Know the Band


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Scene Title Know the Band
Synopsis Jac's evening becomes an impromptu bar crawl… insofar as there's a bar in the venue and she's basically crawling.
Date January 22, 2021


Elbow leaned against the side of the bar while scrolling on his phone, Harry is in a state of repose, dressed down for the evening. Jacketless from his usual outfit, that is. The dress shirt he wears is white, the inner collar and a stripe on the cuffs flashing paisley— adding a dash of color otherwise missing given his lack of tie. He shifts his feet, the wide cut of his slacks not giving away the repositioning of his knee. It's a quieter night than usual, and he'll blame that on the season.

The post-holiday slump leaves him presently bored, skimming on his phone until one of the hosts from the front approaches the side of the bar. "Mr. Stoltz?" Harry glances up out of the corner of his eye at the younger man, querying wordlessly what he'd like. "There's a young woman up front at the moment, doesn't look nearly old enough to be here, saying… she knows you?" The host glances to the stage, to the band that's currently playing a lyricless tune. "And Ourania?"

A pause precedes anything that could be construed as an answer, Harry spending a moment pondering if there's anyone who even fits that description that he knows. A single answer comes to mind. But surely… Mouth thinning in a line, he swipes his phone off the bartop and lifts his head in a gesture back toward the entryway of the club, heading off to follow the host back.

And lo, somehow, it is the single person of youth who Ace has any shred of interest in. Someone who, as he knew it, should still have been in the hospital.

Harry's eyes flicker visibly in surprise, and still at a distance, he asides to the host, "I'll handle it," and gestures him off away from the stand at the front of house. One hand slid into the pocket of his slacks, he peers curiously at the young redhead as she comes properly into view. "Jac," he queries of her without particular kindness. He's a little too bewildered for that. "What are you doing here?"

“Did you know you're not home?” From anyone else, at any other time, it would probably come as an accusation. But somehow, with each third word drawn out and a slight downward lilt to the rest, Jac manages to sound absolutely perplexed by the fact. Clearly, she's just as curious about being here as everyone else. “I went there, but no one was home.”

The young woman tilts her head back to squint up at Harry, tottering half a step backward as she does. “I thought real hard about where you’d be,” she explains as she catches her left hand on the wall, steadying. “And oh. O. Ourania. And I remembered you're here!” It's a fact she's very pleased with figuring out all on her own, she even grins, like she's caught onto the secret, figured out the game.

“And here you are.”

Harry's brow lifts, keying in on the strange lilt of Jac's words. Then it climbs by the time she stumbles, the only movement that comes from him. He might as well be a statue for all that he doesn't move while he tries to process what the hell is going on with her.

Ourania really is much better with these sorts of situations than he is.

Because "You're drunk." is the clear observation he can make, but it's not politely nor kindly stated. He at least begins to show signs of life after making it. He knows she's likely drunk and not having another stroke owing to the lack of a facial droop to accompany it.

"Easy," Harry encourages her, reaching out with his free hand to offer it to her. An arm to lean on, regardless of whether or not she needs it. "How about we head to the back? Hm?" He even makes this sound enticing. Preferable. Backstage, and all. See things that most people don't. "We can wait for O to finish her set."

The grin on Jac’s face crashes, and a vague pout fills the void. Someone just spoiled the surprise. “No I'm not,” she argues mildly. She even maintains a very serious and straight face just to prove she's perfectly fine.

So long as one ignores the not so subtle drift in the few steps she takes to look further into the establishment. Backstage sounds great and all, but

“O-O-O’s singing?” That sounds far more fascinating than some stinky old backstage area. Jac takes Harry’s arm, but sways for the lounge area, instead of the one Harry tries to direct her toward. “Ourania,” she sing-songs, “said I could watch her.”

A guiding hand cinches her arm to his firmly but calmly. "She might be singing soon. Tonight isn't anything special…" Harry glances to the stage, to the curtain off the side of it heading to the back of house, then to a staircase on the opposite side of the stage.

