2007-08-04: I Believe in Harvey Wallbanger


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Summary: Gifts are given, with nothing expected in return.

Dark Future Date: August 4, 2009

I Believe in Harvey Wallbanger

The Den of Iniquity

The Den has changed. When a bomb went off here more than a year ago the interior of the building was gutted. Everyone inside was killed. What's left isn't a pretty sight. Much of the bar was demolished in the blast, and several sections of the ceiling were weakened and subsequently fell through. Much of the carpet and furnishings are blacked by fire and smoke. The windows are boarded up. There are still shards of broken glass, debris, and blood everywhere. Much of the blood is Jack's.

One thing is the same, calling up images of brighter and happier days. The Irishman is standing at his customary place behind what's left of the bar. He glances down at the battered silver flask clenched in his hand. He doesn't want to take a drink. Okay, that's a lie, he really wants to take a drink. Almost imperceptably, his hand begins to shake.

"Fuck it." He unscrews the flask's cap and takes healthy swallow.

The Den of Iniquity. It's been years since she's been here. Not since she went into a coma after the first of the visions. In her hands are two huge shopping bags from American Eagle. It looks like she went on a shopping spree. That is… not entirely accurate. She enters the Den and initially looks pained at the sight of it. It twists her gut. Not just the image of it, but the images it tries to assault her with. She can feel the energy in the blasted bar on her skin, making her hair stand on end.

Hazel eyes fall on the man behind the bar. It doesn't matter that he was her friend - her lover - in their so-called past lives. It doesn't matter that he and her husband don't see eye to eye. She strolls toward the center of the room and sets her backs down on either side of her, carefully, before dropping to one knee, her head bowed. "Shepherd." Her tone is respectful. There's no hint of mockery here. Kate has the utmost admiration for Jack Derex - for the man he's become.

Jack gulps down his mouthful of bourbon and wipes his mouth with the back of a gloved hand. As always, his scars are concealed by BDUs with the rank and insignia torn off. Today it's a muted shade of grey that's broken only by a black canvas strap attached to a curious, bulky, rifle-like weapon with two barrels and clips. Someone has thoughtfully (tauntingly?) embroidered 'SHEPHERD' across the breast pocket of the uniform in tall, bold letters.

"M-Kate," he greets her as she approaches. Old-fashioned to the core, he uses a pre-arranged codephrase to reassure her that he's himself and ensure that she is who she appears to be. "My name's Harvey. What can I get you?"

Kate looks up with a hint of a smile. "Wallbanger, if you'd be so kind." She stays down for now. She's not here as a threat. And she won't make any moves until he's decided she isn't one. Her eyes sparkle, marveling at the sight of him. Can nothing keep this man down? "It's good to see you again."

Rather than the requested Wallbanger, Jack offers Kate his flask. Every bottle in the joint shattered when the bomb detonated, so it's not like there's anything else. "It's always nice to see old friends," he replies as demurely as his ruined voice is able. Relaxing now, he pushes the rifle he's lovingly nicknamed 'Bernice' around to hang behind his back. It's a small reassurance considering his ability, but the gesture is meant to be more symbolic than anything else. "How've you been?"

Kate declines the bourbon with a polite shake of her head. She rises to her feet and reaches out to pat his cheek gently. "I've been all right. As well as can be expected in these times." She brushes her thumb fondly over his stubble before withdrawing entirely. "No offense on the bourbon. I'd love some, but any rumours you've heard about my trouble controlling my ability are true. I don't really want to touch anything." Her smile turns a little sad at her admission, but it fades quickly.

"Me either," Jack replies wryly. He doesn't withdraw from Kate's touch, but he doesn't lean into it either. "You should try gloves," he recommends, raising one of his leather-covered paws by way of example. "No offense taken. So. Down to business, then? What brings you to my humble establishment?"

"They've never worked," Kate says with a shrug. "Otherwise you can bet I'd never take 'em off." She then hefts her bags up again. "I come with offerings for the Saints." She moves to what's left of the bar, settling the large shopping bags there now. This time, she doesn't set them down quite as gently, letting them thud heavily. "I bring you gifts, and we talk about what you might have to offer me, if you're pleased with what I've brought." She takes a step away, waiting patiently for him to examine the merchandise.

"Offerings?" Jack is initially suspicious, but the mention that she wants something in return relaxes him substantially. After all, nobody can afford to give away something for nothing these days. He peeks into each bag, then nods approvingly. It's ammunition. What every man wants, but only the manly man really needs. "That's mighty thoughtful of you. I'm not sure what I could offer you in return, though…" He lifts an eyebrow curiously, inviting her to fill in the end of the statement.

