1963-09-25 - Wanna See?
Summary: Central Park is under quarantine, so and some of those dealing with it, or merely interested in it meet at a local pub — The Dive — for beers, boasts, and more beer…
Related: None
Theme Song: None
hellfire elizabeth 

The Dive is exactly what one would expect from a bar with a name like that. It is not much of an establishment; it's small, quieter than some of the others, a bit more rustic — and it just happens to be very close to the quarantine zone around Central Park.

Which means The Dive has suddenly become a lot more popular. In the smoky, low-lit atmosphere one can find a number of emergency service personnel, and people tasked with 'containment' — some of them soldiers, national guard, etc — either at the bar, or seated at tables.

A game is playing on the wall-mounted television, although some patrons keep changing the channel to the news. By the bar leans a roguish looking fellow in jeans and a leather jacket… and a metal chain wound about his shoulder.

He is drinking a beer.

"Had my fill o' demons," he mutters aloud in an Australian accent. "Stupid, bloody demons…"

"It's a cover-up, ya moron," retorts another patron, a 'blue-collar' guy in his forties, sipping his own beer."

The leather-jacket fellow — JT, by name — looks at the other guy and blinks. "Tell me yer from out o' town, mate. Please." Then he murmurs, "Out o' town an' bloody stupid…"

Central Park boasts some of the spendiest real estate in North America. A recent manor two blocks over from the eastern boundary of the park went on the market for a cool ten million dollars; this in an era when a steak dinner might cost two bucks, give or take. Not in one of those fancy restaurants, but it still matters.

In that smoky, low-lit atmosphere steeped in money, no one is likely to expect to find one of the better known models across the Pond. Thanks to magazine covers at Vogue and Vanity Fair, she is recognizable here, too, to a point.

Though slightly different finding her with telltale damask plum hair pulled up into a tight braid and clothing concealed under a long coat, belted around the waist. Her boots tread the floor with a squeak, their soles thick enough to muffle heavier sounds.

"If it's a cover up, say that to everyone coming back burned by acid or chlorine gas in their lungs," she remarks in passing to the blue-collar drinker slurping away his weekly income. Her voice is poised, cultivated: an Englishwoman in New York, this she makes no secret of.

The bartender she signals the old-fashioned way, leaning up to the bar. "Whatever passes for a pale ale, tonight. Have to be quick, mate." Aussie, English. Criminal, overlord. Take one for history.

When it all boils down to trouble, always have that last drink.

At the woman's voice — that smooth English accent with just a hint of bite to it — JT turns about to look at her, and arches an eyebrow. "Reckon I've died an' gone ta… someplace better than heaven…" he murmurs, but it's what she says that has him more intrigued.

"Had a peek?" he asks the woman. "Inside the quarantine zone? I'm all ears." He turns toward the bartender and adds: "If the lady doesn't mind, put it on my tab."

"It's just some government hoo-hah," says the other man, all in a grouch. "It's gotta be. Demons, acid… what a load o' crock."

"There's always one," JT murmurs. "Not cool."

"Pity the chap for this being your definition of Heaven," Elizabeth replies, leaning against the bar. The bracket of her elbow sits right against one of the perpetual baskets of peanuts that no one has touched since the Eisenhower administration, and an ashtray lies just beyond that, a frequent spot to stub out cigarettes and the odd cigar. Hey, it's New York. People are not choosy.

A long, direct stare used to peering through a camera into the soul gives the Aussie few places to run or hide. Their shade is a frosted blue, set against her slightly golden-cream skin for a strange contrast. Not typical English white, there. "Ugly business in there. Imagine Hyde Park full of blasted nightmares imagined up by a bad Hollywood director. Now sprinkle with a rotten stench of the Thames about a decade ago, before they started cleaning up all the coal fires and dumping, and there you are. Perfectly wretched."

Details are details, and she takes the pint glass, tipping it so the head doesn't foam over onto her fingers. "Think whatever you like, chap, but why would they bother? All this effort to make a show, why? It's an awful lot of trouble, and an awful lot of money to spend."

If he wants to argue, that fellow isn't going to be totally argued with. Truth is, she barely cares what he thinks. "I figure after a proper drink, back into the gauntlet for me."

"Gotta cruise a bit further than this, fer a proper drink," JT replies, giving a mock-toast with his beer before draining the glass dry. The bartender grunts at him — just enough to be heard — and then goes and serves another patron. The fellow insisting this all Hellmouth thing is a cover-up — a really, really, ridiculously massive cover-up — glowers and turns around to watch the game.

"All show an' no go," JT murmurs at the clearly deluded guy, and then shifts his attention back to the Englishwoman. "It's a mess in there, but I guess you already know that, luv." He looks her up and down, partly 'checking her out', but his eyes actually pay more attention to muscle tone, stance, centre of gravity… His gaze narrows a little and suddenly the man smiles roguishly. "Name's JT. And you are…?"

Eyebrows still lifted, Elizabeth presses the rim of the glass to her lower lip and takes a long sip. In a bottle that might be a draw, but what Englishwoman drinks a proper pale ale from a bottle when it's presumably on tap? Horrifying to assume anything worse. Blotting her lip with her tongue, she considers the foam and the contents, then takes another drink with impressive breath control and nonchalance worthy of the international reputation of her country having a stiff upper lip. No doubt her kinsmen looked the same before going over the top a few decades back.

