Revelations in a Totally Different Bar


caspian_icon.gif keira_icon.gif

Scene Title Revelations in a Totally Different Bar
Synopsis A chance meeting in one of the multiple bars in the Safe Zone, Caspian discovers that someone he thought lost long, long ago might be found again.
Date March 10, 2018

The Bar, Safe Zone, New York City

It’s been a long day, and Keira has been hustling about, working at starting her business up here — just like in the old days back in Cabo. She’s gotten a few boys together, gotten the info she’s been looking for, and has a general idea of where she needs to go. Soon, she’ll have to play the game.

It’s a good time to get a drink, and so the woman has made her way to one of the dive bars here in the Safe Zone, and she is currently enjoying a glass of whiskey on the rocks. She stares at the neon lights above the rows of liquor in a slightly dazed state, lifting the glass to her lips and taking a sip of the harsh liquid as she mills over her next steps.

It has been a long day. With the morning and much of the afternoon taken up with setting up a day care in the safe zone, the perfect thing for Caspian to do is get home, take a long, hot shower, and take a nap. This dive bar is in the way home so, he figures stopping in won't hurt too terribly much.

The bar is quiet. With the food shortages, people are generally keeping their cash for things that are more important than drinking whisky, but something can be said about a good stiff drink to help relax a body after a tough day.

Pushing open the front door, Caspian looks around to see who might be inside before entering the bar fully. He's dressed simply - blue work shirt with the logo of the one electrician that works in the zone, khaki pants, and steel-toed work boots. Shifting his backpack off of his shoulder, he nods to the bartender and slides on to one of the well-worn leather bar stools, lifting a hand to get the bartender’s attention. “Got anything new today?” He scans the bar as he asks that, pointing to a bottle near the middle of the bar on a top shelf When he doesn't see anything different since the last time he was in. “The 18 year Glenmorangie. Let's give that a go over ice.”

“A go, buddy?” The bartender laughs. “You know you're the only guy that drinks this neat.” She prepares the drink quickly, the amber liquid poured into the glass over two large clear ice cubes before its slid across the bar. “Enjoy. Try not to bother the customers….so many of them, y'know.” Sarcasm - one of the many services offered here.

The bar, for a Friday night, is relatively empty.

For a moment, Keira doesn’t even look. Her eyes widen as she stares at the neon signs above the back wall, the glass of whiskey pressed to her lips. That familiar voice proves her right, and slowly, the little shapeshifter turns bright blue eyes to look at Caspian with a gaze of wild recognition.

After a moment, she slips out of her bar stool, closing the gap between her and Caspian. “Make that two glasses over ice, and leave th’bottle to us. It’s been a few years since I seen this motherfucker.”

She finishes her whiskey, pushing the glass away and just…staring at Caspian. “Tibby’s gonna flip her shit.”

Caspian settles down at the bar comfortably, his backpack looped around his leg to keep it from getting taken by a snatch-and-grab sort while he enjoys his drink. This is one of the few bars in the zone he’s been to - after all, he’s only been here for less than a month, and getting a business running in an abandoned war zone takes up a lot of time, so he really hasn’t had a chance to explore much at all. Hell, just getting his workouts in at home are tough enough after a long day at work.

The bartender stops and looks at the blue-eyed woman as she speaks before shrugging and doing as she asks. With a flourish, she sets the bottle down with a thud on the bar and pushes a rocks glass with two large ice cubes over, filling it with enough whisky to have a good drink or two.

Caspian turns to look at Keira, one brow lifted. “Now that’s a name i’ve not heard since the war started.” he lifts his glass. “And were Tibby still alive, she’d certainly be surprised to find me here in New York. We were talking about going to South Africa until all this blew over, but when her boat sank and she drowned…” Caspian fixes Keira with a look before taking a solid swallow of the good whisky. “Well, surprising her might be hard, what with her at the bottom of the ocean along with her cats and her boat.” He lifts his glass in a silent toast before setting it down on the bar napkin with a clinking of ice cubes.