"I want an alliance," Kate states simply. "Peter's numbers are dwindling and I'm about to give up my public face," the one that smiles and agrees with everything the president says, "and launch back into the fray. I'm going to need more people at my back. Infinite is great, but he won't be enough. Peter and I are better off separated when it comes to missions. He tends to be too busy watching out for me to truly focus on…" She sighs heavily. "I don't like to say that about him, but it's true. So, if I can't have Peter at my back, I'd like to borrow the Saints from time to time. Joint venture. Mutually beneficial."

"You want to borrow my team?" Jack is more stunned by this request than dismayed or offended. He takes a deep breath and shakes his head. "Never gonna happen." Jack crosses both arms over his chest and lets out a long, low sigh. "Sorry, kiddo. Your husband has a rep for bitin' off more than he can chew. I'll not risk gettin' my people killed because he felt like wanderin' in and playin' leader. My team is just that. My team." His features soften somewhat, and his voice is more compassionate when he continues. "Do you have a second favorite wish?"

"I'm not asking you to work for Peter. I'm asking you to work with me." Kate folds her arms under her flat chest. "Believe me, there's a huge difference there. I wouldn't ask you to work for Peter. I know better than that." She purses her lips, "I don't even need a team. I'll settle for you at my back once in a while. I trust you, Jack, or I wouldn't be asking."

Jack rubs a hand along his whiskery jaw, his brow creased in deep thought. He chews briefly at his lower lip. "I can't lie to you, kiddo. I'm spread pretty thin right now. You know me, I'm happy to lend a hand where I can, but my family comes first." He shrugs apologetically and digs his flask out for another drink. When he's finished, he caps it and sets it on the counter instead of putting it back away. "What did you have in mind?"

"I was thinking I'm going to blow something up. Haven't decided definitively on a target yet. But if Peter and I split up and attack two different targets, they'll have a harder time pinning us down." Kate seems to think this is sound logic. "It'll be exciting, Jack. The president is gonna want my head on a platter. It'll be just like old times. When Gray was still around."

"Blow something up, but you're not sure what?" A hiss of air escapes from between Jack's clenched teeth and his eyes widen slightly. "No offense, but your plan seems a little vague. Splittin' forces is only tactically sound in certain situations. Besides, with my ability, Doucheb—Pete shouldn't need to get anywhere near somethin' to bomb it." He steeples his gloved fingers into a thoughtful triangle and peers over at Kate curiously. "Are you sure this isn't less about what needs to get done and more about you bein' the one to do it? I know Pete's been keepin' you on a pretty short leash."

Kate's carefully guarded expression slips. How much of that is true? More than she's willing to admit, it would seem. "If I can't get what I want out of life, I may as well get my hands as dirty as possible. Keeping my hands clean has been largely unfulfilling." She presses her lips together and frowns. "I didn't figure it made sense to have a plan all laid out and pitch to you if you were just going to turn me down. Especially if you decide not to participate. The less people know what I'm up to, the safer everyone is."

Jack nods, grudgingly conceding the wisdom of this line of reasoning. "Wasted work makes extra frustration," he agrees. "Unfortunately, I don't think I can accommodate you. I see too much risk and too little reward, even for an old friend." He shrugs again helplessly.

Kate can't help but look stunned. She takes a step back and nods. "Keep the stuff. You'll make good use of it, I'm sure." Another step back. "If you… Just keep your ears open. You hear about someone gunning for me, you have the courtesy to pass it on down to me, okay? We've got a leak in our ranks, and that's got me scared. So, if you hear something, you let me know. As far as anybody knows, I was never here. Peter doesn't even know. This stays between you, me, and Infinite." She takes in a deep breath and slowly lets it out again. "I'm sorry we couldn't work things out. It's been really good to see you, though."

Jack doesn't want to take the ammo. After all, he didn't do anything to earn it. Still, at this point, turning it down would cause more problems than a bit of minor moral upheaval. He lets out another pent-up breath and nods. "You know I'll always watch your back as best as I'm able. You wanna keep it secret, then secret it'll be. It was good to see you, too. Take care of yourself."

"I appreciate that. A lot." Kate nods. Rather than continue for the door, though, she moves forward again, pulling Jack into a tight hug. "Dunno how many more of these you and I will get." Always the defeatist, pretending to be an optimist. She disengages and lightly slaps his shoulder. "I'll be seein' you. You can bet on it." Even if he doesn't see her. With a wide smile, gap-toothed and all, she turns and heads out of the Den.

Jack returns the hug earnestly. He even gives Kate a friendly, affectionate pat on the cheek that's only slightly cheapened by his leather gloves. "Don't be glum, kiddo. Chin up, stiff upper lip." Then he releases her, nods a farewell, and watches her leave.

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