20101225 - Papers, Bottles and Snakes, Oh My

Setting

University of Chicago - Woodlawn Avenue

The University of Chicago - An undergraduate College, four graduate divisions, and six professional schools. There are also libraries, labrotories, museums, clinics, and other insitutions. Even the Hyde Park campus offers programs. There are a total of 12,830 students at the college itself and its branches, and more than 2,100 full-time academic staff that either teach or conduct research.
<br>The campus that stretches out before you covers approximately twenty-five blocks; founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller, it is a beautiful plan consisting of manicured lawns, historical buildings of brick, and quadrangles shaded by numerous trees. Both students and faculty populate the campus, ever moving across the field of view like so many ants.
<br>The University of Chicago resembles an old world city in the English Gothic style, set off from the rest of downtown and emitting the aura of an institution of knowledge - pristine yet refined.
<br>A cold wind blows from the southwest, driving charcoal clouds before it and blotting out the stars in isolated patches overhead. The air is clear and elsewhere the stars shine brightly. There is about thirteen and three-quarter inches of snow on the ground.

Cast

Scene

Put in the scene here.

The campus is working up to closing for the break, and it is mainly empty. A few students are dotted about, and those unfortunate lecturers marking grade papers are working here, dedicated and irritable. Jan is one of those crossing the quad, her bag slung over her shoulder, term papers in her arms. Her face is thoughtful, a slight smile curving her lips, her mind clearly not on her work. Anyone with psychic powers may feel the energy from her leopard, but it is calm, relaxed, and her steps are graceful, showing that.

Rosalind 's satchel is stuffed full with papers of its own, bits of white scrap and red ink peeking out from beneath the black bag, but most of her attention is focused on a bulky cardboard box in her arms, plastered with mailing labels and stickers. A few large, yellow ones on top read: "FRAGILE CONTENTS - DO NOT DROP", then kindly repeat the warning in several other languages. From the way she has the load positioned, it's difficult for Rosa to see over the top, and from the stiff-limbed, hurried way she's walking across the frosty quad, things do not bode well for the mystery package. "Mmmhh, hello there," she says, slightly out of breath as she peeks over the edge.

Jan slows and then stops, tilting her head to consider the laden woman, "Are you lost? Do you want me to…" She hesitates and then, shifting the papers onto one hip and reaches for the fragile box to lift it from the pile. "Let me help. Where are you heading?" Her voice is low, soft, the warm in her smile winding its way through the tones. "You look as if you are heading for an unpleasant accident there."

Rosa mumbles something grumpy and then forces a smile, twisting out of the way. From what might be felt of the box, it's surprisingly light — just bulky. "I'll be fine, thanks! It'll be much worse if you drop your exams on the quad. I think they packed this one pretty well." She pauses a moment and, with a grin, tosses the box an inch or two into the air, catching it. "Er, not lost so much as I can't see. Which way's the biology building, please?"

"I can manage both easily enough." But Jan steps back, letting the girl carry her own load, shifting the papers back. Her friendliness is undented by the grumpiness, and she turns, gesturing towards a nearby building. "Just in there. Are you new?" The question is friendly enough, and Jandra turns her steps to walk with the woman. "Are you sure you don't want a hand there?"

Rosalind beams - she was heading in the right direction! Almost. Then she pauses a moment and reconsiders her attitude. "Nobody's fault but my own that I'm late. And not as if I'm in a rush to get home," she murmurs, before lowering the box and bag awkwardly to the ground. Standing up, she stretches and rubs the shoulder that had been carrying the satchel. "Oof. Really it's nice of you to offer, but thank you! I've been around a little while I guess… a year, year and a half?" Rosa adjusts her glasses and studies the girl's face. "Became so much easier once I made it through my classes, but I'm still lagging a bit. Like learning where the lab keeps their handcarts. You -do- look familiar, though. I've seen you at some of the department meetings, yes?"

"Perhaps." Jan's smile widens and she returns the look, tilting her head slightly. "Yes, I am Jan. I teach preternatural studies here." She mentions that briefly before she moves on, "Then you have been around longer than I have. I would offer you a lift but I'm on foot too. Are you horribly late?" She glances down at the satchel and the boxes, raising an eyebrow slightly. "And you are carrying an awful lot."

Rosalind waggles an eyebrow conspiratorily. "If by 'horribly' we mean 'fully aware of the grading deadline', then perhaps we both are. As for this—" The box receives an ungenerous, hollow-sounding -thump-. "It's something I'll set up before the day's out. Not too difficult, honestly. We did have to wait for them to ship it from…" Distracted a moment, she counts on her fingers. "Err, better not to think of that. Wow," she says, stiffly extending a hand. "Rosa. I'm a grad student. Somewhere between preternatural and biology, I s'pose." She offers a warm smile. "I'm not sure if I should envy you. How large were the classes this semester?"

