Chance Encounters

Joined: January 28th, 2012, 4:09 pm

December 13th, 2012, 11:19 pm #1

It was shortly after school closing time. Gavin was browsing the shelves of his local bookstore. Titles flashed before his eyes, the glossy covers of the young adults section blurring together into an odd kaleidoscope before his disinterested senses. Gavin was filled with ennui; a feeling of general apathy pervading his senses like a thick sea mist hanging over a normally bustling harbour. So little seemed to be going on in his life right now that it almost seemed amusing. Schoolwork was a drag, nothing hard enough to engage him nor easy enough for him to surf through on automatic. Even the weather seemed to be conspiring against him; heavy rain preventing visits to the range more often than not.

In the end, Gavin had decided to treat himself to a good book. It had been a while since he had gotten any serious reading done that wasn't required for schoolwork - discounting the odd bit of fanfiction, and it had seemed to be just the kind of thing to help lift his flagging spirits. Of course, things were never that easy. His apathetic mindset made it hard to firm decision about what he wanted; even focusing on the titles was a little difficult. There was something slightly disconcerting about the contents of the teenage sections, too. They were far too flashy, for one thing. Even the more subdued ones were almost hyperactive in their artistic style and aggressive coloration.

The vast majority of teenagers these days must have magpie genetics. Gavin thought as his eyes slid disinterestedly over yet another row of gloss-covered, occasionally holographic covers. Eventually his artistic senses staged a violent rebellion against his visual cortex, and Gavin found himself turning to a section of the store that he found less of an eyesore. The science fiction section seemed the next best prospect; lots of colour and excitement with some actual visual context, and less glitter. His spirits lifted a little when he noticed the name Peter F Hamilton along some of the spines. The Commonwealth Saga was one of Gavin's repeat readings, and had been the series that had gotten him interested in Hard science fiction.

His flagging interest finally piqued, Gavin slipped round to the other side of the science fiction section to examine the titles more closely. This provided a decent barrier between him and the few other teenagers browsing the young adults section. He was tall enough to look over the top of the shelf at them, and he rolled his eyes as he watched a lanky-looking blonde snatch a copy of New Moon that had been given centre stage in the teen romance section, then waltz off to the checkout with a giggle. He was glad he hadn't worn his trademark trench coat today; it gave him a little more anonymity to observe other teenagers without being singled out himself. Gavin would also rather have been caught naked in the streets then browsing the glitzy trash currently residing in the teenage section in his signature gear. There were limits to how much and in what way he wanted to stand out, after all.

Eventually, he spotted something new. The Neutronium Alchemist had exactly the kind of ultra-pretentious title that Gavin had come to expect from Hamilton, so he ducked down to pluck it from its shelve, turning the thick book round over in his hands to read the blurb. He remained there on his knees, there being so little traffic in this row that standing up again seemed a waste of energy. The shelves were open backed, so he could see through them over the tops of the books into the young adults section that he'd just vacated. Despite the brief attraction of the book in his hands, he found his attention wandering back to the people pursuing the glitzy titles in the young adults section.

If Gavin had had to put a name to the cause of his continued attention, it would have to be morbid fascination.
#B051: Gavin Hunter - Equipped with oh gosh a whole lot. "Well, we break for two months and I'm now suddenly in high definition..."

[08:46] Ghost of Ravenstar: I love the AF2011-A1 as it fits Gavin's perceived personality so damn well.
[08:47] Alex: Overcompensatory, unnecessary and appeals to what someone who watches anime obsessively would perceive as "cool?"
[08:47] Ghost of Ravenstar: BINGO!!!
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Jilly
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Joined: April 14th, 2012, 4:13 pm

December 14th, 2012, 5:21 am #2

Sometimes, Megan enjoyed spending hours at the "Barnes & Noble" bookstore after school, looking at all of the latest fiction releases and being blinded by the many covers lined up across the shelves, asking to be taken home and read through. Being surrounded by different works always pleased Megan as much as it frustrated her (after all, there were only so many she could afford at once). However, today was different, as this was no ordinary bookstore visit for her.

Today was Operation: Twilight.

It was a simple mission. All Megan had to do was enter the bookstore, find her way to the young adult fiction section, pick up a copy of the famous novel Twilight, and escape before anyone she knew saw her. Today was the day to see what all of the fuss was about. Megan knew she might not come back alive, but it was a risk she was willing to take.

