|Summary||Irene signs for a bouquet of flowers and discovers a mysterious letter.|
| The front entrance to X-Factor Solutions has been kept meticulously clean, with neat white walls and a floor that's polished regularly by a tiny robotic housekeeper (when it's not broken down). Despite that, the place looks run down. A crack runs from one corner of the ceiling nearly to the center light fixture, and several of the floor tiles have chipped corners. A pair of red vinyl wing chairs sit to one side just in front of a pair of doors that lead to a small gym and a conference room. The receptionist's desk, which is more often unmanned than not, is a tall, black thing with scuff marks suggesting it was bought used. Even the old-fashioned bell resting atop it with a 'ring for service' sign is dented, and the door behind that opens into the staff lounge hangs a little crooked on its hinge.
This is a building that's seen more than a few long years; the only new thing about it is the hand-painted sign across the storefront's glass, declaring in neat black lettering, 'X-FACTOR SOLUTIONS', and below that, 'Mutants for hire.'|
| It is a spring day. The weather is warm and overcast.|
'Ting!' ... 'Ting-ting!' The old-timey bell from the reception desk chimes. Its familiar little chirp echoes shyly past the entryway and into the rest of X-Factor Solutions.
Letting his finger linger just above the bell, Christian turns to look out over the gray Saturday afternoon. In a light jacket that resembles a letterman-style, the teen pivots to face the front door. His attention is drawn to a happy troupe of teens as they laugh and pass by. They pay no attention to Christian's shitty mountain bike, which is loosely chained up just outside of the business. Instead of a number or his last name, 'Planet X Delivery' is scrolled across the short span of the boy's narrow shoulders. His hair is too dark for his complexion and likely dyed. Under his arm is a clipboard, and set out just beside him on the reception desk is a large springtime bouquet. Christian chews on his bottom lip.
It probably seems like the offices are empty, even, which happens a fair bit on the weekends.
They aren't empty, though, even if Irene is maybe not coming to see what the bell ringing was about. In fact, she looks like she's planning to leave the offices, her stride swift with purpose, a to go cup from Oddball coffee in her hand. The sight of Christian does get her to pause, though, looking back over her shoulder as if she expects to see someone a little more involved with the running of this business there. But nope, it's just her. "Hi," she begins, taking in the bouquet, "I think you might have the wrong place."
“Oh,” Christian says, already believing the woman as he turns on the balls of his feet to face her. His sneakers screech quietly against the floor with the movement. “Is this-” He looks down to his clipboard, drawing it up from under his arm, “-is this *not*?” The teen’s voice cracks in a shrill squeak and causes his pale face to redden, “-Ehem-I think this was supposed to come here yesterday but I messed up. Is this? X-Factor?” His English is clear, but foreign.
Say anything with enough authority and someone will believe you. Irene isn't trying to be misleading, though. Her brows lift slightly--more for the explanation than anything else. The squeaking goes uncommented on and foreign accents aren't exactly uncommon in New York. "I guess this is the right place, then. But whoever that's supposed to go to, they aren't here just now."
Christian’s brow turns upward in a helpless expression. “Is there any way? Do you have a way to contact uhm-” His eyes flick quickly back down to the clipboard before rising back to Irene larger than ever, “Vega Z-hang?” Although his intentions are good, he butchers the name. “Please? I’m in so much trouble, already. I really don’t want them to wilt. It would be- please?”
Irene's expression gives very little away. All she does is glance at the bouquet again briefly and then look back at Christian. "I might," she says, rather noncommittally. She doesn't even correct the pronunciation of the name, though she could and has before. It doesn't seem terrifically helpful, but maybe Christian's pleading hits it's mark. She sighs, quietly long suffering. "Alright, alright."
“Really? You might?” Christian’s shoulders slump with sudden relief, “Thank you! Oh, thank you!” Irene is a HERO. “I’m so sorry for any trouble.” He clasps both hands together, holding the clipboard in the heel of his hand. “You are saving my life.”
