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The Bell and Plow was a pretty ordinary pub in a rather less affluent part of town, but it was convenient. It claimed to have been there since the 1600s, when it was a small farming village, and certainly there were enough ancient horse brasses and old pewter tankard hung from the low, blackened beams that it was at least trying to look the part. He did feel that the goggle-eyed taxidermied deer head over the fireplace was going a bit too far.

Four days a week he worked at the legal firm where he had a junior partnership, the other he split; morning was appointments and the Veterans support group, afternoon was the legal aid group that worked with a number of local charities, including the women's shelter which was close by. This place was an easy stop on his route between the two, and it did an acceptable plowman's lunch with a surprisingly good relish. He'd not been able to find out what was in it.

He was a tall, lean figure in a business suit, brown hair cropped neatly short, tie a fairly boring navy blue. A briefcase sat at his feet and he'd taken a laptop out of it and was reading documentation on it whilst he ate. The only unusual feature was a cane of dark wood hooked onto the edge of the table. He usually sat inside, even though it was sunny today and a lot of people were enjoying the outdoor tables in the beer garden. He preferred the quiet. Sipping his lemonade, he scrolled through the piece of legislation he was reading, looking for the relevant clauses and making notes on his phone.

He'd surprised a lot of people when he'd got into law at university, but Spencer felt that being underestimated seemed to be par for the course for him and hadn't let it bother him, or stop him. Even as he made his way through his fresh bread and local, crumbly cheese, he was focused on the necessaries for his next case.

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Iona's stomach grumbled as she fanned herself in backdoor that led out of the pub to the shed that doubled as storage. It was warm and sticky outside and that would be fine had she been one of the families drinking themselves into giggles in the beer garden, rather than being stuck indoors dressed all in black, sweltering behind the bar and in the kitchens. She still had six hours left on her shift that would take her into the evening, but despite her misery it was worth it. It was the only job she'd found that offered quick, cash in hand work that wouldn't disrupt the benefits her father relied on, and her boyfriend who now seemed a permanent fixture on their sofa. Besides, she got a free meal at the end of her shift. 

"Have you checked table 3?" A voice snapped and she glanced around, cheeks flushed with heat and eyes wide and blinking. She shook her head quickly and then hurriedly slipped past her boss to pick up the little circular tray and nimbly moved out through into the main room. Its silence compared to the chaos of the kitchen and beer garden was almost eerie. She could feel the presence of her boss behind her and hurried over to the table in the corner. She hadn't seen the man before, but she usually worked split shifts, Monday-Thursday. She'd only added Friday last week when her salary had started to rapidly diminish - even as she hid it in even more inventive places that she didn't think her father would ever look. 

"Can I get you anything else?" She asked breathlessly, trying to straighten her apron and neaten her hair as she drew up to his table, not realising she might be disturbing him. "Or I can move your table outside, if you want to enjoy the sunshine? It's such a beautiful day." Her smile was warm and genuine.

 

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Can I get you anything else?

Spencer looked up from his laptop as the waitress arrived at his table, tray in hand. He didn't recognise her; either she was new or she'd picked up a shift, but he'd noticed that Meg, who usually worked Fridays, wasn't here today. Perhaps this woman was filling in. She didn't look nearly as well fed as Meg, quite the opposite in fact, and somewhat harried. He thought he recognised some of the possible flags from his work with the women's shelter. Still, it wasn't his business.

"I prefer it inside, thank you." He replied mildly, gesturing to his laptop. If it was a wet day and the tap room was busy he would stick noise cancelling earbuds in, but it was nice not to need to. He was nearly finished his lunch, and his glass was empty. Not of beer, or cider; never these days, but the lemonade was gone. "Could I get a coffee? Flat white." Perhaps it was odd that he ate at a pub when he didn't drink, but it was literally the only place he'd found tolerable that was on a direct route, and whatever saved him time was precious.

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Iona blinked and glanced around the virtually empty room. There was one other table occupied by an older gentleman, a regular who seemed to always have cash for beer and an easy hand for the waitresses waists but she suspected the reason he wasn't outside was because he couldn't lug the oxygen tank he required up the stairs that led to the garden. Her eyes returned back to him and the table and she offered a quick nod before apologising in her gentle, light Scottish accent, "Of course, of course...sorry. We don't get many people working in here." Her smile was light but bemused. This wasn't exactly the sort of place for men in suits with fancy laptops, but who was she to complain? Maybe he'd tip?

