Partners in Crime

PFSC - Cerebral Deli

Stress and tensions from the previous week have begun to calm down, though now with the full moon edging up on things the energy at the Cerebral Deli is almost frantic? At least that is the way it feels to Summer. Rather than being behind the counter like normal, she's seated at a table with a sprawling mountain of bookwork.
"Toby," she hollers to the back room, "We're getting you computerized next month, and I'm hiring an accountant."
There is a retaliatory grunt from the back room and the man slips back out into the shop with a shake of his head.
Grinning, the Veterinarian takes a long enough break to wrap her hair up into a bun and secure it with a pencil.

The front door to the deli opens with a suck of air. Pages rustle on a nearby news stand. Corey enters with a light step, his own energy high, today. He's made more of a habit, in recent weeks, of stopping in with a bit more regularity. Enough that, when he and Brett turned up on Toby's doorstep the night of the Great Gathering out with the wolfpack, he wasn't such an unknown quantity to the man. Of course, if nothing else, that night cemented the true natures of all of them to each other — as if there'd been much doubt before.
Thus, as he enters now, he tosses a friendly wave at the man behind the counter before wandering up to place his usual order. (Of course, it being a 'usual' order, now, chances are pretty good that Toby's already reaching for the bread.) It's not long, thus, before, meal paid for, he's wandering towards the tables with a small plate in hand.
"Afternoon, Miss Summer," he greets the lady shifter amiably, approaching a table near hers. "Fancy meeting you here again." His eyes sparkle good naturedly and his expression is congenial. More than that, there's a hint of humour in his words. This does seem to be the place for him to run into her, after all.

"Afternoon, Mister Coleman." Summer tidies up some of the paperwork that's splayed all across the table, tucking the books she's done with into a file folder, and pushing everything else toward her to make room for him.
"Careful. I should warn you, Toby might take a shine to you if he's already started prepping the food before you place the order." Glancing over her shoulder she smiles at her father, then turns back to face Corey. "I can't imagine what's bringing you in here on a Friday though. Unless you came for the leash?" Twinkling eyes likely give away that she's up to some sort of mischief.

"Call me Corey, please," the builder responds automatically to the use of his last name. Boy, that sounds way too much like his father… or his brother in front of a bunch of students. Still, he flashes a grin at the idea Toby might take a shine to him. He'd be okay with that… for all that it's his brother that's dating the man's daughter. Never hurts to keep the family on good terms, really.
Nevertheless, before he can properly respond, he's brought up quite short by Summer's final words.
"Leash?" He blinks.
He sets his plate down with deliberate care and snags a chair with his foot. A lopsided smile touches his lips. He catches the mischief in her eyes. "Do I dare ask?"

"Corey it is then," she offers with a friendly smile, nodding toward the pink leash that's hanging behind the counter.
"It belongs to your brother. He left it here the other night when he came to pick something up for me." There isn't a great deal of elaboration, simply the basics of the story. "I really don't know if you want to ask too fully, though I'm sure you saw a small news report on it not long ago…"
Things just keep getting more mysterious? Cryptic? Possibly a bit of both.

Corey looks a little befuddled for a moment as he wracks his brains for some clue of what she's talking about. "News report…" he echoes slowly. His head shakes slowly as well, kind of twisting and rolling some as he thinks. "I… think I heard something about a break-in somewhere in the mall, but…"
His eyes flit towards the leash. His ears rise slightly, much like an animal hearing a soft sound. In his mind, facts begin to align: break-in, a pink leash, and his brother in the mall.
The expression on his face then turns a little comical as a perplexed smile crosses his features. "Oh, I may not want to ask, but I think I sure wanna know," he concludes. Anything, really, that involves his brother and a pink leash sounds like a setup for comedy to him.
As long as it doesn't involve things not so suited to polite company, of course. There are certain things about Brett that Corey never wants to know.

Everything is on the up-and-up, at least as far as Summer is aware. Were it not, she's sure the security footage would have shown that, and she wouldn't be sitting here at the deli.
"Mmhmm, it was some crazy roller skating girl, chasing a coyote through the mall. She broke into the pet shop for a collar and leash, and I think, from the looks of the leash, that it matches the collar?"
Only after relaying that part of the story does she feel a tinge guilty for doing so.
"Brett never told you about this? I really thought he would have told you by now…"
Glancing down at the paperwork, she jots something down, then sets it into the file folder.

