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The Library Cafe

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Ezekiel blinks the fog out of his eyes as he stands in the doorway of the mess that is his kitchen. His sweatpants hang low on his hips and the sweater he’s pulled on as he crawled out of bed smells like the weird lavender stuff Lamia keeps throwing in his laundry.

He groans when he spots the pizza boxes that lay scattered across the counter while empty chicken wing containers are stacked precariously by a disgusting amount of empty taco wrappings near the sink. The Australian frowns at the towering maze of beer cans that wind around the legs of the stools by the counter as he makes his way over to the coffee pot. The glass carafe is already holding two of his favourite tea bags and Ezekiel does a small cheer for the preparedness of his drunk self.

Beside the point more over, this is seriously the last time he’s ever inviting Ray, Lamia and Charlene over. (He really needs to stop lying to himself though…) Ezekiel figures that his kitchens only saving grace is that Judson was busy with Judson things and didn’t show up last night so his house is still mostly intact.

The thief cracks his neck as the coffee pot gurgles, moments later the hot water finishes dripping into the coffee carafe where his special tea bags are and Ezekiel grabs the big unicorn mug Lamia stole for him a year ago. He hates it, but it holds the largest amount of tea in the array of mismatched mugs he’s amassed over the years so he just suffers through the indignity of the rainbow coloured monstrosity.

He heads towards the living room, almost tripping over the mini croquet game that Charlene’s left out and Ezekiel curses loudly.

“Crazy old bird. The hell were you doing with a croquet mallet anyways...” he vaguely recalls her trying to fight Lamia with it but he’s not sure if that was last night or last week. Charlene can get a little rowdy sometimes despite her age; or maybe because of it, Ezekiel thinks. The older woman had worked her entire life for a man that got rid of her the moment he and the company they had built together, didn’t need her anymore; and now she and Judson were seeming to tear a strip off the remainder of their lives.

Not that he blames them.

Frankly he encourages them more often then not and is happy to pay the bill for whatever they manage to break Even despite how much he’ll complain about it later.

Ezekiel makes it to the living room, fully intending to crash on the couch for the rest of the day and work on his hangover, but he can only sigh when he sees a lump already sprawled out half on the couch and half falling off of it. Ray’s snoring is the worst kind of sound on a good day but couple that with a hangover and lack of sleep from the past few weeks due to a terribly complicated heist and well...

Rays yelp of surprise fills the thief with a great deal of amusement as Ezekiel watches the larger man flail about wildly before crashing into the hardwood floor in a heap. Ezekiel grins evilly as he climbs up to take the warm spot on the couch Ray’s just been shoved off of.

“You are a terrible morning person Mr. Jones.” Ray mutters into the floor as he pulls himself into a upright position so he cab glare at the dark haired man now curling up on his make shift bed.

Ezekiel shrugs and takes a sip of his tea, smiling a bit behind the rim. “Where’d Charlene bugger off too?”

Ray looks around the room searching for the older woman. “It seems Lamia is gone as well.”

“Her wazizashi is still here...”

Grey eyes follow Ezekiel’s gaze and Ray takes a moment to mourn his friends living room dry wall, because sure enough, Lamia’s short sword is stuck several inches into the wall and seems to be pinning a piece of paper in place. “Are you going to see what it is?” Ray finally asks.

“And lose my spot?” Ezekiel gives the man a flat look and Ray does his best not to laugh at the dark glare next to the bright pink mug.

Unfurling himself from the tangle of blankets the older man gets to his feet with a wobble. “This is the last time I try to match drinks with Judson.”

“You say that every time.”

Ray glares at Ezekiel before reaching up to tug the sword out of the wall, only it doesn’t budge. If Lamia was the one to put it in there then Ray figures there’s not a chance that he’ll be able to dislodge it without ruining the entire wall. Instead he leans over so he can read the paper and grins widely after a moment.

“How joyous!” Ray exclaims.

Ezekiel groans at the volume. “Seriously mate, tone it down, you lot might be freaks that don’t get hangovers, but the rest of us mere mortals do.”

