It's evening in the back room of the Jewish Bookstore, and Gisa is settled on one of the couches like she owns the damn place or something. She is leaning against the arm, a pillow tucked between her arm and that of the couch. Propped on the end of that same couch arm is a half-full glass of red wine, balanced neatly. One ankle's propped on the opposite knee, forming a platform on which she can rest her book -- a battered volume that's clearly well-loved and quite old, with post-its sticking out of various pages and notations in the margins. Things underlined. That sort of thing. Her right hand balances the book, holds a pen, turns pages right to left occasionally, and sometimes makes a little note in a margin or underlines something. Thoughtful Golem Face. The shin on her forehead glows with a gentle, steady light. If this seems like a way that people have seen Gisa before, well, it's not like goylomim are the most innovative of creatures when it comes to daily activities. They run on routine, almost compulsively so.
Jon was filed under 'Other' but none-the-less showed. He had a white box wrapped wth baker's string in one hand and waded in; heavy fotsteps heralded his arrival. Some Ogres were big, but Jonny Boy didn't disappoint. His expression looked serious like he's never seen humor a day in his life, but the medical ID bracelet around his write that read the medical warning of: 'Delete my browser history' seemed to suggest otherwise. Hey, Ice persons were not known for being emotive nor warm and fuzzy. Or warm. Sometimes fuzzy. If he shaves will he wind up with a sink full of shaved ice?
Dielle trails along after Jon, carrying a bag of drinks. Lots of individual bottles of drinks, of quite a few types. She had fun picking them out. She's dancing along to some song she's hearing in her head, and bits come out occasionally. "MarCONI plays the mamba...listen to the radio. Dooooon't you remember...Jon, help me get rid if this song, please? It's stuck in my head."
"The song in my head is "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am," -- is that worse?" asks Grillo, on Dielle's heels. CJ has no refreshments; instead, what he comes bearing is a truly enormous bunch of daffodils, a real two-vase affair, cradled in the crook of his arm wrapped lightly in thin paper. "This place is...homey. Home-like. You really have it feel like somewhere to kick off shoes, Gisa. If one were the sort of person to do that, anyway."
Good timing sees to it that Alonso is stepping into the backroom round about time all the others are trickling in. He's not from around these parts, to put it mildly, but the crackling tension of his mantle makes it clear he belongs here, at least on that count. He has a large, road worn duffel slung over his shoulder, heavy with the necessaries of living. Despite the obvious 'I live out of a duffel bag' condition of his raiment, he is nonetheless conspicuously perfect. Unnervingly symmetrical, not a hair out of place. He gives the room and its occupants patient glances, then removes the wide brimmed at from his head, holding it over his heart as one might when making a supplication to a superior, "Forgive me. I was told I should show myself here. I am Alonso-- if this is a bad time, I can return at a better one."
"Both of those songs are terrible songs to have stuck in your head. I think the worst is having an obscure klezmer song that no one else knows, so you cannot get it gone from your head. No one can sing it with you." Gisa closes her book -- a JPS Tanakh -- and sets it aside, rising and picking up her wine to put it aside as well. "Shalom, friends. Oh. You brought food. And drinks. Thank you. There are glasses -- and I have coffee -- and wine." Then she turns toward Grillo and the as-yet-unknown quantity of Alonso. The golem's shin glows more brightly at the compliment, and maybe the cricket in general, and she tips her head thankfully. "Thank you, C.J." And in fact the Earthbound's feet are bare. "Those are very lovely. I will find a vase." Possibly by taking one out of stock up front. Alonso is blinked at, once, twice -- at least that's what one might surmise the off-on-off of her eyeflames is -- and she answers, "No, it is not a bad time. Hello. You are new. I am Gisa Cohen. You are welcome here." She doesn't go to get the vase, yet, though -- because there's a new person to squint at a bit.
