2009-11-04: Captain Balls

Starring:

Joel_V4icon.png Lena_V4icon.png Tiago_V4icon.png

Date: Nov. 4, 2009

Summary:

Three Hustlers meet up. Three hustlers discuss. Tiago gets his derriere kicked in pool.


"Captain Balls"

The New York Double Down Saloon

The clouds over the city hang heavy with the promise of fog over the course of the night, maybe even rain should things fall out just the right way. They slip past the gleaming moon slowly, mostly hidden by the glow of New York City at night. It's a typical autumn night, a faint chill in the air, a sense of isolation upon the streets so late. It's just such a feeling that occasionally drives man to find the company of his fellow man, and where does one go to do such? The New York Double Down Saloon.

Out front of the bar is nothing to look at really. A blacked out storefront facade gives no hint to what's going on inside, the only indication is a flickering neon sign that states the bar's name as just 'The Doubledown'. Occasionally a few people wander in through the front door, and when that door is open the sound of a crowd's rumble and growl is heard from within.

Inside there's another story. It's a bustling night, at least compared to other places. It's late so naturally it's not as busy as they've seen at times, but for so late they're doing a brisk business. There are mostly full tables, only a handful vacant, mostly occupied by natives of the Bronx. The bar has a few stools open with a pair of bartenders, both older men, moving quickly to deal with the demands of their customers as well as the occasional order from a waitress.

Yet it's down the aisle between the bar and tables that there seems to be a bit of action. It's on the way to the back, the pool tables, that there seems to be a bunch of men being loud and rambunctious. There's the occasional clack of billiard balls striking each other, the clink of beer mugs in toasts, and the ubiquitous laughter in such a situation. And there, amongst them, is Joel.

Not a man or a barfly, there's a high chance that Lena might stand out as she eases through the crowd in her faux-goth makeup and dark hipster attire. It isn't so much that she lacks the booming laughter or the cheap perfume or the 'take me now, baby!' wardrobe. It's more a sense of tension that keeps the young woman on the move, eeling around human obstacles in a restless circling of the bar. Over the course of the past hour, the brunette's detoured into a corner with a lucky few, engaging them in conversation and a brief transfer of items small enough to be hidden in a handshake. But that's just a few minutes worth of work.

So! Here she is, pouring herself into a space in the ring of observers that seem to gravitate like space junk around the orbit of the pool tables. She's got a Heineken in one gloved hand, holding it easily, like a prop. A small half-smile sits on her lips but hasn't come close to touching her eyes while she watches the action.

It's been long enough there for her to get a feel for the ebb and flow of the bar. It's an almost palpable thing, watching the movements of the people, listening distantly to their conversations. A person can just get a sort of sense for what's going on even if it's only in the abstract. Like over there, at the pool tables, that guy with the sleepy eyes and distant expression. Sure he's smiling and laughing at times, sure he's leaning over the pool table with cue in hand and flubbing a shot. But there's something going on there, a hustler might recognize the act of hustling in another. And that guy, he's definitely hustling those locals.

There's the clack of the cue against the ball, the clunk and whir of some falling. Another burst of laughter is heard as Joel shakes his head, some of the money that was sitting on the edge of the billiards table is picked up by the locals, others patting the young man on the back and wishing him better luck next time. Of course that has him holding up a hand and he starts the pitch, "One more shot, c'mon. For all the marbles."

By virtue of her gender, Lena's rewarded with a front row seat when a couple of tattooed gentlemen step away from the wall and leave a stool free. She returns the gesture with a Sunshine State grin of cheerleader proportions and takes advantage of the perch to get a better view of the game. Her chuckle rides below the general tenor of the laughter, and blue eyes linger on the fellow responsible for it. The bottle she's holding is tipped towards him in the universal gesture for 'Cheers!' if and when Joel's gaze makes the circuit in her direction.

Upon lowering her prop, the teenager finds her sleeve plucked by a stout fellow and shoots him a look that can only be described as mildly annoyed. "Not now, man, I'm tapped out. Come back next week."

"Yeah yeah, sure kid. Howzabout you just take yer whuppin and head on home." Leaning on Joel, it's a jovial guffaw that comes from the big bald local man, a laugh that's echoed by the other people around the pool. There's a certain lazy grin on the young man's face as he pushes away the guy leaning on him, then waves a hand. "Hey, if ya don't have the guts, then no worries." He waggles his eyebrows and another handful of hundreds is slapped down upon the stack of cash, "This here says…"

There's a pause as Joel looks around the room, it's in that moment that his dark blue eyes fall upon Lena, if only for a moment. He offers a small nod in her direction before he turns back, though there's a hint of a doubletake. He continues, "This here says I can sink umm…." The pool cue in his hand snakes out and lightly clicks upon four billiards balls in sequence, "This one, this one… this one… and this one, one shot." He grins and leans to the side, "If you freakos can cover that much cash though. Figure either tonight's a night fer miracles, or I'll get brokified."

Lena dedicates a moment to staring hard at her admirer, waiting until the gentleman *and* his cowboy hat slink off back into the crowd. His muttered obscenity earns a roll of pale eyes, her free hand rubbing absently at the sleeve soiled by foreign touch and her focus turning back to the whupping that's about to commence. Her opinion of the stakes at risk can be summed up easily: "Jesus Christ." Sacriligious observation made, she lifts the beer to touch the bottle's lip to hers, tipping it just enough for the liquid within to touch skin before setting it aside on the wall's ledge.

It's this point, this crucial point, that things usually turn. It's when the mark needs to balance a myriad of things. There's the potential embarassment of backing down, the fear of losing money, the fear of looking a fool, the consideration of various states of inebriation, the illusion of hubris in the players, all of these things weigh upon the minds of those that seem settled in the back room. It's all settled in a split second, glances are exchanged, conversations fall. It's not decided in a silence, since there's still the rumble of the crowd, but finally the hesitating moment is broken by rough and raucous laughter. "Kid, you got yerself a deal."

