Don't Bluff a Bluffer

February 10, 2016:

Constantine plays poker in a dive bar. Jessica Jones forces her way into the table, Foggy Nelson warily joins.

A Dive Bar in Gotham

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Constantine's eyes narrow. Then shift. He looks left. Then right. Then takes a heavy drag on his cigarette.

Then tension's palpable. Four people, faces guarded, expressionless. The seconds tick by, the shadows from a creaky, weak incandescent light giving everyone a guttural, primal appearance. John takes one more drag on his cigarette and ashes it decisively into the tray, then stubs it out.

"Full house, mates," he says with a broad, triumphant grin, laying his cards on the table. There's an explosion of suppressed sighs and cards get flopped down as John takes the high hand, and with a cackle hugs the money on the table towards him. "Who the hell bluffs with a jack high pair?" he snorts at one of the players. He picks the cards up after consolidating his stack of bills, and with a card-shuffling speed, makes them *bzt* between his fingers and starts flicking them across the table with an expert motion. "Five card stud, deuces wild, buy in is five dollars," he announces. "Who's in?" he asks, slamming back a twenty-dollar shot of bourbon.

This is not Foggy Nelson's Usual Haunt. But he is imprssed with how similar the atmosphere is, as if the doors to all dive bars are merely interdimensional portals to the same place. The One Dive To Rule Them All. But he is, sadly, not here to just knock back drinks. One of the bars owners is having legal issues about a second establishment he bought into in New York, and the only meeting that could be worked out was here. Now. So Foggy looks Suspiciously Professional. Suit, tie, shoes that more or less match his socks in colour, and a leather case with the strap slung over his shoulder, suitably breifcase-like enough in structure to not fall into "man purse" territory.

About five minutes after coming in, he gets a text saying his client will be late. So now he has to kill time. Alone. In a bar. Without drinking. Because… professional.

Jessica Jones has been watching from the bar. Gotham City is a fair ways away from Alias Investigations, but that's on purpose. Nowhere feels like home to her and right now her ramshackle, claustrophobic office it high on the list of places that makes her uncomfortable. Right below that is anywhere that sells alcohol. Seated on a stool in a very unladylike fashion, she's down at least five shots of cheap whiskey: the well stuff, nothing fancy. She can't afford it. She eyes Foggy with a professional sort of manner.

Then, she turns, smirking slightly and moves toward the card table where Constantine has been running the table. She's observed it long enough that she feels confident in being able to at least win some money. "I am." Unsteadily, she slaps down an undetermined amount of crumpled bills on the table. "Hey," she nods at the man she's basically pushed out of his seat. "That guy over there just told me you owe him money." Gesturing with her head, she indicates Foggy - looking nervous and professional at the bar.

John eyes Jessica appraisingly, and then winks at her once. "No problem luv, take a seat," he offers in his lazy Liverpudlian accent. He grins at her little theatrics— the drunken man who is now almost completely broke spots the lawyerly-looking fellow at the bar, and his eyes bug. "Oh shit," he mumbles, grabbing for his empty wallet reflexively. "I can't pay no damn lawyer, man." He staggers towards the back rooms, clearly looking for an exit that doesn't take him past Foggy's position.

"Five card draw, deuces wild, five dollars for the seat," John repeats, dealing a hand to Jessica. He lounges in his chair and waves a hand at the bartender. "Oye, Bruno! Got any more of that Laphroig?" John calls. It's the sort of dive bar where everyone knows everyone, and no one seems surprised by John's casual manner. "In fact, how about a round for the house?"

Ahh, -that's- why everyone tolerates John's poker playing, it seems. A few drunken cheers go up, and Bruno's quickly swarmed by requests, the people jostling Foggy a bit.

"Oye, bloke in the suit! C'mon, take a seat at the table!" he invites Foggy.

