A group of mostly strangers meet for tea, and one of them gets unofficially adopted.
A little cafe in San Francisco
The temperatures are getting cooler and Aidan is doing his best to pretend that such is not the case. The messy haired young teen's got his guitar slung across his back. His big blue eyes sort of glance about occasionally as if he were making sure he wasn't being followed. Adjusting his guitar for the moment, he tries to smooth out the t-shirt where it bunched under the strap being rather uncomfortable. Right now he's stopped not too far from the cafe.
Mick..is still having one hell of a time trying to put the recent events that have occurred together in his head in any coherent form. The discovery of someone claiming to be a vampire but who puts such a weird emphasis on souls is still strange to him. Actually, this entire mess has been kinda strange. As it is, Mick is out for a walk, trying to get the lay of the land as he's originally from LA, so this is more or less fish out of water territory for him. The sun is beginning to set, for which the vampire is grateful. Although he can walk about by day, it still leaves him feeling less comfortable than he does by night.
With a beat up old leather jacket thrown over her blouse and pants, Buffy had heeled boots that clicked and clacked as she went along. And where was she going along? Well - kinda swinging by this little cafe in San Francisco, pulling her purse off of her shoulder to briefly check inside.
The wince on her features might tell a story.
"Welp," she says to herself, lifting up her eyes to spy... well, Aidan. A beat, and Buffy lets a smile touch her lips. "Aidan? This place must be good then," she says, lingering a little outside of the door into the cafe proper.
Lockie Mitchell looks round as the strange woman speaks and freezes for a moment, something about her just sort of radiates strength, snapping out of it he nods at Aster, "Sorry, Aster is the only one drinking it", he does chuckle for a moment a loud phone guy now having to deal with the cold tea in his lap, "Though judging by his cursing, it stains at least".
"The tea is delicious, and the coffee is above average." Aster says with a shy smile, dark eyes moving up to take in Nessa's appearance, a faint hint of recognition crossing her face ever so briefly, before it's replaced by confusion. "Try the Jasmine Tea, I think." Aster offers, her brow furrowing slightly, dark eyes flickering away to take in the crowds briefly before returning... and studiously avoiding looking directly at Nessa's sunglasses.
Having 'Supersonic' hearing, as Mick sometimes jokingly calls it, is a blessing and a curse. In this case, it's just...kinda there. Most people here are just having their usual everyday conversations. Nothing that particularly grabs his attention as he heads towards the cafe.
"Yes ma'am." Aidan says flashing Buffy a smile,"It's good to see you Ms Summers. Ran into a friend of your's the other day." He says cheerfully,"And no idea if this place is any good. Never been inside." That much is true. Not like he's got money for such fancy things as tea or coffee from a cafe. Heck. He's lucky to get tea once in a blue moon. Running fingers through his shaggy brown hair,"Might give it a try. Smells have been pretty good from what I remember."
Friend to Buffy had a couple meanings. And so Buffy kinda purses her lips, and glances inside as Aidan says what he does. A beat, and her eyes shift back to the young man. "Yeah? Whatcha doin' hanging out here then?" she asks, shifting her purse upon her shoulder. Hearing the approach of the vampire, Buffy steps back - clearing a path for him, even if she gives Mick a long, odd glance. Something... felt funny about the man. But she turns her eyes back to Aidan for now. "...but as for the friend... uh... red haired friend? Funny, tall guy in an eyepatch?"
"Splendid," Nessa--the lady in purple--says, straightening. She raises one finger and says, "I'll just be right back!" And then she sweeps inside, where she can be seen gesturing at the menu board and apparently ordering a few things. She also takes out a bundle from her basket, clearly offering to the cashier, who looks apologetic and shakes their head. Soon enough, Nessa's returning with a ceramic mug in one hand and a pot of tea in the other, but that will give everyone a few moments before she emerges.
Lockie Mitchell looks around the cafe for anyone else that's annoying him, but seem Mr. Loudmouth is the only one today, so with a sigh he starts telekinetically tying the man's shoes together with he tries to dry himself off while spouting bad language, his justification, there's a kid with a guitar over there talking to the blonde woman, you don't swear in front of kids.
