On The Nature Of Clubs


everleigh2_icon.gif gatter_icon.gif

Also Featuring:


Scene Title On the Nature of Clubs
Synopsis Dr. Gatter's mandatory out-of-office social time is rendered much more palatable by the appearance of the delightful Dr. Madison.
Date May 18, 2021


It has been Doctor Albert Gatter's experience that places that serve alcohol fall on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum are places where one goes to imbibe with wild abandon; at the other end are more staid places, where one goes for social purposes with alcohol, coincidentally, happening to be on hand.

In function the two ends of the spectrum aren't that different — visit location, partake in drink and entertainment as part of social ritual. The form, however, is wildly different.

Gatter has been in places on both ends of the spectrum; he's moshed in the pits, and he's waltzed at bal masques, and he's enjoyed both. But no one would ever mistake Rossignol for Wonderland, or vice versa.

It's Rossignol that Gatter finds himself at on this particular night, to unwind a bit from worrying about the end of the world; he sits at a quiet table, a mostly untouched drink in front of him, chin resting on his hands as he watches the current act onstage. He's wearing black pants and jacket over a deep red shirt, with a pale orange necktie completing the ensemble.

The warm golds and bronzes of Rossignol tend to lend to the sense of luxury rather than the excitements of Wonderland. A slow build rather than a quick hit, there's certainly a mood for it. While Everleigh doesn't frequent many places, having excuses to dress up are things the good doctor enjoys. The pale pink dress is almost pale enough to be more of a champagne, just a hint of color, the pale color catching the light and bringing the warmth out.

As Everleigh slowly makes her way through, the familiar Dr. Gatter comes across her vision. For a moment, she simply makes an observation. Alone, a barely touched drink, absorbed distractedly in entertainment? She tilts her head, a curious expression on her face before she brings her own drink with her as she heads over towards the quiet table.

Everleigh invites herself, setting her drink down as she settles herself across from Gatter, though she positions herself so as to not entirely block his view of the entertainment. Inviting herself, but not trying to be an inconvenience.

"Dr. Gatter, I hope you're just unwinding and not brooding about something," she says over the rim of her glass before she takes a sip.

Gatter looks up, surprised… then a slow smile spreads across his face. "Dr. Madison; an unexpected pleasure. You're looking lovely tonight," he notes, raising his glass in a toast to the good doctor as she takes her seat.

The question of brooding doesn't truly put a damper on his delight, but it does see him draw a sigh. "Six of one, half a dozen of the other, I suppose. I've been encouraged to get out of the lab now and again, but sometimes it's difficult not to take a bit of it with you."

Then his grin returns. "And what about you, Doctor? Unwinding, brooding, or none of the above?"

"Maybe all of the above," Everleigh replies with a smile. "Places with alcohol and entertainment are a great breeding ground for both unwinding and brooding." She takes a slow sip from her drink as she leans against the table. "But you're right—work never quite seems to leave you. I've always found that's not always a bad thing."

She taps her chin. "But you're at least out and about. What little bit of the lab have you brought with you this time?" She grins. "Metaphorically, of course."

The Sun is the answer he cannot give… but while that is indeed the biggest part of what he's carrying with him tonight, there are always other things. So he smiles. "Neural interfacing; how to translate and expand bandwidth. The human brain is deeply strange, in a lot of respects…"

So saying, Gatter's gaze drifts to his glass, staring into the drink. "Neurology was my first area of study, you know; in a lot of respects, I've never truly left it behind," he muses. "It lurks at the back of most of my work, but… it touches on so many things. Everything we know comes through the lens of our perceptions… but when we turn our focus on the engine that generates those perceptions…" he trails off.

"The human brain is certainly strange, I can agree with you there," Everleigh admits, resting one of her arms on the table. "The cause of perceptions is complicated. Brains can be fooled in incredibly complicated ways. The senses pick up things that are different simply because something triggers it. Some people think cilantro tastes like soap, simply because genetically they pick up on the aldehydes present in the leaf more than others can."

The woman offers a shrug even as she smiles. "Not to mention, we take the lens of those perceptions and build our emotions and thoughts off of that. No wonder people are so complicated and varied. I may not have studied neurology, but the human brain is something I'm quite fond of poking at, after all."

"Oh certainly," Gatter agrees, grinning. "We have at least that in common, though our approaches are very different! My understanding of psychiatry is that it looks at the functioning of the mind, and from those functions and patterns, you may see the balances of chemicals and the firing of neurons… whereas neurology studies those neurons and chemicals, and from that I see in the distance the complex behaviors and nuances of emergent behavior that are the hallmarks of the mind. And between our fields… the great chasm of the unknown! A void, yet unbridged."

