A Celebration Of History — The Bar

Participants:

alister_icon.gif bella_icon.gif claire_icon.gif colette_icon.gif devon_icon.gif emily2_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif hana_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif julie_icon.gif lucille_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif noa_icon.gif pearl_icon.gif ray_icon.gif robyn_icon.gif sable_icon.gif sasha_icon.gif sibyl4_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif tania_icon.gif tasha_icon.gifvincent_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

with an appearance by…

tamas_icon.gif

Scene Title A Celebration of History — The Bar
Synopsis Attendees of the Fellowship Gala gather around the bar, and a tapestry of human lives is woven thread by thread.
Date April 7, 2018

Yamagato Fellowship Center


Beneath the lambent globes suspended from the ceiling, the open bar at the Yamagato Fellowship Center is reserved for special occasions such as the gala. It pops out against the white walls and cream colored floor with its wood grain aesthetic and vintage charm. There's a juxtaposition of Japanese and European architecture here, and the servers are impeccably trained and attentive. Dozens of stools line the bar area and this early in the gala they're not all full yet.

One becomes quickly occupied by Colette Demsky as she sidles up to the bar and sets a matching white clutch down on the cushion to claim her space. “Gin and tonic?” She asks to one of the servers, turning to look back at the entrance to see who else was inclined to join her out of the hustle and bustle.

There is one red-headed Russian ready to join her, it seems. Probably two, but the younger Kozlow has beat the elder here. Tania perches on a stool, putting her clutch down in front of her. "Vodka gimlet," she orders, remembering a moment later to add, "please." She already has wide pupils and a warm smile that are quite telling, but the drink is ordered nonetheless.

Only after she's ordered does she seem to notice that someone else just had as well and she turns to Colette. "Does it mean it is a bad party or a good party," she asks, Russian accent thick on her words just now, "that we came straight to the bar?"

Blind eyes alight over to Tania, not realizing how small their degrees of separation are. “That's— a really good question,” she notes with a raise of brows, taking her gin and tonic with her jewelry-laden hand after it's prepared. “But,” dark brows furrow, “you ever meet someone and then just immediately need a drink?” She smiles awkwardly. “I've seen about four of those people so far. So,” she raises the glass in a cheers gesture. “I'm catching up.”

Tania laughs at the return question. A little too loud for the affair they're attending, but she doesn't seem to mind. "Oh, yes," she says, because she lived with a couple of them. It's a very inside joke, but it leaves her grinning at the bartender when her drink is dropped off. So she's a little behind in raising her glass in an echo of Colette's movement. "If you're going to drink for every one of those you see, you're going to end up on the floor before long." Because— there are a few of them about. More than a few. "Not to say you shouldn't. What's a party for, after all?"

“You're going to like my friends,” Colette opines with a smile before taking a sip of her drink and switching hands so she can offer one out to Tania, blind-white eyes carrying her smile. “Colette Demsky,” comes with a cordial smile. The offered hand has a simple tattoo around the wrist of a city skyline and calligraphed writing that is hard to read on a casual glance. At her shoulder there's a watercolored orange fox masking a bullet entry wound. There's a ring on the offered hand too, suggesting perhaps that she's married from the style, if not the asymmetrical shape. The hand holding her drink is also visibly tattooed with three triangles on the back of her palm, linked together. A forest spreads up from wrist to forearm, breaking away into a flock of birds that scatter up to a vibrant orange and blue watercolor tattoo that dominates her bicep.

So many tattoos. And for a moment, Tania seems to get distracted from the introduction in favor of trying to account for them all— well, the ones she can see in any case. But her hand comes to shake Colette's after a brief delay. "Tania Kozlow," she offers. Her shake is gentle rather than firm, and while she doesn't have any tattoos, there is one sign that gives her away as a painter. Left over color that she can never seem to truly shake stains her finger beds and under her nails. A side effect of her profession. And how often she works at it. "You didn't come alone," she notes, either a reference to the ring or the friends that are of similar disposition to the pair of them, "All the better. The more of us are fall down drunk the more fun it will be."

The laugh that escapes Colette is perhaps also a bit too loud for their surroundings. In spite of the dress that matches a clutch she seems ill-suited to these sorts of society events. It takes her a moment, and a sip of her gin and tonic, to realize she recognizes the name.

“Kozlow?” One of Colette’s dark brows raise. “Are you— uh, any relation to a Sasha Kozlow?” She realizes, associations all considered, that could be a threatened sentiment and adds, “he ah, I work for Wolfhound. He subs in as a field medic for us from time to time. I just assumed, ah…” all Russians knew each other? Her nose wrinkles.

In this case, she isn't wrong. And Tania doesn't seem to find offense in the question, either. "He's my brother," she says with obvious fondness. It may not be how most people would talk about him, but she's got a bit of a different perspective. And she's high as a kite. She loves everyone right now. "He's here, too," she adds, as if Colette might want to know that. So she can go find him later. Tania takes a sip of her drink before she turns to look at the rest of the room. "He has probably found a wall to prop up by now," which may or may not be true, but the sentiment is. "If you see him," she says, turning back to Colette with a crooked grin, "tell him you like the suit."

“I really don't fucking know Auntie Hooms.”

Lucille Ryans’ voice can be heard as she nears the bar with her mentor and Aunt. The sparkles of her dress bounce off the bar when she moves, “I noticed it recently but I thought I was going insane..” there's a furrow of her eyebrow. “A few days ago it was completely gone. I.. I found out I could touch people soon after.” She doesn't understand it but she's grateful. But there's a nagging in the back of her head. What in the actual fuck was going on with her?

As the pair get to the bar Luce leans over and gives a dazzling smile to the bartender before ordering a mezcal, “Double, fuck it. Triple, we are celebrating!”

“Oh hey there,” with a wink towards Colette and a friendly dip of her head in Tania’s direction.

Like a pair of personal guards making sure the coast is clear before she enters, AH and UN, Marlowe’s drones, flit into the bar area ahead of her and hover over the crowd. The buzzing rotors aren’t too noisy, though the LEDs that flash and flicker on the machines are a decided contrast to the room’s warmth of decor. Marlowe steps to the bar with purpose in her eyes, looking to catch the eye of one of the bartenders, but her gaze strays as spots none other than, “Tania!” The woman re-angles her path slightly, and lifts her bracer-clasped hand to wave her hello. When the bracer comes down, she taps a few spots on the gold-colored metal which retrieves the drones back to her hand. One first lands, then the other, and both are tucked away into her purse. “Told you I’d find you,” she says with a big grin, pausing only to look over Colette quickly and flash a friendly smile to the other woman. And her tattoos.

Claire has by now made her way to the bar, managed to get her short frame up on a bar stool without too much trouble with her dress. For the most part the regenerator sits there quiet and listen, with legs crossed; happy to sip on the Jack and coke she ordered… a little heavier on the Jack, with hope of managing a buzz for at least a bit.

She watches everyone, swirling the drink, head resting against her hand and elbow propped on the bartop. Occasionally, Claire glances towards the main room, mostly to see if she recognizes people as they step in. Though, right now, it seems like Wolfhound is slowly taking over the bar. All they needed was a flag to stake it as their own.

Laughing and shaking her head, Colette leans back against the bar where she stands, taking another sip of her gin and tonic. There's a brief look over at Marlowe, a polite nod and smile that comes with a curious glance at the drones before she squares back on Tania. “Tania,” she motions with her glass to Lucille. “Lucille Ryans, the blonde over there is Claire Bennet, and the tall one headed this way is Huruma. Some of my Wolfhound coworkers. Ladies,” Colette motions to the other Hounds, “my new acquaintance Tania Kozlow, Sasha’s sister.” For context.

But behind Huruma and the others Colette spots Tasha’s approach arm-in-arm with Robyn and her smile grows. “That,” Colette introduces for Tania and presumably Marlowe’s sake, “is my partner Tasha Lazzaro and— my friend Robyn Quinn. Attorney and SESA, respectively.” She takes another sip of her drink, looking from Tania to Marlowe and back again with one brow raised. Who’s your friend? The brow wordlessly asks.

"Marlowe!" Tania smiles when she sees her friend (and co.) approaching the bar. "Come grab a stool. You're already behind," she says with a lift of her glass. Which is heading toward empty. Colette gets her attention again, though, as she starts to introduce her entire entourage. "Wow, star-studded cast," she says. She's impressed— she knows some of those names. "It's a pleasure to meet you all. Colette has been telling me how much fun her friends are," she says, her grin widening. They have a reputation to live up to, see. "This," she says to Colette's eyebrow, "is my friend Marlowe. She works here, for Yamagato." Which might explain the drones. "And she's brilliant."

There's a bit of a sigh— a contented one— before her focus turns to Lucille and her very interesting order. She laughs, a light sound this time. "What are we celebrating?"

The slink of Huruma's pace as they escape the carpet area comes more clear in the lesser lighting and the glistening of the phoenix along her side. She remains at Lucille's side as they approach the bar, and Huruma lifts a hand to tilt Lucille's chin upward for a more personal inspection. A thumb brushes against the part of her throat where the scar had been for so very long. Her decided tenderness with the touch speaks more for her feelings than words ought to be able to.

"Unless you have been sneaking around like some sort of vampire…" Huruma starts, a half-joke that falters into something more serious, brows lifting and eyes hooded softly. "Whatever the reason, I am heartened." A smile finds her full lips, tinted with a fade to match the feathers of the bird.

Rather than having a seat at the bar, Huruma remains standing, cutting a distinct silhouette as she takes in the handful of her peers along the bar. Claire gets a greeting of a nod past Lucille, and Colette's introduction earns a slightly more voluminous smile. Huruma leans in over the bar and orders something distinct. "Appletini, double vodka."

“I know I should be questioning it,” as her head is tilted upwards and she smiles faintly at the touch, “But I'm just happy it's gone.” She had gotten use to it but that was no way to live, cut off from people in that way. Lucille wouldn't wish that on her worst enemy now.

She waves to the new friends at the bar and the operative gratefully takes her order from the bartender and puts a tip in the man’s jar from her purse. Being a former bartender, she had a respect for the wait staff, they worked hard. Marlowe and Tania are given a smile and dip of her head and then she hears Sasha’s sister and her eyebrows raises, the family has good genes.

As for what they're celebrating? Before Lucille can think much about it she's knocking back a healthy bit of that mezcal, “Celebrating that I can do this,” and Lucille is leaning over and closing her eyes before planting a kiss on Tania's lips. Her breath filled with the smoky flavors of the liquor she just gulped down.

Is this a new lease on life?

Making her way towards the bar, Robyn Quinn laughs in response a comment Tasha has made just out of earshot, still arm in arm with the other woman. She barely catches that the pair is already being introduced as they made their way over, Robyn's hat still stuffed under her other arm. She offers a dip of her head to the other ladies, still smiling. "Do you think they'll serve a whiskey sour?" She has no idea what's on tap, after all.

A glance over to Tania and Marlowe - the people here she doesn't recognise, and she offers them a more pointed smile. "A pleasure to meet you both," she offers as she takes a seat - one down, mindful enough to give Tasha one next to Colette, as well as not wanting to raise any eyebrows - even as relaxed an atmosphere as this is she finds that lingering in the back of her mind. Particularly since it's a decidedly Hound party over here.

"Colette," she offers as they move to sit. "I didn't realise you had so much ink," is a honest observation, tilting her head slightly at the other photokinetic. She certainly would like to talk about other things, but she'll save that for later. She tries not to stare too much at Tania and Lucille, closing her eye and taking a deep breath. And then she looks back to Tasha. "Wait. Attorney now? Congratulations, Tasha."

“Marlowe Terrell,” the woman supports along with her introduction from Tania to Colette, “I’m just one of the engineers.” With the bar filling up with so many Wolfhound and SESA and in general, she looks a little awed by the credentials of the group. The emphasis on Tania’s Sasha gets the Russian blonde a curious look, but Marlowe has barely a chance to comment upon it because her eye lands on the tallest feature of the immediate area, Huruma. Her eyes widen. And she completely misses what conversation happens to cause Lucille to lean in and kiss Tania right beside her. The noise Marlowe makes is something of an animalistic, surprised squee.

And then she realizes that she’s the only one sitting at the bar without a drink in hand, and briefly calls out to the bartender to remedy it with a Melon Baller. While she waits, not just for the drink but for the kiss to end, she laughs. “Gosh Tania, with friends like these, it’s really a wonder how you pull those dark topics out onto your canvas.” A hand comes up to her lips, covering the giggle that she can’t catch from escaping.

The kiss is a surprise, there is little doubt about that from the noise that Tania makes. But it's also returned once she's had a moment to process. Because it is a party and also a celebration, although Tania has no idea why. She's still happy to join in. After the kiss, she laughs a little herself and notes, "I agree, being able to kiss me is always something to celebrate." This is a joke. If she's embarrassed— well, it doesn't seem to be so. Huruma can certainly tell that she takes it in stride. And that she's generally quite up right now.

"Bartender," she says, her attention sweeping that way, "I need another! Thank you!"

She looks to Marlowe next, those last words getting a helpless spread of her hands. "I only just met them," she says, as if this would explain why her art has tended toward the melancholy up to this point. Except— her gaze eventually makes it to Huruma, striking figure that she is. And not easily forgotten. Last time she saw the woman, it was some time ago and she herself was just a young, frail thing in the custody of the Arcology. Easily forgotten, especially considering that she doesn't appear to be that now. "And you all are Wolfhound," she says, a little out of nowhere, at least outside of her own mind. "I love that," she says. And she means it.

Downing the last of her gin and tonic, Colette exhales a somewhat inappropriately loud woop of delight at Lucille’s display. She laughs, toothy smile and beaming with confidence. Setting down her now empty drink, the second she can catches Lucille’s eyes she gives and enthusiastic double thumbs up. She turns around to face the bar after, motioning for her drink to indicate she'll take another. “Marlowe,” she offers in the meanwhile with a smile to Tania’s friend. “Nice place y’got here, we’ll try not to make asses of ourselves in it.” There's a flash of a smile too, earnest and unguarded.

Turned as she is, Colette reveals to Marlowe and Tania another tattoo, this one on the left side of her neck. It's a black EKG line broken by a semicolon. The tattoo runs along a three inch wide scar in an attempt to mask it. In fact, now able to see the tattoos on her left arm more clearly they all appear to be masking scars. The neck and arm ones look surgical in nature, unlike the bullet scar the fox at her shoulder hides.

