People Still Gotta Drink

October 13, 2018:

Owen and Luke work a shift together at Luke's bar. They catch up on some of Luke's plans and firmly establish that Owen was not in fact flirting with Batgirl. At all.

Luke's Bar in Harlem

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Barbara Gordon, Frank Castle, Kinsey (Six), Matt Murdock, Bart Allen, Red Robin, Batman

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

There is a demon infestation currently over running the city of New York, but people still gotta drink. It's Friday night and Luke's bar is crowded with patrons, most of whom look human. Owen is behind the bar, not for the first time since the bar opened but it might be the first night that both Owen and Luke are in the bar together. Between fighting demons and helping out other vigilantes their schedules have yet to sync up since the fall of the Kinpin.

Owen dressed in his usual black dress shirt and dark blue jeans is behind the bar, chatting with some of the customers. He is apparently deeply involved in some story or something as he thrusts at the air and then makes a twisting motion. And then there is a lot of stabbing movements. Whatever this story is, it appears to be pretty violent. But the patrons at the bar are into it, if a little disturbed by the look of glee on Owen's face in telling it.

Owen looks rather cleaned up for once. He's not cut and bruised as much as usual. His arm is mostly healed. It's a new day… maybe.

*

Luke finally got ahold of Bart, something about a dragon delaying the kid's response about whether or not he wanted to be their barback again. Good news, is his answer was yes. Bad news, is that it's not tonight. Cage emerges from the back hall, toting two buckets of ice that are propped up on his shoulders. It makes it easy to maneuver through the crowds, plus he learned a long time ago that pulling that particular trick off also helps increase the tips in their jars at the end of the night. Something about biceps and tight t-shirts. Go figure.

"Behind you." He tells Owen as he slides in back behind the bar, turning sideways to fit past the bartender so he can dump the fresh ice into the wells. He's in regular blue jeans and the reappearance of a Luke's Bar t-shirt, edition 2.0 with the same tag line on the back that was originally gifted by Owen: Strong Black Coffee.

They're busy, which means the chatter behind the bar is limited to calls and call backs, engaging the customers, and the occasional request for something to be passed or a tab to be run. But when one particular rush is over, Luke manages a, "Rook stopped by the other night."
Pulling drinks and chatting with regulars actually feels great. Sure there are demons to murder later, and other things to face, but it feels good to get back into something resembling a normal life, even if only for a few hours. Owen easily moves out of the way at the 'behind' call, universal to all restaurants and bars. With the rush over, Owen pours another beer, this one for himself and pushes back from the bar. News about Frank causes his eyebrows to raise.

"Hunh. Not surprised he made it… kind of surprised he showed up here."

Owen thinks about it for a second and then looking around to make sure their conversation is at least reasonably quiet he says, "Sorry things went to shit after I bailed. I wasn't planning that."

*

"Yeah, that's funny. Because I thought the plan was to get in, obliterate their holdings, and destroy the target." Luke forgets about the 'reasonably quiet part' and so a patron looks at him with a raised eyebrow.

"Call of Duty: Capture the Flag, that's what's up!" Luke tells the twenty something year old in a knit beanie, then reaches across the bar to dap knuckles with him. So what if that's not the point of the game, the truth is in how you sell it: with confidence.

Still, Luke ambles to the other end of the bar under pretense of scrapping out some TABC labels on spent bottles and changing out their pour spouts. "He came by to drop off some of your toys, and thank me for pulling Red out of the fire." Both proverbially and literally. This gets said quieter with a side eye given to his bartender/bro with one of those 'don't be about to disappoint me' looks. "So what was that all about anyways?"

*

Owen smirks as Luke recaps the 'plan' as it were which technically did happen, just in a complete cluster of a way. He is also quick to nod seriously at Luke's cover of what the two are talking about. Owen has never actually played that so he's not about to argue with the validity of the cover story, but he's always quick to agree with whatever someone is spouting off.

He takes a second to make sure everyone is settled at the bar before heading down to chat with Luke some more.

"Nice. I had some good gear in that bag.." Gear that was meant for the night of the bombing. Gear that was meant to help people. And maybe try and take down Daredevil or Six .. before he knew her codename, let alone who they both really were. Wow, that feels like a near lifetime ago. That was back before he did the rehab stint. Before 1000 seemingly endless NA meetings that all blur together now into a constant drone of sob story.

"Me?" Owen hesitates for just a moment. Maybe long enough for Luke to get worried.

"One of the hired goons on the boat was a buddy of mine. From way back. Like … wayward school for boys wayback. I didn't want him getting capped or popped, and it looked like it was gonna be a cake walk with you walkin' round all bullet proof. But 'm glad you got Red out. Last thing I need to be involved with is a dead Bat."

