Not Part Of The Plan


kara_icon.gif luther_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Part Of The Plan
Synopsis One detour leads to another, leads to…
Date December 2, 2019


Leaning down into the elbow of her jacket, Kara Prince scratches her fingers through the side and back of the tight bun she’s pulled her hair into. She tries not to look at much around her the same way she tries not to acknowledge where she is in general. Her hand falls back loosely around the bottle of beer that’s been uncapped and left with her, which sits beside an already-finished bottle the bartender apparently could not be bothered to take away.

She hasn’t removed her winter coat after entering the hole in the wall, perhaps in the intent that she’ll be leaving any minute now. That’s what she had thought to herself, after all. Just one beer.

She’s about halfway through the second.

The sound of a pinball machine going wild behind her is enough that she closes her eyes, trying to drown out the sounds of the various games with only an internal willing for them to be silent. In her various visits to the Safe Zone, she’d never come to this bar in particular— though she heard it was cheap. She had usually kept her loop in and out of the city tight, drank directly at the Red Hook Tavern before, during, or after sales at the Red Hook Market.

Today, though, her path was directionless, and it was here her truck had stopped at. If she lies to herself, maybe she’s still just on the way to filling up her tank and heading back out of town.

A nice thought, Kara muses, taking another long drink from the bottle.

A lumbering figure enters Kara's periphery, for all his size made larger by the coat he has on, he'd nonetheless been practically silent in a stealth approach to the bar. Or she could continue to blame the pinball machine.

The man who seats himself two stools down hunches, bear-like, head sinking into between shoulders and layered jacket sleeves folding overtop the wood. The rest of him mirrors the qualities of said large mammalian: mid-brown hair and full beard carpeting wide cheeks are in need of grooming. But Luther Bellamy is at present, unconcerned with appearances. He is as with Kara, here at an old arcade not for the games, but for the cheap(er) drinks.

"What're you havin'?" An age old question.

"Whiskey." The deep toned rumble somehow conveys under the cacophony of the smacking flippers and ringing bells. A set of a glass and a shot pour later, just like that it's gone. The television screen flickers with local news, drawing his eye line up to it. He's not looking at her directly. But, instincts are hard to fight off. He's aware of her, at least in part.

The voice of her new barmate isn't familiar to her, but he sounds like her: with a decade or more in seniority over the casual drinkers playing games and chatting behind them. Kara fixes him in the corner of her eye as he settles in, calm as she finishes her sip and studies his profile.

And his choice of drink.

She lets out an amused, gruff note as he does away with his drink immediately, able to relate to that feeling all too well. The only reason she hadn't was because it was just her here, and while she might be playing reckless with her plans to quit Providence and head West, she wasn't going to get unspeakably drunk without anyone to mind after her. It didn't look like he had any such qualms.

"With a start like that, hope you have someone to drive you home," Kara asides over the lip of her beer, her gaze lifting to the news after. Despite many still being in need here in the Safe Zone, the feed coming in for Rochester advertises a canned food and winter clothing drive. Her expression remains stoic, even flattening at it. She wonders idly where the donated goods will end up going, a thought silenced with another sip.

The storm-grey stare twists from screen to Kara, brief regard turned to the woman and her concern. An angled brow lifts. "Took the bus," Luther supplies, a verbal excuse slip for his continued presence and proof enough that he's a local who chooses to spend his earnings (or savings) on a vice. Speaking of. A short twitch of his fingers signals the bartender back over for a refill. His gaze drifts back up to the television as he lifts his glass again, this time only sipping to make the drink last longer.

That would be the natural end of conversation although there's no end of the company, however silent and contemplative things are at the bar. A silence punctuated every so often by the ring-a-dings and beep-boops of a pinball arcade behind them.

Joining that hubbub is a sudden insertion of a youthful looking face of a young man with a flop of dark brown hair that he pushes out of the way. "Heyyo barkeep, lemme get another pitcher of your finest over at the pinball," the newcomer states, gesturing a hand that is practically a drunken flail that comes close to smacking Kara's shoulder within proximity.

"Forget it, kid," says the bartender without even looking up from glass polishing. Perhaps with the presence of Luther and Kara at the bar now, the bartender has sprouted a consciousness of actual adults nearby.

