2020-08-16 - Shou Mei for May


Pepper helps Lena select a gift.

Log Info:

Storyteller: {$storyteller}
Date: August 16th, 2020
Location: Tea Shop, Ritzy.

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It's one of those blisteringly hot and still Saturday afternoons. The kind where children spend every moment they're allowed in proximity or direct contact with running water, and adults spend every moment they're allowed indoors or under shade. Pepper Potts is no exception.

Hiding from the heat, she is lingering in the almost blissfully cool tea shop, her selections waiting at the counter and the proprietor both completely understanding and wholeheartedly tolerant. Ms. Potts spends a LOT of money here, and the longer she tends to browse, the more she ends up buying. It's how she's found teas to give to not only Loki and Sigyn, but to Ambrose and Kent as well.

Out of view of the front door as she turns yet ANOTHER teacup over in her hands, she doesn't appear ready to brave the scorching outdoors again any time soon.

Lena hated fire. She hated smouldering, muggy heat even more so. It was the worst part of living in a city - the summer time. It was as if whatever gods may be were simply holding a magnefying glass over them and no one else. It was so much so that she had to wear white. White. Dammit, she was wearing /white/.

Slipping into the tea-shop, she shudders and exhales smoothly, allowing her icy gaze to flick about the selections on display behind the blinde of her shades. Resting the visors up and atop her head, she strides deeper into the store, her fingers giving a twitch here or there.

Lessons were one thing, but impulses were something else all together. Fancy shop. Fancy things. Lena liked fancy things…

The shop proprietor offers Lena a kind and non-judgemental greeting, then goes back to tapping someting into a smartphone at frightening speeds. The shop itself is light and airy, though the cabinets along the walls have darkened glass in their doors. In the middle of the shop space are low hip-height display tables and counters, with tins and boxes and teapots and tea kettles and tea cups and tea strainers and all of the mid-boggling accoutrements for tea making and consumption. Along the side walls of the space over sections of cabinets are labeled for the kinds of teas stored inside, such as black, green, white, tisane, and other less readily understandable names. Each cabinet door is further labeled, apparently to more specific kinds of tea within the larger categories. It's likely all rather intimidating for anyone who's not really delved into the true breath of teas in the world.

Setting aside the clearly made for british style froux-froux teacup with the most delicate tink of ceramics touching, Pepper appears from around a tall and lush potted plant as she moves on to the cups that draw her attention more: the clearly hand-thrown pottery in a much wider variety of shapes from coffee mugs to things that could resemble shot glasses or tiny bowls.

Lena had reactions to shops like this - snatch and grab. Run like hell. Places with heady numbers attached to their items would get to her, it fed along the lines of 'I can't afford it, just take it'. Maybe today was less of a 'get a gift for 'mom'' and more so a 'fight temptation, Lena'. Sighing to herself, muttering and brows down, she studies a selection of pointedly eastern teas. Chinese to be painfully specific. That is…until she spots someone she'd met before. Brief as it was, she remembered the woman. The fact it had something to do with tea was not lost on her. Nor was the fact that she was once again clad in white.

Smirking, distraction and the joy of it pressing a dimple into her cheek, Lena smoothly stalks closer toward Pepper.

Pepper herself isn't in white, but really, unbleached linen being considered not white is just normal. Her flowy (and yes, wrinkled) summer dress brushes against her sandal-exposed ankles, and the modest tank top shoulders leave her arms' freckled paleness free to enjoy the cool air. She picks up one shot glass shaped cup, turns it over in her hands, then glances toward where Lena is staring down the Chinese teas.

When the young woman looks her way, she offers a friendly smile hello, and of course has no inkling she's met her before. Because that would be just too easy.

Eventually, Cold finds her way up close and pesonal within Pepper's space. "Find anything good?" She questions, her head canting to the side as she studies the hand-made items. "Been awhile, Ms. Potts. You look well." Drop the line. Get in their space. Make them uneasy. You have to enjoy the little things in life sometimes.

