Irish New Year


hagan_icon.gif laura_icon.gif tony_icon.gif

Scene Title Irish New Year
Synopsis Laura and Hagan do not go on a date. Tony attempts to cut in, Laura learns Irish pub songs, and Hagan smiles. Twice.
Date December 31, 2008

Biddy Flannigan's Irish Pub, Upper East Side

Tony is seated quietly in one of the booths, with a glass of whiskey and another of beer, sipping at each. He also appears to be eyeing up the talent as it enters. Well, it is New Years Eve, and he is on his own. He gives an appraising look, as you arrive.

If anyone knows how to do a party up right, it's the Irish. Even if it's dilluted Irish blood by way of Boston. There's a crowd already, even though it's hours before the ball drops, although there's still a table here and there to be found. There's paper party hats and streamers being passed, pints are held high on trays overhead and the general chaos has begun. A band sets up in one cramped corner with all the traditional instruments. The group itself looks young, and one's even in a kilt. It's an atmosphere of celebration. Leave your troubles at the door and drown them in stout. Tonight the year starts anew.

Laura is most definitely not Irish, the pale-haired woman wrapped up in a powder-blue coat against the New York winter's chill as she walks into the pub. Of course, it's anything but cold in the pub, which is why the coat is immediately shrugged off and slung over a chair… after she's edged her way through the crowd and plopped herself down at one of the empty tables. Not without both hat and streamer being foisted off on Laura in passing, of course. Her seemingly-eternal good humor fits right in with the general air of celebration. Probably because of the crowd, and the fact that Tony's aren't the only pair of appraising eyes in a place like this, his study of her doesn't get much notice.

What, precisely, Tony is, is hard to say, but he's almost certainly not Irish either. There's a hint of italian about him, but it's hard to be sure. He does, however, get up, as Laura enters, and heads back towards the bar for a refill. And yes, he does take the chance to wander past, and ask, "All alone, Sweetheart?"

Hagan didn't mean to be late. Really. He tried to be on time, but traffic is hell already. "Excuse me, scuse me Happy New Year. Thanks for the hat, whatever…" he moves through the crowd, up on his toes to try and catch sight of the white-blonde head. But he's being jostled about.

"Can't ask that yet!" Laura counters Tony's query. "I just got here!" She toys with the hat in her hands, quite amused by it, and then slips it up over her head, the elastic cord snug under her jaw. In the general noise and clamor, Hagan's voice blends right in, and the Irishman isn't tall enough to stand out from the crowd. So she remains seated and waits, flicking the streamer against the table.

Tony deploys that smile again, "Sure I can. I'm pretty sure I just did." He glances to the table in front of the woman, "You've not got a drink yet. I'm sure that could be fixed. What are you having now?" He makes a strenuous effort to catch the barmans eye, although this isn't entirely successful, given the crowd.

Hagan is in a better position to order drinks, seeing as he's pushed up against the bar by people moving back and forth. He hasn't seen Laura yet, so he doesn't know what she's ordering. So he orders a pitcher of ale and grabs two pint glasses in the hopes that she'll drink it. Otherwise he'll drink it and get her something else. Drinks in hand, he somehow manages to not spill it as the crowd parts enough for him to spot Laura. Talking to another guy. He seriously considers chickening out right then and there, but the crowd will prevent him from going anywhere. It'd be like swimming upstream. So instead he steps forward, still wearing his pouffy silver snow jacket with a blue collared shirt and black slacks underneath. He even shaved. Wonders. He steps slowly towards her and then blurts out, "Hi!"

Laura folds her arms on the edge of the table and huffs at Tony. "No, I said that you can't. If nothing else, the ten-minute rule at least applies!" Hagan finally reaches the point where Laura can hear his salutation, and the woman turns around to look his way. "Hey! I like the jacket," is her immediate observation. Followed by an imperious gesture for him to sit down, don't just stand there looking awkward and uncomfortable. Tony at least doesn't look awkward. "Hagan, this is someone whose name I haven't the faintest clue of," Laura introduces, since it's the polite thing to do.

