torch, flambeau@strangeplaces.net
May 25-31, 2015

Disclaimer: I like a lighter breakfast, myself. Written for Rhi. Do not archive without permission.

Chopped fruit and nuts

Methos settled down for breakfast on the hotel patio. He wasn't much for al fresco meals, generally speaking; there'd been enough of that in his life, and he thought indoors eating, with proper utensils and no risk of sand blowing into the food, was one of the hallmarks of civilization. But there was no wind to speak of today, and his table was in the pleasant semi-shade of a tree that he trusted would not drop any leaves in his fruit juice. He had a bowl of chopped fruit and nuts, and a plate with fluffy scrambled eggs, some kind of odd fried toast strips, and rather a lot of bacon. The patio had a fine view of the river, and he could hear the distant whistle of an early-morning ferry, and workers calling to each other.

This state of peaceful calm, in which Methos contemplated his bacon with happy anticipation, lasted for exactly thirty-six seconds. That was when a large, slightly uncoordinated man with a round head landed on one side of the patio in an awkward jump, looked over his shoulder, and shambled across, passing close to Methos's table and stealing half his bacon, which he chewed open-mouthed as he jumped over the wall on the other side.

Methos looked down on his plate. The man had just grabbed, with one hand, and now the scrambled eggs showed the grooves of four dirty fingers.

He was about to call a waiter, when a short, blond boy in a red cloak ran onto the patio, looked around, and then fixed his eyes on Methos. "Where did he go?"

"That way," Methos said, pointing.

The boy looked him up and down in hasty assessment. "You don't look like he tried to eat you."

It wasn't the oddest thing anyone had ever said to Methos, even before breakfast. Now that the boy was closer, he could see that under the flamboyant red cloak was some rather severe black clothing, and also he wore white gloves, which seemed uncalled-for considering the weather.

"No," Methos said. "Just my bacon." He gestured at his plate.

The boy, apparently taking that as an invitation, picked up a couple of strips, and ate them as he ran off and jumped over the wall, too. At least he didn't chew with his mouth open.

Methos considered the wreckage of his breakfast. He didn't have long to do it in, though. A large individual wearing a full suit of armor burst onto the patio. Clearly, the peaceful breakfast he'd planned was a wash; it seemed Methos had inadvertently become the audience to some early-morning street theatre. He leaned back in his chair and watched as the suit of armor, visor down, clanged closer and stopped a diffident two steps away. "Ah, excuse me, sir," said the person in the armor, who sounded surprisingly young, "but did you happen to see--"

"Yes," Methos said. "That way." He gestured at the wall. "After stealing most of my breakfast."

"I'm terribly sorry!" The suit of armor bowed, as apologetic as if the armor-person was the one who'd taken the bacon. Then it turned and ran for the wall as well, and jumped over it with a disturbingly hollow-sounding clang.

Methos wondered what would be next -- an entire circus, perhaps? He definitely intended to get his plate refilled, but he had to admit he was oddly charmed by the stream of people and their varying degrees of eccentricity.

The next person onto the patio, though, was a trim, elegant man in a tidy blue military uniform, adult and sensible-looking. He was also wearing white gloves, and Methos wondered what the significance was. The one they were all chasing, the bacon-thief, hadn't worn gloves. Whoever was in the suit of armor could have been wearing white gloves underneath.

"Excuse me," the man said crisply. "I'm looking for a boy in a red cloak, and another in a suit of armor."

"They went that way, after the bacon-thief," Methos said.

"Thank you," the man said, half-turned to follow the others, and then he stopped and looked back at Methos. "The what?"

"The first person across the patio stole my breakfast," Methos said. "Though presumably that isn't why they were chasing him."

The man's brows drew down, and his black eyes snapped. "It had better not be," he said, and though his voice was calm and even, it did not bode well for Red Cloak and Suit-of-Armor. The next moment, he ran to the wall and jumped over it, showing better style than any of the three previous contenders.

Methos waited another minute, in case the parade wasn't over yet, and then he waved at a waiter through the open patio doors. In a very short time, he had a replacement plate: more bacon, fluffier eggs, a higher pile of toast strips with a decorative swirl of some kind of sauce. Methos sighed happily to himself and scooped up a forkful of eggs. As entertaining as the peculiar chase scene had been, now he was very ready for some peace and quiet and bacon.

A heavy thump to the left turned out to be the large man with the round head, coming back over the wall. He moved a bit more oddly now -- at least, Methos thought most people would be uncomfortable shuffling along on two legs and one arm, with a chicken tucked under the other arm. Coming up beside the table, he looked at the refilled plate, and then at Methos, in exactly the same way, which was unnerving even for someone who'd seen Caspian on his off days, and then he picked up the plate and ate it. The whole thing. His mouth opened unnaturally wide to make it fit. Methos pushed his chair back and stood up abruptly, reaching under his coat and wondering if a gun or a sword was a better weapon against someone who could do that.

Another scrambling sound made them both look away from each other and towards the wall, where Red Cloak was also coming back, his eyes fixed on the man with the round head. He clapped his hands together, and as if that had been a signal, the round-headed man took off, galloping on all fours now, the chicken tumbling to the ground with a forlorn squawk.

Red Cloak was about to slap his hands down on the patio floor, when a call of "Don't, brother!" came from behind him, shortly followed by Suit-of-Armor. "If you destroy the hotel, the colonel will never forgive you!"

