2019-09-20 - Libations at Luke's


A night in the bar leads to discussion on gentrification among other things.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Sep 20 03:12:54 2019
Location: Luke's

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Theme Song



The regular crowd has shuffled into Luke's bar. The sounds of clinking glass permeate the dull roar of a cacophony of voices that fills the air from the patrons of the bar, all involved in their various conversations. The TVs strategically placed around the join are all turned to various news or sports games, the volume low but captions on for those that wish to watch.

Luke is behind the bar as usual, dressed in his normal ensemble of jeans and a tight-fitting t-shirt that looks almost a size to small for his bulky frame. He is in the process of wiping down an empty spot at the bar with a dish towel, cleaning up after a patron who must have just left.

The door to the bar opens and a small dusky skinned woman in a collared shirt enters. The logo on the shirt is the local convenience store and she looks beat. Adjusting her backpack, Ranna Pryde approaches the bar and waits for Luke to finish his cleaning before taking a seat on the stool.

What should have been a bit of an effort for the woman, she's short enough for that, simply isn't. She's seem to just lift herself onto the seat though.

Luke gets the faintest of smiles as she brushes the hair from her face and looks to the door.

She might be waiting for someone.

It isn't easy for Ranna to get in touch with Shiranui. He has ways to contact her, but she only has ways to leave him a message. SOMEONE had requested a meeting after work, though. Some place where drinks could be had, which rather precluded showing up in a mask. That had made Kian a little hesitant.

But what the hell, she'd seen his face before anyway. So he shows up, looking rather normal. Collared shirt, pants. Like someone who works a 9 to 5.

"Well, I'm here." The asian man says as he sits down at the bar next to Ranna.

Slinging the towel over his shoulder, Luke returns the smile as Ranna sits down, nodding a polite greeting. "What can I get for you, Miss?" he asks in a polite tone, even as his gaze follows hers towards the door. "Or should I come back when your friend arrives?"

As an answer from the powers that be, Kain arrives, making his way to the bar. Giving the Asian man another polite nod in greeting, Luke repeats the question to him as well. "Hell, sir. What can I get for you both?"

"What?" Ranna glances at Luke as he speaks only to be interrupted by Kian as he arrives. It hadn't been easy to contact him - she'd had to use a library to get a message up on reddit subforum - and Ranna *hates* Reddit.

"Um. Cheapest whiskey you have, please?" She finally answers the man behind the bar before turning to Kian "And you sound so happy about it. I wouldn't have asked to meet here but it's the only time I have after work and I need to eat as well." beat "I found out more about our friends yesterday."

It's a regular conversation as far as Luke is concerned. Those Ranna seems to be slightly uncomfortable being out here. Maybe it's too do with the rumours of people going missing from the streets and a strange drug that's hitting the streets.

"It's all good as long as it's beer and cold." Kian says to Luke, nodding. "Busy place you've got here, by the way."

Which it is. Seems like they do pretty brisk business here. He doesn't see a piano man playing but that might be for the best. Not many places do that these days, anyway.

"I don't get invitations from people who have thrown things at me often." The Asian man notes to the small woman. "What do you have? Oh, get her some… you have some nachos? Bar food? She needs to fatten up."

Nodding to Ranna, Luke confirms "One whiskey, cheap. On the rocks or neat?" The bartender starts pulling out a nice tumbler glass and moving to grab a bottle as he awaits an answer about the ice. When he receives the answer he makes the necessary adjustment and pours two fingers worth of whiskey into the glass before setting it on a coaster and pushing it forward in front of Ranna.

Turning to Kian, Luke nods and procures a frosted mug from a freezer under the bar and starts to fill the mug from one of the taps, "We do alright. Some times this place is busy, but others it can be quiet. Just depends on the time of day."

At the mention of food, Luke shrugs. "Typical bar food. Sometimes I have ribs, but usually that is more a lunch time thing though I may have some in the back I can heat up. I can also call down the way for some fried chicken, I have a deal with the owner and they deliver."

If he pays any attention to their conversation, it doesn't show. He probably hears bits and pieces of plenty of conversations throughout a night, and likely ignores all of them since they are none of his business.

