1964-07-16 - Lies and Truth
Summary: Harper visits Lux, and meets Bucky and Lucian.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
lucian bucky harper 


IT's early enough in the evening it's not busy, not yet. He's behind the bar, cleaning - keeping an eye on the door. Not too proud to be used as spare janitorial staff, it seems. Buck's got that almost empty expression on, wry and thoughtful. Dressed in his usual black, it makes him look paler than usual.


Contract work in the days before email and fax machines means setting up meetings to work out the terms of the contract…especially when you're not the sort of person who keeps a regular mailing address. Or one that you'd want the people you make your contracts with to know about, at least. This club, she's heard, is a neutral ground of sorts. And besides, the name choice tickles her fancy.

She's dressed to fit in, in black lace with her hair swept up, enough make up on to conceal her features with bold deep red lipstick to distract and the smallest glamour in place to make dark eyes look green instead. She's early too - all the better to make sure no one's getting the jump on her - so it's the bar where she heads first.


It's the guy from last night - cleaned up a little, but still identifiably him. The moment she heads for the bar, he's abandoning his task to come take her order. He's still learning all the more esoteric cocktails, but he's got a grasp on the most popular already. He didn't see her, of course - there's no recognition in his gaze. Just that polite neutrality.


Bucky is unexpected. But then again, if he's what all the wanted ads say about him, then he's probably here for the same reasons she chose the place, right? So…maybe it's just confirmation of a good choice of grounds. Or else the people she's meeting with have set her up. The flurry of thoughts runs through her head in the millisecond it takes to put on a polite smile as she slides up into a stool, giving him a closer look.

"Evening," she greets, twisting to take a look around the bar. "Looks like I got here early. I heard this place has the best drinks, but they're not the sort of thing you'd know to order."


"Specialized stuff," he allows. The accent's faintly Brooklyn, but he's elided it into something mostly generic. Then he smiles…..and it transforms his face utterly, makes it clear he's still essentially only just hit his middle twenties. "Some of 'em are pretty unusual," he adds. "What sort of drinks do you like?"


"I like a good bourbon, a good rum," Harper answers with an easy smile of her own, finger tracing an idle pattern on the edge of the countertop as she looks around. There's a gentle southern lilt to her voice, with a hint of something a little more exotic - New Orleans, no doubt. "A sipping drink," she says as she turns back to him, smile slipping crooked. "I'm going to need to have my wits with me when my appointment gets here."


"Business before pleasure, eh?" he says, before reaching to take a leatherbound volume from behind the bar. "Bear with me," he asks, with a smaller version of that smile. "I'm still the new kid, learning my way. But I seem to remember something rum based in here." And he's thumbing through it carefully. His brow furrows, just a little, as he finds one…and then glances up again, almost impish. "Willing to trust my choice?"


"Something like that," Harper laughs, shaking her head. "More like business can come with pleasure, but it works out better if I'm at least not drunk. Sure, I'll trust you," she grins, though she leans over a bit to watch what he's doing. "You're new, right? I hear the new trainees always overpour on the liquor."


There's still that puckish look in his eyes. "Howsabout a Dark and Stormy? Mostly ginger beer and rum, little bit of lime, but with the stuff they've got here….it's not the usual." Acting - t hough that kind of good-natured facade is required for someone tending bar. Well, most places, anyhow. Lux isn't the kind of dive where you can get away with mute surliness.


"I'm in," Harper nods, folding one arm along the edge of the bar. She watches him work, curious, though it's easily attributed to interest in the drink rather than any deeper suspicion. "So how'd you get started working here, if you're new?" she asks. "Seems like a nice place. Lots of interviews?"


He knows where stuff is, at least. The left hand is in its usual glove of matte black leather, worn and soft. "Boss has a soft heart," he says, simply. "They needed someone to be a jack of all trades - tending the bar, bouncing when it's busy, cleaning when needed. Saw me in here when I'd just wiped another interview, looking hangdog, ended up offering me a job. I was pretty sure he'd mistaken me for someone else, but…..here I am."