And with that the room opens up, more laughter is heard and Joel even joins in. Money is slapped down on the stack of cash, people take up position around the table. Then the big bald man leans over the table, "But not this ball," He reaches over and moves the six ball over behind the eight ball, "This one."

Now that'll be a shot, hitting all four walls, sinking three before getting just the right angle… definitely an insano task. Of course, Joel seems a bit unhappy. "Hnh, that'd be…" He looks up even as the men start to give him a hard time, he snaps out. "Ok sure, let's do this!" He starts to step around behind the table, looking for the right angle.

The brunette hooks her feet around the stool's leg, through the rungs, and leans forward to get a better look at the table. The bridge of her nose is gently wrinkled; it's plain enough that Lena doesn't think Joel has a chance of making the shot. Which means that now is the perfect time to drop a dash of I'm so cool generosity into the mix. "You make that, fella, and I'll buy your next drink," she remarks under the crowd babble, when the young man's course brings him within earshot. The amusement in the teenager's voice temporarily strengthens a southern drawl, giving the offer the sound of challenge rather than appreciation.

The crowd swirls, and there's no small amount of side-betting as well. A squirrely looking little guy seems to be giving odds on one ball falling, two, three, he's even offering a bet covering if things bust out into a brawl. While the rest of the locals are busy laughing and already congratulating themselves on their winnings.

As for Joel he catches Lena's words, and for an instant his gaze meets hers. There's a moment where his regard and his focus seems to be fully on her, a terribly measuring gaze. It's just there for an instant, then it's gone, the laughing youth is back as he looks around and makes a somewhat bleary face, "Yeah yeah, whatever. Just… just keep my money ready." That having been said he stops circling the table. It's perhaps too quick. There's no build up, no theatrics to it. It's simply a pause, he leans over behind the cue ball. The cue stick is drawn back far enough to get a good deal of power… then there's the sounds the follow. /CLACK/… /CLICK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK/… /Thumpthumpthumpthump/… /whirrrrrrr/

It might have been hard for the eye to follow, the precise course of the cue ball, hitting just right there… there, everywhere needed. The balls all fall, the table completely run. Joel straightens up, his nose crinkling with amusement. "So hey hey, whaddayano?"

In the back room area there's a weird flavor of silence. Just the sound of the pumped in music and the crowd.

It would be lying to say that the teen's smile didn't waver during that oh so steady assessment, shifting away in favor of something puzzled and thoughtful before the young man puts his game face back on. In the seconds following, while her gaze shifts in almost distracted fashion back to the table, time is spent in peeling the gloves from her arms and stuffing them into a rear pocket. She flexes her fingers while Joel lines up his shot, her breath held…and released slowly as each ball drops like clockwork into a pocket. Yeah, that was impressive. And Lena's not afraid to say so.

"Holy *fuck*!" Her voice is clear, young and rich with appreciation as it rises in that eye of the storm stillness. The stool is vacated, bystanders dodged to bring the girl closer to Joel's elbow.

With her exclamation the 'silence' is broken. It forces people to decide then and there how to react. There's a faint growl and a hint of a roar as further expletives are offered, but then that's partially drowned out by the stronger laughter and a small smattering of applause with a 'Whoo!' given.

"Freaking amazing!"
"What the hell!"
"Aww man I missed it!"
"What what happened?"

Word travels along the bar and there's laughter, some congratulations, and some muttering. Luckily the muttering falls off as once good sportsmanship begins to win out. Finally, the money changes hands, and the bald man says, "A'right kid, I dunno… but you win."

And Joel claims his winnings. He pockets them smoothly even as the current gang of patrons start to abandon the pool table. There are a few people who congratulate Joel, some offer him toasts or gestures with their drinks. But it doesn't take long for them to filter off. It's enough that it leaves him there, giving Lena something of a cock-eyed askance glance, "Heya."

Lena is content to wait until the uproar dies away. She's got her hands tucked deep in her front pockets, hip cocked all casual like to one side while observing the back-patting, congratulations and yes, the sore losers slinking off to mutter to their friends about sharks and bad luck. But she's all grins when Joel's finally able to turn in her direction, and there's nothing in her study of the guy to hint at ulterior motives. Just eye-sparkling appreciation of an Epic Feat. "You probably get this a lot, but jesus…I haven't seen anything like that outside of the movies. You want that drink?"

That askance gaze shifts a bit as he considers her, slowly angling an askew look-over. He offers a faint half-smirk as he gives a nod, "I have one, maybe after I'm done with it, if you're not horribly boring." That said he turns around to put the pool cue in its proper place in the wallrack. He walks around the table slowly, that easy sleepy gaze upon her for the time being. Since he's the winner it falls to him to cleanup, the billiard balls are gathered up one at a time. "So what's your deal, kid? You seem a mite bit… youngish?"

"Enh, no promises. It's been a long day." Lena gives him room to work, hanging back just enough from the table to allow a clear path. The reorganizing of the table is observed with a casual eye, the world-weary air of teenagers everywhere. She's too cool for school, and fully expecting the man to succumb to the offer of free alcohol eventually. "Yeah, you think so? Fuck you too, I'm legal. Are you a cop when you're not hustling rednecks out of their paychecks?" she inquires in companionable tones, smile deepening for the opportunity at crossing swords.

Casually, almost unmindfully, he starts tossing some of the billiard balls into the air, juggling a trio of them with one hand as his thoughts drift. She might see his sleepy-eyed gaze distance, see him zone out for a moment, then those blue eyes return to her. "Are they really rednecks? They're not so rural, maybe more blue-collary but not sure if there's a colloquialism for them." He seems to take that thought process semi-seriously, then his smile cracks wry.

