Once upon a rainy afternoon in London...

The Bass Cafe

The bar, when entered, gives off something of a green and oakwood glow. The bar runs along more than half of the depth of the bar, the green inlay in the blond oak serving as something of a base for the rest of the room. Green glassed pub-lights hang from the ceilings in clusters of 4, giving off something of a brighter glow to offset the hunter green shades.

Behind the bar, there is an arched mirror that runs the length of the bar, before which stands 5 rows of all sorts of alcohol upon a dark green counter-top, in graduated heights so the labels can be seen as well as some clean wine glasses. The 8 large-sized cabinets underneath store all manners of overstock and glasses. The chairs in front of the bar are basic, single-slat backed, four-footed, oak coloured bar seats.

The red brickface above the bar is laden with decorations all of a fishing kind, from small lures to larger ones, nets of all shapes and sizes, traps…

The rest of the bar is filled out with tables that can seat two, four and up to six comfortably. Upon the hunter green painted walls hang black and white photographs of the fishermen and their catches that couldn't get away. There is the gratuitous dart board corner as well as a single snooker table.


Characters

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Alexandra Charlie Frank (npc)

Noonish, on a rainy London day. (Of course, it's usually a good bet that it's raining in London on any given day..)

The bar, because despite what the name states, it is not a 'cafe', and the only food served is that which a part time cook can offer; mostly fried things and the occasional chicken wing, isn't yet open for operation, though the front door is open. The 'regulars' know that this is the time when they're welcome and they can grab a pint, but not to expect much in the way of 'true service' (not that there is any..), as the one or two waitresses aren't in until mid-afternoon. As a result, there are a couple random regular patrons dotted around.

Sitting at the end of the bar on one of the 'stools is Charlie Mesner, owner and operator of the bar, with papers in front of him. The palm of his hand sits squarely at the bridge of his nose as he leans over, his elbow resting on the bartop. Dropping his hand again, the usual complaint exits, "How in the hell am I supposed to actually -do- anything about this? Done.." Charlie exhales and sets the paper aside, "Why did I do this again?"

~

Sat on a stool not so far from Charlie, leaning on her own arm, forearm stretched along the counter, Alexandra gives that rueful haven't-we-been-here-before smile that's something of her trademark when dealing with Charlie. "I think you thought it would allow you to get away from the Office," she chuckles, gesturing lightly at the paperwork. Her London accent is unremarkable in this place — far more so than the bar owner's entirely remarkable American twang. The implication in her words, however, is clear. There is no getting away from the Office. (Funny how it just demands a capital 'O'.)

"Look on the bright side," she says, only half-serious. "You'll be able to afford that upgrade to the Homer, you've been wanting." His boat. Ship. Whatever. That thing in the marina, rather than the the houseboat moor. "In any case, it's not like we have to worry about Sean, this time. He won't be back from Cairo for another three days." A beat. She concedes. "Then again, alright, if he weren't in Cairo, I suppose I could take him, instead. But, honestly, it's not my fault the Director likes you. And anyway, you should be glad it's me asking. He was going to send Frank."

~

"Oh yeah," Charlie fixes the blonde with a baleful stare, "silly me." He exhales again and takes up a pencil that is sitting on the counter top, tapping it, point-eraser-point.. back and forth.

"About that, isn't it your turn to watch him anyway?" Sorta like a big kid? Shaking his head soon after, he presses his lips together in a tight smile. "I guess it's nicer having it come from you. That whole, chipper 'Promise, it's not all that bad' verses 'Oh… sorry 'bout this mate..'" The imitation of the slightly.. eccentric (that's what they call it here, right?) man isn't great by any stretch, but it's obvious as to who he's copying, albeit poorly, "When you know darn well he's not the least bit sorry. I mean, what is that?"

Ah well..

"You sure I can't interest you…"

~

"…in what?" Alex asks, tilting her head to one side and giving an equally lopsided grin. "Skipping out on the Director? 'Course you can. Long as you're willing to explain it to him, later."

