Finding Shade Undercover

Cast: date: '11th September, 2012'
place: 'King''s College'
participants: 'Mattie, Jack'
synopsis: 'Mattie and Jack meet up for pre-lecture discussion of the assignment.'
log: "On a bench outside of the building where her first class of the day takes place, Mattie sits “Indian stye” with headphones in her ears, a hoodie covering her red hair, and a book open on her lap. A lime-green highlighter actually cuts its path across a line of text in the “Chemistry for Nurses” textbook she’s reading.\n\nShe’s actually reading it.\n\nBrows furrow and she pulls out her iPhone, fingers tapping and scrolling. Anyone looking over her shoulder would see that she’s looking up the words she doesn’t know — in a book for a class she’s only pretending to take. \n\nLate nights for Watch business, early mornings for college and then trying to keep running the garage at the same time is hard work, and it’s clearly left Jack in an overly sleep deprived state. It’s the look that a lot of University students are familiar with, burning the candle at both ends. He avoids it being too obvious by keeping his multiple hoods up, which also keeps his face shadowed from the sunlight on one of those rare clear days. An astute watcher would also note his hands, curled up inside his sleeves; both to keep the darkness from showing and to avoid some of the discomfort that the direct contact with the sun’s rays causes.\n\nHe almost misses seeing Mattie, absorbed in thoughts and mostly just wanting to avoid talking to other students while outside. The red hair is hard to miss though, and he slows his pace. It would be easy to keep pretending that he didn’t see her. For the best, even. He stops though, affixing his best attempt at a smile in place and moving to stand near the bench. “Alright.” he offers in greeting before taking a seat a little further down.\n\n“Hey.” Mattie’s monosyllable salutation seems to be all she has to offer for the moment, as she finishes a paragraph. But then she closes the book, using the highlighter as a bookmark, and shoves it in her messenger bag on the bench.\n\nShe turns to look at Jack, her own appearance much the same as his — lack of sleep writ across her face in those purplish bruise-like marks below her eyes. “I hate this assignment,” she says bluntly. Before he can assume it’s because of his presence, she adds, “I hate feeling stupid.” \n\nAbsently, Jack braves fingers in the light which shake almost imperceptibly as they get accustomed to that nasty sensation; it’s only long enough for him to further pull down his hood just in case. For now it has the added benefit of keeping his expression masked.\n\n“You’re not the only one. I ain’t got no illusions of grandeur when it comes to school. Can barely read my own notes.” Clearly Jack is not a big fan of writing, or reading. Likely because he’s not good at either rather than a hatred of things academical. With his hands retreating back into sleeves, he lifts a shoulder in a small shrug, “Seems like a bleedin’ waste of that money what was spent on us, don’t it? Sure as shit ain’t going to be passing any of my classes.” A pause before he turns to face her somewhat, offering the shadow of a smile, “You nattered at her anymore?”\n\nThere’s a slight smile at his words of commiseration. She lifts her face to peer at the sky, perhaps to see if clouds will obscure the sun anytime soon. Squinting, she shrugs. “Maybe I can sneak in and get the tuition sent back somehow. Or just rob the bookstore.” Because textbooks are a racket. \n\nThe plastic coffee mug beside her is lifted to her lips and she takes a sip as she returns her gaze to him. “We can move out of the sun,” she suggests, unfolding her longish legs to touch her Converse-clad feet to the cement below the bench. “Yeah. She actually called me to come take some chair she thinks is tainted or whatever. She might be coming around.” \n\nJack doesn’t mention the fact that he thinks this whole thing is a waste of time, but it’s quite obvious. Nor does he remark further on his opinion of the woman in question. That’s obvious too. “Least she ain’t going to hold out on us for the whole year.” he mumbles, interrupted at the end by a burgeoning yawn that he makes effort to stifle by pushing his chin down onto his chest.