ArchivedLogs:Particular Weaknesses

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Particular Weaknesses
Dramatis Personae

Alice, Desi


"It might drive me to distraction if I did not possess a sense of humor twisted just /so./"


<NYC> The Bazaar - Queens

This was once a Flushing office building that rented to startups, rapid growth industries, and fly-by-night operations who don't want any questions asked. Since the first zombie outbreak, it has lain largely empty, and as of late it has been converted into an immense indoor marketplace. The lobbies are packed with food vendors and the hallways lined with kiosks selling a dizzying variety of goods, flea-market fashion. Various offices are given over to groups of merchants selling similar wares: one dedicated to books, another to computer components, and a rather popular one selling (perfectly legal) least during the day. Rumor has it that the Bazaar's night market is becoming the go-to place for trade in illicit goods. But night or day, the place is bustling with activity, noisy and raucous commerce in many languages (though predominantly Mandarin and Spanish). Chances are, you can find anything your heart desires here...if you're willing to pay the price.

It's mid-afternoon, and the Bazaar is not particularly crowded at the moment. The book market is especially empty, perhaps because the malfunction of one of its mini-split air conditioners has left the entire floor a bit stuffy in the warmth of the day. In a quiet corner is a smallish shop marked with an exquisitely carved wooden sign: 'Cato Lane' it reads, then in smaller letters beneath this, 'Purveyor of Rare and Fine Books.' Cato himself -- tall and broad and black and bald -- is perched on a bench with a book (a glossy modern paperback, it looks neither rare nor fine) open in one large hand, his gray-and-purple zig-zag tie loose and the top button of his light pink dress shirt unbuttoned. A cool breeze wafts through the open window beside him.

Alice wends her way through the labyrinthine book market and toward Cato's corner. She has long since shucked her pink canvas jacket and wears only a white spaghetti strap tank top, worn black jeans torn (and subsequently safety-pinned back together) along one outseam, and purple platform sneakers that make her look even taller than she already is. A handful of hair from each temple is pulled back together into an elaborate, neat fishtail braid, but the rest hangs in luxuriant, glossy curls down her back. She carries a blue paisley nylon shopping bag over one shoulder and a plastic cup half-full of pale green milky bubble tea in one hand. "I can't actually remember how it ended," she's saying. "I think the main character died? And maybe the entire novel was actually just a hallucination or something."

Walking with Alice and nursing her own bubble tea (pink, with extra pearls), Desi occasionally lags behind as some display or other catches her eye. She wears a lilac blouse with a ruffly collar and ruffly bell sleeves, a long, gauzy green skirt, and black mary janes with chunky two-inch heels. "That sounds kind of antclimatic, but I guess it depends a lot on the execution. Some writers have been known to do justice to the 'it-was-all-a-dream' ending." She offers a smile and a wave to Cato as he raises his eyes from his book. "Ave, Magister! Enjoying the quiet day?"

Alice chuckles. "The execution must not have been all /that/ striking, if I can barely remember it two weeks after reading it. Which writers would you say do it justice? Yo, Cato." She offers a fist for him to bump. "What's good?"

"Ave, Sorores." Cato meets Alice's knuckles unself-consciously. "I find this day most enjoyable, if a touch warm. Not great for business, though, and I wouldn't call this," he holds up the book in his hand (Dan Brown's /The Lost Symbol/) by way of illustration, "'good.' Just a guity pleasure." He gives a sheepish smile as he sets the book aside. "So, have you come in search of anything in particular?"

"Lewis Carroll comes to mind," Desi offers lightly. She raises her eyebrows at Cato's reading material. "My eldest brother has a weakness for stuff like that. You should compare reading lists sometime." She looks past the shop's proprietor at a stack of newly delivered books sitting on his desk, waiting to be shelved. "I came to the Bazaar to find a birthday present for a friend, thought I didn't specifically think to find it /here/. I'm always on the lookout for books my brothers might like, too, but only on a broke college student budget." With a crooked smile, "I don't suppose you're hiring?"

"Oh, I loved /Alice in Wonderland/ when I was a kid." Alice grins, eyes sparkling with mirth. "Guess my egomania developed early." She peers at the book critically even after Cato has set it down. "Isn't that the guy who wrote /The Da Vinci Code/?" Quirks an eyebrow at Desi. "If you mean Matt, I kind of got the impression he has a weakness for /every/ book."

"Dan Brown wrote /The Da Vinci Code/, yes, and that book features the same utterly insipid protagonist." Cato smiles, shaking his head. "It might drive me to distraction if I did not possess a sense of humor twisted just /so./" Then, to Desi, "You know the birthday-having person /and/ your brothers better than I, so certainly feel free to look around. As for budgetary constraints -- I have no need of additional help /here/, but..." He hums thoughtfully, stroking his close-cropped and sharply outlined beard. "My lodge has just opened a new teahouse/bookstore a couple of blocks down -- rather short-handedly, at that. You might consider applying." From an ornate golden case he produces a matte black business card with gold lettering that reads 'Liber T Bookstore and Teahouse' beside an abstract sigil that resembles the Greek letter Tau superimposed on a leaf.

"I don't think it's indicative of egomaniacal tendencies--you were a little girl taking joy in a delightful book about another little girl who happened to share your name." Desi sips at her bubble tea, bright green eyes skimming over the titles of the newly arrived books. "And you're quite right, but Matt has a /particular/ weakness for trashy potboilers. But he has plenty of those, and not nearly so many beautifully crafted 19th century grimoires." She nods at a red fabric-bound copy of /The Magus/ on Cato's desk. Then accepts the card with a slight bob, half of a curtsy. "Liber T. Liberty. Really?" Neither the bemused lift of her eyebrows or her tone suggests disapproval, though. "I definitely will, {thank you!}"

"I was mostly joking," Alice replies, grinning. "/Mostly./ My ego expressed itself just fine elsewhere. Didn't need to stoke it by reading lots of books starring my namesake." She drifts to a nearby bookshelf and tilts her head slightly as she looks along a random row. "By the way, you got any new books in Chinese?"

"{You're welcome,}" Cato's reply comes in Spanish rather than French, but both phrases are common enough in contemporary New York that the choice of language itself matters little. "Well, I certainly have a healthy collection of beautifully crafted 19th century grimoires. Chinese books, not so much, but I did get four or five in with my last shipment. In fact..." He waves Alice toward the desk. "...I'd greatly appreciate some help verfying the titles and authors in exchange for a discount on anything you two might like to purchase today."