Out for a pint

The Absinthe

The small college pub, The Absinthe, is a fairly typical example of the breed. Dark panelling lines the lower walls, a chair rail splitting the top from the bottom. The upper walls are green and gold, an almost-Victorian-styled striped wallpaper looking a little worn between walnut pillar facings. There are dart boards and pool tables at one end of the place, the bar stretching along one wall, and a half-step dais for local college bands to show off on at the opposite end. In between are booths and brown wood tables with benches and chairs that are also looking a little worn, thanks to hard use by generations of college students.


Characters

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Jasmine Jean

It's a lively place. There's a battle of the bands gearing up for the night and setup is well-underway. Those who don't want to pay the quid cover charge sneak in early, before setup is complete.

Jean Kavanaugh is one of those sneaking in ahead of time. She even offered to help with setup, though that didn't pan out so much. Still, she leans against the bar, now, a pint at her elbow, waiting for the others to show up — Rex and his workmate.

That should be fun.

~

Jasmine chews on her thumbnail and stares at the door to the pub from up the sidewalk. She's already walked past the place three times, and the bouncer is starting to give her strange looks. Jasmine can't help it though, a part of her still thinks this is a really bad idea. She doesn't do pubs or crowds very well, and not simply because of all the open, wandering minds around her. No, her luck runs sour and she usually gets a beer spilled on her or some bloke who thinks that he can chat her up with cheap ale, and gets too touchy feely as the night progresses.

Jasmine almost said no to Rex. I should have said no. But no, she needs to get out more and meet people. It is her choice to not live at the Centre local to the University, because she feels it is somewhat important to stay in touch with the outside world. So suck up and deal with it.

Squaring her shoulders, Jasmine takes a deep breath and marches back toward the door. She gives the bouncer her brightest smile.

"Comin' in for sure this time, luv?" His eyes rake over her appraisingly, and for a heartbeat Jasmine considered bailing. Only for a heartbeat though; Rex would never let her live it down, and he'd never get off her back about it either, she's sure.

Once inside, Jasmine takes a moment and waits for her eyes to adjust to the dimness, then after not finding Rex anywhere in sight, she makes a line for the far corner of the bar to watch the band set up.

~

Jean slides up onto a stool and sets her feet up on the brass rail beneath the counter. She swigs back a mouthful of her pint and glances to the door. She sees Jasmine enter, but, not knowing her from Eve, she doesn't pay her much mind. What is in her mind, though, is a light restlessness and the clear thought, C'mon, Rex, mate. I know it's early, but, really… you don't have to be fashionably late, every time.

Just a thought. But true, nonetheless.

~

Jasmine isn't trying to actively listen to anyone, but she's not actively not listening either. So it's really no surprise when the stray thought flitters across her mind, distracting her from pretending that she wasn't admiring the flex and ripple of the arm muscles on the bass player of the band currently setting up.

Jasmine turns her head, and looks down the bar. Her eyes come to rest almost immediately on the woman down the bar from her, who looks far more at ease here than Jasmine ever feels in this environs. She orders a water, which earns her an amused smirk from the bartender, which Jasmine meets with a frank stare. She doesn't break eye contact first, and it isn't until the bartender moves away that Jasmine makes her own way back down the bar.

Jasmine hasn't figured out how she's going to break the ice and introduce herself, but she figures that something will come to her.

"Excuse me," Jasmine asks, her voice tentative, "But are you a friend of Rex?"

~

Jean glances over to the woman that approaches her. She blinks with mild surprise at the overture, but her smile chases the surprise away quickly. "Rex Connor? Yeah." She chuckles lightly, now. "You must be his workmate, yeah?" She thrusts out a hand easily. "I'm Jean."

She glances about. Nope. Still no Rex.

"You know, I don't think he's ever been on time for anything," she laughs.

~

Jasmine has gotten better at this, she's glad to say. It took her a while, but she's learned not to stare at offered hands like they're snakes waiting to bite her, and her hesitation is only obvious to someone looking for it. It's a split second delay really, before she goes inward, insulating herself in her mind as she takes Jean's hand.