It doesn't sit well with the buzzed wanna-be-a-frat boy. "What?" The offense is tiny, but growing.

Luther takes another sip of his drink.

The hand that comes too close to Kara's shoulder stops the bottle mid-lower, her gaze hard as she watches the oblivious kid flailing around. His offense is a minor one, easily ignored if it hadn't happened inside her bubble. With that wave, the business between bartender and young adult becomes her business as well.

"He said you've had enough," Kara asides back to him, affect gruff and uncompromising. She returns her attention to the television, envisioning that might be the end of it.

Her fingertips drift up the bottle's body, ready to grasp the neck. The look in her eyes is attentive, but not for the television. She's listening. Waiting. It's a tension that might be seen by the man next to her, but certainly not by the drunk behind her.

Luther is bearing witness in the most hands-off way he can manage. Another sip of his drink goes down. Another roll of his shoulders, another short suck in of breath. Kara's not the only one tensing.

The bartender was about to respond but since Kara beat him to it, all that happens is a tilt of his head in acknowledgment to the woman's repetition.

"The fuck?" utters the buzzed boy, turning a disdaining stare upon her. Perhaps worse than any verbal insult he could level at her is the dismissal of her shortly after to turn back to the bartender. "Hey!" His fist pounds on the bar top for attention.

Again, the bartender barely looks up. He's pointedly ignoring the kid now, expecting the young man to give up as well. But the pinball-playing patron does not, and instead brazenly bends over the thin counter and grabs up a pint glass, fully intending to pour himself one if the bartender won't.

The drunk is smart enough or fortunate enough not to touch Kara, at least, ensuring bottle does not meet skull. But then he slams the counter. Not yet, at least. the thought is silently amended. Her posture opens, palms meeting the surface of the bar.

She slants a glance sidelong at Luther, trying to determine if his threshold for intervening would be met before hers or not. When the kid goes for a pint glass, she decides hers is met first. She comes to her feet, stool screeching on the worn wood floorboards.

All Kara wanted was a quiet, cheap beer while she decided if she'd drive to Red Hook. (A decision she didn't realize was being contemplated until she suddenly realized it was.)

"How about you go sit down, go back to playing your games, and I bring you that pitcher," she suggests, low and stern. Back off from the tap, kiddo.

Luther’s threshold for this type of bullshit apparently stops at attempted theft. Because that’s what Buzzed Boy’s doing when he leans over the counter. The whiskey in glass is set off to a side (Luther’s a leftie, wouldn’t Kara notice.)

Kara’s “suggestion” makes the boy pause with the tap handle in hand to look over his shoulder at her with a rebellious scowl. It’s that open window that allows Luther to half-stand up like a rearing grizzly, reach over to grab the drunkard by the back of his shirt and the crook of the arm outstretched for the tap. Instead of pulling him away though, Luther does the police officer press that holds the boy down on the counter.

Much to the boy’s sudden distress. “Hey what the fuck!!?” There’s some bucking, but Luther holds him fast. It’s there that he looks back over at Kara as if to ask her pleasure of what he ought to do next. Proprieties.

Kara lets out a long, slow breath that eases some of the tension in her shoulders when Luther pins the boy. No dramatics of sending him off and only delivering a pitcher of water required. No, they could skip straight to throwing him out.

Her gaze alights on Luther's with a softening at the corner of her eyes. Silent appreciation emerges in that look. How nice it is to be dealing with someone capable. Her chin lifts in acknowledgement of him.

She slides her beer closer to take another sip while she considers his silent question. "I think he's had enough, too." Kara asides over the lip of the bottle.

The only dramatics ensuing are the pained cries of the drunkard under Luther's firm ministrations. That, and the glass the boy had grabbed up to fill falls with a dull thunk against the rubber mat below. "Let go of the tap," Luther instructs the young man. Only after the boy's done so does Luther relieve some of the pressure, pulling back so the younger man can push back off the bar top and straighten himself.

"Motherfucker, fuck you," spits the boy at Luther, adding an angry stare and the swear at Kara. But it's two to one, and one of them is a man much larger than he is. Impotent rage it is. A fading one as he makes his retreat back towards the pinball table, clutching an aching forearm.

Once the drunk is gone off, Luther eases back down onto his seat, taking up his tumbler and drinking down nearly the rest of the second shot. "Sorry for the fuss," he says over to her, but without looking at her.

