Angel Food Cake


hadley_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title Angel Food Cake
Synopsis Helena is brought to Hadley for healing.
Date July 25, 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.

Bakeries open early any day of the week, and Saturday is no different. Early means 5 am to prepare the dough, so the door is already cracked open just a little so that the scent of fresh baking can slide out onto the street. There's no one out in the main room this morning, but there's a bell above the door — presumably it'll jangle and call out the old biddy who works here when someone wanders in.

A non-descript van has pulled up to the side of the building, and from it a single young man, almost equally non-descript, steps out and makes his way into the shop, blinking a little against the heat of the ovens wafting through the bakery on an early summer morning. He's got a solemn and direct gaze, and he waits respectfully for the elderly woman to make her way out into the main area of her shoppe.

At the bell's jangle, Mrs. Hadley's voice rings out to match: "Just one moment!" She bustles on out, absently dusting flour off her hands and onto her apron. A smile is offered to him, cheerful as can be. "Welcome to the Piece of Cake," she carols out on automatic pilot. "What can I get for you, young man?"

"I believe we called in an order yesterday evening, ma'am." The young man in question grants her the faintest of smiles, genuinely meant, but clearly caught up in a sense of purpose. His earnesty even comes wrapped in the faintest of Southern accents. "An order for angel food cake?"

"An ord… oh!" Mrs. Hadley tosses her hands up, surprised. "Oh yes!" She shakes her head a little, clearly caught up in her own forgetfulness, and calls out to the back, "Brian, I'll be back in a moment!" The apron is pulled free and set on a hook for just such a purpose so she can bustle on out. "Did you want to take it upstairs, dear? Or would you prefer I come along?"
Public> Sabrina has joined this channel.

The young man considers a moment. "We'll be happy to bring it upstairs, ma'am. If you could just see the rear delivery doors open? It'll only take a few moments to move." Something about his bearing suggests military training, and yet he is still somehow thoroughly non-descript.

It probably helps that Mrs. Hadley is being very good about not staring at him all that much. She simply waves a hand, "I'll make sure it's open," and turns to bustle back into the kitchen, humming under her breath as she goes. Soon enough, the rear door is open, and the called-upon Brian is no where to be seen — maybe she chased him out into the front to handle the register.

Hadley's Apartment

As far as one-bedroom apartments above a bakery go, this one is cozy enough. It's small, composed of a living room, a door that likely leads to a bedroom, a small bathroom, and kitchentte. The stairs in the corner spill out directly into the living room itself. Every bit of the room is full of… stuff. Knick-knacks, doileys, bits of unfinished knitting, photographs of family members, a lifetime or two's worth of clutter. It all has a place, it isn't a trashy mess, but it is very busy. Every scent from below rises up, as well as the heat from the ovens.

The van that had been parked to the side moves to the rear of the building and the back doors are opened. As gently as if she were being passed in a cradle, strong arms transfer Helena in a fireman's cary out of the van and into the young man's arms. Despite the warmth of summer, the air around is uncannily chill; it may explain the young man's jacket. A blanket has been draped over her, the young girl's gaze is slightly dazed as if she were on painkillers, and her left shoulder has been heavily bandaged. Stairs are climbed as gently as possible and once in the safety of the apartment's foyer, the young man holds her carefully and inquires in earnesty, "Where might I lay her, ma'am?" Helena Dean, in the flesh and well, a little something less than large as life.

Once they're all upstairs, Mrs. Hadley shuts the door and thus the rest of the world away. "Come along, dear. You can set her in here." She bustles on over to one of the few other doors, opening it to reveal a tiny bedroom with a neatly-made bed. The room itself is just as full of memorabilia as the rest of the apartment, but it's still clean too. "Lay her down, there we go. Is she able to speak and understand what's going to happen, young man? Or do you have her on pain medications right now?"

"I'm awake." The words are slurry, and her eyes are dull, but Helena manages to lift her gaze to the old woman. "Hullo, Mrs. Hadley," she manages with a drifting, dreamy tone. She really can't feel anything. "I haven't had the pleasure until now, and I'm sorry it's out of necessity…" The young man gently lays her on the bed, light blanket still covering her torso and shoulders like a wrapped shawl, then steps back and puts his hands behind him. "I'll step outside ma'am." he informs their hostess, something about his turn almost a parade step before he exits the room and closes the door behind him. Hadley will undoubtedly notice the chill in the air as she approaches Helena.

