and the wind that brought me down Who: Jayati & Chris What: Chris stops off at Jay's bar to drink and complain When: Late evening, a day after this thread. Where: The Last Stop
The familiar sights, sounds and smells of the hole in the wall bar Chris decided to visit ebbed some of the tension in his shoulders. The Last Stop was a well known entity, even if its owner wasn't, but he was glad to get away from the location that most of his other apartment complex tenants seemed to frequent.
Limping in as much of a dignified fashion as he was able, Chris crossed the room and took a seat on the far side of the bar, on a stool that was all but reserved for him. He glanced over to the bartender, waiting for her attention to fall on him, glad to be somewhere where he felt at least a modicum of relaxation.
There were some people whose eyes were drawn by shiny things, jewelry and the like, satins, silks and gleaming things. Jayati had never been like that, she watched movement and kept an eye on her surroundings, took note of every face as they came in even if she could only do so for a moment. They lingered on people who caught her interest for a dozen reasons, and acknowledging the ones who warranted it.
What did snag her eyes was people like her, who reminded her of the life she left and still felt the pulse of beneath her fingertips even when she was hesitant about wanting it. Violence of course was always a sure bet, or the hallmarks of it and when one of her regulars walked in who always bore signs of the first two but not always the last she took notice when something was different. So when one of her girls came back behind the bar with her hands full of empties she took the moment to walk down to him, “Something stronger tonight?” Jayati was no one’s counselor and never acted like it, but listening and giving her opinion was both one of the perks and downfalls of tending bar.
Chris rapped his knuckles lightly on the wooden bar top, eventually lowering them enough that he could feel every pock mark and scratch under his touch. He gave a brief nod.
"It would certainly help." Help as in dull his senses for a moment, soften the voices in his head that agonized over every little thing and maybe actually help him think straight for an evening, though he knew that idea was illusory at best. "In a clean glass, too, Jay," he added, a smile softening the teasing remark. "I know how some of your other clients take their drinks, and I'd rather avoid it."
There was a glass in her hand before he even finished but she sighed loudly and put it back before reaching for another, identical glass and squinting at it.
“You know the last guy’s spit really brings out the flavor of your drink,” She remarked dryly even as she poured a double knob with a single large cube of ice. They may not have a lot of fancy things there like cushioned chairs and reliable ceiling fans but she sure as hell wasn’t putting crushed ice in her drinks, especially when it was dealer’s choice and her name was attached to it. There was a rapport built between them though they had only known each other for a few months, one she slipped into easily and appreciated, “Gonna make it?” It was said casually, as if she was inquiring about where he picked up his tie, with the silent understanding that she would fuck off if he would rather her. "I always do," he replied, wrapping his hand gratefully around the glass and raising it to his lips. The quick burst of heat bolstered him. Ice tinkled against its container as it descended back to the bar's counter.
"How's business?" He glanced around at the handful of patrons who were here. "Those regulars?"
Instead of idly chatting she found herself reaching under the bar to one of several mini fridges to pull out a container of fruit that needed slicing and a sharp paring knife to go with it.
“Not bad for a late weeknight.” Personally she had never wanted it to be crazy busy all the time, at his question the knife twirled in her hand with comfortable precision to point around the bar, “The construction workers are, the group of vets, the angry barfly at the other end, but that guy. “ She nodded towards one in the corner talking low with another, “Is trying to start is starting his own enterprise out of my place lately. “ But there was a grin on her face and a dangerous amusement in her eyes, “What about yours? The quick dicing picked up again.
Chris eyed Jay's movements with a respect born out of self preservation and subtly shifted back in his seat, not feeling the need to see his fingers sliced open. He looked back to the one she'd pointed out, studying his profile, before returning to watch her work.
"Things are moving," he replied, hand unmoving from around his glass. "Slow but steady, as they say, wins the race." A vague answer when compared with her more descriptive one, but he couldn't afford to let too many details start circulating. He was fairly certain that some of his own people probably frequented Jay's bar.
"You need help with him?"
A smirk pulled at her features as she went from slicing to rolling the small knife across her knuckles from finger to finger, “Don’t worry, I’ve never cut someone I didn’t mean to.” It wasn’t a threat, more like a light hearted inside joke. Mostly because if she was trying to threaten him there would be no vagueness about it, but the way he leaned away from her like she could slip was funny as shit.
"That's what I'm afraid of," Chris replied, lifting his drink once more as he arched a brow in her direction.
“Can be boring though.” She countered, even though safe (boring )was more in the line with her life (existence)the last few months, and it made her fingers itch and her feet bounce with restlessness sometimes(often). It couldn’t be helped, she was (mostly) staying on the good side of the law.
“Naw, our little entrepreneur entertainment factor is worth it for now, besides I gotta get my rocks off some way.” Half a lazy shrug as she sorted fruit slices, “But I’ll remember the offer.”
His head bobbed, and he turned completely away from that particular source of contention. He had plenty of his own, and he nursed his drink for a long moment.
"Can I ask you a question? If it's too personal, tell me to fuck off, but it would help to bounce a few ideas off of a willing listener."
The thought of needing alcohol for this flitting through her head but she shoved it down, on account of having issues stopping once she got started. So she mirrored his expression with an inquisitive look of her own, intrigued and glanced down at her helper for the evening to make sure she was still holding her own. Reassured she looked back to him and opened her hands, “Ask away.” A fading blonde strip of hair fell down from her braid that she scooped back with her shoulder instead of her messy hands out of more reflex than conscious act, “Always willing to give my opinion.”
His grin slit his face. "Isn't everyone? All right. What would you do with someone who's overly insistent on monopolizing your time?"
