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Avalon

Opening Night at Le Exotique (IC)

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June 30, 2010

The tables have been set, the band have just finished their warm-up and his chefs are finishing up the dishes.

Kenneth couldn't help but smile as his newest venture, a restaurant/nightspot in the midst of Freedom City, would be opening its doors to the public. Wiping some sweat from his brow, he enters his office and tosses his apron to an empty chair. He changes into something more fitting to the occasion at hand than a food-stained t-shirt and a dirty pair of jeans. He puts on a pair of slacks, a red shirt and a black blazer.

Outside, reporters, valets and more await the opening of the doors and the arrival of the first guests.

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Craig was almost there, and several thoughts were running through his head, as he drove down the street, the main one being Well, this night is almost certainly going to cost me a pretty penny, but I've always wanted to see a restaurant opening. Besides that, I heard the chef/owner, Kenneth Moray, is a miracle worker with food. This is going to be a pretty good night, I'm sure."

When Craig pulled up, he got out and let the valet handle things. "Well, might as well go all the way." Craig then proceeded to wait for the opening of the doors as well.

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Kurt flew through the air at high speed, his cheeks puffed and his hands on his tie. He thought to himself, "I can't be late for the opening! I've been waiting for this for weeks!" He lands a few feet away from the entrance, straightening his tie and spitting out his mouthwash into a garbage pail on the street. He checks himself once more, making sure his suit is straitened out and wrinkle free. He spots one, creates two small iron-shaped objects, presses the wrinkle out, and finally approaches the restaurant.

He walks up to the doors, notices they're still locked, and looks at his cell phone. "Wait... I'm early?!"

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There were different publications scattered in his desk. Daniel had been reading them to get a better understanding of the city and maybe find new clients. He was holding a copy of the Freedom Ledger when he spotted an article about the grand opening of a new restaurant. "Le Exotique." He set the paper aside and picked up another. Another article about "Le Exotique."

"Interesting," he thought. "I might be able to make new contacts here."

"If not, then at least I'd be having some fine cuisine," he mused as he started to get ready.

Daniel stood near the entrance having just arrived wearing his favorite coat and tie. He took a cab while enjoying the sights on his way here.

He was surprised to see reporters among the large group of people waiting to get in. "Looks like this place is going to be packed."

With so many people waiting by the door, he was tempted to teleport inside when the doors open. But, he thought better and decided not to. He prefered to let everyone in and wait before going in.

"Besides, I think it's still fashionable to be late," he smiled.

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The tables have been set, the band have just finished their warm-up and his chefs are finishing up the dishes.

Kenneth briefly remembered what the singer he'd hired told him over the phone as he made his final preparations.

"A restaurant opening? In Freedom City? I don't know. I'm not quite done letting the fall out from the last time I was there blow over. How much? Jesus, okay. That's quite a few zeros for just one lounge performance. Yea, I know I'm worth it. Everyone says that these days. Trust me it's not necessary. You know what? I'll do it for half. Yea, that's right. No, I don't need the money. Just make sure everything's set up when I get there."

Kenneth had been lucky to be able to book the famous Eddie Ozan of Octopus Dropkick to help sell his opening night with a lounge performance. Eddie recognized it as a small attempt at going back to freedom city and not blowing anything up, for once. Eddie needed to prove that he wasn't the awful person everyone thought he was when he last left the place. He needed this night to go well.

Kenneth heard a knock at his office door. When he opened it, he saw Eddie standing before him. "Hope you don't mind. I let myself in. The band seems like it's all warmed up. When does this place open its doors? And do you have a list of songs you want me to sing?" Eddie flashed him a smile. The musical teen look trim in his white collared shirt, and gray blazer on top of dark blue jeans and flat top shoes.

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"Not at all Eddie. I was expecting you anyway. Nice get-up."

