Behind the Mask

July 03, 2015:

Deathstroke breaks a few rules for the sake of recruiting a popular meta club's security force.

Chaney's, Metropolis

Friday is 'Hyperdimensional Intelligences Drink Free' night.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's a good night at Chaney's: its security hasn't had to punch or swear at anyone yet, and it's comfortably past midnight.

There's still time for someone to decide to act a fool, of course, but for the time being, Grace is taking full advantage of the relative chill by dancing on the club's main floor.

As Metropolis' first club designed to cater to both posthumans and the civilians who enjoy being around them, Chaney's has grown to occupy several floors of what was once an apartment building in what was once an up and coming neighborhood. The second and third floors both sport balconies that jut out over the main floor with VIP areas and auxillary dance spaces. The club's popularity tends to create a high concentration of metahumans in the area that tends to make the area relatively safe, if not exactly scenic. The ambience inside tends to be rather divey, though the stage flanked by towering speakers on one side of the dance floor, the bright neons intermittently flashing over the crowd, and multi-level bar puncture the illusion somewhat.

There's a bouncer in a suit outside; Grace is wearing a Gotham Knights tanktop and cargo pants as she balances sipping from a tumbler of neon liquor and dancing semi-close to a dude with bone spurs lining his spine and a decent set of abs.

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For all of the unique bits of clothing worn by the metas that frequent the establishment, there's one firm and fast rule that's never changed. No. Masks. There's a difference between Metas and Heroes or Villains, this is a place for your more normal meta to come and unwind and no one wants the sort of trouble that masks bring in. Which is likely why the line outside the club goes a bit quiet when a man covered in armor and wearing a deathshead helm walks to the front door. The bouncer takes one look at the orange and black and already starts shaking his head, "No masks." Those in line snicker and one of them calls out, "Backa da line ya fucker!"
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An out of place costume-wearer is, broadly speaking, not the kind of problem that Grace would trouble herself over if she isn't already working the door— not unless they're stubborn about finding more appropriate attire. She even gets a look at the guy when the bouncer accosts him - even here, there aren't a ton of other seven foot-plus individuals to block her view of the entrance - but for now, he mostly merits rolling eyes, a shake of the head, and a mumbled, "Dumbass," followed by a slurp. She also disengages from her dance partner to shift closer to the entrance, readying herself for the possibility of having to do her job even if she isn't exactly leaping into action yet.

-

Deathstroke turns his head slowly so that he can eye the bouncer, "I'm going to be polite." he says evenly, "You are going to let me in. I am going to complete my buisness. These are facts. How many injuries you suffer before these things happen is a matter of choice." the only weapon the armored man seems to carry is a pair of sticks, escrima like, one on each thigh. Well, that and the armor. But it's a meta club, visible weaponry means little. "So choose."
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"Yo," the bouncer says while reaching for his ear. "We got rules here, shit's not hard. One of 'em's not wearing any costumes in; we don't need the shit that comes with people gettin' all tribal in there."

At no point does the bouncer move to bar Deathstroke's path— nor does he visibly flinch from the threat, though sunglasses help with that.

"You wanna come in, you can change. Like everyone else."

Inside, Grace's phone buzzes three times in rapid succession. Furthermore, while she can't hear Deathstroke issuing threats, she can see that he is not, in fact, moving to the back of the line or going home to change. The redhead tosses what's left of her drink back, then begins pushing towards the entrance.

"Outta the way! "Move it!" "C'mon, dude, get your ass back!"

Between the commands, her massive frame, and general reputation among the regulars, the crowd parts as if she were clutching a staff instead of a glass, allowing her to accelerate from walking, to jogging, to - for the last few feet - running towards the entrance.

Regardless of whether or not Deathstroke has already decided to make good on his threats, the club's security reaches for his neck to haul him off his feet after bursting outside.

"Who the fuck are you, that you don't gotta follow the same rules as everyone else, shitbird?!" she demands on her way out.

-

Deathstroke continues to walk towards the door unperturbed, "Good choice." he says to the bouncer at the door as the man makes no move to bar his path, assuming that means of course the man doesn't wish for an altercation. He pauses when he spots Grace's charge, "Maybe I won't be going inside after all." he quips, "My business is coming to me." The reaching grasp of Grace's hand is met with a slight shifting of Deathstroke's center of balance, an almost lazy open handed slap to the ouside of her wrist, and a foot left behind almost like a school yard bully, meant to catch her about the ankle and flip her leg upward. A more perfect akido throw one couldn't hope to find, the sort of move designed to turn a running person into an uncontrolled momentum driven projectile. "I am Deathstroke." he answers her almost nonchalantly, as if that alone should answer her question.
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The bouncer winces as Grace rolls across the pavement. It isn't every day that an unruly patron manages to give her much in the way of genuine trouble— especially with such apparent ease.

