Olive Branches Made of Scotch

August 14, 2018:

Danny calls Owen to extend an olive branch. Surprise! Owen is a dick about it.

Raines Law Room - NYC

https://myfavoritecocktailbars.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/raines-law-room.jpg?w=1000

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Harley Quinn, Jessica Jones

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Danny has been doing all he can to try and balance his chi. But there's a lot working against him, including general ambient anger and a few kicks of regret. So after meditating, he picks up his phone, sighs, and texts Owen.

Can we talk?

and then a few seconds later,

I know this cocktail bar with $25 drinks where the staff dress like flappers.

*

Owen's days have been pretty full thanks to the rehab program, and that's not on accident. Keeping him busy has helped with keeping him on the somewhat straight and narrow. He has started spending more evenings at Stark Tower as of late. It helps to have projects to work on and now that he's given up trying to stay away from alcohol he doesn't have to worry as much about that.

The buzzing of his phone goes unnoticed on the first text but he sees it light up on the second. He checks it and frowns. He puts it down, text unanswered for a few minutes.

"Fuckin' twenty five dollar drinks. Shut up Rand."

"Dick."

But after a few minutes and a cigarette smoked under the watchful eye of a drone with a fire extinguisher Owen relents and picks up his phone.

If you're buying I'm in.

*

Danny's response is to send the GPS coordinates of Raines Law Room in Midtown. The listing next to it on the GPS lists the price as $$$ so he clearly wasn't lying about the expensive drinks.

The ninja businessman is standing outside a nondescript building. He's wearing a suit that looks like it once had a matching tie - one that's slightly wrinkled from wear. He's looking down at his phone while occasionally looking down the street.

*

Looking at the address on his phone, and then at the preview for the place in his browser Owen frowns. He looks down at the tee shirt, ripped jeans and motorcycle boots he's wearing and shakes his head. He's not changing but boy is he already annoyed about the choice of venue for what he expects will be a testy conversation to say the least. He grumbles to himself as he wraps a few things up and then hits the streets. He grabs a cab and makes it there in something like twenty-thirty minutes.

Exiting the cab he sees Danny standing outside. In a suit. He sighs. Waving a hand with a two fingers up in a half wave, he trots over.

"Hey."

It's not exactly the warmest of greetings, but it's not hostile either, so that's a plus.

*

"Hey!" says Danny as he makes the phone disappear into his jacket pocket. He shuffles his feet a little and thumbs over his shoulder at a nondescript door with a low-key bouncer. "…we…uh, we don't have to go in here if it makes you uncomfortable. I was just thinking…I was…a nice…" he clears his throat. "…I didn't think through the choice of venue except that the drinks are really good."

*

Owen raises his hands about to waist level, the palms open, in a shrug. "Works for me. If they let me in." He doesn't sound bitter about it, but also not very hopeful about the being let in. Though he does add, "WHich I'm sure they'll do if /you/ ask." Which comes out with just a little more snark that he meant it to. Well it's actually exactly the amount he meant, but it was more obvious than he meant to be.

*

Danny winces a little at the snark, but he takes it. "Yeah, uh, you're probably right." He smiles in a lopsided, kicked puppy sort of way. He starts over towards the door.

The bouncer eyes Owen suspiciously, but then he looks back to Danny. He touches the earpiece in his ear, then nods. "Evening Mr. Rand." Owen gets a hard stare, but he doesn't move to stop him from entering.

The interior is clearly meant to invoke an old-school speakeasy. It's small and full of mismatched furniture in different shades of velvet. The tin roof tiles reflect the low light and make it feel less claustrophobic, while gauzy drapery makes it feel more intimiate. They're led by a waitress in a flapper dress to the far corner - either out of deference for the billionaire's privacy, or because of Owen's attire - or both.

Danny thanks the waitress and seats himself. His face holds a semi-permanent wince that's been there since Owen rolled up and he realized what a miscalculation the choice of venue is.

*

Owen follows after Danny towards the door and is sure to give the bouncer his best cold smile and stare down, willing him to say something other than 'Welcome to Raine's Law School' or whatever the hell this fancy place is called. When he's allowed in, obviously because of Danny, he winks and says "Thanks big guy." because he's in one of those types of moods.

Owen follows after the waitress, obviously tilting his head to check out her assets, maybe even playing up the crassness of that move for the benefit of those around him. Well for the added benefit of annoying those around him anyway.

He takes a seat in the velvet booth and looks around. He spreads his arms alongside the back, maximizing how much space he takes up.

"So. What's up?"

*

Before Danny can say anything, a waitress appears with a bottle of water and two cups. She fills them and deposits the cocktail menu. She looks like she's about to engage in pleasant welcomes but a shake from Danny's head causes her to smile to them both and withdraw.

