Author Topic: Low Stakes  (Read 7641 times)

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Offline Existentially Odd

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Low Stakes
« on: July 23, 2011, 01:20:52 PM »
Dominic could feel the bemused expression on his face as he watched the pool hall attendant walk away from him, then he turned it towards Gene, suppressing a smile as best he could.  "Well.  I guess I now know how to properly arrange my balls," he announced dryly and laughed, leaning his hip against the pool table and removing the triangle from around said balls as he did so.

He and Gene had barely got themselves situated at the pool table against the wall, on the far side across from the bar and one away from the one right next to the jukebox, when the guy had come sauntering over, objecting to the way Dominic had been arranging the balls in the triangle.  He\'d chastised the young American Samoan and bustled in to give him a three minute explanation as to the various ways he could arrange the balls, according to the accepted rules of the game.

Dom had pretty much just blinked down at the weedy little guy most of the time, nodding and trying not to laugh at the somewhat surreal experience of being lectured by a \'pro\'.  Given that all Dominic had ever cared about was getting the black ball in the centre of the triangle, he\'d taken the lesson equably, hoping he\'d remember - but doubting he would.  He was glad the guy was gone now, though, so his night could get properly underway.

"You want to break?" he asked Gene, nodding at the far end of the table.  "Probably best for you to.  Seeing as how you can\'t get too far away from that stool of yours.  Obviously."  The dig was accompanied with a smirk that showed he was joking, though Gene certainly hadn\'t been in a rush to get in the mix of the little man bumping up against Dominic and flicking balls around inside the triangle like a zealot.  Gene had sat on his stool, watching patiently and  minding their beers, which sat in front of him atop the tall table stationed against the wall by their pool table.  Dom had shared a few glances with his companion, over the head of the pool pro, and had received no assistance for his silent pleas.

Gene was good value, though, so he didn\'t really begrudge the guy for not jumping in.  It had probably been very amusing to see a huge guy like him getting lectured by a greasy-haired, moustache-sporting pool hall rat - to the point where he\'d not known what to say.  Dom considered he might\'ve done the same thing, if their roles were reversed.

It had been a week that Gene had been working for Dom now, and he was quietly so impressed with the guy that he\'d already decided that Gene was the best risk he\'d ever taken.  Bar none.  They\'d met when Gene had moved into his dowdy little apartment complex, when Dom had been unloading gear from his truck last Friday, in fact, and Gene had just walked up to him and asked him if he needed any extra workers.  Just like that.  Dom had looked him over, noting that he looked like he was no stranger to hard work and they\'d started up a conversation about what sort of experience Gene would bring to a landscaping firm.  His smile had been almost cocky as he started explaining and Dom had liked that about him.

During the week, Gene had proved himself a fast learner, a dedicated worker and entirely professional.  The last had been a bit of an issue for Dom - which he\'d admitted straight up - because he\'d not been sure about hiring a neighbour to work with him.  What if it didn\'t work out and he had to fire him?  What if work stresses started affecting his home life?  Not to mention the fact that his home was where he occasionally brought guys, what if Gene saw that and it changed his opinion of his younger boss?  It had all spelled awkward and dangerous in the beginning for Dom, but Gene had seemed desperate and sincere enough that he convinced him to at least trial him.

A week later, Dominic was very glad that he had, though he hadn\'t yet said as much to Gene.  That\'s what tonight was about.  The week\'s trial was up - the week\'s work was done - and Dom had asked Gene if he wanted to head out after work for a couple of beers and to talk.  He hadn\'t said about what, but it was pretty obvious to them both that Gene\'s permanent employment was on the table for discussion.

After they\'d finished up their last job - though Dom planned to go around to the house tomorrow, just to check the cement was drying as it should - he and Gene had gone back to their apartment complex (it\'d made sense for Dom to drive him to and from work every day) and showered.  Dom had pulled on some old, comfortable blue jeans, an olive green T-shirt with a surf-style design on the front in creams and browns and some boots.  He\'d taken a little time to dry and wax his short hair before he\'d applied some cologne, pulled his silver necklace on top of his snugly-fitting shirt and met Gene at his truck.  They\'d taken about the same amount of time and Dom was pleased that Gene had insisted he drive tonight, since Dom had done all the driving through the week, and Dom was pretty happy with the venue Gene had chosen, too.

