Pool tables, with one foosball table and an air hockey table hiding among them, dominate the space of the hall, hardly yielding any space for the motley crew of players chalking their sticks and eying the brandy bottle at the bar lining one wall. The dust and scratches on all surfaces save the green velvet lining the pool tables indicate this hall as skimping on maintenance and cheap on cleaners. Its lack of flashy videogames and surplus of toothless kibitzers underscores its appeal to the older crowd. No natural sunlight is permitted into the hall, its lighting provided by bulbs swinging from the ceiling.
A recent 'renovation' to the hall has caused many splinters and embdeed bullet holes, adding much to the aged atmosphere. Ruddish stains, dark and ominous even under the lights, refuse to be washed out of the floor. A dart board brightens up the walls with its red-and-black scheme, and a moosehead looks down on the proceedings.
Mounted from the ceiling, a television blares its glaring brightness and noises.
The sooty smell of smoke lingers after the recent city riots. The power is back on.
A set of double doors, one locked, the other unlocked at the whims of the hall manager, lead out to the street. Unobstructive doors behind the bar undoubtedly lead to storerooms.
God, he's thin. So painfully skinny, scarcely a hundred pounds on his 5'4" frame, if that; all slim lines and delicate angles. His features are finely drawn, high cheekbones and classically beautiful bone structure; his dark eyes, dusted with golden-brown shadow and lined with black kohl and mascara, are made large and luminous by his spareness and the paleness of his skin. Feathery, true black hair, shining blue when the light hits it, falls constantly across his face, curls down around his ears, flirts with the nape of his neck. The overall effect is at once disquietingly fragile and ethereally lovely.
His shirt is heavy black cotton, long-sleeved, with a very shallow v-neck; the fabric skims his body, managing to make him look, if anything, even smaller than he really is. Beneath it, his slightly faded black jeans fit closely -- it's amazing he could find them small enough -- and, perhaps predictably, disappear into battered black knee-high combat-style boots. Chipped black enamel coats his nails, but he appears to have no jewelry, no piercings, no tattoos; no such adornment of any kind. Overall, he wears a rather expensive-looking ankle-length woolen coat, hanging open and letting the breezes in.
Here we have Alicia Jackson, a young woman who looks around the age of 20 or so. When in truth, she just turned 17, but that hard look in her eyes could easily be mistaken for older. Slender in form, her body is composed of lean, compacted muscle. She looks quick, but not very strong. Her eyes are a dark brown, curious and wandering, lit up playfully most of the time. She stands of average height, perhaps about 5'6 or so, carrying herself well when she moves. Her flesh is lightly tanned, kissed by the sun from the many years of running with the gangs on the street. Four ear rings adorn her left ear, two more upon the right, composed of small, goldeny hoops. The Galliard's hair falls down just past her shoulders. Once brown and red streaked to those who's seen her before. Now, pale blonde with slightly darkened roots.
Her clothing consists of a pair of baggy, over sized camouflage pants. Black, green, and brown patterns splashed along the fabric. A tight fitting sports bra hug her upper frame, revealing the curves of her upper body, flat stomach and lean arms. She wears a golden hoop in her navel. Knee high boots travel up her legs, firmly laced in each hole. Finishing off, she has a worn, dusty old black trench coat which hangs just below her knees. Her tongue ring is almost always seen, clicking in thought, or when she speaks with that ghetto accent of hers.
At a glance: Goth, male, early twenties, thin, and about 5'4"ish in height--in about that order.
A more extensive eyeballing reveals greater details. Nicodemus is wearing a greatcoat in an 18th Century style that's so dark brown it's almost black. It gives the impression of being travelworn, but without being so. It's unbuttoned and prone to subtly dramatic billowing in gentle or hard winds. Beneath it there's a form-hugging heavy maroon turtleneck sweater. His pants are just plain black dockers, and he's wearing comfortable yet stylish black loafers.
