Author Topic: First-Time Outing  (Read 1707 times)

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Offline pentagrandma

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First-Time Outing
« on: May 09, 2019, 03:42:16 PM »
Aislin pushed past the double-doors and into the pool hall with a measure of faux bravado. It was a Saturday night, and she had overdressed for the seedy establishment, sheathed as she was in a velvet mock-neck romper that glittered like an imitation galaxy; it was paired with a black patent moto jacket and retro go-go booties to match. She’d spent the last several days rationalizing her own self-imprisonment, wallowing in self-pity inside her shitty one-room apartment. But she’d had enough, and needed an excuse - any excuse - to feel good about herself. To go out and experience this new life of hers; this city. She'd just barely missed registration for spring quarter at the art institute, but she could still go out and do things. Besides, how could she feel bad about having no friends if she never made an effort to find any? … Not that this is the ideal place to do it, she concluded after perfunctory inspection.

Still, she made her way toward the bar - picking out a random stool and stepping up to seat herself upon its dingy cushion. “I promise I’m of age,” she said, casting a winning smile toward the bartender as metallic-blue polished fingertips probed into a jacket pocket to obtain identification. It was from out of state, and she prayed he wouldn’t believe it fake; but was pleasantly surprised when he spared it only the briefest of glances, and asked her what she’d have. “Vodka tonic,” she replied, paying cash and leaving a generous tip. Server habits die hard, even when funds are low.

With drink in hand, she swiveled in her stool to face the tables and their corresponding players. Being there made her homesick; the mingling scents of old, spilt beer and stale cigarette smoke; the clack of pool cues against balls, and the crash that usually followed; even the jukebox in the corner served as reminder. Everything the same, but so very different. There wasn’t much to do by way of recreation in her small hometown, but pool and alcohol… those, they had.

She sipped from her drink and resisted the urge to scroll through her phone. Appearing unapproachable would get her nowhere, even if she were the one to do the approaching. Instead, she scanned the crowd - in search of a friendly face... Or an intriguing one.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2019, 12:23:45 AM »
(ooc: This is not necessarily the best fit, character wise, but my character loves this setting and I can't bear to let such a lovely opener remain idle any longer! ;D)

Dominic didn't notice the stylish newcomer until he decided he wanted another beer. He spotted her as he headed towards the bar. She looked cool and collected but altogether too fancy for this place. Perhaps this was just a convenient meeting point; that made sense. She seemed to be looking around, though it felt more like she was eyeing off the competition more than searching for a familiar face. He looked respectable in his dark bootcut jeans, maroon longline T-shirt with a curved hem and crew neck and brown boots (clean, suede ones, rather than his work boots) but he had nothing on her.

As he walked up to lean on the bar beside her, he smiled so his dimples showed, deciding to take a risk. "Hey there. You looking for a game?" he enquired, turning away briefly to order his beer as the tender came up to him. Once he'd finished speaking, he returned his gaze to the impeccably-dressed woman, fishing his wallet out of his back pocket. The chunky silver chain and cross nestled between his solid pectorals glinted in the light with his every movement.

He'd already begun to think of the woman as a princess, doubting she'd actually come here to play. A woman like her would surely have far more interesting prey to hunt than a lonely guy monopolising a pool table by himself on a Saturday night. "I have a table. Or are you waiting for someone?" he added, supplying her with an easy out if she wasn't interested in some pool and a friendly chat.

Offline pentagrandma

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2019, 04:47:06 PM »
Internally agonizing the thought of asserting herself into an already-established clique, Ash had nearly relented. Particularly, she’d begun to fear disapproval based on her excessive state of dress - be it spoken, or otherwise. She should have worn something more casual, to fit in. That was why she was here, wasn’t it? To belong somewhere? … Just as she lifted her glass to her lips in a bid to reaffirm her courage, her attention landed upon the approaching man. He was attractive in a sort of way that wasn’t seen in her hometown - and she considered him well-dressed, even if he wasn’t as spruced as she.

She couldn’t help but to meet his smile with one of her own. She’d always found dimples pleasing, and often wished she’d had a pair - if only so she could charm others in the same way that she felt charmed by them. “I guess I am,” she answered, aiming to curb the relief that threatened to flood her tone, as she angled herself in her stool for better viewing.