All of that takes another moment to process through Corey's brain. The coyote is obviously Brett. Crazy girl on roller skates… He could make a guess about that, but shies away from it directly. Still, if the girl was strong enough to break through the reinforced glass or pop the locks most of these stores possess, the chances are she wasn't natural. Add to it the pink leash and a matching collar and and Corey only knows one crazy vampire that might fit the bill — though, for all he knows, there may, indeed, be others.
"Matching collar?" Corey's puzzled smile begins to expand into a very broad grin as it all starts to add up. "Seriously? Brett?"
He starts to laugh. It's a belly laugh, a deep-seated, full-body, solidly-resonate, and entirely-amused sound. The laugh, in fact, is probably the clearest indication as to why Brett might have withheld such a story from his brother. As, no doubt, is the mirth and mischief in the younger Coleman's eyes.
"Oh, heck, yes!" He grins broadly. "I'd love to take him the leash!"
A beat.
"I won't even tell him how I got it." Not that Brett wouldn't guess.

"Oh yes, a matching collar. In fact, he was still wearing it when he bolted out the back door with his jeans in his mouth." Summer pushes the chair back, putting the last of the paperwork into the file folder. "I can go get the security tape if you'd like. Toby made copies. He finds it absolutely hilarious."
"Maybe don't tell your brother that part, alright?"
Heading into the back room with the file folder, she returns a few moments later. A small tape, the pink leash, and a bottle of water in her hands. "Here you go. I do sort of feel bad for that poor girl though. It looked like she was going to cry. Pity that there's no audio on the tape."

As Summer hands over the tape and the leash, Corey draws a finger across his lips as if to zip them. "My lips are sealed," he promises, eyes still dancing, grin still broad and thoroughly amused. "I'll have to watch it before I take the leash over."
Yeah. He definitely likes Toby. He's not unaware that the tables could easily be turned and it could just as easily be himself in the compromising situation, instead of his brother, but that doesn't bother him for this moment.
"Perhaps I'll grab a screencap and use the leash to frame it for him," he speculates. "Be a great birthday gift." A gag birthday gift, of course, but still. It amuses him.
The Coleman boys really are horrible to each other sometimes, for all that they'd have each other's back as quickly and as fiercely as any wolf might their pack mates. But, it's all in good fun.
After all, Brett ribbed Corey for days about the carton of retro-sunglasses that turned up on his doorstep in the dark hours just before dawn a handful of weeks ago. And then there was the whole porpoise thing. Seems only fair to return the favour.

There is no doubt in the woman's mind that Brett will know where this all came from as soon as he sees it, though she's no idea what his reaction to it all will be. "You really should. Toby wanted to take it to some guy and get a laugh track put on the tape, and it took me ages to talk him out of it."
Shaking her head, Summer nips onto her lower lip to keep from laughing aloud at the situation. She knows she would never shift at the mall, not even to scout around after hours, so at least she's safe in that regard.
"Oh! Now, that's just awful. I wouldn't go that far with it." Though she has considered getting him a pair of roller skates.

In another decade, it would've been ripe material for America's Funniest Home Videos… if there'd ever been a shifter version of the show.
As it is, Corey chuckles dryly, laughter still not gone from his blue eyes. "No?" he says, teasing some at the protest. But, still his mother raised him right, and he'd not really want to upset Summer. Not when she's been so kind about telling him about all this. Gotta keep this avenue open for future gaffs, after all. "Well, if you insist. But, I am gonna give him the leash. That just has to be done."

The leash is acceptable teasing, and Summer simply nods at that. "I though that's why you'd come," she mentions again. "After all, Brett's told me about some of the tricks the two of you like to play on each other. Even though I know he's probably going to kill me for telling you."
Gently opening the bottle of water, she takes a sip and then seems to become a little less tense.
"I guess if you wanted to wait a while so things aren't so fresh, giving him a still from the tape wouldn't be so bad."

