Petunia's Tea and Cake Shop


The song of the chapter is 'Jet Black Heart':

Luke did not really think Ashton would return to the shop for that scone as he said he would -not after Luke had lied to him about Michael and Calum’s location. He worried that their friendship as they had known it was over. Yet, Sunday afternoon, just as the after-church crowd left, Ashton strolled in wearing more casual looking clothes, with no shiny badge pinned to his jacket.

The bell over the door rang and Luke popped his head around the corner from the back room where he was washing teacups and saucers. “Hey!” He said nervously when he spotted Ashton, but smiled nonetheless. “I’ll be right out.”

“No rush,” Ashton responded, and Petunia rushed out of the kitchen to greet him. “This is a social visit, that’s all. Hey old girl, how are you?” He kneeled and rubbed her ears.

Luke wasn’t sure he believed that and returned to his washing with trepidation. He didn’t know where Calum and Michael were, so if Ashton asked again, he wouldn’t have to lie this time. Luke finished up the dish he was washing and dried it as he carried it out to the counter where Ashton stood reading over the list of teas available.

“Want to try a scone?” Luke asked and set the dried tea cup and saucer down.

“I don’t know, you said they weren’t your mom’s recipe…” Ashton raised his eyebrow in mock skepticism.

“They’re pretty darn good, though.” Luke opened the sliding back of the glass display to grab one. “Blueberry, right?” He asked, recalling that had been Ash’s favorite.

“You remembered.“ He smiled a bit more genuinely this time as he accepted the scone.

“How could I forget?” Luke smiled at the memory of young Ash politely begging for a blueberry scone every time the four of them scrambled into Luke’s mom’s shop.

“Well,” Ashton started after taking a bite. “It’s not as buttery as your moms, but you’re right - they’re pretty darn good.”

Relieved to hear that, Luke grinned and left to fetch the boiling kettle. “What kind of tea can I get you?” He asked, reaching for the chai Ash used to love.

“Just black is fine, or whatever you’ve got.” Ashton answered, surprising Luke.

“Whatever I’ve got?” Luke repeated with a bit of a laugh. “This is a tea shop, Ash, I’ve got a lot of tea.”

“You know what I mean - whatever’s convenient.” He answered bluntly.

Luke shrugged and set about making a cup of black tea for his guest and wondered if Ashton had forgotten his love for chai.

“Milk and two sugars, right?” Luke asked as he brought the cup over to Ashton.

“Nah, I take it straight these days.”

Luke stared dumbfounded at him and set down the cup and saucer. “What happened to you? You really have changed,” he joked, and sat down across from Ashton.

“What do you mean?” He did not return the same lighthearted tone.

“Nothing, just that you used to really love chai tea with a splash of milk and two lumps of sugar.” Luke explained, feeling like all the amusement had been sucked out of their conversation.

“Sometimes people grow up, they change, take responsibility for their actions…” Ashton trailed off, but Luke’s attention was on the grip Ashton had on his nearly full cup of hot tea. His knuckles were white, his jaw set, and his eyes stared tensely at some far off memory.

“Be careful-” before Luke could finish his warning, the cup shattered and hot tea poured over the counter top. They both jumped back to avoid getting scalded and Luke grabbed a towel.

“I’m so sorry, I don’t know what came over me.” Ashton stammered as he grabbed some napkins. The napkins on the counter had instantly become soaked, but he futilely mopped the counter top with them anyway.

“Don’t worry about it, I got it.” Luke said and ran to grab more towels from the kitchen.

The two cleaned up the mess in silence, with Ashton opening his mouth to talk every few moments, then closing it when he couldn’t find the words to say. Recalling Ashton’s usual loquacious habits, Luke mentally repeated his earlier thought that Ashton had indeed changed.

When he returned from the kitchen with a new cup of tea, Ashton stood by the window staring pensively out at the street. He muttered a ‘thanks’ as he accepted the tea, but couldn’t meet Luke’s eyes.

“Are you okay? Did the tea burn your hand when it spilled, or cut your hand on-”

“No, it’s, um..” Ashton interrupted him, suddenly turning to face Luke. “You asked me what had happened to me, earlier, and said I had changed...and you’re right.”

“Oh, I was just joking, I didn’t mean anything.” Luke tried to explain, feeling guilty at his words.

“No, it’s alright - you’re completely right. I have changed; I’ve become bitter and vengeful, even. Why?” He absently shook his head as he looked down at his hand at the small cut he sustained from the broken tea cup. After a long pause, he finally said, “I haven’t been called ‘Ash’ in a long time, and it stirred up memories, feelings I thought I had put behind me.”

