Logs:Priorities

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Priorities


Characters: Gast and Slip
Date: 2020-03-19
Summary: If two Darklings meet in a bar to discuss the past and no one's there to see it, has it happened at all?
Disclaimers:

There are several more productive things that Slip could be in the middle of a Thursday than taking up one of the sticky red booths at the Cherry Pit, looking for work so she can afford better beer chief among them, but she's not. She's got a bottle of cheap beer near at hand, a smeared puddle of condensation at its base suggesting she's been picking it up and putting it back down again for some time now, slowly working at relieving it of its contents. By all appearances, most of her attention is on her phone where her thumb intermittently swipes to change what's on the screen. Those paying careful attention might catch subtle movements of her head, of the odd ears hidden beneath her hair. There's not a lot going on right now, very little worth listening to, but that doesn't keep her from eavesdropping all the same. Habits are habits.

--

Help wanted ads cycle through the menial jobs of high turnover with the odd interruption of an occupation demanding experience in the field - experience no one might get without having landed such a job in the first place. Ocassionally these are replaced by the strange, requests for one-offs vaguely worded enough that they might be born of madness, perversion, or a lack of familiarity with the english language (or any blend thereof). Slip may not be looking, but Gast has a copy of the Tribune folded to give priority to the personals section when he walks in through the front door in a button up gray dress shirt, a black tie, a pair of black pants, and shoes not unlike those of his usual preference; dress form, boot function.

His pace instills belonging, taking his time as he steps up to the bar and orders his drink. Something amber, in a tumbler. He plucks between stained index finger and thumb and adopts the same patient pace, the soft soles of his shoes dull on the floor as he approaches Slip. He doesn't beg allowance when he slides into the bench seat of the booth across the lacquered and chipped table from her, putting his glass down without need for a coaster. There's a deceptive sweet scent about him - rotting sugarcane - covered up with oak and old books. Whenever the wind slips in through the infrequently opening door, there's a distant sound of rattling tree branches. Did he have this mantle before? How long has he been true of Autumn.

"There's less dives like this, back home, now," he begins, as if they'd already been mid-conversation. He didn't send word ahead that he'd been coming to New Orleans. He hasn't been in touch at all, really. "Snowbirds wanted diner settings. The property crisis killed the rest." He's better put together than the last time she's seen him in a place like this. But he's more different as well - wyrder. The discord and off colours of his eyes have translated into something much more prominent. His clockwork eye. It works in silence, aside from a gentle whir as the aperture adapts to the low lighting of the room. And his breathing too; there's a rasp to it. Subtle, but unhealthy.

--

Slip's ears pivot in imperfect synchrony to take in the weight and pacing of the Gast's gait, new shoes and unfamiliar floors--not to mention years of distance--obscuring memory enough that she doesn't place him until he orders, until she catches his voice across the room. The corners of her lips tug upward before she catches them, requiring conscious effort to smooth them back toward neutrality as she gives up on whatever she might have been reading on her phone. It's not like there's a lot of work that's not at least a little bit horrifying for a person with her limited education and experience, anyway.

By the time he's got his glass in hand, her phone's disappeared, returned to its pocket in her jeans, and she's acquiried visual confirmation of what her far too sharp ears already caught. Fingers on her beer, one nail picking restlessly at the label, she smiles--intentionally--at the unlicensed PI like she'd been expecting him. "Sounds boring," contains a subtle question, one dark brow ticking upward by the narrowest degree. Is that why he wandered out this way without warning? Because Miami's just not fun anymore? The black tee shirt she wears with the faded image of a reclined Iggy Pop beneath 'the stooges' is almost certainly second-hand, too large for her frame, but some of the accessories are familiar, including a locker key which no longer works hanging from a chain around her neck. The crisp evening air that surrounds her makes no attempt to cut through the more pronounced scents the autumn brings over. Her eyebrows arch a little higher as she takes a swig of her beer, waiting without asking anything directly.

