Monday, October 26, 2009

Blenz Pt 2

“Oh there be the wee Twilight laddie,” a cranky voice says.

I am not turning around. We will just go find another coffee shop. This is Robson. There are many.

“Look, I don’t know what you two are on,” Barista says, “but we’ve got other customers and you can’t be bothering them, ok?”

I glance toward the only other customer. He’s lifted his gaze from whatever had his attention and gives me one of those O RLY? looks. Then his violet gaze moves from me to the counter. He raises an eyebrow. Reaches for his hood.

“Don’t be ignoring me, laddie.” The scone rattles on its plate. I’m slightly disturbed by the fact that it doesn’t even have a mouth. It’s got a voice that comes from somewhere inside. Food shouldn’t have talky faces, but food definitely shouldn’t talk without a face.

“Stop that,” the barista says.

“He’s not doing it,” Maria says. “I mean, I don’t think he is.”

Her faith in me is so comforting.

A chair pushes back softly, as the only other customer stands. “Ventriloquism isn’t one of Ethan’s skills.”

Maria looks at him. Interested. Maybe even trusting. Until her eyes land on those black facial markings. She doesn’t even know what they mean. She can’t. Doesn’t matter. There’s some lizard-monkey-bird-deep-old part of her brain that has some inkling of what he is. I know, because her frozen oh of surprise is the same expression she gave when Dante took off his goggles.

There are things you see without your eyes. Longer you spend in the Twilight Lands, the more obvious those things become.

Avalon is a perfect example. He disarms people. He has less Hope in him than Dante does, but more than enough to be dangerous. Avalon smiles not like you can trust him, not like you should trust him, but like you’d be stupid not to trust him. You do trust him. You just can’t shake the feeling that doing so is going to get you in trouble.

If you’ve heard of my friend Valentine, this all probably sounds familiar. But it’s not Val in the coffee shop. He’s the namesake. This is the original. The first. Valentine Avalon.

I’d like a moment of privacy with Avalon to express our mutual delight in seeing each other again in a manly fashion. Fist-bumps and appropriate exchanges of dude and maybe a one-armed hug. Like brothers who aren’t really brothers greet each other. You know. But you were probably thinking something else. Something naughty.

Howev, there will be no reunion ritual of not-really-brothers-brotherhood. Maria and the barista and an angry-sounding scone are sort of in the way. So I’ll just tell you: I am glad to see Avalon. Mostly because I’ve gotten to see him first. Before Dante did. Ha.

I start smiling. Forming the words of hey long time no see when the scone throws itself against my head. Let me tell you something about scones. They are dense. The kind of dense that hurts. I’m not proud of it, but I wobbled a little after it hit me.

The barista reacted in a very professional manner by screaming “Ahh! What the fu—” as he dived behind the counter. Maria just stared. Apparently self-animated bread products aren’t as worrying as rolling changes. Or she thinks I’m not as fragile as Dante. Maybe. Maybe not. What I am is wobbling away from the counter, clutching my head and trying not to tell the scone just what I think of being hit by a loudmouth Scottish not-cake.

Avalon handles it. He’s very good at handling things. The scone does another lunge and Avalon seizes it. Just grabs it like everyone should know how to grab baked goods in mid-flight. Swiping a fork from a bin on the counter, he jabs the scone.

The scone screams a yeast-less shriek of pain and says something extremely unkind and very presupposing about Avalon’s mother. Avalon doesn’t so much as flinch. The dude’s hunted werewolves and vampires and all sorts of things that aren’t supposed to exist. A foul-mouthed scone doesn’t even register on his threat-o-meter. Trust me.

He just gives the barista a very calm look. “I don’t suppose you have any jam?”

The scone goes very still. “You wouldn’t.”

“Aye, I would.”

“He totally would,” I add. “Wouldn’t he, Maria?”

“Probably. I don’t know.” She shakes her head then looks at the barista. “Can I get that mocha?”

“Obviously it wants to be eaten.” Avalon smiles. “Why else would it be throwing itself at us?”

“I’m so hungry I would eat it without any jam,” I say. My stomach growls. I’m not sure it’s in agreement.

