An Honest Job


brian_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif felix_icon.gif hadley_icon.gif

Scene Title An Honest Job
Synopsis Hadley is party to a request she never thought she'd witness, Brian and Deckard fail to communicate and Felix has to put vengeance aside long enough to get himself fixed.
Date August 16, 2009

Piece of Cake Bakery

The front room of the bakery is a long and narrow one. A great glass window covers the wall facing the street, so that anyone outside can see in. The door is glass as well; on bright days the shop is filled to the brim with sunshine. Drop lamps abovehead help at night, casting a warmer and softer light. Classic black and white tiling collects smudges more often than not on the floor and walls. In the back is a hallway which leads further to the kitchen, a small bathroom for customers to use, and a set of creaky stairs that go up to the second floor. The entire building is warm, and the air is redolent with the scents of pastry both savory and sweet, cookies, muffins, chocolate and fruit, bread and more.

A long, waist-high counter is on the left after stepping inside. The top is flat so purchases can be set down, and baked goods of all sorts are on display inside. Down at the far end is the cash register: leaving means walking past all the tempting wares all over again. Though it isn't particularly fancy, a coffee machine next to the register has a sign that reads "Donations": the cups and plain coffee are free, but change dropped inside goes to local charities. Three small bistro tables sit along the right wall; it's a tight fit, but three (or four if they're close friends) people can sit at each to enjoy a bite before going on their way. A bell above the door jangles merrily whenever it's opened.

And lo, it is somewhat late at night, and probably near closing time, but Mrs. Hadley's busy cleaning, so the doors aren't locked quite yet. THe radio behind the counter has been turned up a bit so she can sweep and hum along with NPR's classical tunes: the unfortunate truth is that the old woman couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Still, she sounds cheerful enough about it.

Late at night is Deckard's specialty. He hasn't been back in town for more than an hour or two — long enough to shower and put on a suit without too many odd creases in it. The burnished alligator hide boots he's wearing with it aren't exactly ideal compliments to ash grey, but his hair is trimmed and buzzed into short, tidy order and he's shaven at some point in the last couple've the days, leaving him with little more than a five o'clock shadow when he lets himself in through the unlocked door. Any furtive attempt at stealth is set off by the jangle of a bell ratting him out overhead, and resigned, he lets it fall closed behind him less quietly than he opened it.

"Flint!" She sets the broom against the counter and moves. It's full speed ahead for the SSS Hadley, on a collision course with Deckard, her arms open wide. The Titanic had less chance of survival than he does against the oncoming hug.

Aaaaaah. There is no escape, despite a reflexive bump of Deckard's shoulder back into the door easing closed behind him when he realizes what's coming. The opening that's left is too narrow for him to ghost back through to the other side (and temporary safety.) So it is that he's caged in, first by the door and then by her arms closing in around his sides like the vice of an old bear trap made of love and pillows and cakes. Arms lifted awkwardly away from potential contamination from the act of hugging, he stands and endures without knowing what to do with his hands. "…Hey."

Squish. Squish-squish-squish. Mrs. Hadley only steps back when she's had her fill. "Come in, come in. How long has it been since you've been in here, dear? I think we have some cookies left over, you'll want to fill up." She turns to bustle back towards the aisle behind the counter; the radio is turned down with an absent twist of fingers.

Deckard does look like he could use a few cookies. He's lost weight since Hadley's last intervention and his ribs poke like wooden slats within the bounds of her squishing him. His cheekbones poke, the lock of his jaw is too narrow. The suit he's wearing doesn't fit as well as it could, even once he's brushed at the lapels post hug disengagement and fallen into slow step behind her. "A while. I dunno. …Twenty years."

The touch of is hands at the counter once he arrives there opposite her is nostalgic enough to make him frown at himself while her attention's on the radio, distant and distracted. But he's made himself come this far and if he doesn't get to business she's going to start asking questions and then what? "I know I shouldn't bother you…and I don't know how business has been. And — you don't have to say yes just to say yes. There are other places I can try."

Out come the cookies. Out comes the milk and a glass to pour it in. Mrs. Hadley speaks while she works, long years of practice obvious in the motions. "Twenty years! It feels like just yesterday you were causing no end of trouble outside and then rushing in here to hide from it." The smile she bestows on him is fond. "I can laugh about it now, after twenty years! What's that you want to ask, dear?" A brow arches at that. "Are you hiding again? Or does someone need some help?"

