Red always knew just what to say in situations like these. She didn't even realize how tense she was until she'd felt his gentle yet reassuring squeeze. She supposed that was the perk of knowing someone most of your life. They got to know you better then you knew yourself sometimes.
Truth be told as jaded as her felt because of her husband towards the male race it was guys like red, and her siblings that kept her off the "all men are trash" bandwagon.
"Thanks, I will don't worry." She chimed forcing a smile, "Plus tonight is about us having fun, so let's party and forget about all that!" She hummed letting her grin widened just a bit so it was believable.
Was she still worried about her Ex and what he did and didn't think? Yes, sadly. However she didn't want Red to know that...or at least the full extent of it because once again hiding things from him wasn't exactly a forte of hers. She needed him to know she really was trying to move on, and the more she told herself she had even if it wasn't 100% true...the more she felt it could be true one day.
The less reminders of him the better tho, so tonight's mission was to get drunk enough to truly not care. To dance and drink her stress away.
Dancing now that's something she's not done out in public in a while. Dancing was her passion her life, and it was weird to her that she rarely got to do it anymore. Sure she love her flower shop and the peace of mind it gave her, but somewhere deep inside her she missed dance. Just one more thing tainted by her ex, and one more dream she had to put aside for him.
But not tonight. She promised herself the moment a good song came on she'd hit the dance floor for sure!
Ok maybe not in this club lest she be mistaken for being part of the entertainment. Being touched, or verbally harassed by some old guy who things he's entitled her her was not on her to do list tonight.
Once she'd made her way to the bar she looked and noticed that he'd made his way towards Bea and a few ladies around her. She kinda figured that'd be the the case. Bea was a stunning woman with a strong personality that bounced off well with this. She could definitely see the attraction and was curious on where it'd lead. Though if she was honest aside from her distaste for dating in general at the moment...dating or even hooking up with a roommate seemed messy.
She was all for Red finding happiness because he deserved it after the shitty Ex's he's had...but living with an ex had to be awkward if things do go sour. And things always seem to sour.
For now though? She hoped it was just fun, casual meaningless fun.
While waiting for her drink to be made or even rang up she messaged Matt. Because as she was afraid of happening this would take a while. She'd told him that she'd probably take him up on his smoke offer by the end of the night, but she might be able to sneak away now and still get back before her drink arrived.
Was this bartender really going to fall for a card trick to pay for the drinks? He suddenly reminded her of Red and how easily he believes in people leading him to be scammed quite a bit too. However this wasn't her business. These weren't her friends. And she did eventually want her drink, so whatever way that came to be would be just fine by her.
Ok that's a lie. If Andrew here lost his job because Evan here used this card trick to trick him to pay for her drink she'd feel guilty. Would probably offer to hire him at her shop to make up for it even though there was no way she could pay him as much as he probably makes here for being a sexy bartender. Guilty enough to give him a job, but not guilty enough to say something about how dumb he was being right now.
What a fine line Violet walked.
She liked her roommate, they got along well enough. He wasn't insane, or rude, or confusing like 90% of their male roommates. He wasn't unreasonably sarcastic, or emotional in one way or the other like half the girls. He was just there. His apathy and tired aura was something she could handle because god did she want to be more like that. How much easier would her life be if she could just turn all these emotions off?
But no. She felt everything.
Which is why she liked having a person with her who could be a goal to calm her emotional storm and turmoil not feed into it.
Her thoughts about Matt and how ridiculous Evan and Andy were being were pulled by Astrid answering her question. "I couldn't agree more, but I think the goal is to hop around. We just started here because two people work here." She gestured towards Andy with her thumb, "Hopefully we'll find better along the way."
She hummed thinking about her question. Violet wasn't even sure if she actually liked clubs and bars. Sure she was used to them, and had been going to a lot of them ever since she was in college but that was always because of Al. It wasn't ever really her suggestion to go out to the strips, even if she did feel like she had fun from time to time. IT was hard to think back fondly after everything that's happened, so it was hard for her to pin point if she genuinely had fun or if she was just being a dutiful girlfriend.
She liked dancing. That was the best part to her. Getting out on the dance floor with Al and showing all his friends how it's done. "I prefer a place with a bit more dance space." She replied simply, "Good music to move to not just grind you know?" She added in. Most club music was just move to grind and be sexy or to jump around to get the liquor flowing through you faster.