Until little pool hall man had got in his face and messed with his balls, anyway.  Then, he\'d just found his whole Friday night was looking slightly more amusing and a little bit stranger than he\'d anticipated, but that was alright.  What was a night out with a buddy if there wasn\'t going to be plenty of laughing?

Saccharin

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2011, 11:29:04 AM »
He laughed amiably and reached over to retrieve his beer, wrapping his calloused fingers around the bottle\'s neck and then lifting it from the table until the mouth was hovering a few inches away from his lips. "Hey now, I was keepin\' guard. Somebody might\'ve taken off with our drinks," he said before taking a sip, wanting to make it clear he hadn\'t left Dominic to handle that man on his own for no reason at all. His had been an important task, and one he\'d successfully executed. The beer was safe.

Plus, it\'d been pretty damned entertaining to watch someone built like a professional weightlifter being talked down to by a man half his size. Part of him had anticipated an altercation between the two, but Dominic had been good-natured about the whole thing. He\'d come to expect that sort of level-headedness from the man in the workplace, though - mentally dubbing him a gentle giant - but the scenario he\'d just faced down would\'ve annoyed many other people. It said a lot about Dominic that it hadn\'t even seemed to faze him.

"I\'m surprised he didn\'t show you how to handle your cue while he was at it," he said, grinning so widely his cheeks dimpled. He returned his beer to the table and then slid off the barstool, reaching over to receive his own cue from where it\'d been resting against the wall once his boot-clad feet were settled firmly on the ground.

Like he usually did unless he was working outside, Gene was wearing a blue plaid button-up shirt with a matching blue undershirt and jeans. It was warm enough that he\'d left his shirt unbuttoned and rolled up its sleeves, but he was half tempted to take it off entirely. It\'d just be something else he\'d have to keep track of, though, so he dismissed the thought almost as abruptly as it\'d entered his mind.

"He\'s still around," he pointed out, nodding his chin toward the man\'s back. "Maybe if you ask real nice..." He drawled out the words even more than he typically did, giving him a teasing tone.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2011, 06:06:40 PM »
Dominic\'s mouth skewed as he tried to hold in his smirk, not wanting to give Gene any indication that he thought he was funny - though he really, really did.  Plus, that southern drawl of his was rather sexy when he dragged it out like that; Dom squashed the thought before it could even take root and wagged an imperious finger over the triangle of balls in front of him.

"You just concentrate on handling your own cue and let the results speak for whether I need tips from muffin man over there on how to handle my cue," he ordered as sternly as he was able, turning away to hide his smile and take a pull from his so-called \'safe\' beer.  He leaned against the table to watch Gene take his shot, ready to put his beer down and move in when it was his turn.

Saccharin

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2011, 07:48:23 PM »
"Alright, alright," he said, venturing closer to the table as he spoke. His smile only faded marginally as he lined up his cue and broke the triangle, scattering the balls. Several rolled to a stop just before going into a pocket and he stifled a curse, knowing that Dominic would have an easy time coaxing them off the table on his go.

"\'S only \'cause I want to give you a fighting chance," he clarified, stepping back and settling his cue butt down on the ground, his hands wrapping around the shaft. He was watching Dominic intently, wanting to see which route he\'d take and planning his next move based on that.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2011, 11:46:35 PM »
Surveying the table, Dom chose the striped balls because they had their majority positioned well across the table (those that weren\'t were tenaciously hugging the black ball, but he reasoned he\'d be able to move them away throughout play) and sank two in sequence.  He and Gene traded banter about shots as the game progressed, occasionally meeting at the bar table against the wall as they both took a swig of their beers, usually crossing paths as the other moved to take his shot.

