luciazephyr: ice figs, one sliced in half to expose it's center of sky blue stain over white fruit flesh, extremely pretty ([Misc] food porn is the best porn)
[personal profile] luciazephyr
Title: The Stars and Scones Bakery and Coffee Shop (3/4 or 5)
Pairings: Harry Dresden/John Marcone
Warnings/Content: Eventual explicit sex, references to past child abuse, and one oblique reference to possible self-harm. and a character trying to deal with unresolved past trauma in a serious way.
Summary: In which Harry is the best baker in Chicago, but still ends up starting a few fires along the way.
Word Count: 5881

Author's Note: Please note the trigger warning's revised to reflect upcoming plot. Thanks to [personal profile] polarisnorth, [personal profile] grenegome, [personal profile] binz, [personal profile] samjohnsson, and [personal profile] lightgetsin for help on this chapter. And to [personal profile] sidhebeingbrand for inspiring the apron thing. Yeah. Seriously. This fic seems to take a village.

Act Three: coconut fudge really blows down those blues

While I was out, Thomas and Bob made nice. Thomas was trying to figure out our cranky old register and busing tables while Bob iced a commission for me when I finally woke up. There was a tension in the air between them and sometimes they had spiteful conversations comprised entirely of hateful looks, but it never escalated, as far as I could tell.

Which was great, because Thomas was sticking around for a while and I was on cloud nine about it. He couldn't stay for long with his own business waiting back in Los Angeles, but his girlfriend Justine was covering for him to give us time. I decided then and there that Justine was one of my favorite people in the whole world. Her and Thomas, because, oh yeah, I had a brother. And he was goofy and, in his own way, just as weird as I was. And he liked that I was a baker and never made any cracks about it. To me, it was deadly serious, and he accepted that without question.

Maybe he and Bob were never going to be best buddies, but everyone else seemed okay with the new model-handsome guy ringing up orders. Molly kept muttering about the best ones being gay, thus confirming that everyone seemed to think Thomas was my boyfriend. Carlos looked a little threatened by Molly mooning over Thomas, but I'm a magnanimous sort, and gave Molly a few days off. Thomas was able to just barely pick up the slack and Carlos was happy to take his girlfriend out to woo her back.

It was all pretty amusing, and the charade kept away unwelcome questions, so I played along.

I think Murphy caught wise; Murphy never missed anything. It was kind of creepy, but also nice. You didn't have to stop and explain things to her. She got it. I'd never told her about my past, but she was always careful to avoid saying certain things that... I didn't like. It was a constant struggle most of the time, how certain words or phrases would pull memories up from the corners of my mind and darken my mood, but with Murphy, I never had to worry about that.

Womanly intuition was a scary thing. She watched Thomas with an idly amused smile, and unlike most of my regulars, she didn't ask how Thomas and I had met or how long we'd been seeing each other.

She had my number. But that wasn't news.

Still. It worked.

For the most part.

Thomas was not good at baking. At all.

I mean, I'm actually a pretty decent teacher when it came to this stuff. Bob had known nothing about baking when we'd started working together, but he was now a passable sous chef to my creations. And Molly, hell's bells. Molly had been terrible. She had inherited none of her mother's grace in the kitchen. The first week I'd had her, she'd managed to ruin three pans and two cookie sheets, and I bought durable cookware. She killed them, blackening them with a thick layer of what appeared to be burnt cement. Careful testing and scientific inquiry could not reveal what the mixture had once been.

To this day, Molly wasn't allowed to make candy, brittle, or fudge, but I'd trained her up and she was good enough with the rest of the menu so long as Bob or I supervised.

Thomas, though. God, it was like Thomas had never cooked or baked anything in his life. Basic things like preheating ovens didn't occur to him. Maybe it was an LA thing, or the fact he'd been born with a silver spoon, so to speak. If I had to guess, I'd have figured he'd gone to restaurants every day of his life or had a personal chef. It was insane.

I tried to involve him anyway. Call me persistent, call me bullheaded, but it was a bonding experience.

