Ben wandered the stacks, idly looking for something new for his shifts in the lab. The only major downside, at least in his mind, to working with incredibly sensitive electromagnetic equipment was the complete ban on electronic devices. Even his watch got left outside when he went in to mind the equipment. Granted, that was mostly because the professor he worked for was paranoid, but still. It made books completely vital. The univeresity stacks were good for research, but the public libraries were far, far better for the kind of thing he was looking for now. He thought for a moment before leaving the section he was in and heading for the young adult sections. He’d had enough unpredictability in his life. An old classic, well put together but not shocking to him, would be perfect for now. At this point he was somewhat on autopilot, letting his hand drift over the titles and letting a corner of his mind pay attention to them as most of it drifted over his plans for the night. He had to arrange various meetings between different acquaintances of his, mostly legal, all of whom would then owe him another favor. And he had to make sure he encouraged several suitably anonymous campaign contributions by a few businessmen he’d had long chats with over drinks and dinner at the last fundraiser in the area. And he had to arrange to get a replacement for dogsitting for a collegue of his. And of course grade all the homework sitting on his desk, some of which would be brought with him for his shift. The list streamed seamlessly through his head, each one getting its alotment of time and planning before moving to the next item, and the next. And then he turned the corner and saw Riley.
His mask shattered for just a moment before he slammed it back into place hastily. It wasn’t her. Despite her position reading, absorbed in the little world between the covers, despite the uncannily similar looks that kept his mask wavering and his expression from doing exactly what he told it to as usual, despite the expression on her face that seemed to tell him exactly what was happening in the book, it wasn’t her. He silently took a deep breath, praying she hadn’t noticed him as he stood there, calming his mind to its usual analytic state, reestablishing his logic trees as he ran down them, and concluded that she had to simply be a relative new-comer who he hadn’t seen before. And bore a striking resemblence to Riley. It happened. Frequently, in fact; of course he would find people who looked like her. He was thinking about her often enough that it wasalmost surprising he hadn’t found a lookalike sooner.
That being done he flicked his gaze down her, noting the ensemble, small bag, artful make-up, small inflections of posture that remained unconciously while reading and made an educated guess as to the general focus of her life and work. There were a variety of ways that she could be selling herself, from prostitution to modeling, but it was extraordinarily probable that one way or another it was what she was doing. He paused his reflection to look at the basic facts he was extrapolating from and noted that it was possible it wasn’t professional, simply how she lived. That was a lower order probability though. Either way he knew he was going to talk to her. On the one hand she could be useful… and on another he simply couldn’t turn down the chance. It was an emotional, stupid, irrational reason to do it; appearance did not necessarily have anything to do with personality, but it remained. He gave himself a quick once over, making sure nothing had mysteriously gone drastically wrong (well, as wrong as jeans and a t-shirt could) before confidently approaching Damien and smiling. “I don’t think I’ve seen you in these parts before. What’re you reading?” He made sure to keep his voice cheerful and welcoming, all hints of the roiling emotions shoved back behind the mask. As fat as she should be able to tell he was just a friendly sort of guy. His body language matched perfectly, subtly radiating honestly and cheer.