Steel flashes in the demon's eyes. (You're mine.) While possessive thoughts churn away in his skull, Max offers Tariq a bashful smile. "Me too."
"We can swap numbers and figure out the details... I'm sure the shop-keep will be back any minute now anyway."
"Oh," he echoes, "without a doubt." Before he can spout off one of his three numbers (each one serves a different purpose) Max hears footsteps and pauses. He flicks both eyes at Matt. Immediately, he catches the perplexed look on Matt's face; how much did he hear?
His heart skips a beat. Feeling panic is irrational. Stupid, even. He knows he can outmaneuver Matt's questions. Also, it's unlikely he knows about Tariq's affiliation. Everything he read from the gypsy's mind suggests he keeps a low profile. Max has nothing to fear. Still, he doesn't like the way his brother's staring at him...
"What are you doing?"
"Being a chatter-box," he replies cheekily. Reaching into his back pocket, he draws out a business card. Max Johnson. Life coach. The details are airtight— and completely fabricated. Blue eyes shift back to Tariq. "If you're still down for that life coaching session, give me a ring. My email address is on the back, too.
Slender arms full with two boxes, Malie exits the back office. She steadies the boxes with her chin. Brows knit in concentration, she makes it to the counter and places everything down carefully. A grin breaks across her face. (Victory!) Malie glances up to survey the patrons in her shop. Fortunately, the gods have been kind today; there are just three men awaiting support.
Immediately she recognizes Tariq.
Malie drinks in the sight of the other gypsy. (Hello, good looking.) When they met, she was a bit tipsy; she vaguely recalls touching Tariq's pecs. Now, she has her wits about her and feels a little embarrassed. Be a lady, she reminds herself. Clearing her throat, she offers all the guests a congenial smile.
"Gentlemen," she says cordially. (Ew, I sound like my mother.) "Can I help you with anything?"
('Success') the dark gypsy hisses in the corners of his mind. He's decided that even if Max isn't a viable source of information on the Corpo-Seco, he's a willing enough mark. Probably worth at least a hot meal, some cash, and who knows what else. Part of him almost regrets the plans that Tariq has in store for the man, he's kind and open, but the cursed part of him tells him that he has to survive.
Just as he's closing in on getting Max's number, Tariq's eyes dart to the side. He blinks, taken aback for a moment, and then makes the connections. There's a strong familial resemblance between the two men. ('A brother...') he thinks as he turns and offers Matt a polite, but somewhat disinterested smile.
Something about Max changes once his brother shows up. Tariq can't quite place it... apprehension? The gypsy manages to keep his cool, and to keep the confusion off his face. Max offers him a card and babbles about some sort of life-coaching BS. Things slide into place for Tariq. ('Yeah, exactly what I need, a life-coach') he thinks dryly, but he doesn't miss a beat. He latches onto the change in their conversation with the assumption that Max isn't completely out of the closet. It's something Tariq can understand all too well.
He plucks the card from his hand, quickly, dexterously, and carefully. He lowers his eyes to read it, then flips it over to read the email on the back. He looks up, sensing the presence of another Gypsy. It's like magnets being drawn to each other as he zones in Malie. She's looking at him much the same way she did the other night. She wants him, but he doesn't want her. He might consider her a friend, or maybe just someone to use, but he feels that as she's a gypsy, she's a danger to him.
He offers her a smile as she greets them all, and decides to take the initiative to draw her away. He feels like his business with Max is done with for now, but he did originally come here seeking out Malie. "Hello Malie, I could use some assistance." he pockets the contact card and turns to more fully face the other gypsy. He looks at her, his smile turning into a smirk. There's almost a purr inherent in his words.
"Well, then," Maile gestures to the counter with a flourish of her arm. "Step into my little shop of horrors."
Crinkling her nose with amusement, Malie leans onto the glass counter and focuses on Tariq. Several questions about his past still loom in her mind. What went down with his gypsy clan? Is he, ultimately, looking to find a new community? Regardless of Tariq's needs, she remains open to providing what she can to help him along in his journey.
Tariq gives Malie a smile, though they really haven't interacted much, she seems to contrast with him. Where he feels that he's serious and secretive, Malie seems to be fun and open. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but Tariq can't exactly afford to be either of those things. Part of him resents the other gypsy for it. Still, she owns this shop, and could be a veritable well of information on both the supernatural and the super-normal in this city.
The dark gypsy casts one last look over his shoulder at Max. His eyes shift to Matt momentarily, and then he's looking forward again. One way or another he's determined to make the day productive for his search. "Shop of Horrors?" he questions, not all that familiar with the idiom, the shop was far less scary than he thought a Shop of Horros would be. He continues on, quickly adapting the conversation. He decides to proceed with his earlier fabrication of doing research.
"Well, I'm doing some research, on some sort of evil apparition in the area..." he says, cutting to the chase. "And considering we come from the same background, I thought you might be willing to help me out?" he flashes a coy, knowing smile. He knows, that his position as an apparent gypsy-orphan has probably triggered the woman's curiosity, as such he doesn't want to try to lie to her as much so as to not trigger further suspicion.
"Well, I'm doing some research, on some sort of evil apparition in the area..."
(Evil apparition?) Red flags shoot up in Malie's mind. Her instincts tell her to lean away from Tariq, to create distance. Yet Malie pushes back against those instincts; she's not her mother or her mother's mother. She takes a deep breath, making a conscious effort to be present and open-minded.
"And considering we come from the same background, I thought you might be willing to help me out?"
She nods slowly with understanding, wondering what questions will fall from Tariq's secretive lips. "Okay..."
A pregnant beat. Then, to break the tension, Malie drops her voice a few decibels: