(24 Feb 2012) Nick and Salem's Breakfast Date

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(24 Feb 2012) Nick and Salem's Breakfast Date

Postby Hazmat » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:16 am

It is currently 06:32 Pacific Time on Fri Feb 24 2012.

Currently the moon is in the waxing New (Ragabash) Moon phase (14% full).

Denny's(#2977RJ)

It could be a Denny's in Los Angeles, California. It could be a Denny's in Newark, New Jersey. It could be a Denny's in Friend, Nebraska. As it happens, it's a Denny's in St. Claire, Washington, but the surroundings don't really matter. It's a Denny's.

The double doors of the glass foyer lead to a matching set of doors to the restaurant proper, and on entering one sees to one side a pair of gumball machines and a grab-the-toys-with-the-claw machine, to the other, a payphone, and ahead, the register and the ubiquitous freestanding sign: Please wait to be seated. No matter the time of day or night, no matter how many or few patrons seem to be seated, the waitstaff always appear to be bustling about, and it takes a minute or two before one is free to seat any new arrivals.

Large panes of glass make up the majority of the outer walls, giving a good view of the street from any of the many red vinyl upholstered booths that line the walls below them. Most of the booths are two facing benches and a table, able to hold four people comfortably or 6 really cozily, but each corner holds a bigger one, fit for as many as ten rowdy late night teenage patrons. The open area of the restaurant is littered with tables and chairs, all seemingly for parties of four. On every table in the restaurant are the usual condiments, menus, and a carafe with a slip advertising the orange juice, all in a neat little wire corral.

The waitstaff are all neat, and range from perky and helpful to sullen and incompetent; there's also that one requisite smart ass waiter who jokes with all the patrons and is the favourite of all the high school students. The clientele range from crying babies to elderly folks with walkers, trendy teenage girls and loud, dangerous looking hoodlums, and any of the types might be seen at any hour.

Plastic plants hang from the ceiling beams and sit on the counters. Very low pile carpet in semi-geometric designs lies unnoticed across the floor. Cups of eternally refilled coffee sit on almost every occupied table. The food is cheap, plentiful, and overall, edible. It's not the Ritz. It doesn't have to be. It's a Denny's.

Nicodemus is already at the restaurant and has selected the most remote, out-of-the-way booth in the restaurant. It's still way too early for the breakfsast rush to be rolling in, so the place only has four other people on the far side of the restaurant--possibly college students pulling an all-nighter, as they've got books on the table and seem to be, much to the waitress' ire, abusing the bottomless coffee cup policy. Nick, however, has nothing but a small paperback that he's thumbing through.

Salem has thrown on a pretty shabby-looking wool overcoat over his usual equally-shabby ensemble -- a concession to the bitterly cold weather outside. He scans the restaurant, then limps over to join Dalton. "Morning."

Nicodemus motions for his grizzled companion to have a seat. "I suppose it is," he says, offering a glance outside into the pre-twilight. "I thought, maybe, we ought to kind of catch up a little bit. Our paths don't seem to be crossing terribly much since I got back into town, so.... I guess you're probably busy with a bunch of stuff, kind of like I am."

Salem slides into the seat opposite and shrugs out of the overcoat. He grunts. "Pretty much, yes. Not enough hours in the day."

"Mouse is doing better, then?" the mage inquires, a little sliver of concern in his voice. He then makes an assumption: "You're her second within the family, right?"

Salem nods. "Right. And, yes, she's much better. You helped her quite a lot, seems like."

Nicodemus leans back in the booth, somewhat relieved by this news. "Good. I hadn't had an opportunity for a 'follow-up checkup' with her and.... Sounds like she's doing much better. So how're things with the family?"

Salem scratches at his beard idly. "Immediate family's been amazingly quiet, apart from a couple of the younger ones getting rather dramatic. Extended family... eh. Less quiet. Apart from the whole..." He waves one hand around a bit, vaguely, "...thing with the woods, and our place there, we have some idiot who ran to us with a group of nasties baying at his heels. And only told us about it recently." He grimaces. "Our head of security's livid."

Nicodemus snorts at the latter part. "I can imagine. When Val and I poked around in Plasticorp earlier, we thought we had something after us, and I debated seeking sanctuary at the building you folks hole up in. But then I thought about how inappropriate it would be to trek shit all over your doorstep. We made other arrangements, holed up elsewhere, and things turned out alright in the end. As for the young ones," he says, lifting a shoulder. "I imagine it's just the same ol' dance steps time and time again, but the music changes out periodically."

