Luck o' the... Cupid?

The Bass Café

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

paddy.jpg ms01.jpg zoewright.jpg
Paddy Sean Zoe

Enter… the pub. The quintessential British experience. Add a little decorations in 'love red', and the Bass Cafe looks a little more… Christmass-y moreso than Valentine's…-y.

There is no band playing. The thrum of noise in the pub is all patrons; some clustered around the snooker table, others playing a serious game of darts. The bar is half-filled with both men and women, though 'couples' haven't yet really started. The night is still young, however.

The owner/proprietor is absent for the evening. In his stead, or rather, standing in to be eyes and ears (Charlie had heard about Gideon Reese being in the bar) is one Dr. Sean Watson. He's tucked on the end of the bar with some papers on a table; the same workspace Charlie uses to do his paperwork just because he's out of the general flow of traffic. Before him, a half a glass of an amber liquid is ignored for the moment, or rather, it's idly and absently attended. Bright blue eyes are more concerned with what is on the paper— third year, second semester papers on a particularly dry dig out in the Nile Delta…

~

A shout of laughter rises from around one of the snooker tables. "And that, me lads and lassies, is how you win a game o' pool." Ever the showman, Paddy Mahon makes a sweeping bow, his cuestick planted firmly on the carpet beside him like a fancy walking stick. As he rises, he sets the cue on the table and turns to one of the women standing by. Brazenly, he kisses her on the cheek. "You, m'dear, much as it pains me to tell y'so, owe me a quid. And I'd be no gentleman if I let ye forget. But, don't feel so badly. There's only one lass I've met what's beaten me at the table here." Flashing her a light grin as she groans, he nods towards the bar. "I won't be so ungentlemanly, however, to pressure ye unduly. I'll be over there searchin' for a pint. Feel free to find one for me."

He gives her a saucy wink and saunters through the chuckling crowds, pulling up to the bar and swinging his leg over a barstool.

Glancing down the length of the counter, he spies one Dr. Sean Watson. A big grin spreads across his flexible face. "Seanny, m'boyo," he calls out congenially, sliding off his stool and moving along. "Now, really. What's a likely lad like you doin' here without a date on a night like this? Even old Charlie's found himself a date!" A beat. He laughs. "And I'd say he got the better end of that deal."

~

It's Valentine's Day, and as she's the only single one, Gwen and Liz have agreed to leave their spouses at home this evening. Though, on second and third thought, Zoe is wondering what possessed any of them to think that venturing out on a lover's holiday was such a good idea. Still Gwen has a knack for finding the rare spot, some place new and different for them to try, and it's hard to say no to Gwen when she gets an idea in head.

Zoe's not looking to chat up or be chatted up. It's just a hen night — without the impending nuptials or all the crassness that goes along with it — a chance to let her hair down — literally — and drink a few pints and just relax.

They've secured a small table as close to the 'center of the action' as Zoe will allow; she doesn't put it past her sister-in-law and her best mate to not at least to bring her to the attention of some bloke or another. It's actually a good table, nice view of the whole establishment from the dartboard to the snooker table, where one can hardly miss the loud laughter.

"Go on then, Zo," Liz encourages her with a nudge of her elbow, "Show 'em how it's done." There's a smirk and a wink at Gwen and the expected twittering laughter.

"Shameful, the both of you," Zoe shakes her head, "Couldn't even give it an hour before you have a go at me like that?" She ignores their twittering, reminding herself that it's all done out of affection for her, and though she suspects she'll just get more of the same, she lets her gaze roam around the room again. Typical pub, typical night… except for the bloke at the end of the bar… doing paperwork? There's something almost familiar about him, and…

Zoe knows that she's stared for a few moments too long, when she hears from Liz, "Which one of 'em's caught your eye then?"

It's probably her imagination, but Liz's voice sounds a trifle too loud to Zoe's ears and she immediately snaps her attention back to her drink. "Stop that. Don't go getting any ideas." If she happens to glance over again, it's only because of the nagging curiosity…

~

"Ah… " a warning sound on the onset, or rather, something to simply get Paddy's attention so no alcohol spills on the students' hard work. At least Sean is pretty sure that each and every one of them would swear they put in a lot of time, plus, even if their papers didn't necessarily reflect it.

Shifting the papers, then, and piling them into a system that he can understand and reference later, he is able to give a little more attention to the now arrived fixture of the Bass Cafe. His brows rise at the question, and he looks around somewhat theatrically, "Keeping an eye on the place. Didn't Charlie tell you? I'm supposed to throw you out after you've had your third." The statement is completely deadpanned, and it's followed up with, "How many is that now?"

It is true, however, and Sean would easily repeat the words as spoken by the Irishman— Charlie did get the better end of the deal. The statement 'opposites attract' has never been more true in that pair.

"You know on Valentine's Day, you're supposed to buy drinks for the ladies, not the other way around, right?"

In that initial 'search' of the pub, Sean has missed the helpful librarian in the midst of the others milling in the room; Paddy is a more immediate… problem (?), in that he's protecting his students' intellectual property, such as it is.

