(1939-08-16) Death and Daises
Details for Death and Daises
Summary: After running into one another in Green Park, Xander escorts Katie back to her family's chippy shop.
Date: 16 August, 1939
Location: London
Related: Duckkrieg

It's a lovely afternoon for a walk through a park, and that thought is obviously shared as many Londoners are out and about. After parting ways with Graham, Katie strolls along beside her escort home. Her eyes flicker around, taking in the sights of children running across the green park lawns, picnickers lounging on spread blankets, and frequently darting aside for looks at Xander. There's a smile playing around her lips, and she makes no attempt, just yet, to be the one to break the silence now that they're on their own.

Xander is repeatedly drawn in by that smile, which elicits his own goofy lop-sided grin. Several times he has parted his lips to speak, but nothing has yet to come out. Finally, he settles on the right words…or what he hopes are the right words. "Do you like fish?" That should make her swoon.

The question brings Katie's grin out in full force, and she finally does turn her head to look at Xander directly as they walk. "I do. Likely I'd be quite a bit more fond of it if not for the chippy and havin' t'be around it most every day." There's a pause for just a step or two before she tosses back, "I imagine that yeh like it, as yeh came into th' shop an' all. Was the raspberry jam sponge alright then? I was torn between it an' the chocolate, couldn't decide jus' by lookin' at yeh which yeh'd favor more."

"Oh, the raspberry was fantastic. Thank you so much for that." Xander chuckles, "But I didn't really mean fish to eat. Sorry, I wasn't even thinking about the chippy. I meant live fish. Well…I suppose it has to do with dead fish, too. This is actually what led me your way in the first place. See, I was researching animals that are poisonous to eat." He pauses, wincing apologetically. "That sounded awful. I just mean that I was looking into poisonous fish, and a colleague was reminded of your family's shop, and asked me if I'd eaten there. I'm…rambling, aren't I?"

"I don't think so, no," Katie answers, tucking her hands behind her back to clasp them together. "I do like live fish as well, only I don't get t'see them very often. Some have such beautiful colours, like little rainbows swimmin' about under the seas. By the time we get them, they're mostly… not so pretty." Good humor gives way to an unguarded interest. "Why were yeh researchin' that? Wantin' t'know what t' avoid, or wantin' t'get rid of someone? Yeh don't look particularly wicked, but then, there's sort of a puckishness about yeh."

"Wh-…oh, no no. Goodness, no." Xander rubs his neck nervously. "It's for my work. I'm a thanatologist. Sometimes I need to be able to identify how a person died. Did you know that the puffer fish is highly lethal? Less than a four-thousands of an ounce of the poison in their bodies can kill an adult in twenty minutes." There is a bit of excitement in his voice as he gets into the details of death by puffer fish. "Yet the Japanese eat it as a delicacy. They call it…foo goo, or something."

Katie hears the words spilling from Xander's lips, but she's been left back at a particular one. "Than… a what then?" she asks, puzzled by the term. "Is that some sort of doctor?" He looks awfully young to be any sort of doctor, but maybe he's just that bright that he's far advanced. Or maybe he just looks young. She catches back up enough that her next question is, "Why would someone want t'eat somethin' that might kill them?" She sidesteps to avoid a little girl running past with a little dog on a leash, closer to Xander for a moment before she steps back to her place.

Xander reflexively puts out a hand to steady Katie, briefly touching her shoulder. "Oh…ah…thanatologist. It's the study of the processes of death. Hence studying lethal poisons." He continues on, seemingly oblivious to the strangeness of his profession. "As for eating puffer fish, they have highly skilled chefs that know just how to cut the fish to avoid releasing the toxins into the meal. I imagine there is a certain pride in daring to eat something that could be deadly if improperly prepared. I don't know. I don't think I would risk it, personally."

The expansion on his chosen profession does get a slightly lifted brow from Katie, but more because she's never heard of it before than in thinking it terribly odd. After all, death is a natural thing that everyone must face, and it isn't unreasonable to want to know more about it. She's not been untouched by the spectre, but she also doesn't dwell on it overly much. It just… is. There's a satisfied nod at his last statement. "That's good t'hear. I don't think I would, either."

