|At the Cafe
Author: planet p PM
AU - from Season 2, I guess, as that's all I've seen thus far - The Observer meets someone at a cafe. Now with a second chapter. I don't know if I'm going to continue this fic. If you'd like me to, or have any ideas, I'd be happy to hear them. Over n out.Rated: Fiction T - English - The Observer/September - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,039 - Updated: 11-17-11 - Published: 11-16-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7558113
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
At the Cafe by planet p
Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or any of its characters.
Author's Note: Pretty random. Pretty strange, too. I was going to write something else but it didn't turn out. Anyway, this is what I wrote instead.
Arti glanced around the busy, bustling cafe/diner, searching for a place to sit, and groaned. Cripes! There were no free tables. Earlier that morning, as she'd been making out the door, her older sister, Pati, had sent her a text message saying she'd be here to meet her for lunch. Now there were no tables and no Pati. Great!
Hiking the strap of her shoulder bag back onto her shoulder more securely, she spied a table with only one other person sitting at it and made a beeline for it. If she was polite, maybe he'd say she could sit with him, no troubles. He was dressed sort of like a... well, not a lawyer, exactly, but that was the closest approximation she could make out, anyway. He didn't really fit for an accountant. Frowning, she supposed he might have worked at one of those old picture houses, or... in some kind of historical building or something. Not that it bothered her, she just wanted somewhere to sit and wait for her sister. She hadn't seen Merpati in practically forever and she really wanted to catch up, see how she was, ask how everything was with her.
It'll work out, she told herself, weaving in between tables and trying not to knock into anyone's elbows or trip over their feet. The guy couldn't be that bad. Still, she had no idea why her sister had suggested they meet here: the place was mental overrun! But Pati had always liked the anonymity of being lost in a crowd, whilst Arti had always found it a little unsettling. They were just different like that, she supposed. It wasn't a bad thing, it was just a thing.
Reaching the table, she nearly sighed with relief and slumped her shoulders. An ensuing thud told her her shoulder bag had taken a dive for the floor. Stooping quickly, she grabbed her bag up off the floor and jammed the strap back over her shoulder, her cheeks blushing rose despite her best efforts. Wonderful! Now the guy wouldn't want her sitting at his table for fear she'd knock his coffee on him and scold him, or something. Just great!
"Excuse me..." Seriously, Arti! That's the best you can come up with! Come on, gadis!
Maybe the man was thinking the same thing, because he didn't even bother looking up. Or maybe she'd just been speaking too quietly – the place was pretty loud.
"Excuse me!" she tried the lame line again.
The man went on pretending as though she didn't exist.
"My name is not 'Mister'," he said finally, still staring at the damn notebook.
"Uh-huh," she replied blandly, "and guess what? I don't give a rat's what your name is, guy, I just..." Like, no! She sighed. "Look, we got off to a bad start here, okay. I'm not usually this grumpy or... whatever... I just want somewhere to sit down and wait for my sister. Would you mind if I sat here?" She placed a hand on the back of the chair closest to her.
Her face fell. "Oh. Shit. Well, can I do anything...? Buy you a drink, or something?" She noticed he didn't have a cup or anything, so no coffee. "Coffee, tea?" She tried to catch his eye, but he was still looking at his book. "My name's Arti, in case you were wondering. I... big crowds make me agro, you know. It's a... thing I'm working on. None too successfully, I guess."
"They are just people, Arti," the man told her.
She laughed, rolling her eyes. "Yeah, I know! But... just people start wars with other just people, ya know. And... It's not even about that! It's me. I'm... suspicious. You know, like that Elvis song. 'Suspicious Minds'?"
She shrugged, frowning. "Doesn't matter. I just am. I know they're just people, and I... Ya know what, man, I'm workin' on it! So can I get you anything. Coffee?"
"I hope you do not also plan on purchasing a coffee for yourself, Arti."
She scrunched up her nose. "Geez, Dad!"
"I am not your father, Arti."
"I didn't mean it literally, guy."
She rolled her eyes. "I'll have an ice tea then. What are you having?"
"Ice tea also contains caffeine, Arti."
The man frowned, looking up from his book suddenly and meeting her gaze. "What does that mean?"
