2010-06-26: Grand Opening, Grand Closing



Date: June 26, 2010


After happy fun times in the park, Aaron, Elle, and George check out the grand opening of a nearby bar. There's some grand standing before the place is forced to close early.

"Grand Opening, Grand Closing"

Some New and Awesome Bar

Business at the bar is picking up more and more steam as the sun goes down. There's a moderate but good-enough selection of drinks and wings, a dartboard, a couple pool tables, and a jukebox loud enough to be heard without drowning out everything around it. Okay, there's also a few dozen loud barflies scattered all over one side, but what else is new?

For his part, George is working his way into the second half of a six-pack, playing spectator to the nearest round of nine-ball and trading verbal jabs with a guy in a Yankees cap. The water soaked into his shirt has mostly evaporated by now, so the electric blonde should have a safe time of it. In theory.

As the hours lead into evening, Aaron gets somewhat stranger, especially after accidentally bumping into some long-haired, hippie-looking man in aquamarine scrubs. After hastily apologizing to the man — doctor, nurse, orderly; hard to tell — he hurries back to George with his own drink, a whiskey sour, which happens to be nearly gone by the time he arrives. He also holds a Cosmopolitan for Elle.

"Who's winning?" he asks, peering back to the bar where the man in the scrubs was. Has he been in one place too long?


Elle has elicited several Significant Glances and wolf whistles at her attire that was suitable for a jog. However, a sports bra and shorts is not the best outfit to wear if one wants to be undetected in a bar. A slightly self-conscious flush lingers on her cheeks, but soon this flush begins to turn into one of the slightly tipsy variety.

Elle's weakness is those fruity, brightly coloured drinks in which you can barely taste the alcohol, like the Cosmo Aaron brings her. It's not her first since they arrived; in fact, near her elbow is a small cluster of empty drinks and some accompanying tiny umbrellas. "I have no idea." Elle's brow was furrowed as she tried to keep track of the rules of a game she'd never learned to play.

George nods to Aaron as he heads back over, glancing at the growing pile of empties. It'll be his turn to stand Elle a round next— she hasn't paid so much as one thin dime since she walked in. Wait, did someone else buy her a couple rounds, or has he lost count? He's not sure any more.

"Well, the guy on the right's been doing better," he explains, gesturing more broadly with one hand than he really needs to. "But nine-ball is— the other guy could get a freak lucky shot and win it, still. Eight-ball, freak luck only lets you lose when it's your turn."

If there is a next round of drinks.

"Well damn, I'm out twenty bucks," is Aaron's response before he downs the other half of his whiskey sour. "Maybe." The game's not over yet. He takes another glance back to the bar. The man in the scrubs is nowhere to be seen. There was something … ominously familiar about the man's eyes. Behind the long hair and the goatee, though…. Aaron shakes his head and returns his attention to the game, though he's getting a sinking feeling. For good reason. He spares a glance to Elle and her alcohol-induced glow. The words 'maybe we should call it a night,' never quite leave his lips. He doesn't have the chance.

A pool cue is held against his neck and he's pulled back by a burly man with black hair and a bushy beard. How a person can be decked out in that much black leather on such a warm day is anyone's guess, but he doesn't seem to be having any issues with the heat. A few patrons scamper backwards as Aaron's hauled backwards.

The initial shock wearing off, Aaron fights back and the two topple backwards, collapsing a table. The former musician ends up sandwiched between the biker and the broken table.

Just like that, the influence of alcohol on Elle's system is overrun by the adrenaline. She jumps to her feet, the liquid in her glass sloshing over as she puts it down too hard on the table. "George! Help! Now!" Here's a girl who knows how to take charge. Her eyes dart around the room, seeing who else might be able to help. Not finding any promising candidates, Elle narrows her eyes at the biker and wades into the fray.

No, she won't use her power - can't, not in front of all of these people - but Elle has had other physical training in her time as an agent. She knows plenty about the areas of the body to pinch, twist, or pull to create the most pain. Long nails fixing on either side of the biker's earlobe, she exerts pressure. "Get off my friend now, please," is her scarily calm request.

