Loser Babies

Started by Hercules Holliday, May 19, 2022, 08:00:52 AM

Hercules Holliday

May 19, 2022, 08:00:52 AM Last Edit: February 22, 2023, 02:06:28 PM by noseatbelts

Hercules Holliday (Don't call him Hercules) tried to mask his nervousness. He was operating without a net here, and looking at a pretty steep fall. The job he'd set up - a pretty simple smuggling op - was straightforward enough. But the people he was operating with were anything but. Holliday's eyes, hidden beneath sunglasses, drifted over to his accessory.

Too young, too blond, too beautiful. Looking at her made Holliday want a drink and to make mistakes, but he was a professional and, in recent years, in an emotional state far too dark to try anything like that. Drinking it was, so he snuck a nip from the flask inside of his jacket pocket. It burned his throat a lot and calmed his nerves a little. "They're late." He said.

"They" was a ship suspiciously called The Witness, which the captain had assured Holliday was sardonic and not literal. Holliday had wondered if the captain knew what "sardonic" meant, but decided not to be too worried about it. They had just as much to lose with this job. Well, maybe not as much as Holliday. Holliday was going behind the back of Makato Nagano, captain of the Hachijuuhachi. Which for everyone involved was a terrible idea, but Holliday had practiced asking for forgiveness rather than permission for his whole life. Life on the Hachijuuhachi hadn't exactly been what he'd hoped anyhow and Holliday had considered moving on. Hence the side job.

"What was your name again?" He'd hired her on a whim. Or on a bender. Both, probably. But he recalled her talking about how good she was at flying. And that had seemed useful to Holliday, even though he had a bit of the skill himself. Maybe he felt bad for her. He'd never seen a hurt puppy with big green eyes before, but the girl still carried that vibe and Holliday was a softy. He offered her a pull from his flask.
Dialogue Color - Cyan

Briar Williams

Briar Williams was chewing on the inside of her cheek. She would've preferred to be chewing on her fingernails instead, but she was trying to kick the habit, which was better suited for someone who didn't have a permanent layer of dirt/and or engine oil under their nails. That, and she didn't want to give away her nervousness to her... employer? Client? Contractor? What was the right term here? When Juneau, the ship she'd grown up on, had hit hard times during the war, they'd had to take on a host of shady jobs not too unlike this one. However, being the baby on board, Briar hadn't been involved in making the business arrangements, just the manual labor, technical ship stuff and occasional buttering up of their correspondents. In hindsight, she wished she'd been more interested in learning about the organizational side of smuggling from Captain Bailey. Maybe then she would've felt more prepared to face the job market after her release from Muir.

"They're late."

She sneaked a sideways glance at the man who had hired her. He was wearing sunglasses, which made him look... not cool, necessarily, but difficult to read. Comfortably disconnected from the situation. Briar wished she'd brought sunglasses as well. She made a mental note to buy a pair ASAP. Maybe one of those heart-shaped ones...

Without realizing it, she had begun tapping her foot.

"What was your name again?"

"Briar." Surely her name couldn't be that difficult to remember; it was hardly a common one. Or did that make it trickier to memorize? Then again, it paled in comparison to 'Hercules Holliday', which sounded like an action hero, but one of those types who used their brain alongside their brawn, like an endlessly resourceful bounty hunter, or a private eye who seemed grizzled but had some specific endearing idiosyncrasy, like a love for crocheting doilies.

Maybe the fanciful name was part of why she'd agreed to this job when he'd brought it up back at the bar -- even if the flesh and blood man himself looked like he had his best days behind him. Briar wondered if he had kids, and how old they would be if he did.

She accepted the offered flask without second thought, took a sip and grimaced. Godawful. Just the way she liked it.

"You sure this is the right dilapidated warehouse?" She glanced at the building behind them, then surveyed their surroundings. It certainly looked like the kind of place you'd pick for a shady rendezvous, but truth be told she wasn't all too clear on the details of the job. She was here to oversee the exchange of goods and get them the hell out of dodge afterwards -- easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. She was happy to let Holliday take care of everything else, including the nitty-gritty of what was being exchanged and where.
Dialogue color: peachpuff

Hercules Holliday

"Briar." Holliday said with a nod, and then decided he wasn't sure he liked how that felt in his mouth. So he tested it again. "Briar. Briar. Briar? Bri-urr. Bri-urr." He didn't comment further on her name, but he didn't appear pleased with his results. Next, he looked at her as if he wasn't sure he understood her question. "What?" His sunglasses dipped off of his eyes and he looked around their surroundings, franticity ramping up as he realized he wasn't sure. "It has to be." Who was he convincing?