A strict Nescafe original drinker, Iona nonetheless darted away to the bar. The girl working behind it (cushy job, just pulling pints and trying to use the ancient espresso machine) grunted a nod as Iona wrote the order up and waited, fingers drumming against the bar. "Do you know who the guy is on table 3?" She asked, trying to make conversation. The girl mumbled as she burned the milk and poured watery espresso into a cup. "Nope, but he comes in every week. It's ready." Having never drank a flat white, Iona didn't realise that the mess in the cappuccino cup (!) was not a flat white. It was a dome of foam on a single shot of weak, grainy espresso but she diligently took it back over to him with a breathless smile. 

"One flat white..." She tentatively put it on the table, trying very hard not to slop it everywhere. "Is that everything?" 

 

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The cup that arrived had a dome of foam on top of it that wobbled as the waitress put it down. He looked at it, then looked at her. "That's a cappuccino." He said blandly. I really need to find a cafe around here. It served him right, he was sure. Presumably their beer was better, but he wasn't going to try it. He spread a hand over the cup to stop her from taking it. "Never mind, that will do." He could drink a cappuccino. He just needed some caffeine.

Setting his knife and fork on the empty plate, he nodded at the girl's enquiry, noting the light Scottish accent. She was a fair way from home. "That's everything, thank you. " He replied, indicating that she could take the plate away. "Can I get the bill?" He'd nearly finished his reading; he could drink the coffee and go. Closing the laptop, he picked up the briefcase and sorted through his papers until he found the folio for this afternoon's work, setting it on the table whilst he put the laptop away. Apparently he was to look at a case for the women's shelter. The words Legal Proceedings were visible at the top of the document he pulled out of the folio, whilst taking a sip of the coffee.

It really was awful. He hoped the woman behind the bar was better at pulling pints.

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Instinctively she reached to take the drink back but he blocked her hand with one of his own and she winced, embarrassed. She'd offer to take it off the bill but she was sure, somehow, her boss would make it her problem and take it out of her wages and £2.10 it might be, but that was £2.10 she could ill-afford to lose. 

Instead, she hurriedly flustered to pick up the plate, being careful that the cutlery didn't clatter down onto him or his work - which her eyes scanned over lightly. Her eyes immediately caught the words legal proceedings and her eyebrows shot up in surprise. She glanced at him, still awkwardly standing next to his table despite his instruction for her to get the bill. He didn't look like somebody who would be subject to legal proceedings (she assumed that meant court, a common occurrence for her family). Maybe he was a lawyer? Or a judge? "That looks important." She flashed him a smile, having completely forgotten about the bill. "Do you work in...the law?"

 

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That looks important. Do you work in...the law?

He glanced up at her, then frowned and curved the document in his hand away from her, not wanting her reading it over his shoulder. "Yes, I'm a lawyer." He replied shortly, trying to concentrate on his reading whilst he drank the awful coffee, though he did contemplate simply leaving it and getting one from the McDonald's drive through up the road. "The bill please?" He reminded her.

Not for the first time he contemplated trying to find somewhere else to get lunch on Fridays, but apart from said McDonald's there was really nothing else around, so anything else would require a detour and trying to find somewhere to park. Sheer convenience was what kept him coming back to the Bell and Plow, that and the fact that whomever worked in the kitchen seemed to be infinitely better than whoever served behind the bar, though that wasn't hard.

And the new girl seemed to be chatty. He didn't have time to chat. Time was money, and this was his lunch break.

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A lawyer! Here! Iona's eyes widened. The Bell and Plow was more likely to be frequented by tradespeople, those who worked down the local factories and people like her family who were perpetually unemployed. Imagine having a real life lawyer here. Iona had only ever seen them in TV shows she pirated from the US and the bumbling, sweaty, overwhelmed court-mandated ones she saw whenever she had been forced to attend court in support of some extended family member. She'd failed to notice the way he curved the document away from her, lost in her memories as she was. 

It took her a moment to realise what he was asking for with his  reminder but it soon enough sent her skittering over to the age old till to print off an itemised receipt.

