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 Fast Food And Sharp Knives, @Byron / Geller
Victoria Barrett
 Posted: Apr 18 2017, 04:25 PM
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Vix sat behind the wheel of the van, scowling at the gauges. She was going to have to dip into her emergency fund if she didn’t get some work in the next day or two. The van wasn’t going to gas itself after all. She sighed, leaning back in the seat before sweeping one hand through her hair, the other slid over the bare skin of her scalp, nose wrinkling as her calloused fingertips slid over the scars there.

She leaned forwards, peering through the windshield, looking out at her surroundings. Under the overpass wasn’t exactly the best area to park but it was one of the place that she could work out of the back of the van without people complaining about the noise or the sparks. There was a few others out there, in beat up tents or, yes, even cardboard boxes. There was a shadow of sadness in her eyes as she looked out at them. It was not right to see them all abandoned this way. Although they could be like her, no one to know or care what happened to her. A shadow swopped across the windshield, followed by a sharp squawk before Edgar settled on the hood. Her lips tugged into a smile at the sight of the raven, giving him a nod. OK, she did have someone that cared for her. Even if he couldn’t help her out when it came to gas or food.

Her head tipped, inclining to rear of the van before she twisted out of the seat to head through to the back. The old van only held the driver’s seat, the passenger seat having been modified to hold a cage for Edgar that had no door on it, after all he was a friend, not a pet. The only reason for the cage itself was so she could cover it for the raven to provide him shelter when he wished it. The rear of the van was filled with shelves on one side that held a small drill press and grinding wheel set up. Tools were mounted or filled the drawers and the floor held layers of blankets that made up her bed. It wasn’t much of a home but it was hers. It was just a blessing that she was somewhat petite, who knows what she would have done if she was six feet tall. Making her way over her blankets she pushed open the rear doors, letting the afternoon light spill in, twisting up the steel bar she had mounted to the rear door to make a perch for Edger to rest on. The raven joined her there as she stepped out, arms twisting over her head in a long stretch.

The movement pulled up the layered shirts she wore, the long sleeves sliding down over her forearms, revealing the twisting tattoo on her left arm. Cargo pants hung low over her hips, tucked into a pair of battered combat boots. After her stretch she flashed Edgar a smile, hand lifting up to brush her fingers along his breast, smoothing the ebony feathers. She didn’t especially want to go job hunting but she’d need some money soon to fill the van with gas. Hopefully she’d find something just for a day or two that would be enough to replenish so she could focus on doing some scrounging. The sound of voices drew her attention from her petting, gaze sweeping out around her, seeing some of her ‘neighbors’ all rousing to move to the far end of the area under the overpass, her eyes narrowing at the site of some strangers gathering there.
^
Charles Geller
 Posted: Apr 18 2017, 04:52 PM
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Ito had come with him for the day and for Geller that was something of a relief. With the restaurant not yet open he was getting Adam and Steven at their absolute worst. It was like trying to keep two psychopathic man children from burning down the city until he could give them work enough to busy their minds. Geller himself was finding it slow to adjust to this new place, this new pack, these new people, and the sensation was a rather foreign one for him. He couldn’t figure it out actually; this feeling of restlessness that seemed to dog his steps. It was an eternal feeling of something missing that he couldn’t put a name to.

Most days he just tried to ignore it.

Geller had lived all over the world and usually he fitted himself into some blank space in the places he went as though everywhere could be home to him. But despite the fact that they’d been in San Francisco for weeks he still didn’t feel quite settled yet. He couldn’t figure it out. Couldn’t name the missing piece. So he did what he always did when the world seemed to be just slightly out of whack. He worked. And when there wasn’t work to do he found work. Geller was no big believer in the old adage that idle hands were the devils plaything, but he was a workaholic nonetheless. Some things just couldn’t be changed.

The van they rode in belonged to the restaurant. It was refurbished for the purpose of catering. Though outfitting some snobby party wasn’t on the agenda today. Ito, his quiet companion and sauciere was accompanying him to one of the cities larger tent cities to hand out food for the day. Nothing fancy. Certainly not the kind of thing guests at his restaurant would be dining on, but it was thick stomach filling fuel that would do these people more good in the long run.

As he found a spot under the overpass and parked the van he could already see people looking over in their direction. He’d come a few times before, enough that the van was recognized, and Geller waved through the window as he saw one of the familiar faces. Pushing open the door of the van he headed around to the back and flung open the double doors there. Ito jumped nimbly inside and began sliding out a long table towards him. Geller lifted his end and together they carried it out of the van.

The familiar faced hobo joined them and he and Geller greeted one another like friends, with a hug and a pat on the back, before the man was joined by another who helped set up the table. With them in gear doing that Geller and Ito could begin unloading food from the van. Bowls and spoon, bread and large pots of stew, bananas, oranges, crackers, odds and ends that could be taken and stowed away by the people who needed them. They unloaded the van with practiced ease and set things up on the table. Random items to be taken on one end, and a soup line at the other for bowls of warm stew and thick chunks of Adam’s home made bread on the other.

Ito stood ladling out stew into bowls while Geller sliced large hunks of the grain rich bread beside him. Ito wasn’t much of a talker but Geller made up for it. He greeted the people who came over and talked to them about whatever random things happened to pop into his head. If someone had an injury he would leave the food to Ito and walk them to the van where he had a first aid kit. Not that he could do much. He was no doctor. But minor wounds he could clean up and bandage. Sometimes it was a matter of just doing what you could, and understanding that you couldn’t fix everything.