Jon said in his general casual deadpan, "Yeah I visitet my mom earlier and she packed me a bunch of stuff. I kept tryin to tell her not everyone's into a spiral cut ham... I um I brought thelittle tiny polish cookies though. I susually get meanmugged for those. Them's pretty good eats." He looked to Alonso, then the bag, then to Alonso and said "Please please please tell me there's skates in there." Apparently this month called for pick-up games. The flowers though, he ardently avoided though he did give the Cricket-man an upnod.
Dielle beams at the people she knows, and nods to Alonso. "He's Jon and I'm Dielle," she pronounces it "D.L." but slurred together, and her accent is Southern. "Didn't want to come empty-handed, Gisa. But there's all kinds of stuff to drink, and we can leave it here in case you get tired of coffee or tea or water." She blinks at CJ. "I don't think I've heard that song, CJ. How's it go?"
The crickety fellow in the sportcoat lifts a hand to greet Alonso, and sets down the flowers with his other, there to be retrieved when wanted. "C.J. Grillo. This is a place you could start, it's true, especially as you seem to have come at a very social hour for our particular flavor of person." And then he swivels, and points at Dielle. "You're not putting me on? You wouldn't. Remember, you asked for this -- "I'm 'enery the EIGHTH I AM, 'Enery the EIGHTH I AM, I AM," he belts in a merry rolling baritone and a truly atrocious faux-British accent. "I got married to the WIDOW NEXT DOOR, she's been married seven -- times before and EVERY ONE was an EN-ER-Y --" That's as far as he gets before he breaks up laughing.
"Very good to make your acquaintances, Jon, Dielle, Gisa, C.J. I will do my best to remember your names, but that is no sure thing." Alonso's expression turns wry as he lifts his hat back atop his head, adjusting its brim for all the good it will do the poor thing. He steps further into the room, unslinging his pack and tossing it down beside one of the empty chairs. He promptly drops himself into the chair and works his collar loose, visibly grateful for the chance to lay his literal burdens down for the moment. His wry look warms to a genuine smile at Grillo's singing, though he does not join in on the laughter. "Trading ear worms, are we?"
"Oh no. Oh no," and that's Gisa's response to the beginning of the 1960s novelty-rock tune. Suddenly CJ's gift of daffodils seems like the greatest thing he's ever brought, if only because that means that she can escape that song getting stuck in her head so hard that it might as well be part of her chem. She ducks out into the main shop, returning a few seconds later -- sticking her head into the room first to be sure the song is stopped -- and carrying a large clay vase with a pomegranate motif on the outside. "Ham?" she offers to Jon, absently, after the fact. "Well. Thank you. There are plates. And snacks in the cupboards." She can go kosher her ceramics again later. "Alonso, welcome. As CJ said, you are here at a good time." (Nota bene: for those who do know Gisa prior to now, there's a bit more -- potential energy -- surrounding her now, the scent of a sandstorm in the offing, contrasted with petrichor and the ozone tang on the air that means get out of open spaces. The pop and hiss of a match striking. Being surrounded by other Dawns is only good for one's connection to the Court, neh?) "There is space here to sleep for our sort, if you need it." While she talks, the barefoot golem fills the vase with water and goes about arranging the flowers in it, a subtle smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, just so.
Jon looked to teh Unicorn with a squinted dry look. "It's like... you just want to watch the world burn." He signed but didn't stop CJ from getting it stuck in people's heads. Yup. Theeeere it goes. Dielle got peered at again with that 'I hope you are perfectly content with yourself' look(tm). Tp Gisa he said "I didn't bring the ham. Just the cookies incase of any... whats-its. Like taboos and stuff. Generally I ignore these things but you? Eh fuck it I respect you." Which was Broski for I wouldn't do that to you because I didn't know.
