Business and Pleasure


cardinal_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Business and Pleasure
Synopsis Peyton's on a quest for the latter but finds a confusing mix of the two when Smed and Cardinal collide with her in a bar.
Date August 8, 2010

A Bar in Manhattan

Bar number three. Peyton is bar hopping tonight. It's been a while since she's done this, and it was usually in a better section of town with another socialite or two or three on her arms over a year ago. This is not the posh end of town, but rather downtown. This bar is not a dive, by any means, but a good family-owned tavern where people are more interested in the baseball game on the flat-screen televisions and in the flavor of their mini-brewery beer than in what music is playing or what designer someone else is wearing.

It's not the usual sort of bar a 21-year-old girl goes alone, but then, the usual sort of place is the kind of place she's avoiding in this little solo flight of hers. The people here don't care about tabloids and, and there's a chance they won't recognize her as "that girl who HF kidnapped last year" in the dim lighting.

Having left the neighboring establishment with her feelings a little stung by the man she'd talked to at the bar, Peyton is in need for another drink, though the last is showing in the shine of her eyes and the flush on her cheeks as she approaches the polished wood counter, slipping onto a barstool. "Moscow Mule," she tells the bartender.

The order earns Peyton a laugh from the far-end of the bar. "You think he knows how to make that?" The bar portion of the establishment isn't as busy as the tables near the larger screens, but even then the talk is of the post-game and remaining bets to be settled. It's no wonder the man around the curve of the trough heard her.

He's grinning, his light eyes squinted with whatever humor he's found, and his brown hair has slipped from where it was combed to hang over his brow. This is, of course, helped by the fact that he leans slightly. His grin subsides long enough for him to polish off a glass of amber brown liquid over ice, but his eyes don't leave Peyton. "Harris, before you go look that up -" and he gestures toward the lowball.

Harris, the college-aged boy behind the bar, dutifully upends a bottle of Jameson to refill the man's glass. He nods to the service, releasing Harris to make the young lady's concoction. He's dressed not too much unlike the other patrons of this particular establishment - a blue button-up shirt under a sepia toned sport coat. Peyton can't see much else from where she's sidled up, but it's pretty safe to assume he's wearing pants.

The sound of the automatic hand-dryer is briefly audible as the door to the bathroom swings open then closed again with the departure from its depths of the last man to drain the weasel. Agent Lamont Cranson. Redbird. The Red King. Richard Ezekiel Cardinal.

Nobody knows about his middle name. Shut up.

Thus refreshed, he heads along towards the bar in search of another drink, slowing a bit as he catches sight of a certain socialite there. The drunk, he hasn't noticed yet, even if they are former associates.

"Line cutter," Peyton says juvenilely, but with a smirk as she turns to regard the man throwing his two cents in on her drink of choice. "Oh, Harris looks like a bright boy, I'm sure he can figure it out. It isn't hard." Peyton smiles at Harris, who is in fact looking for his cheat sheet. She waves him away from it.

"Ginger ale, lime, vodka. Finlandia if you have it. Absolut'll work if not," she says, not usually so picky but perhaps showing off just a little for the tall man watching her. Cardinal (Ezekiel??) has not been noticed, her back mostly to him as she turns toward Smedley.

But Smedley just leans away from the bar with a chuckle, lifting his glass to his lips once more. There's the briefest moment in which his features are contorted with the whiskey, but it passes with a satisfied sigh and smile. "Never been a fan of vodka," he admits with a sniff. "You've gotta add too much to it to make it drinkable. By then…you're better off with soda pop." Now there's a regionalism.

"Regardless of pref'rence," Smedley adds once Peyton has her drink (though with it's proportions a bit off), raising his own in a toast and flicking a signaling finger to Harris. "To whatever team in tight pants won tonight."

"You're not supposed to drink vodka in any way it's drinkable," Cardinal's voice lifts behind the pair as he steps up to the bar, roughly between them, offering his opinion unsolicited with a sweep of his hands to either side, "The Russians made it so they could induce amnesia at will. Not exactly the nicest place to live at the time, you know?"

