Bass Cafe - where everybody knows your name!

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.

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Alexandra Charlie Zoe Sean

Characters
Monday nights, the slowest night of the week. Doesn't help that the weather outside is overcast, the clouds threatening to drop..

The tables are sparsely populated, only a couple of people at the pool table; the dart board is neglected. Settled up on the bar are the few, true diehards; those who either work a different shift than most, or perhaps not at all. Other than those choices, only the remarkable is represented.

Bob is off early, and the tall, salt & pepper-haired Charlie is behind the bar. The saying of Henry Ford regarding choices of colour for the Model T goes for the proprietor's ability at mixing drinks, albeit paraphrased:
You can have anything you want, as long as it's beer.

Currently, he's got a bar towel in hand and is wiping down the end, clearing away damp-ringed napkins. "Bah.." Charlie wads it up in hand, trying to make sure the wet doesn't stick to his fingers, "You know.. no one ever uses these things anyway. I think I'm just not gonna order them when we run out."

—-

"Then, you need to get new coasters to replace the ones that keep walking," Alex says casually, as she pulls up a stool near the end of the bar. There's a beat. She smiles. "I'll 'bug' the new ones, for you, if you really want."

She turns from the bar, still seated on the stool, and casually looks out over the quiet tables and handful of regulars. Somehow, the pub is comfortable, for all that it's not bustling tonight. The fact, however, that neither Frank nor Paddy are here probably accounts for a lot of the quietness.

Zoe pauses outside the pub, questioning yet again what she's doing here. All right, you know exactly what you're doing here. She just still hasn't made up her mind whether or not it's a good idea. Well, she's mostly convinced that it's a terrible idea, because it has to make her look like some sort of half-mad half-desperate old maid, but Zoe couldn't help herself. The sole consolation is that she truly is here on a whim, that it was a spur of the moment decision as she was leaving work.

Of course it doesn't help that she's taken the time to loosen her hair from the confines of the business-professional pony tail, or that she actually stopped off and bought a tube of lipstick that she spent three minutes applying in the rearview mirror.

But the fact of the matter is that she is here, and maybe she might run into Sean again. And if she doesn't … worse case, she does, and he runs for the hills.

"Least you'll have your answer," Zoe mutters. She tugs the door open and steps inside, pausing a minute while her eyes adjust to the dim interior, before making her way to the bar.

"Yeah.. stick a tracker on it or something, that'd be great." There's the note of acknowledgment, given with a quick nod as he swipes a clean glass and puts it under the tap. With a flick of the wrist, Charlie pulls the knob and out comes the amber liquid. Finishing it up with a respectable level of foam, he walks it down, his expression deadpan when he serves it— "The private stuff.. served in a dirty glass. Just the way you like it."

Once it's on the counter and in front of her, he leans on his elbows in front of her, arms crossing on the countertop, his attention settling on the blonde before him. "You know, there are times when quiet is good. This quiet.. this is good. That quiet?" Charlie nods towards the door, just as it opens to the entrance of the newest patron. "Not so much. Nothing yet on.." Here, however, he lets his voice drop, and straightens up, watching the progress towards the bar. He offers a nod to Alex with, "Hold that thought."

Alex doesn't need Charlie to complete his sentence to know what he's thinking. And he's right. She smiles, however, as she accepts the beer he offers, barely getting out a brief, quite 'thanks', before he's drifting off to where the new patron settles. The blonde's gaze drifts down after him and settles on the woman. Her brows dip briefly in a faintly puzzled look as she tries to place the woman's face. Something familiar…

OH! Right. The librarian what fancied the archeologist. And mistook she and Sean for a couple. The grin that spreads across Alex's face in recollection is actually quite bright. Her blue eyes dance.

Casually, she picks up her beer and drifts half-way closer.

Zoe's eyes scan the room as she makes her way to the bar. She doesn't know whether to feel relieved or disappointed that Dr. Watson is nowhere in sight. On one hand, it saves her from feeling like a complete nub, but on the other it means that her spontaneously planned encounter — and yes, she recognizes the oxymoron there — has fallen flat on its face.

"In for a penny," Zoe muttters to herself under her breath. She climbs up on a barstool, and gives one last look around as the bar tender, a good looking bloke with hair going to gray, makes his way over. As she looks, her gaze nearly skips past the blonde woman, then stops as her brain tickles with recollection. Sean's colleague. Again, comes the feeling of being torn between relief and chagrin, because it really can go either way at this point.