Half a breath doesn't really constitute a laugh despite the flash of teeth that accompanies it, more grimace than smile. Deckard is embarrassed. Also, doing a poor job of hiding it. Tension wires down through his neck into his shoulders and he procrastinates on answering between an awkward shift of weight from one boot to the other and a hard focus on the milk rather than the older woman in possession of it. "I'm not hiding. Not really, anymore." Easier questions answered first, he hesitates for another beat or two before gravelling out a quiet, "I need a job. If you have boxes to move around or…floors to mop. I dunno. Whatever you need."

She's startled, that much is clear. Mrs. Hadley just stares at him for several long heartbeats. Just stares, mouth agape. Someone ought to tell her she'll catch flies like that. When she finally stirs, it's to inform in a whisper, "I never in a million years thought I'd see, much less be present for it, the day when Flint Deckard asked for an honest job." She shakes her head then, trying to shove the shock away. It's honly half-tease. "Well, I… well. Do you mind working with Brian, dear? He helps me out here." Taken for granted: Deckard knows who that is. "But I admit, I wouldn't mind teaching someone to start working the kitchens, which leaves the counter empty…"

Long face turned down to study the counter when Hadley's staring starts to prickle at the back of his neck, Deckard looks like he's wishing he'd wound up with teleportation or spontaneous combustion in place of Abigail's healing touch. Misery is perhaps melodramatic as far as descriptors go, but there's definitely something along those lines etched into crows feet and the lines carved in stark around his mouth. Clearly he never thought he'd be in here asking after honest work either. "Wherever there's space to fill." No mention of Brian in an intentional kind of way.

"At least you'll have a chance at filling up a little. Look at you, all skin and bones!" Mrs. Hadley nudges the plate and glass closer to him in an unmistakable demand that he eat up rightthisverysecondorelse. "Is this for money, dear? I can't offer very much, probably only a little more than minimum wage, but we can make sure you've got your hands busy and plenty of hours at least."

Felix is just not a large man. Tall, but not all that big. Which makes his reflexive cop-stomp all the funnier; it's like some scrawny leghorn rooster trying to assert his rule of the coop. He also knocks like a cop, try as he might to help it; knuckles rap authoritatively against the glass of the door like he's here to serve a warrant, before he remembers himself and peers sheepishly through the glass….and then cleverly realizes it's open. He looks a bit different than the last time Hadley saw him: no glasses, hair clipped short, long set of scars at one temple. He's not in his suit, either, but jeans and a t-shirt.

And lo, it is somewhat late at night, and probably near closing time, but Mrs. Hadley's busy cleaning, so the doors aren't locked quite yet. Mrs. Hadley is on her side of the counter with one Felix Deckard on the other side, a plate of cookies and a glass of milk in front of him.

"Money," Deckard admits without much feeling, coarse and bland in the truth as he is most things lately when he reaches to paw a hand over the nearest cookie against her pushing. "I need a place to live." The fact that this is the first time in moths he's been compelled to pay for one seems to evade his notice, as does the fact that he's proven himself more than capable of finding money through shadier means. He skips over the issue entirely with a tired lift at one brow, jaw already grinding away at a bite of cookie when Felix's knuckles rap rap rap against the glass to his back. Ronch ronch ronch and recognition sets in with a sideways look back over his shoulder. …He stops chewing.

"There's a nice man down the block with a room in his apartment that he's looking to rent out, now that his children are grown up," Mrs. Hadley informs cheerfully. "So we'll just go see about taking care of that, dear. Do you need to sleep on my sofa for a day or two? No more than that though! I don't want you to get a reputation." She blinks at the pounding — not particularly worried, just startled — then offers Felix a welcoming sort of smile. "Hello! Agent Ivanov, you come right on inside, how are you this evening? How's Abby doing?"

Fel stalks in, tread now surprisingly silent. He's all but bristling, trying to suss out just what's going on here before he no doubt launches himself at Deckard's throat, hissing and yowling. Hat in hand, at the moment, which is what keeps the fragile peace. "Mrs. Hadley," he says, very quietly, as if Deckard were an avalanche that loud voices might set off. "I hate to be rude, but that man's a wanted felon."

"Someone's already helping me out until I can cover rent," muttered the way things tend to get muttered when they need to get said one way or another against all desires otherwise, Deckard swallows the bite of cookie in his mouth like a piece of broken glass and drops the rest back down onto the plate uneaten. Felix is bristling only marginally more obviously than Deckard, whose hackles are trying very hard not to lift and failing. He's stiff as a mesquite post, muscle knotted taut behind the hollow of his sandpaper jaw while he watches the smaller man's progress into the store in silence.