A pair of expensive-looking wire-rimmed glasses rest on his narrow nose. He wears one necklace with a silver skull ornament that has a translucent red crystal inside and a second necklace bearing a delicate silver crucifix. The ornaments and thin silver chains contrast nicely against his maroon turtleneck. His left hand's middle finger sports an artistic finger gauntlet with a couple edges that look sharp enough to double as a box cutter.
The unbelievably perceptive might notice a smallish out-of-place lump at the small of his back under the form-swallowing coat he's wearing.
Dark-brown eyes, touched with amber, look out from a pixie-sharp face. Rina's skin is fair, but not quite pale--a light Mediterranean olive from generations of pure Italian ancestry. Her black-brown hair is left just long enough in the front to fall almost into her eyes; the butch cut tapers to an army-short buzz at the sides and back, hardly more than a velvet fuzz covering the nape of her neck. Her chin is delicately-boned, her mouth small, the line of her jaw well-defined. Her eyes have a shadowy, bruised look, either from fatigue or the artful use of makeup; save for that Gothic touch, she might have stepped from a pre-Raphaelite painting. She can't be more than twenty-five or so, but in that youthful face the eyes are cynical, brooding, world-weary. Athletic grace and a certain streetwise confidence show in her movements, but there is often an element of tension as well.
Sinfully tight jeans of black leather pour down her legs, into heavy black thrash boots. An eighteenth-century shirt of coarse grey silk drapes over her upper body: sleeves full and billowing, front trimmed with a falling froth of delicate grey-dyed lace, cuffs of the same lace half-hiding her graceful hands. Over the shirt, or sometimes cast over her shoulder, is a sculpted, tailored double-breasted jacket in black leather; the black 'suit' gives her beauty a rather predatory edge, and plays up the unstable shifting of her expressions.
A traditional biker jacket in black leather, at least two sizes too big, adds a layer of toughness to the petite woman's attire. Several patches of electrical tape and a small plate of discarded circuit board patch a few holes and rips in the leather: the front and back of both shoulders, and a spot near her waist on the left. There are more additions to the traditional biker body armor: scraps of circuit board, metal spikes and rivets, and a pair of mismatched vambraces that make her look like some sort of Mad Max knight errant.
She wears two rings, both a silvery white gold. Her right hand bears a single diamond framed by two smaller ones, the decorative work on the ring elegant and subtle, perhaps Art Deco. On the left she wears a simpler band decorated with letters and scrollwork.
Tall and dark, he stands a few inches over six feet, a well-built and rather dangerous-looking man somewhere around thirty years old. A mane of thick black hair, usually gathered into a loose ponytail that hangs nearly to the middle of his back, frames a somber, hawkish face, the left side of which is twisted by scars. If not for this disfigurement, he could be considered handsome -- albeit in a dour, moody, saturnine kind of way. His face is one designed for brooding and cynicism, and the short black beard that lines his mouth and jaw makes him look all the more satanic. His left eye is dead white, lost within the tangled jungle of scar tissue covering that side of his face; his good eye, on the right, is dark brown, not quite black. Both are shadowed, as if from lack of sleep. In short, he has the look of the very devil about him, or of a Christ figure gone bad.
His attire is strictly monotone, black on black, plain t-shirt and BDU pants and combat boots that have been well broken-in. Something hangs from a cord around his neck but is tucked away under the shirt, out of view. The tails of the long black leather duster sweep around his ankles; the coat appears new and is in excellent condition.
Rina crosses both arms over her chest, slanting a glance to the man's shot. "Bastard," she murmurs. Then her gaze returns to Nico and his gaggle of friends--cataloguing faces and names where they're known.
"I've been called worse," Salem retorts lightly, casting a sidelong glance and a brief smirk at the kinswoman. His second shot is more straightforward and likewise successful. The third misses, however, by a couple of inches. "Hrmph."
Nicodemus arrives at the distant pool table with the rougher-looking group of youths around it and gives a nod to one of them about his own age and a generic acknowledgement of the others' existence. The thuggish youth throws an arm around Nicodemus' shoulder and the two move off from the main group, discussing privately. The remaining members of the group return to the game.
