|Saleh Mubarec (duatyouwant) wrote in yegods,|
@ 2012-05-01 15:18:00
|Entry tags:||!log, jennifer meyers, saleh mubarec|
I like coffee and I like tea
WHO Jennifer "Jenny" Meyers and Saleh "Sal" Mubarec
WHERE random coffee place in the Catacombs
WHEN Tuesday night, 5/1
SUMMARY getting to know each other
When arranging to meet for coffee and tea after work, Sal had suggested 6:30 as a time, knowing that despite his shift ending at six, he would probably end up being kept a few minutes later to finish some last minute tasks. To his amusement, because of course things would work out this way, he was for once done right at six, and when he offered to stay a little late, he was shooed out the door by his boss. 'Fine', he thought to himself, not sure what to do with a half hour of time. He decided it best not to go anywhere, in case for some reason he didn't make it back by six thirty. He also decided not to wait inside, as he'd prefer not to have his employer and co-workers see him meeting someone to go out with after work. He tended to keep to himself for the most part, and didn't want them knowing anything more about him than they needed to.
Sal sat on the ground outside the door to wait for Jenny. He pulled his knees up close to him and rested a book against them, beginning to read while he waited. The book was a worn paperback, an Anne Rice novel. He didn't particularly care for the series, but had somehow become invested in it and was attempting to see it through to the end. He was able to effectively ignore passers by, just glancing up briefly to check if it was the person he was waiting for, and each time it wasn't. Being able to escape into a book for a while was agood option. Sal didn't think himself to be much of a people person, especially with people he didn't know. He could easily work himself into a minor state of anxiety over talking with someone he didn't know, especially someone who he'd already overshared with, thanks to his curse.
To be perfectly honest, Jenny had had a lot of reservations about moving to New York. It was something that never would have crossed her mind on her own. If she had been left up to her own devices, she would still be in Los Angeles, probably drowning herself in indulgent partying to try and forget Eddie and the divorce. Right, because that worked *so* well after Dad died. She was beyond grateful for her mother's intervention. Sure, she hadn't been the most present parent, but Uzume was a goddess! Jenny didn't really have a clue as to the rules about how long or how often a goddess could visit the mortal realm. All she knew that when things were darkest, Uzume showed up and directed her towards the family she had left: the demigod community.
So here she was, throwing herself head first into the mystical world of the divine, trying to make friends and build a place for herself. The demigods were awfully organized, what with the Catacombs and the GN. It made things a lot easier for Jenny. Already she had been able to meet a couple people, and now she was on her way to meet another godling. Things were looking good for her new New York life.
She hurried along the twist and turns of the Catacombs, looking for the bookstore. She had left with plenty of time to spare, but Jenny found the dark, cavernous streets confusing. She stopped to ask for directions a couple times, her divine aura of joy coaxing smiles out of suspicious expressions. Finally, with just a couple of minutes left before their designated meeting time, Jenny rounded a corner and came upon Alexandria Books. A young man was sat in front of the building, reading the book. She rushed towards him, smiling brightly. "Sal? Hi, I'm Jenny!" She offered a hand. "I hope you weren't waiting too long!"
When Sal saw a hasty movement toward the shop, he looked up again from his book. The woman approaching seemed to exude a 'shiny, happy people' vibe, and despite how that would have ordinarily irritated him, Saleh actually gave her a small smile. He closed his book and stood, brushing his hand behind him to be sure there wasn't anything stuck to his rear from the ground. "Yeah, that's me", he said. He dusted his hand off on his pantsleg, then shook her hand.
"I was out here for about a half hour", he said quite honestly before he could stop himself so he could think of a more diplomatic honest answer. "I got out of work early ", he explained, hoping that would make it better. "Not a big deal, I kept myself occupied." He dropped his book into a black messenger bag that matched the rest of what he was wearing. Black shoes, black skinny jeans, black jacket. His shirt was the only exception to the rule today, it was black and white horizontal stripes.
"There's a decent place down the lane here ", he offered. "It's small and there's usually hardly anyone in there. Their teas are decent, don't know about the coffee."
