A Christmas Market Vignette


alvin_icon.gif asi_icon.gif godfrey_icon.gif kay_icon.gif luther_icon.gif zelda_icon.gif

Scene Title A Christmas Market Vignette
Synopsis Yamagato Park residents visiting the Christmas Market share a line for a drink — however briefly
Date December 22, 2018

Yamagato Park

The Bensonhurst Park off of Cropsey Avenue is absolutely covered in festive winter lighting. Tunnels of color wreath the walking paths, shapes of stars and bells hang from the trees, and almost as far as the eye can see, the night is illuminated beautifully. The Japanese tradition of Illuminations isn't out of place in the States, but there is something to be said for the excessive display that's transformed the park, attracting families, couples, and the lone admirer to partake in viewing despite the frigid temperatures.

The light-wrapped trees are densest around a section of cobblestoned path that's been turned into a plaza, thanks to an impromptu arrangement of stalls and activity areas that are decorated with inner-lit frosty icicles. At intervals, tall heat lamps are posted to lessen the chill that sweeps in off the nearby water. All the better to encourage people to linger here in particular!

The Christmas Market that has sprung up holds heart and hand-warming favorites between its different stalls, a menagerie of roasted smells assaulting the senses. No music plays over the area, the plaza instead being filled with the conversation of those milling, and the occasional excited squeal from a child who spots the Market's resident Santa Claus.

In the Damaris household, Christmas is a melancholy time. The stark contrast of the festivities in Bensonhurst Park is a boon. 'Ella hurries back to her mother's side, handing Kay a small cup of hot chocolate. "It was cheaper than I thought," she offers before her mom can put up her usual you didn't have to do that argument.

"Thank you, sugarplum." Kay watches the steam rise from the mouth of the cup for a moment, a happy sort of smile crossing her face for the generosity of her only child. She's so grown. A young lady instead of a little girl.

Among the bustle is a taller man, dressed rather nice for such an activity, but then he believed in keeping up appearances. His tan long coat, is tied tight around him, hands tucked into the pockets, and collar flipped to keep his neck warm. He watches families walk past him with a blank look. “What in god’s name was I thinkin’,” murmurs Godfrey Wells under his breath, a faint mist of breath trailing out behind him as he walks among the stalls.

An excited squeal for Santa alerts him soon enough for Godfrey to take a quick step to the side to avoid the child’s bull-like barreling for the jolly old elf. Lips are pressed in irritation turning to watch the journey. With a small shake of his head, the man looks down the line of shops and spots a stand selling something stronger than sodas and juices. “Oh hell-o,” Godfrey’s demeanor shifts greatly, a bright smile on his lips. “Now that is more like it.” Of course, he has to work his way through the river of people to the stand on the other side. This could take time, especially, dodging children like they could infect him with the plague.

Tetsuyama Asi steps back from a large wooden stall with an uncut piping bag of a steaming nut assortment in hand, the plastic fogged with the heat from it. Her head tips forward in a polite if stiff bow for the man who'd sold them to her, and she has to turn on her heel after to avoid looking at the rest of the offerings before she buys entirely too much. Chances are, she already has, but she looks entirely unperturbed by it. The evening is surprisingly nostalgic, and she enjoys the scenery as well as the crowd.

A thick crocheted scarf rests on top of her usual studded leather jacket, helping to preserve some warmth in the bay breeze, but her fingers are bare as she reaches into the bag to sample what she's bought. First up is a honey-roasted pecan. "Mmm," she sighs pleasantly at the taste. Her eyes close.

And then she offers her bag out to the shadow at her side, opening one eye to glance at him. "Would you like some? Might as well enjoy yourself this evening." Her voice is light and polite enough to her latest personal security guard. The technopath had been far less kind to some of the rotating assortment that had been attached to her at arm's length this last month. Tonight, though, she's not up to anything she's not happy to have company for… even if she's impatient overall for the moment she's watched a little less closely.

Alvin is just that, Asi's shadow. At least for tonight. He strolls along nearby. Close enough that he can respond to any potential threats, but far enough that he's not looming or crowding her. But then he's kind of a naturally unobtrusive person. He has made two concessions to the cold. A longer jacket hangs from his shoulders, a fog coat that covers him down to his knees, and in his hands is a steaming cup of hot chocolate as well that he's sipping from idly as he watches over Asi.

