Awkward... (attn: Julian)
It was a fabulous night to be at The Long Bar. It was, in her opinion, perfect. It was cold and rainy out, but not a hard rain, a slow heavy rain that almost seemed like a fog. It made the pub all the more welcoming when you came in, bright, light, full of chatter and laughter, as if all the regulars had decided to chase of the gloom of the weather with a visit here, which was as it should be. The music was bright and lively, the bar was busy and so was the floor, random parties and strangers were having to share tables and booths and no one cared; they were just all one big happy family for as long as anyone stayed at the bar.
Val, however, was sitting alone on one corner of the bar, not hiding and not being a solitary maudlin drunk, just feeling very contemplative. It had been a couple of days since they'd taken Brosco and while he'd settled in nicely she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. In the game you didn't make a move like that without it being countered, or at least getting a reaction. Thoughtfully sipping at a whiskey on the rocks she wondered if maybe Giovanni had been more of a target than she'd though. It turned out he had some very close ties to Breda. They'd been turned at the same time by the same vampire, at least that is what Brosco said but who knew if you could believe that.
One of the bartenders, Sean, a scruffy fellow of middle build and brown hair and brown eyes got a second he wondered over.
"Another one love?â€
Val smiled but shook her head no.
"I will but in a bit... unless you think you can get me drunk and take advantage?â€
She teased. Sean laughed.
"Some other lifetime I think... one woman is enough for me.â€
Val grinned, Sean had gotten married not too long ago, seemed quite happy with his new wife and she was no temptress. They bantered a bit until another patron motioned for his attention. Then Val was again left with her whiskey and thoughts.
As usual the bar now had a small table or two of emo-goth-classical-symphony-punk teens. It was the wierdest thing. It was like Julian had groupies, but that small percentage of Nox Aeternus fans who had latched on to Julian were definitely loyal. He'd signed two autographs tonight, his cheeks flaming red in front of his co-workers.
He didn't notice Val enter the bar, but he did see her sitting alone there when he got up and played a short reel. He hadn't really seen her since the beating incident and he was glad she was all right. When he finished playing he put his violin back at the table, told his friends he'd be back, and crossed the bar to where Val sat, taking the seat next to her without asking first.
"Hey," he said softly. What else did you say to the woman who was indirectly responsible for your getting the shit kicked out of you?
"Glad you're all right," he said. Then he tilted his head and peered at her. "You are all right, aren't you?"
He looked much better than the last time she'd seen him, back to his rather sexy delicious self. Part of her wondered if maybe they could have some fun, but she also knew that she'd not initiate. That would have to be his call. Even if they didn't get a little sweaty she was glad to have seen him play, that was probably the only thing that really would have upset her, if Asa had made it impossible for Julian to fiddle. He really was quite gifted.
Val managed to say it with what she hoped was the right amount of quiet good humor and sincere interest in his welfare. This was a touch more awkward than she'd anticipated and Val was annoyed with herself for tip toeing about but she did continue to tread just a little bit more carefully than usual.
"Yeah. I'm fine. Still a bit of family trouble, but I'm more or less out of it."
She lied through her large pointed teeth with a bright smile trying to put him at ease. If she did this right Julian might all but forget about his little encounter with her 'family', it would just be an interesting story to tell his buddies when he got toasted or tell his grandchildren.
"Glad to see you're up and kicking, all digits functioning and glad to see you back here.â€
The fact that Julian wasn't avoiding The Long Bar, or her, gave him some serious points in Val's opinion. Some guys wouldn't have the balls to do either.
It was hard to get sappy at all with Val when she gave him the 'tough gal' act, but in light of the fact that they were friends (fuck buddies seemed so crass), Julian touched her hand gently.
"And I'm glad you're all right," he said. "No one gave you any trouble, did they?"
Val was okay, he was pleased. Yeah he wasn't happy that his association with her had gotten him in trouble, but he didn't think that was her fault... well, not entirely. Maybe she was hiding things. Who knew? He wasn't about to get involved with her again, which was a shame because she was a lot of fun in bed. Not so much fun that it was worth having his shoulder dislocated again though.
"A little. Less than you. But I've moved into a new place, trying to keep a bit of a low profiles."
Not that Julian had known where she lived, but it seemed prudent to tell him she was no longer there. If he had been looking for her, which she doubted, with any luck this would stop him or at least throw him off.
"I really am sorry you got caught up in it. I don't understand why they'd want to give you a hard time."
She didn't even -try- for innocence there, Julian knew her too well for that, confusion would be the best she could pull off.
"It isn't how I wanted things to wrap up with us."
Just because she was going to let him make the move, make the call, didn't mean she wouldn't let him know she was still interested. Although, Val wasn't sure she was. Maybe. It wasn't like they had a tight emotional bond, they were friends, they screwed around, she liked him a great deal and Val didn't often say no to a good screw. Even so, they might really have killed it, well Asa had killed it. Bastard.
"I'm not keeping you though am I?"
She nodded to the people that Julian seemed to be with.
"He seemed to think I was your boyfriend. So I guess they just wanted to get to you."
Granted, here he was sitting with her again having a low, intimate conversation while holding her hand. If anyone was still watching, he was probably giving them the wrong impression. That thought made him release her hand; he didn't drop it like a hot potato or anything but he let her have it back.
"I'm happy they didn't."
That was enough said. Julian felt guilty about it but he didn't want to embroil himself in her family's troubles any more than that. They weren't in love, they were only friends and only barely at that. He had never experienced the sort of affection that would make him willing to take a beating like that for someone. Well, okay, he'd take it for his family.
