a smile that actually does stop traffic

(I’ve seen it happen. Twice.)


[neu] mmm
Ezra Sagishi smilestopscars
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The Inferno, Boston, Tuesday Evening
The bold neon-red sign saying INFERNO was blazing on the side of the building. It was the middle of the week, add yet there was still something of a line outside. Not around the building, like on the weekend, but there was still a brief wait until hopefuls (many of them couples on Valentine's Day dates) got to join the crowd inside, taking cover from the crisp chill of the weather outside.

Well, crowds, plural. The Inferno operated on three levels, with VIP-only Heaven upstairs and Hell down below, and the open-to-all restaurant/bar combo Purgatory on the ground floor.

As Ava had once put it, Purgatory was high-end without being snooty. There was a maître d' at the door, ready to seat people at tables (or at the bar, as they case might have been), but you could still waltz in with sneakers and a hoodie on. There was a nice, dimly-lit atmosphere, and candles on tables all over. Many of them were red or pink tonight, to mark the occasion

And behind the bar – smallest of the many at the Inferno – in his black shirt with Purgatory printed in surprisingly tasteful fashion on the back, was Ezra, serving up drinks, alongside one of his collegues. Wasn't really a one-person job tonight. Pretty busy.

And Ezra loved it. What was a better way of keeping himself distracted than by slinging drinks and flirting shamelessly at everyone who came up for drinks? Hey, maybe he'd come across a couple who'd want him to join in on their celebration of love!

A fox could hope.

[ooc: NFB, and for she who knows who she is!]

Sometimes, you just wanted to go where nobody knew your name. Where you could get trashed and forget everything that was weighing you down (the holiday, the death of her entire family, her ex-habit of killing and eating people) and maybe find someone willing to help you shut off your brain that didn't remind you of any of those things you were trying so desperately hard to forget.

That was why Kathy had taken a portal off the island after her talk with Raven. The first fare that had popped up was for Boston and Kathy had taken it without any more thought than it was a city she'd never been to and had no memories for her to worry about. But a frigid walk through a historic city wasn't what she'd needed to dull the clamor of her brain, so as soon as the sun went down, she'd gotten dolled up (thanks, local department stores) and gone to find somewhere that would offer her drinks and distraction in equal measure.

Spotting the name Inferno had made her laugh, albeit a little bitterly, and now here she was, striding into the place on heels that could be classified as weapons and in a skirt that might actually have been a been a belt with pretensions to grandeur.

Tonight, she wasn't going to think at all if she could help it.

Unsurprisingly, Ezra wasn't paying attention to the door. Didn't have the time or the reason to. There were also far too many people here for him to catch anything like a familiar scent.

He was... possibly going to be cursing both these things, later on.

But for now, someone entirely else was coming up to Kathy to see whether she preferred a table or something else.

This was going to be such fun for both of them!

"No thanks," she said, giving the maître d' a smile. "The bar will do just fine this evening." It was already hard enough for her to get drunk without having real food to sop it up.

Besides, she was in Purgatory again. Of course she needed a drink.

"I'm sure there's a nice couple behind me who'll appreciate the table more anyway."

The maître d' nodded and politely gestured her in the direction of the bar.

Where Ezra had just disappeared into the back room so they could re-stock the cocktail sticks with the little hearts at one end. They were running through those fast tonight.

He'd be back soon enough.

Kathy lost no time in making her way to the bar, hips swaying with each step. At this point in the evening, it was more thanks to her ridiculous shoes, but later on she had every intention of drawing eyes. First, though, she needed a drink.

Or rather, several.

"Hi," she said, sliding onto a bench with more grace than was strictly human. "Can I get...nine shots of tequila, please?"

One for every month she'd been dead.

Some people watched her go. Hey, not everyone was here with someone. And not everyone who was intended to necessarily go home with just the person they were already with.

The bartender took note of the graceful movement without an outward reaction. Barely raised an eyebrow at the order, either, although that was... Well, people dealt with different things in different ways. Still, though: "How about we start you off with three?"

Ezra came back out from the back room – then immediately ended up fielding an order that lit up on the screen behind the bar. He didn't have time to glance down the bar, too busy for the moment filling up an order from one of the tables.

Edited at 2017-02-14 10:02 pm (UTC)

Good. Because while Kathy didn't exactly have any intentions of leaving with someone, the potential for a nice, mindless interlude on the dance floor--or, even better, one in a dark corner--was exactly why she was here.

"I can handle it," she told the bartender, but wasn't going to argue if he refused. "Make it four?"

If it were three, it would be real easy to end up drinking to the memory of her mom, dad, and Sarah. And, dammit, she was here to forget all that.

The bartender seemed to size her up for a second.

Then he nodded. "Okay. Four."

He wasn't as personable as Ezra – who managed to flirt with the waiter who'd come to pick up the order he was fillig – but he could be nice, so he got four shot glasses out along with a bottle of tequila, and began to fill the former from the latter.

Didn't take a professional long at all before he was done, and they were all in a neat row in front of her.

"Four shots."

That was fine; she wasn't paying much attention to the bartenders anyway. Which would prove to be a hell of a mistake, wouldn't it? But she was aiming to get drunk and as far as she was concerned, that was the only reason he was there.

"Much obliged," Kathy said, picking up the first one. She contemplated it for a long moment, focus inward, and then shook her head and immediately knocked it back. The other three followed in quick succession, leaving her blinking a bit in her chair as the alcohol hit. "I think I'd like the rest with salt and lime, please," she said, welcoming the pleasant burn in her throat.