Alvin's eyes track the bag that's offered over to him, gaze flickering from it, up to Asi's features before he tips his head. "Arigatou gozaimasu." He comments softly, plucking a nut from the bag, any of the nuts and pops it into his mouth, chewing slowly, letting his eyes wander over their surroundings for a few moments before he tips his head to her again.

"They're very good." He offers her a polite smile, then his eyes go around them to the little gathering and the market. "What do you think?" His tone is soft, and polite. Always polite. Well almost always. Rigidly polite even. The hand with the hot chocolate in it waves in general towards the festivities, eyes flickering over to the running children, and children screaming for Santa, a faintly amused look settling on his features.

Yamagato’s local living lie detector is quite in love with her job and those who are similarly employed by them. The lights are beautiful, and in general, it is rather easy to feel joyful in a society where you and your kind are not living in constant fear of disappearing and being cut off from your former life.

The slender woman is wearing a rather nice outfit today, a sparkling red dress with long sleeves that ends just below her knees, which are covered in black leggings, with a scarf, a coat, and a pair of cozy-looking boots tying the entire outfit together.

She, too, has spotted the table containing libations, and has decided to make her way over there. And it requires a good deal of dodging in and out of the crowd. At one point, a child makes a beeline for Santa despite his parent’s protests, and Zelda is forced to all but fling herself out of the way — right into Godfrey, no less.

With a twist of her wrist, the assortment in the bag is swirled so Asi can peer into it for her next bite, right at the moment another child starts squealing. With abject disinterest, she glances over the top of the bag in time to see the near-collision between Zelda and another man making his way through the crowd. She breathes a small, amused laugh likely only Alvin can hear, her expression otherwise still deadpan.

"完璧と思う," Asi replies before palming another bite, taking her time before adding onto the statement. She's in no rush. "It's almost like being at home, except here, I have enough time to actually see it. I can't remember the last time I went to see the lights purposefully."

Snacks and the human collision show must require a drink, though. With a briefly apologetic glance toward Alvin and his decidedly non-alcoholic chocolate beverage, she twists off the end of the open plastic bag and starts in the direction of the stall selling various alcohols. A stein might be a little too ambitious, but a taste of something warm and spiced would suit her mood just fine.

He isn’t even paying attention to anyone that might be cutting across the flow of people, so when the impact happens, Godfrey stumbles back a few steps bumping into a family on their way to tell a man in a fake beard what they want. “Oh bloody hell,” he starts until he gets a glare from the parent. “Sorry,” he offers, without a real lick of sincerity. “Sorry…” then he looks down at a little girl with soulful blue eyes, he takes a step back like it might bite him, and bumps into Zelda again. “Oop.. sorry,” he repeats again, turning toward the obstacle, sees her, and he seems a bit surprised.

Eyes travel down and them up again, by time he looks her in the eyes again, he has a bright smile. “Well, well, aren't we looking rather festive this evening.”

His eyes drift past her to the sea of humanity flowing towards him, hands move to grip her arms, while he asks “Are you alright, love?” Of course, he uses his show of somewhat false concern to subtly turn them both just enough to put her as a shield between him and the onslaught of kids on their way to Santa. “Have to be careful. It’s rather dangerous out here tonight. I mean clearly, no one here has learned that they make leashes for kids now.” His voices lifts just slightly, “Would save us a lot of headache or god forbid anybody break somethin’”

It gets him a few dirty looks from passing parents, but they are summarily ignored for the woman in front of him, to whom he offers another brilliant smile. “Not quite sure why I decided this was a good idea; but if you will excuse me, I was working on turning a bad idea into something tolerable.” He nods his head toward the alcohol stand.

Alvin's eyes track Zelda's progress through the crowd. They're never still even if he mostly is. His head only turns a little bit here and there to get a better look at different parts of the festivities. But most of his attention is definitely on Asi's immediate surroundings. If he's going to play bodyguard he's going to do it right. His head tips with a small smile for Asi's comment in Japanese, agreeing with it.

He follows along towards the table with the alcohol. "It has been some time since I have as well." He pauses to watch the collision between Zelda and Godfrey, and then the mass of screaming children that's running around. There's a look of tolerant disapproval on his features at the unruly mess. "Are you two alright?" He asks as he and Asi draw nearer to where Godfrey is using Zelda as a shield against the children.

