Ribbons and Clothes

February 05, 2017:

After getting Hikari's card from Steve, Peggy stops by her shop.

Hataori & Bines

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Steve Rogers

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

In the days following the raid on James Barnes, there hasn't been quite a lot of time for Peggy or Steve to have a lot of free time. However, on one of their last personal conversations, Steve handed her a card and a name and said she should see a woman named Hikari Hataori. He didn't exactly explain why, but she guesses it has to do with the fact that Peggy does like nice clothes and Hataori is a seamstress. While fitting into the modern style of clothing, she really has missed the way her old clothes felt: sturdier, more fitted. The patterns, even, felt more at home than she general does in her clothes now.

Climbing the three stories of the building Hikari operates out of in Mutant Town, she checks the card to ensure she is in the right place before knocking on the door. As there is no sign, she doesn't wish to disturb the wrong address. She keeps the card in hand in case she needs to explain her visit, she's not exactly sure if this place goes by appointment or not. Belatedly, she sighs at herself for not calling ahead. Shoddy intelligence work, Carter!

—-

Hikari has been busy as well… although her work usually involves a bit less life-or-death circumstance and more needs-to-be-done-yesterday deadlines. If only her power was time travel…! Still, she's pleased by how her hard work has been paying off. Now if she can just get through this last batch of shirts…

The address on the card brings Peggy to a slightly less reputable part of town, but it won't be anything the brunette hasn't seen before - except for the people living here, maybe. There's a woman with four arms smoking a cigarette out on a stoop, occasionally someone flies overhead, and the rest run the gamut from 'scaly supermutants' to 'shockingly ordinary'. The building where Hikari rents half of a studio space is an older one, made of brick, but it's in good repair. It was probably built sometime around the turn of the last century if the brickwork and window fittings are to be trusted.

On the third floor, down a hallway full of similar doors, Peggy will find one labeled with a paper sign that just says 'Hataori & Bines'. At least she found the right address!

"Coooomiiiiing," a voice calls through the door. It's young, female, probably an alto. Light footsteps approach, and the door swings inward to reveal an open space beyond… and a smiling young Japanese-American woman on the other side, with her long pink hair pulled back in a high ponytail. "Hello? I'm Hikari, can I help you?"

—-

Though from the past, Peggy doesn't stare or goggle as she makes her way to Hikari's workshop. While she is cautious - knowing this to be a shadier side of the neighborhood - it's generally to make sure no on is attempting to follow or get the drop on her. Generally, her eyes are forward, searching for the proper address. She trusts in her instincts enough to not be on high alert.

As the door opens, Peggy Carter stands there. Her outfit, while modern, still has hints of the vintage. Her heels have the wider heel, the lines of her clothing harkening to higher waists and blouses. While she does not always pincurl her hair, she did today. Her nails and lips are a matching red.

Peggy smiles at Hikari and holds up the card that Steve gave her. "Hello, forgive the intrusion, however I was told that I should stop by here? My name is Peggy Cater. Steve Rogers gave me this address." While not generally at a loss, she shrugs her shoulders just slightly. "I've been told you're quite an excellent seamstress."

—-

It's the little things that count for the most. Hikari looks for details - has trained herself to, because keeping track of them can take a project from 'fine' to 'fabulous'. This close, her eyes are a warm brown, and her smile reaches all the way up when Peggy introduces herself. "Oh! Agent Carter! —Oh, I'm sorry, would you prefer Ms. instead? Please, come in!"

It's Agent Carter it's Agent Carter it's Agent Carter, Steve Rogers actually sent her over instead of whatever she'd thought he might have done, what is Hikari going to do?! She thought it was supposed to be a surprise!

First off, she's going to flip the switch on the electric kettle, because tea never hurt anybody and there's a box of assorted packets next to a little mug tree on a small table by the windows. Next, she's going to glance at her worktable and make sure the designs she'd drawn up for Agent Carter's dress are nowhere in sight. Excellent, she's in the clear! "It's no problem at all. I made up some clothing for him that fits a little better than modern things tend to. I'm glad he liked them!" He must have, or he wouldn't have sent Peggy over after all, right?!

"Clothes off the rack aren't going to fit everybody just right. That's my specialty, making things for people just outside the 'normal' box. …Or really far out of it," she chuckles, and directs Peggy's attention to a dressform that's been ratcheted out to its maximum and set on top of a box for good measure. The dress on it is lovely, but the woman it's being made for must be over six feet tall and able to lift houses.

"Please have a seat if you like, the water will be hot enough for tea in a moment." Hikari pulls up the sleeves of her cozy purple sweater. "Now. What can I do for you?"