All’s well that ends well, isn’t it? Kara lets out a soft, nose-breathed hmph at it as she sets the bottle back down, not even looking the boy’s direction as he swears and then storms off. No, her thoughts are predominantly elsewhere at this point, trying to decide what to do next.

Because she realized somewhere in the middle of that altercation there was something familiar about the bearded face, although it took her a minute to line up the pieces. And Kara Prince is not sure she necessarily wants to be spending a drink with one Luther Bellamy. On the one hand, it’s not likely he’d have received a dossier on her at any point during his tenure with Raytech — one she presumes over, given his general dishevelment. For a moment she’s tempted to wonder when that ended, but puts it aside quickly; It’s likely been a long year for Luther Bellamy regardless.

“That’s less fuss than I’d have made it,” Kara says, remaining standing for the moment. “I’m not the best at diplomacy.”

She considers her drink a moment longer, then considers where she might actually go if she did pay her tab and leave. Rather than have to face that, she settles back down on her seat. “You have to defuse situations often?” Kara decides to ask. If she’s staying, she might as well make conversation.

The bartender slides over long enough to put in a third pour to Luther's glass. This one's on the house, judging by the looks exchanged. But, being ever polite, Luther looks over to Kara again to answer her question. "I try. Doesn't always go that way." Plain truth offered. Then the ask. "You want somethin' harder?"

The drink, he means. At least, that's what's most likely judging by the short glance to her beer.

Kara thinks about it, looking from his drink to her two bottles. A long drink is taken to polish off the last of the second before she supposes, “Why not. Pick something.” It seems like they’ll vivitsch a little together, if that’s the case. It also seems like there’s less of a chance she’s actually leaving town tonight. That’ll put a damper on her finances situation, but … neither can she seem to pick up and go.

“Maybe I’ll get lucky and it’ll enhance my decision-making abilities.” she jokes drily. Because surely that’s a joke, even if it’s one she sounds close to miserable about.

Luther snorts, catching her tone and only offers a shrug with a wry downward twisting frown in return. Womp. He gives a nod to the bartender, promising payment for the drink (whiskey, like he's having) for the lady. Once drinks are poured, the bartender steps away to clean other parts of the bartop, and Luther lifts his glass to toast. "To decisions. May good ones come easy," he says.

Given none of the options before her currently resound as good, Kara simply lifts her drink in a toast that they might soon. "Or that they be made at all." she supposes. She frowns before tossing the shot back, the frown becoming a scowl at the very different, strong taste of the whiskey compared to the lightness of the beer.

A funny thought strikes her only then. She hms at it, still holding the glass. "When that fails, there's always relying on good counsel." This is something quietly, but deeply amusing to her. Kara looks askance to Luther. "I'd better find some. Know any nearby?"

The faint grunt of agreement on her supposition finds a whiskey chaser. Luther gets about halfway through his third, and watches her drink. Angled brows lift at her inquiry, his next blink switches the dial away from protracted amusement to thoughtful curiosity. "Sure, but it'll probably depend on your flavor of poison," he remarks, still thoughtful, obviously running through some kind of list in his head.

It's a list that's slower to mentally roll through on account of the drink. But, it's also due to the sudden appearance of an empty glass pitcher that swings and dully smacks upside of Luther's head, the blow sending him to the ground.

"Take that, you fat old fucker!" crows the slightly less drunk boy as he holds the empty pitcher aloft. This time he's returned with a friend, who lets out a rowdy whoop, "Damn you got him. Look at him!" Both are still young, couldn't be over the peergroup of a certain young man also living around the Providence grounds, Chris. Maybe just as foulmouthed.

Unlike Chris, these kids aren't sheltered in the harbor of Kara's affections, and certainly not her patience. When she hears the thick thud of head hitting glass, she turns back in an instant. Away goes the warming easiness that had seeped into her demeanor, swept aside for something far colder. She slides off the back of the stool in an instant, for a moment considering using it as a weapon. It would be just, in her estimation.

Instead, she wordlessly intervenes in the boys’ celebrations throwing a suckerpunch for the cheek and jaw of the one holding the pitcher. The second boy is just as at fault, and she follows through with the motion from the punch to place a hand firmly on his shoulder, right as she steps forward and hooks the top of her foot around his ankle. She pushes him down as she pulls his foot out from under him, shoving him down to the floor hard.

