It's Like a Thank You

December 05, 2017:

Owen and Luke chat about present bear issues, Owen's past and the bar's future. Luke tries to be incredibly kind and generous, Owen is a dick about it.

Luke's Bar

+-[ Luke's Bar - New York City ]---------—+
It could be any other bar in New York. It's rather unassuming, built into the corner of the ground floor of an aging brickwork building with apartments above.
A set of glass paned doors lead off the vestibule, opening up into a long and skinny main room that's taken up with a J-shaped bar, while small tables dot what little open floor there is. The left wall is compromised of multi-paned windows bifurcated by white metal blinds, blazed with the occasional neon sign sporting this beer or that booze. The bar itself has a draft station and pair of speed wells along with a myriad of multicolored bottles that are shelved against a mirrored wall. The bathrooms and access to the office and cellar are at the back.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Emery Papsworth, Tony Stark, Captain Cold, Amanda Waller

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's still early enough that just the die hard 'grab a drink between work and home' patrons are here, before those that choose to have a liquid dinner instead wander in. Luke is armed with a clipboard and a pencil, doing a bottle check and filling out an order sheet to restock their inventory. All in all it's a rather mundane task when compared to Demon Bears and shutting down a Fisk operation, but it still needs to be done. Life goes on.

*

The craziness of the last few weeks have given Owen a renewed appreciation for the mundane. The slowness of the early evening used to be a dreaded bore than wore on his soul. Now? It's a quiet time to crack jokes with a few regulars, none of which are particularly funny, though they laugh anyway. Owen is dressed for work in a slightly more respectable manner than his usual attire, a black dress shirt, open at the top, untucked over a pair of clean dark blue jeans. His face is looking better, but larger and deeper wounds on his chest and arms are still bandaged, though most of that is concealed by his shirt. He is at least back to moving normally, and the arrow wound on his arm is almost fully healed. As usual Owen is having a pint during the slow time, it's not something he ever cleared with Luke but it hasn't come up yet.

*

Did Luke notice the beer? Probably. Does he care? Probably not. Luke was clear enough on the rules that really mattered, and the rest is just semantics. Like, if Owen drank to the point of breaking one of his rules? Drinking wouldn't be okay. A pint here and there seems harmless enough. "You're a signature on the expense account now, so I'm going to need you to start paying vendors when they do deliveries. Just leave the carbon underneath the drawer so the balance can be reconciled." He says as casually as he would as Owen to grab another box of Bock up from the basement.

*

Owen is well aware of Luke's presence and so he's obviously not hiding anything. He does stop mid sip when Luke comes up to point out the change in policy. He quirks an eyebrow and slowly lowers the beer. "Uhm. Okay?" He doesn't seem to think it's all that significant considering it's a small shop and it means Luke doesn't always have to be there. But, it does seem quick to him. "Any particular reason for that change boss?" He takes his beer and follows after Luke as he walks away. "Taking some time for the holidays? Going to Alaska bear hunting?"

*

Just the word 'bear' makes Luke give Owen a sort of flat look, "Just thought it would save some hassle and headache for everyone. The Budweiser guy will drop off on credit, but the Miller distributor needs to be paid up front and…" He makes a vague motion with his hand, "The less I have to think about it, the better. This way you can just write the checks and be done." He goes to make a mark on the paper, accidentally splintering the pencil with too much force. Obviously he's still hung up on the word 'bear'. "Emery did his…" A glance up, "Soul thing on you, right?"

*

Taking a sip to cover his mischievous smile, Owen patently ignores Luke's look about the bear. Nodding at the details, by this point he is familiar enough with the routines and delivery people that it's not news to him. "Alright. You want me to take that off your hands, fine. I'm looking into an app to do it for you though." Seriously, paper? Owen understands Luke has a whole old school thing going, but he is at his heart a tech guy.