Corey flashes a grin at that. "Oh, well, his birthday's not until October. October 7th," he tells the woman, more than willing to let that little piece of information drop. Who knows? She might appreciate it. It might come in handy, sometime, if they continue as warmly as they have thus far. "So, maybe the screencap will still work." He winks at that, not really pushing the idea that seriously. No, he'd rather give Brett the picture of the Drunken Armadillo, instead, for that.
"But, I can tell him I got the leash off your father, if you want," he offers. "You can claim immunity." Brett might not believe it, but she can claim it.

"No need to lie to him, just vague it up a little," Summer says, following up with a small laugh. "October seventh, hmm?" Reaching into her bag at her feet, she pulls out a day planner and flips to October. She glances at the date, then back to Corey, then at the date again.
For a moment it looks as though she's not sure whether to laugh or cry. But she jots down Brett's birthday, then flips the book around so that his brother can see who's birthday is the day after that.
Hint: It's Mischa's.
"Easy enough to remember," she says, remarking on the extremely odd coincidence, and then she closes the day planner and plops it back into her bag. "And far enough off that I can actually think of a gift." Were it only a week or two away, that would have been problematic.

Corey flashes a grin and nods at the suggestion he 'vague it up a little'. He can do that.
His eyes dart down to the planner. He reads the dates and blinks. Brows rising. "Hoo," he says, giving a wry grin. "Yeah, I guess it is." Easy enough to remember, that is. He chuffs out a bit of air. "Talk about coincidences." Given his choice, he'd prefer she laugh, than cry. So, he flashes another charming grin.
"But, hey, if you get stuck for a gift, I got lots of suggestions. Some of 'em are even nice." He winks, chuckling softly, putting on his best 'I'm-so-helpful' expression.

His reaction is what cinches her mood into the laughter column. It's a small one, but at least it's a laugh and not a moody meltdown, which is a good step on the road to being far away from the rebound stage.
"Strange coincidences at that," Summer replies with a sigh.
His offer gets another chuckle from her, and she smiles. "I'll keep that in mind, though I've got a feeling your idea of nice and mine are very different." Wink.

"Cooooould be," Corey sing-songs speculatively. Still, he's at his ease, now, especially as she opts for a laugh instead of melancholy. Though he does allow himself to slip into a more serious vein for just a moment. "Seriously, though. You wanna get him wound up?" His hand circles briefly to encompass the store. "You got the perfect place, right here. He's an incurable book junkie." Unlike Corey, himself, of course.
Again with the smile. The seriousness breaks and he returns to being the light hearted not-quite-a-rogue he really is. "I can sneak you into his library sometime, if you want. Leave it to you to figure out what he doesn't have, but needs."

It seems to be a theme with Summer apparently. Book junkies with October birthdays.
"I could, you know, always ask to see the library." Winking at Corey, she adds, "I don't really think I'm cut out for sneaking or espionage."
Unless the sneaking and espionage involves figuring out quietly how many prairie dogs are in a certain location and marking them down on a clipboard, that is.
"I'll see what I can do in that area though. Toby knows a rare book dealer as well, so if he's missing something that's out of print I may be able to track it down. Thanks for the idea!"

"He'd like that," Corey nods. No question there. "Some big old leather-bound history tome would thrill him, I'm sure."
Summer may have a thing for October-born book junkies, but Corey'd tell her in a heartbeat she got the better deal with Brett than Mischa, for all that he only met the librarian once. It's fraternal loyalty, doncha know. That, and he knows his brother can play sports when he has to — which is really what matters. Mischa, he's not so sure about.
But, he could be surprised. It's happened.
Speaking of sports, though… Corey's suddenly reminded that he needs to speak with Leigh about that b-ball match. (How's that for a non-sequitur?)
"Hey," he says suddenly. "The guys at the Projects and I are trying to get a charity b-ball match going with cops. Haven't got dates or anything yet, but when we do, do you think it'd be okay if I posted a flyer or two here?"

"I could get that fairly easily," Summer says, already thinking about a specific volume that she was going to nab for Toby for Christmas, if she can finagle two from the dealer that would work well.
Recapping the bottle of water, she loses herself in thought for a moment. Going over different things that she's seen, and different historical volumes and…
"Hmm? Oh, sure. Toby would support that. There's a board over by the door that list local events. You can probably post one at the Rutherford Clinic as well. Especially if it's for charity."