Ray shakes his head at his friend and claps his hands together loudly regardless. “It appears that last night you won ownership of my coffee shop in Portland! Congratulations my dearest friend!”

The thief doesn’t move, blinking into his tea as Rays words catch up with him and Ezekiel had to take a few moments to wonder if he’s still asleep. Please dear god, let him still be asleep…“W’at?”

Excitement colours Rays voice as he reads off the paper on the wall. “Last night during our game of Go Fish, we had run out of Skittles, and so as a bet I put down my shop.” The man explains. “You put down your wrist watch...that does not seem fair...however, look, we’ve both signed. And it appears you were victorious!”

Ezekiel is up and off the couch, more awake then any tea or coffee could make him as he rips the paper away from the sword to read.

Sure enough, there, written in Charlene’s neat cursive, are the outlines of stakes and prizes for their final game of Go Fish last night. Both his and Rays signatures are strewn on the bottom in messy writing next to Judson’s, Charlene’s and Lamia’s all as witnesses.

“This is bloody insane!!” Ezekiel shouts as his head pounds at his own volume. “I don’t want your shop Ray!”

“Oh it is a gorgeous place Ezekiel, you will love it!” Ray states completely ignoring the thief’s yelling. “The Library is full of wonderful people and the most delicious snacks you will ever have.” He sets his hands on his stomach and gets a dreamy look on his face. “Galeas’s apple fritters are miraculous.”

“I don’t even remember signing this!” The thief needs to sit down. And maybe a drink. He definitely needs a drink.

Ray merely points to the collections of empty beer bottles and then to the mass of empty rum and gin bottles.

Ezekiel rolls his eyes, “Nice try, but those are Lam’s and Char’s.” Well, most of them anyways... he vaguely recalls putting a dent into the gin.

Glasney just shrugs and reaches for his leather side bag that sits on the floor next to the couch and pulls out a legal sized envelope that’s got gold lettering on the front in a logo of words ‘The Library Cafe’. “Regardless, I know you will do well with this Ezekiel Jones. The Library is the most enchanting of places.”

“I don’t even have a green card, I can’t run a business here!” Ezekiel cries, staring at Ray in growing horror when it appears that the man is going to stand by the piece of paper written by over tired and overworked drunks. “Plus I already have a full time job remember!”

Ray just smiles guilefully at Ezekiel and tosses the envelope with the deed in it at the Aussies face making him have to scramble to catch it. “Too be honest Ezekiel I won it in a poker game a year ago, you won it from me in Go Fish last night. That’s a legitimate transfer of ownership right there, no green card needed.” He beams. “All is well.”

Card games are so far from a legitimate transfer of anything, Ezekiel thinks as he rubs at his temples. Someday he’s going to remember how he even became tangled up in Ray Glasney. He figures he must have been drunk that day, or concussed... it’s the only thing that would explain them as the friends they are now.

“Well just be glad we weren’t playing UNO or you might have ended up with his van instead.”

Ezekiel turns at the sound of Lamia’s voice to see the assassin leaning against the doorway into his living room. She looks a little ruffled, like she beat up a dozen guys on the way over and forgot to fix her hair, but she appears mostly sober despite the amount of rum she drank last night. “What’s wrong with UNO?” He gasps at her in mock offence.

“Last time we played UNO Judson and Charlene caught fire to your couch.” Lamia reminds him.

Ezekiel pouts, he had really liked that couch. “I feel like that’s the rule rather than the exception with those two though, they usually destroy something when they’re around and sometimes it doesn’t even involve playing cards.”

Lamia just rolls her eyes and takes a sip out of her travel mug, Ezekiel bets there’s whiskey in that coffee too... he wishes she’d share because he needs whiskey right the fuck now and does not have the wherewithal to go find some for himself.

Ray giggles and claps Ezekiel on his shoulder as he heads towards the door. “Well I’ll pass along all your contact information to the manager so, Be Well Ezekiel Jones.” He says cheerily, completely ignorant of Ezekiel’s dumbfounded expression as Ray all but flounces out of the living room.