A weird shiver ran through her, but Arti ignored it, already thinking about ice tea. "It means I find you really, really frustrating, dude!" she replied. "An' I'm still gonna have that ice tea."
"As you please."
"Uh-huh." She nodded, crossing her arms. "Hit me, man! What am I getting you? I don't care what you say, dude, I'm getting you something whether you like it or not. So do yourself a favour and choose something you like."
"I do not like-"
"Alright!" She held up her palm quickly. "Okay, I think I'm startin' to get the picture. You're antisocial and obstinate. Fine! I'll just get you whatever. Be right back." She narrowed her eyes, pointing at him. "Save my seat for me okay! Terima kasih!" Turning away from the table, she rolled her eyes and slouched off in the direction of the counter.
So maybe the guy was a total weirdo, but at least she had somewhere to sit now. And Pati wouldn't be able to say she'd bailed.
"So what do you do?"
"I am not-"
"Blah, blah, blah! Fine, you don't have to tell me if you don't feel like it, okay. It's just a question. Here's your coffee. I have a crappy imagination. You just look like a coffee guy to me... Maybe it's all that black..." She shrugged, placing a take-away cup down next to his notebook and pulling up a seat across the table and sitting down.
"Wow, you're into ancient languages or something?" She laughed. "Sorry, I was just thinking... you must be pretty clever, huh. You're probably on the verge of grinding your teeth right now. I'm a really boring person, in reality, I just talk a lot about... well, kinda about nothing much, so maybe people won't pick up on the fact as soon, you know. 'Cause they're distracted by, I dunno, me running my mouth so much and just wanna get up and clout me one so I'll shut up. Um, yeah-" She put a hand over her mouth for a couple of moments. "I feel better now." Picking up her ice tea, she took a sip from her plastic cup and turned away to look around the cafe again.
Pati still hadn't shown.
She sighed and went back to her ice tea. "So, Dad, you think this clip suits my hair or no?" She indicated a panda clip she was wearing in her glossy, black hair.
The man frowned, staring ominously at the clip.
"You don't look impressed somehow," she commented. "Maybe I should have gone for the butterfly, huh?" She shrugged. "What's done is done, I guess. Personally, I think it's cute... which is fine, if I'm just wearing it for myself. Ugh! You're right. Not a turn on for the guys. A panda bear! What was I thinking? Like, what nutso guy's gonna find that attractive!" She sighed, muttering in a low voice, "I'm doing it again. Sorry..." and shut up, rummaging around in her pocket for her cellphone instead. There were no new messages. She left her phone on the table, just in case, sipping her drink slowly.
What was taking Pati? She'd been the one to suggest they meet, then she didn't show. Or was it just another of her ploys to pretend she was doing the right thing when, in reality, she'd never had any intention of showing in the first place. Hence the ridiculously overcrowded cafe she'd chosen as her venue of choice.
"My enigmatic relative plays arresting tunes insensitively. My enigmatic relative plays arresting tunes insensitively. My enigmatic- Moi, egomaniac retrograde, plans atrocious tactics involving... gagging." She snapped out of her trance and noticed the nonplussed look on her table-companion's face. "The I'm lame kind of gagging, not the I'm gonna kidnap you and tie you up, ha-ha-ha kind..." she trailed off. "It's a... ah, mnemonic, you know. For my sister's name. Merpati. I... call her Pati mostly. And she probably ain't tuning in. Am I getting on your nerves again?"
She sighed heavily, unclipping the panda hair clip from her hair and stowing it out of sight in her shoulder bag, now hanging over the side of her chair. She picked up her phone and stood up, putting it back in her pocket, and grabbed her drink. "I'll probably just slink off now, if you don't mind," she told him, reaching for her shoulder bag. "Sorry to have been such a pain." She turned away and started to walk off, then stopped, turning back for a second. "Bye, whoever."
She frowned and nodded, turning back in the direction of the door and walking off. Yeah, well, at least she'd tried. If Pati even tried to suggest she hadn't shown, she'd have a thing or two to tell her, that was for sure.
"Your sister purchased this for you," the man told the woman who'd just sat down across the table, frowning down at her BlackBerry.
The woman looked up, pulling a face.
"She left a couple of minutes ago," he added.
The woman stood up quickly, shooting him a funny look, and muttered "Creep!" before hurrying away.