Her focus fell upon the cross lauding the man’s pectorals while he turned momentarily away. Gaudy, she thought, making a compulsory effort to lift her gaze anew - lest she admire the surrounding assets at impolite length. “I’m not waiting for anyone,” she further divulged, punctuating her words with an easy shrug. After a brief pause, she added, “But I’m not very good at pool. If you don’t mind that, then I’m game.” It wasn’t a complete lie; she wasn’t an ace, by any means, but she certainly wasn’t bad, either.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2019, 07:35:14 PM »
Dominic laughed good-naturedly, wondering if she was telling the truth. He'd been sharked by princesses before. And princes, for that matter. He'd play conservatively until he figured out how much effort he'd need to apply to win - but win, he would.

"That's cool. I'm no expert myself. I'm Dom," he introduced, organising his beer into the hand still holding his cue so that he could hold his left hand out towards her to shake.

"I'll head back to the table. You might wanna' collect yourself a cue on the way," he advised, gesturing at the racks spaced out on the walls surrounding the pool hall. His table was in a good position near the wall but there weren't any cues in the rack nearest. There wasn't a grand selection available, given that the place was relatively busy, but she still had choices... he hoped that at least one of them matched her height.

Offline pentagrandma

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2019, 02:09:59 PM »
Aislin stepped down from her stool to slip her hand into his, and subject it to an affable squeeze. Even with the additional inches provided by her boots, Dom was far loftier than she. “Ash,” she responded in kind, reclaiming her hand thereafter.

… “Right,” she acknowledged in the wake of his advice; the single word carried out upon a small laugh of her own. She fell into stride at his back as he made his way toward the table - lagging further behind in her scrutiny of the available cues. Pausing along the wall, whereupon one such cue-rack had not yet been excessively culled, she trailed her blue-painted fingertips overtop her selection. She drank thoughtfully from her beverage as she considered her options, supposing that she didn’t have much room to be picky - and if she were, well… that would contradict her previously-declared amateur state, wouldn’t it?

A glance was afforded toward her newfound companion - both so that she wouldn’t lose sight of him, as well as to determine whether or not she was being watched. She decided that she didn’t care, returning her focus to the task at hand. With the occasional, off-hand sip from her glass, she withdrew two cues in turn. With each, she examined their length, testing their weight within her palm; with one, she went so far as to lift the butt to eye-level, and peer down its length. Good enough, she determined, before winding her way toward the table with a cheeky smile - cue in hand.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2019, 11:51:05 PM »
By the time Ash got back to the table, Dom had racked the balls and hung the triangle on its hook on the side of the table. He greeted her with a reciprocal smile, encouraged by her happy face.

"You look pleased with yourself," he observed, wondering how the process of choosing a cue had resulted in her looking like the cat that got the cream. "You come here often?" he asked, suspecting that her grin was connected to some sort of joke she was playing on him. He then laughed as his question registered, swiping his hands - still loaded up with his cue and beer bottle respectively - between them in a negating gesture.

"Shit, I didn't mean that the way it sounded!" he declared, eyes wide and dancing with mirth (there may even have been a blush of pink, tinging his cheeks with embarrassment).

Offline pentagrandma

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2019, 02:25:24 PM »
Dom’s accidental line, in addition to his placating gesticulation, earned a merry bout of laughter - breezy and unruffled. “It’s fine,” Ash offered in her own attempt to mollify. “The answer is no,” she continued on, a trace of humor sparked within her own gaze, and likewise coloring her tone. “I’ve never been here; this is my first time. I’ve actually just moved. You’re the first person I’ve met, aside from my landlord.”

Maintaining an instinctive measure of eye-contact as she spoke, Ash noted the striking color of Dom’s eyes. She’d seen they were light before, sure, but she hadn’t really looked; hadn’t noticed how vivid they were, or how expressive; hadn’t observed how well they contrasted with his skin tone, or their thick outlining of lashes. It should be a punishable crime for a man to have lashes that long and pretty. Unfair.

… “Loser buys the winner a drink?” She proposed, sipping from the one in her possession as though in punctuation. It was almost gone, but that was fine; she’d always played a little better with a light buzz. Not that one drink was enough to get her there. She didn't much mind losing, either.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2019, 11:43:01 PM »
Dom was glad she laughed his blunder off; he chuckled as well, shaking his head at his own idiocy. Still, it seemed like the perfect opener because now he knew she really didn't come here often. Her outfit had indicated as much, but he hadn't wanted to presume, because she looked beautiful and her confidence made her radiant. She might have been a local intending to outshine most of the folks in the pool hall. He thought she could've done it even if she'd been dressed in a burlap sack - and that was entirely discounting her hair.

