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2046-02-22 Not Retirement

From X-Factor

Not Retirement
Date Posted 2016/02/22
Location The Sloppy Pony - Mutant Town
Participants Harper, Kade
Summary Kade and Harper catch up.
 
There used to be glass in the heavy old frame of the door, but now several boards serve to keep the vermin out -- or, do they? You made it in.

An old hitching post greets patrons along the wall by the door, right next to a broken old jukebox that's just for show. The room itself is narrow and long, with mismatched chairs crowded around a couple (literally, two) small tables and a few crates dispersed elsewhere to sit on, but mostly it's all dancefloor, baby. The bar itself must be original, because despite it's dilapidated condition it's actually fairly well-kitted. There's a couple beers on tap, even. A sink, with shoddy plumbing, but it's a sink, coupled with a fridge whose light is always flickering, but keeps bottles icy cold. Thanks to the kid behind the bar, the collection of poisons to pick from is growing, too.

There's a dartboard at the back, with darts available from the bar staff upon request, and tacks to pin up your choice of photograph to toss at. Right next to it is the door leading upstairs to the proprietor's office/living quarters, pockmarcked by stray dart-holes. The peeling paint and mold seeping through the ceiling are barely even noticeable in the dim light from the hanging, singular string bulbs around the place. Less so after a drink or three, so bottoms up!


It is a winter night. The weather is cold and flurrying.


It's starting to get late down in Mutant Town, and really the rest of the city, and Harper has just started his shift at the bar. He is standing behind the bar itself, having just served up a couple pints to a patron, he takes up the bar rag and procedes to absently wipe down the counter top, busywork no doubt, since no amount of cleaning would really get all the grime out of the place.

Kade strolls into the Pony, looking like he's recently come from work. Dressed in khakis and a white shirt with a 'Queens Center Mall security' badge on it. He has not quite buttoned his black jacket enough to hide it. He heads directly to the bar, people-watching as he goes to see who's in attendance tonight. He grins broad, when he spots Harper. "Hey hey, bartender. What's the good word?"

"Mall security, huh?" Harper says with a laugh, "Well, I guess it ain't any worse then this." He says, pulling out a pint glass and pouring a drink, which he slides across to Kade. "Been a quiet day around here, more or less though. How about the mall?" he asks, inclining his head lightly toward the shirt.

Kade lets out a wry "Heh." And finishes buttoning his jacket, even though it's warmer inside than out. "I'm looking around for other stuff, but it is hard to be a working man in this city. I needed something steady during the week. It'll work for now." He finds himself a stool and parks, watching Harper work the bar, a little smirk playing across his lips. "Do you know my ex-wife owns this dive?" Possibly not, given that Kade was long divorced even when Harper joined the Force.

Harper shakes his head slightly in response to the question, "Can't say I knew that." He says, "Keep that in mind though. And you're right, work's been tight for us lately hasn't it?" He says with a slight shrug of his shoulders, collecting a few empty glasses, delivering them to the bar sink. "If I hear anything I'll pass the word along to you."

"If by 'us' you mean 'everybody with an X-gene', then yeah. Tight is right. Could you get me a beer? Sam Adams, if you've got bottles back there." Kade settles in, folding his arms comfortably on the bar, smirk crooking as he goes down the road of his ex again. "Yeah. She's had it for a few years. I don't think she's cleaned once. Don't worry, though, she's not around much. I think she's eyeing a second location in New Jersey." He shudders. "The idea of this place franchising is chilling."

"Yeah, coming up." Harper says, moving to the cooler to pull out a bottle, removing the cap and sliding it down, "Need a glass with that too?" he asks. "And yeah, that's what I meant. Probably a few more marketable skills for us though." He adds, putting a different emphasis on that use of 'us'. "Didn't know the place was profitable enough to franchise out though." He chuckles.

"It gets surprisingly full on the weekends, so who the hell knows?" Kade says, with a shrug as to the Pony's profit margins. "I think there just aren't a lot of places to dance in Mutant Town. Beggars cannot be choosers, and all that." He shakes his head about the glass, sipping from the bottle. His smirk relaxing into an easy grin as he watches Harper work. The years haven't been too unkind to him, but he looks older in little ways that are hard to quantify at first. Slightly deeper lines around his eyes and mouth, manner a little more tired. The goatee is also a post-X-Force grooming choice. It suits him, though. "It is very good to see you, man."

"That's probably got something to do with it, yeah." Harper says with a chuckle, leaning up against his side of the bar, nodding his head a bit. "Yeah, decided to stick around the city, Know there were some other opportunities out there, but figured it wouldn't hurt to have eyes in the area, just in case, you know?"

"There are other opportunities some place?" Kade's tone is both wry and curious. "I stayed around DC in the years after things with the Feds broke up, but there sure as hell weren't many opportunities /there/. I ended up doing office work for a defense contractor, once I was fit for work again. Quality assurance. Or, like, heat weapons." He grimaces. "Did that for almost four years. It was time for a change, so I headed north like six months ago."

"Nothing particularly legit, I mean." Harper says with a chuckle, "I kept it straight and narrow though, myself. But I can't begruge others taking what opportunities they could, given what happened." He gives a slight shrug of his shoulders as he starts to clean some of the glasses. "I couldn't stick around DC myself. Thought about going back west, but thought this was the right place to be in the long run."

"Yeah, me either," Kade says, about not begrudging those who took less straight opportunities. "I might've tried to go overseas myself, if it wasn't for the kid." His daughter. "Nina's fifteen now. Took after me, in the powers department." He doesn't sound terribly enthused about that. But, then, he's a guy who can set things on fire. "She's been up at Xavier's School for the past few years. That's the main reason I moved here, to be closer to her."