Noticing the stress, he sets the beer down. "Mr. Belvedere? I ain't seen him since we screwed the pooch on our trap. But we went on a drinking and donut binge after.. so I assume I'm clean." He thinks about it for a second and adds "And by the way he chats up anything, if I were to lay bets on catching something, I'd lay it squarely on his D." He is aware that bear herpes is a euphemism for some soul magic, but he can't resist a crack about Emery wanting to sleep with anyone and anything.

*

"Then I guess you better stay away from his 'D', or get real acquainted with the free clinic over on 135th." Luke chunks the pencil into the trash, now nothing more than No. 2 kindling. "Stark gave me a new phone that can actually /run/ apps, so if you figure it out let me know." A pause. "And then give me a crash course, but a brother has /mastered/ Angry Birds." They have a lot in common, he and his pixelated feather friends. Bucky clearly is the slingshot. "I'm starting to worry about the state of Jones' soul." He adds as an aside. "She came in and hugged me. Right where you're standing." Clearly something Luke is still marveling about, as mischief may be afoot.

*

Laughing at the crack. "I think I'm quick enough to evade him." If only Owen knew how much of a shine Emery had taken to Luke there would be no end to the wisecracks. Sadly, he is unaware, he assumed there would be, but doesn't have any fresh material to go off.

Shock ripples across Owen's face. Not that Tony Stark personally gave his boss a phone, Owen could care less about famous types. No, Luke actually uses apps! And is open to the idea of modernizing the running of the bar!! "Wait .. what? Really? I will .. do that." Of course he has no idea how to use tech to run a business, but now that he knows Luke won't just shut him down, he can certainly figure it out.

"Jones?" It takes him a moment to translate back to Jessica, and he quirks an eyebrow at Luke about the hugging. He then raises both eyebrows and gives a (…and?) look, as if waiting for more. Realizing he misread something earlier he asks, "Wait? Are you two not fucking like rabbits? I thought you were fu-.. er.. together" How do normal people talk about these things called relationships? Owen wouldn't recognize a healthy relationship if it loved, cared and mutually supported him.

*

Luke tries to give Owen that same unamused face, but there is just the slightest hint those commas at the corner of his mouth might actually be apostrophes. "Yeah, really. If it's economical for both our time and energy, why not?" The truth of the fact is that Luke is mainly old school because he tends to break everything else. And old school is cheap to replace. He grabs a bar mop, starting to wipe down a slice of bar that really doesn't need any sort of cleaning, but he needs the distraction. "Jess and I? Naw." He drawls. "Too much history to build a future. Poisoned ground or some shit."

*

Hardly needing to be convinced Owen readily agrees with Luke about getting things at the bar modernized. He relents with a "Sure. I'll look into it."

Noting the evasive cleaning something that doesn't need to be cleaned routine. Owen picks his beer back up. He takes a long drink and says, "But you would. She wouldn't. Else, why are you thinking a hug means she is not quite herself." He may not be familiar with healthy relationships, but he's like a master of the screwed up ones. "But Emery cleared her? Right?" Showing some actual concern in his voice he skips the nickname for their favorite butler angel warrior.

*

Luke's eyes flick over as Owen makes his observation, calling the big guy out for having feeeeeeelings, one way or another. Thankfully, he keeps right on talking and gives Cage something else to focus on. "I mean, I guess. I don't know if they've seen each other since the sudden bout of affection. She just walked in here, hugged me, and walked right back out. Sure as hell doesn't sound like normal Jones to me." His nod ticks up, "Hand me that bottle of scotch, will you?" He flips over a glass while he waits.

*

Owen isn't pressing. Men and feelings and what not. He's just letting Luke know that he is 100% transparent about how things are, and even idiots like Owen are able to pick it up. Passing the bottle of scotch, Owen sticks with his beer. He is technically the one working, which reminds him. He actually serves a customer or two, before coming back.

"I don't know her. Obviously. I mean we met once or twice…" but not in any real, like getting to know someone way. And really Owen's track record with women being what it is, if he wasn't trying to sleep with a girl, then why was he spending time with her? So yea, no real hanging out with Jones. "I'm gonna guess maybe she just appreciates the fact that you got her back? Or maybe she's just going through some shit?" Owen knows he has. He is guessing from Luke's talk after the bear that he was. Owen didn't have a good friend to go hug or the emotional maturity to know how. He had a someone to drink with and blow up stuff with though, and that is kind of the same thing?