The billiard balls drop back onto the table with a clack-clack-clatter, being racked up and slid across the table with a whir. Once the pool table's back in order he retreats to his table where his beer awaits. Hopping up onto the small seat, he leans there, taking his drink in hand and having a sip. "But no m'not a pig as you youngsters like to call 'em." There's something about him that seems entirely amused, perhaps even at her expense.

Lena makes a detour to retrieve the as of yet untouched beer, unconcerned about having left it untended. A quick visual check determines no one's put a cigarette out in there, so it should be fine. It's carried over to Joel's table and deposited in an empty spot with one hand, the other snaring an empty chair to drag over. Sure, she wasn't invited but he's still nattering at her, so… "Nice trick there," she observes while dropping into the seat. "Tossing the balls around like that. And what are you, forty? Pigs is so…seventies. So we're even, you know? I'm Lena, by the way. You always work this place? I don't think I've seen you before."

Scrunching up one eye, Joel responds easily enough, "Yeah, about, forty two." It's an easy lie, and uncaring in its delivery. He slouches to the side, his body language as if he were terribly tired, and his sleepy gaze helps perpetuate that. "I'm Jay, and nah. Sometimes capital is needed for a worthy cause." He even is able to offer that with a straight face, and technically it's true.

The bottle in his hand makes a glassy clink as he sets it down upon the tabletop. He tilts his head to the side, and she might get the impression that he's considering her, measuing her, gauging her. His eyes narrow faintly for a moment, then he lifts his voice again, just loud enough for her to hear which is fairly loud considering the room noise. "If you're working an angle here, I'd appreciate if you stop. No threat or nothing, but it'd make me grumpy."

"Fish gotta swim, bird's gotta eat." Translated, that might mean that Lena is in no way judging the earlier performance, or the reasons for it. An elbow is braced against the table, her chin deposited in cupped palm. The teen's politely silent throughout that observation, cutting her eyes off to the side to size up the tidal pattern of the circulating crowds. "Nah, I'm not working right now. I'm on break, or something. Maybe I want to know how you pulled that shot off but that's about it…me and my roommate, we appreciate folks who know how to work an angle, you know?" Blue eyes flick back towards the pool shark, narrowed with a brief but apparently genuine smile. "Never hurts to get out, get to know the local talent. For just in case."

"Mmhmm," Joel responds with that small half-smile, then hides it behind the neck of his bottle as he takes a swig. He sets it down and to the side, leaning there as he considers her. "Well, not to give you a false impression. I don't do this hugely often." He lifts his eyes upwards, as if considering the passage of time, then he looks back at her. "Mebbe once a few months or so, when cash gets low."

With a wave of his hand he brushes his own words aside, shifting the focus back upon her. "And you? What's your schtick?" He smirks wryly as he lets his attention shift away for the moment, doing the circuit of the room and considering the other denizens even as he talks to her, "Other than the whole cute lil goth chick thing."

Tiago has arrived.

"So you're like one of those…what do they call them? Posers?" Lena celebrates the zinger by faking a sip of her own bear, lifting it for a lazy and quite brief tip to the lips. It's timed to occur a few seconds after Joel's own drink. Ahhh, social conventions. "And fuck you very much for that too. This is emo, old man, not goth. You really need to get out more," she adds, flopping back in the chair with an air of pseudo-offense. "I'm like the next best thing to happen to New York, wait and see. Me and Chi, we're cornering the market on happy fun time party supplies."

It's a busy night at the local crappy watering hole, the bar packed with big sweaty men of the not-gay variety. Making it to the bartenders, given the number and girth of the fellows at the bar, is an enterprise. If one were to continue back into the smoky confines of the rear room, they'd find a line of pool tables, and a smaller arrangement of tables for those interested in drinking, crowd-watching and placing bets. It's at one of these that Joel and Lena are seated, engaged in idle conversation. See above paragraph for examples.

A hint of a roll of his eyes is given, just enough to show that she's able to get at least some measure of a reaction out of Joel. The poser thing slips by, he even gives a sort of a chuckle, then she makes the comment about emo and gothness. He smirks sidelong even though he's considering the room as a whole, then replies, "Well s'good ta have goals I reckon."

A few moments pass, then he turns around, leaning against the table and meeting Lena's gaze easily enough. "See, I was told once that the difference between emo and goth was about twenty bucks at Hot Topic, but hey what do I know?" His nose crinkles a bit, he takes another sip of his beer, "Besides, I was a skaterat."

Where as most people would find the capacity of the club quite inconvenient, Tiago does not. He sees it as an opportunity. And one he is taken advantage of quite often. At the moment, he is laughing in a loud, obnoxious fashion at one corner of the pub, hanging around the shoulders of some stranger like he is terribly drunk. Reluctantly, he plucks himself away, then swaying on his feet as he blinks one eye then another to the man. "Nggnn, I'ma get more - stuff. I'll see you 'round, Frank!" Then comes the stumbling towards the bar.

The moment he is out of 'Frank's' line of sight however, his entire posture changes. All of a sudden, he's standing proud and quite steady, his lips curled into the smuggest of smiles. The fat brown wallet in his pocket is glanced at before he pockets it in those ridiculously baggy jeans of his. "Sucker." With this murmured, he slinks his way in Lena and Joel's general direction, though he hasn't quite caught sight of them yet.

Lena's regard snaps back to the man seated across the table, eyes briefly narrowed and spitting a little blue fire. Touche, pool shark. Touche. "Yeah, ha ha, like I haven't heard *that* shit before," she mutters, conceding defeat. Joel's final statement is taken in a concliatory vein, however. The brunette brightens, hoisting her Heineken in a toast. "For real? I won't hold it against you then. Hell, you might even be interested in some of what we have on offer…but I won't pitch you tonight, 'cause I'm nice like that. If you're interested though, I'm your girl."