Taking one last look at himself in the mirror, Kenneth picks off some imaginary lint from his jacket before turning his attention back to Eddie. "Now let's go over that list of songs in the kitchen. I've got a new recipe and I need someone to taste it."

**********

Outside some of the reporters are getting impatient. One of them was making his thoughts heard.

"How long does he expect us to wait!?! I've been standing here for three hours already. This is not the way to treat either the Press or a customer."

A murmur of agreement seems to spread to almost everyone outside even as they expectantly wait for the doors to open.

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One particularly large man seemed to take up the protest rather well. He stood up on a ledge of a nearby building and called out, "We want food! We want food! Service! Service! Service!" He seemed to be getting the surrounding crowd riled up quite well.

If the doors didn't open soon, Freedom City might have a riot on its hands. Who knew this restaurant would be so popular?

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"I'll have whatever's on tap," Daniel told the bartender.

"Here you go," replied the middle-aged man as he poured Daniel his drink. "Some night, huh?"

"I don't know. It's still pretty early to say," Daniel responded as he looked out the window.

"Shouldn't you be out there?" said the Bartender as he noticed Daniel looking outside. "You look too well-dressed to be in here. Not that I want you to leave, mind you."

"Too many people out there. I'd rather wait in here. And I'd like to get a few drinks in me first," Daniel said slightly lifting his mug.

The pub Daniel was in was just a short distance away from Le Exotique. He had gone here as soon as more and more people filled the street. It was a quaint conrer pub that currently had only a few customers. It was quiet inside. A contrast to the neighboring establishments in the block.

From where Daniel was sitting, he coudn't see the doors to Le Exotique, but could observe the mass of people waiting. He remembered reading about a popular local band playing in the opening. Their fans probably added to the number of waiting guests.

As Daniel looked out he spotted a large man up on a ledge. He couldn't hear what the man was saying, but the crowd seemed to be listening.

Daniel finished drinking his remaining beer, pulled cash out of thin air and left it under the mug.

As he opened the door to the street he heard the commotion coming from the crowd.

"I better go see what's going on."

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Henry couldn't believe his luck as he rode along in the back seat of the Singer's sedan. He looked over at Molly and smiled at her in his quiet way letting her know that he appreciated what her parents were doing. She smiled back at him and squeezed his hand slightly as it lay between them. Henry looked back out the window as Mr. Singer parked the car and remembered the scene that had led to this moment.

"Come on, it'll be fun!"

Henry looked dubiously at Molly as she pleaded with him to go out on a family dinner date. "I don't know, Molly," he said, "this place sounds expensive and your family lives in the same neighborhood as mine."

"And what's that supposed to mean?" Molly asked, a bit outraged.

"It means that I know what it takes to keep someone, especially a family, in a neighborhood like ours."

Molly gave him a look that blatantly asked if he was stupid. "Henry, you know for a fact that my family isn't as bad off as all that. And besides, as awful as it sounds, my great aunt died about a month ago and she left my father a little money in her will. Dad doesn't want her memory to go into paying bills, he wants us to do something nice for us, something that she would have done for us. And going to the opening night of Le Exotique is exactly the kind of thing she would want to take us to do." She put her hands on her hips and Henry knew that the discussion was over. "So are you going to come with my family, or not?"

Henry sighed, "Alright. You win. What do I need to wear?"

As it turned out, a suit and tie was the required dress for an occasion like this and he had been able to accommodate with his "Sunday best," so to speak, a black jacket, slacks, and a blue shirt with a blue and black striped tie. The Singer family, Mr. and Mrs. Singer and Molly, and Henry got out of the car and started to walk the block to the restaurant. As they got closer though they heard a commotion coming from the large group, presumably the guests for the opening, but especially from a big man standing on a ledge.

Henry was concerned about this. It looked way too much like an angry mob in the making for his taste.

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This is getting a little ridiculous... maybe there's a way to calm the crowd down...OH! Perfect!

