2020-02-02 - Three Cushion


Pool is just another way to exercise the mind, right?

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Feb 2 07:00:49 2020
Location: New York

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Theme Song



Jeriah is relaxing with a beer down at the bar near SHIELD. He's shooting a game of pool. It's later in the evening. He's out of his tactical gear and wearing an open buttoned shirt over a colored tee and jeans. It's a layered effect and makes him look very casual.

What is not casual is the way he's shooting pool. It might be the cyborg in him but he's very precise and CLEARLY played before his conversion.

It's very Supernatural, the effect that Jeriah has achieved. He can 'hear' Jemma thinking that and how much like Dean Winchester he isn't.

How would Jemma know? She's been quiet in his head for most of the day. And by quiet, he's caught her muttering about an experiment she's been working and talking to herself, but she's barely reached out to speak to him.

That's generally a sign she's been busy.

Yet now, he can hear that thought, clear as day. And she feels like she's close … quite close.

"Clearly you aren't about to try and con someone. Anyone watching you, would know that you'll be hard to bear." The british accented voice sounds behind him.

"Why would I con someone?" Jeriah glances behind him. He WOULD be surprised except he sensed her coming and the cameras alerted him to her presence. "I won't get a decent challenge that way."

Pop. Clack. Into the pocket. Jeriah smirks and moves around the table to line up his next shot.

"Have you ever played three cushion?" That is not what he's playing now, clearly. Three cushion billiards only involves three balls.

"Off work early? You must have been busy today. You've been quiet."

"Isn't that what all good pool players do? Play the shark to fleece the unsuspecting of their money?" Jemma is teasing. "Did you want a challenge?"

There's a certain amount of confidence in that question - does Jemma think she could give Jeriah a run for his money?

"Sort of? I wanted to talk to you about a report I got in and when I checked … well, I thought I'd come down." He has to know she's probably got reports in her bags that she'll review when she gets home tonight.

"I might have played three cushion …"

"Good. Let me just…" Jeriah pauses and then shoots and sinks the last two balls in one shot. He smirks one more time and fishes the cue out again. Then gets a white ball and a red ball and sets them up.

"You want to give me a real challenge, try to keep up with me here."

Three Cushion Billiards is very much a game about math. Which… given his implants and Jemma's implants should be VERRRRRY interesting.

"Or we can try regular pool. Maybe we will after this. Would a bet make it more interesting?"

What would they bet? Probably not money.

"What's the reports you wanted to ask about?"

"How is it played again?" Jemma asks Jeriah, taking a cue down and chalking the end. "I'm not sure that I can keep up with you." He has an advantage over her, in that he can access her systems and control her arm. Then again … Jemma might have a dirty trick up her sleeve.

"What would you wager, Jeriah? How about if I win, you have to watch Mary, Queen of Scots with me. The latest one?" That should be suitably uncomfortable for him and not too embarrassing.

"This was sent through to me this morning, I'm surprised you didn't read it when I did …" Jeriah gets an alert that he has a message. The report is there. It's about a DeathLok agent who went missing a couple of years ago. It's redacted, of course, but the gist is clear. The agent had activated to retrieve something or someone. They'd never returned.

"Fine. If I win we're watching Demolition Man." Such a gloriously bad action movie. So very entertaining. Jeriah shoots. The ball bounces off one, two, three rails and then hits both other balls.

"There you go. You have to hit both balls and three cushions. Should be quite an exercise for your implants, mmm?"

Jeriah has of course played this enough that he has a dedicated subroutine for it.

"Hmmmm. How many other DeathLok's are there?" Jeriah cannot imagine there are that many. Possibly only a handful. Possibly only one or two. The tech looks expensive and he can imagine that using it regularly would be… problematic.

"I like Demolition Man, so I accept the bet." Jemma answers. Either way she wins, so it's a good one for her. "Oh. I remember now …"

She takes her time lining the cue up and checking angles. The time she takes is likely to drive Jeriah crazy. Then she shoots. Hits two of the object balls, bounces off one, two, three cushions and narrowly misses the third ball. "Oh."

"Don't know how many. That's been classified. Look at the headers on the message. They've been scrubbed, haven't they? I wanted to see where it had come from - there's no name."

The message seems to have originated outside SHIELD and Jeriah might be able to trace it if he wants. What's telling is the other header information is incredibly sparse.

Jeriah is quicker to take his shots. Smoother in action. But his pace is still rather deliberate as he considers and calculates. He also misses the third ball with a cheeky backspin. It's not something that much bothers him because even professional players struggle to do more than two or three points per round. It's a rather demanding game.

"I can check the routing on the server but that's about as much as I want to do without asking to go through the mail severs. Any chance we can get someone like Melinda May to authorize something like that?"

