This was not the life that Beatrice D’Arco had planned for herself. When she was a kid, she dreamed of being a sort of badass explorer, experiencing the world from the tops of mountains or in submarines in the oceans. Then she decided that adventure was simply too lonely a profession and turned her heart towards being a veterinarian. Dog death was too sad so off she changed again, taking her high school credits meant for vet school to Cornell University for biomedical engineering.
Where did that take her? Afghanistan, where one IED and some bad intel changed her entire life.
Now there she was at twenty eight, living in a communal living building made out of an old, abandoned firehall with twenty complete strangers (outside of her little sister, Havana, and her cousin, Heather, that is). Sure, she had that medical career she dreamed of in college, all white coats and torn off limbs, but that was her daytime fantasy.
Every night she was stuck at the stupid fucking Blue Velvet Lounge wearing some uncomfortably tight blue velvet dress while customers stared uncomfortably at her chest while sipping overpriced cocktails in the name of being fancy.
Some nights, her job wasn’t all that bad. Some nights, the good DJ would come in and play music that had Beatrice dancing behind the bar while stirring martinis. Some nights, the fun college kids would come in and bring the party straight to her with their giggles and their bartop dancing and their cute little romances. Some nights, her boss would fuck off and leave her the hell alone.
But of course, not that night. That night brought everyone on the east side of Chicago to her bar, impatient people with dry throats demanding drinks faster than Bea and her assistant could handle. That night had the shitty DJ and the weird mixes that kept the party going on the illuminated dance floor but laid shrill on Bea’s sober ears. That night had the group of old dudes from the bank across the street coming in to avoid their ‘bitchy’ wives and ‘pressing’ duties.
That night also happened to bring Havana D’Arco with little cousin Heather by her hip.
“Another round, would ya? We’ve been waiting ten minutes!”
Beatrice forced herself not to roll her eyes. Rolling her eyes wouldn’t get her tips from those rich old assholes. But unfortunately for those old bastards, they were cut off. They’d been there all but two hours and the group was entirely hammered, stumbling over words and trading open profanities whenever Bea’s significantly younger assistant at the bar would deliver them their drinks. So, instead of another round, Bea walked over with five tall glasses of water, placing them impatiently down in front of each man.
“Once you’re able to stand up straight without acting like the Five fucking Stooges, then we’ll see about getting you another round.” Bea spoke bluntly, placing the bill and the already charged credit card down onto the table. “Your tab’s been settled. Have a great night.”
It would have been too easy for the dickheads to put it together that they’d had too much to drink and to leave in peace. That would’ve been far too easy. Instead, one of the larger of the men rose to his feet, stumbling slightly as he pressed his palms against the tabletop to steady himself.
“We weren’t done.” He slurred, the stench of rum martini and onion rings rolling off of his breath directly into Beatrice’s face. “I said: another round.”
Bea laughed warmly and placed her hand on his shoulder, pressing downwards to force the drunk back into his seat. “And I said: no. Have a good night.”
Maybe they had finally gotten the hint as no chorus of objection sang out as she turned to walk back to the bar with the tray of half-empty drinks on her arm. She hated nights when she had to play fucking waitress to those VIP tables but the wad of tips at the end of the night was well worth the stress. Maybe things were finally starting to return back to normal.
No, no they absolutely were not because as Bea was setting down her tray, she looked over her shoulder to check for the drunk bankers and instead found her fucking sister and, somehow even worse, her fucking cousin.
“What the h-”
The bartop had not fully been underneath the tray when Bea went to set it down, causing the drinks to clatter down onto bar stools and dark blue tile, liquid splashing all down the side of the bar and onto the deep grey stone.
“Fuck.” Bea grumbled, frantically wiping away a splash of vodka from her exposed thighs. “Hey, pass me that rag.”
The younger girl behind the bar tossed the rag towards Bea who began wiping away the liquid dripping down the side of the bar. With a few (thankfully) unbroken glasses in hand from the ground, Bea slowly rose to her feet only to be met with a warm gust of air on the back of her shoulder.
“Maybe you’re the one who needs to be cut off.” One of the men grumbled in her ear, a hand slipping around her shoulder to tuck a bill into the strap of her dress.
“I’m gonna have to ask you to step back. Wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.” Bea warned through gritted teeth. Let the old codger fall, see if she gave a shit. One less asshole like him in the world would make her Friday night rotations a lot easier.
“I’m not afraid of a little pain. ” A pair of meaty hands gripped her hips, fingers tightening into the muscle and bone. Bea’s entire body stiffened under the touch, her eyes looking to the security guard already making his way over. Flirting with the staff was expected, in fact it was almost encouraged, but there was a very strict no touching policy. “Now how ‘bout that drink?”
In one swift movement, Bea’s elbow flew backwards and down, the sharpest point making direct contact with the man’s groin. The grip on her hips instantly released, a sharp hiss of pain falling in perfect synchronicity with knees to the tiled ground. Stepping over the body on the ground and past his overly concerned hoard of equally drunk friends, Bea grabbed the credit card and the receipt. By the time she returned to the group, security had wrestled him to his tipsy feet.
“I think you’re done for the night.” Bea laughed, tucking the credit card into the front pocket of his jacket. “You have a lovely night.”
Security began dragging the man off, his posse bitching and moaning about the shit service of the club. Bea made her way directly through the crowd and back to her spot behind the bar just in time for Havana and Heather to have fully made their way over.
“No, uh uh, I told you that you can’t be here when I’m working.” Bea snapped as she finished wiping away the remnants of the tray accident. Over her sister’s shoulder, two more familiar faces came into view, though it was difficult to discern who exactly the second person was. But Red… he was far too noticeable. “What the fuck Hav?” Bea scolded with a daggered look at her sister, fingers subconsciously pulling at the hem of her short dress to try and cover as much skin as possible. “Did you bring the whole goddamn building?”
“This is Delaney, we’ve got a possible 417. Suspect heading north on Ashland, in pursuit.”
Noah shot up in her seat and nearly spilled her coffee all over herself. Suspect heading north on Ashland. They were on Ashland and he was coming straight toward them. Of all the times Collins could have taken to need to use the restroom, this was the worst one. Noah fumbled with her radio for a second, the shock of being thrown from a pretty lax day, compared to most, to an armed suspect wearing off quickly.
“10-4 this is McNally we’re north down Ashland. We can cut the suspect off.” Her voice was hoarse and she coughed into her shoulder. The radio was silent while she waited for a response from Delaney. Collins stepped out of the convenience store in the corner of her vision, adjusting his belt as he walked back to the patrol car. Noah knew he had to have heard that, so the agonizingly slow pace he was walking at made her want to jump out of the car and yell at him to move his arse. The radio shot back to life with a rumble of static before Delany’s gruff Chicagoian accent drifted through the speaker.
“Negative. Suspect is on foot, he’s turned off the sidewalk. Pursuing on foot near the 7-Eleven.”
Shit, they were literally right on top of her and Collins. Noah jumped up out of the patrol car just as Collins came near enough to put his hand on the handle. He looked at her with surprise, a question hanging off his open mouth that McNally waved off. That look of surprise was all she needed to know that he’d forgotten to turn his radio back on, again.
“Turn your radio on, ya arse, there’s a 417.” Collins cursed under his breath and reached down to his belt to flip his radio back on. Noah lifted her shoulder back up to her mouth as she spoke into her own, “We’re right on top of you. Calvary on the way.” A man running down the side of the store from across the street caught her eye and she immediately started into an all out sprint. Luke followed close behind and she spotted Delaney and Love crossing the street behind them. The suspect in front of them was short(no more than 5’6), male, hair dyed green, and was fucking fast. Noah had always thought of herself as quick on her feet but this guy could easily rival her. It didn’t matter though, because she had started the chase too close to him and he was cut off by a chain link fence in the distance. He didn’t have the height, nor the athleticism to scale it quickly and Noah and Collins caught up swiftly. Noah remembered almost too late that he had been reported as armed and she quickly drew her firearm.
“Get off the fence. You’ve got nowhere to go and I could do this all day.” Collins sidled up beside her, gun also drawn. The man jumped off the fence, one arm raised, but the other was snaking suspiciously close to his trouser line. He was reaching for his weapon, Noah was ready to fire but Delaney was suddenly there pulling both arms behind his back and Love was ripping the gun from his waistband. He struggled briefly but there were handcuffs on him in the blink of an eye and Love was patting him down while Delaney turned back to her and her partner. Noah reholstered her weapon and sighed. If they hadn’t appeared she probably would’ve had to shoot the guy. Not exactly the way she wanted to end a mostly quiet 10 hour shift.
“Thanks, McNally, Collins,” He nodded at the both of them, a grin appearing from behind a blonde beard, “He would’ve given us a helluva lot of trouble if you two suckers hadn’t been here.” Love read off the criminals rights to him faintly in the background. The sound of another patrol car pulling up in the alley behind them drowned out any response Noah might’ve had.
“We’ve got it from here. Thank you.” Love spoke as he passed by them, walking the newly apprehended man to the cruiser that had just pulled up. Delaney offered a dramatic salute and sauntered off after his partner. The patrol car housing the green haired man pulled away and it was just Collins and Noah in the alley. Luke turned to her and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
“I’m sorry I keep forgetting to turn my radio back on.” Her smiled a stupid smile at her that made her want to just laugh at him but she opted instead to just shake her head. If her partner was anything, confident was not one of them. Noah constantly found it hard to comprehend how this guy became a police officer, or why he wanted to in the first place but here they were.
“If ya do it again I’m cutting one of your ears off.” Noah turned and started back down the alley, leaving a slightly concerned Luke to scamper after her.
“You can’t actually do that can you?”
Noah just laughed.
It was now a few hours later and Noah was in the locker room changing out of her uniform so that she could head home. The lockers were too small to hold anything other than her uniform and boots, so the rest of her equipment was packed into her duffel to take home. She sat down on one of the benches and leaned back until her back popped rather loudly. This shift had consisted of a lot of just sitting, at least until the very end, and she had been hopelessly bored. Not that she wanted bad things to happen that required her assistance, but sometimes something simple like a theft or some dumb kids causing a nuisance was enough. But today had been unusually quiet. Chicago itself was never quiet but her patrol area had been and it almost bored her to death. She suddenly found herself grateful she had a partner, if it wasn’t for Luke and his weird jokes and singing she’d probably actually have died of boredom. She was glad this shift was over though. They were supposed to go to Bea’s bar tonight, something her sister had been very adamant about. Noah had only known most of her roommates for a few weeks, but bars were always a welcome idea for her. Plus, drinking was one of the best ways she knew to get to know people. Noah had never lived with so many people so she wanted to make a conscious effort to actually be friends with them. It would be problematic and uncomfortable for everyone else in the house if some of them just hated each other. The last thing she wanted was to be a problem, so she would do her best to be pleasant. She’d spent most of her young life being a problem that was not about to repeat itself, especially not now that she was a police officer.
Noah sauntered out of the dressing room and was soon greeted by one of those roommates she was so determined to be friends with. Mick Halstead was a Detective on the force and the only one of her roommates who she could relate to on a ethnic level, he was also the only other person she’d met in the states who could speak Gaelic so that was a huge plus. Noah liked Gaelic and the only other people who she could speak it with was her family so Mick was a blessing in that matter.
“If it isn’t our resident detective.” Noah grinned as she approached him, “Ciamar a tha a' dol dhut?” She spoke, transitioning rather fluidly from English to Gaelic and back to English, “Are you off duty now? We could head to the bar together.”
The thing was that Evan had figured that this whole... this whole... new life thing, this whole turning the page and taking a step into the newest chapter of his life would make the cravings cease. Err... well... not cravings, just the... the familiar feeling of a high that he still so desperately craved, even days, weeks, months after his left high. He felt if he concentrated hard enough, he could still just barely recall what it felt like.
Evan had thought that after exiting rehab, he would've had an easy time not being tempted back into his old ways. 'Course, it turned out that returning to the same old place with his single duffel bag of possessions (and by possessions, he meant about three changes of clothes, an old pair of headphones where one of the sides had broken off so it was kind of haphazardly duct taped back together, and an old deck of cards that Evan used to use to pull some old tricks on the street to scam people out of money) didn't do much for his whole new him ideology, so...
He found himself in a different neighborhood of Chicago, now living in an old fire station. The rent was cheap, which was great because he'd managed to pick up a job at a McDonald's that wasn't too far away (he'd worked there a little bit before the whole rehab thing, and it turned out that sleeping with the manager of that McDonald's had earned him an excellent reference for finding a new job, so woo), and he was saving up his money so he could buy some more stuff.
He'd bought himself a blanket, and uhh...
(The first couple nights had been spent with Evan sleeping on the floor of his new room and using his duffle bag as a pillow, but it hadn't been the worst sleeping conditions. Luckily, his roommate, Joe, spent most of the nights sleeping in the same bed as Gen -- yeah, that Gen from rehab, but shh, top secret how they'd met each other -- and Joe was super fucking cool and let Evan use his bed, so that was cool.)
Evan was still saving his money up for anything else, and he was also kind of nervous about the whole idea of buying anything larger. He'd kind of lived in this mentality for so long of just what he could carry with him that the idea of buying things that he couldn't fit on his back kind of threw him off.
But hey, that wasn't what tonight was about. Tonight was about getting drunk and having a good time, except this was Evan, so unfortunately, getting drunk was off the table for him. It was part of that whole "attempt at sobriety" thing that he was trying to have going for him, and well...
Unfortunately, that meant he had to put away his days of drinking.
His liver was celebrating, but his heart was not.
And that's where we found Evan Clarke now, standing outside of The Blue Velvet Nightclub. This had been one of his usual haunts from back in the day, when he'd come by on nights that he knew there would be plenty of dumb, rich drunks stumbling their way outside. He'd kind of chill near the dumpsters, gesturing people over and, well, screwing them over. Err, screwing them out of their money. Not--
Screwing them out of their money using his cards, not his--
He wasn't like--
He wasn't like a hooker that hung out by dumpsters of nightclubs like "hey there, babe, wink wink, want a good time?"
No, he just did nifty magic tricks and would be all "guess the card and I'll give you ten bucks, but if you don't, you owe me ten bucks," and shit like that, and he actually made a fairly decent living from it. 'Course, the bar staff was less than impressed with his "hey lookie this" and even less impressed when he'd sauntered his way in one day trying to trade some nifty magic card entertainment for a couple shots.
