Of siblings and dau... nieces and their tastes in books.
<NYC> Strand Books - East Village
The Strand manages to pack a whole lot of character into one bookstore, but they have a lot of space to fit it in. They advertise themselves as having eighteen miles of books, and whether or not that is true, it certainly is true that they have an enormous number of shelves packed into their rows and rows and rows of books. A book-lover's haven, this East Village landmark boasts an enormous collection of volumes of all types among their stacks, crammed into the narrow aisles. Well-known for their rare and out-of-print collection, they have many hard to find volumes tucked away in their labyrinth of shelves as well.
It's been warm, today, perhaps not /un/seasonably given it is nearing March already. But warm all the same. Lucien is even in short sleeves, here, in the stacks of the Strand, a deep blue v-neck tee shirt, though he /has/ a jacket in black leather slung over one arm. Jeans, too, casual even with their carefully tailored cut. Today he has perched himself among children's books, albeit not of the picture sort; he has /The Neverending Story/, The /Crimson Fairy Book/, and /Watership Down/ already tucked in one arm, and is currently trailing a finger down the spine of Roald Dahl's /The Witches/, his brow furrowed in thought.
Dan has been finding himself more and more in the Village, lately, and today is no different. He's no less dressed for the weather in a grey button-down shirt (albeit with long sleeves rolled to mid-forearm) and a pair of well-worn jeans. He moves through the aisles with definite purpose, having found a few books himself -- a couple of Piers Anthony books, a coffee-table book on ballet, and a couple of the aforementioned picture books (A Very Hungry Caterpillar and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, for the record). Now he's moving through the chapter books, nearing the blonde as he studies the spines. "How do they not have The Phantom Tollbooth?" he mutters, wrinkling his nose. "I thought it was a classic."
Lucien's eyes flick sideways, at this, lingering on the man's books a good deal longer than they do on the man himself. There's a slight press of his lips as he shifts slightly down along the shelves, absently dropping his hand to his pocket to pull out a slim black phone. This gets his attention, for the next quiet stretch, and then he pockets the phone again. He is looking back at the shelves rather than at Dan, although presumably his comments must be to the latter when he speaks, soft baritone quietly accented, "They do have a copy. One floor down, with the used books."
Dan seems surprised when the man nearby speaks, and his gaze swivels around to take in Lucien, his eyes flicking over the neatly-tailored clothing and narrowing briefly. "I'm sorry, were you talking to me?" he asks, looking to his other side, in case there's someone who just came up. But, there's none but the two of them, so he turns back to the other man with a bit of a grin. "Guess you were. In the used books, you say?" he verifies, shifting the books he carries as he scans the spines again, pulling out a copy of /Island of the Blue Dolphins/ and tucking it in with the rest. "You'd think they'd have a couple of new copies. I loved that book as a kid."
"It was a good one," Lucien agrees, slipping /Peter Pan/ off the shelf instead. "Their used section is far more extensive. You might have a fair bit of luck finding some treasures there." He is moving farther away, down the alphabet now instead of up, hesitating a long while looking at /Charlotte's Web/. His finger taps at it slowly. "How old are yours?" It's absently conversational, with another flick over the array of books Dan carries.
Dan smiles, and lifts a shoulder. "I wasn't much of a reader, as a kid, but that book was one I liked. I read it until my copy fell apart." He moves along, picking up the abandoned Dahl book and studying it before he returns it and picks /Danny, Champion of the World/ and adds it to the stack. "I'll look downstairs next," he says at the advice. The question gets a long silence, Dan's attention blankly on the row of spines in front of him. "These are for my sister's two youngest," he says carefully. "And some other people. But the kids are 13 and 3." He looks at the stack Lucien carries, and lifts his gaze with a rise of eyebrows. "And yours?"
"I suppose if you had to pick one it was a good one," Lucien says with a small twitch of lips. "I devoured books, when I could get my hands on them. I think I read my way through most of the library." /Peter Pan/ is distracting him; he has turned to lean back against the shelves, opening the book to let his eyes skip the pages slowly. They flick up briefly to Dan during the silence, and then back to the book. "Four and eight. My younger siblings. The younger is shaping up to be as much a book addict as I was."