Rina pages: Nick may still be pretty well-known in gothy circles, locally. :>
The door opens, and Raphael drifts in on the brief, chilly burst of air it allows in. He gazes about rather distantly, taking in the crowds and decor, and continues his way to the bar, shifting just slightly as he wends his way through the rest of the current crowd, passing through the spaces between them.
The grunt recalls Rina,and she looks back to the table distractedly. Another walk around to the side of the table where he stands, and she frowns slightly before taking an easy angled shot. No fancy tricks this time. She sinks one, and moves immediately to the next shot, left as a single bank when the cue ball stops.
Salem's coat rings -- or, rather, the cellphone within it does. The Glass Walker, who's now eyeing Rina somewhat guardedly, grimaces and goes to answer it. "Be right back."
Rina smiles faintly to herself. "Promise not to cheat," she murmurs, as she bends over to take the next shot.
Striding into the pool hall is Alicia, dressed to kill for a weekend out on the town. She seems to be all smiles this night.
Nicodemus and Thug-Boy converse quietly with one another, voices pitched so as to not carry more than a few feet from one another over the general din in the pool hall. After a few minutes of conversation, hands in pockets, the two youths extend hands and shake. Hands return to pockets and they go their separate ways--Thug-boy back to his gang at their pool table and Nicodemus turns for the bar, almost reflexively glancing for a fraction of a second in Rina's direction as she bends over the pool table yet again.
Raphael claims an empty stool at the bar -- a practiced move, almost graceful considering the awkwardness inherent in it when one isn't particularly tall. A quiet conversation with the bartender results in something clear, which he sips at while looking around the room again, slightly more curiously now.
Rina sinks hers, and takes another shot, this time able to look in Nick's direction. She flashes a smile that he may or may not catch.
Salem returns after only a few moments, clicking off his cellphone and looking only moderately irritable as he heads back toward Rina. He catches sight of her smile and follows her glance toward Nicodemus; his lips thin for a moment, and then he gives his head a slight shake. "I miss anything?" he asks the kinswoman, while slipping the phone back into his coat.
Rina frowns, missing her bank shot by a hair. "Tell ya later." Her voice is soft. "Probably just a buy."
Salem arches a brow, then takes up his stick and studies the balls thoughtfully. "Didn't know he was into that sort of thing," the Walker remarks quietly. He leans over the table, setting up his shot.
Rina glances to him, surprised. "He used to be... the guy," she murmurs. "Before his days as a boy in blue..."
Raphael's gaze seems to settle on the Walker and kin's table, and he twists slightly to lean sideways against the bar as he sips his drink, watching them play.
Salem sinks a ball and moves around the table to set up another shot. "Wonder if that's where Sally got hers from." He doesn't notice Raphael's attention from over by the bar; his one-sided vision moves from the pool table to Rina and back again.
"Wouldn't be surprised," Rina says quietly. She scans the room with dark, quiet eyes... and notices the watches. A smile tugs at one corner of her mouth, although one hand does touch the folded jac ket on the chair.
Salem misses his second shot and straightens up. "I still can't believe Roger thought I slept with that little bitch," he mutters, somewhat grumbly-like. He glances at her, notices her attention elsewhere, and spares Raphael a glance. Just that, nothing more; his expression is guarded, neutral, though his eyes narrow faintly before he looks away.
Rina snorts. "Sally? Not your type." She offers the boy a crooked smile, and turns to find her own next move, bending over the table's long axis to aim. "Hail Mary," she murmurs, "full of grace." On the last word she strikes, sending the 2 straight into the corner pocket. With authority.
Raphael twines one foot around a leg of the stool, and the other foot around the calf od the first, still watching as he finishes off the drink. Attention returns behind the bar long enough to get a refill, and then back to them, watching the balls move around the fabric.
"_Thank_ you," Salem says, in response to Rina's judgement of Sally MacKay. He seems to pay the man at the bar no more mind. Then again, with scars like his, he's surely used to being stared at, and Rina is, well... Rina. In tight leather jeans.