"Can't follow rules or be trusted to name yourself," Grace observes in a low growl while popping back up to her feet. The glass broke at some point during the fall, but she doesn't have a scratch on her. Plenty of asphault, though; that, she briskly brushes from her hair and body while striding right back up to Deathstroke with a murderous scowl.

"Five rules, you traffic cone-looking motherfucker: no fighting. No powers. No fighting. No costumes."

She doesn't throw another punch - yet - but she gets as close as she can— nose to nose, even, if possible. Or nose to chin, perhaps.

"No. Goddamned. Fighting. Get your ass gone; you can do it by foot, or you can do it by air. What's it gonna be?"

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Deathstroke smiles beneath his mask, "Trust me Ms. Choi, if we were fighting, you would know it and this isn't a costume. This is my face." it's said in a sort of even way that makes it sound like statement of fact. "I've come to offer you a job and since you don't have a home in your own name, a bank account in your own name, or a footprint anywhere on the grid, I thought this would be the easiest way to garner an appointment. Take a break, we have something to discuss." he makes a motion at the club behind him, "I'll give you a minute to make arraingments."
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"Should've picked a face that doesn't make you look like an asshole, then."

Grace folds her arms as Deathstroke delivers the rest of his message and sharpens her ocular daggers with an arched brow and a tilted head; otherwise, she doesn't move.

"This' the easiest way to garner some busted ribs; if you really wanted an 'appointment'" the finger-quotes are evident, but not actually seen "you'd have spent even five seconds more doing whatever homework you did to come down here throwing my name in my face like I'm supposed to give a shit. I'm not exactly incognito out here; whatever job you've got, either it ain't that important to you, or you're so full of yourself that you just couldn't help but come down here and make a goddamn scene, fuckin' up my shit like it ain't as important as yours."

She still refuses to move towards the club, but she takes a moment to roll her head around her shoulders; the resulting *pop!*s can just about be heard over the crowd chatter and the pulse of the party inside.

"Either way," she then concludes with a glare fixed firmly on his mask, "you'd have to be an idiot to come down here like this if you didn't need me, so fuck going even a foot with your flagrantly rule-violating ass until you gimme a reason to give even a little bit of a shit about what you want."

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Deathstroke's expression can't be seen, which one suspects is part of the purpose of wearing the helm to begin with, "It isn't." he says pointedly. "You guard the front door of a bar, and not a particularly good one, like a troll of old you park yourself beneath your bridge and demand toll's for the passing. It's beneath you." he states flatly, "I'm offering you a chance to make a difference, be better then this. And I don't need you Grace Choi, I want you." somehow that doesn't sound at all like he's flirting, "/You/ need purpose, direction. This 'fun' self destruction you're so intent on isn't who you are, it's how you hide. I see potential in you, in the woman you could be. You're strong, and I don't mean how much you can lift, and despite the attitude you cop, you're diciplined, which is rare and admirable. I am building something, something dangerous, something with the potential to change the world, I'd like you to be a part of it. Of course, if you're not interested you can always return to the dance floor. I'm sure there's someone in there you havn't rubbed up on tonight, might take some searching to find them though."
-

Grace's expression grows progressively sourer, the more Deathstroke tells her about herself. There are moments where she looks almost dismayed, but it's quickly plastered over by more defiant anger. He's dangling an opportunity in front of her, and questionable taste in names and fashion aside, he also gives the appearance of being someone who actually has the capacity to follow through on it— of having a brain in his head and the will to wield it effectively.

If only he wasn't so goddamned smug about it. Grace's fingers are taught against her biceps as she weighs the pros and cons of just socking him here and now.

"I think," she lowly replies after taking a moment to breath deeply in and out of her nostrils, "that if you actually knew me like you're trying to convice me you do, you wouldn't be fucking this up so badly right now."

Still, she doesn't move, neither to return to the club nor make a fist.

"'Direction'? 'Purpose'?" Her eyes flick down and up, and then she lets a derisive noise out through her nose. "Fuck you, dude, what I need is to get paid, not listen to some jerk-off tell me what I need. You 'want' me so bad?" She loosens up just enough to raise a hand and rub her fingers together.