He pulled a playful face and sucked in an intimidated whistle at being told he was only the second person she'd met in the city. "Now the pressure's on," he quipped, implying that he felt obligated to make a good impression. Close on the heels of that thought came one about just how educated she was about what prowled the city's streets. Out-of-town humans generally didn't have a clue; usually only supernaturals flocked here to join the party. Still, it wasn't Dominic's place to tell her. It was also against District laws.

"Deal," he agreed to her terms of play, turning to put his drink on the window sill beside their table - one of the advantages of getting a wall table. The window was open, allowing the fresh scents of the night - such as they were, in this part of town - to roll past the bars and alleviate the ripe fragrance of sour alcohol and marginally cool down the sweaty bodies playing hard within the hall. "You want to break?" he asked Ash with a grin, prepared to allow her to choose. It seemed the honourable thing for a local to do, for a newbie.

Offline pentagrandma

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2019, 01:32:35 PM »
Ash exhaled another little puff of laughter. “As it should be,” came her response to his implication. “If you turn out to be awful, then I’ll naturally assume that everyone else in this city is the same. I’ll be forced to move again, and god--” she overstated around a playful sigh, “--do I hate moving.” The truth was, not even the worst of experiences could have convinced her to leave so soon. She’d waited too long to be here, worked too hard; no way was she running back home with her tail caught between her legs.

His grin was met with one of her own, accompanied by a nod in the wake of his offer. “Yes, please. It’s probably my only chance at winning,” she confessed. Another half-truth; she hadn’t any inkling as to how skilled he was. Either way, she suffered no qualms with taking advantage of his offer. At least, as things stood, she could play poorly without risk of embarrassment.

Turning toward the windowsill, she downed the remaining contents of her drink - setting the glass down afterward with a soft clink and the sound of settling ice. She dried the condensation from her palm with a swipe of her hand against a bare thigh. Even with the faint, nearby breeze of outside air - or, perhaps, in spite of - Ash had begun to break a mild sweat. Her jacket needed to come off, and she took to mentally cursing her choice of costume anew. Fuck it, she thought; if she was going to be flashy, she’d do it with dignity. She stripped herself of her patent jacket, draping it over a stool that remained, mercifully, unoccupied. Her starry playsuit was markedly fitted - calling attention to the slimness of her waist, as well as the swell of curves below. It was modest, only in the sense that she was fully covered from neck to upper-thigh, with sleeves long enough to warrant the use of twin thumbholes.

‘Fake it ‘til you make it,’ had always been Aislin’s favorite aphorism; one that she had frequently proven effective within various trials in her life. Even now, she’d convinced herself she was hot shit as she practiced the maxim - returning to the blue-felted table in a way that suggested this was commonplace for her. Just an outfit. She took up the little square of chalk and smudged it over the tip of her cue, placing it upon one corner of the table thereafter. As she adjusted the location of the cue-ball behind the line, she asked, “Do you prefer to call shots, or keep it casual?” She would’ve chosen the latter, but she thought it only fair for him to decide - given that he’d yielded the break.

Curling her fingers over the felted edge of the table and arcing her thumb to serve as guide, Ash bent over her cue in a position that affirmed she was no novice. After a few experimentally tentative thrusts, she drove the tip home with a satisfying clack - sending the pyramid of balls scattering and ricocheting until two sunk. One stripe, and one solid.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2019, 08:34:04 PM »
Dominic chuckled appreciatively at her joke that he would represent the citizens of the city and possibly cause her to move away. "Nobody does," he agreed solemnly, because moving was awful in every way, as far as he was concerned. He was about to elaborate and ask her where she'd come from but she continued talking. He scoffed when she said breaking might be her only chance to win, playing down his own abilities. He had the home table advantage, he supposed; he came here often, by contrast.

When she asked about calling shots, he realised they'd rather neglected the discussion of the rules they'd use; there were official rules, commonly understood rules, pub rules and Sticks and Stakes rules. They needed to decide. "Keep it casual," he confirmed first but then waited until she'd broken. When two went in off, his eyes widened and he gave another scoff, this time accompanied by a smirk and a pointed look.

