From NOLA: The Game that Care Forgot
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Characters: Hugo, Luz & Ophelia
Date: 2017-07-30
Summary: Two Lost Boys find a bar.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

.oO( The Night Shift )Oo..................................................o.
          This bar isn't the fanciest, but it isn't quite a dive, either. 
  The tables are made of dark wood, as are the booths, whose seats are    
  covered in faded brown leather. The bar is made of the same wood as the 
  chairs, and has several stools for the patrons in front of it. There's a
  pinball machine in the corner, as well as a TV on one of the walls, but 
  that's about the extent of the frills of this place. It's a place for   
  drinking, as evidenced by the pretty wide variety of liquors behind the 
  bar, as well as a few interesting things on tap.                        
          A plackard behind the bar declares: These premises are Accorded 
  Neutral Grounds. 

The Night Shift is not crowded at the moment, but it's not empty, either. There are a couple of tables, though a few are pushed together as they seem to be watching a football game on TV. And since it's football, not futbol, Hugo is not one of the ones who is watching. Instead, he's behind the bar, leaning against it as he converses with one of the patrons on the other side. They're not talking particularly quietly, but whatever they're saying is of no consequence, and so we will not make it up.

The door opens and Luz and Ophelia enter, and Ophelia (we'll let Luz speak for herself) doesn't look like it's not the first drinking establishment she's hit this evening. Unless she started at home. It's hard to say. She's not fall down drunk, but she's laughing as they enter in that 'lost a few of my inhibitions' sort of way, and her cheeks have a bit of flush to them. "Well, you should have," she says, to whatever Luz was saying on the street before they opened the door. She moves to the bar, glancing at the football game. "The fuck they watching preseason for?" she asks, with a shake of her head, as she pulls her strappy purse from her shoulder and winds the strap around itself to put on the counter, her hands sitting on top of it.

Luz seems to be in much the same boat, as her cheeks are also flushed and she has an easy smile on her lips. She has not yet devolved into giggles, but the night is young. She shakes her head at Phe's reply, though, longer than she needs to. Apparently she doesn't think she should have done the thing that she was talking about thinking about having had done. However, she is distracted from the conversation by the mention of football. "The tight pants," she declares, maybe a touch too loud, as she settles into a stool at the counter.

Hugo looks up when the door opens, and since the two are not exactly being quiet, he hears what they're saying. "They are hot," he says, though he doesn't look at the TV. Maybe he's had his fill of tight pants. He holds up a finger to the man he was talking to, and starts toward them. "And you definitely should have." This is, of course, to Luz. "What can I get you?" he asks as he leans against the bar again, this time in front of them, and smiles.

"Mm. Better in person," says Ophelia, who of course can see them in person whenever she wants. "And alone," she adds, with a grin. When Hugo comes over, she tips her head to look up at him. "Depends. You got any signature cocktails up your sleeve?" she asks, glancing at his arm, as if she could see through the fabric there, and then she looks to the tap to see what labels are there. It seems she's actually thinking, though.

"Granted. But not all of us can see them in person and alone. Not without getting arrested, anyway." Luz looks from Phe to Hugo, particularly when he weighs in on the advice. "Don't listen to her, she's troublesome," she says, pointing a thumb toward Ophelia. And while her friend looks to the beer options, Luz leans a bit over the bar. "How're your Michelada? The last place had the worst I had ever tasted." And by her tone, it was quite possibly traumatic.

"Sure. I can make you the Tight Pants. Vodka, soda, and sugar free cranberry juice. For when you really need to fit into those jeans." Hugo's smile widens to a grin, though when Luz questions his michelada-making abilities, it shifts to a look of mock outrage. "My michelada is amazing," he says. "I'm a Clamato connoisseur. Want to take your chances?"

"Did you just call me fat?" Ophelia says, eyes widening, and looking offended -- but it's clearly just hamming it up, because her smile returns. "That's not a bad name for a cranberry drink, but for different reasons altogether," she quips. "Not a fan of cranberry, though. Let's keep it classic and go with a Sazerac. Y'all can keep your clamatos to yourself." Despite the y'all, her accent is not at all Southern but much more northern -- probably New York.

Luz leans back some, making a show of considering whether or not she thinks his work would actually be up to snuff. But it's short-lived, as she nearly tips off the back of her stool and has to right herself by gripping onto the bar. That's when she laughs, a bit embarrassed, straightens and fixes her hair a bit before she leans more casually on the bar and fixes Hugo with a glance. A casual one. "I'll give it a try," she says, also super casually. "Even if she won't."

Hugo lifts up his hands as though to placate Ophelia, but he laughs, and shakes his head. "No, ma'am," he says, and while he doesn't have a Southern accent, he can apparently imitate one well enough, at least on that one word. "Sazerac, coming up. And one amazing michelada." He turns away, starting to grab the ingredients for the first one. "How are you ladies doing tonight?" he asks as he mixes. "Besides goading people into doing things."