Rina paces around the table, slowly, pushing back her cuffs to keep the lace from interfering. She seems to be paying the pretty boy some attention... just looking, with those dark eyes, when she leans across the table. There's a glance to him, and then her attention moves to her shot. She touches the tip of her tongue to her upper lip, as if that will make her aim better.
Salem's lips thin slightly, his eyes narrowing again, just for an instant. Then he shifts his weight, leaning slightly on the cuestick as he watches her, cool as a cat dozing in the sunlight, his manner composed and aloof.
Just barely, Rina misses her next. "Fuck," she mutters. She gives Salem a wry look, a little twist of her lips. "Might as well deliver the killing blow," she says quietly, spreading her arms in cruciform.
Salem quirks a half-smile at her. "I'll make it quick," he promises. He lofts an eyebrow at her, holding her gaze for a beat, then leans over the table, lining up the shot.
Rina tips her head back a fraction, smiling at the scarred man as she lowers her arms. "Such a gentleman."
Salem snaps the stick forward, and the plain white ball cracks into the striped four, knocking it into one of the side pockets. "Always," he agrees, then shifts to the end of the table to sink another ball. He makes it look easy.
Rina crosses her arms and leans against the wall, staring disconsolately, that wry twist on her lips. She sighs. "Well... we could use you to hustle in some cash, sometime," she says dryly.
Salem finishes off the rest of the striped balls and studies the eight-ball, frowning at where it lies in relation to the cueball. Definitely an inconvenient arrangement. "Hmm," he says, and then looks over at her with an expression of mock injury. "Is that all I'm worth to you? Pool hall swindles for pocket change? You _wound_ me."
Raphael drains the remnants of his drink, and sets the glass on the counter, slipping lightly from stool to floor and stretching slightly.
Rina's smile curves a touch more, gently. "Coup de grace, Jack," she says lightly. Her dark eyes glance to the pretty goth, then, and the smile fades to something a little more....appreciative.
Salem's own good humor fades a little bit, but the narrow look doesn't last more than a heartbeat. He shakes his head again, mouth curved into a wry half-smirk, then focuses his attention on sinking the eight. He leans over the table, head cocked to favor his good eye, studying the angles carefully.
Rina turns her attention to the table again, and puts a hand to her throat.
The layout is against him; Salem grimaces as the cueball drops into the pocket instead of the eight, and he straightens up, shaking his head as he flashes an rueful look at Rina. "Alas. You have a final shot at victory."
Raphael hesitates at the far corner of the pair's pool table, and hovers there for a few moments, watching and waiting for the outcome of the game. Another young man brushes past him, earning a startlingly venomous glare from the slight goth. If looks could kill, as they say.
Rina blinks, her attention drawn back to the game; Salem's scratch apparently is enough to distract her from the scenery. "Really. Will miracles never cease." Her tone says perhaps he threw the game. However, she takes up the challenge and sets the white ball down, lining up a simple shot to sink one solid into a corner. Another, side pocket. The last is a challenge, but this time she makes it... and leaves herself a decent chance to sink the 8. She circles the table again for the best angle, offering the boy a half-smile before she bends to take her shot. "Ciao, baby," she murmurs as it thuds into the corner pocket.
Salem frowns slightly at Rina's dubious tone, looking mildly insulted. "It was a difficult shot," he grumbles. "I'm allowed to miss occasionally, aren't I?" The saturnine man gives the prettyboy a glance, studying him more openly now that he's chosen to approach the two members of Family Cockroach.
Rina leans against the edge of the table, and chalks, dark eyes sliding to the boy. "Drink for your thoughts... " She grins. "If you're old enough to drink."
Raphael takes a deliberate step away from the man who's bumped him, and the glare remains on him for a couple seconds after the guy's shrugged, looking unconcerned, and continued on his way. Then Raphael's attention returns to the game, in time to catch the end, his expression gradually passing through intense annoyance back to fairly relaxed interest. "I was thinking," he replies, cocking his head a little as his focus moves to Rina, "that that was a nice shot."
