2019-08-22 - Just Shy of Cult


Eve, Sarah, and Alex meet Pennylane for some healthy food and deep conversation

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Aug 22 06:53:24 2019
Location: Greenwich Village

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Theme Song



The Just Shy of Heaven cafe is a vegan and health food place that does a brisk business most evenings with its excellent collection of overly spendy and treadny carbon-neutral organic foods. It is also a useful meeting place since nobody bats an eye at the weird folks, like the Goth that is Eve sitting and chatting amiably with Pennylane, waiting for Sarah to get here.

They have a meeting, after all.

In any event, she's eating a burrito amongst all the varied and sundry hipsters that also frequent this place.


From the front of the store there's a youth that stands there, head of the line, hands in the pockets of his jeans with a backpack slung over one shoulder. His eyes are distanced, gazing up at the menu, looking over each piece of interest, each little offering. After the first perusal he nibbles on his lower lip and then tilts his head to the side.
"So, like, you don't have /any/ meat or whatever?"
"No, sir. We do not." The harried clerk murmurs patiently.
"Oh um, ok, eggplant roll up thing?"
"Very well, sir."
The order placed, Alexander gets given his ticket and he steps to the side, though his hesitation and question earns him a few glances and not entirely positive ones.

Penny, being a native of California, is very accustomed to vegan and health food places such as Just Shy of Heaven. While standing at the counter, considering what to eat, any of the slightly underripe veggies suddenly become perfectly ripe as Pennylane's aura of life and vitality spreads out from her core. "Mmmm, I'll have an avocado, mushroom, and tomato bowl with mango chutney and curried chickpeas, please," she orders with a bright smile to the girl at the counter. Then, leaving the servers feeling better than they had been, Penny picks up her order and walks to sit next to Eve at the rustic-themed picnic table, smiling brightly to her new friend.

"What'd you get? Ooo, that looks good," she says, already starting to mix up her avocado bowl. "Did you get sprouts on it? I don't care for bean sprouts. They always get stuck in my teeth and they kinda taste like dirt," she confides, subconsciously running her tongue over her teeth. Then, after a moment's pause, she asks another question. "So, what's Sarah look like?" she lets her light hazel eyes scan the crowds that mill about in the open air court, the sunshine warm and pleasant overhead.


It's about then that one Sarah Black strolls into view, looking upbeat and relaxed as she glances around, seeking out her friend and the woman she wanted Sarah to meet. As she spots Eve, the Englishwoman's smile brightens a bit, and she heads toward the table she and Pennylane are sharing.

As she approaches, she becomes aware of a subtle… tingling sensation? But she also concludes quickly — maybe a bit too quickly, she might realize upon reflection later — that it's rather very pleasant, and couldn't possibly come as a threat or ill-intent of any sort, as her long-legged stride continues to carry her toward the table without any outward faltering. (Sarah's current outfit: https://tinyurl.com/yyolejk2)


"This is an /excellent/ burrito. It's aa flour tortilla filled with eggs, potatoes, red onion, green peppers, cheddar cheese, tomato, & ham and topped with avocado and sour cream." She leans back, smiling widely at Sarah's arrival and cheerfully waving her over. She's all too aware of the effect that Penny has. "You can feel it too?" she says to Sarah, "That's her." She gestures at Penny with her thumb. She's sure she CAN feel it. "It's amazing, what she can do, but it's best I let her explain it herself. I ran into her and — anyway — you really needed to meet her. I alerted the good Doctor, too." She means the Sorcerer Supreme, of course.

The blond youth in the jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt gets his eggplant and cheese wrap, twisting it a little in its wrapper and smiling to the clerk. He steps to the side and away, taking the few steps needed to get clear so he doesn't interfere with anyone else's orders. Onto the sidewalk set up with the tables around. He'll set his backpack down on the ground with a whumpf and then sits down on the small stone wall that's used to split this storefront from the next. He takes the wrap in both hands, starting to chew on it idly.
But as he does so he sort of perks up, smiling to himself. It really is a lovely day, warm and everyone is doing well. And it's nice to people watch. And even nicer when they smile back. He lifts a small hand and offers a smiling nod of greeting across the way to Penny and her compatriot. Then his eyes slip to Sarah and a small wiggle of fingers is given.