"Yeah, sure." You're welcome? "I wouldn't go that far," Irene denies, holding up her hands in a gesture for 'simmer down' (though it works a little less well when one is holding a coffee in one hand). She looks mildly puzzled. It's not a big deal from where she's standing. She's certainly not saving lives. "Do I need to sign something?"
Obediently, Christian pulls in the reins at Irene's gesture. A slight shudder runs through him as he tries to contain his enthusiasm - like a Chihuahua. "Oh, yes." Gulping, he pries his clipboard out from the awkward hold he has on it to loosely hold it up with his other hand. It reveals itself to be less of a clip-board, pulling up a flap of paper, it reveals itself to be less of a clip-board and more of a touch-screen device. "Just right here," he offers hesitantly, producing a small stylus.
That is a lot of enthusiasm over a small thing. Irene kind of eyes Christian, but her expression leans towards amused for his efforts. Okay then. She takes the stylus when it is offered to her, but lets him hold the tablet while she signs, since she doesn't put down her coffee to do so. It only takes a second, anyway for her to sign, her signature all loops and lines and pretty easy to read as 'Irene Atwell' as far as signatures go. It's certainly a bit cleaner than a lot of them, in a day and age where penmanship isn't as valued. "There you go."
“That says Irene Atwell?” Christian asks for confirmation, turning the tablet back to himself as he pokes the name into a log. The process makes him chew his lip and the look of concentration that he achieves while staring down at the tablet probably isn’t very encouraging. “It’s the 9th, right?”
"Yes," Irene confirms, tapping a finger against her coffee cup before taking a drink of it while he pokes at the tablet. "New job?" That probably isn't very encouraging either. It's certainly touching on being rude. Sorry, Christian. "Yes," she confirms for him again.
Very briefly, Christian glances helplessly up from the tablet towards Irene before quickly looking back down. He really doesn’t inspire much confidence. “Yes,” he stammers, trying to smile. “Alright, we’re all set.” He doesn’t sound very sure. Regardless, he folds the clipboard-tablet back under his arm. “Thank you, again.” Lifting his messenger bag, which has been slumped at his feet, the teen prepares to depart. He’s probably already kept her too long.
"Well, good luck with that." Irene means it. She isn't being sarcastic, even if the words are spoken fairly low-key. "Sure," she says, taking another sip of coffee and seemingly casually watching him. She certainly meant to be out the door already, but she's letting him leave first.
Awkwardly, the delivery-boy does eventually get his life together enough to leave. Outside, he nearly gets hit by a car as he crosses to the other side of the street to unchain his bike.
That all kind of pains Irene to watch, but she only interjects a "Be careful" which is really mild on the scale of her advising/ordering people around. She looks back at the bouquet with a sigh, reminded she now has to finish this delivery. Which she will do, eventually, although she is not in a great hurry. She also investigates the delivery in the process, which is one part lifetime suspicion and one part plain nosiness. Hey, no one is around to judge.
The tiny card attached to the flowers is a simple expression of thanks, although the flowers themselves might express something altogether more. A handwriting analysis, fingerprint sweep, and a DNA swab could reveal the sender to be Luka. Also, he signed it.
Set off to the side, just partially beneath the bouquet is a second mysterious, sealed envelope. Looking worse for wear, it could be completely unrelated to the flower delivery. It probably is. In hurried, juvenile handwriting, it is marked simply: Lucille Kane.
Since Irene doesn't really have access to a lot of her favorite analysis tools anymore, she'll just have to make due with the signature and the reasonable certainty it's really just flowers and not some kind of weapon. (Mutant Affairs has seen some weird shit, yo).The less-than-crisp envelope Irene is pretty certain is unrelated to the flowers, reading the name on it. There is a fairly long moment of hesitation where she considers what, if anything, to do with it. Ultimately she decides that it probably shouldn't be left on the desk where just anyone can walk in and pick it up. She pulls her Eyes out of a pocket (using the glasses kind and not the contact lens kind) and sends off a quick message to Ciel regarding it through the XFS emails, then picks up both deliveries and heads out the door.