|ɱɑʀiɛ (coveted) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-12-09 09:57:00
|Mercy decided to investigate the little shop on her lunch break one day; she'd heard about it through the grapevine, forever keeping an ear to the ground to find the newest crafty or goth shops that would add to her various collections or simply pique her interest. And this shop definitely piqued her interest—her jaw nearly hit the floor as she pushed the door open with her elbow, one hand holding a Starbucks cup (green tea, contrary to popular belief, though as hot as the power of a thousand suns) while the other pushed her bug-eyed sunglasses up over her forehead. Despite being full of dark colors, cluttered with jars and things that looked like they belonged in a science experiment, the store felt...welcoming. It was dark, certainly, but warm, and something in the back of Mercy's brain nagged that while it wasn't exactly home, it was damn near close to it. |
She let the door swish closed behind her and gravitated toward a wall of jars that looked like spices, neat labels handwritten on them all. She didn't seem entirely out of place, the close-fitting black sleeveless shirt (she'd left her jacket back in the office she shared with her manager) and black tailored pants ending just above a pair of kitten heels gave her a passing resemblance to someone who'd be into this sort of thing, even if she was a touch too modern.
Fingers reached out to brush the glass vessels, landing on the hardwood of the shelf below them while her eyes tracked up toward a cluster of frames huddled together on the wall, couched around shelves and lights and everything that simply made it look wonderful. All of it reminded her of Maman and Halloween and what had happened there, but Mercy was doing her best to not think on it too much. She brought the hot tea to her lips, and turned about, looking for the shop's owner.
Mercy wouldn’t have to look very far. There Marie was, all eerily golden-eyed and dressed to the nines (which for her was skinny jeans and a ‘caged heart’ graphic t-shirt), hair streaked candy pink and pulled up into a ponytail - it usually was, when she was at the store. She didn’t want the mane getting in her face when she was trying to work. And despite what her appearance may suggest, she was a hard worker - this store was her baby, it meant everything to her.
“Hey there,” she greeted, the tinge of an accent hailing from the bayou caressing her words, heels of her boots clicking against the wooden floor. “Looking for anything in particular?” It was then she noticed the drink in the woman’s hand (and she also noticed the familiarity, an odd but not unpleasant sort of sensation when they locked eyes), and Marie grinned a bit. “Our tea’s way better.”
Mercy's brows arched up, a broad grin creasing her face. "Oh yeah? Do you do free tastings? Because I'm damned picky." She raised the cup in her hand in acknowledgement. "If I'd known you had all of this, I wouldn't have made the stop... How long you been here? Also, can I just say... wow." Her eyes moved around the space again, still drinking it all in—at the end, though, they landed right back on Marie, who was unflaggingly familiar in a way Mercy couldn't quite pin down. She took a few steps closer, trading the cup to her opposite hand so she could extend a handshake.
"Mercy Simmons; I work at Undertaking LA, but I thought I'd check this place out on my lunch break."
“Marie Roque,” she replied, shaking Mercy’s hand with a genuine smile stretched across her face. “Undertaking LA, that sounds either like an awesome club or an awesome funeral parlor.” No matter what it happened to be, she was intrigued. Obviously, life and death (specifically, living life while we were on this planet) held a certain fascination for her. “But yeah, we do free tastings. Come this way, cher.”
Off to the tea and coffee bar she went - not a grand part of the shop, since the area was small and quaint to begin with, but the aromas would definitely tickle your nose. That was because she didn’t believe in overly processed, fake shit - everything was brewed or roasted right here. “What flavors do you tend to enjoy the most? Something fruity, mint, spice?” Either way, this witch doctor had something for a brand new customer.
"Spice, definitely spice," Mercy replied, following at not too far of a distance in Marie's wake. The woman's accent was interesting and familiar—like Nate's, before he'd grown out of it.
"So is that accent French, or are you from where I think you might be from?" She set her Starbucks cup down on the customer side of the bar, her eyes roaming the shelves and offerings in this section of the store.
Spice it was. Marie got to work, brewing a tiny little porcelain cup’s worth (it was a skull, of course, she had skulls in all sizes to serve tea and coffee in) of the masala chai tea. It was good too, one of her favorites - bold and balanced evenly, with a bit of underlying sweetness. Some chai teas (like manufactured ‘vanilla,’ bleh) tasted like nothing but a hot cup of artificial crap. No, this one she’d selected was like drinking straight comfort from a mug.
“Where you be thinking I might be from?” she asked, amber eyes lighting up. Though she could probably guess what Mercy had in mind. “The bayou, yeah. My parents owned a restaurant in the French Quarter before Katrina - after too, they recently built it back up. But I wanted to branch out, make my own way. Though don’t get me wrong, New Orleans has the best damn food. You from there too?”
She offered Mercy the sample cup, eager to see what the woman thought.
Mercy accepted it, gingerly holding it between forefinger and thumb as she brought it to her lips. The smell was delicious, enough to whet her curiosity to test with tongue and tastebuds; her face brightened as the concoction slid down her throat.
"Damn, that is good." She held the cup back, appreciating its shape. "And no, I'm from around here. He's my foster brother, if we're being technical. And these are adorable—do you sell them in regular sizes?" She put the cup down, and reached into her purse. "I'll take a regular, or do you do the Italian terms?" Mercy glanced at Marie mischievously, pulling out her wallet. "So, you moved here for better prospects? Sun and surf? Or just Hollywood? 'Cause I hear they get a lot of this, the voodoo stuff, wrong."