A small worry line appeared on Jenny's brow when Sal said he'd been waiting for half an hour. They had agreed on 6:30, hadn't they? Had she misread?! But his explanation soothed her, and her expression cleared. "Lead the way," she said cheerfully after releasing his hand. She adjusted her purse on her shoulder as they headed in the direction of the cafe Sal had in mind. "It's surprising how much stuff is down here! It's huge! I guess it takes awhile to figure out your way around. I've only been down here twice since I've been here. It's kinda intimidating and mysterious, entering through a church and coming down into this huge cavern beneath the city." She laughed unabashedly, the sound echoing against the walls. "It's weird. I've always known about my mom, but I never went looking for other demigods in LA. I guess there's not a big community like there is here, or if there is, they're pretty quiet about it. Now I feel like I'm in some kind of fantasy movie or something."
Jenny turned her head slightly to look at Sal as she talked..He was quite a bit taller than her, so she had to tip her chin up a bit to get a glimpse of his face. He seemed a very mysterious figure himself, dressed all in black with his shaggy hair covering his eyes. He was pretty skinny too; Jenny wondered if the shelter provided food. It wasn't something she would ever ask, but the thought did cross her mind. What a crappy situation he was in.
"Anyway, I'm glad you wanted to meet up. It's pretty unnerving to come to New York not knowing anyone. Are you from here?" she asked.
Sal led them down the way toward the place he had in mind. It wasn't far, and he didn't mind that she was filling the walk with conversation. It made it easier for him, easing the burden of him feeling a pressure to fill the silence. When he had the chance, he said, "I like it down here. It's nice, in an otherworldly kind of way." He understood what she meant, he couldn't think of anything to compare the catacombs to. It was a one of a kind place.
She'd already said quite a bit about herself, so he didn't mind when a question was brought his way. "Yeah, I grew up in the city. I've lived in a few different parts", which was the truth, though maybe a little bit of an understatement. "I've known about the catacombs since high school, but haven't spent a lot of time down here till just recently."
Sal stopped in front of the shop. It didn't look like much, had a slight air of neglect about it. Sal liked it though, the place felt like it had character, it wasn't some sterile, soulless coffee place. It had personality. He held the door open and followed her in. He was wondering about something, and figured he'd go ahead and ask.
"So what brings you to New York? Was it your mom?" He knew enough
about gods that it seemed a safe assumption to make. They didn't tend
to have much to do with their kids, but they did seem to like to
meddle and direct. Though his father hadn't been a presence in his
life at all, Sal did feel some relief that Anubis wasn't trying to
control him. "Who's your mom?", he wondered as he began to scan the
shop's specials board.
Jenny perked up as they reached the little shop. A caffeine hit was exactly what she needed. She chirped a thank you as Sal held the door opened and took a deep breath as she entered the building. It was rich with scents: layers of tea and coffee mingled with the aroma of old wood and well-used furniture. She looked back at Sal, her eyes sparkling. "See, how cool is this? You never find these kinds of places in LA, right? Everything there is either shiny and glamorous, or open and beachy. A place like this just gives me goosebumps. It feels like it's been here forever!"
She settled next to her tall companion, and her eyes followed his to the specials that had been scrawled. "Yeah, it was mom's suggestion," she responded. "She's Uzume, the Shinto goddess of revelry and joy. So you can guess that she didn't really like seeing me in the state I was in LA." Jenny paused here, realizing that merited more of an explanation. "I had just gone through a really hard divorce, so I was feeling pretty low," she amended, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "Anyway, she told me that I should come here and get to know the demigod side of myself, that there was a huge community of gods' kids here that I could get to know and become a part of. It sounded pretty good to me, and I definitely needed a change. So here I am!"
She stepped up to the counter and grinned at the girl manning the register. "Hi! I'll take a latte with three shots please, and then whatever my friend is having." She turned her smile on Sal. "My treat, as thanks for hanging out with the newbie in town!" She really was grateful, and the least she could do was help him save even a little towards a place to live. Seriously, maybe it was just the movies she'd seen, but a shelter in NYC really didn't seem like an uplifting place to be.
"Yeah, it's nice", Sal said of the place, smirking a little. "It might've been here forever", he commented, knowing that that was a slight exaggeration, though there were some laces in the catacombs that did truly seem ancient.
