When: 2am-4am, 12/27/03
Where: Club Excalibur
What: Ronan and Travis meet.
Rating: PG-13 (swearing, themes, mild violence)
Travis: He's not sure why he's walking, just that he needs to get out of the stuffy hotel room. He was in the room for exactly three days straight, and that's enough for any man.
It's a nice city, he thinks, bored as he walks. He wants this to be the last place he goes, because he's tired of running and tired of hiding what he is. Yet, he can't seem to change anything, change his attitude about everything.
His thoughts as they are, he almost misses the sign. The one that says:
Now hiring, inquire within.
A job, he decides would be good, an excuse to leave the hotel room, an maybe make it so he can eat something other than Ramen noodles.
Still, he's nervous when he pushes open the modest door and walks into the not so modest looking Club Excalibur.
Ronan: The club is full tonight, curious faces peeking around the door to see the mass of dancing bodies inside, the lights, hearing the music, feeling the hard beats of an industrial song in the root of their bones.
Ronan stands by the bar and tries to mingle with the people while at the same time keeping an inept bartender from spilling too many of the customers' drinks. He really needs to find a suitable replacement soon.
The red and green globes of light shift, change, and slant across the door, illuminating a face that Ronan catches out of the corner of his eye. Another first-timer, nervous around the edges. He remembers a time when he was like that, and then he started working here and quickly became just another shadow in the dark, blending in, managing the lively club. Maybe, thinks Ronan, he can offer this young man the same opportunity.
He was short on staff, after all.
Travis: Too many people, Travis thinks. Maybe he should come back later. But he's got a few bucks, and that bouncer at the door (a guy that was unusually big, it seemed, then again, anyone standing next to him looks kind of huge, he thinks) put a green band around his wrist, universal sign for 'over 21.' So a drink wouldn't be bad.
Someone catches his eyes a little, just for a second, as Travis moves over to the bar. The look kind of unnerves him. He was hoping to go unnoticed. Clubs aren't his thing.
Travis shouts an order for a rum and coke at a rather shaky looking bartender. He watches the guy, shaking his head slightly. He's bartended in the past, knows from experience this guy will not keep his job long.
"Hey," He says, voice straining over the music. "What's up with the sign out front? Still looking for help?"
Ronan: The first-timer orders, then asks about the sign out front. Ronan approaches and is just about to inform the young man about the much needed help, when the hapless bartender - Joey - reaches out to hand him his order and the glass slips from his fingers.
Joey fumbles with the glass, catching it before it can shatter to a million pieces on the counter top. Ronan exhales slowly and shoots Joey a mean glare.
"Sorry about that," he cuts in, speaking to the newcomer. "Joey here, well - he isn't going to be employed here for much longer, as you can see." He flashes his friendly smile and extends his hand, hoping to get a friendly shake and maybe a small smile in return.
"I'm Ronan, and I manage this place. And yes, we're looking for help. A new barkeep, especially."
Travis: "Travis" He says taking the man's hand and shaking it. "I, uh, distracted him." He sputters out, pointing at Joey, who is looking somewhere between embarrassed and angry. "My fault." He adds, clarifying.
He clears his throat, already hurting from yelling over the music. "I, uh, can bartend..." He trails off, nervous because new jobs mean new chances at being found out, at loosing them because of who he is. What he is.
Ronan: Noticing how nervous the young man is, he waves the incident off. "Don't worry about the mess." He nods to Joey, silently indicating to get this man another drink.
"So you bartended before, huh, Travis?" Joey slides the glass of rum and coke over, and Ronan slides it toward Travis. "That's really great news for the club!" He shouts, as another techno song spills from the speakers, the lights switching from red and blue to a violent, bright neon-green.
"Relax," he adds, almost as an afterthought. So many people have come in looking as if they were about to enter a dark vacuum, never to be seen again, that he is used to trying to loosen people up. "We're all here to have a good time!"
Travis: Travis finds himself smiling at Ronan, who is either genuinely happy, or has been hitting the liquor a little too much. He sips his drink.
"Thanks," He says, indicating the glass. "I bartended a few times. Nothing as big as this."
He laughs then, all to aware of every part of him, of the way his hands are shaking just enough that he has to put the glass down and shove them in his pockets --doesn't need this guy seeing how nervous he is, even if the man seems nice enough. 'Don't bring suspicion onto yourself' his mind cautions.
"I'm better behind the bar," He says, to say something. To make sure this dude doesn't think he's just as nervous and incompetent as the guy behind the bar now.