"But he's getting away!" Red Cloak straightened up and took off after the round-headed man, and Suit-of-Armor followed him, managing another apologetic bow to Methos in the middle of running.

Methos sat down again, slowly. That was a little more unknown menace than he liked with his morning entertainment, really. He wondered if it was worth calling for another plate, and how he'd explain where the original one had disappeared to. Also, he was waiting for the dark-haired military man to turn up, as he was evidently the finishing touch to this odd little parade.

But instead, a woman sashayed onto the patio -- through the gate, not doing anything as undignified as jumping over the wall. Methos wasn't so sure she could have, anyway, in that tight black dress. She had long dark hair and dark red lipstick and generally looked like Morticia Addams's slightly less prim sister. Methos watched with a certain appreciation as she swayed towards him.

"I'm looking for my brother," she said, with a barely noticeable pause between my and brother. "He's not quite right in the head, and I'm afraid some annoying little boys may be tormenting him."

Methos considered her, with her long black gloves and her odd red tattoo high on her chest. There wasn't a family resemblance, precisely, but there was... something. "Does your brother by any chance have a round head and an amazing digestion?" he asked.

Her eyes hardened. "He'd better not have eaten someo-- something he shouldn't," she said.

"Just my breakfast," Methos said. "Plate and all."

"How naughty of him." The woman came closer, side-stepping the chicken. "Perhaps you could assist me--"

The man in the military uniform finally appeared, his hair slightly disheveled. He looked at the woman, at Methos, and at the chicken. "I take it they came back this way."

The woman in the black dress looked at the man in the military uniform with a kind of dispassionate disapproval. "Surely there's no need for the military to be involved," she said. "I merely want to find my brother." The tiny pause between the words was still there.

"I want to find my subordinates," the man in the military uniform said. "They may be impulsive, but they don't usually act without a reason."

"And what about my bacon?" Methos said, unable to resist. "Not that I want to find it, exactly."

A loud explosion came from somewhere not too far away. All three of them stilled and stiffened, and then they took off running. Methos knew he had no business running towards this unknown explosion rather than away from it, the way any sensible person would, but he was extremely curious by now.

What had been a small, peaceful square at the end of the street was now all smoke and fire and torn-up cobblestones. Methos could have sworn there was a fountain in the center, except now there was a small stone tower instead, with Red Coat kneeling atop it, shielding his eyes with one white-gloved hand as he stared towards the far side of the square.

"He'd better be able to put everything back the way it was," the man in the military uniform muttered. He raised his voice. "Fullmetal! Where's your brother?"

"I'm here, colonel," Suit-of-Armor said from off to one side.

"This is unacceptable behavior for a State Alchemist," the man in the military uniform, who was apparently a colonel, said. "Do you have an explanation for why you've wrecked this part of town?"

"He got away," Red Cloak said, jumping down from his small stone tower and coming over to them in an aggrieved stalk. "I'll tell you--" Then he caught sight of Methos, and Methos could almost hear the clang of switching gears. "He stole this guy's bacon!"

"Yes, but this seems like a bit of an extreme reaction," Methos said, looking at the wreckage of the square. "It wasn't even your bacon." He looked around. "The woman who said she was his sister is gone, too."

Red Cloak quivered, there was no other word for it. "Sister? Black hair, black dress, very..." His hands described curves in the air.

"Very," Methos agreed.

"Entirely too adult for you," the colonel said. "Edward, tell me this wasn't a misguided attempt to get the attention of a woman clearly out of your league."

Red Cloak, who was apparently called Edward, looked appalled and furious at the same time. "Don't try to pretend I'm anything like you!" he snapped.

"Of course not," the colonel said. "I'm old enough to know that flowers and dinner work better than explosions."

Methos wouldn't have been surprised to see steam coming out of this Edward's ears. "Brother," Suit-of-Armor said, sounding worried and cautious, and then went on, "Of course we'll explain, colonel, but perhaps when there are fewer civilians..."

"Yes!" Edward said. He looked at Methos. "Al and I will fix things up here, and this guy had his breakfast stolen, you should buy him a new one."

"I'd appreciate that," Methos said. He did rather want to stay and see just how Edward and his well-armored brother were going to fix things, especially since people were starting to come out of the houses on the far side of the square, making upset gestures at each other, but breakfast was important, and he could definitely do with some. This colonel fellow was quite attractive, too.

The colonel looked sharply at his subordinates, then nodded and turned to Methos. "I'll escort you back to your hotel," he said, and they set off side by side. "I apologize for the inconvenience you've suffered this morning."

"Buy him flowers!" Edward hollered behind them.

Methos burst out laughing. "Just breakfast will be fine," he said, and they left to the sound of Suit-of-Armor pleading, "Don't antagonize him, please, brother!"

Then they had breakfast on the patio, and Methos flirted, and the colonel deflected, though not quite as completely as he could have, and somewhere in the progression of bacon and orange slices and coffee, there was, in fact, a bit of kissing in the shade of the tree. The colonel was a very good kisser, which went a long way towards making up for the disturbances of the morning.

"I'd still like a bit of an explanation, though," Methos said, testing the waters. He knew what it looked like when people kept secrets, and while he had no intentions of sharing his own, he was happy to poke around in other people's.

All he got, though, was an amused smile and a plain, "So would I."

Methos ate the last piece of bacon. The colonel kissed him again.

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