"Why don't you buy her a drink instead? I bet she'd be more willing to go another round at the table— before I toss you out for the night."

~

Paddy's eyes dance as he settles beside the fussy academic. "Ah, now, see, Seanny. That's now how it works. First, she pays up on her bet. Then, I buy her a drink, just so's there's no hard feelings later."

He peers curiously at all the papers. "Now, what in the world is all that? You know, you work entirely too much, Seanny-boy. You should get out, meet some young women you're actually allowed to date — instead of all those off-limit co-eds."

He spins around on his stool, leans back against the bar, and surveys the rest of the pub. His eyes fall on Zoe and her companions… partly because the woman keeps glancing their way. He tips a light salute and a big grin at her, not quite so forward as to wink, though only because she seems so furtive. Given he doesn't really seem to be her focus, however, he nudges Sean.

"Now, see? There's a likely lass. I think it's you she's eyein' an' not me, more's the pity. But, take it from me, there's your window of opportunity, me boyo."

~

At the salute and the grin, Zoe's gaze jerks away and back to her pint. She knows it's too much to hope that her companions are oblivious, and her doubts are confirmed when Liz half-raises her pint and taps it against Zoe's. "Looks like you got someone's attention, yeah?"

"I wasn't trying to get anyone's attention," Zoe hisses. She drinks a few long draughts from her pint, waiting for the spirits to cool the heat in her face. "Just thought that he looked familiar, is all. The bloke doing the paperwork."

"Course, we come out for a night of drinks, hit up pub and you're eyeing the bloke who can't separate business from pleasure? Have I taught you nothing?"

"I'm not eying… Dr. Watson!" The name pops into Zoe's head, and she blurts it out. She glances back again, just to confirm for herself, that yes, it is the scholar from the library, and nods to her friends. "He was at the library last week. I helped him out with some research."

"You should go talk to him." Gwen pointedly peers around Zoe, and it's all the librarian can do to not sink beneath the table. Truly, they're like schoolgirls sometimes. "Wait, is he married? He's not married, is he?"

"No, he's not married." The moment she says the words, Zoe regrets them as she watches the look exchanged between the pair of women. "I'm not going to go talk to him either. He probably doesn't even remember me."

~

Not for the first time, nor will it be the last does Sean make that sound of acknoweldgement, "Ah… ". The last thing he really needs is a lesson in flirtation from Paddy, and works to deflect the older man.

"I don't work too much. I actually do get some sleep. When I start staying up at night, worrying about some freshman class… that's when I'll come back here, take a long weekend and wake up… probably somewhere." Doubtful, but if it's enough to keep Paddy from being 'oh so helpful', any story is good? "Maybe on one of those fishing trips Charlie keeps talking about."

Brows raise as the Irishman's attention moves past him, and twisting around he catches the table of women… and he exhales softly, still not seeing Zoe, or just not immediately recognizing her out of her element. It takes a second glance, a longer one there, before the recognition comes in. "Yeah… " The word comes slowly, his brow beetling slightly, though it doesn't form a frown, "Not your type." Sean digs into his memory… and comes up with the name. The helpful librarian, "Ms. Wright." No first name ever given, though it was a pity.

Still, with the potential of mutual recognition, the man nods his head in acknowledgment and silent greeting towards the librarian, making a mental note to be sure to send a pint to the table, at least. //In additional thanks for her invaluable aid… //

~

Paddy glances between Sean and the young woman. He flashes a grin, particularly when it seems Sean recognizes the lass. "Aw, now, see, Seanny… I'm a regular, here. Y'know that. And I've ne'er seen her in here before. That you've got her name, me boyo… Well, mightn't this be the chance to get her number, too?"

He chuckles deeply now.

"Or've y'already got it and are just playin' the fox with me instead of the hound with her?" He arches a brow in amusement. He gives Sean a light punch in the arm. "Yer a right dog, y'are, Sean Watson."

~

Zoe draws a slight breath at Dr. Watson's nod of acknowledgement. She hadn't really expected him to remember her; hoped, yes, expected? No, not at all. After all, they'd only talked for a bit, mostly about books and journals, and she was doing her job.

Zoe doesn't have to consciously listen to know what her friends are saying now, all sorts of comments about him remembering her will no doubt be followed by some sort of ribald encouragement. She ignores them, because she's had some practice at it, and stares into her pint for a moment, or two or three. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, yeah? She can sit on her bum and let the opportunity to slip away from her, and go home wondering what-if. Or, she could take a chance, because she doubts she's going to get another one.

"Oh shut up, both of you," Zoe cuts into Gwen and Liz's playful teasing. She draws off the rest of her pint — nothing like a bit of Dutch courage — and smoothes a hand over her hair. "Fine, I'm doing this. Don't laugh. And don't stare. Might as well pluck the moon from the sky as to get them to listen, but she has to try.

Zoe stands, and without a backwards glance at her mates — because one look and she fears she'll completely chicken out — she walks over toward the end of the bar. Absently tucking her hair behind her ear, she draws to a halt at the bar and smiles a greeting. "Hello, Dr. Watson. I thought that was you." A pause, and then she extends her hand, "I don't know if you remember me. Zoe Wright from the library."