Ronan: "I'll hire you on the spot if it means getting rid of," he pauses, shifts closer to prevent Joey from hearing, Joey, who is now serving drinks on the other end of the bar. "Getting rid of this guy." He finishes, nodding his head in Joey's direction.
Ronan shifts his gaze down and sees the nervous hands-in-pockets gesture. He's done it plenty of times before in the past himself. And then, it hits him - *why* Travis is nervous.
"You're," he pauses, unsure of how to phrase the question, just in case he's mistaken. He leans a little closer to get a better look at the eyes, to make sure Travis knows he's serious. "You're - different, aren't you?"
Travis: Of course, he has to be taking a sip of his drink when Ronan says that. And of course, he has to spit it all over himself, thankfully not on Ronan. For a minute, he thinks he might choke right there. Nervously, he sees the light closest to him flutter, just a little, almost unnoticeable if he wasn't so used to seeing it. Fuck.
"Uh..." Is all he can get out. Idly trying to wipe at the liquid on his shirt with his sleeve. 'Not good, not good' a voice keeps repeating over and over in his head. He knows he has to say something more than a syllable.
'No,' he wants to say, but he's never been good at poker for this very reason. Can't keep the truth out of his eyes, even if he can get his mouth to form the lie. Just can't do it.
Dizzily, he realizes he's not really breathing. He's never been good at this applying thing, but Jesus, he's never been asked that the first time he's meet a manager.
Almost a sentence. He gives up, there, because his throat is tight and every muscle in his body is tense, ready for flight. His hands are definitely shaking now as he stares at Ronan, waiting for something else from the other man. He's not sure what.
Ronan: He realizes, somewhat inanely, that he needs to run another light-check soon as the one closest to Travis - His eyes grow wide, and he belatedly grabs a few napkins and offers them to Travis. Oh man, how *insane*. How cool…. "Uh, look. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to - startle you. It's just, I thought you were…" He trails off, taking another look at Travis' eyes, clear, honest. Different.
And he knows. This young man is a nervous wreck, and he shouldn't be. Not here. At least, not in his club.
"Here," without waiting for him to second guess himself, Ronan takes the almost empty glass from Travis' nerveless fingers and sets it on the countertop. He looks at Travis, catching his eyes and holding them, then looks back to the glass. Slowly, millimeter at a time, the glass inches forward. He realizes with some amusement that he can do this little act for as long as he wants to, but he can't drive his car with merely his mind for more than a few feet.
Travis: A slow, relieved, smile spreads across his face as he watches the glass. He looks around once, sees that no one seems to notice, at least, that's what he thinks at first until he realizes no one *cares.* He looks back at Ronan and smiles.
"Interesting place ya got here." He says, unable to wipe the smile off his face. "I am, one, yes." There. Feels good to say, even if he says it barely loud enough for Ronan to hear over the music.
He nods towards the light, which is now at full power again. When he's sure Ronan's watching it, he lets it flicker, just once. Can do more, but that's enough to show him for the moment.
He full out laughs then. First time he's ever shown someone and been proud. First time he's ever done it to show someone, for that matter.
Ronan: He feels like the kid who still believes in Santa Claus, seeing him for the first time, eyes wide and mouth open. "That's really - " he laughs and looks back at Travis, aware that he's smiling too big, but he doesn't care. "That's really something," he says, finally, feeling as if that's all that needs to be said.
"You'll like it here." He shrugs and leans his elbows on the countertop. "We're all, you know. We're all family." He says, still smiling, and hunkers down on a stool. "And, you know, being a bartender around here pays pretty well." He leans across the bar and reaches underneath to grab another glass blindly, then sits back, signaling to Joey to pour him and Travis another drink.
"Cheers," he says, smiling.
Travis: He's never had someone seem impressed by his little 'gift.' Usually the reaction he got involved a lot of yelling and sometimes violence. It's nice, he likes it, but there's that one last thing, the thing that may bite him in the ass if he doesn't say it now. He just really doesn't want to. He feels like he's in a dream, finally ready to be accepted, finally in the right spot. Except, there's that small detail.
"Cheers" Travis says, when he realizes that's what Ronan is waiting for, but doesn't drink quite yet.
"I, uh, there's one small thing." He says, as close to mumbling as one can when they're shouting over music.
He breaths in and blurts out "Idon'thaveahighschooldiploma" in one word, not even breathing between them. There, said. It's held him back from getting other jobs before, so he'd understand if it did right now. But, God, would that suck.
