Overdue Apologies

July 12, 2018:

Dani catches up with Luke Cage and offers an overdue apology for the demon bear nightmares.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Not officially open yet, the neon in the windows of the bar isn't glowing and the sign on the door still reads 'closed'. The building has a large banner strung on the side that says 'For Lease' but all of the windows above are dark. Tenants either have yet to move in, or there is a stigma surrounding the place based on the fact that the predecessor burned to the ground.

Despite that, the door to Luke's is unlocked and the lights over the bar are switched on. The pools of light illuminate the bald headed namesake of the place as he's bending and turning, sorting through boxes from a recent delivery. Occasionally he taps in a number on a tablet computer, a far cry from the clipboard and pencil he used to use to take inventory. The brand new internet jukebox is playing a Blues song at a low volume while he works and the place still smells of fresh paint.


Whether officially open or not Luke's newest bar is about to receive a visitor.

Who might that be? One Danielle Moonstar.

It's taken her a few days, but she's finally struck up the courage to come visit Luke Cage. One of the ones she never was able to explain what happened so many months ago. Or even apologize to. Tonight, however, that changes.

As such, as Luke tallies and types and unpacks there's the vague knock at the door, then a light push as Dani finds the door unlocked.

While she doesn't necessarily step all the way inside, she does peep herself halfway in, "Evening. Anybody home?" And while she spies the man within the bar itself, the woman waits for him to acknowledge her, possibly invite her in.


Despite the door not opening all the way, it still triggers a little bell above it to ring, "Ain't open yet." But when Dani announces her presence with the addition of her voice to bell, that's what pulls the man's attention away from his work. He looks at her for a moment with a flat expression before he glances back down at bottles to be sorted. "Something I can help you with?" The words are pronounced a little too much to be casual or even particularly welcoming, but he doesn't just kick her out, so that's something. Not much, but something.


Well, not immediately being kicked out is a bonus, even if Dani's expression tightens.

After all, his reaction isn't something that's completely unexpected. Still, that doesn't stop her from stepping all the way inside and as she steps inside her senses flare briefly from the magic within. It's enough to cause her attention to shift off the man and for her to look curiously around the room, before she looks back to Luke.

His question, so casually pronounced, causes her expression to stiffen further with emotion; though not surprise. Again, she's not surprised by his reaction.

"No, but perhaps I can help you." She states as she takes a few steps further inside, intending to get into something of a casual conversation distance, though by no means barging into his personal space. "I wanted to apologize for how we originally met some months ago. Give you an explanation of what happened, if you wanted it."


"Jess explained it. Same juju that was sucking out souls and caused Jane and Bucky to try and kill her." Luke says crisply as he jerks a crate off one stack and moves it to another. He's not meeting her eyes or even looking in her general direction, keeping himself busy with a set to his jaw that squares out the shape of his face and hardens its edges. His breathing isn't labored from his work, but rather keeping his temper in check, each exhale making his nostrils flare.

"So. Apologize."


Perhaps some might react in anger to Luke's tone and perhaps, in the past, Dani would have as well, but what happened with Bear and what she did to people -

Whatever emotions she might feel (beyond deep seated shame) never materialize upon her features, or in her voice.

With a straight-back, Dani says formally, "I'm sorry for the pain I caused you." And while he doesn't look at her, or meet her eyes, Dani keeps her attention upon the man.

"What Jess said was correct. The Bear trapped our souls and we became vessels for its rage and hatred. If we could take it back, what we did, we would. In a heartbeat."


Luke leans forward at the words, hands gripping the edge of a wooden crate of blue colored bottles like he might pitch over. Instead, his grip tightens until the wood starts to splinter in his fingers before he realizes it and shoves away with a clatter of glass. "It wasn't pain you caused me. It was heart break. That's not pain, that's agony." He spins towards her with shoulders bulked up towards his ears like he's bulking for a fight. "Sit down." A finger juts towards a barstool that still has its plastic covering from transport on it.


The sound of the splintering wood drops her gaze from Luke to the crate for a minute, up until he spins around. Bunched as he is the SHIELD agent can't quite stop the vague shift of her own weight now. Forward slightly, the majority of her weight upon the balls of her feet.

His words hit her brain a second later and it takes only a few seconds for her brain to parse them. When she does her expression instantly shutters, cutting off whatever reaction she has to what he just said.

Which is guilt. So much guilt.

