Love in the Time of Registration
Roleplaying Log: Love in the Time of Registration
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

An evening at the club turns into a conversation about dating.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: January 31, 2019
IC Location: Shakedown - Mutant Town
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 02 Feb 2019 03:45
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's not the big party that the 90s night pre-Christmas was, but Shakedown gets a respectable crowd on an average Friday night. It's still a bit early, which means there's no line at the bars and no one has really flooded the dance floor yet. The tunes are playing, which are a mix of some retro dance hits and Top 40. The only thing that's a bit unusual about tonight is the small sign by the girl taking the $5 cover fee:

$2 FROM EACH COVER TO THE MUTANT AND META LEGAL DEFENSE FUND.

Rictor, the proprietor, is not behind the bar for once. Instead, he's up on the DJ platform uncoiling cables and helping the DJ fix one of the monitors.

* * *

The average Friday night is one of the few times that Sloane L. Albright, Agent of SHIELD can relax — because if she is anything, she is a creature of habit, heading to the one meta bar to relax, a place where she does not feel compelled to dress a certain way, wear a certain amount of clothing, or to hide the more exotic features that she bears.

The bar itself is also her favorite place to be, seated on a stool with one heel of her chunky boots hooked on the footrest, elbow at rest on the surface while she nurses her second or so beer. She's dressed pretty casually for casual friday; close cut jeans, a button-down shirt, and a tanktop, hair loose and — at least for the moment — content to take in the scenery.

She might have also pushed an extra $20 into the doorman's hand on the way in and insisted on it being a donation.

If the excess is for anything, it is a way to at least temporarily salve her guilt — for the last few weeks, for the things happening in her own circles, for the things she's worried she might not be able to change.

For places like this, that may become less and less of a safe haven for those who are different.

* * *

EVERY NIGHT IS FRIDAY NIGHT
WHEN
YOU
ARE
A RUNAWAY

Nico Minoru comes to this place because she's come here twice and now that means she's a regular. Right? She lingers near the front as she considers the ethical value of what it is that she ought to do in terms of demonstrating her commitment. Finally, she remembers she has half-a-dozen of those coins that come out of the Metrocard machines and dumps those into the jar along with a five-spot and slides within.

Nico is wearing a somewhat less ornamented version of her winter party dress, which means she kind of looks like a paramilitary schoolgirl from Tim Burton right now. She drifts towards the bar, having not looked towards the stage. "Hey," she asks Sloane, "can you tell me, uh - is Kiara here tonight?"

She sits down.

"Oh no," she says, seeing Rictor up at the DJ monitors.

* * *

Kiara has indeed been there, but the bartender has been flitting back and forth between the front and back end. If her pattern holds, she'll be on bar as business picks up.

There's a sudden loud screech as Rictor plugs in the wrong cable. He winces and steps back. Another employee emerges from the back and takes cables from the earthquake mutant. There's what looks like a bit of a tetchy discussion. The narrative seems to be, 'you're not an AV tech stop playing with the cables I know you're the boss but still you're going to break something.' It ends with Ric walking away, and sidling up to the end of the nearest bar to order a drink for himself. It's coincidentally not far from Sloane and Nico.

* * *

Sloane's head turns slightly at first, then a second glance toward the voice calling to her. "Oh hey, Nico." It's hard to forget the girl that threw up on your shoes (and the accompanying rides on space goats at the beginning of the night). Is Kiara working? Giving the runaway/Runaway a glance — it's a good outfit — she pulls a thumb toward the stand-in bartender while —

— while —

— SKRRRRRRRTCH —

— WHILE —

— BRRNNNNNHHHHHpop

— while Rictor causes an A/V mishap that makes her eyes close and mouth draw into a tight, flat line, trying so hard to say nothing as she brings the bottle to her lips and takes another drink. "I hope you're staying out of trouble," she adds, orange eyes flicking back over.

Roughly the time Rictor arrives — but not noticing the man at first — she wiggles a purple-painted fingernail against her ear. "I swear my ears are more sensitive these days."

* * *

Nico considers Sloane for a few more moments. Memory of her seeps back into Nico who, much as she would be ashamed to admit it, forgot a lot of that evening, due to intoxication. She does remember the name, and says, "Hey - you look kind o"

*NOISE*

"Kind o"

*NOISE!!*

Nico gives up and looks at Rictor. "Hey, is it going alright?" she calls to him, somewhat uncertainly. (Inwardly, Nico thinks: Damn. I'm already thinking is Sloane sad or is that just how her face looks, now Ric here's getting feedback… ugh!! why is this so awkward?? this makes dating look easy!!!)

Externally she just leans against the bar. "Oh yeah? New earbuds?" she asks Sloane, smiling at the very idea.