--

"Some nights," Gast agrees - boring. There's a grin fueled by nostalgia here, answering Slip's smile. "But the snowbirds make vulnerable marks. Con artists. The city is a different beast now." Nevermind the old gangs trying to keep a hold on what used to be one of the worst stomping grounds in the old drug war.

Maybe Gast was once considered for Spring, before rock bottom betrayed the utter annihlation of self that was behind that initial pursuit of vice. Winter was aways another possibility for those gloomy low points, and no lack of regret and existential sadness to boot. But nothing fit quite as well as the dying season. He takes a drink, downs the contents of the tumbler, and lets Slip wait in anticipation as he does. He's lean. Too lean, really, but his suit is fitted. He looks at home in it, even with the jacket left behind.

The grin goes away. He could spend a lot of time dancing around what he means to say. He has a tendancy to make people stress before getting to what he wants. "You ever come out this way?" he asks, eyes squarely on Slip's. Old habits, likely, treating people like suspects even when he doesn't mean to. "Before, I mean."

--

Slip's patience lacks any predatory edge despite the hunger behind it. She knows she'll eat; it's just a matter of whether he'll feed her before she resorts to any tricks to satisfy her curiosity. For now, watching is more than enough. There's so much to take in, all the little differences with their own stories, from autumn's endless endings to consideration of shifting interests. How he doesn't seem worn quite so thin as the last time she saw him, despite his too-lean cut or the faint rattle in his lungs. How the steady set of his attention doesn't feel all that different today than the first time he questioned her, somewhere else, far from here. Her smile dims, skewing sour for just an instant as her gaze shifts off to the side, away from his. "Once?" sounds more uncertain than it is, acknowledgement of that unnecessary ambiguity acknowledged in a little wobble of her beer, barely lifted from its puddle. "Spring break. Not... *my* spring break." But somebody's, says the unspoken implication of accompaniment. Angling an indirect look back toward Gast, she adds, "A couple years before," without explicitly asking why. She can wait.

--

The slightest furrow of his brow. Gast catches the smile dimming, and the way Slip looks aside. He doesn't miss it. The two of them don't miss much. Maybe that's a curse, of sorts. But if there's anything beyond a momentary pang of regret for his conduct given their history, it doesn't extent further into his observable tics. He grunts at her answer and sets down his empty glass and leans to one side as he reaches down and fetches a smartphone from his pants pocket - with one of those folding wallet cases beloved by the old and inately practical. It has a notepad bound in instead of ID or cash. A stubby pencil as well. He starts to wrote - springbreak '83-'82? - but keeps his attention on Slip, letting his writing be as messy as it needs to. But... it's not. Rather, it has a kind of arcane form. Decent caligraphy, cursive.

"Did either you or your company have reason to visit an ...Assumption Parish?" he asks, as a follow up. His eyebrows remain as expressive as ever - the default state of them, inner-ends slightly higher than the bridge, gives him a sad, sympathetic cast that's suited him well in not getting in as much trouble as he clearly should. Usually.

--

Slip's focus returns to the former detective when he pulls out his phone and flips it open to the notepad, dashing any hope she might've held that the questions about ancient history were just small talk, that maybe he really was just bored. Or missed her. Or something. Anything that might mitigate the weight which settles in with the second question. "Maybe," comes quietly, accompanied by a shrug. "We went a lot of places that week, and I was only sober for a couple hours of it." A shift of her weight draws her out of her slouch, like restlessness might propel her elsewhere any minute now. It's a lie. He knows it. Once her posture's straightened, she barely moves, accepting the mantle of witness for the moment. Mostly. With a bit of bucking, expressed verbally. "You could've called. I know you could've called." Nevermind that he almost certainly doesn't have an updated number for her. If he could track her across a few states, surely, he could dig up her digits. "Tell me you're here because you missed me. Or you were bored. I'll settle for bored."