What? Like Alex wants to go to this sort of shindig any more than her one-time unit head ever wants to. It's simply Charlie's got more clout.

"I suppose we could both tell him Sean needs our help out in Egypt — 'cept that, then, would require us to actually go to Egypt… before tonight." She sees a couple of flaws with that plan, personally.

Not that a sunny vacation with one Mr. Charles Charlie Mesner isn't appealing.

Not. The. Point.

"And you know what will happen, yeah? We meet up with Sean… just in time for him to come running down a hill, chased by a swarm of zombies."

To anyone listening, it sounds like a joke. To anyone that knows Dr. Sean Watson, however… It' a very real possibility.

~

… in going rather than him. "Just a thought."

Charlie shakes his head and puts the pencil down. "Not going to Egypt. Their zombies are creepier. That old, mummy-look just.." He shakes his head again and adds, "No." Seems he fully believes that Sean has the very high potential of attracting zombies, just by the virtue of who he is. Period. "I'll pass. Besides, I have to have the payroll for this place in by tomorrow or no one gets paid. And, as much as I might think everyone likes me here, the queen will not be amused if taxes aren't pulled out and paid." Uh huh.

Charlie deflates somewhat, allowing for a lingering look at the blonde before him on the nearby barstool. He straigtens again and looks away only to rise to his feet and lean over the bar to grab a couple bottles of beer. Cold. One he places in front of himself, the other, he gallantly opens and puts in front of Alex. "Guess I'm stuck. But, when I'm done, I'm gonna let him know my feelings on the matter." An age-old threat, certainly.

~

Alexandra's blue eyes sparkle with half-suppressed mirth for a moment or two. She meets his gaze. An eyebrow twitches subtly, curiously, but she doesn't press. They've known each other for a good 10 years, now. She doesn't really need to ask. "I'm sure he'll be as patient as ever, listening to you."

And they both know how patient that actually is. (More patient than Charlie, less patient than Alex.)

She reaches out to accept the cold bottle. "Cheers," she says, raising it. She's learned, over the past 10 years, to drink cold beer — and doesn't find it any more or less repulsive than warm beer. Merely different.

"Anyway, you won't be alone, tonight. I have to go, too." An impish smile, a bit of a shrug. "We can keep each other company."

~

"Ah.. that's a little better, then."

Charlie opens his own bottle, and foregoes a glass as well, and nods at the drink's salute. 'Here's mud in your eye' is for the harder drinks, so instead he reaches to clink the bottom of his bottle to hers before raising it to take a drink. A quick swallow later, and he drops his bottle once more to settle on the counter, though he's still holding it.

"Are you bringing the donuts this time?" In lieu of actually talking about the particulars of this evening's activities, anyway. If only for that moment. "And would you believe that I still can't find a place that'll box coffee up like Dunkin' Donuts?" His brows rise at the second question, and he continues with it, "Best invention ever. Coffee in a box.. and I can't believe that it hasn't hit London yet." He pauses, then, "Sheesh.

"I aughtta write my MP about that."

His expression darkens slightly after, however, full in the knowledge that anything that starts at night is never a good thing. He'll check the calendar later for full moons, but at the moment, it's sounding all.. fangish. (Which he'd know if he read all the paperwork fully!) "Maybe pizza with some extra garlic, for that.. really good smell?"

~

Alexandra chuckles softly, the sound of it in the back of her throat. "I'll pack you a real charm," she says lightly — the more amusing part of it being that she's not kidding. There are times when knowing a little 'hocus pocus' has it's benefits… even if the most she can do is provide a second or two pause. That's enough to pull the trigger on a silver slug, which, okay, is also only good for a second or two pause. But, every second counts, right?