Foggy, sober but slightly flustered and slowly, in the manner one talks to children and the very, very drunk, that he's not here to collect money from anyone. "I'm not even licensed to practice in New Jersey! I was just here to-" he starts to explain, but takes note of the invitation, veering right for the table, because a drink and a reason to not be talking to this guy both seem like a lifeline right now.

The cash he puts on the table is just as rumpled as Jessica's, and up close, the suit is… not exactly Armani. Between that and his unlined face, if slightly tired face, he has Still Paying Off Law School just about stamped on his forehead.

As the drunken man dives off toward the back rooms, Jessica smirks and slides into his seat. Her whiskey glass sloshes as she sets it down on the table and settles in, looking at everyone. She's confused for a moment when Constantine invites Foggy, but figures him an easy fleece and shrugs her shoulders.

"Just deal already," Jessica tells Constantine. Both the wink and the charm are met with merely a stony look. However, she will warm up at the prospect of a free drink. That's living the dream. While she does not cheer, she'll take the shoot and raise it slightly to Constantine before knocking it back like it was Jameson.

As Foggy joins the table, she quirks a side of her lip. "You're not licensed to practice gambling in Jersey? Well, good thing you're in Gotham, then, suit. Nobody cares about what's legal here."

"I'm pretty sure the cops in Gotham have better things to concern themselves with than a friendly game of poker," John remarks dryly. He scoops up his cards and examines them for a second, then looks to Jessica. "If the lady would care to lead us in?" he invites, not remotely deterred by her blunt-faced stare. He sips his drink and exhales fire and smoke— Laphroig is best described as an old shoe that's on fire.

He waits for the first round of better to finish, then raises with five dollars. "Haven't seen you around 'ere, luv," he tells Jessica, reaching for a crumpled pack of cigarettes. He produces a lighter and tucks his palm to his mouth, cupping flame from a silver zippo, and stokes the cigarette to life. "You new to the 'berg?"

"Or smoking bylaws, evidently," comments the man in the suit, though good-naturedly enough. Given Foggy's usual choice of poisons, the glass of flaming shoe is appreciated… mostly. Okay. Wow. Yeah, that has a kick. At least it keeps him from giving any tells that he's got a pretty decent hand. And while he lacks the gifts of his law partner, he /is/ pretty good at reading people. Maybe not good enough to read John or Jessica… but he's already noticing a few facial twitches in the other players.

"The cops everywhere have better things to do," Jessica tells Constantine wryly. She only glances down at her cards for a moment before tossing in a medium sized bet for what she bought in for. "Yeah, well, I don't come around here often, so I can't imagine you've seen me. Just because I don't come to Gotham often, it doesn't mean I don't know a line when I hear one."

As Foggy sits down nearby them, she raises an eyebrow. Perhaps she wasn't expecting him to join up with them. Whatever the case, he's there now. "You going to sue us?" She asks, almost dryly amused.

"Feel free to relocate," John offers Foggy with a vague gesture at the door, cigarette wiggling between his lips. "It's a free country, or at least it's supposed to be. Bloke feels like a smoke and a beer, he ought to be able to go somewhere to indulge, eh?"

He raises again, another small bid, tossing a few bills onto the tabletop. "That's not a line, it's a polite question," John assures Jessica, not bothering to look again at his cards. "A line would be something along the lines of, 'did Heaven lose an angel when you fell to Earth?'" he quips. "But a streetwise lass like you, you've heard them all, right? Not much point in flirting apropros of nothing, I'd imagine."

"God no, I generally stick to lawsuits against people who drink at much, much nicer establishments than I do," Foggy assures Jessica in a tone that almost approaches chipper. He puts a few business cards on the table to be plucked up as desired. The chances of someone at this table needing a lawyer at some point are probably far greater than none of them ever needing one. The cards identify him as Franklin Nelson of Nelson & Murdock. Yes, they have a billboard in Hell's Kitchen. No, Foggy is not the guy on it.