He looked up when overhead a raven cawed, and he watched the arc of its flight towards another van. The sight distracted him but only for a moment before he returned to his work. They were almost out of food when the blonde woman came over and Geller smiled at her. ”Hey, how’s it going.” He’d seen the direction that she’d come from and gave a nod towards her van. ”Nice bird you got there. Does he often quoth nevermore?” Geller never assumed that homeless meant stupid. Most people would be surprised how well read some of these people were.
^
Victoria Barrett
 Posted: Apr 18 2017, 05:32 PM
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She watched as the van disgorged a pair of men who then started to unload a table. Some of the locals moved to help as well. Her eyes narrowed a bit, moving to the van itself, taking in the name on the side before the corner of her mouth lifted in a smile. Might be some potential there. She twisted to grab the messenger back from her van, checking that she had her hones and sharpening kits inside before clucking her tongue at Edgar, indicating the other van. The raven cawed in apparent agreement, lifting up from his perch to allow her to swing the doors of her van shut, giving a practiced tug to make sure they were soundly locked. Most of the others around her were honest, more or less, leaving each other patch alone but she wasn’t about to tempt them with open or unlocked doors.

Edgar swept over her and then circled before landing on the top of the van, giving another caw, this one a bit demanding. She rolled her eyes at him, sighing before reaching into her bag for a bit of jerky that she had buried inside to toss up to him. She shook her head with a grin before turning to cross the distance to where the men from Le Halles were setting up. The scent of the stew reached her and it made her stomach growl, one hand going to her abdomen with a faint grimace. OK, maybe it wasn’t just gas that she needed the money for, she was getting a bit low on food too.

She approached the van from the side, away from where many of her neighbors were moving to line up for food, the murmur of voices now overtaking the constant rumble of traffic from the overpass above them. She’d hung back as the others got their food, eyes narrowing slightly at the jostling in the line that was quelled by one sharp look by the man serving the food, apologies offered sullenly. It was pretty impressive actually. She moved closer, watching as the man in charge, because he was obviously the Man In Charge, patched up a couple of men with injuries.

Vix eased closer, this time her eyes were on the table, their tools, narrowing slightly at the blade he was using for bread, at the tools she could see through the open door of their van. Her nose wrinkled slightly at the name of the restaurant, Les Halles, some fancy french place but those places had chefs that appreciated their tools. Cast iron was a bitch to work with, she had the scars on her hands to prove that even without the memories of doing so but it was the blades that drew her attention. A good chef used custom carbon steel more often then not and those blades needed love and care to keep them honed. Her attention was brought back to the Man In Charge when he directed his words to her, gaining a wary nod to return his greeting. A shake of her head in response to his question about Edgar. Her hands twisted for a moment on the strap of her bag, ”Edgar doesn’t speak English.” The words came out slowly, measured, as if she considered each one before uttering it. She moved closer, nose twitching slightly as she sniffed at the air, taking in the scents of the food and, as the wind shifted just right, his scent. Wolf? Her head canted in a purely canine expression of curiosity. No, she wasn’t wolf but she spent more then enough time as a fox to have taken on some of their mannerisms.

She moved closer to the table, to where he’d set down the bread knife, looking down at it before reaching out, hand pausing as she looked up at him again, ”May I?” Her free hand was in her messenger bag, digging within to bring out an oiled cloth. Yes, he’d need to wash the blade again before using it on food but its not like there was much bread left to cut now. She just wanted to check the edge of it. With his permission she’d lift the blade, gaze intent as she studied the steel. Serrated blades were a bitch to sharpen but that was what she had the aluminum ceramic sticks. The man took good care of his tools though, she gave an appreciative nod as she flipped the blade, finding its balance point, nodding to herself before swiping the oiled cloth over the steel and then laying it back on the table. ”Good steel. I can make better though.” A faint smirk, a hint of mischief in the pale blue of her eyes. Hand free of the blade she snatched up one of the remaining pieces of bread to gnaw on, struggling not to scarf it completely down in a single bite.
^
Charles Geller
 Posted: Apr 18 2017, 06:10 PM
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Geller’s smile bit lines into the contours of his cheeks as he nodded at her. ”Edgar huh?” Well, at least the name matched the theme he’d been going for, but her answer was so sincere that he wasn’t quite sure she’d understood that he was referring to Edgar Allan Poe at all. ”It’s a good name. Not one I’d be particularly interested in mind you, but it suits him.” When you thought about it Geller wasn’t exactly the worlds most normal name, but Edgar, to him, sounded like the name of a near sighted octogenarian.

He watched the very mammalian cocking of her head, but he already knew that she was no shifter. It was a scent that he would have recognized immediately among the people of the tent city. Yet he knew the world was wide and varied, and noted an assumption in his own head that she might be a skinwalker. They sometimes took on the mannerisms of their beasts; especially if they’d spent a good deal of time in one animal form over another. It made him feel some kinship with the girl as his black and silver whorled eyes looked her over more closely. He noted the scar on her head but didn’t let his gaze linger on it. Instead his eyes dropped to follow hers and looked at the knife before him on the table.