"Hush now, there's a dear. There's a whole city of young women who haven't had a chance to meet me yet," Mrs. Hadley informs. If she's worried for Helena at all, there's no sign of it in her. Quite the opposite, in fact; she sounds cheerful as can be. "Just look at you, getting into trouble, and no don't you worry about telling me what sort, I don't think I need to know." She crosses over to the bed, and notes when she's close enough to feel the chill, "Look at you! Someone might think you don't want to get better at all, silly girl." Without so much as a may-I-please, she reaches out to gather up Helena's hand in both of hers.

"I'd be glad to get better." Helena says, sounding apologetic and oddly childlike. She does not protest the taking of her hand, and really couldn't even if she did. With the lifting of her hand, the blanket drops some, revealing a bandaged shoulder wound, beneath which said wound is the size of a rebar if it had pierced her clean through the shoulder. The wound was relocated from her stomach courtesy of Dr. Silvatti, but Hadley may or may not know that.

"You just hold onto my hand for a little while, dear. We'll get you feeling better in no time," Mrs. Hadley assures. She settles onto the edge of the bed, careful not to jostle Helena too much with the motion. "Do you know what happens after we're done, sweetheart?" Her hands are thin and frail, but the grip is strong. "Has anyone mentioned it to you, who's come to see me before?"
The air is very cold around Helena, but as Mrs. Hadley holds her hand, the room begins to restore to normal temperature. Which is not necessarily to say that Hadley's begun to do anything, but the contact and Hadley's presence may in and of itself be effecting her mood. "No?" she replies in faint befuddlement. "What happens?"

Fingers stroke lightly across that held hand, a faint pressure meant for reassurance more than anything else. "Right now," the old woman explains gently, "All that spark inside of you is turning to one thing. That's why I'm explaining now before we get too far along, in case you decide you'd rather stop, dear. Your gift is focusing on making you better." Mrs. Hadley says it like she's said it a million times before, as firmly and delicately as possible. "You'll get up, and you'll feel better than you have in… oh, quite a while. Like you got a full week of good sleep and fit as a fiddle. But your gift will be recovering afterwards to make up for it. You won't be able to touch it." The fading chill… how much of it is Helena calming down, and how much of it is Mrs. Hadley's own gift, eeling through and shifting all that control to new ends?

Neglected of note, there is also a scar along Helena's forehead, rather exactly like those noted in Evolved urban legend of the Sylar murders. But undoubtedly that will be gone soon as well. "How long?" Helena asks. It's quite obvious that having her powers shut down - yes, that does bother her, rather a lot. But she doesn't outright tell Hadley to stop. "When I'm stripped of my ability it feels like I'm wrapped in cotton wool."

"Not stripped, dear. They'll still be yours. But they'll be weak, like you used up everything all in one great push. I'm sure you've done it before yourself." Mrs. Hadley continues the stroke, even if Helena isn't pulling away; she might not even realize it's happening. "Which is what's happening, I suppose. How long… well. That slice looks dangerous, but not like you're ready to keel over right away. I'd say a few hours, half a day at most. It'll be just a few minutes more." What is it like, to have the weather turned inwards? Cool mist on the wrong side of her skin, a hot summer's day baking away all the chill from the inside-out, wind curling through veins and along muscles.

The temperature is being regulated even as they talk. "What - it's - it's warm in here." Helena sounds more alert, unconsciously beginning to stir, to sit up. She doesn't even realize the scar Arthur made when he tried to pry her open and take her power is beginning to fade and be replaced with healthy pink flesh. Of all the things to talk about, suddenly, "How long have you had your shop?"

Her laughter is a startled thing, for the topic if not the reason for the sudden surge of energy; it's round-about that time in the process. "The bakery, dear? Oh, a bit now. When Mr. Hadley passed away, I needed something to keep myself busy, and then when the bomb hit, well… the previous owner, he was just too frightened to stay, so I took it on. You'll have to come down and have a chocolate cookie, once you're feeling up for it. Just the thing to put a cap on the day." A light patpatpat to the hand in hers; when she lets go, her own shoulders slump just a little. It's a tiny thing, the way she looks just a little less vibrant herself. Easy to miss, especially since she gives it no-nevermind. "And there we go. Will you want a shower before you head on out, dear? All that blood on your shoulder and all?"

"May I?" she asks. "I stress bake." she explains shyly. "Just a few days ago I made enough lemon bars to feed an army company. I mean, I like cooking too, I wanted to go to school for it, but baking is very comforting." She then says, "I forgot, I don't have a change of clothes." She looks faintly sheepish and yes, she's sitting up. Hadley is right - her weather sense is gone, but somehow she doesn't feel stripped or wadded up or whatever metaphor might apply. It's there, she can feel it like a bright core inside of her; she just can't touch it for now.