But that had been so long ago, surely they'd forgotten about his face and had moved on from those days. So it was with that kind of dumb confidence that Evan found himself waiting in the line for the club. Once they'd made it up to the bouncer and had to present their IDs, Evan found himself with a bit of a nervous grin. The bouncer kind of squinted at him and Evan definitely recognized him, but the dude let them in, so...
Phew. Crisis averted.
"Aight, so lemme just do the ordering," Evan said as he gestured with a little tilt of his head for the girls to follow him. Ah... he loved the smell of nightclubs at this hour. The sweat. The booze on the air. His fingers were getting a little itchy as he thought about how easy it would be to just yoink some cards and money from people, so he slid his hands into his pockets to grab his cigarettes, except that there were no cigarettes there, so he just awkwardly settled for drumming his fingers against his thighs as he walked backwards through the crowd and towards the bar.
Except that walking backwards in a bar was a bad idea, and he ended up bumping into someone and spilling their drink. He offered some apologies to the fella and before the dude could start swinging or threatening him, Evan had dove back into the crowd -- hopefully with Astrid and Vi following.
The mousy little dude had been in a couple scraps, but he wasn't the greatest at fighting.
As they made it to the actual bar, Evan leaned across the bar counter, a grin on his face as he waited until a bartender came over -- one that he happened to recognize a little too well.
Ah, whatever, surely he didn't recognize little Evan as the same dude that had once hustled cards by the dumpster.
"Hellooo, good sir," he said, shouting a bit to be heard over the music. "A water for myself, and ahh... uhh..." he glanced back at Violet and Astrid. "Good... drinks... for them? Maybe a couple ahh..." he glanced away, looking along the bar until he spotted a couple drinks, and then he smiled back at the bartender. "Two sangrias for the ladies, please and thank you." Evan said and, as he straightened up from the bar, he offered a little finger gun in the direction of the dude.
Yeah, he definitely wasn't recognizable right now.
He was cut off from his family's money. Could you believe that? His mother's words had something to do with the whole "embarrassing the family" ordeal because he'd been caught cheating on his new wife. In Leo's defense, it wasn't entirely his fault. The girl had come onto him, and he'd been under the influence of alcohol and was already feeling smothered by his new bitch of a wife.
The girl in question? Oh, that was Mariana.
There had been some hopes that this mistake could be groomed over, and his parents had spent a lot of time speaking with her to try and see what it would take for her to forgive that little mistake. She'd pretty much agreed to give Leo a second chance, until the one night stand turned into something a bit more.
You know... when he found out he was going to be a dad. Then his wife had kind of fully packed up and finalized their divorce, and then he'd found himself in a shitty relationship with a chick that he'd knocked up and didn't particularly get along with, and now with a daughter named Anastasia that he'd never wanted, and... well, Leo had taken to drinking a bit more since all of this had happened. More drinking, more car cruises at night.
By car cruises he meant illegal street racing, but it was what it was.
Anyway, it was those types of situations that now landed Leo sitting at the bar of The Blue Velvet Nightclub, beer in hand. Mari was out for the night (thank god) and Leo was supposed to be watching their daughter, but he'd found a good enough babysitter to watch her off of Craigslist.
And now here he was, enjoying his night with his good buddy, Mitch. Kind of good buddy. He'd never taken an angry punch from Leo's angry wife to the face like Atlas had, but he was still a pretty good friend. And his ex-wife had been super hot.... Ex-wife? Was it considered ex-wife if she was dead?
His dead wife had been hot before she'd been, well, dead.
After unloading his child on the first babysitter that had gotten back to him, Leo and Mitch had headed down to the nightclub to enjoy their time. It was probably a dumb idea to head to that club in particular given the fact that two of their roommates were the bartenders, and Leo really didn't want to see his roomies if he didn't have to, but the place was close to their house and Leo really only cared about getting a drink.
Getting a little buzzed or some shit.
He took another sip from the beer before setting the bottle back down in front of him.
Silence stretched out between the two for a minute.
"I don't know why Mari wanted to try living together," Leo stated dryly, although it wasn't really her idea solely. He'd been kicked out of his parents' house, so it only made sense that he try to live with his girlfriend and their daughter. Kind of girlfriend. On and off again thing.
"Sucks. She keeps kicking me out and I end up sleeping on the couch. I work all day the bank," -- he usually went in quite late and only worked a few hours, and by work, he mostly chilled on his phone -- "when I come back home, I don't want to take care of that kid."
If it had been up to Leo, they wouldn't even have her. She'd have been put up for adoption or they would've hired a nanny or something to take care of her. Just because he fathered her didn't mean that he suddenly had to be there for her and take care of the kid.
Andrew Artino was supposed to be in the lights in big bold letters, right above a big, flaming VS and the name of some sorry sucker who had the absolute misfortune of going against the Beast, the motherfucking Double A. His handsome mug was supposed to be on t-shirts, you know, surrounded by lightning and, like, probably some silhouetted shirtless men and busty women (symbolizing his status as a sex icon, of course). The crowds were supposed to be cheering, “An-dy, An-dy, An-dy!” He was supposed to be kissing the heads of babies and, like, signing boobs and getting sent thousands of emails and dms every day just begging for him to give them even the slightest bit of attention — which, of course, he would not do, because he had better things to do in life. Like golf. Yeah, that was what rich people did. Golf, yeah. Hell, and maybe he’d even drink, too. ‘Cuz, you know, he’d be rich enough to pay off the people whose faces got obliterated while he was intoxicated.
You know, and he’d have a family, too. Or at least a boyfriend or a girlfriend. He was 25, for Christ’s sake. If he was where he was supposed to be, hell, you know, Gerry, would probably still be at his side. He’d be happy, you know, even if Gerry was a complete prick, because he wouldn’t’ve totally realized that the guy was a complete prick. They’d cuddle and kiss and talk about adopting and would probably never actually adopt.
Or maybe he’d be with that hot scout. She was a complete goddess. Maybe he’d still remember her name. Maybe they would’ve hooked up by now — shit, maybe even behind Gerry’s back. Wouldn’t that be hot? A boyfriend and a sexy sidepiece. God. That was the dream — that was where he was supposed to be right now.
“Drew.” Dr. Jackson turned around in his leather stool to look Andy square in the eyes. “If you continue to put this much strain on your leg and back, you’re going to wind up being unable to walk.”
Squeak, squeak, squeak. A cart rolled by outside the door.
Andrew looked toward the ceiling with a soft sigh. He had heard this spiel a thousand times. He’d seen the x-rays. Felt the pain when they squeezed the areas that “shouldn’t hurt like that”. But he just didn’t get it. No one did.
Boxing was his drug — his life-force. And without it, there was really nothing he had to live for.
He didn’t know why he came in to hear the doctor say the same thing every three months, why he spent his hard-earned money to get a “talking-to” like he was a three-year-old, but he guessed he was stubborn that way.
“Andrew,” said Dr. Jackson again, and Andy looked at him. “Andrew, you have to stop exerting yourself like you are.” He paused. “You’ve been boxing again, haven’t you?”
“Sir?” Andy raised his eyebrows, as if he were surprised and offended at the suggestion. He shook his head. “No sir.”
“You don’t get this kind of damage, even from working out casually.” Jackson looked down at his clipboard. “Working out is an important part of maintaining what your rehabilitation achieved — but this is overboard, Drew. You are working your body too hard. You are pushing it past its limit, and one day, it’s just going to break, and you’re not going to be able to use it anymore.” He turned back to his computer and tapped another couple of things. “It’s a miracle you’re still moving as well as you do, even now. But if you don’t stop doing this…torture to your body, your luck is going to run out. You’re walking and punching with a ticking timebomb.”
Andrew lowered his head. “Yes sir,” he said.
“I’ll get you another appointment,” Jackson said, “three months from now, and I expect by then to see some improvement in the status of your body.”
No. He was fine. His body was still working. That was all that mattered.
Out the door, into his car, and into the Blue Velvet thirty minutes before his shift was supposed to start. Not because he was going to start working early, but clocking in early still counted, and he got to hide out in the bathroom for thirty minutes. Cue the fart sound effects played from his phone speaker.
They were very convincing.
“You alright there, Andy?” asked one of his coworkers as he exited.
He gave a grin and a chuckle and patted his stomach. “Bad burrito,” he said.
And then, ya know, work started. And, wow, was today a worky work. Damn, probably the workiest work that ever worked…haha.
Ya know, but he was living. He was making it his own. And one thing about this job, even if it wasn’t where he was supposed to be and even if he really disliked it if he thought about it, was that it never got boring. There were all kinds of characters he got to chat with at the bar. Depressed people, happy people, people who looked 50 but whose cards said that they were 21 so who was he to judge…
Hey, and this one time? There was this crazy dude. I mean, we were talking cra-zy guy. Came in with a deck of cards, right? Comes up and is like, “Okay, if you guess the wrong card, I get a free drink.” And Andy was, ya know, fresh on the job, and it crossed his mind that this was probably not legal or, well, in the code of conduct to do this, but he was like, fuck it, why not, because it seemed fun. So he did it, and he knew for a fact it was the two of spades…but like magic it WASN’T.
Which was insane, and he got mad at first, but then he was amazed.
And then his manager came and chewed him out when he caught him almost doing the same for another drink for the guy. Still, it was a neat experience.
Anyway…wait, where was he?
Oh right. Working.
Yeah, so he was working right now. That was about it.
As he scrubbed down the bartop and softly whistled a song that wasn’t the one playing, his eyes lifted to see a pack of people approaching — and all of them looked very familiar.
He grinned widely. Looked like his new housemates had decided to pay him — and Bea — a visit at their work.
A great idea popped into his head — he could probably get more tips from them, right? Since they knew him? He could just…sniffle, sniffle…put on the waterworks. He got the call today that his mom died, sob (and he’d get the call tomorrow that she’d revived). His pet hamster was diagnosed with cancer, and he desperately needed money to give it chemo, boohoo. Genius, right?
He lowered his head to finish his scrubbing, and by the time he slung the rag over his shoulder, dusted off his hands, and looked up, there were three people in front of him. He scrunched his eyebrows together. He recognized a couple of them — they were his housemates — but one of them had a different familiarity about him that he couldn’t quite place.
And then, the guy he was trying to place spoke. “Hellooo, good sir.”
And it clicked.
Andy’s brows raised for a moment, and he stifled a gasp.
“A water for myself, and ahh…uh…” The guy looked at the two women. “Good…drinks…for them? Maybe a couple ahh…” His eyes shifted around, and then he looked back at Andy, who was suppressing a smile. “Two sangrias for the ladies, please and thank you.” The man straightened up and gave him a finger gun.
The damn two of spades.
A grin cracked across Andy’s face. “Well! Would you look at that — long time no see.” He placed a palm down on the bar. “If it isn’t my old friend the Magic Man.” He tried not to sound too amazed — and as he tried that, the recollection of the chewing out he got from his manager resurfaced, and his face grew a bit more serious. Right, this was serious business.
Andy crossed his arms. “We still haven’t changed our policy. You can’t exchange drinks for card tricks.” He glanced at the other two women, and then he placed his palm back down not he bar, giving the man a pleasant smile. “Not even if you’ve got some company." His face grew serious again when he remembered to add: "And also, you can't stay here if you're going to be scamming our clientele. Sorry. Them’s the rules.”
Moving into the firehouse was yet another fresh start for Genesis (3rd times the charm?)!
Well...kinda. She did know quite a few people who have now come to live here. But they were all people who she believed she could make a fresh start with! Joe, Cam, Mari, and Evan were all people who she knew wanted the best for her, and for themselves. It also didn't help that with the exception of Evan, none of them were from the part of her past she was trying to get away from. If anything having at least one person who she knew could check her if she almost slipped was a nice safety net.
She'd cut off all ties and communication from those people in hopes of not being tempted to go back. She hoped if she convinced herself there was nothing to go back to then she'd have no where to go but forward. Solid plan right? She hoped so at least.
The past few weeks getting settled in and getting to know her new housemates have been a lot more fun then she originally anticipated. She is naturally a shyer person, but the comfort of having people around her she knew let her be able to open up a bit faster. That and when you have people like Atlas and Havana around how can you not be social? Their charisma just rubs off on you somehow if you're in their aura. Something about them just makes it easier to talk.
Especially Havana since she was the main reason behind todays little escapade for the house. One little message in on twitter and it was a wrap. Apparently it's a good idea to go to Bea and Andrew's work, the blue velvet, to have some fun and blow off some steam from a hard day at work. Well let's be honest it's probably more to bother Bea and Andrew for a bit...but mostly Bea since it was planned by Hav.
Gen had no real interest in teasing Bea while at work, especially after hearing some of the things she has to put up with working here. She didn't know how the brunette put up with it other then the apparently damn good pay. Nope she'll take the sexist grease monkey's talk over the sexist sexual harassments of the club world any day.
Nope all Gen wanted to do was have some fun getting to know her new housemates who would mostly probably be drunk by the end of the night. Gen was not going to drink though...well not alcohol. She'd been sober a year and one month now, so the goal was to not fall into any slippery slope pit falls. Sure drinking wasn't her poison of choice originally, but Gen knew better now. She knew it didn't take much for her to get hooked on anything.
She didn't want to risk disappointing her friends. They didn't need to see her dark side like that.
Luckily since they were going to the Blue Velvet she had a plan to help her still drink, and have a good time but not get drunk! She could just order fancy non alcoholic drinks like Shirley temples, or say something cool like a white Russian without the vodka. Ok she wouldn't say that one cause the idea of drinking milk at a bar felt weird, but you get the idea! She'd normally feel to embarrassed to even approach the bar, but if Bea or Andrew were working the bar she'd feel a lot better about her orders.
All this and so much more was running through her mind as she showered and got ready. She very well couldn't go to a place like the blue velvet with grease stains and funk on her, now could she? But that did bring her mind to her current dilemma...what should she even wear to this place?
Gen was not someone you typically find in a club. Due to her strict and over-protective upbringing she didn't set foot in a bar for the first time till she was in her last year of college, and it was closer to a dive bar then anything. Just a shady spot to get some shady things with her BF at the time. Didn't really need to dress up for that, and it's not like they hung around very long. Maybe get a game a pool in while they wait, but that's it.
Since getting clean she purposefully stayed away from environments like clubs because there really was nothing there for her. She wouldn't drink, she didn't really wanna talk to strangers who'd probably do nothing but hit on her or make her uncomfortable, which would stress her out and get her craving for an escape she couldn't have anymore. They also tended to be loud and crowded.