It didn't take long for yet another one of their roommates to appear. Noah was her name she believed. Hopefully the cop wouldn't pay any mind to the little deal going on at the bar because Vi wasn't sure of the legality of trying to pay for drink with magic tricks. Their little group seemed to be growing, and Violet had no issues with it. The more the merrier right? That was the whole point of coming out wasn't it? To get to know each other a bit better?
She giggled listening to Noah's sentiments on where she'd rather be, "Maybe that should be next on the list then." She chimed, "If we find a place will a pool table too I'd count this as a success."
Mitchell stared coldly at his empty glass, his eyes fixated on the rim as he worked his jaw and internally cursed each and every one of the new people who entered. In his periphery, he could see them all settling at the bar, all obnoxious twenty plus of the people who he had as little to do with as possible for good reason. He’d dealt with them for the past two weeks, hardly having conversations with any of them, and still, he desperately needed this fucking getaway. From life. From people — from familiar people, sans his drinking buddy, who wouldn’t be his company by the end of the night, anyway.
They were ruining it. Damn them all.
There was a soft noise of glass against the bar to his left, and he looked over to see Leo reaching into his pocket. Out came a pack of cigarettes, and he pulled one from the pack and offered it to Mitch. “Smoke?”
Mitch silently stared at the stick for a moment, then looked back up at Leo. They wouldn’t let them smoke in here, thanks to some “Holier Than Thou” jackass a decade or so ago. He was sure Leo knew that rotting their lungs would have to happen outside.
“Hey, you can’t smoke in here,” said one of the bartenders, to which Leo gave a shrug and stood from his barstool.
Mitchell looked at the shorter man, who nodded toward a door. “Wanna head out?” he asked, his gaze shifting over from Mitch to look at some of the other occupants of the club. Reluctantly, though he knew what he would see, Mitch followed his line of sight.
There they were, the loud, nauseating adult infants. They weren’t all here yet, but he was sure that they would be; a few had joined since last he looked at them, and he was certain this trend would continue.
“A cigarette,” Leo said as Mitch looked back at him, “would make it easier to deal with…them.”
It wouldn’t make it easier to deal with them. Nothing but a swift bullet to the head would do that.
Still, Mitchell gave a slight nod and began to follow Leo out. The craving for nicotine was making him restless and unsettled. If nothing else, it would help distract him for a moment, or perhaps — hopefully — the whole night. He had a couple of packs on himself. Smoking the night away was much better than having to be around his housemates for even another second.
A cigarette would make it easier to deal with them in that way, he guessed; he wouldn’t have to deal with them. He could think of nothing better.
They pushed out the door and into an alleyway. A yellow, moth-swarmed lamp beside the door dimly illuminated the cracked pavement and the green dumpsters. It smelled, though not overwhelmingly pungently, of soured food and raccoon shit, wrapped up with a bit of cigarette smoke thanks to a few people out here already smoking. They paid the newcomers no mind.
He breathed out a soft sigh, leaning against the cracking brick of the building across from the door. He crossed his arms, holding out two fingers for a cigarette. His eyes remained focused on his fingers as he pulled out his lighter and held it up to the end of his smoke for a moment. He pulled the steel lighter away as the orange began to eat away at the white. Breathing in a deep breath, he placed the lighter back in his pocket.
The sour taste of the smoke filling his lungs gave an immediate calm to his tense muscles. His head gave a sigh of relief.
They said when you smoked, the nicotine was absorbed into your bloodstream eight seconds after your inhale.
It was really like heaven to him.
Leaning his head back onto the brick, Mitchell closed his eyes and puffed out the heavy smoke in a long trail. The dark cloud climbed up towards the sky, slowly fading the further out it got from his lips.
He sat there like that for a moment, then he brought the cig back to his mouth and drew in another deep breath.
“Lenny,” he said finally, after a long stretch of silence. He opened his eyes up, flicked the ash off the end of his cigarette, and said, in his low, monotone voice with an empty, cold expression on his face, “I understand why the rent at the place is so damn cheap now.”
Free time was non-existent. It was a figment of her imagination that her peers dangled in front of her to serve the purpose of hope. It was a false hope that usually came crashing down on her like the rocks in a rockslide, but nonetheless it was enough to keep her going when she was ready to let it all go.
Balancing: School, work, helping with milo, and her situation with Cam. It just simply was not enough time for anything remotely similar to free time. She already had to discuss work with her professors and do a hybrid class schedule. Even with the rotating workdays at least she knew exactly which days she would work. Still, that meant not being able to physically be in class some days. When tests ran into her work schedule, she was thankful her battalion chief would give her a half shift off if she gave prior notice.