We were making tarts. Or, I was making tarts and Thomas was watching me make tarts and helping when I let him. Vanilla crusts with a strawberry filling and just a bit of lemon rind to for a citrusy kick. It was married to the topping, a lemon meringue I'd let Thomas beat until the sugar integrated properly. Each tart got a heaping spoonful of meringue before I broke out the tiny pastry blowtorches.

Thomas' eyes lit up at the sight. Playing with fire in the kitchen was always fun, so I understood his excitement. "You're going to let me help?"

I flicked on each torch and handed one to him carefully. "Yeah. This is dead easy. You just heat the meringue until it browns, okay?" Showing him how to use the torch, I slid the pan of tarts closer. "I'm going to get the ones in the back. I got reach. You just take care of the ones close to you."

Thomas nodded eagerly, grinning. I watched him do one tart, stopping him when it was perfect. "Yeah, like that." Then I leaned over to get the back row. Between the two of us, we'd get the whole batch done in a few minutes.

Or, we could have.

I didn't require a uniform at my shop, because that was a little too Starbucks for my tastes. I like a casual atmosphere, forgoing a lot of the usual trappings of food service. No nametags, no matching shirts, no real code of conduct outside 'don't be an asshole to the customers.' Even that one had a caveat for Marcone; taking his ego down a few pegs was just one of the many services Stars and Scones offered. Clothing-wise, the only thing I insist on aprons, mostly for protection. Baking can get messy and the coffee magic dealt with hot liquids. It was just good sense.

I'd had a lot of aprons over the years. My first after moving out of Justin's place had been from Goodwill, a faded piece of work with a missing pocket and obnoxious blue and yellow flowers. But it'd been functional, which was all I'd really cared about at the time.

I'd been able to afford more later. I earned enough spare cash to buy some plain brown aprons and they'd practically become my unofficial uniform for a few years. Then I started to get more from friends. I had a handmade quilted one with a heavy stars motif from Charity, and an Apron Of Power that claimed to give +10 to Craft: Cooking and +5 Fire Resistance from my tabletop group. Molly, knowing my love of Star Wars, had picked me up one that said 'Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies.' I had a closet full of the things now and a new apron had become the de facto gift I was given around the holidays. That suited me fine.

The one I was wearing then was from my GM, Butters. It was navy blue with fancy stitched lettering that said, 'BAKING: It's Chemistry for hungry people.' It was a favorite of mine.

Thomas set it on fire.

It was not as fire resistant as it could've been. Not that I was going to be able to wear it ever again after Bob came in, saw my brother and I flailing around and me on fire, and decided to help by drenching me with water from the extendable faucet at the sink. By accident or design-- I would never know which-- he managed to get Thomas' nice suede shoes as well.

"So," Bob said as I coughed and shivered, suddenly damp and cold. "Another fire, boss?"

I sputtered. "It wasn't me!"

Bob looked to Thomas with new appraisal. "Clearly the destructive gene comes from your mother."

"I am so sorry, Harry," Thomas said miserably.

I sighed. "Do me a favor,mop this up. Bob, see what tarts can be rescued. I need to put on an new apron."

"I'm really sorry--"

"Don't worry about it, I have more."

Except, when I got upstairs, tossed my ruined apron in the trash, and went to my closet for a new one, I came up empty.

I had a lot of aprons, yeah, but I'd been sharing with Thomas since he started to helping. Between work and enjoying my brother's company, I hadn't had time to do laundry. The basket of dirty clothes at the bottom of my closet was overflowing, jeans and shirts spilling out onto the floor.

Great. I wasn't mad at Thomas, but I was annoyed. I hated to go without an apron, for reasons that Thomas had made abundantly clear. I'd happily lose an apron to a pastry torch if it meant saving my own skin. My mind filled with nightmarish visions of Thomas spilling molten sugar or getting reckless with a knife.

Maybe Bob would loan me his. Unlike me, Bob had some natural grace and poise and thus didn't regularly have the kind of accidents I did around the shop.