Jan takes the hand, shaking it quickly, her grip firm and cool. "Mine were packed but I haven't even made a start on the papers. I'll be doing that between now and the holidays." Her amusement shows in her eyes, warming them. "I don't dare ask what is in the box. Should it be in a containment area of sorts?" It is a joke, mostly, and one eyebrow quirks. "Grad student? Do I want to ask what your study is?"

Rosa and Jan are chatting in the middle of the quad; Jan is carrying a thick pile of term papers, while at Rosalind's feet sits a large, cardboard box plastered with "FRAGILE" stickers and a battered, overstuffed satchelbag. Rosalind pauses a moment and reconsiders. "If you did want to ask, it'd only be fair of me to share. I'm too curious about your teaching as well." She smiles. "It's glassware, that's all. Special order. Part of our lovely toy collection to study therianthrope viruses."

"I'm afraid my lessons are purely practical. It is interesting that the study of wereanimal groups has developed so much in the last few years…" Jan hesitates, clearly drawing herself back from the edge of delivering a lecture on the subject, her eyes twinkling with amusement as she grins at the other woman. "I apologise, I slip easily into lecture mode when I am at work. You are studying the virus? That sounds fascinating." Her voice is low, the tones modulated and steady, her energy calm.

Coming out of the student housing building, shivering, Aakav starts to murmur to himself in coptic, steam rising up from his body as the snow melts away. QUite clearly not happy in the least in regards to what ever news it is he has gotten he has his hood raised to the elements and head tucked down… Which means he doesn't notice when he walks straight into Rosa and starts to fall towards that box of glassware…

Rosalind shakes her head. "Ah, no, do continue! I'll do nearly the same thing, except you'll get a sales pitch. Why our work is the absolute most important approach in the world, and then there's a mess of technical jargon. Which is to say, the only way to understand how something transmissible -really- works is to watch it spread in a controlled environment. Miles away from being practical, but that day will come." She smiles. "Sheesh, for a 'mode,' that suits you uncannily well—" Rosa is quite abruptly knocked flat, and as she goes down, flailing, she desperately kicks at the box, trying to knock it out of the way and into the snow.

Jan had opened her mouth to reply when the man tumbles Rosa towards her precious box. Jan reacts instinctively, dropping the papers, swooping towards the precious box, but Rosalind knocks it out of her reach, and she misses, barely missing Rosa with the grab. She straightens, stepping back to stay out of range. She winces as there is a quiet crunch and a tinkle of glass, and the air is filled with the fluffy styrofoam peanuts as they puff out and float to the floor.

For his part, Aakav goes sprawling towards the ground, muttering a curse… Not the most graceful moment of his life… Hands reach out before him in order to slow his fall, scrapping avross the pavement and leaving flesh in their wake on the cold stone and ice.. A Grimace of pain crossing his face.

As Rosalind lies flat on her back, it's all she can do to whimper quietly, "Ohhh no. Why do I always…" Carefully, she props herself up and slowly stands; one foot scrabbles on a patch of ice, but she finds her balance, stooped over. She doesn't seem to be in any physical pain, but what little color that was in her face before has vanished. Rosa offers a wounded, surprised look towards Jan, with a hint of a bitter smile, before she thinks of addressing the gentleman. "Let's help you up, then. What hurts?"

"Oh lord, look at the pair of you." Jan steps forward again, concern on her face, her eyebrows drawing together. "The ice is not precisely helpful…" Her gaze return Rosa's look, a flicker of perplexion showing before she tightens her lips, offering a hand to steady the woman before glancing at the man on the floor. "We could go into one of the buildings, get the pair of you cleaned up and those scraps dress up."

The stream of obscenties leaving the man's lips are thankfully not in english as he swears to high heaven, and back again in Arabic. His whole body acreaming wgule his hands feel as though they are on fire. Gritting his teeth he nods his head abit, "Thank you for the assistance.. I hate snow.." His words changing to english.

Rosalind shakes her head, gratefully accepting the hand up as she straightens. "I'm fine. Used to it. Unfortunately," she says, the last word under her breath. "Helping him, on the other hand… hey, you were at the bar the other night! With the… uhhm. I guess I meant to ask, those snakes can't deal too well with a midwestern winter either, huh?" With a little sigh, she takes the toe of her boot and prods Aakav about the ribs. "C'mon. It's just a scrape, isn't it?"

"Snakes?" Jan's tone sharpens slightly and she narrows her eyes slightly at Aakav as she releases Rosa's hand, letting the woman balance on her own. "These things happen to you often?" She takes a deep breath, narrowing her eyes slightly at Aakav, her face thoughtful. "You know him, Rosa? Do you often get men landing on you?" There is a tiny hint of humour in her voice, and a brief hesitation before the word men. "I don't believe he has broken anything. Except your parcel." Jan returns to gathering her papers, stacking them carefully, examining them for damage.