The pool of people they can actually trust with this kind of information is somewhat limited. Even the SHIELD counterintel division has to be suspect.

Jemma definitely isn't as quick as Jeriah and takes her time as she assesses the table. He can almost the see the geometry and physics as she considers her next shot. "Did you do that on purpose?" Miss the ball she means.

This time she hits all three, though that last ball is just barely nudge.

"You can ask Agent May. I'm sure she wants to hear from either of us after we mentioned Bahrain."

Another loose end they need to tie up.

"But yes, we should. Why would anyone send me this report though, Jeriah? Do you think … these are where my implants came from?"

"It's possible that there's someone working the same case we are that doesn't want to reveal themselves. And it's also possible that something more manipulative is going on." Jeriah shakes his head to answer the question of whether he missed on purpose.

Then he makes his next shot. Perfect and very symmetrical as well. He's ahead by one but only because she's down one turn compared to him.

"However manipulative or not it is information and we should try to make use of it. To be honest Jemma I've tried not to think too hard about where your implants came from but it is entirely possible that they did."

"There's something *in* my implants, Jeriah. I don't want to think about where they came from either but I can't ignore that, can I?" It's slightly tart, the reply. Born of frustration and not a little bit of fear.

Huh. He didn't miss on purpose. How could that be? Jemma knows that Jeriah is using his implants to help him. Just like she is.

"I think we err on the side of the manipulative. If it's not, it just means we've been cautious for no reason." She says, watching as Jeriah takes his shot. For her turn, she takes even longer this time than she had for the first.


Two object balls, two cushions …. and the third ball is hit…. damn.

Jeriah chuckles and moves about the table to line up his next shot. No he didn't miss on purpose. He is a cyborg but he isn't a robot. Even if he knows what the correct method is there's always the question of executing it.

"That is the sensible thing to do yes. The thing in your implants is a ghost. Well, a code ghost. I can't find where it's living but it HAS to be living somewhere. I'm tempted to try and trigger it but one, I'm not sure how and two, that has been quite dangerous in the past."

Jemma considers cheating. She really does. Even goes so far as to create an image in her mind. A blue eyed, blond, in a bright orange swimsuit - a Baywatch Babe … She's thinking about projecting that to Jeriah as he takes his shot.

Right at the last minute, she changes her mind. If he wins - she wins, so it doesn't matter.

Still. He would have seen the thought she conjured - even if she didn't show him directly.

"I don't want you to trigger it, but it's the best way to locate it. Can you … disable my automotive functions when you do, so I'm no threat?"

Jeriah takes his next shot and it goes through with the backspin this time. It's not easy to execute on command but he got it that time. That should put him a couple of points up.

"That's not actually what I'm worried about. I mean, yes. I can. But to be honest if I'm on guard you're not really a threat to me. I'm more worried about it getting into your systems in ways I can't reverse."

And not being able to dislodge it. And having it overrwrite her.

Jemma sighs at the shot. She's not sure she can beat him. She's also not sure he could overpower if he was expecting it. Lining her next shot up, Jemma takes her time, drawing the cue back and shooting carefully. The cue ball hits two object balls, bounces off three cushions and hits the third. The spin on it such that it rolls to one of the other object balls. It stops though, just shy of hitting and Jemma lets out a breath. Jeriah is still a point or two ahead, she thinks.

"So, is there an answer? I just don't see there's any other way to do it."

"Well we could wait on it and see if anything else comes up. Though that might not get us anything and might make matters worse." He makes a 'so so' motion with his hand. "There's risks either way. What risks do you find preferable, since this mostly affects you?"

Another shot he lines up… and misses. This is, after all, a rather demanding game. But he is still a point or two ahead yes.

"How did you miss that?" Jemma asks suspiciously as she steps back up. Unlike Jeriah, Jemma takes her time, more than is usual to line her own shots up. "I mean, if you really want to watch Mary, Queen of Scots, we can do that as well…"

She's teasing, as she takes the shot and thinks on what he just asked.

"I … want to find out what it is. But I also think we have several avenues of investigation to follow up. We should do them first and if it activates, you'll get your shot. I take it you have sub routines that you can put into action if I go off the rails?"

She sighs "Then, we can look at it again when we exhaust these other options."

The cue ball spins out and it's a near perfect shot. Definitely her best for the game.

"The angles are easy to calculate but they're not always easy to shoot correctly. If the cue is off or you don't use just the right amount of force, you can miss." Jeriah explains. That's why he likes this game. It lets him take full advantage of his implants AND it still requires skill to play well.

"I do but I will be honest if it does succeed in replacing you with it, I'm not entirely clear how to get you back. Your brain isn't computerized like mine is and in any case it's not like I have BackupJemma.exe laying around." Not exactly anyway. Though… now that he thinks about it…

"Impressive, by the way."

