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Creating The Universe (OPEN)


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November 3, 2021. Claremont Academy. Diana Falk Cafeteria.

 

Queenie

 

Maybelle McQueen had not been assigned a specific student for Mentorship Day. She’d signed up, that much was true. But in a reversal of how things normally worked, there were too many heroes for the job. Instead, the Headmistress had asked if Queenie could cater the event instead, and she was more than happy to. So here she was in the cafeteria. The equipment was…adequate, but all in all Maybelle was very happy she’d premade what she could. Word quickly got out that the food in the cafeteria was really good today, and soon the entire student body was finding an excuse to swing through. Not all at once, naturally, but enough to keep the ring slinging chef busy as a bee.

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  • EternalPhoenix changed the title to Creating The Universe (OPEN)

Flyers had been up all over campus and instructors had been on about it for days, but Leon had done his best to avoid it. He didn’t need a mentor. It was bad enough he was stuck at this school, the last he needed was someone else looking down on him.

 

The day came and Leon had a plan, after a stop in the library the day before he was all set to hole up in his room till it was over. At least, that had been the plan. But then lunch time hit and his stomach growled.

With a muttered cuss under his breath he grabbed the book he was reading and bee-lined for the cafeteria. Navigating the grounds, he successfully avoided any instructors and arrived in the cafeteria only to find the usual smells replaced with something strange, food that actually smell good. The dining hall was busier then usual. He chalked it up to the smell of the food and waited in line.

He wasn’t disappointed. The food was better then it ever was since he’d arrived. Taking his time aa he ate, he dug back into the book he was reading.

 

It was an easy choice when he debated getting seconds. Leon made his way through the line again. This time he noticed the pretty, older blond behind the counter. She was shorter then him and he knew he hadn’t seen her among the cafeteria staff before.

He quirked a grin and asked in a joking tone.

”You’re new here. Please tell me this is your doing.”

He pointed at the food.

”And please tell me your you’re not temp staff. Cause I don’t think I can go back to the old stuff.”

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Queenie

 

Maybelle laughed. Not so much at the young man’s joke, but at his timing. While he was getting seconds. Excellent. “Sorry, sunshine, I’m catering for today only.” Her hands were busy, but her Ring was not. Translucent silver energy plucked a business card from her jeans pocket. It read The Southern Queen, and had both a phone number and an address on the western edge of The North End. It did not have a name on it, but Maybelle was as ever a helpful soul. “Maybelle McQueen, Head Chef and Majority Owner.” She blinked for a second, realizing she was using the Ring and not the third hand she did not have. Her hands were free at this point, so she took the card from the energy (which dissipated immediately) and handed it to the young man. “Course, when I’m doing the hero thing they call me Queenie.” It wasn’t something she’d have said to Joe Schmoe on the street, but this was Claremont. And she didn’t wear a mask anyway. He wasn’t with a mentor that she could see. Little bit strange, but eh. “Guess you didn’t get a mentor, huh? Probably just a mix-up. They’ll find you someone, don’t worry.” There was a brief moment where it seems like she was about to offer so they didn’t have to, but she didn’t. “Well sunshine, if you need thirds or a chat I’ll be here. Lots of work to do and you’re holding up the line.” She pointed, smiling without a trace of mockery. Only good cheer.

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Leon gave his best dramatic, crest-fallen look when Maybelle informed him she was only there for the day. His eyes widen just a bit as he saw the silver strands of her ring pull the card from her pocket. He took the card, glancing at it before pocketing it with a nod. If she was head chef and owner he’d have to check it out later. Maybe bring the other Young Guardians. Or maybe his siblings.

 

2 hours ago, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

“Course, when I’m doing the hero thing they call me Queenie.”

 

Ah, so she was a hero too. When she mentioned not having a mentor he looked a little sheepish.

”I may have, kinda, sorta, maybe dodge it.”

He gave a chuckle and ran his hand through his hair.