Saleh nodded his head as Jenny explained who her mother was. The goddess of joy. It made sense, actually. She really did seem to exude it. Even Sal's mood felt a bit elevated just from talking with her. He was kind of amazed at how even a tough divorce only got a casual mention and at the moment at least didn't really seem to affect her. Saleh had to admire that. He'd never been able to forget or let go of his past hurts. It seemed that she had, or at least was really trying to.
"I-", he said, starting to order, then pausing and turning to look at her. "No, you-", he started to argue, but stopped as she seemed to insist. He should have expected it, considering what he'd told her about living at the shelter. "Okay, thanks", he said, giving her a small, grateful smile. He turned to the barista and ordered a chair tea. "Not a problem ", he told her. "Thanks for inviting me out. So how are you liking the east coast so far?"
Jenny waved away his thanks and pulled out her wallet to pay for the drinks. When the transaction had been made, she stepped away from the register and faced Sal. "Well, the weather sucks," she laughed. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the sunshine. But I bet New York is going to be just beautiful in the summer. The city looks so different from LA. It feels so much older and deeper. It's weird to suddenly have everything around me be totally new, but it's good too. I might have just spent my entire life in LA if things had gone differently. How boring would that be, right?"
The barista called out their drinks and pushed them out across the counter. Jenny scooped up her latte and cast her eyes around for a place to sit. The place was nearly empty, so she just chose the closest table. Her chair wobbled as she sat and thumped back and forth on uneven legs as she shifted her weight. "So how about you, Sal? Who's your god parent? It's crazy how many different ones there are. I feel really uneducated about them all. It makes me wonder what the hell I was doing all these years. I knew my mom was a goddess, but I never thought to do any research about her or the other gods or anything. I've got a lot of catching up to do!" She shrugged, her smile sheepish. "Did you always know that you were a demigod?"
Sal gave a small smile and shrugged his shoulders. He'd always lived in New York, so he'd didn't have anything to compare it to other tthan what he'd seen on tv or in books, but he was sure that seeing them in person would be totally different. "It's nice in the summer", he said of the city. "And I agree, I really like the history. The churches and graveyards especially are so old. And down here too, of course."
He thought on what Jenny had said about staying in one place being boring. He did understand that, and thought that he'd like to see more of the world one day. He would be able to make those opportunities possible for himself eventually, he thought.
Sal reached for his chai . It felt warm in his hand and he could smell the delicious aroma of the spices. He sat down across from her and took a tiny sip of his drink before answering her. It was only fair for him to share as he'd already asked a bit about her.
"My dad's Anubis", he started. Since she'd told him she didn't know much about the gods, he elaborated, "He's the Egyptian God of Death. He lives in the Duat, the Egyptian underworld, and judges the souls of the newly dead. Fun times, right?" He smirked. "I found out I was a demigod about six or seven years ago. I've never met my dad, but it was easy enough to figure it out."
Jenny brought her latte up to her lips. It was strong, just as she liked it, and she let out a small, content puff of air as she put the cup back down on the table. She crossed her arms and rested them in front of her. As Sal began speaking about his own divine parent, her eyes grew wide. "Wow, that's heavy stuff." That seemed to mesh well with his style, though. Jenny wondered if his powers had to do with death. That was a little creepy, but pretty cool as well. "Anubis... But how did you figure it out if you've never met him? Did your mom know?" Her expression was puzzled as she reached again for her latte.
"I didn't realize that some gods never spoke to their kids at all. I know they're not around a lot; I didn't actually meet my mom until my 10th birthday. But never? That's really harsh." She took a long sip from her cup. It perhaps shouldn't have been such a surprise. Humans could be negligent parents, and gods definitely had a much wider scope to worry about. It made sense that they might lose track of their children. It still didn't make it right, though. What happened when their kids' powers manifested and there was no one around to explain things? "Did you have to figure out your powers by yourself? That had to have been kind of scary."
Sal winced. Jenny was asking all the right questions, the right ones to make him squirmy and uncomfortable. She'd said a lot just then, and nearly everything she'd said had touched on a nerve. This wasn't stuff he tended to talk about. He didn't even like to dwell on it. He would gloss over some of the more uncomfortable questions, but would give some general answers.
