THE St. Louis Speakeasy
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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:00 pm GMT 
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"Ah. Did I say that?" replied Denmark, a bit absently. The most accurate description of their arrangement probably would have been 'lovers,' but that sounded awfully sordid to him. "It doesn't matter, in any case."

With that, he let the matter of Olive drop. It had felt good to mention her to someone, even if it was just a pair of criminally inclined French twins. But now he realized he couldn't dwell, at least not out loud. On the walk over, then, he said little. Inside his flat, he watched Carmen examine his excruciatingly tidy shelves. An embarrassed flush crept up to his ears as he lied. "Oh, you know. Moving is such a hassle. When I left New York, all I took was a suitcase. Best to travel light."

The pause, the flick of her hair, the smile--he guessed these were imbued with meaning, coded in a language he'd forgotten how to read. When she asked for his motivation, he glanced away, unable to meet her merciless green eyes. It shouldn't have been hard to conjure some vague, satisfactory answer, but his social creativity had been quite drained by the last few months, and he found himself floundering. "Well, I...I don't know. What I mean to say is, you seem... I'd like to get to know you better?" This came out more of a question than a statement, and when he heard his own inflection, he almost winced. Rather than let it hang there, he rushed on, this time with a touch of candor. "The truth is, I hate to eat alone."

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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:33 am GMT 
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Carmen didn't really believe for a moment that it was "travelling light" which caused the room to be so bare, Denmark's business seemed too well-established for him to have moved recently and the more she thought about it the more it suited his slightly odd character to keep a home like this. There was just something slightly... uncomfortable about him, even if he during their first meeting had not showed this side; tonight he didn't seem to be at ease however.

His nervousness wasn't very reassuring when he was faced by her question. "Because I seemed... easy to get home?" she suggested, despite his claim about not liking to eat alone. He hadn't meant for them to eat tonight, but perhaps it had applied no matter what evening they had gone out. "I don't tend to want to eat alone either, I don't see the point to be honest. But I can't help but wonder..."

The sentence was left to linger, hang in the air unfinished, and she moved over to have a seat in the couch, legs crossing neatly but her toe starting to tap some at the air, betraying her mood; she didn't quite understand this gentlemanly business-partner that by all right should be doing this for sordid reasons but spoke with a genuine tone of voice. Either he was a grade A liar, or he was a really bad one. All the while she was watching him still, trying to read him.

"If you think that my part in our business is to be a lure, a treat to make our partners more accomodating I would want you to be up front about that because then I can tell you you are wrong. I might not be the kind to deny myself something I want because some unwritten rule of propriety tells me to, but I am not a whore. I don't want to be rude, but I feel it is good to get that matter out of the way. It would ruin dinner otherwise."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:12 am GMT 
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Denmark, unsuspecting at first, listened to Carmen with growing mortification. By the time she had said her piece, he was a brilliant shade of red. He spluttered for a moment before mustering a reply.

"Goodness. I never thought...of your role in the business...in that sense," he managed to choke out, genuinely bewildered. It hadn't even occurred to him that she might be some kind of lure. After all, Carmen was something of an Amazon, formidable in her own right. No doubt she could haul a crate, brain a cop, or whatever it was that lady runners did.

While that suggestion had been the most shocking, it was not the most embarrassing. Easy to get home? Denmark shook his head in vigorous denial. He felt all the more defensive before this accusation because, on some level, she was right. By the time he answered, he had almost regained his composure. Still, he could feel his cheeks burning even hotter than before. "I assure you, I'm no marauding seducer. I don't prey upon women, much less take advantage of business relationships in order to do so." This much, at least, was true. "Honestly, it's been two years since I even--"

He cut himself off, embarrassed, coughing into his fist. Denmark loathed the idea of playing, or appearing to play, his celibate streak as a pity card. But in his state of agitation, it had started to slip out, a depressing little truth.