"That does remind me, though. There're rumours about some new player on the field." Her voice has dropped so as it doesn't carry. And since most of the 'regulars' who drop in about now are players on their side, there's not a lot of threat. "Some outfit calling themselves 'The Council'. Haven't a clue what their real agenda is, yet, but all the propaganda says they want to initiate some sort of Detente." Supernaturally speaking, of course.

She might as well give him the briefing. Everyone knows he never reads the paperwork if he can help it.

~

A second or two can truly be the difference between life and death in this game, and Charlie is well aware of that. When playing in a world of supernaturals, any chance to even pretend to level the playing field is greatly appreciated, and he knows that she knows that he knows that. Even if it didn't work exactly as planned, bluffs have been known to succeed… and Charlie is nothing if not a 'smooth talker' in the face of adversity.

Yeah.

His dark-eyed gaze lifts once more, the seriousness entering as her voice cants lower. He leans in— make those in the bar already think that they're setting some date or something, away from prying ears. Not that their minds would go in that direction immediately; after all, yes.. they've known the pair for years.

"Detente, huh? The Council?" Conjures up boring meeting after meeting. "Wonder why Frank didn't mention it last time he wandered in." Truth be told, it may have slipped his mind. "So, they going to the 'big guy' first?" Everyone always goes to the vampires first. Seems like a cliche, but.. there's something to be said about cliches.

~

"Chances are," Alex nods an affirmative. "And it'll be Donovan after that, 'less I miss my guess. Maybe Alexander or Westlake, or p'raps the Dynasty." A.k.a. Reese Corp. That would cover off the main 'ethnic groups' in the city. "I don't see them having much success, though if we get to Van, first, we may be able to get him to suss things out a little more than what we'll be able to do via cocktails and hors d'oeuvres."

Though chances are, if the Big Bad is in attendance, foodstuffs will be kept to a minimum out of… well, courtesy more than respect.

~

Charlie sits back a moment to take another pull off the bottle before exhaling in a chuff and nods. "We can wait until they go to him, or.." and his head shakes soon after. He doesn't like the idea of using his friend quite like that. A little heads up is always appreciated in this line of work. "Yeah.. looks like tall, dark and gruesome tonight." He presses his lips together and blows out softly, "I'll make sure he knows that he owes me, though." Twisting around, Charlie thumbs out and behind him, towards the back. "Could always use an extra storeroom back there, but getting permits from the city is a pain."

~

Alexandra laughs and takes another pull from her own bottle. "That's between you and him, now, innit?" Still, she knows that occasionally Charlie's been able to make it work for him. Particularly when he gets all grumpy about the whole 'RETIRED' label. They had to let him retire. But they can't afford to let him retire. And so the carrousel continues it's merry ride.

More troubling, still, is the feeling that crawls down the witch's spine, every so often, that the Department has other plans that may just turn the carrousel into a roller coaster. There's just nothing she can put her finger on. So, she doesn't voice such concerns.

Not even to Charlie. (Though he's no stupe.)

"Full moon's past, for this month. We're nearly three weeks till the next. So, at the very least, everyone should be… more or less 'sociable' for the next little while." Well, as sociable as 'monsters' ever get.

~

"Well, if you play your cards right, after tonight, you can get him to fix the leaky sink." It's something resembling a sly look that is given to Alex, though it's settled within the deadpan expression. "Still.." and Charlie settles back in to the conversation with hunched shoulders. "should probably dig something up that can be used for bait." After all, information with nothing in return is hardly a safe bet. And 'dig' was used deliberately. "Though," he exhales out in a puff, "I'm sure we can find something. Shouldn't be too hard."

Looking at his watch, he checks the time before tossing back the rest of the contents of the bottle. "You up for a little digging in, say, an hour or so? I have a pretty good idea where to look, but I need to get this place actually open today before I head out.." Before tonight, that is.

The news regarding the calendar is, of course, welcome news indeed. That way, there'll be no surprises, one way or another. Some of the tree-huggers or wand wavers seems to like full moons, for whatever reason, and not just the overly hairy set.. so he does have some time. Some.

