1965-10-13 - Jaen and Gin Rickeys
Summary: Ambrose confronts Halgrim about the photograph passed on by one singular watchmaker. While he expects confrontation, he gets his answer as well as a drink on Halgrim's dime.
Related: Pocketwatches and Photographs
Theme Song: None
halgrim ambrose 

The days have been unseasonably warm for fall in New York City, but if tonight's any indication, that's about to end. It's chilly out, the air smells wet, and heavy clouds have covered up the crescent moon. Restaurants are a little busier than usual, maybe because everyone's trying to get in as much 'going out' as they can before the weather makes it too much of a hassle.

And yet somehow Halgrim has obtained a lovely corner window seat in Lupulo, a humble and well-liked Portuguese restaurant on the border of Spanish Harlem and Mutant Town. It's not far from his flat, which is the main reason he likes to eat there; the other is that the food is very good, and its owned and run by a Sephardic and Jesuit Portuguese family, the Raposos. He's reading from a book (Catch-22 by Joseph Heller) while he eats; a spread of roasted vegetables and duck rice is half finished in front of him, along with a half-full glass of red wine.

The cold clings like the memories tonight. Wanderlust might as well be his middle name, for all that Ambrose simply walks through the city tonight. He's been moving since…forever, it seems, though the less dramatic conclusion will be since yesterday evening. He hasn't shouldered through any crowds or knocked someone askew on their path, but by his closed expression and shuttered eyes, he's miles away as he walks. The Bane nibbles here and there as he goes, plucking at tidbits in its endless glutton.

A glance up at his reflection as he walks by a restaurant and then at the neighborhood around him. Oh, Spanish Harlem, of all places. In his dark coat and jeans, boots and that same maroon-red knitted stocking cap, he's at least warm from his travels. Another glance over at the window and he stiffens, metaphorical hackles rising. He clearly teeters in indecision before turning a sharp about-face on the heel of his boot. Slipping inside, he immediately makes his way over to the corner table and seats himself in the spare chair without so much as a please-may-I.

"Professor." Short, sweet, and cold, his greeting, arms folded across his chest as he projects prickly irritation.

Halgrim looks up from his book, a frown forming when he sees someone take the other chair in his peripheral vision. It's quickly replaced with a cultivated, neutral expression when he recognizes the new arrival. He sets his book down, considers Ambrose for a few seconds. He has a bite of duck. "Atherton," he says. A drink of wine, then he gestures with his fork. "This is an excellent establishment, if you like Portuguese. Some very nice wines."

"Delightful to hear. I'm not hungry." His stomach says otherwise in a low, complaint of a gurgle, and he staunchly ignores it, pinking faintly at his cheeks. "I'll be direct. Why." The master-thief presumes that he doesn't need to explain precisely what he's referencing. The envelope containing the photograph is burning a hole in his interior coat pocket as it is, tucked against his ribs. It feels to poke at his skin through the weave of his thermal long-sleeve as Ambrose shifts his folded arms. His stare hasn't broken. If anything, it's gone brittle, indicative of tightly-tamped emotions.

|ROLL| Halgrim +rolls 1d20 for: 4

Halgrim raises an eyebrow as Ambrose's stomach growls, yet makes no comment since there's absolutely no need. He clears his throat. "I assume, you mean the picture?" he asks. "I spoke with Elmo, he said he'd given it to you." He pauses there, trying to decide how to explain what Elmo told him without revealing the confused route that discussion had taken, and in that break the waiter arrives.

He's a young man in his mid-twenties, with golden brown skin, dark eyes, a generous dusting of freckles, and coarse, curly, blonde hair. He appears next to the table, seemingly materializing out of thin air in that way all waitstaff master in their second year of employment. In a gentle Iberian accent, he asks Ambrose, "Would you like anything, sir?" The question is tentative, since Ambrose hasn't removed his coat or his hat, and is giving Halgrim this…look. A smart waiter knows when someone has dropped in unannounced, and might be leaving just as quickly as they arrived.

The sigh escapes through the master-thief's nose sounding not too unlike a coiled snake. He glances up towards the waiter and schools his expression towards something more like severe politeness.

"Water, please," Ambrose says curtly, knowing that they won't charge for such a thing. His eyes drag up and down the young man and then dismiss him as he looks back to Halgrim. "Yes. I mean that." Again comes the impression of resonating control on some internal conflict. He ignores the growling of his stomach once again.

The waiter is a consummate professional; his only reaction to Ambrose's behavior is a warm smile and a nod. Halgrim says, "And a glass of the Jaen. If he won't drink it I will." The waiter nods again and heads towards the bar.