"So... who's this friend you're looking for?" Aster asks Lockie, clearly not catching on to his supernatural shenanigans, or if she is, hiding it incredibly well. "Maybe I can help you find them?" She leans back in her seat briefly, taking in the crowds again, before finally taking a small bite of her scone, smiling up at Nessa when she returns. "Would you care to join us?"
"Neither. Brunette lady, about your age. Leather jacket I think. Kind of a hard look to her." Aidan says shaking his head a bit at her,"I was actually just going somewhere but I stopped because my shirt got bunched under my guitar strap. Not overly comfortable so I stopped to adjust it and the guitar." He says with a little bit of a shrug. Right now he's pretty much in an honest mood, without giving too much away.
Nessa beams gratefully at Aster, dipping a slight bow, and says, "Why, thank you! So kind." She sets down her tea things, pulls up a chair, and then begins arranging her basket and such on the table. "Oh, by the way," she says, drawing back the cloth to reveal that the basket is bursting with baked goods and fresh fruit. "Would anyone like an apple or a scone? I offered to leave this for the shop, but they were worried about health codes or some other tosh." She then sets about tugging off her gloves and laying them in her lap. Noticing Buffy and Aidan, she offers them a friendly wave, too, and calls over, "Would either of you like a scone or an apple?"
Buffy always seemed to catch Aidan in honest moods. "She's... well, she's an interesting person," Buffy admits. "I don't know if I'd call her a friend friend, but if you ever catch that she's in trouble - let me know, alright?" she asks. A pause then, as the woman refers to her, and Buffy glances up towards Nessa. Mind flickers back to her purse, and... "...I am so down for a scone right now, thank you," she says, giving Nessa a brilliant grin.
That description actually sounds like someone Mick ran into yesterday, and finally something does catch his ear enough that he decides to listen in as he arrives at the cafe, sitting down a little off to the way, and ordering some scotch on the rocks.
"Will do. She seemed to be." Aidan says nodding his head a little,"She asked me for something but I am not sure I have the ingredients to make it for her." He says shrugging and then considers that for all of three seconds. Free food? HELL YES! The boy runs fingers through his messy brown hair as he approaches Nessa and the others,"Is there any honey? I hear you're supposed to be eating apples dipped in honey today. Part of the whole Jewish thing."
"I'd love an apple." Aster says with a soft smile, glancing from Lockie to Nessa and back again. She doesn't look like she eats a great deal, clearly this apple is splurging, for her. "I have honey from my scone." Aster pipes up, holding up a small disposable packet of honey with another smile for Aidan, "Here!"
Nessa looks up from spreading the napkin in her lap, just over her gloves, and then clucks her tongue. "Honey! Of course!" She rummages in the basket. "Let me just see--" she pauses to look up, toward Buffy, and asks, "Do you prefer apple or blueberry, dear?" Then, glancing back down, she gives a little cry of triumph. "A-ha! There we are." She removes two little stoneware jars, one that seems to have been recently chilled and contains (what looks like freshly churned) butter, the other honey. She sets these out on the table as well, removing their lids, and says, "Please, help yourselves!" She smiles a bit apologetically at Aster's honey packet, then offers her a particularly choice apple. "Picked fresh this morning!" she declares.
Mick sips his drink, listening in curiously. So far he hasn't heard anything that would indicate he's around other supernaturals, so he keeps to himself, one ear open.
"I think I'm in an appley mood. You know - Summer's winding down, fall is... um... falling," Buffy says, reaching forward to take a scone. "I'm Buffy, by the way - Buffy Summers," she says, offering Nessa a hand. "And it's good to meet you! And... eat your scones and gosh... do you own a restaurant or something? These look amazing." says Buffy, kinda getting an overly casual demeanor with Aidan. "...so she asked for somethin', huh? What did she ask for, Aidan?"