 

2 hours ago, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

“Well sunshine, if you need thirds or a chat I’ll be here. Lots of work to do and you’re holding up the line.” She pointed, smiling without a trace of mockery. Only good cheer.


“Huh?”

Leon glanced aside at the line forming behind him and gave an apologetic  grin and mock salute. Smiling back at Maybelle he nodded.

”Sorry, and thanks.”

He collected his tray and continued down the way, eventually winding up back at a table with his book.

Edited by Spacefurry
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Queenie

 

A little time passed. Leon was able to do some damage to his seconds. A cute but fully adult brunette came in and talked to Maybelle. Said brunette was shorter than the chef, but arguably better dressed. Their conversation was largely inaudible to Leon, but he would hear the name Clara. Body languages suggested Clara was a subordinate. Their conversation ended, and Clara took Maybelle’s place behind the cafeteria counter to continue serving. Maybelle herself disappeared deep in the back for a moment, before emerging with a steaming bowl of food. Barbecue pulled pork macaroni and cheese. The heavenly aroma of barbecue sauce and melted cheddar cheese turned heads briefly as the chef walked over and sat next to Leon. “Hope you don’t mind, sunshine.” She gestured to the cafeteria, which was somewhat stuffed for the lunch hour. “Not many places left to sit, and a lady’s got to eat sometime.” She favored him with another smile. The same translucent silver energy as before formed a fork, and Maybelle started to dig into her meal. “If you don’t mind me asking, why’d you 'dodge' being given a mentor?” There was only simple curiosity in her tone.

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Leon’s glaze lift from his book as he spotted the cute brunette. He thought he caught the name Clara as watched her talk to Maybelle for a minute before his attention returned to the book. A copy of a late night talkshow host’s comical autobiography.
He was making a decent dent in his seconds, he wasn’t sure if thirds would be the best decision. It was tempting, but he’d be running extra laps around the track if he gave in. The scent of barbecue and cheesy macaroni reached him and he gave up. 
“Extra laps it is.”

He thought to himself with a smirk.
The scent got stronger and Leon noticed someone approaching him. He looked up at Maybelle as she sat down.

 

12 hours ago, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

“Hope you don’t mind, sunshine.” She gestured to the cafeteria, which was somewhat stuffed for the lunch hour. “Not many places left to sit, and a lady’s got to eat sometime.”


“Ah, not at all.”

He managed to say and smiled in return before distinctly turning his attention back to his plate. He found it difficult to focus on the book with the older women sitting nearby.

 

12 hours ago, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

“If you don’t mind me asking, why’d you 'dodge' being given a mentor?” There was only simple curiosity in her tone.


Ah, there it was. That’s why she sat next to him. He wanted to snipe back but between her tone and kindly manner earlier, any venom dried up as soon as he opened his mouth.

He looked at her for a moment, his shoulders tensed and mouth still open, then closed it. Looking back at his food he nudge it with his fork thinking. It wasn’t like he was gonna see her after this probably. He finally sighed and the tension left his shoulders.

”Authority figures and I don’t usually get along and mentors are just another one of them.”

He admitted, pushing his food around.

”They try to tell me how to act, and I tend to get a bit… snippy.”

He scooped up some mashed potatoes and took a bite before continuing.

”Its a long story I’m sure you don’t want to hear.”

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Queenie

 

“Hmm. ” Maybelle chewed thoughtfully “I get it. Nobody wants to be bossed around in their own kitchen. But I think you're making an unfair generalization.” She swallowed; smiling in sheer joy, for she was not immune to her own cooking’s effects. “Dang, I’m good. What was I saying?” She took another forkful, chewed thoughtfully some more, and swallowed. “Oh, right. My mentors have been a mix. Sure, some were bossy. My profession is full of tyrannical overlords. But some were just friends who knew more than me.” She took another forkful out of her bowl, but did not put it in her mouth. “There was the one…” Her face glowed and she smiled at the memory before shaking it off. There were people she should call later. Mental note. “I’m not asking you to give the program a chance, mind. You got the right to choose whether you do or not with no input from a stranger like me. Just…heavens, how do I put it?” She took the opportunity to eat the forkful hovering in front of her mouth. “I know. Remember that adults are people just like you and your friends. We come in all flavors and varieties.” She flashed a smile, because food pun=yay.