"Rocks, please." Ranna nods. "He's right, it's a nice place. I've walked past a time or two. And I don't need fattening up…" That earns Kian a dirty look, the effect ruined as her tummy rumbles at the mention of ribs. "Anything, is fine. Can't afford to be fussy. Packet of crisps will do. Beats the noodles I usually heat." Or the MRE's she's been filching from Kian's caches.

"I'm not throwing things at you at you anymore." She notes to the asian man and frowns "There's to be a meeting of some of our friends in a couple of nights. My … friend … suggested that it will be Ordered."

There's a glance to Luke as he doesn't appear to listen "You hear anything about people going missing down here?"

"At the moment." Kian says to Ranna. "Ribs if you've got 'em. My treat."

For someone that she has tried to kill Kian seems suspiciously interested in her eating. Maybe he just doesn't want to find out what happens when she gets hangry.

Bartenders DO hear a lot of conversation and while a lot of it surely washes over them it's still true that the good ones will have their finger on the pulse of the community.

So he listens to see what Luke answers.

Turning around to at least get some bar snacks in front of the pair, Luke shrugs a shoulder. "I'll heat up the ribs, but these should tide you over for now." says Luke as he sets the bowl of mixed nuts down in front of them.

He looks to Ranna and Kian, his smile turning into a slight frown as she mentions missing people, "No." he says flatly. "No, I haven't heard anything about anyone missing. Should I have? Have people gone missing?" he asks.

"Thank you." Ranna's polite at least as she pulls the mixed nuts over. "I can pay, Kian… you don't have to. Well, I can as long as I have work. They're talking about a cousin coming to live them with and cut my shifts for the next week because of it."

"Maybe?" Ranna answers slowly, noting Lukes flat response. "And yeah. Homeless mostly until recently. One of the women who comes into the store is worried about her daughter - says she's not been home in several nights and that's not usual. Wouldn't think anything of it but another customers brother hasn't been home as well. Both went missing about the same time."

That gets Kian a look "About the time our friends started consolidating."

"Your friends, not mine." Kian mutters. Which is true enough except that they're not her friends anymore. The last several encounters have made that quite clear.

"Any of your regulars have similar trouble? Or… not come in for a little bit?"

This looks like the type of bar that has regulars after all. People that the barman knows and chats with. The sorts of folks who mostly only exist in songs and sitcoms now. But every once in a while a place gives off a little more homey vibe. This is definitely one such place. Community fixture, and all that.

"I'll pay." Kian shakes his head. He may not be rolling in cash but he's hurting for money less than she is.

Ribs forgotten for the moment, Luke listens to Ranna tell of the missing people. "I see. Well, I'll certainly keep an ear out. I have some friends I can check with to see if they have heard anything as well."

He looks to Kian and shakes his head, "No, I can't say that I am 'missing' anyone." the big man says as he looks out over the crowd for a moment, "But I will certainly keep my eye out."

Luke reaches up and rubs at his chin, a low exhale of breath though his nostrils before he focuses on the couple once again. "Right, ribs. I'll be right back, give me a few minutes to heat them up for you."

"Not my friends, Kian… I use the term lightly." Ranna mutters back, watching Luke as they talk. "It might be nothing, after all. Homeless go missing all the time here and nobody notices though. Two young people, could just be a coincidence couldn't it?"

"From what I've seen, they'll be youngish - younger than me and fit. Maybe come from a home where it will take a while for their absence to be noticed. Plenty of that around here, after all." With people at school and work as well as trying to 'live' a little, it could be a day or two before someone realised a housemate or adult child hadn't been home.

"Anyway, I was thinking of inviting myself to the meeting." That's to Kian as Luke wanders off.

"Be careful if you do." Kian says as he takes a drink of his beer. He's quiet for a couple of minutes but when Luke comes back he gets his wallet out, just to make sure everything is settled up in case the place is busy.

"So what's the local word on the street then… oh, don't think I got your name. I'm Kian. That's Ranna." It's probably not horribly unusual to ask the bartender's name? At least, he hopes not. Truth be told Kian doesn't actually go to many bars.

"The neighborhood's looking better than it did a while back during the blitz. So things are looking up here, yeah?"

After a few minutes the smell of bbqed meat and sauce drifts out from the back room as the door opens and Luke emerges with a pair of plates in his hands. "You got lucky, I had just enough for two more plates."

He slide the plates of ribs, potato salad, and baked beans in front of the pair with a small little flourish and smiles. "Enjoy. It's an old family recipe."

