1963-09-25 - A Good Start
Summary: Liv and Max spot a new bar on their way through Harlem. They can't not stop in.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
max liv luke 


It's getting to be about dinner time on Sunday afternoon. Luke put out his 'Open' sign for the first time just half an hour ago. Really, he isn't expecting much in the way of clientele this evening. He's got plenty of competition, after all. He opened the bar because it gives him something to do in his off hours — and he'll hire help if it turns out that he needs it.

He's been polishing up glasses at the bar for the last half hour. Both the Yankees and the Mets are out of town, so the radio is tuned to the Giants/Steelers game — the Giants are losing badly, and Luke is annoyed by this. A glass shatters in his hands. He utters a sigh and picks up the broom to sweep up the pieces.

*

The rumble of a motorcycle engine as it cruises by drifts in — but unlike the rest of the traffic outside, this one actually stops. A few moments later, a very patient-looking, very tall blonde draws the door to the bar open, standing back and waving her companion inside ahead of herself.

"It's still a little early, Max," Liv says with the sort of resignation in her voice that suggests this is far from the first time the two have had this exact conversation. Which is probably why she doesn't wait for a response before she adds, "Bar or a booth, take your pick."

*

Max is already off the bike by the time it comes to a complete and total stop (PS: don't take her on roller coasters). "It's the weekend and I don't have to work, Liv. It is NEVER too early to defile a virgin establishment," she announces, and— barely— remembers to open the door instead of just drift through it.

She answers the other part of the comment by beelining for the bar. She hops up the little bit it takes to get her butt on a stool and lets her momentum spin her around a full 360. Slowly. "I win!" It's not a contest. "I winnnnnnnnnn! Someone bring me a shotglass!"

*

Luke raises an eyebrow as the pair come in. He's not complaining, but he did not expect his first customers to be a pair of the whitest girls in the city. A shot glass is set on the bar before Max without hesitation, though. "Evenin', ladies," he says, voice deep as a North Sea oil well. "What can I getcha?"

*

Liv trails along after Max with a longsuffering sort of smile offered towards Luke. She is used to her roommate, which includes being used to inevitably having to apologize for her. Start the clock. "Evening. Whatever she's having, just…" She gestures with both hands as she hitches up on the stoop next to Max's, ignoring her as she spins. "…a full glass, please."

*

Is Max a super-white girl in the wrong part of town? Maybe. Does she seem to give a damn? Definitely not. Should she be making eyes at the impressive black man behind the bar? Definitely yes, apparently. "Well, hel-lo handsome," she beams, and smacks a wad of bills on the bartop. "Anything that'll make a girl forget she's gonna work a week of overtime once that crap in Central is shuffled off to… wherever that kinda thing comes from." max is clearly a bit ahead of the 'free spirit' movement curve.

*

Clearly a free spirit, yes, but Luke seems amused more than anything. He grins. "I think we can handle that." To be fair, most of the booze in his bar is on the cheaper side. His place isn't a dive, but it's not the Four Seasons, either. "How's bourbon suit you?" He turns away to take a bottle from the shelf behind him — Rebel Yell, the label reads — and cracks the seal, pouring a shot for Max, then up-ending the bottle into a pint glass he sets before Liv.

*

A full pint? Now he's a man after both their hearts. Liv can no longer chide Max in good conscience, so she just smiles lopsidedly at Luke instead and watches him pour. "Suits me very well. Thank you." Once the bottle's no longer in the way, she takes the glass and raises it towards Max's far smaller shot in a salute. "Cheers. I'm working on it, Max. It'll get fixed," she says confidently.

*

Max positively sparkles when she reads the bottle label. "Ooooh, I might just have a new brand… Don't go away just yet," she advises Luke, slams the shot, and sets the glass back down. "…and one to enjoy with a beer of your choice, barkeep," she adds with a wink.

She squints at Liv, pointing at her friend and roommate. "Not worry? Hah! With the way you rip up pavement?"