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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:00 am GMT 
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That blush was definitely reassuring. It was perhaps a bit selfish to take relief from his obvious displeasure but it did if nothing else assure her that he was actually not lying. When he fell silent she raise an eyebrow again, having a feeling what he was about to say and deciding to leave it be. It would be easy to fluster him further, but she wasn't about to be sadistic towards him; he was after all proving to be quite a sweet man, and she liked those.

"I just wanted to point it out, since you wouldn't have been the first," she murmured, keeping her own tone level and smooth to try and help him calm down a little bit, and to prevent him from getting angry with her over it. Not that she really worried, she didn't have a doubt in her mind that she could hold her own in an argument, but she didn't want to fight with him, just clarify this one issue. "As a former soldier I'm sure you know how it can be. To many men we women are just flesh."

Propping her arm up on the back rest she leaned her head in her hand and sighed a little, the smile daring to make a return. As quickly as she had descended in to the serious topic of expectations she left it behind at the satisfying response. Her posture relaxed some, and her foot stopped it's tapping and instead settled for drawing slow, content circles in the air with the toe of her shoe.

"Now, about that dinner... If I didn't upset you enough to send me home I'm still quite hungry."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:12 pm GMT 
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Almost immediately, Denmark's ruffled feathers began to ease. He remembered what it had been like in France. And though he'd always insisted that his men chase willing women, the line was blurry when soldiers were often the only source of food.

"I understand," he nodded, no longer on the defensive. "And as for dinner--"

The kettle began to scream. He gave a start, excused himself, and headed for the kitchen. A girl came in most nights to cook his dinners, and Denmark was shamefully out of practice these days as a result. He wasn't even sure what he had in his icebox. As he set some tea to steeping, he cast about for promising ingredients--fresh bread, assorted vegetables, some cheese. "Hold on," called Denmark, a bit breathless. "Stay just where you are."

After a burst of inspiration and a couple minutes of frantic activity, including audible chopping and scrambling, Denmark emerged. He had a plate of tomato, basil, and mozzarella bruschetta in his hands, which he set on the table before hurrying back to retrieve their two cups of earl gray tea. It was all rather domestic, which was embarrassing, in a way. But from what he knew of Carmen, she wouldn't think less of him for it.

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 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 12:31 pm GMT 
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Carmen would have been more than prepared to offer to help, but when told to stay put she did just that. As the minutes passed she listened to the sounds of him working in the kitchen, the clatter and the shuffle of his feet over the floor. She wondered how he was fairing in there given how rushed he started sound after a while, but when he emerged from the kitchen he emerged victorious it seemed. She smiled.

"Would you look at that," she noted, uncrossing her legs so she could lean forward, elbows on her knees and hands clasped as she surveyed the plate before looking up at Denmark. "It is not often that a man can conjure up food. Many will be confused if you ask them to boil water even. Not to say there are not many rich women who would not be confused too."

Accepting one of the cups of tea she smelled it some before sipping it cautiously even if it was truly too hot to drink yet.

"It sounded like you were about to hurt yourself in there though. Glad to see you have all fingers still."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:41 am GMT 
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"Yes, I suppose I rushed a bit," agreed Denmark, setting down two clean plates. "Didn't want you to get bored."

He was glad she hadn't attempted to help. Frankly, Denmark hated nothing more than a well-meaning guests hanging about a kitchen, asking for menial tasks to perform. It was far more efficient to establish a culinary autocracy and let the result comes as a surprise.

True enough, cooking wasn't something wealthy people were supposed to do. Hence the employment of Phyllis, his cook and maid. That was standard for a successful businessman, of course, but the whole notion of having a servant still made Denmark profoundly uncomfortable. He thanked Phyllis profusely for everything she did, always apologizing without knowing why.

"Well, I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth." He retrieved a bowl of grapes and oranges from the counter and took a seat at the table, across from Carmen. "My father was a cook."

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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:32 am GMT 
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"A culinary autocracy". This is quite possibly the best thing I have read in ages and I shall use this phrase whenever possible.