~

An exhasperated sigh exits the academic as he shakes his head. Rather than replying to the encouragement, Sean twists around to the other side and gestures back towards the tables. "Don't you have people to snooker?" He's aware of the pun, certainly.

"And no, I don't have her number. I don't make it a habit of asking ladies their phone numbers in the first five or so minutes of meeting them." Raising his hand to rub at the spot where Paddy'd taken the personable shot to his arm in theatrical response, Sean reaches to push the man aside good-naturedly, "Go make your mark feel better about losing."

When he turns about, Sean is surprised to see the pretty librarian on the move. Remembering his manners, Paddy is ignored for a moment, though he can almost feel that Irish smirk behind his back, he rises to his feet and offers a seat, the hand clasped in greeting briefly. "Yes, of course Ms. Wright." He hadn't gotten her first name, and the information is stored. Though, he can't remember if he'd given his own, honestly. "Oh… and Sean, please. Seems a little… not quite right in the pub." Once again, he's forced to move the student papers out of the way. "You were more helpful than you can imagine. Opened up several avenues, and lots of potentials for our research." His and Alex's. Well, more his, but Alex is a large help…

~

Oh, Paddy doesn't smirk in the presence of a lady. Certainly not openly, anyway. Indeed, he puts on his most charming smile. "Patrick Mahon," he says by way of introduction, knowing Sean sure as hell isn't going to be courteous enough to introduce them. "Friend and boon companion of the good doctor, here. And a pleasure it is to meet you, too, Ms Wright."

Magnaminously, he moves one stool over. "Do have a seat, won't you? I'm sure the professor here, won't mind." His eyes twinkle. "I'll even give you two a bit o' space… " And he rises.

~

"Sean, then," Zoe agrees, "As long as you call me Zoe."

Zoe acknowledges Patrick's greeting with a smile and nod of her own. As near as she can tell, the man is clearly an acquaintance, if not a fried of Dr… of Sean. "Good to meet you as well."

Her eyes rake over the stool and the newly cleared spot at the bar, and she unexpectedly feels a bit like she's imposing. "Are you sure it's all right, then? I really don't want to impose… "

All right, truthfully, she's not exactly averse to it if it means she might actually get to talk to Sean.

~

//Oh, here it comes… Paddy turning on the charm… //

Sean shakes his head ever so slightly in good natured exhasperation and gestures back to the Irishman with a hand. "Gotta watch him." As slick as they come.

"And no… of course I don't mind." A hand is placed on the piles of papers before he grabs them and shifts to put them out of the field of fire; under the end of the bar near where Charlie keeps his 'files'.

When Paddy offers to give them a bit o'space, however, there's a moment when Sean actually considers asking him to stay, but that's fleeting. What was he thinking?! Attractive woman coming to sit… "You still owe the lady in the back that drink, Paddy."

~

Paddy, certainly, has no qualms about giving the lady his stool. "That I do, Seanny, me boyo. That I do." He steps back from the stools and gives Zoe a sweeping bow. "Enjoy the rest of your evening, Zoe, luv. Don't be afraid of Seanny, here. He's a good lad. Bit o' a slow mover, maybe, but a good lad."

He turns and eyes where his mark from earlier. He starts moving towards her, but spies the two ladies Zoe has abandoned in the process of going to join Sean.

"Well, and a might fine good evenin' to the pair of you fine ladies." His eyes take in both of them expertly, and he puts on a fine smile. "Out for a quiet evenin' without the husbands, I see. Such a poor night for that. But, if it be in aid of a good friend — as reckon it must — then tis all a good cause."

He chuckles softly, gesturing lightly to where Sean and Zoe sit. "'Course it does mean that I've been jilted outta me drinkin' companion for the night. In that light, can interest ye two fine ladies in sharin' a pitcher with me — all in the name of friendship and nothin' more, of course?"

A beat.

"I promise to pay for the first round."

~

Zoe has to give a grin and a slight shake of her head at Paddy as the man departs. So, he's that sort, then. Everyone knows one like him, and they keep things lively. She slides easily onto the stool and tilts her head toward Paddy, "He's a character, isn't he?"

Still, she doesn't want to linger on the other man, she's smarter than that. Out of practice with the whole flirting bit, yeah, but smarter than that. Zoe swings her full attention to Sean, her hands resting lightly on the top of the bar. "Glad to hear that the information was helpful to your research. How's that coming along?"

'Shop talk' isn't exactly what she was going for, but it's good for ice breaking.

Her attention is kept carefully averted from Liz and Gwen; she doesn't particularly want to know what her friends are thinking and doing, so she misses it when Liz motions to Zoe's vacated seat, "If you're payin', then we're drinkin'. Always up for good conversation, and maybe you can tell us a bit 'bout your friend?" Because, of course, good-natured ribbing or not, the girls will look after Zoe.

~

Sean frowns at Paddy's characterization and opens his mouth to offer argument, but closes it again. He knows he'll lose, he always does, and the Irishman comes out smelling like the proverbial rose. He has absolutely no idea how the man does it, how he gets through life with, yes… a touch of the Blarney.