*

"You ask for a full glass, you get a full glass," Luke says to Liv. "I figure a person who can walk in here knows what she's askin' for." He fills the shot glass for Max once more, then turns back to his taps to pour her a glass of Ballantine's. "Well, my first day is off to a good start."

*

"Oh, so it is your first day!" Liv actually beams across the bar at Luke now, trying to ignore Max's absolutely untrue suggestion about her track record with property damage. Rude. "We thought the place was new, but I wasn't sure. Unless it's purely your first day, personally," she allows, nodding her head from side to side. Hm. "Well, still."

*

Max punches Liv in the arm. Despite the size disparity… it's enough to rock the larger blonde in her seat. "Toldjya," she teases. "Maybe we should add him— the place, I mean— to our rotation?" She samples the beer, makes a happy noise, downs the shot, swigs the beer. "Man's got taste," she points out.

*

"Whole place is newly open. Wasn't even sure I should bother on a Sunday evening — it's more a hobby than anything. And it's all mine," he adds, gesturing to the sign on the office door:

Luke Cage
Private Investigator
Proprietor
Hero for Hire

"Welcome to my establishment. I aim to sell the best booze that can be had for the lowest price. Nothing pricey — but nothing bad, either."

*

Sure enough, the way Liv flinches and rubs the spot Max punched doesn't appear to be entirely for show. "It's a bit of a ride from home, but you're not wrong," she tells Max. "And the company is good, so I don't see why not."

When Luke gestures to the sign, Liv leans forward enough to get a good look as she takes a long draw from her pint. She makes a pleased humming noise as she returns the glass to the bar. "I like the sound of that, Mr. Cage. Or do you prefer Luke?" she asks, grinning as she offers a hand across the counter. "Liv. This is Max."

*

Max stands to get a little more height and lean over the bar when she reads the sign, grinning at Luke. "Hero for Hire? NICE," she opines, offering Luke a tiny fist to bump. But it's way more solid than it looks. "I like it." She nods in Liv's direction as she's introduced. "Max Stryfe, dont' wear it out. Or do. Worn out stuff is great. Just more cozy that way, ya know?"

*

"Pleasure to meet you both. Luke's just fine." He grins all the more broadly at Max's offer of a fist and bumps it — gently, but then even if she's incredibly strong, she has only so much mass. A more forceful fist bump might send her crashing into the wall. "Sometimes people hire me to do bodyguard work or somethin'," he explains. "Sometimes people just need a hand, even if they can't pay for it. And they know where to go when they do."

*

"Maybe I've been going about this all wrong," Liv muses thoughtfully, glancing sidelong at Max. She rests an elbow on the bar and props her chin up in her hand. "I've been doing the dangerous stuff for free and holding down a nine-to-five to make rent."

*

Max is probably a little bit more mass-intensive than expected, but… still, some caution is fair. She wouldn't want to anchor down and break the barstool. She just shrugs at Liv, seemingly unbothered by talking super-human shop in relative public like this. "Hey, like I'd argue. It's what I did. Okay, so it's a little more manual labor than I wanted when I signed on with Damage Control, but still." She shrugs, swigs her beer. "Cleaning up after… whatever happens is kinda its own reward. At least people are happy to see me work."

*

"I make most of my money on the PI job," says Luke with a broad-shouldered shrug. "I do plenty of stuff pro bono — like the lawyers say." He smiles wryly at this. Luke has had plenty of experience with lawyers. Possibly too much. "You two got powers of your own, then? Heh. Well. I -am- drawin' in just the right kind of clientele, ain't I?" He cocks his thumb toward the other door — the one with the little sign hanging from the knob reading 'Enter at Your Own Risk'. "Slowly turnin' the warehouse into a gym back there," he explains. "For those of us who'd rather lift the Y than the pathetic excuses for weights they got in there."