--

The look becomes a little more pointed at the answer that Gast gets - the vagueness. The open possibilities. The lie. He sighs. He leans back against the cushion of his bench seat. It's a judgemental posture and an expression of exhausted annoyance. But he doesn't press, yet. Just taps the end of his pencil on the mostly fresh sheet of notepad, only marked with 'springbreak' and a couple of years. He accepts her accusations as a deviation from the questions he started with. "Would that have helped you find what you were looking for - the you that you were looking for - to give you an opening to fall back into my trail?" he asks. Thoughtful enough a sentiment from the morally complicated former detective to indicate that he's put a lot of time into thinking it - whether or not he landed at the appropriate conclusion. "And, of course I have. I've missed you since the minute you left, Slip," he adds, a little quieter - a little annoyed that she might think otherwise. But he doesn't state that it's the reason he's here (or the only reason, at least).

--

Slip's lips twitch with amusement--and possibly pride--when his posture shifts as if to balance her own, when that petty swipe hits its mark. Unfortunately, his counter hits a bit more squarely, whether he meant it to or not. Her shoulders sink as her eyes widen, just before her brow furrows and she mutters, "I didn't mean..." Then. But neither does she clarify, instead accepting that she left the scope wide open and invited that reminder. Midday beers do little to sharpen one's concision. Her expression softens before his quieter admission, making it all too easy for an earnest smile to bubble up, easily glimpsed before she sharpens its edges with a touch of smugness and accepts his offering with a solid, "Good."

After a few seconds of further consideration of the man seated across from her, she looks down, drawing her beer aside to push at the puddle its made, dispersing some of the dampness which only serves to get more of her forearm wet when she sinks forward onto her elbows, a little closer to Gast. "Mark and Lisa disappeared for a day. Maybe two?" She wasn't kidding about the fuzziness, time picking at the edges of an already drug-befuddled memory. "Said they had some friends or family or... something a couple hours outside the city. I didn't ask. I didn't care." Her thumbnail picks at the corner of her beer bottle's label, a couple of quiet flicks accompanying the reluctantly resolved look she settles on the PI. "Why do you? What are you picking at, Gast?"

--

Gast shrugs at what Slip didn't mean. It changes little. He behaved the way he thought was for the best. Which means that the reason he's choosing now to behave otherwise must be heavy. He exhales sharply through his nostrils when she smugly accepts the fact that he missed her. He doesn't repeat the question in return. Though he likely considers a second drink - and might have followed through if he didn't have a task to perform in fulfillment of his duty, first. Slip gets back to it before he does. He writes down the names 'Mark' and 'Lisa' on separate lines, with enough room for surnames after each. He banishes evidence of annoyance from his face as he forges forward.

"There's a place called Bayou Corne out in the north of Assumption Parish," he starts. "Someone we questioned in the initial case had a place out there. He wasn't suspect at the time, just a weirdo who'd had the deep freeze in his shop broken into in the same weekend the crime took place." 'The' intial case. The crime that Slip might have witnessed during the decades long crime spree that hit Miami. But a case to stand out, none the less; as the only evidence left behind was a collection of samples of human flesh folded into the shape of a flowering lotus beneath a hostel bunk, someplace that Slip was thought to have stayed before she fell off the radar. He lets that much stand, for now. "Do you recall Mark and Lisa's last names?"

--

The case that connected them, that lead Gast into terrible places in pursuit of a missing witness. Yeah. Slip's familiar. And quiet. And still. One might be given to wonder if she's still breathing for how little she moves between the answer to her question and the asking of another. Her chin bobs, and the spell is broken, weight settling a bit more heavily against her arms. "Hernandez and Guidry. Mark Hernandez..." And Lisa Guidry. It's easier to pick those details out across the decades, implying relationships that extended beyond the edges of that intoxicated week away from Miami. "Lisa was the one who knew her way around." Whatever else she might remember of the pair doesn't spill out all on its own, but it's not difficult to imagine the gears working behind her big green eyes, searching for anything that might have tipped her off that something was weird, that might look out of place now, with hindsight, with the details the once-detective has shared about the case. With anything that might suggest Lost now that her eyes have been opened by Arcadia.

