No Brass Bands Please


hadley_icon.gif brian_icon.gif

Scene Title No Brass Bands Please
Synopsis A work-day conversation earns Winters' interest in Mrs. Hadley
Date July 2, 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.

It's that time. That time for preparation, because the evening rush is about, oh, 30-40 minutes away. Once the floodgates open, they won't close for several hours. So Mrs. Hadley is humming under her breath while she arranges the display pieces this way and that. "How does it look now?" Brian has been conscripted into serving as evaluator on the other side. At least it's not sweeping or carrying in supplies through the back door, right? A radio in the background is playing low music, interrupted now and then by a commercial.

Humming to himself lightly in contrary to the radio, Brian brings one finger up to his lips tapping it lightly. "Maybe turn that one a little more diagonal, makes it look more… I donno. Welcoming." Winters says with a shrug. Not exactly an expert on being welcoming or anything of that sort. "But other than that, I think it's good. We all set?"

The plate of cupcakes is given that quarter-twist as indicated before Mrs. Hadley straightens up and closes the squeaky door. She bobbles on out to take a look from his angle, hands on her hips. "Very good," is offered with a nod to seal the compliment. "You were right about the reds from the strawberries and the blue flyers, very nicely done, dear." Her good mood is marred when the radio shifts to a commercial touting something about the Frontline program; the old woman huffs under her breath and moves over to give the toggle a swift flick. Off. Mood improved, she arches a brow at him. "Are you going to want to have Saturday off for going out to have fun, young man? I understand there's /alcohol/ in this city and that people drink it with young women on holidays." Despite the words, there's laughter enough in her voice to make it a tease.

"Don't like to hear about that, Mrs. Hadley?" Brian asks, genuinely curious enough, his eyes watching her objectively as she goes to turn the radio off. He takes a step forward to lean against the counter, folding his arms on top of it. A little grin forms on his lips as she asks about his plans for the weekend. "Young women? No, of course not, Mrs. Hadley. You're the only woman for me." He says sweetly with a smile in his voice as he goes to set his chin on his forearm. Besides, even if he did want to go out and go crazy on Saturday, he could still be there to help out.

She probably knows better, but Mrs. Hadley isn't made out of steel; the compliment brings a flush of color to her cheeks and a twinkle to her eyes. "Silly boy." Still, that's worth a cookie: she leans over to snag one out of the nearest basket and offers it to him with a wry grimace. "I don't like the thought of it, dear. Not because it's people putting their skills to good use, because that's what all of us should be doing. But that Frontline bill includes a draft, and not a willing one." She clicks her tongue lightly. "I didn't go register with the understanding I could be called to put on a uniform and it's downright disingenuous to add that as a rider after the fact." That she registered at all is a casual fact, unconcerned with whether Winters knows (or knew to begin with). "Not that they're likely to call on an old woman, but it's still a bit of flimflam on the government's part, and I do /not/ approve of that sort of thing at all."

"You're an Evolved, Mrs. Hadley?" Brian asks, taking the cookie idly. Not really paying attention to it at all, he takes a hefty bite of it as he stares at her as if seeing her for the first time. "You never mentioned that. Do you mind if I ask your ability?" Winters asks, tilting his head at her. Straightening up off the counter he goes to finish the cookie all the while remaining fascinated with the elder woman on the other side of the counter.

She hmms? with an arched brow, brought out of her burgeoning rant (ain't nobody who can rant like an old busybody) by the question. "Yes, dear. Why would I mention it? It doesn't have anything to do with the price of tea in China." Mrs. Hadley shakes a finger at him. "And if finding out means you don't want to work here anymore, you are not at all the young man I expect you'll turn out to be some day." Warning given, she answers easily, "I fix people, dear. Only people with gifts, which is a true shame, because there are so many people who could do with a bit of healing." It's a rueful expression at that. "Fewer bumps and bruises could only be a good thing."

"You heal other Evolved?" Brian asks, truly intrigued. "And you registered?" Not like he has the registry memorized, or that he would have been able to check it since he has been in hiding from the Company. "That's.. very interesting." Winters says, his eyes drifting up for a moment. Hadley has just gone up the book a few pages in importance. "Of course not, I'm not a racist." Winters states quickly, shaking his head as if to deny it further. "How long have you had this ability?

The look Mrs. Hadley levels on him is a contemplative thing. "Yes, and yes. It isn't without a cost, dear. Few things are. And it isn't especially quick, so nobody's ever bothered to come drag me off to the middle of a gun fight, and I'm especially pleased about that." The quick statement earns him an approving nod. "I found out just after the bomb. It could have been there before, with nothing to do. Why?"
Brian has partially disconnected.