Tony gives a grin, and slides a hand out… towards Hagan, "Hey there. I'm Tony. Pleased to meet you, and your sister too." And that grin gets turned back on Laura. "She was just about to tell me what she drinks, right?"

Hagan drops to the chair as if Laura gave him some sort of mental command. It takes him a second but, "Oh, right. Jacket." He sheds off the heavy thing. He had to have been dying of heat, but his brain is elsewhere. Namely on this guy who is calling Laura his sister. "Sister? What makes you think she's my sister?" For one thing, he has a thick Irish brogue. "Right, em. I hope you like a pale ale? I ended up by the bar and I didn't know what you drink." He pulls one pint glass out from the inside of the other, then casts another look at Tony. But it's not his job to shut the other man down. Or so it goes in his world.

The imp laughs at the wishful statement of relationship. The totally divergent hair colors might be the first clue, even before Hagan opens his mouth. "I'm an only child," she states with a broad grin. No brothers. She looks at the pitcher Hagan brought over, then shrugs helplessly in Tony's direction. "Apparently today I'm drinking ale," Laura answers, hooking one of the (empty) glasses out of Hagan's hand.

Tony looks a little disappointed, and shoots an incredulous look towards Hagan, "You're not? Oh, for sure, you must be. I mean, if you were my date, I'd have been with you, the whole time, so that nobody else could move in on you. I mean, why wouldn't they?"

Hagan squints at Tony. He manages to fill up Laura's pint to the top with minimal head without taking his eyes off the other man. "A woman isn't something to be guarded like a bloody meaty bone so that the other dogs won't get it. She can make her own choices." If just a look could talk, his would be saying 'bastardbastardbastard.' "If she wants to talk to you, that's her business." He nods towards Laura.

Laura replies by pitching a streamer at Tony. Pity she's only got the one. It isn't really intended as a missile per se; the toss is a harmless one. "Psh. I'd barely even sat down, and there you were circling like a vulture. There are rules." In Laura's version, at any rate. She takes a sip of the ale, glancing over to Hagan at his expression of magnanimity. It completely contrasts with his actual facial expression, at which the woman can't help but giggle. "If looks could kill," she remarks to Tony, "you'd be nothing but bones right now."

Tony grins, cheerfully, "And if looks could act, you'd be cuddling half the men in the room, so it's probably best that they can't." He sketches a rather extravagant bow, producing, at the apex, a small flower, presumably from his sleeve, in what is clearly a rather good act of sleight, "But you'll have to content yourself with this, and good wishes for the new year. And to your….. boyfriend." He straightens up, and gives the man a slightly teasing grin, "And to you, of course."

"Look, Waltzing Matilda. Either act like a fucking decent man and stop trying to get her to leave me to drown myself in my pitcher of beer, or hop it." Hagan leans across the table, eyebrows up. He flexes his left hand. The knuckles have old callouses across them. There's not a team called the Fighting Irish for nothing. "Now, I just met the young lady, so I haven't pissed on her shoes to stake my claim, but you are being bloody rude and tonight is supposed to be a nice for celebration. So put on a funny hat or stick it up your arse." And then, almost as a reflex he murmurs, "…sorry." to Laura.

There's valid flattery. And then there's over the top. Tony seems to have crossed the line from the former into the latter, judging from Laura's expression as he speaks. Yeah-huh. Right. The sleight of hand display, however, is met with a surprised grin. "Ooh, clever." But she can do that trick too, as the young woman proceeds to demonstrate by accepting the flower with one hand, making it appear in the other, and then shaking it menacingly at Hagan when he threatens her shoes. To Tony, the woman inclines her head. "Thanks, Tony," she replies with a smile.

Tony flashes a grin, once more, seemingly enjoying himself way too much, "Well, maybe I'll catch you some other time." A beat. "After you've had a chance to change your shoes, eh." An odd accent… flashes of American… Canadian… maybe touches of British and Australian too. "And a pleasure meeting you too, my friend." Hagan is graced with a cheerful little wave of the hand, and the man is pushing his way back into the crowd.