It was another sleepless night as she slithered her way out of the ambulance’s driver seat, thankful she had reached the end of her shift. She swore she couldn’t remember a night like that where they had so many calls, but here she was tossing what seemed like her 100th Red Bull into a trash can. (Thankfully it was only her tenth….is that thankfully? That sounds like a lot still..)
Santana, my office.
Came the voice of her battalion chief as she took a deep breath looking to the ceiling as if it was God who had made a personal attack on her. Her shift was literally, not figuratively, literally like five minutes from being through. What was so important that she needed to be in his office with minutes left in the workday, “There in a second chief....” she stated blowing a raspberry before she caught Atlas out of the corner of her eye making a face, and she stuck her tongue out at him before finally making way to his office.
When she stepped in, he motioned for her to close the door behind her and she did with a quirked brow, “Wanted to see me chief?”
The older gentleman cast a long gaze at her before letting a smile come across his face.
Annie, you’ve been working for the CFD as a paramedic what? The last 5-6 years? I’ve never seen a paramedic as gifted as you are. I think you’re the youngest paramedic in charge in the entire CFD. I know you’re trying to finish school and become a Doctor, but I think you have a real future as a Assistant Deputy Chief Paramedic. I know you don’t always uh do things by the book, but I think that’s what makes you so good. You trust your gut. I’m not the uh only ones who has noticed as the deputy district chief have recommended you receive a meritorious promotion effective at the end of your semester. You have already displayed the requirements in the field so… Congratulation Ambulance Commander Santana.
For once in her life, Annie had become speechless. There was a slew of emotions that swelled up in her stomach and chest. Her career as a Paramedic was far exceeding her expectations. There was never an intention to stay at the CFD as long as she did, but here she was. Years later. Long after she needed to. With her career trajectory from a financial perspective there was no point in continuing with school. Though she was technically underpaid because a lack of experience (the awful thing about excelling in your field) she still already made close to six figures, most of it going to her school’s tuition. It was the point she picked this living situation in the first place, so that she could focus all of her money towards school.
If she accepted this promotion – she wasn’t even sure if she could continue to go to school. Let alone if it’d be worth it. It was just a silly childhood dream she chased. An ideology she learned early in her life that she wanted to become a doctor to save people, because she couldn’t save her brother. What was she doing now that was different that dream? In her years as a paramedic, she probably help saved 100s of lives. So, what was so different about this than her dream.
Maybe it had more to do with the promise she made to her brother. That she’d become a doctor.
Her gaze snapped up when she heard her name called moving a hand to wipe her eye because she felt them become teary. “Thanks chief. I um, need some time to think about this, but I really appreciate it.”
The man rose a brow – having known the woman before him long enough to know when something was a bother, but also knowing she’d speak on it when she was ready. So he decided to just nod.
Of course. It wouldn’t be for months, so you have time. Think about it, aright? You deserve it.
“Thanks chief,” she stated gently leaving out of his office and sliding through the administrative people and out to the locker room where she grabbed her stuff out of her locker. It was mainly just her backpack and a duffle bag that she kept so she could shower and go straight to class. Which is what she did.
She had her own car, a nice car at that, but she rarely drove it to work especially when she had classes. She couldn’t really explain why outside of she felt it gave her more time to decompress between work and class. She normally would take the train, but today she opted for an Uber.
She felt like the day was going by in slow motion as she sat in her classes. She had spoken to a couple of her colleagues, to see which path made the most sense and the only thing they really did was confirm that Med School and even just being a Paramedic was impossible once she started to shadow and intern and the like. She could make it work for the first two years since it was mostly classes, but even that would be difficult depending on the where she went.
She hadn’t processed much through the day, not retaining anything she learned from class and instead ending up just tapping her pen on her notepads. She would probably discuss it with Atlas or Cam later, but now she just wanted a drink to take her mind off everything. It had gotten to the point where she shot off a text to Cam to pick her up from school instead of even taking an Uber home.
River looked around at his surroundings as he was jostled back and forth, swaying from side to side. This was fun for him, people were great.
The spring wind didn’t understand what he was saying. Big sad day. Though, it was kind of funny that he acted like he did. After all, not many people would respond to “how is your day” with “we will fly together.”
Whatever that meant. Best not to question the words of a mad man, a lesson River was now applying to Wes. He vaguely remembered someone saying that to him once. Or maybe it was to their friend as he waved at a group of people going by. Who knew, River certainly didn’t.