*

Luke pours himself three fingers, which happen to be three of Luke's thick fingers, so the rocks glass is nearly full when he sets the bottle aside and moves to lean against his normal post. He cradles the glass like a crutch in one wide palm. "Of course she is. We all are. Just maybe thought at one point we were going through the /same/ shit, you know?" A shrug rises and falls. "That ship sailed back in Wakanda. So." A pause, only long enough to take a gulp. "Who are you running away from?"

*

There are few, if any, less judgemental of someone's alcohol consumption than Owen. He doesn't even notice the pour size, just that Luke keeps it professional by using a glass. He nods about the idea of going through the same stuff. It's been oddly comforting. Owen feels bad that Luke got roped into the bear thing because of him, but at the same time it has helped him view the man as not just his boss. Not like that! Sheesh. Luke is one of the first people to offer to help Owen without an ulterior motive, at least that Owen can see.

"Me? No one" It's the automatic response. But he doesn't stick to it long, especially when he makes eye contact with Luke. "I'm…" he exhales and tries to pick his words. "My past. I'm trying to put somethings in the rearview. Including a past as Captain Boomerang." Certainly not the most famous of villains, but both Owen and his father had their share of criminal capers and newsworthy events. He clarifies a bit here, "The second one." Not everyone realized or cared there were two, but his dad was a villain for a long time, longer than Owen's been alive.

*

That scotch must be stronger than most, because Luke's nearly coughing that next gulp right back up along with a lung. Either that or it has something to do with Owen's admission, and he has to beat himself on the chest with the flat of his palm to get the oxygen flowing again. Cage makes a grab for the remote near the register, suddenly turning up the modernized internet based jukebox in the corner to drown out their conversation from patron ears. "Captain…what now?"

*

You done? The look on Owen's face is a familiar one. It's the look he gets just about every time he has to explain to someone outside of Gotham or Metropolis about the boomerangs and the Rogues. He patiently waits it out though and continues, "Captain Boomerang. One of the Rogues." He waits for a reaction, because likely if Luke doesn't know his nom de geurre then he is probably likewise unfamiliar with the group.

"It's a group of villains, yes most with gimmicks before you ask. We mostly just robbed shit or took on jobs or fought with capes." Yes capes. They have their own slang, it's dorky and only funny in how seriously they take it. He takes another bigger drink of his beer before continuing. "I got involved because it turned out my real dad was the first Captain Boomerang. He died." Which Owen doesn't sound torn up about at all. "I picked it up but only 'cause I didn't… know what else to do?" Yes, it's a dumb reason. Owen at least knows that much, but again, he's not prepared with the skills that might help other people make better ones. He's working on that.

*

Luke thinks better than to brave another drink while Owen is talking and instead rests his glass in the crook of his arm as he folds them over his chest. More importantly, he's paying attention to what his bartender is saying, absorbing it rather than letting it roll off his back like something something duck and water. Concern knits his eyebrows. "They going to come looking for you? Your old crew?"

*

"I don't know." Owen had hoped not but after Jessica popped up, that kind of shot that down. "They hired Jessica. Jones. To find me under some little 'cutesy' fake baby mama thing. But she helped me give 'em the slip." So? Why does he think they would stop? He elaborates, "I don't owe them anything. I didn't cross them. I didn't break their rules."

Explaining a little bit more about how things ended he adds, "I got caught. Sent away, did some time and decided I wasn't going back. I didn't exactly ask if they were cool with that. I don't care." He finishes his beer and sets it into the sink to wash up later. "Someday I will go officially resign. I just needed to get some distance first." And make sure he wasn't going to get roped back in by Cold's smooth talk. After all, he still thinks Cold is his uncle and it even though Waller is telling him otherwise, it's hard to turn his back on possibly family.