Zoe gives the woman of a smile of recognition, but stops herself before raising her hand in a wave. Just because she remembers the woman doesn't mean the woman will remember her.

"Hello," the sound of the basso voice has an American sound to it, and the 'bartender' makes a stop in front of the new customer. "What's your poison?" Charlie allows for something of a long pause before he adds, "As long as it's beer, I'm good." In the next breath, he is pulling a clean glass and sets it near the taps; something of a hint, perhaps, that he can pull off the taps with the best of them. "The usual guy is out.. and I'm covering."

Catching Alex's movement up, and the smile that plasters across her face, Charlie's brows raise; this is one he doesn't know yet— and he's only got a second or two to try and remember if she's mentioned another woman lately..

Vampires, no.. mind readers, nope. Drawing a blank.

Alex's head cants, her smile still friendly, as she approaches the woman directly, now. It's the recognition in the other woman's eye that confirms it for her. "Miss… Wright, wasn't it?" Alex says, now, taking the risk on herself. "From the Library?" She glances to Charlie, and her eyes dance a little. She did tell him about the helpful librarian — the one that tried flirting with the oblivious Sean.

Those sorts of details, a woman remembers.

Zoe gives the not-really-bartender an easy smile, "Then, I think that I'll have beer then. Or, if you don't have that, beer is fine."

There's a moment of genuine surprise when the woman does remember her, but Zoe wonders if she should be surprised at all. Women are far more observant of these things, and Zoe isn't entirely unconvinced that she hadn't made a fool of herself at the library.

"Yes, that's me. Wasn't sure you'd remember. And it's Zoe. Zoe's fine." She stops herself before she says something stupid, like asking after Sean.

Ah, now see.. those sort of details Charlie makes it a habit not to remember. The last thing he really needs to get involved with is a friend's .. lack of relationship and skills in which to gain one. He couldn't even begin to imagine how awkward it would be to date someone who has the.. uncanny ability to make zombies. Sure, it's a great at Halloween; how many times has he asked Sean to make *real* chattering teeth, rather than relying on the plastic stuff at the Five & Dime (not that they have any good ones— plastic chattering teeth AND Five & Dimes..)? Each and every time, the answer was 'no'.

"Beer.. beer is good. I can make that."

Charlie's brows rise at Alex's nudge at a mental mind jog, and as he pulls at the lever to get the beer, with something more of a flourish— she is a customer, after all, he's given the brief opportunity to recall the conversation.

Oblivo-boy had struck again..

Grabbing a small bar napkin, with something of a glance towards Alex as he does so, he sets the pint glass on top of it and slides it the few inches. "There you go. All out of beer, but I managed to find some beer. Hope you don't mind.. it's been chilling for a little while." He does have his standards, after all.

"Alex, then," Alex says by way of return introduction to Zoe. "And this is Charlie, my fiancĂ©. Zoe's the librarian I was telling you about, Charlie." Graciously, she doesn't actually say 'the one that thought Sean and I were a couple… probably so she could find out if he was available'. Because, really, that would be crass. And unkind.

And, in any case, she already made that speculation to him — whether he recalls it or not.

So, instead, as clarification, she adds, "The one who was so helpful to us." She smiles to Zoe. "I really can't tell you how much we appreciated it. I'm fairly certain you saved us days of sifting through on our own."

Zoe accepts the beer with a polite, quiet "Thank you." She does have manners afterall. She turns to Alex and nods in acknowledgment to the woman's words. At the mention of the word fiance, Zoe's only thought is Lucky lady, because Charlie seems a decent bloke, as well as a good looking one.

"I was glad to help, really," Zoe informs Alex. "There's a lot of material to sift through and whatever I could do to make it easier for you and Sean, I was happy to do it."

This would be one of those moments where Zoe would smack herself on the forehead, or wish the floor would open up and swallow her, if she'd actually realized what she just said.

Fiance. Better than Guy I'm seeing or Guy who finally *actually* bought a ring. Affianced. Betroth'ed. (This is, after all, England. Must pronounce that 'ed'.)

"Ah.." Charlie nods slowly, dark eyes settling back on Zoe. "Gotcha." He offers a hint of a smile. "'Course, it means that I have to put up with him more here, so if you could just.. lose something in there, and.."

