Make Me A Sandwich

PFSC - Cerebral Deli

A rather unique book shop, the Cerebral Deli prides itself on being able to feed both mind and body. Several deli-style tables have been set up near the entrance, the linoleum flooring shining beneath them. An old deli counter acts as the checkout, behind which is a large chalkboard sign denoting all the new and upcoming book releases, as well as pricing for coffee, tea, the odd sandwich and other small items.
Upon climbing three stairs, one enters a carpeted area filled with shelves and stacks of books. These books are fitting to every genre that one could possibly hope to find, including a smaller section for rare or now-out-of-print books. A couch and two chairs can be found at the back of the shop, near the window. A comfortable place to ensure the potential purchase is the right book, or catch up on a spot of homework.

Cold weather is never a wonderful sign in Dallas, and while the winter temperatures do drop it is rarely so extreme as to be snowing. Except that a small dusting of snow litters the ground outside, melting with every foot step. Creating a rather huge mess of wet, sand-slicked footprints out in the mall proper. Toby is in the back of the shop helping a customer, which leaves Summer tending the deli counter checkout area, and mopping the linoleum flooring as each customer moves through the cute little deli area and into the bookshop proper.
The shop itself is only mildly busy. Enough that some chatter and laughter can be heard within the aisles, but not so much that the noise of the shoppers drowns out the soft jazzy music playing over the loudspeaker at the moment.

It's just by chance that Mischa is here today. He has taken yet another day off, having had vacation time for the past umpteen years to burn up anyhow. The need for a few new wardrobe pieces has led him into the mall, and by sheer coincidence, past the deli/book store. His stomach rumbles as he pauses and looks to the shop. To eat or not to eat? That is the question. But Mischa has never been in here, and being in a curious mood, he stops in. Summer is the first person he lays eyes on and he smiles in her direction as he looks around, surveying the shop.

Strings from the mop swish across the floor. Even strokes, as she backs her way toward the cash, and nearly steps on the man. "Oh, Hell. I'm sorry." Summer quickly steps forward, dragging the mop with her so as not to soak the poor man's shoes. "Like what you see?" So that he doesn't think it's a come on, she nods toward the shop. "Though I have to warn you, the actual food is new. This used to be a reading area, but Toby got cute with the name and since a lot of people were getting confused he figured he'd better add it in." Mop finds bucket, as she spins around to face him again, this time not even close to stepping upon the man's foot. "He's in the back. Toby, I mean."

"No, no. It's fine." Mischa says, as he tries to step out of Summer's way a little bit. He's not the most graceful of men, and so he needs to take a few careful steps to ensure that he doesn't fall on his bum right in front of a pretty lady. When she asks if he likes what he sees, he clears his throat. His eyes are drawn to her more womanly aspects very briefly before he looks over towards the menu. "I've never actually been in here before. It looks very modern, I like the idea." He lets out a quiet laugh as she explains about the food, his cheeks still faintly red. "Have you tried the food?" Mischa asks. It's safe to assume he's probably not horribly concerned with Toby in the back.

"Been eating it all my life," Summer replies as she drags the mop and wheeled pail to a far corner before slipping behind the counter. Looking down at the already prepared food, she waits a moment before glancing back at the man. "Anything appealing? If not, I can whip up something real quick. It won't be gourmet, but then I doubt you're at the mall for something that stellar." Wink. His compliment to the shop doesn't go unnoticed either. "Toby's a bit more literal than most is all. Feed your mind, feed your body. One great place to do both! He figured coffee was a bit passe as everyone does that these days."

Mischa moves towards the counter, very nearly tripping over his own two feet in the process. He looks down at the ground accusingly before he manages to make it to the counter unscathed — save for his pride, probably. "I really should probably eat something before I spend all of my money in here. Naturally I didn't even come in for books, I came in for clothes…" He trails off as he realizes he's rambling, taking his wallet from his back pocket. "Roast beef on rye with cheddar cheese, please. And I like that you've broken away from the coffee thing. As much as I do love a fine cup of coffee, this is more unique."