He takes a slow sip from his hot chocolate, leaving Asi to order herself something to drink as Alvin turns a little to look around them, watching the children rush Santa like he’s got buckets of free candy and it all goes to whoever gets to him first. “I have never understood that particular custom.” He admits in a soft tone, meant mostly for Asi, but might be audible to the others as well.

Through the crowd, Kay catches sight of Asi. "'Ella, honey, you don't have to stick to me if you'd rather wand—"

"You mean you have to work," the teenager surmises with less bitterness than one might expect. In fact, she looks slightly amused as she follows her mother's gaze and catches sight of the little knot of people. Specifically Godfrey. "You better work, bi—"

"Colene Marcella."

"It's just Britney!" 'Ella grins wide and holds up her free hand in surrender. "Okay, okay. Go work. I'll see if my friends are around here somewhere. Maybe I'll go get a picture with Santa," she jokes, causing Kaydence to shake her head and shoo her off.

Weaving her way through the parents and children, she comes to a stop at a conversational distance, heedful of Alvin's presence and what it means. "Asi! Good to see you out and enjoying the festivities." Kay's eye's flit from Alvin, Zelda, and Godfrey, offering a polite nod. "And the rest of you."

Santa’s beard is quite real underneath the fake one, thank you very much. But that’s of no concern to the children who have spotted the jolly old St. Nick strolling from where he’d come from, headed towards a designated and heavily decorated booth.

The red suit, white trim, and black belt with shiny golden buckle are all part of the get up along with the white wig and beard. Those all might be fake, but the laughter and smile from the man playing the role are genuine. Luther Bellamy knows he has a role to play here, and there are children’s wishes to hear out.

A complete one-eighty from the sour faced chief of physical security at RayTech, Luther-ahem-Santa pauses as an enthusiastic child bounces up to him and stares up and up. He must be one-and-a-half of the kid in height at least.

Asi keeps walking, at least to secure her spot in line before she looks over her shoulder as Alvin observes the Market and the excited gaggle of kids. A breath of amusement coils away from her in the air before she turns back to the decorative sign detailing the alcoholic options of the booth. At the point of making a decision, she hears the sound of her name and faces her body toward Kay before her eyes follow. A polite smile curls up on her features, ever so briefly.

"Good evening," she greets mildly, not sure to expect business-Kaydence or neighbor-Kay. She lived her work, after all, and they were currently circled by other Yamagato employees. "It's beautiful out here, it would have been a shame to miss it." Asi relents and looks back in Zelda and Godfrey's direction as well, knowing the first and acknowledging her with a nod, while the second is observed for a moment.

New, she remembers, working on recalling his name. She eventually lets out a note to acknowledge him as well, before gesturing with her head toward the line they're standing in. "Would you like to jump the queue? You've been trying to get over here longer than I have." She doesn't smile, but there's mirth in her expression as she refers to his misfortune in navigating the sea of children.

As more people approach, each get a searching look, curious. One could say appraising. Maybe a bit fascinated that they are all suddenly there. “Well” Godfrey straightens a bit, his smile turning a bit mischievous. “This evening just got decidedly better and I haven’t even made it to the cart yet.”

Alvin’s question pulls his attention, looking the man over, Godfrey’s brows lift slightly, “Security right?” It’s a guess, but then the man has that air about. He looks about himself and motions to all of the kids with a little dismissive circling of his hand, “Is there nothin’ you can do about this? It’s like the runnin’ of the bulls out here.. Only instead of using bulls, it’s the equivalent of chihuahuas.”

One kid that passes by too close gets a look, before he turns a bright smile to the ladies, “Right. Where was I. Oh! I should introduce myself to you lovely ladies.” A hand… a well manicured hand, is offered to each in turn. “Names Godfrey. Godfrey Wells. New to the company here.” When he gets to Asi’s hand he holds it a bit longer, covering it with his other one as he sincerely says, “And I believe you, my dear, were the answer to my prayers. I heard the mention of cuttin’ the line on this…” he looks at it, “…cart?” He really wants that drink.

Looking over his shoulder at the ‘Santa’ wandering through the crowd, Godfrey looks back to Asi with a bit of worry. “Preferably quickly before the sharks start ta circle and go into a frenzy… I fear none of us shall survive that.”