"I worry about that place." Harper says, "Was a good school.. and good people as well, but the way the government's moved in? Just makes you wonder a bit." he says with a little frown and a shrug of his shoulders, "But like I said, still some good people there, and probably still the best place for her to learn from. Did good for me, anyway."

"Yeah. Did good for me, too. But the State's running it now. They took over after the Professor died." Kade's dour and fretful, on the subject of Xavier's. "Nina was there while he was still running it. Been there for four years, so she's had time to make friends. Makes it harder to pull her out, though I think I'm going to revisit the idea after this school year's up. I'm kind of settled in Brooklyn now. The schools aren't bad, supposedly, and she's got better control of her powers than I did at her age."

"Well, as long as the old professors, and such are still around, I think it'll be fine." Harper says, "No use worrying about it too much anyway, but if things change let me know yeah? I'm a little out of the loop on the Academy lately." he admits with a little shrug of his shoulders. "How's this XFS group?" he asks, "Only just signed up, kinda wonder about it."

"Some of them are, but Xavier didn't exactly run a traditional school, so a lot don't have a place there anymore," Kade says. "Jeremy Wallace - the dude who runs X-Factor - used to teach drama up there. He started up the 'mutants for hire' thing after the X-Men folded." As for the group itself, Kade's manner is one of cautious optimism. "You'll still need a second job. Maybe a third. But we're starting to get more gigs, even if they don't all pay great. And you get to actually be useful with your powers again. Feels good."

"Yeah." Harper says with a slight nod as he listens to the other fellow. "It seems a bit close to what the X-Men, X-Force, you know, sorta did. The thing the feds cracked down on after the island. Makes you wonder when the hammer is going to drop is all. But I'm with you, it's not a bad thing that's starting with the business. I could see a lot of good come from it if given the chance."

"It's not X-Force." Kade's firm on that. "Or even what I always heard Xavier's crew was like. It can't ever be, and I was happier as soon as I accepted that. We're not saving the world, Mister Harper, we're just scraping together a few bucks in a mostly legit way. 'Better than nothing' is kind of the watch word over there. But there was a lot of nothing after everything exploded, so I can deal with it." He does some more sipping on his beer, until he empties it. He looks like he's pondering another, but doesn't order one just yet. "There are some former X-Men who've attached themselves to it, though. Some of us old X-force, too."

"That's what I mean though." Harper says in response, "It may not be any of that, but it has those sort of people involved so it's always going to have that suspicion, that we're trying to do the same old thing." He shrugs a little, "And knowing what we know, it may not be the worst thing. But someone's going to be wary of a bunch of us old mutants getting back together again, especially in New York."

Kade shrugs. "Haven't had any real trouble for the cops or the feds yet. My suspicion is they think we just don't matter enough to care about anymore. The government broke us apart. The X-men up and quit. Wallace's shop is sticking pretty low-level, in part to avoid attracting that kind of attention, I think. Maybe it's for the best." There's a restlessness about the way he says it, though. More than he'd probably like to show. "Anyway. Enough about work. How are things on the personal front, man?"

"You're seeing it." Harper says, gesturing around lightly, "Been bartending, helping out where and how I can, generally just enjoying 'retirement', as it were." He gives a little shrug of his shoulders, "No family or anything like that, just living the dream." he offers a slight chuckle, moving to pour a refill for one of the other patrons. "Keeping a low profile."

"Retired before thirty. That is supposedly the dream." Kade's grin crooks. His tone gets more reflective than wry, though. "My family's still back in Cali. I went back to see them for awhile, while I was getting my head on straight, but I didn't stick around. Going home's strange when it hasn't been your actual home in a couple decades. I like New York more than I thought I would. I think I'm kind of getting into a groove. Been keeping time with Ciel Kane the past couple months." Another old X-Force colleague. He tries to sound casual about that, but doesn't really succeed. "She's got a private investigator shop in Mutant Town."

"The retirement package was a bit lacking though." Harper says in response, smirking a bit himself, "How's she doing?" he asks as he moves back over. "Private eye huh? Suppose that makes some sense." He says with a slight nod after a moment, "Maybe I shoulda thought of that. Bet I'd be a natural." He says with a laugh, "This isn't so bad a job though, bartending I mean."

"I have fantasies sometimes of beating my pension out of some bean-counter in the Pentagon, but that's not coming true anytime soon." As for Ciel, Kade smiles. "She's good. Good for me, at least, and I hope she could say the same. The PI thing at least lets you make your own hours, and kind of work for yourself. Bartending's not bad for that either, though. I still try to get a couple nights a week over at the Potato Club. When the crowd and the tips are good, make more money in a night than I do all week at the damn mall. It's just not predictable."

"If you figure out a way to make that happen, let me know." Harper says with a laugh, inclining his head slightly, "Imagine the Mall is the most consistent work out of all of those options though. But yeah, Bar isn't too consistent, and the wages aren't so hot unless you manage to make good tips, which isn't too frequent down in Mutant Town.."

Kade seems to decide against ordering another beer. He digs into his pocket, leaving a couple of bucks on the bar under his empty bottle. "It is not a good tip, but it's the best I can do tonight." He slides off his bar stool. "For me, I better bounce. Got to catch the train back to Brooklyn. Good to see you, Harper. And around X-Factor. Always glad to see more of our crew resurface."

Harper nods his head, "Eh, if I wanted money I'd be working someplace nicer, probably." He says, "You have a safe trip back home, give my regards to Ciel too." He adds with a slight inclination of his head.

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