But she's regarding Robyn rather than Tania and Marlowe now, topic nonetheless related to their observation. “Yeah, works in progress. I've been collecting them since the war started, for people and… you know, just everything.”

As her drink is finished and slid over, Colette takes it in hand and sips slowly. “Got one that's hidden,” she taps a space far below her left collar, hidden by the conservative neckline of her dress’ top. “Matches the butterfly Tamara has, but inverted colors.” She eyes Tasha, beaming, and settles attention back on Robyn to show the blue watercolor fish on the inside of her right forearm. It matches the green one Tasha has. “Lots of stuff like that. Good memories, other ones too. I'm looking to fill up both arms, at least.” There's more than enough space left to.

Blonde brows shoot up as she watches the other Hounds interact, especially Lucille's kissing another woman. How does that not seem odd for others? What happened to her teammate? It isn’t the kiss that elicits that reaction, but just Lucille's whole change. Realizing she’s thinking work, Claire huffs out a sigh and tries to push those question aside. It’s a gala, you are not supposed to be thinking work.

Much like in parties past, Claire is pretty content to just sit back and enjoy her drink; while watching the others. If she had brought a date, she couldn’t enjoy just pretending to be invisible; which might be difficult given her state of dress. She lifts the glass to get the bartender’s attention for a refill. If she can at least maintain a low level fuzziness, she will feel accomplished.

“Thanks. I still dabble in art but I was never going to make any money at the kind of art I liked to do, and I wanted to help in some more concrete way, I guess,” Tasha replies to Robyn. “I can’t do what you guys do.” Once, maybe.

She moves up beside Colette to lean against her, taking in all of those present with an easy smile, including those she hasn’t met. When the bartender looks her way, she orders simply, “Prosecco, please,” before tipping her wrist against Colette’s so they can see her matching fish. “We’re disgustingly sentimental, I know,” she says with a smile.

Alister has been roaming around for a while, but finally he decides to enter the bar, stand in the middle of it, and clink a spoon against a glass a few times. "Excuse me, everyone. I need your attention, and this seems like as good a place as any."

"Members of high society, who have gathered here in the area most suited for discussing matters of business and money," he chuckles, having just made a rich person joke. "I have a proposal that I'd like to make to you."

"As you may have heard outside, I intend to institute a program that avoids the wasting of perishable food by donating it to veteran programs rather than simply leaving it to go bad and be thrown out. But that is not the only thing that I intend to do this year, and I'm going to need your help for my next plan." He hands the glass and spoon to one of the armed Yamagato guards following him around, then he looks to the other and says, "Go make sure Sibyl, the girl in the pink dress, isn't getting into too much trouble. Don't worry, you'll get a big tip."

"Anyway! Everyone, I run the Staten Island Trade Commission, as many of you may know. I provide food for the Staten Island Market and engage in healthy trade operations to keep Staten Island's economy alive. But it is now time for the next step in Staten Island's evolution." He flamboyantly spreads his arms out in one quick motion, allowing his luxurious silk cape to flourish. "I intend to have one of Staten Island's water treatment plants renovated, and return maintenance to as much of Staten Island as I can. Both providing clean water and jobs to the island."

"After this succeeds, I will renovate another treatment plant, and continue to spread until all of Staten Island's clean water is restored. But you might be wondering, what do I need from you, and how can this be profitable?" he asks, lowering his arms, making a mock frown.

But that frown quickly turns into a confident smile when he begins to speak again. "I'm glad you asked! Clean water will be provided on a sliding scale, depending on income bracket. For the absolutely poor and homeless, I will make sure that there is a means for them all to get water as well. Your investment will determine how quickly and how wide spread our initial influence will be. I've already begun the hiring campaign, I already have the employment infrastructure, all I need is investment."

"I would say all drinks on me, but…" he laughs. "This is an open bar, so, just take the gesture in spirit."

Marlowe’s smile, already wide, deepens with a laugh to Colette’s words. “Let’s hope nobody does, because security really doesn’t mess around,” comes her half-serious, half-playful reply. She gratefully accepts her drink from the bartender when it comes, taking a long sip of the green-colored mix and reaches into her purse to check on the pair of miniature robots inside. It gives her an idea, and she turns back to Tania with a new grin. “Hey, we should take a picture. All of us. Wolfhound, SESA, Yamagato all in one grand show. How about it?”

Plucking both drones up out of the bag, she taps a couple of buttons on her golden bracer, activating the robots with renewed activity. Just in time, too, as Alister calls for attention. The pocket drones hover above the heads at the bar, circling and observing the man’s statement, capturing what applause or curious looks are sent his direction. Then Marlowe looks back to the gathering at the bar, adding in a bit higher volume so the other ladies can hear, “How ‘bout it ladies? Gather around for a group pic?” Her finger indicates the pair of drones hovering, waiting for a signal.

As the kiss ends, Lucille opens her eyes and winks at Tania before leaning back. “It really is,” She can't believe she just did that! A look is given to Colette like, yeah? Good? She gives her own thumbs up with a shaky hand before taking another sip of her mezcal. “Sasha is your brother? He's special.” That's one way to put it, Lucille doesn't say that she often wonders if Sasha should be touching wounds with the way he bathes or doesn't.

There's a wrinkle of her nose at Alister’s declaration, “Are super rich people still using charity as a tax write off?” Eyebrows raise as she takes another gulp of her drink, the smoky flavor swirling around her tongue. She blinks when she hears that name, how many girls are named Sibyl? She gives Huruma a sheepish look and her Aunt would feel the embarrassment wafting off of the young woman.

Fuck it you only live once. Eyes twinkling, Lucille grabs Tania and Marlowe to pose for the picture, eyes trailing over to Huruma in an invite. “Wolfhound is here!”

Cheeeeese.

Huruma is ultimately used to Lucille’s shenanigans, and when it comes to prolictivity she has never batted an eye; still, there’s something of a roll to her features as she descends on Tania to celebrate. At least she can tell that nobody is having a bad time, in which case she would step right into that mess. There’s a line, even with twenty-something girls at a bar.

She observes in the moments between this and getting her drink, giving it a more flat look before tasting it. Same as always. Just a little bitter.

Alister’s interlude at the bar earns a more critical eye, her silence speaking volumes even after he gives his speech and leaves. Huruma’s sneer in his wake is plastered across her lips and the sharpness of her bones, and after another taste she gives a short huff.

“Something about eating the Rich feels appropriate…” Her muttering being heard really only depends on whose ears are tuned her way. Most likely Claire, in her own little observing world. Being coaxed for a picture is just what she needs to not think about how a rich white man wants to ‘properly’ re-colonize an island and provide water to the ones that can afford it.

“Stop giving me those eyes. I am coming.” Huruma slides her way up alongside Lucille at this, drink in the opposite hand held between long fingers, the other at Lucille’s back. She seems to regard the others with a similarly common fondness, if the relaxed shading of her eyelids says anything more.

The commotion of the "announcement" almost makes Graeme turn around from getting his soda. Non-alcoholic but the point is made to go to the bar to get it nonetheless, and as he walks through the crowd Thor's leash is wrapped a little closer so that the puppy doesn't wander towards any other people.

Robyn gets a somewhat surprised start from Graeme before he manages a greeting, half a wave, a, "Robyn," pauses, "Good to see you, how're you doing?" before the teacher gets to the bar to be able to get his (non-alcoholic) drink. Plain soda, but it's something to have to fidget with and use as an appropriate social prop.

Leaning back on a stool, the next nod that Graeme makes is towards Lucille when he catches sight of her and recognition sets in. And then there's a slow sip taken from the soda.

This is terrible.

Everything is terrible.

These are among the thoughts running through Sibyl’s brain, including some darker ones, the thoughts that creep into her consciousness even when she wills them not to. Thoughts like: You should probably kill him.

She’s watching Alister from the other side of the room, nursing a fizzy rhubarb shrub with a giant square of ice in it the size of a baby’s fist. It’s non-alcoholic, but she’s clutching desperately at it like it is. Her dress’ train is stacked in a heap at her feet; she’s thankful for the opportunity to stand still for a few minutes and not be obliged to engage anyone in conversation.

She doesn’t know where this particular thought comes from, only that she’s had it before, and often. Not always about Alister.

“So you are child prostitute now,” says a voice to her left, and she tips her face up to look at the speaker, her blue eyes narrowing in undisguised displeasure. Sasha Kozlow is lounging there, one shoulder leaned against the wall and his feet crossed at the ankle. A powdery white residue flashes on the silky lapel of his burgundy suit jacket, and there’s a moment where Sibyl looks like she might reach up and wipe it away for him, but she opts not to.

“They’re talking about you,” she tells him instead, and hides her smile behind the rim of her glass when the Russian’s attention darts in his sister’s direction. He makes a low sound at the back of his throat. Hnnnngh.

"Sasha is my brother and he is very special," Tania states, although she doesn't seem to notice he's nearby, which might explain why she adds, "and he needs a wife." Because he's sad, you guys. There's a lovely selection here that she just met, after all. Aside from Colette and Tasha, since they're spoken for. A fact she realizes when the tattoos are shown off. Sentimental, they might be. And on another night, she might even say so. But tonight she only grins and awws over them. "They are beautiful," she ultimately decides.

Of course, the speech draws her attention and she frowns through the whole thing. It is the first thing she hasn't loved since getting here. "This is a party," she calls out to him once he's done, "not a board meeting. Save your words and have a drink!" This will solve everything.

And so will selfies. Tania's attention pingpongs around the bar, tattoos and brothers and business and finally: Marlowe. "If you promise to send me a copy," she says, laughing. Because of course she will. She spins around on her stool, refreshed drink in hand and a ready smile on her face.

The speech draws Claire’s attention, just about the same time she gets her refreshed drink. The idea that they seem like high society, has her covering her mouth, though careful not to mess up her lipstick. It’s Huruma that manages to coax a barely contained giggle from the regenerator. What a comment coming from her. So wicked, is the look that she gives the taller woman. She does, however, offer with another barely contained chuckle, “I don’t think anyone would blame you.”

The selfie…. Well, Claire might need proof that she was there, for those that ask and don’t believe the reclusive woman. So it is with a reluctant sigh that she leaves her perch… why are bars so high? To join them long enough, managing enough of a smile to look like she is having the time of her life, before she moves to reclaim her stool. Somehow, she manages to make the climb look graceful.

The familiar face of Sasha does not go unnoticed, that he is this young woman’s brother is new information and tucked away… he is a man that she had recently had a very short discussion about with the Major. Noticing him looking in the direction of the group, she lifts her drink in a sort of greeting and salute. The look on her face might be a warning that he might want to run away, even though she is stuck there being social.

After a moment of consideration, Claire flags down the bartender and leans over to say something, holding up two fingers with glossy black nails.

“Sasha?” Tasha catches up to the conversation and beams over at Tania. “Tell him I said hello. He saved my life, once,” she says fondly, not realizing the man is on the other side of the room. She smiles at the bartender when her drink is pushed that way, then smiles for any pictures being snapped, leaning her head against Colette’s and lifting the glass of bubbly fluid in a little toast.

Nearby, Rex comes up beside Tania to lean against the bar, waiting for the bartender to see him. He casts a sidelong gaze along the length of the bar to take in the beautiful girls (women) in their formal gowns. “It’s like being in a garden of roses in this bar,” he says. “And I the sad, uninspiring baby’s breath.”

There’s surprise in Marlowe’s eyes when Tania mentions her brother is looking for a wife. Not an expected characteristic for the man she spies in Sasha’s general direction. But that is set aside for what is a quick gathering of the ladies and gents at the bar, Marlowe encouraging anybody to get in on the group selfie. AH and UN zip up to diagonal points in the air, and both drones flash some more consistent bright lighting to better capture the images of the group. There’s even a little countdown of colored lights from each drone before they snap the pics. “Cheesecake!” Marlowe smiles, flashing a “V” peace sign with her fingers. “If you want a copy, let me know!” Tania, of course, is going to get one. A quick command sends the pair of drones off to do another round of the crowd.

Graeme takes another sip of the soda, managing to get far enough to not be in the picture. Conspicuously moving in the other direction, in fact. But that doesn't stop Thor from being distracted by them, and the puppy gets up and moves the one step towards the flying things that the leash will allow.

"Hey, those aren't yours," Graeme chides, and pulls a treat from a bag hidden somewhere in his pocket. "Leave it," and only after Thor sits down again, that the treat is given. "Sorry," he asides to Marlowe. I think it reminds him of toys to play fetch."

Busy canoodling and conversing in hushed whispers to Tasha about whatever it is Alister is doing, Colette has finished her second gin and tonic and missed the group photo opportunity. Arm around Tasha’s back, she makes eye contact with the bartender and a gesture to her own empty glass.

“I can't believe I was nervous about this,” Colette admits in a more conversational tone than their earlier whispering. Out of the corner of her eyes she recognizes Sibyl, eyeing her proximity to Sasha, but thinking nothing of the association. She takes in the conversations, the light and the good-natured attitudes of most everyone around like a sponge. While she was glowing externally before from the photoreactive gas, she's not glowing emotionally from the whole experience (and two drinks).

It's around that time Sasha’s date comes in, the familiar face of Julie Fournier-Raith with regards to those who served with the Ferrymen or knew her twin Liette. But the blonde in the black cocktail dress isn't alone. A younger woman in a wheelchair with a passing familial resemblance comes in at her side. Lucille recognizes her from photos she should never have seen in Avi Epstein’s private quarters.

Please, don't get trashed,” Emily warns Julie, who looks down at her with the most judging of expressions. Emily, staring up at Julie over the frames of her aviator sunglasses looks like she takes that potential admonishment seriously.

Rolling her eyes, Julie crosses her arms over her chest. “It's not me you should be worried about.” A look is flicked over to Sasha, then narrows as she spots Tania whom she is only passingly familiar with. “You wanted to come, so mingle. You need anything buzz me.” Julie jangles her clutch containing her cell phone, and gives Emily an air-smooch and starts sauntering over to Sasha.

Emily, making a face, looks around the space by the bar and furrows her brows. She got what she asked for by being here, and now it doesn't look like she knows what to do with it. Turning her wheelchair around, she navigates back to where a few chairs and tables are arranged, setting herself up near the table and pulling out her own cell phone and quietly tapping on the screen with her thumbs.

Julie, slinking up beside Sasha, insinuates herself between the Russian and Sibyl. “I imagine you're being charming,” blue eyes cast up to Sasha, then square on Sibyl with a universally-understood raise of brows in a honey are you ok? look. She gets Sasha.