—-

It seems the both of them are a little out of their element here. Steve sent her to Hikari for his own secret reasons and Peggy would never expect him to have ulterior motives. She's a little surprised to hear that the woman knows of her, blinking once or twice at the greeting. "Agent is fine. Though, this is not a business call, so with whichever you are more comfortable." Were Hikari an agent under her command or someone she was interrogating, she would insist on Agent. A random social meeting? She is not about to be quite as hard-line about it.

"Ah, I see," she smiles, attempting to be friendly. "Yes, it's been the little differences I find strange. Nothing quite fits the way I think it should. Also, the fabrics feel…I'm not quite sure what the proper word is. They do not feel right." Stepping into the studio, she quickly looks it over. It's her general habit upon entering a new space. One can learn quite a bit about a person by looking at how they arrange their space. It's also a good idea to always know where the exits are.

Smiling, she nods. "I, fortunately, might be an easier fit." She has no mutant gene, no super soldier serum: her body is nothing out of the ordinary human. Taking in the dress form and the dress upon it, she nods after a moment of study. "That's lovely. I imagine it can be a challenge to fit for people with various differences. I imagine someone with wings would need their outfits entirely tailored to accommodate."

As for what can be done for her, she smiles. "I'm…not sure, to be honest. I came here under Steve's suggestion. But, now that I am here, I will admit that it would be nice to have some clothing that feels more like…well, like the old days."

—-

Who on earth could suspect Steve Rogers of having secret plans? She's pretty sure he was the prototype for Mister Rogers, the one with the red cardigan and a children's show. "Agent, then," Hikari nods, because why wouldn't she call someone by a title they're comfortable with? And Agent Carter sounds cool, like she's working with a spy or something! Even though she just sews clothes and occasionally helps stranded aliens save their spaceship homes, Hikari can still daydream!

"They feel a bit cheaper, don't they?" Hikari suggests, glancing over to a shelving rack full of fabric bolts. Caty-corner to it is a wide desk that's a bit more like a work table, with a high-end sewing machine next to a serger and a few other fiddly bits and bobs and drawers full of embellishments. Thread in a rainbow of colors is racked neatly, sorted by fiber before hue. "Or at least thinner. Near the middle of the room is another table, long and thin, with a rack hanging off one side that houses a fancy iron, a rotary cutter, tailor's chalk, and lord knows what else.

The sole 'not related to sewing' part of the room is a different corner, with a desk dedicated to heavy-duty computer equipment and various electronics. That must belong to 'Bines'.

Hikari nods, wandering over to run her fingers over a bolt of Shantung silk in a deep scarlet, one that's almost a perfect match for Peggy's nail polish and lipstick. "Most manufacturing these days has moved overseas, where it can be done cheaper. Cheaper materials, cheaper labor, cheaper product. It doesn't last very long, because it doesn't have to. So you see way fewer people buying one quality item that will last for decades, and more people picking up a shirt that doesn't fit corectly, isn't sewn that well, and will probably start falling apart within a year."

"So that's where I try to make a difference. Clothes can't just look good, they have to make you feel good! And they can't do that if they don't fit just right." She… has a lot to say about things like this, doesn't she? "If you like, I'd be happy to talk with you about how we can put together some current fashions that are tailored more like the styles you would be used to. Plus undergarments are completely different for ladies now, and /that/ has an enormous effect on fit…"

Hikari seems to realize she's blabbering and clears her throat, shutting up for a moment. She's doing it again. "But you're not wrong about the wings. Thank goodness for Velcro."

—-

"They do," Peggy follows Hikari further into the space. There's quite a lot to see around the studio, but she tries to study it discreetly. She has no desire to be rude. "That's the difference. It all feels as if it can rip or ruin at a moment's notice." And in her line of work, well, that simply will not do. She needs clothes that will travel with her.

As Hikari moves toward the red fabric, there's an involuntary smile. The Agent is right behind her and she reflexively reaches a hand out to touch the fabric, but pulls her hand back immediately, realizing it's rude to just touch someone else's things. "You know, I had a dress this color back in the day," she reminisces. "I, of course, don't have it any more. It wasn't quite that fabric, but it was…" there's a bit of a fondness at the thought. "Forgive me. The dress has fond memories for me."

Business! Talk about other things! Peggy smiles and nods. "Actually, that would be lovely. I think that's why Steve gave me your card. It's been…well, it's been strange to acclimate. It's the small things, like I said. A few pieces of clothing that feel more comfortable would go a long way. Something I could wear to work: flexible, able to be moved about in. Maybe a few after work pieces." Her eyes remain on that red fabric. "Maybe a dress or two."

—-

Out of the corner of her eye, Hikari sees a hand reaching out toward the fabric - and then withdrawing. "Oh, feel free! It's lovely, isn't it?" The younger girl strokes the palm of her hand down a different bolt, black velvet that practically /eats/ the light of the overhead lamp. "It's real silk. Like I told Captain Rogers, it's not rationed anymore." It's ~ so ~ soft. "Plus I have to admit, just touching it feels nice. And it's inspiring too!" Hikari grins.