If it weren't so important that Sean actually finds the information he's looking for, Charlie would be more than happy to lose his friend in the library, to be aided by a friendly, not to mention rather attractive, librarian. She even has the hair she can put into a bun! All she needs is the nerd glasses…

And, Alex is a quick one. Comes with the territory, really. Her head cants slightly at Zoe's casual use of Sean's first name. She'd expected her to say 'Dr. Watson', if she made direct reference to him at all. The witch wonders for just a moment if Zoe has been thinking about Sean enough to make the transition in her mind from the formal to the casual, or whether the librarian and the archeologist simply seen enough of each other — in the library, of course — to have progressed to a first name basis. Much as Alex likes Sean, she knows that's not something he'd mention. So, she stays 'mum' on that speculation for the moment.

"I expect Sean will be sorry he missed you," she says casually, instead. "I'm sure he'd buy you a drink. In thanks, of course. Were he here." She chuckles ruefully, now. "'Course, I'd be happy to, instead."

"You don't really want to lose him, do you?" Zoe asks, brows rising. She's used to good-natured ribbing; she does it with her mates. Zoe doesn't know Charlie, however, but she suspects that it's a joke on his part, because the reverse is also true in that he doesn't know her either.

I'm not so sure about that, Zoe thinks in response to Alex's words, but doesn't say the words aloud. After all, seeds of doubt are the reason that she's here this evening. She never specifically told Sean to call her by any specific date or time, Zoe just rather foolishly assumed he might get the hint. It's possible that he simply didn't.

"Thank you, that'd be lovely," Zoe agrees, and squashes the urge to inquire after Sean's whereabouts. Nothing like coming off as a crazy-desperate-stalker to the bloke's mates.

"Lose him? Nah.." Charlie adds a brief headshake to punctuate his response. "Give him a quarter and send him off to the movies? Absolutely." Deadpanned. There isn't really a hint as to whether or not he actually means what he says or is putting her on.

Taking a step back, the proprietor turned bartender for the evening takes the hint from Alex; the 'buying a drink', that is. Time to get ready to pull the handle again.. after she's done with the one in front of her.

"I'm sure he will be." The American vowels are long with the statement. "Kicking himself that he's not here." A quick reach is given to his cell, pulling it quickly from his pocket— "I can call him—?"

Let's face it: Sean quite naturally gets lost in a library… with or without anyone to help him along the way. Indeed, how many places have they gone where the rule of thumb has been 'if you don't check in within the hour, we're going to break down the library doors looking for you'?

Quite a few.

As it is, Alex contents herself with Zoe's acquiescence and settles down on a stool beside the woman, placing her glass down on a lonely coaster there. "So, what brings you here, then? Just passing by?" It's not like the librarian's a regular, after all. Both Alex and Charlie would recognize her, if she were. Her head cants slightly and a bit of a smile touches her lips. Perhaps Sean told her about the place.

Charlie's deadpan leaves Zoe hanging. She really isn't sure how to take his words, and there are no helpful entities lurking about to give her a hint. Zoe never thought she would find herself in a situation where she missed Mariah's hovering presence and (often unwelcome) running commentary and insight, but there it is.

"No, really, wouldn't want to trouble him," Zoe immediately pipes up, though naturally she's thinking the exact opposite. Of course, she can't go and say that. Which brings her full circle back to wondering why she ever thought that coming back here was such a good idea. Had it been this hard back before Harry?

Alex's question leads directly to the moment of truth and Zoe takes a few swallows from her glass. "I was here on Valentine's Day, with my mates. We had a good time and liked the place, so here I am again." Zoe gives a half-shy shrug, and wonders if they'll see the equation adding up.

As far as Charlie is concerned, it doesn't even begin to dawn on him that Sean, of all people, would spend Valentine's Day out and among real, living people rather than holing himself up in, say.. a library, or his office and working over his notes (with or without the aid of his cool chattering teeth).

"Oh, I never mind 'troubling' him." The verbal airquotes are obvious. "I live for it, actually."

Turning his back on the two women as they settle in for a 'girls chat', or at least that's what he believes it's shaping up to be, he hits a button on the cell and puts it to his ear, taking a step, then another, away from them.