His goal was to get her out of sight before she stood to be noticed. Perhaps a tour of VIP would suffice.

"We can head upstairs and watch. The view from up there is a better one." Already, he's steering them along the back wall in that direction. She can insist she's not drunk all she likes— her demeanor says differently. "Come along."

He glances up to the stage, wondering if they'll catch the chanteuse's eye in their transition or no.

The piece is an easy one, lighter. The more impassioned ones tend to lend themselves to Ourania closing her eyes and leaning into the keys a little bit more than she otherwise might. It allows her gaze to wander. Usually, it simply drifts along to the other musicians, watching them apply their talents the same as she, and having that ability to watch them from her vantage point at the piano in the way they don’t have amongst themselves, without making their glances obvious.

Tonight, however, she’s picked up the front of house movement. There’s a certain posture that denotes when an unexpected VIP is in residence. A different posture denotes trouble. This one… is neither of those things. It’s with a curious tilt of her head, disguised as turning an ear to the music, that she watches the brief flurry of activity, but loses track of Harry in the lights. There’s no shouting or commotion otherwise — which means he’s doing his job beautifully — so her attention’s returned to her piano again by the time she catches sight of movement toward the stage, but not to the stage.

There’s branches to be taken here.

One leads to her, naturally. The second leads to the bouncer and the heavy curtain that separates the house from the backstage corridors, dressing, rehearsal, and storage rooms. The third path leads up the stairwell and to the boxes with the best seats in the house. Ourania lays eyes on Harry and —

Her eyes lift to show that she agrees the best place to usher her apparently unaccompanied niece is the VIP level. A dip of her chin shows that she means to make her way in that direction herself. Obviously.

The beautiful thing about working with the same group all the time is that music is its own secret sort of language. By changing a chord progression, or playing a certain pattern of notes within an otherwise improvised piece — such as the one they’ve been meandering their way through for the last several minutes — Ourania is able to wordlessly signal that she needs to depart the stage.

The song comes to a conclusion that seems for all the world unhurried, the smattering of applause follows and as the pianist takes her bow, escorted down the steps from the stage by the bassist, no one is the wiser. A different man at the keys, a new woman at the microphone center stage, and everyone’s already forgotten about the pretty blonde by the time she’s ascended the stairs.

“No.” Jac sets a look on Harry that clearly doubts his claim. Obviously those can't be the best seats, because the best would be right up on stage where she could see everything. But her protests only go so far as that look, and the sly twist and squint that follows, because, “We’ll test this. I hype-poh-the’rise that…”

Stairs prove to be a small obstacle that needs more concentration and less talking. Twice the teen falters, missing a riser because she stepped in the same one she was already on. Half way up she turns completely, compelled and entranced by musical sounds that she absolutely has to watch for a minute. Or until the key shifts, a change in tempo, something that marks a difference in songs subconsciously.

It's really an uneventful journey otherwise.

Once they've reached an empty box, Jac slips free of Harry’s grasp in that magical way that only small children and inebriated beings know. Immediately, she sprawls along the railing, elbows hanging over the edge and her hands pressed against her cheeks to keep her head up. It's the best way to watch.

Once they've entered the VIP booth there's aught to do but let Jac meander about it to her will. Harry glances momentarily to the railing when she slumps over it, concerned about her ability to become top-heavy and go pouring over the side in greater amounts, but he leaves her there so she can watch.

When the upstairs bartender approaches, brow lifted to wonder how she can be of service, Harry only shakes his head, waving her off with a murmur. The tiny guest is here for Ourania and wouldn't like a drink— no, wait, actually, he reconsiders, maybe a…

The woman nods as she heads off, but not before glancing in at Jac to murmur cute kid. Harry looks after her hopefully as she goes, shaking his head to himself. The smatter of hands below indicates a transition, and even without seeing it happen, he continues to stand in the doorway as much to block Jac's exit as give him sight to the stairs.