“Keira, right? I try to remember all of Tibby’s friends that she’d introduce me to.” He turns a little to face her. “You and Tibby and Me, we had some fun on that quick trip to Mexico a while back, right?” Must have been while he and Tibby were dating before she was killed.

An eyebrow raises slightly at Caspian as Keira reaches out, taking the glass of scotch and giving it a good sniff, before taking a sip in turn. She closes her eyes, enjoying the burn for a moment — then, her azure gaze comes to rest on the man once more. “Yeah, it's Keira. We hung out in Mexico.” Key was always that slightly intimidating friend back in the day, who seemed just a little too dangerous to normal people.

“As to Tibby, I'm sure she would like to know that she died in a boat when the war started,” Keira replies, smirking as she takes another sip of the scotch. “I guess my room mate is a ghost. Barring that, pretty sure you're mistaken, and Tibby is alive and well. Just had coffee with her and her kitties this morning.” The last of the scotch is drained from her glass, and she lifts the bottle, pouring herself some more and offering to do the same for Caspian — something tells her that he might need it.

“Pretty sure she thinks you're dead too,” Keira adds with a faint smile, holding the rim of her freshly filled glass to her lower lip.

Keira was intimidating, but spending time with her and Tibby in a cloud of smoke and margarita haze does tend to make the more intimidating sorts a little less than. He was sworn to secrecy to never speak of the drunken karaoke competition that Keira, Tibby, and he took part in at some unnamed dive bar in Cabo San Lucas all those years ago. A competition that they arguably won, considering the song ended with the bar catching on fire and burning to the ground, followed by a ban on anyone singing ‘The Roof is On Fire’ by Rockmaster Scott and the Dynamic Three for the rest of the summer and the next season after that.

Caspian lifts his glass and drains it, quickly, resting it back on the counter without a bang, a shiver going through him as he clenches his teeth, the liquor burning all the way down. “I saw her die, Keira. I saw her boat sink. I saw her strafed by machine guns from a government helicopter for entering the exclusion zone by the bay. She can’t be alive. It’s…” He reaches for the bottle, filling it up past the ground glass lines etched in the side, and takes another drink. “She can’t be alive. I’d know. We….she…” he blows out a breath, hanging his head, resting it on the bar for a second, his eyes closing tight. And when he speaks, it’s soft, an echo between the bar and his face. “I put her picture up on the Memorial wall, the second I got here, to remember her. Just so there would be something. I painted her picture all around town, because it hurt to know she was gone. I never stopped thinking about those moments.” His head turns slightly, one brown eye fixed on Keira. “God damn you if you’re fucking with me.”

“Caspian, man, Tibs is my best friend. If she was dead, I’d be fuckin’…I dunno what I’d be. Wouldn’t be anything like I am now, for sure, and I like who I am now.” Keira takes a small sip of her scotch, watching Caspian with raised brows. “I’m a shitty bastard who will betray most people at the drop of a fuckin’ hat, but she’s not one of ‘em, and you are exempt from my shitty bastard behavior by proxy.”

Smoking hasn’t been so much of a concern these days, which is why Keira pulls out a pack of cigarettes, placing one into her mouth and lighting it as she offers one to Caspian. “I hope I haven’t been having coffee and tequila and smoking pot and making plans for the future with a ghost, on that note. It’d fuckin’ suck to find out I’m crazy.” She watches the man thoughtfully.

“Sorry t’fuck with your whole world view, man. I’m sure this is some crazy shit to take in.” This is added as she puffs on the cigarette, before taking another sip of her scotch.

“It’s hard to remember her face. It just melts away. I get lines and highlights, like an abstract painting. I don’t even have a picture of her to remember her by…the only one I had is up on the wall. A memorial to her.” Caspian says softly, pushing himself up from the bar, the glass held rock-solid in paint-stained fingers. “I sometimes catch glimpses of her, every once in a while, in dreams. Or think I see her on the street but it isn’t her.” A sip is taken of the good alcohol, another grimace as it burns down to his stomach, nestling there like a glowing coal.