"I figured out I was a demigod by a chance conversation with another one over the Internet. It seems a lot of us have similar stories. Single parents, or none. Foster care, school problems, problems getting along with others. And then the weird stuff I couldn't explain. Like feeling drawn to graveyards and mummies in museums. I knew I was an Egyptian God's kid, because I felt that connection. As for Anubis, once I read about the curse, I knew for sure." Anticipating another question, Sal added, "Children of Anubis aren't able to lie. I can't lie."
He took a sip of his tea and continued. "I heard about the catacombs and even visited, but I kept doing my own thing for a while. When I did start coming back around, I started to learn about the other things kids of Anubis are known for. Being able to go into the underworld. And someone left me a jacket that helps. I think my dad left it for me." He smirked as he reached for his drink again. He was pretty sure it had been his dad. Who else would give him a jacket that makes him look like a corpse?
Sal winced, and a wave of guilt washed over Jenny. Now that she rewound and rethought her words, the only way she could have been more insensitive was if she had starting talking about his living situation. Jeez, Jennifer, don't you ever think before you speak? She bit her bottom lip as he answered. Sal didn't mention his mom, but he did say something about foster care. Damn, he probably didn't know his mother either! Her fingers played a soft staccato beat against her mug. The not being able to lie thing was interesting. Did it compel him to answer? That would explain why he had told her about the whole shelter thing despite never having met. She figured she should probably watch what she asked from now on if she didn't want to stomp all over Sal's privacy. Still, Jenny couldn't help but be impressed. He came from a really tough place with not much reason to trust others or even give them the time of day, and he was willing to meet her anyway. She decided that Sal must be a really strong and kind person, and in the back of her mind, wheels started turning.
"So you can go into the Underworld?" she asked, gliding over the more sensitive parts of his response. "Is it difficult? Do you get any weird effects from it?" Jenny shook her head slowly. "It's amazing the types of abilities people have. It's like living among superheros. There should be a comic book series about the Catacombs!" She laughed, the end punctuated by a soft short. "Whoops! Excuse me! Anyway, I feel like mine are pretty standard. I can command attention and make myself unforgettable if I want to, which can be pretty useful. And I seem to be able to put people into a good mood, which is even more helpful, especially when some bride-to-be's invitations came back with the wrong font." She rolled her eyes, then belatedly remembered to explain again. "I'm a wedding planner, and I'll tell you what, I though LA brides were bad! New Yorkers are even pickier, I think!"
Sal shared, telling some things, not mentioning others that he didn't care to discuss with someone he'd just met if he could help it. Avoidance and silence were his only two friends when it came to his curse. He had to speak the truth, and often did so out of not having a mind to mouth filter that was able to produce a wealth of lies or half-truths that he could verbalize if he wanted to at a moment's notice.
It seemed to him that the conversation was getting easier, and he soon realized that this whole process was probably feeling less painful and awkward than usual for him because of her giftings. He'd never heard of someone able to do what she could, and he found it interesting. He told more about being a psychopomp, saying, "It's not that difficult, no. It takes some effort and concentration, but it's kind of like trying to figure out a puzzle. And I guess I'm pretty decent at those kinds of puzzles. Being there doesn't affect me so much. I mean, it's dangerous, but... it doesn't bother me the way it seems to bother other people who've been there. I don't know, maybe that's just because who my dad is.
He took another drink of hos tea, then asked, "So... you're a wedding planner? What's that like? I couldn't imagine being around so many weddings. Creepy." He shivered a little. That's right, the goth guy thinks weddings of all things are creepy.
Jenny crossed her legs, left over right, and slid her mug back and forth across a few inches of the table, catching it between the palms of her hands. She had never been able to sit still from the moment conscious movement entered her life. Her fidgeting was often small and subtle, not overblown or ADD, but she was always moving in some way. It took a lot to wear her down completely, and even then, her mouth was running more often than not. "That sounds really exciting," she enthused. "A little bit of danger and a little bit of mystery... Do you go down there a lot, or is it sort of not encouraged? Has anything ever followed you back to the land of the living?" This was beginning to sound like a ghost story, and Jenny could picture it like film reel playing in her head. Sal, walking confidently through the Egyptian underworld, an endless desert exposed in shades of brown and grey. She smiled slightly; her dad would have known exactly what to do with such an image.