Geller touched the balanced handle of the knife and slid it across the table towards her. ”Go ahead.” He offered almost in the same moment that she asked. Geller wasn’t worried that the woman would try anything with it. She just didn’t have the look. It might have been worrisome that he trusted his opinion on the matter so much, but Geller felt confident in his ability to read other people quickly. Like a dog that only barks at strangers when something is off about them he had a seeming knack for knowing whether a person was dangerous or not. You could chalk it up to instinct if you wanted, but that would be a flat out lie. He knew because he’d been around so many people, had spent intimate time getting to know them, and had learned to really see them.

Without rushing her Geller slid another knife from over by Ito and continued slicing the last of their bread. ”Here you go Burt. And take the last of those oranges will ya? I don’t like the look of those sores.” Geller handed a large hunk of bread over to the man that Geller suspected of having scurvy. A lack of vitamin c in the diet could do that to a person. Scurvy. Not just for pirates anymore. He’d offered to take the man to the free clinic downtown, but Burt was having none of it. Apparently he was worried that if he went there they would put something in his brain. Geller wasn’t clear on what exactly, but he didn’t pressure people.

When vix slid the knife back towards them he smiled softly and instead of using it just tucked it back into the leather knife holder he used when traveling with his tools. ”That so?” He asked as he watched her practically choke down on a hunk of bread. Geller motioned towards Ito and the other man handed him one of the wooden bowls of stew. Holding it by the bottom Geller dropped another slice of bread partially into the thick liquid and held it out towards the blonde woman. ”Why don’t you show me?” His chin gave a small nod towards her van assuming that she would have some of her wares there.

Wiping his hands on his pants he left the last bits of bread behind. ”I’ll be right back Ito.” The people here knew them. Ito would serve until the last of what they’d brought had been distributed and then he would likely find a place to relax with some of the others until Geller returned. The wooden bowls would be returned to the table, and it never ceased to amaze him how little theft actually took place on their visits. Geller left Ito to it and moved around the table to follow the woman towards hervan. He moved like something predatory, with purpose, but there was a calm to him that bled into the warm depth of his voice.

”I’m Geller.” Walking beside her he offered a hand off to his side more for a squeeze of hands than an actual shake, but he didn’t demand it of her. If she was uncomfortable touching him then he would tuck the hand away in a pocket and simply continue. ”So is it just knives you’re interested in? Or do you do other work as well?” Geller didn’t really find anything unusual about this. He’d met a lot of travelers over the years. People who were sometimes experts at one craft or another but who, for reasons of their own, were never really able to get it together in life. Never judge a book by its cover. Sometimes an artist could be found in the strangest of places.
^
Victoria Barrett
 Posted: Apr 18 2017, 06:50 PM
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It was clear that he was familiar with the starving or near starving so he recognized even her semi-restrained inhaling of the bit of bread. She gave a wry smile when he offered her the bowl of stew, complete with another piece of bread and she dipped her head in thanks while accepting it. The bread had taken an edge from her hunger though and she was a bit more civilized in her eating the hearty stew. She considered his words, the indication of her van for a long moment, taking time to eat a few bites of the stew before giving a nod.

Her movements were graceful, and even though her stride was probably half of his, she was able to keep up with him without seeming like she was rushing at all. Edgar took off from his perch on the top of her van to sweep over them, circling once as they crossed the distance from the table of food to where she was parked then sweeping down in front of them as she canted her head expectantly. The raven’s wings flared wide before he came to rest on her shoulder, sharp talon’s adding new holes into the shoulder of her shirt. She glanced at Geller as Edgar settled, picking a small bit of meat from the stew to hold up to the raven, letting him pick it from her fingers to eat. ”In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore,” She murmured the quote before lashes dipped over her eye in a slow wink. His offered hand was accepted, letting him feel the callouses there, returning the faint squeeze.

The van was obviously a beater, originally blue but it had patches of rust, the grey of Bond-O and the passenger door was apparently a transplant because it was a dull brown. She tugged the key from her pants pocket, carefully balancing the bowl in one hand while not jerking too much because of the raven on her shoulder. She tugged the rear door open, glancing at him before pulling open one of the drawers underneath the grinder, pulling out a pair of throwing blades. Hand ground and perfectly balanced, the blades were clip point and carefully blued except for the edge themselves. ”No kitchen knives now.” She winced slightly as she forced the words out. Quoting the Raven had been easy, had given her some confidence, but then when she tried to say something, the words just didn’t come out right. She handed him the blades to look at before swinging open the other door and freeing up Edgar’s perch. She nudged her shoulder upwards, a practiced motion that induced the raven to move from her shoulder to the perch protesting caw.

While Geller studied the blades she turned to sit just inside the now open van, curling one leg up under her and finished off the stew. ”Vix.” She gave a little bit of a shrug to answer his question, ”Little everything. Fix things. Repairs Dish washing.” That last bit was offered with a faint wry smile. Yeah, she wasn’t so proud she wouldn’t wash dishes if she had to. She set the empty bowl down, after doing everything but lick it clean. She grabbed a small notebook from one of the other drawers, pulling out a stub of a pencil to start sketching on a empty page.
^
Charles Geller
 Posted: Apr 25 2017, 05:02 PM
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As the black winged raven circled overhead Geller glanced up at it. Funny thing about humans evolving as a species. When there was danger around they almost never looked up. Forgot that for some creatures death was likely to come from the skies. He thought about that as he stared up at the predatory bird in it's circling and smiled softly to himself at the idea. Predator to predator, kin to kin, different but similar for all that separated them. As the bird began to descend, wings clipping shut deftly so that it could settle talons against Vix's shoulder, he finally looked away again. There was something private and almost intimate to the moment as the birds talons clenched into the fabric of her shirt. Though perhaps it would not have seemed intimate to him were he not an animal himself.