"Riiiight. Okay then, 'amateur'. Generally, the rules played in this joint are - you nominate what you want now, since you sank one of each, and that's what you stick with. Mind, you'd have the same option even if you only sank one, you can still nominate for the opposite, if you want, as long as you sink one. A tricky rule is that you have to cushion on every shot - whether it's the white ball or the colour ball doesn't matter, but one of them has to strike a cushion every shot or you give up two shots.

"Two shots can accumulate. Sinking the white off the eight ball isn't end of game, it's just surrendering two shots and you don't have to re-sit the white ball in the D if you've got two shots, you can place it anywhere behind this line," he indicated the line that went from one side of the table to the other at the head of the table, where the D was stencilled onto the blue felt. "Naturally, you can shoot backwards and a pants-dropped lap of the table if someone doesn't sink a ball is always optional."

Dom grinned, wondering if Ash would follow all that and whether she'd negate anything he'd said. They were regulation rules but every establishment accepted different aspects and he was open to opposition on any of it. They just had to be negotiated now, rather than later. "Any amendments?" he challenged, raising his eyebrows cheekily.

Offline pentagrandma

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2019, 07:55:00 AM »
Aislin twisted to lean against the edge of the table on one hip - a hand flattened nearby for additional support, while the other kept her cue propped upright with its butt to the ground. As Dom set forth his outline of rules, she listened with brows lofted in mild incredulity. So much for keeping it casual. She took a moment to be grateful for the billiards-obsessed veterans back home who insisted she know the right way to play. When he finished, she rolled her eyes - but smiled afterward to let him know that it was done in good humor.

“No,” She said in response to his challenge. “That’s all fine - but no pants-dropped laps. This is all one piece,” She added by way of explanation, lifting her free hand to touch the collar of her garment. There was nothing underneath, but she had no intention of passing on that little tidbit.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2019, 07:55:39 PM »
Dominic chuckled, looking her over consideringly. "Well, yeah... I'm not a fan of that rule, myself, don't worry. I'd be even sorrier if I thought it would destroy such a beautiful outfit - not that you're in any danger of having to worry about it, with two balls down. Which do you want, by the way, bigs or smalls?"

He realised that his recitation of the house rules had held her attention hostage - she hadn't had a chance to even see which of the sets of balls had the best setups around the pockets. Now she could look and decide. He made a sweeping gesture towards the table, grinning at her.

Offline pentagrandma

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2019, 03:21:09 PM »
Ash twisted her lips into some semblance of a smirk. She liked the compliment to her outfit; it helped to ease any remaining diffidence, and she carried it with her as she turned to face the table anew. Her mouth pursed into a thoughtful little moue as she considered the spread that lay before her. There was a solid near the left center pocket that would have been an easy shot, but the rest were fairly inaccessible; clustered up with no clear path toward success. Two, isolated stripes seemed viable enough to pocket with a little extra effort on her part.

She lifted her cue, extending it parallel to the table’s surface, and slanted it this way and that - calculating the best angle of attack. “Bigs,” she finally declared, adopting his terminology. He could have that single, effortless solid victory; so long as she could sink at least one of those two stripes.

The trill of a wolf-whistle sounded from an adjacent table as Aislin bent over to make her first shot. “Why don’t you come play with us next, sweetheart?” Hailed a drunken man, whose less-intoxicated friend admonished by way of a hard elbow to the ribs. The sober friend cast an apologetic look - not toward Ash, but toward Dom. Like she was his; like his friend’s behavior might result in both of their asses being kicked. Typical. Ash afforded the pair no more than a sweet smile before resuming her focus. Cat-call aside, she hated being named ‘sweetheart’ in that patronizing tone; still, she didn’t let on that she was even remotely troubled.

Instead, she struck up a conversation as she lined up her cue, directing a query of, “Have you always lived here?” toward Dom. When she struck, the cue ball bounced against a felted edge, colliding thereafter with her intended stripe and knocking it effectively into a pocket. One down. She circled the table and positioned herself for her next attempt. This time, however, she missed; the second stripe bumped into the cushion and rolled just shy of her target.