Nearly out of the park, approaching the streets that'll eventually lead back to the chip shop, there's a kind looking old woman with a flower cart, calling out to entice people over to buy a daisy or two. She spies the pair, walking almost a perfectly measured distance apart, their posture clearly marking them as not being romantically entwined yet not striking it out as an absolute impossible eventuality. She knows her market, and calls out, "Such a pretty thing ought to have a flower tucked into her hair. Haypenny for one, or three for a penny."

The words bring a blush to Katie's cheeks, both for the compliment and the assumption that Xander would spend good money on something for a girl he's really only just met. She's prepared to just stay the course, pretending she didn't hear the comment.

Xander's naturally curious nature means it's easy enough to get his attention. He slows as they approach the cart, stopping with a smile for the old woman. "Three it is, then," he says, fishing a penny from his pocket, double checking the coin to be sure he's got the right one. He turns back to Katie, daisies in hand, wearing that crooked grin. He offers two to her, but lifts one, poised to place it in her hair. "May I?"

Katie doesn't have much choice but to slow and stop when Xander does, as the alternative is to just walk off and leave him there. Being as she's more or less the reason he's there in the first place, that would be inexcusable. The old woman looks triumphant as she picks three nearly perfect flowers, and Katie eyes her with an embarrassed grin. "Ta, Mum, very kind of yeh t'say," she finally acknowledges. She turns to Xander, accepting the two flowers he offers, head tilted back as she looks up to him. Permission is granted with another light flush of color into her cheeks and a quick bob of her head, but she doesn't look displeased by the situation.

Xander carefully places the stem of the flower into Katie's coppery red locks, just over her ear. His own cheeks take on a pinkish hue as he gazes upon her, but he does look rather proud of himself. "Shall we?" As she move along down the street, he muses aloud, "I should do this more often. I used to get out and see the city more. This has been nice."

The light flush in Xander's own cheeks is somehow reassuring, showing at least that he's not just some smooth operator who chats up birds as a matter of course at every available moment. Falling back into step beside him, she sounds almost surprised as she asks, "Has it?" Hearing her own tone makes her laugh, and she adds, agreeably, "Yeh ought, it's a lovely town." She veers away suddenly, approaching the last bench before they're well clear of the park, and she pauses beside it, holding her hand out toward him. "Give us a hand," she says simply, ready to step up onto the bench with his assistance.

"It really is, my brother and I used to-…hm?" Xander stares mutely at her hand for a half second. "Oh, sure…um…what are yooou…?" He takes her hand, swallowing his nerves (durrr…pretty girl), steadying her so she can step up. He smirks curiously at her. What is she up to?

Katie pops up onto the bench and turns to face Xander. It's put her only slightly taller than him now. Of the two flowers she holds, one gets the stem clamped between her teeth as her attention goes to the other. She pinches the stem between her fingernails, trimming it down to a mere couple inches before her eyes and hands lift to Xander. To his lapel, to be precise, and she deftly tucks the stem through the buttonhole, giving a light tug to seat the flower just so, and smoothing the fabric down. There's a bright smile as her eyes come up to catch his, and she nods as she removes the flower from her teeth. "That's what was missing. Yeh look dashing." Her hand goes out for his again, and she steps down off the bench, looking pleased with herself. "Ta, Xander, the flowers are lovely."

Xander chuckles softly as she steps up onto the bench. There's something just a bit quirky about this Muggle girl. It's rather endearing. He stands still for Katie as she accessorizes him, his proud smile threatening to stretch right off the edges of his narrow face at the compliment. "They suit you. You're l-…" he chokes a bit on his words as he helps her down. He takes a steadying breath and forces himself to finish. "You're lovely."

There's the lightest squeeze to Xander's hand before Katie releases him, and she teases lightly, "An' I bet yeh say that t'all the birds yeh meet in chip shops." For a moment she stands, looking up at him, the flower nestled among the waves of her hair, and then she turns, to start them on the way again. "Alexander Tully," she says thoughtfully. "Why a Xander an' not an Alex?"

