Drifting through Starbucks


Dan_icon.gif Nadira_icon.gif Reggie_icon.gif

Summary: Three drifters meet and chat in Starbucks.

Date It Happened: December 21, 2001

Drifting through Starbucks


The Starbucks is bustling with holiday crowds and the frantic buzz of the last-minute holiday attitude. Despite the piped in music's request that they "let your heart be light", most people are more focussed on getting their orders and getting on their way than really embracing the holiday spirit. The coffee shop seems extra crowded since most of the patrons are also laden down with several packages, taking up tables and chairs with their things.

Not so laden is Reggie, who has only her cup of coffee to worry about, no packages in sight, not even a purse. She's found a little spot against the wall, where she's mostly out of the way so long as no one's trying to get by. She stands there, watching the seats while she waits for one to open up.

Nadira almost jogs in. Perhaps she's been out jogging; she's wearing running shoes, a sky blue velour running suit and a fanny pack. As for the line and lack of seats, once she notices them, she frowns. She gets in line anyway.

Already at a table is Dan, who managed to snag one before most of the shoppers and crowd entered the shop. He's on break from working at the Dragon and thought he'd pop into a coffee shop for a bit — because there are few places better for observing the populace than a coffee shop. So there he sits, dressed in his best work clothes (which still look shabby) with an open notebook before him on the table and a pen moving over the pages. What's he recording? Conversations, odd things he sees, and so forth. During one of the few moments that he glances up, he happens to catch sight of Reggie and, noting the familiar face from the streets, motions her over. He's got a spare seat at his table.

Reggie glances over at the sight of someone else coming in. "More people coming in than going out. Endothermic. The place could explode at this rate," she mutters to herself, smirking into a sip of her coffee to hide the grin, try to cover the fact that she's talking to herself again. It's then that she catches sight of Dan waving her over, and grateful for someone to talk to other than her own company, she stirs from the wall and moves over to join him, greeting with a quick grin. "Busy tonight, huh?" she observes the obvious as she drops into an empty seat.

Nadira looks around for a moment at the sound of a familiar, rare word, but can't place the speaker in the crowd. So she patiently stands in line, waiting to order something that's likely to undo all the good she just did herself, if she was out jogging through Chinatown.

"Very," Dan responds with a slight smirk as he glances over the crowd. Nadira is spotted, of course, but seems no more of note than the others in the crowd — save for the fact that she's in a jogging suit. This is jotted down absently in his notebook. "I imagine if a fire were to start, there would be a very large number of casualties."

"Better hope nobody sets any fires," Reggie replies without too much concern, though her gaze does flicker around the joint, picking out her exits and making a mental note of those closest and with the clearest path. Never hurts to be prepared. "I should know better than to come into a place like this with Christmas looming." But then, where else does she have to go?

Nadira patiently waits in line. How boring. To pass the time, she begins to hum something that sounds like a 1950's rock tune. Devotees of oldie stations might well recognize it as "Love Potion Number Nine".

"Mm, it is the worst time of year to be out and about anywhere," responds Dan sympathetically. Nadira's humming is once again noted down without much thought given to it. "Though if begging is your thing, people are far more generous this time of year, too. If you can get to them before the sidewalk Santas, that is."

The humming really doesn't seem to jive with the Christmas tunes, so Reggie casts a quick glance back over her shoulder to find the source of it. Just curious, not annoyed. Turning back to Dan, she gives a quick twitch of a grin and then shakes her head. "I earn my keep. But generosity is always helpful in that. People will pay more. And there's a lot of food. Except then sometimes they try to convert you." She gives her shoulders a shrug, since, well, free food, so what are you going to do?

Nadira finally makes it to the counter and orders one of those outrageous holiday concoctions dentists and doctors disapprove of. For the moment, she has stopped humming.

Dan snickers a little at that. "Jesus will help get you off the streets," he states dryly. "Honestly, the only thing I've seen Jesus do is make people feel guilty and depressed for things they can't much help." Nadira's choice of drink is jotted down as well. "Things are going well for you, though? You're in the mechanic business, aren't you?"

"Yeah, I think like most things, Jesus helps the wealthy who can help themselves," Reggie agrees wryly, pushing a hand back through her mess of black curls. "Yeah, things are … things are going okay," she decides with a nod. "Surviving, which is the main thing, right? Business is slow, but I get by. And you?" She takes another sip of her drink and then glances back over at Nadira, since the humming has stopped.

Nadira pays the barista and collects her drink. After verifying that there's still nowhere to sit, the woman begins to carefully thread her way through the people and packages to the door. She's humming the same song again.