Ever since what happened her last semester in college a few years ago she can't stand being in overly crowded, overly noisy situations or areas. It sends her into a panic attack of sorts as she relives that moment where everything went wrong.
As she rummaged through her closest she heard the door open and close. She peeked her head only out from her closet door to see who it was since she was still wrapped only in her towel, "Hey babe, welcome back! How was your day?"She chimed with a bright smile at the sight of him.
Josiah had become one of the brightest lights in her life recently. Someone who really pushed her to not fall off the wagon. Not that he knew that, or what the wagon was for, but just being him, and how he talked to her. It felt like he really thought she was perfect. Of course she knew there was no way he actually believed her to be perfect, but she never wanted him to find out just how messed up she truly was.
So she had to be better. She had to try her best to be who he saw when he looked at her, even if it felt impossible. He deserved nothing but the best, and even if she knew that wasn't her, she couldn't help but still try. Maybe it was the people pleaser in her? The perfectionist? Who knows.
"I'm getting ready now, I should be out in a bit. I just don't know what to wear..."She dipped back into the closet to look around some more at the possibilities."How dressy is The Blue Velvet anyways?"She hummed kinda to him kinda to herself. She wanted his opinion, but she also knew their was a 50/50 chance he'd give her a line like 'oh you'll look beautiful no matter what you wear' variation instead of an actual suggestion.
Nice...did she own clothes that were for nice sexy clubs? You know what? Black. You can't go wrong with black it always looks sexy and classy all at the same time. She found a pair of black skinny jeans, a black crop top, and walked out of the closest to get a reaction test from Joe. "What do you think?" She asked curiously turning a bit side to side so he could see the whole thing.
After all it's not like she was out to impress anyone, but him.
Mood: Nervously excited Location: Her room Outfit: Black gold (Except her hair would be down instead of in a bun) Interactions: Josiah (geminiy
) Mentions: Evan, Cam, Mari, Joe, Hav, Red, Andrew
Moving into a firehouse of strangers was not on Violetta's list of things to do in her life. Then again most things that were on her list weren't going to happen now. She was 27 years old and starting her life all over it felt. Everything she'd once wanted and dreamed of was out the window, so why not do something like this? At least she had Red. He'd always been there for her since they were kids, and even through all the mess she's been in the past 10 years.
She glanced down at her phone seeing the text messages from her estranged husband. The biggest mess and waste of her time she'd dealt with. They hadn't talked in months, but she thought she should give him the heads up she'd be out at a popular club just in case word got back to him. She wasn't asking for his permission to go, even though apparently that's how he took it.
Reminding her not to get too close to anyone cause if someone recognizes her flirting it'd be a problem. Reminding her he still cared, even though she didn't believe it. He cared about his career and superstitions, not her. Or else they would be together right now, not him off doing who knows what with who knows who and she was here alone going to a random club. Reminding her they still had a future. One she wasn't sure she wanted anymore. One where she'd be his little pet at best on a leash. She still felt like he had her on a leash when he sent stuff like that.
She looked at the message and originally was going to dress pretty conservatively, but now out of spite she wanted to catch some eyes. She wanted someone to notice her, because...why not? It'd hurt him not her. Maybe if it got back to him that his wife was out and about looking hot as hell he'd think twice about the way he treated her and realize she deserved better and do better.
Not that she wanted him back, but the feeling of knowing that he knows he lost the best thing he'd ever have? Satisfyingly enough for now.
Tonight she just wanted to drink and feel like she was finally starting the process of letting go. She's not been out at a bar or club in almost a year...and even then she'd always been with her husband Al. This would be the first time she's ever been out as a single woman.
The curse of marrying your high school sweetheart she supposed. She didn't even know how to be single if she was honest. The bitterness in her chest kept her from any desire to try to and change that right now. She wanted to learn, she wanted to figure out who she was without him.
She got ready just like she always did, but this time the person beside her was the one person in this place that mattered most to her and that Red. They always had a good time together, and she didn't see tonight being any different. Though she had noticed in the past few weeks of moving in that Red as always was much more outgoing then her and quickly befriending their housemates.
So she was prepared for most of her night to actually be without him. She just needed the comfort of him being there to get her there. Once she was inside some good old fashion liquid courage could help her the rest of the way.
She waited in line with him, and a few other of their housemates and once they were inside it didn't take long for Bea to notice. Her reaction was expected since she's been saying since day one NOT to show up at her work especially while she's working, but that means nothing in the world of siblings, and since Hav organized all this...here they were. She also saw the take down of the creep and oddly enough that calmed her nerves ever so slightly.
Turns out these kinds of clubs where the same high scale, low scale, Uptown, LA, New York, and everything in between the guest all acted the same. This was something she was used to because entertainment was entertainment, and the industry no mater the field treated women the same. She had to say while it was nostalgic...she didn't miss it. Sure she missed dancing for pleasure, but for work? No. She liked her little corner of peace and autonomy.
After seeing that Red being the social butterfly he was fell into his usual charm, and Violet being the naturally introverted person she was just simply made her way towards the Bar. He'd follow or not. Either way was fine by her. He deserved to have a good time tonight too, whatever form that took.
She wound up next to Astrid and Evan on the way. She didn't really know Evan, but Astrid had been cool the few interactions they've had since moving in. She really liked the girl and her blunt way of speaking. It was a hard lesson to learn to prefer brutal honestly then pretty half truths.
On the way Evan bumped into someone, but Vi paid no mind just swerving around to continue to the bar. She was not trying to get into anything tonight. Sure she wanted attention but not negative attention.
Once there oddly enough Evan had popped up again and decided to order for Astrid and herself. Who said chivalry was dead? Oh that's right she did. She just raised a brow at him. She hoped he wasn't one of those types that thought getting a girl a drink meant anything. It was odd because he ordered water for himself and then "something good" for them...which ended up being sangrias which she liked, but an odd start to the night.
Or maybe this wasn't odd. Maybe this was what going out was like for regular people? As bad and spoiled as it sounded...she was used to bottle service, being recognized at the door, no lines, VIP areas, and rounds being bought for the whole crew within five minuets of being inside. That was the life style Al had gotten her used to. While she didn't miss it...this was just different.
She looked over at Evan, "Thanks, but next time ask what the ladies would like even if you're buying."She spoke plainly taking a seat at the bar to wait for the drink. She zoned out of Andrew's conversation with Evan at the point when he said 'long time no see' like they don't all live together. Something about magic and card tricks, but it didn't matter to her. Evan would either pay for the drink or she'd order what she wanted and pay for it.
"So this is the blue velvet huh..." She hummed mostly to herself crossing her legs and looked over at Astrid beside her,"What do you think of it so far?"
Joe thought that moving to Chicago was going to be a boring feat. He had spent the past two years travelling the world and practicing medicine on some of the rarest and most exotic animals in some of the strangest or remote corners of the globe. Naturally, moving back to the United States to settle down with a girl and quiet his practice seemed boring in comparison. But that was before he secured his private practice deal with the Lincoln Park Zoo where he had just spent the past eight hours wrangling mongoose pups for routine checkups. Maybe it wasn’t the same adventure as travelling the world but those little critters could run.
By the time he and his colleague, Dr Adam Hoffman, had finished up at the zoo, Joe’s wrists and fingers were covered with tiny puncture wounds and scrapes from overly excited claws and teeth, his white coat drenched and covered in tufts of stray fur. Josiah had won the war against those pups but not without wounds. Yet there he was covered in wounds and who knows what else and he still wanted to bring one home.
All he really wanted to do was to go home and cuddle up with Gen, turn on some comedy movie that was foolish enough to kill brain cells and spend the night doing anything but watch the movie. But it seemed that everyone was going out to some nightclub called the Blue Velvet and if his girl wanted him there, Josiah was going to damn well be there.
Besides, Gen had mentioned that drinking didn’t typically go well for her so Joe wasn’t entirely sure how a bar would work for her. Joe quit drinking after they started to get serious for that exact reason, so why wouldn’t he be there to support her and have a good time?
Walking into the apartment, Joe bypassed his own room and made his way down to Genesis’s room. Realistically, it was their room seeing as he spent nearly all of his time there. It was a sweet deal for Evan, the rather oddball of a guy that Josiah had been rooming with, who came ill-prepared with no furniture and got a free bed out of the deal. Joe carefully slipped inside, quietly closing the door behind him as he hopped onto Gen’s bed, legs folded beneath him like an overly excited schoolboy. He often got like that around Gen, all giddy and childish with his love.
"Hey babe, welcome back! How was your day?"
A wide smile on Joe’s face pulled at his cheeks as he leaned forwards to get a better look at the woman, clad only in a towel, in front of him.
“Tiring but so much better now.” Joe spoke calmly as his eyes trailed Gen from head to toe. It never failed to impress him how entirely perfect she was.
"I'm getting ready now, I should be out in a bit. I just don't know what to wear..." Gen said as she put herself out of view by heading back into the closet, earning a small laughing groan from Joe. "How dressy is The Blue Velvet anyways?"
“I think you should go with your current look. There’s something so sexy about a woman in a towel,” Joe teased as he laid backwards onto the bed, his back giving a small crackle at the stretch. Being hunched over an exam table was certainly doing damage to his spinal health. “But I think Bea and Andy said it is a higher end nightclub, so something a little classic and definitely a little spicy. You know, for the party atmosphere.”
Joe fell silent for a moment, stretching his arms up towards the ceiling as Genesis changed into whatever outfit she was going to choose. Naturally, she was going to look perfect and so Joe was going to hype her up. Maybe she’d pull the old ‘you’re just saying that’ thing, seeing as she never seemed to believe that Joe considered her beautiful 100% of the time, but he hoped that maybe she would accept the compliment he knew she’d deserve.
"What do you think?" Gen asked, breaking Joe from his train of thought.
Josiah sat upright in the bed for just a moment before springing to his feet as she turned from side to side to give him a better look of the outfit. Joe wasted no time making his way over to her, spinning her by her waist to get the full 360 view before pulling her into him by her hips. Yeah, she looked great. Gen always seemed to look great.
“I think you know exactly what I’m thinkin’.” Joe laughed warmly as he began peppering her jawline with kisses. “I think you look spectacular.” He stopped to kiss a bit lower. “Absolutely phenomenal.” Another kiss a little lower. “Simply showstopping.” A kiss below her collarbone. “And,” Joe placed a long kiss on her lips, “incredibly beautiful and entirely sexy.”
Joe took a step back to take her in again, letting out a sharp, teasing whistle as his hand rubbed along his own jawline. “Are you sure we’ve gotta go out tonight?” Joe asked with a chuckle. He knew the answer, of course they were still going out, they had bar hopping to get to. “Let me go get changed real quick, I’ll meet you downstairs.”
With a final kiss on the top of Gen’s head, Joe made his way back down the hall to his own room where his clothes still lived despite the fact that he had been spending all of his time in Gen’s room. His bed was a mess, thanks to lovely roommate Evan who had taken it over, but at least there were still sheets on it. Joe never understood the people that slept on bare mattresses.
Cleaning himself up in the bathroom and getting changed into an outfit that vaguely resembled Gen’s, Joe did a pat check for his wallet, phone, and keys before heading down the stairs to where Gen had been waiting for him.
“Alright,” Joe started with a grin as he adjusted the leather jacket hugging his shoulders, “are you ready to go, beautiful?”
”I’m unsure which pain is worse — the shock of what happened or the ache of what never will.” - unknown
• • •
The Blue Velvet.
This wasn’t his usual place. It was too loud, and too crowded. The lighting was obnoxious. It took itself too seriously, held itself too highly. One of the bartenders was the intolerable pain in the ass who just so happened to be his roommate. It was truly abysmal.
There were women here, and there was alcohol here. That was the most the most that could be said for it. He supposed that something to numb the senses and some eye candy were really all that he needed to enjoy the night.
Enjoy. Maybe he shouldn’t use that word. Perhaps a more fitting term would be survive.
It was another one of those nights; a night where he drank with an old friend who he’d tried to get rid of but never could quite shake out of his hair, where he drank to forget something that the old friend was witness to, something that old friend knew way too much about. Conversation would be stilted. Commiserating wasn’t quite the friend’s strength, and Mitchell never ventured to share anything he was enduring either, even if he knew that Leo could suppose much of what was happening. It would be another night like all of the other “another night”s, and they’d repeat the same conversations, the same beats, and there would be the same long silences that would extend into minutes because neither one of them wanted to try another conversation.
That was fine by Mitch. He didn’t like talking anymore.
He was halfway through his second old fashioned now, his dull, green eyes dismally taking in the scenery and his face wearing the same mildly-disgusted expression as ever. He lifted his drink to his lips. It was quiet between he and his old friend, but it was far from quiet around them. This music is too damn loud.
"I don't know why Mari wanted to try living together.” Mitch sat down his glass, his eyes shifting over to Leo as his friend spoke. "Sucks. She keeps kicking me out and I end up sleeping on the couch. I work all day the bank. When I come back home, I don't want to take care of that kid."
It went quiet again, and Mitchell looked away. His eyes settled on a young woman at the end of the bar. She was redheaded, was laughing as she draped herself across the shoulder of a laughing man. They kissed, and he looked away, back down at his drink. The sight made a sour taste arise in his mouth, and his lip pulled further up in disgust.
Mitch looked to Leo, his brows raising for a moment before sinking back into their natural place. Turning the glass in his hand, the man let out a long breath. “The same as always,” he answered. “I work. I come to my new place. I go out at night. I come back, I sleep, I get up again.” It’s the same, tired cycle. He ran somewhere in there, too, and worked out, and cooked, and ate, and smoked, but those were things that Leo surely knew. Life had been the same for the man for the past three years. Day in, day out. Regardless of where he was, he did the same thing, exercised the same routine. It was all that was keeping him breathing many days.
His eyes caught on some movement in his periphery. He glanced in the direction of the movement, and a look of irritation immediately flicked across his face. “Damn it,” he muttered. He lifted his drink and downed the rest of it, then sat his glass back on the table and looked over at Leo for a moment, and then at the approaching crowd, though he was mostly speaking to himself. “Can’t I get a goddamn moment of peace? Just a single fucking getaway?”
His hands instinctively reached for his pack of cigarettes, but he knew he couldn't smoke in here.
The birds were chirping, the sun was shining, it was a beautiful, bright day that was full of positivity.