"That's not a line, that's a travesty," Jessica replies to John with a roll of her eyes and a monotone voice. Looking at her cards, she doesn't look up to Constantine. "Yeah, I've heard a lot of things I never wanted to hear over the years." Finally, she looks up over the cards at the man dealing. "I don't do flirting."

Despite her stand off attitude, she picks up the card that Foggy puts down. She's a private investigators, a lawyer may need her one day. Plucking a card out of her wallet - it's crumpled and more grey than white - she tosses it toward Foggy. "Here. Even exchange."

"You should try it sometime," John quips at Jessica. "If nothing else, it's a refreshing change of pace to see some bloke on his heels because a lass is taking charge. Makes fellows think twice about asinine pickup lines, and wot." He eyes the bets going around and picks up a stack of bills, then sets them aside and throws a twenty down. "Raise."

He looks to Foggy and picks up the business card, examining it curiously. "Barrister, eh? Nelson and Murdock…" He blinks and looks at Foggy. "You don't look like that bloke on the billboard," he observes, Master of the Obvious Statement. "Is that your partner, or are you just outsourcing your public face?"

Foggy's eyebrows raise, and he smiles, reading the card. "Awesome. Great." Maybe he can hire her to look into things so that Matt's privacy-violating super-hearing /isn't/ the closest thing the firm has to background checking. "That would be Murdock," he tells John. "I may be delightfully charming, but we both knew who would look better on the ad." Shrug. He meets the bet, but doesn't raise.

"I don't do false pretenses. I say what I want." Jessica has finished her booze and needs more. Keeping her cards close to her chest, she raises up her glass and looks back at the bartender. "Garcon? And don't give me any of that crap about it meaning boy." If she's going to talk to other strangers, she needs more alcohol. Not knowing Murdock or Nelson, she puts the card into her pocket, sitting up just slightly to do so.

Betting accordingly, she looks over at Foggy. "I have no idea who you guys are. You're saying you're not the pretty one?"

"Call," John says, flinging his last ten on the table. He flips his cards over boredly and reaches for his whiskey, taking another sip. "Flush, hearts." He leans back lazily in his seat and gives Jessica an approving nod. "I can respect that. Seeing as how introductions are going about, I'm John," he remarks, dragging heavily on his cigarette and exhaling smoke skywards. "Nice to meet you, Mister Nelson," he tells Foggy with a lazy grin.

Foggy shows his hand, it is not good enough to beat a flush. Good thing he's waiting on someone who, hopefully, will pay him. He doesn't seem too bothered by the loss. "And I hate to duck out early, but I have to go talk to that guy," he points to the co-owner, who just walked in. Adventures in property law! Can he really be fitting in so much excitement in one night? He gives the rest of the players a polite wave, and departs for an office wedged into the back of the building somewhere.

Once Constantine reveals his hand, Jessica raises a single eyebrow. She's had a pretty good hand going through the whole thing: a pair of eights and a pair of Jacks. Setting her cards down on the table, she gives him a bit of a smirk. "Jessica Jones." Private Detective she leaves off her title. "So, you got a full house last round and a flush of hearts this one. Odds of that? Not fucking likely." Grinning, she adds, "Plus, I've been watching you from the bar. You're lucky, but you keep yourself not that lucky. Lose a few hands to make sure you keep people off the scent. But, you never bet too high when that happens. Just enough to make it look like you've lost enough of your pot that you're hungry for more. So, John. What's your secret."

With a self satisfied grin, she raises her still empty glass to the bar. "Hey! Where's my fucking drink?"

John winks at Jessica, downing the last of his whiskey and holding the empty glass aloft as well. The bartender rolls his eyes a bit— it's a 'move to the bar' sort of joint— but they're drinking more whiskey than anyone else in the joint, so he moves over to pour them a fresh one.

