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Out of the frying pan, into the fire [Rabi/Tucker/Lukas]

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Offline Beejoux

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Out of the frying pan, into the fire [Rabi/Tucker/Lukas]
« on: October 06, 2019, 11:58:40 AM »
He'd made it back to the hotel without incident, had used the pen between the empty parking lot and the lobby before going in.  Check in had been problem free, and he'd gotten to his room, showered, and crawled immediately into bed.

His alarm woke him in the morning, but since it wasn't safe for him to go to class he turned it off and got another couple of hours before getting up, grimacing at his clothes from the day before, and ignored them for now.

He'd call Rider first.  Worry about clean clothes after.  He dialed as he rubbed at the back of his neck, chewing on the inside of his cheek as he thought over what he was going to say.  It was all still so incredibly foreign to him.

It rang, and rang, and eventually went through to a voicemail -- a voicemail which was not for someone named Rider. Instead it was for James, and breezily said that he was out of town at the moment, but to leave a message and he'd get back as soon as he could.

Tucker pulled the phone away from his ear to frown down at it, rereading the number, and then sighed and hung up.  That wasn’t going to work.  Rabi had told him not to mess with the fae, so that ruled out the next safest, and left...

He sighed as he thumbed in Lukas' number, stomach already twisting anxiously.

Three rings on this one before he answered -- distracted and a bit unfocused. "I don't know this number."

Well at least he answered.  "I got it from Beau."  His voice came up at the end, questioning.  "I've got a magician stalking me, and I heard you could help with protection."

"Beau." He made just a faint disgusted sound, but at least he paused to listen. "How much protection?"

He had to think about that, because he didn't want to leave anything out.  "Making my dorm safe, first and foremost, but if you could make it so I can move around campus and get to my classes again that'd be amazing."

He paused, then, calculating. When he answered, there was just a faint mocking edge to his voice. "Got a trust fund?"

He blinked, frowning.  "N..no.  Um.  I think I was getting help with paying, but I don't know the specifics..."

Again, he paused and chewed it over. "Anything worth trading? I can lock up the dorm, I'd say, but...mobile protection is nuts."

Dark brows creased.  "I don't think so, I don't really have anything..."  He had the pin, but that was definitely not leaving his possession unless it was going into Rabi's, and he had Beau's pen, but that wasn't his.

"You're screwed, then, I think. You want your place buttoned up anyway?" Someone said something in the background and he put his hand over the phone to answer, muttering.

The knot in his stomach tightened, and he bit back a small noise. "Y-yeah.  At least that much."

"Where are you?" He was so casual, coming back on the phone, like this was normal for him; no big deal.

"I'm at the Baymont hotel."  He ran his hand back through his hair and down to rub at the back of his neck.

"Eighty bucks to come out there and look; we can negotiate from there." He sounded absent about it. "Unless you've got something else to offer."

Eighty...  He could do eighty.  "I don't know, but that's fine.  It's not here I need buttoned up, though.  It's my dorm at the college."  He could maybe get a hold of Rabi before he met Lukas...

He huffed out a sound, amused and annoyed both. "The address there, then, and I can meet you."

Well shit, he was going to have to get dressed, call am Uber.  "Do you want me to text it to you?"

"I don't care what you do, kid, just get me the address and I'll meet you there." He paused again, with a hand over the receiver, assessing. "I can get out of here in about two hours."

He bit back an apology, mostly because he wasn't sure what he would have been apologizing for.  "Okay, I'll send it to you."  Two hours gave him enough time to get back, to get clean clothes, to call Rabi.

Rabi would answer a little breathlessly, when he did call -- in the middle of something, or distracted. "Emergency?"

Tucker was buttoning his pants but he paused.  "No, but I have to go back to campus to meet that Lukas guy at the dorms.  I couldn't get ahold of Rider, his voicemail said his name is James and he's out of town."  He said it was a sigh, zipping up and grabbing his shirt.

Rabi drew in a couple deep breaths. "You're meeting him now? When?"

"Not now, like two hours."  He swiped his hand through his hair, trying to tame it and failing.  "He's charging eighty just to meet me, and I have no idea what he wants to just block the dorm.  He kept asking about trading, but I don't have anything to trade."  He sounded stressed, but all things considered that was reasonable.

"You could always try sexual favors." The sound behind him settled as Rabi paused somewhere, assessing. "If he wants money, though, that's easy enough."

Tucker stiffened, quiet for a moment.  "I didn't think that was what...I mean I assumed he wanted like, artifacts or something."  Rabi might have been able to hear the flush.  "I don't know what he wants.  He said we'd negotiate when he gets there."

He actually laughed at Tucker -- the tension in his voice like a balm to Rabi, anyway. "If he opened with cash he'll take cash."

"Yeah, but how much?"  It was mostly rhetorical, because how would Rabi know that.

"A lot, I'm sure." He yawned into the phone, face turned away to smother the sound. "I can probably be there in two hours."

Tucker made a strained noise on his side and then sighed.  "Okay."

"Maybe don't go over until close to that time, though." He hesitated, thinking. "And use the pen."

It made him slow down, sink down on the edge of the bed.  The urgency leaking out of the moment, and his voice.  "Okay, but I want enough time to change.  These clothes are filthy."

"If you'd like. I might cut it a little close, though." He checked the time as he said it. "I'll try to beat you there."

Tucker glanced at the clock next to the bed, chewing on the inside of his cheek.  "I'll do my best, I've got to get an Uber, makes things tricky."  There was a pause, like Tucker expected that to be the end of the call, but he spoke up again.  "Rabi?  Can you bring my books with you?"

It got a huff of breath, annoyed. "Maybe. I'm not sure yet."

"Okay."  No argument, just acceptance.  "I'll see you there, then."

"Yes." He hung up, back to whatever had him running around a bit. But he'd show up at the dorm around ten minutes before the two hour deadline. Not that he looked like himself, in this moment; instead he took on a college student, in battered jeans and a beanie.

Tucker wasn't long behind, but he'd set the pen to look like the young woman, the most college appropriate, he thought.  He hurried up to the building looking a bit skittish, gaze scanning the parking lot for cars that looked suspicious, but he hadn't seen John's, so he didn't know...

Inside, up the stairs, he probably walked right by Rabi without looking at him.

He fell in a step or two behind Tucker, shifting a bag up on his shoulder. "Cutting it close yourself."

Tucker jumped, hitting the wall as he jerked away from the voice, and stared wide eyed at the other kid.  Recognition came a second or two after, and he made an impatient huff as he pulled his keys from his pocket to unlock the door.  "You told me to cut it close."  He should have just enough time to change, hopefully.

"I didn't think you would, though." He said it absently; he still sounded like Rabi. Mostly.

He shouldered the door open as he turned the key, leaving he door for Rabi to close behind him.  "...we hit traffic.  I thought I was going to be late."  Which explained why he looked so annoyed a moment later as he clicked the pen to drop the disguise.  He didn't waste time though, just jerked the dirty shirt up over his head to throw it in his hamper.