Hagan might be muttering several unkind things under his breath, but thankfully the din of the crowd keeps them from being heard. Then he looks to Laura. What? He said he didn't piss on her shoes! "Sorry," he murmurs again to Laura, then looks quite embarrassed. He stares at the table and swallows several mouthfuls of beer.

Laura laughs at Hagan's embarrassment, and then tucks the flower behind his ear. "There. It's cute." As if that isn't even more embarrassing. Well aware that this is probable, the impish smile reappears on her face as Laura takes another sip of her ale. She's a ways behind Hagan in the drinking already, and the night's barely started. "Don't worry about it." A pause. "So. Do you actually have any sisters?"

"Sorry. If you want to go talk to him, you know…" Hagan's voice has gotten small, his posture embarrassed and awkward. It's a switch from the posturing he was doing just a minute ago. "Sisters? No. I'm probably the only Catholic in the world without siblings."

Laura chuckles. "If I wanted to talk to him, I'd have invited him to sit down," she points out. "But I doubt he was that interested in talking anyway. A persistent pest, I'll gve him that," she concludes brightly, taking another sip of the ale. "Hm. Can't say my family was ever very religious. Well, I don't know about Mom. Didn't see her enough." Laura shrugs easily; it's old news.

"Certainly wasn't interested in talking to me anyway," Hagan looks off through the crowd to see if he can spot Tony so he can glare at the man's back. "So. Em. Do you have them? Siblings, that is." He swallows almost to the bottom of his pint, then quickly refills it.

"Nah, only child," Laura supplies. She said so earlier, and it was even true, not just a way to refute Tony. The woman raises an eyebrow as Hagan works his way through the glass. "Keeping up with me, remember?" she points out, indicating the level of ale in her glass. It's said with a teasing grin, though; Laura doesn't expect anything of the sort. "Grew up in Vegas; my dad was a stage magician. That's why I can do— " A flick of her fingers, and she holds up a copper-bright penny in her right hand. "— all those little tricks." It vanishes again.

"Sorry," that's apparently the word of the night. Hagan pushes his pint away, but habit will have it up to his lips soon enough. When she does her magic trick, he blinks. "So you're an investment banker, are you? Making money disappear and then reappear? All I can do is make this disappear." And he lifts the pint. "I'm uh, I'm a graphic designer. I…design advertisements." Ad-vert-isments. He leans one elbow on the table and ruffles through his hair.

Laura laughs at his quip, and shakes her head. She's then forced to straighten the party hat, whose single bit of cheap elastic doesn't do much to keep it in place against that action. "Nah, not exactly. I'm in security. Alarm systems, locks, what have you." The woman waves a dismissive hand. "That sort of thing. Advertisements?" She echoes it with the other pronunciation: ad-ver-tise-ments. "Like, television and whatnot?"

"Print. Billboards and such. Alarm systems, uh? I once did a campaign for one of those. One for shops for a trade magazine. I'll be damned if I can remember the brand though." Then, suddenly, the band strikes up. There's no rambling lead-in. One minute the radio is on, the next the five-piece Celtic rock band is blaring out 'If I Should Fall From Grace with God.' Hagan turns to look at them, then glances back to Laura. "They're not bad for Yanks."

Laura makes a throwing-away gesture. "Don' matter. There's lots of brands. Ninety percent of them are so much junk anyway." Not necessarily true, but the woman's as elitist in her way as Hagan proves to be with his grudging compliment towards the band. Laura listens for a few lines, fingers tapping on the tabletop in time with the music. "I don't know, they sound pretty good to me!" But what does she know?

"It's a little messy, but I suppose that's the style of it over here," says Hagan as he finds himself near the bottom of his pint again. To his credit though, he doesn't fill it up right away. His lips move along almost imperceptibly to the lyrics as the band plays.

Laura chuckles, and shrugs. "So where is it you're from?" she asks. "Besides 'over there', that is." She wraps both hands around the base of her glass, turning it slowly in place, not in any particular hurry to take another drink herself.