Ronan: Ronan's about to sip his drink, but he's glad he didn't. He would've had a repeat of Travis' incident a couple of minutes ago. He shakes his head, clinks his glass gently with Travis', and tips the glass back until he feels all of the liquid slipping down his throat.
"Don't need one!" Ronan shouts when he's finished. He looks past Travis to the other end of the bar, and his eyes lock on the jar of lemons there. "Don't ask me why we have a jar of sliced lemons…" Ronan says, eyes still on the jar as it slides smoothly over to stop between them both.
"For tequila shots, I guess." Ronan smiles, shrugging. "People seem to want to munch on them." He dips his hand in and snags two out, putting one in his mouth and offering the other to Travis.
"So," he says around a mouthful of lemon, feeling too good to care how ridiculous he looks. "Where'd you say you where from again? And when you can start working?"
Travis: He smiles, drinking from his glass that is close to being empty. Bad thing. Too much liquor. But it's not every day you can watch someone slide a jar of lemons across a bar top and not be scared, so he mine as well drink.
"I didn't say," Travis says with a grin. "But, Pennsylvania originally." He clears his throat and downs the rest of his drink, hoping Ronan gets the hint and doesn't push the issue.
"I can start whenever you need me. If you're serious about hiring me." He feels stupid for the last part, for actually saying it aloud. He needs to learn to keep his thoughts to himself, but it all feels strange and nice, and he can't seem to accept that fully. Even if he is happy.
Ronan: At first he's a little put off with the short answer to his question, but then, he's known a lot of people who were hesitant to talk about their past. He decides to pick up with the bartending issue, since it seems the most safe way to go at the moment.
"I'm serious, cause we definitely need a new bartender." Ronan smirks, seeing yet again Joey fumbling with another customer's drink.
"I'll have to see you behind the bar, first, and show you where everything is. It's relatively simple," Ronan reassures him, although he feels as if Travis can already handle their busiest nights, being tonight.
The only reservation he has, though, is with Travis' powers and how well he has them under wraps. He might as well ask, if he's to give him the job.
"Uh, you have your powers pretty much in control, right? I mean, I trust you to do a good job behind the bar and all, but - " Ronan pauses to consider his next words carefully. "How well would you handle the bar under pressure?" He smiles then, shooting a fake gun at the lights. "I won't have to worry about electrical problems, will I?"
Travis: He sighs at the question. "Uh, all right. Not too bad..." He sighs again, trying to get it into words, playing with the cuffs of his sleeves. "Emotional stress does it." He nods at the light, feeling a bit of a buzz from the rum. "Like before. Work stress, not so much. I replace a lot of bulbs where I sleep. Usual now it's just nightmares and--" He cuts off and smiles. "Rambling, sorry. It's mostly under control, and what I break, I have no problem paying for." Stupidly, he keeps talking, wanting to explain. To get this job now that he really *wants* it. "Had a few incidents at other bars. I get the feeling it's different here though, not as much..." He searches for the right word. "Nervousness, I guess."
His mouth snaps shut, thankfully taking the hint from his brain. Jesus two drinks and he's rambling. Stupid kid's probably using the good shit. That and he doesn't drink very often.
Ronan: Ronan nods, understanding. "We're a much more relaxed and, ah, accepting club. Sometimes a fight occurs, but that'll usually happen outside, since it'd be pretty much suicide starting one in here." He plays with the lemon peel on the counter, twirling it without touching it. When he looks back up at Travis, the lemon peel gradually stills.
"It's okay if a few bulbs have to be replaced." He stops, in his mind debating whether or not he wants another drink. He hasn't had all that many tonight. But then again, it won't look too good if he were to drink himself stupid in front of a potential employee. So he sighs, shakes the sudden craving for a shot of tequila off. Must be those lemons.
"I'm thinking you can show me what you can do tomorrow, if that's okay?" he smiles in greeting as a man passes by, then looks back to Travis. "We open at 6 p.m., so if you could drop by at five, five-thirty…I could get you fitted into a uniform, see you behind the bar."
Joey passes by behind the bar, delivering quite an evil stare at him. Ronan ignores him, instead offering a faint smile to Travis, hoping he will accept the offer.
Travis: Travis smiles. "Five is great."
He's nervous for a moment, until he sees that the uniform looks to be a dress shirt (long sleeves, thank god, that's one thing he definitely does not want to go into now) and pants. Simple enough.
"I, uh, don't have the cash to lay out for it right now, though." He says, eyes on the lemon peal, the way Ronan could be so casual about being a mutant.