"I know full well it is, yes. Miserable business, ruined a perfectly good coat," she replies. "I doubt the tailor can salvage anything of it, and just in time for the rainy season. The wreckage of a city lies at our feet, and if I don't clean it up, who will bother?"

The glass lands with a thunk on the counter, and she braces her fingers over it. Leanness and a sinuous ease visible — leather pants conceal nothing — give away profession and other factors beside. "Elizabeth," she replies. "Charmed, JT. That probably stands for something and no doubt you're asked by everyone under the sun what it is, but I shall spare you the small talk on that front. Also how the weather in Australia is, whether roos really are in everyone's backyard, and if the water in the loo turns anticlockwise."

JT blinks.

His sea-blue eyes gleam with just a hint of mischief and he waves to the bartender for another beer. While that's coming, he plants his arse on the stool by the bar, swivelling around to face Elizabeth, and raises both hands.

Then he starts counting off with his fingers.

"One: someone's gotta do it. Two: James Taylor, but that's a ruddy drag. C: it's probably pissing down, back home — or it better be. It's the only water we get in the outback. Three: not in the cities, but where I lived, sure. And G: yeah it does."

He grins. Wolfishly.

"That about cover it, luv?" A few seconds after the diatribe of comic relief, JT frowns a little and raises his chin speculatively. "Yer thinkin' o' goin' back in, aren't ya?" says he with a sly half-smile.

Beer drank. Not swilled, not quaffed, drank. Important to mark these things. She tops that off with a refreshing little 'Ah,' to clarify all he has said.

No saucy retort. No stare down the imperious line of her nose. Simply that.

Then the parallel incarnation of Emma Peel, in the same lovely leather catsuit — for all the show's were cottonish or polyester because Diana so hated leather — cocks her hip, slips a hand on it, and raises her eyebrows.

"Ah. Rocker name, cut short. That lovely habit of the Australians, shrinking everything to an even shorter term. Can't be breakfast, has to be brekkie." Judgment is absent, the statement given with a piqued rise of her mouth at the corner. "Even if it sometimes sounds like you're rolling over a track paved in rough stones, it works. And it's September. Everywhere it's bloody wet, except in Parliament. Couldn't wring fifteen lords and get a drop."

The examination of her nails is almost idle. "It about does, not to be a damp squib about a good chat. I appreciate it, I do. Though one has to keep a certain fortitude about them when getting their marching orders again. This is just a reprieve."

A pause follows. Then she smiles. Not wolfish, but the slow, timed smile of a serpent, of a hawk.

"For them, of course. Not me, since I plan to have a lovely walk in the mizzle out there. Wouldn't you?"


JT turns around, taps the other guy on the back and remarks obnoxiously: "Someone who speaks real English!" This of course offends the man, who abruptly gets of his seat and stalks away to the restrooms — leaving JT sitting there, arms out in a half-shrug of 'huh?', until he turns back toward Elizabeth.

"Somethin' I said?" The Australian reaches into a pocket, pulls out some crumpled up cash, and deposits it on the counter. It's more than enough to pay for the drinks — the last of which he drains in a single go, uttering that satisfied 'ah!' afterward.

"I would!" he replies a bit belatedly about the 'walk in the mizzle'. Hiking the chain up over his shoulder a bit more, he gives it a mock-affectionate pat, and smirks.

"Hey, ever seen an ifrit fart?"

"Was that utterly necessary? Now he's going to come back and yak the bartender's ear off about how foreigners are ruining America. Then it will descend into 'shouldn't have helped them in the war' and 'bunch of pansies.' I do hope you plan on tipping him." Elizabeth tips her head towards the conspicuously placed jar, quite literally one made for jam, left by the stack of ashtrays.

The pursed line of her lips is buttoned only in the middle, the curl of the corners absolutely catlike, or a raptor's regard head-on. Don't be the rabbit.

"Ah, there you go. Better." She tosses a few quid in greenbacks at the lonely old cork coaster, and peeks down at the contents. Good enough, she drank her fill. Time to walk outside, which she does after turning up the collar of her coat. The weather outside is foul enough to warrant traipsing about with care.

"An ifrit? Stand upwind, if you can. Sparks and sulfur, brimstone and teleporting imps are no one's idea of fun. So praytell, can you use that chain or you just use it to rattle out all the Berlin girls?"

Out it is.

JT's eyes go wide, and he motions toward himself with both hands as if you say: 'Moi? What did /moi/ do wrong??' In point of fact, one could almost picture the Muppet, Miss Piggy, saying it… except that would be much scarier.

Of course, the 'sheesh…' that escapes the man's lips, sounds eerily like Kermit the Frog. He glances askance at the tip-jar as if it is the first time he has ever seen it, and awkwardly reaches into this coat pocket for more cash to stuff inside the jar.

To his credit: it is a decent tip.

"Easy, Nettle, be easy," he attempts to reassure Elizabeth, regardless of what he just called her. "This country's off the wall…Flark." The last word there is barely said aloud, and the man's accent shifts ever so slightly when he says it. To cover for the slip, he pats the chain again and smirks in Elizabeth's direction.

"Wanna see?"

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