"But I work with the coffee machine," Bob pointed out when I asked him. "It's a dangerous piece of equipment."

I narrowed my eyes. "Bob."

"It dispenses steam and hot liquids. Using one without proper protection is a recipe for disaster."

"Fine! I'll just go without."

Bob smiled cheerfully. "Oh, I wouldn't, boss. He was talking about trying to make those caramel squares again." I winced, remembering the last time. "After all, you should have one more apron, by my count."

"What? Which one?"

Bob turned back to the drink he was making, a twice dirty chai. "Remember last Christmas?"


"Really? See, what happened was--"

I cut him off. "No, I mean no, I'm not wearing that."

My barista pouted. "But Harry, I got it for you and I've yet to see you wear it."

It's amazing my eyes didn't pop out of my head given how hard I rolled them. "You know, Bob, I don't think it'll flatter my figure."

"Au contraire, boss," he corrected me. "When I made the order, I gave them your exact measurements, so it actually will." He glanced around the shop, confirming there were no nearby eavesdroppers. Then, he leaned into me and whispered, "Go put it on or I'll let it slip to Molly who Thomas is."

I blanched. "You wouldn't."

"I very much would."

"Think of poor Carlos! She'll start mooning over Thomas and he'll be heartbroken!"

Bob shrugged one shoulder dismissively. "Heartbreak builds character." His eyes slid sideways to meet mine. "Well?"

I went back upstairs. I could call Bob's bluff, but his moral compass didn't point north as consistently as mine did. He could be serious, and between Molly gunning for Thomas and Carlos sulking around the shop about her sometimes flighty nature... I'd take door number two. It was close to closing time anyway, and there weren't many people around. Most of those who were still here were regulars and used to some eccentricity from the staff. Sometimes I think that was half the reason they stayed so late. One week, Molly got in in her head that old Fifties drive-thrus were the best thing ever and took to bringing everyone their orders with those sneakers with the roller wheels inside, gliding across the floor. Much fun was had watching her careen into things.

Pulling Bob's "gift" out of the closet, I was reminded what an exceptional asshole Bob really was. He didn't do anything by halves.

I pulled the thing on over my head. It was weird how high it sat on my chest, but the apron was well-made and did indeed fit me well once I tied the ribbon in the back. There was only one way this could go well, and that was if I owned it. So I looped the ribbon into a wide bow.

There was a mirror above the dresser. I ignored it, sure I'd lose my nerve if I happened to glanced at my reflection, and hustled back downstairs, not willing to leave Thomas alone in the kitchen any longer.

When I got back down to the floor, I dodged Bob, who was helping someone at the counter, and ducked into the back. Thomas was peering into one of the cabinets, a plastic bowl under his arm and a bag of caramels in his fist.

I snatched the bowl from him. "If you are thinking of using this bowl for caramel, you've got another thing coming."

He withdrew from the cabinet. "Why's tha-- uh."

The bowl slotted back into its place on the work table. "This bowl is for holding ingredients. It's not for mixing hot components. You'd melt the bowl."

"You're wearing pink," Thomas pointed out.

Before I could stop myself, I looked at my reflection in the shiny metal surface of the fridge. The image was distorted and fuzzy, but I could see that, yeah, he was right. It was really, really pink. The apron was some vintage design in soft pink paisley with a high curved neckline and cream ruffles. It was surprisingly well-made, and even though it was something of a prank gift, Bob hadn't skimmed on any of it. It was even longer than most aprons I owned, custom made for my long legs. Actually, from the front, it looked like I was wearing a dress over my jeans and shirt.

I lifted my chin defiantly. "So? You're wearing purple."

"Yeah, but I'm Californian," he protested. "It's different."

"Is not," I muttered. I took the ingredients out of his hands and put them away. "No more kitchen today, okay? I don't think my heart can take it."

Thomas dragged his gaze up and down my body, grimacing. "Do you need me still?"

"Nah, why?"

He crossed the room to the coat hanger by the break area and grabbed his jacket. "I'm going out. Going to buy you some aprons." He looked at his own feet. "And maybe new shoes."