“I….need time.” he says softly, pushing back from the bar. “I’ve got…I’ve got to process this.”

It’s not often that Keira displays empathy. She’s a selfish asshole who is usually only in the game of life for herself and nobody else, and fuck anyone else and any needs they might have. Tibby is lucky enough that the little shapeshifter views her as her best friend, or she’d probably have stabbed her in the back by now, too. The main point is, Keira isn’t nice. Keira doesn’t do kindness too often.

Which is why it’s a little on the odd side that, after ensuring that her gloves are in place and there is no exposed skin, Keira reaches out and gently puts one hand on Caspian’s shoulder in a show of solidarity. It’s about as comforting as the little thug will ever get.

Then, he’s pushing back, and Keira withdraws her hand, nodding to him. A pen is pulled from the pocket of her outfit, and on one of the disposable bar coasters, she writes in her name and phone number. This is offered out to Caspian. “Call me. I’m tellin’ her that you’re alive, and she’s gonna wanna see you — where you stayin’? Or can I get a number for you?”

For as awful as a person as Keira can be, she at least wants to see her friend happy.

Caspian sits there, letting Keira pat him on the shoulder before he straightens, taking the bar coaster with the name and number scrawled on it. It’s tucked into his breast pocket before he pulls a card from his wallet. Printed at home, more than likely, his number is scrawled on the back. “I answer this number pretty much any time. Business number I tend to ignore after hours.” He slides the card across the bar. “I’ve got a building in the western part of the safe zone. Got lucky and won the lottery, basically. Just a place to lay my head and keep my van for business.”

He goes quiet for a moment, lifting his glass again to sip. “Is…is she okay? I mean…is she happy? Does she ever….talk? Remember how we were?”

“We live in Park Slope.” She doesn’t specify where. He’ll be better off being brought there — the fauna of the house that the two women inhabit is a bit wild and unwelcoming unless one has been invited. Keira plucks up the card, tucking it into a pocket and patting it.

At the question, Keira tilts her head toward her shoulder. “Up until a little over a week ago, I hadn’t seen her in a few years. Shit got crazy for me, too.” She sips the scotch. “She seems t’be doin’ good, in any case. She and I are lookin’ into doing some business together.” She doesn’t say what that business is, obviously.

“After you two got separated, she was pretty fuckin’ upset.” Another sip of the fiery liquid, the woman slowly breathing the heat out after the fact. “I bet she’s gonna be happy as hell to hear you’re alive and here.”

“Shit got crazy for everyone during the bad times. And I think…yeah, I think we both were a little upset, thinkin’ the other was dead and gone for good. With Los Angeles falling down around my ears, I had to make one last delivery.” Caspian sips at his drink. “I was on the way back when the first airstrikes hit. Took out the bridges leading to the marina and every other bridge in the city. Then they went for the highways.” He goes quiet for a moment, remembering.

“The city was chaos. Everyone was running, trying to go somewhere…anywhere, to get away from the bombs. Roads were packed. Filled with panicked people. I just wanted to get back to her.” he finishes his second…or is it his third drink, setting the empty glass down on the bar with a clatter of ice cubes, coughing as the alcohol starts to hit. “On top of a hill I saw her sailboat - south african flag, blue sails…it had to have been her.” He looks to Keira plaintively before he continues. “It was hit by a helicopter. Sank. Survivor strafed. I could see the blood on the water from the bluffs.” The glass is shoved, hard, falling behind the bar, shattering on the floor in a spray of glass shards. “I had to go. We would have gotten away with that gas. It would have gotten her tanks all the way full. It was why we were fishing so damn much. The rest of the gas we needed to get offshore and out into the ocean past San Diego, south to Mexico.” He pinches his brow, eyes closed. “We had it all figured out.”