"I'll even buy you something."

"Absolutely," Alex replies, not even looking at her watch. It's a general rule of thumb: If Charlie offers to buy, you make the time. Might not get an offer like that again, anytime soon.

"Just as long as I get enough time to change into my dress for the evening." Which probably means he needs to pull out a suit, at best.

"Any place in particular you want to eat?" There are the usual favourites, after all, when he's not just sat right where he is right now with a plate of various fried whatsits. She grabs another swig from her bottle, letting it come to rest on the counter as she swallows.

The door to the place opens, just as the bottle thunks softly down, and she turns to glance back over her shoulder. "Speak of the devil…" she says softly.

Though, in this case, it's Frank, not Donovan. "Charlie!" he greets, bustling over in that manic shoulda-been-born-in-New-Jersey fashion he has. "Charliecharliecharlie! How you doin', mate?"

Alex conceals a grin by raising her bottle to her lips and covering the smile with her hand as she drinks again.

~

Dress? Charlie sits up a little straighter before he hangs his head briefly in a somewhat exhasperated gesture. Damn. Hate suits. Means he has to clean up, which then means that the potential is there for spending real money on dinner, which means..

"We'll grab something on the way to your place. Don't worry.. plenty of time." He.. hopes, anyway. "No place in particular, though there is that little hole in the wall on East.." One of the main thoroughfares through the City. "Take out."

Just as he's ready to extol the virtues of dinner out of a box, Frank's entrance brings Charlie's attention around, and it's something of a frown that greets the boistrous figure, along with a pained expression. "Frank.. hey.." the word is extended. "C'mon in.." His voice lowers slightly, "Just.. keep it down, okay? I swear, you could scare the fish away from here for days.. and I'd like to catch something tomorrow."

~

Frank blinks owlishly for a moment, as if Charlie were speaking a different language. Then, however, the words seem to translate and he waves a hand in front of his face dismissively, "Oh, sure. Sure," he says, smiling as he always does. He bustles around the couple, then, finding a third stool and bringing it over. He sets it in the empty space beyond the counter, creating a triangle with the two stools Alex and Charlie already occupy. Then, he clambers up on it and takes a breath to speak before he gets off it, changes its positioning somewhat — bringing it in closer — and resettles upon it once more.

("If I have to eat something out of a box," Alex notes dryly, in an undertone as Charlie bustles with the stool, "it better fish and chips. Malt vinegar.")

"Hey, Charlie, did you hear about the — OH, hey. Can I have the change outta your tip jar? I'll give you notes for the coins." He cocks his head to one side, like a curious bird, completely derailed in what he was otherwise going to say.

~

("They make a killer beef lo-mein.." is offered in a sotto-voiced defense.)

Charlie cants his head sideways as Frank scoots a stool up, settles on it, takes that breath before sliding off again and repositioning it. His brows rise in dry amusement as the man then resettles himself before opening his mouth.

Immediately, just seeing the eyes flicker towards the tip jar, without even thinking responds with a rapid "No", just knowing what it is Frank is about to ask. Simultaneous, like magic.

Immediately after, he brings his fingers up to snap in front of the other man, and clicks twice. "Frank.. focus.. what did I or didn't I hear about?" Ear on the streets is always good. First rule is never give over at the first request, second request, or sometimes even the third. "Quick, because I gotta open." He's got time, of course.. but still!

~

("Do they have curry?" That might entice Alex.)

"Aw, c'mon, mate," Frank moans at the immediate 'no' — not that he couldn't have seen that one coming. Even so: "I give you fair exchange, y'know that!"

As Charlie brings him back into focus, however, he blinks owlishly again, "Wha?" Confusion reigns for a moment. "Oh! Oh, right! Did y'hear about von Richter's new chit? Blonde bird. I've seen her." Something about the way he says that last word carries weight.