The smile spread wider on his large lips as she quoted Poe. "So you do know it." Dimples cut into his cheeks and you could practically see the humor glittering in his black and silver whorled eyes. "Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he" Geller struggled through the next line and then let the laughter leak out in a rough chuckle. "I never really understood the poem myself. Imagery is....nice but I guess I'm just not much of a Poe guy. Beating hearts under the floor boards; no thank you." He was joking of course. Had enjoyed that lowering of her lashes in a coy wink that she'd given him and wanted to see her smile if he could.

As she tugged open the back doors of the van he stepped up into it to take a look at her wares. He waited while she gathered the knives and handed them towards him. Geller eyed them speculatively and found himself surprised by the quality of the items that he was looking at. One in particular, the largest of those she'd brought out, was held up in his hand and turned so he could eye the blade. It felt nicely balanced in his hand. So much so that he had the urge to throw it. The wish of a target that he might pierce with it if only to see how it would fly to it's goal. "These are good." He said and then glanced over at where she was setting up the birds perch. The corners of his lips quirking slightly. "But you know that I suspect."

He moved the few steps back towards the open doors and hopped down from the van gracefully. Smooth movements turning him as he set the knife on the edge of the bumper for the moment. "You do make kitchen knives though? Is that what you're telling me?" She didn't have any now. She had made that clear, but she could make them. He licked at his lips as he eyed the disrepair of her van, the state of the living quarters inside, and her general appearance. "I'll tell you what. Why don't I take this one now. And later in the week why don't you come by my restaurant? I could always use a busy pair of hands in the back and that way you can see what we're working with, and if you think you can make something better we can discuss some sort of arrangement."

His hand moved to tug the black billfold from his back pocket. Tugging it loose he opened it and asked, "How much?" Geller wouldn't name a price for her. He would wait for her to assign some worth to her work before paying it. She wasn't a begger, and he wasn't sticking money in a panhandlers hat. This was a business deal. The amount she quoted was fished from the inside of the wallet in cash, rounded up just slightly because he lacked change, and he handed the cash over to her. Then he pointed back at his own van where Ito and some of the others were packing up equipment. "You know where that is?" The name 'Les Halles' was emblazoned on the side of the van along with the address written beneath it in smaller less intricate gold script.
^
Victoria Barrett
 Posted: Apr 25 2017, 11:43 PM
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His smile was the sort that was hard to ignore, the openness of it, the dimples and the light in his eyes, it was the sort of smile that you couldn’t help but return and when it was paired with the quote and comment about Poe’s work the corners of Vix’s mouth lifted in response. ”TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” She’d read quite a bit in the rehabilitation center, something about memorization helping her vocabulary and there were times when it was almost easier to quote something then to actually speak an original sentence, but for now it made her offer the first line of The Tell Tale Heart as a playful response to his words. It wasn’t often that she had a chance for word play, that she felt comfortable with it but maybe it was a combination of his scent and his easy demeanor but she just felt at ease with him.

While he examined her blades she started a quick sketch of a drop point utility blade, glancing now and again back at him, at his hands, eyes slightly narrowed as she gauged his grip, making quick notations for herself on the edge of the page. His comment about her work had her head inclining to him slightly, acknowledging the compliment with a shy smile. She uncoiled her legs as he hopped out of the van, setting her notebook aside to look up at him. She gave a slow nod to his question, watching as he glanced into the van, reading his assessment of her. It made her tense just slightly, after all, she knew what she looked like: someone living out of a van who had to take advantage of soup lines and truck stop showers. The truth hurt sometimes. She knew that there had been a time when being an itinerant tinker wasn’t something to be a ashamed of, but that was another time and place, now it just meant that she was homeless and scrounging for whatever work she could get.

His offer had her sitting up a bit straighter, torn between the immediate denial because she didn’t want him to purchase anything from her out of charity and the simple need to get some cash in her pocket. There were levels of charity she could accept, like the soup kitchen food, but there were others that just hard to accept. She studied him a moment after the offer, before giving a nod along with another faint smile. Best way to make him a blade would be to see how he worked, what he his current favorite blade and style was and to study him at work while keeping busy wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Vix twisted as she rose to her feet, digging around in a box of what looked like rubbish to pull out some flattened cardboard, quickly folding it into a sheath of sorts, grabbing a roll of packing tape to quickly seal it up. She wasn’t about to let him walk about with a bare blade after all, too easy to cut himself. She retrieved the blade from where he set it, testing the edge with a delicate brush of her thumb over it before giving a quick nod, sliding it into the cardboard sheath she’d made, offering it to him. ”Fifty?” There was a hint of a question, just the barest lilt as she gave him the quote. It was hard sometimes to set a value on such things and maybe if she was buying her steel she might have asked for me, but she was finding her stock as cast off materials at construction sites and then grinding them down to shape, she just didn’t feel right asking for more. When he handed her the three twenties she looked at him helplessly a moment, ”Um… no change.” Trying to hand one of the twenties back to have him wave her off. She narrowed her eyes at him, giving a soft huff before accepting the funds, sliding them into the pocket of her jeans. She’d add it to her dwindling cache after he left.