“Regular’s good, I got ya,” Marie laughed, beginning to brew a bigger skull cup of tea; why drink it from a mug when you could drink it from a skull, right? At least, that was her view on things. “Moved here for better prospects, I guess, yeah. New Orleans was great but I needed a change - and when I do something, I do it all the way.”
Though it was true, Hollywood and the surrounding areas knew jack shit about proper hoodoo. Most movies she saw did get it wrong, but she was used to it by now - if only she could offer up her services as a consultant. “Besides, I thought this neighborhood could use something besides a kale smoothie shop. My apartment building’s close by, I can walk to work too, which is nice. Here you go - “
She had the tea ready, exchanging it for payment. There were even skull spoons to stir in cream or honey if need be; she found this particular tea didn’t really need much enhancement at all.
Mercy greedily accepted the cup, helping herself to another gut-warming sip. She cradled the skull between both black-nailed hands, the motion feeling far too natural—she thought about the dream, the one it seemed she and Nate had shared, the gravestones, the dirt. Rather than letting those anxieties thread through her expression, her eyes moved over Marie's face.
"You know, I live pretty close to here, too. Your complex wouldn't happen to be Pax, would it?"
Damn, yet another person who wandered into her shop and also happened to live in the same building as her. The coincidences were reeeeeeeeeal interesting, and Marie didn’t know what to make of them. But it couldn’t be a bad thing - maybe the folks in Pax just had amazing taste.
“That would be it,” she nodded, rinsing the tea strainer and giving the brewing station a quick cleanup. “I live on the fifth floor. You too? And are you also gonna tell me about how ‘weird’ the building is?”
Marie hadn’t seen a lot that was off yet, but then again, she hadn’t lived there an overly long time either.
A dry laugh expelled itself from Mercy's throat, her brows rising.
"Sounds like someone got to you first. Care to say who?" She raised her cup to her lips, sipping as she waited for her answer.
“Her name’s Max?” Marie replied, drying her hands on a towel. Hell, she was tempted to brew herself a cup of tea as well - and maybe spike it with some spicy booze. Jalapeño vodka or something. Food from her homeland had a reputation for being too hot to taste, but it wasn’t supposed to be like that - you just wanted a pleasant burn in the back of the throat, not a whole forest fire.
But sometimes, she wanted a damn forest fire.
“Lives on the second floor. Cute girl,” she added, grinning. So cute that Marie offered to show her the ways of candle rituals, including the cleansing hot bath, but nakedness was always fun in a pair, no?
Mercy nodded, another sip sliding down her throat. She knew Max. The Pax neighbor had turned into a cat—Bastet, if memory served correctly. The openly excited look on Mercy's face slipped a little, but she held it together.
"Catwoman," she nodded, smiling with just one side of her mouth. "She's big on cats, went as one for Halloween." Speaking of which... Mercy thought about how the rec room looked nothing like it had that night, her birthday of all days, but now curiosity bled through Mercy's mind.
"How're you liking the place, then? Pax. Aside from the rumors."
“It’s good! No complaints so far,” Marie shrugged, and that was true. Some rumors, webs weaving and tales through the grapevine, weren’t enough to get her down. She may come to regret that eventually but for now? Her mellow wasn’t harshed. “We’ll see how it goes though. I’ve been thinking of throwing a gumbo party, so people can stop in and taste good flavor.”
Though a ‘gumbo party’ was really just her cooking up a huge pot of the stuff and leaving her door open for neighbors to come by (with their own bowls, preferably) and grab some free chow. Marie was pretty low-key like that in terms of planning parties, but she enjoyed indulging in good food and having good times, so, why not try to make some new friends.
“Anyway - is there anything else I can get you, Mercy?” Hopefully she’d acquired a new customer for life as well. And why not? Her shop was awesome, if she did say so herself.
"Mmm, definitely sign me up when you have that party," Mercy offered, one hand extricating itself from her tea mug to reach into her bag and produce a decently made business card. It had her name, contact information, and the Undertaking LA logo with a simple funeral urn. She extended it toward Marie.
"And I'll take a bag of this tea." She raised the mug, then took a sip before bringing it back down. "For now, that's it... But I'm sure we'll see each other again. Fifth floor is just one above mine, so we won't be too far apart."
“You got it,” she winked, taking the business card and giving it a look over. Undertaking LA, so cool. And maybe it was weird to think that sort of thing about a funeral parlor, but Marie had never claimed to be ‘normal.’
She also found some of the tea for Mercy, scooping it from the canister and tying the bag with a flourish. Since she knew by now that the other woman enjoyed spicy things, she added a sample of a black tea that was both sweet and spicy, with cinnamon and pops from other flavors - anise, ginger, lemongrass. It like, sung in your mouth it was so good.
“And here you go,” she handed everything over, finishing the transaction. “Definitely looking forward to seeing you soon, Mercy.”
Mercy carefully tucked the contents into her purse—a tight fit, but she'd make it work—and smiled at Marie. The familiarity therein furrowed her brow, but she dispelled it with a thought; there was no harm in more friends, especially since this whole change of address was still something to get used to.
"Same, Marie, same," she said, finishing her cup. She exchanged the skull for her Starbucks, the latter feeling much more hollow. With one more smile, she bid Marie goodbye and headed back to work. Though her physical body had left the shop, the place stayed in her mind for the rest of the day.