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EternalPhoenix

Southern Hospitality 3: A Billionaire Yankee In Chef McQueen’s Court

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Freedom City. North End. The Southern Queen. 1 PM.

 

Maybelle McQueen was having a lovely day. It was the lunch rush. Dishes had to be cooked fast, served fast, and cleared fast. Her waitstaff was up to the task today. Her kitchen staff was on fire. Man, she’s really picked some good supporting staff. David, Matt, and Peter followed her orders precisely, and were more than competent. At times, even their creativity met her standards. Rose, Martha, Amy, and Clara kept the dining area both in order and moving. Everything was going just fine today. Maybelle grinning and slid the dish she was cooking onto a waiting plate. “Order up! Vegetarian stir fry with tofu balls!”

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One would expect that perhaps hero-billionaire-philanthropist-celebrity Amir al-Misri, also know as Asad, might show up at a place backwards in a stream of smoking tires from a Swedish supercar that went entirely too fast, and had a supermodel one each arm.

 

Today that was not the case.  Given he'd spend the better part of an hour slugging it out with some low tier black mask Steel something or other, that he was already forgetting information about, and he was hungry, really, really hungry.  So a quick check on the little assistant program on his phone, and he was landing in front of the Southern Queen.  Still in the attire f or thrilling heroics, the two toned white and maroon t-shirt with the stylized lion's head, khaki pants, and expensive running shoes.  He was not his normal calculatedly tousled self, but genuinely tousled, with a few rips to his shirt, as he pushed the door open with gloved hands and stepped on inside, stopping to survey the place.

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The Southern Queen was essentially a large family restaurant.  There was a small waiting area up front with a smallish man behind the counter. His name tag read Rory. He greeted Asad by name, in a faint English accent. “Mister al-Misri, hello. Will you be dining alone today?” It wasn’t that weird that he knew Asad on sight. A prominent superhero and businessman with a penchant for flashy behavior? No, knowing Asad on sight was just proper maître’d training. And yet…this clearly wasn’t a high class establishment. A quick glance over the large dining area would reveal that. The diners ran the gamut of Freedom City’s social and economic classes. There was no one was well known or wealthy as Asad, of course, but the effect was a bit striking.

 

This was when Maybelle McQueen, clad in chef’s shirt, jeans, and sneakers stepped into the small waiting area. She was carrying her chef’s hat in her hands. “Everything all right out here, Rory?”

 

Rory turned to her. “Yes, Ms. McQueen. It appears we have a famous guest for lunch.”

 

Maybelle looked at Asad. “Nice to see you here.” She appeared slightly puzzled, as if she didn’t quite know who he was, even if she did pick up on the ‘fellow superhero’ vibes. “I’d hate to see the other guy. Well, Rory can get you seated. If you want something special, don’t hesitate to ask your server for me. Maybelle McQueen, head chef. I’ll make you whatever you want, as long as I have the ingredients.”

 

A tall woman with striking long red hair poked her head into the small waiting area. That, and her accent, placed her origins in Scotland. “Chef McQueen? We’ve got more orders.” She flashed a familiar smile at Rory (which he returned) and departed.

 

Maybelle sighed. “Thought I had a few minutes. Oh, well.” She grinned. “Back to the salt mines.” She stepped out of the waiting area. “Amy, have Rose find Donna for me, would you? Might need her help in the kitchen. We’ve got a famous one and I’d like to be ready just in case.” Her tone was all business. The Scotswoman voiced her acknowledgement to that.

 

With the two women departing, Rory turned back to Asad. “I do apologize, Mister al-Misri.” He picked up a menu from behind his counter. “Is just you today?

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He blinked a little bit, it moved quickly, but he was in a little bit of a lurch after the fight.  Which he won, sort of?  Sure he was a bit dirty, but only a small bruise to a cheek and scuffed.  Amir was not necessarily in the mood for the aggressively cheery mannerisms from the owner.  And he nodded a bit blearily in response to that.