Holliday walked over to a nearby window and looked out to see more warehouses just like this one stretching out of view in that direction. "Uh..." He said, biting his lip. He walked to the other side and found the same. "Well. That doesn't mean anything. There are lots of... uh..." Think, dammit, think. "Shoes! There are a lot of shoes in the 'verse, doesn't mean I picked the wrong ones!" Holls pointed down at his shoes and realized he wasn't entirely sure these were, in fact, his shoes. "These aren't mine." Confused, he balanced on one while stretching his opposite leg to check the soul of the other.

And then he remembered. "Number three! They told me number three. This is the number three warehouse." There was, while covered in debris, a giant numeral "3" painted on the floor in faded white paint. Holliday noticed and seemed relieved to point it out. "And these shoes belong to my, er, friend Peregrine. But I borrowed them like six years ago, so..."
Dialogue Color - Cyan

Briar Williams

July 22, 2022, 05:27:13 AM #3 Last Edit: July 22, 2022, 05:29:04 AM by Briar Williams
Briar frowned at Holliday taking her name and masticating it until it turned into a meaningless mush of sounds in his mouth. She liked her name; her mother had intended to name her after her own mother, Rose, but had decided to put her own spin on it because, quote, "a girl's gotta have some thorns if she wants to make it in this 'Verse.'" Briar had never felt particularly thorny, but she might turn a little prickly if Holliday didn't get his head in the game soon.

"Number three! They told me number three. This is the number three warehouse."

That was enough to convince her, and her frown melted away, replaced by mild curiosity at Holliday's shoes.

"And these shoes belong to my, er, friend Peregrine. But I borrowed them like six years ago, so..."

She gave him a solemn nod of understanding and turned to look down at her t-shirt, which depicted a cartoon merman surrounded by his plucky posse of underwater critters. Probably not the most respectable choice of attire for doing crime now that she thought of it.

"I borrowed this from my friend Alfie a few weeks back." Among other things. Briar felt a knot tighten in her stomach at the thought of the credits that were long gone by now. When she'd dipped into Alfie's rainy day stash, she'd fully intended to make the money last, use it to get back on her feet and then pay him back as soon as she got a steady job. But life comes at you fast, and as it turns out it can get pretty expensive, and that's not even counting for the occasional treat to make the daily drudgery just a little more bearable...

Briar realized she was staring down at the image on her chest, glassy-eyed and probably looking like she was having a war flashback, and her head snapped back up.

"It's for a cartoon about a merman who fights fish crime. His nemesis is an octopus who runs a drug ring--" she launched into the plot summary with genuine enthusiasm in her voice, then immediately hit the brakes when she remembered who she was with and what they were supposed to be doing. "Or something. I guess. Alfie's the one who watched it. I thought it was kind of childish, you know? Couldn't really get into it."

Is that why you stole the shirt? Sorry, borrowed it. (Shut up.)
Dialogue color: peachpuff

Hercules Holliday

August 31, 2022, 01:40:22 PM #4 Last Edit: August 31, 2022, 01:43:03 PM by noseatbelts
Walking back over to their waiting spot. "Yeah. Super Diver Nemo: Ascension Quest. Alfie's got good taste." Holliday said this so off-hand, Briar might wonder if it happened at all. Holliday had seen his fair share of animated programs, and wasn't too shy about it either. It had started with Annabelle's kids, Allan and Nelson. Holliday couldn't recall their ages, but he knew they were less than ten. They called him Hunk, a portmanteau of Uncle H necessitated by developing vocabularies that had stuck. What soured Holliday most of all was how cool Ronnie was with it all.