It was her first day at Furry Buttz.
It was a groomer.
The dog shook itself off, water and suds falling everywhere.
Okay, she might’ve lied on her resume… and the interview. Havana was not very experienced with animals.
It’s not her fault! She always wanted a dog but nobody believed she was responsible enough to handle one.
Havana could handle a dog. It was just a small little-- before Havana could have a chance to grab him, he was off.
The yorkie hopped out of the tub, tipping over the small basket full of shampoo bottles as he did so and began to run around the place, getting water and suds almost everywhere.
He went in a corner and lifted his leg to…
The situation left an overly stressed Havana almost crying on the spot. “No, no, no.” She facepalmed and a handful of suds found its way onto her face and at the realization of it, Havana frowned.
Okay, okay, okay.
You got this Hav.
She took a deep breath, slowly making her way towards the tiny dog, she tried to convince the thing.
“Come here little guy,” Havana held a hand out and the dog came to a sudden stop, staring up at her with his cocked to one side.
"Heyyy, there you go.” She spoke, he moved a few inches closer to her and the brunette smiled.
As soon as her fingers brushed him, he took off.
“Why?! What was the reason for that?” She exclaimed, her voice got several octaves lower, obviously mocking the little dog as she began to try and corner the dog. They were playing peek-a-boo behind the desk at this point. Switching from one side of the desk to the other.
“Oh, Havana, I’m gonna make you think that you totally have this in the bag, and--” Havana darted forward, almost slipping from the suds on the hardwood floor but catching herself last second, struggling to do so had made the desk chair fall with a loud slam.
The dog glanced up at her, and she knew.
She knew what he was about to do.
The dog slowly backed away from her.
“Please, please just come--”
One swift movement and Havana was determined.
She wasn’t allowing him to get away again.
Havana dived forward, quickly grabbing the dog with both of her arms outstretched and he squirmed in her hands.
The girl let out a sigh of relief.
“... Thank you.”
The door opened and both the dog and Havana froze.
“Hey, how’s it goin--”
So, she got fired.
And it was a bummer.
It was the first job that actually went on to the interview… and passed it. It wasn’t fair. All the jobs that she applied for wanted experience.
How was Havana supposed to get experience if nobody was giving her a chance?
Well, she had one chance.
Well, you know how that went.
Look, she knew she was getting older. She knew her parents and Bea couldn’t keep paying for her bills.
And… impromptu trips.
Havana loved traveling.
And as much as she was willing to suck it up, being a groomer was not worth a trip to France. Do you know how long she’d have to save for that anyway? Yeah, a really, really long time.
She hated this.
She hated worrying about money. About jobs.
All of this was really hard.
“Any luck?” She asked Heather as she came out of some clothing store that based themselves on save the earth clothing, but Havana could’ve sworn she saw a jacket made out of literal plastic.
Good idea, bad execution.
Heather, her cousin was in the same boat as her… and that made her feel a little better, honestly.
Knowing that she wasn’t the only one without a job? Without any income whatsoever? Without--
You get it.
“I’m tired, and… still wet,” she said, gesturing towards her clothes from earlier. “I… think I give up. The next time I hunt for a job will be in my afterlife.” That wasn’t entirely true. Havana was just being dramatic and cranky.
She was exhausted.
“We’ll get a headstart tomorrow, I need to change and--”
You know who’s support she needed?
Her sister, Bea’s?
Well, yes, but no.
And conveniently, they were at the same place.
Havana sent out a text to the group chat.
How was everyone’s day?
Mine was terrible.
Drinks at the blue velvet?
She knew that Bea had her terrible, cheesy little rules on how nobody was allowed to go there when she was working.
Havana didn’t really get it.
Was it because of the outfits? Yeah, they were a little revealing, but Beatrice was never the type to be self conscious. She knew she got the better genes and wasn’t ashamed. Okay, so she didn’t say that, but it was true! Look, it was always better to say you’re sorry instead of asking for permission. However that saying went. She just wanted a stress free, fun, and friend-filled night.
Was that so much to ask for?
Music blared in the nightclub and Havana was already feeling lighter. Either it was the atmosphere or the fact she got rid of the wet clothes, But her bet’s on the first one.
“Okay, we either need a table or Bea.” She spoke to her cousin, her gaze roaming the nightclub.
“Thanks, for… coming out with me. I know you were probably tired after today, too. So, you didn’t really have to.”
It wasn’t just the whole… job hunting and getting fired. Truthfully, Havana’s been a little down. After her date…
Yes, a real, actual, in the flesh date with Mickey.
Aka Michael, aka the guy she had a crush on since she was… what? Eleven?
Anyway, after her date.
That went… horribly. Havana’s been quite short with a few members in the house. A few being… Mick, Mick, and also Mick. A little bit of Bea too because she absolutely hated when her older sister would pry.
Well, it wasn’t so much as pry as it was judging.
Bea probably wouldn’t have judged her for anything that happened that night. It was just so incredibly awkward and as much has Hav tried, she couldn’t alleviate any of it.
But that wasn’t the point, she… didn’t want to have that conversation. Bea probably already found out about most of it from Mick, anyway.
And Havana filled her in on some details when she snuck into her room that night.
(Yeah, she still hates sleeping up there.)
Her point being, Mickey decided it was best to stay friends.
She was sad about it, okay? She was really excited for that date and for it to just… fail and end up as being just friends? That was more of a bummer than getting fired today, honestly.
Havana spotted Beatrice and her eyebrows furrowed in worry for a moment. Whatever conversation she was having with those guys, it seemed tense and Hav was already pushing through the crowd to get to her.
It was hard to see what was happening, one second they were talking and the next, someone blocked her view and the guy was doubled over in pain and getting escorted out.
“Good job handling th--”
Heather and Havana had reached Bea, and before the younger girl could get a word out, she was already getting lectured.
“No, nuh uh, I told you that you can’t be here when I’m working.”
“What the fuck Hav? Did you bring the whole goddamn building?”
Technically, she only brought Heather.
“Technically, I only brought Heather… I just invited everyone else.” Hav bit the inside of her lip, watching carefully for her sister’s reaction before she decided not to let her react at all.
“Come on. It’ll be fun. You get off soon, right? and…” Havana looked at her watch, clearly focused on the time and doing a bit of math in her head.
“I’ve been legal to drink for… 3 months, 1 day, and 14 hours and I don’t think we’ve went out drinking together, yet. That’s just unsisterly of you. How dare you, Bea? Really?” Havana reached into her back pocket and pulled out a five.
“A Sex on the beach?” A bright smile was plastered onto her face and Havana placed the five right… in her sister’s cleavage.
“There’s more where that came from.” She gestured towards her sister’s breasts.
Did she like getting on her sister’s nerves?
No, not at all.
The last thing Havana wanted to be to anybody is a burden.
Atlas wasn’t someone you’d consider a lucky guy, in fact, he often drew the short end of the stick. His parents divorced when he was a child, he almost always lost all bets that involved luck, he got scammed on the regular and he got slapped by the bride at a wedding when she learned the groom cheated on her right after they said their vows, and no, he was not the groom, just the unfortunate best man. So, the fact that a guy with his kinda shitty luck, had managed to get a spot at the new place he moved into two weeks ago? It was like a miracle really.
For the first time since he broke up with Olivia a couple years back, he wasn’t staying in a place that was cramped or old or had a rat problem or crappy roommates who alternated between banging and fighting every night. There was none of that at 14th Avenue. It was pretty much perfect really, especially considering how cheap the rent was. Some people might have disliked the idea of sharing a living space with twenty other people, but having grown up in a large family, Atlas felt right at home with the big group. Besides, they were all proving to be great fun to be around, not to mention easy on the eyes. He wasn’t going to hook up with anyone or anything because hooking up with your roommates always got messy, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t look and appreciate how attractive they all were.
Anyway, tonight’s agenda involved what you could call a little roommate bonding, courtesy of a fun suggestion by one of his new roommates, Havana D’Arco, the younger of the D’Arco sisters. They were all meeting at the Blue Velvet Nightclub where the older D’Arco sister Beatrice worked. Or at least, he and Vi were going to meet Hav there. Bea had been pretty dead set on them not going to the bar when she was working but if there was anything he knew about younger siblings, and he had three of them, the more you told them not to do something, the more they usually ended up wanting to do it.
Bea would probably scowl at them when she saw them pop up but if that bothered or scared him, well, he wouldn’t be standing in the line to get in, in the first place. Besides the place was only a 20 minute walk from 14th, Bea had promised him a drink and he did want to see her at work, no it was not just because of the dress, and also, Vi hadn’t been out in forever and she definitely needed a fun night out without having to worry about her ex. Legally he was still her husband but they were basically done at this point, even if the guy just couldn’t get it.
As they reached the front of the line and were about to enter the club, Atlas gave his childhood bestie and fellow Colour a reassuring squeeze. “You look amazing Vi and you’re gonna have a great time tonight. Al is gonna be so jealous and if he tries anything funny afterwards just let me know alright?”
What kind of childhood bestie would he be if he didn’t look out for his friends? Answer: not a good one, even if he wasn’t exactly going to spend the entire night hanging around Vi and making sure she was indeed having a fantastic night the entire time. He was a social butterfly and he had people to talk to and interact with, like Bea when he went to claim his promised free drink.
Hopefully she wouldn’t serve him a free knuckle sandwich or something alongside it for showing up during her shift when she said explicitly not to.
They stepped into the nightclub and the place was gorgeous. The lighting, the set up and all the drinks they had lined up on the shelf? Yeah, he was definitely coming back again, even if it was during Bea’s shift. Speaking of that was her wasn’t it? In the short blue dress next to a guy who –
Uh, oh. Atlas was still some distance away but that didn’t keep him from noticing the guy putting his hands on her. Yeah. That was not going to end well. For the guy of course. To begin with making unwanted advances like that on any woman was just ugly and making them on a woman like Bea? That was just asking for a beating, which was exactly what Bea gave him. The guy crumpled like a ragdoll as Bea handled him smoothly and swiftly, the ease to her movements suggesting plenty of expertise and familiarity. He had always been pretty certain from the moment he met Bea, the way she talked and carried herself? She could definitely handle herself and it was probably in his best interests to never actually make her mad but even so, damn. That was something.
Security was really just there to take out the trash once she was done putting it in its place. And damn did she put that guy in his place. He didn’t think that would happen to him but hopefully that didn’t happen to him tonight. Like he said, he had pretty shit luck so he’d never bet against something like that happening and he’d been on the receiving end of brutal hits from women before, his ex and Leo’s. Both incidents had not been pretty, and he didn’t need to add a third to the list.
Now that she was done dealing with the trash, how long would it take for their sharp shooting, feisty part time bartender-slash-med student to notice them? Not long at all.
Bea had moved back behind the bar and rounded on Hav and Heather who he just noticed, when she briefly locked eyes with him and a flicker of recognition flashed in those blue-grey orbs. He reflexively smiled at the idea that she recognised him as he closed the distance and reached the bar just in time to see Hav deposit a tip right in Bea’s cleavage.
“What? No tip jar?” He asked teasingly, one eyebrow raised in amusement as he slid into the seat in front of them.
“Hey, Bea, hey Hav, hey Heather.” He smiled at each of them in greeting as he rested his arms on the counter before turning to address Bea still smiling.
Come to think of it was this the first time any of them were seeing him with a shirt on?
He honestly couldn’t remember given how frequently he did away with upper body clothes when he was at indoors at home. The outfit he was wearing now wasn’t his first choice, but he’d been firmly told by Vi that what he had initially thrown on was an absolute no go. So here he was in an outfit of her choosing and wearing more clothes than any of them, Vi aside, had probably ever seen him in.
“I’m here to claim that free drink you promised. Bartender’s choice.”
He was already getting it for free after all and he was curious to see what she would choose to serve him. Hopefully she didn’t spike it with anything that didn’t belong in a drink but well, if she did? He’d just roll with the punches as he always did.
Matt was resigned to fate. He lit a cigarette as he leaned out of the window of his room. His desk had a computer and a notebook next to it that was slowly getting filled with comments about each student’s shortcomings. Honestly, how difficult was it to google “MLA formatting.” It didn’t seem too difficult for him, but maybe his standards were just a little bit too high. He took a drag of the cigarette as he watched the ashes flutter down. Matt exaggerated how annoyed he was at his students for his roommates, but it was somewhat frustrating that his students didn’t seem to care enough to just… google how to do MLA formatting instead of turning in shitty papers that forced him to actually have to give feedback and try grading fairly for what he was given.
It was a real pain in the ass. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was having to pay for grad school, honestly he wouldn’t have even bothered with teaching to begin with. But he needed the money, so here he was, slowly drowning in work as he trudged his way through grammar and spelling mistakes. Honestly, did they write this while drunk? It’d explain the quality.
He blew a smoke ring, watching it slowly drift away from him. A filthy habit to be sure, but what was life without some indulgences here and there.
He could use a nice lay, to be completely honest. It’d been a while for him. And Havana had wanted everyone to go out drinking… So he got up and put on a jacket to brave the outside world.
Eventually making it to the bar, Matt snubbed out his second cigarette and threw it out, walking into the bar with a tired feeling of resignation to his fate. Having everyone here seemed to him a generally “bad idea” if their constant bickering in the group chat said anything but hey, what did he know. He was just a tired philosophy grad student.
Matt took a glance around the lively atmosphere, trying to find someone that seemed interested in him. After all, that’s really all that he was here to do: get a bit tipsy and go home with someone that could make him forget about Jennifer and the three sheets he had to fill out so that he didn’t lose his job because the 19 year old had decided that he was the type of guy to trade a good grade for sex. (Seriously, what the fuck. Did he really come across as that kind of asshole? Jennifer should know better).
Nobody just yet. Alright, night was still young. He could wait a little while before starting to approach people. He went to the bar to try to order a drink - where some of his building seemed to be annoying Bea. Yeah. This was going to take a while, wasn’t it. He considered stepping out to take another smoke, but decided against it. Alcohol would’ve been worth the wait. He rooted himself into place at the bar and waited for an opportunity to get Bea’s attention.
Black heels clicked onto the marble tile, they weren’t very flashy.
They seemed like everyday heels.
Of course, if you ignored the red soles.
The brunette strutted through the room, passing by many colorful cubicle offices. A girl filing her nails, one typing away on a keyboard, a man who was producing entirely too much sweat on a phone call and she visibly cringed at the sight.