Rabi dropped the bag on the bed and stretched -- and he kept the cute-but-unimposing college student look on. Safer that way, maybe. "I have enough cash to cover it, probably."

Safer, but distracting.  Tucker paused long enough to actually look at him, brows drawn, before turning to shove his jeans off slender hips.  He scooped them up, pulled the pin free, and tossed the pants in the hamper as well.  "I have some cash in the desk drawer, if we need more, but not a lot."

"I've got about twelve grand." He said it absently, looking down toward the bag -- and then blinking back up at Tucker. "How much do you have?"

"Not twelve grand."  His shoulders rounded, thumbs hooked in the waist of his boxers, but he stopped there.  Opened his drawers instead to pull out a white tee shirt and a pair of soccer pants.  "Maybe two hundred.  It's supposed to be for emergencies."  This counted, he supposed.

"It's fine." He dropped onto the bed, stretching out his legs: head tipped back a little while he considered. "Twelve grand should be more than enough."

Just being in clean clothes helped, a lot.   His hair was still a bit of a fluffy mess but he seemed less frazzled on a whole as he moved to sit on whatever bit of the bed Rabi wasn't currently taking over.  "Yeah."

"Unless he changes his mind about cash." Rabi shrugged, watching him with his eyes narrowed. "I don't think I should be here, or at least not visible, when he arrives."

He blinked, head turning to look back at Rabi.  "Why?"  Rabi being there made things...easier.  Like at the bar.

"Because, anyone who figures me out will be...." He flexed his hand a little, uncomfortably. "They'll try to steal it."

Tuck frowned thoughtfully.  "Oh, right."  That would have been bad, especially if it was anyone with magic.  "Can you make yourself unseen?"  He gave Rabi a puzzled look, like he was wondering just how many other tricks the man had up his sleeve.

He made a small sound. "Not reliably. He might see."

He glanced around, lips twisted to one side before dipping his head towards the bathroom.  "If he can't see through walls you could hide in there.  Or the closet."  Pale eyes flicked back to Rabi again.  "Or there's a common room down the hall?"  They were mundane suggestions, but they'd get the older man out of sight.

"Uh huh, I can go to the common room; I wasn't going to go far, but I'm definitely not staying here." He cocked his head just a bit toward the money. "You want me to leave that, or take it?"

"Take it, just in case."  They -- well, mostly Tucker, he didn't know if Rabi knew Lukas -- didn't know if they could trust him.  He hoped so.  Lukas probably wouldn't have been recommended to him if he ripped everyone off, but...

He still felt twitchy, nervous.

"Uh huh. You can just call me if you need it." He shrugged, scooping up the bag and swinging it over his shoulder -- and then paused. "You said you've got two hundred, in case he asks for up front?"

Tuck nodded, folding his hands together and tucking them between his knees.  This seemed somehow worse than meeting Beau, but he wasn't sure why.

Rabi paused, then to count out another handful of twenties and peel them off to hand to Tucker. "That makes five. Just in case."

He blinked as he moved to take it, and opened the desk drawer to dig out the two hundred he had to add to it.  His bills were wrinkly, old, worn, stained.  "Thanks."  All of it was tucked into his pocket.

A contrast to the nice crisp bank-fresh bills Rabi had given him, all tidy twenties. He hummed, looking Tucker over, and then shrugged. "Don't offer him all of it up front. Haggle, at least a little."

"Okay."  Like he had any sort of experience in that.  He glanced at the clock as he sat down again, then back at Rabi.  "I don't know how punctual this guy is."  They'd already been cutting it close to begin with.

"Is that you trying to throw me out?" It made him smile suddenly, all teeth.

Dark brows dipped, then smoothed as he cracked a small smile.  "Sort of."  Not that he wanted him to go, but if he was planning on keeping a low profile, standing in the middle of his door when Lukas walked up wasn't going to make that easy.

Rabi made a low sound of amusement and then just stepped back and disappeared, with the cash tucked over his shoulder, unconcerned. It left Tucker alone with his thoughts.

As ever, his thoughts weren't exactly kind ones.  Mostly he tried not to think of all the ways he could screw this up.  He slouched back against the wall, waiting.

Lukas showed up almost twenty minutes late -- pausing at the door to look around a bit, obviously not quite sure where he was supposed to be but also not worried about it. He had a briefcase thrown over one shoulder, the sleeves of a dark blue shirt rolled up over his arms, black slacks. The effect was almost professional, except he wore it more like a costume than like he belonged in the nice clothing.

The man in the hall stood out in a way that caught Tucker's attention immediately.  He didn't fit here.  Not a college kid, not a student.  Pale eyes were a touch wide as he sat up straighter, and a hand came up automatically to try to smooth out his hair, to no effect.  "Lukas?"  Had to be him.

It caught his attention, made his head turn to look Tucker over -- and he smiled, an easy smile like a shark, both eyebrows raised. "Really?"

The rise of color into pale cheeks was instantaneous.  "Really what?"  Unsure of if he should be defensive of that one word question or not it just came out puzzled.

He hummed just a bit, stepping into the doorway, then, to look around the place. "You have a single, at least?"

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Offline Beejoux

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Re: Out of the frying pan, into the fire [Rabi/Tucker/Lukas]
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2019, 01:33:18 PM »
He was going to assume Lukas meant dorm.  "Yeah."  It wasn't big, but it was his own space, minus the bathroom he shared with his neighbor.

"This is a mess. I can protect the room, but the second you step into the hall you're screwed." He was frank about it, pausing at the doorway to look around. "Can I come in?"

He couldn't quite hide the disappointment and just a flicker of fear before the question made him realize Lukas was still standing in the hall.  "Yeah, of course."

He eased into the room and shrugged off the bag, eyes taking in Tucker's things -- the quality, the style, getting a feel for him -- "I'm not sure you can afford this."

His shoulders rolled in a small shrug.  "You said we could negotiate when your here, so..."

He hesitated again, eyes raking over Tucker -- the way he was holding himself, the movement of his shoulders -- and considered. "...what're you protecting against, exactly?"

There was a nervous energy to him that was just barely contained, like if he wasn't keeping his hands trapped between his knees he'd be fidgeting.  "Yesterday a very large man followed me here, cornered me in my room.  When I broke away he stopped me with some kind of magic, then tried to drag me into a waiting car."  His gaze flicked past Lukas and around the room before rolling back up.  "I'm trying to protect myself from that."

It was -- cagey, definitely. Lukas tipped his head, watching Tucker with just a brief flutter of amusement, making sure the door was firmly closed. "Human?"

"I think so, but I don't know how I'd be able to tell otherwise."  He'd thought Rabi was human.

All the more suspicious. Lukas cocked his head, torn between that amusement and exasperation. "Why'd he jump you? What's his problem?"

He mulled that over carefully.  "He thinks I have something that belongs to him.  I don't."  It wasn't John's.  Which made it the truth.

He turned to rifle through his bag on Tucker's bed. "The problem is that the strength of what I do depends on the strength of what you need protection from."