"A cook?" Carmen was genuinely surprised to hear this, given what Denmark's position had been in the war. She was fairly certain Magnus had mentioned something about a lieutenant, which was the same rank Magnus had in Sweden, and Magnus' father had certainly not been a cook. Perhaps, she reasoned, he had been promoted during the war, rather than having entered it as a lieutenant, and she had to admit that she wasn't terribly knowledgeable about the ranking of any army despite her experience during the war, but especially not the American one. "So he was the one who taught you then, instead of your mother?"

Reaching down with one hand Carmen took the liberty of slipping off her shoes to stretch out her slightly aching toes, which cracked some as the joints were given their freedom. She sent a thought to her mother, and albeit it was a fond one the memories of the woman in the kitchen were not. Estrella had insisted her daughter learn how to cook, and care for a home, and had spent many hours, days, weeks, confining her daughter to the home in an attempt to reign her in and make her as exemplary a housewife as she was. Carmen had allowed herself to be subjected to this, but only in the presence of Don, so it was not unlikely that her brother would do just as well as a housewife if not better; it wasn't as though Carmen disliked taking care of things, but she refused to do it if the others of the household didn't put in the same effort. There weren't much by the way of mothering instincts in Carmen, even if you couldn't fault her sense of responsibility, because she would fulfil her tasks and would do it well if you repaid her with the same courtesy.

"My mother was the ruler of our kitchen. She very much liked to teach me and Don. We were never the best students, I think."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:20 pm GMT 
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At the suggestion that his father had taught him to cook, Denmark let out a quiet laugh. The image of his father in the kitchen, ordering his boys to peel potatoes and chop onions, struck him as ridiculous. "Goodness, no. He never cooked for us. Not at home, anyway. It was just a job."

Everything Denmark knew of the domestic sphere he had either taught himself, or learned from his mother. He'd been closer to her than his boisterous brothers. It was easier to consign himself to being a mama's boy than to compete in brawls he knew he couldn't win, and strict rules against roughhousing in the kitchen made it something of a refuge.

At the picture of young Carmen in an apron, he smiled. "I confess, it's difficult to imagine you as a housewife."

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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:35 pm GMT 
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Denmark wouldn't have been the first to have a hard time imagining Carmen as a housewife, even if a few boyfriends and lovers of her past had been equally surprised when she had refused to be moulded in to one.

"Fair enough," she conceded with a slight chuckle. "Same for you. I would not have thought you were the kind of man who could cook at first. You look rather... conservative. But you are full of surprises, Mr. Jones." Huddling up a little bit around her tea cup she let the warmth of the cup spread through her arms, hoping it would warm her arms as well; the fabric of the couch was still cool against her bare back despite her having sat there for a while, and it was making the rest of her feel a bit cold.

"I am not interested in being a cook and cleaner. Don would probably make a better housewife," she added with a faint shrug. "I can do it, and do it plenty, but I will not let my brother and Magnus sits around waiting for it to be done. If I can do anything a man can, then they can do what I can."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:08 pm GMT 
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"If you thought me conservative, the facade must be working," said Denmark, with uncommon frankness. He was beginning to trust Carmen, probably more than he should have. After all, she wasn't the segment of society he was trying to impress. "There's a certain image one must convey in order to succeed in business. The more one acts, unfortunately, the less one needs to. I'm afraid I've become more conservative lately. More of a bore as well. Certain topics are...well. You know. Off limits."

He noticed the hunch in her shoulders and rose to his feet, clearing his throat, ashamed at have talked so much about himself. "Goodness. Listen to me, blabbering on while you're probably freezing. I'll go turn on the radiator. Would you like a blanket as well?"