Once he's gone, Halgrim studies Ambrose. He has a drink of his wine. "Elmo said, you were…affected, by it." His tone is awkward, as is his expression, rendering the paraphrasing of whatever Elmo actually said entirely obvious. However, there's no way he's using the actual word Elmo did. At least not to Ambrose's face. "It wasn't my intention to…" He drums his fingers on the table. Finally, he says, "If I'd realized that would happen, I'd have sorted out some other way to give it to you."

Realizing that he's been ordered a glass of red, Ambrose sits up straighter in his chair. Before he can stop the waiter, however, the young man is off in high professionalism to fetch it. The Jackal rubs at his eyes as he then slouches in his chair to a noticeable extent. Whatever happened to the good old days where he could take someone up by their lapels and shake them before dragging them out back?

He assumes that stressed and neutral expression again as he listens to Halgrim speak, at least enjoying the other man's troublesome delivery of explanation to some extent in some dark corner of his heart. "What was your intention?" Again, it seems short sentences are safest for now. Anything more and his perfectly-even tone might begin to warp.

"If you don't like red, I'll drink it," Halgrim repeats. "Jaen's a wonderful wine, dry and plum-flavored." He seems about to go on about that, gets a pained expression, shakes his head. He sighs and turns his wineglass by the stem.

Presently, he says, "You kept the other one, presumably for a reason," he chases that with looks which plainly telegraphs 'don't bother trying to lie about that', "and Anna-Lise remembers you quite fondly. Also, as I've told you, Elmo reminds me of Ishmael in many ways. And…" He licks his lips. "You're the only other person who knew Ishmael and Rolf, and also knows what happened to them." He meets Ambrose's gaze for a second, finishes off his wine. "So. it seemed fitting you should have one. It was even from Zurich, a few months after we wrapped up that project."

He resumes eating his duck rice. The waiter returns with the water and wine, placing the later in a neutral position almost precisely between the two of them, and departs without a word, sensing the fraught nature of the conversation underway.

Ambrose does not presume to refute that he's kept the photograph containing Rolf. In fact, it's lying on the small hammock-side desk for future consideration when the hours get late and his mind wanders. How one keeps their memory keen is by wandering through the past, bringing forth the fine details here and there. He listens, jaw gritting back and forth minutely, and once he's heard the explanation, he remains silent.

The waiter arrives, drops off the drinks, and the Jackal doesn't move. He doesn't reach for them nor does he acknowledge the young man's existence. Something cracks. He's got his eyes hidden away again behind the span of a hand, chin tucked as he slumps heavily in the chair more yet.

"Ishmael was…his own treasure," confesses Ambrose in a hollow whisper. "A living, breathing memory of my childhood — of times spent in naive indolence. To hear the tongue spoken and to see how his eyes shone as he spoke of Alalakh…to be wanted — " He seems to choke on words and swallows hard. "I would have protected him from the world itself had I the chance." A shuddering sigh and he remains hidden away behind his hand. "He was my watchmaker," he says, voice low and pained, still making a point of acknowledging what Halgrim's insinuated yet again.

He then drags his hand down his face before he shuffles in his seat to a proper upright posture and steels himself to look at Halgrim once more. "So I thank you, professor. I had forgotten his smile. I'll treasure his picture and memory yet." His social mask is dead-eyed neutrality.

For a time Halgrim says nothing; what's there to say? …quite a bit, actually, but first, he has to get his emotions and thoughts in something resembling order. And since Ambrose doesn't reach for the glass if wine, he does, and has a drink.

"I knew Ishmael for, oh it was almost twenty years," he says. "I mentored him, from his undergraduate years to…" His jaw works. "It was like having a second little brother, except one who's actually interested in the same things you are, rather than humoring you for attention." He laughs about that; Joakim would be furious to hear him say something like that. It was true, though. Joakim was an artist, a sculptor and a painter, and found what Halgrim (and their parents) did unbearably boring. He needed to be creating and exploring at all times, not reading.

"Elmo's not…the same temperament, at all." Another laugh, though now his tone is wry. "I'm sure you've already noticed that. Ishmael was a sweet young man and, I imagine Elmo was once too. He's just lost some of it. I guess we can blame the world for that." He clears his throat. "I don't have children. I'm not ever likely too, now. But I do have him." He raises his eyebrows at Ambrose, hoping his point about these relationships is clear.

In a much lower voice, he says, "Unfortunately, it wasn't the wasn't the world that came for Ishmael." He looks at his wine. "Just me."