Alex, on the other had, cants her head curiously, her smile light. "Valentine's Day? Well, then… Welcome back. Must've been a successful evening for you." Even if, by successful, all that means is the other woman had a good time. That's a success in Alex's books.

She glances to Charlie as he retreats and lets out a soft chuckle. She doesn't know if Charlie's actually calling Sean or not — he may be. But, then again, he may be talking to any number of others, too.

Successful? Zoe thinks the jury is still out on that one. Liz lost at snooker against the engaging Irishman, but evidently felt this place would be a great new haunt and that the boys — meaning Liz and Gwen's husbands — would like it. Seeing Sean again had been a pleasant fluke but now …

"We had a good time, all of us," Zoe admits, freely. She wants to mention that she spent the evening talking to Sean, but changes her mind before the words pass her lips. There's a chance that he didn't mention her, because she wasn't a blip on the radar, or — benefit of the doubt — he's a bloke and doesn't confide that sort of thing to his friends.

"Well," Zoe adds after a beat and taking another drink, "My mate, Liz, groused a bit about losing at snooker, but she wasn't really serious."

It's absolutely no reflection on the lovely Zoe that Charlie is unaware of some of Sean's movements. It simply doesn't occur to him to ask, and it certainly doesn't occur to Sean to let the older man in on his personal comings and goings, as it were. Now, there is the possibility that Alex heard about it. She knows darn near everything, and she could possibly know what was occuring here when they were ensconced on his houseboat watching movies.

His back is still turned, and after a few seconds, the one-sided conversation can be heard (or at least he's not lowering his voice appreciably).

"Hey, Sean.. buddy. Where are you?" There is the momentary silence of the response, and twisting around, he checks on the ladies before, "Ah.. well stop being so responsible and c'mon down."…

Charlie's voice carries and Alex smiles at it. But, aside from dancing blue eyes, she largely ignores him. Knowing Sean, he'll come up with some excuse not to make it. And he's probably a good 30 minutes away, in any case.

"Losing at snooker? Who was she playing?" A dry chuckle. "Don't tell me she got taken in by our local table shark? He's a good bloke, you know — Paddy Mahon. But, there's not too many that's beat him, I know."

For not the first time in her life, Zoe wishes that she'd been born with magical powers instead of the ability to see and talk to ghosts. With different abilities, she might be able to will the floor to swallow her, or at least make herself invisible as she hears bits and snatches of Charlie's words. As it is, she barely manages to not shift too much in her seat and keep up her end of the conversation with Alex.

"Yes, actually, that was his name," Zoe laughs. "I think the only thing she lost on that game was beer. Ah, and a bit of her pride. I was smart enough to stick to darts."

"Well, if you don't, we're going to break out the baby pictures.."

Charlie nods his head, half an eye given to the pair and half his attention on the phone call and the rest of the bar.

"Right.. there's no traffic.. okay, after 11 tonight. Shall I ask her if she's willing to wait?"

The man has no shame.

Nodding to the words coming from the other side, a slight quirk of the sides of his mouth give away the distinct pleasure he's taking in picking on his friend. Oh, he'll apologize to the lovely Zoe later, or have Alex do it for him— she explains things so much better than he does, but Sean? This is days of fodder if not months…

Half an ear still on Charlie's theatrical conversation — he'd have it no other way — Alex actually coughs a laugh, glancing away and covering her lips with the back of her hand. "Pardon me," she apologizes, taking a swallow of beer to soothe the cough.

Grin lopsided on her face, now, she returns her attention to Zoe. "Darts, eh? Do yourself a favour: Don't challenge Paddy to that, either. Man's a former Olympic marksman." She glances again to Charlie and back to Zoe.

"Still, I don't imagine the loss was so great, if you're willing to come back."

Zoe can feel her face darkening several shades as it burns with embarrassment. It's near impossible to not hear Charlie's conversation. Her gut tells her that he's only taking the piss out of his friend, but her ulterior motives jump to the forefront of her mind and it's hard not to be embarrassed.

She tries to calm herself with a few swallows from her glass, and makes an effort to ignore the man on the telephone behind the bar. "Thanks for the warning, that. I didn't play against Paddy, and now I know to avoid it in the future." If there would be a future, if she didn't flee in utter humiliation.