Gatter pauses to take a drink; when he lowers his glass, that grin is wider yet. "For now, at least. Science marches on; the process of bridging that abyss has already begun. Expressive abilities, in particular, have shed a great deal of light on things; mysteries once deemed insoluble have already begun to unravel. It's a great time to be alive, in my field," he says, practically beaming with excitement; here and now, Gatter means those words, impending solar apocalypse be damned.

"Our two approaches work quite well, hand in hand. We can learn a lot from each other," Everleigh's smile remains as she looks over the rim of her glass, focusing on the conversation more than her drink itself. "Expressive abilities certainly add a layer of complexity to all of it. There are so many things we don't know and there are so many new complicated emotions that come along with living in a world with abilities. I've spent countless hours with people coming to terms with a new aspect of themselves and dealing with trauma when they manifest."

She laughs, taking a sip of her drink. "I suppose it's a bit ironic, me helping others deal with such things when I've barely touched mine or the complicated emotions tied to having an expressive ability. I suppose it takes one to know one." She pauses. "You're very right, though. It's a great time as mysteries become solved that couldn't be before."

Gatter nods enthusiastically at Everleigh's talk of how their two fields can inform each other… but the implication of her words sees his eyebrows rise. "Yours?" he asks, peering at Everleigh over the top of his glass.

Normally that's not something Everleigh would admit to, but enough of a positive reaction to her ability has given her the confidence to speak on it. "Ah, yes, that's not something I really admit all that often, it isn't anything I use much at all and I've often found it a little embarrassing. The last few reactions to it have been positive though, so I'm less concerned about hiding it away." She takes a long sip of alcohol before she clears her throat. Even with the confidence, it's still a touch hard to talk about.

"Lavender. It's a calming thing." There's a pause before she realizes that's a little confusing. "I mean, I make the scent and it settles people. A little silly, I know, but I've found it's coming in handy more recently. Being able to calm someone having a panic attack is a priceless gift."

Gatter raises his eyebrows. "I would imagine so!" he says. "Especially given your line of work. A calm head can go a long way towards helping to work through problems; being able to help someone maintain that state would be, as you say, a priceless gift. In your line of work, particularly," he says, raising a glass and taking a sip.

He considers for a moment. "So… it's some sort of aromatherapy-esque effect, then?"

"Very much like that, though I don't think that running across a lovely scented spa would have quite as potent an effect even if it smelled just strongly of lavender," Everleigh takes a small sip. "I don't use it on people often, though, it feels an odd thing to bring up in a session. I do like the process to be as natural as possible and sometimes dealing with rough emotions is part of it. Most of my patients don't even know I have it. Most of my friends don't. It's an unexplored field, I would say, though I'm not sure how much of an interesting one it is."

It's then that a semi-familiar figure sweeps by their table, a hand along the back of the booth. He wears a deep grey suit jacket bound together by a single button, worn over a white dress shirt, an emerald square peeking from the jacket's breast pocket. "Hope you both are enjoying your evening," Harry Stoltz chimes with a thin but warm press of a smile. "Always a delight to see familiar faces in the house."

He nods to each of them in turn. "Albert," with an affectation of the accent his fiancée employs. "Everleigh," with a deferential pause that insinuates he'd very much prefer to be using her title, but they're amongst friendly company. Right? "Everything well?"

Gatter frowns at Everleigh's protest of her ability not being that interesting, but the interjection of that familiar voice distracts him; he turns, his smile returning as he spots the familiar face of Harry Stoltz.

"Harry!" Gatter grins. "A night for unexpected pleasures, it seems. You know, I'd heard about this place, but I never made it over; seems I've been missing out. Perhaps I'll drop by more often."

There's a calm and polite smile that forms on Everleigh's lips as soon as the familiar voice enters the conversation. "Ah, I can't speak for us both, but I'm enjoying myself quite a bit. I certainly should have visited sooner, I hadn't realized just how lovely it is here. The ambiance is quite charming." She takes a long sip from her glass, looking over her rim to observe both Harry and Gatter. "Perhaps I will follow after Albert's example and visit more often."

Harry lets out the laugh of a delighted host, lifting his hand off the back of the booth in a vague gesture of welcome. "The more the merrier! The more you stop by, the more enchanting the place becomes, or so a few of our regulars have told me." He smiles between them.

"On weekends in the evening, Ourania joins the stage as well, should you be looking for more familiar faces while here. If you've not seen the way she transforms when she sings, I encourage it." Out of habit, he glances in the direction of the currently-empty stage, with its standing instruments waiting to be brought to life again. "I find her inspiring. And besides, she needs to hear from more people than me that she sounds wonderful."

