My Dear Lady Disdain

Cast: date: '11th October, 2012'
place: 'The Fox and Firkin'
participants: 'Mattie, Jack'
synopsis: 'Jack''s attempts to commiserate with Mattie don''t work out so well, but do perhaps pave the way for a fresh start.'
log: "Walking through the cemetery is a necessary \"evil\" for those who come to work at the Watch headquarters. For most, it's simply a bit of a wilderness in the midst of the city. The bodies that lie within the ground are not given much mind by anyone living today — the last person was buried in 1966 and most of their family and friends have gone their own ways and are buried in other cemeteries in the city. \n\nIt's a strange sight, then, to see fresh flowers, three bouquets in autumn colors of orange and red, laid upon a trio of graves. A closer look makes it even curiouser, as the names on the grave stones are far too old to have living relatives coming to pay their respects: Nigel Kingley, 1830-1872; Marianne Kingsley, 1832-1872; Thomas Kingsley, 1856-1872. \n\nAt a glance, whoever left the flowers seems to have left, but hidden in the shadows from most people's eyes sits Mattie, arms wrapped around her legs, chin resting on her knees. Earbuds snake from an iPod at her waist into her ears, and her eyes are closed.\n\nStrolling to headquarters, Jack must have some business or other bringing him in. A late report to file maybe. Or a meeting. Unlike some, he doesn't spend much time socializing there. Hanging out in the break room for chats is generally not a part of his agenda. Get in, get out, go back to Jackland. Cars are so much easier to understand, when compared with people. Plus they don't get all histrionic when you call them cunts.\n\nAside from the school stuff, he seems to have been keeping to himself a lot. Which perhaps delights quite a number of people. Bundled up against the cold, and sunlight, he's wearing the hoodie-array with at least two hoods hanging down over his face; it's like some sort of modern, working-class take on the cowled monk look. The flowers do draw the attention, shifting path to stand in front of them with a mildly curious expression flickering across his features.\n\nThere's a rustle of leaves as Mattie instinctively pulls back deeper into the shadows when someone comes near. Crap. She could have just gone invisible and not made a noise. There's a long pause, waiting for him to speak, and when he doesn't, she sighs. Standing, her feet crunch the leaves and then she steps into the scant sunlight to move past him. \n\nShe doesn't speak at first, and her chin is held high, but the sunlight catches on the tears that shine on her lashes. \"Afternoon,\" she says. Nothing good about it, apparently.\n\n\"Don't let me stop you. I was jus' curious 'bout these flowers.\" Jack offers, by way of explanation. Seeing the red hair and moving as though ready to continue on; the mechanic appears to have learned how these things work. But then there's tears. Caught at the last minute. Had he only ducked his head down, it might've gone without notice. It puts him in the awkward position of being forced to ask what's wrong, and likely looking like an arsehole for some reason or other. Or moving on, and looking like an arsehole. Lose lose.\n\nBiting the bullet, he tries a small smile that could almost be considered sympathetic. \"You alright?\"\n\nShe could pretend not to hear; there are those earbuds in which are good for ignoring the rest of the world. But she shrugs one shoulder. \"Of course,\" is the easy answer she gives, belied a moment later when a traitorous tear slides down her cheek. She brushes it away with irritation, then slips into her transparent mode — with no real body to betray her, yet not quite as rude as going completely invisible. \n\n\"Don't worry, I'm not losing it or anything. It'll pass,\" the whispery voice hisses.\n\nThere's a faintly skeptical look at the first response, which does soften for a moment when the tear comes. Jack would perhaps even ignore the shift to the other form, allowing her to maintain her dignity, or whatever it is she wants to keep a hold of. The follow up response though, that erases anything that even resembles sympathy. Falling back into the blank expression he'd been wearing while assuming no one was watching, hands get stuffed into pockets which necessitates a slight hunching of the shoulders and incorporates something of a shrug in the process.\n\n\"I ain't worried, darlin'.\" he replies, flatly. \"Was just being friendly.\" There's an intake of breath, as though about to say something else but instead what comes out is a sigh and a tiny headshake, roll of the asks as if to ask himself why he bothers. \"Leave you to it then, shall I?