or how to react, so Isabelle spares a sidelong glance at Paul; he's the business guy, surely he knows how to deal with people, right? "So, uhm, do we… talk to him?" She murmurs to her bench partner.

The pointing catches Jake's eye, and he gives the pair a sideways glance, that turns into a surprised double-take at Rylie. "Hey! It's…you!" He frowns a little to himself, wondering how he could have forgotten Rylie's name. "Ah…Rylie!" Phew! Jake grins, turning towards the pair. "Hey, small city, huh?"

A glance is spared to Zan, then down to the younger boy's hand holding onto Rylie's, and he gives the two of them a curious look. "Not interrupting, am I?"

As long as the ultimate teams aren't actually hitting Paul in the head, he doesn't pay them too much mind. Once a month is more than enough, thank you ever so much. "Yeah, he's fine," he replies to Isabelle, lowering his tone to match hers. "Ran into him the other day, said he'd keep quiet about things— his dad's the mayor, I figure the last thing he wants is his name all over the tabloids."

The collection of children make a collective sound of disgust followed by resounding laughter. It's caught the attention of one semi-attentive adult, a parent of one of the kids. "Quick, run away," she screams, the intensity of her tone sending all of the little kids scattering before responsibility can lay hands on them. Their shrieks and shrill laughter can be heard for quite some distance.

A faint, friendly smile and small nod are both offered to Isabelle and Paul, a politician's hello likely picked up from his father. Zan stops a step after Rylie does, facing her then following her gaze back to Jake. Brows raise slightly, and he gives the older man a bit of a shrug. "Nope. Park's for everyone to enjoy."

"Yeah, it's hardly the place to be adverse to interruptions," Rylie says with a gesture over to the screaming children, "What are you doing here?" She looks from Jake to Zan, her brow furrowed, "So. This is Jake, who I hit with my car the other day. Apparently less hard than I thought at the time. So from now on I'm just going to say you're the guy that broke the mirror off my beautiful Pontiac." Apparently, she's able to joke about it now.

But to Zan, she gives a nod toward the other pair on the bench, "Friends of yours? Sudden reunion in the park all around."

Isabelle nods to Paul's reassurance, but still flashes nervous looks in Zan, and now his circle of friends' direction. "The mayor's son? Seriously?" She certainly looks surprised at /that/ piece of news. "Maybe we should… should we go somewhere else? Or, say hi?" The bespectacled young woman just can't make up her mind about social behavior, can she? Still, she's already pushing her shoulder bag to one side, and pulling the straps up her arm to rest on her right shoulder.

"True enough. Almost got beaned with a few frisbees tonight. Not really a place for quiet introspection." At Rylie's question, Jake jerks a finger over his shoulder at the group of 20-something guys, ostensibly calling each other ethnic slurs as they toss around their own frisbee. One goes for a dive and…ooo, he misses and eats a faceful of grass! "Tosses a frisbee around with some friends," he says gruffly, "Had to get out of the house sometime today, or I'd go stir crazy."

When Rylie turns to Zan, Jake offers him a bit of a sideways smile, offering a much large, work-roughened hand out to the teen. "Hey. Your girlfriend there has a nasty left hook with her bumper." He snorts at her last bit, fitting his thumbs in his pockets. "How're you doing, anyways? You get hurt at all in that? I heard my girl gave you something like 20 different voicemails after that," he says, wincing at the memory, and glancing back to the group on the bench.

Paul starts to say something to Isabelle, then stops and looks and starts again. "I think they already spotted us," he says quietly. He's not doing anything to call further attention to them, but neither is he trying to make a break for it, which would just amount to the same thing at this point. "I have no idea who that is," he adds, pointing out Jake.

"I heard about it," Zan replies to Jake, though his tone holds no jest to the topic. "Unfortunate accident. You look like you're doing alright, though, Jake. I'm Zan Caldecott." His mouth turns upward in the smallest of smiles until Rylie's question prompts him to look toward the bench again. "The guy is Paul," he explains with a slight shrug. "Don't remember her name. I… ran into them one day. When I went to visit my mom at her office. Just a weird thing, got us talking." He looks back at Rylie, brows ticking upward.

"Whoa-ho there, Jakey boy. Jumping to a conclusion or two there." Just because they're on a walk in a park together. And hand holding a little. "But I will accept the compliment on the car's behalf. She is prizefighter material." The note about his own girlfriend gets a chuckle out of her, but she nods, "Oh yeah, she did. But it's alright, I'm putting them over a remix for my next party. All for a good cause."

She looks bench-ward, too, nodding in understanding about what weird thing might have gotten them all chatting. So she lifts a hand to wave in their direction, her smile wide and friendly. "Hey guys! We're just hanging out, if you care to join us." It's only polite to extend an invitation.

Since Isabelle has her shoulder bag on… well, her shoulder, and people are looking their way, she shrugs to Paul. "Nobody's trying to arrest us yet, so…" She reasons, and upon seeing Rylie's friendly wave, decides to go for broke and stands up. The nerd girl approaches the trio awkwardly, reaching up again to push her glasses which are again slipping down the bridge of her nose. "Uh, hi." She greets, along with brief, faint smiles to Rylie first, then Zan, then Jake, and back to Zan. "You remember us, right?" Izzy gestures at herself, and also at Paul. Wait, where's Paul?

Jake retracts the offer of a handshake and puts a hand to his ribs instead, wincing. "'Alright' may not be the best terms. But I'll live, and no hard feelings, anyways. Though I did end up talking to your dad…" The look Jake flashes Rylie is an odd one, indeed. "So uh…thanks for that?"