The bottle is touched to her lips, tipped, the same ol' non-drinking ritual that has left the level of beer inside relatively stable. And over the rim of green glass, she sees a familiar figure. Of course. No kid of her size is going to come unaccompanied into a dive like this. One bare hand is raised, Lena's attempt to flag down Tiago's attention. "Chi! Speak of the devil."

Of course Joel's expression is wary, a bit amused, but wary. He straightens up a bit and leans back against the wall of the bar, his posture undiminished in laziness for the moment. His own gaze follows that of Lena's and he takes in the approach of Tiago with that same small smile. A lift of his bottle is given as a companionable greeting, and then a word is added to it, "Evening." He holds off on continuing the conversation now, letting the two younger folks get their greetings out of the way.

"Devil?" Tiago perks up, his brows rising up his forehead as he cranes his head around, attempting to find the origin of that claim. And once he does, he can't quite help the pleased, amiable kind of smile that appears on his features. "What're you talkin' about, I'm a damn saint. A bona-fide Mother Theresa type," He claims, adjusting his trajectory to bring him to them. And once he appears, the first thing he does is reach for Lena's beer, picking it up and chugging down a copious amount without even asking if he's allowed or not. Once the drink is down once again, it is only then that he quirks his head to the side to peer at Joel. "Yo. I dunno you, do I? I swear ta God, I aint even drunk yet, so if I do…ahem. Yeah, anyway, I'm Tiago man. S'a pleasure."

Lena gives up the beer with nary a protest. It isn't as if she was enjoying the fine imported brew, herself. "Nah, you don't know him," she answers for Joel. "This is Jay, darlin'. Don't play him at pool, I swear to god, Chi. You haven't ever seen someone play like this guy, he cleaned the whole room out." Admiration shines in voice and eyes but it's tempered with a sudden guilty fit of manners when she glances at the young man in question. "Oh, uh…you mind if he sits down? It's like your table, I know. We could go to another one." The offer would be a little more sincere if she made any move at all to shift from the chair. But…no.

That same half-smirk is settled on Joel's features as he looks at Tiago, then lifts a hand in greeting. "Heya, Tiago." He lowers his hand back to the tabletop, wrapping fingers around the base of the bottle. He turns blue eyes back over upon Lena and his eyebrow cocks just a bit at her sudden discomfort. His smile breaks a touch wider as he murmurs, "Yes, I'm horribly deathly offended. I am sorry, I can never forgive such a breach of protocol." Then, to Tiago, "Have a seat." He shifts his own enough to make room, letting the two of them sit together with him opposite. It's just one of those overly tall tables with stools that are ubiquitous throughtout all such dives as the Double Down Saloon.

Tiago peers over to Lena when she does her awkward bit, clinical bemusement written on his features. "Man. You still on that whole askin' for shit bit? I thought I kicked that outa you already," he grumbles, his voice quite fond as he peers around in search of a chair to drag over. Once this task has been completed, he settles himself on it rather quickly before turning that wry smile over to Joel. The way he throws his arm over Lena's shoulder is casual and not possessive at all, kthnx. "So, what, you're good at shootin' up, huh?" Beat. "I meant, pool. Well, maybe we should play a game or two, yeah? Not for money or nothin', jus' for fun. I'm, ah, pretty damn good myself. I wanna see jus' how sick you are at it." He can't help it. His competitive nature cannot be stifled.

"Screw you guys if you can't appreciate good manners. My mama raised me right." With no beer to fake-sip from, Lena has to forge ahead in an act of nonchalance by folding her arms across her chest and cutting a look off…elsewhere. She's not going to reward them with even a look, so there. The weight across her shoulder is accepted without comment, and still no looking. It's Tiago's need to show off that brings her attention back to the table, eyes lit with a suspicious sparkle. Here we go. "I dunno, Chi…I don't think you should. Jay like…sunk four balls with one shot, and all sorts of funky angles. Maybe you should sit this one out."

"See, Lena and I promised not to hustle each other when she sat down." Not entirely true save perhaps in spirit. Joel leans to the side, grinning a bit as he looks at Tiago. There's a certain sleepy distance in his eyes as he considers them, considers their manner, something far away as he responds. "I'd feel all bad if then there'd be play and winning and losing and all sorts of crying or gloating. That sort of thing is so acidic to new friendships and all, and it's good ta be friends." His lips part in a smile, almost lupine in its openness.

"Yeah okay baby, but I thought you didn't want ta do that kinda stuff out in public?" Oh, Tiago cannot allow Lena to get away with that particular huff without embarrassing her, if only slightly. Kind of the same way Lena cannot NOT poke at his manly pride by goading him in such a fashion. Suddenly his green eyes narrow in Joel's direction, a rather thoughtful purse of his lips accompanying the look of appraisal. "Nah, I'll hold my own. They used ta call me…err…Captain Balls back in the day, and…" He /just/ realizes what he said, and how lame it actually is. With a grimace, he hits slaps himself in the forehead with his free hand. "Yeah, okay, forget I jus' said that shit. But c'mon. It'll be no hard feelin's man, jus' a game after all, yeah?"

Lena's eyebrows shoot up. Alright then. She'd sat silently through Joel's remark, but there's no way she's going to let Tiago's stand. "Hey now, private stays private. Captain Balls." There are no words to describe the sheer devilish delight in the grin that appears on her face. "You know I love you, darlin', so don't hate me if I bet on him, okay?" she adds, hooking a thumb across the table at Joel. "If he says no hard feelings, he means it. There won't be any crying, I promise."