“The horse’s hooves do speak for the poor sinner, though he puzzles over flight and birds, oh wind of spring.” He grinned at his friend, the very confused lawyer. Mad man, truly. He brushed a bit of hair out of his eyes. He liked the color. It was fun. He didn’t need much more reasons to bleach and dye it other than that. “Though, the siren call of Demeter’s alliance with the wine god speaks for the bond, so he minds not.”
A pause, and River collected the beer in hand, tipped his hat (bowl). “Greatest of compliments, wind that brings the spring. For the night has been birthed but a minute ago, and the first of many in our celebratory euphoria.”
Yeah. River was having a great time right now. And the sooner everyone got drunk the sooner people could understand what he was saying. People high or drunk usually understood him more - weird how it worked. It was a bit isolating here and there, but hey. What was he going to do? Change? Nahhhh. Too boring. Too ordinary.
But in the meantime, bottoms up, and River took a nice big gulp of the alcohol. The first of what was probably going to be many.
“Hey, why did you enroll in medical school, anyway?”
“So I can work with dead people.”
That wasn’t the response their classmate was expecting from someone like Jayden, but hey, they were asked why and they answered honestly. Then it usually led to the following short explanation behind it: Jayden wanted to be a forensic pathologist, maybe become a CSI, not some normal doctor or nurse doing boring appointments and checkups on living patients, because at least most dead people wouldn’t find their personality annoying.
That last part was a little joke… kinda. Did their classmate begin not looking at Jayden the same way again since that “dead people” answer? Probably. They just needed a physician’s license, and once they do they would be another step closer to their dream job, even if it was a little macabre. Yes, Jayden Dalian of all people, a 22-year-old who still used a backpack covered in Rugrat’s Reptar prints all over, wanted to learn how to uncover stories and secrets of the dead.
They’d worked in a kooky antique store since they were a kid. It wouldn’t be surprising if neighbors start accusing them and Orin (the owner) of practicing dark witchcraft just from a 5-second gander at the window display.
By the time Jayden got back to the apartment, everyone had already left for the Blue Velvet nightclub. The babysitter, who was taking care of Leo and Mari’s toddler Ana, told Jayden that the last resident had left the apartment no more than four minutes ago, so there was still a good amount of time for them to catch up with everyone. Initially, Jayden planned to collapse right into bed and call it a night after a long day at med school classes and their part-time job at the antique shop (made ten pick-ups and deliveries in Edgewater today, yeesh), but... well, they didn’t want FOMO setting in and miss out hanging out with the big kids.
Would there be free drinks? or at least a discount for living in the same apartment building because Bea and Andy worked there? That place should totally do that.
They just picked out the first outfit they saw that looked nightclub-ish enough—a denim vest jacket with paintbrush strokes purple, yellow, and blue smeared across it, a pair of matching distressed jeans with the same colors, and spotless white sneakers. After being shortly delayed by the discovery of the mysterious sports bra on their bed (turns out, it was Gen’s), and of the kitchen sink’s misfortune of its drain filled with used coffee grounds (turns out, Havana accidentally done that and she promised to clean it up later—she had to, Jay saved a screenshot of her Twitter post making that promise), Jayden headed out and strutted to Blue Velvet for about 10 minutes.
And then it took almost another 10 minutes to convince the bouncer that they were over 21. They had their I.D. to prove it; Jayden had been of legal drinking age for a year now! Although, they didn’t really look any more different than last year, besides getting a couple of tattoos on their arm. Yeah, so, having a smooth, youthful baby face wasn’t always great when almost everyone around you assumes you’re pubescent.
The bouncer was just pulling their leg, though. Still, he delayed their entry for a while to let a trio of young pretty women in pretty cocktail dresses, and then a small group of guys dressed in a variety of tacky waistcoats, blazers, popped up collars and bootcut jeans like it was 2003… why do so many dudes in nightclubs have Chad-bro haircuts? Jayden wondered. Maybe Blue Velvet was also hosting a bachelor party tonight. A lot seemed to be happening inside.
Finally, Jayden was allowed inside, but not before giving the bouncer a judgemental pointed glare. They adjusted the settings of their left cochlear implant from their phone and then their right hearing aid because, dang, club music was loud even for them. They felt the sound vibrations partially running through the soles of their shoes as they weaved their way through the crowd, searching for any of their friends.
Yeah, Jayden considered everyone from the apartment as their friend. It didn’t matter how long they’d known them, mostly because they lost track of the time of how it’s been since they'd first met all of them.
