|clayton has a good eye (cykedout) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2012-03-28 09:26:00
|Entry tags:||arya stark, jean grey, mycroft holmes, scott summers, sherlock holmes|
Who: Clayton, Elias, Nell, JJ and Noah
What: A fun ride to a casino by the Hoover Dam
When: Back dated all the way to right after this
Where: Sleazy out of town casino
Because he had come into success late in life, Las Vegas looked to Elias to spend and spend freely. Even after several years on the market, Elias was more successful than 99.99% of studio artists, and since he possessed almost no education and a criminal record, he was generally looked upon by society at large as a genius artistic fluke cherished by crazy collectors and people who lived in Malibu. After his first few months in the desert, however, the media and the greedy lost interest. Elias did not get married to a crazy social activist or buy out whole clubs for the evening. He did not gamble habitually, and he didn’t even have the decency to go shopping and buy anything more expensive than a leather bomber jacket and some walking shoes. He had vices, but they usually had to do with moving furniture and paint splatters in his suite, and one or two times he’d gotten turned around and ended up smoking where he wasn’t meant to be smoking. This was not Sin City’s definition of vice.
However, the staff of the Bellagio never quite forgot whose art was currently in the gallery downstairs, and more than that, the lingering thought in the back of the mind was always the pricetag of one of those pieces, which, if rumors were to be believed, could sell for tens of millions of dollars. Vegas could forgive Elias’ lack of vice as eccentric with that kind of bank account. The staff was surprised but secretly pleased when Elias made an appearance on the casino floor, a surprise quickly followed by dismay when he simply walked right through and wandered into the lobby, hands in the pockets of his jacket, obviously looking for someone or something.
Nell had dropped her phone onto the pillow next to her and spent the minutes after her conversation with Clayton bemoaning everything about her situation in life. Her head was making a clamor worse than anything else she had ever experienced (this is what she got for drinking her way through a hangover yesterday, and probably what she could expect when she returned from her trip), and she had promised a total stranger that she would go on a field trip for more gambling and booze. Smart life decisions, she was making them. "Up and at 'em, Nell. You only live once." Surprisingly, Arya offered no comment to Nell as she got dressed. Normally, the teenager had something to say about Nell's stupider choices, but the girl had been uncharacteristically quiet since their trip to the Passages hotel. She probably just needed time to process. That was fine with Nell, of course, since the war in her head between the pain and her own thoughts was bad enough without a third party intruding.
She rolled herself off the bed and onto floor, her reflexes kicking in to catch her before her bottom could hit the ground. Moving slowly (and painfully) across the room, she switched out the form fitting dress she had passed out in for a white blouse and khaki pants between chugging bottles of smart water. A quick visit to the sink took care of the remnants of her make up, making Nell, in her own estimation, instantly look a lot less pathetic. Her eyes were still shot to hell, but there was nothing she could do about that. All she could hope was that no one recognized her for who she was in this state. Nell didn't mind the media catching her partying (after all, Orin had sent her on this trip to encourage exactly that), but horrific pictures of her hungover and puffy self were something she wished on nobody. A ponytail and sunglasses generally went a long way towards anonymity, and she hoped the same would apply tonight.
Less than 10 minutes after her last message on the journals, Nell was making her way across the lobby towards where Clayton had told her he would be. She spotted the group almost immediately - Japanese tourists, as promised, and a nerdy white guy standing in the middle of their group - and walked straight up to them, trying her best not to grimace at the volume of the drunk and excited chatter. Nell attached herself to the edge of the group, smiling at a few of the tourists, but saying nothing.
Noah was more and more daring these days. Whether it was the influence of Mycroft in his mind, or whether it was the fact that (in Cory) he’d finally found someone significantly weaker than him, well, it wasn’t precisely clear. But he’d volunteered to go on this trip, and he’d dressed in khakis and a white button-down and left the house, all without informing his stepmother of his intentions. It seemed quite the thrill, riding in a bus of strangers to gamble until dawn, and it was the sort of experience that had not been part of young Noah’s upbringing. He was, as it were, a late bloomer.
The Bellagio was a familiar sight for the young twenty-something with hair that was dark and mussed from sleep, and Noah lit a cigarette as he found the rather academic looking man that was indicated on the journals. He recognized Elias, and he tipped his head in greeting, but his attention immediately went to the fit blonde. She looked as if she’d spent a night drinking, but Noah was young enough that such a thing did little quench his interests. He was, after all, rather young, rather straight and rather randy. After looking his fill, then ducking his head with belated embarrassment, he pressed his hands into his pockets and sucked on his cigarette in silence.
