Fight to Win


muldoon_icon.gif tavisha_icon.gif

Scene Title Fight to Win
Synopsis Muldoon comes to collect.
Date February 12, 2009

Shooters Bar and Bistro

A place that used to be a cafe and is making a slow progression towards being a dive bar. During the day, the balcony and a good portion of the sidewalk is taken up by outdoor chairs and tables, where people can enjoy a beer as well as a sandwich or whatever else is on their menu - a decent, if simply array of bar food. During the evening, unless it's a warm night, these are taken inside, and the kitchens are closed. A wide variety of beer is available, along with hard liquor and maybe a few wine labels, but nothing fancy. The interior decor is similar to traditional British pubs, with a hardwood bar and brick wall. There's an old pool table towards the back, along with a dart board. The building is actually two storeys high, but whatever is upstairs is inaccessible to the general public..

It's late. Late enough that the raucousness of the bar has died down, and only drifters and drunkards remain. Low lights cast yellow glows against rich wooden features, the smell of acrid smoke winding through the air, stale and new, and there's the gentle clack of pool balls as they roll on the green surface of the table, knocking together. Only one man is active enough to be doing anything but drink, a couple slouching at the bar and a couple more hidden in the booths, but Tavisha occupies himself at the table, and practices. He moves, lines up the cue, and— *crack!*

Barely looking to see if he accomplished anything, he paces around the table, picking up his drink of bourbon, and takes a long sip. Leisured, he leans again, and evaluates his one-man game. Across the way, he notices he's being watched, not by anyone familiar. Two men nearby mutter to each other, as if Tavisha couldn't hear them perfectly well. It's been a few hours since his debut at the cagefighting ring, and people are still bitching about the money he lost. He casts a smile he doesn't quite feel across the room at the other men, and they shuffle off, making for the door with scowls on their faces. Likely, the only thing stopping Tavisha from a knife in the back is the fact he killed a man with a touch.

Killed a man with a touch. That warrants another drink. He drains his glass, promptly, then lifts it in the direction of the bar. "Excuse me," he says, loudly, interrupting the gloomy silence of the late night bar. Out of place, as if he were ordering coffee. "Excuse me, I would like another one of these. Thank you." Yes, he's a little drunk, and clumsily sets his glass back down, and slips a few notes beneath it as a bartender nears, holding an appropriate bottle of alcohol. "Thank you," he drawls absently, lining up another shot on the pool table, cue drawing back, and— *crack!* This time, the white ball skips, bouncing onto the floor, and rolls away. Tavisha sighs, bowing his head, before unsteadily straightening his back once more and picking up his renewed drink. This is so miserable.

As the white ball rolls across the floor, gathering dirt and grime on its pristine surface, footsteps cause the floorboards to groan and creak beneath the weight of the man who approaches the pool table with long, purposeful strides. One leather loafer comes down on the ball and stops it dead under an audible clunk.

A moment later, James Muldoon is standing there, the ball clenched in his gloved hand, squirrel monkey looking down at Tavisha in a distinctly imperious fashion from its perch on the man's shoulder. It studies him with large black eyes that, while intelligent, lack the cool, Machiavellian quality of its master's gaze.

"Did you know," Muldoon begins, using a handkerchief to polish the ball back to its previous condition, "I've been hearing some very peculiar stories tonight? Apparently—" He places the ball back on the table, allowing the monkey to clamber all the way down onto the felt where it can inspect a worn piece of bright blue chalk. It picks it up and turns it over a few times in its small hands before putting one of the corners in its mouth and testing the texture with its teeth.

"Apparently," Muldoon continues, "someone was killed at the Pancratium tonight by a man embodying Death itself. Care to indulge me, Tavisha?"

It's like a spotlight has swung around to shine down on him guiltily, and Tavisha freezes when a voice is put to the blurry periphery figure he'd noticed approaching. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he sets down the glass of renewed bourbon and turns to face the man. His face is a little red from the alcohol, nervously clenching the cue— and glancing sharply at the monkey, long tail knocking the 8 ball to the side, rolling it just enough— for it to sink into the corner pocket. Game over.