Corey smiles at that. "Cool. Thanks," he says. "That'd be great. The idea's to raise a few extra dollars to help start an at-risk youth program and better relations between the community and the police." That's always been the problem with the Projects, really. High crime areas means a lot of the locals that aren't upstanding citizens tend to dislike seeing a cruiser in the neighborhood. But, with the rejuvenation, that could change… if the right attitudes are planted.
The builder's hopeful, anyway.

"Heck, I'm sure if you asked him some time, Toby'd be happy to cater the event. Provide juice and coffee for the spectators. Maybe a few little bites too." She glances back at the man behind the counter, and grins. "For free of course. He's got a few friends on the force and all."
Pack werewolves are everywhere.
"Just give me a call before hand and I'll make sure everything is set up."

"Aw, now that'd be great," Corey enthuses. He likes the deli. And, really, he likes the idea of giving it greater exposure at an event like this. Sure beats the Pickle Barrel, in any case. "I'll definitely do that."
He glances down at his sandwich, which he's left largely untouched, thus far. Picking it up, he decides to rectify that heartily. "Y'know," he says, after he's swallowed and wiped a bit of mustard from his chin, "I'm pretty sure you guys sell the best sandwiches in the city."

"Shhh!" Summer peeks over her shoulder again, but it's too late.
Behind the counter, Toby with his super-hearing is grinning from ear to ear, ego having been stroked nicely.
"I'm going to have to hear about that all night now," she admonishes, with a shake of her head. "Give me a list of the kinds you want out there, and I'll throw together a platter. Enough for players and spectators." She's sure she can get that done the night before, then head into the clinic for anything she's got scheduled in the morning, and still have enough time to get the food to the location in the afternoon.
"So, let me ask you something…" She reaches into the purse again and pulls out a flyer for the play auditions. "How much coaxing would it take to get your brother into something like that? He so owes me." At least a letterman jacket.

Corey takes the flyer and scans it a moment. His eyebrows rise. "Geez, you don't set your sights low, do you." His brother… in a play? A musical, no less? At least she's not asking him to be in it. That'd never fly. He might consider the set design, but that's the most anyone's getting out of him. He's not prancing around on stage, no matter how many leather jackets are involved.
But, push his brother into it? Hell, yes.
He considers it for a moment. Then, he gives a lopsided grin. "You could threaten to tell his mother that he's refusing a lady's polite request — one that's well within his power to provide and that will hardly put him out in the least." In other words: Use the man's own courtesy against him.
Of course, Corey's revealed something of his own weakness, but he won't admit to that aloud… pretty much ever.
"That, or blackmail him. Threaten to withhold his books." He winks at that.

There's no point in setting one's sights too low. If set high enough there's sure to be a happy compromise somewhere.
"Threaten him? Do I look like a very intimidating person to you?" Chuckling, she carefully folds the flyer up and slides it into her purse once again. Summer grins, "I'll just have to politely remind him that he threatened me with it first when we went to the Water Gardens." Then if that doesn't work, she'll take his advice and go with the other threat.
Eliciting a small 'tch' noise with her tongue against the roof of her mouth she admits, "I'm likely not that wily or evil either. Too soft for my own good."
After a brief pause her grin becomes a little more wicked. "Of course I could always tell him that you offered to try out for the lead and then drag you there as well…"

Corey barks a laugh at that. "Do I look like John Travolta to you? Do I sound like John Travolta? Noooo. I'm so not the singing and dancing type." He flashes a grin. "And, trust me, you don't want me to try. It wouldn't be pretty."
Two words: Train. Wreck.
Is he lying? Well, he's not a good liar, but his expression is definitely earnest.

"Do you really want me to answer that?" Summer is sticking her tongue out at him in a verbal manner. "I have no skills either, and yet he threatened to make me try out for Sandy. Do I look like Olivia Newton John to you?" Tossing her hands up in the air, she grins.
"Besides, it's for the community, so I don't think anyone is going to care if you actually look the part perfectly or not."