"You buying?" interrupts all that wondering, her beer rather suddenly lifted so that its remaining contents can be downed quickly. She nudges the bottle toward his empty glass encouragingly. "I'll drink whatever you want if it's on your dime." Which is to say that anything he can afford is almost certainly an upgrade of what she's buying on her own. It just sounds better as an opportunity, like he might be getting something more out of it than just her continued company.

--

Hernandez... Guidry... Or some approximate spelling of both join their respective forenames in Gast's notebook. In tiny cursive, next to 'Lisa Guidry' is entered the word 'local?'. He doesn't comment vocally, though, or chase further down the subject of these two. Maybe that'll come later. Instead, he answers the subject of drinking. "Sure," he offers. "Start us off with two beer - your choice - and a shot of hardbar, if you're up for it." He reaches into his other pants pocket, scrounging until a twenty is parted from the moneyclip it might be part of (neatly folded) and places it on the table between them. He leaves it to Slip to do the ordering.

Though, before she does, he continues. "There was a problem out in Bayou Corne, about eight years ago - the Summer of two-thousand-twelve. One of the 'salt domes' below started to collapse. There was a sinkhole. And a cover-up by a petroleum producer in the area." That last sentence is added quickly. It's an interesting fact, but apparently unrelated to what he means to say. "The sinkhole expanded in two-thousand-fourteen. Our weirdo's property was within the affected zone." He pauses there - a cliffhanger to collect drinks on.

--

An easy smirk answers that goading from Gast. Was it goading? Maybe he was just being polite, respectful. Slip reads it as challenge, her expression reading oh please to remind him that she's never not up for it. Even if his own memories might contradict that unspoken claim. There was certainly a period of time when she didn't seem up for much of anything that heralded her departure several months before she disappeared. But that's not where her thoughts are as she watches him tilt and scrounge, all that tailoring making for a better show. As soon as the twenty goes down, she plucks it up, though there's a soft sucking sound from the table where something sticky has tried to claim the bill as its own and failed.

She doesn't wait for his exposition, sliding from the booth while he speaks... and keeping an ear turned his direction as she heads toward the bar, a metallic lobe just barely glinting past dark hair. The exchange at the bar takes a minute or two, requiring that bottles are opened, shots are poured. There's even a little change after tip, cheap as this place is, though she shoves those few dollars into her own pocket. Probably without any intention of giving them back, even if the more obvious logic is that she needs both hands to carry their drinks back to the table. The bottles go down first, Lagunitas for each of them, both on his side of the table. Which gives Gast all of a second of forewarning before she slides in beside him, whether she needs to nudge him with her hip to make room for her or not. Closer, it's easier to catch the promise of a cool spring twilight clinging to her, a vague promise of a night out tugging at the senses without quite making good. Maybe because the shot glass distracts, something amber therein, his earlier drink reordered, offered over without word. Her own lifted, she intends to toast. Without any words to romanticize old times. Without any words at all.

--

Hungry. Gast never seems quite inert, if only for the implied hunger of his visage. It somehow implies ambition and energy (spent to the last drop) rather than lethargy. His shirt twists tight to his flank as he fishes the twenty, like rope tautly bound around hand and wrist in a grand game of tug-o-war. Only, the stakes are always higher. He looks rakish in a suit - like an opportunist who makes use of the cut to get what he wants, rather than someone displaying honest pride in their affluence. He keeps talking as Slip goes to get the drinks. He knows the drill. But he does give it that same dramatic pause as he waits for her to reach the table. A nod - a thanks for the drink he's paying for - or maybe grateful for her company despite the subject matter at hand. Hip nudging hip - he's not all skin and bone, a slight cushion to the probing impact that's meant to give her room; but the bone that is felt, vaguely, is less rounded. Sharper. Implicitly mechanical, if not literally. She earns a crooked smile - slight, but there. And he makes room. She might even here that longer inhale, breathing in the presence of that cool spring twilight. The essence of it. The promise that fuels potential. They've both changed. Grown. He lifts his drink of - relatively cheap - 14 year old scotch to her drink. The toast returned. No words to ruin it. He'll get back to what he was saying. And he'll start on his bottle next.