"No, you did not come for him. Your collective did." Ambrose replies in that same low tone, almost flat with repressed emotion yet. He's managed to compose himself while Halgrim talked, if only catching bits and pieces here and there. Too much scrambling going on within his own mind, having the need to safe-guard his own bared throat in the conversation. "You do not strike me as the type of man who would kill someone you called companion, professor. If you were, you would not be alive to enjoy your glass of wine — I can and would personally assure you of that." He delivers the edict in the same toneless manner one might receive a total at a register.

His gaze slides away now towards the window, looking beyond it and into the night. "As I have said before, your watchmaker is under no threat from me. He was the messenger and as such, should not be shot. I understand your stance completely. There will be no children for me as well…and so be it." A heavy sigh slumps his shoulders.

Halgrim mmmmms, low and thoughtful; a bitter, humorless sound. "That's the problem, though. If I'm to ever reach some sort ofhow did you put it. Symbiosis?" His brow furrows as he tries to remember the conversation. "Or, parity, eventhe only way that will work is if I accept the fact that, in her becoming part of me, I am part of her, and that means that *we*, did it." He looks from his wine to Ambrose and back. "I don't know how I'm going to manage that."

The waiter comes back to see if they want more (another Jaen for Halgrim, since this glass is almost done), and in his departure Halgrim takes a moment to compose himself. He sits back in his chair. "I'm glad to hear that you don't think so." It's said with an exhausted sort of sincerity. "It's hard to…" He rubs at his eyes, starts over. "The closer we get, the harder it is to separate what's me and what's her effecting me. I feel like my emotional barometer is very uncontrolled anymore."

He finishes off his wine. "So be it," he agrees. "And thank you, for understanding, as it regards Elmo."

"You don't need to thank me for that." Ambrose continues to speak quietly, volume having dropped to something almost requiring a lean-inwards to properly hear but for his precise diction. His eyes follow the headlights of a passing car absently. "We have reached an understanding. Nothing more need be brokered at this time."

He looks back to the professor now, still sporting that near-dead-eyed mask. He intends to continue to place distance between them despite their relatively cozy corner, apparently. "Have you tried throwing back a fifty-fifty ratio of wine to holy water? Maybe that will help your case. The entire bottle might help you realize that your first instance is not to be blamed upon your human self specifically."

Halgrim laughs; genuinely and real amusement, though not so loud as to draw the attention of anyone seated at nearby tables. "Holy water's no different to me than regular water, Atherton. I'm not a Christian. And who dilutes perfectly good wine." He raises his glass in a minute toast, has a sip. "Perhaps it's not—but it isn't always a question of blame. Just because you're not to blame for something doesn't mean you have no part in the accountability of it."

He has a few more bites of his dinner, which is just about finished. In between bites, he says, "I appreciate— " he frowns, not liking that word choice, "— mmm, I *comprehend* your position on our understanding. But, the thanks isn't just for myself. Elmo is a good person to know, and you're good for him to know. For," his tone carries a note of amused resignation, "reasons which I suspect are obvious to you. And I might be over protective but I'm not going to interfere in his life." He glances at Ambrose's water, makes a face. He is, however, going to interfere in Ambrose's. "If you don't like red wine, what do you like." His eyes go unfocused for a moment. "Aside from stout." He surveys Ambrose, frowns. "Gin, maybe?"

The smallest curl of a smirk, faint as a midnight moonbow, touches the corners of the master-thief's mouth. Is it possible to be spitefully content at making someone laugh in the midst of their morose spate — Ambrose considers this even as he scratches idly at his jawline, eyes slanting off to the window again to watch a couple walk by, tete-a-tete by their lean. A squint and he glances back to Halgrim once he begins to speak again.

The smile shows a touch more at the attempt to suss out what he prefers to sip beyond that of the water. He eyes the untouched water glass and replies, "An excellent guess. Yes, gin. I'll give you that I am British, after all, if that swayed your inclinations in options. A 'Gin Rickey'…or perhaps a…bloody hell, what did they call it…" He thinks for a second. "A 'Hanky Panky'…from the Hotel Savoy in London. Christ, but I haven't had one of those in years," he muses. "I doubt they would be able to do it justice here, so, given my scant options in this city: Gin Rickey. And why precisely might young Elmo's knowing of myself be advantageous again? I suspect you mean beyond that of providing the business with delicate mechanisms to fix." That being said, he pulls out the golden pocketwatch, checks the time, and then returns it to his interior pocket. The rustling of paper can be heard; the envelope containing the picture remains there yet.