Megan entered the store and took a quick scan around, scouting for any potential dangers. Lucky for her, it seemed that only a few people were there that afternoon. She saw some high school-age youths, but Megan was sure they weren't in her class. After scouting the field, Megan made her way to the young adult section, trying her best to not get distracted by the symphony of books in her peripheral vision. It dawned on her that bringing horse blinders might have been a good idea.

And then she saw it - the dozens of copies from the four installments, the red and black color scheme, the cardboard cutout of Kristen Stewart's passive gaze (from a still of the New Moon movie released some time ago) staring down onlookers - she found the Twilight shrine. Megan took a minute to view the constructional beauty as a few middle school aged girls went up to the shrine. She almost didn't feel worthy being in its presence.

But no, Megan had come so far to give up now. As soon as the two thirteen-year-old girls that came before her were out of Megan's sight, she did the deed. A copy of Stephenie Meyer's magnum opus was in her hands, with its famous red apple in the center of the cover for all to see. Now all she had to do was brave the cashier in the front, and then she could escape. It would be the perfect crime.

...But, Megan decided to deviate a little from her original plan. She opened the tome and flipped to the first chapter and began to skim through the words, taking in the sweet aroma that rose out of the new pages. After all, she didn't see anyone she knew, so who cared? Her curiosity was at its limit.
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Joined: January 28th, 2012, 4:09 pm

December 14th, 2012, 8:52 pm #3

By now Gavin had replaced The Neutronium Alchemist, having discovered it to be the second in a trilogy, and plucked out the reassuringly titled predecessor; The Reality Dysfunction. He wondered privately if Hamilton got paid extra for making up such preposterous titles. He was just about to stand up and head for the checkout when something in the young adults section caught his eye.

There had been girls looking over or picking up Twilight books every few minutes since he entered the store. This was just after school closing time, after all. However, up till now they had all been around the ages of thirteen or fourteen. Then, as the last of that student demographic hurried away, Gavin found himself staring at the legs of a much older girl.

Funny, what would a girl her age be doing hanging around that section? He thought.

Then Gavin's train of thought plunged off a cliff as the girl reached out and brazenly pulled a copy of the first Twilight book off the shelf. For a moment, Gavin was absolutely stunned. Very few situations in the world could shock a true stoic; but watching a girl roughly his own age and (presumably) his own level of maturity make a b-line for a gibbering, vacuous, literary obscenity like Twilight was definitely one of them.

Oh, oh my . . . Gavin's mind whirled as it searched for some kind of rational explanation for the seemingly impossible chain of events he had just witnessed. Had a gang of armed robbers burst into the store at that very moment, Gavin wouldn't have registered them; his attention was totally fixated on the gap in the shelves and the girl beyond.

It would probably have been highly amusing to Megan if she had known and understood to what degree she had just shocked Gavin by her actions; but it was only when she began turning the pages of her clandestine acquisition that she truly pushed him over the edge. A man could only watch the folly of another human being for so long before his sensibilities forced him to intervene, no matter how desperate the situation was.

Gavin stood up slowly, quietly. He was behind Megan, about a meter away. She seemed engrossed in her book, so he had ample time to sidle quietly out of his row of shelves and up behind her. He was again glad he hadn't worn his trench coat today, as the heavy leather apparel would certainly have rustled loud enough to alert her to his presence. It's not or never. He thought to himself.

"Excuse me." He began in his usual polite, respectful tone. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I can't help but feel that you're in danger of making a terrible mistake in choosing that title."

Oh sod it, may as well go for broke here.

"Perhaps I could point you in the direction of something less . . . terrible?" He concluded in the same easy, confident tones. If he was going to be damned by her for doing this, he would at least take it with good grace. Being the better man, and all that. He thought ruefully.
#B051: Gavin Hunter - Equipped with oh gosh a whole lot. "Well, we break for two months and I'm now suddenly in high definition..."

[08:46] Ghost of Ravenstar: I love the AF2011-A1 as it fits Gavin's perceived personality so damn well.
[08:47] Alex: Overcompensatory, unnecessary and appeals to what someone who watches anime obsessively would perceive as "cool?"
[08:47] Ghost of Ravenstar: BINGO!!!
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Jilly
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Joined: April 14th, 2012, 4:13 pm

December 15th, 2012, 6:10 pm #4

Well...everything's in...complete sentences?