She giggled and dropped her shoulders in a half-shrug. "I actually find it a lot of fun. I like big events and lots of people, and I can get along with a lot of different types. The brides definitely can be really particular, but why not? It's supposed to be the best day of their lives! I just try and make it the least stressful I can. I handle all the ordering and the arrangements and the appointments so that the couples... well, mostly the bride... can just enjoy designing their perfect wedding." She stopped and took a drink of latte. returning it to the table, the look in her eye became slightly wistful. "It's nice, too, to be able to relive the magic. Sure, some weddings end up total disasters, but usually even those ones end up being fun and memorable." Her grin widened. "Even if it's memorable because your new brother-in-law fell into your $2000 cake."
"I don't really know if it's encouraged or not", he said of travelling into the underworld. The question really amused him and Sal smirked. He'd never thought about it before. Encouraged or not encouraged, he did it anyway, and he didn't imagine that someone saying that the underworld is dangerous and he shouldn't go would deter him in the least. Saleh knew that the underworld was dangerous. He was cautious and planful the times he'd gone there, and had managed to stay safe. "I've been down there quite a few times, but not for a little while now."
Her other question about the underworld caused him to laugh a little. "No, I've never come back with a new mummy friend or a pet jackal", he said. "I don't think the bookstore would appreciate it." His chai was half gone now and he pulled the cup to him again, taking another sip of the tasty drink.
Sal really couldn't relate to the whole wedding thing. It wasn't something he could ever imagine going through himself for a wide variety of reasons. He couldn't imagine why anyone else would want to, either. It seemed like too much work to him. But Saleh supposed that was where Jenny came in. "I net you're really good at it ", he remarked. "You seem really outgoing and friendly. And I'm sure being able to keep people's attention and keep them in good moods is really useful." He snickered at her mention of a groomsman ruining a cake. "Don't tell me, did that happen to you?"
Jenny looked pleased when Sal laughed. He seemed generally pretty serious. It wasn't the first occasion she had had to be grateful for her ability to elevate others' moods. From social situations to her career, that little blessing from Uzume was certainly something that Jenny valued. "That's good to know the mummies are happy to stay where they are!" she said jokingly. She reached up to wrap a strand of hair around her fingers. "I wonder if regular people would see them if they did, though. It's not just demigods that go to the Underworld, right? Normal people do too. Or at least, that must have been how it worked when they were in their heyday. But how do they divvy up the dead people? I mean, you're Egyptian, and I'm Shinto, and we're both in New York. Doesn't that blur the lines?"
She shook her head emphatically, laughing into her coffee. "Oh no, god no. Eddie would have never let me spend that much on a cake, even if I begged and begged." She looked up at Sal, adding another retroactive explanation. "Eddie is my husb... my ex-husband." The stumble prompted a cloud to briefly cross Jenny's face, and she quickly brought her mug to her lips. It was strange how a simple syllable carried so much weight, so many memories that were still painfully fresh. But she wasn't here to dwell; she was here to start anew. She drained the rest of her latte, and when she put the empty cup down, a smile had returned to her face.
"Hey, isn't that Beltane thing tonight?" Jenny swiftly changed subjects, her eyes lighting up as she remembered the tidbit shared over the GN. "Do you want to go check it out?"
"I wouldn't mind having a mummy around", Sal said, knowing g it was a ridiculous thing to say, though it was the truth. "As long as it wasn't trying to strangle me or anything. I think they're really interesting. Takes a lot of hard work to mummify them." He thought earnestly on her next thoughts. "I've wondered that too", he admitted. He had indeed. Saleh had access to the Egyptian underworld, so that was where he'd looked for his friends after they'd died. He'd wondered before if they might have gone somewhere else. He wished he did know the answer to that question.
He watched her expression as she mentioned her ex and seemed uncomfortable for a moment afterward. He felt for her, feeling a moment of sadness for her sake. He thought it was a shame that she'd had to go through that. He did admire her ability to bounce back quickly, though. "It is, isn't it?", he said of Beltane. He had to admit, he was interested in seeing the customs and practices of the holiday. "Yeah, sure. I did want to check it out." He took a last sip of his drink. "I wonder if anybody'll fall into the fire when trying to jump it?", he wondered aloud, kind of sounding like he hoped so. He stood and pushed his chair in. "Thanks for the tea ", he told her. "I'll pick up the tab next time."