"Reading was boring, when I was a kid. But my uncle gave me that one, and I couldn't put it down." Dan offers a smile and wrinkles his nose. "I mean, I read stuff for school, but it wasn't my thing." He extracts a book to look at the cover, and slides it back. "I wish I'd read more, though. Guess that's why I give my nieces and nephews so many books. Maybe one of them /will/ get the bug." He moves a bit closer to where Lucien leans, bending to pull a copy of /The Mouse and the Motorcycle/ from the shelf and add it to his stack. Lucien's comment about his younger sibling gets a chuff of laughter. "My d -- niece loves to be read to," he says. "I think she might be an early addict.
"My older brother loves to be read to," Lucien says with a faint twitch of lips that, though a smile, does not touch his bright green eyes. "My youngest sister has been quite insistent on reading to /me/ for many months now. We are working our way through /Watership Down/, at the moment. She gets highly animated doing Dandelion's tales." He glances up again, eyes sweeping Dan thoughtfully. "What are her favourites?"
"Being read to is kind of soothing," the ex-soldier says in response to Lucien's admission. "If it's one you enjoy, and the reader is good." Dan's eyebrows lift at the mention of the current title being read, and he emits a low whistle. "That's impressive," he says, nodding at the other man. "I hope Colleen is reading that well at that age. She's already picking up some stuff." He pulls out a copy of /The Wonderful Wizard of Oz/ and holds it up. "She's crazy about anything Oz, right now," he says. "She'll sit and listen as long as you want to read 'em to her." He grins softly, and taps a finger on a book spine. "She's currently getting her way through the one about the Patchwork Girl and the glass cat?" He lifts a shoulder. "She also likes Alice In Wonderland, although that's a bit advanced for her, so I usually read her that Disney version." The corner of his mouth lifts, then. "If you have any recommendations, though, I'd be glad to listen."
"It is soothing, yes," Lucien agrees, his voice dropping softer for a moment as he looks back at the page. For a moment he is quiet, eyes fixed on the page without really reading it. "Have you tried /The Borrowers/? That was delightful. Or the Rats of NIMH books? /The Spiderwick Chronicles/ are a more modern pick; I never read them as a child but my siblings enjoyed them immensely. Neil Gaiman also has a few children's picks that, ah." His smile curls a little bit /sheepish/ as he admits, "I found /Coraline/ quite unsettling, but they adored it. /The Graveyard Book/ as well."
"/The Borrowers/? That's the one about the tiny people, right?" Dan's eyebrows shoot up. "The one they made that animated movie about last year? Collie /loves/ that movie. I bet she'd eat the book right up." Dan's eyes scan the shelves until he finds a copy, and /that's/ added to the stack. "I..." he begins after the other suggestions, "don't think my sister wants her reading scary stuff," he admits, chewing the inside of his cheek with a clench of eyebrows. "Not /creepy/ stuff. But she'll love this." There's a buzzing noise, from Dan's back pocket, and he fishes out his phone, glancing at the screen. "Shit. I didn't realize it was getting so late," he says, offering an apologetic smile. "I gotta run. But thanks for your help, Mister....?"
"Tessier," Lucien answers, with a quick smile and an offered hand. "Lucien Tessier. I hope the children enjoy the books. She'll be reading them to /you/ before you know it."
"Tessier," Dan repeats, taking the hand with a warm, quick squeeze. "Dan Rourke. It was nice meeting you." His phone buzzes again, and he jumps. "Sorry, but I really have to run. I hope you found some winners for /your/ bunch," he says, with a nod at the stack of books. "And I'm looking forward to /that/," he says of being read to. "Have a good day." Then he's skip-walking through the aisle towards the stairwell, maybe to score the elusive tome before running off to whatever has his phone buzzing YET AGAIN."
Lucien's smile is quick and warm, his handshake quick and warm as well. A brief firm shake that comes with a slight subtle flush of contentment. "Good day, Mister Rourke," he offers, before turning back to the stacks to continue browsing.