Tucker flicked a look up at him, then pointedly away as the heat started to return to his cheeks.  "He definitely knows magic, didn't seem like it was hard for him.  Pinned me down with a spell, or...whatever you'd call.  I couldn't move my feet."

"How'd he do a spell? Did he talk? Did he wave his hands? Wiggle his nose?" He raised an eyebrow, his own eyes still roaming over Tucker's face.

He could feel Lukas looking at him, and that didn't help.  "Hands, I don't know if he spoke, but if he did, he didn't raise his voice loud enough for me to hear it."

"He wasn't holding any object or something else that might have been a focus?" He held up something himself; a bracelet, which he slipped absently around his wrist.

He looked up at the bracelet and frowned, trying to remember.  "He didn't have anything in his hands, and I didn't--" He shook his head.  "I wasn't paying attention to his accessories.”

"So maybe he was tacit but he definitely had gestures. My guess would be human, or mostly human." He cocked his head again, shaking the bracelet down. "I don't suppose you have hair from him? Or blood?"

"Unfortunately no."  But how satisfying would it have been if he'd been able to elbow John right in his fuckin face...

"And you don't know his true name?" He shook his head just a bit, brushing hair back.

Tuck shook his head again.  "He wasn't exactly offering it, and I didn't ask."  A hand came up to rub at the back of his neck as he huffed out a small sigh.

He rumbled at that, chin tipped up, still watching Tuck with that flicker of amusement. "So I also can't protect you specifically from him, but I can smudge the apartment and ward it so no one with ill intent can enter."

That arm dropped, both elbows resting on his thighs so he could prop up his head in his hands.  "That's something, at least."  Better than nothing.

His reply was a shrug, slow and unapologetic. "I need more information to do more."

"I know."  The only other information he had was a first name, and he didn't know if that'd do anything or not.  He also didn't know how to explain why he knew it without giving anything else away.  "My dorm being safe would be a lot of help."

"I could probably sell you a charm for self-defense -- or you could just buy a can of mace." He shrugged, hands spread, and turned back to dig herbs out of his bag.

Mace wouldn't be a bad idea...  "How much would a charm be?"  Too much, probably, but worth asking.

"Depends what you want it to do." He smiled again, but it was a little less shark, this time ."You're way out of your depth, aren't you?"

That made him laugh, high and humorless, but it tapered off into something just shy of helpless.  "Yeah, a bit."

He rubbed at the line of his jaw, a day old stubble, like he was thinking it over. "Smudging and the protection's two grand. I could give you a charm that gives off smoke for another five hundred. Or one that's reusable for fifteen."

He pressed the curve of one finger to his mouth, teeth biting down on his knuckle as he thought it over.  They had the money, but that was still a lot, and who knew if they'd need it for anything else.  "Is that the lowest you could go?"

"You have someone else who can do it?" It made his smile bloom and spread, looking up at Tucker.

"N-no..."  Pale cheeks went pink at the smile.

"Then that's as low as I can go." He sounded positively chipper about it, shrugging down at Tucker. "The great thing about this business is setting your own prices."

"You mentioned something about trading over the phone," he started, looking away again.  "What did you mean?"

"I'm always happy to exchange favors, but you don't seem like you've got any pull at all, so your favors are next to worthless." He raised both eyebrows, bemused. "And I doubt you have anything magical to trade."

"No, nothing like that."  Which was what he'd thought Lukas had been talking about.  He bit at his knuckle again, thinking.

"Promises are valuable, but yours are shit." He said it brightly, comfortably, hands sliding into his pockets; his supplies arranged out. "You don't have it?"

He looked up.  "I have some of it, I can get the rest."

"Okay." He didn't threaten or waiver; just stood with hands in his pockets. "When?"

"By the end of the day."  He sat up a little straighter, letting his hands fall back between his knees.

He debated it, head cocked, like he was smelling for the truth -- and then he nodded, turning to light up a bundle of leaves. "You staying while I work?"

"Unless you need me to leave." But he was already looking at the leaves with open curiosity.

"No." Sage; the place would stink when he was done. There were no muttering incantations or hand gestures, aside from him carefully pushing smoke into every crevice of the room. "If you're going to stare, though, I could offer an up-charge to take my shirt off."

It'd make him choke, just a bit, baby blues going wide and face going red.

Lukas laughed at him -- shooting him just a brief look, and looking -- well. Smug. Just a bit.

"As nice an offer as that is," he managed, having to drop his gaze from the look on the other man's face.  "I don't think I could afford it."

"I don't think you'd know what to do with it." He turned back to the work. He wasn't fancy: he was straightforward, just pushed the smoke around, quickly and efficiently.

"I don't know about that..."  He said it on the quieter side, watching the smoke swirl along the ceiling.

It made Lukas laugh again, though, blowing smoke around the room. He seemed relaxed; no part of this got under his skin.

It smelled like really strong incense, but he could at least recognize it as sage.  "What does that do?"

"If there's any existing magics in here, it should scrub them clean." He cocked his head, looking back at Tucker again. "If you put the right kind of focus and energy into it."

He shifted back until he was sitting against the wall beside the window, watching Lukas work.  "So if he did anything while he was in here that might have lingered, this takes care of that."  It wasn't something Tucker would have thought to worry about.

"Or if anyone's watching." He rolled a hand dismissively. "Or if there's ghosts."

Ankles crossing, he gave an interested hum and let his gaze wander back to Lukas as he worked.

He'd stolen a sideways look at Tucker at the word ghost, maybe to see if it freaked him out -- but now he looked back to the work.

He was either unconcerned by the prospect, or distracted.  Either way, this was probably the calmest he'd been since Lukas had arrived.

Probably for the best. He wouldn't get in the way while Lukas finished smudging the place and put out the sage and herbs, swiping his hands (mostly) clean, and turning back to Tucker. "I need a drop of blood. You don't need to give it to me, just put it on the doorframe when I say so. And the window too, I suppose."

He was perfectly content to just sit back and watch the way Lukas' jacket moved along his shoulders.  Out of the way and quiet until the older man was talking to him again.  "That one too?"  He'd indicate the bathroom door with a tip of his head.  "It connects with the room next door."

"That one too, then." He fished in the bag to pull out a knife and flipped it around to offer Tucker the handle. It wasn't fancy or ritualistic; it looked like a switchblade.

He looked down at the blade as it was produced and slid to the edge of the bed so he could stand up to curl his fingers around the handle.  "Okay."

"Not yet. I have to do a bit first." He dug out a metal bowl and a small key as he said it. "Going to use your bathroom."

"It's shared, " he warned, turning the knife idly in his hands, fingers moving carefully along the flat of the blade.

"That could make it tricky, but it should be okay. Bathroom just won't be protected." He took the bowl into the bathroom to fill it up.

He tipped his head, following Lukas with his eyes as he walked into the bathroom.  "Okay."

Water in the bowl; the key in the water; he came out to set it on the desk and add herbs, too. It looked a mess, but Lukas was focused, now. "How much trouble will some marks on the door frame get you in?"