Dielle looks simultaneously confused and smug. She's smug because she got CJ to sing and because other people are earwormed, but the confusion is that she doesn't know the song at all. She puts down her bag with a clink of bottles inside, and offers one of those gestures where she holds her hands out a bit, like the opposite of a shrug but meaning much the same. "Sorry. Don't know it. And Jon, I got /plans/ for that ham. That bone's gonna be a soup base bone. CJ, that was good singin'. Who did the song originally? When was it from?" She fishes in the bag and sets up the drinks on a table, then snags a bottle of peach iced tea and grabs a seat on a couch.
"First the British music hall, responsible for all kinds of earworms, as you put it," CJ says. "Then a little outfit called Herman's Hermits, who made it extremely popular worldwide, and doomed us all tonight." CJ's presence is more like a wind, and a powerful one, and his laughter only makes it more apparent that his is a strong mantle. "I'm truly surprised you've never heard it." He finds himself a seat, and asks Jon, "What flavor of cookie? Something beat-you-up good is impressive."
Alonso begins tugging at one of his boots, wrestling it from his calf and around his heel with some difficulty. "I am grateful for the offer, Gisa. I am ashamed to admit I must accept your hospitality. Or, at least, I would be a fool to do otherwise. There is still too much of a chill to these nights for sleeping out doors for my blood." He stands and hobbles over to the trash can, where he upends the boot to pour some sand and pebbles out. Boot in hand, he fetches himself a tall glass of water, then returns to his chair to begin wrestling the other boot off as well. "Not bringing a ham to a Jewish bookstore is a mark in your favor Jon. You prove yourself a gentleman." This would seem to be intended as a compliment.
"I appreciate it very much, Jon. Thank you. The food is appreciated either way. If Abraham can feed meat and milk to visiting angels, I could have accepted a gift of ham. But I am gladder to not have to do so." That bright symbol on Gisa's forehead glows all the more at the broski kindness of her courtmate, and she listens, mostly, as she arranges the daffodils in the vase, fussing at them a bit. "These are very lovely, C.J. Thank you again." Once the daffodils are arranged to Golem Standards, whatever those are, she sets the vase neatly on the end of the counter, but not too close to the edge. There. And then it's time to go sort through the drinks and put them in the fridge. "Would anyone like something to drink?" Fuss fuss, golem fuss. "There are present dangers, also, as a good reason to not sleep outside. Though you don't fit the current victim type, as best we can tell. In any case, you are welcome, Alonso." Her head shakes slightly.
Jon was prepared, prepared mind you! to answer the history question. Another womderful episode of Jotun Takes on History, but, alas, CJ gave an accute and accurate assessment of history and he wasn't about to shit on the man's sharing. It was Alonso that actually got a shadow of a reaction from teh iceman. That was a compliment. Jon...well... didn't quite know what to do with those. A hand rubbed at the back of his neck and his brow creased. The large young man didn't have a savvy statement for that nor the processing. There was a small nod and he admitted, "I just didn't... know." He looked to Gisa and nodded. Mental note, this little piggy could stay home and not in Gisa's fridge. Check. Well, awesome. He still had no clue how to process any credit to the courtesy so he glossed past it in general Jotun fashion. "Hey, dude, no shame. Only one kinda person doesn't ever need to borrow from a neighbour. We ain't it. What was that sayin, something like a struggle of my neighbour is the struggle of the whole community or some shit? Either way, it' all good, man. And hypothermia takes more lives in New England over mean muggers and bad drivers. True fax."
Dielle nods at CJ with a bit of a wide-eyed look, almost deer-in-the-headlights but trying to disguise it. "Hey, mad props to the new guy for emptying his boot into the garbage instead of just on the floor. I watched a guy in one of my classes just empty his shoes out all over the floor, didn't even think twice about it!" She adds, "The cookies are peanut-butter thumbprint cookies with strawberry jam in 'em, they're really good." She reaches over and grabs Jon's hand and squeezes it. Then she remembers to let go and get up to claim a few of said cookies before she sits down again. To CJ, she says, "I ain't precisely up on a lot of pop culture because reasons." She shrugs a little. It's a thing.
