First Impressions

Daniel Faraday rushes awkwardly around a grey, city street corner. His scuffed, black shoes skid a little on the wet, gum-speckled pavement and he furrows his brow as he frets about being late for his very first meeting with his new associates. Rainwater drips steadily down the beaten brown briefcase in his clenched grip.

At last, panting a little, he heaves open the door of a rather dingy, long-forgotten café. Well, at least he attempts to. Then, taking note of the "push" sign pinned to the glass, he gives it a shove and the staggers into the café.

The near-empty coffee shop is populated by only four people. One woman, two men and one employee glaring at him as he slowly creates a puddle on the brown tiles.

His four new co-workers look up as he approaches, and he quickly takes each in.

A short, thin Asian man regards him darkly and flicks at an invisible speck of dust on the grimy tabletop. He doesn't greet him, and Daniel is already wary.

To the man's left, a pretty woman with long, red wavy hair gives him a quizzical half-smile and nods politely. "Daniel Faraday..?"

"Uh, yeah, Faraday. Daniel. I mean, Daniel Faraday. Hi." Daniel nervously holds out a hand to be shaken, and then immediately withdraws it self-consciously.

The woman holds out her own pale hand, teeming with confidence, and introduces herself in her clipped British accent. "Charlotte Lewis. Second in command. I assume you've met Naomi prior today?"

"Um…yeah, I did."

"Senior management my ass," mutters a man to Charlotte's left. He runs his hand though unkept grey hair and sips bitter coffee from the Styrofoam cup. "That girl's half my age, at least."

Daniel gives a nervous little laugh, glad that a small moment of informality could crack the ice, if not break it.

"Well, sit down, if you please," invited Charlotte briskly. "Lots to discuss."

"Yeah, good…" Daniel drops his briefcase by the table-leg and sits.

"M'Frank, by the way," the older man to Charlotte's left greets him with a raised hand, and Daniel can't help but notice he looks a little hung over.

Charlotte looks at the other man pointedly. He rolls his eyes at her, and in a tone dripping with contempt, introduces himself as Miles Straum.

Miles Straum, thinks Daniel. I'd best make note of that- avoid Miles Straum at all costs.

And so they delve into conversation. Daniel barely registers what's being said, mainly for the reason that he can't tear his eyes away from Charlotte. She's so confident, and calculative.

Her blue-grey eyes glance briefly into his brown ones, and he feels as though he's being x-rayed. He hopes she doesn't see the heated red his ears have turned.

"And Dan- I can call you Dan, can't I? If that's alright?"

"Um…oh- yeah, sure. Of course."

He's almost sure he can see Miles roll his eyes again from the corners of his own. But for once, he doesn't really care what others think.

"Do you know anything about the properties of the island at the moment?"

"No. That is…not at the moment."

"Hmm. Well, I think you're findings will be quite interesting."

Forty-five minutes later, when everything that can be discussed has been, they wrap it up. Miles mutters something about having a job in town, and leaves abruptly. Frank makes his excuse too- he needs to catch his bus if he wants to make dinner with some old friends of his.

Daniel glances at the gap between the drawn blinds. It's stopped raining, and patchy beams of sunlight are breaking though the steely clouds.

"So," Charlotte grins as she pulls on her mahogany jacket. "You don't have to make dinner or have a job in town or feed the dog?"

"Nah. I'm not much of a dog person."

She laughs, and though Daniel hadn't fully intended the statement to be funny, he smiles to. She has a nice laugh.

"Mmm, nor me."

Daniel picks up his still-damp briefcase and Charlotte reaches for her closed black umbrella that had been dripping onto the floor.

"I suppose I'll see you next week then. On the Kahana." She smiles and holds out her hand for him to shake.

"Absolutely." He shakes it, holding on for just a fraction of a second longer than necessary.