 

Amir looked at Rory after McQueen flashed on in and then out like lightning, it was busy, and he was more hungry than anything else.  So he looked at the man, with earnestness.  "Four fried chickens, and a coke."  it was a simple request.  "Whole."  That became not so simple quickly.  "Four whole fried chickens, and something quick to snack on before then."

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Rory blinked. “I’m…not on the serving staff, exactly. However, Clara?” The short haired brunette was walking by the entrance to the seating area.

 

She looked at the two of them. “You need something, Rory?”

 

Rory returned her level look. “Table for one. Special. Four whole fried chickens, plus appetizers and a Coke.” He added an aside to Asad. “Refills are free on fountain drinks.”

 

Clara had whipped out her notepad and written that all down quickly. “Come with me, please. My name is Clara and I’ll be your server.” Several steps later, Asad was seated. “I’ll get your drink. Anything specific on that appetizer?”

 

Maybelle reappeared, sans earlier folksy charm. “Got it covered, Clara.” She was all business about food. She placed a dish on the table. “Spiced lamb on pita bread with eggplant, olives, and melted feta cheese. It was going to be my lunch, but I just don’t have the time today.” She turned to look at her waitress. “What’s the order, Clara?”

 

Clara glanced at her notepad. “Four whole fried chickens, ‘Belle.”

 

Maybelle frowned and turned around. “I don’t usually get my Halal chicken delivered whole…hmm…no, wait. I do have two left over from that wedding last month. Three options. You eat two non Halal chickens. You get the chickens Halal, but in pieces. Or you wait while I go visit one of my butchers. I’ll have to dicker, so I might be a while.” She glanced at Clara again. “Drinks, Clara. And Table 7 would like to see you.”

 

Clara nodded. “Okay, ‘Belle.” She went to her duties.

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"Mm, sorry then.  I blocked a couple punches with my stunning good locks.  There are probably some new potholes I christened.  Little frazzled."  He nodded sagely, his expression more than a little owlish as he looked at Rory, and then Klara.  He made a small face, and then slightly winced at puffiness from some bruises trying to form.

 

Amir started to say something but then food was plopped down in front of him, and his stomach growled, before he descended upon it like his namesake on a wounded gazelle.  "I am not a strict follower of Islam as to need my food to be halal.  I am not asking for pork after all."  He said around bites of food, making pleased sounds, and giving a thumbs up, before he inhaled the plate. and made a pleased sound.

 

"Thank you... thank you, though you need to eat too."  He flashed a smile as the edge was taken off of his hunger, but it was still there.  "Just however you do fried chicken."  A nod then ... "I walked through the door and not through the wall, right?"  He frowned as he turned to look.

 

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“You did.” Maybelle had an amused smile on her face. “Had the front reinforced with titanium bars after the Incursion. You’d have noticed going through those.” She turned to go. “If you need something else to take the edge off, tell Clara. I’ve got a pair of regular chickens to fry.” She looked over one shoulder a bit sheepishly. “The fryer is only but so big, and since they’re whole it’ll take a while. I don’t believe in cooking food before it’s ordered. I’ll eat, sunshine. After the lunch rush. Dunno why I ever try to eat during it.” She walked away, and soon Clara was back with a tall glass of ice and Coca Cola.

 

“You need anything else? Knowing ‘Belle, it’ll be at least a half hour before you see chicken.”

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Amir looked at her skeptically.  "If you say so."  Of course, his reputation as a hero was not precisely the grandest.  Even if he did do the occasional good to great things, a lot of the media did show they felt it was him just getting lucky on what was an extended publicity stunt.

 

His philanthropy was generally a lot more positively thought of, regardless of the motives attributed.

 

"I think I am... less likely to eat the table now."  He nodded sagely, still looking a bit out of it, but he did admit to getting punched in the face, after all.  "Mm, alright."  He watched her go, not going to argue with the cook, or... really be particularly erudite at the moment.

 

"Thank you."  He said to Clara as he scooped up drink, and he knocked it back in one drink.  "Ahhhhh... s'getting warm... going through concrete works up a sweat and thirst...  Wonder if I can get a spokesman deal with that."  He thought out loud as he stared at the glass, his face scrunching as he tried to ponder.