Kurt walked off a bit to the side, finding a place with some wide open space. Figuring the crowd needed to settle, Sparky sent out a few small sparks from his hands. One hits the ground, making a large platform for a stage. He then sends out a large number more. Each one making floating tubes, and blocks above each of them. They floated there, with four more sparks creating two long sticks with a ball at the ends. He holds two in each hand, between his fingers.

I didn't want to be the center of attention, but no one wants a riot. It's been a while since I've played vibraphone... and I don't even have foot pedals, but this should still work...hopefully

He cleared his throat loudly, trying to get everyone's attention. "Hey! Everyone! Calm down! I'll give you some entertainment."

Sparksmith looks out into the crowd, a bit nervous with the press involved, but he went this far. He couldn't stop now. He takes a deep breath and starts playing. A familiar song begins playing, and, as the song continues, two more sparks appear, striking the keys to play the vocal part.

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"So what do you think?" Eddie asked after taking a sip of the soup. "Should we get this party started?" They had just finished going over the list of songs which included Billy Joel and Dispatch, among others. Eddie was eager to play music, as he always was. "It's time to show off all your hard work!"

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Craig was standing by a wall a bit away from the doors, wearing a black suit and matching dress pants, his hair combed back to look neat, fresh and clean in preparation for the event. He was watching, waiting for the restaurant to open, when he heard some unfamiliar music. Sounded good, but as Craig noted, an odd choice of instrument. He was more focused on the person playing the vibraphone, thinking to himself "So that's Sparksmith, huh? He's pretty lucky, being able be out in the open like that. I think I'll go say hi to him, when he's done, and if he's available."

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"Looks like they've hired an entertainer," Daniel mused as he saw a young man create bluish-green fireworks from his hands. "Not bad. Good idea for crowd control. Reminds me of the street performers back home."

As Daniel watched, the sparks coming from the young man turned into solid objects..almost like glass. Daniel wasn't quite sure how to describe what he saw. Then, the man started to play music. He was amazed.

"Say, who is that kid?", Daniel asked a group of three young girls among the crowd who were watching the performer intently.

"Kid? That 'kid' happens to be Sparksmith!" answered one of the girls, her eyes still on Sparksmith.

"Spark-who?"

The girl raised her voice over the music, "Sparksmith! What-are you from out of town?"

"Actually, I just moved here," Daniel replied.

"Oh," briefly looking at Daniel. "Well he's one of our local heroes-"

"I didn't know he'd be here!" one of the other girls interrupted.

"I didn't know he could play music!" the first girl excitedly replied, obviously smitten.

Was Sparksmith part of the band? Daniel expected the band to be inside the venue, not out. If that were so, the owner of Le Exotique must have plenty resources for being able to hire a local hero.

"If he is willing to hire people with special talents, maybe the owner would like to avail of my services," Daniel thought to himself. "I should give him my card."

Daniel continued watching Sparksmith. There was something oddly familiar about him. Daniel couldn't quite put his finger on it. Regardless...hired or not, he's doing a pretty good job settling the crowd down.

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Checking his watch, Kenneth gives a shrug. "I guess I've kept them waiting for long enough. Eddie, could you start the band playing?"

While Eddie goes upstairs to start playing some music, Kenneth strides out to the front doors to welcome in the people waiting outside. He pauses for a moment to gather his nerves and then swings open the doors. "Ladies and Gentlemen! Sorry for the long wait but welcome to Le Exotique! As some of you may know, I'm Kenneth Oliver Moray. Owner and Head Chef of the building in front of you as well as a few others across the country. Thank you all for waiting. I assure you that what you will be eating in the next couple of hours will be worth the wait."

Moving to one side to let the people though, Kenneth gestures to them to come inside.

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Henry watched the scene, wondering what in the world was happening as he and the Singer's approached the restaurant. There had been a large man who had almost incited a riot but then, a man conjured some kind of glowing blueish instrument, 'It looks like a pimped out xylophone,' and began to play Coldplay's "Clocks."

