Budweisers and Blondes

Kathryn and Gerard on the wrong side of town.


Gerard's entrance into Frank's is met by a wave of surreptitious glances and suspicious eyes. He is immediately set apart from the other patrons - not by dint of his profession, but merely by the confidence and self-possession with which he carries himself. It helps, also, that his clothes appear to have been washed in the past year. If he is uncomfortable by the sudden scrutiny, the rangy detective doesn't show it - he meanders toward the bar with a slow saunter, meeting and holding a few gazes before settling onto a stool and reaching inside his jacket pocket to produce a wallet.
"I'm looking for the guy who was here the other night," he says to the bartender mildly. "When the two kids were killed. Oh. And, uh. Budweiser." He lays a fifty-dollar bill on the bar-top, watching the man impassively; perhaps he expects an honest answer to his bribery, or perhaps he merely wishes to get a read on the fellow by provoking him. It's hard to tell from his expression.

It's likely that the next entrance to the dingy little dive bare was meant to be far more stealthy and unnoticed. No such luck. Having happened upon the detective just as he made his departure - how fortunate it is, sometimes, living in the same building as an agent! - Kathryn Emerson promptly threw a few more bills at her cab driver, with the time-honored instruction of 'follow that car'. After a brief, rather incredulous exchange, the Russian obliged. And well, here she is. But a leggy redhead was never going to stroll into a bar full of miscreants without attracting attention. Damn it.

Brazening it out, the young woman shakes her scarlet tresses back and holds her head high, heels clicking across the grimy floor as she approaches the bar a few minutes after Gerard. A glance over the stool beside his, tough, disinclines her to sit down. So she settles for simply coming to stand beside him, resting the heel of her hand on the counter's edge and flashing the tall man a smile that -dares- him to try and scold her for tailing him.

The man at the bar is the kind of guy who never leaves a place like this. If he were not made of flesh and bone, a person would expect him to be a fixture like some animatronic puppet. He has simply always been behind the bar at Franks, and always will be. Tomorrow, today, yesterday, forever. That is, until the liver cirrhosis does him in. Mike carries his apron low on his gut, his years at the bottle's teat wearing heavy on his body's systems. He is in his late 50's sliding in a slow decent towards 60 that won't make 70. There are purpling tattoos on his arms, faded cheap asian tattoos gained from some foreign war and braved from dirty needles and drunken nights. His eyes are yellow, and the unlit cigar that he chews from his fat lip pauses only slightly as the prettiest thing he sees all night sits down at his bar.
Then she walks in.
"You're shitting me, right?" The man puts up two bottles, and gives back very exact change, looking between the couple. "You come here tailed by tail and try a bribe? There's better places down town to drink." He gives a nod to the door and retreats to the far end of the bar, to some dark corner to brood, like a bulldog returning to his house.

Rather than scold the young woman, Gerard shrugs out of his coat and settles it down onto the stool next to him. This has the - perhaps unfortunate - side-effect of revealing the polymer-grip handgun sitting snugly against his hip, but it's a rather gallant gesture all the same. He seems a bit pained at her arrival, as though he had dreaded something like this occuring. "Funny seeing you here, Katie," he murmurs softly. "I figured you for a wine-bar type. Was gonna ask you out to tapas."
Leaning over to whisper into the woman's ear, he says "Who should I pretend you are? No use pretending we don't know each other..we'll discuss following me later." He returns his attention to the bartender. "Well, this went well. Still, Mike and I are going to get to know each other eventually." He purses his lips, and looks over at Kathryn. "You want to hang around here?"

"Escort." is the softly-breathed reply, before Gerard withdraws, and it's promptly, fittingly followed by a lascivious smile. Is this a guise she uses often? "Wine bars? You -do- think highly of me." Kathryn's response is breezily unconcerned, as she continues to ignore the variety of gazes tossed her way. Some linger greedily, while other flits to and fro, stealing glimpses. Particularly when, at the gentleman's behest, his companion seats herself gracefully upon the stool beside him, crossing her long legs at the knee. With a sigh, propping her elbow on the bartop, she dangles one stiletto-heeled pump from her toes, the picture of indifference, before talking up her Bud and offering Mike a subtle flash of a wink. "Sorry. I was meant to meet him -after- hours but.. business was slow on the Strip." A slight readjustment of her bosom - that arm wiggling thing women sometimes do just to subtly draw the eye that way - seems to leave little doubt to the woman's 'profession'.