*

Luke has been worried since the night of the boat, so what's waiting a few more moments for the truth to roll out. Or what Luke is going to hope is the truth. When Owen finally spills, Cage just has the audacity to look exasperated.

"You above everyone else should know I still have vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities I'd hope someone had my back on." But that's all the shit that Luke has the heart to give him, considering the motive Owen stated for his leaving. He sighs after a scrub of his palm over his smooth domed head, "Your buddy, he a'ight? You convince him to stop backing that particular pony? And what is it with you and Red anyways? Was that flirting I saw? Because if that was flirting, I forgot to gag a little in my mouth."

*

Owen gives Luke a curious look as he gets weird about his explanation. He shrugs it off and says "Yea, well I didn't really think you and Ba-… Red and Rook couldn't take it. I mean, without the surprise it would have been a cake walk for you three without me." He gives Luke a second look, a questioning second glance and asks, "You nervous bout somethin' bro? I mean I know you got roughed up in that last fight, but .. yer hardly a delicate snowflake."

Changing subjects for now though Owen, hems and haws a bit. "Yea, he's fine. He's still an idiot. But Sock'll be just fine. Granted it may not be the last time I run into the yutz on a job like this, but at least he listened to me."

At the question about Red and flirting Owen's eyes go wide. He can understand Frank misunderstanding his intentions, but Luke? His face registers shock and a little hurt, his lower lip hanging down.

"What? What?! Luke, I'd never touch a bats with someone else's dick." And while most of the Bat family is not even of the correct gender for Owen to be attracted to them in the first place, he doesn't mention that. No, he groups Spoiler and Batgirl in based solely on their association with the big bat. "You know why.." Doesn't he? Now Owen can't remember. Jess knows. Luke .. maybe knows why? Maybe not.

"'Sides, pretty sure she's hopin' to storm the Castle."

*

Luke makes a thin lipped expression when Owen asks if he's nervous about something, "It aches in the morning, and does this weird popping thing." Cage moves the fingers of his left hand, and of course there is no audible noise whether or not he feels something. "And I'm still going to physical therapy." He imparts the last like he's just admitted to his friend like he has erectile dysfunction or something. His manhood is at stake here!

"Just that I don't see you banter and bicker with someone like that unless you like them. And I haven't seen you like a skirt since…Her." Harley doesn't get a named mention, but it definitely is a sort of royal H in her there. He shrugs, "But nah, man, I don't know what your deal is with the 'Bats' besides you were likely on the wrong end of a lot of their justice."

*

And Owen shifts from curious to actually concerned when Luke starts listing off ailments. His eyes narrow as he looks at the arm, as if expecting to see something when Luke moves his fingers. He asks, "You talk to Claire about it? I mean .. maybe yer powers make healing harder or something?" Owen knows that Jess can heal faster than normal, not quite as fast as him, but still. It's news that Luke isn't healing as well as he expected.

"I am very hurt that you can't tell my genuinely annoyed wit and barbs from my flirty sexy-time chatter. When I diss you, it's all love. With her? No."

And at the oblique reference to his ex, Owen half shrugs and says "And yea, you can say Harley. It's fine." He doesn't try to make any proclamations about being past her, he's a good liar but no one's going to be believing that anytime soon.

"No."

Owen coldly shuts down any assumption that he is the wronged party in his one sided feud with the Bats. He looks around, thankfully that the bar seems to be running smoothly for quite some time.

"My dad. The first Captain Boomerang. He killed Robin's dad."

Which means that Owen's a giant dick to all the bats? … It's hard to explain. At least for Owen who doesn't always have the clearest view of his own terrible decisions.

*

"Shit, I haven't spoken to Claire since…I was a giant dick to her about Jessica. Still working out the apology to that one, figure I can corner her down at that clinic Danny opened." Luke cuts off the conversation temporarily as he gives a patron an up-nod and moves to draw a pitcher of beer from the tap. After he hands it over, he goes to the computer to add it to the tab, instead of using his old paper stub method. Owen's influence on joining the current century rears its pretty head in little ways.

He returns to the end of the bar, leaning against a post and folding his arms over his chest. "So your daddy killed his daddy. Hell, I plan on marrying the woman that did my wife in." A pause, an eyebrow crests. "Not the same thing? Look, it's about forgiveness. And if you're going to be working with Red, might want to exercise a little of that. Before you start exercising in the sheets." Luke play flinches, throwing up his arms protectively as if expecting retribution from Owen.