His lips pulled to the side as he thought it over.  "How much marker?"

"Ink." He fished it out of his bag, holding up the bottle. "And blood to tie it to you."

He blinked at the bottle in his hand.  "I mean how extensive do the marks need to be, cause I don't think anyone's going to bitch over a few small ones."  He thought about it though, glancing back at the door.  "Actually, it doesn't matter.  Just do what you have to do.  If I have to paint over it later so be it."

"We're going to paint a little pattern." He turned to drop several drips into the bowl as well.

Dark brows arched as the ink was added to the bowl.  "How did you learn to do all this?  Is it just something you're either born with or you're not?"

"You have to have...something." He shrugged a tiny bit, mixing it up carefully. "An aptitude. But this kind of magic is largely learned."

"How do you know if you have an aptitude?"  Probably he didn't, but if he did -- If he could learn how to defend himself instead of having to rely on everyone else to keep him safe.

"You ever see things, out of the corners of your eyes? Or get the sense that things are there you can't quite see?" He didn't look up at Tuck; he also doubted it. "Or can you do things other people can't?"

He shook his head, frowning.  "No, I don't think so."  Not that he could remember.

"I have my doubts, yeah." He shot a look toward Tucker then, scooping up the bowl. "Ready?"

He wrinkled his nose, but he nodded and stepped up closer with the knife, tip resting against his finger.  "Yeah."

"I'll draw the symbols -- "  He paused to grab a paintbrush out of his bag -- "And then you'll put the blood, just a dab, to activate."

"Any particular placement?"  A little nick, rather than just a prick, probably.  The knife seemed sharp, it wouldn't take much.

"Right over the ink." He dipped the brush and stepped on to paint the symbol in a very familiar way. It looked like a do not enter sign.

He'd wait until Lukas was painting the symbol before stepping in closer.  A small breath in through his teeth as he pressed his finger against the blade, and blood welled up easily.  He reached out as the other man finished to touch his finger to the mark.

"Very brave." His eyes were bright amused, as he said it - catching Tucker's hand to keep him there for a moment.

Not really, or Tucker didn't think so.  Certainly not the first leap of fate he'd had to take that week.  Not even the second.  He just made an agreeable rumble, hand stilling as Lukas caught it, and flicked a glance up at the other man's face.

He bowed his head, and maybe Tuck would feel... something. A prickle at the edges of his vision before Lukas let go and grabbed the bowl to head to the bathroom door.

Goosebumps spread across his arms, a chill at the nape of his neck making him twitch before Lukas let go.  Tucker followed a step behind him.

"You might need to prick it again." He painted the same symbol: small and quick and surprisingly modern. it didn't much look like a rune.

He flexed his fingers, looking down at the cut.  It oozed faintly, but he rolled his shoulders in a shrug and just opened the nick a little further.  It stung, but he didn't react much, just held his hand carefully to keep the welling drop from spilling before he could press it to the symbol on the bathroom door frame.

Lukas put his hand over Tucker's again -- to push energy into the mark, to make it work. There was that glimmer of almost-sensation and then it was gone. Lukas patted him on the shoulder. "Window, too, last one."

There was something about being a part of something magic, even if it was just supplying a few drops of blood.  Important, or impressive, he wasn't sure what.

He followed behind Lukas again, waiting for him to paint on the symbols.

The last one on the corner of the window frame and he dropped his paintbrush into the bowl, watching as Tucker put his finger to the spot. "It is possible to break it. But it'd take a lot."

He held his finger there without assistance this time, as long as Lukas had held him still the first two times, then looked down as pulled his hand back.  The cut still bled, he stepped to the side to grab a tissue to press against it.  "What sort of things could break it?"

"Someone with very strong magic could come through anyway." He hesitated a little bit, mulling it over. "Someone who only causes you a tiny bit of harm."

Tuck nodded, glancing around at the marks on the doorframes, thinking that over.  "Hopefully it's enough to keep him out."  Absolutely better than nothing.  He was definitely going to pick up some mace, though.

"I could sell you a gun, too." There was a flash of amusement as he said it; a joke, maybe.

*

Offline Beejoux

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Re: Out of the frying pan, into the fire [Rabi/Tucker/Lukas]
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2019, 07:08:54 PM »
"No."  It was firm, the most definitive statement he'd made so far.  "Thank you, but no.  I don't want a weapon in here that I don't know how to handle safely."

"Fair enough." He could respect that for sure. He shrugged just a tiny bit, crossing to the bathroom to dump out the bowl.

"I will be picking up some mace though."  Effective, not deadly.  He sank down on the edge of the bed again as he checked to see if his finger was still bleeding, then pressed the tissue to it again.

"Uh huh." He rinsed off his hands, too, combed back his hair, and came out looking fresh -- if just a bit tired. "You said end of the day?"

"Yeah, I need to get it together."  Dark brows creased thoughtfully.  "You said two grand for the room, right?  And either five hundred, or fifteen hundred for protective charms?"

"Uh huh." It was not bad for an hourish of work -- but also, he had the market cornered in his way. Lukas shrugged, swiping the bowl  dry to tuck it away. "Call me soon."

"I will."  He wanted to ask Rabi about charms first, to see if he thought they'd even be useful.  Tuck stood, palms pressing together before lowering to his sides as he followed Lukas towards the door.  "Thank you."

Lukas snorted at that, shooting a look back at Tucker. "You are green, aren't you?"

He blinked, frowning faintly.  "It's that obvious?"

"This was a business deal, but I'll give you free advice." He paused in the hall, head cocked. "Don't say thank you."

Tucker leaned against the door frame, hand resting just below the mark they'd just applied to it.  "Right."

Lukas paused to lean against the doorframe on the other side, still very close. "Take my word for it."

Too close.  Pale eyes lingered on his chest before rising up to his face.  "I do appreciate it."

He grinned down at Tucker again, all teeth, and bumped two fingers under his chin. "You're going to end up in some trouble, I dare say."

That was all it took for him to go pink again, and he swallowed.  "I dare say I'm already in trouble."

That widened his grin and Lukas straightened, all at once, rolling his shoulders and swinging the bag up. "Good luck."

It left him flustered and staring, and he felt the warmth of those strong fingers under his chin even after Lukas had pulled them away.  "Yeah..."

He was laughing again as he turned to go, with one hand raised in an absent goodbye. "Call me soon. I don't want to have to come back."

Tuck didn't even realize he'd lifted a hand to wave back, fingers curling in a distracted way.  "I will."

He was gone in just a moment -- and as soon as he was, Rabi showed up at the door, frowning up at the marks and shifting the bag on his shoulder. "Interesting. Not bad."

Tucker had lingered in the doorway, gaze flicking briefly to Rabi as he returned but stayed on Lukas until he'd turned the corner and was out of sight.  Then he turned looking back at the other man like maybe he hadn't heard him.  "Hmm?"  Focus returned in stages, starting with Tuck following Rabi's line of sight to the marks.  "Oh.  Yeah?  You think they'll be enough?"

