Skinny Coffee and Tablets

Summary:
October 19, 2014: Babs and Rowan meet and the discussion is an interesting one.

Gotham Cafe

A quiet, mostly clean twenty four hour cafe in Gotham.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:


Rowan is already at Gotham Cafe. He has been for an hour. In truth he went to find it early and simply didn't leave. He was concered he'd be late, at first and then things got a little on the fascinating side. Restaurants like this exist on Earth 81 but not really in Atlantis or any of the Naturalist tribes. And most of the cities Rowan visited on his homeworld were naturally wartorn hellholes. So this is new, and different.

His adaptive clothing makes him look like he has rather casual clothes on. Slacks, tee, open button up. He's sitting down at a table watching people and waiting for 'Babs' to arrive. The woman has him curious and no mistake and she seemed quite friendly.

***

Babs is curious to see if the strange young man would actually turn up. No stranger to being stood up, moreso after she'd been confined to chair, she has decided to see if he will show.

Entering the Gotham Cafe at about 10 minutes to the designated time, Babs pauses just in through doorway and scans the Cafe to see if Rowan is there and, if not, to find somewhere to sit.

Today Bab's is wearing a deep purple, v-neck, long t-shirt and jeans. The deep purple of the T-shirt might be overstating it as it seems to shift colour in the light, but whatever the colour, it sets off her red hair and green eyes.

***

Rowan is in fact there and spots her fairly quickly, waving her over with a smile. "Hello Babs." He says, rising. "I would have ordered you somethiing but I did not know if that was appropriate. Shall we get some 'coffee'?" By the way he says it he's still not used to drinking it. The bewildering variety of things surfacers drink is quite a shock coming from a place where there are no drinks.

"It's good of you to come by the way. I'm glad you did." Pause. "You look nice." He's fairly sure that's not an inappropriate thing to say. Blue women of his own world would have found it to be safe-ish. He's got no idea what the social customs here are for casual meetings but complimenting someone's looks is usually safe.

Except when it's not. He'd seen a few surfacer tribes where acknoledging a womans looks was tantamount to challenging her to a duel that either resulted in death or marriage.

Surfacers are odd.

***

Manoeuvring her chair through the cafe, Babs joins Rowan with a small smile on her face. Not stood up is a good start. Catching the way he says the word coffee, she frowns a little but recovers with a smile and "Yes please, a skinny cap would be great." Pausing momentarily, Babs adds "You're welcome, it was my pleasure" and then, a slight flush "thank you." Taking up position at the table, she looks politely to Rowan to organise the drinks.

***

Rowan does go to order himself a simple black coffee and Babs her 'skinny cap.' Theres a moment where he has to have it explained what it is, but he catches on pretty quickly. Once the drinks are prepared (which they are fairly quickly) he returns and sets down Babs by her before sitting down. "We left our last meeting with… quite a few questions on both sides. It's only fair I think that I answer yours first." He pauses to sip his coffee. Tastes odd.

"What would you like to know?"

***

Accepting the cup of coffee, Babs smiles. "Well, I could ask you to tell me about yourself… but I suspect that is too vague." Pausing for a bit, she nods "yes, let's start there. Tell me about yourself." Green eyes sparkle with mischief, as she sips her cup of coffee.

***

"As you wish." Rowan says, sipping his drink again before he sets it down. "My name is Rowan. I am aged twenty eight years by surfacer reckoning. I have been a soldier for ten. I was born with a genetic defect that prevents me from using the hydrokinetic powers common to my people. To make up for this deficiency, I underwent an experiment procedure to turn me into a bio-weapon, and was taught the rudiments of magic by the Atlanteans."

He pauses, trying to think if he's missed anything important. "I do not know if my family is as it was on this earth. I rather suspect it is not without the war to shape it but I've not been in contact with my people since I arrived."

***

Babs blinks at such a complete rendering of information and tries covers her surprise by dropping her eyes to her coffee cup. After a short pause, she says quietly "That's a lot of information that raises a lot of questions." Biting her bottom lip, she continues "You say 'on this earth' and mention family and people. Perhaps you could explain that to me first."