"If I sense coffee, Gisa," Grillo says, "I would love some, even at this hour. I'll be burning the midnight oil tonight, so I can afford it." There's a sense he almost -- almost -- is set to broach a more serious subject, probably the present dangers, but it's something he quashes after a glance in Alonso's direction. It's not unfriendly of him, but perhaps a caretaking gesture where New Guy is concerned. He grins at Dielle. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's more that that's a pop song with a history to it. You're probably lucky, if you noticed how our favorite golem downright ran away when I started singing."
It may hint at the prophetic, the fated, mere coincidence, or any number of excuses for why, in the wake of Grillo's reticence to speak of the current troubles for Alonso's sake, Alonso chooses to speak of them himself. As he's carrying his second boot over to the garbage to deposit its road-load into the dust bin, he makes the off-hand comment, "I heard of the disappearances. The murders. I would like very much to help with them while I am here. It would no doubt go a long way to proving my character in the event I choose to remain." He upends the boot into the garbage, with a sharp nod towards Dielle, "Guests must be polite. Or they are cockroaches." Boot empty, he heads back towards his seat and settles down into it. Bootless, he wriggles his toes, and finally takes a good long drink of that water.
On her way to continue playing hostess, the golem briefly touched Jon's shoulder. It's okay, bro! Coffee, coffee the golem can do without fuss. Someone showed the old lady who doesn't look like one how to use a Keurig. Fancy. "How do you take your coffee, CJ?" asks Gisa, and her eyeflames flicker happily at Dielle's explanation. "Like the sandwich, but a cookie." How delightful. She starts taking out mugs, apparently intending on making some for herself, perhaps. "One of my favorite guests is a cockroach," she chides, in her gentle monotone, "and CJ is a favorite guest as well, though a cricket is another kind of guest entirely." Cup in the machine, whoosh, and there's coffee! It's almost magic.
Jon said drily "Yeah the hedge used to be such a nice fucking neighbourhood too." He glanced downt o his hand and gave teh Unicorn a wink of thanks. The tone would suggest he had zero love for the hedge. The slight crease in his brow though had some shadow of empathy for the departed. "I keep telling people do not fucking go in there. And then right after I say it? In there they fucking go." The Dream Doc sighed and looked to Gisa gratefully for the gesture. He had nothing to say on the matter of bugs, people, or bug people however. "Actually coffee sounds pretty great. If it ain't a bother."
Dielle opens her bottle of iced tea and grins at Gisa. "Admittedly, said cockroach saved my ass in the most traumatic way possible and I'm insanely grateful to him for it. Maybe instead of cockroaches, we could call those jerks "Drumpfs?" Or is that too mean?" She looks at CJ and says, almost plaintively, "But I liked your singin'. Then again, I like Jon's too. My taste might be faulty."
"Light, not sweet. A little milk, be it cow or almond or otherwise, if you have it, Gisa," CJ says, and adds: "Vermin are people, too. Some cockroaches are not cockroaches in the manner implied." Bug solidarity? Bug solidarity. He blows Dielle a kiss off long spindly fingertips. "Too kind. It's mostly that the song is silly and hard to forget once you've got it. A lot of repetition. And I say that as someone who might as well be an elephant rather than a cricket." He's still holding back a little on the topic of the current dangers, absorbing rather than volunteering.
Cobalt disappears, swirling down into the black hole of the exit portal.
Alonso's eyebrows lift slightly as his employment of 'cockroack' to mean an unwelcome guest meets with resistance. But he seems to take no offense. Quite the opposite, he gestures with an open hand towards CJ, nodding his agreement with what the cricket has to say. "Just so. A cockroach who shows manners is, contrariwise, a guest. I intend to offense to anyone present or unaccounted for, of course." He is naturally quick to leave off the denigration of vermin, given the chance to do so. "Drumpfs? Mmm. Unkind to the rude guests, perhaps, not that pig of a man. Better men than him fill this country's prisons." He seems like he might go on. He even straightend up in his chair as though he might hold forth on the topic at some length, but ends up checking himself with a rueful chuckle, "Best not to get me started, however."