Sitting up he holds up his hands which are actually pretty badly mangled and look like shite with the top layer of skin missing.closing his eyes and gritting his teeth focuses on healing the wounds as he rises up, dusting out his hands before thrusting them into the snow and doing so again.. A sigh escapes him as he looks towards the box then to Rosa, "Hello again miss… Sorry for your box.."

"And knocking me off my feet? No," Rosalind says plainly, "I'll take enough spills on my own. And it's fine! It's fine. It has to be. Jesus," she says, catching a glimpse of Aakav's hands, before noticing that whatever odd thing he's doing to fix them, it seems to be helping. She grumbles and leans over, offering to help with Jan's loose papers. "Honestly, that's just the expensive part. Researching apparatus from the gosh-darn fifteenth-century, fer chrissakes, and finding a supplier… we'll just have to order another one. Not that bigga deal."

"Yes, they are just lying all over the place, any shop should have one." The dry humour in Jan's voice is matched with a warm glance at Rosa. "Thank you." She reaches out to take the papers, stacking them finally. "Hopefully nobodies' writing is smudged." She straightens, turning to look at Aakav, her forehead creasing as she sees the man thrusting his hands into the snow. "I'm not sure that will help…"

Pulling his hands out of the snow and dragging them across his lungi slowly to remove any foreign objects he shakes off the excess snow and holds at hand out towards Jan before turning to Rosa and bowing humbly, "My deepest apologies, I am truely sorry for running into you. Please forgive me." Seemign quite polite and formal with his apology.

Rosalind seems surprised by the bow. It makes it more difficult for her to sound cold and curt in her response, but she gamely tries anyway. "No apologies are necessary. My fault I'm sure, getting in the way of someone in a hurry. How fortunate, then, that we don't have to get you a first aid kit." She glances at Jan, smiling back. "Heh. Not even in their time and place would this have been common. There's this one loony alchemist, with one sketch, in the margins of a very old notebook… who knows if he even managed to make one." A pause. "I dunno. Details like that make me happy to be in research. Teaching's just, well, a different beast."

"Teaching is different. More performance than research." Jan agrees softly, giving Rosa a warm smile before she glances at the bowing man, her forehead wrinkling. "Well, at least he has apologised." She murmurs, a faint touch of amusement in her voice, as she forces the corners of her mouth down. "Can you replace it, do you think? Surely there is somebody in this town…Perhaps this gentleman can make an effort to replace what he has broken." The grin she shoots him is perhaps a little feline, a little amused.

Aakav looks down at the object then towards Jan and Rosa, "I'm sorry that I bumped into you, and if you need a replacement, its quite likely the House of Life can get ahold of one.. Though I disapprove of the look.." He steps back slightly from the two of them, "I meant no harm or ill but if you begrudge me I'll not press or attempt to make ammends." Something about Jan's body language makes the oddly dressed man step away, and to the side as the cobra within his tunic moves about and wraps its elf about his neck to gaze out of the hood at Jandra defensively..

"Ehhh, yeah. I couldn't get any of the specialty shops in the area to take this one on," says Rosa, warming a bit to the subject. "There are weird ingredients mixed into the glass, for starters. It has to be a very particular type of sand, from this one little hamlet in Germany… then you need several liters of water from the Holy See… ends up being a scavenger hunt, before you get to the actual blowing and stretching out the twisty bits. And who am I kidding?" She shrugs. "I'm liable to have done something clumsy and needed another one anyway, I mean. Unless you really feel the need to— oh, hello," she stammers, her smile thinning as the snake pops out.

Jan's smile widens, is not quite entirely a smile as the cobra appears. "Now I'm certain you aren't a snake shifter." She observes softly, tilting her head as she narrows her eyes slightly, her gaze tracking the movement of the snake. Her voice is low, a soft purr beneath the words. "You disapprove of our expressions, having had the poor manners to knock my colleague here over and in the process damage some equipment that may be irreplaceable?" By the end of the sentence, the purr is lower, almost a growl. "And then you wave some damn snake at us?"

Aakav seems exceptionally nonchalant as the Leopard gets riled, "I disapprove of being viewed as a snack.." Murmuring softly in coptic and casting his hand about himself, he quite literally flings fire from his hand to create a barrier between him and the woman, "And as for Edjo, she is a sentient being and makes her own decisions when and how to appear, not I." Turning and looking towards Rosa he adopts his politeness once more, "If you'll provide me with the specifics we'll either fashion another or replace with one from our valts.."

"Jan, dear, it's not… hey, it's plenty replaceable," Rosalind says. "It comes out of my stipend, but that's fine. Don't," she gulps, having a hard time raising her eyes and watching the cobra there. Bits of magical fire flying about? Not so bad. "You don't need to, really. Even… I don't expect your, um, organization to have it, even if it was the most expertly cultivated collection. It's kind that you thought to offer." She closes her eyes. "She's more than a pet, right? Seems sweet. I just…. ooh. It's not your fault, me and snakes." A beat. "So how does she stand the cold, really?"