"For people." There's a smile at that. "That sounds lovely." A pause, to regard the matching fish. "Looks lovely. Beautiful. I did the same thing, and hope to do more," Robyn notes as she picks up the whiskey sour that's been placed in front of her, taking a sip of it. "Lyrics. Right here." She turns bit, trying to indicate her back shoulder, down her arm. "Can't really show, unfortunately. But it's No More Summertimes To Come."

After a moment she pauses, lean over towards Colette - invading Tasha's personal space a bit, but for a reason. "When my post is over," she says quietly - she doesn't want to talk work, but it's an important note to make - "Have some things you might want to see," and then she leans back over, pick up her glass. "Else things," she decides to specify, in case someone listening nearby might let their mind wander.

"Another time, though!" There's an odd bit of excitement in those words, rarely heard from Robyn these days. She leans against, the bar, looking down it, at the others gathered. "Everyone looks lovely tonight. Almost makes we wish I'd worn a dress myself." But no, as much as she loved fashion and frills, the tux felt more comfortable for tonight.

But then she glances to Tasha, who has so graciously let her invade her space, and smile. "Don't need to, Tasha," she remarks, reaching up to pat her on the back. "You're as good as any of us. Different frontlines. I'd love to buy some of your art, though. Have a gallery room. It's missing some things. Tasha things."

The mention of disgustingly sentimental just gets a smile with a bit of a forlorn quality to it, but no further comment on the topic.

But Graeme, oh does Graeme get a look when he says her name, Robyn pulling herself out of a brief, distant look as she swivels to look at him. "Graeme!" She motions for him to join them. "I don't know if you've met Wolfhound before, but," She blinks, looking down the row. "Well, there's a whole… bunch of them." She trails off a bit at the end of that, but shakes it after a moment. "This is Graeme. Old friend of mine." She's trying to ignore the speech and everything else going on, but she can't help but laugh at the exchange that includes repetitions of "Sasha" and "Tasha" in quick succession.

Which means it's time to finish her drink and order another.

With the attention of his speech died down, a speech he will surely give to the press when he comes across them again, Alister mingles for a few minutes, before he's heading over to Sibyl.

His cape swooshes a little, and then he nods to Julie, crouching down to reach out and fix Sibyl's hair a bit, looking her over. "I hope you're being good. No one's bothering you, right? Do you need anything? I can find food if you need it. Well, we'll have someone find food." He looks around briefly, then returns his attention to Sibyl. "Is this dress comfortable? I tried to make sure they got it just right." he states like a ridiculously concerned parent.

An event like this is a lot of stress, and he doesn't expect Sibyl to instantly know how to navigate something like this. "There's security, so if anyone bothers you, tell them, and also tell them that you're with me so that they'll actually act with some haste." He finally turns and calls out to, well, any waiter who happens to be in hearing distance. "Someone bring this girl some food!"

Tasha curls a hand around Colette’s when she whispers those annoyances, then grins at the announcement that she makes to the rest of their friends. “You always worry when you shouldn’t… and maybe don’t worry enough when you should,” she says, teasingly, before kissing the other woman lightly.

Her brows lift at Robyn’s leaning in, eyes curious, but she doesn’t press for more information. Later is later, and perhaps months from now. Her smile returns at the mention of her art, and her cheeks flush with the praise. “I’ve been dabbling more in photography of late, actually. Colette found us this amazing camera, and we have a dark room at the apartment,” she says. “Maybe I’ll work on something for the public. You know, in all my spare time.” There’s not a lot of it.

A moment later, Noa emerges in the doorway to the bar, striking a pose in her formfitting pewter dress when she sees all of the Wolfhounds, minus a couple. “Of course you’re at the bar — where else would you be?” she says, a broad grin spreading over her face. Somehow, despite the fact none of them have ever seen the technopath in heels, they’re shockingly high and she moves agilely and quickly in them to join them at the bartop, looping an arm around Claire in a friendly way. “Jesus, look at us all. Who knew we cleaned up so well?”

Whatever idea Claire had is aborted at the arrival of a vaguely familiar woman… a bit of a smirk on her lips, she watches her join Sasha. That is until Noa arrives in her personal space and she can't help but chuckle. “It has been a complete surprise to see everyone dressed up and not in uniform.” She leans a little into the other woman, but only briefly, “You look head-turning. Get any numbers yet?” Claire teases mildly.

Plans might have been aborted, but still two small tumblers are deposited next to the regenerator, each with a measure of clear liquid in it. The bartender is thanked and tipped. One tumbler of vodka is offered to Noa, no reason to waste good alcohol. “You are just in time to help me drink this.”

Julie stares at Alister, not merely because he's making a scene, but because she recognizes him. Breath hitched in the back of her throat, one arm clutches Sasha’s just a little tighter. She assumed he was dead. The look back to Sibyl is doubly concerned now.

Graeme offers Robyn a grin, and once any pictures are safely over with moves to grab an available seat and pull it over. The puppy settles underneath for the moment. "You look good," he says to her, before shaking his head a little. "Not… formally or in the real world that I know of, such as it has become."

Julie is also noticed, offered a nod of greeting and there is a distant, slightly protective watching expression that Graeme has worn every time he's checked in on her or run into her over the years. "Julie," he offers a nod and greeting although she's probably too far away to hear it, furrows his brows a moment and watches the bustle of people. From Julie, Graeme looks across the room to Sibyl, and frowns for a moment as though expecting some part of that entire interaction to go bad. There's an alertness that, no matter what and no matter how much he's determined to enjoy himself, just doesn't go away.

Nonetheless, the main focus returns to the others sitting at the bar, and Graeme offers a gracious nod and that smile of his. "Graeme Cormac," he says, and then to Robyn continues, "Although I've heard some names from Devon here and there, as it goes."

“I’m not hungry,” Sibyl attempts to reassure Alister as his fingers tangle in her hair. “Or bothered.”

This she intends for Julie. Sasha’s tongue strains against the back of his teeth; he’s got another barb poised to go, but the elder blonde’s hand on his arm shifts his attention from his competition for Logan’s affection to his date. Flinty blue eyes search Julie’s face for an explanation that isn’t immediately forthcoming.

“Do you have to wear the cape?” Sibyl asks Alister in a soft voice that she hopes neither Sasha nor Julie will overhear. “You look like Dracula’s about to accept a Primetime Emmy.”

"Is my cape embarrassing you?" Alister asks, before standing up straight and reaching back, suddenly unhooking the cape from his epaulettes. He hands the cape off to some random person in his entourage running around. It's always good to keep a few poor people in the entourage, for carrying things.

"There, the cape is gone. I won't be one of those embarrassing parents." he assures, staring over at Julie and smiling. "Who's your friend?" he asks, before offering Julie a hand. "Alister Black, president of the Staten Island Trade Commission, soon to be the president of whatever we're calling our water company."

There's a blink of pale blue eyes as Lucille catches Julie in her gaze, she hadn't seen the girl much since that night. They both almost died that night, she smiles faintly as she turns slightly after taking the photo with friends. Her smile falters when she spots Emily. The fuck..? She looks from the girl named Sibyl and then to Emily and makes her decision.

A tilt of her head and then Lucille gives Huruma a wink and walks over with her drink in hand, as she passes Julie and her drink in hand.

She almost bumps into the table that Emily is sitting at idling on her phone. Was it Candy Crush or something? “Oh sorry!” Lucille steadies herself on a nearby chair next to Emily and looks sheepish, “Would you believe this is my first drink?” There's a lazy, charming smile on her face and then her eyes are widening in the perfect imitation of shock, “Oh you know Julie!” She slaps her forehead, “Now I'm even more embarrassed, please,” she lowers her voice to a whisper, “Don't tell her I can’t handle my liquor.”

A hand is extended and Luce is still shocked she is shaking bare hands with people. “Lucille, Lucille Ryans.” A light grin plays on her lips.

Emily looks up from her phone, over the frames of her aviator sunglasses, looks Lucille up and down, and then goes right back to playing what is very clearly Tetris. “Emily,” she says disinterestedly, “and can you stand…” she reaches out, tapping Lucille’s hip with one hand, “three feet to the right. Those lights are bothering me.”

Apart from Emily’s disinterest, Julie recoils when Alister offers her a hand. She stares wide-eyed at him and then realizes how the gesture must look and sucks in a sharp breath. “Julie,” is all she affords him, “I'm sorry I,” a look to Sibyl, then back to Alister. “I mistook you for… someone else.” Blue eyes alight to Sasha, a somewhat pleading can we make him go away expression in her eyes.

It's only then that she notices Graeme — perfect — and apologetically slinks away from Alister and Sasha both and hustles up to Graeme as if they were best friends who hadn't seen each other in years. “Hey guy!” She doesn't remember his name. “Oh my gosh! Look at you!” Hands come up to seize Graeme’s shoulders, as if assessing their span. “You look marvelous.” Small talk, anything to get her or of that situation.

“Tasha’s an excellent photographer,” Colette carries on their conversation unaware of what's happening around her entirely. She takes up her third gin and tonic, tipping it back with a slow sip and an eager smile. “It's been great to talk about it with her, all of the light and focus and stuff… it makes sense to me. I mean, painting too, but— ”

Suddenly, Colette remembers something. “Tasha,” she leans back and motions to Tania. “Tania’s a painter, right?” She's fairly certain Sasha had mentioned that before. “I'm not sure if the two of you met, but I mean— artists!” It's a delighted sound she makes at the thought of people making connections.

It's then she catches sight of Noa, awkwardly smiling, then averting her eyes and returning to the conversation of artists and their mediums instead.

"…really am sorry," Richard admits, his tone wry as he walks into the area of the open bar beside Pearl, gesturing a bit with one hand, "I didn't know there'd be quite this much media exposure. If my sister'd told me— "

Well, if his sister'd told him, he'd've found an excuse not to go!

"— well, too late now, I suppose. I'm sure there're some people that I know in here, I can introduce you— " Let's see, who's in the bar— oh, look, it's nearly an entire Wolfhound squad, and some Staten Islanders who got really, really lost.

"At some point you'll have to assume minimum safe distance from the microphones and slow down," Pearl notes, hand tucked into the crook of Richard's arm. He seems to be leading her to the bar, more accurately to the alcohol (yay!) and away from the cameras and potentially disastrous (whimsical) answers to boring questions posed outside. "It's not like I'm going to tell them you used to moonlight as a cater waiter in affordable ladies lingerie." She glances down Richard's smartly pressed pinstripe suit. "Though you do have the legs for it." Lord someone give the woman some liquor. Surely that'll improve the quality of her conversational meanderings.

But yes, let's introduce Pearl Valentin to all these finely appointed people with booze. While she's holding a teeny tiny (miniscule, really) grudge about the red carpet shenanigans out of doors.

“I knew I liked you,” Noa says with a smirk at Claire, picking up the glass to clink against the other woman’s. “I may need it. I always worry I’ll say something really weird that gives away my past — future — whatever. With some alcohol in me, I may still say something really weird, but I won’t care.” She grins before bringing the glass to her lips to take a healthy swallow.

Rex takes the two flutes of champagne he’s ordered and raises one to the group at large before extricating himself from the crowded bar to head in the direction of the gallery.

When Colette tells Tasha that Tania is also a painter, Tasha smiles down the bar at the redhead. “Are you? I’d love to see your work sometime. I used to be in art school before I went legal. I can paint robots like nobody’s business,” she quips, alluding back to the posters she used to post warning the New York citizens of the robots in the streets.

Hearing the voice of Richard Ray, Robyn turns around in her seat. Momentarily distracted from the increasingly hilarious and unusual conversations at hand, she musters a grin. "Which sister, Richard?" A joking question, one to hopefully get his attention. "What are you doing here?" She turns back around, picking up her glass and takes a sip. "Doesn't seem like your scene at all." Which is- pretty much entirely what he just said.

Her attention turns to Pearl next. "Bonjour, Pearl," she offers to the woman. "Your work continues to look wonderful." Robyn's been careful about the upkeep, particularly given the… strenuous days she's had as of late. "You look lovely tonight. How are you? Have to admit, I'm surprised to see the both of you here."

“Ever do a T Spin?” Emily's disinterest and attitude oddly remind her of teenage Delia and she smiles, taking her hand back as she dips her head and moved exactly three feet away before sliding into the chair she was originally planning on sitting in. She takes a sip of her mezcal and ponders the party. Running her pale finger along the rim of the glass she tilts her head, “I could show you, it's extra points.”

The offer stands but Lucille is just as fine sitting there and sipping her drink. She wants to understand the connection.. why Avi was just basically stalking the girl. He didn't seem to be the creep type (just the drunk type).

“Sensory thing? With your eyes.” She doesn't smile though inside it amuses her to see the woman wearing ‘Aviators’.

Chuckling softly, Claire touches her glass to Noa’s before taking a sip. “Just feel lucky that you can get drunk,” she points out matter of factly. “If I was like you all, I’m pretty sure my liver would have given up on me a long long time ago. Takes a whole hell of a lot of alcohol just to get a buzz going.”

Just past Noa, the regenerator spots a familiar face. “Whoa,” Claire nudges Noa and nods towards Richard. “Look who showed up and look at what’s on his arm,” she says in a low murmur. She can’t help but scrutinize this new woman, a flavor of the night? Though she has never really seen him as that type since Liz’ death.

“Richard,” Claire greets from her spot at the bar, offering him a bright smile. “Welcome to where the real party is,” she jokes lightly.

After the picture was taken, Huruma settled quietly against the bar like a statue, the glitter of the metallic feathers up her arm catching the glinting of the lights behind the countertop. The bird seems to shift as she does, her posture one of a person basking; her eyes are slivers as she studies the room, watching Lucille move off to cause trouble with only a sip of her drink. Whoever that is, she looks like a nut that Lucille will need to work harder to crack.

There are a half dozen exchanges going on around her, but those who know her better than the rest can see when the sounds are tuning out and her ability is tuning in. Huruma's eyes do a fresh sweep of the room, drink masking her lips and irises in shadow. There are more familiar minds, some passive, some vague, some like stars shining bright behind clouds.
To the other Hounds arriving, they get a tip of head or chin; others a more concerted nod of greeting from the bar; Richard even gets the smooth curve of a crooked smile when she spies him there.