Ezra noticed her during the second shot.

It took until the third for him to process and believe what he was seeing.

He spent the fourth frozen in place.

Then, once they were done, and she'd made her request, he spoke. "I think I'll handle this one, Jesse." His voice, as well as his movement over to this part of the bar, was smooth. Far smoother than it had any right to be when there was a tremble of tension in his hand. It didn't show, but he could feel it.

It took a moment for Ezra's voice to pierce the alcoholic haze that was surrounding her as she contemplated whether to bring her request down to six or not. She had to clutch the edge of the bar for balance as she lifted incredulous eyes to man standing behind it.

"Ezra?"

Oh fuck.

"Well, I guess that settles the question of whether it's really you."

It was okay. He had one hand on the edge of the bar, too.

"Hey, Kathy."

She was too drunk to handle this. She was most certainly not drunk enough to handle this.

"I--yeah," she said, definitely planning to go for the full nine shots now. "Hi."

Clever, Kathy. Well-played. "This wasn't planned," she blurted. "I didn't know this was your bar." Otherwise, she would have gone literally anywhere else. "Jesus fuck you must have so many questions."

"Not really," Ezra admitted. He found himself strangely calm. For the moment. Could've been that he was pretty numb all of a sudden.

In fact, maybe it was less that he was calm and more that he felt like he was ever so slightly outside himself, observing the situation. So maybe it was a panic thing. "Dante told me you were back."

"Oh." Kathy wasn't sure if that made this conversation easier or harder to deal with. "Yeah. Sorry I didn't...I've been trying to adjust to...everything...again."

And doing spectacularly, which was why she was in a random bar hundreds of miles away drinking tequila like it was her job.

"I can see that," Ezra replied, his tone very neutral. More neutral than it ever tended to be, really.

He couldn't help being a little... succinct, with his words. Because this was insane.

Kathy glanced down at her empty shot glasses and blushed. "I thought I was doing better than this," she mumbled. "But then things kind of..."

It wasn't that she'd been doing better, it was just that she'd been better at willfully ignoring everything that was wrong and had finally run out of bullshit to hide behind. And that coping mechanism having failed, she'd moved on to the next.

Which was more self-destructive? WHO COULD SAY? Wheee!

"It's not easy to --"

Suddenly, Ezra's awareness of their surroundings kicked back in. The thing he'd been about to say? Was not a thing he should be saying here. Not in front of regular patrons or Coterie staff. He looked over at the other bartender. "Jesse, my little crabcake, I'm going to need to take five."

It was going to be longer than five and they both knew it. Oh well. Jesse resigned to a nod, anyway.

Kathy gave Jesse an apologetic smile, forking over enough money to cover all nine shots and a decent tip as well. Maybe that would help make up for being abandoned on Valentine's Day?

"I don't want to interfere with your night..." Kathy protested, but she was already sliding off her stool to follow him. Her first step or two was an unsteady wobble, but seconds later her balance compensated for the amount of alcohol she'd already ingested and her walk smoothed back out to the elegant stride of before.

Ezra stepped out from behind the bar to lead her away. (Getting her some displeased glances on the way, since that was the fate of anyone who stole Ezra's attention and presence.) There were back rooms and other spaces that were closed off to the public and would be quiet.

As much as he didn't actually want to be anywhere quiet with her. Talking wasn't really his strong suit.

"Come on, I'll find a place."

Kathy didn't notice the jealous glares and would have rolled her eyes at any she'd caught even if she had. For whatever they'd been to one another, once upon a time, she didn't really expect this to lead to anywhere close to the kind of activity they were all assuming.

Pity. Ezra was well-versed in shutting off Kathy's brain and that's exactly what she'd come here to do. But that had been back when she'd assumed she'd be unknown and anonymous here.

"Probably a good idea," Kathy said, following his lead. "This doesn't strike me as a conversation best had in front of strangers." Whatever kind of conversation 'this' was going to be.

"And not here." Honestly, she was lucky he didn't just usher her out the door as soon as he spotted her. Recently resurrected or not, this was no place for someone with her powers. But the newly resurrected bit had his brain scrambled.

His priorities were a mess.

He led her out of the restaurant and down through a couple of hallways until they got to a storage space. Shelves lined the walls, filled with cardboard boxes.

"People don't tend to come here too often. This should be fine."

That probably would have been the wisest thing to do. Even at her most careful, there was something a bit too-fast and too-fluid about her movements. And four shots of tequila in did not qualify as a time when she was 'most careful.' Hell, that she could down that many and not stagger out clinging to Ezra as she went was probably proof enough that she was more than what she seemed.

Oops.

Kathy nodded, taking a seat on a cardboard box filled with napkins, and looked over at him, trying to figure out what to say. Normally, she'd fake a smile and hope some surface enthusiasm would do the trick, but she was emotionally exhausted and didn't have the energy to fake much of anything at all. Besides, she couldn't bullshit a bullshitter; he had way more experience at it than she did.

"Look, I know we didn't exactly part on the best terms..." she said, then trailed off as she realized she had no idea how to finish that.

Ezra didn't sit down. He didn't pace, either, although he felt the faintest traces of the urge to do that. He just stood there with his arms loosely folded, in his all-black work uniform.

"Doesn't matter," he said. "You weren't coming back."

"And yet here I am," Kathy said with a bit more of a sardonic edge than she meant. To show, at least. "Living, breathing, and in your fucking bar of all places."

Seriously, karma, what had she ever done to you?

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