The pair who came in with Aaron are far from the only ones to notice him getting hauled off. Besides the ones just getting out of the biker's way, one of the pool players that Aaron was betting on is distracted at just the wrong moment, hitting the eight ball so hard that it flies right off the table and through the air.

Or, from another point of view: he's distracted at just the right moment, as the eight ball lands in George's hand like he was catching a long fly out of left field. Which he sort of did, actually. Arching a brow at Elle's quick technique, but otherwise holding his praise for later, he draws the arm with the pool ball back. "Let him go or you'll be down four more teeth," he calls out. Actually, he can't throw worth a damn, but the guy in the leather jacket doesn't know that, now does he?

The leatherbound husky grunts as Elle looses her techniques upon him. Tough guy. "Alright, alright," he says, getting off of Aaron, who winces as every bit of the man's two hundred some pounds get off him. He takes a step back, his eyes on the tiny woman who tried to take his ear off — at least from his perspective. Two goons join him on either side, armed with pool cues and at least as beefy as their leader. The man addresses George, "Our beef ain't with you, smallfry." Then his lips curl in a grin as he looks to both of his pals, "But maybe we can get ourselves a bit extra, eh boys?"

Aaron winces from the ground and knows he's going to feel a whole lot worse come morning, especially after the alcohol wears off. But for now, he puts his energy into getting off his back and the broken table. He can smell beer, and is quite certain some got on him at some point. The table he and McAsshat landed on had previously been occupied.

"I really think the answer to that is no, actually," Elle says in a sugary sweet voice. It's then that she reaches into her purse, using just touch to navigate the contents of the bag as her grey-blue eyes never leave the burly trio. Triumphantly, her hand emerges with her BFF - a taser.

Turning her hand and wrist so that it's easily viewable by all three goons and whoever else cares to threaten her or her companions. "Don't you agree, boys?" Her tone is still calm, still sweet.

Oh, good, a taser - the great equalizer of the modern age. At least the head of the mini-gang should go down before he gets to do anything seriously harmful. His buddies, on the other hand… they might prove to be more of a problem. "Oh, I'm 'a bit extra'?" replies George, a smirk twisting his features as well. "I didn't think you two swung that way— won't your husbands be jealous?" Maybe the return taunt will goad them into doing something stupid, or at least distract them long enough for Aaron to get the drop on them.

By this point, most sane patrons have fled. The curious (a.k.a. stupid), have lingered with camera phones out — at least for those not on the phone with 9-1-1. Clearly, the gang isn't worried, although they do look rather put off all things considered. Especially about spark. And them without their own tasers….

"No, no, no, no. No." The voice comes from the back of the establishment, past the bar and towards the staff exit. From the way Aaron's eyes go wide, it's obvious he recognizes it, too. "Why do you trouble yourselves with this little … man? He's not worth saving."

The distraction that is the man in the aquamarine scrubs gives Aaron the chance to finish standing and back the hell away, close to the exit. "Believe me, we should run."

Elle is torn. Given the use of her powers, she could easily take whatever was thrown at her. Even with just the taser, she could do a good bit of damage. But it's genuine fear in Aaron's voice, and not just fear - experience. Really, the smart thing to do would be to trust Aaron and head for the hills.

Too bad Elle has some serious trust issues. Plus, she has trouble backing out of a fight. So much for the smart thing. "I'm not leaving until I know what's going on, first of all. I'll need the names of who I'll be…" Elle searches for an appropriately threatening word, then pulls one from the Company vocabulary, "… handling." Turning her attention to the distant voice and its source, Elle's shoulders square and her chin goes up. "Who the hell are you to tell me who's worth saving and who's not?"

George would just as soon make a run for it - whoever these guys are, law enforcement is sure to be chasing after them before long - but that's only an option if all three of them break for it at once, and Elle has made it clear she's not about to. Instead, he walks slowly forward toward the others, rapping the eight ball against the nearest table top in time with every second step. "Oh, you have no idea who you're dealing with, do you?" It's true, in a way - though their reaction if they did recognize them would probably be more along the lines of 'ooh, hostage!'. This is why you should pay attention to the news, boys and girls.