This, Kara thinks to herself, is an attempt at diplomacy. If he’s smart, he won’t get back up. But the drunk are never wise.

An eye for an eye, in the more literal sense. Kara clocks the drunken boy holding the pitcher aloft, sending him to down with a groan and releasing the pitcher. The empty glass pitcher clunks on the ground and stubbornly doesn't break despite all the abuse it's endured thus far in its service.

A heavy cough of air leaves the second boy's lungs as he's leg swept and lands on his back. Her smooth takedown, a thing of beauty but appreciated by none. Alas. The drunk boy's backup isn't himself that under the influence. And to be put down by a girl adds insult to injury, enough that he fights back. Evidence that he's got some wrestling experience appears as he wraps his legs back around Kara's left lower thigh to lock up her immediate movement and put pressure on twisting her knee.

"Fucking bitch!" The drunk boy spits at her from the ground, starting to rise back up from it as he clutches his aching jaw. He's about to jump on her too, fist pulling back for a strike, when he's suddenly spun around to face an angry Luther.

The boy's again punched in the same area of the jaw, and down he goes.

Using the bartop as his general protection barrier, the bartender calls out a warning, "Take it outside!" Because there's others in the arcade that have noticed the scuffle now, even though they're not keen to get involved.

With a wretched note of pain, Kara’s second steps are less graceful than her first. But she concedes to the twist to one leg by lifting her other and stepping down hard into the boy’s stomach. After that’s done, she spares a look back at the bartender, brows arched. “You know, a little appreciation for handling this smoothly could go a long way,” she drawls out, a displeased look on her face.

She levels it down at the boy. “You going to let this go, kid?” Maybe the other would stay down this time after the second punch to the face.

Not just her weight, but the downward pressure of her stomp on the wrestling boy’s stomach forces out not just air, but a loud yelping squall that thoroughly discourages any further pressed attack. The leg lock loosens, left in favor of curling into a fetal position and coughing heavily as he tries to shut out the stabbing throb of some kind of bruising to his diaphragm. As a result, he’s got no attitude-dripping response to give.

The bartender huffs as he comes under that stern look from Kara. “Just don’t break anything,” he grumbles back, and stops reaching for the phone receiver behind the bar. But otherwise, it seems the bartender isn’t interested in being any help either to resolving the altercation.

That leaves Luther who towers over the punched-out drunk, curling and uncurling his fists, his shoulders and overall demeanor radiating with barely visible waves of heat rising off them. A cut from the glass pitcher has not really slowed in bleeding, but it looks worse than it actually is. But Luther’s not concerned about it, currently. “You okay?” His query to Kara comes quietly, tensed, still a touch disoriented and fighting for focus.

Luther might not be concerned, but Kara is. To be clear, it’s not about the blood; the blood always makes things look worse. It’s about the head trauma — and the heat.

And about what happened the last time with his ability when he took a major shock to the head.

“You’re the one who got hit.” she observes gruffly, turning the question around on him. She doesn’t dare move a step closer, though she releases her weight from the kid on the ground. A brief thought is given to one last flourish against his side for good measure— but she settles with a rough tap with the side of her foot instead. He needs to get up, get his friend, after all. When she steps back away from him, it’s not to get closer to Luther. Frankly, Kara isn’t sure if it’s safe yet.

A heavy sigh blows out of Luther for her turn around. Hand reaching up to swipe fingers over the blood threatening to run into his eye, he looks to the red on his fingertips and begrudgingly admits, "Yeah." But the heat dissipates as she steps back, as he lowers his hand and steps over the KO'd boy back to the bar.

So he can finish his drink. It disappears with a toss back. Then Luther motions to the bartender, points to the cloth towel the other man's holding and takes it once it's offered. It's almost too methodical, his fold and press of the towel to his head. He looks back at Kara and belatedly in reaction to her wariness of him, he offers, "Thanks for the assist." At least he sounds genuinely grateful. Enough so that he digs out an extremely beat up wallet and tosses a few extra bills down to cover the tab for the both of them.