Unfortunately, Dominic\'s early moves didn\'t pay off and he chased his last striped ball around the table the entire match, until Gene sank the black and won the game.  "Beginner\'s luck," Dominic announced disgustedly, shaking his head, for he\'d been able to tell that Gene\'s skill level didn\'t match his own simply because of the astounding shot choices the blonde usually made.  The easy ones he missed; the impossible ones fell right in the pocket.  "There\'s no countering pure ass," Dom taunted good-naturedly, grinning even though part of him was quite disgusted he\'d lost so badly.  He was better than that!

"Ah well, loser buys the beer," he stated, before moving off towards the bar.  He was served by his helpful ball-arranger, who definitely worked at the place and who tried to engage him in conversation about whether he wanted assistance with refereeing his match, and whether he was aware of all the rules.  Dominic internally boggled at the guy\'s persistence and snatched the change for his two beers eagerly when it was finally handed over, telling the guy wryly that he and his friend were just here for a few laughs, nothing too serious.

To prove his point (and to avoid unintentional coaching), when Dom returned to where Gene was perched on his stool, instead of racking the balls he climbed onto the stool opposite and slid a bottle across to his companion.  "Here you go," he murmured, deliberately not looking towards the bar in case moustache man took it as a plea for help, watching Gene intently instead.  "So anyway, I\'ve decided I\'d like to make you a permanent employee of All About Gardens, if you\'re interested?" he said blithely, his eyebrows slightly raised as he regarded Gene expectantly.  His beer remained in his hand, ready for toasting rather than drinking, if the southerner was so inclined.

The job offer was a formality to Dom, but he expected that his companion likely hadn\'t yet figured out what an asset to the company he\'d be, so might be in the dark still.  Well, maybe he had, because Gene had noticed (and commented) on how Rusty and Steve - in all their eighteen and twenty years of wisdom respectively - were reluctant to go out of their way to do anything they hadn\'t specifically been told to do.  It was frustrating to no end for Dom, who usually ended up just doing all the extra shit because it wasn\'t worth the hassle of explaining it to his apprentices.  Not Gene, though; the guy was intuitive when it came to work, and experienced with the land.  He was easily the best addition to the company since Dom himself had been.

Saccharin

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 06:12:25 PM »
Even if he\'d wanted, Gene wouldn\'t have been able to control his face-splitting grin. He was ecstatic that he was being offered the job, because after spending years going from temporary position to temporary position, he was ready to do something that would guarantee a paycheck every fortnight.

As it was, he\'d been getting by on savings in addition to what he\'d been able to scrape up doing odd jobs, and would\'ve been royally fucked come next month if he hadn\'t scored this job. Now, he\'d be able to keep up with his expenses and even have enough left over to start an emergency fund (for the inevitable day his truck decided to move on to a land with gasoline rivers and freshly paved asphalt highways). Damn straight he was smiling.

"Of course I\'m interested," he said, laughing and clinking his bottle against Dominic\'s before taking a drink. "I really appreciate you giving me a chance in the first place," he added, his expression grateful. Not only did he enjoy the work he\'d done so far, but it was for someone he genuinely enjoyed being around. How many people could say they had a boss that they could have a couple beers and shoot some pool with? Not many, he bet. He was probably one of the lucky few. "I swore you wouldn\'t regret it, didn\'t I?"

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 08:33:09 PM »
"Yeah, but if I had a dollar for every guy that had ever told me that, I\'d be a very rich man by now," Dominic snorted dryly, smirking at Gene (even as he slid a glance towards the bar to check his little helper fan was still stuck behind it).

It occurred to him belatedly that most of the guys he\'d referenced with his statement had had nothing whatsoever to do with his job, but he doubted Gene would pick up on it.  A down-home country boy like him didn\'t have that sort of dirty mind, nor think of men as sexual partners instead of women, Dom believed.  So he was safe enough (though the beers were obviously loosening him up).

Of course, considering he was now permanently employing Gene and they were living right next to each other in the apartment complex, it was only a matter of time before his secret was exposed, but he was in no rush.  With Gene driving home and him having an opportunity to drink a little more freely than he usually did, though, that could change.  He\'d have to keep himself in check.  Soon.

