ARC VI PART I: The Curator's Cufflinks
On a sleepy street in the heart of Edinburgh, there lies a tea house that has been in business for over 100 years, despite the sign on the door always proclaiming it closed. It provides a haven for a specific type of traveler: one who journeys, not from place to place, but through time.
Normally, a quiet day at the tea house was much appreciated. But today, not even the most ideal setting nor the strongest cup of tea seemed to be helping Lills. With a drawn-out groan, she slammed her head against the open book in front of her.
"Are you okay?!" Darcy exclaimed, peeking over the stack of books surrounding her friend.
"I am the most rubbish researcher in the history of rubbish researchers," Lills mumbled, not lifting her head.
"No, you're not," Darcy said, giving her a little pat on the shoulder. "Honestly, I don't know how anyone could be expected to track down Mieko."
"I'm not looking for Mieko," Lills said, propping up her chin with her hand. "I'm trying to figure out what this symbol is." She held up her notebook so Darcy could see the symbol Aoto had sketched. He was admittedly not as good of an artist as Shoma, but he was still more or less able to capture the design on Ken's cufflinks.
It was drawn in the style of a British insignia, but it was unlike any insignia either Lills or Darcy had ever seen before. A triangle encapsulated two slightly eerie looking mice, both facing away from each other. In the center was a V, but the left side was shorter than the other, almost like the hands of a clock.
Darcy furrowed her brow. "Where did you find this?" she asked.
"It was on an acquaintance's cuff links," Lills said. "Aoto said he recognized it."
"Is your acquaintance a time traveler?"
Lills shook her head. "No, just a museum curator. To be honest, I don't really know much about him. He's from California like you, seems like a decent bloke. But he did know the Aihara family, and I don't think he's entirely fond of them." She rubbed her face and groaned again. She needed to get her mind off this stupid symbol. "How have you been? Anything exciting happen?"
Darcy's eyes lit up. "Yeah! I recovered a handful of heirlooms from the Russian Revolution, and only got shot at twice this time! I think I'm getting better! Oh, and then Shoma came over and showed us how to make potstickers- wait, no, not potstickers, they were called gyoza. Anyways, they were delicious, and Shoma looked so adorable making them. I think I took like forty pictures of him. Is that weird? It was just nice to see him so happy; the funeral was hard on him and he's had to work so much lately. But on the bright side, he hasn't had time to get a haircut so his hair is so floppy right now! Also, I'm pretty sure my dad's starting to warm up to him!" Darcy glanced over at Lills, but Lills' attention was back on her notebook. "Sorry, this is probably boring," she said nervously, tucking a chunk of hair behind her ear.
"No, it's not! Sorry, I'm a just terrible listener," Lills assured her. "I just... I have to know what it means!"
"Maybe it has to do with organized crime?" Darcy suggested. "That would explain why Aoto recognized it."
"Maybe..." Lills tapped her chin. "Wait, you know about Aoto?"
"The tattoos kind of gave him away," Darcy said. "Why, was it supposed to be a secret?"
Lills chuckled. "Supposedly," she replied. "Would it be terribly rude if I left right now to get some more books on organized crime?"
"No, not at all! I'll just get some more tea and wait here," Darcy said.
YOU ARE READING
The Time Traveler's Tea HouseScience Fiction
(Watty "Wild Card" Winner 2018) In the heart of Edinburgh, there lies a tea house that has been in business for over 100 years, despite the sign on the door always proclaiming it closed. It provides a haven for a specific type of traveler: one who j...