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October 18, 2015
Summerhill Street Farmer's Market

Only a two block stroll from the Espadas School, every Sunday farmers from the area surrounding the city along with more local bakers, brewers and others set up stalls to sells their wares along either side of the winding path that could somewhat generously be characterized as a park. The fountain in the center of the market hadn't had working water in years but the trees provided pleasant shade and the benches were kept in good condition. The main draw was in-season produce but there were homemade jams and preserves for sale alongside fresh breads, beeswax candles next to knitwear in time for the cooling weather. The bustling path was full of West Enders looking for bargains and loud with the sounds of haggling.

"I want to grab some apples, corn and sweet potatoes for sure," Erik was explaining as he led the way, having finally relented to the season and put on a light sweater under his wool-lined jacket. With a pair of reusable shopping bags stuffed unceremoniously stuff into his jacket's pockets he was already craning his neck to see what was on sale. "Other than that, what were you thinking?" After another playful conversation about whether or not Talya could actually manage an uneventful grocery shopping trip he'd agreed to let her take the lead in gathering what they needed for dinner that evening. It had quickly become clear from the way he animatedly talked up the market that he was taking this as an opportunity to show the blonde Englishwoman around the neighbourhood where he'd been born and raised as much as anything else.

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Talya, too, had dressed for the weather. Her particular brand of immortality didn't come with any natural immunity to winter chill - more was the pity. In a tailored black wool jacket fastened tightly against the chill and heeled boots, she didn't look out of place among the eclectic West End crowd, if perhaps on the more well off spectrum. It was hard to say if it was what her natural style was - if Talya still had a natural style - or if she'd just adjusted her dress to fit in with the same aplomb she used to stand out in public appearances. With her hands tucked in her pockets and her shoulder brushing companionably against Erik's, her response was prompt, "Butter. Something from a real farm. American butter is strange and unnatural. Milk, perhaps. Eggs. It makes all the difference in baked goods." 

She paused at the table with knit wear with apparent interest that seemed more than passingly polite. Reaching out, she ran her fingertips over the yarn and then turned her head to the side to take in Erik's native pride. Talya grinned at him, "Closes down over the full winter, I imagine? Snow makes it a bit tougher a go for these sorts of things."

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"Probably only a few weeks left, yeah," Erik confirmed, looking over Talya's shoulder to make note of what she'd been looking at on the table of scarves and mitts. Christmas wasn't that far away, after all, and an Espadas took any gift-giving holiday pretty seriously. "They do an indoor thing closer to mi mama's place, in a community center, but that's almost all crafts and there's more overhead so not as many places bother and it's not half as good." He stepped in a little closer just behind her to make way for a passing mother pushing a stroller and looked over her head and down the pathway to see if he could make out any likely places to pick up the additional items on the shopping list. "What's wrong with our butter? It's butter."

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Talya leaned her shoulder back against his chest as he stepped in, lifting the yarn slightly in her hands before she set it back down. She'd been looking at the skeins of hand dyed yarn rather than any finished products. She turned her head slightly, a smile curving her lips, "Oddly enough, it has too little fat. American butter is made more quickly and there's less fat in it. It's easier to make pastries if the butter doesn't fight you the whole way. I've learned to make do, living here, as they do eye you oddly when you try and sneak dairy products in your carry on." She grinned then, turning towards him as she abandoned her pursuits of the yarn booth. Talya had been debating starting in on a baby blanket for Mia - one could never have too many baby blankets, after all - but had yet to settle on a color scheme. Nothing worse than starting a project and then deciding that you hated it halfway through.

"I always prefer an outdoor market, myself. Inside that many people can feel far more stifling. Somehow the outdoors makes it more festive, less oppressive," Talya commented with a small grin, "I think its the hot cider. Either that or the fact that my escape routes are far easier."

Edited by alderwitch
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"Cider we can do," Erik agreed, looping an arm around Talya's elbow and pulling her down the pathway deeper into the market. They passed a stand with farm fresh eggs which he noted for later but their more immediately destination was a booth flanked by overflowing baskets of apples. Among several other apple-based products they were also selling piping hot cider and Erik promptly procured a pair of steaming styrofoam cups for them. Immediately taking a sip he promptly managed to burn the tip of his tongue lightly, something he tried and failed to hide with a strangled grunt. "Hhnh--! Ah, I'll take your word about the butter, I guess." While he'd managed to demonstrate his cooking skills quite thoroughly in the past weeks he professed a complete ignorance of baking in general, confining his experiments to the stove top while shunning the oven itself.