He hesitated just a tiny bit, fingers sliding up the strap of the bag. "...yeah. Kept me from popping in, so not terrible."

That made him frown faintly, a hand reaching out to touch the dark spot of his own blood.  "I wasn't trying to keep you out, I didn't know it'd do that."  Was it supposed to do that?  "But if it keeps John from being able to force his way in again."  He checked his finger again as he crossed back over to the bed to sit on the edge of it.

Rabi lingered in the doorway instead of coming in, brushing a hand up the back of his neck, slowly. "I think it'll keep him out. Anything that can keep me from zapping in...."

The frown grew more pronounced as Rabi lingered in the hall instead of coming in, pale eyes watching the climb of his hand up the back of his neck.  "Can you...is it keeping you out?"

He blinked, looking back to Tucker, weighing his answer. "It'd take away the glamour, I think. Not sure how I feel about that right now."

"You've been here without it before."  He was watching him now, no longer distracted.  "And I'd rather not talk to you about this stuff with the door open for everyone passing in the hall to hear."

He huffed out just a little breath, chewing that over. "He did a good job. It's a good thing."

There was a wariness in the way he was watching Rabi that hadn't been there for the last few days, expression thoughtful, lips twisted on one side as he chewed at the inside of his cheek.

He raised both eyebrows as he looked back to Tucker, fingers lingering on his bag. "What?"

Brows pinched, slightly, and then smoothed as he shook his head.  "Your not just wearing student glamor," he answered, huffing softly.  "I forgot."  He sounded tired.  "You could cross, if you wanted to, right?"

"If I really had to, I could." He shifted, shrugging at Tucker uncomfortably. "I'm not going to, though."

"No, that's fine."  He'd thought the protections were keeping Rabi out, which would have complicated things for a number of reasons, least of all logistics.  But since Rabi was staying in the hall Tucker got up again to move closer so he could keep his voice low.  He looked up and down the hall as he settled against the doorframe.  "Two thousand for the room," he said unprompted.  "And he mentioned something about charms, I didn't know if they'd help or be worth it, so I told him I needed time to get the money together, so I could talk to you first."

"What kind of charms?" He shrugged the tiniest bit at Tucker, shifting to root around in the bag; counting out bills.

Half turning, he leaned back against the wall.  "He said he had a one time use one that emits...smoke?  I think.  For five hundred, and a reusable one for fifteen hundred."

"Like  a signal flare? Seems like you'd maybe be better off with an actual signal flare." Rabi shrugged, tapping fingers against his arm.

He shrugged, tipping his head back.  "I don't know, I should have asked him to elaborate on it a bit more, but I thought maybe you'd know something I didn't.  I could ask when I call him back."

Rabi dropped his chin and thought it over more thoroughly, staring down toward his feet. Eventually, he looked up again -- "If he can give you something that makes you physically strong, that might be worth it. People who rely on magic are often susceptible to a surprise physical attack."

He waited, and then perked up a bit at the suggestion.  "He really didn't like when I slammed my heel into the top of his foot."

"It's not like they're...extra susceptible, just...." He straightened away from the doorframe. "They don't expect it as often."

"I'll ask."  His hands slid into his pockets.  "What else can he do, John?  I could have gotten away from him without help but he did something, made it so I could lift my feet."

"Magic." Rabi shrugged just the tiniest bit, uncomfortably -- and held the money out toward Tucker. "A lot of it."

"Oh fun," he said sarcastically, tiredly.  "Well at least he can't get in here, now.  And I've got the pen."  He took the offered money, folded it together with what he already had.

"I can't be much more helpful than that, he's a magician, it's just..." He hesitated, spreading his hand. "He can do anything he's learned how to do. I got him a lot of books."

"You're helping a lot," he offered sincerely, waving the wade of bills.  "I'm just...tired, I guess."

"So I’ll go back to my office, and you can sleep." He shrugged, sideways, and nodded to the money. "He coming back for that?"

"I think so.  I have to call him later."  He tucked the money back into his pocket.  "Do you want me to let you know later if I get a charm?"

"Or if you want me to play backup, though he seemed alright." Not so dangerous as Beau had made him out to be. "You can always call"

Yeah, he actually seemed really nice.  Didn't cut me much of a deal, but was friendly."  And hot.  He reached up, rubbing the back of his hand under his chin, like he still felt the fingers there.

"He didn't rip you off on the work, if nothing else." He shrugged the bag higher and squinted at Tucker. "Just be careful."

"That's good.  When I touched the marks he painted I could feel there was something to them, but it's not like I know what I'm feeling."  He shrugged.  "I can walk you back down," he offered, turning to lean his shoulder on the wall.

"I'm not walking." He raised a hand in a wave, then, and disappeared from Tucker's door frame, with just a faint scent of smoke.

Tucker rolled his eyes, a faint smile playing on his lips as he closed the door.

He'd call Lukas back before eight.  He could have called sooner, but he'd wanted the chance to unwind a bit.  To just be in his own space again and know that no one was going to come barging in.  A lit joint was clasped between his fingers as he listened to the ringtone through his phone.

Lukas picked up, his tone warm; the number familiar now, perhaps. "Well well. Ready?"

It really wasn't fair how hot he was.  Even his voice.  It made Tucker pause, very briefly, before answering.  "Yeah.  Well, I had a question first about charms."

“Sure." Something creaked; his chair, maybe, leaning back where he sat. Amused.

"The ones you mentioned, with the smoke, are those the only ones you have, or could you do one that could make someone stronger, or faster?"  There was a soft tapping, his fingers against the desk probably, and then a soft inhale as he took a hit.

He had to pause over that, chew it over slowly while he considered. "What did you want?"

"Strength, I think.  He didn't handle it well when I smashed my heel into his foot, and I'm not that strong."  A little cough, half muffled behind his own arm.  "So, that amplified, seems maybe more effective than smoke."  There was a small pause.  "Was it just smoke?  Like a distress signal sort of deal, or..?"

"Make people cough, burn a little, but it's smoke." He frowned a little bit. "You want to be stronger? That's it?"

Not just smoke, but he wasn't sure if that would be that effective against someone used to dealing with Rabi.  "Yeah, I mean for now?  I'm assuming I could come to you again if I needed something else.  Assuming I had the money, of course."

"Harder, though." He said it more seriously, now, without that edge of flirting. "It'd probably take me a good week."

"If I have to wait that's fine."  Though he had to wonder if things were still going to be as chaotic in a week, as they were now.  "Would it still be fifteen?  I have the cash to pay that upfront."

"Twenty two." He said it unhesitatingly.

"I don't have that on hand, so I'd need time to get the rest."  He lay his hand on the stack of bills resting on his desk.  More money than he'd ever physically been in possession of.  And he was just handing it over.

"Shit, I should have asked for twenty five." Lukas was for sure laughing at him again, even if the sound only crinkled his voice a bit.

"Should have," he countered easily, amused, a little warm.  "Too late now."

"Next time." Cheerful, though -- he wasn't too worried. "Now that I know you're not a broke college student. I want half up front, though."