It was like slow motion when he came into eyesight.
He was wearing a slim fitted suit, he had a hint of a smile, and measuring tape was hung around his neck.
Somebody fan her.
Issac Desmond, an upcoming fashion designer in this cruel, cruel world.
God, he was so fucking hot.
He was so focused on the model in front of him, he placed the yellow tape between his teeth and Scarlett wished that was--
He glanced up and caught her eye, flashing a grin and suddenly, her whole body felt like it was on fire.
The corners of her lips lifted into a smirk.
The brunette replied, speed-walking into the office entirely made of glass.
“Door.” Kate ordered,
Scarlett closed it behind her, bringing up a tablet, scrolling through her appointments and tabbing out of social media, sliding the app away, the picture of herself disappearing within seconds.
“Don’t tell me you're using that for personal use.”
“No, of course not.”
Kate glanced up from her laptop, narrowing her eyes for a second before returning her attention back to her computer, tapping away on the keyboard, most likely replying to an email that was probably super important.
“The samples from Versace have to be picked up today,” Scarlett nodded, jotting it down in the calendar app.
“And don’t forget the… uh--”
“The dress from Chanel, I know.”
Instead of having the least bit of appreciation for being on top of things, Kate grew impatient.
“Well? What are you waiting for? It’s needed at 3PM,today, Scarlett. Not next year.”
Scarlett internally sighed, putting on a bright smile and turning to leave the room, her smile dissipating almost instantly with a roll of her eyes.
She instantly pulled up the tablet, walking out of the office and navigating through the hallways with perfect ease as her eyes were glued onto the screen.
So many DMs.
Hey! We love your style, care to...
Another advertisement for another one of those fucking 'fit' teas. Anybody could get the same result with laxative.
It so wasn’t worth it.
Imagine the comments she’d get.
Her user wasn’t LittleMissFeminist for nothing. She'd be cancelled before she even started. Especially when they tried to get her to push the product on Captivate? She was an assistant! Surely they knew she didn’t have that kind of sway over any of them.
And if she tried?
Scarlett would be fired quicker than Marc Jacobs was after his spring '93 collection.
“Scarlett, a hand?” She knew who it was, his accent was so distinct-- and so fucking sexy, but that wasn’t the point.
“Can’t. I have--”
A hand came into her view, gently taking the tablet from her hands and blue eyes caught her dark ones.
A slow smile spread onto the girl’s lips.
Her body hit the door of the closet and Issac’s lips were already on hers, his hands roaming her body eagerly.
Scarlett pulled away and Issac placed kisses on the side of her neck.
“You’re going to make me late,” She said, tangling her fingers in his hair.
“We’ll be quick.”
The brunette laughed, rolling her eyes and pushing him off of her.
“Correction; You’ll be quick.”
Before you started judging her, no, it wasn’t a closet, closet. There was no way she’d stoop to fucking in something like a… janitor’s closet.
It was where they kept all the pieces for shoots. Dresses, heels, jewelry, samples.
It was like heaven.
Isaac’s gaze slowly traveled over her, taking a step in her direction but she didn’t protest, placing two hands against his chest, she tugged on his suit jacket.
His hand found his way to her lower thigh and slowly trailed up.
“But we can.”
Her gaze shifted to her watch.
Scarlett pulled him closer and pressed her lips against his.
It wasn’t like New York.
Downtown Chicago had cabs, but not on every corner.
She flagged down one and he was getting through traffic to make it to the curb. Not that Scarlett was remotely used to/or had been to New York. It was a fashion capital for fucks sake.
Manhattan had been her first choice before her grandmother had gotten sick.
She supposed she could always go now, but that’d mean completely starting over. Scarlett was on the brink of becoming something-- someone here, she could feel it.
I know what you’re thinking.
Why not order an Uber? A lyft?
Well, that’s because Scarlett-- had no money.
Surprising, isn’t it?
Nobody knew that of course. Nobody could’ve known that by the way she dressed and held herself.
Appearances were absolutely everything.
“Come on, how fucking slow can somebody be?”
“I’m with Captivate magazine? Picking up samples for Kate Mildren.”
The man behind the counter nodded and went to the back of the store. Scarlett’s gaze roamed around the building, eying security cameras as she walked through the store and her eyes landed on a pair of sunglasses that were absolutely fucking gorgeous.
Scarlett lifted them up, looking through the lenses and catching a glance at the price tag. $750
She raised a brow, placing them on and looking at her reflection in the small mirror.
Oh. My. God.
She loved them.
Footsteps emerged from behind the counter and Scarlett lifted the glasses to the top of her head and her cell phone to her ear.
“What do you mean the shoot is off?” A shocked expression played on her features.
“The samples are taking too long? Kate, I’m sure we can-- his superior? I don’t think we have to do that, they’ll blame him for the whole thing! Kate, he’ll lose his job.”
Scarlett lifted the phone off her ear, mouthing a ‘sorry.’
The man was clearly nervous, Scarlett almost wanted to laugh.
It was a bit sad, actually.
“I-- Assure her that all the samples are here and--”
“I’ll handle it. Don’t worry, but I should be going.”
“Oh! Uh, of course.” He handed her the samples that were protected by a black velvet cover with their companies name on top.
Scarlett nodded with a smile, taking them from him and walking towards the exit of the store.
“Kate, I just think--”
As soon as the brunette left the vicinity, she placed her phone down and slid the sunglasses down back to their rightful place on her face.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Scarlett swung the door open and made her way to the front desk.
“Pickup. Kate Mildren.”
The woman behind the counter stared at her for a few seconds.
“Do you want a ‘good afternoon’ or something? I’m on a deadline. Let’s go.” Scarlett clapped her hands together and leaned on the marble desk.
The fucking lady took her sweet time getting the dress and Scarlett grew impatient, and… incredibly nervous.
“Hello?! I don’t get why we’re sitting on our asses. You work at Chanel, not Portillos. Find out what’s going on.” The other workers glanced at each other, putting their heads down and heading off to the back.
Soon enough, the dress arrived.
“We didn’t have the black--”
“She wanted the black. What do you mean you don’t have the black?”
Scarlett unzipped the cover to see a ruffled dress-- definitely not the one in black, but in dark pink and navy blue.
“There was a mix up, there was supposed to--”
Holy fucking crap.
She was so dead.
Scarlett left the store as quickly as possible, barely even acknowledging their apologies.
“Where is she?!”
Scarlett rushed past the photographers with five bags behind her shoulder, holding them by the hangers.
Kate laid eyes on her and Scarlett swore she looked the devil in the eyes.
“We’re behind schedule. Do you know how much this is costing me?”
“I… know, I-- there was a mix-up at Chanel, they said they didn’t have the dress.” Scarlett replied.
Kate’s jaw dropped, picking up her phone and snapping her fingers for the stylists to take the clothes off of Scarlett’s hands.
Scarlett didn’t entirely lie, there was a mix up at Chanel but… truthfully, she was the entire reason why she was late. Maybe if she had gotten to the store earlier, they would’ve gotten the dress before whoever else did.
“Ms. Mildren!” Issac walked into the room and Scarlett’s brows furrowed in confusion, he wasn’t working with them today.
Kate raised an eyebrow, looking up from her phone with a genuine smile.
She wanted to fuck him.
Don’t call her crazy. Scarlett knew this woman like the back of her hand.
Her failing marriage was probably leaving her a little too…
“I’m starved! How did you--”
“A strawberry salad with honey glaze dressing? It’s my favourite as well.”
“Thank you, my own assistant didn’t think of my own wellbeing.” Kate laughed, shooting Scarlett a glare.
“Can’t have a beautiful woman such as yourself go hungry, now can we Ms. Mildren?”
“Oh, Issac. Don't be--” Kate laughed, brushing her hand against his to grab the salad. "Call me Kate."
Scarlett crossed her arms, taking a deep breath as she watched this ridiculous interaction.
She wasn’t jealous.
Truly, all of that was so petty.
She couldn’t care less about--
The fucking dress?!
Issac’s assistant walked by holding the black Chanel dress and Scarlett’s heart practically dropped.
“I heard you were looking for this particular piece, so I called ahead this morning and picked it up for you. I apologize if it’s a little late.”
Did he make her late on purpose?
Now, Scarlett was practically shooting daggers with her eyes at Issac. He didn’t bother to look at her, but he knew. He fucking knew.
“Oh my gosh! No, no, no. It’s completely fine-- you’re a true gem, Issac.”
His fucking smile.
His stupid, beaming, bright proud smile.
“Scarlett. If you’re capable of doing anything right, I’d appreciate it if you could start rounding up the models.”
Issac turned to glance over at her, and she didn’t break eye contact.
“Now.” Kate ordered.
Scarlett didn’t reply, instead walking away to find the rest of the models.
The rest of her day was spent arguing with a size zero because she believed she was fat on camera and nobody else wanted to talk her off the ledge of quite literally, leaving. So of course, Scarlett was put to babysit.
She ignored Issac all day.
Her feet hurt from going on a coffee run not once, not two, but three fucking times.
Now? She was walking into some nightclub one of her roommates worked at.
She couldn’t believe she was even living there in the first place, but the rent was cheap and that was the only thing Scarlett would settle for being cheap.
She didn’t particularly like any of them very much.
Although it’s only been a week in, Scarlett wouldn’t judge them by their cover.
She caught sight of the outfits and raised an eyebrow.
Or their ass, she guesses.
Scarlett found an empty seat at the bar near Matteo.
He wasn't as bad as some of them. Scarlett actually found him tolerable, believe it or not.
She didn’t acknowledge him at all, instead waving over the younger girl behind the bar as he pathetically waited for Bea’s attention.
Scarlett rolled her eyes, glancing towards Matteo.
“And... whatever he wants.”
No, she isn’t paying.
Scarlett gave him the opportunity to order, that was enough.
“10-1, 10-1. Shots fired at police, offender is heavily armed requesting back up. Be advised, plain clothes officers on scene.”
His voice seemed calm in the face of violence as those tenor words were fired in rapid secession into the radio that was hooked on the shoulder of his blue body armor. His back was pressed firmly against the back of a civilian vehicle on the sidewalk in front of an apartment building where the offending shots seemingly originated from.
He looked over to his partner, Jessie, who had her firearm at the ready before nodding to him as she popped up and took a couple shots at a window. Simultaneously, as if the two had practiced over and over (and to an extent they had) Mick moved in sync with her own movement, moving around the car and into the doorway of the building.
It was dark, so he removed the flashlight from its holster on his chest and turned it on. He moved the arm with the light parallel to his chest, holding the flashlight with a backwards grip. In a gentle, but firm motion he moved his weapon arm and rested it on the arm that was now parallel to his chest.
He ignited the light and moved through the building slowly, checking each corner for someone in hiding in case the assailant above had support. He continued to here gunshots ring out as he slowly moved towards the stairs, a creak echoing through the otherwise quiet abandoned building.
When he heard loud footsteps from the floor above, he cursed under his breath and moved up the stairs a little quicker than he originally planned. He stopped when he got to one of the upper steps where the baluster still hid his body from view from anyone down the hall. He killed his flashlight and raised his foot to take a step on the next stair.
It creaked like he expected it too, and then a loud kachow rang out as a projectile ripped through the wood of the baluster and right pass Mick’s shoulder, causing him to duck a bit.
“POLICE! Put the weapon down and your hands up…”
He waited for a response but was met with loud footsteps and so he moved up the stairs and placed his back against the closest wall to use as cover. Another kachow rang out, hitting the baluster again, meaning that the shooter probably wasn’t aware Mick was no longer on the stairs.
He needed to think. Whoever was firing at him had a semi-automatic rifle and he didn’t recall any clink that would signify a bolt action. He moved and peeked his head around the corner and it was almost took off by a shot that rang out, causing him to duck back.
So, they were aware that he wasn’t on the stairs anymore now. His mind thought back briefly to his time in Force RECON in a similar situation. That was simpler then – if someone was firing at you, unless they were an HVT, you took them out. He would have someone provide cover fire as he moved down the hall to the closest ingress point into another room. Then it’d just be a simple flank if he could find away around, or maybe a toss of a flashbang and then rush them down. They were rarely even in those situations, because his unit was elite at stealth and a successful mission was a mission where a single shot was not fired.
Unfortunately, that was not the case in this reality. Instead, he was facing down an assailant who was needed to be kept alive as an informant to build a case with. He took a deep breath as Jessie slid right beside him. He glanced to the red head, who offered a nod as Mick blind fired around the corner and his counterpart sprinted down the hall. Mick poked his entire body out and fired a couple of more times at a corner where he knew the gunmen was firing from.
One of the shots must have struck him through a part of the wall that was thin, because he heard a groan as the weapon dropped on the hallway. These were followed by footsteps and the closing of a door.
He released the magazine from his weapon, “Go! I’ll head back downstairs and try to cut off his escape that way.” The partner didn’t respond, just acted as Mick jammed in a new magazine as he moved back down the stairs. Chicago police officers had to purchase their own sidearms from an approved list, and the only sidearm that he had extensive use of from the list was the Glock 19, which was equated to the M19, from his time that he was a part of the Marine Raiders battalion at MARSOC.
This provided a familiarity for him that didn’t require excessive training to get to where he wanted to be, and so as he moved out of the apartment building and down an alley to get to the back side, he was very sure of himself as he lined up his shot.
“Police! Put it down!” he said as he watched the suspect hesitate at his words before being tackled by Jessie, flipped over on his stomach and handcuffed.
He returned the flashlight to its holster, and gripped the radio on his chest, “Main, this is 1422, Offender in custody. Roll an ambo to our location.” And after the confirmation of his request he took a deep breath and holstered his side arm.
He looked to Jessie and nodded, “Good job. Ride with him over to Chicago med, I’ll head to district to do the paperwork for firearm discharge.” He moved to the covert vehicle he was assigned, a flat grey newer model souped up dodge charger (covert lights too) , getting into the vehicle and driving off to the district precinct.
After he pulled up, he moved out, went inside and did the necessary paperwork for shooting the offender. Every time they fired a weapon, they had to do paperwork, no matter if it was clear cut or not. Actually, hitting a perpetrator required even more paperwork and a short investigation by Internal Affairs to assure the shot was justified. In this case, it would be short-lived investigation and eventually he moved back to the vehicle and was at the hospital.
The wound wasn’t bad, but because the velocity was slowed by impacting two walls the bullet did not go through and they had to do surgery to remove it, which meant they were also keeping them overnight. Which was fine, because fortunately they were cooperative probably because being shot is not fun.
