Just Browsing


brian_icon.gif ellen_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title Just Browsing
Synopsis Veronica shops for Brian, Brian shops for Veronica, and Ellen feels like she's caught in a modern version of an O. Henry story.
Date August 4, 2009

The Lucky Monkey

The Lucky Monkey isn't especially large for the sheer volume of stock that it carries. One long space that reaches all the way to the back, it holds several rows of shelves, and these carry an astounding assortment of, well, nearly everything, it seems like: from household goods to hand-tools, if it is Made in China, it can probably be unearthed somewhere in the maze of inventory. At least it is kept in some semblance of order, for disarray would be sheer chaos, and even with everything tucked neatly away onto its labelled shelf, it still takes a close eye to navigate without breaking or tripping over something.

Business is slow at the moment, as it so often is, and the only sound in the shop is the quiet noise from a radio hidden under the counter, where a Chinese woman sits on a stool, flipping through a Cantonese newspaper.

The door opens and Veronica steps inside — dark eyes curious as she glances here and there, uncertain of what to expect in the small but plentiful shop. She gives a small smile to the shopkeeper, should she look up, and then begins to walk along one shelf. Her head tilts curiously as she picks up one small object or another, clearly not looking for anything in particular but just browsing.

With business as slow as it is, Ellen is quick to look up at the sound of someone entering. The newcomer's smile is returned with a friendly one from the shopkeep. "Hello there," she greets easily. "If you need any help with anything, let me know." She won't hover and do the annoying saleswoman thing, but still, she's there should she be needed. And she'd prefer to make a sale wherever possible.

"Thanks," the slim brunette says slowly, thoughtfully, clearly debating asking for help. "Actually… I wanted to get something for someone… I know it's probably cliche and horribly touristy and Anglo of me, but it's fitting in this case." She chuckles a little at her own words. "Anyway, maybe a yin and yang something or another? It's a guy, so nothing too feminine." She glances at Ellen as she holds a little elephant in her hands, then puts it back.

"Oh, well. Sometimes being cliche is half the fun," Ellen replies with a confiding smile, rising readily from her stool, already looking thoughtful as she ponders this challenge. "Hmm, well, we've quite a few thing with that sort of design. Some of the beaded jewellery is designed for men. Or there are things like incense burners and decorative items. Or if you're looking for something a little more, ah, romantic, there are candles, or some statues that play up the masculine and feminine aspects of the philosophy." Her eyebrows raise just a bit as she comes out from behind the counter, newspaper left open on the glass surface.

Veronica laughs. "Statues," she says with amusement, her own eyes rising with amusement. "Maybe as a gag, that one… maybe a necklace as long as it's… you know, not too feminine. He's not really into jewelry," she says thoughtfully. "Like, something on a leather thong, or even a simple ring?"

"I think we can do that," Ellen replies with another grin, tapping her chin as she considers the shelves, and then nods in a direction, before starting down that aisle, moving slowly to be easy to keep up with. "I think we've got a few pendants that bring dragons into the mix. A lot of men seem to like dragons."

"Dragons…" the shopper says thoughtfully. "That, maybe not. I mean, no offense, I like them and all, but I don't want to push the Asian motif thing too much." That and their past with the Flying Dragons has not been so pleasant. "I mean… he's whiter than I am, if you know what I mean." Veronica grins at that, her own Eurasian heritage giving her just enough right to say that. "Blond and all, Wonder Bread type of guy," she adds with a dimpled smirk.

"Ah yes. I know the type," Ellen replies with an understanding nod. "Okay, we'll skip the dragons then. No offence taken." There's a smile to prove that fact, glancing back over her shoulder before coming to a halt in front of the jewellery section. And it really is a whole section, high end behind a glass case, while racks of lower end stuff dangle to tempt the eye. "If you see a pendant you like, we can always swap out the chain for one of the leather ones," she advises. Really, it's all pretty mix and match anyway. "Or there are rings here."

Veronica's eye is caught by a pendant of deep green jade and black obsidian making the yin and yang, set in a silver circle. "Can I see that one?" she asks, pointing to it. "This is a nice shop. I never noticed it before," she says to make conversation, while Ellen goes to open the case and retrieve the item Veronica asked for.

"Oh, good eye," Ellen commends, as she leans forward, pulling some keys from her hip, zipping out the retractable cord she keeps them on. The right key is chosen without fail and she deftly undoes the case to pull out the chosen item, answering as she does. "It's been here since before I was even born. But it's … seen better days. Not a lot of tourists now." It's stated simply as fact, before she straightens back up, laying the chain over the side of her free hand, to let the other woman get a good look at the pendant before she offers to hand it over.

Veronica looks at the item, masculine without being coarse or ugly, and definitely seems to be artisan-made rather than punched out by a machine. "It's lovely… how much?" she asks, fingering the semi-precious stones that wrap around one another. On her own neck is a simple diamond on a chain, dangling forward as she bends to take the pendant that Ellen hands over.