When Luz about falls off the chair, Ophelia cocks a brow at her and then snorts, shaking her head. "Smooth," she says in a stage whisper. "What's my drink, chopped liver?" she jokes to Hugo. "We're all right. I'm celebrating pay day." Which is her code word for getting her Protocol fix, not actually getting her auto deposited paycheck, but he doesn't need to know that. "And you know you like the challenge after..." she looks around, counting under her breath, "pouring 3 pitchers and handing out one bottle."

"Thank you," Luz says to Ophelia, as if she were absolutely smooth. She tilts her head to look over at her friend, noting, "Maybe that's the secret ingredient. Chopped liver." It might strike her as funny, but instead of laughing, she claps Phe on the back (gently, of course, she's not THAT bad off yet). "Best day of the week, right?" Payday, that is. Or Protocol day, whichever.

"Yours will be adequate," Hugo intones, but he can't keep the straight face for very long, and he grins after. He's got most of it done, before he adds the bitters and sets it in front of Ophelia, starting on Luz's now. "Nice," he says as he grabs a Modelo from the fridge and pops it open, then grabs the Clamato. Which may or may not be gross, who knows. "Easy come, easy go, huh?" he adds, since of course, they're spending money right now.

"I'll be sure to give your bar an 'adequate' review," says Phe, but she too grins, clearly kidding. Maybe. She hasn't tasted the drink yet. She huffs a little laugh at the 'easy come, easy go' remark, glancing over at Luz and smirking knowingly. "Ugh, The only thing I want my liver having to do with my drinks is filtering them," she tells Luz. She takes a sip of the cocktail after Hugo slides it in front of her, and nods once. "Definitely adequate," she determines, though the tone says it's a compliment. "What's your drink, when you're drinking?" she asks Hugo. "Clam juice on the rocks or neat?"

"A fool and his money," Luz says, apparently counting herself one of the fools. "Or her money." She grins over at Phe at her smirk, chuckling for the reply. "They're earning their keep tonight, the livers." She looks over at Hugo, perhaps to judge his technique. "Careful, my friend here has an army of followers. An adequate review might be a real threat." She looks interested in the answer to Phe's question, at least at first, but her eyes drift to a certain placard behind the bar. And she sits up a little straighter before she's giving Hugo a closer look over, as if she might discern the reason why the bar is neutral ground by sight.

"I appreciate it," Hugo says with a little laugh, adding a dash of Tapatio for some kick, before he pours in the beer, garnishes with a lime, and sets the glass down on the bar with a flourish. "Hopefully those are both enough for four stars on Yelp," he says as he straightens up. "I like Old Fashioneds, because I'm just that kind of guy. More old than fashioned, though." He looks over at Luz as she looks over his shoulder -- and he can guess what she's looking at, because a lot of people look at that very thing. But he doesn't mention it, or what he is. If he's anything at all. Who knows!

"I like to think of them as minions. Army has negative connotations for me," says Phe wryly, taking another sip of the drink, and turning her eyes to where Luz is looking. Her posture doesn't change, but she also doesn't look overly curious or ask what it means, so it's likely she knows and doesn't care. "Practically a family member," she says, in regards to his preferred drink to hers, which she lifts in his direction. She raises a brow at Luz, a silent query asking if she can tell what she's appraising Hugo for.

It's odd, perhaps, that the promise of neutral ground seems to have put Luz on edge. But that edge is smoothed out when he flourishes the drink in front of her. If she was planning on questioning Hugo, that intent seems to fall by the wayside as she takes a drink. And seems to approve, since there is a smile afterward. "Adequate," she says, but it's just a tease, really. She looks back to Phe, shaking her head just a little. She can't tell. And maybe hasn't worked out how to ask the 'What Are You' question with anything like grace.

"Minions, huh? I'm sure you're a benevolent leader," Hugo says as he crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back now instead of against the bar. He doesn't seem to mind the appraisal; in fact, his smile just widens. "Good," he says, tipping his head as his gaze shifts to Luz. "Should I turn around?" he asks. "Give the full picture?" His arms uncross again to spread out instead, as though he's posing, even though she's already done her once-over and it wasn't exactly that sort.

"I have my moments," says Phe, then laughs a little when Hugo offers to turn around. "Subtle," she says in another stage whisper, shaking her head. "Hey, you're from New York, right?" she asks him suddenly. "Which neighborhood? You been here long?" So nosy. So many questions. Meanwhile, Luz gets a text on her phone, though Ophelia's hands are on her drink and she hasn't looked at her own phone. There's a picture of Hugo posing for them, and it says "Bronx. Minor rap sheet. Owner of the bar now. Don't think he's a vampire, at least." He could be. He just doesn't seem like it, for some reason, apparently. Hopefully Luz knows better than to bring up the message in Hugo's sightline.