"Ask the Lightbringer," the man says in response to Elle's question. His men seem to have backed up a bit, themselves. Whether or not they fear Elle and Mr. Sparky or the other man remains to be seen. "Oh, I know who you are, Mister Dawson. I just don't care." He points to Aaron, who has more or less propped himself against the exit to the establishment. "I'm only here for him. The rest of you…." The man takes a bottle of booze from the bar and pitches it behind the counter. It shatters, and flames rise from behind the bar. "Get out."

Now there's a fire. That seems to be enough to get most of the staff and lingering patrons to hightail it out of the establishment, shoving Aaron aside as they do so. For the most part, it seems Aaron's frozen, his eyes staring at the flames behind the bar. He doesn't move an inch. Unlike the goons, who move between the park trio and the Boss.

"No." That's it, that's all she has to say. There's no quip, no snappy comeback, no taunting. Elle simply gazes straight at the main threat and utters this word in a cold, no-nonsense tone. Her affected sweetness is gone, and she's just a petite blonde with a taser in her hand and steel in her eyes.

"I'm not going anywhere without him. Without both of them." Elle indicates with a nod first Aaron, then George. No, Elle isn't being courageous - she's being stubborn. She hated being told what to do, and every order made her even more contrary.

Lightbringer? What the hell is this guy, the second coming of Jim Jones? Better informed than his mooks, but that's hardly a surprise. The Molotov cocktail from out of nowhere? Now that comes as a surprise.

George stops his forward progress, but neither does he run off. He can do stubborn, too. He doesn't say anything else, either, but he does glance away from the flames, up toward the ceiling. This is, after all, a new bar. And what sort of safety equipment might a new building have in good working order, in case a fire ever breaks out?

Where there's smoke, there's fire. Where there's fire, there's smoke — usually. Where there's smoke or fire? Yeah, there's water. At least in new buildings that are up to safety standards, anyway. It will probably completely ruin Elle's day that this establishment actually happens to have a functioning sprinkler system. Or did until Tom Wilkes came by. The audible clank of the sprinkler release and a light spray of the water still in the pipes is all that comes from it, though. It's enough to get people wet. Some of the furniture, too. It doesn't stop the fire, though.

"Have it your way," Tom says. "Good bye, Aaron. May you burn eternal." The goons take one step forward and a wall of flame rises from behind them, blocking sight of the rear of the establishment and making it so much easier for Tom to leave without reprisal. Police will be here soon, anyway, and he best make himself scarce.

Aaron, on the other hand, for all he was going on about running away can do little more than stare into the flames. He looks distinctly ill at the sight of them, and it's only a miracle he hasn't started screaming his head off, though there will be time for that later once the shock has worn off. Aaron and fire? Yeah, they don't go together particularly well.

Just as Elle's about to make some grand stand, there's a chink and then a whoosh and then a passionate "fuck" under her breath. Both of Elle's hands are raised in the air - the taser is in her waistband - and she's just about to call electricity to them both, when she begins to get slowly but steadily wet.

It's too late to stop sparks from leaping from one of her hands, and although they hit her target - the middle goon who seems to be in charge - she is without her immunity to her own power, and she doubles over in pain. "George.. Aaron.. out.. now!" Elle manages, her eyes watering from the backlash of power strong enough to knock a grown man off his feet. Hopefully it'd done that, if nothing else. Elle and water? Yeah, they don't go together particularly well.

There's a drizzle of water throughout the bar, conducting some of the excess electricity off in several different directions. A couple more bottles get smashed. The dart board, still full of pointy metal objects, is badly charred (not that the fire wasn't starting to burn it up anyway). And there's another metal object drawing a lot of the energy into itself, shuddering and groaning as the plaster in front of it begins to crack open…

All at once, the tank and the pipes leading to it burst outward, spilling their contents all over the flames and cutting them off before they can reach any closer to the other end of the bar. Knowing an opportunity when he sees it, George turns and grabs one of Elle's hands in one of his, and likewise for Aaron if he hasn't already snapped out of it on his own. Never mind such details as who the Human Torch actually is, why he has it in for Aaron, or what exactly was in that tank; time enough for such things after they've cleared the building.

