Still At War


chess_icon.gif felix_icon.gif

Scene Title Still At War
Synopsis Two veterans reunite.
Date May 12, 2018

Dirty Pool Pub

With its scarred and stained concrete floor and mismatched barstools, this is a no-nonsense dive bar and doesn't pretend to be anything but. The only decorating theme seems to be "adhesive," as nearly every square inch of the black-painted walls has been adorned by a sticker, with no particular rhyme or reason.

Along the center wall is the bar itself, long enough to seat perhaps 20 or so patrons. On either side are two pool tables, totaling four. The back wall has a few small tables for those who choose to sit away from the bar itself, but there are no waitresses to bring drinks, so anyone wanting to drink will have to order at the bar before sitting.

Once upon a time, he'd not've dared drink in a dive like this. But once upon a time he was a clean-cut goody two-shoes who might as well have had 'John Law' stamped on his forehead…..and those times are long, long gone. Now Fel's just another battered veteran of the war, grizzled, scarred, and tired. Gone are the neatly cut suits; he's in old jeans, a worn army parka, boots, dark t-shirt. Nursing his way through a vodka gimlet, comfortably hipshot on a barstool. The pale eyes aren't bleared with drink, not yet, anyhow. His sorrows are coughing, wriggling, but paddling stubbornly around in the glass - he hasn't managed to drown them yet.

When the door opens, it's accompanied by the splatter of rain on already wet sidewalks and the chilly air makes its way into the small bar. A dark hood covers the head of the young woman who scans the patrons of the Dirty Pool Pub, and finding no one she knows, enters. It's not the sort of place a person goes for a fun night out with friends, really.

She slides on to the barstool a couple down from Felix's, pulling the hood off her head; her black leather jacket atop the hoodie is beaded with rain water that drips to the peanut-shelled ground below. She casts a sidelong glance at the man beside her, then waits for the bartender's attention.

Felix slants a curious look at her….and once he's established she's too young to've been someone he arrested once and is thus a likely carrier of a grudge, the fractional tension ratcheting up neck and shoulders eases a hair.

Not that he looks relaxed. Not enough booze for that. Not yet. There's a polite nod, should she meet his gaze, but it's not the kind of lingering attention a man on the prowl might bring.

She glances his way when he looks her way, gives him that small, polite smile one gives a stranger. The bartender turns his attention her way. "Whiskey, neat, double," she says, terse though not rude. Her eyes follow him as he goes about the task of pouring it out, giving him a nod when he slides it in front of her.

The glass is brought up to her lips and she takes a swallow, only blinking when the burn makes itself known in her throat, clearly not a first time whiskey drinker.

No greeting, no preamble. Just a faintly raspy comment from the guy to her side. "My memory's not what it once was," he says, as if he were picking up a conversation they'd left ages ago, old friends who need no reintroduction. "But my gut says it was somewhere out west. One of the fights in California - battle of Altamont Pass. You were a kid, but you were fucking wrecking things like there was no tomorrow." Then he slants another look, amused. "Or do I have the wrong young lady?"

Her head tilts when he begins to speak, eyes narrowing just a little — perhaps expecting some sort of reprimand for being in a place like this or drinking whiskey, or any of the types of things people older than she is tend to tell her. But the conversation takes a turn and she turns too, to look more closely at him.

"Last time I was in California I was like seven and Disneyland still existed," she says a bit wryly. "But 'wrecking things' sounds like me, for sure." She studies him and then a small smirk curves her mouth upward. "Speedster, yeah? I think it was in fucking Cincinnati, maybe." She offers him her hand to shake. "Chess. You're…" she's trying to remember the name, but there were many soldiers in the many miles she traveled. "Something Russian?" is all she comes up with.

A little moue of amusement purses his lips, as he turns on his stool to face her more directly. "Cincinnati," he agrees, in the kind of absent minded tone most often heard when Obi Wan muses on the Clone Wars. "Ivanov, yes. I am Russian. Well, was. Naturalized thirty years or so ago. And I am, yeah. Glad to see you alive. Buy you a drink?" he lifts his own glass in salute. She's old enough to destroy government forces, old enough to drink, even if she doesn't look it.

Chess lifts her own glass in return, smile broadening to something a little more sincere. "Likewise," she says. "Were you all the way out in California? Glad I went east and not west. Rough out there." It was rough everywhere, of course.

"You doing all right?" Now that she knows who he is, there's an appraising sort of look as she looks up and down his person, taking in the quality of his clothes, looking for injuries or worse. Like she might try to save him if the answer's no. Like she might force feed him soup or find him shelter. She takes another swallow of the whiskey.

He's got terrible scarring, including the mass along temple and skull. But his eyes are clear, his balance seems good; thin, but not starving, and not unhealthily pale. "All the way out there," he agrees, rueful. The question earns a wave of the hand. "I'm actually okay," he adds, that rueful note in his voice. "I know how it looks. But I've been through the hands of multiple healers, and it's not as bad as you might think. The paint job's had it, but the engine's okay. You, Chess?"

The analogy makes her huff a small laugh, and she looks away at the question as to how she is. The glass of whiskey rises to her lips for another swallow, and she catches the bartender's eye to tap the rim for a second, before finishing off the contents of the first.

