The Crane and the Bull

October 21, 2018:

Colleen stops by Luke's Bar to promote her new dojo. Gets a job lead of a different sort.

Luke's Bar

It could be any other bar in New York. It's rather unassuming, built into the corner of the ground floor of a 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-colored paned windows 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: Danny Rand, Owen Mercer

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

While Luke's Bar isn't a sports bar, in deference to it being Sunday, the games are on the TVs. The actions is just muted and the patrons that are interested will just have to deal with reading the closed captioning. Otherwise, there's low bluesy coming from the internet jukebox in the corner that provides a mellow atmosphere to the late afternoon. There is a big black man behind the bar, cleaning glasses that seem dwarfed in his hand. With the demons out and about, the place is more full than normal but the owner must certainly not be complaining about the influx of cash. Other than that, it seems a typical afternoon in any neighborhood bar.

*

The tall, narrow silhouette of Colleen Wing stands on the sidewalk just outside the bar. Her hands are shoved into the pockets of her scarlet windbreaker, and the sleeves shoved up to her elbows to reveal long, strong forearms; one bears a bandage that covers the recent wound from last night's street fight. She glances to her left, and then to her right, tucking a fallen strand of black-brown hair back behind her ear. All it takes is a slow exhale to settle her center, and she advances in long, poised strides that brings her right through the door and into the bar.

She glances around, taking in each small detail. When she spots Luke behind the bar, she beelines for him. A small, but awkwardly sociable, smile tugs at her lips and she looses her hands from her pockets to rest her forearms on the bar. "Hey." A hesitant pause. "Is the owner around?"

*

Luke is one of those polite types that meets Colleen's eyes instead of checking her out as she approaches the bar. "You're looking at him." He gives a friendly enough smile as he sets a clean glass back among its brethren to wait for the next round. His terry cloth towel gets flipped over his shoulder, "And because you're asking for me, I'm guessing you don't want a drink. You need a job or something? I'm pretty full staffed, and we don't usually have waitresses…"

*

Her minimalist-soled sneaker catches the rung of the stool and steps her up into the round seat. She un-shoulders the hobo bag that sits at her hip, and she pulls it into her lap. Her eyes scan to the left where patrons are currently watching the muted game, and then those dark eyes settle back on Luke. "Oh, um." She then shrugs a bit. "I'll take a beer… a sour if you got it." Her smile fades away, and the serious expression of the Sensei settles into place. "Last time I waited tables, I ended up throwing a tray at a bad-mouthed customers. You don't want me as a waitress." Then she opens her satchel, and tugs out about five flyers printed on white paper.

"I've got a small dojo in North Chinatown… the Chikara Dojo. Just getting started, and I was wondering… if you had a local bulletin board I could post these on." She slides the flyers toward Luke. 'Self-Defense and Martial Arts Training,' it reads above an image of a watermark of two dancing cranes behind the silhouettes of a woman delivering a round-house kick. Beneath that it reads, 'Sensei Colleen Wing' with flags of phone numbers that can be torn off beneath.

*

"Actually, that's exactly the sort of waitress we'd need with Owen behind the bar." Luke gives a little laugh that comes deep from the belly, but he's content that she's not here looking for a job. Judging by his expression, he would have made room for her if she was hard up, but he's relieved he doesn't have to crunch the numbers and the schedule to make that happen. He pulls her beer with a perfect head and slides it onto a coaster in front of her.

He makes sure his fingers are dry by an absent minded wipe on the towel on his shoulder before he reaches for the piece of paper to read the flyer in a quick scan. "You're welcome to hang them on the board by the bathrooms…Colleen?" He's testing to make sure the sensei's name is also the owner as he passes it back over for her to tack up. "How long you been teaching?"

*

That gives her some pause, Colleen's brow arching just slightly with a half-turn of her head. Her brown eyes tick up and down Luke seriously before she offers a slight nod of her chin. The idea of working in a bar makes her fingers itch the bandage wrapped around her left forearm where the knife wound aches. The roll of cash she was handed at the end of the night was more than she had ever gotten in tips, and it was keeping her dojo afloat — barely.