JJ was arguing loudly with the driver as the cab sat outside the Bellagio. They sat there for a few minutes, the yelling becoming more heated as time passed. When she had enough of his holier than thou attitude, the cab door flung open and a whirling fury stormed out, slamming the door shut behind her. Before she could move towards the group that Clayton was gathering, she had ripped the front door of the taxi open to continue her tirade while she counted money out for the driver, "It was Martin Mull! I may not know much, but I know-" She was cut off by the voice from inside the cab, her face flushed from using every ounce of her willpower to not throw a temper tantrum right there. The argument had devolved into a 'I'm right! No, I'm right!' about who had played Colonel Mustard in Clue, and neither was about to let the subject drop.
JJ fished into the pockets of her jeans, viciously throwing more money into the cab at the man. "Go! Just go! Learn how to use IMDB, then call me!" The passenger door was slammed shut just moments before the squeal of tires signaled his departure. If she was going to play nice tonight, she needed to get the urge to argue out of her system and the cab driver had managed to fill that vacancy for her. She could say with certainty that she was 99% sure she wasn't going to cause any trouble tonight. With that thought fresh in her mind she walked towards the small gathering, her hands raised in the air as if she were appeasing her adoring audience, "I'm here, I'm here. You can stop worrying now." However, she immediately regretted it when the high-pitched giggle of the Japanese girls scratched along her brain like nails on a chalkboard. The look of distaste on JJ's face was apparent, and her self-important swagger came to a screeching halt. "Oh god, I thought it was a joke..."
Clayton stood a little to the left of the nice Japanese girl who agreed to hold the sign that simply read Hoover Black Jack. He was dressed in a blazer, t-shirt and jeans like some guy working at a record store, though he looked much dorkier. It was his expression of indifference to all the craziness around him. Like he didn’t know how to react to new social situations. But, like most nerds, it wasn’t that he didn’t know it was that he didn’t care to try. He spotted JJ and smirked at the look she gave towards the swarming Japanese girls. It was like he asked her to meet in a fish market.
“Hey, JJ.” Clayton was glad she decided to come. An idiot could see that. He turned away from her towards the growing crowd of people. “OKAY PEOPLE.” He shouted, waving his arms dramatically. “THE BUS IS HERE. FILE IN LIKE KIDS ON A FIELD TRIP AND I’LL PASS AROUND THE BEER BUCKET.” The bus murmured and grumbled behind him, stinking of diesel and sand. The doors opened and the Japanese girls, their tourist friends and everyone else started to pile into the bus. It occurred to him that this wasn’t something he’d normally do, but Scott inspired something special in him. Not to gather people to do good but to have fun.
Elias greeted Noah with an upnod over several heads, visibly amused by his interest in the blonde, but equally entertained by the colorful crowd. One of his exhibits had spent three months in Kyoto, and by consequence Elias knew about ten words of Japanese, highlighted by such polite phrases as ‘hello,’ ‘how are you,’ ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ and ‘sorry.’ This apparently enabled him to carry on a largely one-sided conversation with three of the tourists, one of which spoke halfway decent English. Between the four of them there were a lot of ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ and ‘sorry’ conversations, but they were just getting to the point of puzzling over Elias’ name (which was on several signs highlighting the exhibit nearby), when Clayton shouted over the crowd.
Excusing himself from the three women, who were discussing how to pronounce his name and wondering whether his explanation about pictures meant he took photos, Elias rounded the crowd and came up next to the apparent leader of the expedition as the rest filed onto the bus. He flashed a white smile at JJ and then held out his hand to Clayton. “Elias. Thanks for arranging the trip.” Sherlock was ignoring him in favor of some inner contemplation, which left Elias blissfully in the dark as to the history, occupation, or situation of either person in front of him.
Nell grimaced when Clayton let out out his holler (too loud, too loud, too loud!) but moved dutifully towards the bus. She knew this was going to be the longest “short” bus ride of her life, and she was hoping that the advil she had popped on her way down would kick in fast enough to take the sting out of most of it. If not, she’d have to go the beer route. The thought of more alcohol made her body shudder, but Nell ignored it. She had made a promise, and now she had to live up to it. She was a Monarch (still weird) carrying a Stark (even weirder) inside of her. There was no two ways about it.