By the time Ourania appears, he's completing an exchange of hands with the bartender, holding a red drink in a clear pintglass, one swimming with swirls of fruit. Harry looks his partner’s way, silently imploring for her assistance with whatever is going on. He's not equipped well for fielding this.

He steps aside from the door, drink offered to Ourania in the hopes she'll pass it to Jac.

Ourania presses a kiss to Harry’s cheek when the curtain parts and they’re united again. “Thank you,” she murmurs in a hush, “for looking after her.” Her hand comes to rest on his shoulder, briefly squeezing it before taking the drink he’s handing to her. “Would you mind terribly fetching a whiskey sour for me?” Blue eyes dart in Jacelyn’s direction. “I feel like I’m going to want it.”

She doesn’t bother asking what’s in the drink he’s having her offer to her niece. She trusts him.

Jacquette,” Ourania greets warmly, trying the new diminutive on for size. The French pronunciation keeps it from sounding like jacket, at least. “Ma bibiche. I’m so pleased you’ve come out to see me!” Cane in one hand drink in the other, she doesn’t hold the latter out to the girl. Rather, she intends to set it in front of one of the bartop seats at the piano. The one that will have her closest to her once she settles down on the bench. “Would you like to hear me play? Just for you?”

Hey,” is half of a complaint, voiced quietly by Jac while Harry and Ourania make their exchange. She's still watching the performances below, however she can't help but wonder, “Where did she go?” The teen’s hands drop and splay to support her weight as she leans over for a better look.

The new nickname gets zero notice. Sorry, but she's busy looking for her aunt who's now gone missing. “Oh no,” she sighs, since it's the most unfortunate thing to happen.

The second phrase, a term of endearment that she recognizes, is what turns her toward Ourania. Head, shoulders, then whole body swivel in a sort of noodly double take between her aunt and the stage. A grin slowly claims the girl’s face, and she points a finger, hand held close to her own face, at the woman.

“You found us!” Jac slinks off the rail, back from the edge so she can scoot toward O and the piano. “Look, look!” After getting onto her knees to walk, since that's faster than scooting, she waves a hand to get Harry’s attention. “Hair-ee. She's here!”

"So she is, Jacquette," Harry notes evenly, looking to Ourania as she moves to the piano. His accent is a softer, if unrefined thing as he echoes the songstress's affectation. He wastes not a second longer in lingering in the doorway, unfastening the tie keeping the curtain partition held so it provides the two of them privacy.

As much as it does him as his feet lead him quietly, silently for the second-floor bar.

As Harry takes his leave, Ourania shoots him an apologetic look. This is not his mess.

Although, it’s one he apparently wants to marry into, even if he doesn’t yet appreciate that’s how these sorts of things work.

When he’s out of sight, Ourania takes a surreptitious sip of the drink he’s had made for Jac. She’ll trust, but verify. And while the citrus provides a nice distraction, and hints at the possibility of more than just fruit juice and soda, there’s none of the telltale burn that she’s gotten used to over the years. Now that she’s deemed it safe (unless she’s about to slump over from sort of sleeping agent, which would solve part of their problem, so long as Jac also partakes), she leaves it in front of that seat and takes hers at the piano.

You have had a busy night,” Ourania chides the teenager. “Getting a headstart on me? Tch! You’re going to put me to shame, ma nièce précieux.” Her fingers find the keys and immediately begin to play a piece by Debussy quietly. “What brings you to see me?”

For a full second, the teen stares into the space between herself and O like she'd just been given a pop quiz. What brings her here? What brings anyone anywhere?

“A ferry brought me to see you,” Jac exclaims proudly as she drapes over the seat of the chair. Her knees are still on the floor, hands too, but her torso rests on the cushioned surface meant better for sitting. “And then I took a cab so I could ride on the ferry.” Another second passes and she decides she doesn't like being draped as she is. So she picks herself up to sit rightly on the chair.