Mrs. Hadley pushes up to her feet off the bed, and bustles on over to the chest of drawers. "The bathroom is right there behind that door, dear. You go rinse off your shoulder, and I'll see if I can't find a shirt the right size for you, at least. Then we'll go down and see what we can find in the bakery to suit you, hmm?"

Her head cleared, her shoulder no longer throbbing, Helena tugs the blanket down - she's in a simple tank top that is unfortunately yes, somewhat bloodied. "Thank you, Mrs. Hadley." she says, beginning to break across her face. She feels better.

A week of sleep might be an underestimation. Everything is crisp, and clear, and factory-fresh brand-new. Scars are gone, wounds erased — the only thing Mrs. Hadley didn't do is Helena's hair, and isn't that a shame? The older woman glances over her shoulder, and the sight of the younger's delight has her own grin rising up to the surface. "Go on then, there's washcloths on the little shelf. I think I have one here that'll do for you." What she pulls out of the drawer isn't exactly fashionable, but it has sleeves and buttons, and sometimes that's all a body can hope for from a shirt.

With a spring in her step, Helena heads for the shower, and as Mrs. Hadley departs, she can hear the girl starting to sing, accompanied by the pitter-pat whoosh of the shower-head. "Well I can dance with you honey, if you think it's funny; does your mother know that you're out? And I can chat with you baby, flirt a little maybe; does your mother know that you're out?" It's the best she's felt in a long time.

The shirt is laid down across the bed where it can be seen, and Mrs. Hadley calls out, "The towels are there in the basket, dear. I'll just be outside talking to your young man while we wait." And with that, she's easing out of the bedroom and into the open parts of the apartment. "Well, if you can hear her singing," she informs him cheerfully, "You can tell she's feeling much improved, I hope."

He'd been sitting, and immediately rises when the lady enters the room. "Oh, yes ma'am." he says in quick agreement. "Should I wait for her here, or go back to the van?" He doesn't seem clinical or uncaring, but he does seem rather professional.

"Oh, you can wait downstairs, dear. We'll be along in just a little bit. You take a look at the counter and let me know what catches your fancy down there, we'll make sure you get something to enjoy on your way out." Mrs. Hadley herself bustles over to the kitchenette, puttering around with water and a kettle or somesuch thing while she waits.

He grants her another faint smile, catches himself to keep from saluting and says promptly, "Yes, ma'am." With that, he'll turn and make his way out of the apartment, and make his way downstairs.

Helena is pretty prompt in the shower, and some ten minutes later, she emerges, dressed in Hadley's button down granny shirt. She has the crumpled tank top in one hand. "Do you have an incinerator?" Helena asks, smiling but serious. "I didn't want to just leave this in your garbage or something."

The old woman blinks a few times at that question, then huffs out a bit of laughter. "No, no, I don't have an incinerator, dear. If you'd rather not just toss it into the trash, you should probably take it with you." She studies Helena for a long moment or three, then nods, looking quite satisfied with the sight. "Look at you, pretty as can be!"

Helena flushes at that, looking faintly to the side. "It's no problem, I can take it with me, if you have a plastic bag or something…" she puts a hand to her cheek. "Thank you. I mean, for the compliment. And the healing. I'd offer to do something for you - maybe water your plants or something, but well," she shrugs a little bit with a smile. "Unexpected forecast."

"Of course, of course," and Mrs. Hadley pulls a plastic grocery bag from one of those knitted tube-things. It's brought over for the disposal of the shirt. "Don't you worry about it for a moment, dear. If we /can/ do something, we ought to do it, and that's just the way the world will work someday. Let's go down and treat your young man to a cookie, shall we? And I suppose you too."

Helena blinks. "Oh, he's not my young man, he's just you know, a friend." More of an aquaintance. A temporary bodyguard, if that. She shoves the tank top down into the bag and lets it dangle from her fingers. "A cookie would be wonderful." Her tone turns hopeful as they exit the apartment and head down the stairs. "Do you have snickerdoodles?"

"Dripping with cinnamon /and/ spice, and in the fall, I toss a little bit of pumpkin seasoning into them too," Mrs. Hadley informs with a laugh as she starts down into the bakery proper. "But you really need to take a look at the double-fudge triple-dark-chocolate cake, dear. You'll want a gallon of milk to take it down with, but it's so worth it!"

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