When he indicated his van she gave another nod, scrubbing her hand along her jeans before offering it to him. For an instant, she had the impulse to spit in her hand before offering it, the briefest flash of a memory of doing so in the past before that glimpse was gone as quickly as it appeared. ”Friday?” She struggled for a moment, hand lifting towards her lips, fingers fluttering lightly as frustration darkened her eyes, the thoughts were there but the words were trapped inside her mind, ”Time. Lunch?” Once they agreed to the time she gave another nod and a self-deprecating smile, her hand reaching up to brush her fingers along the shaved side of her head, tracing the scar there.

She gathered up the empty bowl, looking up at Edgar to give a soft caw to the raven before swinging the doors of the van closed again, ensuring that it was locked. Bowl in hand she moved with Geller back towards his van, eyes scanning around them as they walked, making note of the others, especially those hanging back in the shadows. Once they arrived back at his van where his men were finishing up their packing up she tossed the bowl into the trash, giving the others a nod before looking back up at Geller, hand lifting to her brow to touch her fingers there in a farewell salute. ”Friday,” echoing the agreed on date for her to show up at the restaurant.
^
Charles Geller
 Posted: Apr 29 2017, 11:03 PM
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He smiled when she said she had no change and it was a smile that lit his eyes. "Yea, me either. So it's your lucky day." The money wasn't charity. Though she might chock it up that way. He would just prefer to give it to her over having to find an ATM anywhere around here. So it was settled between them and he put away his wallet and picked up his new knife in it's cardboard home. His other hand was extended towards hers as they made their deal. The warmth of his calloused hand encasing hers, and in the press of her palm he could tell a world of things about her. The dextrous nature of her fingers, the work hardened contact points of her palm, it all gave him a good idea of what kind of worker she would be, and Geller was feeling absolutely no regret over the offer that he'd made.

"Friday." He confirmed with a nod as their hands parted. "Better make it after lunch though. Maybe....one thirty?" There would still be customers then, but they wouldn't be ass up in the weeds during the rush. It would make it easier for him to talk to her. "If you go around the building to the right there's a door with a skull and cross bones on it." He chuckled, rolled his eyes slightly, and shook his head. The work of Adam no doubt. "Knock there and someone will let you in."

Geller gave the instructions more to make things easy on her rather than for any worry about her being seen in the dining room, but he wasn't sure if she would see it that way. Still, the instructions stayed. "See ya then Vixen." He lifted the boxed knife towards his forehead and gave a little salute before he headed back over towards the van where Ito was closing the back doors. They stood there paused a moment as Ito asked him about the woman, and glanced in her direction. Then they climbed into the van and pulled away. They would return, as they always did, but for today their work was done.

---------------- Friday @ 1:30PM ------------------------

When a knock came to the back door Les Halles was still doing a pretty good lunch turn over. The tickets weren't ripping through on top of one another like they had been an hour earlier, but the work was steady. Geller was tearing a ticket off the machine and shouting the order to Manuel who stood stalwart as stone at his grille, and then to Steven, sous chef extroardinaire, who was looking strung out but otherwise on top of things. In the back pounding noises were being made as Adam continued to work on the days bread and pastry orders, and occasionally, with an almost tourrettes-like fervor, he would shout profanities at one of the dish washers who had wandered too close to his station. This usual led to Steven yelling back at him. Yet somehow, everyone managed to get their shit done; which was the only requirement to work with Geller.

Be as loud, as uncouth, as stupid, or as demented as you wanted.

Just get your shit done.

Those were the rules. Rules he'd learned at the knee of his mentor Goliath. The knock at the door was picked up by Ito who always seemed like a spot of calm intent floating amongst their loud rabble. The diminutive sauciere left his station for a moment and headed to the back door while wiping hands on his apron. When he yanked open the heavy metal door he smiled at Vix, black eyes glittering in unshed mischeif, and stepped back so that she could come inside the hornets nest.

Waitresses passed with trays, one stayed perched on the edge of the counter flirting with Steven until her order was ready, and the small haitian dishwasher Fabian poked his head out from a steam of mystery to oogle the new arrival. "BOSS! WE GOT A RUNAWAY!" Ito was tiny and didn't often speak, but when he did the man could bellow like a fog horn. It made Geller lean over the mese to peer down the line at Vix. A smile broke over his too wide mouth at the sight of her and he motioned for her to come on down to his end of the line. The path she chose to get there through the chaos was entirely up to her.
^
Victoria Barrett
 Posted: May 1 2017, 03:23 PM
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The sixty dollars that Vix had gotten from Geller for the blade was put into good use. Priority 1: topping off the gas tank in the van. A full tank seemed like a luxury but it was something that was a long term investment when you lived your life from day to day. Priority 2: replenishing dry food supplies. Yeah, there was nothing like fresh food but fresh food was pricey and going to Aldi and stocking up on generic foods, cans of tuna, crackers and all those things that didn’t need to be cooked was better to have. Priority 3: Laundromat, what clothes she had needed a fresh cleaning, making sure that every last bit of fabric owned was refreshed and washed. That trio of twenties didn’t go all that far but it was a lot further then not having it would be.

