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You Never Get a Second Change for First Impressions.

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GM

 

March 21st, 2017

8:31 AM

A girl slipped in about a half hour after opening, short, a little shorter than Gretchen, though certainly not as slender as she was.  She wasn't just hispanic, she was certainly an indio.  A punk, with a burnt sienna colored dreadlock hanging on the side of her face, under striped hood of her striped sweatshirt.  She idly picked through things, grabbing three books, and a magazine, before she moved back towards the front of the shop.  Her age hard to tell, she pursed her lips, and played with the piercing on the lower one.  "'Scuse me... only one here?"  Her voice was heavily accented, matching where her face was from and English might not even be her second language.

 

She continued on as she set the books down on the counter and she looked at Gretchen.  The girl's smell permeated the air, some sort of fruity essential oil, and freshly rained on dirt.  A little odd, but then, book stores like this place attracted worse.  "Do you do a Mexican mocha?"  Pushing up her brows as she shifted her purse up and onto the table, before she was shuffling through the studded leather thing.

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Heritage   

Some mornings, Gretchen liked to let her girlfriend sleep in; she was more than capable of opening the store by herself (actually she was better at it than Lynn, to which the changeling herself would probably agree), and sometimes she just didn't have the heart to wake her up. Because sometimes Lynn had nightmares, really bad ones from 80+ years of adventuring and crime-fighting; she would cry out a name, Bill or Colt being the most common, and clutch her pillow so tight that Gretch was afraid she'd rip it apart. Other times she was obviously dreaming about her kids, and those were the worst. Rough nights like these were fairly common, typically a few times a month, and then all that Gretch could do was hold her girl and send her gentle thoughts, guiding her dreams back to something more pleasant.

 

So those mornings after a rough night, the young barista let her sleep in as long as she wanted, putting a pot of coffee on so she could wake up to the smell of something wonderful. And then Gretch opened the store solo, smiling at the thought of that beautiful elfin face in quiet repose.

 

It was slow this morning, unusually so for a Tuesday, but it happened; when the young girl made her initial inquiry, Gretchen kept her face bored and neutral when she answered, though inside her head, her brain was spinning. "I am currently, alone, yes. The store's owner should be down in the not too distant future."

 

This girl is a potential threat. Why else would she ask if I was alone? Possible shapeshifter, or just a child assassin?

 

When she made her drink request, the barista nodded. "Yes, I can. It's not on the menu, but I keep the spices here behind the counter. I make them for myself sometimes." She pulled the shot and began steaming the milk, her eyes rarely leaving the girl as she worked.

Edited by Heritage

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GM

There was a small snort from the young face, "Okay, chili in it as well and extra cinnamon."  She pushed the books towards her, and one eyebrow arched a bit, as she kept searching through her purse.  Pulling out a set of keys, she parted thick lips, colored in a heavy dark brown color, and then bit onto the car key to hold it there as she shuffled and searched for her wallet.

 

"Should relax, chica.  I mean, you're cute and all, but you're lookin' like the type-a girl who always clutches her purse tighter when I am around.  These too..."  Pushing the books, Old Man and the Sea, House of Leaves, and a tattoo as art, magazine.  She spoke lazily in her thickly accented voice, almost like a drawling, husky purr, one hand holding her wallet and gesturing a little.  "Just wanted to share the misery of someone workin' retail and being alone.  Better here than a Stop'n'Save."  She laughed a little bit.

 

The smile didn't quite touch her eyes, as she plucked her keys from her mouth and put them back in her purse.  She came across tired, and forcing some joviality out.  To try and either diffuse a situation or just keep it moving on.

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"Sorry. Wasn't trying to be racist, but clearly succeeded."  Gretchen served up the drink after dusting it with cayenne pepper. "Generally when someone asks if I'm alone, I don't take it well. Nothing personal."

 

Heading over to the register, she looked over the young woman's selections, and paused for a moment while holding the Hemingway, looking at the picture of 'Papa' on the back cover. "I know as a woman I'm supposed to hate Hemingway, but the a##hole sure could write." Shaking her head, she put everything in a paper bag and began to ring the customer up.

 

"Anything else I can get for you?"

Edited by Heritage

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GM

 

She snorts a little bit then.  "Or you go to fear first. And how are you going to be the Kwisatz Haderach then?  Or... yanno... Maybe I trying to see if I have space to flirt with a pretty girl behind a counter when I don't have much to do." She lapsed into a wry smile, her presence was almost palpable, like when she focused her attention it was like a hammer smacking Gretchen on her face.  There was interest, even if she had the practiced disinterest that teens and early 20 somethings tended to have.