Well. That was unexpected, she blinked at him before wrinkling her nose in distaste at the thought, “The simplest answer? Make them not want to be around me anymore.” Easy as that, Jayati had never been fond of making things more complicated than it needed to be, “Take what they like about you and turn it on them.” So maybe she was more combative than he was looking for, but it took effort to look at situations any other way--especially with no context. Was this person a long standing friend? Romantic partner? A superior in some way?
"Hm." Chris swirled the liquid in his glass, watching it move in lazy circles until it settled. He looked up again, fixing his gaze on Jay. "What if you want their attention?"
Her nails drummed on the bar as she pursed her lips, “So you want some, but still to breathe.” It was more of a summary to help her think more than anything before she reached drew a wet line across the wood with her still damp fingers, “Draw the line and tell them, you can’t get mad at someone for fucking something up if they don’t know about it.” A half shrug as she wiped down the water, “Or you can, but makes your side a little weaker. “
"There's always something, Jay," he replied, draining his glass to the halfway mark. "Sometimes you have to give up a pawn to take the knight, you know?" Chris pressed his lips to a line, mulling over her words. Advice solicited and taken, he changed tack.
"How're things, then? Not just with the bar. With you."
Involuntarily her lips twitched as if she smelled something bad, “I’m wary of concessions, they pile up faster than dirty laundry,” But she shrugged in the end, “Though that’s me.” She moved on then, just as willing to move on from the topic of concessions and using strategies in interpersonal relationships as he was even if it was for different reasons.
“It’s one in the same pretty much, we’re open six days a week and I’m on shift at least part of that and I come up on the day we are closed too.” Honestly, she was a little unsure why she moved into Pax Letale, she was hardly there, and when she was pretty much all she did was sleep. Kept her out of trouble though. Mostly, local uniforms still knew her from throwing out a few people on their faces, and unfortunately for them that wasn’t a metaphor, “You better at that work life balance bullshit?”
"Hardly," Chris replied, emptying his glass completely and biting his lower lip as the alcohol slid down his throat. "Does anything I've asked you so far sound like I have any grasp of what that concept is even supposed to mean?" He pushed the empty glass away from himself, tucking his arms closer toward his chest. "Work is our lives, Jay, and if you haven't come to accept that, I've got a timeshare in Florida I can sell you."
He went quiet for a moment, one hand unfurling fingers to rap on the bartop. "The place I moved into is at least nice when I get to spend some time there."
Jayati tapped the glass with a short nail, “More?” Somewhat finely honed bartender senses said there was still a lot on his mind which usually meant there was still an appetite for booze in ‘em but she always asked before she refilled lest she be forced to eat the cost of an unwanted drink.
She shook her head finally, “Sounds like you got somethin’ outside of work going on, that’s a start.” It was more optimistic than she would usually say off the clock, or maybe she was just feeling a little whimsical for the end of the night, “I just moved to actually, but all of my possessions that aren’t here fit in a couple duffle bags and I haven’t even unpacked.” Where she lived was more than she would divulge to a customer, but moving was such a general thing she felt comfortable with that.
"Oh yeah?" He looked at her with renewed interest. "Where to?"
Being good at avoiding giving out personal information when you’re well aware of enemies doesn’t necessarily require subtlety or smoothness, “Some fancy building a bit away from here.” Before it was because she did bad things for bad people and there were some who didn’t take kindly to it, now it was because some of those people were in jail indirectly because of her--and customers shouldn’t know where you live.
A corner of Chris' mouth turned up, not at all offended that he hadn't gotten a straight answer. "If you feel more comfortable leaning forward and whispering it to me, that's OK. I don't bite. Or don't. Can I get another?" He nudged his empty in her direction.
“I don't need you coming around trying to sell me girl scout cookies.” The drink was an easier to grant request, she had been surprised when he ignored her offer earlier and was a little gratified to see she hadn't been wrong.
“Funny, I assumed biting--metaphorical or otherwise - - had something to do with your stormy look earlier.” The drink slid back down the bar with about as much smoothness as her falsely innocent comment.
"Sorry, Jay, but my samoas have always been off the table. You really need to stop trying to come after them," he replied, accepting the drink. "And if you don't ask about my sex life, I won't inquire after yours. It seems to have worked well enough for the military, should be good enough for us, right?”
There should have been something biting about him not asking questions she didn’t want to answer if he didn’t want her to do the same, but instead all she could do was bark out a laugh, “Samoas? Really?”
"OK, how about this. I moved to Pax Letale recently. Ring a bell? I swear I'm not going to be beating down your door. With your work schedule -- and to be frank, mine -- you're probably not even home half the time."
Jayati didn’t believe in coincidences, at least insofar as they applied to her. So the fact that one of her regulars who was also involved in some sort of under the table dealings just this side of the law--the details of which were voluntarily unknown to her was able to pin down where she moved did not sit well with her. Worse if he wasn’t lying about living in the same building.
There was a straightening of her posture and narrowing of her eyes as she seemed to look him over anew, “This is not a small town, Chris.” Not a small town, but apparently a very small world, or a liar at her bar.
"No, it's not. You think I'm stalking you?" He grinned again, bringing his renewed glass to his lips and draining it halfway.
There was a tenseness in her jaw that hadn’t been there a few minutes ago when she grudgingly admitted; “If you are then I’ve seen better, but I don’t believe in coincidences.”
His brows bobbed, shaking his head as he helped himself to more liquor. "I'll have to up my game. And I wouldn't think much of it, Jay. It's an apartment complex and we both happened to end up in the same one. I don't think there's any giant, cosmic power that's trying to tell us something."
The eye roll and sort was both lacking in femininity and professionalism but that had never stopped her before, “I've read more enough religious texts to know it's people that I should be concerned about, not cosmic entities.” Jayati corrected him almost idly while still watching him with a wary expression.