Laughing off the loss, she stepped aside for Dom to take his turn.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2019, 04:58:25 AM »
Dominic was concentrating on the balls on the table, calculating what opportunities he had for sinking and setting up now that he knew he was in charge of the solid-coloured balls, so he was stunned by the unwelcome intrusion from the nearby table. He frowned at the two guys, wondering if it would become a thing he'd have to get in the middle of but they calmed down of their own accord. He could hold his own in a fight - liking his chances especially since he was more sober than the mouthiest one - but he'd only ever waded in to settle an argument, never provoke it. Plus, there were two of them, even if they were smaller than him. His chances of defending Ash's honour were average at best.

He watched her as she glanced at them but basically gave them the cold shoulder. He was offended on her behalf, as well as appalled on his gender's behalf. Wasn't it considered gauche to do that sort of shit to objectify women these days? Hadn't the world become more enlightened yet? She didn't look overly troubled - and she made her next shot - but he'd been watching her closely since she started sinking on him. Her shoulders were tighter, as was her jaw. He thought that had a lot to do with why she finally missed but didn't say that.

"Yep, born and bred twenty-eight years ago," he answered as he moved past her to get to the white ball, "and I can tell you that we're not all as ignorant as that dickhead. I'm sorry you had to put up with that." His expression was sincere as he looked at her but tilted his head in the direction of the drunken cat-caller. "Do you know much about the city?" he asked casually as he leant down until he was as close to flat in line with the table as possible, his hand tented on the blue felt and his cue nestled snugly along the inside of his thumb. "You would've heard about it on the news, right? Those gas leaks we had here about twelve years ago that shut the city down for weeks?"

He took his shot, delivering a glancing blow to the ball positioned near the middle pocket that she'd left mostly set up - the angle was wrong and it bounced off the cushion, heading for the middle pocket on the opposite side of the table - but his main target had been the cluster of balls at the far end. He hit his seven first, the maroon ball scattering all the rest. As luck would have it, the two dropped into the corner pocket... but so did one of hers. Dominic straightened up, cringing. "You have two shots," he told her, moving towards the wall so that he could take a swig from his beer, cue resting on its butt by his feet.

Her every movement was surreptitiously scrutinised by him as he searched for signs of her knowledge regarding supernaturals. If she thought running into some guys with no manners was the biggest problem she was likely to face in this city, she had a lot of thinking left to do. Dom wasn't going to be the one to tell her but if she already knew about the Apocalypse - sold to the general public as a gas leak that shut down the city - then he'd know he could speak freely. Maybe she was waiting to say something or ask him questions, too. He hoped so.

Offline pentagrandma

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Re: First-Time Outing
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2019, 03:12:49 PM »
Ash smiled in response to Dom’s apology. It was small, subdued, but a smile all the same. She didn’t doubt his sincerity, believing his character to be evidence enough that he spoke truth. What she’d seen of it, anyway. So, she shrugged it off - releasing a measure of tension she hadn’t realized she’d been carrying.

When she was asked what she knew of the city, her first thoughts were geared toward the largely LGBTQIA populace. That progressiveness was part of what had drawn her. She was a touch confused when he made further mention of the gas leak, and her expression likely read as much. It wasn’t that she minded the topic; she actually found it quite fascinating. Rather, it felt somewhat… random? She supposed it must have made a strong impact on the natives.

“I was pretty young when it happened, so what I recall of the news back then is a little hazy,” she began as she closed both hands over the tip of her cue, butt on the ground, and propped her chin up on the makeshift pedestal. “But I’ve read up on it quite a bit since. It’s pretty wild to think that so many people suffered the same illusions. There are a lot of conspiracy theorists who think it’s all a big cover up.” With an oblivious grin, she made additional comment of, “Those are my favorite articles.”

That grin remained when one of her own was unwittingly sunk, and she clicked her tongue against her teeth in playful censure. Straightening up from her stance, and reaffirming her grip on her cue, she returned to the table to contemplate her next move. She had four balls left to pocket, excluding the eight, and she was still ahead by one. At this rate, she might win, after all.

“I take it you were around for it?” She inquired, figuring he must have been, since he’d brought it up. She lined up for her first shot, then reconsidered - skirting the table to come at the cue ball from an alternate angle. After sinking three more successful stripes, Aislin’s sweet little ego inflated. Her fourth shot was careless, and resulted in a scratch. Now, it was her turn to wince. "...I got cocky," she confessed, with a shade of sheepishness.