"This is a nice place," Zoe is happy to try and focus on anything else, "Quiet, not too crowded, but it has character. I like it." Not that she thinks the pub needs validation from her, but it's worth mentioning. There's a quiet beat, and she can't resist anymore. Zoe simply has to ask, and put her mind to ease, particularly given Charlie's one-sided conversation.

Does Sean not come 'round very often?"

Yeah, that doesn't sound subtle and non-interested at all.

Charlie hasn't yet dropped the bomb yet on Sean; the one thing he knows that will get the man here, even if he has to walk the entire way. What he refers to as the 'A bomb'.

"Well, okay.. Alex is here and the girls are having a chat."

He waits for a long moment.. and flips his phone shut. He has something of a theatric scowl on his face; an expression that doesn't reach anywhere near his eyes, as he shrugs and stuffs the phone back into his front pocket.

"He hung up." Actually, it's exactly what he figured would happen.

Wandering back, Charlie misses the blush, but does catch the question, and offers an answer, "He's usually in his office. Dusty books and artefacts.. you know, that whole 'rather be hanging out with dead guys than the living..'."

No, Zoe's not interested in Sean. Not at all. Uh-huh. Right.

Alex gives a soft, sympathetic chuckle. "You'll have to forgive Charlie," she murmurs as the man makes his way back over. "Sean's his best mate. He'll be best man at the wedding, can we pry him from his research." Not that she's any clue just when the wedding will be, yet. Ten years into their relationship… somehow there's just no rush.

She glances to Charlie, however, as he makes his complaint that the other man hung up on him. "Of course, he hung up. He always does. Is he coming or not?"

Or will he simply bitch to his talking skull, later, that 'newly engaged couples are always so obnoxious to their single friends'?

Alex glances to Zoe and gives an empathetic smile. "When Sean's not at the office — which, alright, is rare — he actually will come here. More frequently than Charlie would give you to believe. Wasn't a bad gamble, wandering here, if he's what you're looking for. He's a good bloke, Sean is. Just a bit slow on the uptake and a little shy. You know how it is, eh?"

Forget all about having 'The Gift,' as her grandmother calls it. The gift that Zoe really needs right about now is the ability to turn invisible. Oh, and to erase herself from other people's memories. Yes, that one would be quite perfect. Not only has she painted a giant neon arrow over head that simply screams, 'Desperate,' but she's done it in front of Sean's good friends. Next time he sees me, he'll likely run the other way.

Her smile is a bit tremelous, and it's hard to resist not simply throwing money on the bar and running out into the night. "I'm that transparent, am I?" No use arguing against it, she's been found out right good. Best she can hope for is to escape with her dignity intact. Mostly intact.

Charlie has the good graces to look theatrically surprised in the 'confession'. Not that he's the least bit surprised, mind. After all, he's just finished picking on his friend, and haranguing him until he was hung up on.

He looks to Alex and offers a light, seemingly offhand shrug. "He didn't say. He hung up on me." The words are almost deadpanned, but the intent is clear; they'll be seeing their friend— if it takes 30 minutes with traffic? He'll be there in 15.

"Bah.. don't worry." If that's meant to help her feelings or help her dig her hole so Zoe can hide in it..? "It'll be good to see him getting out of the dusty office." Charlie leans on the bar, his voice canting a little lower, his tones sounding as if he's offering sage advice; "Though, if he starts talking about mummies and zombies, just.. smile and nod. It'll pass."

"You never know," Alex chides Charlie with a grin. "She might like that sort of thing." In which case, they're a match made in… um… the library? Right.

Moving on.

Alex gives a small, sympathetic chuckle at Zoe's discomfiture. "It was obvious in the library — except to Sean. Like I said: He's a little oblivious." However, interpreting Charlie's brush-off, she adds, "Basides, if you run off, now, you'll end up missing him, and you'll have gone through all this for nothing."

Zoe upgrades the neon sign in her head to have rows of running lights and blaring sirens. Clearly, subtlety is not her strong suit, and she briefly wonders why she thought 'getting back out there,' was a good idea. She has her work and her books, and let's not forget her visitors. What more does a woman need?

No, she's not even buying it herself, but it sounds awfully practical and convincing in a more … theoretical point of view.

Zoe shifts on the bar stool, feeling suddenly under the microscope and wonders where a good ghost is when she needs one?