"You are not a snack. You are a really irritating, rude man." Jan's voice is low, and she narrows her eyes slightly. "For the record I have never bitten anyone in my life." She glances at Rosa, her face softening slightly. "So long as it is replaceable, and perhaps he could help you replace it." She steps back, resting the term papers on her hip, lifting the other hand, palm towards the man. "Believe me, I have no intention of changing, nor biting you."

Aakav lifts his hand up, snow swirling about and forming into a ball, then a disk, then dispersing, followed by lightning… Each of the elements actually issuing forthe from his form Aakav explains, "Magic… Controlling the elements is one of the first things one is taught.." releasing the spells woven he eyes the woman warily before looking towards Rosa, "I would like to make ammends if you'd allow me.." Clearly keeping his distance from Jan though he explains, "I apologize if I come off blunt but when someone talks about me possibly being Therian, or changing and attacking me I am not the most sociable.."

"I wouldn't," Rosalind points out. "Allow you to. And if you wanna do me a favor, try not to pick a fight? Or singe off our eyebrows, with alla that flying around," she mutters. "C'mon. It's end of term, we're all in a rush. It happens," she says, glancing sideong at Jan. "Eesh, you've even got -that- part of the job down pat. He's not necessarily someone to discipline. Please."

"I had said you were not one, and made no threat. I have better control than that." Jan's voice is even, steady, and her tone is polite, although she moves, lifting the papers into both her arms, making it clear that they are occupied. "I am not disciplining him. Believe me, if I were…" Jan shrugs, the corners of her mouth tugging up, her sense of humour making an unexpected appearance. "I would hardly use my leopard. I would set him extra work."

Aakav bows at the waist to Rosalind then draws up his hood to step back, the seperent disappearing into the warmth and coiling about his form like an unseen scarf. Muttering softly under his breath, in arabic, "I hate this weather… puts me in a bad mood.." Opting to take his leave at this point before he opts to flip out, he speaks over his shoulder while waving, "Then I take my leave.. Again, I apologize to you both, and Edjo is again apologetic. She did not seek to raise alarms.."

"Course not. I'd likely find her… charming," Rosalind murmurs, relishing the pun and breathing a little more easily once the snake is hidden. "Just be more careful, 'kay?" To Jan, a smile. "C'mon. You are too. I couldn't sound half as professional and formal if I tried." She hesitates. "Anyway, where were we? Letting your work slip into your conversation isn't the worst thing. I'm busy enough sweating the details that the… er… larger issues of therianthropy? I'm still kinda lost." A pause. "Supposing that's something I need to work on. I'd thought of trying to work at the Rumon clinic, now that I get some more spare time."

Jandra bows her head, an odd formality in the gesture to Aakav, "Apology accepted. I offer my apology to Edjo also. I am not familiar with snakes." The flicker of humour tugs at the corner of her lips, and she turns to Rosa, offering her a broad grin. "We were worrying that your parcel might drop on the walk over." There is dry humour in her voice and she shakes her head. "I can talk to you about the larger issues of therianthropy, if you wish to hear from someone who both studies it and lives it. I apologise, I do not often allow my beast to sneak out." She nods at the suggestion, giving Rosa a warm smile. "It is an excellent way of meeting people."

After a few paces, Aakav breaks into a jog and then a sprint.. To one with Therian hearing they could likely pick up the peculiar Coptic dialect being spoken. . The man in the white lungi and tunic disappering into the snow…

"Yes. Living it…" Rosalind murmurs, shaking her head. "Eesh. One day I'll get back to actually meeting and working with people, I've decided. Not that my specimens aren't interesting, they're terrible conversationalists." She adjusts her glasses again. "From a practical standpoint, I suppose… so it's more of a social sciences bent?" A grin. "I shudder to think that, well. It wouldn't be fun being asked by students to share my personal life. Constantly."

"It can be interesting." Jan's comment is soft, and her gaze flickers away, before she smile. "I have only been one for a year so this is an interesting learning curve for me. Finding which bits of the theory run in truth, and the bits that science doesn't teach. Like manners and social behaviour." She smiles once more and shakes her head. "Well, I must get along. Papers to mark, students to fail." The joke is forced and Jan gives Rosa a quick nod before she turns to leave.

"Oh?" The smile on Rosalind's face suggests that she wouldn't consider it a joke, at all. "Hope you have a pleasant evening of it, then. Crush some dreams. And it was nice to meet you! Now," she says, shouldering her bag and lightly picking up the battered box with a sigh. "I'll just have to write the supplier…" she mumbles as she heads towards the biology building.

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