The crowds attention was immediately grabbed and they seemed to all be saying the same words, "Ooo, it's Sparksmith!" Henry had never seen Sparksmith in person, but living in Freedom it was hard to not know the names of the heroes around town. ’… Well… the ones that made themselves public that was. There are always the ones that slip under the radar.’ Blitz’s thoughts slipped to the time when he had met Kid Cthulhu and later Grimalkin. Blitz shook his head slightly at the thought and brought himself back to Henry.

It was just then that a man appeared in the doorway.

"Ladies and Gentlemen! Sorry for the long wait but welcome to Le Exotique! As some of you may know, I'm Kenneth Oliver Moray. Owner and Head Chef of the building in front of you as well as a few others across the country. Thank you all for waiting. I assure you that what you will be eating in the next couple of hours will be worth the wait."

And with that people began working their way into the restaurant. Henry looked over to Molly and offered his arm to her, â€Shall we?â€

Looping her arm through his and smiling at him, she said, “Let’s.â€

Henry then gestured with his free arm and said, â€After you Mr. and Mrs. Singer.†They smiled at each other and walked ahead of the two teens. Mr. Singer gave Henry a conspiratory wink as he walked by and the kid smiled after the man.

He then proceeded to walk into the restaurant.

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The song had ended just before Kenneth came out. All at once, the blue-green energy dissipates and swirls back into Kurt, with him falling on the floor, exhausted. He was completely caught off guard by the horde of girls running up to him. he pushed his way through with some difficulty, brushed off his suit and walked into the restaurant. He walked up to the host's pedestal slowly, "Good evening, sir... table for one, please. Somewhere near the band if at all possible. He walked behind the man to his table and sort-of plopped down into his seat. As he waited for the server to come and ask for his order, he took out a small notepad and pen. He began writing some things down about his little vibraphone performance and drawing some doodles.

He thought to himself, Oh man... I can't believe I did that... in front of the press, too. Mom and Dad are gonna be soooo pissed... but I can't worry about that now. It's time to have a nice dinner... a REALLY nice dinner.

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Craig was still standing by the wall when Kenneth opened the doors and gave a small speech. "Hmm. So that's our gracious host. Not exactly what I was expecting, but appearances can be deceiving." Not wishing to look pompous, Craig waited a bit longer, while some other people went in. Of special note was Kurtis Smith. Craig started to move forward to talk to him, but thought better of it. "Man, he looks pooped. I'll see if I can get him later, once he's had something to eat."

Craig waited a couple more minutes, and then went up to the entrance himself. A couple more minutes of waiting for the host to come back, and then he mentioned "Anywhere is fine, for me." He then followed the host to his seat, about medium distance from the band. He gently sat down, then started examining the menu.

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Checking his watch, Kenneth gives a shrug. "I guess I've kept them waiting for long enough. Eddie, could you start the band playing?"

"Sure thing!" Eddie retreated to the stage, and lifted a guitar over his shoulder. He'd only be playing rhythm tonight, as he was backing up the performance of the main guitarist that had bee hired, and was singing as well.

As the crowed entered the building, Eddie began singing. [floatr][groove]21887012[/groove][/floatr] As soon as the soothing opening song was over, he moved on to a more classic version, this time utilizing the Piano.

[floatr][groove]21887024[/groove][/floatr] Both performances were nothing less than spectacular.

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"Hey, are you with anyone? Why don't you sit with us, mister?"

"It's Daniel and sure, I'd love to sit with you. But don't you want to wait until there are less people trying to get in?"

"We could, but-"

"I hear music playing inside!"

"Oh no! Is Eddie already performing!?"

"We have to be inside. Now!"

Daniel watched as the young girl he was talking to vanished into the stampede of people trying to get inside Le Exotique.

The door had just been opened moments ago and the crowd, including The Sparksmith, poured in. Daniel chose to wait until it was easier to get inside. Yes, he could easily teleport inside, but he didn't want to startle anyone.