"We make a good team, though," he added in all seriousness, bestowing a friendly smile upon his companion.  "You\'re a good worker and I respect that.  Not like those other two layabouts, for fuck\'s sake," he sighed, giving in to his little vent and shaking his head, thinking Gene would share his frustration with the only-do-as-much-as-I\'m-told-and-not-a-drop-more duo they worked with.  "What brought you to the city off the farm, anyway?  You\'d obviously be missed."

With his left arm curled across the bar table, one boot heel hooked in the rung of his stool and his right elbow resting on the table to allow for maximum freedom for his hand to bring beer to his mouth, it appeared Dom was settled and interested in getting to know Gene now.  He hadn\'t asked too much during the week, for fear he\'d have to fire the guy at the end of it, but now he was relaxed about it and curious about the pretty cowboy.

Saccharin

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2011, 09:31:19 AM »
He was pleased that Dominic acknowledged his hard work, but also discomfited that he\'d been compared to two fellows who probably hadn\'t had the same upbringing he\'d had. He\'d always had to work hard and it was very possible they\'d never been required to. They were still young and probably had family that could help them out of a tough spot if they ever needed it. He knew enough about people to realize that having a safety net sometimes took the urgency out of something like going above and beyond on a job. Why do anything but the bare minimum when you had something else to fall back on?

Gene still accepted the praise with as much grace as he could summon, smiling and nodding his thanks, because defending the guys when Dominic had already formed his opinion of them could easily turn into an argument. Though he liked them well enough, he wasn\'t going to put himself at odds with Dom for their sake. Not this early on in their working relationship, at least.

Like a hobo that\'d spotted an empty car of a train, his smile packed up and marched off his face when Dominic pursued a line of questioning he\'d been lucky so far to avoid. "Well," he drawled, trying to organize his thoughts before he answered. It seemed like an easy enough question to respond to, but he still had a lot of residual anger when it came to the place he\'d grown up and he feared what Dominic would think of him if he started ranting. He needed to be careful.

"It just wasn\'t for me," he said slowly. "I didn\'t think the city would be either, but people here don\'t seem to care too much \'bout what you\'re doing. They get on with their lives, not get involved with yours unless you want them to. I like that." For someone who\'d lived where everyone knew everyone else\'s business, he deeply appreciated the semblance of privacy he\'d obtained in the city. "What about you? Have you always lived here?"

Dominic looked like he might have grown up in an entirely different country, but stood just as much of a chance of being a second or third generation American. It was safest to ask about his origins, not make assumptions.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2011, 03:02:28 PM »
Knowing what he knew of the city\'s changes through his lifetime had Dominic offering an indelicate snort at the not getting involved comment, but he took a swig of his beer - realising it was empty thereafter - instead of saying anything. He nodded when asked if he\'d always lived here.
 
"Mmmyeah, my family\'s Samoan but I\'ve only been there a couple of times, when I was a kid. This city\'s pretty much been it, for me," he muttered, an ironic twist curling his mouth as he looked at Gene intently. "You... haven\'t found the city... strange... at all?" he asked, managing to keep influential vocal markers out of his tone but the fluency of his sentence suffering for it.
 
Considering the shit creeping - pretty openly, too - about this city, Dom had to wonder how much an immigrant would notice right off the bat.

Saccharin

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2011, 08:44:14 PM »
"I never said that," Gene remarked with a grin. "Been here two years now and yeah, I\'ve noticed some weird things, especially at n-night." His grin faltered as his words started sticking to his tongue like a pieces of ice. "It\'s how cities are, though, right? Lots of weird stuff goes on in cities." The ice had melted as he shifted his thoughts away from vampires and to the generic oddness that most cities possessed.

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2011, 12:00:58 PM »
Dominic hadn\'t missed the little jump in Gene\'s speech - on the word \'night\', no less.  An eyebrow quirked as he looked a little more sharply at the southerner in front of him, wondering exactly what sort of \'night\' experiences he\'d had.

"I\'ve lived here my whole life," he repeated.  "But I know for a fact that this city is not like others.  Not by a long shot.  What moves around here at night... well, you don\'t find... them... everywhere."  His meaningful words would be obvious if Gene had any inkling what he was talking about, otherwise the intent look that was coming from his blue eyes would cause quite a lot of confusion.