She reached the front of the group just as the man named Elias was introducing himself, and followed suit. “I’m the Eleanor you talked into going,” she said with half a smile, “but I go by Nell.” With a smile and a nod at Elias and the attractive woman next to Clayton, Nell moved towards the bus, grating her teeth against the constant chatter in Japanese. She had sat in on a meeting with Japanese clients a few years ago, but had come out of it knowing all of two words - please and thank you - neither of which she was in the particular mood to be using today. With a few more smiles at the girls who said hi or made eye contact, Nell moved directly towards the empty seats near the back of the small bus, sliding into a seat by a window facing the hotel. Once seated, she pulled out another bottle of smart water from her satchel and began to chug.
Noah merely observed. His fingers twitched to the flute in his back pocket and, as was his wont, he quietly filed into the bus and chose a seat with a good view of the most attractive females he could manage. He didn’t need to scream or chatter, though the yelling didn’t faze him either. It was an experience, you see, and he belated wished he would have invited Cory along. But inviting someone else would have resulted in conversation, which was less appealing than merely watching. He settled in a seat, slid across to the window, and watched.
JJ really hated the way she couldn't keep herself from grinning around Clayton, but that nagging feeling in the back of her head thought he was absolutely adorable. That was where Jean and JJ disagreed. Jean would have happily sat down next to him on the bus and chatted with Clayton the whole way, however JJ was in charge, and she was not as forgiving about the anime-type hell she envisioned herself in whenever the high-pitched giggling started. She flopped down into the seat across the row from the blonde girl that called herself Nell and stretched her legs out over the the seat next to her to relax. With her hands folded behind her head, using the window as a makeshift pillow, she announced to no one in particular, "If there's a sing-a-long, I'm using the emergency exit."
Clayton smiled at Elias and shook his hand like they were the only sane people left in the world. “Clayton. Well- you probably already knew that but-” His arms flopped slightly at his sides as a wave of people moved past them, nearly knocking over the precious beer bucket. “Okay yesss! Let’s get going.” He took a seat near the front, playing tour guide, and took a beer before passing it to Elias. “Everyone stay in your seats or no beer for you!” Clayton pat the bus driver on the back and the lumbering vehicle rolled forward towards the freeway.
“Haven’t been to the Hoover Dam during the springish winter. That water is going to be cold.” Clayton cracked his beer open and sighed happily as it hissed.
Elias was an observer, too, though of a different kind than Noah and the irritating Englishman in his head. He took his hand back and found a seat on the bus about a quarter of the way down the aisle, noting Noah’s separation from the crowd at large and ignoring Sherlock’s supercilious opinion about Nell’s obvious hangover. Elias took a drink of the beer as he sat, mostly to shut Sherlock up, since the man hated cold, cheap, watered American beer and withdrew from all Elias’ senses just to avoid it. He let the beer wash down his throat and leaned forward over his knees into the aisle, watching the lights out the window and only sitting back when the bus slid out into traffic to the background of a mighty cheer from most of the other passengers. A few minutes down the freeway, he leaned over and back a few seats to hand Noah the barely-touched beer can.
The bus ride was something like a college football team to some game out in the middle of nowhere. Buzzed with curiosity more than excitement, which suited Clayton just fine. He made small talk with people around him as he dug into one or two more beers and was happy to see most people were doing the same. The bus ventured into a two lane freeway that was nestled between deep, outstretched sand valleys and red desert rock. If it were closer to daylight, they could catch glimpses of the lake, but for now it was mostly darkness illuminated by the occasional street lamp.
Finally, they reached a shabby looking casino that was built sometime in the 60s. The lit sign boasted its cheap blackjack, beer and buffalo wings as if it were only interested in attracting a certain kind of gambler. This was Clayton’s favorite sort of place to crash. The people there were always surprised to see a surge of people pour through their doors and eventually rolled over on their backs like they had just conquered the place with sheer enthusiasm. Besides, there weren’t many relics of the early Nevada left that didn’t come across as downright insanely scummy. This was just older and aging without grace or regard for the passing years. A crumbling temple dedicated to what used to be.
The bus rolled to a stop and Clayton told everyone to get off while he talked terms with the bus driver, who planned on coming in and gambling himself. Good. Everyone would have fun, then. Stepping into the dry, somewhat chilly air, Clayton waved whatever friendly faces he could towards the cheap blackjack table. “First round is on me.” Which was usually a nice thing to do because he’d take all their money, but in this case it was foolish. He needed to lose.