*

At the mention that Owen did some time, Luke's eyes do a quick sweep up and down, assessing him in a new light. Maybe trying to figure out just where he'd fall in a prison pecking order. "The thing with boomerangs, they keep going back to the person that threw 'em in the first place. So I guess the answer is, it's not a problem until it becomes a problem." His voice rumbles deep in his chest, like when he's disturbed by the notion of something.

*

It's a bit different in Belle Reve. Yes, it's still a prison but it's a prison based on the fact that other prisons can't contain what it does. The pecking order is basically established by similar concepts though and Owen would have been okay on his own, but his status as a Rogue meant he had an easier time than most.

"I know. Look." He pushes himself off the back of the bar he was leaning on. He hears the bit about boomerangs as if Luke things he's the one likely to return to his old ways. "I told you before. You don't owe me shit. You shouldn't trust me, by all rights. I'm a bad bet." It's all the self doubt that he has to constantly fight back coming to the surface. "But." There it is. His voice stiffens, strengthens. "I'm not going back. I don't mean prison. I mean that life." Yes, Luke was likely talking about the Rogues coming back for him, but again Owen has 0 experience with people trusting him. It's a chip on his shoulder that constantly colors his interpretations.

*

Luke turns away from Owen's explanation, giving his bartender a nice view of the wall of his back as he sets his drink down next to the register. The old monstrosity is lifted like it's a plastic children's toy, and a brown envelope is slide out from beneath. "Sign these, and then you'll have something to fight for." The paperwork is slapped into Owen's chest. Perhaps a little harder than truly necessary. Of course, inside, are a host of legal papers with Nelson & Murdock letterhead on the cover sheet and yellow stickies declaring 'sign here'. Should Owen actually have the stomach to read them, it's a whole lot of legal mumbo jumbo, assigning Jones as the executor to some estate should one Luke Cage become deceased, and a footnote of that estate now listing Owen Mercer as the one to inherit the bar, and the rent controlled apartment upstairs. "Then, I'll believe you." Easy enough, right?

*

Half expecting to be fired, Owen is not surprised by the paperwork. He just thinks it's termination papers or something like that. He pulls them out and signs them, resignedly. "Fine. You want me.." Wait? Super stealth speed blur reading. "… to inherit your bar?!" He stops there to look at Luke, did he read that right? Is that what it means? He's not being fired?

"What the fuck is wrong with you? I mean seriously. Are you touched in the head or just dumb?" It's like 'Thank You', but a whole lot meaner and with more cursing, and in no way shows any gratitude whatsoever. "No!" Owen crumbles up the papers and throws them in the garbage.

*

One of Luke's eyes twitches as Owen crumples up the papers, but the thing is, crumpled papers can be smoothed back out. And Owen already signed them. Luke strides forward, putting his form between the trash and Owen before he fishes out the legal work and flicks some coffee grounds off the edge at the other man's face. If Owen wants them back to destroy, he'll have to pry them out of stone hands. "It's null and void if my death can be traced back to you in any way shape or form." So there's that?

*

What? There is no yelling? No punching? He must not have done that right. Owen will try again. "See? You at least have the good sense that I could murder you! I killed people. Just blew them up or burnt them to shit… I killed cops." It's not bragging. There is definite pain in those confessions, but he still tries to use them as weapons. And no women or children. There were some rules, as twisted as that seems now.

Watching Luke take the agreement out of the garbage Owen just shakes his head. "So let's recap." He has calmed down enough to be a bit more rational, but he's not done. "Jess comes in hugs you and you're all" it is here that he makes the perhaps unwise decisions to do his Luke impression, crossing arms, trying to stand as big as possible and affecting a 'Luke voice' "She got soul problems." Reverting back to his normal voice. "And then you. Having known me, what a month? Try to leave me a fucking bar! That. You. Love."

He shakes his head and says "You got the bear herp. Or a soul infection or something boss." And then with a little more unctuous tone, "Don't do this. It's a bad decision, I should know I am the king of bad decisions."