"Possibly too mean," agrees Gisa with Alonso, and she makes up coffees, doctoring CJ's and her own -- light, not sweet, the golem's possibly better stated as 'would you like coffee-flavored cream?' -- and bringing the cricket his cup. Then she heads back to make up more coffees, setting them on the coffee table near the couches along with a cream pitcher and a small sugar bowl. Apparently if you bring Gisa flowers, she fixes your coffee for you. "But I have been lucky so far, and hope to continue to be so, as only having kind guests." Coffees obtained, she settles back at her end of the couch, and briefly surveys her guests, nodding in agreement with herself. Yes, these are good guests. "Your sarcasm is noted and appreciated, Jon. We do have a limited time frame, I think, to prevent another death and another body in the Hedge. If we can at all." That's a little too fatalistic there, Miss Gisa. No Dusk in this house.
Jon said to Dielle "You only like my singin cause it means dinner and a show. I'm the guy who sings Sweet Caroline in teh style of Chris Farley. Just sayin." He noted to Gisa "I like my coffee like my nights. Darker than the void, endless, and impossible to sleep through with no test at the end of it." He didn't comment on the politics of things, but instead seemed to be formulating a plan. "There's gonna be outlying damage aside from people being dumb and going into said maneating hedge. Leaves the populace stressed out. Distrustful, and very reactionary. Hoping this doesn't start creating its own demons to hunt."
Dielle says, dryly, "I thought you were gonna say you like your coffee like you like your men: black and strong." She grins at Alonso, apparently in some serious approval of his politics, and says to CJ shyly, "I'd like to hear it sometime, in its entirety. Maybe not right now, we don't want Gisa to run again." But she brightens up and says, "Well, the dinner and a show part is right, but really, I like it best when you start singin' "Bootylicious." Because I am never ready for that jelly."
"Reactionary," Alonso parrots under his breath, as though trying to sort out the use in this context. His accent is decidedly Spanish, as in Iberia rather than a south or central american Hispanic accent of some other derivation. English is very much a second language for him. "That's as may be so, Jon," Alonso findally decides with a somewhat distracted nod of the head, "but something must be done to bring the matter to swift resolution. And if the killer operates out of the Hedge, then that is where he must be rooted out. Does the Freehold here not have some sort of group whose role it is to perform this sort of duty? If not, or if they are being slow to act, what is it that we propose to do?"
Settled in the couch, her coffee cradled between her hands, Gisa only looks blankly at Dielle when she brings up the second song. Thankfully, she doesn't know Bootylicious from pirate booty, and so has no real reaction, other than, "Thank you, D. That is a song that gets stuck in my head." Obviously about Henry the Eigth. She sniffs slightly, and clears her throat when it goes back to the conversation about the Hedge. "There are people whose job it is, yes. I do not know what, if anything, they are doing. I do not know that they are not doing anything," she clarifies. "Only that I do not know. And I am washing more bodies and... praying against a third."
"There are people working on the problem. Whether the best handling of it is happening, I'm not certain," Grillo says, after a long moment of simply drinking his coffee, listening for some short time. Perhaps appreciating the image of Bootylicious, equally unready for that jelly. "It's also difficult to jump to the conclusion that since discovery happens in the Hedge, that the Hedge is where we'll certainly find the killer. "
Jon seemed to take this in stride and simply said, "I'm a medic, I'm not a Hedge Warden. Just because something needs to be done and bad shit happens doesn't mean people aren't reacting. Likewise, with all respect to them and you? When you are amember of that Freehold them we can discuss internal matters of whom is doing what. But yeah, I heard there's people looking into it. The rub is the HEdge is a big place and it's teaming with unscrupulous beings. Throw a rock hit something that wants us for pieces parts. Doesnt' mean they're involved about that issue. Finding people good at hiding means a lack of instantious results." Heavy shoulders shrugged, some of the rime breaking off with an ease that suggested he was taking none of this personally, though he was taking the dangers seriously.