Quirking a brow at Gerard, when she eventually draws her green eyes back toward him, she continues the charade of not really caring. "I don't mind… this place is okay. Won't run into anyone who knows you. Like your wife."

Reaching to wrap an arm easily around the woman's waist as he takes a swig of his beer, Gerard says, "You're right about that. She's been threatening private dicks." He doesn't seem too concerned at this, shrugging a bit, the picture of a married man looking tough for his 'escort'. One of the customers - a huge, tatted-up blond - watches this exchange curiously. If Gerard notices, he doesn't show it.. yet.
"I'm glad you came early, baby," he drawls toward the redhead, letting his gaze move up and down her body. "I've got a hunger tonight." This doesn't seem entirely feigned, but perhaps the fellow is simply a talented actor. He leans forward to whisper into the woman's ear, lips brushing her earring. "Blond, my eight o'clock. We might need to get outta here.. drink up." He winks at her, letting his eyes roam to her thighs as he draws back.

To her credit, Kathryn doesn't flicker so much as an eyelash at the muttered warning, nor does she shift her gaze from the detective. All she offers by way of a response is an amused quirk of one brow, and a lingering smile, before she turns her attention to her beer, taking a lengthy sip. Maybe she didn't notice his over-exaggerated appraisal. Maybe she's just playing the part with equally Oscar-worthy aplomb. Maybe she's going to punch him in his gentleman parts the moment they're outta here. It's really quite impossible to tell.

Licking her lips in satisfaction, ignoring the sullen barkeep for now, she leans across toward Gerard, meeting his eyes and resting one hand lightly on his knee. It's not overt, but it might be enough to convince onlookers of her less violent possibilities, as far as intentions go. "You have quite an appetite. No wonder she's trying to keep tabs on you, really. Are you -ever- going to leave her for me, like you promised..?" Uh oh, that looks like the wheedling beginning of an explosive lover's tiff. Or, depending on your perspective, a convenient reason to hustle out, needs be.

The redhead giggles softly at whatever the large man whispers to her, casting her gaze downward coyly beneath long lashes for a moment of added effect before nodding a little. Setting down her half-empty beer on the bar, then tucking her ruby hair back behind one ear, she rises smoothly, hand-in-hand with her 'client'. Her other hand drops back to grasp and scoop up his jacket from the barstool, without looking.

Flashing Gerard a suggestive smile, leaning inward to lightly brush his arm with her own, the pretty redhead seems utterly oblivious to anyone who may be looking on. She's not, of course. But she's very convincing. "I know…" she admits, in a long-suffering manner. "Now let's see if I can think of a way to show you how much I enjoy it, hmm..?" She remains close as they start to cross the floor, unhurriedly sauntering in her towering heels.

Moving alongside the woman, Gerard seems to be in a slightly-larger hurry - not surprising, given that he expects to be getting lucky with a gorgeous British prostitute in the next few minutes, right? He's oblivious to the big blond rising to his feet and grabbing his coat, or at least seems to be. "I can think of a couple ways. I'll give you your marching orders once we get outside." Gerard's tone is teasing, his manner eager - but someone who knows him well would recognize that this exuberance is entirely unfeigned; one way or the other, his blood is up.
He draws open the door out into the shitty parking lot, gesturing for the exquisitely-heeled redhead to move before him. The blond meanders slowly toward the door as well, keeping his eyes on the out-of-place pair. Other patrons seem to notice this, and look away. Again, our hero remains - apparently - oblivious.