He looks to Kian, and nods. "Yeah, it's seen a resurgence. But Harlem will always be Harlem, ya know? I don't think it will ever allow itself to be totally gentrified, as much as people might try."

Luke rolls a shoulder in a shrug, and wipes his hand on the towel before offering it over. "Luke Cage, this is my place. Nice to meet you."

Ranna looks at the size of the meal when the plate is put in front of her. "That's … a lot of food. Thank you." She doubts she'll eat all of it - she's been living on rations for a while now. But hey, she'll make a go of this. Who knows when her next good meal will be?

"You were here during the blitz?" That's to Kian but her attention turns to Luke quickly enough "Nice to meet you, Luke. I'm not familiar with Harlem particularly bar old movies and I'm always skeptical about how they portray things. I've not been in the country all that long." Her accent is interesting. She speaks English well but there's an infliction that says she learned that elsewhere.

"When you say totally gentrified, you mean the … rougher elements?" Kian had asked about the word on the streets after all.

"He means like what happened in Hell's Kitchen." Kian offers as the ribs come. Mmmmm. He takes a bite and… oh yeah. That's good. "My compliments to the family recipe. And the chef."

There's about thirty seconds in which he is just chewing on meat and washing it down with beer.

"Ranna's not from around here. I'm not either actually. I take it you are? We'd love the… sort of eye from the ground. We're gonna be here a bit so if there's anything a couple of not quite tourists should know about the place…"

"Born and raised." says Luke as he answers Kian. "I was away for a while, but recently came back. I spend most my time in here, so I am not as 'man on the street' as I once was, but things change." He shrugs a shoulder. "Harlem's not a bad place, anymore. Not like it used to be. You can walk down the street here safe enough now a days, at least during the day. Just don't go down alleys in the dark, that could be a risk."

He leans against the bar, nodding to some of the regulars as they leave before he looks back to the pair, "Yeah, the rougher elements. It's better now, but I don't think it will ever be totally safe."

"Was the depiction of Harlem in the movies, accurate?" Ranna asks around a mouthful of food. "Foods good. Compliments to the chef … and whoever wrote the recipe in your family." Taking a sip of the whiskey, she considers. "Don't head down the alleys, sure. That seems commonsense."

"Anyone here we should be aware of? Colourful characters and the like."

Kian gets a look now Ranna has started eating. "I'll be careful, but I wouldn't say no to company."

"You seem to like it that way though." Kian observes. "Not in a bad way, but the things that give this place it's unique character, yeah? They'd be erased if you were to gentrify the place. Move in money. 'Clean it up'." The air quotes there are quite audible.

Ranna gets a look back. "If you need company to go down a dark alley let me know." He ALMOST makes the joke that he'll find her some. It would be a joke of course. He's backed her up before and he will do it again. They are, after all, working together in some senses.

Ranna's follow up question, that's quite a good one. So Kian takes a few more bites and listens.

Luke Cage shrugs as he looks at Ranna, "I suppose that would all depend on the movies that you saw? I can't be certain. I would take anything you see in the movies with a grain of salt though, because I am sure it has been altered in some way or the other to fit the directors vision." He look around the bar, "I'm not sure what you mean by colorful characters. I mean, I have seen a mask in here once. One of the Spiders was in here helping out with a bit of trouble, and I had some purple skinned girl in here as well. If you mean another kind of colorful character like gangers or something, I wouldn't let that element in here."

He turns to Kian and nods, "I guess I do. Harlem is what Harlem is. As I said before, I don't think it would let itself be gentrified. It would fight to keep it's character."

Ranna actually smiles at Luke as he details 'colourful' characters. She hadn't expected that, it seems. "That's what I thought about the movies. I meant in general in the area, but it's good to know this place is … clear of them." That might make it easier to keep coming back.

"Will you find an alley to walk down with me, Kian? Are you sure you don't want me to throw things at you?" Ranna's not telepathic but she clearly knows the response she elicits from the other man.

"Not the things you're going to throw." Kian says giving Ranna a sidelong look. Despite her small stature her throws are forceful and the things she throws are very, very sharp.

The mention of trouble has Kian giving Luke a careful look. "You look like you can handle trouble pretty well yourself if you've a mind to." The man is big. Big and visibly strong. And he sort of puts Kian in mind of a bull. Rather peaceful if left alone. But don't come into his paddock and start tipping cows.

