Smoke and Alcohol

July 02, 2018:

Dani goes looking for Tom after the majority of the blowing up in HK has completed.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It's the night of the Hell's Kitchen bombings, and Hell still reigns. Sirens wail in the air, emergency services still struggling, for the most part, to even reach the blocks where the devastation has occurred. Walking is much, much easier.

Tom Judge is not difficult to find, after his aborted, non-heroic departure from the scene of the disaster. For the most part, he keeps to main streets, only pausing here and there to check whether he's far enough. 'Far enough', in this case, apparently being roughly ten blocks from where he started, and the first bar that's still lit up.

Inside, it's dark and quiet, subdued for a bar — the TV above the the bartop is playing some live news broadcast — there's a smattering of people here and there drinking. The ex-priest is slumped on the bar, fingers tapping the surface to draw the bartender back towards him and refill his glass with a splash of amber liquid — clearly not his first, to judge by the way he sways and grins as he downs the contents.

For Danielle Moonstar she really has to wonder if Hell visited today. Especially with the surprise visit from the Fire Elemental - or whatever it really was, but now that elemental has been vanquished and the people who fought it are just beginning to drift away.

For Dani she doesn't go too far. Not when her gaze turns to look for the man she helped earlier. She saw him make his escape earlier and now the Cheyenne woman breaks from the group to go hunting.

Thankfully, because everyone is exhausted at this point, she doesn't have far to go. In fact, the trail leads her right up to the first bar that's still in service. Once in front of the building Dani can't quite stop the stare she focuses upon the front facade. It's part disbelief that everything here seems so normal and quiet, while the other part is that exhaustion bleeding through. Either way, with a push of the door Danielle Moonstar Agent of SHIELD enters the dark and quiet bar room. Her gaze flicks around the interior and only stop when they fall upon the back of the ex-Priest.

Now the woman steps forward, her stride easily bringing her to the bar itself. Once there Dani finds a seat right on next to Tom, her attire still holding the smell of fire and explosions along with the soot and dirt. "Hey."

Up close, Tom Judge smells of smoke and soot and booze. He's had worse nights, not that you'd know it to judge by the way he downs half of his glass, head half turning at the new arrival. Something abruptly wary and uneasy creeps into his expression, and no wonder. His expression slides from the fuck she doing here? to This doesn't bode well pretty transparently.

Mouth tugging downwards, he gestures to the bartender. "Make that two," he says, voice sounding rough, coughing a couple of times after he does. "For the save," is added, sidelong, at Dani, as if that might be the only reason she's here. To collect a debt.

The shift of his expression isn't lost on Dani, but for now all she does is say, "Water too. For the both of us.", to the bartender, once Tom orders that second drink.

Then her attention is back upon Tom, "You're welcome." She says to him, her expression friendly enough, though obviously strained. Seeing that many buildings explode and that much life extinguished in one night doesn't necessarily call for completely carefree expressions. "I wanted to make sure you were okay." Her gaze flicks to his arm, "Make sure you didn't need any medical treatment."

The snort is amusement, maybe, if brief. Tom doesn't countermand her correction, but he doesn't release his half-glass of liquid, either. "It's not a day for water, by any definition of the word," he says. "Actually, it's the perfect day to break out the expensive drink you've been saving for a rainy day."

In some ways, he's an odd person — or rather, his reaction is odd. Certainly, his drinking is a direct result of the night's actions, and there's a tension in his posture, but that seems to be largely due to her presence rather than any of the night's happenings. It's clear this is not the first time he's been involved with something earth-shatteringly horrible.

The ex-priest follows her gaze to his sleeve, grimacing at the site of the burnt-through hole of his jacket, more than the very un-burnt skin beneath. "It's my favorite," he says, and then, as if belatedly correcting his mistake, "Nah, it didn't… it didn't get through." The water comes, but he ignores his glass.