*

"Nah, I haven't seen the Bear Bitch since I've seen Emery, I'm good." Though Owen's impression of him was pretty impressive! For being a skinny white kid. "And there's rules and guidelines. Like not being able to sell it for five years after taking over ownership, and you have to keep the doors open during that time or it reverts back to the estate." It's all rather standard and boring and lawyerly in the fine print, which is not a place that Luke comfortably dwells. Spreading the paper out on the bar, he runs a palm over it to pressure press the creases and wrinkles out. "You need a break. And if I'm gone, I won't be around to make sure you get it. So." He motions around. "Oh, and you can't change the name."

*

"Why are you still talking like I'm saying yes? I'm saying no." Owen eyes the papers and considers trying to get them away, but decides against it considering the patrons in the bar and the no meta-ing in front of the customers rule. He doesn't realize that he is still following Luke's wishes even while trying to not follow his wishes.

"But wait, aren't you like unbreakable anyway?" He starts to relax as he realizes it only matters if Luke dies and Luke is like magic. "Like, do guns hurt you? Have you ever been shot with a bazooka?" See? Now he's already fantasizing about shooting Luke with small missiles. This is how his mind works. "I have some explosives. Do you know if those are effective?" Well, that escalated quickly.

*

"Shot, yes. Bazooka? No. Had a building fall on me once, and some energy missiles. Gassing, gassing seems to knock me on my ass, but I also heal fast and there may have been some magic involved with the not dying thing, so. Point is, I might be unbreakable but sooner or later there is going to be something bigger and badder, and last Friday I was afraid I was walking into just that scenario. So it could've been Jess standing here trying to get you to sign the damn papers." They start to get folded up, and then slide into his back jeans pocket. "Which are signed now, so thanks." Luke seems pleased. And completely unfazed that Owen is vehemently protesting all of this.

*

"So get a gas mask. Or have your buddy Stark whip up something." Owen is already mentally calculating what he would do. What tech would he use to bring Luke down? What tech would he use to counteract it? He doesn't seem too phased by what Luke has or has not faced.

But then Luke brings it back around. "What? You go running off to face some shit, and didn't ask me? Hell no. You want me to leave me shit if you die, then you give me the chance to keep you alive. That's my deal. I swear to God I will burn this place down if you die otherwise." Owen leaves the part about why Jessica is involved in this out of it. It's a sore subject of sorts for Luke, but he certainly notes that she's involved. But really, he can't handle the thought of unearned generosity, or even kindness. Maybe if he could help, then it wouldn't feel like so much of a favor. Of course he hasn't thought about what happens if he fails, Luke dies and then he gets the bar, because that would be WAY worse.

*

Luke really doesn't like to sit around and contemplate his weaknesses, he'd rather just go on believing he doesn't have any until proven otherwise. It's what helps him keep doing things like asking the Winter Soldier to launch him at a Mega-Meta without so much as blinking an eye. "So now we have a deal." Luke's thick arms fold back over his chest, using his height advantage to look down his nose at Owen with amusement shining against his dark eyes. He doesn't say anything else, he just lets that settle in for a moment. Maybe stew a little bit.

*

How did that happen? Did he just agree? Dammit! Fine. "Deal. You don't do anything dangerous without giving me a shot at keeping your dumbass alive, and then if you bite it: I get the bar, turn it into a male strip club featuring nothing but jacked black dudes in thongs in your honor." Yea, Luke might have to modify the terms a bit if he is really set on the idea of handing his baby over to Owen.

*

There is another twitch from Luke's eye. Jacked black dudes in thongs. At least Emery will be entertained. "Just…make sure you have a Drag night." The big man then motions down the bar where a customer is trying to get their attention. "Grab that, will you?" His bald head shakes as he heads in the other direction. Presumably to lock that paperwork up tight so Owen can't change his mind.

*

Laughing at the eye twitch and the crack about drag night, Owen heads off to actually do his job. "Yup. Least while you're still breathing." There will of course now be an endless stream of death threats and terrible plans for the bar like country western themed saloon to come.

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