Joel's eyes widen as he looks across the way right at Lena, then he says. "Well I dunno, I don't ever actually play for free." His smile broadens wryly and in that way he looks across, it's like he's trying to say something along the lines of, 'Now look what you did.' He turns back towards Tiago and says, "But if you all need money that bad I did pretty decent tonight, more than I need." Now that's a strange thing to throw out there, perhaps he's meaning it seriously, offering a hint of good samaritanism, or perhaps he's just tossing it out as if to see how it's received.

Tiago's face turns quite expressive as he wrinkles his nose and turns to look at Lena. With heavily furrowed brows, he frowns at her. "Well, shit. Fine. But I aint splittin' any o' the money I win with ya." He sulks, before drawing himself to his full seated height and looking back to Joel with a rather arrogant smile. One which falters and deteriorates before his very eyes as the Brazilian registers Joel's offer. "Wait, what? Nah! Nah, we don't need no money. I'm fuckin' good right now with that, man. I jus' want a game, s'all. Unless you know, you're chicken about it…It's cool, though."

That's Lena, making new friends and immediately causing friction between them. When you have a talent, it's best to run with it, right? That grin deepens, accompanied with a crinkled nose, as she returns Joel's look before glancing up at Tiago. "Aww, don't be like that, Chi. I just saw him play is all. I mean, you're *good*, but…" It's a peace offering, the way she bumps her shoulder against the Brazilian lad's side. "Pft, keep your cash," she goes on, for Joel's benefit. "It was a good night for us too. Cmon, let's get a table." Enough talking! She interrupts the negotiations by sliding from her seat and setting off at a brisk clip towards the tables, where (coincidentally!) a game is just wrapping up.

Rising from his seat and adjusting the hang of his jacket, Joel meets Tiago's gaze evenly and with a smile. He replies even as he starts to stroll over towards the pool table, "I admit, I do feel a touch intimidated. But I will endure, and muster up my courage with a bit of booze, then we'll engage in manly competition, Captain." He pushes a hand through his hair, then pauses beside the pool table as Lena sets about securing it.

A moment is taken as Joel slides a small datapcphone thingamabob from his jacket and considers it, flicking through a few options and hitting a few numbers on the keypad. Once that's done he turns his focus upon a passing waitress. A quick order for another round of drinks is placed, then he takes up a place leaning against the table. "So, Tiago. I asked Lena, now I ask you. What's yer schtick?"

Tiago's brows rise up slowly as one, then the other moves to their feet, and he lingers there for a second, if only to throw down the remainder of Lena's beer. Once this is done, the mug is slammed against the tabletop and he pushes himself up as well. "Ah, wicked. Let's get on it then, man!" Enthusiasm colors his voice, as well as a disproportional amount of arrogance colors his stride, and by the time he makes it to the table, there is a distinctive swagger in his step. Joel's query is responded to as Tiago spends his time examining the pool sticks to try and pick out the best one. "Huh? Ya did, did ya…" Quickly, his eyes dart over to Lena. "Well, what did she tell ya?" Yes, this is him being defensive. It's not a good thing to mess up their story, if Lena didn't go with the truth.

The table is reserved with a quarter fished from a pocket, a smile added for the benefit of the fellows finishing their game. It isn't a long wait but once the table's vacated, Lena steps back to leave the field to the males and their competition. "I totally told him the truth," she chimes in to put Tiago's mind at ease, resting with her back against the nearest wall. Her arms fold across her stomach, capstone of a casual, comfortable posture. "Since he's like in the same line of work. Kinda. Just a different flavor." When she looks at Joel, she quirks her brows up as if to ask him, just to be certain, that that assumption is the correct one.

There's a small waggle of his hand as Joel looks across the way towards Lena, then in turn towards Tiago. "Kinda, sometimes I need money but, ya know. Life's big and filled with complications." He leaves it at that, offering at least that teeny tiny insight into his life. He thanks the waitress as she returns, setting them up with a trio of mugs of what Lena was drinking earlier. He holds his drink in one hand, considering the table and then the other man opposite him, "Feel free to rack 'em up and go first and all that," He lifts the mug and takes a sip, "Then feel free to elaborate on that whole schtick thing. Not ta be a jerk, but I feel like there's a story here."

"Oh. Okay, cool." Tiago allows, nodding in Lena's direction before turning to /peer/ at Joel with a curious look on his face. "Kinda, huh? So, what d'you do exactly?" He turns the question back to the man before bothering to try and formulate an answer. The balls are all collected - since he IS Captain Balls, after all - and racked up, and he even goes as far as to chalk the tip of his poolstick before turning a rather clinical look in Joel's direction. "Listen, no offense or nothin'. You seem like a sick sort of dude and all, good people. But there aint much of a story - not really. We jus' moved up here and wanted ta start a new life, you know." It's deliberate, his reclusion of the information. You never quite know when you're talking to an undercover cop in New York.

Great, more drinks to not imbibe. Lena almost but does not quite sigh as she accepts the fresh mug from the waitress, looking down into those golden depths with…well, let's just say there are several emotions vying for first, in her expression. Wry amusement is in the lead. "I'ma bet he's a reporter," she puts in idly, glancing up to observe the preparations. "Reporters never *look* like reporters, except on TV. But yeah…what Chi said. It's not like we've done anything *really* interesting." Pause. "Yet!"

"That's right, you're gonna corner the happy party stuffs market." Joel offers that remembrance rather casually, tilting his drink towards Tiago as he says that much. So Lena's at least told him about that. He smiles easily enough, still leaning there against the edge of the table. "And no, m'not a reporter." He sets his drink down then steps away, long enough to move towards the wall mounted pool cues. Taking some time to choose his own, he comments over his shoulder. "Technically I'm kinda in between jobs at the moment," And that's not really a lie, ultimately. "But when I can I kinda do security foo. You know, christmas time is right around the corner, someone has to guard the santas in front of the mall."