Dielle just keeps quiet, sipping her tea and nibbling at her cookies. She probably should comment, but she's got nothing to say, so she doesn't.
Alonso tilts his head low towards Grillo at the notion that the hedge isn't a sure fire thing, "As you say, CJ. But if that's where the path leads, that's where others must go. That was my meaning." He takes Jon's reaction in stride, smiling a crooked smile for a moment before framing his response to the man. "If I were incined to involve myself I would not wish to step on the toes of the powers that be, this is why I ask. I wish to help, not hinder whatever is presently underway. Even if I am not permitted to know what it may be, who is undertaking it, and how to reach them. The potential is there, all the same." He offers more broadly, then. "Well, if you would let those involved in the matter know my services are available for the asking, I would consider it a favor."
Spreading one of her hands out toward Grillo, palm up, Gisa agrees easily enough, in her usual calm monotone. "As I said. I do not think no one is doing anything. I can only say I do not know what is being done. And there is another of us missing. That is what I know." Poor Elementals. Overexplaining clumsily, go go go! She falls to quiet, wrapping her hands around her coffee mug and clearing her throat with a sound not unlike pebbles rattling in a ceramic mug.
"Well, there is an elephant in the room, there," CJ notes to Alonso. "You'll be eagerly recruited if you're intending to join the freehold. Up until that time, though, I'm not certain if there's a rush to involve others. Not out of distrust, but for...well, multiple reasons, obviously enough. I hope you will consider joining, obviously. It's one of the more welcoming to those who are not Seasonals that I've known, for one." His watch beeps. "Gisa, I'm sorry -- that burning the midnight oil thing I mentioned? I am on deadline, so I'll have to cut this short. But I'm glad you like the daffodils. They feel like spring, in a good way."
"No, no, of course. Of course. It should be no other way," Alonso insists of the mistrust shown him, practical as it is. When Grillo rises to leave, Alonso rises to his feet also and doffs his absurdly large hat in response. "I think you for the conversation and advice, CJ Grillo. I will take it to heart, if not to head." There's a slight smile as he returns his hat to his head, though he remains on his feet until the departing cricket is well and truly on his way. To the others he suggests, "Perhaps another topic is in order. I do not wish to keep pressing and forcing you into the awkward position of telling me nothing or oversharing. If you wish to continue the topic, however, it might be best if I find other places to be while that takes place. I will not be offended."
Dielle waves at CJ with a cookie. "Have a good night, CJ." Then she quiets down again, focusing on her cookies some more, because she doesn't have a new topic. She's just quiet.
Jon paused and the Jotun looked up at the golem and just stared for a long time. Quietly he said "We'll sort this out. Hopefully soon. Right now we can aid the survivors and their friends and families. We have a lot to do on that front. Not all of us can go into the hedge. We might not get an answer right now, but there's a ton because of this that needs to be done that should that we can do." He was an ass, and stubborn, but there were things he felt strongly on. Sometimes it was strike at the enemy, or today it was heal those in teh emotional fallout. "Lost my brother two years ago next month. That feelin? That doesn't go away. These assholes hurt more than Bethy. Leaves a hole in her friends and family. That...can do a lot of sustained damage and that's not somethin that shouldbe ignored. I think Autumn's doin some stuff for it. Maybe Winter too. This is the sort of shit Spring can't fix and it might be up to us to give people that encouragement they need to fortify them for the long haul of finding peace and justice. It will be hard. We won't get a thank you. They will be better for it and we can help those that can turn this shit around."