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Talya grinned at him over the rim of her cup, her blue eyes twinkling. Learning from Erik's mistake, she kept her cup in her hands, curling her fingers around it for warmth as she waited for it to get past the tongue burning stage, "What's that they say - drink in haste, repent at leisure?" Talya teased, misappropriating the quote for her own purposes. Blowing on her drink she waited and then took a cautious sip as she added, slanting him a sideways smile, "But I could offer to kiss it. You know, for medicinal purposes, of course." 

That was as close as Talya got to the typical 'kiss it better' line, her smile flirtatious over the rim of her cup. Still, she left the ball largely in his court. Oh, in their home, Talya was openly affectionate even as she adjusted to the ebb and flow of the household but outside, where there were observers, the ex-spy fell quickly in the habit of letting her new partners set their comfort levels, taking her cues from their interactions. Min was easier, in some ways. Talya had quickly learned that the ancient immortal didn't care to adjust her reactions regardless of observers and had adjusted accordingly. But these were Erik's friends and neighbors, and so she smiled at him over the rim of her cup and flirted. "You can tell me if you agree or not after you test the difference."

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"Oh, is that an old English remedy?" Erik teased, puffing his cheeks out slightly to avoid touching them with his burnt tongue. The comment was glib enough but Talya could tell he was buying himself a moment to think. It wasn't as though he gave a damn what anyone thought of him but how would any gossip they started reflect on Min? On their daughters? It wouldn't be that long before Eden was in school and if that wasn't a scary enough thought already how hard would he be making it for her if people though her father was sleeping around? On the other hand Talya was all too willing to adopt a persona or fade into the background when she thought it would be easier for her lovers and every time it was like a little icy dagger in Erik's chest. How could he act one way in private only to turn around and treat her like a shameful secret in public?

Obviously he couldn't, was the simple answer. It wasn't as though Min cared any more about public opinion than he did - less, if he were being totally honest - and his daughters would grow up knowing that their father did right by the people he loved no matter what, not just when it was most convenient. He could live with that and it wasn't like there weren't excellent fringe benefits, too. Moving Talya's cup out of the way with his free hand he leaned down and caught her mouth in a pleasantly deep kiss.

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"I'm pretty sure it's been around for ages," Talya agreed with a small smile, clearly willing to let him buy time or even disengage. It's true; Talya would use all the skills at her formidable disposal to keep their lives running smoothly and while Erik or Min might have been concerned at the emotional cost, for the thief, it was one of the few things she had to give. Compartmentalizing things into separate containers wasn't just habit - for a long time it had been a matter of survival. Hard was letting the masks fall away in private, in knowing that she was slowly but surely punching holes in the perfect facades of her many personas; holes that could be exploited to hurt those she'd begun to love. Hiding, though, that was easy.

In fact, she was turning to the side to do just that and let the moment fall away as if it had never been when Erik reached out to catch her hand. She smiled at him - not one of the playful, flirtatious smiles that Erik had seen several times both in and out of costume - but one of those small, sweet smiles that had only just started to appear behind closed doors. Her lips were still warm from the cider and her free hand came up to land easily on his chest with a comfortable sort of intimacy. She stayed a little bit closer when she shifted her weight back onto the heels of her boots, her voice a little huskier as she pointed out, the words playful, "We could skip the eggs."

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Looking quite pleased with himself, Erik let a rumble deep in his chest reverberate against Talya's fingers. "What, after you talked up the baking?" he chuckled, the heady rush of relief at having but his indecision behind him evident in his looser posture. They were taking up enough space in the crowded path that he slipped an arm around the blonde's waist and led the way back toward the booth he'd spotted selling eggs on the way over to the cider. Taking another sip of the now cooled drink he gave Talya a sidelong glance and said more quietly, "Sorry it took me a second there. I can be a little thick sometimes. I get better with practice, though, promise."

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With heels on, Talya's hip was just about even with Erik's and she leaned in to the warmth of the arm around her waist. Erik felt more than saw the slight lift of her shoulder in a shrug against him. Her body was warm against his side, relaxed in a way that was natural. The hand against the small of her waist was a better metric than a lie detector, really, as while Talya could look relaxed - the tension of her muscles would betray her mood. Today, though, the curve of her hip was soft under his hand. She turned her head then, offering him an affectionate smile, "I'm fine, Erik. You don't put me in any positions that I don't want to be in."

The slight quirk of her smile said that she knew the other meanings of her words and that it was intentional, although a lighter form of her flirtatious sort of banter that was markedly different than the flirtation-as-threat that she'd honed for war. "I'm fond of you just the way you are. If you weren't ready for things like that, it would be alright. We'd be alright. Even I would be alright." The corner of her mouth kicked up, turning her smile bemused, "Although it is decidedly odd to have people fret over my emotional well being, I have to say."