"Ah," Corey says, "but they will care if I sound like a caterwauling alley cat, which I just might." He has before now. Of course, to be fair, he was a caterwauling alley cat at the time, but he's not telling that part. In any case, he's just not willing to put his neck out that far on the line.
But he will stick his brother's neck on the line for it, quite happily.
"Besides, you auditioning for Sandy is pretty much the best way to get Brett to audition. He'll tell you he'd be perfectly happy to come watch you — and he would be — but you could totally seduce him, truuuuust me." His intention is not to make her blush. But, it is to tease her enough into backing down.

There is one word that sticks out when he speaks. One word, and one word only, and it's causing the generally poised woman to gain just a little color in her cheeks. She coughs once to clear her throat and glances away from him.
Once she's a little more composed, Summer pushes forth a smile. "I really can't sing. They'll use one of those comically large hooks to yank me off the stage, and make me promise to never try out for another production again."

"You and me both, sister," Corey quips back, grinning as she colors. "You and me both. But, still… I suggest you start taking Brett to the local karaoke bars. Get him all liquored up and singing Summmer Nights or something. Maybe, then, you'll get it to work. Do the same for the audition and it's a snap." He snaps his fingers for emphasis.
Of course, he's obviously teasing. He doesn't really expect her to take his brother out to karaoke — though it is an excuse for a date or two. She might consider it.

There is a second or two where he's given a strange look, until she realizes what he's agreeing with. It all causes the color to deepen and her to clear her throat again.
Summer nods once, then grins. "A karaoke bar, hmm? I suppose, but they'd likely use the hook on me there too. Either that or boo really loudly." Though she will consider it as a last resort sort of thing. Ask first, then girlishly threaten, then karaoke.
"Still, I bet he'd agree to do it more swiftly if you offered to be there too. Moral support and all."

"Be there? Sure… Audition, not so much," Corey replies, easy grin still on his face as he downs more of his sandwich. "And, anyway, you'd be totally safe at a karaoke bar. I had a girlfriend back in college that loved the crap." He obviously didn't. "Get people drunk enough, they'll applaud a dying cat, long as he's got a mike in his paws." No, he's not referring to himself. Really.
A bigger smile touches his face. "Tell you what, I'll promise to stay away, and thus leave the video camera at home. Tell him that."
Again, he winks. That one probably wouldn't work so well. After all, the counter to that is: If Brett doesn't go, there's no need for a video camera.
Except that Corey grins and reaches out for the tape he'd set down on the table in favor of the sandwich. He flips it into his palm. "Or threaten to let me release this to Mom and Dad."

Oh, but there is a bit of deviousness in the woman. Getting Corey there means that she can get him mistaken for someone auditioning and thus force him to live through the torture too!
"I really hope I don't sound like a dying cat. I mean, I know I'm awful but…" Summer hasn't made anyone's ears bleed yet.
"I think he'd be happier with you releasing a tape of an audition than he would with that one there," she says pointing to the tape in his hand.
"In the end, I'll figure something out. Heaven knows I'm a busy woman, so the chances of auditions and rehearsals are slim for me anyhow."

"If all else fails," Corey says kindly now, not for a moment thinking she'd sound like a dying cat, "tell him it would be a good lesson he could pass on to his students."
He finishes off the end of his sandwich and washes it down with a mouthful or two of the juice he'd bought to go with it.
"In any case," he adds, "I highly doubt you sound like a dying cat. Me? No question. You? Not so much. And, what's it they always say? You want something done, give it to a busy person. Don't sell yourself short."
Did anyone ever also mention that Corey's the more incorrigible of the two Coleman brothers? It's true.

"Singing like a dying cat or humiliating himself on stage?" Anything can be turned into a lesson if utilized properly, Summer learned that from one of her professors.
When he seems to be finished with the food, she automatically reaches for the plate and goes to bring it back to the counter where Toby is waiting for it.
"Well thanks for the compliment, Corey, but you should maybe hear me sing before offering it," she says with a wink.

Corey grins. "Either," he says in answer to her lesson comment. "He's a good teacher. He'd make it work."
As she takes his plate he straightens some. "Thanks," he says as she returns.
Then, as she thanks him for his compliment, he chuckles. "Maybe, but I'm pretty sure Bret'd kill me if I left you thinking I'd insulted you. And, even if he didn't, I wouldn't want to do that, anyway." He also figures Toby'd kill him for it, but again… it really comes down to the fact his mamma raised him better than that.