"Jasmine," she says by way of introduction. "He told me that he'd be early. Suppose that would be relatively speaking?"

~

Jean laughs lightly, her grip strong and firm without being overbearing. She's a confident young woman and with her touch, if anything leaks past Jasmine's defenses, it's probably her sense of easy-going fun and sharp intelligence. "Yeah, for Rex, that means sometime before the end of the first set."

It really does amuse her.

She glances around. The place is starting to fill up, now that the bouncers are actively working the doors. Cover charge is likely in effect by now.

"If we want a better seat than this, we'd best grab it, yeah? Rex'll find us. He always does."

She gestures lightly toward a nearby booth with a good vantage of the stage. "Look good?"

~

Jean is genuine, through and through, that much Jasmine can tell. Still she's more than a little relieved with the social expectation is done and past. Jasmine's immediate gut-reaction is this is the sort of non-psychic woman she could be friends with, because she doesn't seem the sort who's going to play the types of mind games that women too often play with one another. It's been hard, harder than she'd like to admit, now that she's away from Alexander College and all its trappings. Psychics there were more open, and she didn't have to worry about checking to see if someone had an ulterior motive.

"Yeah, looks good," Jasmine agrees, and she can't help that her eyes trail back to the bass player. She means the booth, and yes, probably the bass player too, but Jasmine has never been one to shy away from enjoying the scenery.

She starts toward the booth, but pauses to wait for Jean to join her, "Have you been here before?"

~

"Oh, yeah." Jean says lightly, picking up her pint, now, and moving toward the booth, flashing Jasmine an easy smile. She tracks the woman's distracted gaze to the bass player and her grin widens. "Sweet view, innit?" she chuckles.

She slides into a bench, nearly into the corner, where she can angle herself to see the stage easily.

"I attend classes here. Met Rex sometime last year. He gave me a hand with a recalcitrant laptop when I was running late with a term paper. Absolute lifesaver… long as you don't need 'im to pick you up and get you someplace on time."

~

Caught out in her admiration, Jasmine ducks her head as her face warms significantly. She soothes herself by taking a drink from her glass of water, and then nods because there's no point in denying it. "Yeah, it is." He's exactly the type of man of whom her father would never approve. It's not even the fact that bass player isn't psychic — although that ranks high on the disapproval scale — it's the fact that he's a bass player and he looks the part.

Jasmine slides in across from Jean, shifting so that she too has a good view of the stage. Though by the time the band starts and people start filling in, she doubts it's going to matter much.

"He's a good bloke, he is, yeah," Jasmine nods her agreement about Rex. "Been since fall and I haven't really gotten out and met anyone or done anything. He's been looking out for me, sort of insisted that I don't spend another night in my flat in front of the telly." Jasmine doesn't know why she's telling these things to this woman, but the words come easily and freely, and maybe in some corner of her mind it feels almsot like a sort of confessional.

Of course, Jasmine doesn't mention that part of the reason she hasn't really managed to find a niche is because she's seen as a bit quirky. Her style of dress is modest, simply because she likes to keep her arms and legs covered; usually she wears a pair of gloves, which tonight are the only things other than some money and her mobile tucked into the small purse she has slung over her neck. Jasmine is trying to blend in, but she's finding some truth in what she heard about being outside. It's not easy, and most of the time she really feels like she might not quite belong.

~

Jean chuckles appreciatively at Jasmine's confession, sympathetically, even. "It's tough making adjustments to new places," she agrees, sensing that in the woman's expression — rather than her thoughts. "But, Rex is right: It's good to get out and away from the telly periodically." She laughs outright, now. "As my eldest sister would say, 'Don't waste the pretty years.'" She offers an almost apologetic shrug.

"So what is it you do at Planum, Jasmine?" she asks. "I take it you're not part of the in-crowd there any more than Rex is."

Which, really, stands to reason. Of course, the young woman has no way to know Rex's ostracization comes from his lack of psychic ability in a company that is a haven for them, but she knows he's told her how he always feels like there are two levels of conversation happening around him — one he can hear and one he can't hear. Knowing Rex, he's just trying to protect the newbie from enduring the same thing.