As Megan skimmed through the pages of the text, she couldn't help but feel some mixed emotions. Yes, there were some...interesting word choices that would make Shakespeare cry, but at least it was grammatically correct for the most part. Hey, at least it was readable. However, right in the middle of reading the 5th page, a distinctly British voice appeared from nowhere.

"Excuse me; I'm sorry to interrupt, but I can't help but feel that you're in danger of making a terrible mistake in choosing that title."

Megan nearly threw the novel in the air at the voice. When she turned to look, a tall, black-haired boy about her age was standing right by her. Oh god, how embarrassing. She was caught reading Twilight, right in the middle of the bookstore; maybe those horse blinders would have been a good investment after all.

Megan stood shocked for a few moments while analyzing the situation - should she abort her mission and run away like a coward, or should she stand her ground with this boy? Normally the former would be the default option for Megan, but something about this guy intrigued her - she didn't know if it was his accent, his formal speech pattern, or his demeanor, but she wanted to know more about him. Plus, for some reason, she felt like she had seen him before - countless times, in fact. But who was he?

At his sudden invitation to look for something less "terrible", Megan snapped back into reality. "...It's not what it looks like. Believe me, I wouldn't consider Twilight to be good 'literature'." She silently shut the book and returned it to its rightful place on the mecca. "I just got curious about how bad it really is, but I don't really know a lot of people who actually have the novels, so..."

"...Yeah." Megan nervously laughed, hoping her excuse would fly by with the boy.
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Joined: January 28th, 2012, 4:09 pm

December 15th, 2012, 8:47 pm #5

Gavin would have needed a heart of stone not to be amused by Megan's initial panicked reaction. As it was, he ended up biting his lip to keep the amusement on his face at tactful levels. For a moment he thought she was going to bolt, but then her expression calmed and she managed to hold her place. Now that Gavin had a chance to view her more closely, he found himself liking what he saw, and he let his posture relax a little as Megan began her explanation.

Her words confirmed a lot of what he'd started to suspect already. The sheer incongruity of a girl her age having a genuine interest in Twilight almost made him grin, and he relaxed even further as he began to realise the kind of person he was dealing with. Suddenly, his former lethargy and disinterest seemed to have flown away, and he felt animated and at ease once more. He realised belatedly that this was the first true interaction he could recall having with a teenager his own age for at least a week. Am I really that disengaged in school these days? He thought momentarily.

As Megan finished her explanation (after returning her book to its shelf, Gavin noted approvingly), she still seemed a little nervous, so he gave her a smile. "Hey, it's alright. I can understand your interest, but I wouldn't advise you to waste your money on that kind of literature. It's really not worth your effort, or your innocence."

He chuckled softly to make light of his words before continuing. "Sorry if I startled you just then. My name's Gavin, I was just browsing the science fiction section when I noticed you through the shelves, I hope you can forgive me for sneaking up on you like this."
#B051: Gavin Hunter - Equipped with oh gosh a whole lot. "Well, we break for two months and I'm now suddenly in high definition..."

[08:46] Ghost of Ravenstar: I love the AF2011-A1 as it fits Gavin's perceived personality so damn well.
[08:47] Alex: Overcompensatory, unnecessary and appeals to what someone who watches anime obsessively would perceive as "cool?"
[08:47] Ghost of Ravenstar: BINGO!!!
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Jilly
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Jilly
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Joined: April 14th, 2012, 4:13 pm

December 16th, 2012, 5:48 am #6

"Oh, don't worry; I don't really know what I was thinking, honestly...I guess I needed a hero." Megan sighed in relief. It was embarrassing enough being caught red-handed with Twilight in the middle of a bookstore; had the black-haired boy not believed her, she would have doubted her own intentions about reading the book. Plus, he appeared to relax as well, which in turn calmed Megan's embarrassment.

Megan paused as she folded her arms and gazed at her feet. "Gavin, huh..." She suddenly remembered where she's seen this boy before - yeah, he definitely went to Aurora High. Though they never interacted with each other face-to-face, Megan could recall several times in the student center or the library where he would be reading some sort of historical book as she passed by him. She dubbed him "Book Guy", but never really thought much about striking up a conversation with him since he always looked to be buried in his books. However, now that she had a name...