“Ray!”

The older man is gone however, the front door slamming shut as he goes and Ezekiel can only flop down onto the floor and draw his hood over his head. He never should have woken up this morning.

“Stop laughing Lamia!” He has to snap when the woman has to clutch onto the doorframe to keep from falling over in amusement.

Ezekiel isn’t sure why but he ends up googling how to run a coffee shop after Lamia collects her sword and leaves as well. Only, he quits reading after five minutes. He’s not quiet sure what’s happening to the internet lately but it’s frankly starting to scare him. Ezekiel may be a thief, but at least he knows enough about food safety to not have sex on top of a pastry case. The damned Internet.

The thief frowns as he reads over the resumes Ray’s emailed him for the five employees he now owns. (He doesn’t really own them but he’ll admit it does sound cooler that way.) “Flynn Carsen, Eve Baird, Jacob Stone, Cassandra Cillian, Galeas...Jenkins...seriously dude...medieval much? ”

With a heavy sigh the Aussie hauls his keyboard forward and gets to work. It takes him a few hours but Ezekiel hacks as far into each of them as he can get and he physically balks at what he finds.

Cassandra Cillian, 25, 5.0 GPA, accepted into Harvard, Yale, Eaton, Brown. Emancipation records that follow a slew of doctors visits and X-rays of a tumour Ezekiel wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy. He finds doctor bills and insurance claims and a dizzying debt that would drown most people. He spends hours researching Synesthetes and symptoms of tumours and has to go to the freezer because he needs a shot of something strong. He takes two.

Jacob Stone, 31. Oklahoma born and raised. IQ tested at 190, took the Mensa test but never became a member. Contacted by both Cambridge and Sorbonne, turned them both down. Doctorates in eight different names that only takes Ezekiel moments to link back to Stone himself with how poorly they’re set up. Speaks nine languages, reads up to fourteen. Estranged family and failed family business.

Flynn Carsen, 41, 22 degrees in everything from Egyptology, History, Geography, Ancient Studies etc, etc. Father murdered, overworked mother dead at eleven, foster home to foster home...Ezekiel grimaces at the CPS photos of Flynn after some of those houses. Several prescriptions for anti-depressants, but none look recently filled.

Galeas Jenkins brings up some pretty weird images. He can’t find much on the older man, no birthdate, no living records, no home address. The man is a veritable ghost until he was about 30 years old and then it’s just police record after police record; arrested during a freedom march, assault charges in government buildings. Then silence for the next ten years that follow the destruction of millions of dollars worth of machinery that belonged to a seedy company in England. Ezekiel stops reading Jenkins colourful history when he tries to dig into the arrest at a croquette match.

Eve Baird....Colonel Eve Baird. 39. Nine years with a NATO Counter terrorism task force and then a short stint in the Department of Statistical Anomalies. Military brat. Purple Heart. Honourable Discharge after a WMD incident in Berlin leading to the death of her eight team members and several kilometres of buildings. Eighteen months of rehabilitation. Diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Ezekiel stares at his screen in shock, his brown eyes reflecting the bright light of the monitor in the darkness of the room. He’s not sure when night had fallen or what time it is but Ezekiel knows he needs time to process this; more ties to anyone, let alone an entire business… to these people… is not something he needs in his life.

It’s just he knows Ray, and he knows that there isn’t going to be a hope in hell of the man taking his company back now that Ezekiel has any sort of claim to it.

Shutting down his computer gives him a moment to think about his next move. The coffee shop is just that, he realizes; a coffee shop. It’s already been up and running for a few years, it can’t take him doing too much for it to keep going and a change in ownership shouldn’t effect it to badly if Ray is what they had before.

Nodding to himself Ezekiel grabs the rolled up layouts for the bank in Geneva he’s been eying for the past week and heads for the tea pot. Yeah, he’ll just deal with the place on an as needed basis.

Perfect.