Brittany Ford sighed as movement in the corner of her eye signaled yet another customer departing from her coworker's register. They were both paid by the hour, not the customer; it wasn't like it was a race. Still, for some reason, watching as her 'differently abled' companion turned out to be more able than her at the oh-so-difficult tasks of scanning barcodes, taking money, making change, and shoving shit into plastic bags just… irritated the shit out of her.
As she sent her latest customer on their way with an insincere smile, Brittany looked past them to find a rather striking blonde woman waiting at the head of the queue. Not that she was interested in women in any way, shape, or form, but… well, whoever this lady was, she sure stood out in a crowd. She was tall and muscular, but not freakishly so like a bodybuilder. She almost reminded Brittany of the female gladiators she'd seen on American Gladiators
as a child or, more recently, the 'Divas' from when her ex-boyfriend had made her watch professional wrestling with her. Tough enough to survive taking a hit, but pretty enough to be marketable while she was doing it. Well, whoever she was, she was standing at the front of the line and that meant… "Next!"
The woman continued to stand there staring off into space absently for a few more seconds before realizing that she was the person being called forth. "Oh. I'm just here to bug Court when she's on break." Stepping to the side, she waved the customer behind her forward. "So I guess she means you?"
Even as her new customer approached the counter, Brittany shot a glance to her right at 'Court'. Not to be mean but… she had friends? Courtney was an enigma to the rest of the Borders staff: she arrived five minutes - to the second - before each shift, never left early, never missed a shift, and never asked for days off beyond what the managers gave her. She'd never before had a friend come in to bug her at work, nor did she chat with her coworkers while on the clock. Her breaks came when the managers saw fit to give them rather than at her own request, and she did her best to go above and beyond the modified expectations her 'reasonable accommodations' granted her. All in all, the perfect employee. A little too perfect. Now, though, it seemed as if the first crack in Courtney's flawless shell was appearing.
"If you're not going to buy anything, Göndul, go find us a table at the Dean & Deluca. I should get my fifteen some time in the next twenty minutes. Half an hour, tops."
…or not. Then Brittany paused and tried to repeat what Courtney had called the blonde. Göndul? Her name was… Göndul? Seriously? Wow. Someone's parents obviously hated her. Göndul didn't seem at all phased by the rebuke, though, rolling her eyes before holding up a CD and approaching Courtney's register. "Or I could buy this and stay over here and harass you for a few more minutes."
Courtney took the CD from her friend and froze before letting out a snort of laughter. "You're buying a copy of Die Walküre
"What can I say? There's something about 'Ritt der Walküren' that just… speaks to me." Why that was funny, Brittany had no idea, but both girls began giggling as Courtney continued to ring her friend up. Speaking of ringing people up… she should probably be doing that herself, huh? Brittany turned to the impatient-looking man in front of her and smiled, only for it to fade as she took in the large pile of books, movies, and CDs sitting on the counter in front of him.
No rest for the wicked…
Gingerly sliding off her stool, Courtney Gibbs balanced expertly on one crutch as she slid the strap of her oversized purse onto her shoulder and then slid her arm into the cuff of her other crutch. After double-checking to make sure that her register was locked out, she nodded to her manager and limped off to join her friend in the store's attached café. A few regulars waved hello even as a few strangers stared at her curiously, Courtney nodding to the former while ignoring the latter. She was used to it by now; after twenty years, she'd come to accept that some people just couldn't handle those who were different.
Or at least she remembered twenty years of life among the mortals of Midgard, even though logically she knew she'd only been there just under a month. Her coworkers, on the other hand, remembered working with her for almost four years now, and Rebekah and Dennis Gibbs had memories of her dating all the way back to such momentous milestones as her first real words, first steps, year after year of first days of school, that fateful trip to the hospital when she'd officially been diagnosed with transverse myelitis… day for day, year for year, their memories matched hers. Considering she hadn't existed for most of that period of time, it was rather disconcerting.
Slipping into the chair Göndul had thoughtfully left pulled out for her, Courtney let her two forearm crutches come to rest against the edge of the table before opening her bag and pulling out a small white bag with a green and black logo on it. The blonde eyed it strangely and Courtney snorted before nodding in the direction of the café's counter. "It bugs the crap out of the coffee jockeys. There's a Starbucks between the nearest subway station and here, so I swing through each day and get an apple bran muffin for a snack." Tearing the back open along the seam, she flattened it out to reveal her muffin before picking it up and eyeing it curiously. "Still don't understand why it's just an apple bran muffin to them. There's apples, cherries, raisins, dried cranberries… why not a fruit bran muffin or something?"