***

"This world… your world…" Rowan gestures at everything around him. "Is not the world I grew up in. On my world Gotham is a battleground, laid waste by decades of war. Metropolis is a stronghold of the Psychic Overlords and… er… the less said about New York the better. I came here… by accident. The Overlords began experimenting with portal technology. One of their portals was the focus of a battle. I destroyed it, but when the portal collapsed it drew me in." And he ended up here. Falling three miles into the sea and nearly crushing an underwater Lab.

***

Frowning Babs takes a drink of her coffee and tilts her head as she considers that information "And your family and people?"

***

"They live in the Carribean and my… circumstances were such that being repatriated is something of a political headache. The King of Atlantis is talking to my people but…" He shakes his head. "They are not the people I knew, nor, I imagine, the family I knew if indeed they exist on this world. They people I knew were hardened by a long and better war. Things are… different here. Even when they look familiar, they are not." Things like Mera or Aspen or Arthur. Nothing Rowan has encountered that looked the same actually was.

***

Nodding, Babs is silent as she tilts her head to assess Rowan. "That must be very difficult for you." The look she gives Rowan isn't sad precisely, but there is a degree of sorrow in it.

Dropping her eyes to the cup again, her hands wrapped around it, she drums her fingers gently, thinking "You say you are soldier and you're a bio-weapon. Is that something you can talk more about?"

***

Rowan hasn't been exposed to enough of the nastier side of the metahuman equation to know why many would choose to conceal their abilities. In that way he's fortunate. For many, the fact that he's a man from the sea is exotic enough and outweighs the more unusual aspects of his being. "Of course." He extends an arm and lets scales slowly creep up it. Armored, lizard like scales. "I was engineered with a secondary set of genetics that I can activate at will. It interacts with my magical training to let me adopt a wide variety of situational abilities. I can demonstrate more fully if you like though… not here."

***

Babs reaches out a hand to touch the scales, but stops "May I?" she asks. "When you say engineered, what do you mean?" Her brow creases ever so slightly as she assesses the statement.

***

Rowan nods, giving her permission to touch his arm. "Of course, Babs." He watches her for a moment before continuting. "I was not born with that ability. When I came of age I was conscipted, as was normal for that place. I was slated to undergo an extensive proceedure that altered my genetics to what they presently are. It was a… harsh necessity. Understand that in my time, survival, not freedom is the most prized quality. Everyone fights, beacause things have become that desperate. Without my people's Hydrokinetic abilities I was…" He pauses… "I do not wish to insult or demean you, Babs. But they would have considered me crippled. I lacked what was considered an essential tool for interacting with my world. It slowed me and made me a liability in war."

***

Allowing her fingers to make contact with the scales. Fascinated, she examines them closely and then remembering herself, looks up at Rowan, slightly embarrased "I'm so sorry, but it's fascinating." Removing her hand, she picks up her coffee cup again.

"So that you could survive in the world, they modified you. That's the gist of it, isn't it?"

***

"Survive and contribute to the survival of others, and of our nation, yes." It's not the American ideal. Rowan has sussed out that much already. The people here prize freedom and the ability to choose. Some might choose under other circumstances to cope with such a 'disability'. He was not given that choice, but he cannot say the decision to take it from him was wrong, given where he was at the time.

"The modficiations made me… more. I became a prized operative and deadly weapon. For ten years…" Ten years at war from the day he came of age to the day he was taken from his world by a collapsing dimensional portal. "Though I'm not sure what to do with them now."

***

Babs brow knits in a tiny frown as she listens to Rowan explain. "So a soldier, without choice, but it seems… a damned good one. What have you been doing since you got here then?"

***

"I've been working for a couple of Oceanography resarch firms. It appears that my knowledge of the sea floor and ability to go there myself are prized in some circles." He smiles a little. "It affords me currency to live on the surface. I'm unused to a stable monetary system so it's been a bit of a… change for me."

***

"Ah, that's right you swim as well." For a brief moment, there's a glimpse of mischief in Babs eyes but then it's gone, and Rowan is regarded by a pair of green eyes "Stable monetary system…." a shake of her head "That seems to be fitting, but I guess you don't get to use your soldiering skills much?"