"Something that I can make quite well when I have the ingredients." Aidan says trying not to give away too much with people he doesn't know present. "I'm Aidan O'Toole ma'am." He says politely looking at Nessa. He glances towards Aster for a moment. It's not often that he meets someone that looks like they eat even less than he does,"Maybe you should keep the honey..." He says shifting his weight a little bit. "Fall's a nice time of year. It gets a bit cool which feels good."
Of course she has honey, she probably keeps bees on the side, and they love her. Aster smiles, though, accepting her apple with a soft 'thank you', setting the honey packet down a bit ruefully and taking a small bite of her apple with obvious enjoyment. After she finishes the bite, she looks at Nessa with wide eyes. "Do you have your own orchard?"
Nessa gives a demure enough but still quite firm handshake--that older fashioned ladies' sort where one uses just her fingers--and offers quite a warm smile. "My dear! Such a compliment. Please, call me Nessa. I'm the proprietress of Rowanwood House. It's--well, I suppose they like to call them 'beds and breakfasts,' or such. I'm quite used to cooking for people, though, true enough, and if I may say, the apple is an excellent choice. I think a batch of pixies had been at the blueberries, but there's no harm done." She offers Aidan her hand as well, eyes glittering, and her expression fades to a thoughtful look. "Aidan, pleased to meet you." She can't quite help herself, though, and regards his clothing with a critical eye. "Who looks after you, dear? Surely they couldn't have sent you out lacking even a coat."
Mick does his best to not snicker at the goings on he's watching/listening to. But it's not easy. This 'Nessa' seems eccentrically old fashioned. Everyone else seems reasonably normal. ...For a given value of normal, he supposes.
Buffy's grip was gentle on Nessa's hand. Even if her fingers were probably a little more calloused than the norm. "Well, I am very happy you took the time to cook for us today - um... even outside of this cafe," says Buffy, kinda glancing through the door. Taking 'batch of pixies' to be just a cute term for something, Buffy takes on a charmed smile, before lifting her aforementioned scone. Buffy takes a bite of her scone - and then she does that thing with her eyes? You know, the bit where she kinda rolls them up into her head and closes them. "God," she says, muffled around mouthful of pastry goodness.
Peeking open one eye though to glance towards Aidan at his evasiveness, Buffy kinda points at her eyes, and then points at him, taking on a mock stern look. As... stern as she could look whilst undergoing pastry bliss.
Well he should have known that he was going to get asked about who is looking after him, Aidan doesn't immediately respond,"Sort of forgot it back at home." Which is a true statement. It just happens that he hasn't been home in a very very long while. His blue eyes flick just a little bit. He does give Nessa's hand a firm shake in greeting. Manners and all that. He was taught to give a polite firm shake of the hand when offered.
Pixies at the blueberries? That certainly draws Aster's attention, one eyebrow raising slightly as if she can't quite decide if the woman's being serious, or just a bit batty... maybe teasing the younger teens that have congregated at the table. Her gaze moves to Buffy and the others in equal measure, the young woman merely listening for now.
Pixies? Okay, now something weird is being discussed. Pixies are just stories so far as Mick ever knew. So what is this all about?
Nessa regards Aidan with a raised eyebrow, and she settles back into her seat, reaching to pour a cup of the tea. "'Sort of,' dear?" she asks, a mild reproach suggested in her tone. After she sets the teapot down, she reaches up to remove her sunglasses, her not quite natural lavender eyes seeking out the blue of his own in a silent rendition of How about you look me in the eyes and say that, young man?, but she doesn't say it out loud. Instead, after a moment, she looks away and smiles brightly. "I do hope you'll all stop by sometime soon." She lifts the bag that hangs from her arm, opening it to rummage, and then comes out with a few business cards, which she offers around. "You're all quite welcome to come for tea or such whenever you like. We always have extra!"
Those lavender eyes - something weird was afoot at Cafe Scone. Buffy casts a glance down to her scone, measures the risk of it being supernaturally contaminated somehow... and eats it anyway. There was always Willow around if she turned into a newt or something. "Thank you so much for the scone again, Nessa," says Buffs, taking one of the offered cards. "I have to get going, but... I hope to catch all of you soon?" she says, lifting up a hand to give a little wave before she starts down the sidewalk again.