 

"I don't see why.  If that was the case, then you should be burning everything Lennon touched. Or because you're a thinking human being, go smack Janice Raymond into not being a monster." She shrugged as she started to fish out the crumpled notes.

"Mm,yeah, can you get a copy of Todos Los Fuegos El Fuego and La tía Julia y el escribidor?"  She blew at the errant dreadlock, before reaching up to just irritatedly brush back behind a pierced ear as she offered up enough notes to cover the cost of what she bought.

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Heritage   

There was a quick smirk and raised eyebrow as she handed over the bag. "Sadly I am taken. And my girlfriend, while sweet as maple syrup, is a horrifying monster beneath her skin. I'd hate for you to be flayed alive." In response to her customer's statements about the moral failings of artists, she could only shrug.  "That's an individual choice you have to make. At what point does an artist's behavior become so unforgivable that you can no longer enjoy their art. And why are we more forgiving of someone who died in the 17th century than someone who died last year?"

 

Turning to her computer monitor, Gretchen rapidly tapped a few keys. "Our foreign language section is painfully small. A point of contention between me and Boss Lady." She peered down at the screen. "We don't have too much from Spanish language authors. Allende, Borges, the Garcias Lorca and Marquez, Neruda...just a handful of the big names. But we can order just about anything."

 

The young barista awkwardly shifted her weight from one foot to the other; she never knew what to do with unwanted attention. For starters, sometimes she actually did want it, but telling people to piss off came as naturally to her as breathing, and sometimes she'd already flipped someone off before she realized she actually liked them.

 

This one? Way too early to tell.

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GM

 

"This is the West End, give it fight minutes and I could run across a Many Angled Thing when I walk across the mouth of an alley.  Or Cihuateteo, or La Llorona.  Too early for Krampus though right?"  She took the bag and the coffee, that crooked smile on her face again, as she pushed a couple bucks into the tip jar.

 

"Yes please, on ordering the books."  The press of her attention shifted away, as she looked for a seat, and then moved over shouldering her purse, and taking her purchases.  As she hums a song while she does, finding a seat that would be sort of facing the front door and the counter, and she cracked open the Hemingway, and started to reading, still humming.  The tune?  "Me and Mrs. Jones."

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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Gretchen pursed her lips as she began to type up the order; clearly this girl was not the sort to be dissuaded by traditional concepts of fidelity, which in some ways the young barista respected. To be honest, she'd been considering ways to spice up her relationship with Lynn; not that things were in any way going badly, but she still liked to experiment, and adding a third partner was definitely high on the list. However, you had to pitch these things the right way, and if you picked the wrong third, it could be disastrous. But at some point even the mutual exploration of powers would start to become tiresome, so it was best to keep an open mind.

 

Stepping on tiptoe to look over the top of the register, Gretch cleared her throat. "I need a name for your order. And a phone number and email address." There was just a hint of a smile on her lips.

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GM

 

She had popped off the top of the coffee cup, and been taking a drink, getting some on her upper lip.  There was a slight duck of the head, licking away coffee and any foamy goodness.  Then she looked up at Gretchen, "Shaul, es-aytch-aay-yuu-el, at Tonacatl.net.  Tee-oh-en-aay-see-aay-tee-el, dot net."  She formed the Nahuatl word without hesitate, though it was swallowed quickly, and she had to smirk a little bit, considering she didn't expect a Northeastern girl to be down with an Indio.  Crossing and uncrossing legs in purposefully cut leggings, because go with a style all the way.  

Then she got to her feet, and moved back, and pulled a business card out, "Here, this is easier."  The smirk was a bit more, but she had already indicated a vampness, so it wasn't unexpected.  Though the card gave her phone number, and indicated she was an artist of a sort.  Mixed Media wasn't very helpful in describing.  Another sip taken of the coffee.

 

"Have a discount card?"

 

 

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"Thank you," she murmured as she continued typing, placing the business card in the corner of the monitor screen.  "'Mixed media', huh? You a FreeSA girl?" Gretch shook her head. "I staggered through those hallowed halls aeons ago. Music Theory 101 at 9am with a hangover is a special kind of hell."

 

When the Indio girl inquired about the discount card, the young barista nodded and smiled.  "'We do. Buy 10 bar drinks, get one free." She reached over to grab a discount card, then pulled out her wallet, which was on a chain, and fished out a business card of her own. "You showed me yours..."