"I'm not very good at this," Zoe begins, trying to explain away her actions, "I mean, I don't do this sort of thing very often. Ever. At all. I'm not some random nutter or a stalker …" Stop talking. Just stop talking. Zoe stops herself with several long swallows of her drink, and then changes the subject. It's not at all subtle, but she really needs a redirection. "Do you work with Sean, then, Alex? At the university?" It's the best she can do.

Grabbing a couple of clean glasses, Charlie pulls on the levers to give the girls refills on their glasses. Mind, they're not filled, per se. Just a touch more than a half a glass each. He nods at Alex's words, and gives something of an offhand shrug again; who knows? Though to look at Zoe, she's quite attractive. Probably isn't hard, or shouldn't be hard—

"Bah.. don't sell yourself short. It's pretty obvious you don't." Knowing full well that Alex is probably going to at least grace him with a look, he goes quiet after that compliment. Or is it meant to reassure the other woman? Or—

As far as Charlie is concerned, he allows Alex to answer the question. Sean isn't really known for frequenting bars, and the older man isn't known for frequenting either universities or libraries. It's certainly an odd match-up, as far as friends go..

Graciously, Alex allows the redirect. Though she does so with a light grin. "At the university, yeah," the doctor replies. "Though we're not exactly in the same field of work. Sometimes, when I'm trying to trace the historical precedent of a pathogen, it overlaps."

Did she mention she was a medical doctor, yet?

Alex does glance to Charlie, however, her brows wrinkled in that did-you-really-have-to-say-it-quite-like-that way she gets with him. After all, what he said could be construed as a backhanded compliment.

"Pathogen?" Zoe echoes. She's a librarian for a reason, and her knowledge tells her that pathogens don't usually mix with archeaology. "Your field is medicine, then? Infectious medicine?" It's easy to try and make a logical connection with the words.

Whatever else Zoe might say dies on her lips as the familiar tingle washes over her, the hairs on her arm standing on end and an almost static charge crinkling across her body. It's hard to resist it, but somehow Zoe stops from casting her eyes around the room, covering her pause with another drink from her glass. "Do you have to do that often? Trace historical precedents?"

And there's the look.

Charlie pretends to not notice it, and gives Alex a perfectly innocent look in response.

Settling in to listen to the gossip of the girl talk, he looks a little disappointed as it begins to get a little more intellectual. Exhaling in that I'm just going to pretend I'm following the conversation sound, he finally pulls up a chair. His paperwork is down at the other end of the bar, and for a moment, seriously considers if doing that is better than listening to pathogen.. etic.. conversations.

"Medicine, yes. Infectious diseases, not per se," Alex clarifies, suppressing a bit of a chuckle and a lopsided smile as Charlie gives that put-upon here-we-go sigh. "But, there are times when infectious disease can lead to interesting… mutations, shall we say. And part of my field of study is teratology — the study of mutation." That's her standard layman's definition. Broad, so terribly inaccurate to one immersed in the field, but good enough for the average passerby.

She notes Zoe's pause, but doesn't think much of it. As far as she knows, the woman's merely trying to collect herself after feeling quite so harassed about Sean.

"Something more akin to genetics and genetic diversity, then? How mutations sometimes become beneficial … or harmful to us?" Zoe asks and then smiles apologetically. "Sorry, I read. A lot, actually. I don't always understand everything I read, but I like to try as much as I can."

Zoe has a basic layman's understanding of it all; it's actually one of those specialty courses taught at Alexander College in order to help the students understand their own particular brand of genetic diversity from the populace. Zoe never really felt a total part of that, but that's neither here nor there right now. Right now, it's about ignoring the presence lurking so near to her, and not making herself look like she's right barmy.

"The fire hurt. It really hurt," the disembodied voice carries into Zoe's ears and it's all she can do to keep sitting on the barstool, clutching her glass. She doesn't think he'll go away if she ignores him, they never do, but it's the best she can do until she can excuse herself.

It's a somewhat harried Sean that opens the front door to the bar, and the annoyed expression that is meant just for Charlie falls into something more.. curious. Quizzical. Not to mention, concerned. His friends are talking to an attractive librarian, and..

Okay, Charlie was telling the truth— this time.

Taking a step into the bar, Sean twists around to be sure the door closes behind him before he enters more fully.

"Good evening.." So far, so good. He doesn't sound too annoyed.