"Hence the ginger ale," Peyton says with a smirk, lifting her newly-created martini and lifting it in the faux-toast to the baseball game she doesn't care about. She brings it to her lips and takes a swallow, eyebrows rising before she coughs into her hand. "Heavy touch on the vodka, there, Harris, but I won't complain now that my tongue is numb," she tells the bartender with a wink, and the boy flushes. He looks like he might recognize her after all.

Cardinal is greeted with a tilt of her head, her eyes just a touch unfocused, though not so much that it looks like she's using her power. "Well, hi, Card. Amnesia? Really? Or are you making shit up?" She points a finger eastward, to indicate the bar she just left. "I just learned that fingers don't have muscles. Who knew?"

"Richard fucking Cardinal," Smedley interjects, his grin back in full force. "Now there's a face I haven't had th'pleasure of seein' for too damned long." Smedley stands, moving around the corner of the bar with a shocking ease, only to resettle himself closer to the pair. But rather than sit, he rests his elbows on the bar, his back to Harris so that he can better look at Carindal and Peyton.

His eyebrows raise with a hint of lechery. "Who's your girl?" he asks, the grin sliding to one side of his face. "Don't worry, I don't blame y'for her taste in booze. Unless she's Russian. Then, well, it's kinda appropriate."

"And how the hell're you still alive, Cowboy?" A laugh as Cardinal recognizes the other man, and he reaches out to clap a hand to his shoulder in a brief squeeze, grinning broadly, "I figured the storm would've done you in once and for all, if you hadn't run into a job that went wrong or something… oh, she's not my girl. Just a friend."

"Pey, this is Smedley. Wes Smedley, if you decide to call him by his first name, which I sure as hell never did. Smed, this is Peyton." A pause, "Fingers totally have muscles. How do they move, otherwise?"

Luckily there's a flush already on her cheeks or the words 'just a friend' might bring a telltale blush to her face. Setting her drink down after another sip, she raises her hand and touches the tendons on the back, where Zachery had traced just thirty minutes ago. "Tendons and shit. The muscles are in your hand. Except your thumb, it has its own muscles. Some doctor guy just told me," she says, looking up at Cardinal to see if he's as impressed with the information as she was.

Offering the same hand to Smedley, she smiles. "Peyton Whitney," she murmurs, last name added to be polite. "And no, I'm not Russian. There's not much I won't drink, though, so if my vodka offends, I can swap to something else."

Smedley just laughs. "Cardinal, y'should know by now that I'm a cockroach. The world could end tomorrow, and I'd still be there, pickin' bits off the bones." He reaches for his glass to take a sip, giving the question of fingers having muscles a thought. Setting the glass back down again, he shakes his head.

"Sh's right, Card. They ain't got 'em. Had a sis who cut herself real bad once - s'white. But not like, bone-white. Tendons, like she said. Little strings." He wiggles his fingers, as if to demonstrate, before taking Peyton's hand and giving it a firm squeeze instead of a shake. "Wes Smedley. S'pleasure. And drink whatcha want. S'on me, pretty gal."

"Huh." Cardinal blinks, twice, behind his shades, "I did not know that. Learn something new every day…"

To the bartender he orders easily, "I'll have a Godfather. And you'd probably try to sell the tendons back to the skeletons afterwards, wouldn't you, Cowboy?"

"Drinks always taste better when someone else is buying. I'd even drink the crap brand if it's free," Peyton says with a grin, lifting her drink again, and reaching to clink it against the cowboy's glass before bringing it to her lips. "Sell 'em to skeletons?" she asks, glancing from one man to the other, turning in her barstool so that her back is against the bar. "What do you do, Wes?"

