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EternalPhoenix

Southern Hospitality 2: Freedom City Sirens

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The Southern Queen was located near 76th & Wading, technically in the North End of Downtown Freedom. However, it was just as close to Parkside and Lantern Hill. Meaning even people from the West End or Midtown came in sometimes. That said, the regulars were people who all worked or studied at FCU mixed with the odd person who actually lived in the North End. The people who ate there more than once swore by it. The Queen didn’t have any particular style, which worked both for and against it. In fact, the menu itself said right at the top that it was just a list of suggestions, and that the Head Chef would produce virtually any dish on request, provided the Queen (or the customer) had the ingredients on hand. That said, the menu itself was full of generic fare. The kind of thing you could find in almost any home kitchen in America. There wasn’t a drop of fussiness or fancification about it, though some of the combinations were interesting. Which, again, ran entirely contrary to certain food critics’ delicate sensibilities.

 

It was Sunday brunch, meaning Maybelle Mc Queen (Head Chef and the superhero Queenie), was busy as a bee. The place had been packed full to bursting last week, but now? It was a nice day, and they technically had the permits and a little space out front, so a few extra tables and chairs had been placed outside the front door to alleviate the problem. Lo and behold, it worked. There was a free table outside, and a pair inside. Maybelle had been just running around the kitchen all morning. If anyone had looked closely enough, they’d have seen her feet weren’t even on the floor half the time or more and she was moving a little too fast to be on her feet. But…everyone was either too busy or preoccupied, and the Head Chef’s ability to fly when unremarked upon. Then, suddenly, everyone currently seated had their food in front of their faces. Maybelle more or less collapsed into a chair at the free table outside and heaved a sigh. Break time, hooray. Well, sort of.

 

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"--till can't believe you guys haven't been here yet," Eileen was in the middle of saying as she descended from the bus as it let them off onto 76th.  "I mean, yeah, the bus ride is a little long, what with going around the airport and all, but The Southern Queen is infamous!"  One of the first things to break through mental giddiness about the 'super school' part of attending Claremont Academy was the fact that she'd been in Freedom City, and that meant a chance to sample Queenie's cooking.  There was a whole Tumblr devoted to the dishes that came out of the famed restaurant, and any number of Instagram pics and tweets were tagged with #SouthernQueen.

Eileen continued to chatter excitedly, more than making up for Vicki's enforced quiet, as they walked up Wading to where The Southern Queen was located.  Her mouth was watering in anticipation already, and even up the street she could see the places pretty much seemed to be hopping.  Hopefully they'd be able to get a seat without waiting for too long, because she was--

Her steps slowed as she took in the inhabitants of the tables set up outside.

"Wait," she interrupted herself.  "Is that...Ms. McQueen?" she asked breathily, grabbing at Vicki's sleeve and glancing wide-eyed at Casey.  The master chef herself?

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It had been a good trip out, and the promise of food at the end made it even a better proposition Vicki thought as her stomach rumbled ominously.  Eileen had suggested they take a trip out to visit the Southern Queen, a noted if sometimes snubbed restarant in the North End.  As she was still trying to find out about Freedom City, Vicki had been excited to get out.  That it was time spent with her friends Eileen and Casey made it even better.  Eileen had gone on about the varrious social media outlets for a good chunk of the ride over.  Which, in Vicki's mind, had only enhanced her desire to actually eat.  Some of the pictures and reviews looked amazing and if it was anything like what people said, it sounded like heaven.

While she had been mostly quiet on the trip over, she had communicated a little here and there.  Especially on the bus, where the close quarters made it easier to communicate with her companions, just as it was now that Eileen had excitedly grabbed her shoulder.

<"I don't know... although it does look like the person that was on the cover of the Freedom Food magazine.  Do you want to go say hi?">

She adjusted the sleeve on the cover to her white and floral print dress as Eileen in her excitement had shifted it nearly off one shoulder.  As she did, she looked over at the woman who looked rather exhausted and taking a break.

<"She does look kind of tired...">

Looking over to Casey, she tried to see if she wanted to meet the chef as well.  Vicki didn't want to intrude, although meeting a famous chef did seem pretty cool.  Maybe she'd sign a menu?

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Casey loved to eat; she'd always enjoyed it, but since her transformation, her heightened metabolism meant she never had to feel guilty about it anymore. Well, except the part where she had to consume more food than the average human, but she hoped to balance that out through her contributions to the world - fingers crossed! So she was happy to spend Sunday afternoon with her friends at what promised to be a very tasty brunch. It was finally starting to get a little warmer in Freedom (not that Casey minded the cold herself), so she felt comfortable busting out some strappy sandals, khaki shorts and a sleeveless cotton blouse in pale blue; her well-toned physique drew several appreciative glances, which she did her best to ignore. As always, her hemp fiber shoulder was over one shoulder, holding her everyday essentials as well as her 'working clothes'.

 

As Eileen eagerly pointed at the exhausted-looking chef, the athletic blonde frowned slightly as she adjusted her glasses. "I don't know, maybe? She kind of looks like she needs coffee and a cigarette; maybe if we just quickly say hi...?"

