|Characters:||Wesson, Roland, and Chairman Maiow|
|Summary:||Wesson returns to Roland with the information she promised him.|
|Disclaimers:||Some anger and glamour draining.|
Danger has its own allure.
Roland is quite happy to lean into the happy circumstance. Like any competent manager, he has figured out how to make lemons into lemonade. A new special is advertised behind the bar -- Shooter Shots, seven dollar Bullitt whiskey shots, served in mock shell-casings. Amazon Prime is amazing; you can find anything, and have it delivered the very next day. Even in insane bulk. The sinewy pistolero himself is seated at a small corner table, feet up, shadowed in the darkness. He's wearing a Deadpool t-shirt -- just the mask, printed on a black shirt -- and a pair of ripped jeans. A pack of Marlboros sits on the table, but he isn't smoking. He's watching the crowd. Watching, and waiting.
Some of the rumors have reached the ears of a certain Elemental, but they aren't the only reason she is here. The throngs of people, more than when she was last here, is enough to force a frown to etch across her features. As soon as she is inside, she stops to scan the room for a certain gun lover, but is distracted momentarily by the shots of well, shots. Her eyebrows slowly arch upwards, following a tray until it passes by Roland's table. There he is. She moves past the dancers, winding around them with barely a glance in their direction as her attention is solely on Roland. She doesn't stop until she stands before him, one hand hooking her thumb into her back pocket. "I heard you had some excitement the other day."
At some point, as Wesson approaches, Roland begins to scratch between his shoulder blades, as though his skin has abruptly developed an eczema. He doesn't seem surprised when she looks up to see her standing in front of him. His hand drops from between his shoulder blade, goes to the small of his back. In a moment, it seems to be resting in his lap, obscured by the tabletop. "I did. Also had a visit from a woman named MacKenzie. Wanted to know all about me. Felt like she to give me a, uh, not-so-subtle warning." His tone is mild, but his eyes are cool, guarded. "You here as a follow-up on that?"
The mention of MacKenzie is enough for Wesson to tilt her head curiously. "MacKenzie? Red-hair?" she asks to confirm, obviously the mention of the woman is enough to surprise the Elemental, if slightly. "Well you sent me to look into a couple of ours, she was one of the people I asked. I guess she got curious on her own." No biggie, see? "What did you tell her?" Oh she is definitely curious. Reaching into her back pocket, she pulls out her own pack as her eyes slip away from him to look around the place. "Mind if we go somewhere quieter to talk? No need for prying eyes and ears to get involved."
Roland watches Wesson carefully, relaxing slightly as he notes the genuine flicker of surprise on Wesson's face. The hand that had been under the table shifts slightly; a moment later, he reaises his palm and lays it atop his pack of cigarettes. "If I take you down to my apartment," he says slowly, "There's two big rules. First -- you don't fuck with Chairman Miaow. Second -- you don't fuck with me. Or with Gray, if she's awake and not off delivering pizza or some shit." He rises slowly, eyes still on Wesson, ignoring the chaos all around them. "I told MacKenzie that I don't see why I'm obligated to answer anyone's questions. And that I work for whoever hires me. Want to keep me on-side? Pay me, and I'll storm Hell to complete the gig." Walking out from around the table, he leads the way toward a door marked PRIVATE.
The mention of Chairman Miaow gets a curious look again, but Wesson simply nods curtly. "I have no desire to fuck with anyone," she assures him, "Its not exactly in my nature." She moves to follow him as she places a cigarette between her lips. Pulling out her lighter next, she lights up and blows the smoke away from them as she walks. "She was probably curious for her own reasons. I believe she is fascinated by humans," she muses thoughtfully, though there is a little flicker of wicked amusement in her that disappears as soon as it shows itself. "Lets just say some of us tend to be a very curious bunch of creatures."
"Yeah? Well, I'm beginning to get more and more curious myself, Wesson." Roland unlocks the door -- a heavy, professional-grade deadbolt -- and leads the way down a flight of stairs, into a storage room. He glances at Wesson's cigarette and shakes his head faintly. "No smoking in the apartment," he adds. "Chief that smoke down. I can help, if ya like." At the other end of the storage room is a heavy, steel-reinforced door with a combination lock.
Mentioning that there is no smoking in the apartment, Wesson flashes him an annoyed look, but dutifully takes a very long drag before she pinches the cigarette to pass it off to him. She is slow to exhale this time, perhaps wishing to marinate her lungs in the cancerous smoke just a little longer. Her eyes scan the interior of the storage room as she waits for him to finish his turn on the cigarette. She fixates on the closed eyes for a moment before looking back down towards Roland. "You and me both, Pistolero. You can be as curious as you like though, as long as you know the consequences."