Lunch done, now it was time for the research. And she loved that part of slayery.
"Um... Bye..." Aster says quietly, waving after Buffy with a shy smile, before reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind one ear. "It was nice meeting you!" People sure are friendly in the big city, not at all like she's been led to believe by television, movies, books, newspapers and the like... She takes one of Nessa's cards, smiling. "If you have more, I can set some on the counter at my aunt's studio... Small businesses have to stick together, I think."
"Well I did leave it at home." Aidan says looking her in the eye. Yes it was a half truth but still, not lying. His eyes are nervous when they meet the lavender ones. Finger run through his messy hair, making it worse rather than better,"I'll see you around Ms Summers. Next time I'll hopefully be able to give you more information." Telling her right now about potions and what not just doesn't seem very safe.
Mick watches as Buffy leaves, taking a sip of his drink, keeping an ear out for a bit. With nothing else really jumping out at him, he quickly finishes, and pays, before heading out himself, planning to learn more about the city.
Nessa gives Buffy a cheerful wave, calling after her, "You're welcome, dear!" And then she turns her smile on Aster, digging out a stack of business cards and tucking them into the basket. "Of course! Better they're eaten than not, and I'd consider it more than a fair trade if you'd just give out the cards. We have very reasonable rates." And then she returns to looking Aidan over, a quick sweep from head to toe. "Now, young man," she says in brisk tones, "You're evading my questions, which means either you're ashamed of the answers or you have none to give. So, do you not have someone looking after you?" There's the barest hint of scolding in her tone, only not so harsh as that, but she clearly expects to be answered.
"Um... I just meant the cards, the scones should be shared here!" Aster offers, blushing. "I wasn't trying to hog your food, I promise." It's almost like she's worried someone would accuse her of being a glutton. Of course, they've never seen her at 3:00 in the morning with a tub of gelato and sappy movies... As Mick leaves, he catches Aster's eye for a few moments... which in turn makes her blush harder, before she turns her gaze back to her remaining companions.
"Not sure I should answer that right now." Aidan says nervously as he looks at Nessa,"It doesn't really matter who looks after me? It isn't like I'm one of those emaciated homeless kids." If only because he's learned to do something that earns him cash from to time to time to buy food and ingredients. "Long as I'm healthy and hearty, does it really matter about anything else?" He asks seriously.
"Piffle, dear," Nessa says to Aster, waving a hand. "I came out to give them away! The whole plan was to have people distribute them along with the cards, so if you'd care to, you're really doing me a favor! The last thing I need at home is more baked goods." She laughs softly, but the humor fades as she turns back to Aidan. Straightening in her seat, eyebrows raising, she says in a now overtly stern voice, "Aidan, are you trying to 'handle' me? My boy, I had dealings with the High Sidhe before you were even an embarrassed notion of your mother's first schoolgirl fancies. Do not try to give me the runaround." Her expression softens after a moment, though, and she asks in a gentler tone, "Are you alone, then? One of those... 'homeless kids'?"
The mention of the High Sidhe causes Aster's brows to rise, for sure, and her posture to shift slightly. It's a subtle change, but she's definitely not relaxed anymore, though trying to pretend to be. One leg crosses over the other, and she takes a sip of her long forgotten cup of sweet tea, looking between Aidan and Nessa with more than a touch of concern.
"Sidhe... You speak of them a lot. Both High and low." Aidan says nervously,"And I might be but it doesn't really matter. I'm me and I do what I need to in order to complete a task." He's been tasked to stay here and that means being homeless in his mind. Least for now but that doesn't mean a whole lot. His blue eyes are nervous but also he has a sort of challenge in them. He's a kid and they usually think they know best.
"My dear," Ness says gently to Aidan, "I live in a very big house filled with rooms that exist only for guests to use. If you're homeless, then I can't very well sit by idly by and watch a child sleep in the streets." Tilting her head slightly, she adds in a pointed tone, "And I also very much do not care for being deceived. So, why don't you just be honest with me, and I'll do the same for you--does that seem fair?" Aster's silence is noticed, though for the moment she doesn't offer direct comment.