Except, of course, where Frank's concerned, it's sometimes hard to sort out the serious things he's seen from the incidental.

"Dunno if he'll bring her tonight, or not. But, I probably won't get to see, anyway. The Director hasn't said it yet, but I know he's going to tell me not to come. I'd like to go. The canapes are going to be scrummy, but he's afraid I'll say something… I dunno, wrong or something. But, that wouldn't happen. I know when to keep my mouth shut. I mean, I have for years, right? I'm not given to just flappin' my gums like some people. I know exactly when to"

"Frank, hush." Alex reaches out to put a hand on Frank's arm to bring him back into focus. "Do you know the woman's name?"

Again, with that owlish blink. "Um… No. Bess, I think. No. Maybe something else. I can't remember. I don't know that I saw…"

~

("Do Chinese restaurants sell curry?" Even with Chinese food, Charlie's a 'meat and potatoes' guy. "I.. guess?" He doesn't sound too certain, however, and he's not willing to bet on it one way or the other.)

Still, Charlie's attention swings back around to Frank, and he dips his head, his brow creasing. "New blonde in town.. got it." The way Frank says that he's seen her almost demands a whistle at the end of it, which either means that she's garnered attention due to her looks, or the supposed gravity of the relationship and the potentials.

"Ah-ah…" Charlie holds his hand up in shush the man as Frank launches into his own defense. "If he tells you not to go, I'll just lodge a complaint tomorrow.. or something." He smiles tightly and adds, "Promise."

There comes a moment of consideration before the bar owner sighs audibly and turns to face the other man fully. "Now, if you can remember this, what I'll need you to do tonight while we're at the meeting is to find out what you can on this blonde. Where she came in from, right down to which dry-cleaner she uses." Ducking his head, he casts a glance over to Alex, then back again. "Can you do that for me? Tonight? And I'll put in a good word."

~

{"The only take-away restaurants I've seen that don't sell curry are your Yankee shacks." That'd be Alex-code for large American fast-food chains. But, the chances are good the Chinese places sell curry. For reasons passing understanding, London has almost as many curry houses as some Indian cities. "It just better be decent.")

"Sure, Charlie. Sure. That'd be great. See? I knew you wouldn't let your old mate down. I'll do me best, promise." Frank beams brightly. He's probably the only person on the Department payroll that actually likes these sorts of shindigs.

The return look Alex gives Charlie is almost pained. Yes, she knows why he's doing it. No, she doesn't want any part of it. Privately, she thinks the Director might be right. But, then, if Frank actually does pick up anything of value… it's better to have him there.

Mostly, though, she knows it's just Charlie's way of stirring the pot and making sure that the Director is just as miserable as he.

~

("Oh, it'll be decent." If they get to it now. With Frank potentially a wrench in the works, they may have to wait until the meeting tonight and see if there's anything to be had there. Charlie's voice lingers, following it up with, "Probably,") before his attention comes back around to Frank.

"Wouldn't let you down, Frank. We'd be stupid not to use your skills." Oh, he'll probably get yelled at for this one, but if he's willing to keep an eye on the guy, which is what is probably going to happen, might as well make it on his terms rather than the Director's. "Great. Really appreciate it. Could mean the difference between, well…" In the vampire world? Eeeeh, life or death, but Charlie isn't willing to give the man quite that much power. "..it'll give us a leg up on them. Always good.

"Now.." Charlie gestures towards the front of the bar, and the door. "Go forth.. we're gonna be following soon. After I get the place opened. If you find anything before, you know where to call."

~

"Right." Frank springs to his feet. "Right, Charlie!" The stool starts to topple. The Seer twists to try to catch it. He over-balances and nearly ends up arse over teacups, save that the stool gives him just the extra support he needs to stay on his feet.

Barely.

"Yeah. I guess I better go get ready. What d'you think? A blue pinstripe or grey tweed?"