***

"It's happened a few times…" He says quietly. "Enemies from the other world seem to… they've followed me here before. It's sporadic. Somehow they're able to send agents here. The Nameless. Psyborg soldiers of the Overlord known as Occulus." Rowan shakes his head and smirks a little. "I may have upset him in times past. A lot." Quite a great deal actually but that's neither here nor there.

"Otherwise, I try not to. Queen Mera and King Arthur both do not wish me to frighten surfacers and color future interactions with the sea people."

***

Maintaining her gaze on her coffee, Babs lets Rowan talk. "You seem fairly proud of the fact you may have upset him. But I do understand the requirement not to colour interactions" The wry tone indicates more than a passing familiarity with keeping things on the down low. "How long can you remain on the surface?"

***

"The Blue are able to do so indefinitely." Rowan could live the rest of his life here without ever returning to the water. He won't, but he could. "But we're unsual in that. Most sea people cannot live out of the water and many of the ones that can, like Queen Mera, dehydrate within a couple of hours." He cants his head, watching Babs as she absorbs information.

"Upsetting Occulus… is dangerous. But he was a very evil man. So it means I did something right."

***

"Fascinating" Babs murmurs, seems that's the word for the day. Tilting her head, she looks back at Rowan, a small smile on her lips. "You are very free with information about yourself. That might not be such a desireable thing, not everyone is like me." It's a light warning, but one she feels should be given. "I do thank you for sharing though."

Letting the conversation dwindle a little, Babs returns her focus to her coffee cup, lightly tapping her fingers again.

***

Rowan nods. Perhaps not all secrets should be known but Babs seems nice enough and she intregues him. "May I ask, Babs, what it is you do in this world? I've had so little exposure to what you surfacers consider normal that I'm quite at a loss to know what so many millions of people do with themselves every day. The fact that there are so many surprises me." On Earth 81, the world population is much, much lower.

***

Raising her head, Babs looks at Rowan and there's a tiny smile on her face. "I'm a IT Security Specialist. I keep computers and the associated systems safe from people who want to get the data off them, or use them to create havoc." a simplified, and perhaps truncated, explaination of what she does. "My legs may not work, but my brain does and so I use it. Without trying to seem rude, do you have much exposure to computers, Rowan?"

***

"Yes and no. Our own people utilize them and the Overlords' society uses them very, very extensively. Much of my expertise is in military systems which tend to be…" What are the words for them. Rowan pauses, thinking. "Simple and robust. I have a lot of practice breaking them for various reasons, but… not much experience using them for finer applicatons."

***

"I did wonder. My job is to make sure those finer applications, as you put it, are used by the people who should use them." she shrugs as she focusses back on the coffee cup.

"It is good, I think, that you live in a place where the mind is more valued than the body." Rowan nods. "Just… have a care. Where I come from the body had become so much hardware, to be upgraded and changed. The mind was the ultimate prize, but those with… lesser giftings found themselves to tools of those with greater gifts. I do not think you would do such a thing." He's not cautioning her against such attitudes. "But if your society tilts the right way… it will come to very much look like the one I fought against."

***

Babs keeps her head down "The body is still valued…" and she lets the statement remain unfinished. "We fight very hard to maintain our freedom. I don't think I could ever control another, like that."

***

Rowan goes quiet for a moment. "I'm sorry, Babs, if I said something wrong…" He'd noticed her going quiet. "I take it that… people are generally less open about things here? I did not mean to intrude. I'm used to living with other soldiers. It was hard to keep secrets living in such close quarters anyway, so mainly we simply did not try."

***

"You didn't say anything wrong, Rowan. No, we aren't as open about these things but you didn't intrude. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable either. Ask your questions and I'll answer as best I can." Babs raises her gaze to look Rowan directly in the eyes.

***

"I've met, since I've been on this world, a number of… champions. People who are more than those around them, or different in some fashion. I've seen them clash on occasion. Can you tell me more about this? Or what you think of it?" Yes, Rowan is asking about Superheroes.