"Your pants aren't nearly tight enough for all that," Luz says with a smirk in Hugo's direction. "Maybe next time." She glances over at Phe when she starts her interrogation, just starting to chuckle as her phone chirps at her. She blinks and pulls it out of a pocket, glancing at the screen. She does, indeed, know better than to bring any such message up in Hugo's view, or maybe she's just naturally private. But she reads it over, letting out a thoughtful sigh before replying. She has to do it the old fashioned way, but at least Phe's talents make it less obvious that they're texting back and forth right there. "He could just be a regular guy living an interesting life," her text reads, although that might be wishful thinking. But, the notion that he's probably not a vampire has her relaxing some.

"Hey, I may be old but I think I still got it." Hugo does raise an eyebrow when Ophelia divines his origins, though. "Oh, I forgot about that tattoo on my forehead," he says with a little laugh. "Bronx. Soundview. But yeah, I've been here a while. Twenty years or so. What about you?" He doesn't try to read the messages, though he does add, "Am I that boring? Sorry, I'll try to liven things up. Maybe change the channel." His tone is joking, though. They're not exactly the first people to be on their phones at the bar while talking to him as well. They're probably not even the first people today.

"I've only not been in New York for a couple years, so it's easy to pick up on, I guess," says Phe. "I'm from Two Bridges." She doesn't explain, since of course, if he's a local, or was, he knows where it was. "You're not boring. You're perfectly adequate," she adds, chuckling, and taking another drink from the glass. The text to Luz reads: 'Could be. Might just be in the know. ANG is better than not neutral, right?'

Luz looks over her phone at Hugo at that first comment. It's a wry expression. "Yeah, you're ancient." She lets the two of them chat about their origins, mostly because she doesn't know the Bronx from Adam or which two bridges Phe is even on about. "Maybe I was just telling a friend how good your michelada is, huh?" On her phone, she taps out: 'Yeah, much better. Don't mind me. Just being paranoid.' As usual.

"Oh, all right," Hugo says with a nod when Ophelia answers; it seems he does know where it is. "Way the hell down there, huh?" He shifts his lean against the shelves a little bit, "Practically another country." He laughs, too, before he turns back to Luz. "If you are, make sure you post your review," he says. "I'm always looking to expand my clientele." He reaches forward then, extending a hand to Luz to shake, and after that, Ophelia. "Hugo."

"Long and boring story, some of which has to do with a guy. Typical and cliche," Phe says -- the story of course is hardly cliche and only partly to do with a guy. "Then, work. I'm the social media director for the Saints," she says, taking the offered hand. "Ophelia." She takes another sip that finishes off the drink, and she taps it like she's asking for another hit. "Surprise me with something different," she adds. "What about you? Why'd you leave?" To Luz, a message appears: 'Which is why you will live to be an old abuelita some day and I'll die before I'm 30.' This is followed by a skull emoji, a heart, and an old woman emoji.

Perhaps Luz is used to Phe's cover story, because she doesn't even blink. Instead, she shakes Hugo's hand and offers, "Luz. And I'm from right here." The message that pops up on her phone makes her chuckle, but she pockets it instead of replying. Perhaps because Phe already knows she lol'd. Her phone is exchanged for her drink, which is savored for the moment, as she looks over at Hugo, apparently curious about his reasons for leaving The Big Apple for The Big Easy.

"We are assholes," Hugo agrees with a grin as he takes the glass from Ophelia once she asks for another. "Nice to meet you, Ophelia. Luz." He turns to grab a martini glass this time, and adds whiskey, vermouth, and some more of the bitters that he'd used for her other drink. He tops it with a maraschino cherry, because of course he did. An apt drink for what Ophelia had revealed about herself just now. He sets it in front of her, then says, "Just wanted a change. Someone left this place to me so I figured, why not? It's all right. I've met good people."

"Usually," Phe agrees about men being assholes, even if it's not really what she meant. The drink makes her laugh. "Clever," she says, lifting it in a little toast in his direction, and taking a sip. "It's a good place. The bar, I mean. Though New Orleans is all right, too. So far, anyway." She looks at Luz. "You're falling behind, Lucita," she says, nudging her to drink more.

To his polite reply after the introductions, Luz only nods, but at least her expression is friendly. "The bar, the city, this stool. It's all good," she says with a light chuckle. When Phe nudges her, Luz looks at her drink, then picks it up to finish it off. "Surprise me, too. This chica thinks she can out drink me," she says, even though that is not likely to be the reason they're matching drink for drink.

"I think so. I'm a legend in my own mind," Hugo says, taking Luz's glass as well. He grabs a fresh one, and gets out the Southern Comfort, some Triple Sec, and grabs an orange to squeeze the juice out. He fills it up with ginger ale and sets it in front of her, since we can't have a Manhattan without a Big Easy. "Thanks," he says. "I like it. It's not like Cheers told me it'd be, but it's all right." He grins at Luz, too, and says, "Careful. Keep a hold of the bar, huh?" He then nods to them as a table watching the game calls for him, and says, "You need anything, let me now." With that, he starts out from behind the bar and away.