And oh but the look Mrs. Hadley fixes on Deckard at that is a quelling one. Almost as quelling as the Gimlet Gaze that transfers to Felix himself. "I'm sorry, dear… if you want to play cops and robbers outside of the bakery, you two can take it up later. Until then, would you like some cookies? You don't look like you're on the clock and this young man," when's the last time anyone called him young? "Is a dear friend, almost a son, so I'd like to catch up with him a little before any trouble happens to steal him away again."

The door opens from the back, Brian enters in a black shirt with a white apron over. He has flour all over himself. The kitchen door closes. He arches a brow at Flint and then Felix. His lips pull down into a line as he walks up to the counter to join Mrs.Hadley. Looking at Deckard and the accusation that was just made.

"Heeey, man!" He greets with gusto and brightness. Looking to Hadley he notions with his head to Deckard. "You know this guy?" A hand is offered over the counter to Deckard. Where angry would rear its ugly head, drown it out with overly exaggerated enthusiasm!

It's like that old Warner Brothers cartoon - the dog chases the coyote, then they punch the clock for lunch break, eat companionably, then punch the clock again and resume chasing. Brian gets an annoyed and suspicious glance. "I had just come," he says, very slowly, "In hopes of getting your help." He doesn't know who she's out of the freak closet to, and thus doesn't feel it best to mention the healing specifically. "I take it I should come back another time?" There's his accent again, like English is suddenly difficult once more.

'Old man,' is one of the more popular and unflattering nicknames Deckard has accumulated over the past year. 'Young man,' makes his brows twitch down into a skeptical knit, but he is quelled, attention forced away onto a black window to flash silvered temples and the grizzle of grey through the rest of his hair under florescent lights in full effect. He doesn't reclaim his cookie, but pushes idly at the plate until Brian appears and his blue eyes ring blankly (suspiciously?) that way instead. He does not say hullo.

"Then have a seat, dear. Brian, this is Flint, he used to come into the bakery all the time when he was just a young ruffian." Mrs. Hadley gives Brian's arm a patpatpat, then eases out from behind the counter. Deckard gets one too: patpatpat. "You two play nice while I help this fine officer of the law." And with that, she's bustling towards one of the little bistro tables, with a motion for Felix to come along. "It'll take about ten minutes," she explains to him cheerfully. "Did Abby tell you what the cost is, I can't remember?"

Brian is left to stare blankly at Deckard after delivering Hadley a broad smile and plenty of 'No problem, Miss Hadley's. Tapping the counter idly with his fingers, he glances up at Flint. Looking over at the cookie display case, he gives a soft hmm before directing his gaze to the door and the world beyond it. Then he looks at the cash register, eyeing all the little buttons and wondering how severely out of date the thing is. Then he looks down at his own apron brushing off a little flour…

"You could at least say hi." Comes the snapping remark as he tears his gaze away from the apron to Deckard.

The strain on his instincts that it takes to keep from pursuing Deckard is giving Felix a pinched look, far more than can be explained by that relatively minor wound. "No, ma'am," he says, hesitatingly a little, even as he follows her. Not entirely certain he should trust her not to just knock him out.

Pat pat pat. Deckard's arm is in an iron lock beneath the sleeve of his suit jacket and Hadley's hand in passing, but he doesn't pull away. Rather, he turns his head again when Brian does, watching Had's reflection meet with Felix's at a table as me might a fox asking a hen for help with a toothache. "Hey," is said to the reflection instead of Brian when he says it, in predictable asshole fashion.

The old woman looks like she couldn't harm a fly. And appearances always matter. Mrs. Hadley explains easily, "Well, depending on how badly you're hurt, you'll have a bit of time when you can't use your gift. It won't be gone! It'll just feel like you've used it too much and you'll need some time to recover. You don't look like you're on death's door, so it'll be short, I think." She settles down at the table and reaches out, with an arched brow, to take his hand into both of hers.

"Why do you hate me so much?" Certainly he couldn't remember Brian questioning him. He was wiped of that. And Winters was told he and Deckard got along. So why the asshole factor so high? His voice is low and almost in a growl, his eyes knit close. Searching Deckard's features for an answer that he won't get verbally.

"If you want to get away from the cop." His eyes shift, his head subtly motioning towards the door to the kitchen. "We have a back door." There, he's being nice.

Without his gift, Deckard can just shoot him. It subsequently hugely lessens the chance of a shootout in the bakery. But he can't really use his power with his head injury. Fel grits his teeth, clearly weighing the options; his blood pressure spiking is all but visible. "I understand. Is there anything I can do for you in return?"