Drink polished off and a replacement of water in hand, the black sheen of Huruma's gown moves with her figure as she pushes away from the bar. She moves from her repose and cuts a precise swath across the sea of guests, royal in her posture as she moves for the open gallery. As she passes through the threshold, Huruma gives one long look to a hanging banner unfurled to celebrate the exhibit, recognition of kanji reflecting only for a moment in a pinch of brow.

Graeme hugs Julie when she comes over, gently, and plays along with being used for an escape, "It's been years!" Well, it has been. Although he'd made a point of checking in on Julie every so often during and immediately after the war, it's certainly been since then. Graeme then says, with that soft southwestern drawl, "You look pretty dang good yourself. I'll skip telling you you grew," there's a slight grin, "because you probably knew that. I'm glad to see you doing… well I hope? I'm working at Liberty in between teaching at the college. If you ever need anything, alright?" He looks past Julie, keeping an eye on Alister, and more quietly says, with all the tone of a protective uncle, "Was he bothering you?"

Richard's entrance gets a amused grin. "Hey," he calls out. Mildly surprised to see this public appearance put in, to say the least, but seemingly pleased at the same time. "You made it." Another sip of his soda, and Graeme slips off the bar stool, Thor coming to stand by his side.

"I should probably get outside, soon," is more generally noted, a glance down at the dog. "Before there's one too many commotion in here."

Julie’s expression is a fleeting smile that turns into a more honest grimace. “Who isn't he bothering?” Is her quiet response whispered to Graeme over his shoulder. As Julie leans back she checks on where Emily is, spots her near Lucille, and seems comfortable with that arrangement as she turns her attention back to Graeme. Well, to Graeme’s dog.

Julie bends into a crouch, fingers at the edges of the dog’s jaw. “Graeme, you have the best Plus One of the entire night. I doubt the media outside agreed, but this date is good.” Blue eyes flick up, regarding him with a sly smile. She pushed off all the small talk with the measure of someone who had heard enough of it in her time.

“I'm an RN at Elmhurst now,” Julie explains, almost to Graeme and the dog. “So, I mean, if you're doing the same kind of charity work you did back in the day,” the kind that puts you in a hospital is implied, “maybe you'll need me for something.” She nods back to her date by Alister. “I work with Sasha there. So, on or off the record: Whatever you need.”

Apart from the bar, Emily regards Lucille over the frames of her glasses again. She squints, pushing her sunglasses up the bridge of her nose. “Yeah uh, I'm photosensitive and the lights are fucking unrelenting in here.” She turns the screen on her phone off, tucking it between the arm of the wheelchair and her leg.

“So do you always harass strange teenagers at social functions?” Emily raises one brow as she regards Lucille. “Or is this just a new kind of stalking that's,” she motions in Alister and Sibyl’s direction, “fashionable with the rich and famous? Because it's a little weird. If I'm being honest. Lucille.” Emily smiles, though it's a sarcastic one.

“Yeah, I saw him arrive,” Noa murmurs to Claire, voice low. “You don’t know her?” Because Claire knows a lot more people than Noa does. She holds up two fingers to the bartender to indicate he should refill their glasses.

She turns back around to flash a smile at Richard and Pearl. “Hey, Doubleyou-Ray and Plus-One. I’m Noa,” she tells Pearl, offering a hand in a not-very-ladylike handshake. “Pearl, right?” she says, echoing Robyn’s greeting a moment before.

Another new arrival threads her way through the growing crowd in the bar area as if it weren't even there, avoiding collisions and gridlocks alike. The blonde casts an affectionate smile towards the gaggle of Hounds, but it's not them she moves towards, not quite yet anyway. Instead, Tamara steps up to the bar near Graeme, requesting sparkling cider — the non-alcoholic kind — from the man behind it and doing nothing that would encourage the dog's attention. For now.

"Lots of familiar faces here," the seer observes, smiling equally at the one who knows hers and the one who does not. She collects her beverage when it's slid across the bar, wrapping both hands about it and resting it at her lips, but not immediately drinking.

Shortly after, Hana makes her way in from the direction of the garden, pausing at the edge of the throng to deposit an empty flute on a conveniently placed collecting tray. She surveys the crowd with a contemplative air, gaze initially skipping over the knot of too-familiar faces… then doubling back as an exception catches her attention. Familiar, but not everyday familiar.

Well, then. Now's as good a time as any.

Purposeful strides bring the woman in red velvet through the crowd to the bar, determination declaring her own right-of-way and making it stick. "I see you're all enjoying yourselves," is observed of the various Hounds and, yes, even the watchdog embedded among them. Hana herself claims a glass of wine from the bar before casting a glance towards the paradoxically out-of-place CEO. One corner of her mouth ticks up in a wry smile. "Glad to see you put in an appearance, Ray."

His date, unfamiliar to her, is given a polite nod.

Graeme grins a little bit, and there's a quick murmur of, "Thor, friend," and, "go ahead," before the dog relaxes from working and attempts to give Julie puppy kisses.

"Yeah well. Without him I'd have survived about two minutes in this crowd and then full on had… a bad time of it." That's a good enough descriptor of the PTSD issues without it getting overly awkward, and Graeme grins as Tamara also approaches, then continues, "I'm trying to teach him to ignore people other than me while he's working," It's not entirely chiding Julie, much more of a gentle reminder that tonight, Thor is a working service dog. Vest and all. "But. I suppose a quick exception is okay. In a minute you can help me with him getting back to work, and then give him a treat after once he successfully ignores you for a few minutes."

There's a nod. "Nothing nearly as… exciting. We distributed magic buckets for water purification and storage. Ygraine teaches folks, I do paperwork and press releases. Most of the time. But I'll keep it in mind." He grins. "When that does happen it's good to have a familiar face around, anyway."

“That's gotta be a bummer damn. Colette over there is seeing something wondrous. Maybe,” Lucille taps her chin. “Her ability is all about light, maybe she can help you.”

With a look over her shoulder, she wants Colette in on this. “Col! Come here?” She calls loudly over the noise and waves a hand in Colette’s direction. “Maybe she can help make it more bearable.” There’s a light wave of her hand, “Worth a try right?” Blue eyes find the imposing figure of the Major striding towards the group, she does indeed look like a goddess.

Wrinkling her nose at the comment about rich and fashionable people stalking teens, “Yea well that guy’s weird as fuck. And I'm not. As weird. Or you could say I'm a little weird thanks to my gift.” Another sip of her mezcal as she awaits Colette coming over. “I guess I felt bad that you were just sitting here by yourself, playing Tetris at a shindig like this.”

Tania's attention turns from her drink (gone now, alas, but the bartender seems to know to bring her another) to Tasha, her smile widening. "I am. A painter. Technically I work on beautification for the city, but that's just for a paycheck, yes?" The Russian accent, it is getting thicker now. "I'd be happy to show you my work. And to see yours! If you're ever tempted to come back to the arts, I know a few names who are always looking for something a little different." Networking is a little… off balance in her current state, but the idea gets across.

Robyn's eyes flit from Richard and Pearl to others who have made their way over to this neck of the woods, and she can't help but checkle. Her drink is held close in hand, but little more - she knows this is public and she can't go as hard into the whiskey as she might otherwise like. A finger taps against the glass, and she shakes her head.

"This city is too small," she muses out loud, low but audible - Richard has certainly heard her share this sentiment before. But rather than dwell on it for once, she turns fully around in her seat and greets each of the new arrives with a smile. Julie gets a smile - Robyn doesn't know her, but she knows off her - a familiar face from an unforgettable day if nothing else.

But Tamara gets an even wider smile as Robyn rises out of her seat, whiskey sour set back on the counter. She had planned on giving up her seat next to Tasha, but if anyone was going to get it, it was the seer. "Tamara," she says in a fond voice. "It's so nice to see again. How have you been?" She slides her drink down one seat, making room for the other woman in the event she would like to join the rest of them.

But she doesn't sit back down herself, not immediately anyway. Instead, she stands there, slowly making her way towards the end of the bar as more people arrive. Her head cants to the side, and a fond smile begins to creep across her lips. Eyes scan over the crowd of faces, new and old - in full, bright colour and light that doesn't blind. Pulling her purse up on to the bar counter, she finally decides to pull the covering band off her other eye, digging into her purse for a small contact container, and proceeds to slip one into her now uncovered eye, blinking a bit as she look back out at everyone again.

When Hana arrives, it seems to immediately grab Alister's attention. He reaches out to gently pat Sibyl on the head. "Be good." and also simultaneously removes himself from Julie's presence.

He gracefully heads on over to Hana, sans cape, and holds out a hand, someone immediately handing him a drink. It's bourbon, grape bourbon, very expensive.

"So, Hana, now that we don't have the stress of the media, how would you like to have a business opportunity?" he asks, taking a sip of his bourbon, eyeing her up and down. He has never shown a particular love for this woman, but it doesn't mean that he can't appreciate the extent to which she cleans up. "How would you like to help rebuild the digital infrastructure of a water plant on Staten Island? I know that we aren't typically on the best terms, or even of a similar mind, but I can at the very least trust you to be honorable."

He stares down at his drink, then suddenly laughs. "I mean, you can't necessarily trust the same of me, but this is what contracts are for."

The bar seemed like a Good Idea, at least at first. Better living through chemicals, and all that. The magnitude of her mistake comes a little further into focus as Dr. Sheridan approaches, however. She doesn’t search faces thoroughly enough to really terrify herself - she perceives a topography of discomfort rather than a genuine minefield - but her impression of Bad Ideaness is ever-clearer. This is a space to hobnob, to network, to put one’s name out. Maybe years ago that would have been an appealing proposition. Not any more.

Upon reflection, Bella should have brought a plus one. Press-ganged an intern, maybe, or hired an escort. Someone tall, dark and handsome for hire, someone indistinctly good looking who wouldn’t try and compete in conversation. It would be boring, sure, but anything to have anyone over which she had leverage, if not common feeling.

But then- what was that, through a gap in bodies, in an instant’s glance? A flash of blonde hair, not in elaborate coiffure, but loose, deliberately adrift. It sets off a sense recognition without her exactly recognizing. In a situation like this, this is as good a reason as any to pick one’s way through the gathering. Bella doesn’t make a beeline - she circles, keeping clear of collisions in the generous space of the gallery - but all the same she homes in until…

“You-” is said quietly, for the benefit of herself and maybe her non-existent escort. By which she means Tamara. Better dressed than ever she’s seen her, and in an unexpected context, but what, then, would be the expected context? This may be the rare actual case of the expected unexpected. So, unknowingly reckless, she bellies up to the bar in the seer’s wake. “You-” she says, now volubly, and pleasantly, “seem to have come up in the world.” What with the whole having-shoes.

“That would be lovely,” Tasha says with a smile toward Tania, before lifting her glass and taking a sip. Tamara’s arrival earns her a softer, fonder smile, and she arches her brows in tacit query — what are you up to? because Tamara is often up to something.

Meanwhile, Hana’s arrival has Noa clearing her throat as if to warn the others of the boss’ arrival, but it’s done with an impish little smirk for the woman only a few present know is actually the younger woman’s mother.

“Major,” she says, with a lift of her newly replenished glass in Hana’s direction, before the elder Gitelman turns to Richard Ray, and before Alister is upon her like white on rice. “This guy,” she says with a shake of her head, widening her eyes slightly at Claire and Robyn.

Bella’s arrival is noted coolly, before Noa takes another swallow of the alcohol.

Colette leaves Tasha’s side, one arm slipping from around the brunette’s waist. But something is wrong, because Colette didn’t slip a kiss to Tasha’s brow, didn’t say anything. The moment before she moved her limbs went tense, Tasha saw the color start to drain out of her tattoos first. Jaw tense, brows furrowed, Colette only manages to move a half-step away from the bar.

"Please remain calm," the director instructs the new subject, "It is in your best interests to have a level emotional state during this procedure. I am telling you this in the interests of your own well being."

Her hands curl into fists.

"What the fuck is that!?" The sputtering lights grow brighter for a moment, then die back down. Colette's legs twist and contort, portions of her body still flickering with swaths of invisibility. "Don't— don't you fucking— don't you dare! Don't you dare fucking stick me with that!" Arms bending and chest rising in hyperventillating breaths, Colette's whole body convulses trying to wrench herself free from the table. "They are going to fucking murder you! They'll kill your— your whole fucking family I swear to God! I sent them pictures of everything with my phone, they— know everything!" Panic sets in now and she's trying anything to get out of this situation.

Jaw trembling, she is transfixed on the sight of Doctor Bella Sheridan, free, not hanging from a noose somewhere in a detention center courtyard. She hadn’t followed the trials after giving her written statement — a written statement about the woman nearby — and seeing visible evidence of how the system failed to bring her to justice is inconceivable. Her chest rises and falls, sweat beading on her brow. Blind eyes flick to Hana, panic visible on her face. Sparks of light flicker and dance behind her palm, tiny blue dots like fireflies.

"My sister works for Daniel Linderman! He'll fucking bury you! She works for Daniel Linderman! My dad's a cop! My dad's a— " Her leg kicks, hips twist and she lets out another scream of fear and anger as she watches the syringe. "My dad's a fucking cop! He's a fucking cop! You have no idea who the fuck is going to come after you! You have no— stop! Stop touching me! Stop fucking touching me!"

Trembling, Colette keeps flexing her hands open and closed. Her breathing is short and shallow, blind eyes unblinking. She’s trying to talk but can’t, face flushed red and spots of light floating around her like the kind you see if you’re struck in the head too hard. “Ha— huh— hhh— ” Huruma can feel the bile-sick taste of her emotions rolling off of her like a skunk’s stink. Terror, rage, both in equal measure. The pinpoints of light around her hands frozen at her sides start coalescing. She’s going to kill her.

Richard's chin lifts up in an easy nod after Huruma as she slips away - he'll catch up with her one of these days - and then there are people approaching, and they're neither media nor corporate bigwigs. An easy smile curves to his lips as he steps along forward, admitting at the general surprise, "My sister told me that if I didn't show up— well, she left the threat kind of vague, but you know Kaylee." You don't piss off a telepath. "Something something, corporate executive, something something, working relationship with Yamagato…"

"Oh, this is an old friend of mine, Pearl— Pearl, this is, ah, in no particular order we've got Graeme, Claire, you know Robyn of course, Noa— Tamara?" A blink. Oh, of course, Colette's here, that makes sense. "And of course, the esteemed Major Hana Gitelm— " Uh oh.

"Uh. Hana? Colette." A sudden worried urgency in his tone as he notices the tension of the moment.