"That's lucky." Harper looks up toward the lights, then around at the booths once more. "But I can see where whoever owns this place would have some room for taking a chance. What's it like, working here? I can imagine you get some interesting customers coming through."


"Yeah," Buck agrees, with that little grin. "It's not bad. I like working late hours, myself. And some of 'em can be. It's high class enough I don't usually need to play rough when bouncing." He's finished with her drink, hands it off to her. "There you go." Not asking her any questions. Asking questions invites questions in return.


Unfortunately for Bucky, Harper is just full of questions, whether or not he's asking any. "Thanks," she nods as she takes the drink, sipping for a taste. "It's good. Not too much for needing to stay sharp on top of the rest." One sip is all she has for now, though, and it looks like her appointment certainly isn't here yet. Which means Bucky is her entertainment for the moment. "How come the glove?" she asks, nodding toward his hand.


Bucky glances at it, pulls a wry little face. "That hand's ruined. Korea," he says, succinctly. "I've still got some use out of it but….." He shakes his head. He must've been a puppy when he was over there, if he looks like this ten years later.


"Sorry to hear that," Harper says sympathetically. She does pause for a moment then, considering him as she stirs the drink with the straw. To call his bluff, or not? "You must've been young when you went into the service. Or else I need to find out what sort of cold cream you're using at night," she adds with a flicker of a smile. "Or maybe you're left over from that vampire incident a few months back. That's it, isn't it? Nightclub business would be a good front for that."


"Lied about my age. I was fifteen," he says, easily. Then he blinks at her….and there's a moment of genuine confusion there, not this idle game-playing. "Vampire incident?" he parrots back, brows up.


"Yeah, it was all over the news for a while," Harper nods. "Big…portal to something or somewhere opened up over the park, city had a curfew. I mean, the tabloids all said it was vampires, which sounds crazy, but it wasn't like there were a lot of other options that the official sources put out, you know? And hey, I'm from New Orleans. We don't dismiss the idea of vampires where I come from."


"Yeah," he says, slowly. "Now I remember hearing about it. Wasn't in town for it at the time, thank God…." Bucky clicks his tongue in sympathy, but his expression is still somber. "And….there's a lotta crazy stuff out there. Vampires might not be that unreasonable…"


"And that's why I ask if that's how you look so young," Harper winks back at him, taking another sip from her drink. "Awkward, though. I'm not sure how I'd feel about taking a drink from a vampire. Never know what might end up in it. Although…" She twists in her chair, looking among the booths again. "I heard the owner takes a pretty dim view of people making trouble here. That true?"


Bucky eyes her a beat, as if not sure to what extent she's teasing. "Nah. Just gotta baby face." Then he smiles, lopsidedly. "Yeah," he says, quietly. "That's part of what I'm here to prevent. It's supposed to be peaceful and pleasant - this isn't the kinna dockside dive you go into looking for a brawl. Happily, most people realize that and there's generally not much trouble


Harper turns back to him, tilting her head in wry consideration. "So you're the bartender, you're the bouncer. That's a broad skill set. How does one get into the bouncing business? I've always wondered. It seems like the sort of thing that should require some sort of skill and training but usually just gets handed to whoever has the biggest muscles in the room. Whether or not they know when and how to use them."


His grin is there again, slow. "I dunno how most guys do it," he admits, as he puts the recipe bible back again. "Me, I came in here wearing my one good suit with steeltoe combat boots 'cause I didn't have any other good shoes. Rather than throw me out for not keeping up with the dress code, the boss sussed out I was ex-military. That was enough for him. Gotta have the skill and the manner, 'cause I don't have the size." And indeed, he's not a large man, not really. In good shape, but….not the usual wall of muscle you'd expect.


"The boss here seems like a smart guy," Harper muses. "Builds a club, builds a reputation. Reads the people who show up, gives them a chance when other people won't, which builds loyalty. Which means when things hit the fan, you're going to be more likely to put everything into actually protecting the place, which maintains his standard." She's sharp, this one. And not exactly afraid of hiding it either.