Kathryn gently flexes her fingers within the detective's larger grasp. It's the -only- sign of her unease, and it's invisible to anyone but him. The smile she offers in coy thanks for the chivalrous opening of the door is smooth and easy. Faultless performance. Gliding through at a sedate pace, she leaves ample time for her companion to join her - on the right side, as he said - and casts her green eyes over the parking lot thoughtfully, resisting the urge to glance back over a shoulder. "So.." she murmurs, from low in her throat, "..your place or mine?"

"My place." Gerard's smile is edged with hunger - a confident, masculine desire evident on his features. He squeezes her hand as the blond steps out behind the pair. "I think what you're going to need after I'm through is a very, very, stiff drink, Katie." He winks at her, just as the blond calls out in a wanna-be thug accent. "Yo, man. You could'a bought a round or somethin', you know? Stead'a just walking in on my shit and strolling on out with that hot piece like you're too good for us. Hey, I got it, mothafucker.. How about you share the bitch w'me and my bros?"
Gerard turns to face the other man like a cowboy in a twelve-high gunfight, still holding Kathryn's hand. "I think you'd better go back inside." What's remarkable about his tone is that it hasn't changed inflection in the slightest - if his pulse has even gone up, the man doesn't show it. "I /am/ better than you. And I'm armed." His right hand gestures toward the pistol at his hip. Aside to Kathryn, he says "Baby, could you dial this gentleman an ambulance?"

"I could use it -now-…" is the hushed response from the tall redhead, her eyes closing briefly at the somewhat inevitable call toward she and Gerard. Dutifully, however, she stays out of the Detective's way. This is his area of expertise. Emphatically. Not hers. She turns with him, fingers still twined securely through his own, her other hand droppig to the purse at her hip and fumbling blindly for a moment before producing a sleek cellphone. Casting the blond a wary glance, she promptly begins thumbing the keys, as if it were a perfectly natural - or perhaps frequent - request from Gerard.

She ignores the lecherous quality of the stranger's suggestion, simply pressing her lips in a firm line and keeping her eyes down on the screen. No edging closer to the man beside her, or blinking wide-eyed at the other. Better to give him nothing.

"Yeah, motherfucker? I got a cap-gun too." And the blond reaches behind him, drawing out a rather dinky-looking .38. He levels it toward the young woman. "Hang up the phone, bitch." Surely he has the advantage. Right? I mean, -his- gun is drawn. Unfortunately, he has failed to account for just who he's dealing with. And Gerard *did* warn him that he was better. "Thanks, Katie. Tell them it's a kneecap." The blond starts to scoff, about to make some clever retort, as Gerard acts.
He doesn't blink, doesn't even seem to move all that fast, but his handgun is up and leveled at the other man in an instant. -Click-, it's off safe as it comes up, and then the sharp report of a round being fired rings out. A single gout of blood spurts from the blond's kneecap, and a moment later he is screaming in pain as he collapses. Gerard's hand slips out of Kathryn's as he advances forward, weapon now aimed at the prone man's head, and kicks the revolver away. "I'm placing you under arrest, pal. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law. You have th.. Aw, you aren't listening, are you?" His boot lashes out at the man's temple - thump - and the screaming abruptly stops.
"He slipped, Kathryn. Is the ambulance on the way?" Gerard's tone has never changed, even now as he holsters his pistol. He doesn't bother asking if the woman is alright, head on a swivel, scanning for threats with the cool eyes of a sniper.

Oddly calm - almost unnervingly so - as the gun is aimed at her, Kathryn meets the blond's gaze down the short barrel, holding it steadfastly. The two of them seem almost spellbound for a long moment. So yes, the sudden crack of gunfire elicits a start from the redhead and she almost fumbles her cellphone, just barely keeping it from sliding out of her fingers. Bringing it numbly to her ear, she watches Gerard advancing on the screaming stranger as if from a greater distance than a few feet away.

She winces slightly at the boot to head connection. But not from sympathy, judging by her cool expression. Murmuring into the cell, she drops her newly freed hand diagonally across herself, delving into a side pocket of her purse and producing a plain cotton hankerchief, which she offers toward the Detective with a gentle shake. Almost like a truce, amusingly. But her green eyes flit pointedly toward the handgun still lying on the asphalt. Assuming she catches his gaze, she nods twice, conveying that yes, help is on the way. She's pale. Definitely pale. But she hasn't fainted or panicked. Good for her.