"Who knows? Who cares? Why don't we just put it in the same category as 'How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?' and spend our time pondering more important things like…" Setting a white saucer and cup down in front of Courtney, Gina Tomaselli turned and presented her posterior to the pair. "Do these jeans make my butt look big?"
Courtney smirked as she gently tugged her teacup over to sit in front of her. "No, Gina, the fact that your butt is big makes your butt look big." Gina let out a huff before collapsing into the third chair at the table and Courtney reached over to pat her on the head. "Aww, you know you're my favorite coffee jockey and I love you to death. So shush. And the money's the same place as always." As the dark-haired girl rooted through Courtney's purse in search of cash, Courtney lifted her cup and closed her eyes as she inhaled deeply. "You can say whatever you want about them, but mortals can make a mean cup of tea. Even if the name is ridiculous. 'Thé à l'opéra Tea'." She snorted. "'Tea at the Opera Tea'. How does that make sense?" After taking a sip, she opened her eyes and stared across the table. "So, Göndul. What brings you across Bifröst today?"
Shrugging, the statuesque blonde reached up to toy with her hair as she met Courtney's gaze. "A little bit of shopping. Your standard weekly valkyrie visit so I can go back to Asgard and tell your parents that you're fine and don't seem ready to come home yet. Might take another crack at finding that Hulk beast everyone's so afraid of to see how I do against him. Same old, same old."
"Ah. Well next time you pull the short straw, just grab a table over here and wait. It's not like I can't sense you or anything. And if you're nice to her, Gina might even come over and keep you company while you wait." Tearing a piece off her muffin, Courtney chewed it slowly before swallowing, eyes never leaving Göndul. "And tell my parents that I'm fine. Just like last week, and the week before that, and the week before that. Although, since you've brought them up… how are they doing?"
She still couldn't believe her parents were being so obsessively protective of her. She was over two centuries old, after all; she was hardly a child. And despite her decision to assume a mortal guise and a flawed one at that, she could revert to her true Asgardian form at will. There were very few things among the Midgardians that could harm her, making the regular visitation more than a little excessive. Then Göndul's voice brought her back to the real world and she tuned in to the answers to the question she'd asked. "…is fine. He's off in Jötunheimr fighting the Frost Giants again. Mostly because your mom caught him cheating yet again and it was either that or hide out down here until Sif cools off. And considering that last time he visited Midgard, he ended up sleeping with Gina here… he's probably better off in Jötunheimr. Cheating on his wife while he's hiding out because he cheated on his wife probably wouldn't help things any. As for Sif, she's been working with us valkyries a lot. Mostly to keep busy, I think, but she's an opponent I haven't fought every day for a thousand years, so I can't complain."
While that was interesting, it only answered half of what Courtney had asked and Göndul knew it. Before she could say anything, though, Gina scoffed and reached over to punch the valkyrie hard on the shoulder. "I'm the Roman goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality. Her father is a stud. What did you expect to happen?"
"And yet Freyja, our goddess of the exact same things, manages to keep her legs closed around him."
"Most of the time."
"…most of the time."
"Ahem." The two women looked over at Courtney, blushing faintly. "As fascinating as my father's sex life is… Göndul, you forgot someone. How's my mother?" Göndul opened her mouth and Courtney held one finger up. "I'm not talking about Sif and we both know it."
Squirming uncomfortably, Göndul finally let out a sigh before answering. "Lady Amora is good… I think. It's not as if she lowers herself to spend time with us mere sword-swingers very often, after all. She hangs out with Loki and the rest of the sorcerers, lording herself over the Vanir just as Loki dominates the Æsir with magical talents."
Courtney nodded, pulling another piece off the top of her muffin and nibbling on it. "You may not agree with what she did with my father, but she is my mother. No matter how hard Sif tries and how many of you try to ignore it, that won't change. Next time I ask you how my mother is doing, I expect to hear about Amora." Göndul's mouth opened but Courtney waved her off. "Tell the others. Am I clear?"
"Yes, Lady Thrúd."