Salem finishes his study of the pretty stranger and leans against the side of the pool table. He brushes back a stray lock of hair, tucking it absently behind one ear; though not actively hostile, he doesn't seem particularly welcoming toward Raphael, either.
Rina grins. "Thanks." Her smile is relaxed now, easygoing... a marked contrast to her looming companion. "You new in town? Haven't seen you before..."
The young woman slouches casually, wetting her lips again, almost as if she tastes the air. And it's possible, in here: the place is smoke-wreathed, and some of the clientele overindulged in cheap cologne.
Raphael nods slightly, one hand drifting forward to rest on the edge of the table, then moving slowly as his fingertips play along the outside edge of the felt. "Yes, fairly new. I've been here a month or so, I suppose. Though I think I might have seen you before. At a club, maybe." He turns his attention to Salem, studying him for a second or two. "I know I've seen you, though. At the bookstore."
Salem absently twirls his cuestick, cocking his head as he turns another steady, neutral regard on Raphael. "Possibly." His eyes narrow. "In fact... yes, I think so. Upstairs, in the used book section?"
Rina raises an eyebrow archly, and looks over to the scarred man as if surprised. "A gentleman /and/ a scholar," she murmurs, not hiding a smile.
Salem gives Rina a rueful look; his chill manner definitely warms when he looks at her. "You don't have to sound _that_ shocked."
"Yes." Raphael seems unfazed by Salem's regard, or at least mostly so; he doesn't look away, at least, though his attention couldn't quite be considered challenging, exactly. "You took the black man downstairs to talk. Apparently, he made you smile; that's what he said, at least. That was when."
Rina purses her lips oddly at Salem, one eyebrow still raised. She offers Raphael a crooked smile, then, and holds out a hand. "Rina. And you are..."
"I'm sure that they were all quite amazed," Salem remarks, half underbreath.
"Yes," Raphael agrees to Salem's murmur, "...they were." He doesn't take the proffered hand, but does incline his head and shoulders to Rina in a slight bow of acknowledgement and greeting. "Pleased to meet you, Rina. Raphael," he introduces himself, before glancing to Salem, "...and I was told you're named Jack Salem."
Rina laughs a little, glancing over to Jack. "Your reputation precedes you, huh?"
Salem folds his arms across his chest. "It always does," he replies to Rina, humorlessly dry. He gives Raphael a nod. "I'm Salem, yes."
Raphael smiles faintly at Salem, "Pleased to meet you, too," he remarks, tilting his head a bit.
Rina rolls the cue stock absently across her palm and back again, watching them with a faint half-smile.
"Likewise," Salem says, with the minimum level of courtesy. His eye strays to the clock over the bar, then back to Rina. "Getting late," he remarks, with a touch of apology. "Not that you have to cut short _your_ evening."
Rina lifts a shoulder. "Depends if the archangel, here, wants a game," she says lightly. The wry smile seems to doubt that he will.
Raphael's fingertips continue to play over the felt as he considers. "I might," he decides, "...I believe you owe me a drink, at least. For my thoughts." Attention returning to Salem, he adds, "I'll be seeing you later." Almost more of an assertion than a farewell, really.
The Glass Walker's eyes narrow at this last from the prettyboy. Then he grunts and glances at Rina, lifting an eyebrow quizzically.
Rina's expression is thoughtful, her eyes preoccupied as she watches them. "I'll buy you a drink, archangelo," she says. A glance to Salem, and she adds, "But I oughta be gettin' home, after that."
Salem glances at the clock again, then nods to Rina. "I can stay that long, at least."
Raphael's hand drifts up to brush a lock of hair behind his ear. "That'll do. I take vodka," he informs her, watching them both.
"Straight up?" she asks, that twist of a smile coming to her mouth again.
Salem arches an eyebrow slightly at Raphael's choice of drink.
"Straight up," Raphael confirms, one eyebrow arching slightly, the ghost of a smile at one corner of his lips again.
Rina leans her stick in the corner, and slants her eyes to Salem. "Anything, Jack?"