"Charlie.. Alex.." Blue eyes fall upon the women in obvious conversation, and with Charlie hanging back, it's a better than even guess that they're discussing something that the older man isn't interested in.

"Ms. Wright." The greeting doesn't sound stilted, but more.. polite. He finishes his approach and settles near the women, giving Charlie a couple of questioning glances. What did the man do to ruin his chances at perhaps asking the librarian to coffee? Okay, not tonight, but he's thinking about it!

As far as the conversation is concerned, Charlie looks as if he has absolutely no idea what the ladies are talking about. He nods, however, as part of the explanation given by Alex comes up with a couple of words that he does look passingly familiar with. "The really cool mutations, though? Only in movies." Disappointing, that.

"Oh, hey Sean.." The greeting is bright when the 'man of the hour' arrives. "How was traffic?"

Alex's smile widens a little as it seems Zoe has some passing familiarity with what she's talking about. "Yes. Something more like that," she concedes. She's about to launch into a more technical explanation when the door opens and Sean steps it. At that point, her brightening smile turns into an outright grin. (The type that says to Sean: 'You are so busted.')

"Sean," she greets him, twisting on her stool towards him. "I was just getting better acquainted with Zoe, here. Thought she deserved a drink for the help she gave us in the lab, yeah?" And, yes. She's using the woman's first name. The whole Ms Wright thing? Needless dissembling, as far as she's concerned.

Sean's arrival is either fortuitous or the worse timing ever. Right now, Zoe can't really decide. She's trying her best to ignore the ghost hovering just at her other shoulder, and she's finally relaxing into conversation with Alex. It really doesn't help that she can practically feel her mouth twitching into a smile — What am I? Twelve? — and that she knows she's going to be a bit tipsy if she keeps using the beer as a crutch to hide her discomfort and embarrassment.

However, it's the polite greeting that she's given that dash Zoe's hopes against the ground. Somehow, Zoe manages a polite smile and greeting of her own, "Good evening, Dr. Watson."

Suddenly, talking to a miserable ghost is sounding better and better.

Oh, Sean knows that look from Alex; the grin is unmistakable. There's just something about it, and he knows darn well that Charlie is involved somehow as well- other than the phone call, that is.

"Traffic was a mess," his tones are a touch on the distracted side as he looks at Zoe, and her smile.

And then, it's gone.

Gone?

Blue eyes look around the room, his expression briefly puzzled before he slowly brings his attention back around. "Ah.. absolutely she does, yes."

Nothing like starting out awkwardly. Again. Even after they'd spent the evening drinking and laughing right here on Valentine's Day.

"Sure."

Taking a deep breath, there really isn't much for Sean to do, now that the 'cat's out of the bag', as it were. "I hope Charlie, here, isn't being too much of a jerk, Zoe." And it's back to first name. "He really has a way."

"Oh, now.." Charlie begins in self-defense. "I'm not that bad." His tight smile holds a genuineness there, reaching, for the moment, all the way up to dark eyes. "Right?" He has to look to his fiancee for the answer?

Still, he straightens up, his part in it all pretty much done. Thumbing back to the end of the bar, he offers, "I'll just.. wander that way again. Paperwork.. statements.. that sort of thing. Never stops."

Zoe's confused. First the polite greeting, and now he's back to using her first name. Maybe he is just as oblivious as Alex implied that he is and maybe — her line of thought is interrupted by the ghostly voice, which is getting more insistent and louder the longer she ignores it. Zoe shifts on the stool, wanting to turn away from the spectre, but knowing that it will mean turning her back partially to Alex and Sean. Also, it won't help. At all.

"Actually, Charlie's been rather pleasant and polite." It's not a lie. He has a off, dry sense of humor, but he hasn't been rude, at least not to her. As far his comments about Sean … well, Zoe's not touching that one.

"It's … um … good to see you again, Sean." There, she's gone and said it, and she can feel her face flaming, but it's not like the situation can get any more confusing. If the good doctor is the clueless, Zoe will make a fool of herself just to get an answer one way or another. Before I start acting like a right nutter because of some bleeding ghost!

"I love you anyway, dear," Alex replies to Charlie, her blue eyes dancing. Fat lot of help, she is.