As they stood outside, Leo exhaled slowly. Smoke billowed out from his mouth, forming a thick cloud just in front of him, and then the wind picked and blew said smoke right back into his face. He turned so that his next breath would carry down away from him, his dark gaze turning downwards to look at the ground. A perfectly polished boot tip was brought down to kick at a rock and as Leo set his foot back down, he realized he'd scuffed the front of his shoe.
A faint frown darkened his expression.
He'd have to get Ana to play shoe polisher again to fix that up later. Toss her a quarter or something, but not tell Mari since the last quarter he'd given her, the kid had ended up swallowing.
"Cheap rent wasn't worth it," he mumbled. Their roommates were annoying as hell. Way too involved in everyone's business, particularly his own.
Listen, Leo didn't mind if Atlas or Mari's bitchy friends had something to say about Ana. Well, he did mind -- it did annoy the hell out of him, but he could tolerate it. What Leo couldn't tolerate was actual strangers whose names he didn't even know suddenly sticking their nose in where it didn't belong, and even threatening to call CPS on him and his child. He wasn't doing anything illegal or bad even.
(Well, nothing illegal or bad that would affect Ana.)
"They're nosey," Leo started speaking again, his voice monotone as he spoke. The cigarette was brought back to his lips, and he sucked the smoke deep into his lungs, holding it there for a moment, and then he exhaled slowly as he brought the cigarette back down to his side. "One of them said they were gonna call CPS on me for leaving Ana with a babysitter." Now, his voice took on a more annoyed tone.
It really did get under his skin and bubble there, festering and filling him with a deep rage.
He wished there was something he could do as revenge towards the fucker, but there really wasn't. With a lack of money came a certain lack of power, and so all Leo could really do was ball his fists and quietly curse everyone out that pissed him off in his head -- and wait, in case something did open up.
"Mari wasn't worth this," he remarked.
By that, he of course meant... well... losing his entire life over.
Ladies and gentlemen, Evan still freaking had it. A sly grin crept across his face as Andy agreed to one round, because one round was all that Evan would need. Scamming people with this old deck of cards was like riding a bike -- it was something he'd never forget. It was easy as all get out, especially since these old cards had some minor characteristics that he used to help himself scam these pathetic losers.
Like the eight of spades had a torn corner, the queen of hearts had a scratched out spot on the back.
"Aye, I knew you had it in you, buddy," Evan said with a lopsided grin. He shuffled the cards in his hand, and then held the deck out to Andy. "Go ahead, take 'em." He said, waiting for the dude to take the deck, and then Evan looked away. His arm was resting on the bar top, and his fingers tapped against the wooden counter.
"Go ahead," he said, "go ahead, shuffle the deck so ya know I didn't plan anything and don't know where anything is." After a moment, Evan turned his attention back to Andy, and held his hand out for the deck. "Ya ready?"
Now with the deck back in his hand, Evan straightened himself back up. His fingers started to play with the deck. "Aight," he said, "I'm gonna start showing you some cards, you just kinda think of one, alright?" He asked. "I'm gonna look away again so you know I'm not cheating, alright?"
And then Evan did so. He started lifting cards from the top of the deck, showcasing them one by one to Andy. In his head, he counted out the cards. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six.
"Ya got a card in mind?"
"Yes," Evan's newest victim said.
Right into the trap.
Evan turned his head so he was facing Andy once again. "This is fun, ain't it?" Evan asked as he placed three cards down on the top of the deck, and then the other three with the tip of his pinky keeping the top three from connecting with the deck -- enough for him to know where they were, but not enough for anyone watching to pick up on. "And I really got no idea which card was your card from this whole deck," as he spoke, he cut the deck -- but made sure to place the cards so his first three options had been slid to the bottom while his last three options still rested on top.
From an outsider's perspective? It just looked like Evan had shuffled the deck. No biggie.
(I watched a whole ass twelve minute video on this and I still don't know how to describe that part.)
"Crazy, ain't it?" Evan kept speaking, and he fanned the deck out as he did. "Most card tricks I'd be like 'pick a card,'" he pulled a random card from the middle of the deck, "and I'd hold it up all like 'is this your card?'" Evan chuckled as he did so, and then pressed the cards back into a stack before placing the random card at the bottom of the deck. "But not this one, nah. 'Cause this one's real chance."
"Aight, so lemme just..." Evan turned the deck so that Andy could see the cards. "Let's make sure ya got a good image in your head, yeah? That you know for sure what card you picked?" As he did so, Evan counted himself. After he seven cards pinched in one hand, he fanned about half the deck. "Ya see your card yet?"