Now sitting upright, Jac leans in close to her aunt, rests an elbow on the piano top so she can brace her cheek against her hand. “Did you know you weren't home when I looked there first?” Sitting back again, the girl mimes an explosion from her head, complete with quiet sound effects.

Ohhh boy.

“Well, I didn’t realize you’d been to my house to see me, so I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that I was, in fact, not there, because I feel as though I would have known otherwise that you were there. I’ll speculate further that I was here instead.” She’s not being patronizing, honest. The idea is to keep the teenager engaged.

Ourania isn’t sure when it’s time to broach the topic of why Jac needed to see her, and why she’s drunk. She knows that she needs to do so without judgement, but she’s wary of scaring her off. “What did you get up to tonight?” That’s at least a place to start.

Big blue eyes, vaguely glazed over, follow Ourania’s explanation. They try to follow. Actually, Jac gets lost when O goes out on that limb, going so far herself as to look for that limb. There’s not a tree nearby, and that's a bench at the piano. The teen’s eyes narrow thoughtfully.

And, for an eternity and a day, she sits that way just staring. Because invisible limbs are strange things to go out on.

“What?” she asks a full measure after being asked of her own adventures. Jac’s eyes go squinty as she works to parse the question. “No, I got up in the morning. Not tonight.” Sheesh. “Tonight I spent with my bestest good friend, but she had to go home.” A fact that earns a small pout, complete with Jac folding her arm and laying her head on it.

Harry's returned, a drink in hand for himself and Ourania both. The curtain is brushed aside and falls back shut again when he enters through. A flick of a glance between them both is all that's needed before he asks aloud, "So, Jac, what else brings you here? What made tonight the night to come drop by?"

It's alcohol. The answer is almost certainly alcohol, but he has the grace to keep this to himself.

His eyes return to Ourania meaningfully to gauge her take on things in a glance while he passes her her requested glass.

Fingers lift from the keys of the piano to take the glass with a grateful and exaggeratedly mouthed thank you that she’s sure Jac either won’t catch or not understand the extent of the significance of. “Well,” she addresses her niece while further silently pleading for Harry to stay nearby. Not just in their box, but near to her physically. “I’m glad you decided to come see me after your friend had to go home. But Jac…”

Ourania’s brow creases with her sympathy. “I don’t get the impression that you were out celebrating.” She takes a drink from her glass, leaving it settled against the low point of her sternum. Her other hand reaches across to rest on the opposite shoulder, fingers drumming twice to get Harry’s attention.

“Beecause,” the teen begins, addressing Harry’s question first — technically second, because she double takes at his return. Somewhere between the first quick look at him and the second longer and more exaggerated stare she directs at the man, the reason gets lost in wondering. Where did he come from just now?

Her eyes squint slightly, her mind wonders over the magic that brought Harry back so fast. And then, since she'd lost what she wanted to say, she redirects to Ourania’s question instead. “No,” Jac answers in a slow, lamenting way. All of the excitement and good mood she'd arrived with melts faster than a snowman in the desert. “It's because she couldn't help and needed my brains. So we said fuck it and we had a drink.”

Well, Harry is interested, so he's not planning on going anywhere. Yet, at least.

"That sounds like a perfectly reasonable course of events," he comments with the greatest of sympathies. "Though," he wonders, "I question how much your brains were of use after…"

His brow lifts. "A drink." It's clear to Ourania he thinks Jac has had more than that, but his friendly, supportive demeanor is unimpeachable to the younger.

"Did you find out all you needed to?"

When Harry’s hand doesn’t come to settle on her shoulder, Ourania lets hers drift so she can cradle her drink in both hands, sipping occasionally while Jac tries to find her train of thought through the haze of alcohol. She waits patiently for Jac to find her way, not wishing to further derail things after Harry’s posed his question. She’d like to know this, too.