Tiago glances over to Lena, quirking his brows upwards before giving his lips a thoughtful sort of lick. Instead of responding immediately, he lines himself up to break the rack, and the shot is taken. It just so happens that a solid /does/ end up falling into the side pocket, out of sheer luck, and pleasure writes itself over his features as he examines the lot of them for his next shot. "A reporter? Ha, maybe." He comments, before glancing over to Joel. "And yeah, you got it right mostly, I guess. So…between jobs, eh? Security? So like what, you act as a bouncer'n shit? No offense…but you don't look like you'd be a bouncer." The next hit produces no such luck, though it does set him up for an easy shot next time, and he backs away to allow Joel to play. "You from here? New York I mean."

The brunette lifts and drops her shoulders when her partner looks in her direction. "He seemed cool," is her only explanation for having spilled the beans on a first meeting. Lena regrets nothing! "Hey, no killing each other, okay? I'll be right back," she adds, pushing away from the wall and setting her mug on a nearby table. Then she darts into the crowd, disappearing in the general direction of the little girls' room.

If the two of them knew him better, they'd know that lying isn't something he hesitates to do when it's needed. But for some reason it doesn't entirely sit okay with him right now, in fact it makes him grimace a touch. He looks across the table towards Tiago and then tells him, "Well…" With pool cue in hand he starts to step around the table, looking for a decent angle. "To be fair I mainly am back up for the folks that do the real work. Sometimes they need someone to help when things get tough. I wander in and look cool while they do all the tough things." There, that's kinda close to the truth without revealing entirely too much.

As Lena departs he pauses for a moment, then he looks back across the way towrads Tiago. "Ya all seem on edge at times," He offers that insight and a faint hint of an accent there given, "Not to be too much of a jerk, I just get the feeling things are kinda… I dunno. Just a vibe." He shrugs and then proceeds to take his shot.

The ball and cue clack, there's the sound of the target ball rolling, it's sunk with a thud. He begins to step around the table casually, talking as he moves. "Ya seem like semi-decent folk, at least as far as I can tell. But I dunno, my hunches tend to be right." He takes another shot… another ball falls. "And blah de blah, New York, big city, dangerous, de blah." He gives that even as he steadily just… runs the table. No ball is missed, each shot is taken with a perfect precision, and as quickly as that the first game's over without Tiago having another chance to go.

Tiago waves off Lena as he leans on his pool stick, his pale eyes fixed on Joel with a scientific detachedness. He's interested, and appraising the man as he speaks, but also seems to be quite passive about it. He offers a nod as he goes on about his line of work, but Tiago can't help but freeze uncomfortably as Joel makes that observation. His voice is tinged with slight suspicion. "What d'you mean, on edge?" Beat. To lessen the drama of that statement, he continues on. "Yeah well. We've had a rough life, I guess. So it aint like, surprisin' or nothin'. I mean, I know she's cute and all, right? But…jus' don't fuck with her, alright. Seriously." He is solemn about this point, deadly serious, although this is starting to slip away once he notices that Joel? Yeah, he's /destroying/ the pool game. His eyes widen, and he doesn't even have the chance to reiterate the fact that they're good people, seeing as he's so awed and surprised by the man's skill. In fact, he even lets the pool stick go, the wooden material clanging onto the floor. "Jesus fuckin' Christ! What was that!"

And for once Joel actually seems a touch embarassed. There in the low hustle and bustle of the saloon he responds. There's a colour about his features and he lifts a rough hand to rub at the back of his neck almost awkwardly. "Yah, sorry n'all." Joel opens his hand towards Tiago in an apologetic gesture, as if to say that he has no control over it. He offers a small shrug and looks down at the table, "M'just not tryin' ta scam you, so I figure no point in like, ya know, holding back n'all." There's another shrug as he adds, "So like hey, beers on me." And with that he takes up his own mug and downs a few good swallows.

Tiago is conflicted. Plain and simple. On one hand, he is utterly devastated that he was so thoroughly and succinctly crushed to a pathetic pulp. Has man-pride has taken a very serious blow. But on the other, he can recognize the fact that his own performance had nothing to do with it, Joel is simply /that good/. So after a couple of minutes, blinking like a fish out of water, he finally cracks. It starts off slow, but before long he's laughing brightly, and shooting Joel an amiable grin. "Holy /shit/ man, no wonder Lena was all for ya and shit! Bro, that's like, a-fuckin'-mazing!" Automatically, the wheels in his brain begin turning. "Dude - you up for makin' some extra money or somethin'? 'Cause we could hold a tournament or somethin', and you'd fuckin' kill in it. We could make some /real/ cash, man!"

There's something of a commotion near the front of the bar, the sound of mens' voices raised in hoots and laughter, a few women joining in for good measure. Not three minutes later, Lena reappears near the pool tables. There's a rather grim smile on the girl's face, and she's in the process of pulling on those ridiculous opera gloves again as she cozies back up to her previous spot on the wall. Beer? Yeah, she leaves it back there on the table. "What, are you guys done *already*? Jesus, you didn't pull any punches, did you? I *told* you, Chi."

"Yeeeah," Joel seems unfathomably reluctant as he picks up one of the beers and walks it over, offering it to Tiago by setting it down on the edge of the pool table near him. He steps back and leans, scrunching up one eye a bit awkwardly and grimacing just a smidge, "I kinda like ta keep a low profile n'all." Since being a famous pool player would put a crimp on that whole Agent thing, of course he can't say that, so instead… "My family'd go loopy if they knew I was gambling, let alone if I took that as like a profession." Again that's not a lie, but not entirely the whole truth either. "But hey, mebbe next time I could use some folks ta run interference if ya want." There, he offers that at the least, then takes a sip of his own beer.