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Time went by. Clara kept Asad’s drink full, and brought him whatever appetizer/side order he requested. Until, lo and behold, from the kitchen came Maybelle with two whole fried chickens. She was using a translucent silver field to carry them, as between the platters and the chickens it was just too much awkward weight for one normal woman. She placed them gently on Asad’s table. “The other two are in the fryer now. The herb and spice blend is my own.” Her power deactivated entirely. Things had slowed a tad during the cooking time, and while it was still fairly busy in the Queen, the high point had been passed. So Maybelle remained, perhaps a bit expectant.

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Amir was generally nonplussed.  That was sort of his nominal state regarding such things.  He made friendly chit chat, once he had eaten the first plat, he was a bit calmer, or at least more put together.  He'd taken his gloves off, and relaxed a bit in his seat idly, picking at one of the holes in his shirt, or some bits of stone, concrete, or asphalt off of his shirt.  He set it down on the table as waited and was generally genial.  Of course his reputation was not one of a jerk, sure he was considered arrogant, but that was sound bites, news stories, or other such media circulation.

 

Plus being slammed into the sidewalk might do wonders for his mood.  Who knew?

 

Then Maybelle came with the chicken, if he noted the silvery light, then he didn't say anything.  His eyes were on the chicken, and he breathed in the smell of it.  "Oh yes.  Thank you very, very mmmffch!"  His sentence trailed off as he tore off a leg and dove into it.  "Goof!"  Said between mouthfuls of the chicken, and swallow of the cola to wash it down.

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Maybelle stood there and (with a satisfied smile on her face) watched Asad eat for a few minutes, until a call from the kitchen took her away. Clara continued to provide fresh Coke. Maybelle came by occasionally as the lunch rush gradually faded away. By the time she was bringing the other two chickens, things had calmed to the point where the restaurant was barely half full, and vast majority had their food. She had a duplicate to the earlier lamb sandwich as well. She placed the two chickens on Asad’s table and took a seat at a empty table nearby. “The other two.” Clara brought her a glass of tea, and went away again. “Holler if you need anything.” She then tucked into her own lunch with a sigh of relief.

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Was in that state of tired and hungry.  Both of which were fixable, and as he ate, and recovered, he was bouncing back.  He drifted away from clever bon mots and just ate, and drank.  Soon he was there with more or less clean carcasses, and some empty glass bottles.  SLowly standing he looked around for the facilities, and then gestured in that direction before he want off to go clean up.

 

After a few minutes he returned, hands not longer greasy from the chicken, and his face having been at least rinsed off.  He stopped at the table for a moment and unzipped a pocket on his pants and fished out some bills, before sitting back down.  He never kept his wallet on him when heroing, where possible.

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The Queen had cleared out more, the lunch rush finally fading away. Maybelle herself finished her sandwich a bit before Asad himself finished. She did not, however, get up. Instead she slouched a little, leaned back in her chair, and placed her feet on the seat across from her. She had a full glass of iced tea to sip, and nothing to cook for the moment. She was still in that position when Asad returned from the facilities. “You can tip Clara, but Rory out front is the cashier.” With Asad’s attention on her now, she idly waved a slip of paper. “Your receipt. Unless you’d like dessert. Can always reprint it.”

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He had to shake his head, appreciating the hustle, as he was a bit more like a human now.

 

Sorta?

 

He looked at what he had, and left a sizable tip for Clara, a couple hundred dollar , because it was only fair, when he made the cook come from back... well he felt guilty.  As much as he could feel guilty.  Then he frowned a little bit, and he walked over to pay his bill, and then came back to the table, and deposited a good bit of the remaining money he had there, scribbling a note on the receipt to share it on among the front end staff.

 

"No, I am old enough I don't need dessert, besides I ate fast enough it wont hit for a little bit, and I'll be good for a few days."  He laughed a little bit, shaking his head as he rested his hands on his hips for a few moments.  "Sorry, still a little frazzled, but my compliments to the cook."  He said as he walked to her, extending out his hand to her.

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