--

Slip almost seems wholly human up close and personal like this, all the padding of her hip just as it should be, more feminine than one might expect for how her curves occasionally fade into nonspecificity where shadows catch at her dark clothing. The copper cast to her complexion is easier to catch up close, seeming, at first, like a trick of the light, a reflection of scotch or a glint from the glass playing across the bridge of her nose, running along her cheekbone, but the sheen remains once the drink is downed and the shot glass is surrendered. It's momentarily more pronounced, even, a crinkle of metal on the ridge of her nose as she pulls a face at the leather-and-peat, smiling even as her tongue juts out past her teeth. He's surely seen the look before, the one that means maybe, with a bit of (almost certainly minimal) arm-twisting, she could do another. And another. And another after that. Until the benefit outweighs the cost.

Whatever weak protest might be read into that expression, the ritual leaves her looking more relaxed, but maybe that's the proximity, given how her shoulder sets to his, how she takes up the space granted to her with the obvious intention of keeping some contact. Lifting her beer, she murmurs an, "Alright," that signals some surrender, a more participatory interest in the conversation at hand. "What did they find at our weirdo's place?" She watches Gast while she drinks, while she washes down that decent scotch with a magnificently bitter IPA without batting a lash.

--

A whiff of heather off the glass. Heather and woodsmoke, with the slightest hint of brine assaulting the senses with a taste of the seaside - a different seaside. The taste is malty - with dried fig and orange taking second. It's not something they drank in Miami, and likely immigrated from further shores, but it speaks of the city in some small way; of a beachfire somewhere. Gast's brows furrow as he takes his shot and sets it down empty, taking a short break between it and his bottle as he sighs satisfactory at the burn. He makes to effort to remove his hip from hers - the warmth builds to heat between them. His crooked smile returns for the jutting of her tongue. But he continues all the same.

"Preserved lotus flowers," he starts. "And another flower oragami'd from animal skins - oposum, bobcat, etcetera" He looks to his own IPA, and reaches idly to take it in hand. "Our weirdo, Theodore Charpentier, is officially a missing person. State police couldn't reach him for questioning regarding his property - though, he hasn't commited any crimes as far as they're concerned. Low priority strangeness."

--

The shift in Slip's posture is more pronounced at this proximity, when a subtle squirm at the mention of the leathery lotus can be felt in the incidental repositioning of the various points where they connect. Her, "Huh," between sips is unconvincingly nonchalant. "Theodore Charpentier." Is that who's to blame for the sharp sideways turn her life took more than three decades ago? She doesn't have nearly enough information to reasonably draw that conclusion, but that doesn't keep her brain from leaping ahead, connecting distantly spaced dots as if this might be the only line they could shape: Lost murderer gets rid of witness in Arcadia, probably hiding in Hedge now. So many assumptions, but it's easy to shove any possible answer into every possible gap in her understanding of what happened in hope of making some sort of sense of it.

With a more purposeful rub of her elbow to his, anchoring in that contact as she pulls out of her own reeling head, she looks at Gast, head slightly inclined in his direction. "I don't remember a Theodore or Theo or Ted or anything. And I don't like the idea of you following someone else into the unknown over this." Admission more than prohibition, her own desire expressed without denying his.

--

"Prefers 'Teo'. Was an apprentice butcher when we interviewed him. Theft was of meat and cutlery - it was a theory, at the time, that one of the missing knives might have been used to carve to victims, but..." Gast trails off. Dead end. "Mister Charpentier was never a suspect in the murder, and had an alibi for the break-in - which occured overnight." He doesn't share his own assumptions yet - just provides the new link between one happenstance interviewee among many, and one strange series of suspected murders from 1985 that left behind only a flower of evidence and a missing person. Elbow to elbow, he turns his head to see Slip from the corner of his eye beside him. A subtle nod accepts that she doesn't remember anyone of the sort, and no such gesture when she voices her discomfort over his work, and potential repeat performances. "Well, it isn't so unknown anymore. And there wouldn't be anymore surprise drop-ins after years apart." Gallows humor. He's prone to it.