\" That appears to be a rhetorical question, since he's turning away, head dipping down to cover his face in shadow.\n\nAnother sigh comes, in that hushed and ghostly tone, but a moment later there's the crunch of leaves under foot as she becomes solid again. \n\n\"Today's the anniversary of their death,\" comes in her normal, human voice, though it's a tumble of words and a bit loud for the quiet of the cemetery; a bird flies from a bush startled by the sudden proclamation. \"Not the Kingsleys,\" she says, with a wave of her hand to the trio of graves. Mother, father, son. \"My family's. But they're all buried back in LA. So this is… you know. Symbolic.\" One hand goes to her neck to hook on the silver chain she wears there. \n\n\"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude,\" she says at the last, and begins to move past him again, her head down and cheeks flushed.\n\nThat configuration of hoods makes Jack's expression difficult to read at this point. Conflicted, might be a good choice of word to describe it. Either way, it gives him pause, hesitating in his turn away. He sucks in a breath, bolstering perhaps to make another effort, for some unknown reason. A glutton for punishment, perhaps.\n\nAs she starts to move past, there's a shift and the lightest of hipchecks. It comes with a smile — albeit somewhat forced — \"S'alright. I'm used to it now.\" It's not the nicest thing, but hey. It's true. Those gold eyes turn toward the headquarters, considering for a second as he falls into step. \"You need a drink?\" he suggests. There's not much in the way of optimism in that tone, but the offer is made, at least.\n\nHis quip is met with a furrowed brow, and she looks downward — her expression not angry but contrite. A moment later she looks up to the building in the distance, and there's weariness in that gaze, like she has no desire to go near the place. \n\n\"Actually, yeah,\" she finally says. \"Probably a few. There's a lot of day left.\" Not just day, but this day. He probably understands. Most of the Touched have lost someone close.\n\nThere's a brief moment, an arm against her shoulders. It's not quite a hug, it's not overly familiar, it doesn't last longer than a second. Just a silent statement of comprehension, followed by a change in path again toward the exit and the dubious promise of the Fox and Firkin nearby.\n\nHe doesn't say anything else for a little while either as his arm returns to his side, the other hand moving out to bring a cigarette to his mouth; the twisting of his wrist is a subtle thing, trying to maneuver his hand so that the fingers - the only part exposed with the cut off woolen gloves - can try to burrow back into the sleeves away from the light. \"I'll even buy.\" he says finally, holding open the gate for her.\n\nHer feet change direction to let him lead her away from the headquarters and out of the cemetery altogether. At the quick squeeze, her shoulders rise and fall in both a defensive gesture and an acceptance of his sympathy. \n\nFinally, there's a smile, the first of the day, when he offers to pay. \"I promise not to cry in my beer,\" Mattie says, slipping through the gate and moving to the sidewalk beyond.\n\nThe defensive is perhaps expected, but Jack doesn't loiter there. Backing off when falling into step post-gate. He even musters up a little matching smile to that rare curve of the lips he's favoured with. \"Don't think it needs waterin' down any more than they already make it, be honest.\" he counters wryly.\n\nIt's not very far; perhaps the proprietors don't realize how lucky they are to be so close to a bunch of people who, on any given day, are likely to need a drink more than most. It's relatively quiet at the moment, but it seems like Jack comes here regularly, given the way the older bartender acknowledges him upon entry while polishing glasses with a rag in a cliche manner. \"Alright there, Jack.\" he greets, garnering the response of, \"Wotcha, Nige. Pint of Carling for me, and whatever the lady's havin'.\"\n\n\"Same for me,\" says the American, pulling off her cap as she moves to one of the corner tables — as always, one with a good view of the door. She picks up one of the cardboard coasters to twirl in her fingers while waiting for Jack to carry the beers over, green eyes darting around the pub — likely one she's been into but not one she frequents. \n\n\"So,\" she says, once Jack's joined her. \"Working on anything interesting today?\" It's a glaring attempt to change the subject from herself to him.\n\n\"Not really.