~

An easy topic, Jasmine likes those. "I'm a sys admin. Well, the sys admin to a sys admin to a sys admin. Which pretty much makes me the coffee girl." Jasmine says it with a smile, laughing it off now the same way she does when she talks to Daddy. It smarts, though, knowing that all her skills and education haven't gotten her up any higher than entry level simply because when it comes to Talents, hers are not psychokinetic. There might be talk about how the psychics are better than the 'mundanes' — and Jasmine hates that word, she really does — but those damn corporate hierarchies and glass ceilings still exist. She stands out as a teep, but not as a particularly strong one. Which is probably why Jasmine has 'overheard' more than her share of colorful commentary about her 'skills.'

However, she likes computers and networks and all the infrastructure that goes along with them, and from Day One, Jasmine has been determined to prove that she can do this job without any 'extra boosts.' And definitely without crying to Daddy.

That's part of what brought her into contact with Rex; he was definitely an outsider even though he's got major mojo and skills when it comes to technology. Jasmine can appreciate 'mundane talent' as much as the gifts gained by simply having a different set of genetics. She doesn't actually know if Rex has pegged her a teep, and she likes and respects him enough that Jasmine takes pains to stay out of his head.

"Four years of study, and I'm the Jill-of-all-Trades and hardly ever see a server. But, everyone starts on the ground floor, right?"

~

Chances are Rex hasn't pegged anyone as psychics. Psychics aren't much likely to go blabbing about their existence any more than witches or sorcerers are. Mum's the word on that one.

Jean gives a wry, sympathetic smile. "Rather like being back in first year again, yeah?" That's the closest analogy the student can make. "Doesn't matter how good you are, you're not the upper year." She grins. "Still, long as you're having fun?"

That's the main thing.

"I think Rex sometimes thinks about finding a new job, but he likes the pay at Planum."

~

Jasmine laughs, "Yes, the pay is good." Even for a glorified administrative assistant, which is what Jasmine spends a lot of time feeling like she is. At the end of the day it means that Jasmine can afford her flat without having to have a flatmate, and that when she sees a cute pair of shoes in a shop window, she doesn't have to weight the shoes against buying groceries. "It is like being in first year again. No one takes you seriously, but at least back then there was a reason to not be taken seriously. Now it's just a bunch of big male egos." Big male psychic egos, but Jasmine doesn't add that last part.

"What are you studying, Jean?" Jasmine shifts the conversation to the other woman, ready to focus on something other than herself. She doesn't want to sound like a whiner and Jasmine learned a long time ago that part of being a good conversationalist is give-and-take.

~

"Me?" Jean takes another sip of her drink and offers a light smile. "Future digrat." She hefts her mug in a mock toast as the band strikes up. Her voice still carries enough to be heard, however. "Archaeology and Antiquities," she elaborates. "I've got a thing for history, I guess." A beat. "That, and too many adventure movies when I was a lass."

That's her excuse, anyway. And she uses it so often, it doesn't even cause her to reflect on her own supernatural heritage. That little fact remains nicely tucked away, for the time being.

~

Jasmine takes another drink of her water, her gaze flickering over to the stage as the music starts going. She's not confident enough to bully her way to the center front and get the musician's attention, but she can appreciate him just as easily from afar. She nods, though, catching Jean's words despite the music. "I can't even blame movies on my professional choice. I was just a weird kid who got on well with computers."

The moment the words are out, they sound terribly pathetic even to Jasmine's ears. The heat infuses her face again. Another few swallows of water are taken in an effort to hide her chagrin and embarrassment.

"D'you get to go anywhere while studying? Visit any sites, or is it all classroom work?" The question is asked as deflection with the hope that Jean will just ignore her stupid commentary.

~

"There are occasional opportunities to intern," Jean replies, "But I've haven't won one, yet." She chuckles ruefully. "It's that first year syndrome. Now I'm a second year, I've got a better chance."

She can't help but smile at the blush that colours the other woman's cheeks, though it puzzles her somewhat. Some people are simply good with computers. And there's nothing wrong with that. Though, okay. Female geeks are considered rare.

It's just, in Jean's experience, they're not.