The days that passed between their meeting and Friday were spent with her doing her normal routine: scrounging up bits of metal from construction sites, sorting them and then bringing them to her van to start grinding into blades. It kept her busy, kept her from thinking, worrying, about Friday. Because it was something that worried her. Since leaving the rehab center she’d really only done day work, not setting down any sort of commitment or roots but this, working for Geller, it was like a seed being planted, now it might be sterile and just blow away or, well, it might grow into something much much more.

Her life before the rehab center was a blank slate, nothing remained of the years before that fateful accident, but now and again there were not so much shadows as feelings, impulses of things that felt familiar or urges to do things that had no reason behind them that seemed to originate from that void of her past. That’s what this was like, the idea of going to the restaurant, of working for Geller, it was an impulse from that void, a itch to be a part of… something.

———— Friday ————

The last bit of the remaining funds that she’d gotten from Geller was used at a truck stop to take a shower. A whore’s bath wasn’t good enough for a restaurant kitchen after all. She’d pulled out the pale blue jeans that had the least amount of holes and worn spots along with the cream henley style shirt that pretty much fit her petite frame. Hell she even brushed her hair, twisting it into a long braid, and rubbing in a bit of moisturizer to the freshly shaved side of her scalp, especially along the knobby scars. As prepared as she could get she checked the time before driving over to the restaurant, finding a spot to park before heading around the back of the building as directed. She was a little bit early so she kicked about in the alley, which instead of easing the nervous twitching in her stomach it just made worse so finally she strode up to the door, deep breath taken to pound the side of her fist against it in a firm knock.

She jumped back as it was pushed open, barely a glimpse of who it was before they whirled, throwing over their shoulder ”Vix right? Boss is on the line.” The figure disappeared as quickly as he’d arrived, forcing her to rush in before the door closed behind him. Restaurant kitchens were organized chaos, something that appealed to her as she moved inside. Slight and with a fox’s nimble agility she wended her way through the kitchen, offering quick flashes of smiles and nods to the personnel as she passed them.

Her fingers twitched now and then as she watched the cooks with their tools, nose wrinkling at the mingling of scents. Not in a bad way, just in the overwhelming mix of sweet and sour, savory and bitter. So used to asphalt and diesel, the stench of garbage or sharp tang of metal working this odors of a gourmet kitchen were almost brutal in their heavenly contrast. The quick steps of a waitress practically barreling towards her had Vix ducking, twisting and as she found herself out of tempo with the intricate dance of movements of the employees she literally dropped and rolled under one of the steel workspaces to come up on the other side.

And there went the pristine cleanliness of her clothes. Well just shit. But she came up near Ito, the only familiar face she’d run into and her eyes widened at the seemingly stoic man practically shattered her eardrums with that bellow. She cringed a bit, hands flattening over her ears to give Ito an instinctive growl, expression turning sheepish when Geller’s face appeared. Another little growl at Ito, but this one accompanied by a wink to make it playful before she scanned the path to where Geller was working.

It took a moment to find the pattern of movement and then she was on the move, darting through everyone without mishap. Well, mostly, there was a couple of exclamations and various curses as she did her duck and weave, but no crashes, bangs or debris so it was a considered success. A quick glance around the area directly around where Geller worked and a side corner was claimed for her to sit on, effortlessly bouncing into place, tugging her legs up to keep as small and out of the way as possible. It looked like it was the work desk where orders were placed, a phone on the wall behind her so hopefully it would be a good place to observe for the moment.

A wave was given, her eyes darting from one person to the next with curious fascination at this intricate dance as they wrapped up the lunch rush. The bantering between the employees had her smiling. ”Need better steels.” She was watching the movements, the way that knives were being used, the tools they all used, eyes narrowing a bit at the sharpening steels that were being used to touch up the edges of the blades. Chefs were particular of their knives but sometimes didn’t follow through to realize that the tools they used to keep them pristine needed to be of just as good quality. Not all sharpening methods were the same after all and a sharpening steel didn’t work nearly as well as ceramic or diamond hone. It might not have been the best of greetings but speech wasn’t her strength so she had a tendency to get to the point, especially since she had so few words to use.

As she watched him work the initial tension, the twisting nervousness in her stomach had eased under her curiosity but even as that was slaked she found herself relaxing further. There was a warmth in here, not just because of the grills and ovens, a warmth in the people here. They fought and cursed at each other but worked like and intricate machine, individual pieces that when put together were a much greater sum. Watching them work she looked for any gaps, anything that was a causing a stumbling in the pattern. Without really thinking about it she twisted to look on the counter/desk she was sitting on, finding a blank piece of paper and a pencil to start sketching a work flow, a little frown of concentration on her face.
^
Charles Geller
 Posted: May 2 2017, 12:36 AM
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Geller watched her in his peripheral as she made her way to a place where she would feel safe in the middle of this chaotic world of the kitchen. Watched, but didn't turn. All the while his hands moved with in a fluid dance of liquid movement set about one task and then another without pause in between. His kitchen worked well both because of the skill of each cook at his particular placement, but also because of how well each of them knew each other. There was a reason that he was known for dragging the same core group with him each and every time he opened a restaurant. A method to the madness. That reason could be seen in the way they moved around one another. Anticipating one another's needs, steps, and pacing so that there were no collisions, no food left languishing in the window, and the least amount of carnage possible.