Penny's brows raise as Eve describes her delicious burrito in detail, leaning a liiiittle closer as she does so. She laughs and sits back, returning to her bowl of goodness, "It sounds fantastic. I'll have to get one, next time. But, this looks awfully tasty, too." She looks up as Sarah is waved over.

She smiles brightly to the young woman, admiring her sun dress. "I love that!" she sketches a finger up and down in Sarah's general direction, indicating her dress. "I might have to make something like it," she grins. "Nice to meet you. I'm Pennylane Avalon, but most people call me Penny. Or, Panacea, but that's kind of a part-time thing, so Penny is probably the safest bet," she grins, giving her hair a toss, offering a hand for shaking, if Sarah likes that sort of thing.


"A pleasure," Sarah replies to Penny, shaking the offered hand firmly and politely, her smile warm and genuine. "And thank you. You sew? That's one thing my Mum tried to teach me that never really took, I'm afraid." Her voice is pleasant and carries a distinct accent, sounding like an educated Londoner but not putting on any posh airs. "So this… aura, I'm feeling, is from you? It's really rather nice." The little wave from Phobos catches her attention by its motion, and she glances his way, one brow rising slightly as it takes a moment for 'I recognize that young man' to connect the face with the identity. Once that connection is made, her other brow rises as well, But she offers him a warm smile also, before returning her attention to the two women at the table. "I should probably order something," she muses aloud, her gaze flicking again toward the service counter momentarily.


Eve catches the direction of Sarah's look, perhaps the passing recognition did not escape her eyes either. She turns towards Phobos with a curious glance, a smile, and a cheerful little wave in his direction. She has no idea who he is, but hey, why not be nice?

In any event, she's done her part and focuses on her burrito for the time being.

The young Olympian, whose face is likely in several dossiers in SHIELD's file system, is nothing if not friendly. When Sarah gives him a wave his smile warms and he lifts his small wrap as if granting a small salute and then looks away to take another bite.
A small sniff is taken as something in the sauce likely causes his nose to crinkle a bit, but then he catches Eve's smile and gives her a nod. "Miss." Polite, though he looks at her a bit longer. Then he nods to himself as if she reminded him of someone.

Penny smiles brightly at the question about sewing, nodding her head a little enthusiastically. "Yes, I actually try to make all of my own clothes! I love lightweight, natural fabrics the best, and so many clothing manufacturers use synthetic stuff. So, if I see something I like, I try to recreate it in fabrics that feel better on my skin," she explains. "Sewing gets a bit easier with a sewing machine, truth be told," she gives a good-natured wink, revealing she doesn't create the magic all by hand-sewn effort alone.

To the next question, regarding her aura, Penny nods, "Yeah, I've had it ever since I was a baby. It started out pretty small, just sort of right around me. But, it grew as I grew. Now, it's pretty big. I hope it doesn't get much bigger, 'cause sometimes I attract animals and…" she laughs, wrinkling her nose. She glances over in Phobos' direction as Sarah takes note of him, smiling at him pleasantly. Then, she replies, "Oh, yes. They have a lot of good food, here. Go on. We'll be here when you get back." She digs into her food, once more, exhaling a sound of enjoyment. "Tastyyyy."


One quick trip to the counter and back later — thankfully, there isn't much of a line at the moment — Sarah returns, with a bowl of mixed bits of cut-up melon, watermelon and cantaloupe and honeydew and possibly another variety or two. This does bring her closer in passing, both ways, to where Phobos is standing, and she gives him a slight tilt of her head and a slightly brighter smile on the return leg. To anyone watching, it probably looks more like an attractive young woman simply giving a young man she's noticed a momentary bit of attention, but given what came just prior, it's probably obvious to Phobos that Sarah knows who he is.

On returning to the table, Sarah seats herself, setting her bowl of colorful and tasty-looking fruit down in front of her. "So, as I just realized that in my distraction, I didn't properly introduce myself before, though I'm sure Eve's already told you who I am — My name's Sarah. As you've probably noticed, I'm not from around here." That last bit comes with a playful grin. "I know it's subtle, but."


"Should I invite your friend? I can invite your friend," says Eve, yes, glancing back towards Phobos. She starts to wave him over because of course she does. Then there's another bite from her burrito. It's just rude to leave the guy over there like that, right?