It made him pause, frowning as he flicked his thumb along the corner of the bills.  "It's not my money."  Too much banter, he'd talked himself into a corner.  "But I can do half upfront."

"Can you leave your little haven there, now? I'm headed out a bit later, but not to your neighborhood." He paused to check the time as he said it.

"Um, well..."  He glanced over at the pen sitting on the bed and then back.  "Maybe.  Where are you headed to?"

"Waterfront." He said it immediately, which probably meant he wasn't just fucking around. "There's a dive bar called Spanky's."

"I think I can manage that."  He didn't sound exactly eager about it.  Nervous, more like.

"I'll buy you a drink." Definitely laughter behind that. "Ten thirty."

Suddenly seemed a little more worth the risk.  "Well, if you're buying."  He took another hit.  "I'll see you there."

"Try not to get murdered by magicians along the way." He hung up on Tucker to go about whatever business it was he had.

Lukas wouldn't hear the humorless laugh that followed.

He'd call Rabi after changing into a nicer pair of jeans and dark plaid button down over a plain t-shirt.

Rabi answered with just a little huff of breath. "Problem already?"

"Not exactly."  It was a touch defensive.  "He can do a strength charm, but it'll take like a week to make."  His joint had gone out, he relit it with the harsh snick of a lighter before taking a drag.  "And he isn't coming here to get the money, he wants me to meet him at a bar."

Another little breath out. "If you're comfortable with that. Where?"

"A place called Spanky's, I've never heard of it, but it's a public place so it should be okay?"  But he obviously wasn't sure, or it wouldn't have been a question.  "Do you want to come too?"

*

Offline Beejoux

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Re: Out of the frying pan, into the fire [Rabi/Tucker/Lukas]
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2019, 08:04:42 PM »
A little pause -- maybe a place called Spanky's wasn't exactly Rabi's scene. "Are you asking me to come?"

He thought about that, fingertip tapping against the desk softly.  "A bit, yeah.  But you don't have to."

"If I come, I want to drink." He said it in a matter of fact, way.

"Yeah, I figured."  His desk chair creaked as he sat back in it, taking another drag.

He huffed out another sigh, rubbing a hand across his face. "When?"

"Meeting at ten thirty."  He glanced over at the clock, fingers brushing through his hair.

"Do you need me to walk you and hold your hand?" It was only a tiny bit mocking.

"No."  Defensive, but maybe a little amused.  "Do you think it's a good idea to carry the pin around, though?  Should I leave it here now that the rooms protected?"

Rabi went silent at that, finally: a long moment of silence that despite the difference still sounded chilly. "...it's your decision."

Tucker made a small sound in the middle of all that silence, like he regretted bringing it up at all.  "I can keep it with me, I just don't want anything to happen to it before..."  He trailed off, because what he meant to say stuck in his throat, and he sighed.

"If you take it with you, someone could maybe take it from you, or make you give it up. If you leave it behind, someone could potentially take it from you. So It's all about what you want to do." Just a little beat; he licked his lips. "Or you could give it to me and then you wouldn't have to worry about it at all."

Tucker's turn to be quiet, his free hand pulling the pin from his pocket to smooth his thumb along the jewels at the top.  Mulling over his words carefully.  "And you'll take care of John, and the cops, and make all of it just go away."  It was what he'd said the night before.

"That is the plan." He said it slow, carefully; maybe realizing he was getting through, some.

Tucker chewed at the inside of his cheek between hits, and then snubbed the tail of the joint out.  Thinking about it, obviously.  "Either way, Lukas needs to be paid tonight."

That took any excitement out of him and turned his tone flat. "Make up your mind, then."

Another sigh.  "I'll just bring it.  I'll be there a little before ten thirty."

"I'll hang out at the bar." He hung up on Tucker before he could say anything else. But he would go to the place -- a dive Mexican restaurant and bar that smelled really good.

He opened his mouth to say something, an apology maybe, but Rabi had already hung up.  He'd see him later, though.  Tucker would get there a little before ten thirty.  It looked like he'd taken another shower, because his hair wasn’t sticking all over the place now, and his clothes were considerably tidier from the night before.  With not only the pin but thousands of dollars in cash in his pocket he looked distinctly nervous as he walked in.

Rabi looked like himself, already nursing a gigantic, brightly-colored margarita at the bar, and a pile of chips and guacamole.

Tucker glanced around for Lukas, spotted Rabi at the bar, and headed over to climb up on the stool beside him.

Rabi shot him a look -- and huffed out a little breath, like he was annoyed by the nearness. "No magicians yet?"

A small, audible sigh before he managed to catch himself, and he set his elbow on the bar, chin cradled in his palm.  "Not yet."

Rabi tipped his drink to take a long sip and looked up toward the door, considering that. "You drinking?"

"Yeah."  It'd been a week, he thought he deserved a drink at that point.  "A bit."

That got a sideways look, just a bit sly, a bit amused. "I see. So long as it doesn't cause any bad decisions."

He wrinkled his nose, smiling faintly in a self deprecating way.  "Right."

He took another long gulp and leaned back just a little bit. "Of course, I can make all the bad decisions I'd like."

"Hmm."  It was true, technically.  He didn't bother reminding Rabi that he needed Tucker to trust him enough to hand over the pin at some point.  He knew, probably.

Another long swallow, his attention on the door. "He said ten thirty?"

Tucker turned at the question, looking back at the door as well.  "Yeah."

"Maybe he's running late." He looked back to Tuck then, an eyebrow raised. "what are you drinking?"

"Maybe..."  Chewing on his lip, Tuck checked the time on his phone before glancing at the door again.  "And I'm not sure yet.  I don't drink much.  What do you have?"

"Mango margarita." It came with a flicker of amusement, again. He raised a hand to get the bartender’s attention and order one for Tucker.

He thought about protesting the beverage choice for half a second but let it go.  He didn't really know what he liked, so why not try it.

Rabi got himself another one, while he was at it, downing the first quickly. Of course, he had some money, now. And Lukas would show up when Tucker was about a quarter of the way into his - not from the door but from the kitchen, laughing over his shoulder at someone.

It was good, easy to drink.  Tasted more fruity than boozy and that was sort of dangerous.  He was just starting to feel it in his legs when he saw Lukas pop in from the kitchen and he sat up a little straighter, smiling automatically.

Rabi shifted at the sound, to look over his shoulder -- and snorted a bit, looking back to the margarita. He didn't offer to help out, and Lukas didn't seem to notice Tucker; he was still talking back at someone in the kitchen, his own smile wide and slightly less dangerous.

Tucker wouldn't immediately try to call attention to himself. didn't want to interrupt, and maybe he was also fine with just admiring the view for a long moment as he took a drink of his margarita.  He'd wait until Lukas' attention turned outward, if it did, and lifted a hand to offer a small wave.

He blinked past Tucker blankly for a moment -- and then focused in on him, humming a bit. It took away the easy comfort of his smile, made it a bit sharp and a little less...easy. He approached absently to lean in against the bar, looking down at Tucker's drink and humming a bit.