Summer looks down at the counter once more, frowning. "Coming right up," she offers. Reaching beneath the counter, she pulls out a bag of fresh rye bread from a bakery not too far. The bag is opened, the bread sliced and set upon an actual real plate in lieu of a paper one. "Warm roast beef, or cold?" A nod given to the small fridge, and then to the microwave. "Never know how some people like it."

"Cold is fine, thanks. I'm not particularly picky right now." As if to reinforce this, the librarian's stomach rumbles quite loudly. Mischa clears his throat and lets out an embarrassed little chuckle. "See what I mean?" He asks, before changing the subject. "How long have you had this store open? I'm ashamed to say it never caught my, ah, attention before now."

The fridge is pried open gently with a foot, and she grabs for the platter of actual real roast beef. Setting it atop the counter behind the sneeze guard, she slips on a pair of clear plastic gloves and begins to cut it. The slices come off perfect and neat, the meat cooked to perfection. When she hears the rumble, she adds an extra slice. Then the beef is wrapped, placed back into the fridge. Real cheddar is grabbed and sliced, placed atop the meat and she pauses. "Lettuce or anything else? Mustard perhaps?" Summer laughs at the question. "A few years, though it used to be called Houston's Hut of Books. We just reopened about a month ago under this design. Well, Toby did. I just volunteer here."

Mischa shakes his head a bit. "No condiments for me, thanks. Just cheese and beef. I'm a simple man. I mean, not like… in my brain, you know." There's a lot of mental facepalming going on after that statement, Mischa grimacing at himself for a moment before he smiles. "Ah. Houston's Hut of Books. That does sound familiar, but I think I like the new name better. You don't get paid?" He asks, before looking to Summer's gloved hand. "What's your name? Normally I'd offer to shake, but you know…" He nods towards her hands and then sheepishly grins.

The gloves are noted, but she finishes making the sandwich, slices it in half, and goes to do something else before removing the gloves and tossing them in the little trash bin. "Nope. I generally just stop in after work to help Toby. Make sure he's not being overwhelmed, and catch up on my own reading." The plate is offered toward him, and she taps a finger against her cheek. "Summer," is offered by way of her name. "I'm going to make you a wager. If I'm wrong, the meal's on the house."

"Summer. Pretty name." He murmurs, before he takes the plate and quirks a brow. "Wager, what sort of wager?" Mischa asks, tilting his head at her curiously. It's not every day that someone wagers anything with him, really. One hand is on the plate, the other still holding his crisp brown leather wallet. "This does indeed sound interesting. What's weighing on your mind?" He asks, barely stopping a grin from cropping up on his face.

"Preference towards tea over coffee." Summer squints her eyes at him. "A little cream, maybe two sugars?" He hardly seems the soda type, but it's incredibly difficult to tell. With the wager being made, she moves away from the pot of boiling water and stretches up to the dangling tea cups to drag one down. "I'm a bit surprised you stopped in here for food, when the food court isn't far off, to be honest. It's why I think Toby's a little crazy, but he's adamant it will work."

Mischa can't help but laugh at Summer's guesstimation of his preference. She even got the sugar/cream down. He shakes his head and starts to take a ten dollar bill out of his wallet. "That's amazing. But you have help too, since I do have the slight English-European accent." It's the faintest of lilt on some words, verging between British and Russian most of the time — leaning towards British, mostly. "The food court doesn't hold a lot of appeal for me, really. Too greasy, too processed. I don't do the whole 'fast food' thing." He says, shrugging his shoulders. "Picky, I guess. My parents enjoy telling me what a privilege it should be to ruin my insides with McDonald's."

The bill is snagged, and taken toward the old-style register, the price punched in and his change is returned to him. "I have a strong belief that if you just consider a person in his or her entirety, you can tell what they like on some things. You are definitely a tea man." Winking, Summer twists about to prepare the tea and offers that to him as well. "I don't blame you on the fast food thing. The grease clogs up your innards, and leads to future health problems. Though in moderation? It likely wouldn't kill you, just give you a bit of an upset stomach for a while."

