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Where: The Oolong Cauldron
When: June 17, 2020
What: A pair of strangers visit a tea shop.


It's a nice, warm day, which means that downtown there's a certain tea shop that's getting less than busy business. On the upside, at least all of their advertised teas are also served cold!

At any rate, the shop's only customer appears to be a rather comfortable-looking black man who's lounged on one of the comfiest, coziest chairs with a book open on his lap. With no one in sight behind the counter, it's no wonder he's just sitting there.

Henry, dressed in casual attire, pushes his way into the shop. He instinctively wrinkles his nose at the sudden presence of so many smells… then blinks takes a quick sniff. Hey, that's actually kind of nice. Pulling his baseball cap off his head, he goes to browse the selection… and ends up pretty baffled, staring at all the options. Eventually, he wanders over in the direction of that seated man, giving him a sheepish smile, "Excuse me, do you work here?"

The door opens just a moment later, and in slips a slip of a woman, or girl; it's rather hard to tell her age as she has large sunglasses on her face and isn't wearing any obvious markers of a certain age set. Plain jeans, plain shirt, hair in a ponytail. She might be making an effort to blend in to a crowd, but it's difficult given that she's in the supernatural minority, that greenish aura marking her as a member of the Seelie.

She pushes the sunglasses onto the top of her head when it's far too dim with them on to see well, and moves toward the pots and kettles, chewing her lip thoughtfully.

The man looks up as Henry enters and he smiles, pushing to his feet. "I do, in fact." He sets his book down — A Brief History of Time — and moves to the counter just as Max enters. "How can I help you both?" he asks. "Would you like to sample some of our Tranquilitea? It's one of our specials. We have it in iced tea, if you'd prefer."

Henry smiles in relief when the man stands up, tucking the baseball cap under his arm. "Fantastic! Uh, sure? Why not?" he says, not terribly enthusiastic, but still happy to at least have some help. He's dressed in his own pair of jeans, a light blue Ducks t-shirt, and his light jacket subtly identifies him as part of the LAPD. Just out for a stroll.

When Max comes in, Henry glances over… and double-takes at the newcomer. He blinks staring for a moment…and looking away once he realizes he's staring, barely not bumping into an incense display as he follows after Phoenix. "What's in your tranquility?"

"Just looking, really. Maybe a gift for someone," murmurs Max, glancing but not-quite-making eye contact with the two strangers just yet. She turns back to the assortment of kettles, reaching to touch one lightly, turning it on the shelf in search of a price tag.

She seems not to have noticed Henry's doubletake, but then, quietly, but loud enough for him to hear, she adds, "You should really work on not reacting so much. Am I really the first you've seen? I doubt that, if you're really a cop." Apparently she's in a bit of a mood.

"Ah, it's lovely," Phoenix assures Henry with a warm smile. The guy is really quite easygoing. "It's a peach oolong tea with lavender. Sure to make you feel at peace." He sets a rather elegant looking teakettle on a little electric warmer, tapping some loose leaf tea into the top. "It'll be ready shortly."

To Max, he offers, "A gift? If you would like suggestions, I'm happy to help. My name's Phoenix, by the way." And back to Henry, as Max comments. His eyes pick out the patch on Henry's coat. "LAPD, huh? Always nice to see the Blue in here."

"Okay… heh, I know what some of those words mean. Though I do like peaches." Henry's smile turns a little sideways as he slides his hands into his pockets, rocking back on his heels. He glances up when Max calls out to him, and he flushes red when she calls that out, shoulders hunching up. "Sorry," he calls to her across the shop, definitely /not/ making eye contact with her now, "I just…" He just clears his throat.

There's a definite eye-roll at the apology. "That about sums it up," she says with faux cheerfulness, and she turns to look in the direction of the shop owner. "Just a former coworker's wedding, and she likes tea. I don't know much about it, and really, it'd probably be wasted on her… she probably buys her tea at Wal-Mart and makes it in a Mr. Coffee tea kettle. Or do they make a Mr. Tea?"

She shakes her head. "Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?" Finally her green eyes seek Phoenix's, tipping her head slightly. She looks worse for wear which might explain the bad mood; dark circles under her eyes suggest a rough night of sleeplessness or perhaps drunkenness.

Phoenix seems sympathetic to Henry's plight, but he has no such compunctions about looking Max in the eye. As far as she can tell, he's a warm soul, sweet and relaxed, pacifistic, and one who craves the company of others in an understated sort of way. "In that case, we have some rather lovely delicate pieces that are perfect for wedding gifts — and cheap." He winks with a grin, as he turns to lift the kettle and pour two miniature teacups full of Tranquilitea. "Here you go, you two. A sample of Tranquilitea."