Either Nessa is truly benign, or she's truly malevolent. Aster can't decide, but she can't risk letting a child go with the woman until she's sure. And so, Aster casts her gaze once more to the dark tea in her glass, her eyes coming ever so slightly unfocused as she does. Anyone particularly sensitive to magic might note something is up... but it definitely doesn't feel like the sort of magic most humans have ever come into contact with. After a few moments of staring, the girl looks up and smiles. "It might not be a bad idea to try, at least for the night. Hot shower, warm bed..." Aster opines, before taking a sip of her tea. "Maybe a fresh change of clothes..."
Squirming a little bit, Aedan looks at Nessa for a long moment weighing his options,"I will be as honest as I can be. However, if you ask me something I cannot answer for reasons I will simply answer with I cannot say." He doesn't want to risk betraying someone else's confidence,"So the simplest of your questions is that I am sort of homeless. Technically there is a home but I cannot live there for... reasons."
Nessa laughs softly at Aidan's answer, and she glances back to Aster with a warm smile. "Certainly so. Most certainly so," she agrees. And she smiles again at Aidan. "Dear, I would never ask you to speak what you cannot. And if you cannot live in a home, then you are as homeless as I know how one can be. Now, would you like a place to stay for a while, at least until you can explain your situation more fully? I do include meals, and yes, you would most assuredly be getting fresh clothing, even if I have to make them myself."
"Reasons are very important." Aster murmurs, looking back down into her tea again, but this time only because she's having trouble focusing on the other two in the conversation. This is outside the scope of her experience, so she's more than a little uncomfortable. "One of my aunt's students left a change of clothes at the school a few months back, before he quit dancing. I've called him three times to come pick them up, he said to donate them... I could bring them by this evening. They might be a little big, he's a football player... but they're fresh."
"Well the building is there but there are demons that will probably be watching it. I sort of escaped them." Aidan says shrugging a bit about the whole thing,"What sort of studio is it?" He asks looking towards Aster curiously suddenly,"I am not really that familiar with dance studios here in San Francisco." He says smiling a little bit at her and trying to divert some of the conversation for the moment.
Nessa clearly isn't having any of that. "Aidan O'Toole," she says evenly, "I am hardly concerned over a few demons. If you can't go home because your house is full of demons... and no one is looking after you... then you are jolly well coming home with me." She pauses, raising a hand, and says, "But first, this: I give you my Oath that if you come with me, I will act in all things to defend you. Under my roof, I will protect you to my last breath, and--if I may say--I am a formidable foe and a very valuable friend." The thrum of power may be felt from that Oath, for indeed it comes with a capital O, and she very clearly means it. Glancing to Aster, she adds, "Any guest under my roof has such protection, of course." Back to Aidan. "But if you need a guardian, my lad, you shall have one."
"D-demons?" Aster whispers to herself, before looking up at Aidan and smiling nervously. "Ballet studio, mostly, though I teach ballroom dancing, as well... It's on the first floor of my aunt's home, there's a big ballroom that went unused for probably fifty years before Aunt Astrid restored it..." She shrugs nervously, then her gaze is taken to Nessa, and her brow furrows slightly. "I get the feeling not many people bother you, um... at home."
"Back in Brisbane, I used to study ballet and tap, and a few other forms of dance." Aidan says before looking at Nessa,"It is hard to say no when someone does that." He says blinking very slowly at Nessa. The concept of an Oath given that freely is strange to Aidan since very few will bind themselves to that level. His blue eyes are a little bit wide from shock,"Right now I've been taking care of myself..." He says slowly.
Laughing lightly, Nessa says to Aster, "Oh, yes! My home is my castle, as they say, and I do defend it quite... carefully." And then she looks back to Aidan, folding her hands neatly in her lap. "Well, dear? I give my Oath freely. We all look after ourselves, but you're far too young to have no one but yourself doing the looking!" She certainly seems intent upon the point, but then, she also seems like the sort of person quite used to having things just so, and to her mind, clearly, young boys don't live by themselves on the street.