Evan knew that.
He pushed the deck back together, but cut it so he could take the seven cards in his hand and place them on top of the deck. He placed the deck down on the bar between the two of them.
"Ready to see who won?" Evan asked with a sly grin. "Aight, I'm gonna start picking up cards 'till I get to the one that I think is yours, alright?"
With that, Evan started picking them up.
One. Two. Three.
At the fourth card, he subtly titled it towards himself so he could see what it was. Two of spades. He placed it in his hand, again with the tip of his pinky keeping it up from the rest of his deck, and then he picked up the next one, again tilting it towards himself -- ace of clubs -- and placed it with the other one.
He started to reach for the last one, but pretended to decide against it.
"Actually, think I'm 'bout there. So tell me, buddy, what card did ya pick?"
"Ace of clubs," Andy answered, rather smugly if Evan did say so himself.
"Hmm... well I mean, I dunno, but..." Evan lifted the top card from the few in his hand and flipped it over, laying it on the bar top. His jaw dropped open, an amazed look on his face as he looked from the card to Andy. "Why, would you lookie there! If that isn't an ace of clubs. Guess I won, huh? Vi and Astrid's drinks on you for the night, eh?"
Before you spoke too soon and kinda got to thinking, Hey Andy, this is a really dumb idea, why are you doing this after you already said that you wouldn’t?, Andy had one question for you: would you be able to resist the Magic Man?
He would answer for you: no. No you couldn’t. No one could resist the Magic Man. The cute little guy was like a little troll who lived under the bridge, you know — mildly revolting, but he somehow had some kind of charisma that pulled you to him, you know? Like, yeah, he smelled and looked a little bit weird, but there was no resisting or denying his charm.
Plus, Andy was a lucky guy! Really lucky dude, man. Sure, he was more known for his dumber bets, and sure, he lost a lot of money with those, but those were just for fun. When it got down to it, he was really lucky, and he knew when and where to invest his money because, you know, he had a big brain and…uh…
He was going to say a degree in finance from the University of Chicago, but he couldn’t really say that.
Well, he at least got part of a degree in finance from the U of C and the rest from an obscure online college. So trust him. He was going to be fine.
All of the mathematic probabilities were against him, but psh, who needed those?
Oh right. People with financial degrees.
But he was working at a bar getting paid minimum wage, so he didn’t need those right now. See? Logic.
Where was he…? Oh right.
Just trust him.
Crossing his arms confidently, his eyes laser-focused on the guy’s hands — because no sleight of hand trick was gonna work here, no siree Bob — Andy watched his little amigo shuffle the cards, then hold them out to Andy.
Andrew looked at the Magic Man with a raised eyebrow.
“Go ahead, take ‘em,” said the Magic Man.
He skeptically looked over the Magic Man’s face, and then sloooowly reached out and took the deck. Was the deck magic because the Magic Man had touched it? Was it like the Pope, where everything he touched was holy? That was how the Pope worked, right? Yeah, it was probably the same for the Magic Man.
Was Andy magic now? Had he been magic since the first time he took the Magic Man’s deck?
Hehe. Took the Magic Man’s deck.
Sounded like dick.
(His sense of humor was that of a literal five-year-old.)
“Go ahead,” the Magic Man said, “go ahead, shuffle the deck so ya know I didn’t plan anything and don’t know where anything is.”
Andy’s brows creased determinedly, and he nodded, poking his tongue out through his lips thoughtfully as he began to caaarefully shuffle the deck. He tried to do that little fanny kind of shuffle, but the cards got all splayed out and bent and then just flopped to the table because he didn’t know how, so he just picked the deck up and resorted to pulling it apart and shoving the parts back together again. Finally, with a serious expression on his face, he placed the deck back into the Magic Man’s open palm.
“Ya ready?” the Magic Man asked.
“You’re on, Magic Man,” Andy responded.
The Magic Man straightened back up and started to mess with the deck. Andy’s eyes flicked rapidly between the Magic Man’s face and the deck. “Aight,” said the Magic Man, “I’m gonna start showing you some cards, you just kinda think of one, alright?”
“Alright,” Andy said. But he wasn’t too good at following directions, so he didn’t actually think of a card.
“I’m gonna look away so you know I’m not cheating, alright?”
“Sure,” Andy said, crossing his arms.
The Magic Man started to show cards, one by one.
Andy’s eyes caught on one that looked good, and he remembered that the Magic Man said that whole thing about picking a card. Ace of clubs. That was a sexy card.