Okay, the metaphor breaks down a bit there.

"Mind if I ask what kind of trouble it was, though?" Because in Kian's world, Ranna's too, there's trouble and then there's Trouble.

Chuckling, Luke looks at Kian, "I do alright. I don't intimidate easy, and I have been known to knock a few heads when I have needed to." He pauses for a moment, then continues "It wasn't anything I couldn't handle, but I am not going to begrudge the assist. It was just a gang of skinhead punks who were after the afore mentioned pink girl. Some Aryan race asshole types…excuse my language." He nods to a few of the other patrons as they walk out the door before refocusing back on the pair, "One of them was a bit special, and they were all armed in one form or the other. So, as I said, I didn't mind the help."

He looks back and forth at the two of you, chuckling as Ranna 'flirts', at least in Luke's eyes, with Kian. "I don't know what you are planning on throwing at him, but maybe save that kinda thing for private?"

Ranna would be horrified to know what that interaction looks like. That's a complication she doesn't need right now. She'd told Alex that not too long ago.

"That's not too uncommon, unfortunately." Ranna mutters into her meal. "It's good that you were able to help. Have you seen them again, the … assholes?" She'll know to watch out for them "And having help isn't bad either. Seems to be the type of neighbourhood this is. What with Daredevil around as well."

"I'm not planning on throwing anything at him. Not anymore at any rate." There's almost the accusatory tone of 'he started it' to those words but they don't come out. "I wouldn't disturb your establishment, Luke." Like she could, right? Ranna's tiny and couldn't weigh more than 140 lbs soaking wet.

It's easy for Kian to assume that was anti-mutant violence which is sadly not unknown. After all that's what someone with purple skin is most likely to be, right? A mutant? He makes a face at the thought. "Well, good on you for stepping up all the same. And the Spider."

Fortunately it doesn't sound like the kind of trouble he was worried about. "Believe me we're both glad she's not planning on doing that any more. She's got quite an arm."

The door opens as the patrons exit and just as he's lifting a beer something 'thumps' into the bar RIGHT next to him.

"HolyF-" Kian spits, for what it is, is an arrow. A short arrow with a message attached. When he unrolls the paper it just says 'We are watching.'

The asian man glances back, but there's no one outside who looks like they might have shot it. At least, not visible from where he's sitting.

Shaking his head, Luke lets out a little chuckles. "Nah, you won't be seeing those guys for a while. Last I heard they went to lockup, after a quick stop at the dentist." He reaches up and scratches as a spot on his chest, "I think they know better than to come around here again, even if they did manage to get out."

Lifting an arm to wave at one of the other patrons leaving, Luke looks to Kain as an arrow thunks right into the bar…HIS bar… "What in the f…" he starts to say, stopping himself as he looks out the door. Luke's face turns hard, and he vaults over the bar with relative ease and grace for a man his size. "Are you ok?" he asks Kian, even as he moves to shield the man from any other possible projectiles.

"Well that's something." Ranna answers, focussed entirely on her meal. The meal that's nearly all gone.

When the arrow comes, she starts but doesn't vocalise. Just takes the paper from Kian and hisses violently. "The Order …" Hopping down from the stool, the remnants of the meal left on the counter, she pulls some bills out of her pocket and puts them on the counter. It's enough for the drink and the meal - just. Kian can yell at her later.

"I must go …" is all she says as she heads out the door and into the night, disappearing into the shadows.

Probably not her smartest move.

"Yeah. It didn't hit me." Kian says as he pulls the arrow from the bar. That'll leave a mark. He looks over at Luke, grateful for the cover. When the door shuts again that should at least rule out any more arrows.

"Mind if I head out the back? Whomever did that might still be out there and I don't much fancy getting pincushioned."

Especially not without his gear. Not that he says that. Either way he's already standing up and leaving a little more money on the bar.

"Yeah, go ahead…" says Luke as Kian asks about heading out the back.

He looks to Ranna, and is about to suggest the same to her when she runs past him out the front door. "Wait, not that way!" Luke sighs, shaking his head, Normally he would go after her, but he has other patrons to worry about as well. Still, something to follow up on later.

He looks to the mark in the bar after Kian and Ranna leave, sighing as he rubs at the indentation the arrow has left. "Stupid fucking ninjas…"

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