When Lena wanders back he gives her a small apologetic shrug as he says, "I didn't want ya to think I was scamming your boy and all. That'd be just plain rude." And indeed, it would be.
"Won't be gamblin', man. it'll be completely legit. There'll be a pot or somethin'. First place wins a thousand bucks, and a fifty dollar entrance fee or somethin'. The numbers aren't set in stone, jus' an idea. And, you /can/ keep a low profile. Jus'…fuck up your shots on purpose, man. That's all." Tiago enthusiastically presses, grabbing the fallen pool stick and then the beer he offers to them all. He practically has money symbols in his eyes. "C'mon, what d'you say? It's a /good/ idea, mack. Tell me you'll think about it."

At this point, the commotion in the pub is noticed, though it only garners a curious glance from the Brazilian lad. However, when Lena approaches, all of Tiago's enthusiastic scheming is dropped. Suddenly, his eyes search her expression, and he walks over towards her. "Huh? Well, yeah. You were right, babe. But, ah…everythin' alright, there?"

"Remind me to send a thank you note to your mama," Lena quips, flashing Joel an easier grin. "See, I knew you were cool. I've got, like, instincts." Poor little lamb. Tiago's approach is greeted with a smaller caliber smile, but there's more warmth in the girl's eyes as she glances up at him. That's reassurance, captured in a look. "Oh, sure. Some drunk grabbed my ass. Then he fell down," she explains, giving the left glove a last careful tug to set it properly around her wrist. "Passed out, whatever. His friends are getting him home…you guys going again, or what? I missed it! Was it awesome? It was awesome, right?"

A dull pfft is given in response to the mama comment, Joel keeps his smirk in place as he leans against the table. He seems inclined to put the pool cue away, though he does wait for perhaps a sign of Tiago's desire. Perhaps out of some sense of politeness he offers, "Was a good game, I kinda ambushed him, wasn't entirely fair." With that opening he slides off the table, canting his head curiously at the young couple as he observes their interplay.

This sobers Tiago quite easily and quickly. All of a sudden, he looks fairly somber, and he continues to examine her visage for any hint of hurt. "…Yeah, huh? Are you alright, baby?" Beat. He rolls his shoulders, turning to look off to the side of the club that the commotion started up in. "Want me ta go fuckin' bash his skull in? I can. I will, if you want." He reluctantly allows the conversation to return to the game, and he ends up shrugging his shoulders in indifference, lifting the mug of beer to his lips. "I dunno. I mean, what's the point of playin' again? Unless that was like, a fluke? But the way you made it sound like, he's always like that. I don't stand a chance anyway."

Before Tiago can go charging off in search of retribution, Lena tucks herself against his side, an arm looped loosely behind the man's back. "Nah, it's okay, they were dragging him out already, Chi. I'm fine. He'll probably thank me, if he sees me again," she assures him with a slight shake of her head, a faint smile. Joel is overlooked during the question and answer period, but once the teen's quietly responded to her roommate's concerns, their new friend there is pinned with a more social smile. "Not fair? Hey, I *warned* him. But I guess you do kinda have to see it to believe it. So, you guys are like all cool now? You're not pissed I set you up, Chi?"

"I'm afraid we've sworn vendetta, there is to be a blood feud betwixt our families and all that," Joel gives a small wave to one of the parties waiting for a pool table. He strolls on over to the table he had perched at only a few minutes earlier, then sets his mug down on there with a dull clink. Glancing back over at Lena and Tiago he has a small half-smirk as he adds, "I'm sure we'll have a duel at dawn or sommich." He then asks, pointedly, "What's with the gloves, kid?"

Tiago relaxes marginally as Lena presses herself against him, and though his brows remain heavily furrowed, and his lips remain pursed, the look softens slightly. With a grunt, he looks away from the pub to draw himself back to the others. Tiago is about to respond to Lena's inquiries when Joel beats him to it, and a wry smirk finds its place on his lips. "Heh, yeah. He don't know, I've got like, a hit on him and his family. So buddy - expect like, dead horses in your bed and all that Godfather shit." He snerks, before looking back to Lena. "And I'm /so/ pissed, ya li'l hustler. I'll get ya back, though. When you least expect it…like, bam!" Falling silent when Joel mentions the gloves, he darts a furtive sidelong glance in her direction. "…What. Aint ya ever heard of personal style, man?"

Really, it's probably rude for Lena to look so very pleased with herself. Not so much for the fact that Joel's being cool to hang out with, but for having set Tiago up. So much for manners. "Yeah yeah yeah, sure…I've heard *that* before," she drawls, letting a little more of the American South color each word. Ambling back towards the table with the Brazilian man, she's on a collision course with the chair previously occupied when the question's dropped into play. After meeting Chi's glance, she rolls the shoulder not pressed against his side and shoots another smile at the pool shark. "I saw the look in a movie and liked it, you know? I mean, like, I'm no Rogue because I probably couldn't work that hair, but the gloves were cool."

With both hands wrapped around the base of his mug, and his shoulders hunched a bit as he leans over the tabletop, Joel just for a time… observes their reactions. He cants his head one way as Tiago speaks, then the other way as Lena takes the lead. He lifts his chin and gives a small nod, as if agreeing with what they say. Before offering his insight he takes another sip of beer, "When I was a skater, I used to wear nothing but a skulls motif. Just skulls everywhere, was pretty super keen. Nobody understood me, everybody was phony, man those were the days." He does a good job of keeping a straight face, though there's a hint of laughter in his eyes as if he were giving them such a terribly hard time.