***

"Champions, I suppose. There are those who believe that they can bring good to the world, by acting on behalf of others. It's a difficult situation to explain and I'd need a long time to really do it justice. As to what I think… our own authorities are stretched, these champions help out, but they sometimes take the law into their own hands to do so. Where does one draw the line?" Babs sighs and rubs her forehead slightly "My thoughts are mixed on this. I'm in this chair because of the actions of a man, that the police couldn't contain…" shrugging "I'm not the best person to ask"

***

"Or perhaps you're uniquely qualified to ask. It is easy for someone to opine on a situation that has not affected them." Rowan notes. "Living the situation makes you really think about it. Or, at least, induces the possibility." It's possible that someone could just give into rage and emotion and not think about it. He's seen that before.

***

"Perhaps" Babs green eyes hold Rowans momentarily and then she turns it to the cup of coffee in front of her. Picking it up and taking a drink, she tips her head again "Perhaps when we know each other better, I can answer that more fully."

***

Rowan's eyes are at the moment a light brown though if Babs has been paying attention, they do change sometimes. "I think I should like that. Is that an acceptable thing to say? To wish to know someone better?" See previous note about fights to death or marriage.

***

"I'm sorry if I seem a bit… awkward. The social conventions here are still a bit beyond me. Well, mostly, I never know if I'm about to… what's the phrase… 'step in it'."

***

Babs smiles and her eyes sparkle slightly "It is an acceptable thing, quite normal actually." She shrugs "Being awkward around new people is also acceptable. It's part of getting to know each other…" Then a small frown creases her brow again "How was it on your world, if you didn't get to know someone?"

***

"Soliders… we got to know each other as a matter of course. When you fight together, live together, eat together, there's no choice. You learn of someone whether you want to or not, whether you like them or not." Rowan chuckles. It's true for this world's soldiers as well though he doesn't know that. "I spent my whole life at war. I know no other way to be… and here… there is no war."

***

"Brothers in Arms and all that jazz. I understand that." Babs casts Rowan a look that shows just how much she understands it. "A soldier without a war… and looking for a place…"

***

"That's largely it…" Brothers in arms and unwilling neighbors. "I just want to be able to live until… well… it's possible I'm stuck here. If I am, I want to make the best life I can. I'll manage, I think it's just… so different. Loud noises still make me want to dive for cover. Car alarms give me chills… It's really helpful actually to have someone like you around to answer questions about what's normal and expected and what isn't.

***

Babs smiles at Rowan. "That's very nice of you to say. So what, I'm to be your Surface advisor?" Babs teases Rowan with this, but there's look of skeptism in her eyes - she's not sure he'll receive it that way.

***

"I'd prefer knowledgable friend, but whichever title you like." Rowan teases back. So the underwater man does have a sense of humor. It's just buried, somewhere.

"Er, that is, if friend is appropriate. I'd like to think we can be. Friends, that is."

***

Grinning Babs looks at Rowan, her eyes dancing with mirth "How about we settle on friend, and yes, I think I would like that." Looking at her coffee cup, she finds it empty and that mischievious look is back "Do we get another cup of coffee and talk some more?"

***

"If you have time for it. I know that most people here on the surface have a less… er… open schedule than I do." Seriously, Rowan's job is just swimming around helping scientists find things. Granted, they consider him extremely valuable, and he is kind of irreplacable but it's not like what he does is hard and he can largely set his own hours.

***

Babs reaches down to her bag and pulls out a tablet. Focussing on it for a few minutes, her hand gesturing across the screen every so often. Smiling back to Rowan, Babs answers "I have a bit more time. My work hours are flexible and as long as I check in every so often" and she indicates the tablet "I'm fine."

***

"In that case, I shall get us another set of drinks." Rowan rises and is gone for a minute ordering another skinny latte and black coffee.

When he returns he's looking thoughtful. "That device is some manner of computer then?" Tablet computing is hard to achieve underwater and not something that enemy soldiers often carried around with them. "Does this mean your 'work' does not require a physical workspace?"

***

Accepting the coffee and moving her empty cup to the side, Babs nods her thanks.