Megan opened her arms and returned her eyes to Gavin. "...Do you go to Aurora High, by any chance? Oh, and I'm Megan by the way."
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Joined: January 28th, 2012, 4:09 pm

December 16th, 2012, 7:25 am #7

"I do indeed go to Aurora High, though I don't think we've ever met face-to-face before." Gavin replied, his tone now considerably less formal and more congenial. He had grinned when Megan mentioned needing a hero, finding her phraseology rather flattering. Although he had only known her for a few seconds, Gavin found himself warming to Megan’s company with surprising speed.

Perhaps it's just that I haven't had much company recently. He thought.

Certainly not company with two X chromosomes. His underthoughts promptly jabbed.

Pushing those particular thoughts firmly to the back of his mind, Gavin did a mental audition and pulled a picture of Megan's face from the dusty filing cabinets of memory. "I think I've seen you in the library before, you're in there quite often. What kind of books do you like?"
#B051: Gavin Hunter - Equipped with oh gosh a whole lot. "Well, we break for two months and I'm now suddenly in high definition..."

[08:46] Ghost of Ravenstar: I love the AF2011-A1 as it fits Gavin's perceived personality so damn well.
[08:47] Alex: Overcompensatory, unnecessary and appeals to what someone who watches anime obsessively would perceive as "cool?"
[08:47] Ghost of Ravenstar: BINGO!!!
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Jilly
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Jilly
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Joined: April 14th, 2012, 4:13 pm

December 17th, 2012, 7:25 am #8

"Well..." Megan's eyes darted up for a brief moment, "...I guess I don't really have a 'favorite' kind of book; I don't like being labelled as something like a 'sci-fi' reader or a 'horror' reader since I skip around genres. But if I had to say what my favorites are, I guess I like good books," Megan laughed a little, hoping Gavin would catch her joke.

Megan feared to open up to people when she first talked to them; after all, she felt first and second impressions do count, no matter what people spat out. Opening up about one of her favorite pastimes intimidated Megan a little, especially to someone who seemed so well-versed and read like this tall British guy standing in front of her. However, she opened the door for conversation, plus Gavin didn't judge her for looking through Stephenie Meyer's insanely popular novel. What's the worst that could happen, Gavin throwing one of those historical tomes at her in disgust?

"I...I like reading novels, really. Old ones like To Kill a Mockingbird or Grapes of Wrath, or new ones like that The Lovely Bones book that came out some time ago or...well, ya know..." Megan motioned her head towards the blasphemous shrine. "...Again, not that I actually read any of those books until you caught me. You just get kind of curious about why something gets popular with movie deals and stuff from nowhere...or at least I do anyway. But...well...yeah," Megan trailed her words off as she completed her thoughts.

After a brief pause, Megan looked up at the gentleman and reopened her mouth, "It's certainly not like those texts I've seen you reading everywhere."
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Joined: January 28th, 2012, 4:09 pm

December 17th, 2012, 12:25 pm #9

Gavin chuckled lightly at Megan's last words. "I'm fascinated by history. I often find the tales told by historians and personal biographers to be just as interesting and engaging as any work of fiction."

He realised then that he was still holding The Reality Dysfunction, and quickly brought it up for Megan to see the cover. "Books like this interest me on an intellectual level; they represent a potential future for humanity as envisioned by their author. Fantasy is often the same, but exploring a fundamentally different reality rather than a potential one."

A little part of Gavin wondered if it was wise to have started talking in such an intellectual fashion, but another part of him wanted to push Megan a little; to see what she truly got out of what she read. After all, anybody can read books for their entertainment value.

There was the danger of making things a little too serious, but Gavin felt that Megan was the type to understand where he was coming from. Even if their reasons for enjoying literature were completely different, he mused, they could still at least enjoy talking about it.

"I don't just read the high-concept stuff, though." He conceded. "I like relaxing with a good book as much as you probably do. I just found this section a bit too glitzy today. As for your question about Twilight; it appeals to a vocal and very dedicated fanbase, so it'll be milked for every last dollar by whoever holds the merchandising rights at the moment. I steer clear of stuff like that; I find it a bit . . . demeaning. Even if the subject matter wouldn't make the entire Woman's Sufferage movement rotate fast enough in their graves to violate the laws of thermodynamics."