"So, what do you do when you're not at work or surfing the telly?" Jean asks, now. It could get amusing, if the two keep redirecting the conversation back and forth.

~

"I read. A lot." Jasmine shakes her head in mock-shame and confesses, "I have to admit, I'm something of regency romance addict. That and mysteries." No, Jasmine is not the most outgoing and social of girls and she'll be the first to admit it. She knows where her safety zone lies. "Though I like a good game of rugby too. Not playing, mind, but it's fun to watch."

~

Jean grins at that. "I'm sci-fi geek and pulp adventure suck, myself," she confesses. "Toss romance into the adventure, if you will, but don't make it the adventure."

Still, she knows a few homebodies that she sometimes has to pull out by the ears. "I'm not much of a rugby player, myself," she concedes. "But, I do like a good game. My friend, Min, he used to always try to get me playing." Not so much any more, though. He's too afraid of hurting her.

More's the pity, once again.

"Me? I prefer cycling, if I'm out doing anything. Running, jumping, climbing trees." A dry chuckle. "I was the tomboy of my sisters. Used to drive 'em crazy. Do you have any siblings?"

~

No, Jasmine isn't much of a science fiction fan. Her life is science fiction enough, what with being telepathic and having grown up around every kind of psychic from the clairvoyants to the psychokinetics. She doesn't say any of that, but the thought lingers in the back of her mind.

"Tomboy?" Jasmine echoes. Now that is something to which she can relate. "I was too, growing up. My dad hated it. Drove him mad, it did. He was so worried that his little girl was going to fall out of a tree and that I'd crack open my head." Not that it wasn't a legitimate worry, she did fall a few times, and wonderful as the Foundation is, they still haven't found a way to fix brain damage. "So, I never even said the words 'play rugby' to 'im. Probably would have wrapped me in padding and put me in a bubble," Jasmine laughs. It's only funny because it's not so far off from the truth.

To the last, she shakes her head, "No, it's just me and my dad. Might have been nice to have sisters and brothers. Least then he wouldn't have been so protective of me." Truthfully, he still is protective, but he figures that Planum is a 'safe' spot for her, and that she's old enough now for him to at least give her a little more rope.

She can't help but lean forward and ask, "How many sisters do you have?" Because having older and younger sisters always sounded so glamorous to Jasmine.

~

"Six," Jean answers, wrinkling her nose as she says so. "All of them older than me." A grin. "I swear, the best thing about college is that the only person I have to share a loo with is me flatmate." There's genuine humour there in her voice, and affection in her thoughts. She actually loves her family very much, no matter how much they sometimes frustrate her. "Try growing up with that many girls in the house, when you're the lowest in the pecking order. And in a bloomin' old farmhouse, to boot. I've had more cold showers in me life than I care to think about."

She flashes a grin, blue eyes sparkling.

"More cold showers than I've needed, that's for certain."

Her fingers dance along the tabletop in time to the beat of the music. She grabs another swig of her beer, enjoying the music, now. "Did you always want to go into computers, then?"

~

All right then, maybe I won't complain so much about being an only child, Jasmine thinks. The only person she's ever had to share a toilet with is her father, and their house — the one they moved into after Mum left — was a nice little cookie cutter suburban number in a nice, safe little psychic community. Jasmine is definitely a little pampered, and she can't help but feel guilty about it though she knows it's no fault of her own.

Still, she laughs at Jean's enthusiastic warming to the subject, because it's hard not to be caught up by such an open, honest and friendly personality. Even if she doesn't make a friend tonight, Jasmine will still have to thank Rex for forcing her out. It's been more interesting than sitting at home, that's for certain.

Her water is gone now, and Jasmine toys with the idea of a beer or an ale. She's never been much of a big drinker, but she's no lightweight either. A quick glance toward the bar, and Jasmine is startled to realize that the pub is already filling up and it's early yet. She's not quite ready to brave the crowd forming around the bar, though.

"No," Jasmine shakes her head and grins a bit, her green eyes lighting up with good humor. "I wanted to be an astronaut." She'd never claimed to be a normal little girl, and even as a little girl, Jasmine always figured that space would be quiet. She waits a beat and then adds, "Or a princess, 'cept I got tired of kissing frogs, so I suppose that's not going to happen." And by frogs she means some of her less than stellar boyfriends; which pretty much adds up to all of them except one.