Looking at the tablet, she smiles "Yes, it is. I call it a tablet and it means that I can be away from my physical workspace for a period of time. Depending on the work, some people don't need a physical workspace. For my work, a lot of it does, if only for ease of access to more powerful resources." Pausing, she looks at Rowan thoughtfully "Would you like to see how it works a bit?"

***

"If you do not mind showing me I would be very much interested. I am given to understand that much of this world is 'networked' though I must confess that I don't know how most of it works. The Psi-net of my world was based entirely on psybernetic implants so that the flow of information could be controlled or restricted." Rowan scoots his chair over to get a bit of a better view of what Babs is doing.

***

Holding the tablet so Rowan can see it, Babs explains "Actually, your description of your Psi-net is not too far off. Except we network machines. Each machine is connected to the network and with the right tools, anyone can access the information. We use passwords and other methods to restrict the information. Differently implemented, different goals, but similar applications."

Over the next 20 to 30 minutes, Babs introduces Rowan to the basics of the tablet, Internet and of course, games.

***

Of all the strange things he's seen in this world, nothing matches the oddity that is 'Fruit Ninja' nor Babs amazing skill with it. He's already getting an idea for a new training aid. He'll need a produce cart and an air cannon… but… maybe… "So this is how surfacers entertain themselves?"

***

Grinning Babs replies "Sometimes. As technology becomes more accessible, normally because the price gets lower, the more time people seem to spend playing games and surfing the 'net. But it's not the only form of entertainment. We have many ways of entertaining ourselves" and then a little more quietly, "Well some do anyway. Some of us work too much."

***

"Work too much? Do you need… an… er… assistant?" Surely, Rowan thinks, she works too much because she has too much work. It's not unheard of. Solution, allocate more manpower to the problem. There. With someone to share the load she'll have less work she has to do herself.

***

Shaking her head Babs gives an answer "My work requires my knowledge and replicating that… is problematic. Would you give the work of your Commanders to an assistant?" It's not the full answer but it will do for now.

***

"Probably not. That might upset her." Rowan aswers with a smile. Not only could it not be done, but she wouldn't have allowed it to begin with. Then again, she was one of the few people willing to argue with a man who could become a thing of legend and smash walkers with his bare hands. That's probably how she became his commander.

"Well in that case, I do hope your workload lightens for you. You have a nice world. It's a shame to not enjoy it."

***

Babs smiles slightly "Upset her, huh." Shrugging Babs says, quietly "I enjoy my work, Rowan, I don't usually mind." Brightening, Babs asks "Did you have more questions?" Putting the tablet to the side, she picks up her coffee cup and sips slowly.

***

"Actually yes." Rowan pauses, looking over Babs coffee cup and watching her drink. "What makes that drink in particular 'skinny'?" From social customs and politics to why you call a latte a latte. Rowan really doesn't have a lot of reference for this world, does he?

***

That has Babs eyes opening wide. "It's the width of the cup they put it in, it's narrower than others" Babs can't help but laugh and her eyes dance. Yes, another tease.

***

That gets Rowan to pick up his own cup and hold it up for visual comparison. He frowns and his eyes widen when he realizes she's teasing him. Humor for the win. He chuckles in amusement as he puts his own back down. "I see." He winks and leans back. "Would it be acceptable for us to meet again, Babs? I'd like to continue this conversation and I must confess it's nice to have a friend up here who is not royalty." Scary royalty.

***

"It's called skinny because the milk they add has had some of the fat content removed. I just like the taste better." Babs relents and provides the answer first.

"Not royalty hmmm? Yes, I would like that Rowan." She's had to turn her chair slightly to look at him, and is nursing her coffee cup in her hands.

***

Rowan chuckles a bit. "Queen Mera checks up on me from time to time." She'd be curious to find him with a surfacer woman. Well, strike that, she'd be curious to find him with a surfacer of any kind but that's mainly because she knows less of surface life than he does. Which is to say about as much as most Atlantean's know. "Tomorrow perhaps, then?" He's not making to leave, just discussing when they might meet again.

***

This man has Babs totally bemused. "Um, sure. Tomorrow." She casts a wary look at Rowan in giving him the answer.

