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A Cake for Claire

Posted on Fri Jun 7th, 2024 @ 6:15 by Gabriella Baxter & Jonathan Monroe

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: New Cresthill: The Corner Bakery
Timeline: Wednesday, December 23rd, 1992
1294 words - 2.6 OF Standard Post Measure

Getting away from the bustle of the Institute was almost impossible with everything that had been going on. The media interest, ensuring the students were safe, and just the general requirements on faculty had been a dreadful balancing act for anyone. So Jonathan was relieved to be walking the faintly frosted road leading up to Gabriella's bakery. It had built a pretty good reputation from his colleagues, and having heard this he'd enlisted the proprietor's aid in preparing something particularly special.

The door had one of those little bells above to signal his arrival, another customer leaving just after he arrived so that he was immediately at the front of a nonexistent queue.

"Good Morning," he nodded to the owner on the other side of the counter. "Is it ready?" he asked hopefully, rubbing his hands together both out of expectation and a need to remain relatively warm.

"Good morning Mister Monroe." Gabriella was just wiping her hands on her apron trying to get rid of some of the caster sugar the last sold treat left on her fingers. "Yes, of course. Finished it all up this morning, as promised." She walked into the back to get the ordered cake from the refrigerated room. Though with the glass still replaced with a bit of wood it was barely necessary to run any kind of refrigeration.

Apparently when it came to having a new window placed after hooligans smashed yours in, around Christmas time was terrible timing. She put the box on the counter and pushed it slightly closer to the English teacher before carefully lifting the lid. "Chocolate strawberry."

"You're an absolute saint, Gabriella," he enthused, gazing over the perfection being presented to him. The little purple 'C' as an additional decoration was the proverbial cherry on top. "I owe you big time for this, it being that time of year and all." He fished in his pocket for the payment. "I hope business wasn't hit too hard by the, uh..." he motioned to the wood-paned window.

"It's been, eh, difficult." Gabriella had been at Avalon for the entire week, and even though she had insisted on doing it for free Claire had made sure her father had accepted the payment for services rendered. Her parents had held down the fort for the week and for the most part it had been business as usual. At least, as usual before Gabriella had taken over and made it more of a place where you could also come in and sit down, like Claire would do. A place that combined amazing patisserie with homebrew coffee or loose leaf teas. "Luckily, people like their fresh loafs and weekend treats more than they despise the notion that I go around consorting with mutants."

"Consorting..." Jonathan shook his head, sadness and frustration in his mind. "They act like it's contagious or something. Well, I'm sorry you had to go through all of that. If you need any more help with repairs or anything, we'd be more than happy to help. I'm not really all that great with a hammer and nails, but I know some people."

"That's very kind of you," Gabriella looked over at the broken windowpane and the wooden barrier she had put up to keep the wind and rain out. "It's difficult to get a new glass pane, or so I'm told. Something with the measurements. After that I still need to find someone able to redo the artwork that was on it, the original one was done by old lady MacAllen, she's arthritic now." She seemed to blabber a bit as she packaged the cake back up and put it in a sturdy bag, offering it back up to Jonathan. "Sorry, the offer is appreciated."

"You know we have an art department up at the institute. Maybe Rebecca could create something," he shrugged a little, tailing off when he started to wonder if maybe that wasn't as helpful an idea; having mutants from the Institute helping repair the window might just make things worse. "At any rate, I appreciate the cake and I'm sure Claire will too. Rest assured you'll get repeat custom from this one!"

Gabriella gave a short bow, "I'm happy that you're happy with the cake. When the glass pane gets installed I'll reach out to Rebecca." She walked back towards the display case, "are you sure you don't want a little something for yourself? A snack for the road?"

"I shouldn't-" Jonathan began, when he heard the gentle tinkle of the bell above the door. He glanced over as a slightly overweight man in his twenties sauntered in. Under a denim jacket, Jonathan caught sight of the T-shirt that bore a strange design that looked as though it said 'Humans First' in neon scrawl.

"What you lookin' at, goth fella?" The man grunted in a deep Scottish accent.

Jonathan shook his head slightly, taking the avoidant route as he usually did. He glanced back up at Gabriella. "Thanks for the cake..."

Gabriella put up a hand towards Jonathan to indicate that their transaction wasn't quite finished yet. "Oi, what the fuck are ya wearing, Frank, ya fucking nob?" She then pointed towards the door, "come back when your da knocked some sense inta ya. Until then get yer pies at Greggs." She stepped around the counter, quickly grabbing a rolling pin as she stepped into the main area of the bakery. Her windows had already been thrown in for being a decent human being, she felt if there was a time to take a stand, this was it.

Jonathan paused, waiting a little nervously to see what happened.

"What's the wee matter, Gabbie? Ye still got a bee in yer bonnet about them windows?" Frank snorted. "Ye need to stop associatin' with those freaks. Nothin' but trouble."

Still, Jonathan remained silent, his hands holding firmly to the bag and deliberately breathing steadily.

"Yet they're not the ones that done smashed me windows in, now did they?" Gabriella stepped closer to Frank and felt her grip tighten around the rolling pin. There was so much tension and anger in her body that it wasn't going to take long to reach the boiling point. Frank probably had nothing to do with the slurs on the windows and the brick through the other, but he was going to take the retaliation just the same if he didn't back away. "Now git, before I do somethin' you'll regret."

The annoyed Scotsman took a look at the rolling pin and had second thoughts.

"I think she means it," Jonathan finally said softly.

Frank looked over at him. "And what's that got ta do with ye, eh?" he grumbled, getting in Jonathan's face for a moment. He glanced back over at Gabriella. "Ye can keep yer pastries...give 'em to the dogs..." With that he lumbered back out of the shop, tingling the bell as he went.

A short pause lingered, as Jonathan looked apologetically - and sympathetically - up at Gabriella. "Sorry..." he mumbled, not entirely sure why he was apologising.

"Jokes on him, his pies were paid in advance." Gabriella went back around the counter and grabbed the prepared shepard's pies, putting two of them on the counter. "There you go. For the trip back."

Jonathan looked at the pies. It felt wrong, in some ways, to take them. He felt responsible. But her expression also felt like a thank you. He just nodded slightly, scooping up the pies. "I, uh, I'll see you later..."

"Don't be a stranger, let me know what she thought!" Gabriella wasn't sure if Claire was open about their association, and she'd probably talk to the head teacher multiple times before she'd talk to Jonathan again. "Have a nice day!"


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