"I agree. I've not been here long, but his staff are definitely loyal." Which is how one James Barnes has not been sold out to the NYPD. "And exactly," he adds, inclining his head. "He treats his people well." Lucian's certainly won Buck's loyalty.


"Maybe I'll have to come back some time when he's in, see for myself." Harper takes another sip, thoughtful. "Not that I'm looking for work in the bar business," she adds with a flicker of a smile. "Not really my thing. But he sounds interesting. And it's another reason to come and try more of the drinks, of course."


His face lights. "His name's Lucian, and he's generally the guy playing that. Tall, thin blond guy," he notes, nodding at the piano. "He's amazing. I dunno where he got his training, but…it's definitely worth coming back to hear him."


"Sounds like a plan to me," Harper nods, smoothing a hand over her skirts. "Good bar should always have music. Preferably some good jazz, if you want to do it right, but any music is better than nothing. And good music takes a bar from just a bar to a place that's almost as good as home."


There's something in his face like approval. "Exactly," he agrees, more quietly. "He's the real draw, I think, on most levels. All this is just a setting for him." ….does someone have a crush on his boss? Just possibly. "He's not up there just to make background noise."


"He must be one hell of a guy," Harper laughs, leaning back in her stool to gesture to the room with her glass. "This place is…well, it's stunning. So if all of this is just a backdrop for the boss? Either the boss is pretty damned impressive, or I've got a feeling you're more than just grateful to the man," she teases.

She's taken a seat at the bar, wearing a dress in black lace with her hair swept up. She's mostly not disguised, though careful make up and bold red lipstick distract from her features. There's just the slightest shimmer of magic about her, a simple glamour that's hidden the brown of her eyes behind green instead.


That gets Harper a momentarily blank stare….before Bucky both blushes and laughs softly. Which only makes him look that much younger. "Nah. Not like that. But you'll see," he says. He's served her some rum-based concoction, serving his apprenticeship behind the bar. In his usual dark suit, with the black leather glove on his hand, hair pulled into its usual knot.


Speak of the…

The various chambers honeycombed throughout the upper reaches of Lux hold their secrets dear. Soundproofed parties and diplomatic arrangements done where the U.N. isn't likely bugged keep the clientele busy. While the VIPs come and go, Lucian emerges along the balcony. His smile is self-satisfied. A commanding stride makes his approach damn near effortless. Golden hair shines and his tuxedo is probably a shock for the unexpecting. The publican wearing tailored black pants and a jacket slung over his shoulder? Here, yes. A cigarette in hand may never make it to his mouth but it's the signature thing needed as he cuts through several women and couples on their way to claim a booth.


Harper quirks a brow at the blush, a glimmer of amusement in her eyes. "I find myself unconvinced," she replies, letting that slight drawl deepen in her voice as she says it. "But hey, whatever the reason. I'm glad it's working out for you. And as your drink," she raises her glass, "Is quite good, I'd say it's working out for the bar as well."


He makes a little gesture with his gloved hand to indicate the advent of the subject of their conversation. "See?" he asks, sotto voce. Though now his expression isn't so much adoration as it is the keen interest of a police dog who sees his handler approaching in uniform. But then he's looking back to her, pleased. "Good," he says. "Good to know I'm upholding the standard."


Lucian descends the stairs two at a time, not taking much time to reach the sunken floor of Lux. The black jacket he tosses carelessly into the booth claimed exclusively as his and whatever guest warrants his attention, where it lands in a black puddle. The buttons at his collar are loosened, a pin dragged out from the cotton. Not so much for the old coins at his wrists, serving as cuff-links. Long in gait and easy in manner, he dips his hand in greeting to some and satisfies with eye contact for the others.


Harper turns to see the boss as Bucky points him out, head tilting in curious inspection. "He does look like the boss," she observes, noting the details of movement and manner more than the clothes. But then she's looking back to Bucky, perhaps finding his reaction to the man even more interesting than the man himself. "Wow." She takes a sip of her drink, pensive. "You are…in it deep, aren't you? It's more than just the job, feeling like you owe him something." A pause, a slightly sharper look. "You feel better with someone in charge, don't you?"