He shook his head regretfully. "I didn't want it to, either." But then, had they ever really been anything to begin with? Well, if they hadn't been then they had no regrets and if they had been then it was too new to really mourn.
Glancing back over his shoulder to where his friends were he shook his head. "No, not really. Just some of the classical geeks. I can stay for a drink."
He smiled at her. Julian didn't like conflict. He'd rather leave things off with Val on a good note, and really she was a nice girl. He wouldn't mind sharing a drink with her here and there, although he found he no longer had any desire to leave from here with her tonight.
She was a little hurt when he let her hand go, not hurt exactly not hurt, not shocked, not irritated, but an extremely mild version of all three at once. Still he'd agreed to hang around for a drink and she was good with that. As long as they were still on speaking terms, she was okay with that. She didn't want a familiar, but Val felt a little responsible for Julian and it would be easier to keep half an eye on him if she could buy him a drink now and then.
They chatted back and forth a bit, she was careful not to give him any details about anything, he was equally careful not to ask. He did not, however, seem to be in a huge hurry to ditch her and wasn't anxiously looking around to see if they were being watched or anything like that and didn't seem to be holding things against her. Which, he probably should be, but she wasn't about to look forgiving in the mouth... or something like that. In fact, they'd even shared a laugh or two, each warming up and the over all situation becoming less awkward as they went.
His whiskey was almost gone and Val had motioned for another for herself, silently offering one to Julian, although wasn't going to try and detain him. Even if he said yes he could take it and leave. Impulsively Val leaned forward and kissed him, just a peck nothing huge or seductive just a little kiss.
"Thanks Julian. I appreciate you not ditching me entirely after ... well... you know.â€
When she offered him another drink he smiled and accepted. It was rare for Julian to turn down alcohol. He didn't have a performance tonight or tomorrow so there was no reason why he couldn't get a little drunk tonight. He wasn't there yet anyhow, so he had no problems with another drink.
Her kiss was equally surprising. Julian returned it gladly. "Hey, it wasn't your fault," he said, lifting one shoulder. "Shit happens. I get it. Everyone's okay. No harm, no foul."
He didn't really want any more shit, and he didn't want a fuck buddy with that sort of baggage, but it didn't mean he hated her. They talked a little more, and when the current song ended Julian brushed his lips gently across Val's cheek once more.
"I'm going to go play another one," he said. "Be back in a few."
He should go sit with his friends, but the more he drank the less firm he was on the whole 'not going home with Val again' thing. She was gorgeous, and he remembered all too well just how much fun in bed she was. No, he reminded himself as he opened his violin case once more and joked with the musicians he'd come in with. Remember the whole beating thing, Julian. Not worth it.
She was pleased when he gave her a little peck on his own.
"Go on. I'd like to hear you.â€
Apparently a number of regulars did as well as there was a little cheer when he took up his fiddle and started to play. It was a lively enough number that a few people started to dance. Val started to absently tap her foot along with the music and with very little warning found herself swept up into a dance as well. A few of those who didn't dance sang.
When the number was over Val feigned breathlessness and retreated to her original spot at the bar. She'd flagged down Sean and gotten two fresh drinks. Val didn't -think- she was trying to get Julian drunk to take advantage of him, but if it happened she wouldn't object. She could use a bite to eat too.
Once he'd settled back in Val flashed him a cheery smile.
"I think you're getting better... or you're turning Irish.â€
She half teased, but only half. The other half was genuine he actually had improved to her ear.
Before he knew it he was pleasantly hammered and the room was spinning comfortably. He shouldn't be so happy in this state but the numbness was something he'd welcomed too frequently for the past couple of years. His troubles melted away, leaving a happy haze of music and dancing.
When he left the bar he wasn't alone. It just seemed natural; they'd done it so many times in the past couple of months. Julian didn't remember a whole lot after that, just walking through the streets, laughing with Val until they came to their favorite hotel. Shedding clothing even as they pushed into the room. Collapsing drunkenly on the bed. Then the feel of her around him, the rhythm of her body against his, the euphoria as he came... and nothing.
Julian woke up early the next morning, his head pounding, barely registering that Val (and he knew it had been Val he left with; her scent was all over him) had already left as he dashed into the bathroom and heaved over the toilet. Sinking to his knees he rested his head against the cool porcelain rim, closing his eyes and groaning.
"That was the last time. Absolutely the last," he said out loud to no one in particular.
He finally staggered out, still half-drunk, to the bedroom to survey the tangle of sheets they'd left. Pillows everywhere. Both beds. Well, that explained why he was sore. Julian winced and rubbed his hand across his eyes. This drunken revelry wasn't him. It wasn't who he used to be. He had to stop it; he knew he wasn't an alcoholic. Not yet. He had no desire to have another drink right now or anything like that, but these occasional nights of heavy drinking had grown to become frequent nights of heavy drinking. He could, and would, step it back.
He showered and dressed himself, noticing that Val hadn't left a note or anything. That was for the best; they had agreed to end it and had gotten carried away. Maybe he'd stay out of the Long Bar for a little while. Just long enough so that he wouldn't remember how good it felt to be with her physically.
As Julian left the hotel room he turned around to make sure he had everything, and that Val hadn't forgotten anything either. He closed the door, heard the lock click, and then the additional whistle as something flew through the air behind him. He didn't even have time to start turning around, so quickly did it come, before he was hit hard in the back of the head. He dropped like a rock, no idea what was happening as he was picked up and carried out, then dumped into the back of a truck.
((ooc: both out - Julian actually out-out!))