"It may not be a day for water, but you're going to need it." She agrees simply, before continuing with, "Smoke can play hell with your throat and all that heat - dehydration is a real concern." When the water and her drink appear in front of her Dani gives the bartender a nod in thanks. It's the alcohol that's pursued first and only after she's tossed back nearly the whole glass does she drink an equal amount of water.

The mention of the fire not getting through causes the woman to glance at his arm again, but whatever thoughts may be in her head stay silently there. "Danielle Moonstar." She finally says, offering a soot covered hand to the man, "Figure we should exchange names at the very least."

The tension of Tom's posture eases, abruptly, like the man was prepared for some sort of fight — not the calm practicality the SHIELD agent offers, instead. He turns to look at her now — really look at her, and not just sidelong-dismiss her. He sees the exhaustion, the strain, and it makes him grimace, for a moment. Wordlessly, then, he reaches for the water and downs it — after giving her a silent toast — as if in concession to her unassailable logic.

The water goes down wrong. Or he drinks it too fast. It earns another wracking cough, leaning against the bartop for a moment with watering eyes, before he finally manages a clear breath. "Tom," he clears his throat. "Tom Judge." After a pause, he shakes her hand. "You, uh, do that sort of thing, often? Run into burning buildings?" Pot, meet kettle.

When he actually looks directly at her the woman offers a twitch of a smile, then that smile turns to concern when the water so obviously goes down wrong. She raises a hand to offer assistance should it be needed, but thankfully it's not. Eventually he gets the water down properly, or gets his airway open at the very least, and Dani drops her hand. A vague flicker of amusement might be seen in her eyes, "Smooth stuff, isn't it."

"Nice to meet you, Tom." She adds, even as she shakes his hand. Her grip is firm though not anywhere near crushing, just practical like she herself is. His question about running into burning buildings increases that note of humor within her gaze. "Sure do, it's part of my job." Though she doesn't necessarily say what her job is. "Besides I could say the very same thing to you - and you don't strike me as law enforcement or emergency services. Most sane individuals who aren't trained for such things typically wait for help to arrive."

"Ironically enough, my body is far more used to the hard stuff," Tom says, with a blandness that speaks to honesty rather than any facetiousness.

His grip is even, and for a moment overly strong despite his seemingly weak frame, though it vanishes almost immediately to something light as his fingers free from hers. "Your job, huh?" the question is obvious in the lead up, even if not outright asked.

"Uhm," there's another cough, though it doesn't have that throaty quality that suggests it's as a result of his lungs so much as to cover a moment where his gaze cuts away. "Stupid, really. Just… reacted, I guess. Not normally my thing." Running into burning buildings, presumably. It warrants a deep draught on his glass that empties the thing entirely. "Pretty Hellish out there, huh?" A finger drops into some of the liquid on the tabletop, not looking at her as he adds all-too-casually, "So that thing — that fire thing was something, huh?"

"I know a few people like that." She says dryly, when he remarks about what his body prefers. And when his grip intensifies for a moment she can't quite stop the faint head-tilt, then, "Yes, I'm an Agent of SHIELD." States the woman, "So we tend to run right on in."

"Well, I don't often agree with people when they call themselves stupid, but running into a burning building is that sort of situation that I will." A smile is then offered to possibly take any sting out of her words, "Fire is dangerous."

"It's definitely something out there." She agrees grimly, her expression shifting to something tight and pensive. "I don't think any of us expected that." Surely not SHIELD, otherwise there would have been more of them down there, and while her thoughts begin to drift that way his second question pulls her away before she can go down that particular rabbit's hole. "It was something, for certain. I think some sort of fire elemental, probably attracted by all the explosions and fire." A hand rises upward to rub at her eyes a moment, "Pretty sure none of us expected to see that either. I'm feeling the need for another drink -" Comes her last words, more muttered than said and with a look the woman catches the bartender's eyes.

There's, well… it's not quite hostile, but certainly there's something less at ease in the ex-priest's expression when she mentions she's an agent of SHIELD. "I see," Tom says, with a note of caution that didn't exist a moment ago.