\n\n“A tainted chair?” That gets a raised brow, as though it’s something new. “Learn somethin’ every day. Did you take it? Was it viciously comfortable?” Might’s well get them jokes in now. No one needs to tell him that it’s probably Serious Business, but if you can’t find humour at some point along the road then it’ll just make the journey longer. Her consideration has those eyes turning skyward, frowning faintly. “Can if you want to, darlin’.” Stoic, he makes effort to erase the discomfort from his face. \n\nShe rises, slinging the book bag over her shoulder and biting back the usual reaction to any pet names thrown her way. “She apparently can tell if something’s been touched by the Gloom. Said the chair had the feel. I didn’t touch it because I’m not looking for any return visit, you know? Called the people with the vans to come gather it up.”\n\nMoving to where an overhang on a building provides some shade and respite from the sun, Mattie shrugs again. “She said she’s failing out, which sucks really, but hopefully if it’s going to happen, it’ll be soon.” It’s a terrible thing to say, but it’s the truth for both of the sleep-deprived students. \n\nNot having removed his bag to begin with, in case this little chat turned out to be of the short and unsweet variety, Jack follows suit in standing and letting her take the lead, falling into step alongside. “Can she do that with people too then? Without starin’? That’d be pretty handy. Gloomdar. If only it weren’t attached to someone so bloody annoying.”\n\nThe shade does earn her a tiny smile, a little pull up at one corner of the mouth as he resettles more comfortably. A lull follows in the chatter while he watches the students strolling past with a pensive expression, as though imagining he could just pick out the touched ones at a glance. That bird there, with the dreds and the copy of Socialist Worker in one hand. Or that guy, who likely went to Public School and drove to campus in Daddy’s Porche. “Yeah. She mentioned that last time. ‘Fore she went ballistic. Sounded pretty serious.” Another shrug, with not all that much sympathy right now. “Sooner th’better.”\n\nMattie nods, turning to look where his gaze flits person to person. “Only she might not be able to tell the difference between something that’s from the Gloom and something that’s just been there, it looks like, maybe. It’s just a feeling — not like it is when we see people with a bit of concentration, you know?” \n\nThe conversation with Teresa that yielded that tidbit comes to mind, and Mattie frowns. “I filed a report on that guy Vasya she talked about. He says he’s not one of us, she thought he was, and Sandraudiga apparently took him for an Other. So what that makes him, I’m not sure, except I don’t like it.” She glances at her cell phone’s screen, to check the time. \n\n“Can she still do the care bear stare to get the skivvy though?” Jack tilts his head as he cuts his yellow gaze back to her, one brow slightly raised. He’s at least somewhat intrigued by all this, managing to cut through that sleep-dep haze.\n\nA slow nod follows though, shifting from vague curiosity to a more stern expression, “Yeah, I read that. This geezer who’s going to do her worryin’ about us for her. That don’t bode well at all.” His brow furrows as he considers, “We got a pic on him? Anything to go by?” That little twinge of paranoia has him turning away, as though expecting to spot the man in the crowds. “She got a camera in her shop? If so, reackon we might send someone in to snatch the footage?”\n\nThe time checking isn’t lost on him, glancing at his own watch. “If you need to scoot t’catch a class, don’t let me stop you.”\n\nA brow lifts and Mattie huffs a soft laugh. “I didn’t think to ask, actually, but I’m guessing she can’t tell the difference. I’m not sure why Sandraudiga thought he was an Other, either, when she and Da-” The lost man’s name makes her pause and she repositions the book bag on her narrow shoulder. \n\n“Checking the cameras would be good,” she adds with a nod toward his suggestion. “Description isn’t too useful. Pretty generic I guess.” \n\nThere’s a pause and another glance at the clock. “I should, since it’s with her. Maybe she’s ditching and I can go home and take a nap.” \n\n“Right you are, then. Yeah, be good to know who to keep an eye out for.” Jack reaches into a pocket, remaining in the shade and pulling out a little battered Marlborough from a softpack. While sparking it up, he regards the woman sidelong, thoughtful but doesn’t respond further to the first remarks.\n\n“Good luck with that. Take one for me too, is it?” There’s a flash of a smile, a hint of the old cockney charm and a parting nod. “Have a good one, yeah?” Seems like he’s going to stay a while; better to show up late than not at all though.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n"

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