He was watching for either reaction.

Saccharin

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2011, 07:00:21 PM »
The pressure he\'d felt building up in his head faded entirely by the time Dominic finished talking and he blinked dazedly at his drinking partner. It wasn\'t the first time he\'d experienced the stuttering inability to speak and had his head stuff up like someone had decided it was a cotton ball dispenser.

This marked at least the third time it\'d happened and what he\'d finally noticed was that one of two things needed to happen for the uncomfortable feeling to dissipate; either he had to stop talking about vampires or the other person needed to broach the subject knowingly. Dominic had most certainly done that, and even as cloaked as the message was, his brain properly interpreted it and the spell he was still unaware of lifted of its own accord.

Gene might not be the quickest, but he was beginning to put together the pieces and wonder at what was causing him to behave the way he was. Maybe it had something to do with the vampire attack. Even before he\'d had his stitches taken out and his cast sawed off, he\'d noticed the stammering and thinking back on it, it\'d been every time he\'d tried talking about vampires with someone he didn\'t already know. But that\'d mean he was still traumatized by the ordeal and he didn\'t feel traumatized.

His eyebrows jerked up and his mouth parted slightly when he realized Dominic was staring at him expectantly, and probably had been for some time given his expression. "You don\'t?" Gene\'s face lit up. "Well, that\'s good to know. Be nice to take a vacation somewhere else and not have to worry about \'em. I get a vacation, right?"

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2011, 07:43:15 PM »
Dominic blinked, his companion\'s demeanour throwing him.  It seemed that Gene did know what he was talking about, but he was awfully... bright about it, considering.  It made Dom wonder...

"Uh, yeah, four weeks a year, plus the benefits I already mentioned and the wage we negotiated already," he answered vaguely, his mind preoccupied still with Gene\'s overt brightness.  "Have you... uh," he glanced around them and leaned closer to Gene, lowering his voice dramatically, "had much to do with... vampires?"  The last word was practically hissed.

Saccharin

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2011, 07:44:09 PM »
Gene leaned forward too, resting his elbows on the table and cradling his beer in his hands. He swiped his fingers down the side, causing the condensation that\'d gathered to bead up and trickle down his wrist.

"Not anymore," he said quietly, shaking his head. "Used to." But he\'d had his fill of folk talking about how much better it was to have immortality on earth and treating him like he wasn\'t capable of taking care of himself just because he wasn\'t like they were. So he\'d had a bad encounter with a vampire. So what? He\'d survived. Didn\'t mean nothing at all.

"What about you?" His hazel eyes were searching Doninic\'s light blue ones, because part of him was hoping desperately to find a kindred soul - someone who was as sick of the supernatural as he was.

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Re: Low Stakes
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 06:44:52 AM »
Dominic pulled a face, advertising his disappointment in himself and his general discomfort with the subject.  "Same," he agreed, looking sheepishly into Gene\'s eyes.  "I have a... weakness for them.  They turn me... stupid.  Submissive.  I do... anything for the bite, it\'s... I\'m trying to avoid them, I just-" he broke off and shook his head as he thought of exactly how weak he was.

\'Trying\' to avoid them was right, but he knew that if one approached him right that second, even though he was enjoying his time with Gene - far more than he\'d anticipated he would, thanks to this current turn of events - he\'d get up and leave the mortal if the hard word was put on him and the promise of sex and drinking was offered.  He knew it wasn\'t right, that he shouldn\'t be that shallow... but perhaps Gene would even understand?

"It started in the Apocalypse, for me - I was about sixteen when all the supernaturals in the city decided to \'come out\'," he confided, glancing around them briefly to be sure they weren\'t being looked at.  "They took over.  Most people stayed in their houses and only came out in the daytime, when it was safeish.  We got cut off from the rest of the world, for a time.  I fell in with some vampires and partied pretty hard.  I\'ve been... vulnerable to them ever since, even though it destroyed my last relationship and I know better, I just... the bite, you know?" he entreated, shrugging one shoulder as he searched Gene\'s eyes hopefully.

Please let him understand what the fuck I\'m on about, he thought.