He frowned at his drink, wondering what he was going to do with it now.
"I'm back!" Arti declared. "That was just my sister running off down the street, wasn't it? Did you see her? Boy, she's good!" Arti sighed. "Aren't you drinking your coffee?"
"Do I have to drink it for you?"
"You do not have to-"
"Okay, great. I've been hanging out for a coffee hit all day. Yay! Thank you so much." She made a face. "I'm kidding. I'm kinda freaked out right now. Pati ran away from me!" She smacked a hand to her forehead. "Ran away from me! Why? Why would she do that? Am I that scary, or annoying? Ugh! Coffee!"
"It seemed as though she had a prior engagement, Arti," the man told her. "She was checking her schedule, I believe."
Arti snorted. "Ha! Yeah, I'll bite. A prior engagement. That's Pati all over, isn't it? It is! Trust me. Probably with a boyfriend... or potential boyfriend." She laughed. "Well guess what Pati – I have a... a meeting with a man, too!"
"If that is the case, Arti, you might like to think of leaving. You would not want to be late for your mee-"
She nodded. "I was kidding. You're a man, right. I was being sarcastic. I'm really pissed at Pati right now. I bought her something nice and all, and now – I'm stuck with it. And I really wanted her to have it... Don't ask me where she's living right now, 'cause I don't know. I wish I did, but I don't. Argh! Why did she have to run away?" She sighed. "Pati, come back. I'm not going to bite you. Pati!"
She frowned at the coffee and took the lid off it, taking a sip of not-very-hot coffee and staring out the window. "Pati, Pati, Pati. You poor misunderstood thing. You hurt my heart." Her eyes widened. "I will... be back," she declared, leaping up out of her chair and walking off quickly, leaving her drink and her shoulder bag at the table. Returning, she sighed. "Gag. So Pati didn't leave a message for me with the dudes behind the service desky thing. Bummer! Just a thought. Do you have siblings?"
"Of a manner."
"Yeah. I get that."
"My brother recently passed away."
She frowned. "Argh! Rough! But what can you do, huh? That's the way it goes. You live, you die, you... do whatever you do next. The sad part is... you miss them. I miss Pati, and she's not even dead yet. She just pelts for it when she sees me." She sighed heavily. "Sorry about your brother, man. Sounds like he was a nice guy. I bet you miss him a lot."
She nodded. "Only sometimes. Mmm. That sucks. Pati had a kid, you know, but she gave her up for adoption. And even though I didn't know her, I still miss her even now. I could have got to know her, and that's what I miss. Wherever your brother is now, I'm sure... he'd want you to be happy when you remembered him. I have loads of good memories of Pati, I just... prefer the shitty ones, I guess. I should... do something about that. Think positively, instead of negatively, I suppose." She sighed. "Arti has an idea."
He frowned, not sure he was really liking this whole Arti's Idea Time thing.
"You're looking at me funny like you're about to leap out of your chair and run away. You don't have to, I swear. I'm not gonna make any crazy suggestions, and try to ply you with more coffee. I'm done with that shit."
She held her hands up. "I was just thinking, we could both, you know, remember something happy about someone we miss, then when we miss them next time, we'll have had some practise thinking about them in a good way, not a bad way. I'm thinking of Pati sticking me in that box and taping it closed and pasting a little bow on top. Man, that was funny! Even if I did end up crying my eyes out for I don't know how many hours until Pati finally gave up that I was hiding in that box, waiting for Mom to go open it and find me. I guess Mom and Dad were about to ring the cops. Still, maybe not the best memory." She sighed, catching the look of confusion the man was giving her, and added, "I was supposed to pop out of the box when Mom opened it and sing 'Happy Birthday'. Kinda didn't work out that way..."
She gave herself a shake. "Okay, this time I'm gonna find a happy memory. Happy memory, Arti! Happy memory!" She looked at the man across the table. "Do you have a happy memory in mind. I think I might just have one, myself, and I swear, nobody gets locked in a box this time. Arti does have good memories. Yep? Got one?"
"I believe so."
She nodded. "Cool." She stuck out her hand. "Okay, now, can I have your hand?"
"I'll give it back," she encouraged.
She made a face. "I'm not going to steal it away from you, that'd just be ew. I just wanna hold it."