There's a lot going on as Robyn's eyes refocus on the others who have found themselves around the bar. She notices Hana for the first time, and reflexively her posture straightens slightly. Despite that, she still seems very relaxed, offering an uncharacteristic smile towards the older woman. The younger Gitleman gets the same look.

But it's the surprise appearance of Bella Sheridan that gets her to draw in a breath. Her only interactions with the woman, barely recalled, she seems to think were pleasant. But, well. She's heard through a variety of means at this point. Still, she is a free woman, and Robyn has no real misgivings about it.

Not until she sees Colette rise up. That look is unlike one she's ever seen on the photokinetic, but the sparks, flicks of light - those she knows well.

She may not have jurisdiction here, over anything. But that doesn't mean her instinct to act is dulled at all. Immediately she slides her glass back on to the bar and starts forward to Colette. She can do this two ways, and eventually she settles on the way that doesn't require her to pull a badge that has no meaning here. "Richard, find me later. I wish to talk."

Walking down the bar, when one of Colette's hands flexes open again, Robyn attempts to take it, intending to pull Colette along with her - hopefully enough of a surprise that she can't fight it until they're already turned away. Now seems like as good a time as ever to talk, while they maybe can. And maybe it can even look like she's doing her job, too.

As stern a glare as Robyn can manage - no Gitelglare, but her scar at least helps her look serious - is leveled on Colette. "Come with me," is said in an equally stern voice, Robyn not stopping as she attempts to pull the other woman away.

Watching the dog greet Julie, Tamara smiles and takes a sip of her drink. She doesn't do more than return Graeme's smile, though, before Robyn steps up to greet her. "I'm not staying," the seer says with a slight shake of her head, "not yet. But it is nice to see you." The question gets a crooked, rueful smile. "I'm well," she says, which is true, if of different tense. "And you've been busy."

Just as the space around them is busy, with people coming and going, conversing and consuming. Stepping back without actually looking, Tamara clears a place for the psychiatrist to move to the bar and acquire refreshment of her own, should she so choose. Tasha is cast a perfectly innocent glance, before the seer turns a wry grin upon Bella. "It depends how you count," she replies, "but you would say so, yes." Blue eyes rest briefly on Bella's dress. "I like the color," Tamara says — although some might argue it's harder to find a color the blonde doesn't like.

The same is not true for others, and Tamara steps to the side, leaving her glass behind; moving in front of Colette, she reaches out with both hands, taking one of the other woman's in her own — coalescing light and all. The seeress says nothing; she is merely present, in the way, and gently attempts to nudge Colette aside along with Robyn, breaking her line of sight with Sheridan.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on perspective, the dialogue Hana aimed to open with Richard is interrupted by sudden intrusion of Alister. Hana's gaze goes to the unwanted sound of his voice, her brows lifting at the suggestion of business opportunity, incredulous. In contrast, she couldn't care less about the obvious appreciation.

Canting her head, Hana regards the man for a long moment. There's what she really wants to say, what's more acceptable to say, and —

Hana takes a sip of her wine, outwardly still studying Alister across the glass while an entirely different conversation is carried on in silence. Finally, she lowers the glass. "To say the least," she affirms, regarding him coolly.

"I'm not a programmer," the technopath replies, in a tone that somehow isn't flat no. Just flat. "And I expect a water plant to fall outside the experience I do have. But I know someone who would find your project interesting… if you're willing to work with them remotely."

Which is as far as she gets before the situation around them threatens to explode. And not just figuratively.

"Demsky," Hana calls out, stern but without the whipcrack of reprimand, even as she moves to where she can intercept — or so something at least. "Think." A callback — though no one here but they know the conversation so referenced, and in this circumstance, it's an open question whether Colette will even recall on being prompted.

As soon as Colette slips out of her handhold, Tasha turns to see what’s wrong, her dark brows furrowing as she follows that angry gaze to Bella, whom she hadn’t noticed, her focus having been on Tamara. It’s to Tamara that Tasha looks next, a silent plea for help in her eyes, before she turns back to Colette. Robyn and Hana are already on alert, with Robyn trying to run interference, much as Tamara does, as Hana does.

“Cole,” is her own soft plea for Colette to think.
Noa, too, instantly turns to look over her shoulder at Colette, eyes widening slightly, but she remains silent, as the elder Gitelman is present and ready with the verbal leash. Her dark eyes dart back to Bella and she shakes her head slightly, a silent expression of her disapproval of the woman’s very presence, perhaps very existence, though she knows not to voice it.

At least not with Hana in earshot.

The touch of Robyn's hand to Colette's bare arm elicits an unusual tingling sensation in the agent's fingertips, like touching a live wire. In that same instant, the points of light around Colette drain away and flicker out as though all the fireflies decided they'd done enough showing off for the night. Tamara's hands at the same time elicit a gasp from Colette, blind eyes flicking to Robyn, then to Tamara, back straight and lips parted. Colette's skin is fiery hot to the touch, and it's clear that she's on the verge of tears, though her expression doesn't seem to correlate it.

Swallowing tensely, she hears the echo of Hana's words rattling around in her head, blind eyes briefly squaring on the major and recognizing where and when she is. Embarrassment and shame replace terror and rage, and Colette curls her shoulders forward and suddenly looks small and fragile. Exhaling a shuddering breath, she looks to the floor and the once-pleasant drunken buzz has turned into a disorienting haze that's clouded her judgment. There's a hushed, "I'm so sorry," whispered to Robyn and Tamara, throat tight and muscles tense.

Her hands that Tamara holds squeeze back tightly, apology visible in her expression. She draws in a sharp breath, presses her lips together tightly, and looks back to the others. One hand unlaces, fingers moving to the seer's cheek, followed by a slow nod. "I'm ok," is whispered to the people immediately around her, though she needn't tell Tamara that much for the seer to know.

Blind eyes settle back on Robyn, pulling an arm away from her. "I just— need some fresh air, it's— I'm fine." Embarrassment more so than anything flits across Colette's face now, and she steps away from Robyn with one hand gently raised in urging that she just needs space. Space that she makes for herself with an embarrassed retreat from the bar, not toward the entrance, but to anywhere other than where she is in the moment. Maybe there's less gin wherever she's going.

Hopefully much less gin.

Across the room by Lucille, Emily pushes her sunglasses up the bridge of her nose again and deadpan comments. “Yeah, uh, I don’t think she’s seeing anything all that great. So,” she picks up her cell phone from where she’d tucked it again. “I’ve got a L block coming up next,” in her Tetris game, which is implied to be more pressing than Lucille.

Her gaze rolls over to Colette and her eyes widen as a hand tightens into a fist. Goddamn it Colette. Her roll dawg was in trouble and usually Lucille would have flipped the table that she's sitting at and charged over to slap the shit out of whichever piece of shit was harming her friend.

But discipline is a good thing and one that Lucille has learned the hard way. She bites her lip and rolls her eyes over at Emily. “Yea guess not.” Bratty teenager.. came to a gala but not to socialize.. Lucille is tapping her chin mentally before an idea strikes her.

“I bet..” reaching into her dress she pulls out a wad of cash. “Hundred bucks that I beat your score.” She places a bunch of twenties on the table and tilts her head, keeping her hand hovering over the cash. “I mean if you aren't afraid to lose or anything.” She looks bored as she checks out her nails.

Entirely oblivious to whatever the hell these poor people are up to, Alister holds up a hand, "Someone will give you my card." he assures, detecting that Hana is a bit distracted at the moment. Then, not even realizing that he's rolling right into the eye of the storm, he spots Isabella Sheridan, and slides on over to her.

He offers a hand, and a charmingly wide smile. "Well, hello there. Your date appears to be a deer in the headlights. How would you like for me to be your date instead?" he asks, as if innately having the sense of fake date. Staring at her date who seems to have the stench of a man who has no sense of dominance, no sense of ownership of his surroundings.

Alister literally bares his teeth at the man.

Is that man actually her date? Who knows. He's assuming though, so, poor man.

"Alister Black, the president of the Staten Island Trade Commission." He looks to her date and asks, "What are you the president of, again? I missed that."

Arriving a little too late for at least some of the unplanned elements of tonight’s entertainment, Ygraine and Sable approach the bar. Arm in arm, they’re moving with a degree of caution as they pick their way through the throng of drink-seeking and glass-bearing revellers… but the taller woman (especially in a pair of heels) has enough of a view over shoulders and around obstacles to see signs of clear tension.

Thus, when the gown-clad Briton and the tuxedo-clad miniature rocker break free of the crowd and arrive in close proximity to a number of familiar faces, Ygraine is already looking a little warily curious. That swiftly transitions into surprise, as she takes in quite how many close-by people she recognises. They’re sufficiently numerous that in spite of all her psyching-up she’s a little overwhelmed, gaze flickering to and fro - lingering on Pearl’s tattoos for a moment, in appreciation of the artwork on display on her fellow ink-enthusiast - before she raises her free hand in slightly dazed collective greeting to a significant number of those near the bar.

This whole time, Claire has been very quiet, watching the drama unfold in just on the other side of Noa’s shoulder. She doesn’t relax until Colette is gone and the moment has passed. Last thing the team needed was for a fight to break out somewhere that wasn’t considered US soil. Leaning against the bar, she considers the crowd, swirling the lipstick stained glass. “I am about funned out,” she murmurs before taking a sip from the glass. It was starting to get a bit to crowded for the regenerator’s taste and since the war, socializing has often taken a toll.

She was about at her limit.

Head resting lightly against her fingertips, the regenerator’s gaze moves past all the people around her to the Russian on the other side of the room. Claire is tempted to try and talk to him again, but… maybe it had been for the best. This was not the sort of place for that kind of talk she had been pondering. Of past affiliations and such.

"Go," is said in a low voice, hesitant but familiar tone in Robyn's voice - understanding, rather than harsh. She shakes her hands a bit from the tingling - she of all people should probably no better than to what she did, considering what she's certain Colette had intended to do, She flexes her fingers, watching as Colette starts off. That subtly electric feeling, it was familiar - not unlike what she had once felt herself whenever she would make use of her ability, but at a higher intensity.

A deep, shuddering sigh. The more things change…

But there's still people behind her, and potentially a tense situation. New instincts mix with old, and for a moment, agent and showwoman are one. "Someone slide me my drink," she asks of those at the bar. "Tell me!" the faux-Frenchwoman proclaims suddenly, trying to draw attention away and maybe alleviate any lingering tension. "We have quite the lovely collection of ladies seated here tonight." Eyes flick over to Alister, a bare acknowledgement of his presence.

"What brings everyone out tonight?" An honest question - hers was a desire to get out of the house. High society. She's certain others are here from peer pressure, and others out of obligation. Her eyes flick over to catch Ygraine and her companion, motioning the bartender to them. "A rum and coke and an-" It's about that point that she registers Sable is the Briton's companion. She tries not to let that slow her down. "And a Peppy SoCo for our new arrivals!"

It might be becoming of a SESA Agent, but this is a night for to not be an agent, and for once she's revelling in it. Enough that it surprises her too. She offers a smile towards the others as her whiskey sour arrives in front of her, and she holds it up in taciturn greeting. She puts that feeling she felt, taking hold of Colette, out her mind for a moment, but it doesn't fade away the fond smile on her face as she tries to keep focused on the others on the bar.

She does lean over to Tamara, though, eyes flicking back to Tasha. "I know I don't have to tell either of you," she whispers, "but someone should give her a few minutes, and then check on her." Someone that's not Robyn Quinn, as much as she may want to.

Alright then, things are under control, there aren’t about to be lasers being fired through the room, and Richard doesn’t have to have a really awkward conversation or three. Saved by the… Wolfhound, he supposes.

He steps along over to get a drink from the bar - and whatever Pearl requests for her of course - and turns to answer Robyn’s query with a chuckle, “Like I said, corporate responsibilities. We do have a relationship with Yamagato, and according to Kaylee I’m not allowed to hide in my office all day, every day, and sometimes I have to come make an appearance.”

He brings the glass up in a vague toast, “And it was a good chance to see a bunch of people I never see anymore, I suppose. Like all of you folks.”

Now here’s the real party. Devon’s head twists one way and turns the other as he takes it all in. He doesn’t even bother trying to hide his amazement at the extravagance. “Dang,” he breathes out, physically taking a full turn twice to get the full effect of the décor, the people, the event. “D. A. N. G.

In that momentary pause, he loses track of Ygraine and Sable, but that’s fine with him. Plenty to see and plenty others to mingle with. See? There’s Graeme again. Oh! And the other Hounds have made their way to the bar already!

That seems to be the best place to be. Now at least, given he’d missed whatever excitement is now cooling. So Devon heads toward the bar and toward more faces he recognizes. His path takes him to Lucille and Emily, which works great for a first stop, and he claims a chair at their table just in time to hear about Tetris games and “L” shapes.

“Hundred bucks says Luce doesn’t even know what a L block is,” Dev interjects in teasing tones. “Hi, I’m Devon.” That’s to Emily, because Lucille already knows who he is.

“Yeah, she saw me playing so I bet she does. But hey, sweet,” Emily says without looking up from her phone right away, “you can keep her company.” She motions over to Lucille with a thumb, and then turns off the screen of her phone and shoots Devon a look over the frames of her sunglasses, then starts to wheel around him. As she pushes herself along, she starts making way back toward the lobby. “She seems really needy,” Emily calls back with one brow raised, eyeing Devon, before she continues wheeling herself ahead.

Slipping out from beside Graeme and Thor for a moment, Julie eyes her cousin’s departure, looks over to Lucille and Devon, but doesn’t seem to notice anything alarming so she returns to her space beside her old acquaintance and his very good boy whom she is helping get back into properly trained attentiveness.

“Mm,” Tasha murmurs to Robyn, slipping off the barstool and leaving a tip for the tender. She puts a hand on Robyn’s shoulder. “Thanks,” she whispers before giving the other woman a quick kiss on the cheek. She’s not Wolfhound, after all.

“Good to see you all. Hopefully we’ll see you before the night’s over,” she says to those she’s been speaking with, before moving in the direction Colette had, though not in a rush — by the time she catches up with her, hopefully she’ll have had enough space and be ready for company.

“Well fuck you too.” The lazy smile on Lucille’s face drops as Emily wheels away to go angst at someone else or the wall. Giving Devon a look, she downs the rest of her mezcal and ahhhs for the effort. “Okay, you go figure out what her deal is. I'll ask Julie whats up.” When did Devon and Lucille become a pair on covert ops? Oh wait, SINCE FOREVER BOOYAHH.