~

Jean's eyebrows raise. "An astronaut," she grins. "Oh, now, see, that would've been brilliant, yeah?" Sci-fi geek, remember? But, the princess bit causes her to laugh outright. "Oh, I'm pretty sure there are a whole lot more frogs out there than princes. 'Least there were out where I grew up. And since you've got London all sewn up, I'd have to say it'd be horribly depressing if I weren't a born optimist." After all… it only takes one prince, right?

She may have to bully Rex into getting her in touch with Jasmine again, though. She likes the quieter woman.

She also notes the way she eyes the bar.

"Oh, hey. You want a new drink? I'll flag Penny." She raises her hand to attract the attention of one of the waitresses.

~

"I'm completely convinced that there are more frogs than princes," Jasmine bobs her head in agreement. She's not holding her breath about meeting her prince, even if her bookcases are cluttered with stories about women getting swept off their feet and into happily-ever-after. "Doesn't stop my dad from trying to find one for me, though. He's always got this person's son, or this person's nephew for me to meet." It's the reason that Jasmine no longer calls first before popping by for a visit. It doesn't give him any time to prepare.

Jean indicates the waitress by name, telling Jasmine that she's a regular. Still, she's grateful for anything that keeps her from having to deal with the bodies at the bar. "Thanks," Jasmine lifts her glass, "I'm a little on empty here, and I don't like the looks of the crowd right now."

~

Penny makes her way over at Jean's wave. "Hey, Kavanaugh," she greets lightly. "What can I do for you?"

"My friend here could use a bit of something," Jean replies, leaving Jasmine to fill in the blank. "Though, if you get a chance, a bit nosh to wash down with this'd be good, too." She raises the half-pint she's got left.

"Usual then?" Penny asks lightly."

"Yeah."

"Can do." The waitress smiles to Jasmine. "What'll it be, luv?"

~

"A pint, please," Jasmine says purely by habit. Her Nona drilled good manners into her and she's never forgotten them. "And the number of the bass player."

There's a beat before Jasmine's eyes widen to double their size, and she cringes, burying her face in her hands. "I just said that aloud, didn't I?"

Maybe that pint isn't such a good idea…

~

Both Penny and Jean laugh at that. "I can get you the pint," Penny grins, "but you're on you're own with the bass player."

Jean chuckles lightly. "Hey, I can't blame you. He's a dish. I'd scoop him myself, but you've obviously called dibs." And she's okay with that. The girl just isn't looking, right now.

Penny bustles off to grab the order, while Jean leans back in the bench and thrusts her feet out under the table, away from Jasmine. "Should be a fun concert, even if Rex does miss half of it."

~

Jasmine chuckles softly, laughing at herself. "Oh no no no, no dibs. I can't talk to men like that. I end up sounding like a daft idiot. Or worse. Better to just admire from afar." Also, there's nothing quite so disheartening as to try and flirt with a bloke only to 'hear' that he's wanting to chat up your mate, or that you're just not his type.

"Think Rex stood us up, or is this his definition of fashionably late?"

~

Jean checks her watch. "Eh. It's still early for him… But his track record's not good."

She chuckles. "You'd think, though, that since he invited both of us out here, he'd have the courtesy to show up. Normally, you don't leave two strangers to get acquainted on their own."

A beat. She grins. "Though, I don't know. I don't think either of us can say we're complete strangers, now."

~

Jasmine will take Jean's word for it. She obviously has never been anywhere with Rex outside of work, though they spend time chatting on breaks in the break room. He's a good bloke though, so she's willing to forgive him. This time.

"No, I guess we can't. We managed just fine, didn't we? Something to be said for girl power, and all that?"

~

Jean raises her fist in mock salute. "Girl power," she echoes, eyes dancing. "And woe to he that crosses it."

She reaches for her pint again, as Penny returns with Jasmine's and places it before her before slipping away back to deal with other orders.

"We'll just have to tag team Rex, next time. Tell him he owes us for keeping his seat warm."

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