He hadn't visited much, since he'd left. And Annabelle had made her feelings for him abundantly clear when she'd married whasisname. But Holliday still wanted to be close to her and her kids. "About a year ago, uh, these kids I know just would not shut up about that show." He shrugged, playing it off. "So I got curious and checked it out. But of course, by the time I watched that one, they'd already moved on to another one. So now, they message me every so often to give me new ones to watch." This was clearly way more personal than Holliday had planned to get with her, and he was beginning to realize it. "Not my kids. Just a good friend's." Just good friends.

With a sigh, Holliday hunkered down against a crate and pulled his smokes from within his jacket and stared at them with melancholy envy, remembering he had promised those same kids (and their mother) that he'd quit. They probably wouldn't like the kind of work he was doing, either, so double-jeopardy or something. He drew out a cigarette with his teeth and lit the end with a cheap plastic lighter he's absconded from somewhere. Smoke filled his lungs and threatened to kill him, and he told it to shut the hell up and to deposit some nicotine on its way out. 'So you're a borrower, I'm a borrower. We both 'don't really' watch Ascension Quest. Blond. Beautiful. We're basically the same." Why not flirt to pass the time?
Dialogue Color - Cyan

Briar Williams

Briar's ears perked up at the mention of Super Diver Nemo: Ascension Quest. Could it really be? Could this man she had taken for an Established Adult with a Career -- even if it was a criminal one -- actually be a kindred spirit, a child in disguise who got way too invested in cartoons because the grown-up world they were expected to join seemed like a dreary slog where your soul went to die?

Then he mentioned kids, and Briar's interest petered out as quickly as it had been piqued. It didn't matter that they weren't his kids; it still meant that his deep dive into Ascension Quest was motivated by something more dignified than procrastination and the pressing need to find something to fill the void where other people seemed to have dreams and aspirations and ten-year-plans.

"So you're a borrower, I'm a borrower. We both 'don't really' watch Ascension Quest. Blond. Beautiful. We're basically the same."

Briar shrugged. But I do watch Ascension Quest.

"Well, for all I know we could be half-siblings. I never knew my father. Your dad ever take any suspicious business trips to Hera?"

Now she was the one getting more personal than she'd planned, but it didn't worry her. It wasn't like they'd ever see each other again after this job was done. That was the idea, wasn't it? Seemed like a good opportunity to make idle chit-chat without any far-reaching repercussions. A chance to stretch the social muscles that still felt atrophied from the year she'd spent in the prison bubble.

Briar crouched, then soon found discomfort in her new position and begun to shift her weight from side to side, stretching her thigh muscles to pass the time.

"So, uh... how long you been in the biz?" What even was the 'biz' in this context?
Dialogue color: peachpuff

Hercules Holliday

"Hera, huh?" He said, ignoring the sibling jab. She wouldn't get away that easily. Not that Holliday had any serious intentions with Brie. She was, like, half his age, afterall. Holliday was a dog but he wasn't a dog. "I wouldn't have taken you for a Border girl. Born on a farm. Shit-load of siblings. Just trying to get out and see the stars, because nobody in your family sees you." Woah now, who was he describing? He took a long drag of his cigarette and an even longer draw on his flask, handing the latter back to his conversation partner when he finished. He settled himself onto the floor, his legs outstretched in an effortlessly cool way that actually sort of stretched in the wrong way and hurt his thirty-five-year-old joints.

"Born on Ezra, but haven't been from there in a long, long time. I've done a lot of things over the years, which means I'm not particularly good at any one thing." He didn't know why he said that. "I don't know why I said that." Holliday looked away and laughed, the acridity matching that of the smoke he insisted on inhaling. "So to answer your question, my whole life, I guess? Though the sitting in a warehouse waiting for someone to drop off some goods to sell to a waiting buyer while making idle chit-chat with a stranger is relatively new."

Holliday rested his head back against the crate. Up above them he saw pigeons in the rafters, fluttering and pooping and cooing. In that moment, he envied them. Those pigeons had it all figured out. "How'd you learn to fly on a farm?" His eyes fell back to hers and he grinned. "Same way I did, by getting the hell out, fast as you could, right? Maybe it wasn't a farm. But you got out. Sorry to say, that's led you here with me. But at least we'll get paid." Maybe ease it up on the booze, there, Holls. You're getting nostalgic.
Dialogue Color - Cyan

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