He blinks when Rylie denies it, looking pointedly down at their hands…then up at her with a broad grin. "Right, sorry. Too pre…um, what's the word? Too hasty of me." The remix has him looking distraught. "Oh god, just don't upload it to YouTube. She spends all day on there…I'm sure she'd find it."

Turning, Jake steps back as more people join the group. "Oh hey… nice to meet—"


Rolling his eyes, the construction worker turns and flips his chin at his friends. "Didn't your ma teach you some fuckin' patience, asswipe?" he calls with a loud grin. "Er…pardon my French," he says sideways back to the group. "Nice meetin' ya again, Riley. It's better when it's not at high speed. See you…uh…" He points a finger at Zan, backing away in the direction of his pals.

Paul is just getting up from the bench in turn, a little slower than Isabelle— though he was just waiting for a cue from her, he moves quickly enough once he's up. "Pleased to meet you. Riley, is it?" he echoes, taking the one bit from Jake's tirade and politely ignoring the rest. And he offers Zan a slight wave of recognition, uncertain how to describe their first meeting.

Zan tips his head, nodding his farewell to Jake. "A pleasure," he calls after the older man, gaze flicking past him to the guys waiting for the construction guy's return. He glances toward Rylie, as if to ask if she's okay. He lingers for half a moment then turns fully to Isabelle and Paul. A minutely more friendly grin is offered to the pair. "Yeah, I accidentally got off on the floor you two were heading for."

Rylie mostly just listens to Jake go on for a while, before she lifts a hand to wave while he makes his exit. That she doesn't let go o Zan's hand is just stubbornness, really. But she turns to the other two to nod at the greetings. "Right, Rylie. Nice to meet you both, too. I didn't catch your name," she says, to Isabelle. There's a glance to Zan, who gets a more subtle nod. If she's not okay, she's saving it for later.

Jake's departure is enough to throw Isabelle off for a moment or two, turning her head this way and that as if not knowing whether to say goodbye to the man she hasn't met, or to focus on the pair still remaining. Finally, she frowns a bit and decides to just concentrate on the people in front of her. "Ye…. I mean, right. That was us. You're okay with, uhm, all that, right?" Awkwardly, she pulls her big shoulder bag in front, hugging it like a safety blanket, and glances over to Rylie. "Hi. Nice to meet you. My name… I'm Isabelle. My friends just call me Izzy. We're just…" She starts gesturing back at the bench, but gives up without finishing the sentence. "…So you're the mayor's son?"

Paul offers Zan a smile in turn, if a faint one. "Right." Well, that's part of the truth, at least; enough for introductions in mixed company. After a brief glance at the departing Jake, his attention returns to Rylie. "—we keep crossing each other's paths," he offers, completing Izzy's sentence. "I think the first time was when that woman randomly handed you the winning coin at the slots, right?"

Zan's hand tightens briefly around Rylie's, understanding her answer. "Isabelle," he echoes, as though recalling the name now that it's been said. "That's right." He nods like the action itself will make the name stick in his mind. That he's the mayor's son, he shrugs. "Much to his annoyance, I am the mayor's kid. And I'm still okay with…" His brows raise slightly, a grin ticking up the corners of his mouth. "Getting off on the wrong floor? I was a bit flustered, but I got over it. But hey, strange things happen."

"Izzy. Nice to meet you," Rylie repeats, smiling warmly. "Seems fate things you guys need to hang out, huh? Gotta love stories like that." She looks over at Zan, her smile turning amused at his responses. "Do they? I hadn't noticed," she says at the end, and even manages to deliver it with a straight face.

Isabelle reaches up to scratch the back of her head. "That's the first time, yeah. Then it was the elevator where we…." She points to Zan meaningfully, but stops herself from completing that sentence. "And then a couple of days ago at the shopping mall, where I got…" The finger goes to point at the lump on her forehead. "…this, right after…." The nerd girl pauses again, only this time it's a complete, dead stop. "…waitaminute. It was right after the eclipse started." Beat, and blink - and then she starts rambling excitedly to the others. "That must be it! But it can't be direct solar radiation exposure, because I've… things still work during nighttime insolation. But… Aurora Borealis. That must be it! Solar winds bring the charged particles in the magnetosphere and light up the skies, but when they're disrupted during the eclipse. That's what's disrupted our…." And here she stops, before turning a beet red. "…does anyone want a drin, uh, coffee or something?"

Cue cricket chirp?

Fortunately, it seems like just the four of them are actually paying attention to this sudden astronomical digression; everyone else is the park is more interested in watching the frisbee game in progress, or just keeping to themselves. But that's still two more listeners than Paul would like there to be. And while Zan has at least hinted that he understands what's really been happening with them, Rylie… is still basically a complete unknown.

And so Paul, not missing a beat, starts spinning a line of half-truth for her benefit. "Yeah, those escaped criminals who blew up the mall? Well, one of the stores /in/ the mall. Izzy and I were there and, well, we both ended up getting a concussion…" If Rylie's in the know as well, then she might see through it. If she isn't? She might easily assume that Isabelle is, well, still recovering from the impact.

A look is cast at Rylie, the kind of grin of one caught on to some hidden joke. And giving her that look, Zan almost misses Isabelle's rambling. He looks at Izzy just as she starts asking about coffee, mouth opening then closing without a thing said. He glances at Paul, brows pinching together at the businessman's excuses as he finds himself nodding in agreement for coffee. Another look is directed at Rylie, something that combines he'll explain things later and asking if she's game for coffee also.

Rylie returns that look with a quick wink, easily missed by anyone but Zan. She turns in time to watch Izzy ramble on, and it ends up in a blink from the blonde, like she's not catching onto whatever the other woman is talking about. "Coffee sounds good. So long as there's decaf for you, hun," she adds the last in Isabelle's direction before she takes the lead in getting them on the way to the nearest source of caffeine.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License