*

Speaking openly about being powered being a risk doesn't even seem to occur to Liv as an option. It's as natural as discussing the weather, or the increasingly sorry state of the Giants game. "Always nice to be somebody's target demographic for a change," Liv says with a sunny smile, raising her glass towards Luke. The note about the gym definitely seems to get her interest, the blonde sitting up straighter at once. "Oh, really? I'll definitely have to come back, then. Finding anything worthwhile the lift is… challenging."

*

Max splays her hands at Liv. "I told you to come to the train yard with me but nooooooo…" She winks at Luke. "Truth, I do it mostly for fun. I cheat on the whole 'lifting' thing. Technically." She shrugs a bit. "It's cool to meet someone who's open about it, though. It's so rare these days."

*

"I figure, people know what I can do, I get more customers in the PI and HFH jobs," Luke explains. "And I don't use a codename, so they're gonna know who I am one way or another." To Liv he notes, "I ain't got a lot back there yet. Got some people I'm talking to about investments so I can reinforce the walls and buy some weights that are actually challenging. I figure I can get cubed cars on the cheap and slam one down on each end of a telephone pole. For bicep curls, if nothin' else."

*

"If you need some extra hands to set that up, my weekends are usually open," Liv notes with a broad smile, lifting both shoulders in a shrug. "I mean, the business around Central Park has been keeping me busier than usual…" She pauses, glancing to Max. "Reminds me. I still need to replace those clothes," she says with a wince, tapping her fingers against her glass.

*

Max's response to the glance is to eye the ceiling and shrug. "It's some kind of hell dimension thing, Liv, the place is gonna get trashed whatever you do. I'm resigned to an ugly, long cleanup by now," she admits. "So whatever, go nuts this time."

*

"You come on by any weekend, we'll get some work done in there," Luke tells Liv. "Thanks for the offer. And then there's the other part about owning the bar. I learn more about what's going on in town just talking to random people than I ever would beating up morons. It brings the random people to me. Hell dimension. Fun. You two need refills?"

*

"Please." Liv takes a moment to make sure her glass is good and empty before she pushes it forward for a refill. Yes, please. "And I don't know if it's an actual hell dimension, but… it does certainly resemble one," she grudgingly admits, returning her chin to its place propped up in her hand. "I would tell you to be careful if you have business around Central Park, but you can take care of yourself, so I'll just say to keep your eyes open, instead."

*

"Walks like a hell dimension, quacks like a hell dimension…" Max notes, and lifts her glass to peer at Luke through the empty bottom like a telescope. "Yup," she confirms in response to the offer of a refill.

"So what's the list now, Liv? Demon dogs, hell beetles, and that weird hydra thing they had me haul to a—" She pauses. "You know what, never mind, noone wants to hear where the carcass ended up."

*

Luke is quick to refill both glasses. "Still the hard stuff?" he confirms with Liv before refilling her glass. Max gets another shot and a beer with no commentary. He's sure Liv can hold her liquor, but better safe than sorry. "Not the first time I've had to deal with weird shit in Central Park this year," he observes as he sets the drinks back in place. "And I truly do not want to know where the hydra carcass ended up."

*

As Max goes through the list of monsters, Liv's blue eyes drift to the ceiling and she ticks them off on her fingers, silently mouthing along. "…yes. That's everything. If you count the big beetle and the swarms as the same kind of thing, at least, which…" She makes a face and rocks her hand back and forth, one eye squinting.

As for Luke's question, Liv nods once and flashes another smile. "Yes please. Thank you."

*

"Hellbeetles are more of a category, so yes, I do," Max sniffs. And she nods at Luke. "You really don't. I don't, but they paid me time and a half to haul it there, so I do. And I'm sayin' you don't." Ah, time and a half. The most sacred words in NYC.

*

Luke pushes the refilled glass of Rebel Yell toward Liv. "This place may not be far enough from the Park," he observes dryly. "Just what New York needed. Literal cockroaches from hell." He nods sagely to Max, pours her a second shot. "To help you forget."

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