The diamond is no doubt noticed, though it's hard to say whether that drives up the price of the necklace in question. Still, the price that Ellen quotes certainly isn't exorbitant, and if it does put the necklace as one of the more expensive items in the shop, well, things here are pretty cheap, and it was behind the glass for a reason. "You've certainly got excellent taste in jewellery," is added with a subdued smile.

The brunette agent gives a chuckle. Jewelry is one of the things she really doesn't know much about, despite her affluent upbringing. A pair of diamond studs, the diamond on her neck, a watch or two, that's about all she owns of any value. "Thanks. Sure, I'll take it," she says, with a pleased smile. "It's a lovely piece. I'm sure he'll like it."

Of course, Ellen isn't really too worried whether the woman actually has good taste in jewellery. Her taste is as good or bad or indifferent enough to have decided to buy something here, and that's more than good enough! "Excellent," she says with a wider smile, bending down to slide the glass closed again and locking it up. "I'll get you a box for it and ring it up. As it's a gift, we'll also wrap it for no extra charge, if you'd like." It's just generic white tissue paper, but sometimes it's those little touches that count, right?

The door opens and closes to admit one man. Dressed sharply, he wears his standard black suit over his white dress shirt. The top few buttons undone, of course. Reaching up his aviators are taken off smoothly and folded, then tucked into the top of his shirt. His gray eyes scan the room while he enters quietly, vaguely searching for someone who might greet him or help him. It doesn't feel right entering one of these stores without being greeted by the manager, anyway. His hands go in his pockets as he looks around, looking a little bit helpless.

The door opens and closes to admit one man. Dressed sharply, he wears his standard black suit over his white dress shirt. The top few buttons undone, of course. Reaching up his aviators are taken off smoothly and folded, then tucked into the top of his shirt. His gray eyes scan the room while he enters quietly, vaguely searching for someone who might greet him or help him. It doesn't feel right entering one of these stores without being greeted by the manager, anyway. Brian's hands go in his pockets as he looks around, looking a little bit helpless.

"That'd be great, thanks," Veronica says. She hears the door, and takes a step backward to peek toward the front of the store down the next aisle. Seeing Brian, she gives a little surprised gasp. "Shoot, can you… hide that? The guy, it's him…" she whispers to Ellen, reaching into her purse and grabbing a few bills, more than the necklace's worth. "Here… I'll get it somehow, or pick it up later. Keep the change." She disappears down the other aisle, pretending to browse.

About to offer a greeting to the newcomer, the other woman's gasp and hasty request stays her, and almost the moment it's done being asked, she's bundled it lightly into her fist, well out of sight. And if she finds the situation and her role in the middle of it at all odd, she just smiles serenely and takes the offered money, tucking both it and the necklace away in a pocket. Only then does she begin to drift towards the front of the aisles, serene smile turning into a generic one of 'greeting the customer'. "Hello there," she bids to the newcomer. "If you need any help, just let me know."

"Thank you." Brian says cheerily to Ellen. Stepping forward, he tucks his thumbs into his pockets. His feet shuffle lazily as he moves forward. Giving a smile, he eyes the jewelry case with vague interest, bringing one hand up to his chin. Glancing over at Ellen and wanting to break any forthcoming awkward silences. "So, how's business?"

Veronica has the rare opportunity to watch Brian when he doesn't know she's there — tables are turned and she's not going to let the chance pass without watching for a few moments. She busies herself with some knick knacks, looking at ash trays and jars and lotus-flower-shaped candle holders as she watches him through the shelves. She won't go too far without greeting him — after all, she hasn't seen him yet today, and she's happy for this serendipitous encounter.

"Slow, but it picks up now and again," Ellen replies, amusing herself with that comment, if nothing else, though her expression remains one of polite blandness. She lingers near the jewellery, but does her best to avoid hovering. "Were you thinking of anything in particular, or just browsing? We get quite a few browsers," she confides with an understanding tone.

Bringing a finger to his lips he gives a shrug. "I don't know maybe. Last time I got something for my girlfriend." He gives another shrug to replace words. "She's not too fond for jewelry, you know?" Brian asks, as if Ellen does know exactly how she is. "But what the hell else do I get her? I turn on the TV and it says women like diamonds. So." Another shrug. "What would you suggest?" He asks, glancing over his shoulder at her. Veronica goes completely unnoticed.

Veronica grins and heads out of the aisle, down the next so she's now facing Brian's back. She pauses here and there to check out a trinket or a knicknack, but gives Ellen a wink and puts her pointer finger up across her lips in the universal "Shhhh!" gesture. She sets down a cat figurine and picks up some bamboo placemats that might actually look good on her dark wood table.