That's struck a nerve, and for a moment there's that blankness, before it turns a little more pensive. His lips thin out….before that hint of sardonicism curls one corner of his mouth. He *does* feel better taking orders from a statuesque blond, doesn't he? His voice is lower, darker as he replies, "I don't have a lot of options, ma'am. He could take advantage of that. He doesn't, when most would. What's that line from Twain? 'If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.'" He pours himself a drink….albeit a non-alcoholic one. One of the world's hardest assassins confines himself to Roy Rogerses on the job.


It wouldn't be polite to mention how acute his hearing is. Lucian slides around the corner of the marble and granite bar. The strawberry-blonde woman usually managing things at the earlier hour - Ana - gives him a smirk as a greeting. Next he'll nod to Bucky, measuring the activities du noir. He isn't entirely up to working but mixing up one of his own drinks. There the cigarette goes to the corner of his mouth. Taking down two unlabeled bottles from the bar, he unscrews the tops and pours them into a shaker. "You aren't getting into too much trouble now, are you?" A casual question naturally comes up, and he manages to speak without any fall of ash or disrupting that cherry's burn. Proof he's not human, of course. "Good evening, ma'am."


"No, it's not that simple," Harper says slowly, still watching Bucky. "There's a reason you'd prefer it that way." Nudge, nudge, prod. Luckily for Bucky, the boss is there to save the day, and Harper's sharp expression eases into a friendly smile instead. "Good evening," she greets in turn. "Your bartender here was just telling me what an amazing musician you are. And I was just agreeing that it's good music that turns a bar from just a place where there's booze into a place with a real soul." There's a slight drawl to her voice, with more than just the south in it - New Orleans, doubtless.


In Lucian's actual presence, Bucky doesn't blush. He just looks a little wry at being caught out, before turning to look for more scutwork to take care of. He doesn't persist in asserting that it's mere gratitude that's got him bound here, not when Lucian's here for the spotlight. "I dunno, how much is too much?" he asks, mock-innocently.


"Has he?" Droll expression there, Lucian hitches an eyebrow higher. He tosses in a sprinkle of lime crystals, the distillation receiving a float of what may just be an herbal tonic. The metal cap fits atop the shaker well, and he proceeds to give it a good rattle in his hands. "Perhaps overstating the case if your tastes trend to certain genres. Though we do strive to cultivate a broader appreciation here, especially those eclectic talents which deserve to be heard." A surprising number of those talents are on the up-and-up with such ferocity, they'll be household names in a year or three. Smiling to Harper, he drops the cigarette into the ashtray and blows a ring of blue-grey smoke. "The soul is what matters. The exterior hardly so much as what lies within."


Harper still seems almost more interested in Bucky's reaction to Lucian than in Lucian himself, but at least it's a low-level curiosity at the moment. "Very true," she agrees with Lucian, gesturing with one finger over the rim of her glass. "Exteriors change easily. A little paint, a little make up. A new dress, a new hairstyle. Gain a few pounds, lose a few." Try out an entirely new face just because you can. "The soul is a much harder thing to change. No matter how many times you confess," she adds with a wry smile of her own. "I am partial to jazz, myself. But since jazz is the beginning of rock and roll, I find I'm not often disappointed."


He's not ignoring her now….but he is fading back, letting Ana and Lucian take the stage. 'Jack Frost''s always more comfortable when he's not tripping his way across the verbal minefield that is small talk. A little pokerfaced in that abeyant silence - the state of his soul, what's left of it, remains a sensitive topic.


Ana manages matters on a quieter level, the usual business of handling requests, affairs, and inquiries. She has good mind to watch and listen to her patrons. It frees up Lucian for the business of enjoying company how he will. "Ah, jazz. Folk, the revolution of the people. Popular music changes its whims as a snake sheds a skin, straining and changing through mysterious ways. Who cannot help but find there to be a wonder in the pleasures of music?" Lucian pours himself a glass of that heady concoction and raises the tumbler. "But I've gone and dominated the conversation and broken between you both."