Nell rubbed her arms to fight off the chill and grinned at Clayton. “Good. I assume the winner is still getting thrown into the lake at the end of all this?” She was feeling better at the end of the ride. The advil and water had finally taken effect, and of course, she had abstained from any beer drinking. She was sure she didn’t look much better than she had getting on the bus, but what mattered here was how she felt. Besides, Nell was fairly certain that there would be no paparazzi lurking in the bushes to snap an embarrassing picture of the hot-mess-heiress to an industrial empire. Not in a place that looked like this.
Reveling in the complete freedom to be herself, Nell followed the crowd through the double doors of the establishment. It looked exactly like the exterior promised - sparsely crowded, worn down, but it perfect working condition. The tourists scattered immediately upon getting inside, the largest group of giggling girls heading straight to the slot machines. That left a handful of locals and other loners, who all moved towards the blackjack table Clayton had indicated. “I hope one of you is ready to get shoved into a lake, because I am terrible at gambling.” Granted, she was worse at poker than blackjack, but she always seemed to have the worst luck, no matter how ‘by the rules’ she played her hands. “At the rate at which I lose money, we’ll have free top-shelf drinks by the end of the hour.”
The casino was not what Noah was expecting, but no matter. It was away from the strip and his mother, and he hardly cared about the look of the place. He listened to the buzz of banter and conversation, but he stayed rather far back, as was his tendency. He’d no actual unaccounted for money to lose in this endeavor, not a cent, even with his perpetually terrible gambling skills. He filed out of the bus slowly, and he didn’t stop to take that first round their leader offered, since it wouldn’t be quite the thing since he’d decided he’d have a hard enough time explaining his absence. Explaining the absence of his money would only complicate matters more. He shoved his hands in his pockets, and he wound around the tourists as they scattered. Exploring, it seemed, was on the agenda. He didn’t mind in the slightest, and he wandered off between the metal towers of machines, the ding and cling appealing to him, as the music of the casino always did.
Elias had a handful of impulse control problems in his youth and these days he tried to avoid calling them up again as a general policy; he only brought cash. Never one to gravitate toward technology, he took a seat at the blackjack table to Nell’s left and handed over a couple crisp hundreds for four ten-chip stacks of five dollar chips. He looked around for Noah, but the kid was already gone. Grinning at the blonde, Elias inexpertly pushed over one of the stacks. “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I bet if we run out, we’re losing, huh?” The cocktail waitress manifested at Elias’ left elbow, but he only ordered a disappointing coke and concentrated on where he was supposed to put his first bet. “I don’t know how one of us is supposed to win if we’re all trying to beat the house. What if we all lose?” Elias actually thought that last one was likely, but from his smile he didn’t mind.
“If we all lose, we go home sad drunk.” Clayton told the waitress to get him the girliest drink in the house. He liked brightly colored cocktails that tasted like slushies. There was a whole alcoholic slushie machine store in the Ceasar mall that he was practically a club member of. “The trick is to get that sweet spot in the middle. Where you feel like you left with an extra ten bucks in your pocket.” He waited for the dealer to deal out their cards and then put in a couple chips. “If you get two face cards, stay in the game. If you get a sixteen or seventeen, you’re screwed. You get anything lower than that, ask for more cards and pray you don’t bust twenty one.”
“Good, so we’re aiming small,” Nell declared, nodding her head in approval as the dealer pushed towards her a stack of chips. “That, I can do.” Putting her bet in, she watched the dealer deal, her head running through quick basic math as the cards glided across the table. Nell knew the basic rules of how to gamble at blackjack, and knew she could probably do well for herself if she just had the patience to follow them. Unfortunately, Nell’s attention span tended to wither at casinos, her game playing strategy boiling down to whatever seemed like the most exciting option at the time. It didn’t do much for her pocketbook, but it sure as hell made it fun for the other players at her table.
That being said, it was still early in the night and Nell tried her best to play smart through the first few hands, as the normal patterns of beating the dealer and busting began to emerge. Being a casual place, the players at the table chatted with one another and the dealer freely, doling out advice, groaning when the dealer got blackjack, and cheering loudly when one of the players did. Nell realized that she was enjoying herself despite having made what had seemed like a very bad decision in agreeing to come out here alone and hungover. Good company, decent conversation, exciting rounds of cards - this place was exactly what Clayton had promised.