When he points at the stool, Dani doesn't immediately move, instead she stares at him a second and then the stool. Only after one last considering look at Luke does the Agent of SHIELD step over to the seat. She sits with very little fanfare and once settled says, "Alright, I'm sitting."


His body still thrums with the urge to fight, kept in check only by the curl of his fists pressed against his thighs as Luke stomps around the bar. He puts that barrier between them, which helps ease the urge to treat her like the soulless vessel she no longer is. One glass, and then another, are unpacked from their carton and clunked a little too forcefully onto the polished wood. He doesn't give her a choice of what they're drinking, just plucking up a bottle of Jack and cracking the seal to pour them each a generous double. "What do you remember?"


Dani's brown eyes follow the man as he stomps this way and that and then finds those two glasses and the bottle of Jack. When he finishes pouring she automatically reaches for the closest one.

His last question prompts her to bring the glass up and then to her lips for a healthy swallow, before it's set back upon the bartop.

"Everything." And here Dani's voice sounds rougher, though it could easily be from the swig of liquor she just took.

"I remember what images I pulled from your mind and why I chose them."


Luke's hand size nearly swallows the glass as he lifts his own, not offering a toast or anything congenial as saluting with it before he too takes a drink. It's tempting to just take it as a full shot, but he refrains. "Yeah, and why's that?" The image of Reva turning to ash in his fingers still gets replayed in the corner of his mind during odd moments like flickering images. It's at night when those nightmares he never talks about get played in crisp detail with full color and surround sound.


"To cause the most pain." She says tightly, her gaze locked upon the large man across from her. "The Bear was a tortured soul in itself, twisted inside and out, and it wanted everyone to feel those similar emotions."

And while she could tell him he wasn't the actual intended target that night, she doesn't. Instead the Cheyenne woman drops her gaze to her drink for a silent second. Then with effort she brings her eyes back to Luke, "I'm sorry for pulling the most painful ones out that night." She finishes her drink in a second swallow and then gently slides the glass across the bartop toward Luke.

"I can't take those memories away for you, but I have friends who could help ease some of that pain from them. It's the very least I can do - to try and make amends for what happened that night."


To the offer of easing the pain, Luke just gives an shake of his head. The pink of his tongue flashes before his bottom lip disappears into his mouth like he wants to explain something to her but just doesn't know how. Instead, he busies himself with refilling their glasses with a clink of the bottle against their rims and he takes another drink of liquid courage.

Then, "In a way," He starts a little haltingly, "Thats the only memory of Reva that I have that remains untainted." He doesn't really explain, that the truth is his lovely wife was lying to him the entirety of their relationship.

"I can't blame you, but that doesn't make it easy. You have to understand, seeing you like that at Rand's?" He rumbles out the words. "Was like the first gut punch I've felt in a long time."


While she doesn't expect an explanation that doesn't stop her the slight dip of her eyebrows, as she tries to puzzle out exactly what he means. Not that she can. Not with so little information.

"I'm glad it remains so." She offers quietly to his admission about that particular memory and the purity of it.

His last words bring forth a nod from the black-haired woman, "I could tell." She admits, "And I won't lie, when I saw you there my gut wasn't feeling too hot either. I'm sorry it took so long for me to find you and apologize." The re-filled glass is considered and then taken, "If it helps Emery had a few run-ins with the Bear too. Owen as well, along with Jess. It does good sometimes to talk about it."

She could leave it at that, but she doesn't. Instead she continues with, "And learning how to combat against more mystical based attacks." Her gaze flicks towards the door, the walls of the bar, "Though it kind of seems like you've already done something here?"


"Things have been crazy." Luke dismisses the need to apologize for the length which it took to track him down to have this talk with that simple sentence. He leans against the back bar, relaxing a bit for the first time since she's walked through that door. He looks at home here once again, even if things are shiny and brand new instead of the lovingly worn Luke's that burnt down. This is his domain, and he looks like he owns it with just his presence. "Friend of a friend did me a solid to make sure no one can repeat the way this place first went down." Feeling safer not to drop Constantine's name or influence over the protection of the bar. "But if you've got some tips for a brother, I'd be willing to listen."


"Crazy is an understatement there." She says with a trace of dark humor, "And I can give some helpful hints, sure. Warding is probably the best thing." She begins, "Ward against magical critters, or depending on how your friend of a friend practices magic, have them ward against magical critters that intend ill-harm. That way friendlies can still get through." Her head cants to the side as she considers Luke, "Invest in some holy water - crazy I know - but blessed objects have power against most magical things, especially demonic. If you don't want holy water then go with some other light-based magics."