She reaches out, however, to catch his hand. "Now, don't go too far," she says, smiling to him. "You don't really want to abandon Sean to both of us, now, do you?" Or will he force her to retreat with him, instead. Because, hanged if she's going to play third-wheel here. She caught how Zoe's face fell at Sean's more formal greeting. And, indeed, with how awkward the archaeologist is being, she picks up her glass and makes to rise from her stool to join her fiancé.

Charlie allows his hand to be caught, and tugs gently. "Wouldn't even consider it." Abandoning Sean to the wolves.. er.. to the doubling of estrogen isn't high on his list of things to do. Granted, Alex can be gentle when she wants to be, but there are times when even Sean tries her patience.

"I need another set of eyes, anyway, on the papers. As much as they tell you England speaks the same language, there's a lot in those forms that make absolutely no sense at all."

See, with Alex's move, Charlie is pretty sure that Sean will actually get his head out of—

Sure.

"Pleasant and polite." Sean doesn't sound like he believes it; not by a long shot. Still, he'll give the benefit of the doubt, and he nods, his smile becoming a touch less self-conscious as Charlie moves away. No, not obvious in the least, guys. Thanks.

"Good to see you too. Sorry I haven't been by, but a lot of that information you gave me? Really gave me some good leads, and I was able to follow—" Sean begins the explanation, which is actually more of a description of his work, but in the middle of it, he falters slightly. Even he can hear it ringing as an 'excuse', and that's not good.

"You're looking good. I'm glad you came out."

There's a distraction, however, and Sean can feel it, even if he can't see it. It's got his attention, though just on the periphery. It's.. ah.. just a ghost.. and not one that wants to be noticed by him, apparently. And, at the moment, the necromancer is more than happy to keep it that way.

There is a moment of fleeting panic as Alex and Charlie take their leave, and Zoe wonders if they could have been any more obvious. Of course, the thought is banished as she senses a subtle change in the archeaologist, maybe he's a bit more open? Or it could all be her imagination…

"No, it's not a problem. I understand, really, how work can be," Zoe bobs her head in acceptance, though the compliment takes her completely off-guard. The smile that lights upon her face touches right into her brown eyes, and she ducks her head modestly. "Thank you. I'm glad you came down tonight."

Of course, that's the moment that the spectre moves closer and Zoe jumps a bit at the all encompassing chill that accompanies it. She smiles apologetically to Sean, used to these sorts of intrusions and wraps her arms around herself, rubbing her upper arms. "Sorry, caught a bit of a chill."

"It's coming for all of us. The fire is going to burn us all. I couldn't stop it…" Blocking out the spectral voice is just not possible, and for not the first time, Zoe is wishing that she was one of those few who couldn't handle this gift and got to turn it off with drugs. Because at times, like now, it's pretty blood inconvenient.

Alex allows herself to be pulled along with Charlie. Indeed, it's a terribly convenient excuse, but she doesn't mind giving the pair some space. It's always worse when there are people hanging over you, watching you take those first few friendship steps. "Some days, I really think you ought to let Allan take care of the paperwork," she chuckles. But, beer in hand, she withdraws to the far end of the bar to join him as he settles back to go over it once more.

Sure, the pair of them will keep their eyes on Sean and Zoe, but there's not likely good cause to interfere any further tonight.

Sean catches the tell-tale chill in the air of a ghost. He'd be a really bad necromancer if he couldn't at least feel the presence, even if he can't speak to them, or rather, they don't necessarily want to reach out and talk to him. (Not that he could understand them unless he had his handy-dandy skull available.. and a good measure of time for the proper rituals.

He watches as Alex and Charlie make a tactical retreat back to the other side of the bar and he exhales in a sigh. Leaning over, he looks towards the door in gesture, his brows rising, "How about a cup of coffee?" Her reaction to the chill brings his attention back around to where it should be, and sluffing off his jacket, offers to put it around Zoe. If she's reacting to the spirit, a jacket won't help. But it can't hurt.

"Maybe that'll warm you up a little?"

"A cup of coffe would be wonderful," Zoe agrees readily. Maybe she's a little too enthusiastic and gushing in acceptance, but there's not a thought that she would say no to the offer.

Zoe smiles at the offer of the jacket, even though she knows it won't help at all. She has to get rid of the ghost, or at least schedule him for later, but the offer is so chivalrous that she can't really deny him. "That'd be brilliant."

The ghost might follow her, or it might not. But Zoe can ignore it for a while longer, if it means getting the cup of coffee.


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