Operation: What The Fuck Is Avi Doing With Pictures of These Girls

Was in full effect. There's a roll of her eyes, “I wish I could have punched her in the mouth.” And then the older woman is hopping to her feet with a, “Whoa!” Arms pinwheeling before she settles herself in her heels and looks sheepish over her shoulder at the others before turning her back to them to give Devon a subtle wink, “I'm drunk and just so excited about my new condition. Don't mind me.” Is said in a quiet voice to Devon before she's staggering off with a giggle and making her way towards the group and placing herself between Marlowe and Julie.

“Whoaaa, Sorry,” She almost bumps into Julie. Luce looks like she's had a few and could be slightly more wild and free, in actuality the burn of the first drink is fresh but that is all, “It's been fucking forever Julie. I'd say we’ve both come up nicely.” Nicely, seeing as Julie isn't drowning and Lucille isn't bleeding out in the middle of that lake.
I
Hana remains focused on Colette until she sees the younger woman clearly disengage and move towards — anywhere but here. Afterwards, she spares a glance for Alister, but he too has moved on. Besides, he's not her problem anymore.

Returning her attention to Richard, Hana catches his toast; she nods in reply, but doesn't echo it in kind. Good is not her dominant sentiment right now. "You should come up to Rochester sometime, Ray," she remarks. "Soon, even." Implication being that she doesn't mean that for reason of existing concerns.

Meanwhile, Alister's phone pings the receipt of a text message, despite there being no cell network in Yamagato Park. The number is unfamiliar, but tagged with the name 'T.Amas'.

No need for a card, Mr. Black.
I look forward to working with you.

On the other side of the averted altercation, Tamara lets Colette pull herself free and watches the photokinetic depart, her expression opaque. She glances to Robyn at her whisper and nods once, hand resting briefly on the other photokinetic's shoulder before the seeress withdraws.

“Rude.” The admonishment isn’t direct at Emily. Nor is it directed at Lucille. It’s more in general, spared between the two women as Devon is left to look from the one leaving to the one remaining. He rakes his fingers through his hair and takes another look after Emily. Yeah, he recognized her once he sat down, but now he’s not so sure he wants to figure out who she is. Especially since their knowing of her came as a result of being where they shouldn’t have been. But since no one knows about that…

“Why d’you girls always need to be so complicated,” he whines at Lucille. Rolling his eyes at his pseudo-sister, Dev pushes himself out of the chair and drags his feet several steps after Emily. He looks back just in time to see Luce’s charade. “Lush,” he calls out to her. He’s teasing. Then, straightening his bow tie and tugging his jacket straight, he proceeds most properly after his target.

“Hey.” Great way to start off a conversation, Dev. “I mean. If I intruded or… Sorry. Lucille and I’re practically like family. You’re right about her being needy, though.” That’s said in typical little brother derision, complete with a look over his shoulder at the subject of the statement. “Anyway. Um. Let me get you a drink?”

First one averted altercation and then another, Graeme raises his brows. "Devon, behave," is called out, but it's said in such a joking manner and with a wide smile.

Robyn's question is answered next. "Ygraine convinced me I should show," Graeme notes. "Not so bad, now that I'm here," and he doesn't even have the excuse of alcohol but he is managing to relax somewhat. "It did take some convincing. Although she might tell you I convinced her," he shrugs for a moment. But the slight smile on Graeme's face suggests that he's not entirely unhappy that he showed up, and he considers his now empty glass before ordering another soda.

As much as he looks towards the outdoors, for the moment the easiest path of action is to stay put, and so Graeme makes conv instead. "How's working at the hospital going for you?" he asks Julie, pulls out another dog treat, and then explains the object of the exercise in ignoring other people. In whi Julie can pet Thor as long as he doesn't acknowledge her, and for a few minutes, the puppy does a good job of it, sitting attentively and looking up at Graeme instead.

"I'll have to make the time," Richard allows with an affable tip of his head in Hana's direction, despite the fact that such a request is somewhat worrying.

Pearl's slipped off to the lavatory, leaving him alone with his drink for the moment as he slips a hand into his suit jacket and draws out his phone, thumb casually tapping out a message despite there not being any cell network in the area. At least any cell network they're allowed to access.

Somehow, he suspects Hana will get the message anyway.

RedKing36: sry for business - e. danko active, seen in FB by p. whitney in course of wetwk. s.i. bound. thought you should know.

The phone's slid back into his jacket, then, and he picks his drink back up, leaning back against the bar and watching the ambient conversation. Listening and observing has always been in Richard's wheelhouse more than socializing, at which he's always been mildly awkward.

Does Bella know how close she came to incandescent evisceration? Not likely, not really. There’s no way she’d stay, then. She gets, at most, the sense of tension, but here’s the truth: she doesn’t remember Colette’s face. She has a memory of the case file, perhaps, and certainly she remembers the outcome of that fateful test. But a face? And a name to go with it? Not really. She didn’t follow the trials too closely. She didn’t want to. It felt like risking jinxing herself, as if someone might spot her through the screen, catch her after the fact, after she did such a good job wriggling out through the cracks.

Compound that with the fascinating fact that Tamara is not longer openly displaying schizo-dissociative symptoms and a sudden need to defend herself from Alister’s aggressive play, and the bitter fact is that she barely catches a glimpse of Ms. Demsky and her near-fatal fury. She might investigate further as Tamara turns, but the flank assault from Mr. Black buys her erstwhile captive plenty of time to get away.

“I’m quite contentedly stag,” Bella answers Alister, dryly “not that I don’t appreciate forthrightness. And I’m not the president of anything. My position is much more dictatorial. I’m a research director. A sober one, too, which needs fixing.” She places an order for a glass of prosecco, and by the time her attention searches about for the seeress, she’s already gone. A disappointment, but a price worth paying even if she doesn’t know it, doesn’t know how close she came.

Sable cuts a fairly swanky figure, and a distinctive one at that, in great part thanks to the contrast she enjoys with her taller companion, just as the clean lines of her jacket accentuate the stylish disorder of her dark hair. Inside now, and in the company of the familiar (however unfamiliar the setting), she tips her sunglasses up onto her forehead, revealing her reactive eyes, which dart about - heart making various skips and jumps as hangs at the edge of recognizing so many faces.

Where to begin? The bar proper is a good start. She takes what lead she can, tipping her head towards the bar and leading the dazed Ygraine over to the edge. She finds drinks waiting for them already, the ones Robyn ordered, though it’s not immediately clear to Sable just who’s responsible. The cheap cocktail, SoCo and Pepsi, scoots its way to the diminutive woman’s elbow and she gives it a sniff before taking an experimental sip. Oh. Okay. Someone knows her, her low rent roots. She takes the rum and coke and offers it up to Ygraine. “We got a fan, looks like.”

Hana smiles pleasantly at Richard. It's even a wholly sincere expression, unlike so many of her smiles in this setting. "Let me know when suits," she says, before taking her leave of the bar and the considerable press of people around it.

As she departs, Richard's message does indeed go through — and receives the briefest of replies: Understood.

Ygraine remains more than a little dazed… but lets slip a startled, freely merry laugh when Sable makes her observation about a fan. Accepting the offered drink in one hand, she rests the other on her friend’s shoulder, gently turning her a little. “You could say that. And you might even recognise her.”

Pointing, she attempts to direct Sable’s attention to Robyn - raising her own glass to Sable’s former bandmate. It’s not a drink she’d have ordered for herself at this sort of gathering… but turning up with dyed hair and supernaturally-created tattoos on display probably far outweighs any hint of social faux pas contained in her glass. And a taste of what she used to drink in her nights at the Surly Wench is, frankly, a welcome dose of nostalgia.

The palpable tension is clearly dissipating - at least temporarily - and though the sight of Tamara’s departure from next to Robyn is unwelcome, it does hint at one possible component of what might have unfolded. Ygraine herself gained no small amount of Colette-wrangling experience… albeit with vastly less success than the seer. A worried glance momentarily follows the blonde, before she refocuses upon the potential problems nearer to hand. It’s not as if the history between the Agent and the rocker is uncomplicated.

But hey, at least the melodrama’s full cast hasn’t assembled in one spot.

Sable may not get the chance to see Robyn, as it turns out. A glass is raised up in response to Ygraine, but no immediate response is given to her. Instead, she backs away from the bar, offering a smile to Graeme, to Hana, the gathered Hounds, and all the others. "Should maybe-" She pauses, throwing back the rest of whiskey sour, "Mm, maybe take a look around."

And not spend her entire night surrounded by people she'll have to resume watch over tomorrow. or drinking herself into series of bad decisions.

A tip is tossed on the bar, a finger pointed towards Ygraine and Sable. "I'll find you both soon!". Followed by an I'll call motion and point to Richard. And with that, Robyn turns away from the bar, her shoulders sagging the slightest bit as she walks away. As nice as this feeling is, it's unusual to her now. Exhausting. Something a little less… intense. That's what the moment calls for, heading off further into the Fellowship.

Content to entertain herself with Graeme’s service dog, though in a way that reinforces his training, Julie flicks a brief blue-eyed look up to the dog’s owner. “The hospital’s good, but— I mean it's frustrating. I spent practically my entire life studying alongside some of the most brilliant physicians and researchers of…” she hesitates, breathing in deeply. “Admittedly criminal physicians but— it doesn't translate to work experience.”

Finally standing up, she insinuates herself between the stool Graeme is at and the one next to him. “I have more combined medical experience than half of the staff but I'm relegated to helping in the capacity I'm licensed for. Even getting that far was a red tape nightmare.” Julie eyes the bar, weighing her options. Briefly, she glances over her shoulder and then motions to the server, leaning over the bar just enough to be sure she's heard.

“Dirty vodka martini, extra olives.” After Julie orders, she looks back to Graeme. “Anyway, I do what I can but with both hands tied behind my back while men with half my skill and twice my age make five times my salary.” She rolls her eyes, slouching against the bar and looking over to the curving wall of windows that mostly reflects the interior now with how dark it is outside.

“How's the charity work going?” Julie asks, “I mean, other than not being life-threatening.”

“Any way,” says Sasha, making conversation with Sibyl again now that they’ve both been abandoned by their respective dates, “is he calling you Dolores or Lolita?”

It’s a step up from calling her a child prostitute. Sibyl narrows her eyes at the Russian, unsure whether or not she heard him correctly, because Sasha — even in his fashionable burgundy suit and cocaine-dusted beard — does not strike her as the person who goes around making semi-obscure literary references.

She decides she did hear what she thought she heard when his face splits into a wolfish grin crowded with yellowing teeth. A quick, cursory glance around the bar confirms that Logan isn’t nearby, so her foot connects abruptly with Sasha’s shin. Pointy shoe meets bone and he lets out a strangled yowl, his smirk deposed by an equally toothy, snarling grimace.

His hand goes to clutch at his shin, sloshing the vodka martini he’d been holding all over his suit — and Sibyl’s perfectly coiffed dress. He hisses out something through his fangs that’s probably a curse, but the teenager is already gathering fistfuls up the sopping fabric and moving away from him toward the nearest bathroom.

Julie watches Sasha with a roll of her eyes, “Christ. Sasha…” It interrupts any conversation she was planning on having with Graeme. As the martini she ordered arrives, she plucks it up by the stem, grabs a handful of napkins and makes an apologetic face to Graeme before sliding over to her date. She first offers out the drink to him, “Extra dirty,” she clarifies, then starts to dab down his nice suit.

“Sasha, for the love of God,” Julie levels a blue-eyed stare at him. There's no clarification, he knows, even if he doesn't show it. After a few tentative daubs she hands the balled up napkins over for him to finish then turns to spot Devon hustling after Emily. There's a disapproving noise at the back of her throat.

Near the far end of the bar where she was making her escape, Emily has halted her departure. She turns her wheelchair to face Devon, one brow raised. “First? I'm eighteen. Second,” she brandishes her cell phone. “If you and your girlfriend don't back off, I'm going to scream so loud and call for help.” She pushes her sunglasses up the bridge of her nose again.

“I don't know you, and I sure as hell don't want your drink.” Brows furrowed, Emily lays her phone in her lap and squares Devon with one last look before wheeling herself away from him and toward the lobby again.

“I haven’t done anything!” That’s called back at Graeme without looking at the older man. Besides, Devon hasn’t done anything. He’s innocent! “Jeez. Some people never remember you’re not a kid anymore.” He huffs and places his attention on Emily again, just in time to lurch backward a half step when she abruptly turns on him. “Woah.” His hands come up, showing he’s unarmed and meaning no offense.

“So I’ll get us root beer floats,” he starts to her first point. “Or whatever. And Luce? Yeah, not my girlfriend. That’s gross. Plus, if you scream, I’ll scream, and then where will you be?”

When Emily starts off again, Dev tags right along, persistent but not without caution. “I get you don’t know me. But it’s good to branch out and meet new people. Besides.” He hustles up a couple of steps, hoping to get in front of the girl. “How dangerous can I be, if they let me in here? So let’s start over. Hi, I’m Devon. And you probably won’t believe me, but I’m totally 100-percent less creepy than most of the men and all of the women attending this costume party.”

Carefully, the glass in Claire’s hand is lowered to the bartop with a soft clink of sound. Ruby lips press tight for a long moment, a silent debate, before she pushes the glass away giving the bartender a shake of her head and a stopping motion with her hand. She’s done. Already what little fuzziness she had going on with the drink is fading away, as she steps down from the barstool she had been occupying all this time.

After smoothing out the lines of her black dress, Claire rests a hand briefly on Noa’s arm, “I’m going to wander a bit.” Maybe wander right back out the door… sky's the limit right now. Hopefully, just somewhere with fewer people. “Thanks for the company.”

Head ducked down, the tiny woman makes her way through the crowd, being so short Claire is practically swallowed up by the crowd.

Vincent is here.

Hard to say how long that’s been true — he’s not especially tall or broad or elegant, and he’s not being babysat by security, Yamagato or otherwise. But he is looking sharp in shades of grey, with an elbow on the bar and his eyes turned out dark to the crowd mixing behind him.

Before he made his way over here, he’d been headed to the garden, only to see something through the glass wall that set him into a step back and a heel turn for the bar. Now he’s nursing a double.

And a headache.

“You’ve got a little —” he coaches Sasha, helpfully, while Julie pats him over with napkins, one hand gestured to his own whiskers. Narcotic schmutz.

