Fully Baked


delilah2_icon.gif cassandra_icon.gif

Scene Title Fully Baked
Synopsis Delilah loves her bakeries, and Cass loves customers. And both appreciate small worlds.
Date September 7, 2020


Built opposite from Eileen's Cafe in the basement concourse of the Red Hook Market, Cassandra’s brings a welcome flair of the old world to the new. Built in the space that once held a branch of the New York Community Bank, stilted office cubicles and sheetrock have been stripped away to reveal the architecture beneath.

Wrought iron gates swing inward over well worn brown brick floors that transition seamlessly to overarching vaulted ceilings. This naturally divides the space into several equal-sized sections. Most of these spaces are taken up by simple, yet comfortable, scavenged tables and chairs. The mismatched combinations of wicker, cast iron, and glass, give the place a cosy feel. A few booths are scattered here and there, too, allowing quiet conversation between groups with a little privacy built in. Old-style lamps are mounted to the beams that criss-cross the ceiling, the light warm and inviting.

A bar is along the right side of the shop with the counter and the display of fresh breads and pastries on display to the left inside the old safety deposit box vault. A door behind the counter leads to the kitchen and the ovens, wonderful smells emerging almost constantly while Cassandra is at work. The vault behind is used to store baking ingredients now - something some would consider more valuable than the dollar.

Delilah Trafford loved working at the Red Hook market. Things change, and with this it was for the better. The new internship and school needed her to pack up here, but being Red Hook she always comes back. Having heard about a new bakery and having once upon a time worked in one herself, it seemed only the best of ideas to go in the morning before she left for Raytech- -

And the why would be a quest for baked breakfast goods, if it wasn't much of a wait. She won't know until she gets there. Getting there is the easy part, and tearing herself away from peering into the cafe across the way is the harder. Eileen. She's certain it's an homage. Why? Delilah couldn't say, as she's never asked. Better to keep the romanticism anyway.

Stepping inside is a step back in time. Her time working at a bakery wasn't the same in feel and visual. It's the smell of baking and the toasty coil of lingering oven heat. It tugs a soft sigh from the redhead's chest, ending in a wistful smile as she surveys the food, the counter, the little queue of patient customers.

There is a such a thing as being too popular. Britney Spears suffered from it in the years before the war and she went a little mad because of it, shaving her head and being irresponsible with drink and drugs. Cassandra, on the other hand, is on the upswing of popularity as far as she can tell. Her bread - even the ones that are special due to over kneading, too long in the oven, or just strangely misshapen - sell out just as well as the nicer looking ones. It all eats the same, but there is an aesthetic quality that she shoots for in every baked good that crosses her counter.

The coffee shop across the road had a few carafes set up inside, a massive one for regular and a smaller one for decaf, and the allure of coffee and a danish or croissant for breakfast is a very real taste of what mornings were like before the world went mad. The chance at a memory and a tasty breakfast or lunch was just what the denizens of the market craved. Find a need and fill it - that's the key to a good business. Having a good product? That's just icing on the cake. A menu written in chalk is on the counter, a few items crossed out since they're sold out.

“Here you are.” Cassandra slides a reusable bag across the counter to the person waiting in line, their purchase already paid for. “Two loaves. See you next time.” She waves and, with a chime, the register is closed, ready for the next victim. “Next?”

Delilah skims the goods on her way to the line, and when she gets to her 'next?', the redhead is all smiles, a glitter behind her eyes. Something a touch more than the prospect of baked goods. Sentimentality.

"Can I get a half-dozen of any muffins you have left? I know it's a little late but I can see you're not sold out- -" She pauses in the shift to free her wallet, brows meeting. "Unless you are and haven't changed it," Awkwardly changing tracks, Delilah laughs to herself, looking to Cassandra. "In which case I'll take what I can get. My office mates aren't too picky. I thought it might be a nice impression on a first week…" Between the muted accent and the moments of babble Lilah catches herself in, she becomes increasingly aware that she's doing just that. Welp.

There is something familiar about her to Cassandra if the woman's been a regular at the market; what is more familiar is the Raytech lanyard tucked neatly under her shirt collar and attached ID pinned to a buttonhole.