Toby is a very strange man, and while he is intimidating, it's more due to the fact that he quietly brandishes knives in his kitchen than due to the fact that he's the menacing sort.
Summer, on the other hand, likely wouldn't take it as an insult. "Trust me, if you ever come to hear me sing, bring ear plugs." Just because she's never made ears bleed doesn't mean she's not apt to in the future. "But I appreciate it all the same. I don't think Brett would kill you, or have reason to. I wouldn't be insulted."

For all that he's not interested in dating the Deli-owner's daughter, Corey is entirely interested in keeping on the elder shifter's good side. He's not taking any chances, thankyouverymuch.
"Even so," he smiles. "I'm sure you're exaggerating."
He nods towards the flyer that now sits discarded on the table. "I just have to ask, though… Why coax anyone into auditioning, if you're not actually part of the production?"

"Well actually, it's a preemptive strike. He threatened me that if the rec center was doing Grease as a production, I was in trouble." Summer grins a little, then looks over at Corey.
"That's the way you two do things, right? Cajole one another into doing different things? I figured I'd give it the old college try and see if I could convince him he wanted to do it before he forced it on me."

Corey's grin widens. "Oh, you're good," he commends her. Brett's gonna have fun getting to know her. He approves.
He shrugs, now, leaning back in his chair. "Yeah, we've been known to do it like that. Though we generally do it just to bust each other's onions. Still," his voice now shows his approval, "preemptive strikes are definitely the best way to play the game. But you do know, right, that if you do succeed in getting him to audition, he'll have the fair-is-fair rule to throw back at you later?"

"Unfortunately, yes. I fully intend on auditioning." Right up until she gets dragged off the stage and asked to be silent. Maybe she can get a non-singing bit part? That would suit Summer just fine.
"Here's hoping it works either way, and he doesn't somehow turn it back around on me." A tiny headshake is given, then a chuckle. "I'm starting to feel awful just keeping you here chatting about your brother with me. I'm sure you have plans for the evening."

"Ah, now, see," Corey smiles, "if you audition, too, then he doesn't have a leg to stand on. The fair-is-fair rule is yours to hold over his head instead. It's perfect. You'll have no problem." He sounds very confident about it, now.
Still, he gives an easy shrug at her concern for his evening. "Actually, I'm in for a quiet night — not that I can't use it, but you're not keeping me from anything." In other words, no hot dates for him… more's the pity.
Even so, he realizes it's probably not fair of him to keep her so distracted. "I, on the other hand," he notes, "do seem to be keeping you from work of some sort." He gestures to her stack of papers. "So, I guess I'll get going."
He flashes another grin, then. "It's great talking with you, Summer." He drops the 'Miss', now. He rarely holds on to formality quite as long as his brother. "Lookin' forward to doing it again, sometime."

"Paperwork is all. Just want to finish this up so I can run it to the book keeper in the morning before heading in to deliver a horse." Which, she realizes afterward, sounds extremely odd. "Then I'll be out looking for a computer system for the shop, since Toby refuses to get one."
When he mentions the quiet night, all she can do is stare at him, with a 'yeah right' sort of expression. "Really? I just can't picture you as the stay at home on a Friday night sort of guy."
A friendly smile graces her face, and she gets up as he starts with his see yas. "I'll have Toby put your comics aside on Wednesday then when they come in."

"I don't often," Corey admits, "But, it's gonna be one of those weekends, you know?" That full moon's coming. They can all feel it. "I figure it's best just to settle in now and be done with it." He may go out hunting later, truth be told. But, she's not really keeping him from that.
He pushes back from the table and rises, tucking the chair back in carefully beneath the table. "Thanks for that," he says, as to the comics. "'Preciate it…"
The grin returns to his face, however, as he picks up his copy of the security tape and the pink leash. "And thanks for this. This is gonna be some of the best fun I've ever had at my brother's expense. I might owe you for this — just not an audition." Again with that conspiratorial wink.
He gives Toby a light wave, then, and heads towards the door. "Catch you two later," are his parting words as he pulls the door open, leaving the pages on the newsstand fluttering the same way they did when he first came in.

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