Tasha comes back through the doors, perhaps shockingly (to Vincent) without smeared makeup or running mascara. She moves his way, giving his cheek a quick kiss.

“Hi, Dad,” she says brightly enough, perhaps a bit too brightly, to sell the ‘all is well’ message she’s pitching. “You look nice. I like that suit. Matches your smoke.”

Julie offers an apologetic look to Vincent without realizing who exactly he is. There's a hazy familiarity there, something in the realm of don't I know you, but it's not from his professional life. The look lingers a moment longer than it needed to, and then is returned to Sasha.

“You have this immaculate suit, you're in one of the nicest places I'd wager either of us have ever been invited to, and you're spending your time getting kicked by little girls?” Julie’s nattering is hushed, so as to not publicly embarrass Sasha, she's seen more than enough of that for one lifetime and she'd like nothing more than for him to come out of this night with some dignity intact.

Thanks, Julie.

Sasha the Burgundy Coke Monster is appreciative, even if it doesn’t show in the rumpled expression on his face or the way he gently steers her hands away after she’s exhausted his tolerance for fussing. His fingers close around her wrist in a light grasp that is more delicate and gentlemanly than he prefers when handling women, but he’s not so drunk that he’s forgotten where he is.

Vincent’s observation has him rubbing at his scruff with the back of his free hand. “You are supposed to take my side,” he whispers back at Julie. “Mine. Not that devil’s.”

"I apologize." Alister offers to Bella, and nods to the random guy who caught his, well, dickishness. "I assumed that there was no way a woman such as yourself was here alone, so I thought I'd partake in upstaging someone. Let's start over." He offers his hand to her, smiling. "I assume you must be some sort of socialite. You don't quite fit in with the riff raff who snuck in through various means."

"It's good, more paper and less doing but that is the world now," is the response to Julie before she hustles off. And for a little while, the teacher nurses his soda, occasionally giving Thor some encouragement as the puppy continues to ignore the commotion.

The comment about riff-raff however gets a sharp look, and a pause. "Look who's talking," Graeme murmurs, just loudly enough to be audible. But he doesn't stick around for a reply. Instead Graeme and his dog head quickly for the sliding doors, towards the garden.

Julie’s look is fielded with recognition that’s a little too level for the man in grey not to know exactly who she is, in turn. If only by process of elimination. Anything he might say to that end is forestalled by the approach of his daughter on direct intercept — Lazzaro glances (judgmentally) from Julie to Sasha on his way to raising his arm for Tasha to come in under it.

“And you look gorgeous,”

Half a hug — he takes the public affection like a champ. Or a slightly inebriated politician, who has some lingering sidelong interest in what Julie is up to with Sasha Kozlow and his teeth.

“You’re welcome for the fifty-percent of that that’s my contribution.”

He looks down at her while he still has her next to him, examining her bluff like a bit of fiber evidence under a magnifying glass. Mm. His brow works itself into a question, one away from the other. Crisis averted, huh?

He doesn’t say it.

The expression Julie affords Sasha is somewhere between a smile and a sneer. Though the wrinkle of her nose is intended to make it more playful than it might seem. She doesn't protest the grasp at her wrists, instead makes it look welcomed and leans in to respond back, mindful not to spill his full drink.

“I can do that,” she says in the start of compliance, “when you're actually right about something.” Both her brows raise, blue eyes level on his colder ones. It's not chastising so much as it is challenging which in his state could be read as both. “Try interacting with someone who isn't nine,” is a bit of a low blow, but Sibyl isn't there to defend herself or be contrary.

“Come on,” Julie leans against Sasha enough to insinuate his movement back toward the bar where seats emptied. “Please,” she whispers before sliding alongside him and then ahead. “Let's go take a seat at the bar, and you can tell me one of your fucking stories that I never get to hear. Like…” she switches their grip, deftly, her hand on his wrist now. “I know your stuff is muddy, and messy, but you're a doctor. Tell me about… something professional you've done, as a doctor, that made you proud. Genuine pride, not ironic.”

Julie’s brows rise slowly. “You're fascinating,” she motions to a stool. “So, fascinate.

“I feel like that number changes depending on how much I’ve annoyed you recently. Fifty percent is pretty neutral, so I’ll take it,” Tasha says with a grin. There’s a hint of tension in her posture and smile, but she sighs after with a nod and a glance over her shoulder, to answer that tacit question.

Sasha and Julie’s conversation nearby draws her gaze that way and she nods toward them in polite recognition, a fond smile for Sasha, who has probably forgotten why he deserves that recognition from the younger Lazzaro. Tasha turns back to Vincent, touching his arm lightly. “Have a good evening. I just wanted to say hi, and give you everyone’s love,” she says, before she moves away from the bar as well.

“Y’r shittin’ me,” Sable says, catching brief sight of a woman that, had she not be invited to recognize her, she might not have recognized at all. But there she is, Robyn Quinn, and next thing you know- “And there she goes.” She looks up at Ygraine again, brows calibrated to a height meant to convey: ‘get a load of that’. If that wasn’t clear, though, she also clicks her tongue. “Don’t know what t’ do with that one. Bird’s gotta fly, I guess.” The way a fish has gotta swim. Or a scorpion has to sting.

Seeing Colette bustled off gives Sable further reason to furrow her brow, an expression pretty much hidden behind her sunglasses, but visible in her eyes. Complications or no, her distress is distressing. What a night this is already shaping up to be. She takes a sizable swig. Gulps. Scans the room. “So tell me, doll,” she says, evidently addressing Ygraine, “you think thisall,” she gestures up at the whole production, the concentration of wealth and aesthetics, the care taken in designing every aspect of the event, “is art?”

When Alister offers a shake, wonder of wonders, Bella’s right hand is occupied by a sparkling wine flute. She does not amend this situation. She lets Alister hang. “This-” she says, “you have to explain. What about a woman such as myself would lead you to the supposition that I’d have a companion?” For all that she’s preparing the coals for a good raking, it’s pretty clear she’s enjoying getting them ready. She’s not looked so comfortable since disembarking from the limo. “What qualities, subcategorized under the feminine or otherwise, do you perceive that makes my circumstance so unthinkable?

“The continuation of this conversation hinges upon your honest answer. Honest. Don’t think I can’t tell. I used to be a psychiatrist.” Down goes the drink. “So-” Bella sets the now empty glass down on the bartop. “that’s your second wrong guess of the evening.”

"Why would a woman such as yourself go out in public without a means of entertaining yourself in a potentially boring situation? And, beyond that, you're far too beautiful to ever have to suffer something like loneliness." Alister answers, thriving in the heat and pressure of intense high societal social combat.

His heart pounds, blood pressure rises, endorphins flooding to his brain as everything he's ever learned about social interaction suddenly comes back to him. The challenge, the high stakes.

Let's gamble!

"But I suppose, if you used to be a psychiatrist, you can go somewhere and make your own fun, you don't really have to bring someone with you, do you? Or perhaps you've simply gotten bored of it all and now you need something new out of life." He shrugs, taking a nice, long inhale of his bourbon, letting that sink in for a moment.

Ah, bourbon.

Staring at Bella, he can't help but ask, "Is this fun for you? I have to say, I actually enjoy the sense of danger I feel in this encounter. It's a little like when someone's waving a gun at you and you have to sort of smile and pretend you don't care, taking the gamble that you aren't going to be shot in the face and that you'll actually survive that encounter."

There's a laugh, and he adds, "Sorry, Civil War humor. I was in that."

Fifty percent is purely scientific — Lazzaro is impassive to Tasha’s claim, refusing to acknowledge he might have ever proposed any alternate ratio under more pressing circumstances. His poker face is only better than hers — the furrow of his brow a little too indignant.

“Love you too,” he agrees. “All of you. For the most part.”

He takes a deeper drink as Tasha breaks off to go her own way, battened down beneath an even deeper breath. This gala was probably a bad idea.

Off the bar top with one last look for Julie’s pep talk, he pulls his drink along with him on his way to drifting deeper into the throng. No amount of poker-facing is likely to convince anyone that the pathway he follows behind Isabella Sheridan’s back is an accident.

“That’s a good color on you. Much more flattering than your preferred orange.” He tips Alister a reassuring nod over her shoulder before she can turn. A you totally got this bro, clutch it lift of his chin, just shy of a wink.

He doesn’t intend to stop moving.

Bella asked, and Alister answered. At length. And with no small degree of enthusiasm. Which is what she should have expected. She did engage after all. And so she hears her beauty addressed (of course, though there is a problematic pleasure in its of courseness), and her profession (and its implied, and fallacious, mystical power), and then his own fear which is a bit of a twist, but now that we’re on the subject of him it’s time to mention his military service.

“On which side?”

Vincent’s drive-by takes her by surprise, causing her neck hair to prickle. Do not, please oh please, joke about that shit. Not here.

And… why are you here?

“Mr. Secretary,” Dr. Sheridan, having finished her drink, catches Vincent’s wake, giving chase. She casts a look back at Alister, pausing long enough to do him the following courtesy:

“You can come if you’d like but you’ll need to act a little less like you’re on cocaine.” And then, almost gently. “I’m not going to kill you. I’ve never killed anyone.” And that’s the God’s honest.

Then she’s off. “Mr. Secretary!”

"I can assure you that I'm not on cocaine, I have far too many enemies to pick up addictions and vulnerabilities." Alister follows after Bella, furrowing his brow at Vincent. He doesn't mind poor people, but people who seem like they have a poor air about them being in spaces of high society always make him a bit… unsettled.

"I was on the side of the Ferry, though call it a pragmatic alliance. I share very few of their, what should I call it… idealisms? I've never been a fan of anti-evolved hate, and I'd rather not live in a world run by corrupt mad men rather than rich people." he answers quite honestly, swirling the brandy around in his glass. "The Ferry aren't the largest fans of me, but that's a story for another time. That's simply what happens when you form a temporary alliance with idealists and would-be heroes."

Marlowe's movement around the bar area has largely been accompanied by the two drones overhead capturing the action, the coming and going of several faces and clips of what they've been doing. But now with much of her time having been spent at the bar and general area, she interrupts a short conversation with one of the Yamagato employees attending the event and checks her bracer controls indicating the status of AH and UN. She furrows her brow for a moment, then recalls the drones into her handbag before closing it up and slipping out of the bar area towards a more quiet spot in the water garden.

“I would probably have snarked with a bit of self-projection about habitual cowardice in matters of emotional significance,” Ygraine murmurs dryly to Sable in the wake of Robyn’s swift departure. “But as ever, your turn of phrase is both more poetic and succinct. Bird’s gotta fly fits her, I think. And to be fair… compared to how she’s dealt with the world for the past few years, merely coming within a few hundred yards of this place would have counted as a marked step forward. I can certainly empathise with the desire to run the heck away from a horde of strangers and ghosts from the past: that she’s stuck it out this long must have taken a good dose of courage and determination. So, yeah: ‘ouch’, but I can accept that she’s just overwhelmed…”

Prompted by Sable’s query, she looks around, arching a brow. “Art? Yes. Certainly, there is artistry in how this has all been put together. But there’s not much evidence of the personal - let alone of soul - in it. I can see it working well as a frame: a device to provide a suitable environment in which other things can be displayed. Not that we’ve yet confirmed that…”

Her voice trails off, as his movement and Bella’s calling of his title helps her to register Vincent’s presence - and the strange sight of Bella following in his wake and Alister trailing in hers. Though the internationalist’s ideals have a different foundation to the American patriot’s and their access to the levers of power is worlds apart, she and Lazzaro were active on the same side (and both as providers of evidence) throughout the Albany Trials, and since then have shared the goal of promoting trials over vigilante revenge. Consequently, the Director of Liberty offers the Secretary of Homeland Security a respectful nod and a raise of her glass.

Who knows what's taking his date so long in the bathroom? Richard, though, has finished a drink — and perhaps because Vincent's drifting about he's slipped off himself, blending in with the crowd of other well-dressed people to investigate the gallery.

It is true that Vincent’s vibe doesn’t exactly resonate with the opulence of the evening — even the most pedigreed and highly trained malinois is still a dog at the end of the day. He’s shorter than Alister, sturdier, shaved bald and scarred in a fine line that crosses back over his ear, all business and no pleasure. But his suit and vest are fine for their greyness, sleekly tailored, and his tie really brings out the crude oil black of his eyes, whatever color it is.

As if the Praegers would let him leave the house for a gala looking any other kind of way.

Currently he’s busy ignoring Bella’s first call in favor of dipping a nod (and raising his glass) back at Ygraine instead. Team Justice.

“Just ‘Vincent,’ is fine.”

He’s forced to stop and say so by louder repetition of his title, retreat turned back into a deliberate pivot around to Bella’s pursuit. And to Alister’s pursuit of Bella’s pursuit. Coincidentally, Bella testified at the trials too. Funny story. Speaking of funny stories —

“I have time now, actually,” he tells Alister, plain as the whiskey in his glass. He prompts Sheridan with a furrow at his brow. Wouldn’t she like to hear this story, like, right now?

His eyes flick past her to a glimpse of someone who looks very much like his old friend Richard on his way out. He drinks.

Drink number two is gulped down and then Lucille is swallowing hard and ruffling the back of her head before quietly slinking out and heading towards the gallery.

“So you fought with a rebellion,” Bella says, “but you took issue with their idealism. A cynical soldier. Too wise for causes. Is that the idea?” She’s not even looking at Alister as she answers, and questions, instead peering after Vincent with the same questing look one might look for a server. Here! Over here! Over- oh. Hello.

“Vincent,” Bella says, her smile a study in grace, ”it’s always nice to see you. I’m a little surprised, what with the-” she makes a horizontal circle with one finger, a pantomime meant, somehow, to evoke concepts as broad and fraught as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘borders’ and ‘international law’. “Are you here in an official capacity?” Not a reportly question, or at least not a question from a reporter. It’s not meant with the self-justification of investigation. Just a friendly, personal question between friendly, personal acquaintances.

Sable does not recognize the bald man, and so does not realize he is a veritable avatar of The Man. She has her beliefs, and those imply politics, but she does not herself particularly believe in politics. More to the point, she doesn’t really understand them. So maybe she’s seen him on TV. Good chance. But old white guys are always on TV. Usually in the most boring parts of TV.

Instead, she doubles down on what really is art when you think about it, man?