Roland shrugs faintly as he draws on the cigarette, taking it down by a good quarter before he passes it back to Wesson. "Smoking's bad for the cat," he explains, quite solemnly. Idly leaning his shoulders against the steel-reinforced door, the lean bounty hunter reaches up to rub a hand along his stubble. "I've been doing research on you folks," he says quietly. "I know a bit more than I did before, but not much. Bit of this here, bit of that there. The cold iron thing, that was interesting." Reaching behind him, he produces his pistol, keeping its muzzle pointed down at the ground. "So I got some cold iron bullets off a friend'a mine."
"You mentioned cold iron before," Wesson points out, she doesn't seem that bothered that he knows. When he pulls the gun and points it down, the Elemental rolls her eyes before she looks at him. This time impatience rolls up her spine as she fixes her eyes on him. "I came here to give you information that you requested as a favor for winning the bet since I am a creature of my word. If you don't want it anymore then just say it and I will get the fuck out of here and we never have to see each other again. You brandishing your fucking weapon at every opportunity and threatening me with iron bullets when I said nothing to warrant it is just going to make you look like a fucking douche bag trying to flex his ego-dick." Her eyes finally narrow at him. "I said investigate away, I am just warning you of consequences because I don't know how all the others would react."
It's the anger that elicits a grin -- and Roland puts the gun away. "That's exactly the right answer," he says evenly. There's a glimmer of approval here, and a considerable reduction of his masculine braggadocio. He smiles at Wesson, but it's not his usual mocking smile. She has passed some sort of test in his eyes. "Listen," he says mildly, "I genuinely don't mean you any ill-will. But a woman showed up at my bar asking questions about me, and she did come close to threatenin' me. Made me edgy." He spreads his hands loosely. "I had to know whether you were gonna come at me hard, or whether you were here to keep your word. Seemed pissing you off would be the easiest way to tell." He quirks his lips in a wry grin. "And I knew it'd be pretty easy to piss you off. Pinch that smoke off. I'll introduce you to Miaow."
"You seem to attract a lot of people wanting to threaten you," Wesson replies well enough. His genuine smile doesn't alter her own reaction however, as her eyes remain narrowed. She crosses her arms before her chest as she rests her weight on one leg. "Like I said, I can't control them. She was one of those I asked about Peter and Lilium. She got curious on her own so she came to check you out. I didn't send her nor did I know she was coming." At the mention of how easy it is to piss her off, she kills the cigarette with a snort. "Imagine that, pissing off a creature of fire and metal that burns with the heat of summer is easy."
That last bit gets a laugh. "Come on, man. You'd be as worried as I am if people kept showing up and asking questions. I'm just a dumb li'l normie, after all." Roland turns to the door, punching in a ten-digit code. There is the sound of sliding metal, and he opens it. "Come in." As he speaks, he steps into the apartment -- a night-and-day difference from Bottoms Up, and even from the storage basement. The place is downright luxurious. And -- true to his word -- Roland is busily bending over to fend off the escape of a dainty, gray-striped, cat. He deftly lifts him as he blurs for the door, getting a "mrow" for his troubles. And the devilish feline immediately begins kneading his shirt with her paws, staring up at him. A tiny red tongue emerges. "Chairman Miaow, meet Wesson Smith. Wesson, meet the boss.
She blinks at the sight of the cat, canting her head curiously. The woman doesn't reach out to pet the cat but actually keeps her distance. Wesson does, however, offer the cat a two fingered salute as she flicks them lazily away from her forehead. "Chairman," she says that with all the seriousness and solemn tone of someone addressing their boss. "You would be lead around by a pussy," she muses thoughtfully though with her tone it is hard to tell if she is serious or joking. Her eyes scan the interior of the place as she moves to slip her hands into her back pockets idly. "Nice digs. Better than my own place," she muses thoughtfully before glancing back at Roland. "Hey, quick question, did you sign the Accord?"
Roland gazes at the cat for a few moments, turns and walks to the cat-playground, deposits him gently down atop one of the scratching posts. The animal, indignant at his rejection, scrambles across the rope bridge to get away from him, settling on one of the other posts and beginning to sharpen his claws. He's no doubt plotting his revenge. The bounty hunter turns, idly unclipping his holster from the small of his back and depositing the weapon on his coffee table as he walks back to Wesson. "No." The respons is frank, unquestioningly so. "I'm a bounty hunter, Wesson. Sometimes, people need things done outside the Accords. That's when they hire me. Call me a pressure-valve."