It only takes a few waves once Sarah wanders on past to shift Alexander's attention away. He did give her a visual once over before he settles on the gothish gal. A little hastily he slings his backpack over his shoulder and shuffles over, still holding the remains of his food in its wrapper.
A few steps and he pauses before their table, "Ma'am?" He asks as he looks between them all, giving a smile and a bow of his head to each. "Is something amiss?"


"Yes, Eve told me your name is Sarah. It's nice to meet you, Sarah. I'm also not from around here, though it's probably a bit more of a distance for you than it was for me. But, hey, geography's not my best subject," Pennylane grins.

Then, as he steps up to the table, Penny leans back a bit to get a good look at Alex, giving him a kind smile. She squints her eyes in the bright sunlight as he nods to her, "Hey, there."


Looking up at the young man after having eaten a bit of melon, Sarah smiles to him once again and gestures to the one remaining seat. "Join us, if you'd like," she offers. "Lovely day, isn't it? My name's Sarah."

Alexander's smile widens as he espies Penny. As if his eyes falling upon her brought forth the warmth of summer and her gaze was all of spring time whispered upon a breath shared between lovers. The subtle feelings offered, of life, of vibrance. It was a wondrous thing and the youth unlike much of his ilk was not closed off from it. It was a curious magical melange, the subtle arcane aspects shared between these women.
And Phobos had not the art nor the craft to navigate such things affecting his senses. "Miss," A nod is given to Penny, the casual affection reaching his eyes as he met the gaze of each.
"Sarah?" A hand lifts, "I'm Alexander Aaron." A look given to Eve and a hint of a conspiratorial smile, "Or Alex."
Then his head bobs, "Much obliged." And he draws a chair up, then sits square between them all, just smiling at each as if this were the natural order of things. "Lovely day isn't it?" And he found his eyes drawn to Penny.


And that's when Eve beams a smile at Alexander in turn. She's feeling rather ebulient, herself, and she has Penny to thank for that no doubt. "Nice to meet you, Alexander!" She offers, all a-warmth and glowing in contrast with her gothic appearance. Not terribly unusual: perky goth is a thing. It's just not normally /Eve's/ thing.

Penny notices the feel-goods start flowing around the people who've spent a decent amount of time in her presence and she can't help but smile. It's what always happens. Sure, people can be angry and unhappy around her. Even if someone's having a great day, something can happen that makes them feel grumpy and snappish, even if they're feeling great, physically. But, the warm-fuzzies do tend to settle in, if there aren't any other mitigating factors.

She smiles to Alex, "Nice to meet you, Alex. I'm Pennylane, though most call me Penny. Or Panacea, in certain situations. I…really should figure out how to streamline this introduction. I don't seem to be getting any better at it." And, there, she laughs a little embarrassed laugh. She's aware he's kind of looking at her with more and more frequency, but she doesn't misplace why it's happening. She looks to Sarah, "So! What about you? Eve told me I should meet you, but saved the interesting wherefores to you."


Sarah's smiling warmth is just about infectious at this point, the Englishwoman seeming relaxed and on point all at the same time, if that even makes any sense. But within Penny's aura, it seems to, somehow. Turning that smile on Penny, she asks, "Well, what has Eve told you about me, so I know where I'm starting from?" She glances down at her bowl again for a second, before saying to the table in general, "This is really rather terribly good, if anyone would like to try a bit of it. I have plenty."

Alexander seems content to casually consume his wrap as he sits there and he nods along as Penny offers him a greeting, "Thank you, a pleasure." And he most likely means that as he smiles to each of the others in turn. He does, however, slouch a little in his chair as he takes mostly a back seat in the conversation.
When Sarah makes the offer he smiles and says, "May I?" As he leans over and touches a hand to Sarah's briefly as if asking permission to use her spoon. And if she allows he'll scoops a small bite of melon and take a taste. Utterly unconcerned at sharing, but his smile returns as he looks back to her. "That was lovely, thank you." And then he hands the spoon back to her gently.


"I didn't tell her anything. I asked for permission to share a few details about her and left the rest for you. I only told her she needed to meet you," explains Eve, "because it was a really good idea." She is straining, at this point, to keep flowers from blooming again from her body parts. She's aware it's a chance to happen this close to Penny, but well, you know, it'd be rather awkward in a public venue to start sprouting roses and less earthly plants from her body. She has anotehr bite from her burrito. "I didn't want to overstep, just facilitate." Her eyes turn back towards Alex with curiousity, a glanmce between him and Sarah.