 

                                                   No ReGretz Productions

                                                      Gretchen McDaniels

                                       Vocals/Multi-instrumentalist/Producer

 

Edited by Heritage

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GM

"No.  I am new to the city, ish?  El Paso.  No degree, really, so I do things to make the ends meet."  She shrugs a little bit, as she smirked bit, or maybe it was a smile, there was an ironic burr to Shaul's behavior, low level sort of amusement.  A little less prickly now, though it was hard to gauge her age.  Probably Gretch's, or a couple years under.  Probably.

 

She took the card, maybe there was a linger of fingertips, or maybe Gretchen was imagining. "If I was a musician, or need one I'll call.  But the discount card I can use."  Said as she pulled the business card back and tapped it on her lips, before slipping it away.

 

"Gotta ask, because I have this personal boundaries issue... get held up a lot here?  Or does the Crazy Train make a stop... in the shop?"  A little smile, and then a small giggle at her own rhyme.  

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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Gretchen was all hints of smiles and flirtation right up until Shaul mentioned possible robberies, and then a very visible transformation took place; an involuntary shiver passed through the length of her body, her expression clouded and she pulled away, her left hand unconsciously protecting her belly.

 

"We've had our share of crime to deal with here. It's not something to joke about." And now the shutters were back down, all warmth chased away by still-painful memories of a bleak November night three years ago. "Is there anything else I can help you with, ma'am?" She barely even made eye contact, her face a well-rehearsed blank.

Edited by Heritage

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Those eyes flickered, "Hm."  She sipped at her coffee, "Was hopin' more for like sparkles and stuff..."  Her free hand lifted a bit and waved her fingers in the air pantomiming magic, or something near to it.  She shifted a little bit, in her seat, and then nodded to herself, and gathered her things as she stood up.

 

"Figured I'd ask, place smells like brujeria.  Sorry to drag you down.  Have a better rest of your day, or something..."  The small hispanic lady moved to the front paused as she held open the door, "Watch out, eh?  Smells like storms, the kind that drowns the rats and sends 'em hunting like down in swamps in Mexico City."  There was a curious tug at her lips, like a smile, as she looked at her and then she stepped out into the sunlight.

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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Heritage   

"Wait, it's-" But it was too late; the mysterious indio was gone. Gretchen was left aroused, annoyed and flustered; on the one hand, she was sorry to see the flirty artist go, but on the other, she didn't feel the need to apologize for having a strong reaction to her memories of the shooting. She had nearly died, after all, and it was the incident that changed her life forever. Well, that and the earthquake in Sapporo. She finished the book order, and then paused for a few seconds before sending Shaul an email, from her personal email account.

 

Quote

Thanks for placing your order with us. If you ever want to talk about magic or anything else, stop by the shop. I know some things, but I always like to learn more.

 

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GM

 

Later Shaul's prediction rang true.  As the skies opened, and rain didn't just come back.  It was buckets.  Biblical, cleansing.  And its timing was impeccable, to an errand that would catch Gretchen as she was out in it.  Big, fat drops, with a driving wind to try and push the precipitation through a person.

 

Then it ended as sharply as it started, settling into something expected.  Springtime.  Renewal, all that garbage.

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"F###!"

 

A drenched Grecthen ducked underneath a storefront awning, shivering as she pulled off her denim jacket to try and squeeze some of the water out of it. Thank God the new notebook and markers were in two plastic bags, right now held between her knees; hopefully there wouldn't be any water serious damage. Overall, she was a very digital girl, a product of the end of the 20th century, but she still did her best musical composition on a big fat notebook with a fine point Sharpie.

 

She'd asked the cashier for the second plastic bag because Shaul mentioned storms. And she looked like the kind of girl who felt the weather in her veins.

Edited by Heritage

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Well, Shaul called it.

 

Or made it happened.  This was FC, after all, and speaking things out loud might make things actually transpire.

 

After a moment under the awning, and the door to the little shop, the West End Tea House, opened up and an older man with an impressively mustachioed face came out.  "You, girl, come in inside, dry a bit.  I see you a-round."  He spoke with heavily accented English, the tone brisk and cheery.  "Have cup for free, I see if I have umbrella you can borrow."  He held the door for her, smiling.  His tanned, and creased face at odds with his stark white hair, bushy as it was.

 

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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Heritage   

At the offer of anything free, Gretchen was on alert, visibly stiffening at the indication of kindness. But for once, she decided to risk it.

 

People do nice things for each other all the time. You've seen it in books and on TV.

 

Then she stopped to look down at herself, damp from head to toe, and smirked a bit.

 

Plus you look really good wet, and pretty gets you freebies. Give it a shot. 

 

With considerable effort, she found a smile, which she offered to the man in lieu of payment. "Free tea sounds good. Thanks." And then she followed him in.