She returned a few moments later with the bill neatly folded on a chipped porcelain plate, a single mint sitting atop it. "What sort of law do you do?" She asked, unable to help herself as she held the card machine loosely in slim fingers. "Oh! And cash or card?" Hopefully card with a cash tip she could pocket straight into her apron before her boss spied it and made her add it it to the 'communal' jar which had never been communal as long as she worked here. Their rent was due next week and she was more than positive the universal credit that was supposed to pay for it had long been lost down the bookies. She shifted from foot to foot, about to speak when the creaking door swung open and a grating, gruff Scottish voice sounded over the quiet of the bar. 

"Iona!" her father sure had a gift for timing, "Pint in the garden!" She glanced at the man next to her with an apologetic look as the older man who bore a mere passing resemblance to her shuffled off. She gave an awkward smile. "I'm Iona...if you hadn't guessed." 

 

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After an odd moment's pause, the waitress scurried away and came back with the bill and a well abused looking card machine. Spencer checked the bill quickly out of habit, didn't bother to quibble over the coffee, and reached for his wallet. "Card thanks." He pulled out a VISA card and waited till she proferred the machine, tapping it and hearing the beep that it had registered as he tucked the card away. "Criminal law mostly, some family law." The latter was largely due to his charitable work and involved a lot of divorces and restraining orders. Nasty stuff, especially for any kids involved, and the irony of it was that sometimes it put him on the opposite side of the courtroom from other veterans.

There was a yell from behind the bar and the waitress straightened up. Spencer glanced automatically in that direction, and realised why the girl had caught his attention with an odd familiarity; there was a family resemblance. He shouldn't be surprised, plenty of people worked in their parent's business.

I'm Iona...if you hadn't guessed.

For the first time, that drew the ghost of a smile from the man. "Named for the island?" He asked, guessing based on the accent. "Spencer; Spencer Clark." On impulse he pulled a business card out of the inner pocket of his jacket and dropped it, along with a two-pound coin, onto the chipped plate she'd brought his bill on. "You'd better get that pint."

Draining the last of the terrible coffee, he tucked the document back into his briefcase and closed the snaps. Time to get going.

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Iona nodded with a smile of her own. "Scottish parents aren't the most imaginative...or mine weren't. I lived on Skye when I was young, I guess they preferred Iona for a girl." And it was monumentally embarrassing to be named after a hunk of rock that everybody in the Highlands knew. At least down here in the south few people had heard of it and just thought it was a pretty name. She nodded hurriedly and took the plate up to her chest, almost hugging it - her smile wider now. "I will...I will..." Her father had cottoned on, when she'd got  this job, that if he couldn't afford to pay for his alcohol it would be taken out of her wage as a relation. She briefly wondered why he wasn't at work - he usually worked the 11-7 shift at the local factory when his 'pains' (hangovers) didn't act up, but she dared not dig into that rabbit  hole any further. 

"Thank you, Mr Clark. I promise if you come back I'll learn how to make better coffee." She grinned and then it wavered as the barmaid called over; "Iona!" Without another glance at Spencer, she skittered off to take a laden tray of drinks out to the back garden, including her fathers pint. Although she made sure to stash the coin and the business card in her apron as she did so. Only six hours to go...

---

If fair-skinned Iona had thought the previous week was hot, the following Friday was something altogether different. After a brief fainting fit (no breakfast, too much running around), she'd been sat on a stool behind the bar with a plate of chips to munch on as the other waitress scurried between the garden and the bar. Whether out of pity or recognition that it really was a health and safety nightmare to have a fainting young woman run up and down steps, her boss had allowed her to work the inside restaurant. There were a couple of locals propping up the bar but that was it. Until the bell jingled over the door and a recognisable figure limped into view. Iona hadn't seen him walk last time she'd seen him, and hadn't clocked the cane either (observation had never been her strong suit) and so she couldn't conceal the surprise on her face. 

Slipping off the stool, she skittered over to him with a breathy grin. She blinked back stars from her vision. She really needed more chips. "Mr Clark." He seemed the sort of fancy man she should say 'Mr' to, or 'Sir'. Not 'Spencer' that seemed wrong. "Back for more terrible coffee?" She had practiced, as she said she would. "Inside again?" She glanced around the virtually empty room. "Take your pick and I can take that for you-" she reached for his briefcase, as if offering to help given the cane, revealing a deep purple bruise underneath the sleeve of her black work shirt. 

 

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Iona seemed a pretty name to him, and certainly as good as any other. At least her parents hadn't been caught up in the fad of using surnames as first names. It might work for Harrison Ford, but Spencer wasn't so convinced, even if it was an aristocratic family. Oh well, after forty years he was used to it. Briefcase in one hand and cane in the other, he made his way back to the car, mind already on the afternoon's work. 

