Petunia's Tea and Cake Shop


Song of the chapter is 'Youngblood'
(I'm not sure why, I just got that vibe)

By the time Michael got through his third scone, he realized what time it was and jumped up.

“Oh shit,” he swore and scrambled to put on his shoes. “I was supposed to be there twenty minutes ago.”

“But...what happened with Ashton and that girl?” Luke hesitantly asked, interrupting the long string of curses that flew out of Michael’s mouth.

“I’ll tell you later, or ask Calum - he probably knows it better than I.” He answered before scrambling down the stairs out of Luke’s apartment.

Luke stood staring after him, “Okay,” he said to himself, and looked over at Petunia snoring on the floor beside the table. He tried to clear his head and distract himself, but his curiosity was gnawing at him like a ravaging wolf. He was so close to finding out the truth, or at least he thought they were close. It was clearly about that girl, right? It had to be.

But what was it? What had happened that drove Ashton so far apart from Calum and Michael?

Luke wracked his brain for ideas as he washed up the dishes in the tea shop down stairs. He wished Michael had at least told him the girl’s name so he didn’t have to refer to her as ‘the girl’ in his thoughts.

If Ash was clearly smitten with this girl, then perhaps one of the other two angered him by also showing an interest in her? Or worse, they asked her out before Ashton got a chance to?

Luke shook his head; that doesn’t seem like something Calum or Michael would do. They would never steal someone’s girl like that, especially not from one another.

Perhaps she changed Ashton, or he changed to fit in with her, to impress her. That wasn’t something Luke could picture him doing, but then again, he never thought he’d find Ashton at odds with any of them, let alone actively trying to get them arrested.

A noise downstairs, from the speakeasy below, triggered an idea, and Luke did not stop to think before rushing down the secret staircase to the basement. Just as he thought, he found Calum down there unpacking some final boxes.

“Hey,” Calum said when he realized it was Luke, and slid his gun back under the bar. “You didn’t knock, I thought maybe the Prohibition Bureau had finally found us.”

“Sorry, I just wasn’t thinking.” Luke held up his hands in defense, but Calum smiled.

“Did you come down to help? Because I could use a hand putting these glasses away behind the bar.”

“Actually, I have a question, but I can help you.” Luke moved closer to the bar, and opened the box Calum indicated.

“What kind of question?”

“Well, I was talking with Michael this morning, and…” He paused, not sure how to ask.

“So you’re the reason he was late?” Calum laughed.

“No, well, maybe I distracted him a bit, we got to talking and then he just left right as he got to an interesting point. I was kind of hoping you could fill in the rest for me?”

“What were you talking about?”

“About Ash.”

Calum paused and nearly dropped the bottle of scotch he was shelving behind the counter. “What about him?” He asked, a bit more sternly than he had intended.

Luke stammered for a moment, then finally blurted out, “I just want to know what happened between you guys.”

Calum continued to shelve that same bottle for a moment, making extra sure it was perfectly lined up, before he he sighed. Turning to Luke, be briefly met his eyes before he grabbed another box and began unpacking it. “Well, how much did Mikey tell you?”

“We had just gotten to the part where Ashton met that girl in the bar.”

Calum’s eyes got sad for a moment, but he blinked a few times to clear it away. “Angela, or Angie as he called her; Ash and Angie, they were. When they were together, he I’d never seen him before.” Calum paused to recollect. “He found any excuse to be at that bar: he did extra deliveries, offered to wait tables and clean glasses -anything.”

“So, is that what drove a wedge between you guys?” Luke interrupted.

“Actually,” Calum said with a smirk, “his extra involvement with the business is how we got this place.” He gestured to the bar and surrounding area.

“Really? How?” Luke asked, completely forgetting the glasses he was meant to be shelving.

“Our boss, Alfred, wanted to open a second location, in case anything should happen to the first bar - The Rattlesnake - he’d have a backup. So, he opened this place and named it ‘The Viper’ to go with the snake theme.”

Luke cocked his head in confusion, since as far as he knew, the speakeasy was named ‘Duke’s’ after Calum’s adorable dog. “Did he let you change the name?”

“Michael didn’t tell you about this?” Calum rubbed his hands together and pulled out a barstool to sit on. “Have a seat, because we’re going to take a little detour in our story.”

“Okay,” Luke said with intrigue, and did as he was told.

“Alright, so Alfred was starting to get a little too big for his britches.”

“He got fat?” Luke interrupted.

“No -well, yes but that’s not what I meant.” Calum continued. “He was arrogant, he let his ego get the better of him. Business was going very, very well, and he had stopped being quite so careful. After he opened ‘The Viper’, a rival boss and fellow gin runner thought Alfred had gotten a little too close to his territory. So, he sent us a little warning every now and then - a few slashed tires, a couple broken windows - nothing too serious.”

Luke didn’t think that sounded like ‘nothing too serious’ but he let Calum continue.

“Then, things started to heat up; he would carjack our shipments, send bomb threats to the bars - mainly this one. But Alfred ignored it, said he had every right to be here, but things kept getting worse, and people stopped coming to The Viper. Since business at The Rattlesnake was booming, Al didn’t care too much, until that rival boss sent his men and claimed this as his own. Ashton and I were here unloading a few boxes, and he was eager to get back to The Rattlesnake to see Angela. He was just going on and on about her - wouldn’t shut up - so we didn’t hear when Vinny’s guys showed up. They plowed right over our ‘cover’ upstairs -where your shop is now- being careful to use knives instead of guns, so as to not attract attention, so by the time they got down here, Ashton, Michael, and I were totally unprepared.”