*

Owen agrees, "You were a /diiiick/" but he does so with a chuckle and a mischievous smile that lets Luke off the hook at least a little bit.

The talk of marriage causes Owen's eyes to widen and look around expressively. That's news to him obviously and he says, "Well shit Cage. Congrats … maybe. Did she say yes? I mean yer still walking so that's a good sign." Not that Owen or probably anyone who knows them would expect Jess to say no, but still, it's a little hard to imagine Jessica Jones being a bride. Maybe because he's picturing like a white tutu bridal gown over her jeans and combat boots with the black leather jacket on top. And a tiara.

"I ain't got shit to forgive her fo-" thwap Where did that coaster come from that just bounced off Luke's forehead and is now spinning off to the floor. "Look, if she weren't a bat. Sure, I'd hit that. But .. it ain't like that. I've always tried to steer clear of them. Figured they'd least do the same."

*

Luke winces as the coaster ricochets off of his forehead. Even if that little bit of cardboard didn't so much as sting he's still rubbing at it ruefully. "I haven't asked her yet. It's a timing thing, but I can't keep my big mouth shut about it, so I guess I outta do it first before someone rats out my intentions and she runs off to Tahiti before I get a chance. There's something I gotta take care of first."

And this is when he makes his serious face.

"So, your none existent Bat related sex life aside, you remember that set of paperwork I had you sign for the original bar?" Like he's had Owen sign tons of paperwork that they've argued about in the past.

*

Owen smirks with pleasure as the coaster ricochets off his forehead. Yes, technically he broke the no powers in the bar rule. No, he doesn't care.

"Yea, yea. That all goes to Jess now. Of course." Owen is quick to just brush this off. It was all a little strange that Luke was going to leave him the bar in the first place, so he's quick to assume that things have now changed and it's different.

"You don't gotta worry, I won't get all weepy just because you love Jessica like a liiiittle more than me. I'm a big boy and I can take not having your whole heart."

*

"Nah man," Luke shakes his head, digging in his pockets and taking out the keys he refused to give Owen before his stint in rehab, tossing them in the other man's direction now with a light underhanded lob. Surely the speedster can catch them.

"Gonna need you to sign another set. New building and all, still flows through one of Rand's companies, but." There's a shrug. "Just promise me if things go sideways, you'll make sure she's taken care of. The apartment and all. Nelson and Murdock are going to try to clear my name. They think they can prove I was framed and get timed served for the rest. Let's just say I'm not as optimistic."

*

Catching the keys, Owen stops and holds them aloft looking at them with a tilted head. He then slowly looks towards Luke a little confused.

"You sure? I mean … should anything happen to you, this goes to Jess now. Right? Pretty sure that's how that 'till death do we part business works."

This doesn't stop Owen from actually taking the keys though. It's not like he wouldn't just give it to Jess if anything happened.

"And yea, I got you. This becomes Luke's house of man whores and we pay tribute to you with a very tastefully done champagne dance set to the theme from Flashdance every Saturday. Oof. I still vote you let me pay a guy to make that all go away." Can Owen do that? Maybe. Would it be anywhere close to legal. Uhh.. No.

*

"Handing Jess the keys to the bar would be like giving you the title to a poppy field." Luke says dryly. "She wouldn't want it. So suck it up, you're my bar legacy now. I know we've had this conversation before, at least promise me you'll keep the place running if they sing me up river.

If I'm going to ask Jess to marry me, I want it completely legal and on the up and up. She deserves that. So Carl Lucas is going to get cleared or do his time and then I'll file to officially change my name and put him to rest once and for all."

At the notion that Owen could make this all go away, Luke snorts. "I tried that angle, getting Six to just make it look like he died at Seagate. But then the legal Wonder Twins made some very valid points and if Kingpin ever does try to pull the pin on that grenade he has on me, it would only add to the shit storm that would be. So we're going to get ahead of it instead."

Luke's face suddenly pinches up and he punches at air. "Fuck me." He uses the hard F, which means whatever occurred to him must be serious. "That's what they're not telling me. I'm going to have to turn myself in first, aren't I? Let the DA slap the new charges so /then/ they can defend me."

*

Owen oh yeas, remembering the very valid reason to not leave Jess a bar, particularly if Luke is gone for some reason. Sad Jess + Owning Bar = Bad News. So Owen just shrugs and says,

"You got it boss."

Owen looks a little impressed that Luke tried that angle. His eyebrows raise as he learns it was Kinsey who did it. Kinsey who's powerset he's only vaguely familiar with but now assumes to be some sort of technopath thing. He is about to comment on it when Luke punches at the air and swears. Loudly.