The menu is fairly typical for a high end cocktail bar. That is, full of flowery descrptions and seventeen ingredients. Many include words like 'reduction' and 'orgeat' and 'notes of such-and-such.' They're not all twenty-five a pop, but there's nothing under $14.

"I uh," he clears his throat. "…I wanted to reach out. I was angry, and it wasn't all about you. There's…been a lot of stuff happening." That's putting it mildly.

*

Owen takes one of the menus and looks it over, trying not to grind his teeth at the amount of floofiness in the drinks. Essence of what now? Notes of who? His mouth forms into a tight line holding back a full on grimace. He scans down it and then just places it on the table away from him.

He looks at Danny impassively as he speaks. He nods at the statements and then says "Okay. Yer hardly the first person t'kick me out of their house Rand. Didn't really phase me much."

*

"It phased me," says Danny. He's about to say more but the waitress returns. He pauses, then smiles at her awkwardly. "I um, I'll have the…" he looks down, "…Reverse Monarch?" He looks at Owen. "Y'know…you could just order scotch. They've got a huge list. Or uh, an Old Fashioned? Manhattan?"

*

Owen half shrugs at the fact that it phased Danny. That's not really his concern. But then Danny is offering him suggestions on what to order and his face falls ever so slightly. He waits for him to finish before calmly replying.

"Yea. I've been to a bar before. Thanks."

He turns to the waitress and without missing a beat asks, "Can I get a Lagavulin 14 year old scotch. The 2014 special release." Normally it would be a dick move to order such an expensive scotch, but here? Well, he's just blending in.

"So you were saying. You were upset because you kicked me out?"

*

That and, well, if a billionaire is buying, might as well go top-shelf? Danny exhales and closes the menu as the waitress moves off. "I uh…I haven't been able to summon my chi. I've been out of balance. Part of it is everything that's going on…" explosions, bad press, business deals, all of it. "But part of it is hanging on to my anger. I don't want to do that. I can't do that, not if I want to be able to fight." He makes a fist, then relaxes it and flattens it against the table. "I want us both to heal. I think we can help each other. If you're willing."

*

Owen looks off to the side and then back at Danny a little bemused at the statement about not being able to summon his chi.

"Having trouble getting it up? They got some decent drugs for that. Highly recommend 'em."

It's the first time since arriving that Owen has so much as cracked a smile, even if it is to make a joke at Danny's expense.

At the talk about the anger and the fighting though Owen does at least get a little more serious. He nods as if he's following, though in truth, he's not really clear what Danny's talking about.

"Look. Jess shoved me in a rehab program, so I'm… good. I'm all set."

Except somehow going clean has wrecked everything. At least that's how it feels most days.

*

"That's good. It is." Danny sounds earnest. Well, he almost always sounds earnest - but particularly so now. He also lets the jab roll off his back. He is, it seems, willing to take his licks.

The waitress seems to have sensed the tension because she deposits their drinks without stopping for chit-chat, then flashes them both a smile and withdraws.

He folds his hands around the base of his drink and goes quiet for a moment. "I was angry. For a long time. I saw my parents die in front of me. I ended up in a strange place with no way to get back home. I had to earn my place and prove myself every day. Because I was an outsider who wasn't supposed to be there. And I kept failing, until the monks taught me how to let go of my anger. But it builds up again, so, so quickly. I have to work on it every day."

He goes quiet for a moment. A trickle of condensation slides from the glass down over his fingers, but he doesn't lift it. "I think what I've learned could help you, too. I don't know you well, but from what I've seen, you get mad at yourself and then you shoot yourself in the foot. And then you convice yourself you deserve it when it all goes to shit."

*

Owen accepts his drink with a flirtatious smile and wink at the waitress. Hey, who knows maybe he'll be mistaken for a rock star or someone famous by association. He can work with this.

Turning back to Danny he just nods, his lips stuck out, agreeing if not so sincerely about how good the rehab thing is.

And then Danny opens up. He sincerely tells Owen some difficult truths about his past and the horrible tragedies that befell him. Owen listens, his face registering as if waiting to see where this is headed. When Danny stops at having to work everyday to control his anger Owen slowly nods and is about to reply when he keeps going. Once Danny starts talking about him, his eyes narrow, slightly.

"You're a fuckin' billionaire with super powers. How sorry, /exactly/, do you expect me or anyone else to feel about the fact that yer childhood was shit? Which by the way, I've heard /way/ worse. And /REALLY/? Yer gonna help /me/?"

His voice has been low to this point, particularly at the part about superpowers. He's not about to out anyone. Ever. But it does go up at the end when asking about helping him. He takes a large gulp of his scotch, defeating the purpose of ordering an expensive one by barely tasting it. It does serve to calm him down some because his voice returns to normal inside levels for him to continue.