"Not much, if I'm honest, yeah. Just what Eve's said, now. She just said something like, "You gotta meet Sarah, she's really cool and you two might have something in common!" So, naturally, I thought, 'Sooner is better than later.' When our times matched up, well, it seemed silly not to take advantage of it. Such a nice day, today," Penny grins.

Being a demigoddess attuned to life and all that's associated with it, Penny can tell that Eve's just about full-to-bursting with vibrancy of life, and it's getting harder to maintain it. Unfortunately, Penny can't turn it off or make things any easier for her new friend. She remembers what happened during her first meeting a very short time ago, and hopes that Eve can hold out, so she doesn't have a blush-inducing happening. Even so, Penny would brush it off as though it were as normal as anything else. "Oh, I'm gooood with my bowl, here. Though, I have to say. Melons are my favorite fruit. Cantaloupe is my top favorite," she says, taking another healthy bite of her avocado, tomato, mushroom, chickpea, and mango chutney vegan meal.


"You're welcome," Sarah replies to Alex, with a moment of eye contact that, if it weren't for Penny's aura, might seem almost flirtatious, but instead feels like what human contact just ought to be like all the time. "All right then," she says, turning to Penny again. "Given, well, the obvious…" She gestures as if to indicate the space around them, clearly meaning Penny's effect on it. "…what Eve must have meant was that we're both involved in magic, or at least the mystical. I don't have an aura that makes everyone around me feel good — more's the pity — but I am a spellcaster. Have been since I was a wee girl, and Mum and Dad started teaching me. I know a bit about quite a lot on the subject, and I have to say, you and what you can do are a new experience for me."

It's at that point that Alexander gives a small nod and seems perhaps more aware than he lets on. "It's quite enjoyable." He looks across the way towards Penny, then gives another nod to Eve as if sharing some form of kinship with her and conveying it with just that warm casual affection. Though he does look back to Sarah and his smile is almost positively lupine in its casual lasciviousness.
But then he looks toward Pennylane and says simply, "Reminds me of…" His brow knits as a subtle magical flare might be sensed by the particularly magically inclined, as if a long age old spell were drawing on power from the youth. "Just of a while ago. Not sure. Deja vu?"

Penny laughs softly, liking the way that Sarah describes her rejuvenation aura. But, she shakes her head with a smile, "It's not quite like that. It's actually just a constant low-flow of healing energies. It doesn't make people feel good, except physically. Like, that great feeling you get after a good night's sleep, when you're kind of at peace and not wanting for anything. Or, maybe the endorphin rush you get after a really good work-out session, where you feel almost invincible. It affects different people in different ways but, yeah. The longer people are around me, the better they feel…until they hit their limit and I just keep…topping them off. It's an automatic thing, 'cause my cup runneth over, quite literally, all the ding-dang time," she explains.

"To the point where, at certain points, I generate what I call 'tass,' which is my lifeforce energy in physical form. It's liquid, but can be solidified beyond that state, depending on a few factors. But, it's…concentrated life, basically. It can be used in spellcraft, and so I sometimes donate or sell it to the right parties, depending on need and whatnot," she further elaborates. "So, since I'm new to the city, I'd been making the introduction rounds to the various magical community businesses, and that's how I met Eve," she gives Eve's hand an affectionate squeeze. This may or may not be too much for her! "But, I don't really do magic stuff. I just sort of…am magic?" she laughs and cants her head at the silliness of that statement. To Alex, she lifts her brows in curiosity as he searches for what it might be. "Ohh? Deja vu? Tell me more, if you can?" she asks.


"Really? Huh," says Eve to Alex, though it doesn't diminish her smile, her brow does knit with concern. She is touched by Pennylane. It makes her tense, yes, but it doesn't cause her to explode into flowers yet. Or worse things. She is getting a /little/ tense, though, and that smile perhaps a bit strained in the same sense as someone smiling so hard there face might crack.

(Literally, in her case.)

In any event, Penny's words have her turn a more serious look towards Sarah, as if to say 'now you see'.