 

“Anyway,” Maybelle said, taking another forkful, “whether I’m interested in your long story or not is doesn’t matter. If you’re willing to tell it, I’m willing to listen to it. Seems to me like you need someone to hear it.” She smiled at Leon and followed up with a gentle tease. “Unless, of course, you’ve got someplace else to be?”

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Leon watched Maybelle as she started to speak, eating his own food. When she took a moment to enjoy her own cooking he had to look back at his own food.

It wasn’t right for someone her age to look that cute. God, he was a sucker for a pretty girl. He mentally chided himself as he scooped up another spoonful of mashed potatoes.

 

On 11/4/2021 at 7:43 PM, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

“I know. Remember that adults are people just like you and your friends. We come in all flavors and varieties.” She flashed a smile, because food pun=yay.

 

“Some are plain, some are sweet, some are spicy.”

He chuckled, playing off her pun.

 

On 11/4/2021 at 7:43 PM, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

“Anyway,” Maybelle said, taking another forkful, “whether I’m interested in your long story or not is doesn’t matter. If you’re willing to tell it, I’m willing to listen to it. Seems to me like you need someone to hear it.” She smiled at Leon and followed up with a gentle tease. “Unless, of course, you’ve got someplace else to be?”

 

He stared thoughtful at his plate, using his fork to trace a triangle inside a circle. He sighed and scratched through the design, then set his fork down.

“Honestly, I don’t like talking about it.”

He said as flexed the fingers in his left hand.

“But there isn’t anyone here I feel like I can really open up to. Hell, I still haven’t even told my roommate about…”

He trailed off, falling silent as he made a fist with his left hand and released it. He shook his head and changed the subject.

“I haven’t seen my mom in over 8 years and I never knew my dad. When she realized I was ‘different’ she dumped me in the foster system and ran off.”

He sounded less bitter and more tired when he spoke.

“It took four years of being handed around before I found my new family, my real family. My brother and sister. We ran away together and survived by looking out for each other.”

Even as he continued he couldn’t resist Maybelle’s cooking. He picked up the fork and took another bite.

“I’m afraid I don’t have the best track record with adults. And I tend to prejudge them or lash out.”

He paused to take another bite and gave a small nod.

“But, I guess there have been a few that genuinely were ‘nice’.”

He glanced back at Maybelle and narrowed his eyes in mock  suspicion. 

“Do you have some kinda power to get people talking?”

He glance back down at the plate.

”Is it something in the food?”

Edited by Spacefurry
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Queenie

 

Maybelle smiled again, blushing slightly. It had nothing to do with Leon. She was remembering a particularly “spicy” fellow from culinary school. “And what do you know about spicy? That’s grown up stuff.” She teased gently again, but settled down to listen to his story. And what a story it was, even if he was obviously barely scratching the surface. Maybelle was lucky, she reflected, to grow up in a home with both parents, so filled with love and food. It wasn’t like she didn’t know that, but abstract knowledge was no match for direct experience. She was quietly angry. Seething, really. It wasn’t fair at all. He didn’t need someone to tell him how to live. He wasn’t ready for that. What he needed was someone to support and accept him. And, Claremont, clearly, had not yet provided. If they’d been standing next to each other, she’d have hugged him. Instead, since they were across a table, she took his free hand in hers. “Hey. You know you’re safe now, right?” She was looking directly into Leon’s eyes, leaning over the table a little to do so. “Your burdens are heavy, but you don’t have to carry them alone. There are people who will be or already are more than happy to help. Like your roommate. And me. I promise, it’s not as bad as you think. It never is.”