Ronan: "Don't worry about it," Ronan waves it off. "It's not like you're going to skip town with a forty dollar uniform and never pay me back." He grins then, the first one he's tried all night.
"So you think you'll like it here?" He barely shuts up for a second before answering his own question. "I think you will," he laughs then, and picks up the lemon peel, tossing it in the trash bin behind the bar.
"Ya' know, we've gotta hang out sometime outside of the workplace." He tries to gauge Travis' reaction, but the lights have turned to blues and violets, and it's just too dark to see his face clearly. The beats of the music send vibrations up the stool and oh, he knows this song. One of his favorites, in fact. Puts a stupid grin on his face.
Travis: Travis laughs at the amusement on Ronan's face. "I think I will, enjoy it here. Though I'm a little behind on music. I've gone through three stereos, can't afford another one."
He smiles, hoping that didn't just disprove his case of having his powers under control.
"And yeah, hanging out would be good. Don't know anyone here. Just came in. I'm living in a hotel, right now. Not even a good one."
Ronan: "Shit, a hotel." Ronan starts to tap his fingers absently on the countertop to the beat, then realizes he's doing so, and stops, looking almost embarrassed. "At least it's not one of those cockroach infested motels," he offers, grimacing.
"I haven't been here long myself. A couple of months, but I made friends with the owner. So...here I am." He hooks his feet around the stool legs, shrugging hunched shoulders. "I live in an apartment, and the rent is pretty cheap. Although the neighbors," he shakes his head, "are hell to live with."
He stops and wonders whether or not he should continue blabbering on. Hell, it's not everyday he gets to talk with someone like this, so he might as well.
"My neighbors are kind of…intolerant. Well yeah, they're assholes, at times. And addicts." Ronan sighs, but its more out of frustration than dejection. "But working helps - helps pay the rent, get you a new life, keep your mind off of other things."
Travis: Travis nods. "People suck." And that's all he wants to say about intolerance, because a few more drinks, or a few more months and maybe he'll be willing, but right now he's very much not.
"As do shitty motels, many of which I have lived in. Worked at two, even."
He doesn't want to get into it, not all the places he's been in the past three years, just how many jobs he's had. But looking at Ronan, he gets a hint that the man at least somewhat understands what it's like.
"Let me buy you a shot?" He says suddenly, surprising even himself.
He's already waving Joey over, resisting the urge to glare back at the other man. He didn't do anything but suggest he could do a better job.
"What do you drink?" He asks when Joey's in front of them.
Ronan:: Joey gives Travis a look, drying a glass with a towel in his hands. "Cuervo Gold Tequila. And a few Heinekens usually helps my nights pass smoother." He glares once more at Ronan, but another customer flags him down before anything more can be said.
Ronan resists the urge to roll his eyes. "Two shots, Cuervo Gold!" Ronan shouts to be heard over the music, and Joey only marginally turns his head as an indication that he's heard him.
"Tequila it is, then?" Ronan says, lightheartedly, getting the feeling that lightheartedness is pretty much all Travis is willing to take on tonight. The deeper questions - those aren't asked or answered until later, anyway, so he knows he shouldn't push, and he won't. Something about the other's voice, the wariness in it. Ronan knows when to shut up, and when to offer mindless banter as a solution.
Travis:: "Works for me," Travis says with a grin. "Not much of a drinker. Never wanted to play the, lets see what happens to the powers when I get shit faced, game, ya know?"
He looks up as Joey stands in front of them once again, shots in his hands. Travis notices they're not shaking right now, there's no hint of clumsiness. It's kind of unnerving, the way Joey stares at him.
Ronan:: "What?" Ronan asks, because Joey is just standing there. Joey blinks, sets the glasses down, hard. So hard, in fact, that the entire counter shakes.
And doesn't stop shaking. Until the stools start shaking as well.
"Goddamnit, Joe." Ronan grits his teeth but his voice is straining to be heard over the volume of the music. "Stop, right now."
The shaking, the mini-earthquake, almost, is tightly confined to only the bar, the most noticeable shaking occurring where Joey is standing before Ronan and Travis. In fact, the other people further down the bar hardly take notice of it.
"If you don't - " Ronan starts, but is cut short.
"Who the hell *is* this guy, Ronan?" Joey suddenly yells, the first time he's lost composure the whole night. "He's taking over my job all of a sudden? I thought you said we had a deal, that you'd get me a damn job! - "
"No more deal, Joey. Especially after this - would you stop it already!"