He looks to Muldoon, defensiveness rising over guilt. He killed one of the cagefight regulars. He should have known it wouldn't go down well. "Is that what they're saying," Tavisha asks, a little hollowly. Several steps are taken away from Muldoon, rounding the table and lazily knocking the pool balls into the pockets with gentle sweeps of the cue. "I think that's a minor exaggeration, don't you?"

"I don't know what to think, which is why I'm asking you." Muldoon watches Tavisha circle the table with interest, though he isn't nearly as fascinated by the spectacle as the monkey is. Tabaqui scurries alongside the man as he moves, darting excited glances between him and the balls as they disappear into the pockets. When the last ball has sunk, it comes to an abrupt halt and shoves its head down the hole, black-tipped tail flagging upward, and starts to chatter at something below. "How did it feel, crushing another man's skull with your bare hands? Did you like it?"

"No," is Tavisha's automatic response. Offense. Moral disgust. It's all written there. And it's not entirely true. His head ducks a little, laying the cue down and nervously running his palms down the thighs of his pants. "He was going to kill me," he says, a little quietly, glancing about the hazy bar, but no one is listening in - even if eyes are turned to them. After all, one of the Rookery's royalty is present, and speaking to tonight's cagefight newcomer. It could end in blood, and everyone likes a show. "He practically had." His hand drifts to his shirt— a new one, not bloodied and torn from the vicious iron hook, recalling that godawful feeling. "I don't know how I did it, it just happened." Then, he finally meets Muldoon's gaze for a moment, expression grim and somehow earnest, seeking approval, or absolution. "I liked winning."

Absolution may be hard to come by. Approval, on the other hand, is considerably easier. "We have an agreement," Muldoon reminds Tabisha, tone a little milder than it was when he first spoke. "I haven't been able to find someone in possession of the skills we previously discussed, and I don't think I need to tell you that time is money. If you enjoyed winning, why not consider employment at Pancratium for the interim? You have talent, and people will pay well to witness a repeat performance."

Tabaqui gives up on relocating the lost balls and sits up, reprimanding Tavisha with an indignant squeak as Muldoon offers it his arm again. "You have the added advantage of looking very similar to a famous figure in New York's history. Do you remember the newsclippings that Nisha showed you?"

Employment. Tavisha narrows his eyes across at Muldoon speculatively, glancing from man to monkey and back to man again. Agreement. Money. He really wished he hadn't drunk this much, a hand raising to rub at his forehead, feeling a little uneasy— which could honestly just be the booze. It's the queer direction the conversation takes, however, that makes his hand lower and look at Muldoon with a little more intent. "I remember," he says, voice puzzled. "Sylar." The name means next to nothing to him, doesn't resonate with anything he remembers apart from the clippings he was presented with. "What does that have to do with…?" Possibly killing people in a cage for money. He keeps that addition to himself.

"Everyone needs a stage name." Muldoon's lips curve into a small smile as Tabaqui shimmies up his outstretched arm, swings once around his elbow and then adopts its previous perch up on his shoulder. "Sylar has a more artful ring to it than Rampage or Bonecrusher — it suits you." More than Tavisha knows, but that's Muldoon's little secret, isn't it?

"Go home, get some rest, sleep off your hangover." He wrinkles his nose at Tavisha, the bourbon's reek mingling with sweat, smoke and the other unpleasant odours that cling to the other man like flies on a water buffalo's back, but that's what you get for spending the evening at a bar. "And take a shower," he adds as he strokes one knuckle along Tabaqui's velvety throat. "You need one. If you're amenable to the idea in the morning, see Grigorovich at the Pancratium — I've already told him to expect you."

There is something about this that sounds like a horrendously bad idea, but Tavisha can't quite grasp on to why. There's no room for argument, at least tonight. He can. Think about it. And collapse into bed in the meanwhile and hope he doesn't dream about hooks in his chest and silver-haired ghosts with canes, urging him to get up and kill. He picks up his glass, drains it completely, and lets it rest against the pool table with one last heavy clink. A pause, and then Tavisha nods in an almost respectful way to Muldoon, and makes his cautious, not especially coordinated way towards the door without another word.

Men like him might worry about cutthroats at this time of night, in this place, with this much alcohol. But word travels fast, and for tonight, at least, Tavisha is given a wide birth and safe passage.

February 12th: Die Trying

Previously in this storyline…
Making a Name

Next in this storyline…
Die Trying

February 12th: Purple Elephant
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