"Maybe I'm just a good gambler," he tells Jessica in a completely insincere tone of voice, as the table's down to just the two of them. "A bit of luck, knowing when to bluff, when to fold, when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em?" he quotes with a lazy, lopsided grin. "You're pretty astute yourself, though I have to wonder why a bird like yourself is hanging around in Gotham frequenting a dive bar and watching a bloke from Liverpool winning at poker while not-flirting with him."

Finally, her drink is refilled from a harried and annoyed looking bartender. Jessica doesn't seem to mind at all. "It's on his tab," she gestures toward John, in case it was unclear.

"Not likely," she tells him with a snort. "You knew what was happening in each hand. It was more than just gambling know-how. I've watched my fair share of gamblers." She ignores the music quote. As for the question, she shrugs her shoulders. "Booze costs money. Got to make it somehow."

"Ah, so you -are- flirting," John observes, sipping his whiskey. He doesn't seem to object to the lady putting her drinks on his tab. "Most gels open with something other than a vague allegation of cheating, you know," he suggests with a wry smirk. "'I love your tie'," he suggests. "Or 'I'm majoring in underwater basket weaving', or something banal," he adds.

He gives Jessica a shrewd look. "You're not a bobby," he says, eyeing her speculatively. "You're not sitting at the bar with your tits out, so you're not here looking for johns. I doubt you're a SUNY refugee with a penchant for bad boys, and you're a bit too analytical for a blue-collar lass having a pint after hours."

He narrows his eyes, examining Jessica speculatively. "I'd daresay you're out looking for someone. Maybe you're not sure who you're looking for, yet, but you're looking."

"I told you, I don't flirt." Jessica is quite serious on this point. Just because she finds someone interesting or worth following doesn't mean she wishes to take that any further. With a sarcastic smirk, she rolls her eyes and puts on a mocking high school girl tone. "Yeah, because I look so cute when I tell you you're a cheat."

Her voice returning to normal, she tosses her cards on the table and starts to pick up the money she placed down. It doesn't matter it if was part of a game or not. "Yeah, I'm looking for a a guy. Goes by a few different names: Jack, Jose, Johnnie. Know him?"

"You might not flirt, but I do," John says, unapologetically and flashing a tight, unintimidated grin. "Even when it's crashing unsuccesful, though," he concedes.

He doesn't seem to care that Jessica's picking up the money on the table, though he carefully slides the bills that are in his pot protectively closer to his pile of gains. "And for this bloke for whom you're searching— can't help you there, luv," he tells Jessica, shaking his head. "I'm just one more hard-drinking bastich paying for his alcohol habit with a knack for card games. But there are plenty of dive bars in this city," he says with a vague gesture at the doors. "Slip the barman a few tenners, he might be inclined to let you know if this bloke shows up?"

"Yeah, well, consider it a burning carcass on the side of the road of a car crash," Jessica tells Constantine without any sort of sympathy. She doesn't attempt to take any money she didn't come in with. As far as she's concerned, the game was compromised as soon as John cheated however it is that he did.

"Story of my life," she replies, emotionless. "If I had more than what I had here, I'd've spent it." Stuffing her crumpled bills in her pocket, she ups her chin at Constantine.

Moving back toward the bar, she smirks at the man at the table. "He said one more shot for everyone in the place. What a great guy." Just as good as slipping a few tenners, right?

"If every bloke quit trying the minute a pretty gel said she wasn't interested," John quips, "we'd resign ourselves to a life of expensive booze and nicer dinners out."

He rises as well, slinging his tan trenchcoat over his shoulders and shrugging into it. The bartender gives him a speculative look, and John nods once, shortly, in confirmation. He picks up his gains and folds them into a roll, and stuffs the mess into one pocket. From his wallet he comes up with a pair of Benjamins and walks past Jessica up to the bar, and folds them in half to pass to the fellow. "Take care, mate." He eyes the dark-haired woman and cracks a lopsided grin at her. "Miz Jones," he offers, winking roguishly, before he starts sauntering towards the exit and whistling what sounds suspiciously like 'London's Calling'.

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