I laughed and followed him as he stepped out into the foyer. There were a few people still lingering, even as closing time inched closer. I kept walking, not letting my stride falter. Yeah, I was wearing a pink apron. Any regular would be used to this level of weirdness in my shop. "You know, I think you're more uncomfortable with this than I am."

"Well, it..." He waved at me. "Doesn't really suit you?"

I smoothed a hand down the apron. "Actually, I think this one fits better than the rest."

"Empty night. I'm going out. I'm going to pick up new ones. With flames and crude sex jokes. Manly things."

The bell on the door rang as Thomas fled. I caught my hand on the door jam and leaned out to call after him, "Says the guy in purple! And don't get lost, I am not driving halfway across Chicago because you got off at the wrong L stop again!"

My brother waved at me over his shoulder and kept walking. I snorted, amused at how he could be utterly aloof until suddenly he really wasn't. Maybe having a plethora of neuroses was another family trait.

I went back inside and all eyes were on me. It was oddly hushed, quiet except for the sounds of people trying to pretend they weren't staring. That was fine; I was a master of paying no attention to things that bothered me until they went away.

Bob was reloading the coffee beans, so I took over counter duty. Murphy was sitting at the bar, as she was wont to do, and tipped a smile to me. "Dresden."

"Hey, Murph. Need a refill?"

"Get me a to-go. I'm headed out soon." She reached over and caught some of the cream ruffle between her fingers, rubbing the soft fabric thoughtfully. "Nice. The sweetheart neckline works for you. And it brings out your color."

I scoffed. "What color?"

"Okay, it makes you look less like a pale nerd."

Handing over a new cup of jasmine tea and fluttering my eyelashes, I put on a little Southern belle. "Well I do declare. That's mighty kind of you, Ms. Murphy."

She shook her head, still smiling, and hopped off the stool. "See you, Dresden."

I curtsied, because why not?

Over the next half hour, most of the crowd cleared out. Bob started the closing rituals, tidying up and wiping things down, clearing out the pastry case. The things that were going to be taken to the food bank or tossed out, he left on the counter, and a few people grabbed them on their way out. Old rituals, unspoken understandings: I love things like that. They feel sacred.

It's possible I take my job too seriously.

I started collecting used plates and mugs from the vacated tables, gathering things to be washed. When we're all hands on deck, I usually have one employee do dishes throughout the day. Lately, with Thomas around, I'd been avoiding that. Having a lot of dishes for him to do when we closed kept him away from my night baking.

I got the odd compliment and remark on my apron as I worked around the room. The only person who didn't say anything was Hendricks, who was glancing between his laptop and Gard, sitting with her back to him across the room. Gard had been coming in with Marcone often over the last two weeks. Hendricks had always tended to have a usual seat in the far corner, a quiet place to work, but since Gard had become a regular, he'd slowly migrated out into the open.

Aw. Young love. It was kind of sweet, like if the Hulk had a crush on the Black Widow.

Hendricks was still trying to be subtle about staring at Gard when I picked up the teacups from his area. I wiped down the table beside him and said quietly, "You keep staring, she's going to think you're kinda creepy."

The kid frowned down at his laptop, as if it required his supervision to shut down properly. "Don't know what you're talking about."

"You could just ask her out like a normal person," I suggested. Hendricks glared at me. I shrugged. "Suit yourself, wallflower." I moved on, passing Gard on her way out. She gave me a curt nod and a little half smirk, but said nothing.

Gard had been in most of the afternoon with Marcone. They'd claimed the tables against the windows, spreading their work out over every surface they could, like some self-replicating legal paper monster. Marcone was still there, nursing the last of his dirty chai, shuffling things back into their folders and tucking them away methodically into his briefcase. He looked more drawn than I could ever remember seeing him, faint circles showing under his eyes.

It was interesting to watch him organize things. Everything clearly had to be put in his briefcase in a specific order. He picked up some folders and skipped others, stacking everything neatly.