//Charlie'd make a fortune if he put the man on a tourist map… //

He exhales again in a quiet sigh and ducks his head, a smile turning lopsided, "That he is. I'd never admit it, but things'd be a little less… fun without him around." A quick shake of the head is followed by a warning finger, "But if you ever tell him that, I'll rearrange all your books."

Sean watches Paddy's departure and approach of the friends; the man is at home, and on his turf? Prince Paddy.

"Actually, it's coming along well, thank you." The animation is easily seen in those bright blue eyes as he considers his research. He leans forward somewhat, his hands gesture ever so slightly in echo of his words. "There's a lot more behind Disraeli and the Suez that I didn't know about… as well as the nationalistic movement vs. our colonial puppets that neither we liked nor did the Egyptian people." And he's still looking for hints of vampires that may have lived through the period…

~

"Who? Seanny-boy?" Paddy pulls out the chair Zoe vacated earlier and makes himself right at home, flagging a waitress down to order a full pitcher of good dark Irish stout. "Ah. Now, there's a man with a storied past." He leans back in his chair like an old storyteller just warming to his subject. Had he a pipe, he'd no doubt be puffing on it. Of course, he doesn't have a pipe. He's just got a half-pint left in a full-pint mug, and that hardly does the trick at all.

"But, for all that, I can assure you, he's as upstanding a citizen as you could hope to meet. A professor, no less. A doctor of archaeology and antiquities. A regular Indiana Jones."

A beat.

"Minus the fedora and bullwhip," he concedes.

The pitcher arrives. "Ah, thank ye, lass. You're a true saint, y'are." He takes out his wallet to pay for it, and then up-ends the pint glasses sent along with it so as to pour his table companions a draught.

~

"A regular booksie type. Exactly up Zo's alley, I'd say," Liz decides after thanking Paddy for the stout. "They can talk about dead worlds and the like. Never really got into it all myself, but it's Zoe's lifeblood." Liz is a friendly sort and a talker, she always has been. The Irishman is friendly, and a cad, but he knows where the line is drawn, and Liz doesn't mind making conversation. "Oh, where're our manners? I'm Liz, that there's Gwen."

Gwen raises her glass in a hello and a salute. She's not saying much because she's used to being out with Liz. Getting a word in edgewise isn't easy, and she's got a bit more invested in making sure that Zoe's getting on all right and not falling in with the wrong kind of bloke. Not that that's easy to tell in a pub. "Professor? Suppose that means he's at least dedicated and patient."

"My lips are sealed." Zoe mimics zipping her lips and throwing away the key. It's an idle playful threat but Zoe likes it that the Sean takes a chance and is willing to make it. Zoe can feel the enthusiasm radiating from Sean as he starts to answer her question. Hard not to notice it and notice that the man clearly loves his work. Which isn't a bad thing; she does love her work as well. "One of the things that I love about history. When you really get to looking at things, really deeply, you get to see all the different angles and not just the ones that the victorious wrote about."

She realizes that she left her drink at the table with Gwen and Liz, and catches the attention of the bartender with a slight wave of her hand, intent upon ordering another pint.

"What about Bruchner?" Zoe inquires, "Did you find anything else of interest on that front?"

~

"He's a little harder," Sean admits. "Crazy, sure… but there's a lot there couched in some sort of… code. I mean, I'm sure we're on the right track with him, but, as they say, I'm trying hard to remember 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar'. I could easily equate some of the things he says as just basic fears of things that go bump in the night; you know… the fear of the curses of the mummies?" He's hooked into the conversation, and as he delves deeper, it'll be more and more difficult to drag him from it.

"These people lived and breathed their history. They were living on the edge of modernity and antiquity, and the Muslim religion couldn't keep all the traditional monsters at bay."

He slows to take a breath, and suddenly realizes that perhaps he's gone on a little too long, and has the grace to look vaguely sheepish. "And, I'm sorry… I shouldn't be boring you… not on Valentine's Day. Let me pick up that drink?"

~

"Patrick Mahon," Paddy says by way of return introduction. "Though me friends call me Paddy." And the implication is that they should be friends, of course.

He takes a deep swallow of his stout, setting it lightly on the table.

"Ah, yes. A more patient man than Dr. Sean Watson, I've yet to meet." He grins. "Unless, of course, it's he an' Charlie in one o' their famous 'philosophical differences'. He's quite the sight to watch, when he gets all wound up. Amusin' as hell — long as you're not the one he's ranting at." He gives a saucy wink at that. "And, even then, it can still be worth a laugh."

He glances back to where the doctor and the librarian converse. "Well, now, don't they seem to be gettin' along just fine? Such a pretty sight, don't y'agree?"

~

There's something sexy about the passion Sean shows towards the subject. He doesn't simply talk about it, but he breathes and lives it and wants to share it, and contrary to whatever he may think, Zoe is drawn in by his enthusiasm and obvious intellect. She catches herself not only listening, but watching him — the crease and furrow and rise of his brow, the way the light catches in his blue eyes. She has no intention of interrupting him, and it's almost a disappointment when he interrupts himself.