"You'd be doing me a favor by confirming it's not just bias," Harry chuckles.

Gatter raises an eyebrow. "How intriguing," he says. "I admit, a bit of inspiration certainly wouldn't be amiss these days. We've been in a period of extended crunch, lately." He stares into his drink again for a moment, as if contemplating, then nods. "I'll make it a point to stop by, one of these weekends," he says.

"Thankfully, I've had some insight into Ourania as a person," Everleigh's tone is playful and joking. "But I would love to see what she is like when she sings. I have seen so much potential in her that seeing her in her element would be a treat. I've found that a lot of times people are very different when dealing with me professionally rather than personally. It would certainly be delightful to see her."

She nods in Gatter's direction. "Inspiration can be hard to find, so taking it where you can get it is a good rule of thumb."

One corner of Harry's mouth curves back in a well-meaning grin as he swivels from Gatter's reaction to Everleigh's. "Well," he demures. "Then we'll look forward to hosting you again soon." His eyes have already shifted in the direction of someone who's silently signalled for him. "Please, enjoy the rest of your evening."

Then he's slipped off for the curtains separating front of house from back.

Gatter inclines his head as Harry takes his leave. "Busy man; little wonder Doctor Pride and he get along so well. Both of them work respectable day jobs, but they also make time for this place, as well," he says, smiling.

Then his gaze turns back to Everleigh, and his smile grows wider still. A friend has stopped by and left, but still he finds himself in excellent company in a delightful place; truly, this is an excellent moment. "Now… where were we?"

Everleigh offers a tip of her head as a farewell to Harry before she looks back to Gatter. "I think it was something about the mysteries of science and how we're at a ripe opportunity to learn." She takes a long sip from her glass. "Unknowable things are suddenly within grasp, and we're making leaps and bounds towards new discoveries every day. I can say I've seen some of that myself," she smiles at Gatter across the table. "And there are plenty of good people doing good work for such things as well."

"Ah, yes!" Gatter says, dropping his hand to the table with a small thump. "New tools for observation afford us new views of the universe; you're quite correct." His expression shifts to a thoughtful frown as he considers. "Though I don't think that your particular ability is as uninteresting as you suggest."

Gatter regards Everleigh for a moment, considering. "If you would prefer we not discuss it, I'll drop the subject. It isn't my intention to trouble you, after all. But if you're not averse to discussing it… I think it'd make for an interesting topic."

"I can see the gears turning in your head, Albert," Everleigh can't help but smile. "Usually this ability isn't something I talk about, but you're a man of insight and if there's something that sparked an interest I know it is worth a topic of conversation." She leans in against the table and gazes towards him.

"I appreciate the politeness and concern for my feelings, but I'll survive a moment of unfamiliarity and discomfort to hear your thoughts. Heaven forbid I dish out that sort of thing and can't take a dose of my own medicine."

Gatter smiles delightedly, his gaze meeting Everleigh's. "Well then."

"My line of thought at the moment runs something like this. You've said that your ability works by producing a fragrance — something along the lines of lavender — which in turn causes a calming effect. Some sort of pheromone-esque effect, perhaps? So, with that hypothesis in mind… would it be possible to produce other scents? And if you could… might those also produce different effects?"

"That's certainly a thought, yes. Other scents, other effects, I imagine that's something that logically makes sense based on what it does, though I haven't really attempted such a thing. Pheromone manipulation is what I'm registered as," Everleigh seems thoughtful for a moment. "Although it doesn't work on me. I don't get calmer when I use it. I don't need to be calm, precisely, either. Which means that I could have immunity to certain pheromones… but I'm not entirely certain if that would be the case. Surely I would have noticed something by now."

Gatter frowns. "It's possible. One of my coworkers has a… psychoactive secretion." His frown deepens for a moment as the novel and unwelcome idea that had might have been a better choice of verb for the coworker in question, but that isn't germane to this particular conversation and is an unpleasant thought besides, so he casts it aside. "They have an immunity to the effect of their own secretions, as well, so having an immunity to your own pheromones wouldn't be unheard of…"

But something is nagging Gatter; he takes a moment to consider what it could be, mentally replaying what's been said. "You said… pheromone manipulation is what you're registered as," he says slowly. "Do you have doubts about that assessment?"

Everleigh's lips press together in a firm line, her expression thoughtful. "There are times," she muses, "where I think it isn't. There have been one or two times, in serious situations, where I've made use of it but I don't remember there even being a scent. It's not like I really had the opportunity to ask anyone affected if they remembered smelling lavender, but there are times I swear it's not there but it worked."