He picked up his mug to take a sip, then frowned when he discovered it was empty. I snickered and plucked it out of his hand. "Are you awake enough to drive?"

"I have a driver." Of course he did; fancy scumbag lawyers didn't have to burden themselves with mundane tasks like driving. Before I could tell him that, Marcone looked me over and... smiled. Not like Gard's quirk of the mouth or Bob's shit-eating grin. Marcone's smile started with the crinkled skin around his eyes and bloomed slowly from his mouth, so warm I was sure the temperature lifted a few degrees.

I shifted all the dishes to one arm and waved my finger in his face. "Don't. Don't say anything."

He chuckled faintly, no more than a sharp exhalation tempered with good humor. "Not even to say it suits you nicely?"

"Shut up."

"I agree with Ms. Murphy on the color, and it does a kindness to your hips."

I was so surprised, I barked out a laugh. "Shut up! You're not allowed to say things like that!"

His smile widened, but he obligingly remained silent. His eyes were saying plenty though.

I stood there way too long, grinning like an idiot. It was a relief when Thomas barged back in, a shopping bag slung over his shoulder. "Why are you still wearing that?" Thomas hissed, walking over, looking around as if horrified to even be seen with me.

Marcone's smile faded, his eyes shuttering. "Thomas, wasn't it? I don't think we've been formally introduced."

Whoa. Suddenly things were really tense and uneasy. Thomas and Marcone slipped into a staring contest between one second and the next. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. "Uh, guys."

Marcone offered his hand. "John Marcone, of Vadderung, Marcone, and Associates."

Thomas looked at Marcone's hand and pointedly didn't take it. Five really fucking uncomfortable seconds later, Marcone lowered it, making a fist and tucking it into his pocket.

"Yeah," Thomas finally replied, "but you can call me Mr. Raith." He turned and walked away, heading around the counter and into the back.

I cleared my throat. "Uh, sorry about that. I don't know what's with him."

Marcone sighed and went back to packing up his files. "It's strange. I never imagined your tastes would be so..."

I raised an eyebrow at him. "... So?"

"Hm?" He blinked at me. "Sorry, I lost my train of thought." Which I didn't believe for a goddamn minute. "I'll take my leave now. Have a good night, Harry."

"I'll take two mojitos and an Irish coffee," Murphy said, leaning on the counter Friday evening. "Anastasia'll take a Rusty Nail, a Mimosa, and a Cuba Libre."

Murphy and her fellow akido instructor weren't heavy drinkers. Friday evenings meant cocktail parties at Stars and Scones, and since I didn't actually have an alcohol license and could only use liquor in my baking, I spent all day making cocktail cupcakes. It'd been Bob's idea, as he actually went out drinking socially and was familiar with foofy drinks. With his guidance, I'd put together a wide array of cupcakes to fit the theme.

Mimosas with peach and champagne cake topped with candied orange peel and zesty icing sat in the pastry case next to lurid green mojitos, rum and lime with minty chocolate ganache. Luccio took the last Cuba Libre, with its tricky Coca-Cola icing. Rusty Nails had Drambuie spice cake and buttercream, coladas and the ever-present daiquiris had fruit jams in the center.

I was running low on Irish Coffees, even though I'd made two whole trays of them. The mix of espresso-infused cake and Kahlua icing sold fast. I went through my trays of Grand Marniers, dark chocolate cake with liquored-up ganache, just as quickly. Mac came in early every Friday before his pub opened to buy a full tray of them for his own clientele.

Baking burned off most of the kick of the alcohol, but left the various tastes behind. The same wasn't true of the sweet icings, though. So when Ivy Marcone skipped up to my counter, I had something special set aside for her. She loaded up a small platter of cupcakes for her father and herself, half of them Shirley Temples, gingery with grenadine and a bright red cherry frosting. She paid with her father's Black Card. Just touching that thing made me feel powerful, like I could hop onto eBay and buy an island. Ivy simply tucked it back into her pocket like it was nothing and carried the treats away.