He takes his change back and puts it carefully in his wallet, then replaces the leather holder in his back pocket. "I guess I didn't tell you my name. I'm Mischa… Alexandrov." The last name comes as something of an afterthought, and he takes the tea from Summer only to offer his hand to her an instant later. "As for the grease, I think I'll pass. I generally cook all of my own food, from pure organic products. Just for the Hell of it, I guess."

"Chef?" Once the hand is offered, she takes it, giving it a decently strong shake. "Houston," Summer reveals with a grin. He offered his surname, so why the hell not, right? "I'm used to grabbing a quick bite, but I still avoid the greasy places. I can just as easily stop in at the grocers on the way to work and grab a salad as I can run out during my very brief lunch hour and grab a burger.

Ow, sheez. He wasn't expecting her to shake quite so firmly, but he manages to shake hers in a firm manner that won't hurt her — not that he's worried about it so much anymore. "No, librarian. Cooking is just a hobby, really. I need something to occupy the time when I'm not sorting books…" He trails off there and lets out a quiet chuckle before withdrawing his hand and standing there awkwardly for a moment. "Do you want to sit down with me and continue this conversation? If Toby comes out, you can pretend that you're telling me all about the new releases… not that you're getting paid here or anything," he says in a teasing manner, winking at Summer.

"One moment." Summer heads back to the fridge, removes a bottle of water, and motions to one of the tables. They're all empty so he has his choice, really. Her choice is the one in the corner, out of the direct line of site of the entrance. "Toby? He won't care. We're not that busy, and I think he'll be occupied for a little while with Mr. Kramer. Apparently there's some new historical volume in and they'll be back their debating until I go and remind him that the store's closing." Her gaze settles upon him, eyes roving over his body in a swift once-over. "I would never have guessed librarian either. Do you do it for the pay, or the books," she asks, somewhat nosily.

The 'not a librarian' thing helps since he still hasn't shaved and he's not wearing his glasses, once again. He makes a move to an out of the way table, carefully balancing his tea and plate. "The books, really. The pay is nice, but I like the quiet of the library. The solitude, I guess. And what about you? What do you do when not volunteering here, Miss Houston?" Mischa asks. If she can be nosy, so can he. Turnabout is fair play!

"I work at the Rutherford Veterinary Hospital," she says, not really saying what it is she does there. Summer waits until he's seated, then settles into the chair across from him. Her posture is straight, but she looks a little awkwardly shy all of a sudden. Before opening the bottle of water, she runs her fingers through her hair, licks her lips and says, "Please, just Summer? I had so many years of school being called Miss Houston, it makes me feel as though I owe you a research paper."

"Sure, sorry. It's just something of a habit of mine. The man who taught me English was a British man, a stickler for manners… I guess you can say that he rubbed off on me quite a bit. In a figurative sense, of course." Mischa flushes at his own words and then grabs his tea, taking a few drinks. If it's too hot or he should wait for it to cool down at all, he doesn't seem to notice. He sets the cup back on the table and smiles at Summer easily. "A veterinary hospital? That sounds exciting. Fulfilling, even. Are you an animal lover?" He asks, picking his sandwich up and taking a bite as he waits for her response.

The bottle of water is fiddled with, and she nods good naturedly. "I don't find it offensive, but I'd like to think that I don't need to be called Miss just to enjoy a nice conversation." Summer's strange little nervous look seems to evaporate when he asks about the animals. Easily, she slips into the conversation as though she did not just suffer a moment of anxiety. "Avid. Both wild and domestic. I had considered a pet for the apartment, but you know how it is. So many of them at work, and I wouldn't feel right adopting just one. I'd soon wind up on a ranch on the city outskirts if I wasn't careful."

After finishing up his bite of sandwich, Mischa nods to Summer a little bit. He takes another drink of his tea before he smiles at her. "I've always loved animals too, but I'm a little allergic, so I've never had the opportunity to keep them around. It kind of makes going to shelters and pet stores a bit of a hassle." He pauses before taking another bite of his sandwich, smiling at her. "What's your favorite animal?" Mischa asks, just before taking a larger bite. It must not be too horrid.