Smedley ducks his head and lifts his hands in admission. "I'm a businessman," he says to Peyton, "and I wouldn't be much of one if I didn't try, now would I?" The latter end of the remark is directed at Cardinal, along with a wry grin and a wink. "Cardinal and I used't do a bit of business together, now and then. But he's moved on up the ladder, as it were, and we don't see much'uh him on the floor these days." He hums a few bars of a song before taking another sip from his whiskey.

"And you?" he asks the lady. "How does a lady such'us yourself ock-you-pie her time?"

"That was a lifetime ago, Cowboy…" A rueful shake of Cardinal's head, though the reminder of the song brings a smile crook'd to his lips. As his drink's set down, he tosses down a few bills to pay for it, reaching out to lift it up from the counter and raising it in a mute toast to Peyton, to Smedley, and down a swig goes."

The song goes over Peyton's head, and she gives each man a curious squint before looking back to Wesley to consider his question. She arches a brow at Cardinal, as if to ask his opinion, but then goes ahead anyway. After all, they're a legitimate business now, and it's not like it's a secret they can keep.

"We're opening a security business, actually. Redbird Security Solutions," Peyton murmurs, sounding a touch less flirty and/or drunk, as she discusses the firm. "I'm probably just basically administration and research and file clerk and secretary and reception all rolled in one, though. I don't really have … marketable job skills, you know?" she smiles a little ruefully.

"Don't be s'quick to sell yerself s'short, Peyton," Smedley whispers, leaning in a little closer and letting his eyes slip from her face to her neck, then on down to her shoulder. "I'm sure you're… quite skilled."

He straightens with a cough that clears his throat and raises his eyebrows at Cardinal. "Like I said. Too long. But it's good to know you're gettin' in't such a lucrative bed with Peyton here. And I wouldn't worry too much, Pey - Card here'll do jus'fine on his own with that sorta work."

"Don't listen to her," Cardinal murmurs against the edge of his glass, rolling his eyes before he takes another swallow - setting the glass down, he waves his hand in her direction, "She basically runs a lot of the stuff we're doing. God knows I wouldn't get shit done without her around to remember all the details and little shit that I'd forget."

Between the appraising glance down her face to her shoulders and the mention of a 'lucrative bed,' thrown in with Cardinal's praise, Peyton manages a weak laugh. Smedley alone, she could handle — she's flirted with handsome and dangerous men before and not turned into a pile of giggling schoolgirl mush. Cardinal alone is a little more of a chore — she has so much to hide from him and every time he says something nice, she does turn into a giggling pile of schoolgirl mush. But between the two of them — she glances at one, then the other, and then back to the first, this time Smedley, and gives a shake of her head.

"There's no bed," she manages, before grabbing her drink and taking a couple of hard swallows. Awkward much?

"A'course," Smedley says with a one-sided shrug and pout of his lips, "I was bein' metaphorical." He winks at Peyton before taking gentlemanly sip of his whiskey.

"So how're you definin' security, Rich?" The shift in focus has a two-folded motive, only one of which is not selfish. Peyton needs some space, and some time to drink that vodka concoction. No, it's not the first time Smedley's picked up a girl in a bar, but it's been awhile since he had a decent wingman. "Might have a job for you."

"Hey, you're the one who invited someone else into our date, so don't blame me for that one," Cardinal replies to the 'no bed' comment in casual teasing, utterly oblivious to any further subtext there. Some guys just have blind spots like that.

He leans in against the bar counter, then gives Smedley a curious look, "…pretty flexibly, really. Why, what do you got for me, Cowboy?"

Clink goes the ice, falling from the bottom of the ice against Peyton's mouth as she drains her drink at Cardinal's comment. She sets it in front of herself on the bar, eyes on the dead soldier in front of her.

"Another," she tells the bartender, turning in her seat to seemingly watch him make it instead of responding to Cardinal's tease, and letting Smedley answer the question. In reality her gaze shifts to Smedley's perspective, watching through his eyes to see what he sees as the two men speak.