"Hmm, dresses from the forties were absolutely beautiful," for the most part, she doesn't add. "The cuts were feminine without all the exaggeration of the designs that came later, in the 50s. Every time I see ladies' businesswear from back then, I feel like the woman wearing it could kick anybody's butt." She wishes she knew a polite, tactful way to say 'be thankful you missed the 80s and Those Shoulderpads'.

She trails her fingers over all the bolts on that shelf in a row, leaving the last one with a fond glance before meandering over to her worktable, where a sketchbook waits. "Retro is in style these days - if you like, I could make you a few things that would work back then /and/ today! That would be so amazing to work on!" (She absolutely did include some of the same in Steve's things. She hopes she'll get to see him in the suspenders some day - they might be a weakness of hers.) "With high quality materials, and I guarantee my work for every but act of God." Or alien invasion, which probably counts.

Hikari flips her sketchbook open, carefully bypassing Steve Rogers's pages and the little sketch of a certain red dress carefully taped by its side. "Agent Carter," Hikari beams at the other woman, pencil gripped securely in her fingers. "Why don't you start by telling me about that red dress?"

—-

At the permission, Peggy reaches a hand out and touches the fabric. It's a fond, gentle touch of the fabric that she gives it. There's a small smile as she imagines the red dress she is imagining from it. "Yes, it is. Your fabrics are quality." She glances over at the seamstress for a moment. "Steve was interested in something in silk?" She's not suspicious, merely curious. That's not what she expected of what he would ask for in his tailored outfits.

Pulling herself away from the bolts, she smiles at Hikari, much warmer and more at home than when she first arrived. "I must say, I was fond of them, but I am biased." Understandably so, perhaps. She has seen pictures of the 80s, at least, and is very glad she never consciously had to deal with those fashion trends. "It was a product of the time, I believe. Everyone felt the need to rise up to fight should their name be called and that could happen at a moment's notice."

With a laugh, she follows Hikari, unsure exactly of where she should stand, but not feeling exactly awkward about it. The offered sketchbook is met with a smile and an appreciation of the art there. "Hopefully it will only need to work for today, however I do appreciate the thought of it feeling as if it would back then." As the pages flip by her, she studies each of them with the eyes of a woman used to blueprints and imagining things that are not actually in front of her.

"These will look wonderful on Steve," she tells Hikari seriously. Then, realizing her words, she blushes. "Of course, your art is just very good at portraying what might look good on him." It's her work, not him! Obviously! As for the red dress, she raises her eyebrows. "Oh, that? I'm not sure that's what I would start with. I think I might start with the work clothes."

—-

"Thank you. The Hataoris have worked in textiles for more than two centuries. I get the family discount~" Hikari winks, voice lilting a bit. "It's always fun to look for hints of what was going on in the fashions of a time. Not just haute couture or what the upper classes wore. I did my junior paper in high school about the history of the apron. I got teased so much!" She can't help but laugh. It /was/ a pretty fringe topic compared to the dozens of essays about why marijuana should be legal, or whatever.

Perhaps aware of Peggy's momentary uncertainty, Hikari smiles and waves toward the little table. "Sit or stand or do whatever you like. You only have to hold still for measurements, and those don't take /that/ long. Plus the hot water should be ready to go by now if you'd like tea."

She laughs, smiling at the memory of sitting at the same table with Steve. "He was so polite," she remembers, just thinking out loud. "I was kind of surprised, but not really? Because my history textbooks had always said that he was a gentleman, but you never really know that until you meet someone. Nice people deserve nice things, as silly as it must sound… Oh, he asked about ties," she fibs. What, he did!

But it seems Peggy Carter is a tough nut to crack (and Ribbon is a notorious woobie who doesn't know a thing about soft interrogation), so she nods and puts pencil to paper. "I was thinking something sort of post-war inspired, wider lapels and a fluted skirt. The long-sleeved blouses from the forties didn't age so well, but ladies' suits and outerwear allow for greater variation…" She draws quickly. Differently than Steve Rogers, as well - her detail is in the lines of the drawing, where he makes use of light and shadow. On paper, he's the superior artist. "Have you seen anything out in the world that you really liked? And there're magazines in the tub under the table if you want to look in those, too~"

—-

"People often mock what they don't understand." Peggy knows that all too well. She gives Hikari an encouraging smile before moving toward one of the chairs and settling on it. "I'm glad you stuck with it, otherwise I wouldn't be here."

Smiling, her ankles cross and she folds her hands in her lap. "Tea sounds perfect, thank you." As a British woman, how could she turn that down? Steve's behavior is taken with a smile. Of course he was so polite. She couldn't imagine him being anything else. "I understand. No one expects Steve to be the man they read about, but he is." Her tone is hard to mask: there's a certain warmth when she talks about him. "Ah." At the mention of ties, she nods. That sounds like Steve. She also may blush a little. Her own assumption as to why he may want a tie the same color of the dress from so long ago is one she will keep private. It's a pleasant surprise, even if it may not exactly be the truth.