"I just find abilities fascinating." Winters remarks silently, his eyes wandering to the side. Heals others, isn't especially quick. Good to know. Mentally saving that information for later, Winters gives a little shrug. "It's just all very interesting. I wish you would have told me before." He smiles excitedly.

Her tone goes dry. "I don't march up and down Main Street with a brass band, Brian." The dry tone fades away, just leaving her looking tired for a moment, wrinkles deep. "I have no great desire to be forced to tell desperate people that it won't work for them no matter how much I wish otherwise. And that's exactly what would happen if word went traveling too far. So be a dear and try not to shout it from the rooftops." Mrs. Hadley reaches out to give his hand a light pat. "But if you know someone who needs help, bring them by."

"That makes perfect sense. I understand." Brian says, giving an assuring smile as she pats his hand. "I won't get my bass brand together, for your sake." He grins, going to step around the counter. "Anything special I need to do for Saturday?" Brian finds it decidedly convenient Mrs. Hadley has never inquired on to how fast he gets the work done when she's not around. But as long as she doesn't seem to care, either does he!

"Thank you." Mrs. Hadley takes a breath and shoves that weariness away on her exhale. "I'll be closing a bit early… Megan said she'd try to come back from the island early enough to give me a ride out to see the fireworks from the air, and if she can't make it, I'll still need some time to get myself down to the park. Be ready for a rush in the morning, because people will realize they need hot dog and hamburger buns the morning of their cook-out… I'll be doing up extra batches of those in the morning." And so she starts rattling off the holiday prepartions to come, the matter of powers set aside as easily as it rose.

Another thing about Brian is he seems to remember everything. Not bothering with pen and paper, he simply listens as she rattles all the instructions off. He'll remember them all perfectly, without so much as moving a finger. Nodding as he takes it all in, finally he speaks up again. "Can I ask you a question, Mrs. Hadley?" Without bothering to wait for an answer to that, he asks anyway.

"I find it interesting, that you don't ask anything about me. You know I carry guns. Yet you let me stay in your house, and your neighbors, and let me work in your store. You are very open about yourself, even though many might keep something like that secret, but you seem not to bother with the obvious problems I bring into your bakery. Such as not remembering anyone who knows me." He tilts his head. "Dickie, was another one. In case you didn't notice. I have no idea who he is, either. Did I act well?"

"Everyone has their secrets, dear." Mrs. Hadley's gaze is steady on him again, regard unwavering; the rest of the world may not exist. "I have some few of my own even now, kept for myself, kept for others. Should I poke at you about yours? I trust you won't bring your troubles into my home." She strokes a hand over the counter, a slow glide. "Which is what this bakery is, after so long. I trust the other people I know will try to keep their troubles out too. There are things I might suspect about you, little signs that say things to me, but until they're a problem here, then I prefer to let you leave them behind at the door."

That same hand comes up to press lightly to her chest, against her heart. "I'm an old woman, dear. And every day is closer to the last one. I decided some time ago I'd rather live a life expecting the best out of the people around me, rather than the worst. It gives you a chance to shine." Her smile rises, though it's a faint thing, still tired. "You young people have so few chances to prove you're better than the circumstances that press so hard these days."

"You give me too much trust." Brian says lightly, going to rest his hip against the counter as he looks down, finding something on the ground to stare at as his hands idly play with his belt. "And what do you suspect about me? My little signs?" Winters asks curiously, glancing up at her.

A thoughtful look passes over his features as he fixes his gaze on her for a moment. Pursing his lips he watches her for a moment. "You're a very interesting woman, Mrs. Hadley. I hope I don't disappoint you."

She leans over then, hand to his forearm. It's a faint pressure, hardly there at all. "If you don't think you can hold that trust safely, or at the very least try, then you go ahead and leave, dear." Mrs. Hadley nods to the front door. "It's a big city, and you'll find someone else gullible enough to let you stay too long on their sofa." The tone is gentle enough, if a bit self-deprecating. Up she straightens, smile flaring. "If you try, that's about all I can ask, hmm? I'd rather be disappointed than never let you try." She doesn't answer about the signs, or about his play-acting with Dickie; those questions are allowed to fade. "Now, off you go, the delivery for tomorrow morning's baking should be here any moment, and I don't remember seeing room in the fridge for all the cream cheese when I was in there last."

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