As for their opposing team, the stomped on friend finally manages to recover and crawl over to his punched-out buddy. "Jesus fuckin' Christ, did you kill him?" the guy coughs out accusingly at Kara and Luther both, issuing light slaps against the KO'd boy's cheeks to try and wake him.

"He's just out cold," Kara assures disapprovingly, glancing down at the boy before turning to Luther as he settles up at the bar. She looks at the neat fold of the cloth, figuring he must be fine. He can look after himself. So, what was she still doing here?

The universe seemed content to keep putting her in situations where she needed to fight, even if it wasn't her fight. Hey, at least this one was something in her ballpark. That was a change.

Her eyes half-lid and she breathes out a long sigh. The twisted knee protests as she steps back to the bar, quietly grateful there's not excessive heat radiating from Luther anymore. "Sounds like," she ventures to him. "We need to find a new bar." We, for some reason. She looks to him with a gesture of her head to the door. "I'm parked out back. You can pick the next one."

None of this was in her plan either, but fuck it.

Four Hours Later

Phoenix Heights

Open pizza boxes and beer bottles scattered over the squat coffee table make the apartment look more like a college dorm room than a grown man’s living quarters. None of this was planned. But here they are. Luther reaches over to snarl up his beer bottle in a lazy yet purposeful grab and he takes a quick swig. He may look a little ridiculous with the swelling off the side of his skull, but all he’s concerned about is the level of fullness he’s feeling between drink and pizza slices, of which he’s put away many. So many.

“I’m not sayin’ it’s the best shit on right now,” he mutters around the mouth of his beer, “but isn’t this the best shit on?” He shakes his head, the ridiculous show of River Styx playing on unstopped. “That Richard and Zarek moment… Pretty sure that didn’t actually happen.” He squints screenward. “Pretty sure.”

Kara can't remember the last time she's had pizza, but she can't remember a lot of things right now, and that was precisely the point. And this shit on TV? At an earlier scene, she'd finally hit her limit and laughed until tears bled from her eyes. The sheer bullshit behind this overdone, ridiculous retelling got to a point even she, far removed from the events, could clearly tell.

"No," she says long and sarcastic, fixing herself another bite of pizza which somehow hasn't run out yet. The crust has to be balanced just so. "I'm sure it did." She chomps down on the pizza before it can escape her grasp. "That kind of dramatic tension? You can't make that shit up. Some part of it had to be true."

She's hooked on this garbage she'd initially balked at. Each convoluted twist to the next was genuinely entertaining. And the nearer they got to current episodes, she could swear the writing was getting better, and it wasn't just the alcohol talking.

Which is why she's pissed when suddenly the lights in the apartment go out. A confused note at the turn of events becomes a growl. "No." Almost by sheer will, the bunny-eared television clings to life, some last vestiges of power still coursing through it despite the full blown outage. "Don't you dare!" Kara yells at the TV, mouthful of food and all. But no, it winks out, too.

"Ugggggh," she groans, head tilted back at the ceiling. She is very deeply, personally inconvenienced by this power outage. "And it was getting good, too." Kara moans at it all, chasing her food down with a drink she miraculously manages to not knock over in the process of finding it.

Shaking his head, Luther still feels the need to argue, “If that’s the case, I’ll walk my ass back to RayTech and ask Richard myself. Then I’ll let you know.” Nevermind that biased opinion and that there’s no way to confirm the truth of an unrequited romantic relationship objectively. But the stabbing part… he could ask about it.

“Damn.” The utterance in the darkness is filled with annoyance, but also resolute acceptance. As much as he’d like to try and focus his power on the television, there’s a need to not blow the thing out completely. Still, Luther has a plan. He levers himself up, swaying slightly at the moment of standing, then steadies. “Relax, ‘Princess’,” he notes to Kara at her outburst with a low chuckle for the nickname. Oh how little does he know. “I got a generator.” Thus announced, he staggers away to the back room where it’s kept.

Wait for it… An engine hums to life, and soon, the lights flicker and strengthen, the television blips back, sound returning just in time to tell Kara she’s missed the cliffhanger.

But take heart. The next episode’s recap is coming.

Kara leans back, cross-legged with her arms hoisted in the air, beer and all while she whoops in delight at the screen coming back to life. The day is saved, just in time to hear yet another gravely dramatic

«Tune in next time on River Styx…»

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