"Dublin. Well, mostly. I was in the West for awhile, but mostly Dublin. But then everyone ends up there. It's like a river delta and everyone gets dumped out on the shores of the Liffey." Hagan applauds politely when the band finishes the song. They introduce themselves, but the mic is so garbled and the crowd so loud that it's hard to make out their name. Sounds like 'The Dirty Feckers.' Charming. "So you grew up in, em, Las Vegas, was it? Is that in the west? My American geography's shite."

Laura also applauds, turning towards the stage but leaning over slightly to bespeak Hagan. "Probably 'bout as good as my Irish geography," she allows with a broad grin. "Dublin's the capital, right?" She waits for the crowd clamor to die down a bit before continuing. "Yeah. Nevada. It's… oh, one state in from the west coast. Lots of desert. And mountains."

"Right, right. I've seen it in the movies. And that television program where they use magic to solve murders." Hagan sips from the pint, just as the band launches into the next song. This one's 'Christmas in Killarney.' It's loud though, and is going to make conversing difficult. "And yes, Dublin's the capital. Biggest city by far."

Laura winces a bit as the louder song is begun, although she doesn't quite reach up to cover her ears. "S'loud!" Not a complaint so much as a statement of the obvious, the woman's chuckle and good-natured shake of her head indicating the difference. "Don't think I've seen that one!" Laura informs Hagan, presumably regarding the television show.

"Why do they play music in a fucking pub you can't talk over?" Hagan's practically yelling. And of course, the volume level in the room itself goes up as everyone else yells to be heard as well. "Fuck, and half their chords are off." He makes a face. Snob of Irish music.

Laura laughs at Hagan's snobbery. "Can go somewhere else if you can't stand it!" she yells in return. For her part, she takes another drink of her ale, and seems to be just fine with the music. But then, Laura isn't Irish.

"Where would we go? They're all going to be like this," Hagan yells back. Then he tips what's left of the pitcher into both their glasses. "You want something different to drink?" All this yelling. They'll be deaf come midnight.

"You get another one of those," Laura replies, gesturing at the pitcher, "and I'm pretty sure I won't be drinking much of it!" Her glass, after all, was still half-full — at least a third full — when Hagan poured the rest into it. "But if you want!"

"Well, what will you drink, then?" Someone seems to have gotten the hint, because the volume suddenly notches down to a more tolerable level. It's still loud, but not painfully so. Hagan glances towards the bar. For the moment, there's not too many people fighting for drinks.

Laura relaxes a bit, not even having really noticed that the overly-loud music had made her tense up. The sort of thing that you realize was there only once it's gone. "I am drinking!" she says, pointing at the pint glass of ale and casting a grin Hagan's way. "Just not as fast as you!"

"Well, would you enjoy drinking something else? They make all kinds, you know," Hagan actually cracks the faintest hint of a smile. Gasp. Is he relaxing? Might just be the booze working its way through his system.

Hagan's smile elicits a broader grin from Laura, although she shakes her head at his remarks. "I know they do, but you're the connousieur. Get something you like." The woman flicks her hands in a shooing motion, before picking her glass back up and looking over at the band. What she can see of them through the crowd, anyway.

Hagan is a bit hesitant to leave Laura alone again in case Tony circles in for the kill. But he has to remind himself that she's a big girl. "Okay." He slinks out of his seat and gets in line. When he returns, it's with another pitcher of something slightly lighter. "This is a honey ale. Might go down easier."

No Tony is in evidence when Hagan returns — just Laura, sitting where she was, watching the band play. She straightens as he comes back, and chuckles. "Well, thank you," she replies, acknowledging the gesture. Even if she's in no hurry to finish what she's got — she's just a slower drinker. "So — where were we, anyway?"

"Em, I don't know. Careers, I think?" Hagan shrugs. The band starts playing Whiskey In the Jar. In spite of himself, he finds himself singing along and slapping on the table. But as soon as he does, he looks embarrassed. Ahem. "Sorry." Again with the apologies!

Laura sips at her ale… and snickers at Hagan's apology. "You can sing," she allows magnanimously. Then the woman leans in a little. "But only if you teach me the words!"