The mood shift, however subtle it might have been, had the younger man blinking, head tilting as he followed Lukas' gaze down to the half finished margarita sitting on the bar in front of him.  A dark brow arched back at him curiously.  "Hi."

"I don't want to know what you're drinking." He raised a hand for the bartender to get service, and ordered something neat. And a plate of tacos, with a flicker of a smile at the bartender.

"It tastes good," he said with a shrug, using his straw to stir what was left of the drink before sipping at it again.

"It looks like candy." He was smiling still as he said it, though; grabbed a stool and slid up onto it. "What do you have for me?"

"Tastes like candy," he confirmed with a crooked grin.  At the question he resisted glancing back at Rabi, and instead reached for his pocket, only to pause as he lifted his gaze from Lukas to glance around the bar.  "Here?"  He wasn't sure if flashing around that much money was, well, safe.

"Sure." He grinned at Tucker, sharply. "It's fine, I can handle myself."

"Okay."  If Lukas said it was fine...

He pulled a thick fold of bills from his pocket, and started counting them under the counter.  A few were wrinkled, well worn, but the majority were crisp and new.  When he had enough to cover the protections in his room and the half down for the charm he slipped the rest in his pocket, double countered, and then offered them over to Lukas.

[
11:21 PM
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He snorted a bit, shaking his head at Tucker -- and leaning in on the bar to count it in plain view, maybe just to tease. The bartender came over with his drink and food while he was still counting, and he grinned up at the man carelessly. "Some chips, too."

Tuck made a sound, head shaking slightly as he took a drink.  And he'd take that moment to flick a glance up at Rabi.

Rabi met his eyes with a flash of amusement, downing another long swallow of his drink. Somehow, it was mocking. Lukas didn't notice, just turned back to him as he tucked the money away. "At least a week, and itds be easier if I had some hair, but I understand why you might say no to that."

Pale eyes narrowed just a bit before he looked back at Lukas.  "What would having hair do that'd make it easier?"

"Tailor it to you, instead of making it something anyone can pick up and use." His response was easy and casual, but Rabi was watching out of the corner of his eye with a frown.

Tucker frowned thoughtfully, head dipping to take a drink from his straw, and chanced the tiniest glance towards Rabi.  Enough to see the frown on the other man's face.

He shook his head, absently, even as he held up a hand for another drink.

He gave a soft hum, head tipping as he lifted his head from his straw to look back up at Lukas.  "Not customized is fine I think."  He said it with a small smile.

He was a good bite into a taco, and he shrugged at Tucker as he chewed. "Your choice."

He nodded, glancing at the taco before taking a longer drink of the margarita.  Lukas could tease, but it was tasty.  "What will it be when it's done, the charm?"

"What do you want it to be?" He watched Tucker with a flicker of amusement, his gaze steady. "Something on the hands usually works best, I think."

He had to think about that, hadn't expected to get to pick, probably.  "What about something like a bracelet?  Something simple looking?"

"Sure. Or a ring. Or a pair of gloves - though I work better with metal." He swiped at his mouth with a napkin, shrugging easily at Tucker.

"Bracelet or a ring," he compromised with a shrug, the corners of his lips twitching up on one side.  "Something I don't have to think about remembering to put on all the time."

"Simple band, the. Which is good, because I'd charge you extra for a gem." Another smile full of teeth, and then he finished off the taco.

He chuckled, head shaking.  "Simple is great, no gems."  He was pretty sure the team would give him shit for anything ornate.  Assuming he could make it to practice before all this blew over.

Lukas hummed agreement around his taco, swiping sauce from the corner of his mouth. "No allergies?"

"No."  Nothing that would affect that, at least.  He didn't think.

"A week, then." He took a couple long swallow of his drink, still watching Tucker. "I still don't see it."

He blinked, eyes wide and thumb swiping at the corner of his mouth.  "See what?"

"You, with this much money in -- nearly -- sequential bills, ready to drop it on someone going after you." He grinned at Tucker, picking up the second taco.

He chewed at the inside of his cheek before taking a drink, finishing off what was left of the margarita to give himself time to figure out what to say to that.  "I’m not going to give him the opportunity to get me at his mercy."  His shoulders rolled in a small shrug.  "I don't know how stable he is, or how powerful."

"I just can't imagine how anyone would be bothered enough by your existence to waste power on you." It was mean, but it was so -- casually mean that it was almost not even insulting.

Tucker shrugged helplessly, pushing the empty glass away.  "I've always had really shitty luck."

He took a couple bites of his taco, eyes skating past Tucker down the bar -- over Rabi and beyond, his head cocked to the side. "Still. I can't imagine how you ended up here."

Another shrug.  "A long history of attracting bad attention?" He watched him looking down the bar, and licked his lips.  "Didn't you mention something about buying me a drink?"

It made amusement bloom in his expression again, eyebrows raised in question. "Shots?"

That was better.  Tucker smiled back, couldn't really help it.  "Sure."

Next to him, Rabi snorted into his drink, even as Lukas put a hand up to get tequila shots. And lime, of course.

Tuck didn't pay him any mind, attention on Lukas and the shots being placed in front of them.  Hesitating to follow the older man's lead.

He looked aside at Tuck as the drinks were set down, eyes flashing. He picked up his lime wedge. "Have you done this before?"

"Once," he admitted, picking up his own lime.  "There was salt involved."

"Yup." He grabbed the salt, too - licked the back of his hand with a grin at Tuck - and shook salt out onto the wet spot.

A little rise of pink in pale cheeks, but he licked the back of his own hand as well, holding it out for Lukas to shake salt on while he still held the shaker.

Lukas took the shot like a pro: down the hatch, salt and lime, glass raised to Tucker as he swallowed and grinned. It didn't exactly match the classy vibe he usually pushed.

Tucker followed a second after, and it wasn't as smooth.  He hissed softly, chuckling as he pulled a face and set the glass back on the counter.  But he was smiling, straightening up to grab for a napkin so he could wipe the back of his hand.
"Does that qualify as a drink?" He tipped his glass to look down into it, as if there might be something left -- licking the last of the salt from his own hand.

"Does it?"  Baby blues flicked up to watch Lukas lick the rest of the salt from his hand, lingering just a bit.  "You tell me.”

He grinned at Tucker again, scooping up the taco to polish it off and leaning back a bit. "You don't have school tomorrow?"

Tucker shrugged, nudging at the shot glass with his finger.  "I do, but it's kinda hard to get around campus when there's someone looking for you."

"Mmm. You've got the cash to bribe a doctor into saying you've got mono; that should last you a couple weeks," He raised a hand, though; he'd get them one more round of shots.

"I don't think we need doctor's notes.  Just have to email my teachers, let them know."  He wrinkled his nose, thinking about what his couch would say, and teammates.  They already weren't happy he'd missed practice.

"I mean, your other option is to risk it and go to class." He mulled it over a bit, licking salsa from the meat of his thumb. "Or hire a bodyguard, I guess."