She watches him take off his holster before she finally does the same with her jacket. As she does, however, Roland may notice that it seems considerably lighter, there is no bulk or weight of a gun in it anymore. Draping the jacket across the armrest of the leather couch, she keeps her eyes on Roland as he begins to approach her. This time without the holster she doesn't seem to tense up as he moves closer. Instead she rolls her head back to look up at him, her hand automatically moving to her back pocket for a cigarette befor she remembers she can't. "That's what I figured," she offers finally. "I'm just saying its going to be a tough situation to be in and maybe why a lot of us can be...unfriendly." She shrugs her shoulders absently. "By the way, you didn't tell me Peter and Lilium were an item. A couple of Gatsbys."
Roland glances aside at the jacket, absently resting his weight against the arm of the couch as he looks back to Wesson. He smiles wryly as he spots that movement to the back pocket, dipping his head in appreciation as she declines to smoke. The cat jumps down off his scratching post, going over to its dish, beginning to lap up milk. "I know," he says earnestly. "But I have a code, Wesson. Your friends don't have anything to worry 'bout, unless I'm paid. And if they got a real problem with someone like me knowing about 'em and not being Accorded, well." He shrugs his shoulders lithely. "I can't help that. Like I told MacKenzie -- they can put me on retainer, if they're worried, but have you read the accomodations the Accords make for mortals? Fuck that." Another beat, and he scratches with a fingernail at his cheek. "I'm sorry if I was unclear about Peter and Lilium. They came in together, seemed together, but... they're an odd pairing. I couldn't really be sure what they were t'each other."
"I admit, I didn't look too closely at the mortal side of the papers," Wesson returns honestly enough. Bringing her arms back, she fidgets as bit, as if trying to figure out what to do with them. Finally she reaches up to rub the back of her neck as her eyes flick to Chairman Maiow. She doesn't seem to be an animal person, at least not outright. "Nor do I have the option not to sign it. Either way the choice is yours," she agrees finally. Looking back towards Roland, she tilts her chin upwards at him. "They seem to be an interesting sort. Peter is what we call an Oathbreaker, someone who has made a promise that holds...value and power. When you break it, it kind of...taints your reputation if that makes sense? Among other things. Lilium is clear, however."
"Oathbreaker." Roland seems genuinely irritated by this; his eyes narrow faintly. "My dad used to say that you can lie all you like about the little shit, but you give your word, you die by it." There is, in fact, a lie here -- Wesson would hear it. He believes what he's saying about the importance of keeping one's word, but he's lying about who said it. Roland's gaze stays steady as a marksman on Wesson's as the cat leaps up onto the couch, prowls up to him, demands cuddles. He idly strokes the animal as Chairman Miaow turns and turns again, relishing the sensation of fingernails through his fur. "So what does that mean -- this Oathbreaker shit? What's the consequence of breaking a promise like that?"
"Yea, well, your dad," a twitch in her lips, "and us have similar points of view." Wesson glances towards the cat as seems to enjoy the cuddling and the feel of fingers. Her head cants to the side curiously once more, almost mechnically. It takes her a moment to break away and refocus back on Roland. His question gives her a pause as she thinks it through. "Its complicated," she admits, "nothing that has to do with you nor your ilk. It's something for us mostly," Wesson shifts her weight as she rolls her shoulders to relax. "I just thought you'd be interested in knowing. It won't help you much, but that is his current reputation among us. How you want to use that information is on you."
"It helps me a great deal. If he keeps hanging out in my bar, and you guys have a beef with him, that might effect me." Roland glances toward the door of the apartment as he strokes the cat, then back to Wesson. "Wanna give Miaow a pet? Get used to being human again?" The questions are remarkably gently-voiced, and he nudges Miaow toward Wesson with his fingertips. "Say hi, Chairman." The animal "mrows" again, leaps off the couch, and does indeed approach to try and twine his way between Wesson's legs. "I ain't Accorded," he says as he returns to topic, "But I don't allow my customers to be harmed, here in the bar. Peter told me what they were doing wouldn't hurt them -- feeding off their emotions. That true?"