The place Vix found to settle was actually the small table near the lockers where the staff had their meals. Orders were something done in his office. But she looked comfortable tucked there and that left him free to finish up what he was doing. When she said something about steels he glanced over towards Manuel their grille man who was sharpening his blade. It made Geller chuckle in a warm roll. "Take notes." He shouted to Vix. Both because he might not remember, and because he assumed she would accumulate a lot of such notes as she surveyed what was needed.

The time passed quickly for him as he worked. Here in his natural element he was more perfectly at home than almost anywhere else. At one point Adam Last-Name-Unknown had finished his baking for the day and discovered that there was a woman in their midst. He leaned himself against the lockers and fixed the fox with an intent look that was likely ruined by the jogging of his brows. "And who might you be?" Geller noticed it when he heard Adam's voice and called out, "She's not for you asshole." Which was kitchen speak for, dear gentleman please do leave the lady to her task. Adam leaned in a bit and whispered, He's very selfish that one." But he did as he was told and wandered off to fill the rest of his day with whatever mischief struck him. Arson, petty larceny, it was anyones guess.

The tickets came slower and slower until there were gaps in between their appearance that said clearly the dining room was clearing out. Geller flicked a glance towards the clock on the wall and saw that it was almost 2:30 already but for him it had passed in a blur. They closed the lunch service soon and wouldn't reopen until 5:30. It gave him a nice break in his day. One usually filled with the other needs of a busy restaurant that had nothing to do with cooking. Reaching out he flicked Steven in the ear and the wiry man hissed and put a hand over it. 'Fuck boss what is it?" They conferenced for a quick moment and then Geller left his sous chef to finish up the rest of the orders and keep the ship afloat until close.

Moving towards Vix he lifted the apron that was folded and tied around his waist so that he could wipe his hands off on it. "Want me to show you around? Or have you gotten a good enough look at the place to know what's needed?" He asked her and pulled out a chair at the table. Geller dropped into that seat, all boneless grace and a casual laxity in his posture, and smiled at her. "You know after you left the other day I had another thought, about some work you might be able to do for me. I have this place, a warehouse actually, that my family and I are trying to remodel. I mean, trying to makes it sound like we're periodically dropping pillars on eachother and setting things on fire." He chuckled as he swept a hand back to pull off the black doo-rag with the skeletal design that he wore over his head. Once it was in his hand all that long dark hair fell across his cheeks.

"It's more organized than that, and we all have experience with this kind of thing. But we'd have it done a lot faster with an extra set of hands." The offer was made, but he wasn't sure she'd accept right away. After all, a strange man saying hey come back to my place for some 'work' sounded a bit too close to 'hey kid hop in this van I've got candy'. Rising again from his seat he stretched slightly. "Let's head outside. I can hear you better there and I need a smoke." Still stretching as he spoke the movement lifted his shirt a bit and showed the pale skin of his belly covered in that trail of all too black hair; like he was a gorilla who had decided to pretend to be a man for the day. Done stretching he tucked the doo-rag into the back pocket of his pants and started leading her towards the door.

Geller traversed the now softened chaos of the kitchen like it was a coreographed dance. He kept Vix close to his side and moved her occasionally with the light touch of hands that kept her from getting in anyone's way or having someone get in hers with a hot plate. "But even if you're not interested in that I have some stuff you could do here. You said you're good with machinery right? Cause I hired this mechanic before we opened, sight unseen I should add -- I don't usually do that but you wouldn't believe how fucking hard it is in this city to find someone who can do this stuff on short order. Anyway, he showed up drunk his first day, broke one of the dish washers, and cracked one of my waiters in the nose. So needless to say, I'm in the market for a handy person."

Handy person. Not handy man. Because she was clearly not a man. Geller didn't have many women working in the kitchen with him but not because he had anything against it. Most woman had one day with Adam or Steven and ran screaming for the hills; and they didn't even have to work with them for that to happen. But if a woman could do the job as well as a man then he had no qualms about handing it over to her. When they reached the back door he pushed it open and ushered her through to the staff parking lot where the smell of fresh ocean air and dumpster garbage greeted them. It was a smell Geller had grown to love. He let the door fall shut behind him as he stepped aside to lean against the wall, one foot lifted to press back against it with his knee cocked, and a hand searching the pocket of his apron for his cigarettes. "What do you think?"
^
Victoria Barrett
 Posted: May 9 2017, 12:20 AM
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Geller’s shout had her flashing him a quick smile, lifting the hand that held the pencil to waggle his way. Of course she was taking notes, well, sort of. Sketches, a word or two here and there, it was probably a jumble to anyone else who’d look at it but it made sense to her, a combination of letters and pictures that made since in the fractured bits of her brain. Vix wriggled a bit to get more comfortable in her seat on the desk, head canting now and then in a movement eerily similar to the movements of her friend Edgar as she watched them all work.

