\ Haven:Mist and Shadow Logs/Encounter With A Stranger

Encounter With A Stranger

Encounter Title: Encounter with a Stranger
Encounter Storyrunner: Macabre
Encounter Target: Celeste
Celeste is approached by a charismatic stranger that uses supernatural means to lure her off somewhere private in order to take something of value from her.

The Cantina - Entry and Bar

The interior is bright and vibrant, designed to bring to mind the warm climate and fiesta feeling of Mexico. The sound of up beat, thematic music wafts through the space from the bar adds to the atmosphere. Punched tin lighting fixtures with a rustic patina, walls painted a matte goldenrod with contrasting accents of indigo and rust red, terracotta tiled floors, warm hued wood furnishings, and decorative accents scattered throughout complete the look.

The western wall, through the bar area and directly opposite the entry, boasts a large kiva style fireplace with a surround of brightly colored ceramic tile and a seating area for quieter conversation. Off to the northwest is the main dining room. Through the northern window, brightly colored hanging lights shine from the patio with a view of the river beyond.

A sign strung over the handle of the northern door reads
'Patio closed for the season, open weather permitting'.

Celeste sits at the bar, her legs crossed as she pensively sips a glass of clear liquid with lime, waiting for more setup before doing anything else.

The door to the bar opens, letting in a gust of late evening air, tinged with salt from the coast. Along with the breeze comes a stranger, his dark hair tousled and equally dark eyes moving over the occupants of the Cantina with a calculating expression. He takes his time, then heads to the bar decisively, as if having sized up the room and decided that this is exactly where he means to be. He sits beside Celeste, asking, "What are you drinking."

Celeste glances over towards the stranger. "He knows what I'm having," she says with a nod towards the nearby bartender. Her drink appears to be clear with ice and a slice of lime floating within.

The man smiles wryly, then motions toward the bartender. "I'll have one of what she's having," he says, his baritone smooth and gravelly at the same time, befitting his tall, broad-shouldered stature. "Not much of one for talking to strangers, I take it? Not a bad habit to have, these days. But I'm harmless really. Wouldn't hurt a fly." The old bruises on his knuckles give lie to the statement, but he speaks the words easily. "But if not the name of the drink, then how about the name of the pretty lady?"

Celeste glances to the drink that is placed before the man, chuckling softly. "Celeste," she tells him, taking a sip of her own. When he tastes his, he finds it simple water with a lime within. "And yours?"

"Aston," he tells Celeste, taking a sip of what turns out to be water. "Nice to meet you, Celeste. Are you from around here? Haven, I mean. Seems like everyone I meet in this town is either from Boston, or Europe. It's a curious thing."

"The Midwest, sorry," Celeste tells the stranger with a soft chuckle. "Although I work in the area, so I'm residing here now. Yourself?"

"Boston," he says, with a rueful laugh. "Typical, I know." He takes another sip of water, then asks, "So, what brings a lady out alone on a Saturday night for..." He looks down into the glass, swirling it lightly and setting the lime to spinning in a lazy circle. "What is likely bar room tap water?"

"They have the best tap water here," Celeste retorts dryly, taking a sip of her own. "I wanted to get out and get some air, I met a friend here earlier. Yourself, Aston?"

"Ducked in during a walk. I had a feeling I might meet a friend here tonight," Aston tells Celeste, his smile brief and teasing. "I always listen to my gut, it's rarely wrong about these sorts of things." Another sip of water, then he asks, "What kind of friend leaves a girl out here all alone at this time of night. Don't get me wrong - their loss is my gain. But still, it's something of a shame."

Celeste purses her lips together slightly, stirring her drink with her straw, the ice clinking against the glass lightly as she does so. "You have a very strong intuition, then, it seems."

Aston nods easily. "That I do," he confirms. "I take your silence to mean you disapprove of your friend's behavior as much as I do, then? I hope so, because that would clearly mean you have an open slot in your friend roster that I could fill."

"Oh, there's nothing for me to approve or disapprove of He's a friend, nothing more," Celeste tells the young man, chuckling a bit pensively, though she adds, "Do you always wander into bars to make friends?"

"Always? No. But now and then, certainly. It's certainly easier than making friends in a nightclub, and almost always less dramatic than trying to befriend those demon-beasts known as co-workers. Don't you agree?"

Celeste raises her glass slightly towards the young man. "Agreed," she murmurs, taking a sip.

Aston clinks his glass lightly against Celeste's, before taking another sip of his own water glass. "It's warm in here. What say we step out onto the patio? The view of the river coupled with the mist tonight is positively movie ambience." He half-smiles. "I won't let you wander off into it and get lost, scout's honor."

Celeste purses her lips together slightly, glancing out in that direction. "Alright. The patio," she agrees, uncrossing her legs and stepping down from her stool, one hand holding her drink while the other smooths her skirt down almost reflexively. "I haven't seen the patio here yet."

Aston rises from the bar, glass of water in one hand. He offers Celeste his arm, leading her toward the doors of the patio. "I hope you'll not be too cold, but it's a fairly nice night, considering the time of year." For his part, he wears a black button-down shirt and matching tie, albeit loosened around the neck. Dark gray slacks and polished black dress shoes are worn as well. Fairly typical work attire, sans jacket. "Right this way, my lady," he says, his voice low and gallant, though his eyes hold a teasing gleam.

Celeste takes a moment to slip her coat over her shoulders, then takes Aston's arm as offered. "Thank you, good sir," she retorts back to him, walking easily at his side.