Gavin shrugged dismissively of the Twilight phenomenon. "If you were looking for a few decent adult-level novels or series, I'd be happy to point out one or two of my favourites."
#B051: Gavin Hunter - Equipped with oh gosh a whole lot. "Well, we break for two months and I'm now suddenly in high definition..."

[08:46] Ghost of Ravenstar: I love the AF2011-A1 as it fits Gavin's perceived personality so damn well.
[08:47] Alex: Overcompensatory, unnecessary and appeals to what someone who watches anime obsessively would perceive as "cool?"
[08:47] Ghost of Ravenstar: BINGO!!!
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Jilly
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Joined: April 14th, 2012, 4:13 pm

December 18th, 2012, 1:58 am #10

Megan snorted at Gavin's dig on the Twilight novels, and in the realization of what she just did, she initiated a laughing fit from embarrassment, getting uncontrollably inconspicuous and tearing up in the process. It was one thing she hated about herself - if she started laughing uncontrollably, she had to force herself to stop. She could never just "stop" if she started.

After some time, Megan's breathing slowed down as her laughter was able to die off. She rubbed her eyes with her right hand to clean up from the mess. "I'm sorry; guess I really liked your 'woman's suffrage' thing." Megan hoped Gavin hadn't been embarrassed too badly by her.

However, Megan realized she didn't answer Gavin's philosophical view on books. Maybe it was just the fact that she's cursed with a literal mind for literary analysis, but she realized that she didn't want to answer him. Reading into symbolism always bothered Megan, unless it was something obvious or she knew about it beforehand. She ain't the author after all, so she hardly read into things too deeply. But she knew she didn't feel the need to tell Gavin her view on books too, not just yet anyway. Besides, that would open them up for conversation at another time; plus, maybe he won't notice her lack of a response because of what just happened.

After some awkward silence between the two, Megan replied to Gavin's last question, "Sure, that'd be gr-." She felt her phone quaking in her jeans' pocket and whipped it out to see a text message from her brother. Her fingers danced around the keypad, and after sending her reply Megan returned the phone to its original place.

"Sorry, I didn't know so much time passed. I kinda made plans with someone today, so I didn't expect to take so long. It was nice meeting you, Gavin. Maybe we should meet up in the library at school sometime? Ya know, to make fun of the lack of books and stuff?" Megan about-faced and walked down the aisle of books towards the entrance. However, before she got out of the aisle, she rotated around and faced the British boy again. "Oh, and thanks." And with that, Megan left the store while avoiding the gaze of the other customers who heard her outburst.

Sure, Operation: Twilight was a bust, and Megan got embarrassed twice within the span of several minutes, but whatever. She still considered the mission a success - albeit with a different outcome than she had expected. Yes, today was a success for sure.
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Joined: January 28th, 2012, 4:09 pm

December 24th, 2012, 3:03 pm #11

Gavin watched Megan go with an odd mixture of satisfaction and regret. He had hoped that she would've had more time, but such chance encounters rarely happened at convenient times. He realised his hand was half-raised in a farewell wave and promptly dropped it, feeling silly. Damn it. He thought as he stared at the exit. Things had been going so well.

Then Megan had been forced to leave, that was so typical. Still, his encounter with her had done a lot of good. Gavin felt a new energy suffusing his being, a liveliness that he had sorely lacked in recent days. He realised that this wasn't necessarily the end. What was it she had said just before she left, that she'd have to meet in the library someday?

I think I'll be hanging around the school library a lot more from now on. He thought with a sudden grin.

With that thought lingering pleasantly in his head, Gavin headed for the checkout. He still had The Reality Dysfunction in his hands, though now it seemed a poor substitute for Megan's company. Still, it would at least have the kindness to stay in one place while Gavin analyzed every facet of it. One of the virtues of a good book was that it couldn't run away. A smile still on his face, Gavin walked up to the till, placed his book down, and fumbled for his wallet. Life had definitely taken a turn for the better.
#B051: Gavin Hunter - Equipped with oh gosh a whole lot. "Well, we break for two months and I'm now suddenly in high definition..."

[08:46] Ghost of Ravenstar: I love the AF2011-A1 as it fits Gavin's perceived personality so damn well.
[08:47] Alex: Overcompensatory, unnecessary and appeals to what someone who watches anime obsessively would perceive as "cool?"
[08:47] Ghost of Ravenstar: BINGO!!!
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