"No," Zoe objects almost at once. "Not at all. You aren't boring me at all." A soft, encouraging smile lights upon her lips. It's only with slight hesitation that she raises her hand and drops it to rest lightly on his lower arm, "Did you forget where we met?" A soft, warm giggle rises from her throat, and she ducks her eyes briefly, glancing at him from beneath her lashes before casting them back to meet his gaze, "You can still pick up the drink, though, if you'd like."

Is she coming on too strong? Too desperate? Zoe doesn't know and she kicks herself for being so woefully out of practice in this particular arena. Somehow, it seemed a lot easier back during her university days. "I'm actually something of a history buff myself." There's a nice understatement, Zo.

"Yeah, they do," Liz observes, with a nod of her head. She cants her head a bit and waves toward Paddy. "A'right, Paddy mate, so what's your story? Everybody's got a story, and I bet yours is a real winner." Liz is rather liking the atmosphere here and thinks that they'll have to come back sometime with the boys. Tell 'em there's darts and snooker and that's all they'll need for bait.

~

"Yes, well… I could probably go on all night," Sean's a bit sheepish; he's been told more than once that there are times when he's a bit too… intense? No, the word that has been bandied about in the past is 'boring'. Still, the apologetic, lopsided smile comes out, complete with the self-effacing chuckle, cued mostly by the light weight of her hand upon his arm. "True," he nods to echo the words, "Library. But that's more of a Jack of all Trades?" That sounded more that stupid, and Sean could kick himself

The invitation open to buy her that drink, or retrieve it at least, brings a wider smile to his face, and a way to gather himself up. "Sure… let me get you a new one. I have a feeling that if the other one is left alone too long, Paddy may take it. Not deliberately, mind, but it's there, he's there… nothing wet in the hand, and you just never know."

History buff? Sean's brows rise as he twists back around after signalling Bob for a new glass; gestures are made for 'whatever she was having'. Every good 'tender has a memory like a steel trap, and the man is good at what he does. "History buff? Where? What period? Oh… if you don't mind my asking… "

"Who? Me?" Paddy flashes the two women he sits with. "Ah, what's to tell? I'm just a hard-workin' Belfast lad transplated 'cross the channel by the fickle winds o' fate. An itinerant storyteller out a-wanderin' the world in search of a good stout and a better tale." He winks saucily at that and hefts his pint, downing a large quaff.

"I'm a carpenter by trade, I have t'admit. In th'old days, they'd've called me Cooper, no doubt. I refinish antiques and build custom furniture in a shop out in th'East End. Keeps me flexible, an' I like it that way."

He sets his mug on the table and splashes more stout into it from the pitcher, offering to do the same for them. "What of ye fine lassies? What're your tales to tell?"

~

Zoe takes the fact that Sean is not backpedaling away as a good sign. Still she doesn't want to push her luck too much, and accepting her drink from the bartender is as good an excuse as any to pull her hand back without things being weird and awkward. She lifts the pint and takes a drink, before speaking. "My concentration was the ancient world, specifically the Celts. I was more interested in staying closer to home, so to speak, in my academic pursuits than venturing 'round the world. Not that every culture doesn't have something, but there's just so much right here in our back garden that I couldn't ignore."

"Although I will also confess that I'm also something of a medieval junkie," Zoe smiles. "What about you?" Zoe taps the top of his hand lightly with her fingertips, a brief touch before they withdraw. "Your research, is it work or pleasure?"

"Oh not much to tell about us," Liz gives a shrug, happy to accept another drink. "I'm a nurse, Gwen's a school teacher. I work in A&E, so I could tell you some stories might curl your hair or make you snort your drink."

"Try working with six year olds," Gwen says good-naturedly, "I think I've got a few stories of my own."

~

"Ah… I was pulled a little more afield," Sean knows that he sounds like he's coming late to a party when he adds, "I'm more of a… " he pauses, then continues, "pyramid building academic. If they built what looks to be funerary buildings, I'm there. Mayan, Aztec, Toltec… in the new world, Egyptian in the old— I can't help myself. Mummies have always fascinated me." His glass of bitter is given his attention once again, and he takes a swallow of the liquid, just so he can, once again, regroup.

The touch of warmth on his hand burns into his memory, and briefly his eyes flicker down to where her fingers hand lain, only to be removed and pressed into service.

"My research? Oh… helping a friend… a fellow academic, really." Now comes the cover; couch little white lies in the truth. He can hear Charlie's advice in his head. Of course, the American is a much better liar than he is, which is probably why he's a little more successful when making the truth sound implausible. "Looking at the nationalistic movement of the Egyptians in the 19th century, and England's part… as well as their rival, France. There are so many little factions that have a place, and honestly, I'm not one who really enjoys 'modern' history, bec—" And here, he stops once again, and he drops his head with some theatric flair. Taking a deep breath, Sean shakes his head. "I could really go on about this for hours… and so completely bore you that the place'll lose a customer permanantly.

"So tell me… what couldn't you ignore?"

Other than the loud Irishman at the other table?