"I love house cats. They're the perfect size, they are highly intelligent, they do what they want when they want, and they always know when you need a little cuddling." Summer twists the plastic cap off the bottle of water, setting it upon the table. "They're generally docile, but they know how to be fierce when the need arises." The bottle is tipped to her lush, red lips, and she takes a small sip. "So far as wild animals are concerned, I'm a bit partial to coyotes, despite their bad reputation."

Mischa seems vaguely surprised at this answer, but in a rather pleasant manner. "Me too. I've always preferred them much more than dogs…but don't get me wrong, I like dogs too!" He says quickly, before stuffing his face with sandwich again and pointing down towards the half-eaten meal. He waits to swallow before saying, "Very good. I think Toby may be right about this catching on." He pauses after that and glances to Summer, raising his brows. "Coyotes, hmm? I don't know much about them. Much positive, anyway, which is a little disheartening. I don't understand why everyone has something against coyotes and wolves. In fact, I bet if they were treated nicer, they'd be more tame — after all, it must be hard to be chased away all the time." Pause. "I mean, I'd imagine so." Commence the sammich nomming.

"You know what? that is an absolutely fabulous idea. I'll call around to local animal sanctuaries and not-for profit groups in the morning, and see what interest I can garner to set something up. Maybe have a group come out to the shop once a month, and bring some of their tamer wild-life for the children's story hour dad intends to implement." Without realizing it, Summer's just let the proverbial cat out of the bag. The relationship between herself and the mysteriously hidden man Toby. "If you think you won't have a whole lot of time to spend on the tank, I'd suggest a saltwater. It takes a bit longer to set up, to get the PH balance just right before you put your fish in, but if you do it properly it becomes its own ecosystem and you won't have to clean it very often."

Mischa notices that Summer has let slip her relationship to the faceless-so-far Toby, though he chooses not to comment on it. Instead he blushes a bit, reaching up to rub at the back of his neck. "Do you have a pen somewhere in here?" He asks, rather randomly before he nods to Summer. "You give great advice. I'll take that into consideration, about the PH levels and everything. Keeping pets has never been my strong suit." Mostly because he's never had any at all. Mischa quirks his brows at her idea and nods, biting his lower lip in contemplation. "I'm not sure if the malls' zoning laws would allow the animals in here, but some of the non-mammals they might."

Setting the bottle of water atop the table, Summer gets up without saying anything. Once she's behind the counter, she digs around and pulls out a small order pad and a pen, bringing both to the far table they've seated themselves at. "On the chance you can't find anything at the library to help you set up a tank, just call the shop. I'll set aside some books in case you decide to go through with it. To help you choose the right tank and fish for what you want." Being a veterinarian, she doesn't work on a lot of fish. That doesn't mean that she's unaware of how to care for them though. "You might be right on that. If that's the case, maybe we can set something up at the library."

Mischa takes the pad and pen, writing down his phone number and name. He tears the paper off and offers it to Summer. "Just in case you wanted to chat about err, wildlife some more." His cheeks redden very suddenly and he stands up, pushing his chair in. "Unfortunately I should get going. I almost forgot what I'd come in here for in the first place!" He pauses, considering her idea about the library. "Perhaps I could talk to my boss about it. Maybe something small like rabbits wouldn't be a big issue, kittens… you know." Mischa stands there for a moment, smiling at Summer. "It was nice to meet you, Summer."

Score! At least, it would be a score were she attempting to pick him up. Summer looks at the number, catches the blush and chews on her cheek. Her hand snaps down to the pad, takes the pen and loopily write her name and home phone number. The paper is also torn off the pad and handed to him. "Don't let me keep you from your shopping. There's my number if you're seriously considering getting that tank." Afterward, she smiles brightly at him. "Or if you just want to call to chat." Her throat clears, and she starts to clean up the table. "Thanks for brightening the lull, Mischa, it was a pleasure."

The tall librarian grins lopsidedly when Summer offers her number in return. He looks at it in minor disbelief before he carefully folds it and slips it into his front pocket. "The pleasure was mine, really. And I'll… I'll call soon," he says, flushing again before he starts to move away. "Don't have too much fun in here now," the librarian says as he starts off towards the entrance.

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