"Well, those people telling you all women like diamonds are really only trying to sell you diamonds," Ellen points out with a sly smile, catching sight of Veronica as she emerges, but doing an admirable job of not showing it, aside from the slight flicker of her eyes to focus over his shoulder for that brief moment. It's a curious game to be caught in the middle of, almost Magi-like with these gifts - if he is, indeed, talking of her as she was talking of him. "Perhaps … something for the home?" she suggests, feeling randomly inspired; or she's noticed Veronica's newest item.

"Like what?" Brian asks, watching her for a moment. Eyeing the jewelry case again he gives a frown. "Yeah the TV wants me to buy lots of things. Luckily I'm getting my own money now. Don't tell anybody but the last necklace I bought for her, some of it was bought with her own money she gave me." He gives a broad grin at the funny story he's telling. "Hopefully she hasn't figured that out. Not that it changes anything, just.. you know."

A hand goes to Veronica's mouth to cover it and stifle the laugh. She lets a few moments pass so it's not like she walks up at that exact moment — better to let him wonder if she heard him, rather than to know she heard him. "Brian!" she says cheerfully, from halfway up the aisle, her voice booming with feigned surprise at seeing him. "Hey, honey!" she says, moving closer, going in for a light kiss to the cheek.

"I won't tell a soul," Ellen promises with a solemn nod. Well, technically, she's not lying. It won't be from her lips that anyone hears such things. "Still, they do say it's the thought that counts. Perhaps have a look around, see if anything … inspires." Of course, she doesn't really expect that advice to be headed once Veronica announces her presence. Ellie simply smiles to herself and glances away to polish a fingerprint on the glass with her sleeve.

Eyes widening at that voice, Brian shoots Ellen a betrayed look as if she should have warned him she was behind him. Looking slightly hurt at Ellen for the moment he scrubs his features of expression as he turns to face Veronica. A large if not entirely fake smile spreads across his features. "Vee?" He asks in a surprised tone, "What are you doing here?" He asks, opening his arms he embraces her for a moment. Though alarms are going off like crazy in his mind.

When has she ever called him honey? Only when they were on assignments. Leaning down he goes to return the kiss. "What.. What are you doing here?" He repeats with a nervous smile. Ellen gets another look over his shoulder. How could you?

Veronica frowns a little at the fake smile, her own sincere smile faltering a little. "Just shopping… had the morning off. What are you doing in this end of town?" Bad things happen when they're in this end of town! It's like a scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith, or something. "Look, think these will look good in the apartment?" she asks, holding up the bamboo place mats.

"Shopping for your hot Chinese girlfriend, or what? Why do you look so nervous?" she says, punching him lightly in the arm.
Ellen straightens back up once the fingerprints are gone, offering Brian a smile - not exactly a sympathetic one, but neither is it gloating. How was she to know this was the girl in question, after all. It isn't as if said girl told her after buying something for him. "I shall leave you two to it then. I'll be up the front should you need anything." Despite being caught in a difficult situation, she's just rolling with it easily, lingering just long enough to make sure there's nothing needed here, before she begins to drift back towards the register.

"Because I was shopping for you, you ass. Is why I look so nervous. You're not supposed to catch me." Brian whines, flexing his arm as her fist connects with it. He returns a gentle punch to her own arm though he uses considerably less force. Now that he's handed over his confession his fake smile fades and is replaced with his usual warm smirk. "Hot chinese girlfriend? I wish." Brian mutters, snaking an arm around her waist. He glances over at Ellen and gives a broad smile. "Thank you!"

"You wish?" Veronica's eyes narrow. "You better rethink that answer and say that I'm enough woman for you and you'd never even think of another." She stands on tip toes and gives him a light kiss anyway. "I'm going to buy these… and then we can go grab some dim sum or something?" she says cheerfully, turning and heading to the register, putting the mats on the counter as she smiles conspiratorially at Ellen.

Ellen makes herself scarce as the two playfully quarrel, taking care of Veronica's own gift while they linger. It's placed into a generic black jewellery box and wrapped in that white tissue paper, kept tucked safely beneath the counter by the time anyone emerges from the shelves. The mats are rung up without fuss, folded once in half to fit neatly into a bag; and somehow, the small box ends up in the middle of them. "Have a good day," she bids cheerfully, offering a smile as the bag is handed over, handles held out to make them easy to grab.

"You're enough woman for me and I'd never think of another." Brian repeats dutifully, returning the kiss tenderly. His hand slides into hers and gives a soft squeeze. "Last time we got dim sum around here." He gives a soft sigh. "I had to save your ass." He grins, giving her hand a squeeze. Following her to the register, he decides that tonight is not the night for gift shopping. "So what are you getting?" He wasn't really paying attention when she showed him the figurines. He was too distracted with 'HOLY CRAP ITS VERONICA'.

"We didn't actually get to eat dim sum that time," Veronica points out. "Place mats. I bought place mats." She takes the bag and grins, heading out the door with a smile and a wave back at Ellen. "Come on. No dim sum? What about Lombardi's?" Pizza's always safe.

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