---

Friday rolled around again and Spencer parked his jag outside the Bell and Plow and made his halting way inside. It was stinking hot out, the two weeks of the English summer when one actually wanted air conditioning. Even so, most of the patrons were outside enjoying the summer sunshine. He'd do that on the weekend when he had time, the bright light made it hard to see the screen of his laptop. 

As he made his way in a slim figure slipped off a stool by the bar and the waitress from last week was at his side. "I might skip the coffee this time, unless you think it's improved?" He chuckled. At least she had a sense of humour.  And not only did she remember his name, but she offered to take his case. Really she should be working somewhere nicer than this place. "Thank you Iona, but I'm used to it." He glanced around, noting that he had the choice of the room. That would change the instant the weather turned foul, but for now it was a good thing. "I'll sit over by the window." He didn't want to be in the sun, but a warm breeze through the open window would be pleasant. 

Making his way over to the table, Spencer settled himself on the bench seat against the wall, so that he could set up his laptop without the screen being in anyone else's view, and as he did so he gave Iona a thoughtful look. They were as far from the bar now as they could get, and after a moment he dropped his gaze to her arm, and the dark purple mark he'd noticed when she'd reached for his briefcase. "That looks sore." He observed sympathetically. He'd done enough work with the women's shelter to suspect that bruise, if he got a good look at it, would be thumb shaped; someone grabbing her by the arm. It was entirely the wrong place to be from walking into a table or doorway, which was his usual. But he also knew that immediately accusing her of being a victim of domestic violence wasn't a way to improve the situation; also sometimes people fell off their bikes.

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"I've practiced but..." She wrinkled her nose with a small smile. "I wouldn't say I'm proficient in cappuccinos...Nescafe instant I can do." And was all she drank. Black coffee made her world go round. But she took a skittish step back as he waved her help off, embarrassed and instead hurriedly moved to to the table he gestured towards. He joined her a moment later and she began to stack the spare cutlery from the seat opposite him, she presumed he'd be dining alone again. That was confirmed as he pulled out his fancy laptop and she gave it a google-eyed look. 

"Hmm?" She asked, having missed his question and then frowned and followed his eyeline to the bruise peeping out of the sleeve of her work shirt. "Oh." She blinked and dropped the cutlery and napkin back down to the table with a clatter as she self-consciously tried to pull at the sleeve to cover it. Embarrassed, she started to gather the spare implements again with a frown and a blush. "It is...it is...I tripped," she bluffed it out with absolutely no skill, "Landed awkwardly but the doctor said it's not broken so...here I am." She managed a weak chuckle. In actual fact she couldn't remember whether her father or boyfriend had caused it. All of the blows tended to meld into one for Iona. 

"What can I get for you?" She tried to breeze through it though her smile was a touch tighter and not a genuine. "A ploughman's again?" 

 

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Posted (edited)

It was the way she skittered out of range of his brief gesture, little more than a wave, that increased his suspicions. She moved like someone accustomed to dodging blows. Someone who wasn't a fighter, but still got hit. And as she dropped his cutlery she seemed far too embarrassed by a simple fall; he was pretty certain she was lying. Poor thing. Why did some men out there have no self control? If you couldn't trust yourself not to be violent, you should keep yourself to yourself. "Well, you be careful and look after yourself, hmm?" He said gently, with a faint, sympathetic smile. "You don't want any broken bones." Either from falling, or from things she should never have to face. 

The radio was playing faintly over some old speakers hung from the low rafters, some sort of inoffensive station, and the DJ switched to an older Paul Simon song.

Over the mountains, down in the valley
Lives the former talk show host
Everybody knows his name.
He said "There's no doubt about it,
It was the myth of fingerprints.
I've seen them all and, man, they're all the same."

As Spencer set up his laptop Iona asked whether he'd want the Ploughman's Lunch again. "Please, unless there's a special you'd recommend?" He asked in turn, pulling a manilla folder of papers out of the briefcase as well and setting them next to the laptop, leaving a strategic place for his plate. "And a glass of lemonade." He opened the folder and deliberately left the top page visible, with the business card that was clipped to it. Except it wasn't for a business. The Mary Magdalene Shelter for Women had a card that was white with blue writing, and a little line drawing of a woman in a shroud on the right hand side. 