Oh, and one other detail that Elle might pick up on. When Tom and Elle threw their respective abilities around, why didn't George act more surprised?

One could ask the same of Aaron, only he has the added bonus of being in shock. It's the third time the same person has tried to kill him. His paranoia is clearly justified. What may or may not have happened beyond the wall of fire is anyone's guess.

The uninvited yank on his arm as George drags him outside — and the accompanying tingle of electricity care of Elle, seem to help snap Aaron out of just staring, at any rate. The nighttime air helps, too, but he nevertheless finds himself a garbage can to be sick in. Definitely not his finest hour.

Elle's control over her power frays with her pain, and as George touches her, a spark jumps from him to Aaron. This one is stronger than the one from earlier, enough to make Elle flinch and release both the men's hands, but it's nothing debilitating like the shock she'd sent to the goon inside.

After a glance to George to make sure he's alright - as relative as the term may be, in this situation - Elle takes a moment to get a hold of herself. One, two, three deep yoga breaths, and she's settled enough so that her power stays in her skin. She can't use it for a damn at the moment, but it won't go lashing out, either. Her cool, damp fingers are on Aaron's temples as he's sick, brushing the hair from his face as she switches into an Elle-mode rarely seen: Soothing. "It's okay," she manages, though she's not particularly sure of this. "You're okay." Her voice is gentle.

The surprise bar fight didn't hit George quite as badly as the other two - he's still doubled over and out of breath, and the stench of booze and smoke and dirty water has left him with a headache, but he straightens up after a minute and staggers over toward the others. Well, that explains the tingly feeling from earlier, at least. "You both are— we all are. I think. So who the hell was that guy?" he asks, turning his attention toward Aaron. "Way he was acting, you'd think you'd eloped with his daughter or something."

Soothing or not, Aaron shakes onder Elle's touch. Though it's not fear or nerves now. Now that he's regained his wits, it's pure, unadulterated anger. "Son of a bitch," he says through closed teeth, though he's more angry at himself than Tom right now. He's the one who froze up. He's the one with the power to stop him, and he froze. He was useless. One last spit into the garbage can and he stands up. Not particularly graceful, no, nor is the kick he then gives the garbage can. If it weren't bolted to the ground, it would probably go flying.

Aaron moves away from the garbage can, and winces. "How does walking make my ribs hurt?" Being crunched by a two-hundred-and-something-pound man certainly didn't help. He gives a pained chuckle to George. "I proposed to the woman he was secretly in love with. He burned down the music hall we were all in." Anyone who's lived in New York City for a couple of years probably remembers the old Aleston Music Hall fire on October 2, 2008. It's hard to forget a tragedy that ended the lives of 153 people and brought the band The Lightbringers to an end, since only one band member survived. Aaron Michaels.

"That was Tom Wilkes," Aaron says, scratching at his neck. His fingers work his shirt in such a way as to reveal what looks to be badly scarred flesh, before they disappear under his collar again. "And that's the third time the son of a bitch has tried to burn me to death."

Not for the first time, Elle wishes for a power where she could help people, not just shock them. Concerned grey-blue eyes follow Aaron's movement, and she stays near his side, keeping both him and George in her line of sight. What can you say? Trauma tends to bring people together.

"Well, let's not have there be a fourth, shall we? Let me rephrase," Elle's tone turns steely, "There won't be a fourth." A hand curls protectively around the crook of Aaron's elbow, and then her attention is on George. "Yes," she says simply in regards to his statement. "All of us, I think."

Straightening up, George bites his lip. "Hell hath no fury like an asshole scorned," he murmurs. And winces, bending down to stare at his knees again— no, his foot, actually. In the confusion of their exit, he managed to drop the eight ball on it at some point.

"I hope you're right," he says to Elle, "but taking down a guy who can do that? Not gonna be easy. Have to either catch him by surprise, or…" Find someone with an ability that more directly counteracts his? In fact, he knows at least three such people, but two of them he doesn't know about, and one's just a kid. "Well, I guess we could tell FDNY that he's an arsonist? It's basically true…"

"I'm fine," Aaron says when Elle grabs hold of his arm. He has no luck with people, why should this be any different? His therapist keeps disappearing and Tom has made it impossible to have a normal life. He's not about to get more people killed.