Sarah listens as Penny gives her explanation, her interest gradually rising from 'intrigued' through 'surprised' to finally arrive at something on the border between shock and worry. "I, er, see," she says, taking a breath. "And now I understand more completely why Eve wanted me to meet you. I told you who I am, but I left out what I do, because I didn't know it if was relevant, and it sometimes puts people off. I work for WAND. We're the division of SHIELD that's concerned with the supernatural — both dealing with threats, and protecting people who are involved in it who might need our help. And from what you've just told me, I'm quite concerned for your safety. There are individuals and organizations who would be very interested in having access to this 'tass', as you call it. And who might go to unpleasant lengths to secure an ongoing supply of it. Meaning, of course, you."

For Alexander what flits through his mind are distant and old memories, hints of a past that were e'er seeming to be just out of reach. It is an ephemeral thing that grants him no respite nor revelation, and so he looked back to Penny with a small almost apologetic smile as he just shook his had, "I'm sorry, it is elusive." This deja vu or whatever he is experiencing.
As Sarah comments about others wanting to gain access to it, he nods again, "It seems quite… recreational." He smiles towards her with a small salute, two fingers tapping to his brow.

Penny looks mildly disappointed as Alex shares his apologetic look, nodding her head. "It's okay. Sometimes, things like that are like trying to capture smoke, huh?" she says pleasantly, then listens to Sarah's…eye-opening words. Penny finds herself feeling increasingly spooked. "W.." she says, clearing her throat. "You think people might try to kidnap and experiment on me?" she asks, rubbing the back of her neck nervously. "I'm not really…keen on that idea."


"That was my concern, too, but I didn't want to frighten you," says Eve, quietly, to Penny. She gives her hand a squeeze since its there and holding her own right now still.

"I thought maybe you could use a safe placed to stay and I can't provide that for you, but Sarah certainly knows people who can." A glance back towards Sarah, leaving her to follow up on her intiial thought.

"As Eve said," Sarah says, with a nod. "And yes, unfortunately, that's exactly my concern. Both because of the threat to your freedom and well-being, and also because I'm sure you agree that you would not want what you can do used for… ill intent." She leaves that thought there, without elaborating on it, not wanting to cause any more fright than she already has. "We can make arrangements to help you be safer, without intruding overmuch on your life. And we can also make preparations to be able to help both more quickly and more effectively if the need arises." She opens her purse, and takes out a leather ID wallet, opening it to show her WAND ID card to Penny while taking one of her business cards out of the pocket on the flap. Holding the card out to her, she says to Penny, "For starters, take this. Feel free to call at any time if you feel unsafe or threatened. If I am unavailable, that number will ring through to someone who is."

Alexander slouches a little lower in his seat, looking at them all, and despite the warmth that Penny engenders, he does manage a small frown as he looks around at them, "Perhaps it was a mistake to invite me for I can offer little of use to Pennylane in this situation." He does, however, set his wrap down and leaves it untouched for now.
He does sneak a glimpse at Sarah's yummy salad, though. Looks up to he and quirks an eyebrow, a half-smirk twisting his features as if asking. But he pointedly does not.

Penny's stomach is feeling a little knotted, now. Sure, she'd considered that villains might try to harm her, in the line of duty as being a do-gooder, but… This idea had never occurred to her sheltered little brain. Penny gratefully accepts the card and looks at it. It's shaking a little in her hand. WAND. She really should've considered that people might wish her ill, might want to take her and exploit her, and experiment on her. Because there are bad, greedy, wrong-headed people in the world. But, she never really considered it. She's so stupid and naive! "What about times like right now, where there's nameless dread?" she laughs nervously. "I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I honestly never thought anything like that might happen. It really shows how…silly I am, I guess," she flushes and stares down at her food.


"You're not silly," assures Eve of Penny, giving a thankful glance Sarah's way. She's all too familiar with the potential threats to Penny personally. Alex's words, have her shaking her head. "Any friend of Sarah's is a friend of mine," she adds, firmly, assuming that they're more familiar with each other than they are. It's not an unreaslabone assumption at this moment in time, given the warm-fuzzies.

Reaching across to touch that hand holding her card lightly, Sarah shakes her head, saying, "Don't feel that way. Most of us prefer to believe the best of the people around us. Most of the time, we're right. But when we're not, we need to be prepared." She smiles, doing her best to be reassuring — and at this particular moment, that's working better than it usually would. "As for this particular moment, given the people at this table, I would say you are possibly in one of the safest places in the city. Or at least one of the safest that does not involve people wearing colorful pyjamas or flying suits of armor."