~

Paddy warms to his audience, now. "Sure, now, an' a fine thing it is, to work in fields such as yours. Caregivers, the both of ye, and brave ones at that, I reckon." His blue eyes sparkle and he flashes a warm grin. "I've seen what happens in day cares. Anyone that can brave a room full of tots like I was as a lad and walk out unscathed are bleedin' heroes, in my world." He raises his glass to the women, using the silent salute as an other excuse for a quaff. Not that he needs one, mind.

Apparently, though, the man can hold his drink. At least for the time being.

"So… If'n y'don't mind me askin'… What's a nice girl like your friend Zoe doin' out on the town without a lad of her own? Hard t'believe someone that seems as nice as she would find herself alone."

Hey. He's gotta look out for his boy, too, y'know.

~

There's a moment then where the two women exchange a glance, one of those careful, guarded communications that takes place between those who are good friends and need no words. Liz gives a glance back at Zoe; she can't deny that her friend is brighter than she's seen her in a long time — though how much is due to the lager and how much to the attention of an attractive man, Liz can't judge. Still, it's good to see Zoe that way, and she's far enough out from all of it to not be considered "damaged goods." Another glance at Gwen, and apparently the other woman agrees because she raises her head in a barely perceptible nod. Course she's gonna let me field this one, yeah.

"Well, she's not high maintenance or the dreaded clinging goes overboard type, if that's what you're thinking," Liz begins. She takes another drink, and decides not to sugar coat it. Isn't like it's a shameful secret or anything, it just is. "She's a widow. Husband died almost three years back now."

Either Sean is just that humble or hasn't spent enough time talking to people who really do want to hear what he has to say on the subject. No matter how long winded. Zoe won't push though, if he's trying to rein himself in. Maybe next time he won't be quite so restrained.

Next time? Getting ahead of yourself, aren't you Zo?

"Where to start?" Zoe laughs, a bit shyly now. She doesn't mind talking about other people but she's modest by nature and talking about herself has never set just right. Even if it has more to do with her work and her studies than her. "Well, take for instance the evidence that shows that the Celtic tribes were not limited to the British Isles but did push into central Europe. There's evidence that the true ethonogenesis of the Celts began in the regions of the Danube and the Rhine." Zoe brightens noticeably as she begins to talk, gesturing a bit with her free hand. She stops herself before she can go too far, though, and gives a shy laugh. "All right, something tells me that I should steer clear of shop talk, too."

~

Sean's head cants, his attention rapt as Zoe becomes more animated as she begins to talk about the studies that she's been following. His brows rise and fall, nods come in as he considers the information. "Are you finding that the language follows, or are they following the DNA? It seems to be a new area of study that is blowing all the dust out and opening windows to the light." Now that DNA is becoming more and more… precise than even a year ago.

He chuckles softly even as she begins to see exactly what was preventing him from going on… and on about the fields that fascinate her. "I don't mind, really… but… um… Do you follow football?" Who doesn't? "Seems kind of safe." Sean straightens and a lopsided grin appears, "Arsenal is doing rather well… and it's a favourite against Barcelona."

~

"Ah… " Paddy breathes softly, setting his mug on the table for a moment. "My condolences, then," he says sincerely. "I know that pain, m'self." It's not often his nature can be subdued like that… And rarely for long. So, he picks up his pint, lifts it and smiles genuinely. "To absent friends," he toasts. And he takes a sip. That's his nod to grief, and all he'll indulge.

His grin returns, however. Irishmen and their wakes, after all.

~

"To you as well, Paddy," Gwen intones. The she raises her drink in a toast. "To absent friends." Of course, Harry was only Liz's friend, but he was Gwen's little brother. He may have died a hero, but he was gone nonetheless. Liz toasts as well, and then mirrors Paddy's grin. "Enough with the maudlin, yeah? Whatd'ya say we wager up in a game of snooker?" Liz waggles a finger at the Irishman, "Had an eye on you playin' so I know what you're made of."

By now Zoe is convinced that given long enough, she will absolutely get lost in those eyes of Sean's. They say that the eyes are the mirrors to the soul, and she's beginning to believe it. To distract herself from staring too long and too hard, she turns up her pint. After drawing a draught, she laughs, "Follow football?" Zoe leans in conspiratorially, gnawing delicately at her lip before confessing, "I played." Another light, airy laugh and Zoe self-consciously tugs on her long pony tail. "Back in my youth, during school."

~

"Ahh… " The quirked smile still plays on Sean's face, and he brings a hand up to point in gesture, "Bet you're a Manchester United fan… all because of Beckham." Even if the footballer has left for the 'States.

He laughs outright at the confession, ducking his head as the whispers confirm, "You did, huh? Bring your team to inspired greatness?" Probably everyone has played the random pick-up game here and there, but school teams? Those were a little harder to get on as the schools are certainly competitive. "Go to the games much?"

Paddy is given a quick glance. He hasn't heard a raised voice, though out of the corner of his eye, he does catch the raised glass. From the looks of it, there's a toast… and then, back to his 'usual' self. Whatever it was was given a proper second of respect…

Glancing back, Sean brings his attention fully upon his table companion. "Paddy looks like he's getting on well with your friends. I hope, for your friends' sakes, that they don't challenge him to snooker. All bets are off at the tables."