Tiago takes advantage of their close proximity to poke Lena in the rubs. "Yeah, but I aint never had a reason ta really do it before. Shit, I get what I want, Lena. You of all people should know this. So, if I were you, I'd start kissin' my ass and beggin' for forgiveness." With this drawled out, and his smug smile returning to his features, he turns to fix his attention on Joel after chugging down half of the glass. "/When/ you were a skater, huh? What happened, gramps? Your back give out on you or somethin', on account of you bein' so old?"

"Hey, don't make me hurt you." It's all in good fun though, including the swat Lena gives to Tiago's poking fingers. Then the man's released so she can resume her seat, hooking her feet back through the legs. "Maybe he sold out," she suggests brightly, grinning and propping her chin in one hand. "Like, one day you're actually *cool* and the next suddenly you're too *mature* for that scene anymore. It's sad when people grow up. Like, tragic sad. None of that shit for us, please. Next thing you know, we're hustling in crappy bars, dreaming about the old days, pickin' on kids…"

Joel's tongue finds a home in his cheek as he eyeballs Tiago, then Lena in turn. His smirk turns decidedly wicked, edged with an utter evil of amusement at their words and their casual barbs at him. He lifts his chin and answers with an ease of expression, "Ahhh, actually I think I, you know, got a car." And thus the mysteries of his transition from skater to a normal person is explained. He settles back in his seat, arms folding over his chest as he cocks his gaze at them, smiling the while. "Then I went and got a job, and it was all downhill from there. Working at Best Buy, getting a paycheck, eventually an apartment all my own after moving outta ma's basement."

Tiago tsk his tongue a couple of times, shaking his head in Joel's general direction. "Man, you're one of /them/ now. A suit. Livin' 9 ta 5, hatin' your life and all. Damn, dude. I jus' feel sorry as fuck for you. Wont be long before you croak. Jus' keel over and die. And even worse, you'll probably be /married/." He's grinning in a broad, mischievous way as he glances to Lena and proceeds to make fun of Joel. "Y'gotta break the system, man. You know, they say by hangin' out with younger peeps, you get younger too. So, maybe if you're /nice/ and all, and if you got the cash, we might let ya roll around with us. If we're feelin' charitable and shit."

"We're nice like that," Lena contributes, widening her eyes for that oh so sincere look. If she were blonde, it'd be damn near angelic. "I mean, you've gotta miss it, right? 'Cause we've got the apartment, the paycheck and a party every night if we want it. None of that cubicle shit. We could totally hook you up."

"Yeah yeah," Joel waves a hand dismissively to the side, slouching properly in his chair. There's something about his sleepy-eyed gaze that seems terribly at ease even as he responds to their words, "You just want some poor schlub to buy you slackers booze." As easily as that he declines their offer, but in a semi-nice way. Not to mention that that's exactly what he did earlier when he bought a round or two of drinks, not that she partook. He scritches a finger at the stubble along his jawline and murmurs, "You get to a point down the line where you kinda like some nice peace and quiet." Alright, if he's told one lie tonight then that's it right there.

Tiago wrinkles his nose. "Well, I wouldn't turn down free beer none ever, but I don't need ya for that. Fuck man, I'm a pretty guy. I could hit up a gay bar and get all the drinks I wanted, and even regular bars since some girls like doin' that shit. /Plus/ you actin' like I'm some punk kid. I'm what, 23 now? 22, I think." Tiago protests, but he finds himself shrug off the decline rather easily. "Peace and quiet, eh?" Beat. "Yeah. He's gotten used ta bein' borin' as fuck. There's nothin' we can do about it, babe. He's /one of them/, dun dun dun." After offering that particular sound effect, he finishes off his beer and looks over to Lena, moving to take hers.

The brunette stirs with a sad, affected sorrow causing something of a droop to her shoulders. "I guess. I was kinda hopeful, you know, 'cause…not like we've met many cool folks yet. Not any clean ones, anyway. I mean, even the *rich* people are throwing up in garbage cans, in this city. You don't see that shit back home," she says mournfully, exchanging that look with Tiago. And, once again, giving over her drink without a word. It's a sad world. She'd cry if it wouldn't ruin her image. "But hey, you know, you ever change your mind, Jay, you should look us up. All work and no play, right?"

For a time he just smiles at them both, looking between one and then the other. He chuckles, shaking his head. Rising to his feet smoothly, he starts to reach into his jacket. From within he pulls a small card that he tosses on the table, it flutters to the tabletop, settling to rest face up with one corner in a small pool of sweat from one of the beer mugs.

Joel Nelson
Consultant
Securetech Incorporated

The next thing to be produced is his wallet which lets him toss a few bills on the table to settle the tab. He looks to them both and says levelly, "I run around a lot, but drop a line there. I check the messages now and again." For a time he seems to drop the casual happy-go-lucky act and he looks at them with something akin to severity. "You both play it safe. This city can suck ass. I don't want to read about ya in the papers." He looks back and forth between them both, almost seeming as if he was going to add 'capische' at the end there. He doesn't, though. Thankfully.

Tiago quirks his brows upwards when the card is produced, and he takes some time to peer at it before drawing his attention over to Joel. His lips purse, particularly when the man gives them that warning and what follows is a slow, deliberate nod of his head. "Yeah. Yeah, you too man. Keep safe." After that borderline serious moment is given, the wryness of his smile returns. "Go back ta your corporate slavery, man. See ya."

Lena cranes her neck to the side to get a look at the card, whistling low upon seeing its oh so official layout. "Heavy shit," she opins. That, combined with the sudden shift of demeanor in their razzing buddy, earns Joel a look every bit as level and studious as Tiago's. "But for serious, man, we can handle ourselves. You don't even know," the teen goes on, adopting that careless grin again. "We'll call you, our next party! See you."

Over his shoulder, Joel gives a wave even as he slips into the ebb and flow of the bar's crowd.

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