"Things have been going well for me. Business is picking up at the Chinese restaurant, and things are about the same in the stall in Grand Central Market." When Dan spots Nadira heading for the door, he indicates her with a jerk of his chin. "It looks like that woman needs a place to sit."

"Good. Glad things are working out for you," Reggie replies with a nod as she sets her cup back down on the table. "Guess it's busy this time of year? No one has time to cook, right?" She glances back over as he indicates Nadira, shrugging her shoulders. "Your table. I don't mind sparing the room if you don't."

Nadira is now halfway to the door and making better progress as she gets closer to it. She's still humming that song.

"Right. And others just like Chinese food at this time of year." Dan rises out of his seat just slightly and calls out to Nadira: "Miss, there's an empty spot here if you're looking for somewhere to sit." And don't mind sharing it with two strangers!

Reggie gives a grin at that, lifting her cup in salute as she concedes the point about Chinese food. "If I could afford it, I think I'd really rather do Peking duck than turkey." She leaves it at that, taking another sip of her coffee and turning slightly in her seat to see how Nadira will react to the offer.

Nadira cocks her head to one side for a few moments, then begins to make her way over to the table, not humming. The Starbucks is so packed that it'll take her a bit to reach the table.

"Well, you know, my employer is offering me free food for the holidays. I wouldn't mind sharing it if you want some." Dan settles back into his chair when it looks like Nadira is approaching, then reaches over to nab a spare chair from a nearby table — one occupied by a woman and her wailing child.

"Really? I mean, if you've got some to spare… I'd pay you back," Reggie replies with just a small streak of pride or something similar. Exchanging favours is different from charity in her book, and it's an important distinction. She sits back in her seat, reaching a long arm out to turn her coffee cup so the logo is facing her, just studying it absently, in between glancing over to check on Nadira's progress. The crying kid gets a glance too.

Nadira winces as she makes her way past the screaming kid. "Thank you very much," she says to Dan as she sits down, "I was about to drink this on my way home."

"I'll have plenty to spare, don't worry." Dan doesn't refuse the offer of payback either, knowing full well that pride is involved. Not everyone likes charity. He offers a smile at Nadira and shakes his head. "Not at all. There's really plenty of room here, but people like filling it with shopping bags, I guess. And nobody wants strangers at their tables anyway." He holds out a hand toward her in offer of a handshake. "I'm Dan Benipal."

"If you're sure then. Haven't had Chinese in awhile," Reggie replies with an indulgent grin, before looking over as Nadira finally manages to reach the table. "But there's nobody stranger than us," she notes in jest, as to wanting strangers at the table. She follows it by muttering something to herself about it not being funny, and then tries to recover by lifting her cup in greeting and offering her own introduction, simply: "Reggie."

Nadira shakes Dan's hand. "I'm Nadira al-Sabah. Peace be on this table," she says with a wicked grin. "I rather like Chinese myself, although I skip the pork dishes."

Dan chuckles again at Reggie's remark — he found it pretty funny! — and nods to Nadira. "Muslim?" He can only assume. "I work at a Chinese restaurant. We were just talking about the pros and cons of Peking duck over turkey for the holidays."

Reggie flashes a grin as Dan chuckles at her stupid joke, seeming put a little more at ease with that. She picks up her cup, taking a sip and then biting down lightly on the lip of it, just idly toying with it as she listens to the two converse, gaze flickering back and forth between them.

Nadira nods at Dan. "I'll have to come to your restaurant. Hmm. They're both delicious. It's easier to choose side dishes to go with turkey, though. Everyone knows what to serve with turkey."

"I'm just a deliveryman there," Dan chuckles, "but it's the Golden Dragon. If you want cooking, I work at an Indian food stall in Grand Central Market as well." He sits back in his chair, closing the notebook. "Turkey is large, though. If you're all alone, it might be too much."

"Yeah, I can't imagine sitting down alone with a turkey," Reggie pipes up over her cup. "Plus there's a need for an oven. Maybe a solar oven, but then it'd be hard to keep it at a consistent temperature… No, probably too risky." She stops her rambling rather abruptly and just flashes a smile. "I'll stick with Chinese."

Nadira sips her coffee before replying, "No, that's what leftovers are for. You can make turkey soup, turkey tetrazzini, turkey casseroles and turkey sandwiches. Deli turkey is always so tasteless. Homemade turkey is much better."

Dan tips his head in deference to Reggie's statement. "Turkey can get old after a while. But to each their own, mm? Some don't even have a holiday to celebrate this time of year." He finishes off his coffee, but doesn't move to refill it.

"Wow, you know a lot about turkey," Reggie remarks with sincere amazement as Nadira begins listing off the many things that can be made from it. She glances down at her cup with a thoughtful frown, taking mental note on all this information about the poultry, in case it should ever come in handy.