"I know that, Jeriah and yet …" Jemma eyes the hacker-soldier. "You can't back me up, Jeriah. The technology doesn't exist and I'm more than just a computer program, anyway."

Though he does have her thinking, he can see her thoughts whirling away. What would it would it take to back up an organic mind? Is is even … possible?

"And what would you *do* with a BackupJemma anyway? I suppose if you had it, it might be because the original is kind of annoying."

"And thank you. I surprised myself. Are you taking another shot? And do you want beer?"

"Mmmmmmmmm…" Jeriah makes another so-so motion. "Well… maybe. We've already been working on technology to scan the mind. It's in it's early stages but…" He means the VR Framework they've been working on. Could they really use that to capture and record a mind?

"Ah yes. Sorry. A beer would be good." Jeriah comes around and takes aim. One bounce off the corner. A second. A strike on the red ball, a third cushion just near the pocket and then a slow roll to tap the white one. He smiles. That was close.

"Well I'd keep it obviously. On the cloud. With Amazon." He would not.

"You have an Amazon as well?" Jemma smirks, deliberately misrepresenting what he said. Heading to the bar to get two beers. Both icy cold. Returning in time to see Jeriah's shot, she nods impressed.

They must be about even now - well, he slightly ahead because she's down a turn. To be honest, she's stopped counting. She'll watch Demolition Man, if he wants.

"At least you didn't say something creepy like … you know what? Forget I was going to say anything." The blush is telling as she hands the beer to the soldier and takes her own shot. The cue ball hits the first ball, glances off the second at an angle, three cushions and barely taps the third.

"Ahaha. No." Jeriah says. "I doubt they'd put up with my sass and I keep away from them where possible I'm also not incredibly clear what they are." Because it's not really in his line of things to know.

"Like what now? Like modify it and upload to you whenever I find you too annoying or want you to not remember what I said?"

There are creeper things he could say presumably but there usually are.

Jeriah grins. "You're getting good. Let me see…"

Now he has a problem. The balls are in line from where the cue ball is. Well…"

He hits the ball, it jumps the first, hits the second, hits two cushions, hits the third and juuuust barely taps the last cushion.


"We'll go with that, yes." Jemma says primly. That's not what she'd been going to say but he saved it nicely. Well, not nicely exactly.

"I'm not sure how I'd feel about you having an Amazon…" she murmurs, giving the soldier-hacker a sideways glance before looking at the table and wincing. "Good shot."

The ball is close to the cushion which makes it hard to get a good hitting angle to hit the ball hard enough to get it moving - in the right direction.

Jemma does though and hits the first two balls, the spin on the cue ball is all wrong though. It hits two cushions, slower much more quickly than in it should … hitting the third ball and bouncing off so it rolls parallel to the cushion. It does hit, eventually, by a … a very small amount.

"Well consider it as a theoretical exercise because it is." Jeriah snorts. He watches Jemma set and hit. He smiles when it doesn't quite work out the way she wanted to but works out anyway.

"Well that was rather impressive. But I think I'm still ahead. You don't mind staring at Sylvester Stalone for two and a half hours, do you?" She totally doesn't he's sure. He gets Sandra Bullock so that's not bad either.

Either way the hacker cracks open his beer and takes a drink.

"Are you laughing at me?" Jemma casts a glance at Jeriah as he snorts. It was a damn lucky shot and he knows it. "Unlike you, I didn't misspend my youth in seedy pool halls." No, instead Jemma was studying and studying more.

"Do I mind? Not really. The movie is amusing and I'm sure I'll annoy you by reciting the dialogue of some of it. Plus, there's no real psuedo science for me to scream at."

Taking a pull from her beer, Jemma leans a hip against the table and considers Jeriah. "You aren't going to stop the movie and tell me, in excruciating detail, why a fight scene is wrong, are you?"

She smirks though "Sly's ok. But I know better to look on."

"I might." Jeriah says, sipping his beer inscrutably. He won't. But he's thinking about it. Maybe he'll just mentally beam to her in excruciating detail why the fight scene is wrong and how to correct it. She'll enjoy that surely.

"Oh do you now? And I didn't mispend my youth in seedy pool halls. I misspent it in Iraq and Afghanistan. Getting shot at and dodging IEDs."

"Were there seedy pool halls in the military camps you stayed in?" Jemma asks, feeling a bit guilty for reminding Jeriah of that. "And I do, yes." The blush is there but she holds his gaze for a long moment before looking away and taking a drink.

It's totally the beer that's making her flush, isn't it?

"If you do that, beam the information, I will make sure your dreams are filled with chemistry equations." She threatens. He totally would do that to her and no, she wouldn't enjoy it.