~

"Do you now?" Paddy replies, a gleam in his crystal blue eyes. "Or do you just think you do?" He winks — he can't really stop himself. He also flashes a great big blarney grin at the two of them. "Well, alrighty then. I'm more'n happy to play. What shall we play for, then? Y'did mention a flutter, after all. A simple quid?"

He sets his mug down and pushes back from the table, glancing toward one of the play tables as he does. There's one open.

~

Liz can't help but grin back at Paddy. She suspects that she might lose this one, but it's something to do because there's no way that they're going to pull Zoe away from the professor yet. The woman is acutally laughing and flirting — Liz can see that much from here — and it's good for her, even if she never sees the bloke again. So, a quid lost? Moren' well worth it.

"Quid's good enough. Wouldn't want to see you lose more'n that to a wee lass," Liz laughs, setting her cup aside and standing. She may not be Irish, but she can be just as filled up with blarney. "You comin' Gwen?"

"You think I'm going to miss this spectacle? 'Course I'm coming."

Zoe shakes her head, still warm to the conversation and the company, or maybe it's the sprits? Likely as not it's all of the above, which suits her just as well. "Well, I won't deny it, but following Manchester United has nothing to do with Mr Beckham. Plenty more as good as he is." Skill wise, yes, but as visually stimulating? Zoe's not so sure, but she isn't going to say that aloud.

"I wouldn't say we ever went to greatness. More like we managed to not have to hide our faces beneath paper bags."The memory lightens and brightens her smile, and her eyes glitter in the lights of the bar. She's more comfortable and relaxed than she has been in a very long time; and she doesn't feel the least bit of guilt about it. "I get out to games when I get the chance. Nothing like watching the action live."

Zoe follows the doctor's gaze and nods. "Liz can make friends with anyone, most especially if there's a pint or two involved. Though, if it comes to it, I wouldn't be so quit to put my money on your friend. Liz can be a force to reckon with if her mind's on it. She sees all the angles and the maths. I never could do that. Probably explains why I'm never the one cleaning up at snooker." As she talks her body turns and her knee brushes lightly against Sean's. It's not an intentional flirtation, but nonetheless, Zoe doesn't draw back right away.

"What's your poison, Dr. Watson?" The formal name is said with a hint of playfulness and teasing, her mouth curled up in a broad grin. "Snooker? Darts? Sky diving?"

~

"Not hiding your face under a paper bag is a good thing. I wouldn't want to see that. Not when you've got such a nice smile."

Where did that/ come from? Sean looks briefly surprised at himself, though it's fleeting. Twisting around to see if Alex has suddenly appeared; it would be his luck to see that bright smile in laughter with something he'd just… blurted out. But no, thankfully it's unwitnessed by his friends, and he returns his attention back around. "Ah… " He's a touch 'out of practice', as it were, and it's actually becoming more evident to him that she could actually be flirting with him.

The picture is becoming a little clearer from orbit.

"Yeah… I don't play Paddy often, and I just manage to get away with pride and dignity intact. Usually… well, okay, sometimes. I'm actually a little better at darts. But that's only when the Dean's picture is plastered in the centre." And after a pint or two, which is his limit.

Sean laughs at the question about his particular 'poison', and looks a little… embarrassed. "No, no base jumping, nothing like that. Would you believe that I don't really get out to play much of anything? I'm usually either in the classroom or out on site. If I'm on a site, though, I usually find that a lot of running is involved." No, not from zombie armies! "Things are getting a little funny out in the field."

~

"Ahhhh, me darlin'," Paddy says, his Irish lilt strong and proud. "There's only one woman I've met that's beat me at the table — an' she's not here, tonight. But, I'll be tellin' ye, if'n your wee lass, over there, continues to get on quite so finely with our Seanny-boy, I've no doubt you'll meet her at some point. He'll have to bring the lass home to meet the family, as 'twere." He winks again.

Yes. It's one Alexandra Wainwright that holds that honour, in fact. The only woman to out-snooker the snooker champ.

Paddy saunters up to the table. "Right then. A quid it is." He racks the balls.

"Lady first?"

~

Liz has decided that she likes Paddy. Oh, she knows his sort, full of swaggar and blather, but a good heart underneath it all. Can't be married to a firefighter and not know the sort. She imagines that their menfolk would get along well with him, which probably is a good thing if Zoe gets lucky with the professor. Not like that naturally, because Zo just isn't that sort, but maybe, if things go well, the bloke will want to see her again. Looks that way from where Liz is standing anyway.

"Well, Paddy, then maybe I'll have to ask for a lesson or two for 'er. Just to keep some of my pride intact?" Liz laughs, and accepts the offer with a nod. "Certainly." With a last look back at Zoe, he cracks the balls, with the thought, This is for you, Zoe. Keep 'em talking.

The compliment takes Zoe by surprise and she ducks her head, heat flooding to her face. It only takes a beat though before she raises her head again and gives him a smile of gratitude. "Thank you. And you have beautiful eyes." It seems fair enough to say it now, especially given that she's having some trouble not gazing into them all night.