“Ya got a card in mind?” the Magic Man asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Andy said, nodding.
He’d never guess it.
The Magic Man turned back around. He started placing some cards down, and Andy tried to follow what he was doing, but then the guy started talking. “This is fun, ain’t it? And I really got no idea which card was your card from this whole deck.” He was doing some really fancy stuff with the cards. “Crazy, ain’t it?”
And finally, he fanned out the deck. “Most card tricks I’d be like ‘pick a card’,” he said, pulling a card from the deck — the three of spades, “and I’d hold it up all like ‘is this your card?’” The Magic Man chuckled, and he made the cards a stack again and just stuck that three of spades at the bottom of the deck. “But not this one, nah. ‘Cause this one’s really chance.”
“Oh hoooo,” Andy said excitedly, clasping his hands and grinning. He could already feel that he was going to win this bet. He rubbed his hands together. “Oh, Magic Man,” he said, “oh hoooo.”
“Aight, so lemme just…” The Magic Man turned the deck so Andy could see the cards. “Let’s make sure ya got a good image in your head, yeah? That you know for sure what card you picked?” He fanned out the deck. “Ya see your card yet?”
Andy proudly put his hands on his hips. “Yep.” And you ain’t gonna guess it.
The Magic Man pushed the deck back together, then did something with some kinds of cards. Andy wasn’t paying that much attention anymore, already sure that he was going to win. The Magic Man placed the deck down between them. “Ready to see who won?”
“Born ready,” Andy said.
“Aight, I’m gonna start picking up cards ‘till I get to the one that I think is yours, alright?” the Magic Man asked.
“Alright,” Andy agreed.
Then, the Magic Man began to pick them up. Andy watched him, narrowing his eyes. The Magic Man went for another card, but then pulled his hand back.
“Actually, think I’m ‘bout there,” said the Magic Man, and Andy looked up to his face. “So tell me, buddy,” said the Magic Man, “what card did ya pick?”
“Ace of clubs,” Andy answered confidently, smiling proudly.
The Magic Man looked stumped. “Hmm…well I mean, I dunno, but…” He lifted the top card and flipped it over, laying it on the bar top.
And Andy’s eyes opened wide, and his jaw dropped to the floor. “Magic Man, no,” he whispered, betrayed, and his eyes trailed up from the card to the Magic Man, who looked amazedly from the card to Andy.
“Why, would you lookie there!” chirped the Magic Man. “If that isn’t an ace of clubs.”
“Magic Man…” Right now, there was a deep internal conflict occurring within Andy — one between shock and amazement and disappointment and betrayal. “Magic Man…” was all he could manage.
“Guess I won, huh?” the Magic Man said. “Vi and Astrid’s drinks on you for the night, eh?”
“Magic Man,” Andy said, his voice clearer. He shook his head, clearing his throat. “Magic Man.” He jabbed a finger at the bar top. “Magic Man, Magic Man.” He shook his head again, crossing his arms. Sniffing indignantly, he asserted, “That’s against policy, Magic Man. I can’t do…thaaaaaa…”
But then he remembered…he had agreed to it.
And, unfortunately, Andy was a man of his word. And he wanted to call a rematch, but he'd also promised that he'd only do one match.
Plus…the Magic Man was the Magic Man.
Sigh…Andy didn’t know why he thought he could win against the Magic Man.
But he wouldn’t disrespect him by not honoring the promise he’d made.
Sighing deeply, Andy reluctantly grabbed a few shotglasses from beneath the bar. “What’ll it be?” he said in a dejected voice. And then he realized something, and he looked at the Magic Man, his brows knitting suddenly, and he pointed at him. “And, hey…what’s your name, even?” He gave him a little smile. “So I can know the guy who defeated me.”
That was what they said in, like, duels and stuff where one of the guys had masks on, right? Like in Romeo and Juliet?
That was a cool fucking movie, man. He highly recommended it.
Where was he?
Knowing the true identity of this Magic Man.
That wasn’t against the Magic Guys(tm) code of ethics, right? He hadn’t, like, just inadvertently greatly offended the Magic Guys(tm), had he?
If he did that, he could never hope to become a man of such magical capacity as the Magic Man before him.
(Yes, he was aware that it wasn’t real magic. He wasn’t that dumb. Still, there was a part of him that revered the Magic Man far beyond someone who did, ya know, practical stuff. He just thought the Magic Man was, ya know, really cool. Obviously because he was. Duh.)
(And maybe also, just a little bit, Andy was kinda jealous of him.)