The information given afforded them to get an arrest warrant, but that was rather uneventful as it was a simple kick the door open, put them in cuffs and bringing them to the station.
Mick sat across from the person at the table, a woman in her mid-30’s, Caucasian, brunette, slim and about 5’8. She was being accused of human trafficking and a string of related crimes. So he slid a manilla folder that was wide open in front of her, full of photos and statements, “I really don’t need you to say anything, this is open and shut case on you.” He shrugged his shoulders and closed his eyes a bit with a slight yawn, “I mean, unless you’re trying to give up who’s really behind this. We can just kick back and chat until your lawyer is here. Because you do have a right to one of those, you know.”
“What’s that supposed to mean.”
“It means I don’t think you’re smart enough to be running the show.” He opened his eyes and glanced over to her, “Either way though, we have enough to put you away for a long time. All your lawyer is going to tell you is to remain quiet and not say anything. But let me guess, your boss is sending the lawyer, right? So you know what that means…”
I….I don’t know what you’re implying.
“It’s simple. They will look out for the boss so now that you’re jammed up, they won’t do anything to help you,” he balled a piece of paper up and shot it into a trash can across from him, “Like I said, I’m not pressured to get you to talk. I get to go home to a warm bed with another TWO collars under my belt.”
He shrugged his shoulders, and leaned over the table, “See, my supervisor might care about the big fish, but my superior upstairs? They don’t. You’re another human trafficker off the street, a big time one at that. You might not be THE big fish, but you’re not a minnow. They’ll get to have a press conference and make it look like they did a great job. I’ll be in my dress blues getting accommodations. My career continues forward. Then eventually, either way your boss slips up and someone else snitches. Meanwhile, you’re locked up in maximum security for life.”
He offered a chuckle and leaned back and closed his eyes again.
You’re just trying to get in my head.
“Yeah promise you I don’t care that much, I’m trying to get home in time to watch the Cubs game with a cold beer. They’re in California so it’s a late game for us. I don’t get to catch them often so you keeping your mouth closed is a win for me.”
The woman looked around as if she was searching for something. A look Mick was all too familiar with and signaled that he had done exactly what he set out to do.
I’d like to make a statement…
She stated before even looking back to Mick which caused him to chuckle, “Was really hoping you remained quiet…I hate paperwork…”
A couple of hours later after the procurement of an arrest warrant, and bringing in the crook, Mick was in the locker room, putting on his street clothes, which was just adding a jacket to his clothes he was wearing earlier. He remembered that they were supposed to be meeting up with everyone to go bar hopping. While the idea of bar hopping was an interesting appeal, the thought of having to be around all of the rest of the people was kind of lacked the same draw.
Jessie moved past him to a locker and chuckled
I guess we’re lucky she wasn’t a baseball fan.
Mick could only chuckle because he knew exactly what she meant ,” I guess I’m just luck it wasn’t you.”
You’re right, Cubs played at 1 today…at Wrigley.
Mick chuckled patting her on her shoulder heading out the locker room where he ran into Noah.
If it isn’t our resident detective.
Ciamar a tha a' dol dhut?
If he hadn’t heard it from his family, both Irish and Scottish (though he was Irish through and through he did have Scottish cousins), thousands of times an exhausted Mick might have had a little difficulty translating the Gaelic that Mac had thrown at him. Instead, it was second nature almost as if he was on autopilot the way he responded, “Táim togha.” It was a short, simple response that afforded him to respond in the language that her greeting originated.
Are you off duty now? We could head to the bar together.
This wasn’t too curious of a question. He and Mac had gone to the bar together on several occasions, but something felt off. Like he was missing or forgetting something.
The lingering feeling made him quirk a brow before letting out a slow sigh, furrowing his brow in frustration and before finally giving up and shrugging his shoulders, “Yeah. I just punched out; I’ll drive.” He stated without even bothering to let her respond, heading outside to his car before he tossed the bag in the trunk, and sat in the front seat turning on the vehicle as it roared to life.
If he was being honest, he had been a little out of it recently probably having something to do with his experience with Havana. Though knowing Mick he would try to bury any thoughts of it and what better way to do that than to replace it with alcohol.
River had a nice pair of boots. They were black. Laced up. Made a nice and satisfying clip clop sound when he walked. Combat style. Steel-toed. Very fancy. He could kick someone with them like a horse. He would never, of course, but it was nice to have the option.
Clip clop boots, though, were not broken in yet. So he was currently doing the completely normal thing of doing high kicks and dancing along to Shake It Off while making a big ol racket (dancing in boots tended to do that) trying to break in the shoes when he got a text.
“Hey~ Are you home still”
The music was quelled - because nobody texted River unless it was a dire circumstance. Something about him being “Horrendously irresponsible” and “”A terror to the human race.” Not his words, but he heard what was said behind his back. He wasn’t a complete and total idiot after all, he just spoke kinda funny. (And acted kinda funny, but that was neither here nor there).
Anyways, Gen needed him to go check in on the baby. He’d seen the babysitter enter, odd lil stalker monkey he was and all that nonsense. She seemed like a perfectly normal girl to him, but considering he found the weird homeless man that sometimes pissed on their building to be a good buddy of his, admittedly he wasn’t the best judge of character for who should be exposed to a toddler. (Though, he still stood by his decision of making Jeff his friend, the guy needed emotional support).
So he did what any rational and sane person did when trying to spy on a teenage girl and a small toddler: he made popcorn. Added some nice butter and gave it a bit of a peppery kick. Aw yeah baby, adding in all that flavor. And then like a middle aged mom, he went up the stairs to go check in on the children.
He slowly peered in around the corner. Normal teenage girl. Her back was turned to him as she watched the babe. The popcorn was slowly offered out as well.
“Greetings.” He announced his presence like the good person he was, “The prophet wishes for your poor sinner to see how the sproutling and the seed get by. How goes Helios’s journey cross the sky?” He gave her his best grin.
It was wide. And toothy. And way too large for his face. The teenager’s eyes went wide like saucers and she slowly started gathering her things to back away from the crazed man.
He stumbled into the room, carefully balancing the popcorn as he listed off to one side. Not a single kernel fell as he spun around to regain his balance. Win!!!
“You are but the small green sproutling, correct? Not the digging machine set to kill?” He peered at her, with the same toothy expression.
The teenager seemed to slowly be making a grab for the toddler. Oh that wouldn’t do - what if the teenager was an old creepy dude in disguise. He carefully put a hand on the tot’s head and she seemed to understand that she would not be saving the toddler.
She wasn’t a creepy old man. She really really wasn’t.
Really it was a miracle that he was employed at all.
“I bring water for the sproutling.” He offered her the bowl of popcorn as a peace offering. Another maniacal grin appearing on his face as he offered her the bowl of popcorn.
With both hands occupied, the teenager took the opportunity to make a run for it.
That wasn’t good.
He texted Gen the good news and the bad news. Good news, it was a normal teenager. Bad news, he may or may not have scared the poor kid off. Whoops. M’ bad.
After playing peekaboo with the toddler for a little while, the teenager came back. But his popcorn remained untouched. Rather rude of her, he went through all the trouble of making it for her.
He took the popcorn with him to go as he finally finished getting ready to go out. He ate it as he clip clopped his way to the Blue Velvet, electing to use the now empty bowl as a hat.
The peak of fashion, thank you.
He was let in by some miracle and smoothly (fully ran into 5 people and bumped into at least 7) made his way around the club till he ran smack into someone he knew. His roommate! He liked his roommate. Wes, by most people's standards. But he was... he was River.
"Greetings o god Zephyrus, how goes Helios's travel across the sky?" River shouted over the music. He liked drunk and high people. They pretended to know what he was saying a lot more than people that were sober. Or they extracted some kind of odd meaning from him. It was funny.
Noah smiled brightly at Mick as he spoke Gaelic back to her in answer to her question. It was nice to hear, even if short and sweet. She remembered her mother speaking almost exclusively Gaelic to her when she was young, bringing her up in a household of dual languages. Saoirse had always had a fondness for the language and made sure her children did as well. Her father had spent a lot of his life in Denmark so he had been fluent in Danish but had never been so interested in teaching her as her mother was with Gaelic. Noah could carry a rough conversation in Danish, due to her own initiative in learning it, but was far from fluent. Besides, she had no one to speak Danish with anyway and she’d really only tried to learn it for her father in the first place. She remembered the first time she’d tried to call him after he ran off to London with his new wife. He’d answered with his strangely accented and hard voice and Noah had tried her hardest to speak to him in Danish. All she’d wanted was for him to notice how smart she could be, all she wanted was to impress her father.
“Oh, you learned some Danish. Needs work.”
That’s all he said. Needs work. Noah remembered feeling so unimportant to him, like nothing she did was enough. He wasn’t going to come back and she knew that then. Noah stopped calling him after that. Saoirse tried to get them together, she really did, but every time she reached out she was shot down for one reason or another.
“Tickets to London are too expensive, Saoirse, I don’t have that kind of money.” Tickets weren’t that expensive, he was a popular tattooist and his wife was a programmer he definitely had the money.
“I have to work, she doesn’t want to be sitting around here all day.” Killian knew damn well that Noah loved to be at the tattoo shop.
“Bethany is having family over for the holidays, Noah doesn’t know any of them. They don’t know her.” Bethany, bless her heart, had wanted Noah and her little brother to come to London for a few days before Christmas to meet her and her family. Noah only later found out from Bethany after she and Killian split that he had told her Saoirse said no.
It was like he had wanted to pretend she didn’t exist, he already did that with her brother. So Noah had resorted to pretending that he didn’t exist either. As far as she was concerned Kilian Nielson was dead. Nielson. Noah had changed her last name to her mother’s maiden name once Saoirse had. They eradicated all trace of Killian Nielson from their life, even the country he’d once lived in was left behind. Her father was dead and she didn’t speak Danish anymore.
“Yeah I just punched out, I’ll drive.”
Noah shook her head free of the clusterfuck of a tunnel it had just created and let her smile rest on her face again as she followed Mick out of the station. It really was nice having him around. He was a good guy, drank with her and they got along well. They also roomed together, another nice thing because his military days had made him particular about the way his space was kept and Noah was just generally a clean freak so that worked just splendidly. She liked him a lot more than some of their other roommates so far at least not that she was going to name names (cough, Scarlett’s mean, cough). Mick reminded her of home and that was a welcome comfort. Mick’s engine revved to life as Noah slid into the passenger seat. The car rumbled down the road and Noah found herself watching the city roll by in her window. Chicago was a whole lot different from where she grew up, but in the years she’d been here Noah had come to care for it. Caring about the city they served was something Noah thought was important in a cop, even if a lot of them didn’t, and she prided herself on that care. It wasn’t the best city by any means, the crime rate in Chicago was startling, but it was hers and to hell if she wasn’t proud of that.
“It was slow today for me.” Noah spoke, turning her face back to Mick, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a shift as uneventful as today was.” She chuckled and shook her head. This was a dumb thing to talk about, she should be grateful that it was quiet. “I should be glad it was but I almost fell asleep with my damned coffee in my hand. And Luke is going to be the death of me, I swear it. If he doesn’t stop not turning his radio on, I’m going to hurt him, Mick.” Another head shake and her eyes were drawn back out the window. A woman walking down the sidewalk caught her eye. She was in a hurry, pushing a stroller at impossibly fast speeds, speaking into an ear piece as she went. They sped past her and she was gone. Chicago was so fast, never taking a moment to breathe and maybe that's what she liked about it.
“I hope your day was more interesting, at least.”
The bar came into view and Mick got lucky with parking relatively close to the entrance. They stepped onto the parking lot pavement and entered the bar together. The neon innards of the Blue Velvet struck her eyes harshly and she had to blink a few times before she could focus. A velvet clad woman brushed past her, drinks on a platter held above her head, and Noah turned her head to watch her go before realizing what she was doing and turning away. Correction, Luke Collins wasn’t going to be the death of her, this damned bar was. Instead of eyeing up waitresses like a creep, Noah made herself search for their roommates. Brown eyes caught familiar faces amongst the lights.
“I see some of our roommates over by the bar.” She spoke loudly to Mick over the music, “I’m gonna head over there if you want to come with me.” With that, Noah wove expertly through the crowd and found herself standing amongst Violetta, Astrid, Atlas, and Evan. Atlas and Evan, who she now definitely knew was someone she’d arrested for drug dealing in the damn park, were in their own conversation so Noah turned to the girls.
“Evening.” She reached to smooth her shirt nervously, “It’s really loud in here, I think I prefer a quiet pub over this.”
Seeing Joe grinning at her like a kid in a candy store on her bed was an adorably familiar sight, but still one she couldn't believe was happening.
Look Gen went from being the girl no one would ask to the dance, to dating a guy who was honestly probably only into her because her addiction made him money, to now dating probably the nicest guy to walk the planet. It's strange to her! A guy only liking her for how he can use her makes sense since she thinks she's got nothing going for her, but a guy thinking that she's this amazingly perfect human being when she in fact knows how untrue that is? Difficult.
He's traveled the world, has an amazing career, actually finished school, and so much more! She is a college drop out, former (hopefully stays that way) addict working as a local mechanic. See how that doesn't add up?
So yes, it would always be unbelievable to her that of all the beautiful women in the world, he choose to be with her. That didn't mean she wasn't going to do her best to be deserving of it. It just meant sometimes she didn't know exactly how to do that. Luckily he never really asked much of her, and was always very supportive. Most of the pressure she felt was self inflicted.
Him becoming a constant in her life helped. Not just in the sense that he moved back to the states and into the same building as her, but the fact he literally was always with her. Well not 24/7 of course, they both had to go to work and do their own things from time to time, but he was in her bed every night and that was more comforting then she realized it would be.
It also wound up being a plus for her friend Evan who turned out to be his roommate because it allowed him a spare bed to sleep in. Win-win for everyone honestly.
Gen couldn't help the rosy flush of her cheeks noticing his eyes on her. You'd think she'd be used to this, to the butterflies, but nope! She was just as excited and flustered as the day they'd met. Mr. Perfect walking up to the Wallflower at a party and breaking her out of her shell even if they wouldn't see each other again for a while...it left an imprint.
"Happy to help." She kissed her finger tips and blew him a kiss before giggling and returning to the closest to change.