A half dozen of what they have left. Hmm. “Just a second. Let me see what I’ve got in the back.” Cassandra starts towards the back, pausing before entering the swinging door that leads to the kitchen. “You like chocolate? Yeah.” Cassandra nods. “I bet you do.” Of course she’s fairly sure Dee likes chocolate, since most people do, and with the difficulty getting such things during the war, even people who don’t normally like chocolate end up liking a taste of it. She vanishes in the back and, after a second, the door is propped open with a foot and what’s left is called out. “Got Blueberry, Banana nut, cinnamon swirl, peach divinity, lemon poppyseed…um…the chocolate ones…” There’s a rustling of paper and if Dee looks, she’ll see Cassandra going over a rack that’s been fairly well picked over.. “A few savory, which were an experiment….And like two strawberry cheesecake left, too.” If you’re watching your figure, don’t grab those. These muffins, by the way, are enormous, thanks to the tin that Cassandra uses. Almost softball sized, these are. A half dozen could feed a family of six with a little left over, if they got the filling ones.

Cassandra comes back out, eyes the board, grabs her chalk and deftly crosses out the Peanut Butter Banana muffins - which are different from the banana nut muffins, apparently - before gesturing to the menu. “As of now, you’ve got your choice of pretty much anything on there that’s not crossed out. If you let me know you’re coming ahead of time, I can have a batch ready for you. Assuming there’s a particular kind you’re craving.”

She studies the other woman for a second, recognizing her from /somewhere/ but not knowing exactly where. Still, the lanyard does give her a bit of a clue for conversation. “Knowing your workplace, they’ll be happy with anything they can get that’s not out of the commissary. When I interned there a year or so ago, they had a standing order for baked goods. Anything I could bring in, they’d welcome. I bet if you find Seren or Isis, they’d remember my muffins. I know Baird loved the chocolate ones.” She opens a paper box and waits, expectantly, for the decision on what to get.

"Dear lord." Delilah shifts enough to watch Cass and her quest for seeing what's in stock. She openly boggles at the size. Maybe half a dozen was overestimating, but- - with what Cassandra adds as she returns gets Dee to laugh softly. "Yeah, uh, the cafeteria there is a little lackluster compared to the rest, but I guess that can be said for anywhere."

"You too? How was it? I just started a few weeks ago, interning in bio. Project management. There's some crazy shit going on." Delilah sounds happy about this crazy shit, so it must be the good kind? "Ah, and I will definitely take the last cheesecake ones. A chocolate, peach, blueberry… and one of your experiments? I haven't baked nearly as much lately, this is giving me some intense flashbacks." Brown eyes are animated, skimming the queue to make sure she's not holding too much up, the welcoming box for those giant muffins, Cassandra and her equally welcoming face. She looks like a nice girl.

"Baird was- - something else, when I met them. …I should start a list." And maybe bake some on her own time, but god does Cass' place look good.\
“To be honest, it was a relief. I mean…you know how it was here in New York before things got straightened out a little. Being an intern at Raytech was just…normal? Despite the insane stuff coming out of the labs.” Cassandra starts loading up the box with the requested muffins, being careful to keep them separated with a little paper divider around each one. “Have they put the velociraptor receptionist back in place? Last time I was there they kind of retired the old girl because Warren put some kind of defense mechanism into it that ended up melting a desk.” Among other things. And the way she talks about it, all matter-of-factly, is a good indication of how used she /got/ to the insanity of Raytech. “The cafeteria may not be the best food, but it is food. It kept a lot of us going during the lean times when food was hard to find. I don’t know how Mr. Ray managed to keep that place stocked but…he did, somehow. Helped a lot of staff and families.”

The experimental muffin, bacon maple (with /real/ maple syrup!) is set in a corner, obviously savory compared to the rest of the sweet ones, the box closed with a pink sticker that was obviously designed in part with the help of an eight year old. Lots of swirling colors and a crayon-written logo that just had ‘Cassie’s’ at the top. Yes, the place is called Cassandra’s, but apparently the designer thought it should be shortened a little to fit better on the sticker. She rings up the muffins - a fair price, considering the variety of it all, and thinks.