After a moment, she laughs. "It could even just be a placebo effect. I could think it's working and maybe people are just getting calm on their own. The lavender is the only thing that ever really felt like definite evidence that something was happening."

Gatter frowns thoughtfully. "Well…" he muses. "Should you have the desire to put that to the test," he says slowly, watching Everleigh to be certain he's not presuming, "I could probably shed some light on it, one way or the other. I'm sure we have a gas spectrometer at Raytech. It'd be a few minutes' work to take an air sample," Gatter offers, grinning and raising an eyebrow.

“That actually sounds like my idea of a good time, Albert,” Everleigh says with a small laugh. “I’ve always been a little too caught up with the embarrassment of being an aromatherapy device that I’ve never poked into it too much… or been around someone willing to experiment with it. It’s just always been a matter of social awkwardness.”

"'Social awkwardness'…" Gatter echoes, considering. "I suppose one does run the risk of boors in the crowd," Gatter admits, that smile of his dimming for a moment.

But it's only a moment before his grin brightens again. "Well. If you'd care to pass me your number, I'll give you a call when I've got my day planner; we can find some space that lines up in our schedules and give it a whirl," he grins.

"There are only so many comfortable ways to explain smelling like soothing lavender in a social setting," Everleigh's grin brightens in turn and she smoothly pulls a business card out of her purse and slides it across the table in Gatter's direction. "I'd be honored if you'd pencil me in. Charmed if it's inked!"

"Ink it is, then," Gatter grins, tucking the card away into a pocket and then raising his glass, as if in a toast, and finishing the last of it. "You'll be hearing from me soon." One can only stare at the Sun for so long, after all.

"In the meantime, though… I seem to find my glass empty. A trip to the bar should remedy that; shall I bring something for you, as well?"

"I could use another drink, that would be delightful," Everleigh's grin remains as she looks down at her own empty glass. "As for what it is… surprise me. I'm feeling a little daring now that I've got a plan of action about my ability. It's the closest I've been to ever making progress with it."

Gatter raises both eyebrows at that, but nevertheless nods obligingly. Surprise me is a bold request to make of him… but this is Rossignol, after all, not Wonderland. Different clubs, different tenors, different ranges of surprise on tap. "A surprise. I can do that," he says, grinning as he stands. "Then… please look forward to it." Time to see how good the bartender here is at mixology.

A minute or so later, he returns bearing two glasses — one contains a clear reddish drink, the other something that bears a passing resemblance to a very fancy chocolate milkshake. "Since we're aiming to surprise tonight… I'll let you surprise me, as well. Which strikes your fancy?"

Everleigh examines the two drinks, almost clinically, her eyes darting between them as if somehow this were important to the decision. She reaches over, grasps the chocolate one, and then gently pushes it towards Gatter. "I feel like this is what you need. Call it a hunch." The other glass she pulls towards her on the table, then looks down into it.

"So what've we got?"

Gatter inclines his head with a grin. "For me, then, a Brandy Alexander — cognac, cream, and creme de cacao, with a garnish of grated nutmeg," he says.

"Which leaves you," Gatter says, grinning as he hands the other drink to Everleigh, "with a cocktail called the Bramblin Rose. Rose bud tea, lemon juice, honey, a hint of muddled blackberry, and tequila."

Gatter raises his glass to Everleigh. "Cheers," he says.

"Excellent choices, Albert," she says, nodding approvingly to the two drinks. She lifts her glass to him. "Cheers," Everleigh replies, before taking a small sip to taste the alcohol. After a moment, her smile broadens in delight. "I'm going to have to remember this one. I think I legitimately might have found a new favorite."

Gatter's grin only widens. "I'd not have been displeased with either… but I'll admit, that's one I thought would appeal to you," he says, taking a drink of his own as he settles back into his seat.

"You know. I'm glad I ran into you tonight," he observes, taking another small drink.

"Ah, but perhaps that's my secret. Perhaps I chose the one for you because I thought you'd like it," Everleigh's smile is now a return grin as she takes a small sip, then looks back at him. "That's very sweet. I'm really glad too, I don't exactly get to go out much and have company. I also don't have many excuses to get dressed up. I need to find more charity balls or something."

The grin turns into a fond smile. "Thank you for letting me interrupt whatever thoughts you were mulling over before I invited myself into your company."

"Ha," Gatter chuckles. "If that's the case, then brava; your keen intuition has proven quite correct. It's difficult to go wrong with a well-mixed Brandy Alexander, and Rossignol's bartenders seem to be quite well-versed," he says, taking another drink.