She shifted then, leaning into the arm around her waist, "I do prefer this, though. I can admit as much."

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"Yeah, well, we're shooting a little higher than 'alright', mi cielo," Erik insisted with a bit of a blustering huff that didn't quite match the gentle way he pulled her a little closer as she leaned into his arm. "It's not just about not putting in positions you don't want, it's about putting you in positions you... do... want. ...that flowed better in my head." The bearded man keeping watch over the fresh egg stand gave him a quizzical look and Erik shot him a glare that suggested he should stick to selling eggs and keep his criticisms to himself. The seller shrugged amicably and deftly loaded a small carton for them before accepting a folded bill in exchange. Pulling one of the cloth bags out of his jacket pocket Erik placed the carton carefully at the bottom, tossing his empty cup into a nearby trash bin. "Anyway. You're allowed to expect better from me. I want you to be able to."

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Talya's smile remained friendly for the vendor although Erik's words drew far more attention from her than whether or not someone was trying to parse their interactions. "Erik," Talya said, his name gentle before she sighed softly. Her hand came up to rest on his back, slipping between his jacket and the light sweater beneath as they turned back into the crowd. Trusting that the ambient noise of a busy market would keep their conversation private, Talya wrestled for a moment silently with her general desire to avoid dropping barriers in public.

"Erik," she repeated, her clipped words quiet and pitched to not travel much beyond the man at her side, "I expect you to do the right thing which is not always going to coincide with my more selfish desires. I could be flip here, and point out that your adherence to a moral code is one of the many things that attracted me in the first place - it's true - but my feelings are significantly less important than the safety of your girls - or the security of your business. You know these people. If those things were at risk, you'd keep this secret and it would be the right call. It's a call I trust you to make."

Looking at Talya's features, without the heavier makeup that she wore when dressed for the Bombshell role, it would be easy to forget that she'd lived through a time where loving certain people meant certain not insignificant danger. Oh, certainly, there was still danger today but the world had at least started to change. Talya, though, she remembered well the threats a simple pair of linked hands could draw. She turned slightly then, a smile curving her lips that broke the briefly somber tone of her voice, "So make no mistake, I expect only the best from you. Do you think I would change a lifetime's worth of habits for just a pair of pretty faces?"

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"Well, come on, be fair. We're really, really pretty," Erik pointed out with a lopsided grin that turned a touch sheepish as he recognized that Talya had ended up going considerably further out of her way to take care of his feelings than the other way around. "But the way you tell it makes it sound like I've got some other good qualities too, sure. Let's see if we can find that butter like you said." With her hand under his jacket Talya could feel him relax slightly and stand a little bit straighter as they headed further into the market. "Oh, and lemme know if you see any flower bulbs for Min. You'd think we'd have run out of room by now but--"

His words were cut off as the sound of police sirens swelled in the distance, starting off faint but unmistakably growing closer. The muscles under Talya's fingers went taut like cords in an instant as Erik's eyes narrowed and tried to peer between stalls to make out what was going on.

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"Many other good qualities. The fact that you can't seem to go an afternoon without sacrificing a shirt is certainly high on my list," Talya murmured in response, not willing to allow a little thing like police sirens to ruin a perfectly good line. Her hand remained against his back, smoothing down over his sweater as she turned to scan the crowd herself. Her head tipped to the side as she rose up on the toes of her boots but well aware she probably wasn't going to get any better vantage point without resorting to antics. "I'd just like to point out before our afternoon devolves into chaos and blood-shed that it is clearly not my fault in the slightest. I have been here the entire time, doing nothing more nefarious than enjoying the cut of that pair of jeans."

The cadence of her banter was relaxed but her accent had already grown more clipped, slipping towards the crisper tones she used behind the mask. Looking mournfully at the last of her cider, Talya dropped it into a trashcan near by. "I imagine its too much to hope that someone has run red light. Towards the trouble then?"

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"Quick detour first, I think," Erik replied, looking about the crowded farmer's market and spotting a utility shed that would provide a convenient bit of cover. "Feeling a little underdressed for chaos and blood-shedding."

They'd only just slipped between two stands and begun heading for the shed when a sinuous, elongated limp stretched over the stands closer to the street like an unusually acrobatic python moments before a mass of grey muscle barreled straight through the wooden structures, sending splinters flying into the screaming crowd. "Out of the way, idiots!" the owner of the former shouted as the rest of her amorphous body followed her arm, resolving into the green-clad, red haired thief known as Grab. Her partner and fellow member of Larceny Inc, the bald and tattooed Smash simply roared inarticulately as he hurled people and objects alike to either side of his path.