 

Maybelle let go of Leon’s hand and settled back in her seat. “As for how I’m getting you to talk…” She assumed a perfectly innocent expression. “It’s probably the power of boobs.” Well. They were, uh, a little on the large side, that was true. She laughed merrily at Leon’s reaction. “I’ve looked like this since before you were probably born, sunshine. I think I can tell when a fella’s eyeing me up.” She chuckled a little more. “More seriously, well…like I just said. You needed someone to just listen to you. Everybody needs somebody like that. No shame in it.” She blinked, suddenly startled. She'd had a realization. “You know, we’re having this intense conversation, and I don’t even know your name.”

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14 hours ago, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

Instead, since they were across a table, she took his free hand in hers. “Hey. You know you’re safe now, right?” She was looking directly into Leon’s eyes, leaning over the table a little to do so.

 

Leon wanted to rebuke her spicy comment but was caught by Maybelle’s blue eyes when he looked up at her touch. Her kind tone had him nodding as she spoke. He didn’t want to admit that maybe he was just closing himself off. He had been so busy building barriers since he arrived to protect himself from the wrong people, he never thought about how to let the right ones in if he found them.

As she her hand rested on his free left hand it felt normal enough. But after speaking and letting it go, she may have noticed that it didn’t radiate any natural warmth. It wasn’t cold. It was just room temperature.

 

14 hours ago, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

Maybelle let go of Leon’s hand and settled back in her seat. “As for how I’m getting you to talk…” She assumed a perfectly innocent expression. “It’s probably the power of boobs.” Well. They were, uh, a little on the large side, that was true. She laughed merrily at Leon’s reaction. “I’ve looked like this since before you were probably born, sunshine. I think I can tell when a fella’s eyeing me up.”

 

Leon’s eyes widened as his cheek flushed, just a little. He quick looked away trying to hide his embarrassment, while muttering a quick, but obviously sincere apology as he ran a hand through his hair.

“I, ah… I’m sorry. I, I shouldn’t do that.”

 

14 hours ago, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

She blinked, suddenly startled. She'd had a realization. “You know, we’re having this intense conversation, and I don’t even know your name.”

 

He looked back at her again a little sheepish.

“Wow, I’ve just been rude in every way this whole time, haven’t I.”

Drawing himself up he held out his right hand, grinning as he gave his best British spy accent.

“Moore, Leon Moore.”

If she noticed, his right hand felt normal and warm to touch with body heat.

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Queenie

 

Maybelle absolutely noticed the difference between Leon’s two hands as she shook his right. One was obviously a prosthetic. She didn’t even consider asking. It would be very, very rude. She exaggerated her Southern accent to match his mock British, smiling all the while. “McQueen. Maybelle McQueen. A pleasure, sah. And don’ you fret about bein’ rude to little ol’ me.” She leaned in conspiratorially. “I know boys are gonna be boys.” She leaned back and laughed, dropping the act. “I’m sorry, I can’t do that anymore.” She sobered, if only a little. “I do mean not to worry about it. I don’t like being objectified, but I know that you’re a teenage boy with all those hormones howling in your blood. And my bedroom mirror keeps telling me I’m still good lookin’ every mornin’.” Double and she knew very well what being a sucker for a good looking face was about. Even if her good looking faces came with rock hard muscles and the ol’ box and tackle between the legs.

 

…she probably needed to get laid. Dang it. Anyway. Just try not to make a habit out of it. I may not mind too much, but other ladies might.”

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Leon laughed at Maybelle's exaggerated accent. He nodded thankfully at her forgiveness at his youthful transgressions, but still gave her a solemn smirk and shook his head.

"I should do better. You're really pretty, but I should be better than that."

He said with firm seriousness. After a moment he cracked a smile and added.

"Besides, Elizabe-, my sister would have my head if she thought I was objectifying anyone. There's a reason she's in charge of our little family. She's smart, strong, and doesn't put up with bullies."
Leon sounded almost wistful, but quickly covered it up by leaning back and giving Maybelle a silly grin.