"Uh. Yeah — that sounds like a thing that happens," he says, almost distractedly, of her assessment of the fire demon-creature. Totally not his fault, nope. Still, he's onboard solving the dilemna with more alcohol, at least, holding up a pair of fingers for the bartender and pushing his empty glass forward to be refilled. "So… SHIELD. Ought to have a big budget for post-shitstorm drinks, no?"

His reaction upon realizing what she does for a living isn't something unexpected. Dani has seen that cautious note enter other's expressions in similar ways.

A vaguely amused snort might be heard from the woman then, at the mention of budgets, "For this I think so. I feel confident in pushing through an expense report with a few drinks on it."

And while the two order their drinks, Dani's expression sobers somewhat. "Do you live back in Hell's Kitchen? If so I'd advise on finding a friend to bunk with, or a motel. It's going to take time to - " Get everything back to rights? Straightened out? Dig everyone out? All of those could be said, but for Dani she fails to get the words out in that first minute.

"They're going to need time." Is what she manages to say, "I'd recommend taking a few days for yourself too. You might not feel it now, but sometimes the stress can appear days later. I'd see someone if you find you're having panic attacks, nightmares."

The positive answer to what could be taken as a spurious question earns a hint of relief in Tom's expression for a moment. And, too, maybe an easing of that caution within his otherwise at-ease slouching posture.

"No," he says, briefly, with a slight cough. "Brooklyn. But the way the streets are jammed up—" he gives a half-move of his shoulder that is the briefest of shrugs. He's clearly not in any hurry, judging by how comfortable he looks in this bar. The latter surprises him, for a moment, and abruptly, he lets out a low-throated chuckle that turns, very quickly, into a wracking cough.

When he finally gets his breath back, he looks wry, resigned. "Nightmares are just another day in New York, Dani. I've had worse." Worse than this? But he says it so matter-of-factly. "A few more of these," he waves expansively, as the bartender refills their glasses, "And it won't matter much, regardless."

"A few more waters too." Dani adds to the bartender when Tom coughs again, then her gaze returns to the ex-priest.

"It's going to be days before the traffic is going to ease." She says, then, "To be honest it'll likely be much longer than that."

His matter-of-fact words sharpens her gaze, as she considers the man next to her. "I'm sure you don't need me to say this, but alcohol doesn't fix the underlying problem. Whether it's stress from what you saw today or other things." Because she's getting the sense that there may be some other things he's speaking about. "You mind if I ask what you do?" She asks as her hand curls around her newly re-filled glass.

He gives a half nod to her comment about the traffic, like maybe he's not listening, or it's not a point worth contending. Traffic in New York, is after all, abysmal at the best of times. He takes two quick gulps of the amber liquid, exhaling and glancing sidelong at Dani for a moment, as if weighing an answer to her question.

"Private detective," he says, finally. "Nothing half so fancy as your work." Her comment about his drinking — and the problems it definitely doesn't fix — earns another coughing laugh, brief. "Yeah. But fuck it. God doesn't care if I get shitfaced, and the chances of me dying of a failing liver as opposed to being torn ap—" he stops, like a switch is flipped, realizing he's said too much. There's a slight shift of his body, swinging the old-looking, odd silver cross that swings from his neck away from her. "Nothing I haven't heard before," is what he finally settles on. "Life is short, Danielle Moonstar. You might get eaten by a… fire elemental… tomorrow. Might as well enjoy." Which he does, by taking another gulp of liquid.

Private detective. That brings a curious look to her eyes. "Well, I'd imagine you probably have more interesting stories than I do." She begins, before he continues to speak. His mention of God earns a slight rise to her eyebrows and then her eyebrows only rise higher when he abruptly stops himself from finishing the last portion of his thoughts.

The mention of life being short earns a grimace from the woman, "Or a bear." She says cryptically, "And while I get what you're saying I haven't found that 'enjoying' life makes anything easier. Have you? And if so what's your secret? I still find myself being dragged under by the current of life."