Xander grins and shakes his head, silently insisting that he's not so insincere with his compliments. He is reluctant to let go of her hand, but still not quite bold enough to try to hold onto it. "Well," he says to her question, "I used to be Alex. But there came a time that I felt that I'd become someone new. I needed to sort of reinvent myself. I didn't want to completely change my name, or anything. But going by Xander helped me to feel like I was shifting my paradigm."

"Shiftin' yer paradigm," Katie muses as they walk. "I like it. It's different than any Alexander I've known. I think it suits yeh. I'm a Katherine, actually, but I've never felt much like one. Always more a Katie." The admission comes with a grin, and she absently flips the daisy she still holds by the stem in the air, like a conductor with a baton. She pauses, wanting to ask more, but not wanting to seem nosy. But, truth be told, she is feeling a bit nosy about Xander, the besuited young man with a crooked grin and eyebrows to match who uses big words from time to time. She decides to go on, but to couch the question with an out for him. "If it's not puttin' my nose where it's not wanted, an' if it is yeh must say an' I'll not take offense…. why the change?"

Xander regards Katie for a few moments, those eyebrows arching in an inquisitive V-shape. He knows he must be careful about what he reveals, but there is much he can say without breaching Secrecy. He pinches his lips, looking skyward for a moment as his demeanour sobers. "I had a twin brother, Eddie. He, ah…he got sick and he died when we were kids." He offers her a soft smile, if only to show that he's still in good spirits, despite the serious turn of conversation. "When he died…I know this will sound silly…but I was holding his hand, and…I felt him pass to the other side."

It doesn't take more than the first words to stop Katie's feet, and she brings her hand up to rest lightly on Xander's arm, stopping his progress as well. Her eyes show something that isn't pity, but more of a pained sadness for such a loss, although her spirits don't dip more than his own. It says something to her, that he'd talk about it with her and not squash the line of conversation. "I'm so sorry t'hear that, Xander," she says gently. "But no, I don't think it sounds silly. Not at all." And in her head it makes perfect sense that someone who suffered such a loss would find himself in a career that tries to understand more about death.

Xander smiles at her with palpable relief. "Thank you. For not gushing with sympathy, I mean. Nobody ever knows how to react, and they usually think I suddenly need to be coddled. Or they think I'm a nutter for thinking I felt Eddie's soul cross over. I may be a nutter, but I don't think I imagined that." He chuckles softly. Feeling emboldened, he offers his arm to her. "Do you believe in an afterlife?"

The smile that comes back to curve Katie's lips is a reflection of Xander's own, and she easily hooks her arm through his so they can go on walking. "Yeh don't look like yeh need t'be coddled, and yeh don't look like a nutter. Very much." She glances aside to him, attempting to tame her grin, to see his reaction. "I believe there's somethin', only I don't know what it might exactly be. I like t'think that it's nice. Nice enough that it's not really somethin' t'be afraid of, an' we won't be alone there. It's not just layin' in th'dirt an' nothin' else for the rest of forever."

Xander laughs with mock incredulity. "Oh ho! So I look a little like a nutter?" He shrugs, granting her that. "Well, if this nutter's experiences mean anything, I'm telling you it exists. I don't know what it's like on the other side, but I'm positive that it's there. Sometimes I feel like Eddie's watching me from there. Maybe nudging me now and then." He nibbles at his lip a moment before adding, "Maybe he nudged me into the chippy shop yesterday. I did get hungry rather suddenly."

"Wee bit," Katie says agreeably, holding up her other hand, gripping the daisy stem to free her index finger and thumb so she can hold them up, less than an inch apart, to display the tiny amount of nutter that Xander looks to her. "P'rhaps he did, because he thought yeh needed t'be there." She doesn't drop her hand, but twists it to bring the daisy's bright face just under her nose, as if sniffing it's light scent. Really, it's just to hide a nip at her own lip, much the same as he did, although she didn't see him do it. "I sometimes think my gran's nearby," she says quietly. "I've…. I've never told anyone that before." There's never been anyone she thought wouldn't laugh.