"Shit reputation doesn't mean we're going to hunt him down and tar and feather him," Wesson returns with amusement. "He is still part of us in a sense, just has to make it right." At the offer of petting the cat, Wesson hesitates, blinking a bit owlishly at Roland. "Wha-what?" She looks back down at the cat and actually bites her lower lip in thought. As Roland asks more questions, Wesson looks at him for a moment before she looks down at the cat in surprise. The woman freezes entirely, as if moving her feet might cause Chairman Maiow some irrepairable harm. Finally, with aching slowness, she crouches down to try and pat the cat awkwardly. Her skin is warmer than usual, almost feverish to the touch. Here is hoping the cat doesn't mind. "I can show you," she offers simply, her attention on the feline.
Roland shrugs faintly at the first comment, spreading his hands. "How should I know what it means? S'why I'm asking." But he, too, seems amused at the notion of a tar-and-feathering, perhaps for different reasons. "Some crews would just cut a guy's throat for breaking his word," he says mildly. "And that's among us mortals. Lying always has consequences. You ever seen a gang patch someone in?" But he softens slightly as he watches Miaow with the woman -- the cat seems to enjoy the heat, purring loudly as he headbutts her hand. "You can show me? That's fine," he says gravely. "So long as it doesn't hurt me or the cat. Especially the cat."
Roland is -- well, it's like a father watching his child, the way he watches Wesson with Miaow. One gets the impression that, if she puts a finger wrong, he'll be diving for Gun and Devil take the hindmost. But he relaxes subtly as she actually seems to enjoy the animal's attentions. Miaow himself wanders back toward the sofa once Wesson has straightened -- how dare the overwarm Hooman retreat from his attentions. But the care that Wesson displays toward Miaow will, no doubt, go a long way to cementing this tentative friendship. "Peter told me my customers wouldn't even notice," Roland remarks grimly. "This doesn't sound like that's really true at all. People come to Bottoms Up to feel better, not worse." The anger? It's already happening. He glances up at the ceiling, his hands clenching and unclenching into fists. "I really don't like people messing with my customers." As Wesson comes closer, Roland leans backward slightly, a hint of snark coming into his voice. "I mean, I guess y'could dance for me." He's kidding. Probably. And anyway, if she is looking for emotion -- his ire is definitely aroused, if directed elsewhere.
"They won't outright notice," she returns easily enough as she watches the anger rise within him. "Nor will they be harmed, just a little bit emotionally exhausted," Wesson continues. But well, as a Summer Court with the temptation of raw emotion building up, she can't help but rise to the occasion. Like fire calling out the flames from a newly lit wick. "I mean, technically he can rip out the emotions from them, reap every inch of them until they are nothing but emotionless husk. Yea, your dancers might end up as zombied out, dazed little things. That might kill business a bit, or bring you the wrong kind of crowd..." She trails off, her eyes on him like a hungry wolf.
Has Wesson ever seen a television screen suddenly flicker into static? Flicker to the Emergency Warning System? Has she ever seen a mortal man turn into marble? It may be quite common there among the Changelings, this transformation, but the shift in Roland is as if someone had flipped a switch. A switch to the 'off' setting. As Wesson details the ways in which Peter might endanger his customers, might harm his dancers, Roland's expression just...dies. No hint of humor at all, none of the habitual lazy smile at the corner of his mouth. No life in his vibrant blue eyes. The tiny muscles of his face relax, and his hands uncoil from fists, growing loose. He could be a corpse -- except for one thing. Except that she can feel the deadly, crackling, rage. It is so cold that it burns, rich and thick, steaming off him. "Gray dances here," he says simply.
That's it little fire, burn brighter still. Wesson's own eyes flare in eagerness of the heat within the rage filled man. Just one more is all she needs. Slowly she nods in agreement as her lips purse tightly. "I mean as a man known to be an Oathbreaker, I doubt he would keep his promise to stay away from her. He may definitely reap from her too." Even as she says this, the tip of her tongue flicks out to lick her lips quickly as she breathes in the rage emitting from Roland. Oh she wants it, she wants that rage good. "I mean, someone like her may even taste better for him, you know? I mean if he constantly sought her out it would be easier and easier to drain her of all her emotions, all of her will..."
Oh, it's there. But it's not fire -- it's ice. It's the cold certainty of a killer. It's as though, the more Wesson talks, the calmer Roland seems. The rage rushing through his veins is not a wildfire. It does not seem to cloud his judgement -- it seems to feed it, to speed his thought processes. Make him more observant. He's staring at Wesson with flat attention, unblinking, as patient as a sniper in a blind. "Yeah?" The question is hushed. But the rage, the taste of it spills off of him. "I think you've made me angry enough," he says, his voice dropping even more. "Take what you need." And it's there -- just offered to her. His rage is like a cloak of ice on a warm night, there for the taking. Just reach out, and don't mind the bite.