"Are you going to take your shot … " a speaking look accompanies that comment "… or are you waiting for me to concede?"

"No. Pool halls are not a thing in military camps." Jeriah snorts. "This isn't the 40's. You're thinking of the wrong super soldier." Because he knows she's met Steven Rogers. Who… probably also was never in a pool hall.

"Better that than Baywatch Babes. Wait no I take that back." Ah he caught that thought. He probably didn't catch the image though.

"Well… are you going to?" NOW he takes the shot behind his back. He misses… but he's still ahead. And showing off.

"They are in the movies." Jemma smirks. At least Jeriah is smirking. "And you consider yourself a super soldier, do you?"

At least she seems relaxed and enjoying herself. Jeriah rarely sees this side of her.

She laughs as he makes the Baywatch quip. "Oh, is that so. Like them blonde, do you?"

"Mmmm. I think we have some time before either of us need to go. Unless you're absolutely desperate to watch the movie, early."

"I do rather like blondes yes. But I'm not exclusive like that." The Hacker grins. He cants his head slightly looking mock-affronted. "What would you call me? I can command a squad of robotic dogs with my mind and I have implants to make me bulletproof and power plasma weaponry by touch. So…"

Yes. He thinks he's a supersolider.

"Oh no rush not at all. We could do dinner before the movie if you like. Or just stay here and see if someone comes in that we can hustle."

"Pain in the neck. Annoying. Competent." Jemma lists off what she would call Jeriah, a small smirk on her lips. "And not exclusive, hmmmm?" The biochem takes her shot, not even trying to show off. She hits two balls, three cushions and misses the third.

"Are you asking me out to dinner? I don't think hustling is really going to work. They'll take one look at me and say 'no'."

"Aren't you cute." Jeriah says as Jemma lists off the traits she would call out from him. He shakes his head in a very exaggerated way as if he is totally innocent and she is just being so very… cruel. Of course it's play. It's a game. And he likes this game.

"Mmmmmm. Well do you want to keep going at that? Or shall we try something with less math and more beer in it." Like pool. They already have the beer.

"Also promise me that you're going to forget about the report for the rest of tonight."

"I'm glad you think so." Jemma smiles. It's a game and one she is enjoying. "I don't often get called cute, I will admit. Nerd. Geek. Even Science Freak. I'll take cute above those any day."

Patting Jeriah's shoulder, Jemma looks back at the table. "Afraid I might beat you if we go much longer? We can try something else, if you like. More beer? I don't see any foosball in here. Go Karting? Hang gliding … no, they wouldn't let us with beer … "

"I will try not think about the report for the rest of the night."

"Doc. I call you Doc. Sometimes. But if you prefer cute I can call you cute." Ooooooh that could be bad. Can she imagine him saying 'Hey Cutie' when he greets her in the Tri. In the lab. In public. Ahem…

"I can block it out if you want me to." But he won't do it unless she asks. Because he respects her too much for that. Moooost of the time.

"Pool, if you like. Snooker. Or we can go find something to do…" That would require leaving but… his car is nearby.

"Yes, you do. And sometimes you call me Jemma too." Which is good because that is her name. His offer though gets a droll look. "I'm not going to dare you to try. That will just occassion looks and comments."

"I said I would try, Jeriah. I don't need to be managed like that." The biochem sighs. "I'm hungry. Let's find something else to do and get some ribs and pizza. If you're going to make me relive my college days, I might as well go the full hog."

They'll have to stop and buy beer though. Jemma doesn't keep that much in her fridge.

"That would be part of the fun of doing so." Jeriah says with an arch grin. He stretches a little bit and puts down the cue. "I know just the place to get all of that. And lucky you I cook pretty good ribs on short notice. Let me just get your oven going…"

Naturally, Jemma has a smart home. And Jeriah can turn on her oven from here. Which he does.

"So. Beer run. Ribs. Pizza. And then we sit down to watch Sylvester Stallone. Sounds like a good night to me."

Jemma flushes a little and downs the rest of her beer, putting the cue back up on the rack. "You're … going to cook? I thought we would just order." You know, like Jemma does most days. When Jeriah says he's getting her oven going, she blinks - thankful she doesn't use the space as storage.

"And after that, we can watch my movie …." she says saucily. But yes, it does sound like a good evening - she might even pick up dessert on this run.

"Come on then."

Jeriah takes Jemma's arm and leads her out which may make her blush and stammer and is honestly part of the point of doing so. Once outside he turns to head toward his car, saying: "We can pick up some wine too. Unless you prefer something stronger." Because yes. What Jemma wants to be doing while watching a movie with Jeriah is drinking…

Well, at least it'll be a good night.

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