Henry steps a little away from Max when she and Phoenix talk, rifling idly through the items near the counter, head down like he's trying to become invisible. He looks up at the last, smiling in thanks to Phoenix as he takes a sniff at the tea. "Thanks," he says with a small nod, taking a sip of the tea. His eyes light up briefly. "Hey, that's actually pretty good. So this is oolong, huh?"

There's an actual smile from the woman after that brief glimpse and Max reaches for the small cup of tea. "Thank you," she says, a warmth in her voice that wasn't there a moment before. "I'm not much of a tea drinker, but I also never say no to free," she adds with a smirk, taking a sip of the brew and nodding to the rest of his words. "Cheap is good. Nothing in her registry was less than fifty bucks. I'm not spending more than twenty-five."

She realizes that might sound rude, like his tea kettles aren't worth more. "Sorry. I mean, she just isn't a very close friend, you know?"

Max glances at Henry, but she lets him keep his space. "I don't think he's here for any of your other services," she stage whispers to Phoenix, apparently in the know about LAFF. Or maybe she means the occult items on the other side.

"Mmhmm," Phoenix says with a nod to Henry. "We sell the loose leaf for eight dollars a packet." And judging by the bag he tapped from it, it's a pretty good deal, one must assume. "What else brings you in here, Officer?"

As for Max, he grins and leans down behind the counter, withdrawing a delicate white porcelain tea kettle with some lovely swooping adornments. "Fancy that; this is twenty dollars." As for whether or not Henry is here for LAFF or occult things, he only smiles benignly. "Perhaps."

"Mmm… actually, I'm here to get something for someone, too. But…" Henry nods in Max's direction, and gestures Phoenix to serve her up first with a smile as he finishes his mini-tea.

When Max mentions "other services", the cop blinks and gives Phoenix a suspicious look, raising an eyebrow. Oh really?

Mischief comes with the territory when you're dealing with someone like Max. "I didn't mean his money laundering business. I met the voodoo on the other side of the store," she says brightly, with a nod toward the occult section. Don't worry, Phoenix, she'll stick around long enough to explain she was only kidding about the money laundering, too, but for now it's all deadpan.

She pulls out some cash from her pocket, all fives and ones, like a kid spending her allowance. "That's lovely. I'll take it," she says with another bright smile just for Phoenix.

Phoenix hikes a brow at Max, but says nothing, shaking his head with a chuckle. He takes her money and taps it up at the register, handing her some change and a receipt, and shortly thereafter, he's set the teakettle in a little box. "What sort of something are you looking for, Officer?" he asks, as he sets about carefully tying the ribbon.

Henry's second eyebrow joins the first, and he gives Phoenix a She'd Better Be Joking look, though he smirks a little before going back to fiddling with the product. He's trying to figure out how a tea strainer works when Phoenix addresses him again. "Hmmm? Oh, uh… I heard from a friend at the office that tea is supposed to be good for stress? Do you have something like…" He makes vague gestures with his hands. "Like that?" Such a way with words, this one.

Change and receipt are slid into her back pocket. "And I don't even have to wrap it. You're the best," she says with a bright smile. "Call it a long shot, but I think something called Tranquilitea just might cover that," she adds to Henry, turning to look up at him a little more directly, to see if he'll meet the challenge of her direct gaze. "Ya think?"

"Tea is excellent for stress. We have lots of blends, though as the young lady points out, Tranquilitea is a good stress reliever. And you're quite welcome." This last is directed toward the Faerie in their midst. Phoenix finishes tying the bow and pats it, scooting it toward Max on the counter. He seems unfazed by the Officer's suspicious look. "We have other blends if you prefer. A good chamomile is soothing as well. I'm happy to brew you a sample of anything you'd like."

Henry glances at Max and her snarky remark with an annoyed frown. It's a brief moment, but it's enough for her to see into him. There's faith in him, and lots of it. Faith in the law, faith in the good of humanity, faith in destiny and goodwill and that justice and fairness will always prevail. But that shining virtue is starting to rust over with gut-gnawing doubt and worry. Also, there's something deeper, something real and intense gnawing at him…

But he's looking away before she can see that, and he's giving Phoenix a more relaxed smile. "Sure, if you have the time for more samples, that would be great. Though uh…" He scratches at the side of his nose. Something on his mind, but he's hesitant to voice it, apparently.

Max's eyes drop, and she might even look contrite. Her cheeks color and she looks back to the shop owner.
"Thanks," she murmurs to Phoenix, lifting the box and giving a nod in his direction. "I'll spread the word to any tea types that you're the man to see." She begins to move toward the exit, but taking a long detour along the side of the occult knick knacks.

"I appreciate that!" he smiles to Max. "We're open pretty much most days." Among all the occulty doodads are some little soapstone carved …. somethings. Maybe animals? It's hard to tell. They're lumpy. But the sign says 'hand-made idols $2 each' so … maybe he made them?