“There was fifty-one cents on the ground.” Jac squints at Harry as she speaks, and holds up a finger in his direction in emphasis of what she found. “That's not enough for anything except anything less than fifty-once cents. And now.”

The teen drags herself to her feet and turns. “Now. I should go.” Somewhere there were stairs that brought her up here, and Jac sways with discoordination. “Because the boat is rocking. So don't come knocking.”

Harry shifts a hard look sideways at Ourania when Jac rocks to her feet, almost like he's seeking permission. Surely, she knows precisely what he means to offer here. He sets aside his glass in presumable preparations for it.

Ourania’s eyes get large once she thinks she’s puzzled out what Jac’s getting at finally. “Oh, shit.” A hasty nod is thrown Harry’s way. Whatever he means to do, he ought to do it fast. Her own drink is set aside so she can lift herself from the piano bench and come around the side of it, ready and near enough to Jac to provide some steadiness or reassurance as necessary.

"I'll give you a ride home," Harry offers up easily. "It'll be cheaper than waiting for a taxi, and I was heading back to the mainland anyway." He flashes a smile to Jac, waving a hand for her to follow after.

Selflessly. Definitely not at all concerned about the vomit that might end up over his passenger seat. Definitely not a thought in his mind.

He makes the offer anyway. Like hell this person important to his Ourania is making their way back home alone in a state like this.

While Ourania and Harry are deciding, Jac is taking a set of steps that make a newborn fawn look surefooted. “I need to go,” she explains, with that finger she'd pointed at Harry now directing where she aims to be. It's that way, which is in the vaguely general direction of down, but there are curtains blocking the how of getting there. She leans with a drunken heaviness on Ourania, head lolling with a look seeking help.

The teen’s eyes follow Harry when he passes into her field of view. That sad finger tracks after. “Home.” It's so far away. “Home.” She teeters forward. “On the range.” And then slides down from her lessened lean against Ourania, melting onto the floor.

“I need to lay down.”

Maybe they don't even need to make it all the way to the car before Jac goes down for the count after all. When she starts to sag, Harry lurches to provide a hand of support. "Easy," he murmurs, blinking down at her while his core tightens, a tense emotion finding home there. He starts to frown, looking over the top of the young girl's head to Ourania.

"Let's get you to the couch," he suggests instead, softly. It's by carrying her more than supporting her that he helps guide her in that direction.

"Call her parent," Ace asks of Odessa when Jac's laid down, a tic in his brow. "Surely she's worried."

“I’ll call her—” Odessa exhales a breathy sigh of relief to know that she and Ace are on the same page. She keeps a hand under Jac’s head as he helps carry her toward the couch. Once she’s laid down, she brushes the curls away from her forehead gently. “Stay with her, please. I’m going to go get my phone and fetch a bucket.” She may be the best equipped to handle a medical emergency, but he’s better able to move the girl in the event that something happens. Snatching up her cane from its lean by the piano, she makes her way to the stairs as swiftly as she can.

Once in the quiet confines of her dressing room, Odessa sits at her vanity with her elbows propped up on its surface, one hand molded around her forehead, fingers disappearing into her blonde hair. The other holds her phone to her ear. She waits for it to pick up. Reception being what it is, the call goes to voicemail.

“Hey, Gillian. It’s O.” The songstress sighs heavily. “Jacelyn took a little detour and she’s going to stay with Harry and I tonight.” She pauses a moment to get her thoughts in order. “She’s fine, but I think she’s going to be… sleeping in tomorrow. I’ll call you as soon as she’s up. We can talk about this when I bring her home.”

Odessa frowns and corrects herself. “We should talk about this.” Even if it means she maybe won’t be the fun aunt anymore. Or at least not as fun. Her lips purse and she glances up at her reflection without lifting more than her gaze. “If you need anything before then, please call me. I’ll have my phone on me all night, ringer on.” One finger taps against the phone anxiously. “I guess that’s it. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Setting the phone back down, Odessa holds her head in both hands.

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