Salem nods, shifts his weight, and leans back in his seat, resting an arm across the back of the booth bench. "Pretty much. The youngest is mostly okay, just a bit of 'this is all too much for me sometimes'. The second youngest is mostly 'nobody appreciates me and all you older people don't understand me, boo hoo.'" He snorts.

Nicodemus plucks a spare menu from the menu holder and slides it over to the grizzled Walker. "Now, now," the mage mock-scolds. "I'm sure you did much the same thing back when you were their age."

Salem's smile is rather humorless at this. "Not really, no. But, then, my original family was... well, let's just call them ruthless and Machiavellian and leave it at that." He opens the menu, glancing over it.

If Nick's theory were a balloon, Salem just jabbed it with a pin. "Oh." Nick browses the menu for a bit before adding, "You seem better off, overall, since when I first met you ages and ages ago. So it sounds like you made a good change: even if it comes with the occassional troubles among the youngsters." A thought occurs to the mage at that moment. "Flint Madden. He one of them?"

"Wouldn't go back if you paid me." Salem does, one must admit, look mildly amused. He nods at the question. "He's the youngest, yes. Good kid, pretty bright. Far less drama than from most his age, apart from the recent lapse."

"I don't know if Mouse filled you in on this or not, but his grandparents hired me to locate him about a week ago." Nick places the menu aside, finished with it. "After I found out what was going on, and after the contract period ran out, I told his grandparents I couldn't find him. I recommended someone at the SCPD to report him to as missing, then called the guy up and prepped him in advance that Flint probably ran away due to personality conflicts with his grandparents--and that interacting with them for a bit would explain it far better." He takes a deep, cleansing breath. "Hopefully that will result in a much less urgent and less publicized missing person's search and media coverage. Should make the family's life easier, and Flint's on down the line. Though he might want a disguise until he hits 18."

Salem closes his own menu, listening closely. At the end of Nick's explanation, he nods. "Most of our youngest have to at some point, if their relatives aren't in the know. One of the reasons we keep them close, too."

Nicodemus hypothesizes, "So you have people who are good at creating false identities, along with all the supporting legal documentation? I hope I never need that sort of thing in the future, but you never know what tomorrow might bring."

Salem arches an eyebrow. "I'm surprised. I'd imagined that you already had a fallback identity in store somewhere."

"The Man With No Name," Nicodemus claims, citing the ultimate in disappearing. "But I don't have anything in place if I need a new, legitimate, legalidentity--not disappear off the face of the Earth."

Salem looks amused for some reason. "Well, then, yes, we can help you with that. If you ever have the need."

"Lord, I hope not," Nick states emphatically. "I like having at least the trappings of a normal life. Makes it lots easier to hide in plain sight--and pull down a paycheck. You still working repo?"

Salem shakes his head. "Not since..." He hesitates a moment, then gestures at himself with his maimed hand. "Thought it'd be wiser to drop my old human contacts rather than attempt to create a mundane explanation."

It's at about this time that the waitress arrives, takes orders, and then departs. After the coast is clear, Nick leans in towards you. "That was actually one of the things I'd been meaning to ask you about. Assuming that's soemthing you can even talk about?"

Salem's mouth thins. After a moment, he sits forward, resting his elbows on the table and lacing his fingers together. "It's... a bit difficult to explain."

As if reminding Salem who he's talking to, Nick inquires, "More difficult than a dragon in a pocket spirit realm that scrambled someone's mental facilities?"

"Well," says Salem. "This is a little more Philip K. Dick than that." He glances around the Denny's, then turns back. "From one perspective, I vanished for about a month, with no trace, no sign, and no communication or warning, and when I returned, I was thirty years older and far more scarred up." He pauses a beat. "From /another/ perspective, I lived through an impact event that had been foretold thousands of years ago and survived for thirty years in what was basically a post-apocalyptic environment, /trying/ to keep people alive when just about everyone else was either dead or run off to some godforsaken 'final battle', and /then/, quite suddenly, I get yanked /back/ when right on the verge of possibly dying in battle." Another pause; his expression is quite flat, his voice deadpan. "So you tell me which is real and which isn't."

Nicodemus is silent for a few heartbeats before answering. "Both." He then adds, "That's pretty fucked up, too."

Salem nods. "Yes. For a while I wondered if I was cursed to relive everything I'd experienced. Now, I'm not so certain; recent events are completely unlike anything that I remember before the Hammer fell." The capital letter's audible. "/But/," he adds, "that doesn't really make anything clear. Or even reassure me that the shit won't still hit the fan. Or even if this isn't all just an elaborate hallucination I'm experiencing in the seconds before death." His smile is thin and tight, without humor, and he has the kind of 'seen too much' stare common to the crazed 'Nam vet he so resembles these days. "It's an existential nightmare, so I try not to think about it. Except when I do."