"Swear jar!" Owen commands with force, not that such a thing actually exists in the bar, thankfully. It's just kind of fun to mock Luke for being the one with the potty mouth for once.

"Ugh. Really? Yer gonna have to do this whole thing? What if you don't get bail? Dude…" Owen's face goes serious for a moment. "Have you talked to Jess about this? Because I gotta say, and not just cause I'm a man whore, but fuck marriage. You don't need it. She don't need it. … Probably. I mean who cares? Yer in twooow wuv, why tempt fate?"

*

Luke suddenly seems plagued with a headache, rubbing at his temples with a tent of fingers that cover his eyes, "Hopefully not until they've built out a solid case with solid evidence that I wasn't culpable of the original crime." He sighs, and lets his hand drop away, which thankfully doesn't bap Owen for telling him to use the swear jar. "I'll settle up with the swear jar later. I think there's suddenly going to be a whole lot more where that came from. Especially after I tell Jess." Which answers the question about whether or not he's laid this whole scheme down for her.

"Yeah, what do you think the chances are that they're going to give a Meta bail? I think I'm sitting in lock up, no two ways around it. Murdock and Foggy can work wonders, but miracles?" One shoulder shrugs, the other too disheartened to join its brother in the gesture. "And I need to do it, otherwise Fisk will always have that over me. Knowing my true name. And now that he's behind bars, there is little keeping him from making it public just for fun, so it's better that it's on our terms."

*

Owen finds himself grinning at the thought of Luke having to drop serious cash in the swear jar. Not that he actually wants to have one around, he nearly went broke during that twenty some odd minutes in Pops the one time.

"Yea, I'm guessing Jess might have a couple words to say about this here plan of yours big guy and more than a few would offend he swear jar gods."

Coming back from helping out a few customers Owen commiserates with Luke silently. There's not much he can say right now to make this crappy situation any better. And for once he keeps his mouth shut. But silently he again considers the option of getting Waller involved if Luke gets put in lock up. If they're willing to let actual criminals out Luke should be able to cut a better deal. And how would they even get a brain bomb in if they can't cut him open? It'd probably be fine… right?

*

"I'm glad she's not a violent woman. She might be the first person that could give me a black eye." Luke says under his breath, half a joke and half actually somewhat afraid of what Jess might think of this little plan. Certainly might color a marriage proposal one way or the other.

After they go about work for a little while and reconvene in their 'employee lounge' at the end of the bar, Luke is drying his hands with a towel and giving Owen a Look. "So wait. You never told me. If you have this huge thing against Bats. Why were /you/ there, helping Rook and Red? What skin did you have in the game? It's not like it was our little circle of crime fighters taking this on. How'd you get roped along?"

*

Taking advantage of the break in conversation to serve some drinks and then grab a quick smoke break, literally speeding through the cigarette as fast as he can, Owen comes back in refreshed.

"Yea.." Owen gives Luke an annoyed look as he considers just how he got 'roped along' on this. He frowns and grumbles, "Well first off Jess gave Red my name for trackin' down some info on this Blacksmith dude. Which I wasn't psyched about, but figured if a bats was asking it had to be important." Owen then rubs his tongue over his teeth and makes a hemming and hawing face as he considers why he didn't leave it there.

"But then turns out Red planned to get her hands a bit dirty … like final solution dirty. And while I don't care what Rook does? I wasn't psyched at the thought of some cape crossing that line unless it were … specific."

It's a little weird though, considering that Owen was all for murdering Fisk and had no problem with any of the Defenders being involved in that. So, that 'explanation' doesn't exactly hold up.

*

There is a snort from Luke at the mention of Jess, his own story similar about how he got introduced to Red. Why they stayed, however, that's where their stories diverge. Owen's explanation draws an eyebrow up on Cage's forehead that keeps on creeping up the more he talks. Sure, Luke could acknowledge the nobleness of the movement, Mercer keeping Barbara from crossing a line that she can't come back from. But Luke prefers the road less travelled.

"Yeah. You were flirting."
*

Owen just gives a look of disappointment at Luke, not anger but maybe a tiny bit of defeat. He deadpans, "Yer right. I went to see her after and we fucked like dirty animals." He doesn't give even the slightest hint of being joking, but the fact that he's not leering or describing it in more specifics is unusual, for Owen. He then shakes his head and wanders off to do some actual work mumbling under his breath like a mature adult.

"imnottryingtsleepwithbatgirlgodammit." Owen dries a glass perhaps a little too vigorously as he continues to mutter. "nottryintolosemydickinsomeweirdassbatchastitybelt."

*

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