Anything good? Pepper actually chuckles softly in sincere amusement. "I always find too many good things here. It's honestly dangerous to my bank account some days." Like that time she nearly bought a kilogram of hard to get Japanese black tea that was priced at a three dollars per gram. PER. GRAM. That's something close to seven dollars per brewed cup.

Then Lena comments about it having been a while and even addresses her by name. Pepper has a corporate poker face that can and has made other CEOs cringe, but she clearly left it at home with her power suits and murder heels if her expression is any indication. "Thank you. And, I am so sorry, I am usually much better about remembering people's names." Yes, she admitted to it up front and without hesitation.

"Eh, not your fault, doll. I wasn't exactly allowed to give it when we last met. A certain limey bastard just wouldn't allow it." Rolling her eyes, she looks over the glasses once more and considers them again. Reaching out, she claims one and gives it a casual toss from one hand to the other.

"You can always tell when something has a bit of love in it, can't you?"

Being called 'doll' makes one of Pepper's eyebrows quick upwards for just a moment, but she lets it slide just as quickly. The glass getting tossed about perturbs her far more, and she watches a couple of tosses before snagging it out of the air.

"I can, yes. Especially the things that are made by human hands instead of machines." She sets shot glass looking cup into Lena's hands as an example, and puts the glass back in its place on display gingerly. "They usually last longer, too."

Lena Snart tsks. "Nothing lasts, though, right?" A lean down, she looks at the items again before giving a low whistle. "I hope these were made by wearing golden gloves for that price. You can get a Coke glass from McDonalds for like…free with a large meal, y'know?" Now she was just teasining, her sly smile ever present. Perhaps…maybe, it was those eyes that might give her away to Peppers. It was hard to say.

"You look like you know way more than any person should about this stuff. Care to give me a hand? Or a suggestion at least?"

At Lena's assessment of the prices, she again shows her amusement. "Maybe, but wearing gloves would likely hinder the artisans. The price tags I think are more a reflection of how many years of their lives they've invested to make items like these cups and teapots." She picks up one cup — a tiny bowl, really — with a glazing technique making the interior look like a flower or something similar. "These little cups show skills that are being lost to humans because of modern manufacturing industries. Doing what I can to try and keep these skills alive means we won't lose them, like American schools have already lost cursive from their curriculums."

The request for suggestions honestly snaps her out of her musings. "Oh, sure. I'll be happy to help. And if there's anything I'm not sure about, I suspect Chandra will correct me."

The shop proprietor smiles and nods without so much as pausing in the rapidfire phone tapping.

"Shandra." Lena lets the name roll off her tongue with a genuine sense of annoyance. "I pegged her as a Becky…/Shandra/. Christ what a name…" No, she doesn't look at the shop attendant. The name alone seemed like poison on her lips.

"Something strong and dark for a friend of mine. Something deep seated, something that digs into your soul and makes you feel…good. At peace." Considering Pepper for a moment, she then points to the cups. "You buying the whole set?"

Pepper frowns slightly at Lena's openly scornful comment about Chandra's name. "Perhaps a little bit more respectful, please? Chandra's family is from Darjeeling, in northeastern India, and she was named after a prominent family ancestor." If Lena's observant, she might notice that one of the tea categories is actually Darjeeling.

She gives a few moments of serious consideration to the description that Lena offered, then sets the small cup back on its display stand and gestures across the way to the white tea section. "I think maybe one of these might work?" A little informational plaque says that white teas tend to be the most pale and delicate of the teas.

"I can't help that it's a mean girl name." Lena counters. She, in no way, even looks apologetic. "I mean, be proud of it, but yeah…" Shrugging, she follows after Pepper without a care in the world. Noting the white tea, she considers it and makes a soft 'hmm' sound. She'd never known Mel to even drink anything that didn't look like pitch, complete with leaves floating about. "Maybe? Really, it's not for me so I can't really say?" Rubbing the nape of her neck, she nods. "You pick and I'll pass it along. That way if she hates it, hey, I have someone to blame." Another smirk and wink.

"You never said if you were buying that whole set."

Pepper smiles. "You're right, I didn't. I've slowly built up to that entire set over the past five years." She doesn't mention that her 'entire set' is currently at four of each style made by that particular group of artisans, and they don't get to see nearly enough good use.