"Its already done," she murmurs quietly. Wesson doesn't touch him, doesn't need to, just being close enough allows her to feed from his raw energy. Her eyes flutter shut briefly and she takes a deep breath as if to inhale the scent of him, or his emotions in this case. It is quick but what he feels isn't immediately noticable, at least not at first. Its a subtle affect, his cold rage blunting faintly to reflect a subtle loss of emotional intensity. Wesson herself, however, as stepped away completely from him, moving to the side to grab her jacket as she drapes it across her arm. "Thats it," she tells him before waving her hand dismissively. "Also ignore what I said about the whole ravaging her of her emotions. Or the thing about Oathbreakers being willing to break any and all oaths. Just had to push your buttons and, well, anger is a specialty of mine. Makes it taste a bit like spiced wine."
Roland's anger does diminish -- a touch. But at the dismissive gesture from Wesson, it makes a rousing effort to rally itself. But a man can only sustain such depth of emotion for so long, particularly with someone siphoning it off from him. He rolls his jaw lightly, leans down to touch Miaow with his fingertips -- the cat is curled up on his foot, as though he can sense the angst within the bounty hunter/bar owner. He doesn't move to stop Wesson from stepping back. "I hope you enjoyed it," he says, still in that soft, level, tone. "But I wanna understand what you just said to me. And I gotta tell you, it's important -- for Peter's sake -- that you make me understand. Is he a danger to my people?" Whimsical and slimy as he sometimes seems, Roland is -- well, it might be impressive. There's no doubt at all of his sincerity.
"Hey, you wanted to know what it felt like, now you have had first hand experience." Wesson actually slips her jacket on and gives a glance towards Chairman Maiow. "He is as big of a danger as any one person is," she replies honestly. "Harvesting emotions isn't exactly a life threatening situation. I don't know the man very well to tell you how dangerous he is. That is up to you and yours to decide. See him again and judge him as you would a fellow man. I am not going to get between you guys. I did my duty and fulfilled my favor, the rest is on you."
"Wesson." There's some diminution of the cold anger in Roland's voice as he walks around to open the door for her. He looks sidelong at the woman for a few moments, his chin tucking inward for a moment as he measures his words, swallows his pride. "I know I'm a bit of a cock. Can't help that. I'm too old to change." He slams open the heavy bolts, pauses with his hands on the metal door. "But my people -- customers, dancers, bartenders, Gray -- they're just people, too. Help me out here." He reaches to rub the side of his neck lightly before opening the door. "What would you do, with what you've told me about Peter? What is your instinct?"
"Roland," she murmurs with a bit of a tight tone as she levels her eyes on his. "Have you not seen me? I am a creature of metal and fire with the emotional maturity of gunpowder. I have no people. I have no friends. No lovers. People are as foreign to me as that cat is. My instincts would be to say fuck all of this and to next time not make my weakness so obvious." She pauses however as she regards him before letting out a low breath. "Look, you said you are not held by the bounds of the Accord, use that to your advantage then. You don't want the safety it provides? You have to learn how to deal with those kind of people who are no longer held back." She cants her head at him, "You'll manage. No one wants to start a war, even those who feed on it."
"I think you'll find," says Roland after a few moments, letting the door swing open, "That having people ain't a weakness. You're a gun, Wesson? Fine. But guns don't pull their own triggers, or thumb their own hammers." He nudges Miaow away from the door gently; if anything, his tone is sad as he looks at Wesson, his anger diminishing, replaced by something more world-weary. "Listen. Just come on back when you're finally ready to let me help, huh? Offer is still open -- money on the table, and I'm your man." There is a beat of silence. "I think I'll ask Peter to refrain from feeding." Ask. Yeah. That's what he does. He asks. "Don't suppose you know any of your kind who modify armor like he claimed?""Yea well, this gun has opposable thumbs now." She even lifts her thumb to show him. Full of humor this one, even when her expression and tone doesn't change. At his offer, she shakes her head slightly. "I might, but right now my money is all tied up. I am not exactly rich, can barely afford my apartment half the time, especially when the calls don't come in." Wesson watches him push Chairman Maiow away from the door, and so the Elemental steps through, perhaps taunting the cat about her ability to escape the basement. As he asks her about someone who can modify armor, the woman's lips suddenly twitch before one corner curls ever so slightly in amusement. "You already met her apparently," she tells him. "Hope you left a good impression on her."