"Sorry for bringing it up," Nick states, fully realizing that by bringing it up Salem's had to revisit the unpleasantness of it all.

Salem flips a hand dismissively and sits back. "It's all right. You've known me long enough that you deserved to know."

"My own disappearance isn't quite as epic," he claims, then explains why he departed and what he'd been up to. "I think I'd seen too many bodies, working the homicide beat, and it was just dragging me down. Even when I was successful in finding a murderer, it was still too late to make a difference: all I was doing was enabling justice--which is often nothing more than thinnly veiled, socially acceptable vengeance--in dealing with a murderer. Punishing death with death or life--or nearly equivalent to life--in prison, provided the lawyers didn't mess things up. It's easy to see why a lot of cops die from their own guns." Nick rests his elbows on the table and briefly indicates, using his hands, blowing his own brains out. "I had to get away from it all. I packed and left. Went down to San Fran. My college degrees and my cop experience landed me a job doing network security for a bank's regional office. And I pretended to be normal, and tried to live a normal life, until it all fell apart on me." He pauses there, then skips to the finish. "So here I am, back, with a new job and perspective on life."

Salem nods sympathetically. "I went through a similar thing around 2000," he says. "Too much death, too much killing... I was a vicious bastard, but even I got sick of it. Didn't like where I was going. So I took on a different role. Not something we do easily, and I /still/ get shit for it, believe it or not."

"You were a scary fuck back then," Nick echoes your sentiment, then clarifies his comment. "You still, sometimes, give me the willies. But you seem to have gotten a lot more control over yourself over the past decade. I'm glad you've made the changes you made in the past. You're a better person for it."

"Four decades," Salem mutters, looking wry. "But thanks."

Nicodemus holds up two hands, one apart from the other. "Maybe we could, like, average that?" He moves his hands together somewhere approximately in the middle of each of their former positions. "Twenty-five years?" He lets the joke drop there, in case it's not funny at all.

Salem allows a chuckle, then diverts the subject back to Nick. "I notice you and Val have been getting rather chummy lately."

"We're both good at acquiring information. We both prefer to stay out of brawls. I keep more to the shadows, whereas she's able to communicate information we dig up. We work well together," Nick summarizes succinctly, then adds. "Usually, at least."

Salem raises an eyebrow at the addition. "Usually?"

Nicodemus shrugs and spreads his hands. "She pries a lot, and I don't always oblige her questions with detailed explanations or answers--or much of anything on occassions. That tends to drive her nuts." He adds, "Or... you know how it is with most women. Sometimes they just get all irrational. She claimed part of her frustration with me was because she'd been thinking of me as being just a funny kind of raven, when--obviously--I'm not. We'll see if that helps any in the future. Who knows."

Salem snorts. "It's not that she's a woman. It's that she's a bird. It's their nature. They find things out and they talk about it. Like birds with shiny things. It's a compulsion."

"We'll see. I suspect time will tell. But, by and large, we get along pretty well. How come you and Emma aren't in a pack?" Nick asks, turning the focus onto the Walker.

"We used to be," Salem answers. "Years ago. I'd pack with her again -- I'm attempting to form one right now -- but my current focus is more esoteric than I think she's comfortable with."

Nicodemus nods. "I know. You or maybe Mouse had told me earlier. And Emma does.... She seems fairly blunt and straightforward," the mages says as tactfully as he possibly can. "Out of curioustiy, because I am now about as curious as a raven-woman, what do you mean by a more esoteric focus?"

Salem scratches at his neck. "How much do you know about how our packs operate?"

Nicodemus pauses a second before formulating an appropriate response. "Enough to know that I have no idea how they operate."

This prompts a brief chuckle from the Garou. "Basically, a pack isn't a pack unless it gets patronage from a spirit. The nature of the pack follows the nature of the spirit. Warlike packs, like the one I was in with Emma, years ago, might follow something like Wolverine. Or Rat, which is who my last pack followed. Other packs might go for a spirit more cunning, or wise, or simply respectable. The packed Garou and the spirit form a partnership. In return for receiving certain benefits from the spirit, the Garou follow the spirit's bans and in addition the spirit generally becomes stronger as the pack gets stronger."

Nicodemus waggles an index finger approvingly at Salem. "I like where you're headed with this new pack. So what sort of patron are you thinking of? Chimera?" he inquires, blatantly name-dropping.