"That sounds lovely," she nods. "I'm not sure, to be honest. I do like the pencil skirts. The buttoned blouses with collars. I'm not sure if that is at all helpful."

—-

She can't help but smile a bit. After all, she's doing very well (knock on wood) while some of the people she went to high school with aren't doing much at all. "It doesn't matter," Hikari shrugs. "I knew what I wanted to do pretty much my whole life. When other kids my age were playing sports or video games or whatever, I was learning to sew. I learned on my grandfather's machine, with my father guiding me." She hadn't been hurt back then, when people had laughed at her paper. Besides, some of them had still been her friends anyway!

"Besides, it /is/ kind of silly~" Hikari brings her sketchbook over to the little table and sets it down, pulling a pair of mugs off of the mug tree and opening the little wooden box. The tea bags are all sealed up in individual packets in the contemporary way, labeled with different flavors. Most are herbal or fruity, but there are a few good old-fashioned black teas mixed in. Hikari picks out 'Orange Blossom' and passes the box over. "There's sugar and some of those little creamer things in the basket."

Fiddling with tea-making is relaxing. The steam and the scent are good reminders to slow herself down a bit. She pours hot water into Peggy's mug first, then her own. "That does help me a lot though! I can put together some looks with that. Let me sketch some things, you can pick out the ones you like most, and then I can take measurements? You can choose fabric tonight or wait until I've got the patterns drafted up. Either way's fine with me!"

—-

The smile remains. "What you wish to do in life does matter! I'm glad you found something that is satisfying so early and stayed with it." There's a raised eyebrow. "I don't find providing clothing to people who are in need of it silly. Especially when you are able to do so to people who are unable to acquire their garments from department stores." While she may not need the clothes she is asking Hikari for, she can see that others might. As she said before, there are some people who require tailored clothing and this woman is able to provide that. It's a good thing in Peggy's mind.

As the hot water boils, Peggy picks a black tea. It's in her British nature. Grabbing a sugar packet and stirring in some creamer, she makes it to her liking. "That sounds fantastic. If it's easier for you to do measuring now as opposed to later, I would be welcome to that. I'm not quite sure about fabrics until I know which ones might go where."

—-

"Oh no no, I meant the paper," she hastens to clarify. "This, my work… what I'm doing here, is one of the most important things in my life. It feels wonderful to be able to help people /and/ do what I love."

Her gaze wanders over to the dress set out for an incredibly tall woman. "The girl I'm making that dress for is brilliant. She does things with computers that I can't even begin to imagine, and she's built like, like… like an Olympic athlete, and she's so /shy/ about how she looks because nothing fits her right. But the way she smiled when I told her how happy it makes me to design for unusual shapes, and then she came to me again when she needed a dress for a presentation." Hikari beams. "That she liked my work enough to trust me to make her another one…!"

Also there was something-something-something about working for Tony Stark and Obadiah Stane but Hikari is honestly still processing that whole concept.

"A-anyway!" She does tend to natter on, but Hikari just gets so /excited/ about things! Must be the passion of youth~ "We'll need to do the measuring before I can make the patterns, so that should be done tonight if possible. I can show you a fancy trick too, if you like! Captain Rogers might've said something about it?"

—-

"Sorry to presume!" Peggy quickly tries to mollify. "I think what you do is marvelous." There is no hyperbole there at her compliment. As Hikari speaks of helping the woman whose dress is on the form, she smiles. The mug of tea is wrapped around in her hands, even though it may be too hot to drink. "See? You help people." Making people feel good about themselves in their own skin is something she will never turn her nose up at.

"Of course, if measurements now will help, I'll be glad to oblige." There's a smile and a pair of raised eyebrows. "A fancy trick? No, I don't believe Steve told me about that. What is it?"

—-

She definitely should have been clearer, but it wasn't a big deal! It's so nice of Agent Carter to say such things about her though, and take care about her feelings~

No wonder Steve Rogers has feelings like that for her, and she for him. Hikari wants to sigh over these two like a lovestruck schoolgirl - but she's a professional seamstress, not a professional shipper! So she'll do it later on, when she's alone. C_C

"I'll show you when we take your measurements. But hot tea waits for no woman!" Optimistically, Hikari makes notes on her sheet of paper with a pencil, mug held loosely in her other hand. She's going to have so much fun with this project! She's going to recreate that red dress down to the last stitch!!

Later on with their tea drank, and Peggy's heels off, Hikari holds up her index finger, twirling it in a circle like a magician with a magic wand. "Okay, I promised a trick~ Did you know, I have my own measuring tape…?"

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