We stayed open later on Fridays, all the way to nine at night, but it was actually easier work. The cocktail cupcakes sold until we ran out. They were the only pastry for the evening as an exclusive deal. I would never be able to compete with the club scene and its actual cocktails, but I had people who came in for my cupcakes every week and that suited me fine.

Slow and leisurely as it was, I sent Molly home at seven. I still had Thomas in the unlikely event of things picking up.

That is, if I could ever get him off the phone. He'd been standing at the window for over an hour, on the phone with his girlfriend. Apparently there was some surprise inspection at his salon he was trying to handle despite being two thousand miles away.

I was nosy, so I took Thomas a cup of coffee as an excuse to get closer and eavesdrop.

"But that's not-- Justine, no, we sanitize those after every..." Thomas frowned, listening to her reply. "What do you mean we have to throw them out? But... we sanitize-- no, wait, ask the guy where it says we have to throw them out, that's ridiculous."

I patted his shoulder. "Everything going okay?"

Thomas glared. "No. Someone's trashed the Coiffure Cup's reviews, all this bullshit about a lice outbreak and now there's an inspector there telling me how to run my salon!"

I blinked and took a step away. "I'm going to check on my customers now."

"My Yelp page is ruined," he said as I shuffled away. I didn't say anything about my Yelp page, which was highly rated. The only complaint people had was about the somewhat cramped location which I wasn't interested in fixing. The bakery was my home, and I avoided venturing out when I could.

A few tables over, Ivy and Marcone sat wiith their cupcakes half-eaten. Her fingers were stained pink from the frosting while Marcone was carefully tugging away the wrapper from an Irish Coffee. The circles under his eyes were darker, I noticed idly. He seemed more awake than he'd been on Pink Apron Day though, looking up as I walked by with a wry grin on his face. "Mr. Dresden. It sounds like your boyfriend's having a bad day."

His interest was a little too on the nose for me to ignore. "Yeah, maybe." I leaned on the table to catch his eyes. "You wouldn't know anything about that, would you, Marcone?"

"Why would I stir up trouble with Mr. Raith? Though the fact you believe my influence stretches to California is flattering, I must say." He took a bite of his cupcake and hummed. "Excellent as ever, Harry."

"Father, your nose," Ivy said, pointing to the icing smudged on Marcone's face. He rubbed it away, and licked the excess off his thumb.

I turned to the kid, because I liked her better than Marcone and ignoring the scumbag was my favorite way to irritate him. Responding to his cutting remarks meant he won; not giving him the satisfaction drove him nuts. "What're you doing up this late, Ivy?"

"Waiting for Mr. Kincaid. I'm headed to music practice. We're having a lock-in."

I leaned my elbows on the table, settling in. Marcone tried to subtly nudge a chair towards me, but I ignored it. I still refused to sit with them on principle. "What do you play?"

"Violin." She lifted her arms, bending them gracefully as she tilted her head to the side. After a moment of watching her fingers move and her arm sliding to and fro, I figured out she was miming playing. It was a strangely precise motion, as though I could slip an instrument into her grasp and she'd be playing for me, easy as you please.

Sometimes it scared me how smart Ivy was. She was quick as a whip and had spent more than a few afternoons in my shop on her little laptop, editing and correcting Wikipedia articles. Now I could almost hear the song she was practicing. Hell's bells, Marcone was the type of sharp and smart that already freaked me out; when she was grown, Ivy was going to trump her father on all counts.

Part of me wanted to take her out to watch a silly, light-hearted Disney movie. Most of me wanted to hug her and tell her I was so proud.

But that'd be weird. So I wished her luck with her lessons and went to talk to my other customers for a bit.

Eventually, Kincaid came in. If Ivy wasn't with her dad, she was with Kincaid. He was her bodyguard, as far as I could tell. He didn't look like much from a distance, just a blond guy with longish hair in clothes that could be best summed up as 'nondescript.' But when you got closer, you could see the keen alertness in his eyes and more muscles than you'd expect under his plain black tees. He was effortlessly graceful, moving with sure feet wherever he went.