Her next admission sees him blink with surprise, though. "I'm surprised to hear it! You're lovely company; you're more than welcome to intrude on my brooding anytime," he says, a fond grin blooming on his face to match Everleigh's own.

Then, he frowns thoughtfully. "Everyone keeps yelling at me to get out of the lab more; something something don't burn yourself out, something something get some rest," Gatter says, frowning with momentary annoyance. "Which I know is good advice, but…"

He trails off, shaking his head, and his grin returns as he looks to Everleigh. "Perhaps, if you're so inclined, we could do this again sometime? We seem to have found a lovely club, and, between you and me…" he says, leaning closer. "I rather like having the occasional opportunity to dress up myself," Gatter says, eyes gleaming with merriment.

"It sounds like we both work too hard and neglect taking time for… good company in a lovely club," Everleigh looks back over at him. "So yes, I'd love to do this again. And, if I might add, you clean up nicely. I've never particularly liked the phrase in a literal sense because it seems to assume you weren't as clean before, but I like the sentiment that dressing up transforms someone a little." She leans closer as he did, as if to stage whisper as he did.

"Between you and me, I have way too many outfits I could wear here, most of which I've made."

Gatter's smile remains as Everleigh speaks, but at her revelation of her other talents, his eyebrows rise with surprise. "Really?" he asks, surprised. "Delightful!"

He frowns thoughtfully for a moment, taking a sip of his drink as he considers the hidden talent of Dr. Everleigh Madison. "That's a talent I'd not have expected. I wonder… were you, perhaps, into theatre?" Gatter asks, tilting his head curiously.

Everleigh's cheeks flush with color, something she was clearly not expecting to happen, and she covers it by taking a long sip of her drink before glancing back over. "I know, it's a bit of an odd one. Never did the acting, I'd be way too terrified to get on stage and look convincingly dramatic. But the costuming? I fell in love with that. I've actually done some whole sets for performances, but that's sort of just what I do in the wee hours of the morning when I don't go out on the town."

She grins after a moment. "I made what I wore to Wonderland, too. Like I said, lots of cool things that I'll never wear but they certainly deserve to see the light of day."

Gatter's grin broadens. "Odd? Not at all!" he exclaims. "There's a fulfillment to be found in making something; translating a vision from a thing that exists up here— " he taps his temple "— into something real. Tangible. Something you can touch," he says, flexing his hands. "In using hard-practiced skill to render the imaginary real."

His eyes are serious as he speaks… but then he grins. "That's how I've always seen it, at least," he says, glancing away with a chuckle and taking a sip of his drink.

The praise for her craft seems to put Everleigh much more at ease. "I suppose it's a hobby I love, but not one that mixes so well with my business life. I like to see the life it gives someone when they put it on. Watching something I made go into a production, bringing characters to life? That's fulfilling. I don't think I could ever get on a stage myself in any form, I'm not one for being the center of attention. I'd rather watch the life I touched. I feel the same way with my patients. Seeing a change that they made themselves, all credit to them, but something I had a hand in them finding? Priceless, really."

She seems to realize (or perhaps just think) that she's speaking too much and she takes another long sip of the drink. "I think this drink really is my new favorite. Seems you're good at picking out my tastes."

Gatter's grin grows warmer. "Well said," he says quietly. "That's every scientist's dream, I think. As we stand on the shoulders of giants, so we hope to uplift others — until we stand high, high enough to see past the dark, and reach out to take the stars in our hands."

His grin takes on a hint of self-consciousness as he glances back to Everleigh. "Perhaps that's not entirely the same thing… but I think there's some similarity there between you and I there, regardless. To lifting others up," he says, raising his glass to Everleigh once more before draining it.

"I'll drink to that," Everleigh agrees, raising her glass as well before she downs the last of hers. "Our fields aren't exactly the same, but I think lifting others up is certainly something we both have in common. Probably in both office and out." She sets her drink down, wiping a bead of condensation off the glass. "You know, I'm convinced you'll do great things."

"Ah," Gatter sighs. "I hope so," he says quietly, smiling with a hint of melancholy. "I do hope so."

But this isn't the time to think of the Sun and the desperate work even now going on to prepare for what is to come; this is the time to savor the moment. To rest, that he might continue to work towards those great things that Everleigh believes he will do.

So he glances back to her and grins again. "Our glasses appear to have emptied themselves somehow. Would you care for another?"

"Funny how that seems to be happening. I'd love it if you got us another, if you would be so kind," Everleigh rests her elbow on the table, head in hand, looking content for a moment. "Surprise me with something again. Perhaps you'll guess my tastes once more. I admit the whole situation was so amusing the first time, I wouldn't mind going again."

Gatter grins. "It would be my pleasure."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License