* * *

Rictor tosses back a few mouthfuls from the drink deposited in front of him. He runs a hand up through his hair, then glances over at the two at the bar. It takes a half second to place them and connect to names. His shoulders hunch, then drop. "We had a bachelor party in here last night. Some of them climbed up in the DJ booth and one tripped over the cables. Been having some problems with the connections since." He looks more stressed than a few bad connections on a monitor would explain, but hey, he's running a nightclub in the heart of Mutant Town in the run-up to registration. "And you both?"

* * *

Choose your adjective: Sad, guilty, tired, stressed, and/or in dire need of some PTO. She does grin as Nico tries multiple times to reply, eventually giving up and going with the more generic question. "Yeah, thanks," she says. The bottle lifts to her mouth, hovering just briefly before she speaks the two words that never mean what they mean:

"I'm fine."

Glancing over at Rictor, Sloane cringes and tries not to laugh— she succeeds only in part. "Yikes. Must've been a hell of a party." The agent's shoulders rise and fall in a shrug in the next moment. "Hanging in there, I guess. Work's a bitch."

She pointedly makes no eye contact, on that last statement.

Glancing back to Nico, her finger wheels around the widest part of her ear. "I haven't had earbuds that fit in over two years. They just fall out of these things. I swear to god, I can't wear cans because they mash my ears to my head and that hurts after awhile, I can't wear buds because they keep falling out, I'm stuck with ear-hooks and those things don't even sit right and nine times out of ten the sound is completely tinny."

After that little rant, she stops, then frowns, worrying she said too much. "… I just… have standards."

* * *

"Oh my god that is like the worst possible way to answer that," Nico tells Sloane. "How are you /actually/? Just like, fast forward past the part where you say I'm fine six times." She grins a little bit, almost apologetically.

Looking to Rictor, she says, "Well I've just had to move and stuff and I can't get any dates BUT comparatively speaking I am in SUPER great shape, so I am not gonna complain that much."

Her eyes turn back towards the DJ table again. "Is your stuff, like… jinxed?"

Then to Sloane. "Oh, geez," she says, "I'm sorry. Wow, that's rough, I had no idea."

(I AM THE WORST ALLY IN THIS OR ANY PARALLEL EARTH OH GOD I WANT TO DIE, Nico thinks.)

"It's okay though, I was just making a dumb joke. Uh… I don't know a lot about audio tho', so…"

(Maybe I'll die right now. On three. One… two…)
(I didn't die.)
(Maybe next time)

* * *

"He might be able to help," says Rictor to Sloane as he thumbs back towards the DJ. "Marcus. He's an audio engineer. He should be able to rig something up that will work for you. He helped one of my staff get rid of this one frequency in her home stereo system that was giving her headaches 'cause she could hear it when no one else could."

Marcus does seem to be quite competently rewiring things as he motions to the DJ to check things out. And no more feedback since they kicked Ric off the stage.

"Tell me about it," says Rictor re: dating. "Strangely, there's no dating app specifically for someone like me and the dating pool of apparently two dozen as far as I can tell."

* * *

Sloane sighs, eyes finally settling back on Nico. "Look, it's … work. It's hard to explain," she replies to Nico. "I'd rather not get into it here, if that's all right."

"It's … it's fine, Nico. Don't worry about it. I just have to get creative when I'm playing at home."

Rictor offers a solution. "Really? That'd be pretty wicked. I can SOMETIMES get one to stick in my ear, but then I have to like, tape the stupid thing in," she replies. "Thanks, seriously."

"Hah! Yeah like … I … pretty much had to close my account after I changed. People get *weird*," she says, thousand yard staring at horrors not actually there.

* * *

"That's twice," Nico tells Sloane.

She looks back at Rictor then and she purses her lips for a moment as the topic comes up as people getting weird. Inside of Nico Minoru's head she was wondering why exactly Rictor, a guy who is not particularly weird or inhuman or made-of-rock-or-something, would be down to a couple dozen people who he could possibly date in New York City. She saw 'Midnight Cowboy' once -

Though, Nico realizes belatedly, all those dudes would be dead! What a bummer.

It doesn't quite reach her face. "I've never really tried those," she says with a laugh. "Do they like… work? I uh - I kind of got the feeling they were either for casual hookups or, like, 'hi I'm straight white lady in the suburbs, looking for straight white guy.'"

Some part of her is obscurely satisfied at this advancement. Yes, she thinks. You can suffer too!

* * *

"I think he'd probably take a cast of your ear canal or something like that. But he's very good. His mutant ability is to selectively hear things in all sorts of frequencies, so that's why our music is so good." And it's true. Even when Shakedown is thumping, the music is still clear and not bone-shattering. "I'll get him to give you his card before he goes," says Ric.

