Biscuits and Tea

Ruff slips into the shop, his hands in his pockets, his air of innocence matching the expression on his face. No cap covers that ruffled hair, and no amount of clothing covers the grubbiness as he browses around the place.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley stands at the shop counter, making notes in her ledger whilst consulting a small book beside her. She pays no attention to the visitor; she’s used to people coming in at all hours, and she leaves the greetings to her employees. She turns a page thoughtfully, murmuring something to herself as she does.

The lad pauses beside the options of small items, studying them thoughtfully. A keen eye, Ruff is looking at the small and expensive items. That said, he turns away shortly later, to consider other items, the weapons next.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley rubs the centre of her forehead thoughtfully as she studies the ledger, and gives up trying to balance the books. Making a note to herself to talk to Daimon or Zale when they come in, she heads to the desk, where she pours herself a small drink from a carafe there.

A glance over his shoulder as she pours a drink from the carafe and he moves quietly towards the desk, glancing over the snacks before Ruff asks, casually, “‘ow much is that dagger over there? The black ‘un?”

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley turns around blankly, and looks at the darkened stile in question. Never assuming anything about a person from their appearance is a special trait of hers, and she smiles. “The darkened stiles? Five hundred dollars. They’re from Ephebe.”

His eyes widen a little and he nods, swallowing before Ruff returns her smile with a cocky grin, “Maybe next week then.” The cockiness shows in the faint swagger as he moves past the desk, towards another display.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley’s eyes are amused, but she nods. “Would you like a cup of tea to go with that packet of biscuits?”

Ruff turns back to her, a picture of innocence, “I wouldn’t mind both, missus. That’d be nice and civilised.” Those biscuits are gone, concealed somewhere on his person.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley pushes the wicker chair towards you and nods towards it
before putting the kettle on. “What’s your name?”

Ruff takes that seat, as if he is King of all he surveys, and his reply is given cockily, but there is a look at her, just checking her response to his name, “Ruff”.

Tea is poured into a paper-thin china cup which is handed to you with solemnity, and a similar cup of tea is poured out for herself. Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley gestures towards the sugar and the milk, indicating you should add your own. “Well, my name is Poz.” She twinkles. “Shall we share those biscuits you have in
your coat?”

Ruff takes the cup carefully, adding milk and five teaspoons of sugar, “What biscuits?” The blunt reply comes with a grin, and he nods towards the other snacks. “Could share them, if you’ve a fancy to eat?”

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley stirs her own cup of tea, the spoon making no sound. “You’re very welcome in my shop, and you can come in for a cup of tea whenever you like. If I’m not here, tell the people who work here that I said you could.” She smiles. “But if we’re to be friends, Ruff, we have to be honest with each other. Did you notice the sign on the front door? That says this shop and everything within it is all paid up with the thieves’ guild. So that means if you take something, you are breaking your own guild rules, and if you’re not an official member, you’re breaking the rules of the guild _and_ the city. You may keep those biscuits for now, but any future pilferage will result in my reporting you. Please don’t say later that I didn’t warn you.”

Ruff takes a swig of the tea, nearly emptying the delicate thing. “Alright, missus, they’re biscuits, not anythin’ big.” He reaches into the pocket, drawing them out of it and putting it on the table. “There you go.” He empties the cup then, finishing it in preparation to being tossed out on his ear, the expectation obvious.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley tears the paper holding the packet together and offers you one, a delicious digestive coated with chocolate. “More tea? Those are wonderful dipped in the tea.”

Ruff takes the one, giving her a suspicious look before he nods, offering up his cup. “I’ve got my licence, missus, just you know, figured biscuits aren’t worth the quota.” Almost apologetic, and he wipes his hands on his trousers, merely relocating dirt from one to the other.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley pours more tea into your cup and positions the teapot closer to you, before pushing some little paper napkins closer to you as well. She takes a seat on the sofa with her own cup, and a biscuit or two. “Oh, I know, but you know how it is. I have to be straight with you if I want you to be straight with me.” She looks curiously at you. “Do you live in the guild?”

Ruff takes the cup, filling it with sugar again, adding some milk. “Sometimes, ‘n’ sometimes not. Depends, see, on how I’m feelin’.” His grin is broad, as he adds, “Some nice places left without anyone lookin’ after them somedays. Like up on the posh bits. I don’t steal nuffin,, so it don’t count.”

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley looks amused as she nods. “Yes, indeed. Mind you, there are usually caretakers, but not many who do their jobs as they ought, I suspect.” She dunks her biscuit in her cup solemnly.

“You get to know which do and which don’t. Either road…” He takes two biscuits, dunking them both at once, and managing to fit both in his mouth. Ruff is not letting a crumb get away. “You live somewhere nice, I betcha?”

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley crosses her ankles delicately as she nods. “Quite. My husband and I live up in Ankh, yes.” She nudges the biscuits closer to you. “Did you grow up in this city, or are you from elsewhere?”

Ruff grins, a broad and cocky one, some swagger to cover his youth. “I grew up over Elm St, missus. It ain’t ‘alf as flash as Ankh but I got me own bit of space and stuff.” He swigs down his tea, using a bit of his sleeve to cross over his lips, his gaze lifting to watch the newcomer thoughtfully, as if appraising his value.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley performs the necessary introductions. “Lord Camelion Sinensis, this is Ruff, and vice versa.” She nods at the youth. “Quite so. It’s very important to have a space of one’s own, in my opinion.” She hesitates over the word. “Flash isn’t necessary, of course. A roof and four walls and a small piece of home is what counts.”

Lord Camelion Sinensis asks you: Tea, eh? What kind of tea?

“Don’t even need a full roof, not really.” The comment is made through crumbs, and he finishes the biscuits, having hoovered them up, followed by his tea. “Nice ter meet you, mister. She’s got nice tea, see.” He hesitates before putting a small item on the table next to PozPaws, giving her a brief, embarrassed grin, “I gotta get goin’, got my quota to fill, see.” He stands up, shoving his hands into his pockets, “Might come back ‘n’ see you.” Then he is gone, out of the door, shooting Lord Camelion another look on the way past.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley pours a cup of orange pekoe tea for Camelion into a paper-thin china cup, and hands it to him, playing the hostess with ease. She gestures towards the sofa. “Please sit, Lord Camelion. I am sure your rabbit can spare you for a few minutes of civility!”

About Georgina

A book lover, and previously the librarian for both the CS and the MR, Georgina is a demure and quiet person, until books become involved. With a passion for books about history of the Mano Rossa, rare herbs and cookbooks, she is a great collector and often visits the other guilds to examine their rare collections. Her history, should one examine it, is unremarkable, with parents who were a book binder and a librarian...
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