I'd witnessed why this guy was the man Marcone trusted with his daughter. One winter, there was ice on the sidewalk in front of the L stop and I watched in horror as Ivy slipped, nearly face-planting. Kincaid had been beside her and had shifted his weight, caught her by the waist, and lifted her before she could hit the ground. He'd barely broken stride, carrying her over the ice and setting her down on the other side. He had an extremely relaxed, almost apathetic attitude, but he also had a nigh-psychic awareness of Ivy and her needs. He was good with her, too. I'd seen him sit with her in the shop, waiting for Marcone to get free of work, and he indulged her as much as he could without looking like a complete softie for the kids. I think his bodyguard job was for more than the astronomical amount Marcone was paying him.

Tonight, he strolled in, swung past Murphy long enough to say hi to Luccio and to steal a fingerful of Murphy's mojito icing, and went to collect Ivy. She bounced out of her chair, all youthful energy even at such a late hour. Kincaid and Marcone spoke for a moment before Ivy gave her father a kiss on the cheek and led Kincaid out into the fading light.

Marcone seemed to deflate with her absence. He rubbed his eyes, looking even more tired-- getting close to Pink Apron Day levels. I watched him for a while from the kitchen as he pulled a laptop out of his bag with an air of resignation and got to work on something, no doubt soulless and benefiting some megacorp.

I made Thomas get off the phone, in part because Justine didn't need him panicking at her while she had a health inspector breathing down her neck, but also so I could make him work the front while I hid in the back under the pretense of doing dishes.

I washed and cleaned the kitchen and even organised a bit. I had a narrow view of the cafe floor from the kitchen, enough that I could see Marcone near the windows, working, and doing that thing where he tried to take a sip from an empty cup. Every time, he seemed just as surprised as the last. It was oddly endearing, a muted version of that fuzzy feeling Ivy inspired in me all the time. Ivy must've gotten it from somewhere, I guessed.

I watched as Thomas walked over to Marcone and point to his cup, his other hand fisted on his hip. It was such a... sassy gesture, I can't believe he dared to give me shit about the apron. He said something, and Marcone bristled, giving him a dead-eyed stare. It was an unnerving, intensely creepy look, even from a distance. Thomas frowned, but stood down, retreating under Marcone's empty glare.

He walked into the kitchen. "I have never met a man more in need of a Valium."

I flinched. It was a dumb, flip remark but... The things that upset me were random like that and never made much sense. I once explained it to Bob, saying it was like having a phobia. Even if you knew it was irrational and you knew you were being ridiculous, it still happened.

Thanks to Justin, I was familiar with Valium and the way it sent me rocketing deeper into depression.

I wasn't about to upset Thomas by mentioning that. Saying something vague about finishing up, I passed the broom I was holding off to him and went out into the front.

It was very quiet in my head, like someone had turned the volume dial on my thoughts down. I needed something to do with my hands, so I dug out Bob's ever-evolving tea blend from the back of the cabinet and started to brew a cup. This week, it was an earthy chai-rooibos mix, the sharp spice of the masala cut by the sweetness of the rooibos. It was nice, especially with the rock sugar we provided just for tea.

I finished the tea, poured it into a wide soup-mug-sized cup and carried it out in the foyer to Marcone. Without a word, I swapped his empty cup for the new one and went back to the counter. Marcone's eyes bore into my back, almost a physical presence. I ignored him and started cleaning out the pastry case for closing.

Marcone had the grace to wait until everyone else had cleared out for the night before coming up to the counter I was wiping down and setting his empty mug on it. "What do I owe you?" he asked quietly.

I shook my head, not looking up from my fidgety tidying. "S'not on the menu. Bob's blend. It's not a big deal, I made a cup and then realized I didn't want it."

Marcone hummed. "I recognized the chai. What else was in it?"

"Dunno. Bob adds in a bunch of things. Some ginseng and rooibos are all I can figure out."

Marcone didn't say anything else, just stood there, and the silence started to get to me. I looked up at him, found him watching me with his tired eyes and an air of soft sadness that I found worryingly relatable. "What?"