The next while goes by fairly quickly, since conversation is difficult when the band is playing. But Hagan gets into it, and does his best to tutor Laura on the finer points of how to participate in Irish songs. Like, when to stomp, when to shout, all of the vital skills for surviving an Irish pub. During this time, Hagan gets up once more to fill the pitcher. By the time 12 o'clock creeps up, he's in his cups, but not obnoxiously so. And he can be forgiven, right? It's New Year's. So as the last minute ticks down, everyone in the pub is on their feet. He glances to Laura. "I hope you know the words to Auld Lang Syne, at least?"

Most of those pitchers were, like the first, drunk by Hagan. So Laura's actually doing reasonably well once midnight rolls around. She responds to his query by socking Hagan's shoulder; it's as harmless as such a gesture can be, which is very. "I should think so!"

"Ow," says Hagan in the dullest possible tone. He rubs his shoulder. "I should hope so," And for the second time in the evening, he smiles. Which is odd to those who know him. He never smiles. It seems almost alien on his usually sullen face. And then, the countdown. "Ten…nine…eight…seven…six…" Everyone's chanting in unison as the crowd bustles outside somewhere, waiting for the ball to drop. Despite all the hard times, New York is unified in these few seconds.

Laura, on the other hand, is rarely not smiling. This is not an exception to the rule. "…five…four…three…two…one…" Never mind the leap-second. The shouts of 'Happy New Year' throughout the pub trip over the first words of Auld Lang Syne as the band strikes up the familiar tune — which Laura does indeed know the words to. So begins 2009.

Hagan very hesitantly reaches out to put an arm around Laura as the song comes on. Friendly! Nothing more. The way that so many others are at that moment as they sway and sing, make a racket and lift their pints. "Happy New Year," he says as he looks to her, "Now let's get the fuck out of here before we're jammed in and can't."

"Probably a good idea!" Laura agrees, under the shouts of the crowd. She hooks her jacket off the back of the chair she had been sitting in, then starts for the door. With most of the pub denizens mesmerized by the music, it's not that hard to weave through them — especially when the weaver is as slight as she. And then it's out into the cold night lit by vibrant artificial colors.

And on said street, there's just as much commotion. People hoot and holler. Strangers wish a Happy New Year. It's all very festive. "Where do you need to get to, then?" asks Hagan. He holds off lighting a cigarette. "I don't live too far. I'm just going to walk meself."

Laura waves down towards the south. "I'm down a ways," she admits. The prospect doesn't seem to bother her — does anything? — given that the statement's as cheerful as ever. "I'll hop the next bus down. They're still running; I checked." Before she came, obviously. And it's New Year's; the buses just about have to run into the wee hours of the morning. "Oh-ey—" Laura fishes in a coat pocket; not for very long. Then she holds a business card out to Hagan. "Here. Can't count on happening across one another in Central Park again, now can we?" And there's another impish grin.

Hagan looks down at the card, then digs one of his own out. He has to double check that it's his before he hands it out to Laura with kind of a goofy look on his face. It's not quite a smile, not quite a frown. It's just…a Hagan look. It seems a positive one for the most part. "Are y'sure? I can walk ye back if'n ye like." Seems when he's in his cups, the brogue gets stronger. "Er at leas' to the stop?"

"Thanks." Laura accepts the card with… another smile, and files it away in a different pocket. "I'm definitely not walking all the way!" she declares. Not that it's too far in absolute terms, but… well, for one, she's ultimately crossing Midtown. Yeah… no. "But I wouldn't turn down the company while I'm waiting."

There's an awkward nod from Hagan. The wait is somewhat awkward and rather silent, mostly because of the pints pickling his brain. When it comes down to putting her on the bus, he chickens out on the thing that would make it an actual date, that is, the kiss good night. Instead she gets a shoulder squeeze, a wish of Happy New Year in Irish and a wave. Almost as soon as her bus has pulled away, he's lit a cigarette and is weaving towards home, to sleep off the drink and wake in a new year.

December 31st: New Year's Garden
December 31st: You Shook Me All Night Long
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