Nadira says, "Thanks. My mother taught me. She loves turkey. She's always made a big Thanksgiving feast every year, even when there were only the two of us. As for holidays, I love the lights and ornaments, but that's as far as I'll go. I don't know about going home this year, what with the snow in the mountains."

That gets a raised eyebrow from Dan. "Snow in the mountains?"

Reggie gives a little frown at her cup at this talk of going home, though she shrugs at Dan's question, not entirely sure of the reference herself. "I like it here. With it not being freezing cold this time of year." She's not entirely sure if it's a non-sequitur, but it sort of follows, so she says it.

Nadira nods. "It is nice out here. Up in the passes, it's snowy. My mother's in Vegas and I don't want to fly, so that leaves the interstates. Right now, the powers that be are having a hard time keeping those open. I imagine ski resorts everywhere are thrilled, if people can get to them."

"I like it here as well. It's a lot like where I grew up." Only bigger. Dan nods to Nadira's explanation. "Most likely."

"It's nothing like where I grew up. That's what I like about it," Reggie replies. "Well, some things," she adds, more to herself, tilting her head as she concedes that point … to herself. Bringing her attention back to the conversation, she looks back over at Nadira. "Are you afraid of flying?"

Nadira says, "No, I'm afraid of airport security. Also, even at tourist rates, flying is expensive. I need to hang onto my money as much as I can."

"Where are you from, if you don't mind me asking?" The last is asked of Reggie with a curious lift of Dan's eyebrows. Nadira's remark is met with a sympathetic nod of his head. "It's difficult these days, after— " he trails off with a wave of his hand. September. "I hear airfare prices are starting to drop dramatically, though." Because nobody wants to fly.

"Detroit," Reggie replies, simply a statement of fact. "It gets cold." She leans forward, resting an elbow on the table. Cupping her chin in her hand, she listens to the two talk about flying, nodding a little. "Then money won't be as much of a problem," she allows, when Dan points out the falling prices. it does allow for there being other things that remain problems though.

Nadira shakes her head at the thought of flying, even if airfares are dropping like Boeing's stock. "No, I'm not doing it. Detroit? No wonder you like it better out here, Reggie."

"Ah, yes. Much colder there. I grew up in Phoenix." Dan absently spins his pen on the top of his notebook, though his eyes remain on the two women at his table.

"There's a lot I like better out here. But sometimes… Well, at least there, the problems were more obvious. They don't have much glitz and glamour." Reggie shrugs again, a slow, drawn out gesture as she sits back up. "I don't think I've been to Phoenix."

Nadira says, "I haven't, but I've heard that it's nice."

Dan grins at that. "Los Angeles is a very deceptive city, it's true. But then it's also the heart of the movie industry, so that's to be expected." He lets out a quiet snort at Nadira's remark. "Phoenix isn't all that great. It's boring and too hot during the summer. Places like L.A. and Las Vegas at least have gimmicks to make them interesting."

"There's a lot more than meets the eye," Reggie agrees sagely, nodding her head. "More than most places I've been. Maybe it's because of Hollywood," she allows, though she finds that slightly confusing. It's definitely an angle worth thinking about. "If you could be anywhere, where would you be?" she asks randomly of the two of them.

Nadira shakes her head. "Las Vegas is as boring as hell if you live there. There's only so much of the casinos anyone can stand. I'm not sure where I would be. Right here isn't bad at all."

Hmm, that's a question. Dan considers it a moment before finally coming back with: "India, I suppose. I wouldn't mind seeing what it's like there."

"If you played the casinos too much, you would lose all your money. The odds won't work in your favour," Reggie points out with a shrug. "Unless you cheated." She takes in their answers, nodding as they both seem to make some sense to her. "I don't know where I'd go. I've travelled around a lot, but nowhere has been right yet."

Nadira tells Reggie, "I hope you find a home someday, then. India does sound interesting, but I don't know how long I'd want to stay. Probably just long enough to see all the famous buildings."

Dan nods a little, then casts a glance at the clock hanging on one wall. "I'd better get back to work," he utters as he rises to his feet, scraping his notebook and pen into one hand. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Miss al-Sabah. Reggie, you know where to find me about the holiday food." And with that and a smile, he turns to head off.

"It's all right. Here will do for now," Reggie replies with a smile, giving her head a little shake. As Dan moves to take his leave, she watches him rise and then nods in confirmation that she knows where to find him. "Thanks for the seat. And in advance for the food," she bids as he starts off.

Nadira says to Dan, "Take care. I shall come visit your stall and try the food. I'm sure it will be delicious. Hmm, I should probably get going myself."

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