Edited by Heritage

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"Ach, bad weather!"  The man made a spatting motion towards the ground, then he shook his head and laughed a little bit before he walked on in deeper into the narrow but deep little tea house.  "It always is good, always time for tea!"  He laughed, a big, deep belly laugh, before he gestured to the coat rack.  "Please, please, take off the coat, let it dry!" 

 

With that he moved behind the counter, "I hate weather like this, smells like witchery.  But then... I like in this part of the city, yes?  It is to be expected, but people like my tea here."  He poured her a cup carefully, and then glided behind the counter to set the cup down before her.  "House special.  Yes.  Very good.  You will like.  Now let me find that umbrella!... oh... pardon me, young lady!  I am Stavros, much sorries, how rude of me, I forget myself sometimes. It is age, I think!"  And with that he laughed, and stepped away, towards the far end, presumably the employee area, and looking for that Umbrella he had promised her.

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Heritage   

Gretchen gingerly pulled off her sopping wet denim jacket and hung it on the hook, and was then hit with a sudden realization: if Lynn were here, she would've conjured up a big fluffy towel and rubbed her down like she was a wet sheepdog, ignoring all the barista's protestations before sending her into a hot shower. And afterwards, there would be a hot soup and a grilled cheese waiting for her.

 

So. This is how it feels to be loved.

 

But then the man had to go and ruin the moment by mentioning 'witchery', and Gretchen got all tense again; just because she wielded magic didn't mean she liked it. She slowly followed after the man, her left hand that bore the Ring of Power at her side, like a lawman in the Old West ready to grab his six-gun.

 

"'Witchery', huh? Interesting turn of phrase. Do you get a lot of witches around here?"

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The man laughed at her question as he carefully poured her a cup of impenetrably dark liquid, and he moved to her, sliding the cup in before her.  "All kinds!  Some like that... wee-ka, some thinking of old times.  But I can mach a fig, I can ward off the evil eye, and... here."  He turned the cup to her and smiled brightly under the impressive mustache.

 

"Ah, but you are worried, it shows on your face.  Do not worry, I have extended my hospitality to you.  I will defend."  With that he hefted up an umbrella, and turned from her to feign some fencing with it, before he turned it about for her.  "Please use.  If rain continued you will need it badly."

The tea smelled of warmth and soothing and mint.

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Heritage   

Gretchen nodded as she took a seat and picked up the steaming mug of tea, letting the vapor flow up into her nostrils. "Smells real good."

 

We'll continue this 'trust' experiment for a little longer. See how things play put.

 

"So," she asked as she raised the mug to her lips. "How much do you know about this crazy stuff?"

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"Of course it smells 'really good,' it is special mint tea.  I get it from Morocco, extra special."  The man laughed a little bit, as he looked at her carefully, and her reaction and question.

 

"Ah.  Well.  I am not weary, but then I do not delve into the shadows."  He nodded a little bit, and he moved some kettles around to prevent the water from boiling over.  "My mother she was a witch, and so my nose, is sensitive.  I can smell it."  A careful tap to his know, and he wriggles it, his mustache twitched and swished about.  He looked around and he frowned for a moment, before he looked down at her.  "But, I cannot do anything, I just can see,"

And there was a jingle as the door opened and two people stepped in, though they had been a bit more prepared for the weather.  One, the man, had a brighter blue colored one, the woman had a big, long black overcoat, they made idle conversation with each other, as they took off the coats and hung they coats on the hook, looking like two normal looking modern yuppies, having a bit of familiarity in their body language between each other.

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Heritage   

"Believe me, that's more than enough. Working magic is more trouble than it's worth." Wait a minute, did she just reveal something personal to a complete stranger? The old man was charming in his own, but now she really hoped he was exactly what he seemed, and not something else more sinister. It would be nice to be wrong for a change.

 

And then the yuppie trendoids showed up and broke the mood; Gretchen slouched down a bit in her chair as she gave her delicious tea the full attention it deserved, but kept one eye open for trouble, just in case.

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He hummed to himself, a little as he waved to the yuppies.  "Please, please, order.  Enjoy!"  Then he turned as an aside to her  "Oh, yes, young lady..."  And he moved to pull a tray out, and there were tongs, and he plopped two almond and anise cookies on a plate and pushed it to her.

 

"Everything is more trouble than it is worth.  Always.  Love.  Life"  He laughed chuckled softly, his impressive mustache twitching like a living thing, before he moved away, and walk over to the couple and deal with them.  They looked at her, of course her drowned rat appearance helped in these matters.

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