She could still hear him even though she was in the closest so of course she had to comment back on his silly antics, "Hmm I hear wet is the new hot style." She joked, "Or are you just saying it cause you like me wet?" She teased. A bit of confidence coming from the fact it was just them. She wasn't as confident in flirting like this when they were in the group chat and things because other people made her nervous.
Gen was still a very insecure person despite trying to fake like she was confident from time to time. She didn't really think she was fooling anyone, but she felt less annoying this way. "Plus, something tells me if I stuck to this, we'd never make it out the door let alone to the club." She giggled finally walked out of the closet fully clothed. She'd listened to his advice and felt this was classic, and spicy all at the same time.
She watched as he made his way towards her. Her heart beating wildly in her chest, but thank God he wasn't close enough to hear it. Her face of course as usual gave her away, the red tint obvious on her light bronze skin. He twirled her around before pulling her close, and as expected out poured the compliments. They felt fantastic coming from his lips, a sweet melody she found hard to believe, but she wanted to.
Speaking of his lips they felt like fire on her skin. Not the kind that burned, but the warm cozy kind that made her just melt in his arms. Her hands lightly slid up his arms as his lips dipped lower before he finally captured her lips. She kissed him back letting her arms loosely wrap around his neck. Times like these she really did wonder what she'd done to deserve someone like him in her life. God did he make it tempting to take advantage of the fact that most if not the entire house was going to be empty tonight. Think of all the fun they could have?
'No, no Gen you are going to go out and have fun with everyone tonight not just Joe!' She reminded herself.
As they pulled away she whispered softly, "You're as eloquent and incredibly generous as always, love." She giggled playfully tapping the tip of his nose with her finger, "Thank you." She hummed. Maybe one day she'd look in the mirror and see herself though his eyes.
As he stepped away she let her hands fall down to his chest and giggled while playfully rolling her eyes at his comment...even if it's what had just crossed her mind as well. "It'll be fun. I'll see you downstairs." She hummed receiving his final kiss on the head before he left the room. She took that time to do her hair, deciding to keep it down and wavy, and her make up before walking downstairs to wait for him.
She wasn't waiting long before he made his way down looking dashing as ever. He really did look amazing in anything he put on. Gen was convinced of the two of them he had the better sense of style and fashion.
She smiled reaching up with one of her hands to caress his cheek before pecking his lips, "Ready handsome. You look incredible by the way." She chimed thinking about how cool his jacket looked, and how it'd probably wind up on her by the end of the night. Who doesn't love over sized leather jackets, and it's in like the GF code to claim jackets and hoodies right?
They ordered an Uber, and where on their way. It wasn't really far and if she'd worn comfortable shoes like sneakers they could've even walked. Still her boots weren't made for walking. She'd spent the whole ride with her hand in his because...well she wanted to.
He was a reassuring presence, and while she didn't want to admit it...she was nervous, maybe even slightly afraid. She wanted to go and hang out and have fun with everyone because so far they'd seemed like wonderful people, and she really wanted to connect with them. But a whole building of temptation? A steep price to pay. At least Joe was here with her, so if she got anxious she could just look at him.
Not to mention the mini panic/irritation phase she went through when Leo basically admitted to leaving little Anastasia with a total stranger. Gen Loved Ana and Mari, and was in their lives even before Leo and Mari got back together. She was basically an aunt to the girl by this point, and it always frustrated her when Leo acted like Gen was in the wrong for giving a shit just because he didn't. Well maybe he did give a shit, but was still very selfish about it. It didn't take long to verify Ana was ok thanks to River, but those few moments felt like a lifetime.
Luckily the line wasn't too long, and as they walked in she looked around to see if the others had made it in yet. "Hey I think that's Bea and a few of them over there. And Evan and a few more by the bar." She spoked just in observation. The music was louder then she imagined, but still bearable, and it wasn't overly crowded. Thankfully it was a pretty open layout, so maybe she could handle this after all?
"I wonder if Cam and Annie are coming out tonight?" She wondered aloud. She knew Mari was because they'd both talked about how much they needed to get out more.
She also saw Mitch and Leo but the one of them was on her shit list, so she didn't really wanna hang around them. Leo honestly wasn't so bad, she just wished he was better with lil Anna. You know...the kid that it was his night to be watching. At least he was in his kid's life and didn't ditch them with someone else indefinitely like Mitch.
She glanced back up at Joe, "What do you wanna do first? Hang with one of the others, dance, or grab something to drink?" She asked. She made a mental note to go check on Hav in a bit. She'd been off since her date and her saying she was giving up on dating for a while worried her.
Matt had a nicotine addiction. And it was a fairly obvious one to anybody that had met him for just a little bit. Right now, his fingers were itching for one. Supposedly a disgusting habit, going out for a smoke would definitely set him back in the line of trying to get a drink, but he was considering the wait time that he was stuck in now. Bea seemed busy after all. He understood that maybe he felt annoyed somewhere, but really all he could focus on was the fact that he was itching for a cigarette.
And then Scar sat next to him. Like most people and most things, he didn’t really have much of an opinion on her. She was there. She was very attractive. However, he didn’t really feel like pursuing anything whenever she seemed to show up. He was usually simply not in the mood, or he was craving something else. Like food. Or water. Or, currently, a cigarette.
“A martini.” A glance back to him. “And whatever he’ll be having.”
If Matt was someone else, he probably would’ve smiled, given her a high five. Bonked heads - some kind of showing that there was appreciation there. And there was appreciation for her ability to actually get the bartender’s attention. It took his mind off of cigarettes to have alcohol in hand.
He gave her a little nod of acknowledgement. Whether it was a greeting or a thank you, that was up to her interpretation. Sometimes people thought of him as callous, cold, cruel. And Matt really couldn’t bring himself to bother too much. He was efficient, that’s all that really mattered at the end of the day.
“Double shot of whiskey” He needed to forget about papers and students and philosophy and idiotic roommates who were probably going to get them kicked out before he could order a second one. Slid a couple of bills towards the bartender to pay for both of them. He was, unfortunately, a gentleman at the end of the day. And it was his wordless thank you, even if he didn’t really vocalize it.
He took the whiskey that was handed his way and downed it in one go, flagging the bartender down for another. Yeah. There it was. A bit of pink began to color his otherwise pale and colorless cheeks as the alcohol set in. His dark eyes did a quick once over of Scarlett before settling back towards his drink, looking back at the roommates and their antics. Watching them passively. He was somewhat looking forward to watching them dance upon the bar. That would’ve been funny. “Looking good tonight, as always.”
No hello, no how are you doing, no smiles of encouragement. That had already been good and done with when she’d ordered him a drink (sort of). A polite compliment, but not dressed up in any kind of fake flattery. More factual, almost offhanded, like it didn’t matter much to him one way or another if she heard it. Again, some found it charming. Others found it slightly off-putting. It was dependent on the person, he assumed. And whatever position the stars were in at the time. Either way, complete nonsense.
At least when he said something, Matteo usually meant exactly what he said. A pause as Matt searched himself for anything else that he wanted to say. He wouldn’t say anything else if he didn’t want to. That was just how things went with him usually. Conversations had the tendency to be a bit one-sided if he didn’t feel like caring enough.
Maybe he should use a little bit of effort at least to have somewhat of a conversation. That would’ve been, at the very least, polite. And he was bored and trying to forget the fact that he was craving a cigarette. Alright, here we go.
A smile (whether it was real or not was also up for debate) found its way onto his face, breaking up the reserved melancholy of his usual resting face. “How was work?”
Simple start of a dialogue, but she seemed pissed off already (extra pissed off, she was always just a little bit pissy from what he'd seen so far) and probably for good reason. Maybe he’ll get a drink thrown in his face, maybe she’ll start ranting, maybe they’ll actually have a nice conversation. Either way, he would stop being so fucking bored and his mind would be off cigarettes and shitty students/roommates, so he’d count it as a win.
As the first of many, he assumed, bottles of Guinness stout slid across the countertop, Wesley made sure to note the rather infectious music that was currently playing at the Blue Violet. He wasn’t necessarily a fan of it. If he had his way, which ultimately he didn’t but never expressed it since he was the kind of man who could endure a lot. And it wasn’t to say that the music was terrible. It had a certain aesthetic to it that Wesley could learn to appreciate the more he drank, but he would prefer a Death Cab, easy listening vibe more than the musical works of the Skrillex-types.
But this was fine. He was, after all, here to have fun and forget about the hellish day in court he spent.
Over ten civil cases involving abuse, violating ones rights, and general advocating for those who felt wronged by law enforcement. It was a long, tiring day, one that Wesley felt like he didn’t want to spend his evening at a club. Maybe he wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the suggestion that one of his colleagues -- and, if he were to be specific, a frequent opponent. The tiring day had indeed resulted in Wesley sharing drinks with her after the work day was done. They chatted about the cases they each had, talking about the times both he and Wesley had won and lost against each other. It was also a time for WEsley to admit his displeasure with how many people were being wronged by the very system that swore to protect them.
And somehow, after a long day where he thought he might retire to his apartment and maybe have some tea before sleeping early, he was at this nightclub, drinking his third technical bottle of stout (he had two with his colleague) and he was just thinking about a lot of the things he could be doing.
As he found himself deep in a thought that muted most of the music out (though he still felt the vibrations), he couldn’t shut the noise completely out. The beats and the infectious nature it carried, there was no doubting that Wesley realized what it’s true purpose was. As someone who never felt like they were made for this environment, he understood it. Bea had often spoken to him about how he needed to loosen up. He thought he was better at it, but keeping his thoughts bottled up, it was like that first day that Bea met him.
“I suppose I have some learning to do.” That was meant for more of an internal thought, but he spoke aloud. Thankfully, with the music so loud and the screams and hollers of excitement that were abound, Wesley was justified in not feeling outwardly embarrassed about talking to himself.
"Greetings o god Zephyrus, how goes Helios's travel across the sky?"
If it wasn’t for the fact that the music playing had a silent moment, Wesley may not have heard River call out to him. But then again, River wore his uniqueness like it was intentional. And maybe it was, but Wesley liked that about him. He was fearless and had a strength that the English-born lawyer respected. There was a certain lean that WEsley had for those who may stand out or get ridiculed if in the wrong company. Maybe it was his protective instinct to look out for them as best he could, but Wesley also could see what most ignored about River (or generally got confused about). The meaning behind his words and how to decipher them accurately.
As he cracked a smile at River, he just signaled the bartender. “Another Guinness. For my friend, please,” he stated as he turned back to the scarlett spirit next to him. “If all goes well, perhaps we shall fly across the open skies!” Wesley joked, laughing at what felt like a corny joke and half-assed attempt to speak like River. He glanced down at his boots and raised his bottle. “I must admit, your boots are quite the marvel, River. Didn’t think you’d bust them out for tonight, but perhaps that is my error for not assuming you’d completely stun us all.
“Double shot of whiskey.” He ordered, the younger girl nodded and she was off to do her horribly boring job that Scarlett appreciated better than anybody. She let out a soft sigh, placing her purse on top of the bar and tapping an acrylic nail against the smooth marble.
Scarlett raised an eyebrow at his choice, but said nothing.
Hard liquor wasn’t her go-to.
Vodka and gin were usually the only exception for her-- rum was a maybe, usually mixed.
Scarlett was the type of girl who enjoyed her sweet drinks.
The glass was placed near her and she took a hold of the toothpick, swirling her drink.
And salty-- from time to time.
Why was a martini her choice of drink tonight?
What craving was it that she was trying to subside? The reason for not asking for what she’s used to?
Well, that was a mystery for another day.
She watched as Matteo downed his shot, already asking for another.
It was never her thing.
Many people say in order to enjoy whiskey, scotch, bourbon, whatever your poison is, either you forced yourself to like it, or you needed to develop a taste for it.
Nobody fell in love with whiskey on the first try.
Nobody Scarlett knows anyway.
And frankly, Scarlett had no time or desire to develop a taste for something she couldn’t care less about.
The same could be said for her roommates.
Matt slid a few dollars towards the bartender. Four, five, six, it all added up to roughly around ten dollars or so. A little more maybe. Drinks weren’t cheap, especially at a nightclub.
She didn’t say thank you, but it was acknowledged.
How, exactly? She sipped her drink.
Scarlett wasn’t rude. She was simply… blunt. She’d tell you how it is with no apologies. If somebody couldn’t handle it, that was their own problem they had to work through. Life wasn’t going to go easy on you, so why should she?
Sugarcoating was made for children and the mentally ill.
Any other day, Scarlett would’ve made a comment.
‘What a gentleman.’
‘Trying to get me drunk?’
Or, perhaps a ‘thank you.’
Today, nobody deserved her thanks.
Today, Scarlett deserved everyone else’s.
And in this case? That ‘thank you’ was garnished with an olive.
“Looking good tonight, as always.”
She laughed quietly, a short huff of air out of her nose that was barely perceptible. The attempt at conversation was cute.
That’s not to say he wasn’t attractive.
She had a thing for dark eyes.
And she doesn’t entirely mean color.
It was the low-lidded gaze, the tired eyes, his dark circles had almost started to set in, the way he looked at her and the slight disinterest that piqued her curiosity that almost made her want to know more.
Keyword being; almost.
Scarlett took in his attire with a single glance, lingering on his shirt before returning back to his face. “At least you’re perceptive.” She said, taking one of the three green, salty ovals and placing it between her teeth.
She never understood why so many people hated them.
They weren't like whiskey.
It was forced.
She liked him better when he was straight-faced, almost intimidatingly brooding.
“How was work?” He asked, and she genuinely had no idea how to answer that question politely. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
That’s the only time she’s going to take that advice.
“Do you like them?” She asked, sliding another fruit off of the toothpick, making a show of it and taking a small bite, eating it with as much poise and class as one can with an olive.
Of course, they’re rather small, so it was gone in seconds and Scarlett hardly gave him a chance to answer her question.
“Have you heard of the olive theory?” She asked, taking a sip of her martini, glancing at him over the rim before placing it down and diverting her attention elsewhere.
Mainly on the couple flirting beside them.
The theory was based off of a show, something about mothers-- but it didn’t matter where it came from, there were so many articles after the show's pilot and up until this day.
Captivate even did a piece on it once. Almost ten years ago, but it happened.
“The success of a relationship can be determined by how both parties feel about them, ridiculous, I know. But it makes sense-- doesn’t it? If one hates and the other loves. Perfect balance.”
Scarlett had tried not to eavesdrop on the almost nauseating conversation that was happening behind them.