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Deathstroke shakes his head, "I'm not fucking this up." he says simply, "I'm doing exactly what I came here to do. I don't cow tow to anyone, /anyone/, and not for anything. I'm calling it like I see it, you don't like how I see it, then change what I see. I'm not wrong, what's got you riled up is that I know you and unlike everyone else you've ever me, I'm not afraid of you. Not even a little. You don't know how to react when someone's not afraid of you. Been a long time I imagine since you met a problem you couldn't pummel into the ground or push around. Of course, you could always walk away. Or run. Back to your drink and your club, hide yourself in the music and pulsing lights and the dark shadows and how no one else sees you as clearly as I do." he tilts his head to the side slightly, "You want the details you take your break," he waves a hand dismissivly at the club, "and we talk in private." he tilts his head to the side, "Before someone less polite then you shows up and I have to make a statement." he seems to look off into the distance as if seeing something she can't.
-

Deathstroke sees the red-haired giant grind her teeth as he continues to push her buttons with all the enthusiasm of a kid taking his first ride in an elevator. Grace's head rolls around another time or two, sans popping noises. More deep breaths are taken. Her eyes dart frenetically from his mask to everywhere but as she struggles not to wear her frustration too openly.

He keeps.

On.

Taunting her.

Her tongue moves along the edges of her teeth. He dismisses her, makes threats, turns his attention elsewhere as if she's beneath his notice now that he's fucked up her evening.

It's the last straw: Grace punctuates his threat with a sudden hook to Deathstroke's jaw, pulled enough to lay him out without taking his head - or any pieces of it - off should it connect. She's fast for a woman who looks like she juggles barbells in her off-time; not 'shot up with super soldier steroids' fast, but fast.

"You want me to take a break, maybe you oughtta try askin' a little nicer," she then bites off.

-

Deathstroke's head snaps to the side as he's knocked backwards through the air and lands hard against the side of a parked car, the metal of his armor making screaming noises of protest against the paint job of whoever's poor vehicle that is. There's a crack running along the metal helm no, bysecting the single eye hole, and Deathstroke pushes out a hand against the car, straightening himself back up to his feet, "That, little girl, was a mistake." and then he's advancing on her. "I want it known that that's the second time you've attacked me with no physical provocation. When you wake up, you should remember that." and then he's on her. And he's fast. Like /really/ fast. A feignt to draw her defence to her left before stiffened armored fingers strong enough to bent steel dart up and forward, aiming for the softness of her solar plexus.
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"So was disrespecting me and my club, motherfucker!" Grace exclaims with her arms spread wide. "You wanna talk to me, make me an offer, fine, but you can keep the arrogant bull— "

Grace finds herself cut off when the air is suddenly and unceremoniously driven from her body. While she's significantly tougher than steel, Deathstroke's combination of strength, precision, and body armor means that his counter-attack is more effective than she could've possibly expected.

She doesn't quite double over, though; it's more of a surprised bow, and she's wearing a renewed scowl upon straightening with a great intake of air.

He may or may not have been expecting that.

"Are you really," she snarls while drawing back and pulling her fists up, "really gonna act like coming here, fucking shit up you knew not to fuck up, then being smug about it gives you some kinda moral high ground? You mad because your weak-ass read didn't have me begging to fall in line with you?"

As angry as she is and as tight as her already wrapped fists are, she doesn't swing at him again— not yet, anyway. It might be that there's a part of her that still thinks there's room for diplomacy; Grace has spent enough time around masks to understand that fisticuffs are often just an ice breaker. It's also possible that she's considering the potential legal and/or insurance ramifications of punching a dude's head off for the crime of wearing a mask and sassing her.

Of course, it might just be that at some point, a chord was struck somewhere within.

Mysteries abound.

"All you had to do was take the mask off! Maybe throw a 'please' or an 'I'm sorry for being a dick' in there somewhere!"

-

Deathstroke never stops moving. As the air leaves her lungs and she starts to talk, his hand whips out in a graceful blur, the knife edge of it aimed for the cluster of nerves where her neck meets her shoulder while his other hand, that feigned only a moment before dips low even as he does, changing the possition of his entire body so that stiffened fingers dig into the soft tissues on the weak outside of the knee. These blows aren't lethal, but they're painful, and shy of complete invulnerability, they incapacitate. That's the point of course. "I change for no one." he says almost conversationally as he twists and spins to one side and brings his elbow in at her lower back, aiming for a disabling kidney shot. Seriously. He's fast. It's like trying to keep track of an especially angry monkey on meth. "You want respect, you earn it. You earn it, I'll give it. Working as the toll troll in a gimick club? That doesn't earn you shit but a lesson in something you already know." he comes to his feet just behind her and to her left and hammer fist aims it's way at the base of her skull, "You're wasted here, you're wasting here, and all the drink and all the sex and all the bullshit tussles you end up in are small tiny steps down the path to ignominity and a life of running away."
-

Grace doesn't want to hit him— okay, she absolutely wants to hit him, over and over, until the mask shatters.