Salem shakes his head. "Need to keep sharp tonight," he says.
Rina nods, and goes to the bar... her movement drawing one narrow-eyed look from a shaggy-haired young man in the group Nick had words with.
Salem's eye follows Rina across to the bar, lingering on the woman, and then turns back to Raphael. "So," he says. "What brings you to St. Claire?"
Raphael watches Rina for a few moments as well, before looking back to Salem. "I was sick of LA," he replies, candidly enough. "What do you need to keep sharp for, tonight?"
"Business," Salem answers, shortly, with an undertone of mind-your-own-business. Setting the poolcue aside, he reaches into the long leather coat he's got slung over a chair nearby and removes his cigarette case and lighter.
A wave of laughter comes from the group at the other corner table. Nick's unsavory-looking friend heads for the door, glancing once to the bar on his way out.
"Mm," Raphael replies, with a slight nod. "...can I trouble you for a cigarette?" he inquires, when the case and lighter emerge.
Salem grunts. "Sure." He passes one to the goth, a plain white tube, handrolled, no filter. He sets a second one between his lips and sets the lighter to it, puffing. "Need a light, too?"
"Please," Raphael replies, extending the hand with the cig across the corner of the table, to where Salem can more easily reach it. "If you'd be so kind."
Rina threads her way back to them, glancing to the leather jacket draped across a stool in the corner--as if to make sure it's still there. One drink occupies each hand: clear in the left, amber in the right, both of them double shots oured into heavy highball glasses. She watches Salem, as she heads toward them.
Salem lends the goth his lighter with a curtly polite, "No problem." He turns back toward Rina as she returns with the drinks, and again the eyebrow lifts when he spots the amber one. His lips thin; he takes a deep drag on his cigarette and speaks to Raphael again. "This town must be quite a change from that you're used to."
Raphael accepts the lighter and lights up before returning it. Perhaps oddly, he seems to do it quite carefully -- never touches Salem's hand, just the lighter itself. "Mm... mostly, I suppose," he grants, with a little shrug. "Not as different from LA as LA was from school -- it doesn't matter all that much, really. Most places are, overall, alike."
Rina hands off the vodka shot, and lifts her own glass slightly. "Salute," she murmurs, and knocks back half the whiskey at one go.
Salem eyes Rina somewhat warily, the way she downs that whiskey, then takes another inhale of his cancer stick.
"A votre sante," Raphael replies softly, with the ghost of a smile again, and takes rather a good swallow of his own drink. If those two he drank at the bar were vodka, too, he must hold his liquor fairly well for someone so slight. "...thank you," he addresses both of them, then, before taking a drag on the cig.
"You're welcome," Salem says briskly. He takes a brass pocketwatch from his pants -- it's attached to a beltloop via a length of chain -- and clicks it open, glancing at the time.
"Anytime," Rina says absently, sipping at her whiskey. Narrowed eyes scan the room again. "Maybe we'll raincheck that game."
Raphael nods to Rina, and gives his head a slight toss to flip his hair back, both hands being too full to do it. "Another time, then. You'll kick my ass, I suspect. But it could be fun."
"Don't know about that." An insouciant, wry half-smile comes with the words. The young woman tosses back the rest of her whiskey, then, and moves to pick up her jacket, setting the empty glass on the vacated stool. There is something decidedly heavy in an inside pocket, evidently.
Salem closes the pocketwatch and puts it away, then takes up his own coat, shrugging into the long leather garment -- which has plenty of its own, innate heaviness.
Raphael inclines his head to both of them, in turn, and sips his drink, then downs most of the rest of it, apparently also preparing to leave. "...pleasure meeting you both," he adds, before finishing the last few sips, "I'll see you about."
"Sure thing," Rina answers, flashing him a fainter half-smile and then turning to make her way out.
Salem grunts. "Likewise, I'm sure." He straightens the set of the coat on his shoulders and takes out his gloves, slipping them on. He follows Rina out, falling into step with her like a well-trained guard dog.