To Be or Not to Be

Cast: date: '10 November 2012'
place: 'West End '
participants: 'Hilary, Jack, Mattie'
synopsis: 'A chance meeting with Hilary doesn''t go any better than the planned one for Mattie and Jack. '
log: "\nThis little pub is far enough away from those filled with the pre-theatre crowd that it's not particularly busy on a Saturday evening. A man in his fifties tends the bar with the \"slow-and-steady-wins-the-race\" sort of demeanor, and it's hard to imagine this place busy enough to make that a problem. It's a sedate sort of place, with somber sort of people who seem to be taking their drink very seriously. It is not a bar where everyone knows your name. \n\nMattie and Jack look a bit out of place as they take their place at the bar. The bartender gives them a strange look as he finishes pouring a black and tan for a man down at the other end of the bar, and he takes his sweet time coming to them. Mattie's situating herself where she can see the door, leaning against the wall tiredly. A bruise seems to be forming along her jaw; her knuckles are scratched as if she'd slashed them against a brick wall.\n\nHilary finishes his cigarette in the doorway, flicking it behind him as he walks in. He's not an observant enough type to notice Mattie and Jack right away, so he obliviously heads straight for the bar. Since it's dim in the pub, people might not notice him leaving a couple of small black smudges on the floor in his wake. They aren't quite full footprints, but they do mark a couple of points where he trod.\n\nThe joke goes over the American's head. \"Strongbow, please,\" she tells the bartender who goes about pouring the drinks methodically. Mattie notices Hilary but not the faint trail of sludge; one of her Doc Martens knocks against the leg of Jack's stool and she gives a very slight jut of her chin in that direction, though she turns back to the bartender and her drink. \"Cheers,\" she says to the man who dips his head to her. \n\n\"You're welcome,\" he says, a strong German accent on the words before heading down to Hilary to take his order. \"What can I get for you?\" he asks, one hand mopping up a ring left from someone else's wet drink.\n\n\"Gin and tonic,\" Hilary requests from the bartender when he gets down his way. He pulls a billfold from his pocket and takes out enough money to pay.\n\n\"Well, well.\" Jack, not as subtle as Mattie and giving Hilary a look that's not at all furtive. \"Wotcha, Shakespeare.\" he offers in greeting, lifting his pint just slightly from the bar in the vaguest of toasts before taking a sip. He's got his jovial face on, as though their last meeting wasn't in the least bit unpleasant. All smiles and cockney charm.\n\n\"Anyone who knows both of us knows I don't walk into doors, but through them,\" Mattie says with a smirk now that she's got her drink, but she turns to give Hilary a nod. \n\nShe pulls a bill out to slide over closer to Hilary. \"His drink's on me,\" she tells the bartender. \"Consider it an apology for last meeting, okay?\" she says. \n\nThe bartender takes the money and then moves to make the drink, watching the trio a bit curiously.\n\nHilary turns his head when he gathers he is being addressed, and his face falls somewhat at what he sees. \"Dear God,\" he murmurs. \"/You/ people. I /knew/ the girl in the bookstore must be one of you.\" He puts away his money without protest, but he doesn't necessarily look convinced. \"An apology,\" he repeats skeptically.\nre must be one of you.\" He puts away his money without protest, but he doesn't necessarily look convinced. \"An apology,\" he repeats skeptically.\n\nIt's dangerous for Mattie to apologize when Jack's around. His base instinct is to ruin everything and he tries hard to keep his mouth shut. That doesn't work quite so well, so he pours in larger to keep the silence while watching the bartender.\n\nWillpower fail. \"Come on now, we've already made it clear that I ain't no reader. Knowing people what work in bookshops sounds right dangerous to me.\" Bookshop, the way he says it, could just as well be 'sewage treatment plant'.\n\nMattie shrugs, reaching for her own drink for a full swallow. \"I don't know who you saw in a bookshop, so I can neither confirm nor deny. I'm sorry if we came off heavy handed before, and I mean it. That's all.\"\n\n\"She didn't work there, she was just being insane in there,\" Hilary corrects. \"I imagine you have more than one mad friend.\" He looks back Mattie's way. \"You did,\" he says. \"And I still don't know who you people even /are/.\"\n\nMaybe Jack is learning, or perhaps he's motivated by not wanting to get The Look from Mattie. Clearly this keeping schtum business is grating on the nerves, given how he goes at the pint as though it's the last drink of a dying man in a race to the finish line. He does pull out a smirk again however, while dabbing at the corner of his mouth with a thumb, giving Mattie a look of his own, \"See. He thinks I have friends.\" It's as though he's been complimented, and finds it amusing.\n\nJack's words get a smirk from Mattie. The bartender watches the three, and Mattie coughs. Ahem. 'Let's not talk too much about weird creepy things in front of normal people,' the cough apparently says, to both of the men she's speaking with. The bartender catches her look and he moves away to the other side of the bar to clean some glasses. \n\n\"So every mad cow in this place has to be someone we know? If they were acting crazy, it's likely it wasn't one of our people, because we try to help with that. Maybe it's someone we can help. Did you get a name or anything?\" she asks.\n\n\"No,\" Hilary answers flatly. \"And if I knew her name, I wouldn't tell you. What makes you think you're supposed to 'help' every girl who goes mental in a bookstore? You're damned shady people.\"\n\n\"We have psych evals and everything.\" Jack remarks, this being something of a joke in itself. \"Ain't we all though, mate?\" Damn shady that is. Clearly he doesn't take any offense at this. The pint is already finished in record time and he signals to the bartender when able that he'd mightily appreciate a refill.\n\n\"It's like a self help group, in't it? 'Cept we help regular folk, without them knowin' about it. Everyone wins; people don't get kidnapped or terrorized by the griblies under the bed, an' we get some justice.