"After I get the charm I think it'll be alright."  He sounded hopeful more than sure.  "I don't want to hire a bodyguard."

"I could probably toss you some names, if you did." He clicked their glasses together and then took the shot in that expert way again.

"Well if I change my mind, I know who to call."  He flashed a smile up at him as he salted the back of his hand again and tossed back the shot.  Which was probably not the best idea, because he could really feel the first two drinks at this point.

*

Offline Beejoux

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Re: Out of the frying pan, into the fire [Rabi/Tucker/Lukas]
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2019, 08:05:38 PM »
He was going to be smashed. It made Lukas's expression bright and amused -- and he seemed annoyingly fine, finishing off his taco and swiping his hands down. "I won't even charge you for the references."

It all seemed to hit him at once, because he folded his arms across the bar to lean heavily against them, head tipping at a lazy angle to look up at Lukas as he gave a pleased little hum at the offered freebie.

Lukas laughed at him, caught the bartender's attention for a piece of tres leche cake to go and the bill, obviously not too concerned about any of it. "I suggest staying home, at least tomorrow."

"That was the plan," he drawled back, brows pinching just a tiny bit.  "What's tres leche?"  He didn't exactly butcher the pronunciation but it was close.

"Milk and caramel." He looked down at Tucker, leaning in on the bar. "You should probably eat a slice."

"Hmm, probably," he agreed, smiling crookedly.  It did sound good.

"Soak up the alcohol." He stood as he said it, shrugging just one shoulder and smoothing his hair back.

It really wasn’t fair, how attractive he was.  Tucker rolled his eyes up as Lukas stood,  and at this point the admiring was fairly blatant.  "That's a good idea."

Lukas grinned down at him again, patting him on the shoulder. "You should probably call a friend to get you home safe."

His shoulder was warm where Lukas had touched it, or maybe that was his imagination.  "That's a good idea, too."

He grabbed his cake and dropped a couple of bills on the bar, swinging his bag up over his shoulder. "I'll call you when I have something."

"That sounds great."  He remembered not to say thank you, barely.  Offering a dopey grin to the older man as he hoisted up his bag to leave.

Lukas shook his head and left -- and as he did, Rabi caught the bartender's attention for another drink. "You're so transparent."

He watched Lukas leave because, well, why not, before turning to look back at Rabi with both brows lifted.  "About what?"

"Most things." He tipped his head, looking down at Tucker.

Tucker shrugged, nudging one of the empty shot glasses around before asking for a slice of cake from the bartender when he set Rabi's drink down in front of him.

"Two forks," Rabi added, as the guy started to pull away.

He'd shoot him a look, but didn't say anything.  "The margarita was better than the tequila."

"No shit," Rabi agreed, nudging his own glass away. "He was a mess."

Tucker's head tilted as he thought about that.  "Was he?"  It didn't seem like it to him.

"I think so." He shook his head, frowning across at the alcohol. "Doing tequila shots. Really."

He frowned, gaze flicking to Rabi's glass.  "What's wrong with that?"

"He was too old for it, and you're too young." He looked sour, attention flashing onto Tucker.

Tuck waited until the bartender had set the cake down in front of them and walked away before answering.  "Technically I'm too young for margaritas, but you ordered me one of those."  With a shrug he picked up one of the forks.  "He's helping, and he doesn't know any of the details.  Does it matter what he drinks?"

Rabi started to answer -- then swallowed it, annoyed, and huffed out a breath.

Cradling his cheek with one hand, he sank the tangs of his fork into the cake to separate a bite.  It was good, creamy and caramel.

Rabi reached out to stab one of his more roughly, taking a bigger bite -- and then sighing again. It was actually really good, especially considering how much of a dive place this was. "Shit. The tacos are probably good too..."

"They looked good."  From what he could see when he wasn't just staring.  He took another bite of cake with an appreciative hum, licking a bit caramel from the corner of his mouth.

It was strange that Rabi actually looked annoyed about the food being good. He stabbed another piece of cake roughly.

Pale eyes tracked the fork.  "It seemed like you were in a decent enough mood when I got here, what happened?"

"I don't know what you mean." He spoke around the bite of cake, leaning his elbows in on the table.

"So you're just stabbing that cake like it wronged you for no reason?" He gestured with the end of his fork.  "And you shoved the drink you just got away.”  Not to mention the huffing, the general feel of annoyance coming off him.


He looked aside at Tucker, eyes narrowed. "You made bad choices. I told you not to do that. I'm definitely going to have to walk you home, now."


Tucker snorted, helping himself to another bite.  "I can get an Uber.  Not like it's hard."


"You could. But maybe you get jumped and robbed, since you're so incredibly drunk." Rabi frowned down into his drink, then pulled it in again to take a long gulp.


"Uh huh."  He pulled the cake a little closer.  "Being sober wouldn't prevent that from happening.  It could have happened last night, or earlier today, or on my way here "


He swallowed, turning the fork in his grasp. "But being drunk, you might do something exceptionally stupid."


He took another bite, not watching Rabi now.  "Uh huh.  And what exceptionally stupid thing are you concerned about me doing?"


"Well, if he'd said "how about you come home with me and roll around a bit" I think you would have said, "yes sir," and then taken off all your clothes, left the pin laying around to be found. And then another crazy magician would have --" He bit down on the rest of that thought. Clenched his jaw. Stabbed more cake.


Another fork full of cake paused on the way to his mouth and lowered again.  "You think after doing all this I'd be that careless?"  Didn't matter that Lukas wouldn't have asked.


Rabi filled his own mouth and just looked at Tuck, flatly.


He set his fork down without taking that last bite, and grabbed up his napkin again to take care of any hint of caramel that might have been clinging.  Then he tossed it on the table and pulled his phone out of his pocket.


He stole the rest of the cake halfway out of spite, downed his drink, and then stood himself.


He he was up and out of his stool and heading for the bathroom as Rabi finished off the cake and his drink.

He paid for it all, so that was something at least. And he was still there to wait for Tucker, somewhat impatiently, when he came out.

It'd take a bit, almost ten minutes before Tucker emerged again with the borrowed pin making him look like the young, college aged woman.  And he only shot Rabi the briefest of glances as he walked past him, out the front door, where there was a car waiting.

Rabi grumbled under his breath, but let him go. He'd just head back to the dorm to wait and watch for him to get home safe.

He'd make it back to the dorms without incident, drunk or not, and as he left the car he'd move swiftly across the lawn and up the stairs to his room.

No one jumped out at him, right now; no one trailed along in his wake or attacked him on the way to the dorm. He was safe enough, apparently.

He didn't dawdle or slow down, just kept walking quickly until he reached his door, then unlocked it to let himself in.  And there, safe, he clicked the pen to drop the disguise.

If he expected Rabi to pop in and check on him, he'd be disappointed. Instead he was left to drink water or not, his choice, and deal with the hangover on his own.

He was honestly happier the other man hadn't popped in, and Rabi wouldn't hear from him the next morning.   Or that afternoon.  Or that evening.  Not until it was Rabi calling him.