"Alright. Good thought." Gerard moves back to the young woman, reaching for her shoulder, instead of for the hankerchief. "Katie, I need you to listen and take a deep breath. In a minute, shock is going to set in from adrenaline let-down. You need to focus when that happens." His tone is soothing, a massage therapist's voice speaking about ocean shores. Behind him, blood pulses from the man's knee.
"I'm going to tourniquet this shitbag for the ambulance and call this in. Okay? I want you to pick up the revolver with your hankerchief and just hold it in your left hand, by the barrel. Nod if you understand." The man's eyes are locked onto the redhead's, cold enough to send a chill through a person - meanwhile, heads are sticking out of the bar to see what all the commotion is. He wheels, producing his wallet, and flips it open to reveal a gold badge. "LVMPD," he shouts. "Get back inside!" The heads disappear. More quietly, he adds "We're going to be in a shitload of trouble unless that meat-wagon gets here quick."

Hanging up, dropping the cell back into her bag with a surprisingly steady hand, the young woman looks up abruptly into the detective's eyes when he touches her shoulder, startled. But she's listening. Tightening her fingers around the scrap of pristine white cloth, crushing it within a fist, she concentrates on taking a deep, slow breath… and shivers suddenly as she exhales it. Gritting her teeth, rather than have them chattering - it's not even cold, damnit! - she nods more firmly in response to him, seeming comforted by simply holding his gaze. "..I'm alright. I'm fine."

She's likely reassuring herself, as much as him. But she does -seem- okay. Shifting her attention to the fallen weapon when he turns, she steps slowly away from him, crossing the asphalt to the gun. Smoothing her skirt with her free hand, she hunkers down, doing exactly as he advised. Then again, she's likely done that much, at least, before now.

In the near distance, the wail of an approaching siren is audible.

Gerard is already moving, unbuckling his belt as he walks over to the man and crouching down. His movements are deft and confident; he wraps the belt midway up the man's thigh and -tightens-, the muscles in his arms bulging visibly. Surely this is -far- too tight, but he doesn't seem to think so, continuing to yank for a few moments longer. The pulse of blood slows, and then stops altogether as Gerard ties off his makeshift lifesaver.
He draws out a scuffed flip-phone and dials a number. "I need a van. Yeah, urgent. I got a perp in custody, and I.. yeah, better if it's our people. Thanks, Ave." He's off the phone and looking toward Kathryn again. "What's about to happen is off-the-record. This guy is now a material witness in a double homicide involving possible Supers. Understand?" The sirens are drawing closer. Aware that what he has said might seem ludicrous, Gerard watches the woman for signs of protest.

If the redhead had been wavering on the brink of numb shock, that statement snaps her right back to reality. Looking sharply toward Gerard as she straightens back to her full height, an unaccustomed scowl threatening to darken her pretty features. Dangling the handgun by the barrel, she studies the Detective searchingly for a long moment, plainly displeased. "He's as much -my- source as he is yours." So she's agreed the lout may be of use. Just not about the details.

Considering the situation, a swift mental appraisal, she clears her expression back to one of neutrality. "Fine. It's off the record. But you -will- tell me if he gives you anything." Entirely unafraid of the man who just shot a total stranger right in front of her. Typical. She's ballsy, you have to give her that. Strolling back over toward the tall man, she musters a faint smile. "And we can call it even, on me following you."

"I think you're fucking crazy, you know," Gerard says calmly. The ambulance pulls up, and moments later, an unmarked van follows. Two suits hop out of the van and close on the paramedics; a quiet discussion ensues, credentials being flashed, lies being offered. But to Gerard, it might as well not be happening. He takes a step closer to Kathryn, focus entirely on her in that strangely intense manner of his.
"We aren't even. Not by a -long- shot. You owe me one scotch and two straight shots of bourbon. And breakfast." His tone is deliberately light, but a brief, smoldering anger, flickers in his gaze. "And next time, just bug my shoe or something. Safer for both of us." The closest he'll ever come to admitting that shooting a man has affected him in the slightest. Meanwhile, the paramedics strap the blond man down onto a gurney and load him into the…van. And the two suits disappear, driving off to wherever shady SAD men go to work.