Canting his head to the side, Alexander looks upon Penny with a mix of sympathy and pity as she is confronted with the situation of her nature. A small breath is taken, drawn in slowly even as he still feels so terribly warm and pleasant and just open to the sensations around him.
"You know what you should do, Penny?" He asks though it's likely rhetorical as he's just going to tell her. "You should form a cult. Just gather people together who like being in your presence, and encourage them to feel so positively and nice, and then ask them to protect you in exchange for your blessing."
A short nod is given as if this were simply the most common and correct thing to do in such a situation.

Penny smiles softly as Eve and Sarah try to reassure her, make her feel less displeased with her naivety. It's really kind of them, and she appreciates the hell out of it. But, she knows, deep down, that she's got a lot of growing up to do. It's fine to be idealistic and hope for the best, but it's better, wiser, to try to prepare for the worst, as Sarah mentioned.

Then, Alex pipes up with his ingenious idea. Her light hazel eyes go wide and her jaw drops in shock. It's a look of amusement mixed with flabbergast. "How… What kind of person do you think I am, that I would try to exchange favors for what is freely given?" She laughs and shakes her head, truly bemused. "Should the sun ask the flowers for a bit of pocket change for their nourishment?" she shakes her head and laughs, again. "There's no effort expended on my part, to share the lifeforce with which I'm imbued, really. So, I don't hope to gain from it. I really just want to heal others. People, plants, animals, whatever. I want people to feel good."


"No cults," says Eve, firmly, not unlike Edna Mode's 'no capes!' declaration.

She gives Alex a /look/ at that, then snorts and laughs helplessly. Her expression twitches. It is getting increasingly hard for her to not fidget in her seat. She fidgets. That overflowing feeling of life is just a problem for her… and if it gets much worse, it's going to be a problem for more than just her before long.

Sarah gives Alex a moment of serious side-eye there, where it's not entirely clear if she's just incredulous that he just said that, or trying not to burst out laughing. At least she knows who he is, and that, given that context, it wasn't quite such a bizarre suggestion as it might have been coming from most people.

By the time Penny finishes speaking, she's at least composed herself enough to nod and say, "That's another thing. It would be good if we could quantify just what it is that you can do. To have some idea of the extent and depth of your abilities. There are people I can introduce you to who can help with that. And it would also be good, if you are willing, to secure a sample of 'tass' so that our laboratories could analyze it, to be more aware of its possible uses, both for the good and for not. We might be able to dissuade some of those who might do you harm if it was known that what they have in mind simply will not work."


After Penny's response Alex looks over at Sarah then Eve. He gives a small boneless shrug as if to tell them, 'well, I did my best.' And to leave it at that. But he does, however, lean over just enough to steeeeeal Sarah's melon plate and sliiiiides it over in front of himself. He takes up the spoon and starts helping himself to it without so much as a 'by your leave.' Which, might be considered rude in some circles.
Then he decides to speak as he happily munches, "I just imagine in a survival situation you'd do what was needed. To, you know, survive."
He looks up, and there's that terribly beautiful smile as he tells Eve, "All the cults."


Penny nods to Sarah, still feeling nervous and on edge. "I don't mind providing a sample, but I want to make it clear that trying to quantify the divine isn't….really an easy thing to do, if it's even possible. That's the sort of feeling I'm getting," she says uncomfortably, squirming a little in her seat. "Not that I'm against trying to learn how better to use my gifts, and maybe even develop a way to protect myself," she amends. To Alex, she nods her head and has to admit, "You're right. If I were in a survival situation and I didn't have a lot of options at my disposal, I'd probably do what I needed to do, to survive. Just…hopefully, it wouldn't become a cult situation. I'm no cult leader," she says with a half-hearted dashing at the food in her bowl.


"You can trust Sarah," enthuses Eve to Penny, warmly. She fidgets again in her seat. She's definitely feeling some tension now, like a muscle clenched too long.

She squeezes Penny's hand, of course, to add emphasis to her point. Then to Alex, she adds, "I mean, we all do what we must if it comes to it, but let's not let it get to that point in the first place. That's why we're here."

"And that might well be the conclusion our researches and analysts come to," Sarah replies to Penny, nodding. "'We can't quantify this'" is a data point, even if a less-than-directly-applicable one. But it would be something we would know that we currently do not."