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Talya's nimble fingers had already begun to unfasten her heavy jacket as they turned in between the booths. She tilted her head towards the commotion and panic only to see one rubbery green arm shoot past. Disdain flickered across her elegant features, "Oh. These amateurs." The words could easily have been flippant but the genuine distaste made it clear the word was more stinging than any salty insult could have been. It wasn't about the amount they'd stolen, but the collateral damage in its wake. Her blue eyes narrowed on the people getting tossed aside like so much driftwood. Someone was going to get seriously hurt if they weren't already and that was so very not okay with the blond ex-thief. Shedding her overcoat with a shake of her shoulders and tossing it hopefully towards someplace it would end up with minimal dust and debris - hope sprang eternal - Talya said, her voice dry as she asked, "So, the plan is that you wrestle them both into submission and I watch and look suitably impressed? At what point do I swoon?"

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Erik's coat ended up near Talya's, a little more carefully placed so that it covered the fabric bags carrying the eggs they'd already bought. "Hold on, why do you get to monopolize the swooning opportunities? Why are you automatically the swooner and I have to be the swoonee?" His jeans joined the pile of clothes to reveal his tights but he'd worn them more for the insulation than anything else and the only other pieces of his costume handy were his wig and bandanna mask, pulled from the inner pocket of his wool-lined coat and quickly donned. With the only other immediate option being entering the fray in the shirt Erik Espadas had just been seen wearing he shrugged and added the top to the growing pile, going bare chested. Glancing down at himself he made a soft sound of realization. "Oh, right. That's why."

Grinning shamelessly he used the sprinkler system control box attached to the shed as a stepping stone to leap onto the roof. The locked metal box shuddered slightly as he passed, the electrical components inside sparking and heating the trapped air before a jolt of electricity sprung from the dented steel to the swashbuckler's waiting hand, coalescing into a scintillating rapier of pure energy. His free hand came down on top of a produce stall as he spun himself acrobatically through the air, pushing off so that he landed finally on the ground directly in front of the rampaging criminals. Looking the shirtless Smash up and down idly, Jack of all Blades pursed his lips and tossed his hair. "Well, one of us is going to have to change. Don't worry, we'll hook you up with some prison orange, you can do the matching couples thing."

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"If I ever go into a fight shirtless, you can be the one to swoon at that point," Talya's voice faded as the thief vanished into the crowd, literally as she let the odd chameleon like affect steal over her body to let her vanish as if she'd never been. Moving through the panicked crowd on catlike feet, Talya palmed the twin batons as she ghosted up behind the pair of criminals. Admittedly, she wasn't entirely sure of their capabilities but it seemed like a sound plan to take out the powerhouse. Not the least of which because Talya didn't fancy being tossed through a couple of walls before dinner time. Pausing, her baton against one shoulder as she snuck up behind Smash, she tipped her head to the side to enjoy the showmanship. And, let's be honest, the show. It was almost a pity to help put an end to it. Almost!

Flipping the baton over in her hand, Talya let the handle drop into her palm as she put the full weight of her body behind it. She had surprise, so rather than her lighter flurry, this was more of a baseball swing. As she'd told Raina, it was all in the hips. The baton snapped out, landing with a solid crack right into the back of the powerhouse's knee. Talya's tone was cheerfully condescending, "I know, I know. He's impossibly distracting at the best of times. It's worked on a far higher caliber of criminals than you lot, if it helps."

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"ARGH, what the @#$%?!" Smash cried out in pain as his knee - enhanced durability or not - crumpled under the unexpected blow, dropping him to one side with a sound like a load of bricks falling off of the back of a truck. The sack he was carrying likewise spilled away, several stacks of crisp bills sliding out across the pathway that ran through the market.

Grab looked between her partner and the fallen sack then over to the heroes flanking them, visibly doing the math as to whether or not it was better to try and cut her losses. Deciding that she didn't like her chances of fighting her way out without Smash she whirled on Bombshell, hoping to open up an escape route. "That trick'll only work one, blondie!" she promised, fingers elongating into ropes that sped forward to ensnare the ex-thief. "Show you 'higher caliber'!" Despite her words and her powers she wasn't nearly fast enough to catch Talya, the graceful ease with which the other woman evaded her only frustrating Grab further.

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"Haha, no way, did you actually just rob a bank? Who does that any more?" Jack laughed uproariously as the packs of bills fell out of the sack. "You couldn't take the time to draw dollar signs on the bags, though? If you're going to go classic, at least commit!" He shot Bombshell a broad grin when she looked his way, approving of her devastating sneak attack. He might have even been inspired to do some swooning if the autumn chill on his bare torso hadn't been keeping him at attention.