But Joey doesn't seem to be listening. Instead, he's staring dangerously at Travis, and the shaking beneath them increases, building, to where Ronan can feel the vibrations down to his bones.
And without warning, a slight fizzing sound, a pop, and the light almost directly above Joey's head goes out, shatters, rains down tiny little fragments of glass.
"Leave Ronan alone," Joey says, ignoring the glass, but he winced all the same as it came down, deathly quiet while looking at Travis, and somehow still able to be heard over the music.
Travis:: Travis feels himself standing up, angered now, mostly because he feels like he's gotten in the middle of something and now he's being fucking threatened. And he was having a good time!
He reaches out, takes the shot glasses of the still quaking bar. He hands one to Ronan and salutes his future boss with the shot before downing it. It burns on the way down, but feels good. He slams the glass on the counter.
"Sorry about the bulb." He says to Ronan, his eyes on Joey.
For a minute, Joey is silent, staring at him, like he's sizing him up, then Joey swings. Of all the things that could have happened, Travis wasn't expecting a punch. He stumbles back, surprised, tripping over the bar stool and falling on the still shaking ground.
Smooth, he thinks, as someone rushes to help him back up.
Ronan:: "Joey, you're fired." Ronan says, voice short and clipped and serious. He stares at him, willing him to argue, but Joey doesn't make a sound under that glare.
"Sorry," Ronan says as he's helping Travis to his feet. "Shit, I'm sorry. My fault…" he keeps a hand around Travis' arm, partly to help him regain his balance, and partly to make sure Joey won't get it into his foolish head to slug him again.
"Get out of here, Joey. Cool off." He says, and for a second, he thinks Joey isn't going to move at all. He does, though, flicking his gaze once more towards Travis, before turning and disappearing into the back.
By now, they've managed to gather a fairly big audience. And to think, Ronan boasts about a club where there will be no fighting. He tries to smile at them apologetically, but his face doesn't feel like it, and it falls flat.
He looks at Travis and tries to see whether or not his face is going to bruise. But he can't see anything under the dim light.
"Are you - okay?" And the moment it leaves his lips, he mentally slaps himself for asking such a stupid question.
At least the miniature earthquake had slowly stopped with the absence of Joey's presence.
Travis:: "I'm good at taking punches." He mutters, with a sigh. "I'm fine. But I think gonna start out tomorrow with a black eye. Little fucker hits hard."
He laughs, because this day has been so fucking strange, that he can't think to do anything else.
"I, uh, think I need another drink."
Without stopping to ask, he goes around the bar and picks up the bottle of Jose Cuervo and refills their shot glasses. A quick look down the bar tells him no one's really pressing for drinks. In fact, the place is emptying out a little.
"You need one too." HE says, pushing the glass towards Ronan.
Ronan:: "Thanks," Ronan says, taking the glass and knocking it back, squeezing his eyes shut.
He looks around and takes note of the crowd thinning out, then at the hour. Almost four. "Tomorrow better be a good day." He says, turning the glass in his hand absently, coming down from the adrenaline high and crashing hard.
"This was a really odd night…" he says to Travis, and maybe just a little glad to have experienced it.
Travis:: Travis leans forward on the bar, resting on his arms. He spins the shot glass in his hands. That last tequila shot was one too many.
"That it was," He agrees, when he remembers Ronan said something. He opens his mouth to say more, but a yawn comes out instead. At least he's buzzed enough that his eye is no longer throbbing.
"I think I'm gonna head out, unless you need some help here?" Definitely a question at the end of that statement. He'd stay too, despite how tired he suddenly feels, because Ronan looks just as tired.
Ronan:: Ronan shakes his head. "No, you go ahead. I'm just going to get rid of all these people and close up. No need to stay, I can handle it. I'll see you tomorrow." He smiles tiredly, definitely glad to have met and made a friend. Real ones are far and few between.
Mustering up all the strength he has left, he raises himself up on the countertop and stands, arms splayed out to get people's attentions. He's so tired, he almost forgets, they can't hear if the music is still on.
He slips down, turns off the throbbing music, and gets back on top again.
"Move it out, ladies and gents! We're closing.."
Travis:: Travis smiles up at Ronan, shouting a good night over the choruses of complaints that it's still early. He may hear someone muttering something about bartenders fucking up, but he's not sure.
Still, it's quite amazing, as he follows the crowd out. He's never been around this many mutants before, and it's kind of nice. Very nice.
It's not all the liquor in him that has him smiling on his way out of Club Excalibur, but that doesn't hurt either.