"I don't need yer pep talk, I'll be just fine."

*

Danny winces a little at the raise in Owen's voice, but he manages to keep calm. He does so with visible effort. He doesn't exactly close his eyes and meditate, but there is conscious effort to drop his shoulders. He sips his drink and takes a moment to taste the seventeen million things the bartender put into it. Or try, at least.

"It's not a competition. And I'm not telling you this for your sympathy. "Look. You've helped me out more than once. You made my suit. You brought me that amulet." His voice drops on the last part. "I shouldn't have cut you out. I should've tried to understand and to help you." A beat, "I circle back to the whole confession a minute ago where I said I still have to work on my anger sometimes." He attempts a small smile. "I want to trust you again."

*

Taking a slower sip of his drink now, Owen listens, though his hackles are raised and he's definitely in 'pick a fight' mode. It's been his go to mode for a while now, though he can't see it.

When Danny raises the point about Owen having helped him out he only inclines his head slightly in agreement.

"You want to trust me? Fine. Trust me. You want to not trust me? That's fine too. But that's up to you. I have been nothing but honest about who I am and the shit I do. People like Luke and Jess want to look past it? Great. You don't want to? That's probably a smart choice."

It's a hard thing for Owen, and the root of it, that he probably doesn't realize fully is that he doesn't trust himself. So he can't ask others to, and in fact would prefer they didn't. It's only been recently that anyone has started to even view him in a relatively positive light, and he's very much navigating uncharted waters in how to deal with that.

*

And there's Danny, whose greatest flaw or greatest strength is that he thinks the best of everyone when he meets them, and only changes his opinion if he's proven wrong. He watches Owen as he speaks and doesn't interrupt.

"I can't look past part of who you are, Owen. But I can try to understand it. You're so hard on yourself. You put the bar so high and when you don't clear it, you convince yourself that you aren't capable of doing better, so why bother?" He lifts one shoulder. "Am I wrong? And you know what? I think you're a braver man than you give yourself credit for."

*

"Well, it ain't hard to understand. I do dumb shit." And here Owen's not thinking about the drugs, or the deal with the Kingpin. His voice softens just a touch, thinking about his argument with Harley. Picking a fight to screw something up before it could blow up in his face, just in case it was going to.

He snaps back to reality though as Danny tries to compliment him. His face scrunches up and he shakes his head with a laugh. "No. I think I c'd call character witnesses to the fact that no… I ain't." His Jersey accent thickens just a touch there as he recoils at the praise.

"And I don't think anyone… /anyone/ has ever accused me of having too high of a bar."

*

"If you're capable of realizing it's dumb shit, then you're capable of not doing dumb shit," says Danny with one of his dopey smiles. For all his claims of having issues with anger, he seems to be rolling with Owen's punches tonight. "The definition of an idiot is someone who doesn't know they're being an idiot. Someone who knows their choices are wrong is just…" he shrugs, "…making bad choices for whatever reason."

He sips from his drink and then pushes it away with a bit of a nosewrinkle. Apparently it's not really to his taste. "Look, this is me with an olive branch. You can take it or not. If you take it, I'd like you to work on meditation with me. And training. So it's not all sitting quietly, promise." He holds up both hands. "In the meantime, stay here if you want. Have a few drinks on me. Think about it. And Owen, regardless of whether you take this offer or throw it back in my face? Call me if you need help."

*

"I never said I was an idiot Rand." Owen's voice is flat, the same tone used before when Danny offered ordering advice. "I said I do dumb shit. And I do it, because they're my choices." It's as close to a confession that Owen comes tonight. But rehab has helped a little with examining his motivations and has helped bring a little clarity. And so Owen is a least a little aware of what fuels his destructive behavior. A deep desire to have control over his own life that he never had, even if that control is exercised in unhealthy ways.

Owen quirks an eyebrow at the offer of meditation and training. "Can I quit rehab if I say yes?" It's a quick response, nearly immediately. And ironic that he's asking Danny for permission. As if he or anyone else is in charge of why he's in rehab.

"They're prolly gonna kick me out as soon as you leave." Owen says it with a smirk and as if those words were a spell used to summon a bad idea, a plan forms in the back of his mind. Because if they weren't planning on kicking him out, Owen is now going to force their hand. He knows they don't want him there, he's just going to make them show it.

Rock Star Bar Smash-up Plan: Engage.

*

"Why do I sense a bad decision coming on..?" says Danny as he half-squints at Owen. As for rehab? "That's not my decision. But one might compliment the other." He moves to stand up. Then he sighs and looks around. "I kind of liked this place." And then, with a half-shrug, the billionaire moves towards the door, pausing to tell the bartender to put Owen's drinks (or his collateral damage) on his tab.

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