"You're welcome to swing by the studio and use the space any time I don't have a class going." Aster offers with a soft smile. She knows how it is to go a while with no space to really dance, so she's not going to demand something so crass as payment. Astrid's studio is only to preserve the arts, after all... "I think she's making a good offer... and I think if you don't accept, she may pack you in her basket and take you home anyway..."
Around the time everyone was distracted by the handing out of baked goods Lockie swiped and apple and went after the guy he was looking for, he'd finally seen fit to show up and had fled at the sight of him. Now a while later he's heading past that same cafe on his way home, his hoodie is gone and he's now wearing a dark t-shirt, his knuckles are bloody on his right hand and he has the beginnings of a shiner and other bruises on his face along with a look of shock and confusion.
"Something tells me that you are correct." Aidan says with a cheerful laugh,"Very well, I give in. There's really no point on fighting this to be honest. I just have to get a few things from where I have them stashed. I tend to move around a lot so I stash things in places to keep them safe." He says seriously. "And I don't risk leaving them where people can find them... just in case something happens."
"Excellent," Nessa says with a pleased air. "Then we'll gather your things, and then we'll find you a room--with plenty of chests and drawers and such to be sure you have places to keep all your things, and in my house, you'll see, nobody will go rifling through your things." She's just turning to Aster to say something, possibly a question about the studio, when she notices Lockie and gives a soft cry of protest. Rising, she calls over to him, "You there, boy! What on Earth have you done to yourself?"
Bloody knuckles, bruises, shock and confusion? Aster's on it. Pushing back from her chair swiftly, she's already got a handkerchief in hand, approaching Lockie with a obvious concern on her face. "Are you okay?" She reaches out to take the young man's hand gently in her own, examining his knuckles gently before deciding that stopping any bleeding is currently more important than cleaning the wound. "Come sit back down, what happened?"
"I think that it is best that I get going and get my things together. Don't have much. My family's book of shadows and a couple of potions I brewed last time I had a bit of spare change." Aidan says getting up and looking at Lockie. That one does make him a little bit nervous for a totally different reason than Nessa. Nessa's like that grandmother that you cannot lie to and sees through all the half-truths. Lockie just makes Aidan a bit... uncomfortable.
Lockie Mitchell stops and looks around himself for whoever Nessa is talking about and only realises it's him when Aster runs over, he winces as she touches the cuts on his hand and follows her over looking more confused and... guilty. These people are being nice to him, they have no idea what he'd come here to do.
"Be safe, dear," Nessa calls after Aidan, "And don't be long!" And then she's beside Aster, opening up her bag. "I have a salve in here," She says to the other woman. "Do we need it, or do you have another way--?" She pauses again, frowning, and looks back at Lockie. Clearing her throat pointedly, she says, "Young man, are you alert enough to respond, or shall I assume head trauma?"
Aster Vildrym leads Lockie back to the table, to sit, looking to Nessa with concern plain on her face. "He was speaking fine, earlier..." Aster murmurs, leaning in to examine Lockie's eyes intently... using the reflective surface to try and look into the recent past, to see exactly what had happened... under the guise of checking for a concussion.
Lockie Mitchell touches the back of his head with his free hand, "Theres a bump but is not bleeding Miss", he's shocked enough that he's slipped into good old fashioned English manners. The man Lockie had gone after had ripped him off on a deal for a magical artifact, Lockie's intention had been to simply kill the man and take his money back, however when it came to it his new found conscience hand kicked in and he couldn't, sensing a moment of weakness the guy gave him a good kicking and Lockie just took it, the hand is from punching a wall in frustration after the guy left and Lockie managed to struggle to his feet.
Shaking her head, Nessa sighs, "I should likely go and look into this. Please, keep the basket, dear." She reaches out to gently rest a supportive hand on Aster's arm, and then she's hurrying away. "I do hope to see you again soon!" she calls back, and then she's off upon whatever errand has occurred to her.