"Sorry, I'm taking up all the table already." He murmured apologetically.

@Sara

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She gave him a small little smile and a tight-lipped nod. No, she didn't want broken bones. Any more broken bones. Her wrist had only been out of plaster for three months but it still ached in the winter rains. The bruise that now covered it didn't help. Of course she was absolutely not going to spill any of this to a perfect stranger, kind as he might appear. 

She watched him set up his laptop and his files, eyes falling on the papers he left about. She wasn't astute enough to realise he had done it on purpose, but her cheeks still flushed. She could never go somewhere like that...a shelter for battered women. She wasn't battered, she had a home, she had a job, she had a boyfriend, she had some friends. She had a life. She felt herself ache in pity at the women in need of such a place, utterly convinced she didn't need such.

"Hmm?" She missed his question and blinked those big owlish eyes up at him. "Oh...oh the soup's good today. Leek and potato, it's actually homemade." She grinned, "Apparently the chef's mothers recipe. I could get you a small bowl on the side?" And then she whipped out her notepad and scrawled 1XLEM on it for the drink. "You don't have to apologise." She grinned and chuckled, dawdling before returning to the bar. "You're the most important person in here...which is not a very high bar, I grant you." She chuckled, "You can have all the tables if you want I-" She glanced down to the notepad, "Oh...oh your drink, sorry...I'll be right back." Which she was, with a pint of exceptionally fizzy, overpriced lemonade which she set down with a little wince. "You're busy at the moment?" 

 

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Something he'd learned about people over the years; they often didn't want ideas that challenged what was normal to them, even if normal looked awful from the outside. Confrontation only brought resistance. But placing the idea out there so that it stewed in the back of their minds and one day became their idea, so that they could suggest it and own it, was often far more effective. Of course, he could be reading the situation completely wrong; she might well have fallen. He just didn't think so. So he left the paperwork with the card exposed, but made no further comment on her bruise. He knew she'd seen it. Like most people she'd taken a nosy look at his paperwork, which he'd counted on, focused on what was there such that she'd almost missed the question. So, the idea was planted. Perhaps one day she might want it, and then it would be there. 

"Actually, leek and potato soup sounds delicious. With a slice of bread and cheese please." Best of both worlds. His mother made leek and potato soup, the words conjured up the taste. He waved away her suggestion that he was important with a faint smile. "I'm just another patron." He assured her. Just someone taking up space in the pub, having lunch. Yes he wore a suit, but he hadn't always and his father didn't. The old man had sniffed at the idea of going to university, before eventually conceding that a job that was mostly quiet save for the courtroom might suit his son that still jumped at loud noises better. And then he'd seen the results of the paycheck. 

Iona came back with his glass of lemonade, and Spurius already had some legislation document open on his laptop. Nothing to hide, it was available to anyone who could navigate the convoluted government websites. "Thank you." He said with a smile, as she set the glass down, then sighed good-humouredly at her question. "Always busy, I'm afraid. But I only do one afternoon a week with the charitable law group, so I need to cover as much as I can in that time." He replied, and odd little smile curving one half of his mouth for a moment. "Help as many people as I can." Which sounded more human than 'cases'. Because each case was a person. "What about you? Is the beer garden hopping again?" The warm weather surely had to be good for business. 

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She scribbled on her little pad 1xSOUP and ferried it to the kitchen dutifully before returning with his lemonade, listening intently as he spoke. She couldn't imagine a life where one had to sort of...organise their own work time and her brows rose as he said he worked for a charity. That explained the business card she'd tried her best to memorise, unconsciously. "That's very kind of you. To do that for them." She said in her gentle Scottish accent, genuinely meaning it. People round here were more likely  to try and rob a charity collection box than give even a penny to it. 

"It always is," she chuckled and pushed her ponytail back over her shoulder, "But I managed to get the inside shift today. I wasn't feeling well this morning, so at least I don't have to run around like a headless chicken out there." She did mourn for her chips though, rapidly cooling behind the bar which she' been given on account of the fainting episode. "And I get to speak to you," She chuckled, "Which is always nice. Although I get the sense I am probably an annoyance?" She got to speak to very few people who genuinely made her curious but she supposed she wasn't nearly as intriguing for him. "You ever think about coming for a drink in the evenings? We get more chance to chat to people when we're not serving food." 