The woman squints at Godfrey’s not-so-sincere apologies, even as he maneuvers her to use as a shield against the children. Bad first impressions are difficult to shake, especially when they’re from a walking lie detector.

However, Zelda isn’t rude, taking his hand and giving it a small, somewhat stiff shake. “Wilhelmina Falkenrath,” she responds with her east-of-London accent, turning to peer thoughtfully at the cart. “Welcome to Yamagato. I’m the SESA Liaison.”

Her smile brightens a bit as Asi and Alvin make their way over. Two people who have left a much better first impression on her than Mr. Wells has. “Asi,” she greets, offering the woman a warm smile. “Good to see you. I do believe I owe you a drink, if you include me on this line skipping scheme of yours,” She grins, offering a small dip of her head to Alvin in greeting.

Alvin looks over from his study of the crowd to tip his head and shoulders both in Zelda's direction. "How are you Miss Falkenrath?" He asks in a soft tone, another little dip of his head to Kay in greeting. "Miss Demaris. And Mister Wells." He shifts backwards a step or two, giving Asi a bit more space to carry on any conversations she may wish to, though he does give a quick nod to Godfrey's question about being security.

There's a faint and amused smile that ghosts Alvin's lips at the request from Godfrey to wrangle the children. "Ahh. I'm afraid wrangling children is not a part of my skill set. Nor is bull wrangling, so I am ill equipped for either task." There's a flat delivery to his words, but one only needs look at his features to see the pull at the corner of his mouth, betraying his amusement. Alvin's cup his lifted, another sip taken from the still steaming cocoa, eyes looking warily at the crowd of children now mobbing Santa. "Sharks indeed." There's a glance around, to see if there's any other employees that are supposed to be helping the poor Santa.

Asi normally isn't much for shaking hands, but the man going down the line has a demeanor about him that inspires her to make an exception. When he clasps his other hand around hers, too, an eyebrow arches at first before her expression smooths over with wry amusement, a smirk tugging at the corners of her mouth. She returns the shake firmly as she introduces herself. "Tetsuyama Asi, JSDF Mugai-Ryu." And since he's neglected to do himself, she nods her head politely in Alvin's direction. "And this is Mr. Mott, with Yamagato."

Her hand sweeps in front of her in a gesture to the rest of them. "Go ahead." she concedes. It's not like there had been anyone behind her, and they seemed to be forming a group now. As she slides a step back, she lets the bag of roasted nuts open again, still warm to the touch. It's tilted out toward Zelda.

"Only if you help me finish these off," Asi responds to the woman with that same smirk as before, before tipping it in Kay's direction as well.

“A pleasure, Mister Welles,” Kay greets in her southern-tinged drawl. Whether she’s business tonight or not is difficult to tell. Or maybe the fact that it isn’t obvious she’s not is the sign that she’s still all business. Either way, she accepts Asi’s offering with a grateful smile and nod of her head. “Thanks.”

So far, so good. This evening is going well, screaming children and all. One of ‘Ella’s friends has conscripted the teenager to help with line control. “Okay!” she calls out above the noise. “Who’s ready to see Santa?” There’s a chorus of tiny cheers. “Great! Now remember, Santa’s got a long list to check and we all wanna be on the Nice List, right? So let’s line up in straight rows, okay?”

She’s got her work cut out for her.

“What a pleasure it is to meet all of you,” Godfrey offers to them all, semi sincerely, for those paying attention to such things. Asi, especially, getting a curious and thoughtful look. “And as I said, my evening has been made better by your appearance.”

“Oh…a liaison.” That gets Zelda another once over, openly fascinated. “I too, am a liaison.” The word is emphasized like it’s an important one. “In fact, one of Yamagato’s business liaisons.” Godfrey motions towards the main building, “Since they are making some rather fascinatin’ and risky deals with American businesses in the Safe Zone, such as Raytech, I was sent here to help.”

Getting bumped by a kid, reminds him of his plight. So Godfrey slips out of the river of humanity and slips into line with Asi. A motion to the others to join the two of them, “Come. Come. I think we all going to be needing a little something to get through this evenin’” Alvin gets eyed, but then Godfrey concedes. “And since you obviously can’t help with… “ He motions at the group number of kids with a wiggle of his fingers. “You must join us, Mr. Motts.”