Grace may currently be restraining herself from hitting Deathstroke, but that in no way means that she's willing to let herself be his punching bag.

His speed mostly takes choice out of the equation for her, though: this is not her first fight by a longshot, but it's like there are three of him. Her body is dense and hard and adapted to absorb punishment in a way that no normal woman could ever dream of, but she still feels pain— not quite to the same extent that most do, but certainly enough that receiving so many blows in so many vulnerable locations is disorienting. Debilitating, even.

By the time he disappears from view, she is weaving on her feet as if she downed ten of those neon things before coming outside instead of just one(and, okay, however many more she may have downed off-camera). Anger is tempered with shock; her fists are still clenched, but calling her guard loose at this point would be charitable.

This isn't her first fight, though, even if it might be the first in a long time - if not ever - that she can remember going this badly. She can't see him anymore, but that doesn't mean he's gone, just— elsewhere.

Probably close.

Taunting her.

Roaring as she whips around so that his fist slams into her face and leaves her with a busted lip, she brings her hands crashing together with every intention of finding his head between them.

She doesn't want to crush it or anything, just— squeeze it. Until he stops hitting her.

Or she succumbs to the waves of pain and numbness rolling through her body and can't anymore.

Whatever happens first; she's more of a doer than a planner, generally.

-

And her hands stop on either side of his head… only without touching him. He's holding up one of those escrima sticks he was wearing, holding it in his fist horizontilly so that her palms slammed into either end of it instead of him. It doesn't bend. Whatever it's made of, it's made to take /punishment/. He stares at her from behind his fist, his head technically between her palms but to far away for her to grasp him. "If you want to be more then you are, to live up to your potential," he says, his tone even and calm, in fact he's been nothing /but/ calm through the entire encounter, "if you're tired of running away and hiding in crowds of people who are trying to drag you down to their level, then call the number. It's an answering service, leave as many messages on it as you want, ask your questions, I'll answer them all. At the end of three days the number won't work anymore and by then you'll have made your decision Grace. Are you going to spend your strength, your power, being someone else's pet troll, or are you going to be something worthwhile. A warrior. Ask the questions, get the answers, think it over. Yes or no. Three days." he says simply, then the stick between her hands flares to life and hundreds of thousands of voltz surge through her palms and up her arms. "I told you, when you wake up… I'm a man of my word Grace. Never doubt that."
-

Convulsions wrack Grace's body as electricity rakes across her skin. She can withstand quite a bit of punishment herself, but try as she might, she can't disengage from him; her muscles, mighty though they may be, refuse to respond.

It'll take quite a bit of juice to knock her unconscious, but there's nothing she can do to stop herself from receiving it. However long it takes, her eyes eventually roll back and she collapses.

-

Deathstroke watches her, expresionless, merciless, the mask unchanging and the man unflinching. As her eyes start to roll back and the voltage dies away he steps forward and catches her, lowering her to the ground gently. A buisness card appears in his hand and he slides it into the front pocket of her cargo pants. He pats her twice on the cheek and then stands and walks over to the bouncer still manning the door, who's arms are no longer crossing his chest, his hands hanging slack at his sides. They quickly come up, palms out and fingers open, "Hey man, do you want!" he says, backing up a pair of steps so as to leave the door open. Deathstroke eyes the man, "Watch her." he says, "She'll wake in a minute or two and she'll be angry. I suggest you meet her with cool water, she'll want something to wash the taste from her mouth." he steps close to the man. "If anyone touches her while she's out, I'll know. I'll hold you responcible. And I'll come back." his voice drops on the last bit. "Understood?" The bouncer licks his lips nervously, "Yeah yeah man! It's cool! No one will touch her, swear on my Momma!" Deathstroke is quiet for a long moment, "Good." he says before he turns and begins to walk away, the club in his hand sliding back into place on his thigh. He chins the HUD comms system, <Peabody, how much did it take to drop her?> There's a moment of silence then, «The full charge boss, the whole thing. You'd have to pull the second if she hadn't dropped just then.» <Huh…> Slade replies, casting one look over his shoulder at the downed and still steaming woman, <Good girl.>
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