“The last thing I worked on while I was there was that hydroponic farm they set up in the northern part of the safe zone, by that church.” Cassandra seems in the mood to talk, the line behind Dee patiently waiting their turn. “Got me to experience project management…never thought something so exciting-sounding could be so boring.” She’s probably being a little sarcastic there, but the smile is genuine. Gesturing to the carafe at the end of the counter, Cassandra heads over. “You want a coffee or anything? On the house with purchase of muffins.” As if there needed to be another reason to come to the bakery. The part-timer moves smoothly to the counter after Cassandra steps away, leaving the Boss able to converse, the line starting to move again.

"I haven't had the pleasure of meeting the non-human receptionist." Delilah has indeed heard of the infamous robot, and of course it's vague state of (dis)repair. She is sure Warren is tweaking it somewhere or other. Sera is arguably better. There's just a grin and a small shake of head for mention of Richard and wherever he manages to get things; there are some things you just accept. A small dip of head and a wave is given in apology to the person in line behind her when she moves to follow Cassandra after paying.

"Only if you've got to-go cups with this cute little thing." A laugh bubbles forth, Delilah tracing a finger on the playfully juvenile sticker logo. It's adorable though, really. "There are definitely some projects that seem… boring as hell. The bio-sciences folks are a cool bunch, though, they keep things interesting. Even if there's no explosions or flooding or drones crashing through windows- -" Heh. "Hoping to learn a little from them myself, get a little direction. Only got m'self back to school this summer… life was on hold, y'know?"

Cassandra smirks as she fusses with the box, making sure it’s closed, adding a sticker on the edge to seal it shut, and slipping it into a paper bag with handles and the receipt. It’s all so mundane. So common. One might forget that this was going on in a former war zone. “Well, if they do roll that thing out from wherever it’s being tinkered on, assuming they do, don’t try to hack it by spouting gibberish at it. Someone tried that and it…didn’t go well. The security tapes were amusing to watch, though.” The damage, if Cassandra remembered right, took almost a month to fix, too, and Warren got called on the carpet because of it. At least, that’s the story she got.

Sadly, there aren’t printed cups yet. They’re on order from a local print shop. One of the larger ones can easily take a sticker or two on the sleeve, so that’s added before it’s filled almost to the brim with the rich, brown liquid. There are at least twelve different stickers per sheet, in a riot of colors and styles, each with the same little girl’s handwriting proclaiming the bearer to have come from Cassie’s bakery, and one of those sheets is surreptitiously added to the bag as well. Closing it tight, Cassandra places it and the to go cup on the counter ready to easily be grabbed. “I’ll be sure to tell the artist you specifically asked for them. She’s my niece and I asked her to design something for the shop when I opened up. I swear we spent at least two weeks up here after school coloring coffee mugs. And they seem popular. I’ve had a couple go ‘missing,’ and a few people outright ask if they could buy the ones that they were using.” Cassandra chuckles and, if Delilah looks around, she’ll see that every cup has the same artist’s hand in a variety of colors and styles.

There’s a quiet moment as Cassandra watches the counter and the new employee valiantly struggle with the register for a second but, thankfully, it’s figured out and the line starts moving again. And with the ovens running on their own, Cassandra has a moment to just chit-chat. Which is nice.

“There’s always something going on there and while some of it seemed boring - nitrogen fixing in soybeans in Nebraska was one we were tinkering with when I was there - it turns out that it all fits into some giant plan that Mr. Ray has in a room by his office somewhere. At least, that’s what I like to think, since some of the things Raytech is working on seem to have no commercial value. Until they do.” Cassandra takes a sip of her coffee, seeming to have been one of the lucky ‘general’ interns right after Raytech opened up again. Which would explain why she has a relatively broad overview of what was going on instead of just the microcosm that one might have as an intern at a particular spot.

“It’s a good place, though. A really good place. Probably the best place to work for in the city, unless you like baking.” Cassandra grins, her nose wrinkling.

"That's precious, I love it." Delilah's eyes twinkle with honesty, and she gathers up her purchase and the cup into her hand. "I worked at a place like this, wow, a lifetime ago. Before my son was born, and he's, god, he's turning ten soon." There is a brief internal battle that tells on her face, passing through like a funny little reminder.

"I've got eyes on some interesting medical projects, so I do know there's some bigger plan." Something about this has her chuckling, eyes suspicious at nothing in particular. "I know the room you're talking about, too." Dee admits this with a sheepish expression taking over. "Raytech wasn't my first choice, I've known the Rays for years. Wanted to see where my merits got me, and, well."