“Come on Elias,” she said, once they were a few rounds in. “Do it. Do it. Do it.” Nell wasn’t sure whether encouraging the man to take the risk of a hit was a good idea, but it sure was fun to join in with the other players in telling him to. “You’re our last bastion!”
Elias was a good sport about this kind of thing; he had a lot of money and he didn’t mind spending it as long as he didn’t get hooked on whatever he was doing. Obeying Nell’s apparently random advice was a good way of doing that, and even if he wasn’t drunk (it seemed unlikely that he ever would be, since he was drinking the equivalent of sugar water) he was happy to make stupid decisions with a smile anyway. His chips had been seesawing all night, and with the encouraged hit, he lost a bunch more. Chuckling, he leaned back so the dealer would pass him by and consulted a small, color-spattered black book. From his expression as his eyes traveled down the page, it wasn’t the best news. Standing, he slid his remaining chips in front of Nell. “I gotta go check on a friend. Can I trust you to lose without me?”
Clayton was at that sweet spot between drunk and tipsy. A warm grandma’s cookies and chilled milk kind of place that was easy to fall out of if he drank too much or too little. He gave a lazy look over at Nell and Elias and then offered a half-hearted wave as the man departed. “It’s funny. You go somewhere with a huge group of people and they always scatter.” That was more for Scott than himself. He didn’t like have the boyscout in his head, but he did feel sorry for him. As far as he could tell, there wasn’t any X-Men in Vegas but him. That was the worst thing you could do to Cyclops.
“Okay. Time to clean up. Nell. Put all those chips in. We’re going all in.”
Nell chuckled at Elias as he left, saluting him with an “on it, good sir” before waving in farewell. Clayton wasn’t the only one who had noticed that the crowd at their table got more and more sparse as time ticked by, until there were only two. She had been following Clayton’s advice for most of the night, but had to turn to look at him properly at his latest proclamation. “Wait, all in? Seriously? I didn’t even know people went all in in Blackjack.” Still, she was there to have a good time, and at a casino, that involved being okay with losing. “At least we know who’s not going to be greeting the lake face first. Well, here goes nothing.” With a deep breath she pushed her stacks of chips onto the circle in front of her and waited.
Clayton watched as the cards were dealt, planning on busting whatever was handed to him with a smile to the dealer. As they slid forward to him, he lifted the cards up and gave a cracked, “WHY.” Like god had set his car on fire. Like an ex girlfriend threw his tv out the window. Whatever swagger was left in him, whatever happy drunkenness that coursed through his veins was sucked dry the second he saw his cards. “Okay...” Clayton squinted at the dealer’s nametag. “Carlos. This is your chance to work your house magic.” He waited tensely as the dealer took cards until he hit twenty and then asked for everyone to show their cards. The coward didn’t even try for twenty-one. It was game over. Clayton turned over his ace and king, which received a round of applause from Carlos that was not appreciated.
A pile of chips were pushed to Clayton, which he looked at with disdain. “If I get hypothermia, I want to be buried with my money. You hear me?”
Nell stared at Clayton, open mouthed. There had been a handful of blackjacks around the table the entire night, but never when it mattered, and never when there was this much money at stake. She managed to stifle the guffaw of laughter until Clayton had collected picked up his pile of chips, but was forced to double over and let it out when she caught the look on his face. “You are so screwed, Clayton,” she said between bouts of laughter, as she pictured just how much fun she was going to have pitching his ass into the cold, cold lake.
Twenty minutes later, they were all piled back onto the bus. Nell and Clayton sat in the front, both covered in blankets and sopping wet. “I... fucking... hate... you,” she muttered through chattering teeth, throwing Clayton a murderous glare. “I... didn’t... win... shit.”
Clayton’s lips were blue, but oh they were smiling. While he should have made some rules about how the party grandmaster shouldn’t be thrown in the lake no matter what, he was proud of pulling a defenseless girl down with him. Maybe later Scott would make him feel bad and send her some kind of “sorry I dragged you into a freezing cold lake” gift. It was better than making this girl his mortal enemy after meeting her once. But, that was not here nor there. This minute of shamefully shaking under blankets with chattering teeth was the time for gloating.
“First rule of Vegas. You don’t have to lose to win. Or- is that win to l- whatever.” He lost track of the proverb he was trying to remember and leaned his head back to fall asleep.