Smedley puts more weight on the elbow closest to Cardinal and lowers his voice. His eyes scan what area of the room is readily available to him in a strange sort of people watching. "A lunchbox," he says at last. "With a weird kinda electronic somethin' inside. I picked it up, but someone picked it up from me before I could make the drop. Long story short, I got it back, drop got hit…and now I've got a lunchbox people'll kill for, but no way to fence the damned thing."

A mystery! Cardinal's interest is visibly piqued as he leans in a bit more, murmuring, "Any idea what's in it… or who's after it? I might have some people who could take a look at it and see if they can figure out what it does, if you don't know…" A pause, "…could possibly find a buyer, even, depending on what."

"That," Peyton says, her vision returning to her own perspective as she turns with the new drink in hand to look at both men, "doesn't sound like a security sort of deal. Not that you can't moonlight on the side, oh, business partner o'mine." She lifts the refilled glass to her lips to take a sip, looking up through her dark lashes at Cardinal, then Smedley, then back to Cardinal. "He doesn't play chess, does he?" she asks, because that's clever code language and all when one is tipsy.

Smedley straightens when Peyton butts in, sobering up just a tad. He stares at Peyton blankly before a smile cracks his face, letting a chuckle seep out like steam. "Damn straight it's security," he counters, grabbing the barstool and sliding it so that he can create a triangle of seats with Cardinal and Peyton. He perches on it, his drink held securely in one hand.

"The security of my lily white ass." The smile fades and is replaced with a serious expression, complete with furrowed brow. "I ain't a fan of it bein' riddled with bullets."

"I could've gone all my life without knowing that much about your ass, Smed." He's just sayin'. You know? Cardinal leans back a bit against the bar, the glass lifted up in his hand as he notes dryly in the direction of his 'personal assistant' or whatever she is, "As if everything I do is totally on the books… and no, he doesn't play chess."

Back to the smuggler, and he arches a brow, "Still waiting on those answers, Cowboy."

"Bullets in the ass would be a shame," Peyton says, smirking just a touch and tilting her head playfully as if to look at it — not that she really can, planted as it is on a barstool. "And yeah, I didn't expect everything to be on the books," she says, turning the little black swizzle stick in her drink with one hand. The lack of "chess" is noted, and she gives a nod.

"I ain't got a clue, Card," the cowboy says with a sigh, still keeping his voice low. Music has replaced the game, though it still plays on the screens scattered amongst the various rafters and columns. "All I know is that it goes to somethin' else, and the more people thing I ain't got it anymore, the better. Let 'em…think I lost it in a swamp or some other shit."

Wes squints at Peyton for a moment, taking the time to try and figure out why she wants to know if he plays chess. He tilts his glass back one more time, finishing it off before he gets to his feet. "You got offices, I can swing by. Won't bring it, but I can bring pictures." Smedley reaches between them to place his glass back on the bar, followed by enough cash to cover his own tab plus Peyton's two drinks. He looks to her with a remnant of a grin. "You got a number where I can reach you?"

A hand dips into a pocket, and Cardinal pulls out both wallet and a handful of cards; offering one out and over with a crook'd smile, admitting, "Place isn't all finished yet, but the number's there, and if the door's unlocked we're in. I work night hours, 'course. As usual." He always works night hours, when he can help it.

Peyton gives a nod and a murmur of "Thanks, Wes," for the drinks, then opens her clutch purse to pull out a business card, but Cardinal's beaten her to it. It's not like they put their personal cell phones on the generic cards. She could write her number on the back of one, but, perhaps emboldened by vodka, she has a better idea.

Reaching for Smedley's hand, she strokes his palm with her fingertips, turning his larger hand so that its back is facing up. The pen is brought to her mouth so she can uncap it, and, holding the cap in her teeth, she writes her phone number on the back of his hand.

His hand is released, a touch slower than necessary, and the pen comes back to the waiting cap, then dropped into her purse. "Just don't wash it til you transfer me into your cell," she says with a wink, hopping off the bar stool. "Goodnight, boys. See you tomorrow, Card," she murmurs, heading for the door.

To her credit, she only walks a little crooked.

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