***

"Excellent." Rowan seems pleased by that answer. For a man experienced in the art of warfare and deception he seems so utterly guileless in this situation. Really he is simply enjoying the company and the interaction though if he's honest he does find Babs very intriguing indeed.

"I do not know if any of my work would be of interest to you, but I'm sure if it is I could ask the scientists to let you sit in on some of it."

***

Blinking, Babs nods. "I would like to know more about your work, I'm interested in all sorts of things really." pausing she looks at him "What would you like to do tomorrow, though?"

***

"Well, you seemed curious about my… more unusual abilities. I do not mind showing you but it requires open space to avoid frightening people or destroying property. If you'd like I'd be happy to show you though. The beaches are fairl empty these days." Rowan offers.

***

"You are a remarkably open and trusting person, Rowan. You barely know me. But I would like that, we just have to make sure it's somewhere accessible" and she gestures to her chair. She goes back to sipping her coffee, this time watching him over the rim of her cup.

***

Rowan shrugs a single shoulder. "If you wish to do me harm, at this point, you can do it. I see no reason not to extend trust until given a reason not to do so. Besides, you've been helpful and polite." He smiles. "I know a few places that would be accessable. The place near where we first met would not be bad. Nor would some of the more open beaches to the north, toward New York. But whatever makes you feel comfortable. You know the surface better than I after al."

***

"And what would your Queen have to say to that attitude, I wonder." Babs murmurs. She knows' what she would be saying to the Batlings. "Where we met the other day will be fine." she smiles faintly at the thought.

***

"The Queen, not my Queen." Rowan chuckles. "I give her the respect due royalty, but the Blue are a republic. Or… were on my world anyway. Atlantis is a Monarchy. They're different, and our people are divergant as well." Not that Babs could be epxected to know that. Which is why he explained it.

"But that sounds good to me."

***

"I still think she would have something to say, most Commanders do when it comes to the safety of their people. But thank you for explaining it." Babs smiles with that. Quirking an eyebrow, Babs sits and sips her coffee. "I think you've forgotten some details for tomorrow…" she says quietly.

***

Rowan cants his head slightly. "Details?" He's a little distracted at the moment. This is all rather new to him, talking to someone who doesn't simply stare back at the weird sea person. "Sorry…" He's not sure what he's forgotten. But when he remembers…

***

Babs grins "Shall I just go wait by the seaside for you all day?" her eyes dance with merriment. And then she drops her gaze to her coffee cup…

***

"Oh… the time!" He blinks. "I'm sorry. I had thought the morning. Is there a particular time that works well for you Babs?"

***

Shrugging Babs says "The morning is fine. Did you want to go early or midmorning?" as she reaches for her tablet to check her calendar.

***

"Say toward eight in the morning?" AFter sunup but not quite late. Rowan figures that'll give her time to get up, do whatever morning rituals she must and be on down there without having to hurry at all.

***

Babs smiles. "8 works fine. I'll meet you there. I suppose you'll be coming out of the sea then." and a small grin tugs at the corners of her mouth. As she has her tablet out, she takes the opportunity to check her updates, before putting it to the side again.

***

"Probably." Rowan nods. "It's the fastest way to get around. No traffic jellies." Jam, jelly. He gets them mixed up. The only 'jelly' he's used to dealing with are jellyfish and those are jellies of a different nature.

***

"Jams, Traffic Jams" Babs corrects almost automatically. "Then I guess it's a date then… " She finishes her coffee and places the cup on the table. "Was there anything else you wanted to talk about, Rowan?"

***

Rowan pauses to think about that question. "No, except perhaps to ask if there was anything I could do for you before taking my leave? And thank you for coming out to see me. I look forward to meeting tomorrow."

***

"So polite" Babs teases "I believe I am fine, thank you Rowan. I have enjoyed our time today and look forward to seeing you again tomorrow." Babs picks up her tablet and places it in her bag before looking back to Rowan.

***

Rowan watches her mostly out of curiosity and partly to make sure she gets onto the street okay. "It was a pleasure Babs. See you soon, then." He says with a smile.

Then he moves outside himself, into the crowd and vanishes in the press before long.


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