JACK CHAMBERS Of course she wasn't alright. He was an idiot, just for asking... How in the world could anyone think she was alright, nevermind a professional therapist, trained to recognize the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. Her eyes remained fixed on the man in the corner and somehow managing not to be a completely useless moron, Jackson put two and two together. An ex perhaps... or worse yet, someone who had hurt her, no doubt, someone who hadn't recognized her, yet... someone that set off in her a reaction that carried with it all the signs of panic attack. Rising as she did, he started to follow, frowning softly, but she was gone in a flash and he didn't want to follow her and look like a complete nutcase. Instead, he watched the man and with careful, conscious movements, eased himself between the bathroom and the offender's table. And for a long moment, he stood there like an idiot, watching, like some pathetic sentry, guarding her from the invisible threat. Finally, graciously, she returned and without a word, Jackson took her gently by the arm, leading her through the small restaurant, to the door and out onto the street, out into the fresh air, where he released her, turning her to face him, "...I know the signs, Hannah. You can't think I wouldn't see it. What... that man... what did he... No, nevermind. That's not important. Not out here. Come on. We'll get you back to the office, yeah?" LAYLA O'HALE She hugged him. She hugged him, because after the horrible disappointment she'd endured, he had done the one thing she desperately needed. He'd made her laugh. He'd made her laugh, and there had been no motive, no goal, besides trying to make her day brighter. And he had done so in a way that was just brilliant and adorable, in a way that almost made her forget entirely how miserable her afternoon had been. Releasing him, she shook her head, and smiling faintly, shrugged, "I don't know. I really hope it's just the first day dulldrums. But if not, I think I understand why kids get into so much trouble in college. There's nothing to do BUT get into trouble. Oh! Speaking of..." Turning, she leafed through her purse, rifling around until she found what she was after, pulling out a brightly colored flier, which she handed over. Directions to a start-of-the-year campus party. "I know it's probably gonna be totally lame, and we can bail if it sucks, but... would you wanna go?" It wasn't easy to convince the girl. Hannah pretended she was ex. She told a story of abuse, and it wasn't hard to fake the tears. The girl believed and Hannah was convinced she would avoid the guy after that. So long as he didn't go stalker crazy, she might be okay. She splashed her face with cold water before leaving the bathroom and Chambers was on her so suddenly she could barely process what was happening. Then they were outside and he was talking about... wait, did he think-? But of course he did. The way she was acting there wasn't any other explanation, not really. Gods. But what could she do? She couldn't correct him because she had no other way of explaining her behavior. Or did she? Could she think of some excuse? No... she couldn't lie to him. It wasn't lying if she just let him believe he was right, was it? "But your lunch," she said weakly as they started back toward the office. She felt horrible now. Even if her appetite was completely gone, he was a big man and she was sure he needed some kind of food. **** When she hugged him he didn't know what to do so he lamely patted her back until she pulled away. What on earth was that? And why did she smell so good? She was soft too, or at least the hair that had tickled his chin was. He studied the flier, "Hm. I think, if it's not a plan of the aliens to get us into a large group, that it could be fun, actually. We could meet more people. And we could go together so if the people we meet suck, we'll still have fun. I'm down for it! But..." He plucked at his shirt, "do I need to change? Or will this do?" He was wearing jeans, a black t-shirt and an open flannel shirt. It seemed like a good 'first day' outfit when he pulled it together but also he didn't really spend much time thinking about what to wear... instead, he just pulled on whatever he grabbed first. JACK CHAMBERS Smiling faintly, a debonair thing, Jack shook his head at her protest and before he spoke, still leading her by the elbow, he edged away from the restaurant and back to the street, "Not the first meal I've missed in my life. I know I'm on the thinner side, but I think I'll survive without lunch." It was a defense mechanism. Another one, and it was impossible not to pick up on. Idly, he had to wonder if that wasn't why she'd gotten into her career in the first place. Helping folks to forget her own issues. There was a certain chemistry to it - a quality of vulnerability. Hiding one's true feelings, compensating with an overt consideration for others. It was easier to forget about your own pain when you were too busy thinking about other people. In a lot of ways, therapists were the biggest head cases around. When they'd gotten far enough away from the Soup Joint, he glanced over at her, releasing her arm with a small sigh, "You don't have to talk about it, if you don't want to. I know it's not easy. And it's not like we know each other very well. But maybe we've got that in our favor? And well, I'm here... if you need to get anything off your chest. On the house..." LAYLA O'HALE Chuckling, Layla shook her head, "I don't think there's a dress code, Ro... But you look fine anyway." She hadn't exactly planned for it, herself, but she figured jeans and a t-shirt weren't a bad bet for half-broke college kids. She'd put on make-up that morning, and with a little freshening up, fingers through her hair, she'd make do enough not to look like a completely helpless fool. She was relatively sure Rowan could've shown up in a dress and he would have little trouble. He was a good looking kid, and for someone who claimed to have been a shut in his whole life, he had a way with social situations that was just admirable. And really, a pair of pretty blue eyes could go a long way, as far as girls were concerned. "I just need to swing by my dorm to drop off my books and stuff, maybe grab some lipstick or something. Are you hungry? We could grab something to eat, too. I don't exactly think these places are well known for their cuisine. Probably just have cheap beer and Doritos, and while I can't speak from personal experience, I'm pretty sure that's never a good combo."