"If you would excuse me overstepping my bounds a moment?" I frowned, but nodded. It was more formal than I was used to with Marcone, and it made me curious. "You don't seem very happy as of late, Mr. Dresden." For a split second, his eyes flickered sideways towards the kitchen before returning to mine. "And it's a sorry thing to see."

My heart was beating faster. I didn't say anything for a while, hoping against hope that Thomas would walk out or Bob would call for something, anything that would give me an excuse to turn away from Marcone.

Nothing of the sort came. But Marcone smiled, not in a pleased way. He dropped a folded up bill into the tip jar before bending to pick up his briefcase. "Have a good night, Harry."

He got to the door before I snapped out of it. "Hey, scumbag!" Marcone turned his head to look back at me, pausing in the doorway. "You know you can't keep doing that. Saying really vague shit and then just walking away."

His lips twitched. "I never intended to be so opaque, Harry. Believe me, I regret that very much now." He nodded to me, and left without another word.

Only later did I realize he'd just done the exact same thing again, the crafty bastard.

Act Four

And for the curious: Harry's apron looked something like this. Also, I screwed around and made a Dream Casting. As you do.

Dream Casting

Date: 2011-09-04 07:57 pm (UTC)
lunamazes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lunamazes
kinda prefer Michael Fassbender as Marcone.

can't choose between pity or laugh at Marcone.

Re: Dream Casting

Date: 2011-09-12 04:18 pm (UTC)
lunamazes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lunamazes
ok, I changed my mind. Gabriel Macht is amazing!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-04 08:00 pm (UTC)
zeixx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeixx
I'm loving this! Especially Thomas and Marcone's little dance of passive-agressiveness, and Ivy's adorable creepyness, and just, everything, really. Full of joy now, thank you. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-04 11:00 pm (UTC)
akelios: kitten with a pen (Default)
From: [personal profile] akelios
I remain torn between the cute and the moments of angst.

And this fic has now made me crave pastry.

Macht = Marcone. Yes.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-05 09:39 am (UTC)
samjohnsson: Sani-tea (- Random Tea)
From: [personal profile] samjohnsson
I think you know how I feel about this already ^^

And I like your dream casting - though I'm honestly a little surprised by Bob as Bob.

Also? The only problem with Macht as Marcone is Suits contamination from Harvey.
Edited Date: 2011-09-05 09:40 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-05 10:25 am (UTC)
feikoi: steve/tony manip by objectivelyp1nk :D (Default)
From: [personal profile] feikoi
presdent => present

And omg, I want all of this food. and the aprons. and I'm rather tempted to try making all of those cupcakes ALL AT ONCE IT'LL BE A PARTY

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-05 10:53 am (UTC)
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)
From: [personal profile] everbright
I always thought of Marcone as one of those obviously southern Italian dudes, sort of wide-ish and shortish and dark haired. But that might be my conception of Italian gangsters in general, not Marcone in particular. BUT YES PLEASE MATT BOMER GET IN MY PANTS. He is the perfect Thomas!

Oh, dear. It's really too bad Harry has a paradoxical reaction to Valium, and moreover has the reason to know it. It's suppose to make the pain go away for a little bit. *sigh*

That apron is a fifties nightmare by the way. The only way it could be worse is if it wasn't actually well designed with nice colors. It would almost be more bearable if it was diner-uniform pink with plain white trim, and therefore obviously camp. A very sincere apron, that is!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-06 05:24 am (UTC)
greyeyes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] greyeyes
Your cupcakes sound SO GOOD. Love the pink apron because YES Bob would! Awww, Marcone, it's not too late:( Ivy, so awesome:)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-06 11:00 am (UTC)
aqua_eyes: reese and finch from person of interest. reese is looking at finch with a little pink heart between them. (sga old team)
From: [personal profile] aqua_eyes
Marcone commenting on Harry's happyness! <3

Of course now, as a follow-up to his opaqueness comment, I am imaging him bending Harry over backwards and kissing him.

And Harry still not letting him skip the rush hour queue.


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