There’s something brewing on the streets of London, and it has claws and teeth; and sugar to taste.
Packages shift and clatter against each other as their purveyor lifts yet another box into his other overloaded arms – and yes, it is possible to be a few hands short for a task, even if you have double the expected number to begin with – and turns back towards the curb, carefully searching for the pavement’s edge with one outnumbered foot. They’ve started the move early, as they always do, yet the street is already starting to fill with people, a few of them glancing in his direction as he starts to add the latest pile of boxes to those already by the doorway.
Breeze stirs, spilling a wash of heady scents from the stacked ingredients – and there is the rustle and rush of spices and dark leaves, pressed and packed and waiting – and a giggle, right in his ear.
“Not now, Pooka,” he mutters, as there is another flicker of laughter and the sense of something twisting lightly around his shoulders – a cloud of hair in the corner of his vision, shaded and swirling like milk stirred loosely into a fresh-poured cup, but as unseen to the blearly-eyed morning walkers as his own more non-standard attributes.
There is glamour in many things, and they are far from an exception.
It takes another few minutes to get the rest of the ingredients moved: bulbous glass jars that clink within their wrappings, scales and spoons and oils and all other paraphernalia of the tea-maker’s art; and Gabriel takes a moment to lean against the wall beside his packed-up business, letting out a sigh over teeth just a little sharper than usual.
They are here. There is plenty still to do, of course, and that’s even before the rest of their mismatched band arrive. It’s full moon this week, so Barnabas will no doubt slouch in at noon, eyes heavy from the kind of wild night on the town that leaves claw marks in your doorframes. Leviathan and Siren will be travelling by river, for the most part, with the sting of salt and a deep-ocean thunder following their progress up the churning Thames; and neither of the Twins has ever been on time for anything in their collective, eventful lives. So for now, it was just going to be him, and the pin-toothed Fae menace in a teacup – who is already picking idly at the tape on a box, and grinning like something proverbial.
Gabriel returns the smile as he straightens up, and tucks a few strands of hair back into its bun with his upper-left hand.
Alright. Let’s get started.
Time for tea.