"Well, it's for the best, really." Harper takes another sip of her drink, arching a brow playfully in Bucky's direction. "You were actually the topic of discussion, and I hear it's rude to let people walk in on you talking about them. Did you know he fought in Korea? Lied about his age and everything. My theory was that he might be one of the leftover vampires, but he does have a little more of a tan than I'd expect if that were the case."


Bucky casts his eyes heavenward for a moment, and purses his lips. "No, no thirst for blood," he confirms, wanly. "And we were just chatting. She was asking me how I ended up working here."


"Leftover vampires. You think he swilled kimchee and attained the secret of immortality through fermentation to keep his brooding good looks?" As Bucky is dark so Lucian is light, and how not? The Lightbringer's luminescence outrivals any of the darkling shades that would leave a dour mark upon his brow after all this time. A laugh spills through the bar area, loud enough to turn immediately adjacent heads. "I shall guess you thirst for other things somewhat more easily attained even in my preferred den of depravity. Name a better vice than blood, man, you know the rules."


"No, I think he's lying about his hand," Harper replies blandly to Lucian, belying the brighter spark of amusement in her eyes. "But if he's going to lie, then I'm sure he can come up with something either more believable or more interesting than Korea." She winks over at Bucky, raising her glass in quiet salute. "Your hand isn't ruined, I've seen you use it perfectly well half a dozen times in the last thirty minutes. And you'd make a poor bouncer if you could only use the one hand. What did you say your name was, again?" she asks, smile easy, as she leans forward a bit. It's a game to her, one she's obviously enjoying…and she seems fully aware of the possibility that it might be dangerous.


She can all but hear the shutters slam down, though his expression only goes milder, more bland. Good-natured, innocent, and a millimeter deep. "Ruined to look at - it's easier to keep it covered than offend the guests or spend time fielding questions about it," he corrects, gently. "Obviously, yes, I can still use it. I'm John, but I go by Jack." Not going to argue with a guest, especially not in front of Lucian.


"Or the band." Lucian downs a healthy mouthful of the liquor. Its blazing flavour holds strong even after the first swallow. "Korea is a fair enough story. Isn't entirely my place to question if that's true." He tilts the glass this way and that so the interior liquid shines with its own brilliant lustre of gold and copper highlights. "Are you questioning his capacity as a bouncer? It's not unreasonable someone with even a single arm could achieve that. Of course, I'd assume the choice doesn't offend you, ma'am, or cast aspersions on the choices of employment."


"Not questioning," Harper shakes her head, still watching Bucky and his reactions. There's a glimmer of something when he closes down, almost regretful. "Not his abilities as a bouncer, at least. Just the choice of stories. There's no offense in it," she adds to Bucky, a note of apology in her voice. "I'm sure the truth is awkward, or you wouldn't say otherwise. Just…" For a moment, the playful facade fades away, something more knowing in her eyes. "Better to frame the story in a way that doesn't invite more questions, is all I'm saying." She pokes at her drink with her straw, still watching him. "Sorry? I'm…" A pause, as if she's making a decision, and then like an olive branch: "Harper, by the way."


Bucky concedes the point with a fractional inclination of his head. He's calm, poised again….almost blank, behind that determined pleasantness. His gaze goes to Lucian, now and again, as if searching for a prompt or a reaction. "Miss Harper," he says, politely. And offers neither hand.


"A point might be had there. On the other hand, this is an establishment with liquor, music, and all the elements needed to make for an ideal story." Lucian spins his glass around on the marble bar and pours himself a healthy draught more from the shaker. That finishes off the contents for him. "Miss Harper. Lucian. Erstwhile bartender here, among other things. Jack is very much welcome about Lux. Whatever story he spins is his to tell." Amusement crackles across his expression.


"Yeah, I think after I called you out in front of the boss you don't have to call me Miss anything," Harper smiles ruefully back at Bucky. "You know, it's funny," she looks to Lucian. "The name of the club. Lux. How did you come up with that?"


"Fiat lux," supplies the Soldier, quietly. Not smiling in reply….but he's also deliberately not brooding, either. No being sullen on the job. At least out in public with the guests. "Let there be light. And there was light, and it was good." Only paraphrasing….but it's clear.