The Cantina - Outdoor Patio

The patio is deserted, likely due to the sign strung over the handle of the door that reads 'Patio closed for the season, open weather permitting'. The wooden railing comes to just about waist high, and does offer a spectacular view of the riverbank. The moon shines overhead in a cloudless night sky.

It is night, and about 55F(12C) degrees. There is a waning gibbous moon.

The wind is gentle but certainly cool as the pair heads outside, and Aston closes the door behind them, leading Celeste toward the railing that faces the riverfront. "Manners, and a sense of humor," he quips lightly. "I might just be in love." He flashes Celeste a smile, then turns to look out over the water. "How long have you been in Haven?"

Celeste rolls her eyes slightly as she warns Aston, "Don't even start. And a few weeks," she slides into smoothly, leaning forward against the railing lightly. "I lived in Boston for awhile but wanted to get away from Brown a bit more, and there's quite a healthy commuting population from Haven to Brown."

"That it does, it seems like half the students in this town go to Brown, which is astounding, considering the average IQ of Haven residents seems to hover around negative six, give or take a few points here and there for good behavior."

"That's rather bleak," Celeste points out, sipping her water as she softly adds, "Not that I'm arguing. I've met a few who are brilliant, but others....."

"It's the others," Aston muses. "It only takes averaging a genius with a hillybilly to halve an IQ reading," he points out idly. He takes a sip of water, asking, "What are you studying?"

Celeste says 'I'm finishing my dissertation, researching in an immunology lab on campus. If all goes as planned, I should finish my PhD in about 2 years.' Celeste tightens her grip on her glass, glancing around as she mutters, "... the hell?"

Aston turns to lean against the railing, resting his glass on the flat top of the wooden barrier. "Sounds like a lot of work. Immunology, what's that exactly? Studying sickness and the like?"

Celeste reaches out for the railing, holding onto it with her free hand as she tells Aston, "In a way, yes. Avoiding such is another angle."

Aston watches Celeste, his expression curious. "Studying how to keep us all healthy. Well, I can certainly commend you on that one." He steps away from the railing. "Is everything alright?" he asks, not sounding so much concerned as somewhat amused by Celeste's grip on the railing.

"Fine, just fine," Celeste says, keeping her grip as she sets her glass down, her other hand holding on as well. "Maybe I needed the air more than I thought, I'm feeling a little odd."

Aston takes a seat at one of the patio tables, the chair angled toward the railing where Celeste stands. "Odd in what way?" he asks, his dark eyes seeking hers as he tries to read her.

Celeste turns, the motion a little awkward. "Restless. That's it," she says, adding a chuckle. "I've been feeling restless for days. It must be catching up with me."

Aston beckons Celeste over toward where he sits. "Stress from school?" he wonders. "Aren't you on break for Easter currently?"

Celeste suddenly half turns, her hands raising slightly over her head as her hips start to sway, side to side. "Labs don't take breaks, the work still goes on," she tells someone, dancing to a rhythm in her head.

Aston smiles faintly as Celeste begins to dance. "I hadn't thought about that, I suppose the work still needs to go on, else you'd get back from break and all of your experiments would have failed in the interim." He drinks from his glass of water, noting, "I could see that making anyone restless. What do you generally do to relax?"

Celeste continues to move, heels clicking against the patio floor with the slight steps she takes. "I don't need to relax, I need to get my work done. Occasionally I try and get out, get some fresh air, take in a sight or two...."

"Everyone needs to relax, Celeste," Aston notes gravely. "You, your instructors... even those like me need to take time out and just enjoy what this world has to offer." His smile takes on an otherworldly cast, but he continues to sip from his lime-tinged water as he watches the young woman in front of him. "What are your plans in two years, when you're finally done with school and can do whatever you'd like?"

Celeste pinches her lips together slightly. "Plans seem to be a bit up in the air," she says evasively. "But I plan to be finding a lucrative post-doc position, then eventually running my own lab."

"A start-up, or managing an already established lab in need of new talent?" Aston wonders. His eyes travel the length of the dancing woman before him.

Celeste stretches her arms over her, hips swinging side to side. "Whichever suits my needs. If I can find one along the lines of my own research, more the better. If not, I'll start my own."

"Costly undertaking," Aston notes. "But you seem determined enough." He rises from his seat, leaving the glass of water on the table. He approaches Celeste, lightly wrapping an arm around her swaying hips, effortlessly drawing her close. "But you should really consider taking more time out to relax. Strange things happen to people exuding stress the way you are." He doesn't dance exactly, but he does move along with the woman in his arms, his head lowering to the area of her neck just abover her shoulder. His lips are full and cool as they brush over her skin.

Celeste closes her eyes, moving along with the easy rhythm matched by Aston. "Am I exuding stress? That's what Owen says, too."

"You are," Aston says, the words breathed against her skin. "Relax for me," he tells her. There's a lapse of time then, perhaps only a moment, perhaps several, it's almost impossible for Celeste to determine, or even notice. But once it's over, the desire to dance begins to fade. Not abruptly, but gradually. The desire is replaced with a general sense of fatigue. Not exhaustion, but rather a desire for a good night's sleep, and perhaps a lingering soreness at the side of her neck. Nothing particularly unusual. What is perhaps startling though, is that when Celeste takes a moment to truly focus, her dance partner is gone. His glass of water, more than half empty by now, remains on the table, but he's gone entirely, and what's more, so are any details of his face, other than those dark eyes and strong, bruised hands.