Nothing Gast says is enough to shake Slip's theory entirely, but she has the sense not to share it. And not to hold onto it too tightly either. It'll serve her better, for the moment, as a distant glimmer of possibility, a promise that her personal mystery might not be entirely unsolvable despite how cold the trail has gone in her absence. A wry smirk answers his counterpoints to her preference, lingering as her knee knocks into his. "I never said I'm not happy for surprise drop-ins after years apart," she points out, beer bottle tipped slightly in his direction for added emphasis. "I said I didn't like your lead-in." She takes a swig, gaze dipping toward his lips as she does, a quick consideration before the bottle goes back down again and damp fingers dry themselves against one denim-clad thigh. "Where are you staying?"

--

A knock becomes a brush. Prolonged contact. Gast's crooked smile stays and he feeds it a swig of that IPA. His posture is relaxed, an easy fit next to Slip's. "And here I thought I was doing you a favour. Not beating around the bush and all," he says - half-joking. He doesn't apologize for leading with the questioning. He studies her face in turn, half turned to one another like they are - reading expression, gaze dipping briefly when hers does. "Motel," he answers, plainly. "Out in Seabrook. Kind of a dump, but it's got a hot tub." One has to wonder if he soaks in his suits as well. Probably not - but you never know.

Slip might have memories to match that possibility. Miami was pretty wild there for a while, a sliding scale of appropriateness and decency. Hard to know for certain just which possibilities come promptly to mind when she asserts, "Sounds like an invitation," with a smile of her own. And no immediate rush to flee the booth for some fleabag motel in Seabrook. Not just yet. Instead, she lets her gaze dip farther along his form this time, taking in the whole picture, finally working around to acknowledging all the little differences she's been cataloging since he first stepped into the bar. "You look like you're doing better," comes out like a question, curling upward at the end in search of confirmation as her eyes lift to meet his again. "And I do appreciate your directness." It might be more convincing if her head didn't wobble a bit as she says it, if the shoulder pressed to his didn't lift in an uneven shrug after. "Just might be some things I appreciate more. Maybe." Any appearance of intentional flirtation falters when her smile does, when she admits, "I dunno. It's a lot to think about." She might even mean just this Teo guy, but probably not.

--

There's a balance to Gast, these days - with regard to the sort of work he'd started in on. Confidence. Assertiveness. He knows how to do his job again, and that path was hard fought. When Slip comments that his description of the motel sounds like an invitation, he reaches the border of where that balance keeps. The slightest wobble, in the form of a pause. A flush to his cheeks, for where his analytical mind goes. "What if it is?" he says, just a little too late to have been smooth about it. His shirt remains taut around his lean form for the way he's twisted to talk to her. His hand brings the bottle in for another swig as Slip inspects. "It'd be hard for me to end up worse off than you've already seen me," is his counterpoint to her compliment. "And you," he starts. "Still hot -" he decides. "But not so ...directionless?" Not a follower, so far as he can tell. Not the sort to shed autonomy to ride his wake. But he takes a more serious cast when she does, nods solemnly. "I signed the Accord," he admits. He's been here longer than today. "Was going to stick around while I work the case - see if you want in on it. But if it's easier for me to get out of your hair..."

--

Slip's smile widens, skewing off-center as she nods in answer to that hypothetical question, offering up an unspoken yes despite the delay. Almost certainly in some small part for the color in his cheeks. The sultry look which starts to take shape at his initial assessment of her current state never gets a chance to fully bloom, broken by a bright laugh when he gets to the second half. It's the loudest she's been all afternoon, a jarring deviation from standard behavior that has both her hands rising to cover her mouth and most of her nose, eyes wide over fingertips, over short nails painted a chipped crimson. The pink creeping into her cheeks glints with metallic sheen. Her ears press back beneath her hair as she sinks lower against him, hiding from... well, nobody. No one. Not a soul present cares about that outburst of laughter from some stranger in a dive bar. No one except the darkling herself, too used to being still and silent, to hearing without being heard.