“Oh?” Cassandra asks, curious. “I don’t have any kids myself, but in the future, hopefully. Be nice to hand down this place to someone.” She gestures with a free hand before sipping from her cup, helpfully labed ‘World’s BESTEST Auntie’ in pink and green swirls. “Is your son at school in one of the private places Raytech set up for his employees, or is he at one of the public ones?” She sips, the comment inviting Delilah to elaborate if she’s comfortable doing so.

Cassandra nods, blowing a breath into her steaming cup of coffee, the scent rushing into her nose, the dark-haired woman breathing deep. “I know what you mean. Raytech wasn’t my first choice either, but the universe conspired a little bit and I kind of fell into their lap. When I got to New York, I was fed up with big corporations and just wanted to do something small, but with all that went on, it made the most sense to hitch my wagon to them. And now I’m here.” She gestures with her cup. “Voila.”

“You’re familiar with Elisabeth, Richard, and Aurora? Sure is a small world.” Cassandra tilts the bottom of an empty coffee cup up to show the small, almost abstract signature of Aurora Ray. “I’m Auntie Cass, and I’m very familiar with the whole family. I’ll definitely make sure Aurora knows that you like her art. I’m the titular Cassandra, by the way. This is my shop.”

"Damn, small world indeed." Delilah isn't shocked so much as amused; Raytech is absolutely a family affair. And as for auntie, well, found family is family, and Dee is the last person to question it. "Yeah… known Liz longer, but, hell, back in my terrorist rebel days." Cassie can pretty much postulate what that may mean, in regards to Liz.

"Rory's friends with Walter. He goes to the Academy, he's having a blast at the new campus." She leans in, eyes narrowed, "Not gonna lie, I'm freakin' jealous as hell. My school sucked." Her ID is picked up between her fingers, tilting the face at Cass. Of course, she's already seen it- - "Delilah." Last name listed there too, Trafford. Passingly… familiar? A laugh, small but conspiratorial. "Nice to meet you. I thought you might be, you seemed to know your way around."

“She told me a little about her life before she met me. Heavily redacted, of course.” Cassandra clarifies, a smile blossoming. “What she did tell me seemed just as crazy as what went on between then and now. Almost unbelievable, in fact. If I didn’t trust her and her family completely, I’d say she was making things up but…well…” Cassandra shakes her head. “You know how nuts it got.”

She snickers. “Didn’t all public schools suck when we grew up? Bad lunches, cheap computers, overworked teachers. Just hearing what Aurora gets up to in her classes makes me yearn to go back to school. Get another degree, maybe. But, alas, bread awaits and does require a lot of time and effort to get just right.”

Cassandra does take a moment to study the ID, her gaze flicking from the name to the face attached to it. “It’s funny.” She says, straightening. “I’d swear I’d met you before. You’re familiar, somehow. Did you ever go to a pub called the Dancing Boar? Or did you go to Liz’s wedding?”

"Someone's gotta get that bread." Delilah relies on the double meaning, stifling a chuckle. The questions have her canting her head curiously, eyebrows knit.

"I used to work down this way, had a seamstress place… but… hm." Brown eyes stay on Cassandra, studious. "No, I can't say that the name is familiar, the pub I mean. And no, I wasn't at her wedding, though I sure would have liked to be. I know how it is with wanting just something simple with people really close." Delilah's features crinkle in a snicker, and she lifts her hand to show the simple pale emerald ring on her off hand. "But we," Whoever we is, "I don't think we'll get away with that." Had she not called attention to it, no-one would be any the wiser. It just fits in.

“You said it.” Cassandra taps the side of her nose with a grin, pushing her hair back behind her ear in an unconscious gesture. She very nearly thinks out loud, one of her flaws, while pondering where she’s seen Deliliah before, or where Deliliah might have seen her. There is always the chance that she knew Cassandra before everything happened and that might be the issue. Best to not push it. Any slivers of knowledge she had could lead to the unravelling of a long, complicated bolt of cloth.

Finally, Cassandra does speak, shrugging one shoulder and gesturing with her cup. “Ah well, if we met before, we’ve met before and I just forgot.” She leans in, a stage whisper promising conspiracy “There’s been a war on, you know.” she says, leaning back with a solemn nod before giggling faintly. “Seriously though, we can just count this as our first meeting and go from here.” The coffee cup is switched from one hand to the other, her right extended. “A pleasure to meet you, miss.”