The theory was, in fact, ridiculous.
But even Scarlett had to say it made the slightest sense.
Isaac liked olives.
She should’ve followed the theory.
“Of course, nowadays they compare the olive theory to other things such as spooning, and… aisle seats, showering. But I cut the line at olives."
Her gaze and full attention fell back towards Matteo once that couple decided to indulge on PDA.
"So, I ask again out of plain curiosity and I’ll even pretend I don’t find you fuckable. Do you like them?”
In other circumstances, Astrid would have declined the offering of going to the blue velvet, after all, she wasn't particularly keen on nightclubs, but it seemed everyone was attending, and no, she wasn't interested in missing out on the fun or even hangout with everyone she lived with, not that she had something against them she would just rather avoid their interactions to when it was necessary or at least with the people she didn't found interesting enough to have a proper conversation or that she hadn't developed some kind of interest in them so right now most of them were in the gray area where she knew about the people she lived with it but at the same time didn't care that much about them.
But who knows maybe that night would be a changer not that she was expecting to become best friends with everyone but at least those people would move towards the white and dark areas in Astrid likeability spectrum, was that enough of a reason to be tucked in a nightclub full of people, with music as loud that she could feel her ears asking for some mercy? The answer was no but either way, she was already there and Astrid wasn't the one to back down or something so easily even if that meant being stuck here, although at this moment being back to her room and catching up to her favorite crime podcast and ordering some take out sounded better than everything that was going on here.
Although so far her company hadn't been bad, Vi was a friend that Astrid liked spending time with even if they were as different as the day and night, but maybe that's what made their friendship work in a sense. And that guy Evan, well, he was peculiar, to say the least, she hadn't made a final decision on him and so far he was still in that gray area, but he wasn't exactly the type of people she usually hanged out, superficial? Most likely, but he didn't exactly give off the vibes of college graduate maybe community college dropout to some degree, but he was actually being nice so if he played his cards right he would move towards the good side but in the meantime, she was going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Making it to the bar felt like an achievement after making their way through the ocean of people that the club beheld, at least she would be able to start her night off with a good cosmopolitan instead she was received with Evan ordering sangrias for Vi and her, not that she didn't like them, she just particularly leaned towards them on a daily basis "Thank you for the drink, but next time a cosmopolitan is my drink of choice" she replied as nice as she could even if it still sounded stern, it was the action what matter or something along those lines. She took a seat next to Vi as the girl started the conversation "What do you think of it so far?"
"It's not bad, I'm sure there are better places than this one but it fits the purpose, although the nightclubs in Boston are way better than the ones that I have seen"
She started saying as she took a sip of her drink
"What about you? Keen on the place?"
She asked back but was interrupted by another voice “Evening. It’s really loud in here, I think I prefer a quiet pub over this.” Noah said, someone that Astrid knew mostly because he was Mick's partner, and since the guy was quite intense to say the least when it came to reviewing evidence she was quite familiar with the people that surrounded him.
"Same here, I'll rather enjoy my drink without having to scream to be able to have a conversation. But what do you say, care to join us for a drink?"
From any other perspective, Mitch and Leo's attempt at conversation probably looked pathetic and cringey. They hardly spoke, and the words they did say were dry and didn't really push the conversation forward in any sort of way. It was almost like trying to pull tooth to get the two to speak.
But Leo liked it. He liked not having to listen to too much boring drabble that he didn't really care about -- like when Mari was talking to him. She tended to blab, blab, blab and Leo would find himself starting to ignore her. He did that with a lot of people, though. His parents. His ex-wife.
Mari was really just the latest addition.
Despite that, there was still some tiny part of Leo that cared about her. It was just... not super obvious, and why should it be? He didn't need to impress her. She was already stuck with him thanks to the circumstances -- those circumstances obviously being Ana and the fact that there was no way she'd be able to live without his income. Leo wasn't stupid. He knew why she was still sticking things through with him.
Made it easier to cheat. Knowing that she'd come crawling back.
Not that he'd cheated on her... recently.
And really, the times he had cheated had been when they'd been on breaks. So it didn't count.
Another sip from his beer.
“Damn it,” Mitch muttered. “Can’t I get a goddamn moment of peace? Just a single fucking getaway?”
Leo's gaze followed Mitch's to land on their new roommates. For a moment, he just stared, and then he slowly blinked. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Mitch patting his pockets. Leo recognized that kind of movement. It was the where the hell are my cigarettes movement, one that Leo did whenever he was stressed.
Not that he was usually stressed, although he still did it several times a day just because well... cigarettes were really nice.
He watched their roommates for another moment as they made their way towards the bar. The loud thumping of music in the club had been annoying enough, but Leo had been able to more or less ignore that. But there was something about the screams and annoyance of their roommates that was simply too much for him.
Leo downed the rest of his beer, and then he reached into his own pocket, pulling out a pack of cigarettes. He held one out to Mitch. "Smoke?" he offered.
"Hey, you can't smoke in here," one of the bartenders snapped at him, and Leo just stared in his direction and gave a shrug of his shoulders.
Leo wasn't planning on it.
He stood up from the stool, giving a tilt of his head towards the door that led out to the alley where, well, like everyone smoked when they were visiting this bar. "Wanna head out?" Leo asked. His gaze lazily moved back in the direction of their roommates, and then flickered back to Mitch. "A cigarette would make it easier to deal with... them."
Evan looked over at Vi and Astrid as they addressed him, keeping a casual, easygoing smile on his face as they spoke. At least they'd thanked him for ordering them drinks, and yeah, maybe he'd kind of overstepped, but it was what it was. He was trying to be polite and gentlemanly so they didn't have to deal with this damn swindler. And as he turned his attention back from the girls to look back at the bartender, his smile fell.
He hadn't expected the dude to recognize him. It had been a while since Evan had come in here hustling for drinks, so how'd he actually recognize him?
“Well! Would you look at that — long time no see. If it isn’t my old friend the Magic Man.”
Evan's eyes narrowed at the guy. The guy crossed his arms, so Evan mimicked him and crossed his arms. Two could play at that game, buddy.
“We still haven’t changed our policy. You can’t exchange drinks for card tricks.” He glanced towards Vi and Astrid. “Not even if you’ve got some company. And also, you can't stay here if you're going to be scamming our clientele. Sorry. Them’s the rules.”
How dare he assume that's what Evan was here to do. And to really press the fact that Evan was offended, his jaw dropped open and he pressed a hand over his chest, eyebrows knitting together over his eyes as he looked the bartender up and down with a hurt expression.
"I'll have you know, sir," Even started and he slammed a finger down on the bar top, which just kind of made his finger hurt, so ow ow ow, but he didn't let that pain show on his face as he leaned forward, now placing both palms on the bar top. "I don't do no scamming anymore. Nope. I'm a changed fella. Ya ever hear of this little place called McDonald's? Yeah, well I got a real good job working there, so I don't need any of your... your... poor hospitality." Evan waggled a finger in the guy's direction for added effect.
.... But hey, he might as well try and scam the dude in front of him. So Evan leaned back away from the counter and his hand went into his back pocket, and he produced the old deck of cards. The same deck of cards that had used to scam plenty of people throughout the years, including the fella in front of him. Now, Evan was a little rusty, but sliding back into card tricks was as easy as riding a bike.
He pulled the rubber band off of the cards, sliding that down around his wrist, and he started to shuffle the cards on the bar top. To showcase just how absolutely skilled he was with cards, he didn't break eye contact with the bartender as he did so. That's how you really let people know that you meant business, ya know.
"How 'bout a little bet? For old time's sake," Evan asked. He gave a quick glance around the bar, a grin sliding onto his face. "I don't see your manager around, so what do you gotta loose? If I win, the girls drink free tonight," he gestured with a tilt of his head in Vi and Astrid's direction, "if you win, I'll ah..." Evan chuckled -- there was no way he was winning. "Well, you name your price. And all you gotta do, buddy..."
Evan spread the deck out into a fan, holding it up between them.
Andy maintained his serious expression as he finished stating his stance on Evan’s card-tricking, and he was pretty damn proud of himself. Look at that, manager guy — he could heartlessly turn people away when they came begging.
Then, the man’s jaw dropped, and he pressed a hand over his chest. His eyebrows knit over his eyes, and he looked hurt.
Andy’s face fell. He didn’t mean to offend the Magic Man! He was the Magic Man — I mean, who would want to do that? He knew that the magic wasn’t real magic or anything, obviously — he was a grown ass man, ya know — but still, man! It was super impressive. You wanted to keep cool people like him on your good side, ya know?
“I’ll have you know, sir,” the man said, jabbing a finger down on the bar, “I don’t do no scamming anymore. Nope. I’m a changed fella.”
“Oh?” Andy asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Ya ever hear of this little place called McDonald’s?”
Andy’s jaw went slightly slack. “McDonald’s?”
“Yeah, well I got a real job working there, so I don’t need any of your…your…your…poor hospitality.” The man wagged a finger at him.
Andy was too busy smiling down at the shorter man. “Dude, that’s actually pretty cool!” he said genuinely, holding up a fist as though to fist bump him, though it was too far away for him to actually do it. He grabbed the towel on his shoulder to switch its position. “Hey, maybe you could hook me up with a discount or somethin’,” he chuckled. “Ya know, for being your bartender or something, Mr. Magic Man.” He gave the man a wink, and then chuckled again. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. But hey, seriously, dude! Good for you!” He pumped his fist. “Glad you’re not trying to scam people now. Super proud, guy.”
He noticed the man reaching for something behind himself, and he cocked up a brow again, craning his neck to the side to give the arm shuffling around a curious look. “Hey…,” he said slowly, “you good there?”
The man pulled out an old deck of cards.
“Oh ho hoooo,” Andy said, his eyes widening and his face going surprised for a moment as he watched the man pull a rubber band from around the cards and begin to shuffle the cards, “heeeey man, didn’t I say you couldn’t have those out in here?” He held a palm out. “Seriously. I mean, I like ya, guy, I really do, but I said what I said, man. No service if you —“
“How ‘bout a little bet?” the man said.
“A bet?” Andy echoed.
“For old time’s sake.”
“Guy…,” Andy sighed, “I said…”
The man looked around the bar, then grinned at Andy. “I don’t see your manager around, so what do you gotta lose?”
He’s got a point.
Andy shook his head dismissing that thought. “My job, man,” he said. “I can’t just be…”
“If I win,” the man cut in again, “the girls drink free tonight.” He nodded to the girls.
“Magic Man,” Andy said, holding his palm up again.
“If you win, I’ll ah…” The man chuckled. “Well, you name your price.”
“Magic Man, dude.”
“And all you gotta do, buddy…”
The man fanned the deck of cards out in front of himself. "Pick a card."
Andy leaned forward and looked from the cards to the Magic Man’s face, then back to the cards, then back to the Magic Man’s face. His lips pressed into a firm line as he studied his face for a moment. “Oh, Magic Man,” he said disappointedly, “you’re — you’re killin’ me here.” He settled back on his feet, holding his palm up and looking skeptically at the shorter man. “You’re telling me that I should give you free drinks if you win and I get whatever I want if I win, but either way, I get chewed out by my manager?” he asked.
His head immediately repeated his own words, though.
Give Magic Man free drinks, or you get whatever you want.
Plus, you’re super lucky.
And you get to see his magic again.
“Magic Man,” he said again, but his voice was a bit more defeated. “You’d just…”
Don’t you think that the show is worth it regardless?
Plus you won ten bucks off that scratch-off three months ago.
He looked at the cards, then at Magic Man, and then back at the cards. For a couple of moments, he stared longingly at the cards, breathing deep breaths in and out.
Finally, he looked back at the guy. “One round,” he said sternly, holding up one finger. “One round’s all I’ll do.”
She was watching him now that he’d spoken to her. Matt in general understood that he was a kind of scruffy looking guy. Some days he forgot to shave so there was a bit of stubble lining his jaw from time to time - long allnighters as a grad student studying philosophy had given him the beginnings of dark circles. And don’t get him even started on the state of his hair. Generally he didn’t care enough about his appearance to put in too much effort besides “exhausted English professor” the new hot look of the autumn.
He was more expecting the drink thrown in his face than a sudden change of topics. Sorry. What. Olives?
Like most things in the world, Matt really couldn’t be bothered with theories about relationships and what makes them work. Even silly ones like the olive theory or whatever. Why would he, when he never felt any kind of romantic feelings throughout his life?
That made him sound like he was ace or aro or something. He wasn’t. He just didn’t feel… things. In general. Numb apathy and all that. Affection and just a little bit of sentimentality were two things that, while certainly not necessary for a relationship, were things that Matt knew that he probably would like in one. But he didn’t really have much of an inclination towards either, he didn’t care enough about anyone for those parts of him to win against his tired apathy, so single he remained.
And like relationships , Matt didn’t really have an opinion on olives either. They were there. Sometimes he felt like eating them, sometimes he didn’t, food was food.They weren’t good enough for him to like them, but not bad enough for him to spit them out. He watched her eat them though, eyes catching on her lips before being pulled back up to meet her gaze.
It was nice enough, though, that she found him fuckable. It was what he was going for, after all. He was going to lightly indulge her this one time, he did preen under compliments like that just a little bit, even if he didn't visibly show it.
“Didn’t really strike you as the type to believe in that type of stuff.” Matt said, taking a little sip of the whiskey. His words were just a little bit looser than their normal compact efficiency. Blame it on the alcohol. The next sentence came out in the same offhand manner as he decided to properly answer the question instead of dodging.
“Can’t say I’m a particularly big fan.” He responded with a glance back down to his drink, he was going slower with this one. Another glance over to Scarlett. The olives were kind of doing things to him, though, and that was his cue to start a subtle glance around the club for someone that could potentially be looking his way. Fucking his roommate was going to have to wait for another day.
The itch was back. Kind of annoying. “Though I don’t see how it matters, unless you have something you want to say to me.” He said it in a kind of distantly warm tone for it to just be an offhanded comment. He wasn't going to fuck his roommate today, much less date them. Nobody still.
A small turn back to Scarlett. There was a little bit of a grin accompanied with it. Not enough to actually be visible. But the barest lightening of his serious features. “Someone you like liked olives?”
Well, this had to be coming from somewhere, and clearly it wasn’t really directed at him. He was fairly certain by this point people knew about his less than willingness to get into relationships that required silly things like “emotional availability.” Hookups and flings were more his style - all the fun, none of the sentimental nonsense.