When he tests her name, she gives a quick, single nod. "Colleen Wing, and if you're the owner, that makes you Luke, right?" She feigns ignorance easily. She knows it's Luke Cage, but she gives him the chance to not be known at a drop of a hat and glance of the eye. She pulls the beer toward her, taking a sip through the head to find the sour beneath. She smiles at it then — a quick, brief curve of her lips that doesn't actually break into something full and content. It's a habitual, socially trained reaction, but doesn't actually hold true joy. "A few months. I admit I thought starting up a dojo would be easy, but I do more work advertising than I actually do teaching right now."

*

"That it would." Make him Luke, that is. His giant paw of a hand reaches across the distance to offer it to Colleen. "Luke Cage, nice to meet you Miss Wing." Of course it's then that his eyes drop to her arm where she scratches, a hint of that bandage peeking out from the cuff of her windbreaker. "Actually looks like it's dangerous business. I thought those places weren't really full contact." He speaks of the dojo like she's just teaching toddlers how to say 'hi yah!' and bow a lot.

*

"Colleen," she corrects him automatically as she grips his hand; despite the slenderness of her fingers, there's a true strength there that even a big guy like Luke can feel. "Or Sensei." There's another twitch of a smile there — a flicker of amusement that crosses her austere features. Then she takes another drink from the beer, fingers curling around the slick, condensation-speckled pint glass. Then she glances down to where he spots the bandage, and there's an almost abject glance toward it before she shakes her head, flashing the full length of her forearm to Luke. "Heh, well… this was off-hours." Then she returns her hands. "Most of my classes are kids who need a place to go that isn't the streets, who need somewhere to put all their emotions that's safe. They learn discipline and respect, and ultimately find self-confidence."

*

Luke's eyes narrow slightly as she said the injury was made during her 'off-hours', but for now he keeps his curiosity to himself. This place is a dangerous city during dangerous times after all. He doesn't press.

When she starts talking about the dojo, his expression lightens again. "Color me impressed." That mission statement earned her a few degrees of respect from the big man, who if rumors are true, tends to do the same the best he can in Harlem. Maybe her drive to help the local youth is why he feels comfortable to mention, "You know, I got a friend who owns a community center in the Kitchen. He's looking for instructors a few days a week, martial arts seems like it'd fit the bill. I know you're trying to build up your own dojo, but one might bleed nicely into the other."

*

The restrained curiosity is noted, but also allowed to slide past as she takes another sip of her beer. When Luke starts to talk about the community center in Hell's Kitchen, her brows arch slightly. "Really? I hear the Kitchen is in a real shit state." Her tone remains conversational. "Good for him for looking out for the community like that." Then she licks her lips after taking another drink, and she breathes out a slow exhale. "Yeah, might not be a bad idea." She ticks her eyes back up to Luke. "What's his name? I'll check it out."

*

"Danny Rand." Luke drops the name casually, because to Luke, Danny is just Danny. It's clear from the way it's delivered that Cage doesn't even think about the implications of just tossing out the famous billionaire's name, instead it's like telling her to go to the barber shop and ask for Pop. "There's a clinic, some classes like I said. Limited housing, but he's trying to expand that. A lot of displaces people looking for just a little bit of what you're talking about with your Dojo. No doubt he'd pay for your services and expenses, plus it's a good way to get some exposure."

He gives a little half shrug before he turns to the register, hitting a button on the screen - man sometimes he misses his old one - and the cash drawer pops open. He sorts through some business cards until he finds one for the Center that will no doubt put her through to an assistant instead of Danny proper, but it has his name on it. "Here you go." He passes it over between, sandwiched between forefinger and middle.

*

Colleen blinks, leaning back slightly. "Rand?" Then she frowns slightly. "You mean, like… the billionaire?" Her mouth works a few times, opening and closing. "He could probably afford some of the best Sensei's in New York City." There's a slight chuckling to her works, hooking a bit of hair behind her ear. "I'm not sure I'm the right level." The self-conscious backpedalling is heard easily in her voice, and she looks slightly up at Luke when he produces the business card. Colleen takes it hesitantly, looking over it. She brushes the pad of her thumb across Danny's name. "The Merit Center?"