He walked toward the side of the road to give other people space. Then he winced, "Darn! I didn't even get their names!"

Daniel was about to feel sorry for himself when he heard the music coming from the inside.

"Hey, the band IS good!"

With that, he began walking towards the entrance.

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Henry and the Singer family made it into the restaurant without much trouble. They were seated by the Host at a table that was definitely not "the best in the house" but would still do for the small party of South-Siders. Henry could barely control how he stared openly at everything in the restaurant. From the huge spread of knives, forks, and spoons in front of him, to the waiters all dressed exactly the same (right down to their hairdo), to the elegant furniture and art being used to decorate the place. It was all fantastically... decadent.

The band was excellent as well. Starting out with a heavily guitar tune that Henry didn't remember hearing before that night, but was still a very good tune none-the-less. Henry found himself swaying slightly and bobbing his head just a bit as song progressed and he did that small-talk thing with the Elder Singers and Molly. They mostly talked about how nice the restaurant was, how "fancy" it seemed, how "expensive" it looked.

Then the band started up with The Piano Man and Henry looked up at the band playing. He nodded along again. He was glad that the band was good. He was afraid that it was going to be a band playing nothing but classical music, like a strings ensemble or something similar, but these guys were really good!

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As Eddie and the band started to play, Kenneth couldn't help but feel a bit of smug satisfaction in another restaurant opening well done. Eddie is really good at this. I should keep him in contact in case I need him for some other events. I'll make a note to ask him about it later.

As the band started playing Piano Man by Billy Joel, he started to move from table to table and greeting any guest who comes his way. Soon enough he arrives at Sparksmith's table.

"Excellent job outside in pacifying the crowds. Though nobody would have seriously gotten hurt in one of my openings. Some minor bruises and scrapes are to be expected and the pay-off for the wait is well worth it. Don't you agree?"

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"Well, I'll give you an answer to that as soon as I try my meal." He snickered a bit at the joke, trying to lighten the mood as he got his second wind.

But seriously, you never know. There was a big guy out there who could have gotten someone seriously hurt. Besides, there's no reason for a riot to break out over a restaurant, no matter how good the food is. Thank you for the compliment, though. I'm sure the food is going to be delicious. I've heard great things about you and your cooking. I'm Kurt, by the way-- The Sparksmith."

He extends a friendly hand to shake. "It's a pleasure to meet you!"

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After a few minutes a waiter approaches those who haven't ordered anything yet and hands them menus.

"Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Sorry for the wait. The specialties of the house are Swordfish a la Siciliana, Panchetta Okonomiyaki in Bearnaise sauce, Coq Au Vin, Pork Marsala, and our chef's take on the classic Beef Boourguignon."

"Of course, we will be happy to accept any specific requests for dishes not in the menu. As long as we have the ingredients to make it, you can have anything that you want."

"We also have an extensive wine list as well as a cocktail bar in the basement if you want anything to drink to accompany your meal. So, what will you be having this evening?"

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Craig finished reading the menu, and set it down on the table. He wasn't quite sure what some of the stuff on the menu actually was, but upon hearing that the kitchen took requests, Craig got a waiter. "Excuse me, I know this is going to sound silly, but would you be able to make me a sirloin or prime rib burger, with a Caesar salad, and some fries topped with whatever flavorful salt you might have on hand in the kitchen? Oh, and some root beer, to drink, please."

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Sparksmith, instead of taking a menu, held up his hand and smiled. "No thank you, I won't need one. I'll take the Chef's Special Beef Boourguignon, and for a drink, I'd like a tall glass of sparkling cider. He smiled, realizing the drink was a bit childish.

"Oh, and if at all possible, could I get a side of mashed potatoes along with the beef? Possibly au gratin? Thank you!"

Kurt looked around the restaurant and leaned back smiling. It's nice to live the good life once in a while.

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