She was looked up from her seat on the desk when Baker Adam directed those waggling brows her way. Her eyes narrowed slightly at him, her pencil stilling as she watched him warily. Geller’s words had her eyes flicking to him and then back to Adam, leaning back when he leaned towards her, twisting the pencil in her hand until it was closed in a tight fist.. just in case. When the baker wandered off she let out a faint breath of relief before going back to her notations, poking about on the desk for fresh paper when her current page was filled up, folding it to slide into her back pocket.

As the frantic pace of the kitchen slowly ebbed she finished her notes and slid them into her pocket with the other pages, flashing Geller a quick smile as he came over and dropped into a chair. She tugged her legs up where she sat on the desk, curling her arms around her knees. His question was answered with a tipping back and forth of her head. She’d gotten a decent idea of the flow of the kitchen and had a couple of ideas, little things she can do to help out here. Her head canted slightly when he brought up the other job, brow creasing in a slight frown. ”Family?” She directed a pointed look at the sous chef and the others in the kitchen before tilting her head at him.

Vix gave a nod, sliding from her pose on the desk when he rose to follow him outside. Her hands slid into the back pockets of her jeans as she trailed him, more to keep her twitchy fingers from touching things she shouldn’t as she passed. It was tempting, to test the blades, to check things out. The light touch of Geller’s hands as he guided her through the pattern of those working had her glancing back at him now and again. Stepping out into the afternoon sun had her eyes squinting, moving away from the building as he took a lean against the wall. Her head tipped back to look up at the sky, nibbling at her lower lip. His offer was tempting, almost too tempting.

It was all too perfect.

It was the sort of regular job that might let her get ahead of things though, build up an actual nest egg and seriously consider something a bit more permanent then her van. Somewhere she could set up an actual shop rather then the half-assed set up she had now. ”Pretty good fixing stuff.” It was tinkering, she knew it but she was able to get things working more often then not, or at least able to say that it needed someone a lot more proficient then her. She nibbled at her lower lip, expression pensive as she looked back at him, hand lifting to scratch lightly at the scarring on the side of her head. Without realizing it she was moving restlessly, short pacing path in the alley, just a few steps before turning and pacing back again. ”Work here. Meet family?” The words drawn out slowly as she struggled to voice the words, to have them make sense. A soft growl escaped her, frustrated with her own inability to be more clear.
^
Charles Geller
 Posted: May 25 2017, 11:49 PM
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The cigarettes that he'd been searching for were pulled from the pocket of his apron along with a metallic zippo. When he popped back the cap on the zippo and dragged the wheel against the harsh fabric of his jeans a flame leaped into being that was far too large for a simple cigarette. It was the zippo that he used on the range so it was set at a high flame. He leaned in a bit, careful with the tip of his cigarette as he lit it, and then snapped the device closed as he breathed out a billowy gray cloud of smoke. The pack was offered towards Vix, and if she took it then he would help to light her cigarette with his own rather than putting her through the fiery ordeal. If she wasn't a smoker then both pack and lighter would find it's way back into his pocket with no more of a thought.

"It's not any of them, by the way." He had caught that look of hers inside at the word family, and the shifting of her gaze towards the other cooks. "I mean...they're a kind of family as well. But not the kind you want to live with. I did room with Steven and Adam once a long time ago. It was fucking crazy. I'm definitely too old for their shit now." As in, he'd need to be booked a stay in the rubber room if he ever had to cohabitate with the insane sous chef and baker again anytime sooner than his next lifetime. "No, my family...the one at the warehouse...they're wolves. Like me."

Leaning against the wall he shifted his weight, put his foot down and lifted the other to press his boot back into the wall as well with his knee cocked out. "I've got a cousin, named Zoe, who just got here from New York. Her best friend Maya, and Maya's boyfriend Victor." That was an extremely limited version of the relationships between all of them, but he figured it was enough to get the point across. Details were things that would probably be better doled out through time and familiarity if they all got to know one another. "We're all part of the local Pack, but....we're just used to living together I guess. Hard to break old habits you know."

It was clear that talking was difficult for her. Frustrating even. Geller didn't know why but it didn't seem to bother him. He was perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation with a lamp post if for some reason an occasion ever called for it. And this was certainly better than that. At least the view was a lot better than staring at a lamp. That thought made him smile softly as he watched her scratch at the scar that ran along the shaved side of her head.

He nodded at her suggestion. "That works. You can take a look at that broken dishwasher first if you want. Good time for it since we don't open for dinner for a couple of hours." Looking at her more closely. "Are you hungry?" It might have seemed a question with an obvious answer but he asked because it seemed less like charity that way. "Can't have you trying to work on an empty stomach." He grinned. "I'll grab you a staff meal when we go back in. Then you can see about that dishwasher. And if you're up for it afterwards you can follow me to the warehouse to meet...well...whoevers around now. See what kind of work we're doing on the place." He thought that might sound safer to her. Daylight, people around, not just him - a relative stranger - leading her off to some warehouse.

Smoking his cigarette he continued to watch her. Noted her frustration again. "Y'know. If you want to you can park the van here, or out at the warehouse. It would be a lot safer than keeping it parked under the bridge." Geller wasn't offering a place to stay. Just a place to park. Again, it seemed like an offer that would be less likely to worry her. "Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying everyone who lives under bridges are by default dangerous. Not even saying you can't take care of yourself. But I'd feel better knowing you weren't out there alone anymore if there was another option."
^
Eien
 Posted: Jun 20 2017, 01:54 AM
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