And to the cult-leader thing she says, "No, of course not. That's where we — WAND — come in. To keep you safe, and to intervene if you need help. We've done quite a lot of this sort of thing. I won't promise you we're perfect. No one is. But the people I work with are very, very good at what they do."

Perhaps reading her sentiment wrong, Alexander turns to Penny and extends his hand to rest on hers and Eve's, gently giving it a squeeze. "There there, Penny. I think you would make a /lovely/ cult leader." And then he smiles, such a cherubic and innocent smile that it might as well be the devil's very own. He looks to the other women at the table as if for support…
And likely sees none. But, to be fair, he can't fight down his own smile.


"Thank you for the vote of support, Alex," Penny says with a laugh, patting his hand, too. She exhales and nods, after a moment. "It's true that I'm nervous about what might happen. I've always been okay with just being a healing presence and I don't really know that looking much deeper would make me any happier. Ziva reveals things to me as she wants, in her own time. Who knows? She likely can ensure that no one could use me for nefarious reasons, nor allow me to get captured. But, I've never been in those situations to learn. I'd rather not be stuck and find out that she can't or won't. So, yeah. Let's…do the things. But, it's almost impossible to get blood from me without taking drastic measures," she says, gulping a bit. "So, I hope the tass will be enough."


"I'm sure they'll have plenty of tests they want to do in the long run but that's a good start. They'll help you. They've helped me," says Eve, firmly, "to say nothing of getting me out of trouble a time or two." And getting her into it, but that's a different story for a different time judging by Eve's expression. She gives herself a full-bodied shake, eyeing Alex's hand and then Alex himself. She snorts, laughing helplessly.

"And I can assure you that no one I work with will do anything drastic, or without your informed consent," Sarah says. "This is about helping you, and helping you be safe. Understanding what we can about you and your abilities will make that job easier, and might even open up ways you can help people that you might not have found on your own. I'll make some calls, and talk to some people, and we can have you come in when you're ready. Would you be willing to give me your number, so I can get in touch with the details?"


Settling back in his chair and returning his attention to the melon salad, Alexander seems perfectly chipper to be poking at it and tasting little bits here or there. His answer is a small shrug as he looks over the others, figuring his work is likely done here. But he enjoys being here, and crinkles his nose at Sarah should she spare a glance in his direction.


Penny smiles to Eve and nods at Sarah. "Sure, lemme just," she pauses, digging in her little purse for some paper and a pen. She writes her information down: Pennylane Avalon, 831-423-2042. She slides that over to Sarah and zips her purse closed. "There. Just… Yeah. I'm nervous, but that's a given. I never have to go to the doctor, y'know? So, this is kinda like that. Going to the doctor for the first time," she shudders. "Don't know what to expect, so the mind goes to the worst places." She shakes her head and grins. "Still. Thank you for this."


Returning her ID wallet to her purse, Sarah pulls out her phone and adds Penny to her contacts. (It looks like the latest-model StarkPhone. Spoiler Alert: It's not.) She then takes the piece of paper and folds it in half, tucking it into her purse along with her phone. Smiling across at Penny, she replies, "Thank you for being open to our help. Not everyone is."


Eve all but hops out of her chair.

"Welp! Penny, I'll take you home. Sarah, it was WONDERFUL seeing you again."

And then she's out the door like a bat out of hell because she needs a moment out of Penny's immediate vicinity.

Penny laughs and lifts her shoulders a little, "What choice do I have, really? I mean, I could say no, but where would that leave me if someone does, in fact, come to grab me?" she shakes her head. "Best I find the good guys who want to help and see if we can find ways to prevent the bad things from happening," she exhales. Then, Eve's leaping up and booking it away from her. She laughs and calls after her, "You're gonna take me home, eh?" Then, she stands and brings her bowl with her — they're takeaway ready! "Thanks for meeting me, Sarah. It was a pleasure," she says, shaking her hand and preparing to leave.


"It was good seeing you, too, Eve. Take… care…" Sarah laughs a bit at watching Eve's hasty retreat. She knows her well enough to have more than an inkling what that's about. She stands as well, shaking Penny's hand. "Always happy to help," she says, again with that warm, sincere smile. "Take care, and I'll be in touch soon. And call if you need help, or even just think you might."

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