\" Jack replies, settling down into a chair that's not quite adjacent, leaving her a view. There's some inoffensive music playing at a low volume and the happy beep and rattle of the slot machine in the corner. Sports on the telly, replying some matches from the Shanghai Open. It's not a fancy place, but it certainly does the job.\n\n\"Got a bunch of jobs backed up at the shop, but that's always the case. Most of my customers have been the same for a long time, an' they know how it works. So figure I can take an afternoon off to help you drown your sorrows, ain't it?\" He slides one of the beers over and leans back in the chair, thoughtful for a moment while pulling back his hoods, now they're out of the obnoxious rays of the sun. \"Never know, maybe by the end of the fifth round you'll hate me just a little less.\" he adds with a crooked grin.\n\nThe coaster is set down and Mattie's hands wrap instead around the pint of lager, taking a sip and setting it back down. \"I don't hate you,\" she says flatly, though some of the old irritation has returned to her tone. \"And wouldn't it be nice if you really could drown your sorrows? Mine don't ever stay drowned, but then I don't think most people's do. If you can solve a problem with a night at the bar, it probably wasn't really a problem.\" \n\nShe leans back in her seat as her booted feet come up to rest on the bench he sits on. She studies his expression with a thoughtful look of her own for a moment, before looking out the window at the street outside.\n\n\"Right. You don't hate me.\" Jack seems unconvinced on this, as he nurses his own pint. His tone isn't accusatory, but a little on the flat side. Clearly he's been considering this, or bothered by it. Or something. Still, it's probably not the time. Parents' death and all that, so he lifts up the glass again and takes a longer swig, following her gaze out the window.\n\n\"I reackon it's a case of keeping them under, on a long term basis.\" There's more beer. Trying to get a head start on this whole drowning lark. \"Probably a lot of people out there, like us, what never find our sort and end up living at the bottom of a bottle rather than face what's happened. Don't solve no problems, just replaces them.\" Sage Jack.\n\nWhile he lets it go, she doesn't, though she lets him wax philosophical for a moment before returning to the controversy. \"You're either flattering yourself or you have the world's worst self-esteem,\" Mattie tosses out, taking a swallow of beer, perhaps for courage. Watered down courage as it may be. \n\n\"I'm not the kind to make people cupcakes on their birthdays and go out for pizza after work, but that hardly adds up to hating someone. Do mine and your styles out in the field sometimes conflict? Sure. But you can't tell me that's not mutual.\" Her voice is low, her tone more defensive than angry.\n\n\"If you say so.\" Jack probably does have some terrible self-esteem, behind that jovial cockney facade; or better put would be that he just doesn't do people very well and rarely bothers to make an effort. So when actually trying to be friendly, there's more at stake. More beer is called for, already half way through the pint.\n\n\"See, you started off with this whole 'I'm not here to make friends' and then acted like I was some shit on your boot heel, slaggin' me off to anyone what would listen. What was it you told that Teresa bird? That I was the worst part of the Watch, or some shit. But then given how you act toward other people,\" He doesn't mention the D word here, but it's certainly implied in the look, \"An' tryin' to get all chummy with Teresa. Or even Miss African Queen and Lovejoy. You was right proper tame to them in comparison. So it seemed to me that 'not here to make friends' was just a line what you gave me as an excuse to act like a bitch to me. Sayin' how I was ideally suited to be bad cop, when I ain't never been nothin' but friendly to you. I made an effort even.\" He says that as though it's something that rarely, if ever, happens. Maybe that's why he's so disgruntled. Still, she asked. \"I ain't got no problem with your field work. Probably the best around here.\" Well. That about sums it up. More beer, turning to look out of the window again and recover his composure.\n\nAs he speaks, her brows furrow, first in confusion and then in some anger. \"I wasn't trying to be 'chummy' with Teresa. I was trying to get her to trust me, and since she had decided you were evil incarnate, I figured agreeing with her might make her listen to me a bit more. And I even told her you were right, if you recall. I don't want to be her best friend, and I wasn't throwing you under some bus. I was saying what she needed to hear to get her to trust me. I didn't realize you'd take it all personally like a middle school girl. Jesus.