Salem raises an eyebrow. "Actually, yes."

"That... could work out well for you on a number of levels." The mage further inquires, "You have some people in mind already?"

"A few," Salem says. "One definite. Need three minimum."

Nicodemus considers the situation for a few seconds before making an observation. "Val would work well in that group, I suspect. But I understand that her kind don't do packs."

Salem shakes his head. "No, it's generally a... wolves-only thing, at least officially. There've been plenty of cases of packs having, well, unofficial members, of course. And one group's been working on a way to get kinfolk in as well. They're a rather militaristic bunch, however."

"Chimera is.... interesting. I ran into one a few months ago. This militaristic group wouldn't happen to be the Get?" the mage asks quizzically.

Salem shakes his head. "They're actually an off-branch of the Walkers. Call themselves Dies Ultimae. Very big on treating kinfolk as equals, which I absolutely commend, but their whole structure is very rigid, from what I've heard."

"'The ultimate,'" Nicodemus says, translating the Latin. (Sure. Why wouldn't he know Latin, right?) "It's good that they've retained a sense of humility. I wouldn't think that kin would be treated as equals. If you fall back to the whole Spiderman thing--great power, great responsibility--then kin don't have as much power nor as much responsibility." He pauses before adding, "With the occasional exception for a kin here and there."

Salem nods. "That's kind of my take on things. I'm not willing to push a kinsperson into something they don't want to do, and many are very happy to stay far, /far/ on the sidelines. Who could blame them? But if they /want/ to, then, well."

"Like Rina," Nicodemus observes. "Maybe she's changed from when I knew her before, but she seemed to be hellbent on a deathwish back then. You know, I had zero idea that she was Walker kin until Mouse introduced us about a month ago."

"I think she's calmed down a bit," Salem says, his tone suggesting that he doesn't really believe that. "But, yes, like her."

"Speaking of those kin who don't sit on the sidelines all the time. I was wondering if you'd be game to.... The Walker property out in the woods? Mouse took me there before for a talk. I was tempted to ask her...." Apparently this is an awkward topic for the mage. "I want to see if I can defend myself, non-lethally, if one of yours attacked me or lost control. When I saw Mouse in her true form.... I didn't ask because I was afraid I might accidentally hurt her."

Salem raises an eyebrow. After a moment, he nods. "It'll have to be fairly soon, though, unless you want to wait another month. I may be a bit less of a scary fuck, but I'd rather something like that happen when the moon's thin."'.

Nick makes a sweeping yet subtle gesture with his right hand as he responds. "Likewise. Definitely while the moon is nowhere near full. Mouse explained that to me earlier, and that makes sense now that I look back upon a number of events--and, hell, legends even. I'm busy--though less so now that that the Plasticorp investigation work is done--but I've got a lot of flexibility time-wise. You've probably got more responsibilities than I do, so.... Whenever's convenient for you, just give me a call." This seems to prompt him on another matter. "I should probably talk to Mouse about lending a hand from afar in that fight, too."

"You need some heavy guns for that, or backup, you know where to reach me," Salem says.

Nicodemus considers the offer. "Fighting is not my forte, but I'll definitely keep you in mind if I need bodyguard assistance inthe future. Val's passed off the info we gathered to Team Jacob, so I suspect they'll be the ones doing the heavy lifting--not Val or me. I wanted to offer Mouse my assistance in protecting the Walkers if I can--from waaaaay, way-way back. If you or Mouse are in the fight, I'll see what I can do to cover you. I'd cover the other Walkers, but I don't know who they are. If there's two members of Team Jacob that get into trouble, and I can only shield one from death, I'd prefer the one I shielded be a Walker." He seems to be taking this whole tribe thing fairly seriously.

Salem looks mildly quizzical at the use of 'Team Jacob', but he doesn't ask or even otherwise react much to it, focussing more on the important stuff in Nick's speech. "Understood and appreciated."

Nick finishes up his breakfast. "Thanks for having a chat with me. It has been a long time--and /ages/ for you--since we last talked. It was good to catch up on past and current events. Give me a ring when you've got some time to go out to the woods so I can try something out, and ask Mouse when you see her next to give me a ring when she gets a chance so I can coordinate a means of protecting any family members who get involved with Plasticorp."

"Will do," Salem says. "Thanks for breakfast."
-- Wizard of wolves, woods, and wildlife.
-- Current Characters: Salem (Scar), Kadiatu (Red-Jaws), William (Lifeline), and Monkey-Brain (John Smith)
-- Past Characters: Too many to list.
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Hazmat
 
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