"Are you sure you want to trust me? I usually lean more toward the black teas, but… hm. Ah. Here." She opens one of the darkened glass cabinets and takes out a small tin. She opens it and offers it to Lena to smell. "Chandra, could we have a taste of this seven year Shou Mei?" The shop proprietor promptly tucks her phone away and goes to prepare the requested tea.

That's not something that is done for just anyone.

"Fancy." Lena comments gently. In all sense and purposes, the girl was out of her element. She was also about to, Gods no…have tea with one of the higher up in society. AKA - Her sworn enemy. Choking it down, swallowing it back, she leans forward and takes in the aroma of the tea. She even makes sure to hold her dark hair back so it doesn't get in the way. "As I said, it's not for me. You look rich enough to trust. Well, not trust, but you know good stuff."

She doesn't consider Pepper trustworthy? That's… interesting. But, again, she'll let it slide. This time. She takes the small tin and recaps it to return to the cabinet, just in time for Chandra to return with two even tinier cups of a surprisingly dark tea on a tray. And yes, one has a tiny bit of leaf floating in it. The other a itty bitty twig. An actual twig.

Lena Snart looks at the cup and holds it up. She notices the leaf, that's normal. It's the twig. "You're…I'm drinking a bush? A tree?" Quicking a brow, she looks toward Chandra almost accusingly. That doesn't stop her from blowing across the beverage's top and sipping. The whole while, she doesn't break eye contact with Chandra.

Chandra is unperturbed. Maybe she's used to 'difficult' customers. Maybe she IS the mean girl Lena thinks she is. Maybe she just doesn't care. Difficult to say. For her part, Pepper follows Lena's lead and after a moment sips at her own sample of the tea. "Okay, I think I need some of this after all. A hundred grams, please, Chandra."

She then turns an amused look at Lena. "All teas are essentially drinking a bush. Where do you think tea leaves come from? Bamboo stalks? You should get this for your friend. If it's something they've had before, it's at least a decent tea." She finishes her sample and sets the little cup on the counter under the cabinet as Chandra disappears into the back of the store again only to return a few moments later with a fairly large, already labeled tin that gets set with a clump of other random items, most of which appear to be temporary packages holding teas of varying sorts.

So much for fun. It's never fun if they don't react… Finishing off her drink, Lena backs off and nods. "I know where tea comes from. I was just being an ass." It was an easy admission to make. "I'll take some, too, please Chandra. Plus on of the cups that Ms. Potts was eye-fucking earlier. Thank you." Then to Pepper. "And thanks to you, too. I hope she likes it." She being whomever Lena was buying this for.

Pepper chuckles softly as Chandra disappears into the back again, and emerges with a tin just like the one for Pepper as well as a small latched wooden box with Chinese characters hand painted on the top. Pepper gestures toward the counter with the register so Lena can check out first, and as soon as the younger woman's back is turned she gestures toward herself.

The proprietor acknowledges with a subtle nod and rings up the tea and cup, then with accented English says, "First time customer discount. Maybe you'll be back?" She gives Lena the total, a very modest amount more than the openly displayed price for the hand made cup, and puts them both into a nice paper bag along with a card for the shop.

"Guess that depends on May." Lena answers and pays outright. With money. Actual money. Accepting the bag, she nods to Chandra and steps back so that Pepper can do her do as need be. Slipping back and closer to the door, she calls back. "It was nice, doll. Hope to see you again sometime, hmm?" Then a smirk, "Oh, it's Ventisca. Pity you didn't remember me."

Away to the door she goes.

Chandra is, once again, unperturbed. She accepts the cash and returns change as calmly as can be, then rings up Pepper's selection — including the price for two VERY spendy tins of seven year Shou Mei. Pepper pays with a card, of course, and not once are any totals mentioned.

Everything goes into a canvas sack that Pepper pulls from her shoulder bag, and then she offers Chandra a Thai style respectful bow before following Lena to the door. "Ventisca? Blizzard? Why would I—"

But Lena is gone before she can truly ask about it.

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