"I'm fine," she says, setting down the empty glass and staring down at it, rather than looking back his way. "I only got shot once and got some minor damage, shrapnel, jeep wreck, in my tour of duty." As if 'getting shot once' is something to use the word 'only' for. "Paint's scratched but still shiny," she quips, reaching for the refill the bartender puts in front of her.

His grin is surprisingly bright, broad on that long jaw….and not in the least bitter. "Good," he says. No commenting on the 'once', considering. "That you're fine. Not that you got shot. Getting shot is never fun." An upnod at that last, and he chuckles. "You from New York?"

She shakes her head. "Denver," she says, taking another sip of the whiskey. "Nothing back there for me now, so I came this way." She turns to look at him again, her dark eyes a bit solemn as she studies him. "You? I mean, obviously you're not, if you're naturalized. If we're gonna get that into ancient history, I'm not from Denver." She sets the glass down, but turns it in her hands, fiddling with it a bit. "You working here?"

"Moscow, originally," Apparently ancient history is on the menu. "But New York as a kid. I've lived in a few other cities as an adult. Mostly up in Rochester now, but I came down to do some research, try and track down some folks I'd lost touch with. New York's a good place to make a new start. Even in this day and age," he says, before taking a slug of the gimlet.

"China," Chess says with a small smirk, a bit of quid pro quo for his part of the conversation. "But I don't remember it," she adds, in case there's any follow up questions. Her brows lift at the mention of Rochester. "Yeah? What's that like? This city's been feeling a little small lately. I may need to head somewhere else one of these days." Rochester's smaller but there's the implication that size isn't really the issue on the table.

There's a prompting lift of a brow at that. "Yeah?" he says. But doesn't argue with that thought. "It's….uneven. A lot of it is still wrecked. Some of it is growing fast. I went up there for work - knew someone in Wolfhound who could vouch for me. I'm not sure I'd dare going without work on the table - there's a lot of money and attention going into reviving New York proper. Upstate, not so much."

She shrugs. "Just trying to figure out options if I need to move. I'm not good at staying in one place, really. I haven't been, since the war." The last bit is a bit confessional in tone, and she makes a face, taking another swallow from the glass. "Wolfhound? Damn, son. Talk about work. That's not someone giving you a job in a warehouse shit you're talking about," she says, a bit impressed, eyes widening a little. "You yell if you need some Institute scum blown to pieces, you hear?"

"I'll let 'em know you're interested, if you want. I can vouch for your ability in turn," Fel says, still grinning. Blame the drink for making him somewhat more garrulous than usual. OR the unexpected pleasure of finding someone else he remembers from the war alive and well. Those moments are few and far between, after all."

His words draw a smirk and a shake of her head. "Thanks, but no. I was mostly kidding. I mean, I'm all for blowing up more of the assholes we fought against, but I'd prefer it to be a hobby and not pursue it professionally," she says, with some amusement. "But it's nice to know there's a good guy in there. All this new government and these new agencies… I get a bit uneasy with anything that has a big name and a lot of money behind it, you know? I kind of think all the old agencies started out with good intentions, and look what happened the first time around."

She shrugs, and picks up the glass to finish it off. "Sorry. I might be jaded."

There's a very sardonic look indeed at that. "Chess," he notes, wry, "I was part of a number of those agencies. So….no argument there. And now we've got a lot more foreign corporations with skin in this game. You're right to be uneasy. So am I, for that matter. Not that I trust straight government much either, what there is of it. And I don't blame you - I'd like to make it a hobby, but it looks like I've found a way to make it pay. Find a way to have them pay you to do what you love," he says. "Isn't that the old suggestion?"

Chess glances down at the mention of 'foreign corporations,' huffing a short, breathy laugh at his words. "That's a good idea, yeah. But doesn't it feel like you're still at war?" She looks up again. "I guess it still feels like that anyway, though, doesn't it," she murmurs, the words lacking the upward lilt that would make the question anything but rhetorical. Her brows draw together and she shakes her head. "Sorry. I'm in a bit of a shitty mood I guess. That's probably a better reason I shouldn't work for anyone else — I'd probably piss off the boss in three seconds." There's a forced smile at that.

She's got it in one, apparently. Fel lifts his almost empty glass to her in salute, before downing the rest and looking for the bartender. "It sure does," he admits, with no hesitation at all. "Because I found out I'm the type of asshole who really does like fighting, as well as tracking down the kind of bastads we still need to fight." He lifts a shoulder in a half-shrug. "Why in a bad mood? Long term thing, or just the day?"

"You're not an asshole. And someone needs to do it," Chess says, though it rings just a bit hollow, like she knows she should say it. The question he asks, she lets rest between them for a moment or two. Finally she shakes her head, pulling out a bill to cover her drinks, despite his offer to buy her one.

"Long-term, compounded by the short-term, compounded by the day," she says. "And the rain." Because it's still raining outside. "I need to go," she adds, her voice a little rough. "It was good to see you, Felix. You take care, yeah?" She doesn't wait for a reply before turning to go.

No attempt to stop her. But he watches her go….that payment's apparently a big tip for the bartender, because he covers them as well. "Vaya con dios, Chess," he says, softly, expression thoughtful.

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