Luke swallowed nervously, feeling panicked yet full of emotion at the same time. He wanted to say something to comfort Ashton, but he wasn’t sure what exactly he needed comforting for since this all seemed to be his fault. Calum, Michael, and Luke had always called him ‘Ash’ when they were younger, and sure people grow out of nicknames as they age, but not with a friendship like theirs. From what he could tell, the other three had some kind of falling out sometime over the last year or so, and had been enemies since. Luke bit his lip as he pondered this, and blurt out his next question without thinking it through. “What happened?”

Ashton raised his face to glance at Luke before looking away again. His expression was unreadable, but Luke thought he detected some amusement in those hazel green eyes. “It’s a long story, one we’re probably going to have to save for another day, if that.” He answered with a sigh.

Luke nodded and blushed a bit, embarrassed that he’d asked such a question. It wasn’t really his business what had happened between the other three, yet he felt it somehow was. In his letters from them over the past two years, no one mentioned a falling out, or even a fight between them, so to be shocked by this turn of events upon his arrival was a bit off-putting. “It’s none of my business, sorry,” Luke finally said, though he felt it kind of was his business since he’d been dragged into whatever was going on between the three of them.

“No, it’s not that, it’s just...hard to explain.” Ashton closed his eyes for a moment. He set down the tea cup with a polite smile and reached inside his jacket for his wallet. “What do I owe you?”

“It’s on the house.” Luke waved him off.

“At least let me pay for the broken cup.”

“I had too many cups anyway, don’t worry about it.” Luke could tell Ashton didn’t want to leave it at that, but conceded anyway.

Ashton smiled, thanked Luke, and said he should be getting on his way. The two parted ways, and Luke put the ‘closed’ sign up early. He felt something was off, very off, and didn’t quite line up with what Calum and Michael had implied. Perhaps Luke had misinterpreted their dislike for Ashton?

Mulling that thought over, Luke retired upstairs with Petunia for the night. He tried to come up with a scenario that would have explained all of this, but he couldn’t come to a conclusion that made sense.

His mental ramblings were interrupted by a knock downstairs. He was going to ignore it, but a voice followed the knock.

“Luke, it’s me, Mikey, let me in!” He called again and Luke scrambled out of bed. Judging by his lack of enunciation, and the fact that he referred to himself as ‘Mikey’, made Luke realize perhaps he wasn’t exactly sober.

“Hey,” he said as he opened the door for his obviously inebriated friend. “Let’s get you in here before anyone sees you.”

“Yessss,” Michael replied and drew out the ‘s’. ”I like what you’ve done with th’ place.” He announced and looked around.

“Thanks, be careful, though; I’ve had enough broken dishes for the day.” Luke took a teacup from his hands and placed it back on the shelf.

“Did you break a dish?” Michael found this hilarious and had to sit down he was laughing so hard.

“No, Ashton did.”

“What?” Michael seemed to sober up at that. “Why? That asshole, he can’t do that to you.”

“It was an accident, he said…” Luke wasn’t sure he should be talking about this right now, or at all, really.

“What d’he say?” Michael slurred.

“How much have you had to drink?” Luke laughed.

Michael grinned and pulled a bottle out of his jacket. “Just sampling the merchandise. Want some?”

After the day he’d had, Luke nodded and said, “Why not?” He poured himself some in a nearby teacup, and handed the bottle back to Michael. Taking a sip, he nearly spit it out. “This is the real thing?”

Michael just grinned and nodded his head slowly. “It tastes so much better after having nothing but white lightning for weeks, eh?”

Luke answered by nodding as he took another sip. Once the probably expensive alcohol started to take effect on him, he found it much easier to talk about what was bothering him. “Why does Ashton seem to hate you and Calum?”

“Because he’s a jerk,” Michael shot back, then thought some more. “The feeling is mutual, at least on my end - I can’t speak for Calum.”

“But,” Luke paused. “What happened with you guys?”

“It’s…” Michael shrugged and sighed. “It’s complicated.”

“That’s what he said, too. Is it because you guys got into all this?” Luke gestured toward the basement below where the speakeasy was just days from opening.

Michael again sighed, and shook his head. “No, not really. He used to be a part of this too, back when we first got here, back before…” He paused and squeezed his eyes shut. “I’m not coherent enough for this conversation, mate, sorry.”

With that, Michael stumbled up the stairs to Luke’s apartment to sleep on his couch.

Luke glanced over at Petunia, sound asleep beside him. “Well, Pets, we’d best be off to bed, too.”
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I’ve started trying to match a song with each chapter, though I’m not sure how long that’ll last xD The next couple of chapters are going to be a little different. As this one is titled ‘Luke’, there will be a chapter for each of them as the story is told from their different perspectives.