"They work if you just want to get laid and you don't tell people too much about yourself. But as far as an actual connection?" He shakes his head. "Not really. At least not for an openly gay, openly mutant Mexican immigrant." He grins a bit and shrugs.

* * *

"That's — not what I meant," Sloane replies, holding up a thoughtful finger. "Not entirely. … That time, I mean. You didn't know. I mean, Hell, it took me a pretty long time to get used to my own body again. I still have a hard time figuring out what I can eat and what I can't eat and having it taste right and it's been like … god, am I heading towards three years?"

"Goddamn, really? That explains why the setup is so good on open mic night. Yeah— Yeah, I'd really like that. Thanks," she replies to Rictor. "I promise I won't bother him too much with it."

Nico asks if dating apps work; Rictor chips in his part, and so Sloane does as well: "Or a bi fish-dragon from Boston. I tried. … Christ, I tried. Those dates were the worst."

* * *

"Oh wow, that sounds amazing," Nico says about this stranger, before nodding along and then - AND THEN -

Nico listens to Rictor. Her eyebrows lift slightly at what he says. Then she looks at Sloane, and there is a short pause, maybe one second.

(say it you coward)
(SAY IT)
(no do not make a joke)

"I totally feel that because I'm gay as hell," Nico tells Rictor and Sloane, with authority.

(ok 7 out of 10, you weirdo)

She looks at Sloane.

The Patriots joke dies in her mind.

(7.5/10)

"… what.. what happened on those dates," Nico says with a tone of sympathy touched with aghast. "I mean, like, you don't have to say, I'm sorry."

(6/10 just tattoo I'M SORRY on your forehead MINORU)

"I basically don't know any bars or anything 'cuz I came here mostly alone from the west coast," Nico continues. "My job isn't super date-friendly, either. Like I came here, do you remember, Rictor? Like for that group that had to cancel?"

* * *

"I remember. I know I'm old, but my memory isn't going," says Rictor with a bit of a cheeky grin for Nico. "The big problem is, there's some mutants and metas who have a problem with being out if they don't have to be. Which I understand. Same with just being regular-out. It's a personal choice. But some of them do get pretty shy about dating someone who doesn't care to hide it. It's important for me…" he motions around the bar, "…to not hide who I am. If I did, why would people feel safe coming here?"

By now, the dance floor is filling up. There's actually a higher concentration of obviously inhuman types here on a regular Friday night than on the special theme night that attracted a wider audience. People seem relaxed for the most part and are getting into the music. "In some ways it's a little easier to be queer and also not exactly human. Once you accept one thing that is different about you, the second gets a little easier." He looks to both of them with a compassionate glimmer in his eyes. "And it gave me a mold for how to make this a place where people can be themselves."

* * *

'The group that had to cancel?' Sloane briefly looks between them without asking the questions, but the SHIELD-trained metahuman's eyebrow does cock up a little bit. She's curious! She's just not going to push it, okay?

Finishing the last of her beer, she sets the bottle back down on the napkin square and shifts her weight to lean on the bar from where she sits. "It's nice here. No stress, good drinks. I get to play," Sloane adds, pulling a thumb at the stage. "I mean I'm not trying to butter you up."

The ginger woman's hands lift, then drop into finger-guns pointed at the earthshaking mutant. "Totally five-starred on Yelp."

Nico asks how bad the dates could have possibly been. Sloane draws in a deep breath.

"I will summarize it for you in six words: Stage magician pretending to be a supervillain."

* * *

Nico Minoru flips the Coin of Ill-Advised Action and gets heads.

* * *

"Yeah, I like… I get that," Nico tells Rictor. "I know it can be rough. Do you ever wonder like - like, if maybe the mistake is, trying to be normal?" Her eyes turn towards the dance floor for a moment. "Like if you're trying to win acceptance where it's never going to come? I don't know."

Then she looks at Sloane.

And after what must seem like an eternity, she says, "Oh! You know Zee!"

(-2/10 good lord)

Nico starts to giggle into her hand afterwards. The question of the group that had to cancel remains in the air, although - IF SLOANE IS ON SPEAKING TERMS WITH NICO LATER - she will be informed that, it was in fact…

Just some band, a couple months ago.

* * *

Rictor cracks a grin at Sloane's review remark. "Well we appreciate it." The Yelp page is kind of a mess. Good thing no one really uses Yelp anymore. As for acceptance? He shrugs. "I've never really tried that, so I can't say."

He slides off the stool. "Have a good night, ladies. I have to go take care of a few things in the back. I'll probably see you around later. Gets all hands on deck at the bar later in the night." And with that, the earthquake mutant makes his way towards the back.

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