"Mm," comes all too agreeably from behind her hands at his last words. "Might be easier," she agrees. She draws a deep breath from between her fingers and lets her hands drop, one to the table, the other to her ribs where somthing might yet be fluttering. "Might be safer for both of us, too." Her giddiness is beginning to fade, though there's still a brightness to her eyes when she looks to Gast to rather confidently clarify, "But it's not what I want." She gives him all of a second to imagine what she might want before providing a short list of her own. "I want in. I wanna see where this goes. I wanna see that hot tub of yours. I want--" A lot of things, to be sure, a very good portion of which Gast could provide, but she takes a moment to focus what's left on her wishlist. "I want to live up to that sense of direction you're seeing. Just... mm. Don't get your hopes up, alright? Not with that, anyway."

--

It was a door he might have only slightly suspected she would take - Gast's jaw tightens when Slip seems to take the out. He nods - understands. It's not a consideration that he'd follow through on for many. He takes a long swig, and his right eyebrow lifts as she surprises him a second time in so short of order. It's not what she wants. He swallows and lowers the bottle. He turns his head and his shoulders as he leans back. Slip has the full weight of his regard, and his attention. He dares smile some; the case or the hot tub - probably both. There's relief in his shoulders, all too briefly tense, at the note he won't have to be on his way. "We should see too it that you get everything you want, whenever we can," he quips, camoflauging that earlier tension. And, "And what eternal optimist you must think I am, to still be carrying around hopes at this late an hour."

--

"You're still here," Slip points out with half a smirk and a shallow challenge in the pitch of her brows. Nevermind that she's trapped him in the booth. It looks like optimism from where she's sitting. The hand settled against her chest turns toward his instead, fussing with a middle button without any evident intention of undoing it. For a few seconds, that fidgeting holds the whole of her focus, one fingertip tracing the a seam thoughtfully. When she looks up, she asks directly, "What do you want?" even if she could make several reasonable guesses on her own.

--

"I am." Gast admits as much. His eyes - mechanical and organic both - follow the reach of Slip's fingertips to the middle button on his shirt. He's substancial - something that others might question of the Darklings, whether they're solid or gas. But there are irregularies felt through the meagerness of his form, like the ticking of his heart or the raspy bellow of his lungs as he breathes. "Honestly? To solve the case. And..." he replies. "More drinks, some coke, some pot..." the usual grocery list. Enough to get him inebriated, sober him up all over again, and take the edge off. "And to see where getting you everything you want gets us," he adds, more smoothly. Still dancing to Slip's lead outside the realm of detectiving - but keeping up.

--

Honestly. Slip nods to confirm that's precisely the right qualifier for the type of desires she's seeking. Even if the top item on his list gets a bit of a nose-crinkle in response. That isn't a desire she'll be able to satisfy in one night. Or all on her own. It'll take work. And it'll take attention away from the slowly growing rush of having Gast around again, from the flood of complicated emotions which are undeniably resolving into a resounding net positive at the moment. Better to ride that feeling while it's here. She nods for each of the subsequent cravings on his short list with building enthusiasm, though the last just gets a broad grin and an insincere warning of, "Sounds dangerous." Which is true enough, really. She just has no intention of discouraging his pursuit of her pleasure. To the contrary, a finger slips beneath his shirt's placket to give the fabric an encouraging tug, though whether she means to loosen the garment or draw him nearer isn't at all clear. Her free hand taps the table beside her nearly full bottle, telling him where to set, "Another twenty. Few more shots and phone call, and we'll be all squared away."

--

"Most exciting things are," Gast notes, on the danger of the desires spoken - particularly, the last of the ones listed. His crooked smile much more prominent for the broad grin that he's earned with that warning. He still has one hand at the IPA, fingers wrapped partly around it. A tug. Fabric loosened and form drawn near, an exhale from his lips that hits her. Close enough that they're sharing air, poisoning it to eachothers lungs in meager doses. His head tilts gently, instinctually, then he agrees or obeys. More scrounging, a bill separated from a money clip. Another twenty. He holds it up between them. "I'll trust in you to get us where you're going." Not that he means the motel, he has that address.