"It's true, I assumed since you're British…" Halgrim gesture with his fork in a one-thing-follows-another way, summons their young waiter with a practiced glance and orders the drink. "They have an excellent gin here, at least by my own standards, though I probably don't have the same palette for it you do. Plymouth."

He sits back in his chair, folds his arms. He sighs. "I can't tell if you honestly don't know what I mean or if you're just trying to get more information from me." He shrugs it aside, though. What does it matter, really—he intentionally doesn't know the finer details of what Elmo gets up to, for a good reason. "Elmo and, ah, his associates don't…only, operate a garage and repair shop." He arches an eyebrow. "If you've seen the quality of some of his clothing, that alone should make it apparent." He shifts in his chair. "It's the sort of life that exists almost entirely through interconnectedness with…others, of the same bent."

The waiter returns, and Halgrim by necessity pauses the discussion there. The rickey is served in a lovely frosted glass etched with a lime tree, allowing the limes inside to color the foliage of their namesake.

Ambrose nods to the waiter, a touch less stony-faced than previously. "Thank you," he says before collecting up the glass. A sniff at it, flick of the tongue to lip at the touch of fizzing seltzer water to his skin, and then a sip. His gaze turns inwards as he mulls the small amount about his tongue — and again, a large sip. A final imperious consideration of the contents and then a quarter of it disappears.

"It will have to do," he says by way of acceptance. What a snob. He sets the glass down precisely upon the condensation ring left behind upon the table and then glances up at Halgrim. "You've all but confirmed my suspicions as to your implications, thank you. Hypocrisy, however, if you warn me off of my own bent and do not chastise the lad regularly. I would accuse you a favoritism," he says, something velvety slipping in and out of his even tone. "He is lucky that he doesn't dabble in my interests within this second hobby of his. I don't take to competition well." Another mouthful of Gin Rickey, to bring the volume down to half, all on an empty stomach. "I doubt he and his collective at this garage would ever dabble, so I am unconcerned for the time being."

"I'm glad to hear it will suffice," Halgrim says, tone as dry as his wine. He sips from the glass sparingly now; it's his third, after all, and he has to keep his meager budget in mind. "I do try not to be a hypocrite, and I'd like to point out I haven't warned you off that sort of activity in general. Of course it would be a wonderful world if no one needed to do such things but," he snorts, "I'm not that naive or idealistic, nor was I ever. Life is what it is. I'm lucky, to be able to live…most of my life, in a way which society deems acceptable." A sardonic smile for the fact that the illegal part is something which doesn't involve anyone who wouldn't want to be, nor does it harm anyone else.

He has the last of his duck rice and puts the plate and utensils aside for the waiter. "I just don't want you plying your trade on *me* or my employer." He thinks that over, and amends it to, "Or at least, not to my immediate work. I don't pretend to think I can protect everything on that campus." His mouth flattens. "As much as I might like to." A little more wine, then, "I don't think you would cross paths with them in an adversarial manner. I suppose it's *possible*, but it seems unlikely. Your tastes are quite niche, all in all."

"Incredibly niche," the master-thief agrees, his hand still lightly encircling his frosted glass. "Hence my lack of interest in any form of competition. They may sniff about elsewhere. When the trade spreads a broad web over the takings, well…so be it as to their successes. As the dice roll, may they lie in favor and all of that philosophical rubbish."

Then a soft snort and cynical glint in his eyes. "Thank goodness for your ability to remain discreet in your offenses. Mine is a finer art, I think, and society has yet to notice anything beyond my fleeting shadow. Mmm, and there is little of worth to me beneath the glass in those Collection rooms. Small pieces, unfortunately beyond saving without time and effort that I simply do not have. As the Americans say, I have bigger fish to fry."

Ambrose seems to realize how much he's expounding upon things and retracts into himself a noticeable amount. Regaining the reserved poise, he then nearly kills the Gin Rickey but for one last swig in the bottom of the ice cubes, wherein those will melt and refill it to a watery extent.

"I don't expect competition, I mean to say it could be useful for you to know one another." Halgrim nods out towards Mutant Town. "Their influence is significant, and your activities and skillset might be useful to them to barter for, and vice versa. In any case," he regards Ambrose directly, "my broader point is, I've no intention of getting in the way of any of that. Whatever disagreements, or agreements, you and I have, they don't extend to Elmo or his compatriots. My protectiveness of Elmo aside, his affairs are his own—including those involving you."