Edited by Heritage

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Maybelle had put her feet up on the table while the girls were approaching and as they got close enough, she spoke to them. “I have ears, girls. Street’s not that busy.” The words held no venom. In fact, there was nothing but warmth in her voice. That said…honestly? She’d only actually caught Casey’s part of the conversation anyway, but that was enough. “I’m not half as tired as I look. Sunday brunch is a killer, that’s true, but it’s nothing new. Sometimes you just need a quick break to recharge outside of the crazy zone.” She was sporting her usual fashions. Sky blue short sleeve button down. Cream button down vest over top of that. Faded blue jeans. Positively ancient white sneakers. And of course, her chef’s hat. She looooooved her chef’s hat. As evidenced by its brand new appearance, despite being a few years old now. “If you came for chow, there’s a couple of tables left inside. Unless you want this one, I guess.” She did, in fact, look a bit tired. However, as she spoke the weariness vanished from her face. It was as if she thrived on the promise and act of feeding people. “If you’ll give me a minute, I can grab Martha and get you some menus.”

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Linking arms with the other two girls, which would let her communicate with either of them when needed... and hopefully not look too abnormal in the process, they made their way over to the chef.  She gave a bit of a smile at the ears comment as it wasn't going to matter much with her, unless she was going to break into a whistling contest.  Looking between her companions, that was not as unlikely as it seemed.  

She mentally flashed a message to both Eileen and Casey, <"well... there's your answer!  I don't know about either of you, but I am ready to eat, and if the food is anywhere near as good as it smells, I'm going to have to apply for a credit extension.">

Making their way over to the chef Vicki waited for either of her companions to speak, content to listen and smile for the time being.

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Eileen was in full agreement with Vicki -- the scents wafting out of the open door to the restaurant were both intriguing and heavenly.

"Oh please, Ms. McQueen, don't get up on our account," she told the famed chef, the words tumbling out of her mouth in her haste to avoid disturbing the woman in her moment of rest.  She herself was dressed comfortably -- and sensibly when going to eat eat eat -- in black leggings and a light tunic top with criss-crossing black banding, brown boots and a light sweater.

Leggings were very forgiving of eating too much.

"We'll be happy to take a table inside, don't feel you have to rush," she hastened to continue.  "Ms. McQueen...I'm a student at Claremont Academy, and I'd just like to say...you're an inspiration," she told the older woman with great sincerity.  "You can balance all the demands of what you can do and still manage to do what you love?"  Her smile was broad and enthused.

"You make me want to strive for nothing less for myself," she added simply.

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Ms. McQueen? What? Maybelle did not know how to react. She hadn’t spent much time on the internet post –ring. The explosions of Twitter, Tumblr, and new social media had left her in the dust. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the time, though that could be argued. A more than full time job and superheroing didn’t leave a lot of time for leisure pursuits, after all. Still, she knew she had a following on the Web. It was just…she lacked the inclination. Her life was food and rescues, not Facebook and Reddit. If she spent time establishing  and maintaining a social media presence, it would take time from things she actually wanted to do. This, of course, made her a bit of an oddity in her age group, but post-ring Maybelle wasn’t all that interested in making friends, anyway.

 

So, when one of the girls turned out to be an adoring fan and even saw her as a role model…well…it threw her completely off stride. After all, being a role model had never been a goal of hers. Yet apparently she was one to this girl. When did that happen? When did teenagers stop liking the food and start liking me? I’m a chef, not a doctor or an actress. “Well, sunshine, it’s good to have inspirations. Y’all go on in.” She pointed inside, to a physical fit black woman in a waitress’s uniform. “Martha can get you seated.” Anyone with eyes could see Maybelle was flustered and not entirely aware she’d partially repeated herself.

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Eileen was fairly vibrating with excitement as she smiled, nodded, and took her leave, her eyes wide as they darted glances at the other girls.

"Ohmigod, did you see that?" she demanded in a barely-contained voice, her eyes sparkling.  "She was so nice, in spite of how busy it is."  It was a fairly safe bet that Eileen was a little enthused with the encounter.  While some might be thrilled by the thought of meeting up with some of the heavy hitters of the heroing world, she was keen on the one who provided the tasty eats.

Still on point, she almost dragged the others inside to where the waitress was waitressing.

"Martha?" she asked in confirmation.  "Ms. McQueen told us that you could find us a seat?" she asked hopefully, her voice rising questioningly at the end.

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Casey didn't freak out easily, being a fairly even tempered sort, but Eileen's extreme foodie fangirling was slightly off-putting; maybe part of it was that she'd never taken food too seriously herself, growing up in the house of a strictly 'meat and potatoes' man. Not knowing what to say, she merely managed to smile politely and say, "Everything smells really good" before her classmate practically yanked her off the street and into the restaurant proper.

"Uh, yeah, she seemed...nice." Once inside, the scents became much stronger, and Casey heard her stomach audibly growl. "Okay, yes, it does smell fantastic in here." She smiled and nodded at Martha, her hand slightly clutching her tummy. "Hi! Well, we did come to eat!"

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