"There has." No doubt that a civil war lets minds go fuzzy. Delilah chuckles faintly, attranging her things on her arms to take Cassandra's offered hand. "Same here, miss Cassie." The use of Aurora's apparent nickname is an amused one. "Maybe I'll see you at Raytech sometime… and God knows I'm going to come back here, maybe less to buy my coworkers breakfast, more to get myself a food baby." The redhead crinkles her nose when she laughs this time, a bit of something wry to it.

“You just might. If Mister Mike’s not with Aurora, I usually am. Just less armed and imposing.” As if a brunette at a bakery could be imposing? Maybe with the guns that she has for arms from kneading dough, but otherwise not. “And let me know what you’re hungry for. I might make a special batch of it. Already had requests for Chocolate Beignets, Churros, and New York Style Cheesecake, but that last one…” She shakes her head, letting Delilah imagine exactly how difficult it might be to get cream cheese nowadays.

She’ll definitely have to talk to Liz about this meeting, too. Just to keep the blonde in the loop. “Make sure you tell everyone there Cassie says hi.” she prompts Delilah. “And send them out for baked goods, too. I know it’s pretty much selling itself right now, but the more regulars I get, the better. And bring the other half of your We by sometime. I’ll give them a treat, if they like cookies.”

"Keep an eye out for some of the Amish that come to the market, for the cream cheese… it goes fast, but heck, you could always buy your own milk and cream and give it a go." Or at least, it's what Delilah remembers about making it. There may be other steps, who knows.

"I'll put something on the bulletin board in the break room. That would do it a lot easier." A small laugh comes that turns more pensive as it ends. "Ah, he's overseas. Comes to visit, wants us to go over there. But we've known each other for so long, he knows I'll be a goat 'bout it. " Delilah pauses, stifles a new laugh, and tacks on, "He's. A triplet. Though." Well. Sort of. "I can always tell his brothers." She taps at her temple as if this were a sly idea. Maybe a touch?

"'M glad I came by, finally." Though Dee gathers herself to go, she does angle in for a whisper, "Strawberry Shortcake." Just. Putting that. Out there.

Cassandra honestly thinks about it for a second or two, but finding storage for the milk that’s refrigerated, plus the milk itself, plus the culture, plus finding out how…in a bakery? That may be an experiment she ends up doing sometime in the future, but for now she’ll deal with the Amish. “I’ll have to look into that. I can always trade bread or something.” The barter system: Still alive in 2020 America.

“Tell one, tell all. I can make him a care package, wrapped in plastic and sent in a cooler. It might actually make it across the pond if you bribe the right courier or know the right people.” Which Cassandra might, knowing her cozy companionship with the proprietor of the coffee shop across the way. The thought of hanging out with a triplet? That gets a laugh and a shake of her head. “Good lord, I’m sure family reunions are interesting. And as far as travelling across…do what makes you happy. Getting over there is tough for some folk and getting back is sometimes even tougher. Hard to un-pop the firework in this day and age.

Now there’s a thought. Glancing at the calendar and thinking, Cassandra leans in. “Come back next Friday. I’ll have something for you. And I’m glad you came by, too. Not just because you’re a customer, but I do like meeting new people.”

"Next Friday. Got it. And… I'm not sure I'd want to risk a gift not getting there as god intended." Delilah snorts when she smiles this time, a little suspicious of the idea. She and Walter can just enjoy it for him.

"They're not much for reunions. Somewhat for that reason." Somewhat. Delilah won't mention the finer details. Elisabeth would, she's sure- - but Dee isn't the one to explain it to strangers. Three dads! Yes that's normal. So normal. "Italy is alright with the laws, and he works law, so- - lucked out, I suppose. Honestly, I'm thinking it might be time for us to take a trip."

"It was great to meet you, Cass, I'll see you again." The smile doesn't fade, though Delilah does angle her head towards the door. "Gotta get my butt going, no bad impressions, eh?"

Dee has pastries and as far as first impressions go, it’ll be hard to make a bad one with those in tow. “Good to meet you too, Delilah. Come back soon!” She waves and, with that, back to the counter. Strawberry Shortcake next Friday…she puts a note in her calendar, just to be sure, along with a delivery to Raytech if Dee doesn’t make it by.

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