"Manners," Lucian dryly offers. He trails a finger after a bead of liquid and dries the digit off on a towel hidden on the insire of the bar. Some things cannot rightly be forgotten and overlooked even for posh spots like Lux. Cleaning is cleaning, after all. "How else? It seemed appropriate. The soul of the place."


"An odd quote for a club," Harper observes. "Don't get me wrong, I know it well," she adds, holding up a hand. "I was raised by nuns, I've heard all the words. And a lot of other words about clubs and how they were terrible places," she winks. "But it does suit. I like the double entendre, too. Most people who hear it are going to think luxury, not light."


"You say that like you mean 'raised by wolves'," Bucky can't resist teasing, just a little. That puckish light has come back into his eyes, at least. "Raised by wild Jesuits in the jungles of Queens."


Lucian puts his elbow on the bar and quarter pivots away from them to watch shadows cavort in silhouetted pageantry on the tin ceiling. One could lose themselves to the hypnotic patterns; there are, undoubtedly, demons who do. It's part of the charm and the trap for them. "I might have said ex lux, but that might prove a little too confusing for many. There could be plenty of explanations." He murmurs to Bucky, "Careful. That one's smart if she assumes we're into venal luxuria here."


"You know, it's not that different from being raised by wolves," Harper laughs to Bucky. "Trust me, the nuns are every bit as capable of sniffing out something they're looking for and tearing it right down to the bone. Church orphanage," she clarifies, smile crooked.


Bucky clicks his tongue in sympathy. "I don't doubt it. Friend of mine went to parochial school, he had some stories about it." A flicker of his gaze and another nod of assent to Lucian, eyes still gleaming, before he takes a sip of his own drink.


Nuns ought to bring a sympathetic look or a shudder. The blond proprietor merely flicks a finger to dash the ash from the cigarette and puts it back in his mouth. Promises might be written in every gesture and truths buried with cement shoes in the depths of the Atlantic.


"It wasn't so bad, though," Harper shrugs. "Actually, it wasn't bad at all. Just different from most people." She takes another sip of her drink, one fingertip tracing along the edge of the bar with a small smile. "Anyhow, I just found the name interesting. I'm partial to it myself." She lifts her hand, snapping her fingers and summoning a small, softly glowing ball of light to float over them.


Buck's expression slips, at that. Mutant or magician or psion, his experiences on that front have never been anything like good. Even Strange in his Day-glo munificence, for all his kindness, is far from reassuring. HE nearly chokes on his Roy Rogers, and sets it down with deliberate care. No letting the bad hand ruin the boss's glassware.


"We're a sanctuary, a haven." Lucifer's tone does not change. His eyes reflect intensely hyacinth where the light shines on them and leaves bitten streaks of gold in his hair spilled carelessly over his face. "For those who are unusual and those who are not. The house rules on that are quite simple."


Harper waves her fingers, like shaking the light out of a match, and the little ball of light fades away. "It's just light," she smiles faintly over to Bucky. "Fiat lux, right? Can't really hurt anything." That's not true. Not entirely true, at least. Maybe the light won't hurt anyone, but it can walk people right into something that does.


"You've never encountered a flashbang grenade, I take it," retorts Bucky, drily. He's eyeing her with something that's almost sadness, before adding, apropos of apparently not much at all, "Nothing gold can stay."


"Unless one is a bloodless vampire of the Korean War variety?" Lucian asks, dragging on the cigarette finally and blowing out. "You're welcome all the same. Merely reminding if a being of shadows shows up, mind your manners."


"Oh, well. I can do that, too," Harper smiles faintly to Lucian, waving her hand in a similar motion and pushing the light away until there's a tiny globe of pitch darkness over her fingers. "Not to worry. I'll drive no one away from it." She knows what a flashbang is. In fact, she can make them herself. But there's no need to bring that up in front of a jumpy Bucky.


That's even creepier…..and Buck's clearly got his hackles up. AT least, for the sake of his sanity, another customer comes up to be tended to….and then it's his turn at the door. But as long as she's here, Harper can feel his attention turned towards her, no matter where he is in the club.


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