Finally, at the counter, Godfrey gives the man a bright smile, rubbing his cold hands together, and then looks at the menu. His face falls a bit into a look of disappointment. Turning to look at Asi and the others, he asks, “Ah, any recommendations? I fear that I don’t usually partake in holiday fare.” His hands spread to show his helplessness.

A warm smile is cast toward Alvin. “I’m doing well, thanks. I do hope you enjoyed the Matsuri,” The truth detector grins. Alvin probably already knows about her ability, given his position. “I hope you’re having a good holiday?”

Asi’s offer prompts a grin, and Zelda reaches out, snagging a few of the roasted nuts — those are always a favorite. Kay is, in turn, offered a small nod from the woman as she munches on the treat, peering over the drink menu and pondering what she may want; eventually, she settles on a hot buttered rum.

The new business liaison is given a much cooler reception — his first bits of dishonesty have colored her view of him already, it seems. “I’m not in the business side of things,” she replies. “Technically my job falls into security — I work with SESA when trouble arises, to help everyone come to an amenable conclusion to such matters.”

Alvin arches a slow brow at Asi introducing him, a touch of amusement pulling at his features again before he lets his eyes move on, constantly looking, constantly watching. There's a slightly relieved look on his face when the kids get a wrangler, less chaos, less variables for him to keep track of. His head turns back to regard Godfrey as the man insists that he join them. "Sumimasen. I am here in official capacity. So I could not drink anything stronger than the cocoa in my cup now." There's a slight twitch when Godfrey gets his last name wrong, but there's no comment made, just a tip of his head to the man.

Alvin doesn't join the others in line for libations, but he does stand close by. "I'm not much of a celebrator of the holiday myself. But I do enjoy the decorations and the more festive nature of people around the holiday. So well enough I suppose." A small smile back in Zelda's direction, his cocoa is sipped from again. There's a more amused expression on his face at Zelda's reception for Godfrey. "He is a businessman." He comments quietly to her by way of explanation.

When Godfrey sidles in, he's put himself more or less between Asi and Alvin, earning him a glance out of the corner of her eye. A note of interest escapes away from her as they step up for their orders, and Asi's more than happy to go first as Godfrey asks for recommendations. Instead of giving one directly, she politely asks for a cup of the mulled wine. Cinnamon-scented steam rises from the disposable cup she holds delicately between both palms, a perfectly innocent expression on her face as steps aside closer to Kaydence.

"Been a busy month for you?" she asks her neighbor lightly, brow raised.

There's a small downturn of the corners of Kay's mouth that might look like disapproval when Asi leaves Godfrey hanging in the wind with regards to his drink order. In actuality, she's curtailing a smirk at the technopath's antics.

With a polite smile, Kay inclines her head slightly, affirming the business of her month. "Yes. Considerably. It feels a little bit like my days in the NYPD sometimes." She lifts her brows, a wry amusement in her brown eyes.

Zelda’s commentary on her job earn an amused look and a bit of a lopsided smile. “Yes, well, be that as it may, you still act as a buffer between SeeSaw and us. I’m a buffer, too.” He turns back to the menu and lips press into a fine line.

The englishman looks a bit downtrodden and uncertain when no recommendations come. He has no problem letting Asi go first watching her and what she orders with an intensity, cause he literally, doesn’t know what to order. Even leaning a little closer to get a bit of a peek at the contents and inhaling the spicy smell.

“Really? This is what you’re gettin’?” He is uncertain of her choice and even glances back to see if the others speak up. No? Okay then. He looks back to the vendor and put on a rather sincere smile. “Well then, I guess have no other recourse. We only live once right? Try new things they say.” He sounds almost like he is trying to convince himself to take this new adventure in taste.

The cart owner is looking a bit annoyed now, it shows on his face as he tries to wait patiently. Godfrey sighs and points over his shoulder in the direction that Asi went. “I guess, I’ll have what she’s havin.’”

The remark from Alvin prompts a small smirk, and the woman offers a small nod in acknowledgement — business never was the most honest field. Still, the initial interactions and the insincerity doesn’t really help much — especially when each little lie, tiny though it may be, is not the most comfortable experience in the world.