"Dude, you know. Like in those support groups... Or seances?" She frowned, sighing, and shook her head suddenly. "Anyway, I'm not gonna suck the life out of you or anything, I just want to hold your hand, that's it. Wait. Don't tell me – you're a regular Mick St. John?"
"I do not understand."
"Yeah." She nodded. "A vampire. You don't want me touching you because you're cold and I'll go, 'Uh-ha, vamp dude! Somebody get Buffy, stat! Or maybe Beth. Mwuh-huh-ha'."
He frowned, looking very worried.
"Okay. Okay." She nodded to herself. "You're not following. That's cool. You're not a TV junkie. That's real cool. You're like Daniel, kinda. Daniel's cute. I can work with that."
"Daniel Jackson... You know, from TV? No? Anyway, trust me. You're Daniel. You be Daniel, I'll be... Vala. She's kinda mouthy, too. So, let's hold hands and think of our good memory, and then, the good memory energy will... whatever... You get the picture. We have to train ourselves to recognise and respond positively to positive energies. Hand!"
Gingerly, he held out his hand, flinching when she grabbed it and held onto it. "Great!"
"I am not... Daniel..." he told her.
"Yeah, sure. Now let's just close our eyes and think of our happy memory, okay. No talking, just remembering."
"Are we trying to communicate... with aliens, Arti?"
She snorted. "Nooo! No, no, absolutely not, man. Unless..." She grinned, then dropped the creepy smile. "No. Nope! No. We are not trying to communicate with aliens. Not even aliens you look like us, or... or anything! We're thinking happy thoughts. Not involving aliens," she added quickly.
She closed her eyes, thinking back to her happy memory. She was smiling in the memory, and so was Pati, which was a good start, she thought. They'd been eating popcorn. Pati had invited her friends over for her first 'video night' and she'd been nice enough to let Arti stay up and watch TV with them for a while. At least until Mom had come in and told Arti that it was time for bed, 'no matter what'! Arti rewinded the memory to before Mom had come bursting in, remembering that she'd been very happy then. She'd actually felt like she and Pati were sister, like they were apart of the same group, the same family.
She sighed and opened her eyes. "Are you thinking about aliens, Daniel? You're not smiling."
"I do not recall you mentioning it as a requirement of the exercise, Arti," the man replied, opening his eyes.
She dropped her shoulders, staring at him open-mouthed. "I give up!"
"What are you giving up?" he asked.
"Does this mean I may have my hand back now?"
She rolled her eyes and let go of his hand. "Yeah, fine. Take it, it's yours."
"That is correct."
She laughed. "You were supposed to be remembering something happy, Daniel, and happy memories usually make people smile." She sighed. "Man, you're supposed to remember them as they were, not... like you are now, not remembering all the bad shit that happened and how that person's no longer with you and then it's just all bittersweet and totally evil and... and... you know. Remember in a good light, Daniel."
"I do not see how the lighting is relevant, Arti. You said we should close our eyes. I did as you instructed."
"Gah!" She felt like ripped her hair, but unclenched her fists, with some effort. "Yes, you're absolutely right. I did say that. When I say 'light' I mean... like your mood, you know. Take a good mood with you, when you go back to that memory. Don't take the longing, angsty, really, really sad mood with you. Remember and feel happy, not like you're gonna bawl your head off." She frowned, watching her companion's expression. "Am I speaking in tongues?"
"I am not sure, Arti."
"Yeah..." She sighed. "Hey, at least you were a good sport. You gave it a shot. You can't knock that, can you?" She picked up her coffee and took a sip. "I bet you have stuff to do. I should probably go. It was cool talking with you. I'm kinda antisocial and obstinate myself, ya know. But now I see how lame that is, I don't wanna be like that anymore. I wanna... talk to people, make friends. It's gonna be fun."
She sighed, waving across the table. "Bye. Again. For real this time." Grabbing her cup, she stood up and slipped her shoulder bag back onto her shoulder. "And you, have a good day, okay. No more frowny faces. You're going to seriously give yourself a migraine with all that frowning. Not fun, not fun. See ya, Danny."
"My name is not Danny, Arti."
"I know!" she replied, laughing, and waved again, already moving away, towards the door.
He crossed his arms, frowning. "If you knew, then why did you call me it? Or Daniel?"