“When….when you talk to her. Ask her if she remembers the tattoo we talked about in South Africa. That New Years day after she introduced me to her bibi. The one right here that I was going to surprise her with.” He taps his chest, right below his left collarbone. “An’ tell her I miss her an’ I love her an….I don’t know. There’s just so damn much.”

Cas is barely holding it together here. Having his world kind of upended in the middle of a dive bar wasn’t in the cards for this evening. Existential crisis with a side of bar peanuts.

Taking a deep breath, Cas blows it out, pulling back his emotions just a little. “When she’s ready just…just let me know. I’ll go to her, she can come to me, we can meet somewhere in the middle. All of the above. I just need to see if it’s really her.” His eyes flick to Keira. “Not that I’m saying you’re a liar, but this is kind of….finding the golden goose type shit, you know?”

Keira fishes out her cell phone — a nice new one, not seen often in the Safe Zone. She swipes the screen a few times, and holds out a picture of her, with the same haircut, with her face pressed against Tibby’s, the two both ‘sharing’ a joint between them. Selfies and such. This is offered for Caspian’s viewing pleasure. The quality is far too good to be old, and the backdrop looks like Park Slope, indeed.

“I can’t say I blame you and all — I’d be pretty fuckin’ skeptical too, if I was in your spot.” She dips her head toward him, eyes hooded slightly. “I’m sure she’s gonna have trouble wrappin’ her brain around it, too.” She pours herself another glass of the scotch, enjoying the warm feeling that’s growing from her belly. “I’m jus’ glad you’re both okay, and that I found you, and that hopefully you two can have a happy reuinion.”

She takes a puff of her cigarette, watching Caspian thoughtfully. She’s not often privy to such emotional moments — and they’re not always that comfortable for her, the woman who keeps everyone at arms distance.

All the color drains from Caspian’s face at the sight of the picture, looking like it was taken just a few days prior. “She's still got that lekker haircut….” He actually touches the screen, zooming in on her a little with a swipe of his fingers. If it wasn't for the bar and the arms on the barstool, he'd be on the floor.

“I….yeah.” Caspian nods and sits back in the barstool. “It's going to be a bit of an wild day once we meet up again, if only for a little while”. He sounds a little nervous, too, wondering what Tibby’s reaction to him being above ground will be.

He hopes it's a good one.

Keira offers the man a small smile, reaching out and patting his shoulder again — still making sure that she’s very much covered up. No need to change into her best friend’s boyfriend, thanks, even if it is only for a split second.

“M’sure she’ll be fucking stoked that you’re alive after all these years. She doesn’t show lots of emotion, she’s like a fuckin’ cat, but she really liked ya. Better’n lotsa guys.” She smiles. “I’ll let her know as soon as I see ya.” For that matter, she lifts her phone, snapping a picture of Caspian.

It’s not a very good picture of Caspian, to tell the truth. It’s been a day of hard work plus he did some painting on some walls before coming here, so there are flecks of paint in his hair and on his face, outlining the goggles and respirator that he normally wears when making a large piece. He’s not putting on airs - he’s the person he is, and that’s all he can be.

“Thanks. Really.” He sounds sincere. “In Tibby’s line of work, trust isn’t a thing a lot of people have, but if you have that picture, and you’re even halfway telling the truth…” he bobs his head. “I’ll have to do something special for you to make up for it.” He chuckles softly. “Random meeting, in a bar, in a city on the other side of the country, in the middle of a war zone that’s turned safe….and I find a connection to a past I thought long dead and buried.”

He reaches into his hip pocket for a couple of bills, pushing them into the pitcher the bartender uses for tips, and rocks back into his seat. “And i promise you, I’m pretty happy now, too. Just a little too dazed to show it.” It’ll probably hit him tonight, when he’s trying to go to bed. Nice emotional breakdown in the privacy of his own home.

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