\" \n\nShe takes another swallow of her beer, though she's far behind him in the task. \"And if you recall, you called me a snob way before we met Huruma or Lovelace, so you're right, maybe I've been less friendly to you, but you know, just living up to expectations, I guess.\" \n\nA bill is pulled out of her back pocket despite his offer to pay, and she rises from the bench. \"Hatred's a strong word, and there's only a few things that are worth expending that much energy on.\"\n\nThere's no reply for a moment, not looking. Finally he glances back her way as she stands, not at all surprised it seems. It's flavour de jour, Mattie's MO; get to the point in the conversation where she's not happy and storm off in a huff. Jack's gotten used to it. \"Really?\" he asks, although what he's wanting clarification on is hard to tell and he doesn't go any further until there's been another swig. Progress. \"You've kept this stick up your arse the whole time because I called you a bloody snob as a tease?\" Apparently he's not asking if she's really leaving, then.\n\n\"Justify all you like I suppose. Whatever floats your boat, darlin'. Strong dislike then, if that fits.\" Jack may be almost out of beer, but he doesn't seem to be getting up to refill it yet.\n\nHer back turned to him as it is, he can see her pause, and then tip her head as if considering his words. Finally she turns around. \"If you were joking, you need to work on your delivery, pal, or you'll never make it as a stand up comedian.\" There's a glimmer of tears threatening in her eyes again, but it's held back by narrowed eyes, tensed jaw, straight shoulders. \n\n\"I'm not a people person, but I'm not a snob,\" Mattie says, hands finding her pockets as she turns away again. \"I don't think I'm better than anyone. Including you. So if you're going to call me anything, I guess I'd be a bitch.\" The words are flat, the anger faded. \n\nHer head dips, and she mutters, \"Sorry,\" before moving to the door.\n\nClearly Jack is the worst person in the world to commiserate with when it's the anniversary of your parents death. At this point, the only suitable encore might be to go and rip up the flowers and pee on the graves. He's obviously aware of this too. People skills fail. Even if she did ask. Despite feeling like he's the jilted party here, the girl about to cry does flip the table up and make it apparent that he's likely the arsehole that she' has declared him to be. Awkward.\n\n\"Listen.\" he calls, standing and just knocking back the last of the pint in record time as he steps after her. \"That was probably uncalled for,\" or not, in his mind, \"Specially today like, but you did ask.\" It even sounds lame when said aloud. When not invoking the cockney charm, he's clearly as awful with people as she is. Standing there a bit lamely, he's clearly feeling guilty. \"Sorry.\" Taking a breath, he seems to have no clue what to do here. Honesty isn't his forte. \"Can we just start over?\"\n\nShe stops again, head bowed; one hand moves across her face in a quick swipe before she turns around. She doesn't look at him, but back to the table they vacated. Considering. \n\n\"As in, hi, I'm Mattie Dahl, pleased to meet you?\" she says after an awkward enough pause. Her hand is offered to him to shake.\n\nJack waits, all patiently. He's no stranger to remorse, but not usually from dealing with people. It's all a new experience and it fits him poorly. Turning she'll find him still there, in the same position, having no idea how this is going to work out. Nor does he quite get why he's making the effort; maybe some kind of realization about how generally shitty life is as a Touched and having tried this one time, wanting to at least salvage the attempt.\n\n\"Jack Mitchell.\" Yeaah. That is awkward when said, painfully so, enough to push past the embarrassment and even almost smile, just a tug at one corner of the mouth. He shakes the offered hand, not leaving her hanging. \"Buy you a drink, darlin'?\"\n\n\"How about I buy you one?\" she counters, a small but real smile at his awkward play-along with the silly exchange. Mattie moves back to the seats they vacated. \"Let's talk like normal people, too. What do they talk about?\" She looks around the bar for inspiration, gaze alighting on a photograph of a local rugby team signed by one of the star players. \n\n\"Explain rugby to me.\" It seems like a safe topic of conversation, anyway.\n"
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