\"\n\n\"Griblies?\" Mattie echoes, looking amused at the word. \"And y'all say we can't speak English.\" The y'all's not really part of her vernacular, of course. \n\nShe takes another swallow of her own drink to drain it since the bartender needs to refill Jack's anyway. \"No, it's not our job to help every crazy person, but if she's crazy in that very special way we do know about from first-hand experience, why is it a bad thing if we want to? And I don't go around making people sick, so shady's all relative if you ask me.\" \n\nShe holds up a hand in mock surrender. \"Look, I did mean the apology, but you're looking at us like we're bad people, when all we are trying to do is keep people safe. You don't have to join us or anything, but you don't need to act like we're the devil, either. We all handle this shit that happened to us in our own way. For some of us, this is the best thing we can do to cope.\" \n\nThe bartender brings over two fresh drinks for the two Watch agents and checks the status of Hilary's gin and tonic.\n\n\"Oh, I see. You're a cult,\" Hilary answers in pleasant enough tones, picking up his drink and sipping from it at last. \"Marvelous.\" He looks at Mattie with a lofted eyebrow. \"No, I look at you as if you are /suspicious/ people, because you are bloody suspicious.\" He's working on his drink slowly, possibly because he doesn't trust the company he's in.\n\nOne thing Jack's never been called is a cultist. It takes him a few moments where the thought is quite visibly being processed and he decides whether this is good, bad or neutral. Neutral for now. The novelty seems to tickle him, at least. \"He's bein' like deliberately…\" Fingers snap, abracadabra to summon up the word. A more educated fellow might fill in with obtuse but it's missing from Jack's vocabluary. \"That thing, where people act like they don't get what you're talking about on purpose.\" That about covers it.\n\n\"And you're not?\" Mattie snaps at Hilary. Suspicious, not a cultist. Probably. She glances at Jack and fills in the word with another synonym. \"A jackass?\" she suggests, but shrugs. \"We're not a cult. It's more like he said, a support group for people like us, and don't worry, we're not going to try to recruit you.\" \n\nShe looks like she might be about to say more, but chooses against it, reaching for her glass and taking a long drink from the new supply.\n\nHilary drinks down some more of what's in the glass, cool in the face of Mattie's snapping and insult. \"Right, because you know, a cult always admits to being a cult if you ask them nicely.\"\n\n\"He's got you there, darlin'. You should've offered him the Gatorade first.\" Gatorade, Koolaid, whatever. Same difference. Another bill gets slid over the bar, and Jack even includes a meager tip for the man. The second drink is taken at a much slower pace, no longer a race but drawing it out. \"Make sure you don't tell him 'bout our secret underground church where we pray to the aliens.\"\n\nThe bartender chuckles lightly as he takes the beer and moves back to the cash register on the other side of the bar. \n\n\"And just because it's denied doesn't mean it's true, either, but whatever. We don't have any sort of religious philosophy in common and we don't try to keep people away from the rest of society. If I suggest your theatre is a cult just because it's got people with similar experiences and skill sets in there, would you argue with me? Never mind, don't answer that. You'll probably agree it is just because that's what I don't want you to do.\" \n\nShe takes another sip of her drink. \"So what'd the crazy chick do? She was like us, you think?\" The bartender is watched, Mattie's voice lower when she speaks about a potential Touched.\n\n\"I can trust him better because he has a sense of humor,\" Hilary points out to Mattie, using Jack as an example. He drinks down more of his G&T. \"Do you mean like you two, or like me? Because I fail to see what we have in common. Anyway, all theatre has its roots in the sacred. It has very likely been used throughout the centuries as part of the mysteries of a thousand cults. But I happen to be a Catholic.\"\n\n\"Us Jackasses got to stick together.\" Jackasses. It's almost like a pun. Wonders never cease, first he has friends now he's almost trustworthy. It's a shocking day. The latter part gets a quiet laugh though, barely avoiding snorting larger through his nose. \"I'll take aliens first, instead of that trans-am whatsit bullshit. You guys think you're Jesus canibals, for real. An' that's not even toughing the whole 'our little secret' shambles.\"\n\nBoth men get eyerolls from Mattie this time. \"You're right, we don't have anything in common. Oh, except that we're all Touched and know that there's scary shit out in the world that most people don't recognize. And that we both know that you're full of shit when you say you don't know what made Cedric sick that day. I may not have a sense of humor, but I at least don't make anyone physically ill.\" \n\nShe hops off the barstool. \"Thanks for the drinks,\" she tells Jack, since Hilary is sticking to his word about not talking about the bookstore crazy.\n\n\"Transubstantiation,\" Hilary supplies. He doesn't seem terribly offended by Jack's take on his religion. He looks back to Mattie, smiling. \"With an interrogation technique like this, I'm really shocked you don't do better.\"\n\nNow there's a drink to be finished, so once again Jack picks up the pace. \"We save the real interrogation for them gribblies.\" he comments with a small, grim smile. Down it goes, glug glug glug glug. All gone. A final pound left on the bartop for the germanic fellow. \"We do well enough, anyway. With people that actually give a shit about others.\"\n\nSliding down off his own stool he offers a lazy one finger salute to the other man. \"To be an arsehole, or not to be an arsehole. That's a question you've answered quite well.\"\n\n\"You're right, I ought to be dispensing the personal information of people I hardly know to cult-like figures I know nothing about,\" Hilary confirms with a sharp smile. \"If only I were that good a person.\"\n\n\n"

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