“No, you cannae eat me!” The scone shakes in Avalon’s grip. “We can make a deal.”

“I’m not in the habit of bargaining with baked goods.” Avalon glances at me. “If it’s going to be so rude, we ought to just throw it in the bin.”

“I will tell ye who sent me!” The scone says.

“That would be rather helpful.”

“If I tell ye, will ye only eat half o’ me?”

“We’ll consider it,” I say.

The scone shudders again. “Ye drive a hard bargain, laddie.”

Avalon smiles like it’s just like before. It kind of is. Except we never fought pastries before. The vicious food items is definitely a now thing.

“Is this—it is—” The barista peeks up from behind the counter at Avalon. “You know. One of those things I’m supposed to report to the guardians.”

“No need,” Avalon says. “We’ve got this.”

The barista swallows. Studies Avalon. Draws some sort of conclusion. Nods.

“They had drinks.” Avalon smiles at the barista. “A very large mocha and a maple latte macchiato, I believe.”

Having been to Vancouver with Avalon before, I know this is going to go one of two ways. Way One: Mr. Barista decides we’re with the city guardians and he should be business as if a scone didn’t just attack one of us. Way Two: Mr. Barista decides we’re exactly the kind of things he needs to report to the guardians.

I’m hoping it’s Way One. I need the caffeine.

“Right.” The barista gets to his feet. “Any chance those could be to go, sir?”

Here’s some more advice for if you ever find yourself in the Twilight Lands: Don’t address Avalon as sir. There are people who you can. Dante’s dad, for example. You call him sir. He might insist that you do. Not Avalon. Sir makes him feel old.

“No.” Avalon doesn’t lose his smile. “We’ll be staying.”

I think the barista swears. Not out loud. Not under his breath. With his inside voice. Avalon ignores him. Keeps the scone tight in one fist. Goes over to the window and knocks the knuckles of his free hand against the glass.

It must be to get Dante’s attention. Avalon waves a little. Gestures for Dante to join us inside.

“I’ve got a table.” Avalon nods his head to where he’d been sitting.

The scone has been strangely silent. I’d like to think it’s scared into behaving like a normal breakfast item. I’m not so sure. Because hungry as I am—and my head really hurts—I’m not sure how I feel about eating any portion of something that’s talking. Jam or no jam.

Maria’s watching me rub my head.

“You ok?” she asks.

“Yeah. Sorry,” I mumble. Make my way to Avalon’s table. “This is a stranger than usual Thursday.”

Maria shrugs and follows. “I sort of gave up on things being normal.”

“Probably for the best, that,” Avalon says.

“This is your friend.” Maria lowers her voice. “The one who’s supposed to be able to help.”

I nod.

“Is he related to Andy?” she asks. “There’s sort of a resemblance.”

I nod again.

She gives me a frustrated look. “Does he have a name?”

“Avalon,” I say.

“Avalon?” She looks like she might laugh. “What kind of name is that?”

I don’t tell her: The kind that makes even the most valiant of my people lower their voices and look over their shoulders. I just shrug. Let her assign meaning to it.

Cool air moves through the coffee shop as Dante opens the door and joins us. He pockets the compass as the barista places our drinks on the hand off. The disturbance with the scone distracted from the fact that I didn’t pay for anything. Hopefully Dante doesn’t remind anyone.

We sit at the table. Dante delivers our drinks with a smile to Maria and a nod to his auburn-haired uncle. Avalon returns the nod. Then Dante’s gone again—probably to fetch Maria’s forgotten muffin and get his own cup of coffee.

Avalon carefully places the scone on the table before us. He removes the fork but keeps it close at hand.

“All right,” he says. “Let’s have us that wee chat, yeah?”


KT said...

Yay, Avalon!

And angry Scottish baked goods. I kinda want a scone now. But not a talky one.

John Evans said...

"Do you have any...jam?"


Chandra Rooney said...


I swear, John, sometimes I don't even remember what we're referencing anymore.

Sarah K said...

Evil talking scottish not-cake. Yessssssss.