“So it c’n be art what with bein’, like… th’ work of artists. But without a soul- is that really art? Like- if this is art, but it ain’t got a soul, what do y’ call art that does have a soul? And then- how c’n you tell? Can everyone jus’ tell what’s got a soul and what hasn’t? Or is that a special type ‘f sight?

"Hah! Too wise for causes. Not at all, I just think that they're so busy having their head in the clouds that they have no ambition beyond fighting endless battles and giving their lives up for people who could care less about theirs." Alister reaches out to gently place a hand on her shoulder as he continues. "I fought in the war because it was practical to fight in the war on the side that I did. Now I'm back to trying to get richer, the way that I prefer to spend life. We have to get America back to comfort! Well, I already live in comfort, but I'm working on hot baths."

Removing his hand, if she hasn't already done so herself, he asks, "Would you like a hot bath, once I'm done making such a thing possible on Staten Island? With as much water as you can possibly imagine. I'll bring back hot tubs."

Sasha plunks himself down on the stool. The last time someone was this insistent about asking him questions about himself, he was on trial for the crimes he committed during his time with the Vanguard, which included murder, kidnapping, fraud, larceny, and a plethora of other English words his translator had to walk him through before he could even take the stand.

In other words: This makes him a little uncomfortable. But rather than peel away from her, he chooses to hook an arm around Julie’s waist instead once he’s seated, drawing her into the space he creates by spreading his legs. If this was a regular bar, he might even pull her the rest of the way into his lap.

He has to remind himself that it isn’t, that there’s only so much he can physically get away with before Yamagato Security instructs them to go home.

He reaches up with his other hand, which she still holds, and picks an errant curl of blonde hair away from her face. “Or,” he suggests, “we go someplace different.”

Huffing an amused breath, Julie leans back against Sasha and regards him somewhat upside down as she leans back, due to their height differences. “Charming,” she says with a crease of her brows. “But kind of boring?” That much is offered quieter, just for Sasha. She lingers there where he preferred to keep her for a moment, eyeing the fullness of his martini, then gingerly slides out of his grip and moves to take the stool next to him. The distance, though, bridged by a the toe of her right shoe gently touching against the opposite shin from the one kicked.

“I'd tell you my version of the story,” Julie admits with a tilt of her head to the side, “but I'm not sure you'd want to listen.” The invitation is nevertheless open. “But, I guess I'm the one that has to do all the talking, even if you're the one with a handsome accent.” Brows raised, Julie reaches across the bar and plucks an olive from the tray when the bartender is handling another guest, and pops it in her mouth.

“It was, what, seven months ago?” Julie’s blue eyes square on Sasha. “We were both running nights, I think it was a weekend. Anyway, that kid who’d been hit by the truck?” Carefully, Julie gauges recognition, familiarity. “I was sure he was going to lose his leg, with the way it looked when he came in. Doctor Laudner was pretty sure of it too…”

Idle hands move to an abandoned napkin by her stool, and Julie begins tearing at the paper and rolling pieces together. “You push your way in, unshaven and exhausted. And you do what you do. That kid might walk again, because of you.”

Raising her shoulders in a shrug, Julie continues to tear at the napkin. “I don't necessarily think you're proud of that, but… I don't know what makes you proud. Kind of why I wanted to hear it from the loshad’s mouth.” It's not great pronunciation, but she's sure he’ll correct her if he feels it matters, or perhaps just because.

It turns out that it doesn’t matter. “What you say is making proud,” Sasha starts, “really failure.” He signals for the bartender to pour him a drink; it’s that point in the evening where he doesn’t particularly what kind. “The boy walks, yes. Maybe.”

The bartender returns with a clear liquid and bobbing ice. It’s either vodka or gin mixed with soda — he doesn’t bother to sniff it after he’s hefted it in his hand. Fueled by the the alcohol that’s already in his bloodstream, combined with the drugs Logan shared with him and his sister, Sasha’s fingers would rather be roaming Julie’s body in search of her dress’ zipper than holding a glass.

Her curves are distracting and he does not hide the fact that his eyes are unabashedly doing what his hands cannot. “There are some can do this with one touch. Bones, they heal. Nerves, zip-zap-zip-zap.” This is real medical jargon, folks. “My ability is making worse, always. I am healer who does not heal. Hard to be proud, sometimes. Most times.”

“Do I look like I’m here in an official capacity?”

Vincent furrows his brow all the further, arms opened out, eyyy. At the core of it, he’s a (grey) black hole of unguarded authority, absolutely a living fuck you in defiance of whatever control a foreign corporation might like to believe it has in this smouldering dystopia of an America they all now call home.

The drink he has in his hand is a mark in favor of a no. So too is the openness of the invitation for scrutiny.

“I did skip the red carpet,” he confesses, specifically in aside to her, personally, as if to preempt that being submitted as evidence one way or the other. But he does it in such a way as to not interrupt, because a war hero is speaking, and putting a hand on Bella’s shoulder.

“Is this a hypothetical question because I’m certainly willing to take you up on the offer. Also,” he tips his drink to Alister, “I didn’t catch your name.”

Ygraine is distinctly buoyed by Vincent’s acknowledgement, but manages to turn her cheery grin upon Sable rather than beaming like a loon at the man just because he returned her mute greeting. Then she laughs at the little philosopher, consciously trying not to get distracted by the evidently-odd mix of body language in the interactions between Vincent, Bella, and the (currently) uncaped aspiring-supervillain tag-along.

“That is something that has been fiercely debated for a very long time, I believe. I’m not going to pretend to have a definitive answer… but I think that the trite old answer about beauty being in the eye of the beholder carries a lot of weight. Not that I’ve ever found the ostentatious pretentions of post-modernism to be appealing: that might argue that art is wholly personal, and anything and everything can be ‘art’ if it stirs suitable responses in even a single viewer. Everyone having a right to an opinion, I can agree with… but if every viewer has their own reality, and everyone else’s thoughts are irrelevant - explicitly including the intentions of the creator for the piece - then it tends to just boil down to ‘anything goes, and everyone is always right’. Which removes even the need for a creator, if you carry it to an extreme: if ‘art’ is simply a set of feelings evoked in a viewer, then there’s no need for anyone to have been involved in making it at all. That then just turns it into a sort of conflation of ‘I think it’s pretty’ and ‘that’s thought-provoking’, without anything artistic ever having had to take place.”

“So, ahh, to try to haul myself back from that tangent… yes. I’d say that something can be art without a viewer being able to see the maker’s soul in it. The flaw might be in perception just as it might be in creation, after all. Great art, I’d say would need to speak to the soul. But is a pleasant tune not art? I can imagine that someone could create something wholly original, and pleasing to experience, but that didn’t really deal with the soul. It wouldn’t be something to change the world… but it could make its own pleasing little contribution. And with regard to what’s around us? I’d say that artists did create most of what we can see. They might not have been pouring their very essence into it - but it’s a consciously-crafted design, adhering to a particular aesthetic, and intending to evoke emotional responses in those experiencing it. It might all ‘just’ be a framing device for the primary exhibits, but it’s still a form of communication and presentation in its own right.”

“I’m glad you’re finding the time to have some fun,” Bella says, personability cranked up to the top notch as she addresses the Secretary - she knows which side her bread is buttered on. “I was out front but I was lucky enough not to pique any press interest. You know I’m a bit camera-shy.” A euphemism, this, and a reference to past dealings. Her own (very noble, very selfless) cooperation with the powers that presently are took place behind something of an institutional smoke screen. The records are there, if anyone cares to look, but incognito has been the watchword. Bella is aware that some people might want her dead, even if she’s not aware that some of them are only a spatial distinction away. “Perhaps you can recommend a similarly discreet exit?”

And speaking of escape attempts- there’s a hand on her shoulder. Bella takes Alister’s wrist with the delicacy of someone trying to transfer a spider to safety, a strain against distaste in the interests of mercy. “Suggestion one:” she says, coolly but not yet unkindly, “wait for me to signal that we’ve moved to physical contact.

“Suggestion two:” she adds, tone shifting marginally closer to warning as hot baths on Staten Island enter the conversation - like she lives on Staten Island, “names before poorly veiled suggestions.” At this moment she doesn’t blame Alister so much as she judges him, which is a pretty much unavoidable fate. If it were a real diagnosis instead of the symptom of a larger social problem, she’d be sketching ‘affluenza’ in on her figurative analyst’s notepad.

Sable has dated college girls before. She’s used to getting thesis-level explorations and explanations. She actually rather enjoys it, enjoys admiring the contours of a person’s mind, just as she enjoys the contours of their body, complimenting, challenging and changing her own in the moment of contact. So she listens to Ygraine’s wide-ranging treatment of a question that, to be fair, is probably not going to be resolved at this particular party. Then again- who knows? You can’t, not until until you try.

“Dunno ‘bout pottery or paintin’ or nothin’ like that,” Sable says, delimiting her range of expertise to the modest confines of her experience, “but music’s all ‘bout havin’ somethin’ you can fit y’r own soul into. Y’ write new songs, sure, to bottle up what y’r feelin’, ‘n’ to give it away. But a lot of it - jazz ‘n’ blues ‘n’ th’ like - is about takin’ somethin’ someone else put t’gether and makin’ in y’rs.

“I dunno if that’s somethin’ you c’n, like, say ‘bout all art. I figure a lot of it was like, rich folks who wanted somethin’ pretty t’ fill the rooms in their big houses.” That, at least, is what one of her college girls told her. “And this here… this is about th’ biggest rich person room I’ve ever seen. And boy do they ever gotta fill it up. But mebbe that’s just… what? Tryin’ to borrow enough soul to fill up those empty spaces, eh?”

A shrug, a surrender to mystery, a long swig from her drink. “I ain’t swayin’ nearly enough t’ be talkin’ ‘bout this.” She flashes a grin. “Love that y’r so ready for it, though, Yg. Plus, with that accent? You sound so darn knowledgeable.”

"Mister… Lorenzo? Mister Lorenzo, you're welcome to come to Staten Island and relax in a hot tub once I've turned the water back on… well, more accurately, made the water not horrifyingly toxic." Alister listens to Bella's suggestions, then just laughs, nodding in agreement. "I like you, you don't take shows of dominance, you assert your equality over a situation. Perhaps you have more money than I previously assumed. Or perhaps you're just of a particularly sharp type A mindset and you know how to get what you want without being trampled over by awful human beings like myself."

He delivers his last line with surprising smoothness, placing a hand over his stomach to gently bow to her. "As for my suggestions, well, Alister Black is my name. And I've only just realized that I didn't ask for yours. Let me guess… no, no, I won't guess, what if I guess the name of your mortal enemy? Then I'll certainly be in hot water." he states in the most affluenziatic tone possible.

That certainly is not a word by any stretch of the imagination, but that is the kind of tone he took.

“I do know,” says Vincent, reassurance less bound by nicety. He knows that Bella doesn’t like cameras, when testifying on the subject of human rights violations committed by her superiors, and such. It’s a good joke. He reassures her on that count also, with a nod and a narrowing of his eyes. He gets it, don’t worry.

Unfortunately, before he can reply on the subject of a discreet exit, Alister happens. And keeps on happening.

Holy shit.

He doesn’t have a response on deck, breath taken in and held there behind his teeth — not quite a grimace. His dark eyes are uncertain, checking briefly aside to Bella. Searching for confirmation that she’s experiencing this also.

“Yep,” he says, a little late: “got it in one.”

Here he stands, Vincent Lorenzo.

“I’ll keep my ear to the ground.”

So that he can be first in line for the non-toxic hottub party at Alister’s Staten Island getaway. He leans to clap the man on the shoulder with his free hand in lieu of a shake that’s never offered.

“Good to meet you, Alister.”

On that note, with a shit-eating glance back at Sheridan and a, “It was good to see you, Bella,” he ghosts her in the most literal sense of the word, vanishing into a churn of black vapor on the spot. Bye.

“So it’s just the accent, hmmm?” Ygraine shakes her head as she grins down at Sable. “I’m reminded of what was probably the nicest back-handed compliment I ever received. A tutor said ‘with a style this good, you can get away with almost anything’ - while explaining just how much was wrong with one of my essays. I feel little as if I’ve just been told something similar.”

She winks amiably. “The theory of wealthy patronage of art as an attempt by the soulless to fill a void, be it physical or otherwise… that would certainly fit with some political and social ideologies. But I’d like to think that there’s somewhat more going on here. I want to believe that the Fellowship is at least somewhat altruistic, rather than just an exercise in the equivalent of spiritual comfort-eating. But -”

Her voice stops, the Briton blink-blinking as she sees Lazzaro vanish in(to) a puff of smoke. Even without much in the way of context, it’s too dramatic a sight to allow her train of thought to remain on-track. “Woah. I, ahh, think that either that’s a disastrous conversation, or something just spooked the Secretary of Homeland Security,” she murmurs to Sable, nodding to where the black vapour just replaced the politician. “Perhaps this might be a good point to move elsewhere, before anything happens. Just in case.”

At the bar, Julie shakes her head and smiles at Sasha, motioning to the bartender to give him a fresh martini. She hasn’t had a drop to drink tonight, and that fits into her plans for the rest of the evening well. “You’re gifted, still,” she thinks of what she can sense beneath his skin and in his cells. “You have an amazing potential that I’m not sure you’ve ever really explored, because of…” Julie leans against the bar, resting her elbow on top of it. “Because of your former employer’s goals. I can see what you do, what you could do. Feel it in the back of my teeth, behind my eyes…” Julie’s brows furrow and she reaches out for Sasha’s hand at his drink.

“Your ability is something to be proud of,” Julie asserts. “Zip-zap,” she adds with a self-assured smile, running her thumb over his. “We… can maybe talk about that later. You’ve done really well here tonight, all irritations considered.” Blue eyes flick up, then down to her drink. Julie has a plan, but no plan survives contact with society.

At the periphery of the bar, three women stand in juxtaposition to one another. One small and hollow looking, clutching her bite-pinked and swelling hand. Behind Sibyl, Colette has a hand on her shoulder and eyes squared on where Julie and Sasha are situated at the bar. Looking past Bella, though distracted by the ghost of Sable Diego in ways that make her chest tighten and eyes grow wide. Beside Colette, Tasha has come back too, just having missed her father’s exit.

They are all threads, interwoven; human and otherwise. The choices play out, forks in a river, cracks in a mirror, strings in a web. They are the map of lives, separated by only a few degrees from one-another, even if most don’t realize how closely related their lives truly are.

No matter where they go, they seem to be drawn together.

Into a tapestry of their own making.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License