A happening documented upon the tenth of August in the year 1883, at the New Haven Post Office involving the honorable Mr. Bartholomew Endicott and the demure Miss Adelaide Montgomery.
"What do you mean it's going to cost another shilling for it to be sent there?" protested Bart in indignation. "That's obscene."
"Sorry, sir, but it's due to the new route. They're changing several of them to air only delivery now. Better for the customer in the long run. Much speedier." The postal clerk explained in a tone that indicated he'd spent the morning giving the same reply and still expected Bart to hand over the extra coin.
"With such an increase I should think they could get it there yesterday." Bart grumbled, reopening his coin purse to extract the requisite coins.
"Perhaps they're working on a time machine, sir." droned the man, passing him several forms to fill out.
"And can those time machines be used to save hours on the paperwork?" came the soft, amused voice behind Bart.
Bart had not been expecting to run into Adelaide that day. In fact it had regrettably been some time since they'd spoken at any length to each other. He was rather pleasantly surprised then to find her standing behind him. "I fear those precious minutes shall never be able to be recovered. Perhaps though, we should be charging our vaunted postal service an inconvenience fee?" He afforded Adelaide a reserved but genuine smile, feeling rather bolstered by her 'support' of his complaint. "Miss Montgomery. It's a pleasure to see you again. Do you also have a package to be delivered?"
"Worse," she answered with a matching smile. "I have to wrest one from their grasp." She held up her hand to show him a little square of thin cardboard; there was neat printing all over it. "If I had known you would be here, I would have felt reassured. A friendly face always makes things easier."
"It certainly makes the experience less bothersome." He agreed, taking his forms and tucking them under his arm. "If you have any trouble, I can always use my stern face. That sometimes gets a reaction. Though not always an favourable one." He shifted to allow her to move past him to talk to the clerk. The filling out of his forms could wait a little longer.
Adelaide chuckled lowly as she stepped past him, careful to keep her neat green skirts to herself and not allow them to brush him. She laid her card on the counter and pushed it across to the bored agent with two fingers. When he turned to look for the location marked on it, Adelaide turned her attention back to Bart. "I've seen your stern face," she reminded him. "It's truly formidable. Thank you for the kind offer." She tilted her head. "Do you need space here to fill those forms out?"
"I'm relieved that you think so." Bart replied, self-consciously tugging down on the front of his coat, even though she'd barely made contact with him. "Oh? I think I can find room...I wouldn't want to crowd you." He turned to find a space at the nearby counters but discovered that the entire town had seemingly decided to use the post office at that precise moment and there was nowhere for him to go. Bart attempted to hold the forms against the wall and write on them there. Which was, indeed, a rather trying endeavour.
"You're being ridiculous," she said quietly, gently. Then she edged a bit to the side, freeing a bit of counter for him. "Here. Please."
"Thank you." Bart took the space gratefully, trying not to get too close, but an occasional shoulder brush was unavoidable. He began to write in his small neat script, but couldn't help but also glance somewhat guiltily over at Adelaide as well. In the worst possible segue ever, he paused in his writing and gave a sigh. "I had meant to tell you. Of Alex's return. I should have. As soon as he'd arrived. You deserved to know. But...well, you've apparently seen him yourself."
It was hard to tell her expression from her profile. Compounded with his sidelong look, it was even harder. She seemed to smile a bit, though. "I did. I saved him from having no books to read," she answered lightly. "Though him reading voluntarily was just as much a shock has him being home." She paused and finally turned to look at him. She still smiled a bit, lopsided.
"How are you?" she asked suddenly. Then she flushed, freckles popping into stark relief at the color change. "That is, are you and he... I mean," she stumbled, awkwardly aware of her failure in words. "Is he staying for a while?" she finished lamely and there was a clear sense of her not having said what she wanted to say at all.
"I daresay it would have been." Bart retorted, finding it hard himself to picture Alexander with a nose in a book. Adelaide's next question though, and her discomposure was unanticipated. His polite smile had dropped from his face a fraction before he was able to right it again. "We are...managing not to throttle each other in our sleep." He told her wryly, seeking to reassure her. "I think that he is staying for a while. I hope that he is." He confessed, looking down at the fountain pen in his hand for a brief moment before regarding her again. "As for me? I am well, and in remarkably good spirits all things considered. What about you? Are you well?" There was no attempt to hide his own concern for her wellbeing in his tone.
"I am." His answer eased the concern in her face, the blush fading and her smile growing. For being in her upper twenties, she still showed relief like a child. "And I'm glad that you're well. I know that I've been... lax on contacting you but you've been in my thoughts. I'm very happy to hear that murder is not in the offing as well."
"I have also been lax. It takes two to fall out of touch, and so I must shoulder at least half of the blame for that considering the circumstances. But..." He smiled gently and even flushed a little himself, "You have been in my thoughts as well, Adelaide."
Close as they were, shoulder to shoulder, Adelaide dared to reach out and touch his coatsleeve lightly. "We do this every time we talk, you know," she pointed out with a quiet giggle. "We apologize for not being more communicative. I think we should begin to try in earnest."
"We do, don't we." He affirmed, chuckling softly himself, and not minding the touch at all. In fact, he felt relieved that she had done so. As if some geas had been lifted from him. He handed his finished forms to the clerk and then turned back to her. "Instead of apologising, we ought to act at once. It's always the initial part that's the most awkward. Would you like to have tea with me, Miss Adelaide?" He held out the crook of his arm to her, which for him was quite the first step.
Before she could answer, her small package was dropped on the counter in front of her and the clerk pushed a form at her. She frowned slightly at him, held up a finger, and then turned a renewed smile on Bart. "Of course. One moment, please." Quickly, she signed and dealt with the form. It was passed over and the package was released to her care. Then she took Bart's offered arm with very proper gentleness. "It will be my pleasure."