This day couldn't have gone any better for Xander. He's actually being charming with a pretty girl! "Maybe she is," he agrees. "I suspect those that have passed can look back through the veil at us, and maybe even help guide in in subtle ways. It's a comforting thought, anyhow." He lets his gaze linger on Katie's face for a time. "I'd like to think that your Gran and Eddie are having a chuckle at us right now."

It's a good feeling, to have finally admitted something she's never spoken aloud before, and get a reassurance rather than a tease about it. "I like how yeh put it," Katie says. Her smile curves again and she lifts the daisy away from her face to push it up to lightly tickle Xander's cheek before her hand drops again. She looks around, then blinks, slightly surprised. "I can't b'lieve we've come this far already. Seems like we've only been walkin' a minute or two."

Xander flinches a bit at the tickle to his cheek, grinning playfully at her. He gives a look around as well. "Did we go too far? I…haven't been paying attention." He's only a little embarrassed at the admission, hoping she'll realise just why he's been distracted.

Katie laughs, having been paying no more attention than Xander until that moment of realization. "Not too far, there's still a bit of a way t'go." She checks to make sure that the flower is still settled in her hair, using the hand that remains free, not in a hurry to release the companionable hold she has on the young wizard's arm. "Tell me what yeh like t'do when yer not ponderin' the mysteries of the beyond, Xander Tully. No wait," she says suddenly. "Let me guess." She makes a show of peering at him as they amble along, tilting her head first to one side, then the other. "It's obvious, o'course. Juggling."

Xander laughs, nodding as seriously as he can manage. "You've got me pegged. I'm a juggler. Just…don't stand near me when I try it. I wouldn't want anyone to get hurt." He shakes his head, a few more chuckles escaping. "I do a lot of reading. Some writing, as well. But that's mostly to do with my research. But I like exploring — like old houses, or some patch of woods I've never been to. Oh…and movies. I love the cinema. Eddie and I used to go all the time."

With a self-assured nod of her head, Katie says, "I could tell by yer hands. They look made for it." The young woman perks at Xander's true revelations. "Cor, I've not been t'the cinema for ages. Seems t'never be time, an' then when there is my mates want t'go t'clubs and chat up th'lads." It doesn't sound like one of her own favourite passtimes, but rather something she does because it beats being left behind.

Xander sees the opening and steers right toward it. "Ages, hm? Well, then…you should go to the cinema with me." His expressive eyebrows tilt up inquisitively. "And then…we could get dinner and talk about the film." He gives her a hopeful smile, and time seems to slow to a painful crawl while he waits for her answer.

Katie doesn't need to stretch the moment out any more than it does anyway, so she nods almost immediately. "Yes, I think I should. And then we could." She giggles, giving his arm a soft squeeze. "But not at a chip shop. Anywhere but a chippy." Actually, she'd likely even consent to feast of fish and chips, if that was what Xander had his heart set on.

Xander lights up with eagerness, and just a bit of surprise. "Really? I mean…great! This will be fantastic, and no, no fish and chips." He chuckles, his smile just barely fading when he realises that they're just a few steps from her family's shop. "I've got a family thing tomorrow. But I'll come by Monday at lunch, and we'll set a date?" A date. He said date. He swallows his heart back down into his chest.

As they reach the side of the building, Katie's steps slow, then finally stop. She lets her arm slide away from Xander's as she takes a step back, turning to look up at him. "That sounds brilliant." She looks up at the second floor windows, then back to Xander. "It was very kind of yeh t'walk me safely home. An' buy me pretty posies," is noted with another wiggle of the now slightly wilted daisy she clutches. "I'll see yeh Monday an' we can make plans."

Xander feels about a thousand feel tall…which is easy considering how he towers over Katie. He steps back, and gives her a gallant bow. "Until Monday, m'lady." He checks to be sure his daisy is snugly in place on his lapel, the spins on his heel to stroll back down the sidewalk in the direction they came. It's about twenty feet away that he glances back over his shoulder, a beaming, lopsided smile on his face.

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