“SESA,” Zelda corrects. “Tread carefully, I happen to like the agents I’ve come into contact with.” She happens to be dating one of them, too, though she doesn’t disclose that much. “But yes, I suppose you are right and I do act as a buffer between the government and our company.” She smirks slightly.

Then, she pokes Godfrey’s arm, motioning for him to dip down so she can whisper something into his ear.

Asi smiles in return at Kay's comment, her own a little thin before it's hidden away by a long sip from her cup. The perturbed look in her eye is easier to catch in that moment, but her expression becomes placid again soon after. "Well, hopefully the holidays bring some reprieve." she comments with sincerity.

Her head inclines slightly as she gently informs Godfrey, "I believe the phrase is 'don't knock it until you try it.'"

“Tomay-to, tomah-toe.” Godfrey waves off the distinction of how to pronounce SESA, cause he is in the process of getting his much desired drink.

Now with a disposable cup in his hand, Godfrey looks at with some serious doubt, brows furrowed. It’s lifted and sniffed, and he turns that doubting look to Asi and Kay. “Really…” he starts before Zelda is beckoning him to lean over. A dark brow arches and he obliges, leaning over her direction.

Whatever is whispered, it gets a slight furrowing of brows and then they slowly rise. “Riiiight.” he draws out the word as he straightens. “Good to know.” Whatever doubt he had over the drink, he ignores for taking a decent drink from it. He needs it after that. Luckily the cold has cooled it off enough that he doesn’t scorch his mouth. There is a bit of a grimace, still, since it’s still an uncomfortable heat.

“Well, that was an adventure.” Godfrey looks at the mulled wine left, still uncertain about it. “And while I would loooove to explore that phrase with you,” he says while pointing at Asi with a wicked smile. “I think my adventure into the uncomfortable is done for tonight.” He looks over at the squealing pack of kids and Santa. “I think I’m goin’ to go find a place with somethin’ a bit.. Well… a lot stronger.”

He offers them all a bright smile and a small bow of his head, saluting them with his drink before he turns to try and shimmy his way out of this insanity.

A look of gratitude is offered to the helping teenager from Santa, the man behind the beard as white as snow smiling with a crinkle of grey eyes. He climbs up to the decorated seat within a festive booth, where he assumes the post of Jolly Ol' St. Nick of the North for some time.

Children. So many children. So many ho-ho-ho's, so many Christmas wishes. Thankfully still there is even an interpreter elf whispering translations into Santa's hidden earpiece for the young ones whose grasp of English hasn't quite come overseas yet.

Still, it doesn't deny that Santa has a decidedly American accented and somewhat simple and stilted Japanese turn of phrase.

But, this Santa is into it. His smile and laughs are genuine, his rumbling pitch leaving the littler ones tickled, his terrible Japanese accent keeps them giggling. And for a while at least, nervous parents are given reprieve and hopefully decent holiday photos.

Kay inclines her head to Asi’s well-wishing. “So far, so good,” she comments, glancing around the dazzling market like she’d like to be knocking on wood about now. Still, nothing jumps out at them from the shadows. Nothing explodes in the distance. There are just happy people - or those like her, making an attempt.

‘Ella watches the handsome man depart from the group her mother’s joined and frowns. While she’s clearing one kid from their visit with Saint Nick and setting up for the next she sighs. “You know, Santa? All I want for Christmas is for my mom to find someone who makes her happy again.” Then she smiles brightly. “Don’t worry. I’ll try to set that up myself. You just worry about skateboards and iPhones.”

Asi's brow lifts with interest as Godfrey goes through changes. She glances after at Zelda, wondering what exactly's been said, managing somehow to hold her laughter until after he's dipped away into the crowd. "Oh, no, Zelda. You terrified him." She assumes whatever it is, it can't be too serious regardless.

She smirks into her cup before taking a long drink from it. With a sidelong glance and a twinkle in her eye, she reaches out to nudge Kay with her elbow. "Let's invite that one out sometime. A new SEAN star in the making, perhaps."

Shaking her head to herself, Asi looks off toward the gaggle of children by Santa as they cheer when he starts hearing their requests. Her smile returns again, this one more open. There's something endearing about the fantastic in the mundane, how the lights and sparkles make the world feel magical even in a world where the extraordinary is the new normal.

"Merry Christmas, you two." she says. It feels right in the moment.

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