"Absolutely," Phoenix says to Henry as he puts on a kettle of hot water, this time, and starts pulling out teacups. "Miss, you're welcome to some samples too, if you'd like. Ah, yes, sir?" He looks at Henry expectantly.

Henry glances back as Max steps away, and leans in to whisper to Phoenix conspiratorially, "Do you have anything that's good for vampires? Maybe has some iron in it? I don't know what would be good on a newvie's stomach."

Max lingers, perhaps out of curiosity for the answer to the question Henry poses, or she's very curious about those soapstone chunks. She lifts one, turns it over in her hand, peering at it upside down to see if that helps make more sense of the thing. Maybe it's a turtle? She doesn't give any sign of listening in as she browses.

Turtle? No, wait, horse. … Crane? Kind of depends on which way you turn it but somehow it doesn't seem like it was carved that way on purpose.

"Newvies?" inquires Phoenix curiously. "The only thing that's technically good for newvies is blood, I'm sorry to say, if you mean nutrition-wise. But we do have a few that might…aid digestion or offer stress relief, and we have a small line of teas that are designed to be steeped in a blood mixture. Would that interest you?"

Henry brightens up at the mention of the "blood tea". "Actually yeah, that sounds perfect! Do you, uh, know what it tastes like?" He leans forward on the his elbows on the counter, his anxiety dissipating around this warm, friendly shopkeep.

The soapstone figure is set down and another picked up and turned in a likewise fashion. If Phoenix can see her face, he'll see a puzzled expression that is interrupted briefly by a crinkled nose, apparently in response to the discussion of blood tea and the desire to know what it might taste like. She sets down the second figure and heads for the door, a slight shake of her head on the way out.

"I haven't tasted it myself the way it's supposed to be prepared," Phoenix chuckles, "but I have it on good authority that it's… What was it he said — refreshing, strange, and not altogether unpleasant. I can fix some as /normal/ tea, if you'd like to try some." He leans down and starts to pull out little packages with handwritten names:

Berry Bashful Blood Tea; Hemogorgeous Blood Tea; Oregano Original Blood Tea; Resting Rouge Blood Tea; and Blood and Chocolate Blood Tea.

As Max leaves, he waves. "Have a pleasant day, miss!"

Henry takes the packages from Phoenix one by one, chuckling at some of the names… and even laughs out loud at "Hemogorgeous". He glances idly back towards the front door as Max leaves, though it's back to Phoenix with a smile. "I'll take one of each. I, uh…" He rubs one of the packages between his fingers. "These don't come in bags? Can I use a coffee maker with them?"

"I…don't think you'd want to steep blood tea in a coffee maker," laughs Phoenix. "You'd do better with a straining teapot. Here, I'll show you." He steps out from behind the counter, passing Henry to pluck a pot from the wall. It's a simple rust color, made of a matte glazed clay. He sets it beside the packages and opens it up. "What you'll do is pour the blood in here and set it on the stove to warm, and put in a couple teaspoons of whatever blend you want. Let it steep for a good fifteen minutes, and then you can pour it into a glass. But see the trap there?" He points to some mesh in front of the spout on the inside. "That will keep the loose leaf from going into the cup; just the infused blood."

Henry steps back to let Phoenix pass, self-conscious of how close he's coming to knocking things over in the quaint shop as he moves around. He tilts his head as Phoenix gives that explanation, brows furrowed in thought. When Phoenix points out the mesh, though, Henry's face just lights up. "Wow! Wow, yeah, that's genius! How much for the pot and this tea, then?"

"One of each and a kettle would run you about seventy dollars," Phoenix says as he rounds the corner again. "Ten a piece for the tea, fifteen for the pot, and a little over five for tax. Would you like me to wrap it for you?"

Henry blanches when Phoenix quotes the price, letting out a low whistle. He only takes a moment of hesitation, before reaching for his wallet. "Yeah, wrapping it would be great, thank you. And a business card, maybe?"

"Absolutely!" Phoenix rifles around and comes up with a little green card that simply has the name of the shop, the address, and the phone number, as well as his name: Phoenix Williams. "Here you are, my good man," he says, offering the card. "Let me ring you up, here…"

The total, as it turns out, is $73.85 and Phoenix lets him work on getting his stuff from his wallet while the shopkeep starts boxing the teakettle nicely and putting all the teas in a separate box.

"You take debit?" Henry asks. And thus goes the Commerce Waltz as Henry pays for his goods, and receives them in a nicely wrapped box with a smile. "Thank you so much! She'll love this! She just got evicted, so hopefully this will cheer her up, you know?"

"Evicted? That's terrible. Well, I hope she does like it." Phoenix smiles and pats the package, offering it over. "Good luck. And please feel free to come back any time. We're even open in the evenings."

Henry heads towards the door, raising his gift up with a big smile towards Phoenix. "That's fantastic! If she likes it, I'll definitely be back! Good luck with the business!"

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