*

"Yeah, that's the one." Luke says as he leans against the back bar, thick arms braiding across his chest. "Look, I haven't seen you in action so I don't know if you're right for the job. No doubt he'll put you through your paces before he just hands it over." A pause and a head tilt. "Maybe." Billionaires are eccentric, yo. "But if you say you're already doing the kind of good the Merit Center is, I'm sure you're exactly what he's looking for."

*

Luke's vote of confidence lifts her dark eyes to his once more. She frowns slightly, flicking her forefinger across the card once before she pockets it into her windbreaker. "Alright, I'll check it out. It okay if I tell him you passed along the opportunity? Don't know you, but he'll probably ask where I got information on the job from." Plus, connecting her to Luke might make the process easier, not that she says that aloud. Instead she just smiles a bit plainly as she keeps her dark eyes on the big man.

*

A hand lifts to give a little wave of agreement with the flick of his fingers. "Yeah, of course. It might help to get past his assistant too, wedge open that door a little bit. He's going to be the best man at my wedding, so it's safe to say we're tight. Well, once I actually ask him." He grins and pushes off his lean to go tend to another customer, pouring a quick Manhattan and something that requires several juices. It ends with him shoving a couple dollar bills into his tip jar before he wanders back over. "What'dya do before the Dojo?" He picks up the conversation as if there was never really a pause.

*

The fact that Luke Cage and Danny Rand are tight is something Colleen just casually tucks away in her knowledge bank. Her expression doesn't even change; okay, it changes a little bit. Her brows arch slightly, violating her otherwise serious expression. She watches Luke go about seeing to another customer while she takes a drink from her sour beer, getting to the half-way point with a kind of steadiness that one would expect from a woman who doesn't drink much, or often. The question stalls her a moment, mouth opening with unspoken words. Then she sets them together in a tight smile. "A lot of jobs that never stuck, nor felt right. Waitressing, janitor at a school, clerk." There's truth to every little lie that comes from her lips. She served food, she swept floors, she saw to ledgers. It's impossible to hide the slight discomfort that works across her features as she sinks into those memories. Then she looks up to Luke, and a small smile tries to alleviate the weight that comes around her. "Being a Sensei has been the best fit yet, particularly for some of these kids I'm working with."

*

"You counsel through martial arts and discipline, I counsel by slinging booze." Luke grins again, the expression coming easily to his features and lighting his eyes. His gaze lifts from Colleen to another patron coming through the door, giving whoever it is a little up-nod of greeting before telling them to, "Sit anywhere." And that he'll, "Be right with you."

"Not everyone is lucky enough to find their calling," His attention comes back to Wing. "Even if you have to kiss some frogs to get there. Though I think I'm mixing metaphors. I wasn't always a sud-slinger, so I know how it goes, is all."

*

Colleen actually chuckles slightly at that, but gives a light nod of agreement. "Right, kissing frogs to find a calling, not princes." Then she takes another drink of her beer before she starts to lift herself from the counter, sliding back to her feet almost silently. "I'll pin up a flyer and be on my way, Luke. Thanks." She takes out her wallet, the velcro making a loud noise as she pulls it open and then flips out a ten. She places it on the bar, and then holds up her hand to reject any change. "Maybe let Mr. Rand I'm coming so he knows to expect me?" Which means she's definitely going to investigate the opportunity.

*

Luke gives her a flat look as she tells him to keep the change, but the bill is slid off the bar regardless. "Maybe you should keep this and buy a grown up wallet." He teases as he rings her out and the excess makes its way into the jar. "I'll text him right now, give him the heads up. Just don't make me look a fool. Oh. And do me a favor?" That grin. Nothing good can come from that grin. "If you guys spar as part of your interview…tell him he telegraphs his punches. AFTER. You get the job."

*

When Luke playfully disses her wallet, she holds it up meaningfully at him. "This wallet has served me for the better part of a decade, and cost me five bucks." She tucks it back into the pocket of her pants before she shrugs a shoulder beneath the hobo bag once its back in place. The grinning words though draw her brows up high over her eyes, and then she barks out a genuine laugh. "Oh man, alright… but not until after I get the job." Her smile tilts into a smirk. "Though if he telegraphs his punches, we got bigger issues." Then she takes a backward step, preparing to make her leave with a slight wave.

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