She could say, but she doesn't for a minute, instead opting to add, "A friend is working on more mechanical means of protecting against magic. He's actually been able to see the energy fields magic creates. Time will eventually see him being able to shield against that energy, or negate it."

One can hope at least.

"But until then create wards, even the low-tech ones, like with salt. Salt is always good for warding doorways and windowsills against things that go bump in the night."

"Though if I recall correctly you weren't exactly easy to hurt. The Bear was pretty pissed at that."


Luke nods to all of her tips, mentioning lightly, "You must've helped Jess learn what she knows." Which means he's heard at least /some/ of these tips, but he seems to absorb what she has to say and takes mental notes judging by the thoughtful nods they produce. There's the tiniest smirk that ticks about being hurt, or rather not being able to be hurt. "Are you armed?" He asks nonchalantly.


"Jess is a good sort. She was instrumental in tracing down the origins of the Bear. That knowledge she located helped to defeat the beast." Murmurs Dani and while she hefts her glass of Jack to her lips there's a pause before Dani can drink it.

Is she armed.

That brings a rise of her eyebrows, "If you mean with weaponry, you bet. With typical weaponry, however, not so much." She states, as she sets the glass of liquor down. "They're modified bullets, intended to knock a person out versus fill them with holes. Why?"


Luke makes a wishy washy face about her modified bullets, because if they're gas, he's not so 'unbreakable' even if it'd take more than normal to knock his ass out. "Eh, that's no fun." He just declares and instead pulls out a bottle of beer from the cooler. He pops off the cap with his fingers, even if it isn't the twist off kind, and starts filling a glass with the foamy golden liquid. Waste not want not. When it's empty, he busts the brown bottle on the edge of a waste bin and offers her the piece that remains with its jagged edge. "If you really want to know. Here. Take this." He then grabs the cutting board he'll use for bar fruit and puts his hand down on top of it. "Go ahead." His gaze travels from the bottle to his hand.


"SHIELD isn't always about the fun." She agrees with a faint grin, idly watching the man pour the beer into a glass.

It's only as he slams the bottle upon the edge of a waste bin that she blinks. Then her gaze turns to the man again a note of incredulousness in those brown eyes, "If I wasn't already a mutant and lived with other mutants, I'd really be questioning both of us and our common sense."

But Dani does take the bottle and considers the jagged sharp edges of that broken bottle, before her gaze turns to Luke's hands. "Sure, why the hell not, but don't yell at me should this hurt." And while there's the smallest kernel of concern within her, Dani does remember how he thwarted the points of her arrows and from that, she allows herself to lash out with that broken bottle, to stab hard at the top of his hand.


Luke isn't really feeling on the level lately, being off-kilter ever since the bombing destruction of the Kitchen like most others. To that end, he just gives a shrug of one shoulder when it comes to the comment about common sense. Like she said, mutants and metas, and supers, OH MY!

If she truly puts her all into the stab, there's enough force that when the bottle strikes the back of his splayed out hand, it just crumbles into the little shards and brown chunks like it's made out of sugar like they use for special effects on television. The man doesn't even flinch anymore at hails of bullets from drug dealers, so a wielded bottle isn't even really a threat. His skin remains unbroken, the impact easily absorbed so he barely even feels it. "Want another drink?"


Oh my is right.

Especially as the bottle crumbles within her hand. Neatly the woman retracts her hand, mindful of what just happened there. Or what didn't happen. "At least there's no blood." She says easily enough, even as she raises a hand to decline the offered drink. "I would, but I've a few other stops to make before the night is over."

And here Dani slips off the stool and stands up, "Thanks for the drink and everything else." The forgiveness she means. "I appreciate it. When things settle -" Because one day they do have to settle, right? "- perhaps I can introduce you to a few fellow strong-arms I know, and to a few magical friends to help get things more magically secured for people too."


Luke starts sweeping up broken glass off the counter with his bare hand, pushing it onto the cutting board so he can dispose of it. "My bar's open to all types." He manages a smile, mostly for her benefit, though it's tight. They're back on fair footing, but it's still going to take some time to feel 'settled' and so he's a bit standoffish about being introduced to any of her friends. "Jess cares about you, and I care about Jess. So we're cool." He dumps the bits into the trash before starting to bus their glasses like it's pure muscle memory. "Be safe out there." He says by way of parting.

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