“Hence the gun under the bar.” Luke noted, and Calum nodded.

“Exactly, we learn from our mistakes.”

“So, what happened? How did you guys get out of that?” Luke pressed, eager for more information.

“Well, as I said, it was Ashton really. Once we realized the men coming down the stairs weren’t our own, he started putting bottles back in the boxes we were unpacking.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Vinny’s guys shouted something at us, and Michael and I were shaking, but Ash was cool as a cucumber, even as they threw a warning knife right back here,” Calum paused, and turned to point at a spot in the wall not far from their heads. “Ashton held up his hands, so we copied him, and he said we were clearing the place out, and Al had decided to give up The Viper.”

Luke mentally tipped his hat to Ashton’s wits, which had certainly gotten them out of dangerous situations before.

“So, Vinny’s men reported that back to Vinny, and he seemed fine with it. However, Alfred didn’t think that was such a clever idea, and nearly fired Ashton on the spot. But as always, he kept talking, and talking, until eventually he brought Al around to see his point of view. Ashton suggested they keep The Viper closed for a while, until Vinny forgot about it, and that didn’t sit well with Al, but he reluctantly agreed. Ash went a little further, and even suggested they cover their tracks by changing ownership of the Viper.

“Let me guess, you want to own it?” Alfred had said, but Ashton shook his head.

“No, and I think you know I’d much rather stay here at The Rattlesnake,” he had defended, glancing back at Angie warming up on the stage.

“Then perhaps one of your friends, maybe?” Al had asked with a sarcastic tone, but gently rolled his eyes and agreed. “Alright, this one - what’s your name?” He pointed.

“Me? I’m Calum, Calum Hood,” he had answered, shocked that Al even noticed his existence.

“Yeah, you’re perfect; no one would suspect a nobody like you owned a speakeasy.” Alfred had laughed, and left to draw up the papers.

“And that is how I became the owner of this bar,” Calum concluded and motioned around the room proudly.

Luke thought for a moment, then asked, “So, Ashton has not only been down here, but he knows you own this place?”

Calum nodded. “He’s been here loads of times.”

“So he knows there is a speakeasy underneath my tea shop?” Luke asked with growing irritation and fear.

“He knows there used to be a bar here, and that I know rent -or loan, rather- the space upstairs to you.”

Luke stared dumbstruck at Calum. “Are you serious? What’s stopping him from raiding this place? He suspects you and Michael are still in the gin running business, so why doesn’t he just get it over with?”

“Oh, he has raided us, multiple times - and each time, he’s come up empty. We waited to set up shop, we were smart. Now, if he asks the Prohibition Bureau for a search warrant, they’ll probably just laugh and tell him to move on. Who would suspect a speakeasy was hiding under a quaint little tea shop?” Calum grinned and laughed at the apparent hilarity of the situation, which Luke failed to see.

“Were you waiting for me? To be your cover, so you could open your bar?” Luke found this situation far from hilarious, and stood up to put some space between he and Calum. “You just needed me to run my ‘cute little tea shop’ upstairs so you could have your illegal bar, right? I thought it was just a coincidence, but you’ve planned it all, haven’t you?”

“Hey, calm down, what are you talking about? You knew we were going to open ‘Duke’s’ down here, and I’m letting you live upstairs rent free for that. You have always been more than welcome to find housing elsewhere and set up shop in a different location.” Calum retorted, starting to reciprocate a bit of the negativity Luke was pouring on him.

“You know I can’t afford that. We’re in the worst location for a tea shop, so I’m barely making enough for Petunia and I to survive.”

Calum calmly put his hand on Luke’s shoulder. “We’re all just trying to survive, Luke. I never dreamed of owning a speakeasy - heck, I hadn’t even heard of one until I moved here - but it pays the bills, it puts food on the table, and gives us a place to live. And, it’s pretty exciting most of the time,” he concluded with a smirk.

Luke took a deep breath and realized he might have overreacted. “You’re right, perhaps I was a little harsh. Maybe I’ll pop upstairs and make us a cup of tea.”

“Sounds lovely - I’ll take Earl Grey if you’ve got it,” Calum called after him as Luke climbed back up the stairs. He returned to the half-unpacked boxes he had forgotten about in the midst of his story and started shelving bottles along the back of the bar. He heard footsteps on the stairs behind him, so he called out to Luke, “Back already?”

“I like what you’ve done to the place,” a familiar voice responded, and Calum turned to see Luke standing awkwardly at the bottom of the stairs with Ashton behind him, holding what looked like a revolver to Luke’s back.

Calum started to reach for the gun hidden under the bar, but Ashton stopped him.

“Freeze, or I won’t hesitate to put a bullet in him.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Sorry to end on a cliffhanger like this! I’ve already started writing the next (and possibly last) chapter, and hopefully I will finish it much quicker than I did this one.

When I realized it was the 7th anniversary of 5SOS today, I had to hurry up and finish this chapter to get it posted today! I can’t believe how far they’ve come, and I’m so proud of them for winning three ARIAs this week :D

Thank you for reading and commenting! : )