As Grab turned her attentions to trying to capture Bombshell with her stretching digits the swordsman darted forward and caught the long, twisting fingers with a number of artful parries. With a normal blade and normal hands it would have been rapping her on the knuckles but in this case it was closer to electrocuting an octopus' tentacles. With a high pitched hiss the robber recoiled, resuming almost human proportions as shocks crackled across her ductile form. "Seems like you oughta consider just sitting down and waiting for the cops to make it over her, huh?"

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"No, no. See, that only works if you can actually demonstrate the higher caliber in question as banter. Never set yourself up for failure that way. The proper response should have been 'I don't need to be higher caliber to make you eat those words'. We would also have accepted, 'Do you see what I have to work with here.' with a gesture towards your compatriot," Bombshell made a tsking sound as she danced backwards from the robber. Her batons moved in a flurry of blows that landed without doing any real damage, back into the lighter pattern of feint and weave that was her standard. She returned Jack's grin with a sly sidelong smile of her own.

Talya actually paused, raising one finger as if to demonstrate that the pair should wait before she pressed the black mask into place along her features as she'd had only the catsuit and her boots to make up the bulk of her costume but Bombshell's features were well enough known that the risk of being caught without a mask wasn't as great a concern for her. "Or, you could even have gone with, 'I refuse to bring my a-game when the heroes won't even get dressed for the fight'. See, isn't that snappier? Honestly, isn't there anyone mentoring the criminals these days? What is the world coming to, Jack?"

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Grab's pliable body absorbed the impacts from Bombshell's batons as though she were striking a spring mattress but the Larceny Inc member was occupied enough with the flurry of blows that she didn't have time to attack or escape the confrontation. "Gah, just shut up! What are you even talking about?!" Stretching out of the way of another swing, she circled around the edge of the battle. "Ernie, smash them before the cops catch up!"

"I'm doin' it, LuAnn!" Smash insisted, picking himself up after the blonde's blow to his knee and rounding on Jack of all Blades with a two-handed haymaker. The climsy attack had no chance to actually connecting with the nible swordsman but it did crack the paved pathway where it struck, sending flecked black shards spraying in all directions.

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"Shelly's just saying that it really feels like you two are phoning it in and I'm sorry but I think I have to agree," Jack sighed as he backflipped through the air out of Smash's reach. His boots touched down on the counter of a stand selling little herb plants for home gardens, the owner having already fled, and he kicked off again back toward the grey behemoth. There were still innocent people nearby, those injured by Smash's rampage and those who refused to leave them. Jack knew he had to keep the fight as contained as possible. "There's supposed to be more of you guys, right? You've got a crew? Maybe the others are better at this." His crackling blade whipped forward and lashed across his opponent's chest as he slid underneath the robber and between his legs, popping back up to his feet on the other side.

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"Technically, I was offering a lesson in banter and style," Bombshell agreed as she turned and pivoted with a long-legged dancer's grace. Spinning the baton in her right hand up, she sent another series of raps along Grab's knuckles as the thief's hands reached out once again. This time her blows landed with more force behind them. Still not enough, yet, to slow down the criminal. She shifted, slanting Jack a sidelong smile under her mask, as she ducked under Grab's arm to lead her in the dance the other woman likely wasn't aware was happening. Her batons spun in her hands in deceptively graceful arcs that only hinted at the lethality capable in a pair of hollow core steel kali sticks as she shifted, keeping Grab's attention on dealing with the irritation rather than escape or, worse, random bystanders. Bombshell could do irritating very well when she put her mind to it. "Which really, I ought to charge for. I would but, you know, reformed these days. Can't complain, really. Doing good has its perks." 

Spinning the baton in her palm, she gave an incline of her head to the shirtless Jack of all Blades, who Bombshell had been deftly shifting to mirror so that the two criminals would stay bracketed with less avenues of escape. "Half-naked perks."

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"The perks aren't my fault, it's cold out!" Jack protested as he rolled nimbly out of the way of another one-two combination from Smash that further tore up the pathway but posed little threat of actually connecting with the shirtless hero. His equally undressed opponent roared in frustration, taking another swing through the air that the fencer ducked under with aplomb.

Slithering about the fight like a snake, Grab gritted her teeth in her distorted face. "It's like that with you two? Fine." Flattening her torso out until it resembled a long spool of paper the shapeshifter surged forward with sudden speed and encircled Bombshell several times over, wrapping her tightly in her own stretchy mass. In a moment only Talya's head and shoulders were visible while Grab's upper body loomed over her with fingers elongated into needle points. "Alright, @#$%, give up or your little girlfriend gets it."

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