In perfect contradiction of his claim, he winces when George makes his asshole scorned statement. It hurts to laugh. He's bruised and battered, it shouldn't be surprising. "Oh, the fire department and the police know. They've been trying to find him since he tried to kill me in my own home in January. They've been terribly helpful." The sound of sirens is not far off. "Wonderful. I get to give another statement."

Elle glares at Aaron, her temper sparking. "That's just bull. I've had enough of that to last a lifetime, so spare me, won't you please?" So much for Soothing Mode. Or - and this was a more terrifying thought - was this Elle's Soothing Mode? Her blonde head tilts to track the siren. "We have time to bolt if we don't want to deal with police right now. We can plot this bastard's demise after we're in the clear." There's genuine bile in her words at 'bastard'.

The approaching sound draws George's attention as well, once Elle calls attention to it. "But we need to leave now. They spot me here, there'll be media crawling all over the place… last thing we need." He might have already been spotted earlier, but they might think he left before the fight went down. "My apartment's not far off, you guys can get cleaned up…" How does that work for Elle, anyway? The questions you come up when you're running on three drinks and a jolt of adrenaline…

"I'm quite certain that's illegal…." Aaron says, though he would be the first to admit he's not sure on that one hundred percent. On the other hand, he does understand media attention. DO NOT WANT. "Maybe you should go then. God knows I don't want the press here. Had enough fuckin' questions from the press to last a lifetime." He rubs his face, "Pardon my language."

Unmoving, he remains situated against the bar, despite a few small fires still present within. "You two go, I'll be fine. Won't mention either of you, but I'm not running away. I want to make sure the son of a bitch knows he fucked up, again." Which gives him a moment's pause, "Maybe the press isn't such a bad idea…."

"I'm not - you're not - I don't want - you should - " Elle starts and stops several sentences before she regresses about a decade, crossing her arms over her chest, narrowing her eyes, and stomping her foot with a grunt of frustration. "Aaron! Please come with us. You can give them a report later. You're in no shape to do anything but recharge at the moment; you're coming apart at the seams." Each sentence was a different set of tactics: nice, wheedling, sensible, stern. And finally, at the end, her second, "Please?" is genuine.

Offering a non-committal shrug, George is already heading down the sidewalk, glancing back toward the other two. "I don't know, man," he says to Aaron, "but whatever you do— do it quick. You too, Elle, you're walking wounded." Well, they all are, to varying degrees - which is why he's pushing himself to follow his own advice, headache be damned.

Aaron lowers his head. "I'm sorry," he says, shaking his head. "Just go." He's gotten enough people killed and is not about to run. The cops are a necessity. Sure, he'll probably be the one to take Tom down in the end. He certainly can't let the police get incinerated by the bastard. He takes a breath and looks up. "Take care of her, George." He can't look Elle in the eye. He doesn't want to see any hurt that might be there looking back at him. He has enough of his own.

Elle needs to make a decision now if she's going to avoid the cops. With another noise of pure exasperation, she reaches out to give Aaron's arm a comforting squeeze before she leaves. However, before her hand reaches him, a charge of electricity does, and the fact that she's still wet means that she feels it, too. It's just a stinging spark, but that's the last contact either of them has with the other before Elle's running — or the best semblance of running she can manage, given the circumstances — after George. "Be careful," is tossed over her shoulder at Aaron.

George turns back one more time, fishing out his wallet and tossing a business card in Aaron's general direction. It doesn't come anywhere near reaching him, just fluttering down onto the sidewalk, but at least he has time to see it and come pick it up. With that, and a quick nod, he looks forward again and picks up the pace. If he's no more worn out than he thinks he is, then they should be able to round the corner inside of a minute. And the sirens are still at least two minutes away. He hopes.

Turns out they were nearly four minutes away. At any rate, Aaron has the business card tucked into his wallet long before they show up. By then, a bit of a crowd has gathered as the smoke comes out of the bar thicker than ever. It doesn't look like the place will be doing business anymore. Not for a long while, at least. So much for the grand opening….

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