He sighs, rolls his eyes. "It doesn't matter how discrete I can be anymore, does it, since it's not an option for the foreseeable future. And, as long as you fry your fish out of my area of concern," he raises his wine glass, drinks the rest, "good luck to you." Another of those practiced, minute gestures and looks given to the waiter for the bill, which the young man brings promptly.

The Jackal does not look up at the young man arriving with the cheque, not even obliquely, as if willing himself invisible. Only once the waiter has gone does Ambrose risk a glance towards him and then back to Halgrim.

"I do expect us to settle disagreements as gentlemen, yes, and not bring in unnecessary bystanders. I have no interest in over-complicating what could be simple as a discussion across your desk with things such as excessive static electricity." A soft click of his tongue from the roof of his mouth and he then finishes the melt-watered remains of his Gin Rickey. "…and thank you for your wish of luck. I suspect that I may need it," he continues more quietly yet, not meeting the other man's gaze. "…as well as the drink. I am aware that you need not act as such."

Halgrim watches Ambrose's avoidance of the waiter with undisguised good humor. He reads over the bill, absently says, "Atherton, you can't refer to us settling manners like gentleman and at the same time expect me to have you sit at a table with a glass of water while I have top quality Portuguese wine," without looking up. He takes out his wallet and slips the cash into the folder, leaving just the leading edges of the bills visible for the waiter to see.

Another amused look, this one for the suggestion that Elmo might take things to interesting, new levels in such an altercation. "I have to assume Elmo showed you how he handles such things during that bar fight." A far cry from his reaction the first time he found out; he seems to have come around to a sort of morbid amusement about it. He gets up and takes a scarf off the back of his chair (a brilliant Amazigh piece in red, black, white, and gold), a little worn from heavy use, and wraps it around his neck, then comes the black pea coat. "Perhaps I don't need to, but I don't see a reason not to either. So. You're welcome."

With the bill settled, Ambrose too makes to get himself ready to depart. It requires little effort for him, considering he initially waltzed in and sat himself without an invitation, having never removed his coat or hat.

"Yes, the lad did showcase his skill-set. A usual thing, perhaps, in this age of…" Upon seeing the scarf, the master-thief pauses and lingers by the table, all eyes for the familiar patterns. The wash of memories overtakes him briefly and leaves him standing nearly catatonic until he finds his voice again. "That's quite the piece of art." A small, sad smile. "Moroccan, perchance?" Those oceanic-eyes rise to the professor's face once more. The snowflake pattern along the brim of his knitted cat is a far cry from the refined designs in their bright colors.

Halgrim glances down at the scarf, now only just visible at the neck of his pea coat. He smiles down at it, a brief memory flitting over his features. He shakes his head and pulls on a pair of brown leather gloves, shoulders his bag. "Yes. A gift, from…someone I was close to. I think it's the only scarf I've worn for the last four years." He manages to keep his generally positive mood, but the suggestion that the scarf has a History is unescapable.

As he slips out from behind the table and towards the door, he says, "It takes getting used to. I must have met half a dozen of them by now, and I'm never not amazed to see what they're capable of." He speaks in generics, well aware anyone can be listening, and with three glasses of wine in him the last thing he wants is trouble. He just wants to stay warm long enough to get home, which is only a few blocks.

The scarf gets a lingering, almost jealous glance, but then it's clear that whatever he was weighing against the risk of retaliation at its theft, it is not worth it as such. He has a pang of missing his own black and fringed scarf, left hung over a chair in a moment of forgetfulness down in the privacy of his not-lair.

"They're always a surprise," comments Ambrose wryly in regards to mutants and their gamut of abilities he's seen over the years. He's not necessarily right behind Halgrim as they leave the restaurant, but he is beside him and then pausing in the midst of the sidewalk, now much freer of pedestrian traffic. It's rather late by this time, after all, and nippy. "Do you require an escort home, professor? I ask out of manners, not necessarily in light of your need of it. You don't live far, after all — what was it…" And the dastardly stocking cap-wearing man names off the street as well as the apartment building last read on Halgrim's driver's license. The sheer intensity of cheek that flashes through his features before he schools them away is almost a lightning flash; the crack of light through a door into a facet of his personality so rarely seen these days, charming and slappable all at once.

Halgrim glares at Ambrose (without the warning gleam of yellow in his eyes, so it can't be a real glare) in response. "I, of all people in this city, don't need a damned *chaperone*, and definitely not one twice my age." He heads in the very direction Ambrose has indicated, because really, there's no point in playing at subterfuge. Ambrose *did* see his state ID.

After about a dozen steps, Halgrim half turns to add, "And don't you follow me home, either—I don't care if you know where it is. Good*night*."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License