Wesley has always found the way River speaks interesting. The phrases he says, how poetic those words are, and the subtle confusion that sets into his mind as he tries to understand his pink-haired roommate. Wesley liked to think of himself as a perceptive man. It’s his job to deduce what his clients want and convince a jury of his peers to believe that he is right and the DA is wrong. It doesn’t always go his way, but there’s a certain level of awareness and understanding that comes from his job.
And much like that, being friends with a unique soul like River, he had to be aware of things that confounded him.
But it was difficult trying to decipher what River said from the words alone. His phrasings and the things he said made Wesley give the man a double look. And then it made him do a triple and quadruple look over the man as he analyzed him and his body movements. Wesley understood some bits and pieces. Horses hooves was...well, the lawyer didn’t exactly know what he meant by that, but just by watching River, he was starting to understand the method of his madness.
They took their drinks and started to relax a bit. Or at least Wesley tried to, but as River kept speaking, his confusion got even greater and less contained behind his usual smile. “I may not completely understand everything that you say, Riv, but I do enjoy spending time with you.” He raised up his glass to River’s, clinking it gently against it. “Anything pique your interest? We can dance or just chill here until something interesting happens? Your pick, Riv.”
How many different ways can you say Anhia Mercedes Rojas had a rough shift? 1.The cuts on her hands from wrestling with a suspect in a gravel lot. 2. A bruise on her cheek from a shot she took by said suspect. 3. The spit she washed off of her face from that same person. 4. Or the bruise on her dominant hand from where she punched that same idiot with a strong cross to his chin.
Oh. Not to mention the chewing out by her Sergeant because her decisions were how she even ended up in that situation in the first place. It wasn’t something that necessarily was a bad thing that she did. Almost any other cop in her situation would have done the same thing, Mic- Detective Halstead had even admitted so much so. Problem was, she hadn’t earned that respect yet. You know the respect of a seasoned officer or detective. Yeah, she was on an elite police unit, but she was a recruit plucked right out of the academy to work an undercover mission and did so well she was kept on board.
She hadn’t earned that type of rapport where people trusted her gut decision, regardless of if it worked or not. It was seen as hero ball. And as her sergeant said, playing hero gets you killed or fired. She hadn’t written any tickets, never done a patrol. That was all there was to it. She was a recruit, just like her boyfriend was a firefighter candidate. They had to face the trials of being green and making mistakes. Every mistake they made was magnified, even if it was the same one their peers would have made.
Maybe things would have been a little different if she didn’t feel like she had to prove herself. She was a woman. She was Latina. She was half black. Being an afro Latina in Chicago on the police force, wasn’t exactly the easiest ride that you could take. Her brother had told her as much. Afterall, he used to work in the same unit as her.
It was a lot to deal with, but if anyone could handle it, Annie could. She was a second generation Dominican(Haitian)-American and had survived tougher things. She survived gang wars, drug dealers. She lost her brother and mother, but …she was still here.
The issue now? How would she explain her injuries to Cameron? No matter what he said, he still worried about her. And how could she blame him? Being a beat patrol officer was already dangerous, though much more mundane considering you were usually just patrolling for crimes. Now? She was an elite unit tasked to handle some of the most notorious cases in the cities. They actively went INTO crimes.
So coming home to him with bruised cheek and hurt hands, was probably not the best way to get him to NOT worry. He already had a child to worry about. She didn’t want to add that much to him. She didn’t want to exactly hide it either. That wasn’t her thing, but if she could you know kind of just avoid the subject until maybe later in the night? That would be great too. He had a dangerous job himself so it wasn’t like he could really be upset with her, right?
Good thing for cold Chicago weather. She could slip on gloves and avoid the hands question for a bit. They also were going out that night with the rest of the people at the apartment, boarding house thing. She didn’t wear a lot of makeup, but she wore enough that it wouldn’t be strange that she put on some for their little outing. It would cover the bruise at least until later.
So that’s what she was doing in the locker room at the precinct, before adding the setting spray. A little ibuprofen for the jaw pain and she was good to go. She noticed Mick and Mac leave together which made sense, they were close or at least as close as Mick let anyone to him. They were in the same unit and it seemed like he barely knew she existed. She was always told to not take it personally, but she couldn’t really help it.
She slid the duffle bag over her shoulder and moved outside to the front of the precinct so that Cameron could pick her up. She didn’t see him at first, but she would be patient with him. She was trying hard to not be as snappy as she usually was with him, he had a lot to juggle, but hell it was cold outside.