That earns a wry smile from Tom. "Maybe, but… kind of doubt it. Mine are more of the mundane variety, rather than the… extraordinary." Just a slight lilt to that word, dismissive. He's aware of her looking at him, of her reaction. He's studiously staring at his glass, pretending not to notice.

"Or a bear," he concedes without batting an eyelid, like that sort of thing happens all the time. It's the latter that earns another of those incredulous looks, and a snort. "Christ, I haven't got shit worked out. Why do you think I'm in a bar drowning my sorrows? Shit's fucked. Just, you know, some things—" his expression darkens momentarily, "No point worrying about the what-if's. Letting them stop you doing the things you need to — want to do. You want to go nude boarding on Venice Beach, or stroll through the pits of Hell or toast the end of the world in a," he gestures, "Pretty shitty bar, hell." He shrugs. "Just do it."

That emphasis on extraordinary pulls forth a vague head-tilt from the woman, but that's about it.

His next words, not the language, prompts a short laugh from Dani. "Well, glad to know I'm not the only one who hasn't found all the answers." By this point Dani remembers her drink and downs a good portion of it, before the glass it pushed slightly away from her. Apparently she's done drinking for the night, or so it seems.

"It's hard to ignore the what-ifs." She says, "It seems like when you do the consequences are greater in some other way. So, which is better? Paying the pied piper now or later." Her shoulders rise upward in a shrug, as she considers the man next to her.

"But I agree with what you're saying. You should do what you need to do, but what you want - that's debatable in some ways, otherwise we'd have the Purge happening twenty-four seven." A hint of amusement might be heard in her voice with that last part, but also honesty. It's clear she believes what she's saying.

"I'll be paying, all right," Tom seems oddly comfortable for all that admission paints acknowledgement of a bleak future, "But that's future-Tom's problem. Current Tom's had a fucked up night, and is enjoying the drink and the company — so sue him." Even if she's done, he seems to only be starting, draining the rest of his glass with a smoothness.

The latter earns a sidelong, considering look, the tall man's lips pursing. "Well, let's just say… not everyone can live like that. But those that do… they're the ones that invite chaos, and not all chaos is bad. Sometimes you need chaos to… stop up the gaps, you know?"

"No, the night hasn't been the best." Comes the agreement from the Cheyenne woman, her words sounding fatigued now. Still, the conversation continues and Dani listens.

"While I agree chaos is needed in some form and shape, I personally am not a fan of it. It always snarls the things that are going well, stop-gaps or not." Dani states and while she was about to say something more there's a sudden sound of a computerized trill from her hip. A phone, SHIELD issued, is pulled from a pocket. The text message is read and then the woman's expression turns tight. "Work is calling me in, so I best be going. I'm glad you're okay." And even as she tucks her phone back into her pocket a wallet is taken from her other. A small wad of cash is pulled free and tossed on the bartop, "That should get you a couple more. There's enough there for a cab too, but I can't promise the cab will get here in any sort of timely manner. Be careful getting home." And finally a card is set upon the bartop near the man, a small white rectangle of cardstock that holds the SHIELD logo and shows Dani's name and a phone number.

"If you need anything give me a call. Like I said sometimes the shakes don't hit you until days later."

"Maybe," Tom says, unwilling to concede on that point, but at least not upset by her disagreement thereof. He falls silent when her phone trills, something cautious leaking back into his expression like — for a moment — he forgot who she worked for.

He looks surprised, as much by the cash she drops on the counter, as her encouraging a couple of extra drinks. "I'll toast you," he says, with a smile, genuine, abrupt. "Good luck." And then, after a moment, "Stay safe out there, Dani Moonstar."

The card is left on the bartop, for now, the cash pushed at the bartender as, even if she's leaving, he's gesturing for a refill. He's in for the long haul, and one could well suspect he's going to drink through that cab money.

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