Well, that's enough to bring Deckard's head around, eyes clear despite the muddled unease that furrows at his forehead and rankles a touch at his nose. Awkward. "I don't." There isn't anything in his face that isn't in his voice. Unfortunately there isn't much in his voice past the usual growl and dust and gravel, so they're left to stare at each other while he scrubs at the back of his head and tries to resist staring back at Felix and Hadley again. "I don't need an escape hatch either."

Mrs. Hadley rubs absent circles into Felix' hand, tiny motion for reassurance. "No, dear. I don't ask for anything for this." She doesn't linger on that answer either, only goes on to ask curiously, "So you're allowed to walk around without a suit? I'm sure I read somewhere once that there are rules against you looking so casual." What is it like, for a man to feel his insides… speed up? To know that each and every tiny little cell is starting to vibrate faster and faster with every passing moment? It's not entirely unpleasant, but it's also thoroughly /weird/: his power is turning inwards, focusing on healing instead of the usual.

"Then why won't you talk to me? I thought we were friends." Brian practically hisses. It's true. He was told they were friends. But Deckard definitely doesn't act friendly. He watches the man in that dumb stare for a moment. "Fine." He responds to his denial of the escape hatch.

"You look nice." He comments, placing his hands on the counter, linking his fingers together.

It's like doing speed, literally, is what. Fel shivers, goosebumps marching over exposed skin, followed by a breaking sweat. He grins, despite himself. "Mr. Hoover died, they loosened a great many rules for us. We can even have beards now!" This is not the pun it might be, despite Felix's preferences.

A lot of people have been saying weird things to Deckard lately. It's starting to make him feel like there's something going on with the world, as evidenced in the confusion that still presses mild at his brows. Mouth slacked open, he terminates a hazy shake of his head with a lift of his shoulder into half a shrug. He doesn't look terribly un-friendly. More like he's not sure why Brian is talking to him at all.

"Thanks," is the best he can manage after a pause, cookies and milk tempting his gaze down again, away from Brian's stare. "…Did you have something specific we're supposed to talk about, or."

The various bumps and bruises and gashes and any lack of sleep lately written across Felix' face and form, those are all fading away at the speed o' light, healing in fast-forward. Mrs. Hadley, on the other hand, is sinking in on herself just a tad. Looking more and more weary. But she doesn't complain about it, or even mention it at all, only grins at him in return. "I bet they came along with credit cards to check that you shaved in the morning too. My Jimmy, he told me that's how they made sure of it when he was in the army." She nods a little to herself and lets go of his hands. "There you are, dear." Poor Brian and Deckard. That ten minutes or so must have felt like an /eternity/.

"Forget it." Brian says with a little smile. Pushing himself away from the counter he glances over at Hadley. "Mrs.Hadley, I'll be in the back." Winters calls out, raising one arm before taking a single step back.

Giving Deckard a final look, glancing over at Felix Brian then retreats for the kitchen. To make more goodies.

And hey, I had that scar since grade school. Fel lifts hands gone suddenly flawless, looking completely confused. He stretches a little, experimentally, lifts an arm over his head. The scar he got from Kazimir's goons no longer pulls. Turning away from her a little, he tugs up his shirt experimentally, and blinks. "I….you took it all, even the old stuff," he says, looking back at her over his shoulder. "Thank you. Listen. Do me a favor, will you?" he asks, tone gone a little uncertain. "In that I wanttyou to ask me a favor. Ask me not to arrest Deckard. ANd if you can't, then you need to get down on the floor, 'cause there's likely to be shooting."

"I don't…" is about as far as Deckard gets into a protest. Brian's already leaving, and too distracted to register Felix's quiet request across the room, he's left to look somewhat crestfallen with his uneaten cookies and full up milk glass while he thinks no one is paying attention.

"I'll see you later, Brian!" Mrs. Hadley calls that out to his departing back before she looks over to Felix again. Her eyes narrow, then she allows with a weary nod, "Please don't arrest Flint tonight? And /definitely/ don't start shooting people in the bakery. Bullets don't go well with double-decker chocolate mint fudge." She pushes up to her feet just a little slower than usual, wrinkles deep. "Which you can have if you'd like."

Fel misreads Deckard's disappointment. "You already murdered me once, don't get greedy. Ma'am, may I have that in a to-go box? Gotta take it home to the room-mate." Apparently her question was enough to salve his honor and prevent some sort of gangland style shootout among the scones.