"Either will do, Frank," Alex says, on her feet in an effort to keep the older man from knocking the place apart. She moves to help him right himself, pushing the stool away and steadying his arm with a firm hand. "There, now. Better? Best go see which suit matches that nice new white cotton Oxford, eh?"

"What nice new white cotton"

"The one you'll need to pick up on the way home. Now, go on, so Charlie can get this place open."

"Oh! Oh, right! Right! See you tonight!" With that, Frank bustles from the pub, leaving Alex to lean back against the counter and grab her bottle for one last swig.

"Never a dull moment. Cheers."

~

Charlie, too, jumps to save the chair. There is only so many times that chairs can fall in the place before he has to start replacing them, and Lord knows there've been occasions where more than chairs have hit the ground in the place. It is, after all, a bar.

"Go with the grey tweed.. and the new shirt. And don't forget the tie."

Once he's assured that the chair is fine, and Frank, Charlie grabs his empty, checks on Alex's once she drains it, and moves to throw them away before a rag is grabbed to wipe down the bar.

"Well, that was interesting." Never a dull moment. Watching the man's final progress through the door and out onto the street, Charlie ducks his head and scratches at the back of his neck, his brows rising in bemusement, "This'll be fun. Maybe by the end of the night, fangface will be willing to talk so he doesn't have to deal with Frank again?" The secret weapon. He shrugs, not buying it himself. "Just a thought."

~

Alex snirks some at that, moving to tuck in the stools as well as a couple of chairs left by others who popped in and then back out. "Yeah. Who knows? Providing, of course, he doesn't glamour him to shut him up." Always a possibility. And, the problem is, at the end of the day, most everyone actually likes Frank. It'd be a shame to have to try to de-glamour him. The pair of teeps on staff don't find that easy under normal circumstances… and Frank's one of those resistant sorts at the best of times.

"But, yes, it is interesting. If she shows up tonight. If not…" Her shrug is eloquent in finishing the thought. Vampire minds are notoriously closed to psychics — not, mind that psychic minds are overly friendly toward vampires. "Guess we won't know until tonight."

In the back of her mind, she catalogues her wardrobe, trying to decide on what will be a) quick, b) comfortable, and c) still suitable to the occasion. Ah, the mind of a woman.

~

"There is that." But, Charlie is of the mind that the more he annoys 'the bad guys', the more apt they are to somehow screw up. And, of course, there is the fact that he just really likes to piss them off. Call it a quirk?

Charlie takes the moment to check on the tip jar, just in case, and while behind the bar, tidies up for the bartender that'll be coming in shortly, taking stock of what's what. "Well, if she's anybody to him, he'll show her off and try and flex some muscles to show off for her. You know how it is. Bloodsuckers like to look good in front of their ladies. That whole.." He pauses in his speech and simply follows it up with, "..thing. You know.."

And it's off to the next. "Why don't you give Donovan a call, just to touch base. Let him know about the new ghoul in town, and we'll have more for him later tonight."

~

Alex moves to stand back beside the bar again, the place more or less straightened up in preparation for the evening rush. "Will do," she promises. A quick check of her watch. Oh, look. Still time for dinner. She smiles, fishing into a pocket for her cell. "You know he's just going to tell me you still owe him that steak from before Christmas, right?"

~

The time is coming for the bar's actual employees to start arriving, and arrive they do as Alex begins the search for her cell in her pocket. One of the two waitresses, and, more importantly, the bartender. Charlie is greeted with a polite, English, 'sir' before taking his place behind the bar to continue the inventory that the boss began. That, then, allows for Charlie to side-step out from behind the bar and stand beside Alex, catching the quip.

"I know, but just let him know about the leaky faucet at your place, too. See if you can't get that fixed before I have to shell out for a steak." He won't, of course..

And, with the arrival of staff, Charlie is, of course, now free to grab that bite to eat and change for the meeting, with the first stop at Alex's flat, then his boat. From there… the night begins.

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