"You said they call you Queenie. Well, they call me The Paper... okay, well really they just call me Paper. Wanna see why?"

His silly grin turn mischievous as he produced a few sheets of paper from behind his back.

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Queenie

 

Maybelle smiled once more. “Sister, huh? I have one of those, too. Her name’s Rose.” Yet another person she did not call nearly enough. “I think she’s got…three kids, now?” Really needed to call her. Did she even have the same number? Oh, dear. And, of course, the reminder that she wasn’t even married, let alone had kids. Nice. That’s why she didn’t call more often. Maybelle was a guileless woman, so her emotions showed on her face as Leon was still talking. Discomfort, spiced with guilt. Ah, family. At the mention of using powers, she looked hesitant. “Is that safe to do in here?” She glanced around the cafeteria. It still had plenty of people in it. “Even if it isn’t destructive, don’t you have a secret identity? I don’t, not really, but most heroes are sensitive about theirs.”

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Maybe it was how obvious the woman’s emotions played across her features, or maybe it really was the cooking. Either way, Leon found himself chuckling lightly.

”Ya, they harp me about the whole secret identity thing, but I forget sometimes. And I can be flashy sometimes.”

He admitted with a grin.

”But, I’m pretty good at being subtle when I need to be. Like you and your ‘magic’ fork there.”

Leon said waving the paper at the fork Maybelle had produced. A with a grin he crumbled the paper into a small ball. He set it in the table between them and cupped his hands over it. He glanced around and a moment later he revealed it, the crumble ball now uncurling smoothly into a small, slender origami eastern dragon. It’s tail lashed as its head seemed to look up at Maybelle. As someone passed by the paper dragon stilled, and he gave another grin. She could tell he liked showing off.

“What’s your favorite flower?”

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Queenie

 

Maybelle blinked in surprise and momentary confusion. “Magic fork?” Yes, love. The one in your hand. She glanced at it. “Oh. Right.” If it was not obvious by this point, she didn’t always realize when she was using the Ring. She’d had it for so long now, and using it was easy as breathing. She…did not have a favorite flower. She should have a favorite flower. She did not have a favorite flower. No one had brought her flowers in…longer than she liked to think about. Her life was actually kind of lonely, when you thought about it. She had a restaurant to run, employees she was friendly with, and even allies in outer space in the Praetorians. But friends? Significant others? Nope. Her cheerful mood at last drooped. Well, at little. She was living the life she intended, but that didn’t mean it was fun to be reminded of the things she was missing by doing so. “Can you do dogwood, or yellow jessamine? I…don’t have a favorite flower.” She was, however, a Carolina girl at heart. North? South? Who cared? Not her. (This was a lie. South Carolina all day, baby.)

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Leon watched Maybelle with a quirked smile as she seemed to think about his question. It was easy to read her, she'd be an easy mark... you know, if he still did things like that. As he watched something in her expression changed, touched with a hint melancholy if he had to put a name to it. The corners of his smile fell a little as he thought he may have touched on a sensitive subject without meaning to.

 

On 11/28/2021 at 12:03 AM, EternalPhoenix said:

Queenie

 

“Can you do dogwood, or yellow jessamine? I…don’t have a favorite flower.”

 

She didn't say anything bout it as when she answered him so he didn't either. beaming a smile again he answered honestly.

"Afraid I'm not familiar with, jessamine was it? But I know dogwoods, seen them around the park a lot when I use to go there. I think I remember what they look like."

He rubbed his hands together, glanced around conspiratorially and grinned. holding his hands out to either side of the paper dragon it slowly began to curl out on itself, melding fuildly and flowing as it twisted and branched out. Roots spread from the base as the branches split into smaller ones with tiny buds visible on them. Finally the twisting growth stopped and the small paper tree stood unmoving. Leon glanced up at Maybelle and gave her a mischievous grin, raising his hand to snap his finger. With the snap the tiny buds began to bloom like a wave across it's branches.

 

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