"Maybe one day it'll stick," stuck hoarse in his throat, Deckard avoids Hadley's gaze for his own implication and dusts his right hand down the side of his pants, displacing whatever crumbs might've been clinging there while he paces the length of the counter.

"Flint Deckard, you be polite to our customers or you'll never work the counter again," Mrs. Hadley instructs. She leans over on the customer-side to tap the display case. "Fetch out a bit of the fudge there in one of those little carry-home boxes, and I'll show you how to work the register. Agent, you'll let this one be on the house, I hope? You're not in blue, but you defend our country just the same and it's a small thing to give you a bit of fudge for the trouble you go through."

Fel actually puffs up a little. It's not often he gets genuine praise, as opposed to someone trying to gladhand him over that old medal. "Thank you," he says, quietly.

Fffff. Ffffffff. Deckard tenses and for a moment looks about as likely to obey as a pissed off tiger being cattleprodded towards a flaming hoop, shoulders rigid and glare glaciatic against both direction and praise. Felix has prompted a complete 180 in posture and attitude, and when he finally rounds the counter to reach one of the relevant takeout boxes, he drops it on the counter in a way where it's lucky there's nothing breakable inside.

And does the old biddy pay any attention to his great and mighty temper tantrum? Nosireebob. Instead Mrs. Hadley gives Felix' arm a light patpatpat too before she eases 'round the counter and explains tO Deckard, "This is how we'd ring it up if we were going to." CLANG. DING. It's an old register. It doesn't even have a receipt printer. That'd be too useful. Instead, there's a little carbon-copy pad. "Thank you, dear. You head on out now and enjoy your evening, okay? You should be back to fit as a fiddle in… oh, an hour or two."

Fel doesn't -say- anything. He turns, takes the box of fudge, and just grins at Deckard. There's a wealth of wordless promise there, in those slightly crooked teeth and the bright blue eyes. And then he's gone out the door.

CLANG. DING. Deckard flinches out of his teeth-grit glare at the prompt of the register down near his side. He even tries to pay attention, but the effort's so fleeting he might as well've not made it at all. Too buy watching to see which direction Felix goes from beneath the hood of his brows once the feeb has made his exit.

"Are you still going to want to work here?" Mrs. Hadley asks it quietly once Felix has gone; the cheer isn't lost, it just fades into weariness. She leans against the counter, facade draining away.

"I need the money," grated out at a mutter, Deckard glowers down at the register mainly because it's better than dragging his gun out and checking it over while Hadley's leaning against the counter surface next to him. "And I'm not wanted."

Her smile is a wry thing, and still tired, but it's a smile nonetheless. "He seemed quite certain about it, Flint. But if you say you aren't, then so be it. Do you want me to hire you officially, with all the paperwork? Or under the table?" Mrs. Hadley moves out from behind the counter to pluck up the broom again.

Cookie plate poked again, Deckard is quiet for a while before he answers. Hard to tell if he's contemplating his options or just reluctant to give one in the face of the fact that he might be wanted again without having realized it. "Whichever is better for you if I get in trouble."

She clicks her tongue, a chiding sound. "You let me worry about my own trouble, dear. We'll make it official then, so the widows and orphans get their percentage of the paycheck in taxes like they should." Obviously, Mrs. Hadley has some opinions about being a law-abiding citizen. "You never did answer if you need to sleep on my sofa for a few days while you look for a place?"

"Abigail's letting me stay somewhere." Somewhere too vague to be overheard or shaken out of Mrs. Hadley like braincells out've a baby. "I'll be fine. I've taken care of myself this long." Sort've. Some of the time. With a sense of finality, he gives up on his appetite and drags his hand back off the counter to start leading himself for the other side again. "You need anything?"

Mrs. Hadley doesn't press for the information. Either she's just not that curious (hah!) or she understands that some things you just don't share. "Survival isn't enough, dear. It never is." She carries the brook towards the back, noting absently, "The first shift is at 7am sharp, and be ready for the breakfast crush."

That's really fucking early. Deckard's wince is a tangible thing, all the way from brows to toes in the way it contracts through his spine and works at his hands. Doesn't stop him heading for the door, though, and he doesn't look back to share his pain. "I'll be here."

Maybe she heard that wince, or maybe, just maybe, Mrs. Hadley has had not-so-willing employees before. "Once you get used to that, I might move you to the 6am shift, Flint." And maybe there's a bit of laughter, however weary, when she says so. "Good night, I'll see you in the morning!"

"'Night," says Deckard, who can't force himself to sound enthusiastic, even if he does add on a passably polite, "Thank you," over his shoulder before he's pressed on through the door and into the night.

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