"Thank you." is the breezy reply from the reporter. Aside from a brief glance over the vehicles that arrive, and the figures who emerge, she seems likewise disinterested in the scene. Nothing new, perhaps. It's hardly the first time SAD ever covered up a mess. And it stands to reason that she's no stranger to these things. She hands off the weapon carefully, handkerchief and all.

Returning her gaze to Gerard, she meets his unsettling intensity with her usual calm indifference, tilting her jaw up a little. It's probably to defy the height difference, when he steps closer. But it carries an air of quiet defiance, too. "A scotch and two bourbons.. is that all it takes?" Her response to him is deliberately unperturbed, and for good measure she casts a lazy down and up glance over the Detective before her focus lingers on his features. The smirk fades. "I get myself into plenty of scrapes when you're -not- around, Detective. If anything, trouble follows -you-. Take that whichever way you like. Now, if you're done playing cops and robbers for the evening.. I should be heading home." Pivoting on a stiletto heel, Kathryn seems genuinely intent on walking away, toward the street, in order to hail a cab.

"I -said- breakfast, Kathryn. You and I need to set some fucking ground rules." The tone has only changed subtly, but there is that policeman's bark, that hint of 'we can do this the easy way or the hard way'. He masks it with a smile, assuming the woman is irked enough to look back toward him. "Look, Katie, I almost killed a man tonight because you followed me on official police business. We need to work out -how- this is going to work. When you come. When you don't. No more surprises, or someone will get hurt."
He pauses, looking down at his hands for a moment before continuing. "I'm not blaming you. I could've kneecapped him or smashed a bottle on his head or any number of things. But you understand my reluctance to get caught off-guard again. I'm -not- bulletproof, and the next surprise might be a robber I can't get the drop on. So. Breakfast? Please?"

"Why is everyone so bloody obsessed with trying to tell me how to do my job?!" Whirling back, indeed, to face the Detective, Kathryn is suddenly fearsomely angry. It's a rare and unusual thing, for one normally so unflappable. Raising a hand, she counts off sharply on her fingers as she retaliates. "I go when, and where, I please. I am not your underling, I am not a police officer. I.." she pauses, either for emphasis or to find the right words, "..am outside your jurisdiction. -Everyone- is reluctant to be caught off-guard. Shit happens."

Splaying her hand now, her palm serving as a warding gesture, the redhead looks back out to the street even as she continues addressing Gerard, desperately seeking a way to put some distance between them. "I don't.. -want-.. to be around you right now." A brief, dark glance is cast back at him. "And don't call me Katie." With that, she steps out to the sidewalk's edge, leaning out a little to give her the best possible vantage for that elusive cab-ride to safety.

Where did that outburst come from?

Gerard's jaw works back and forth as he listens to the outburst, and that smoldering anger comes back into his gaze. He remains otherwise stoic, keeping his attention on the woman, before acknowledging her with a single, curt, nod. "Kathryn.." The words are unusually chewed-off for the normally laconic Detective. "You're driving yourself off a cliff. I'm not your boss, and I'm not a fucking man telling you how to act. I'm the guy who just shot a man that had a gun on you."
He turns away himself, taking a few steps toward where his old Mustang is parked before stopping and turning back. "And another thing. You're the most brilliant fucking reporter I've ever met, and probably the most honest. Did it -ever- occur to you that I wanna keep you alive because I admire you? Jesus Christ. Get it -through your head- that I'm not your enemy, Emerson. I may be the only *actual* friend you'll ever make in this town." He turns away a second time, and this one is commitment, his anger snuffing out as quickly as it had boiled upward as he begins whistling 'House of the Rising Sun' on the way to his car.

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