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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:39 am GMT 
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This honesty about that it was indeed a façade was at once refreshing and reassuring and it made Carmen smile wider. "Well, I am not so touchy, so you can practice discussing those topics with me. I like discussing things." While it wasn't common for her to pick a fight it did happen, but a majority of the time she did just enjoy the debate for what it was. It was true that she would not become closely attached to you if you didn't share her views, and she could even resent you if she thought you were completely on the wrong side of the fence, but she found that this could easily be handled by just keeping a distance and not bothering so much with one another. Discussing politics while slightly tipsy, with a slightly tipsy business partner was perhaps a bit risky given how a good chunk of their business relied on the man in question, but Carmen was not a worrier by nature even without alcohol in her system so she didn't think it could go too awry; it wasn't likely that Denmark would jump in to the most controversial of topic just like that anyway.

"It is a shame that people's true characters cannot be appreciated. We limit ourselves too much, and we don't really know why except 'that's how it's always been' and 'that's how it's supposed to be'. It creates a lot of unnecessary suffering."

When he stood she followed his movements with her eyes, nodding shortly; she wasn't one to fuss about being an imposition unnecessarily, if people didn't want to do something they shouldn't offer in the first place. "If you have one, yes," she replied to the offer of the blanket. "These dresses aren't made to keep you warm."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 10:17 pm GMT 
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Denmark did not actually bring up any controversial topic. It was nice to know, he supposed, that he could have. Yet there was very little he was itching to discuss. Perhaps this was another symptom of his cultural assimilation--forbidden from talking about poetry or race or drag or the Soviet Union, he had simply ceased wanting to.

"Yes. Unnecessary suffering," repeated Denmark. This line of thought had left him with a vague sense of melancholy, and he heard his mood reflected in his voice. "Yet however immaterial the rules might seem, breaking them has real consequences."

He trailed off, sensing that he'd gone too far. Fortunately for Denmark, the blanket gave him a chance to duck out of the room. By the time he returned with a crocheted throw in hand, his usual smile was back, pleasant and bland. He tucked the soft blanket around her shoulders. The radiator could be heard creaking to life.

"Now," he said, a touch playfully. "I've told you why I invited you over. It's your turn. Why did you accept?"

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 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:52 am GMT 
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The discussion of breaking rules was one Carmen was reluctant to just relinquish, but Denmark seemed equally disinterested in continuing it as he made for the door. She was rather glad for the blanket though and thanked him even if it was a bit more than she had asked for that he actually wrapped it around her.

Pulling her feet up on to the couch and under the blanket she huddled up a little bit on the couch with her cup of tea, smirking some at the question. "Well, I suppose that would be fair of me to answer..." she conceded and watched him with slightly narrowed eyes before answering. It wasn't a clear cut answer that he could give really, it had been a bit of a whim in one way, and while Denmark wouldn't appreciate hearing it it had also been a reward for his being polite. But it wasn't just politeness and impulse, Carmen did think him rather interesting, with his story of Olive, not to mention how he dropped those hints of someone at least a bit more free lurking behind the up-tight façade.

"I'll admit I wanted to see if you were as polite in private as you were in public," she said, frankly but not with cruelty in her voice. "And... Just like you said now, you don't seem to just be an uptight apothecary. I don't want to offend you, trust me, it's a compliment. Suppose I just want to get to know you a bit more since it seems we might be spending a lot of time together."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Old Wounds (Northern)
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:50 pm GMT 
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"I'd like to think that I'm always polite, although I haven't always been quite this cautious. I'm getting old, I suppose. I'm almost thirty six." Denmark was well-preserved. He didn't smoke or drink to excess, and he made a point of getting his exercise. You could see in his face, however, that his youthful twenties were behind him.

It was gratifying to hear a little interest in Carmen's voice. It made him want to surprise her, although, he reminded himself, a similar impulse had almost gotten him killed in New York. He didn't think Carmen would react poorly to the truth. Still, it was out of the question for Magnus and the twins to ever know. He had let down his guard only once before, and it had almost been the end of him.

Denmark settled for something vaguely embarrassing. "If you'd like to know me a bit better, I'll tell you a secret. I used to be a poet. How's that for a sordid past?"

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