 

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The waitress disappeared for a couple of minutes but was soon back with his lemonade, which he accepted with a silent nod of thanks. She listened with what almost looked like genuine interest as he explained that he worked pro bono on Friday afternoons. 

That's very kind of you. To do that for them.

Her soft Scottish accent was actually quite pleasant. Spencer's was vaguely northern England without obviously being strongly anything. "Well, someone helped me once. I'm just paying it forward." He murmured, as though it was nothing really. It got a range of reactions, even amongst others in the legal profession. Of course, some were working with him this afternoon. She chattered away, her voice more soothing than annoying, though he was supposed to be focusing on his work. But he didn't talk to a lot of people socially. The papers could wait a few minutes.

"You're not annoying, it's just that I have a lot of work to do." He replied, as gently as he could. "I hope you're feeling better now?" He enquired solicitously. The poor girl - woman really - looked like she lived on her nerves rather than three meals a day. He couldn't imagine that waitressing in a place like this paid very well, though he might be wrong. He'd already decided he'd leave a tip again, she was at least friendly and pleasant. Then she asked him a question he wasn't expecting. Did he ever think about coming in, in the evenings?

It was lucky he'd already swallowed his mouthful of lemonade. One of the things that he liked about this pub was that it was usually fairly quiet at this time of day, unless it was a nice day then people were in the beer garden. A rowdy pub in the evenings... almost didn't bear thinking about. Especially if there was a fight, which wasn't all that uncommon. A few shouts and a broken glass and there would be screams and cries and bombs in the near distance. He did his best to avoid living through that again, any more than he had to. "I'm afraid I don't drink these days." He said after a moment, setting the lemonade down to cover his pause, not realising that he'd gone a shade paler for a moment. "You know, one's too many, two's not enough?" He said, assuming that she'd recognise the Alcoholic's Anonymous mantra. "But I'll give you full points for encouraging return customers." He hoped her boss valued her for that.

At least, he assumed that's why she was encouraging him to come in the evening. It was nice to think that she enjoyed talking to him, but why would a boring, middle-aged lawyer be an interesting conversationalist for a vivacious young woman like her? Already her chirpy nature was showing through again. He gave her a shrewd look. "I believe you have to serve some sort of food whilst you serve alcohol." He said, not that that was his area of legal expertise. "If I don't finish too late, I could perhaps have some chips in the beer garden." Surely after dark everyone would be inside, and he could sit quietly outside. Home was across town after all, and though he usually went back a more direct route, it wouldn't be too far out of the way to come back.

And then he could prove to himself that she was only trying to drum up custom, and not bother again.

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Ah. Lots of work to do. Which she was interrupting. She blinked, embarrassed and moved to leave but he asked her how she was feeling and she stilled herself. "Oh." She chuckled and nodded; "Much better. Thanks." She wasn't - moving  to fast still caused all manner of head rushes but at least she wasn't actually collapsing down to the floor now. She just had to remember to a) hide the coco pops and then b) eat them before she started work. An empty stomach, heat and a busy pup did not make a well Iona make. 

And then he's surprised her. She assumed the lemonade was just because he was working - not that it would have stopped most of the men here - but she recognised the words almost immediately, from pamphlets her father had left scattered in the lounge after a meeting and the inevitable, subsequent bender. "Yeah." She replied with a soft smile. "I don't...I don't drink." It was a deeply personal thing to say, and to talk about but he he looked almost awkward and had clearly admitted something private. She swallowed, hastening to explain. "I...I don't know, I suppose when you've seen what it does to people it doesn't appeal. I...don't want to risk it." She had faced abuse for it ever since she'd wrinkled her nose at cheap nasty Prosecco on her eighteenth birthday, six years ago, but it didn't matter. She saw what it did to her father and her boyfriend. It wasn't worth it for her. Not if that supposed genetic link for alcoholics was anything to go by. 

And then he delighted her. His agreement was tentative, and conditional, but he agreed to come. She beamed, grinning and nodding. "Our chips are better than most of the food." She chuckled, "It gets quieter when it's dark-" She offered, pre-empting his own thoughts, "But we have it lit up and well...I prefer it. When it's quiet." It's where she often took her smoke break in an evening. "I'll be here till close," She added, "I'm doing a split shift but..." The bell rang and she glanced over her shoulder. "Your soup - give me a moment," And she darted off to fetch it. 

 

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