Her pint is empty again, she discovers as she raises it for a drink and she puts it down with an embarrassed giggle. Embarrassment is quickly banished, however, as is the thought of asking for another drink as she listens and processes what Sean is saying. She's able to pluck the clues and read between the lines, and then Zoe is practically bouncing in her seat. Her hand lightly grips his arm, her eyes even more animated, "Are you an archaeologist?"

She's never believed in serendipity, but she thinks she might just have to reconsider.

~

Sean is actually aware, after being told by a few friends over the years, that women would be attracted to his eyes. Bright blue, they are probably the most remarkable things about the man, in his opinion. Of course, his friends have also told him that he's also a 'little creepy', when they've seen him in 'action', as it were.

Still, he accepts the compliment with a self-conscious smile and bobs his head in a brief nod. "Thank you."

He catches the lifting of the empty glass, and has the grace to look slightly apologetic. He begins to twist around in his seat again to catch the glance of Bob, but he's interrupted by the next question, the dawning of realization. And there is the contact again, and his eyes flicker down to her hand; it's a conscious decision to lay his hand ever so briefly upon hers in the response, "Ah… yes… I am. Not very exciting, though, I grant you. Nothing like in the movies. Just a lot of dust, dirt, locals talking about this curse and that tragedy… "

~

And, if it playing the lovely Liz keeps Sean talking to the beautiful Zoe, Paddy is perfectly happy to 'sacrifice' a shot or two, to let the game linger on. "I'd be more than happy to give you a lesson or two," he says congenially enough to his new opponent. "And even to concede y'might just teach me a thing or two along the way." He winks saucily. "It's the way to stay on top, you know. Never stop learnin'; never stop practisin'."

He glances, then to the quiet Gwen and makes a show of producing his quid. "Tell y'what, lass. As an act of good faith, and show ye both what a good sport I am, I'll give you my quid to hold onto — just to ensure I don't try to wiggle out of it, should I be the less fortunate one at the table tonight, doncha know?"

~

Gwen accepts the quid with graciousness. "I promise I'll keep it safe. I'll even be fair and impartial, though I have seen Liz play." She doesn't say whether or not that is a good thing or a bad thing. Besides, it's all in good fun, and it's keeping them here. It's keeping Zoe here and that's the important thing. She promised Harry that she'd take care of Zoe if anything should ever happen to him, and that she'd make sure her sister-in-law didn't spend the rest of her life wearing widow's black. Gwen never thought that it was a promise she'd have to keep, but here she is. She's doing it for Harry… and for Zoe, because the woman is as much a sister to her as she is sister-in-law.

"Oi! What's that supposed to mean?" Liz demands. Gwen just grins.

The touch of his hand reassures Zoe that she hasn't been making a complete idiot of herself and that he may actually be interested in her. Her eyes dart there briefly before lighting on his again, and she can't help the chuckle that comes at his words. Of course, he's mistaken her excitement, and how could he not? As far as he knows, she's only a librarian with a leaning toward history.

"How's this for coincidence, then? One of my degrees is in archeology. I'm actually — finally — working toward my doctorate in the field." Zoe shifts a bit, angling her body more towards him. "I haven't been out in the field in a few years, not since starting at the library. But I have a colleague whom I've been known to accompany. Though… " There is a pause and a cant of her head, a hugely teasing grin dancing there, "I have to say that your sites must be more exciting than the ones I've been on. Hardly any running about at all."

~

"And, believe me, it's much better that way." Running is not the high point of any site. Not when 'they' are armed and he isn't quite so much.

With that disclaimer given, Sean backtracks to her pronouncement, a broader smile coming to his face that does make it to those blue eyes that she's been staring at this evening. "Oh? I guess in your Celtic studies? There's more than enough, I would imagine, that could keep your attention, if you ever wanted to take a step out of the library again." Still, the news of a colleague, after a fashion, is welcomed.

"If you ever wanted or needed it, I do have backroom priviledges to the Museum… " an open offer for another day, perhaps? "There's a lot there that hasn't even been catalogued."

Paddy flashes Gwen a huge grin, appreciating any woman that can give the lovely Liz a hard time and get away with it. As much as Liz has taken his measure, he's taken hers, as well. And he's met her sort before — tough as nails, heart of gold… did he mention tough as nails? That usually means: 'you cross me, you die.' And he's okay with that. He understands how to deal with that.

"Nicely done," he congratulates Liz as she breaks the balls and begins setting up her shots. Cue in hand, he moves away from her line of sight, so as not to give her too easy a marker to focus onto when she's measuring her angles.

~

"Really?" Zoe's eyes light up at the pronouncement and she hopes that she doesn't sound like a gushing schoolgirl. "I think that I will probably very likely take you up on that offer someday." Hopefully someday in the near future, if only as an excuse to see and speak with him again.

Zoe would certainly take care to see that her telephone number fell into his hand before leaving here tonight, and she's pleased that this particular Valentine's Day has turned out far better than she expected. With a smile, she props her chin on her hand, and asks, "Do you play darts? I promise not to beat you too shamefully."

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