== Bo’s Bourbon Barrel, Fillmore District, San Francisco ==
Amongst the stories being told, almost all of which caused plenty of belly laughs, were also attempts to pump Nathan for information. Tarre and some others hadn’t had a gig on a starship yet, and so they were naturally curious about all of the missions Ramius had been on. And while Nathan felt comfortable giving a broad overview of a few that he and the Artemis crew had done, the details were sparse. Tarre had been in the middle of trying to get more out of Ramius when Khanna helped to change the subject.
“I’m getting thirsty,” Khanna was looking around, trying to spot one of the few servers that were bustling amongst the tables.
“It’s been over a half hour,” Peyton Powell, a junior grade lieutenant was on the verge of whining.
“What was the story about getting us a server Nate?” Tarre seemed to hop on the ‘complain train’ too.
“I told all y’all that the owner said the place was busy. I mean, I could get us drinks if you tell me what...”
“A pitcher of beer.
“Margarita. Actually, better make it a double. Wait. Extra large?”
“Two shots of bourbon, and a pitcher for me too.”
“Tequila shots. And a warp core breach.”
There were too many people speaking all at once, and Nathan was getting lost in it all. Though he did try desperately to understand, and remember, everything that everyone was saying. Even if he managed just to get a bunch of pitchers of beer for the table, it’d be better than sitting there all night without. Looking frazzled, Nathan pushed himself to his feet, and held his hands up.
“Alright, I’ll do my best to remember what everyone wants. No promises.”
“I’ll come with you, if you want,” Khanna offered, but Nathan shook his head. If the owner was still at the bar, he didn’t want to lose face in front of his colleague.
“I’ll be alright. See y’all in a bit,” he tipped his hat, which earned him a laugh from Tarre.
“Don’t take too long, or we’ll send a search and rescue team after you,” the Bolian teased.
“Better bring a compass this time then,” Nathan teased right back.
“What does that mean?” Khanna looked confused, while Tarre waved his hands while shaking his head.
“Ask him about the Black Forest sim we had to do in year two,” Ramius’ face shifted into an impish grin before making his escape.
Somehow, the throngs of people had grown significantly since the first time Nathan had tried to make it to the main bar. A question of what the fire code was for a place the size of Bo’s popped into his head. Though he was sure that the bartender owner would just brush something like that off. Or would insinuate more about his security career.
If there hadn’t been many bartenders before when he had first approached the bar earlier, it looked like there were even less. When one finally looked up at Nathan, he casually turned away when it wasn’t the owner. Moving along the bar, he found another spot, and another bartender, before realizing it wasn’t the woman he was looking for either. Why he wanted to speak with someone who had been audaciously cheeky earlier to him escaped Nathan, but something compelled him to seek her out. When he didn’t see her behind the bar anywhere, his eyes began to search the rest of the venue.
There were so many groups, with people darting in and out, it was hard to keep track of everyone. However, Nathan knew he didn’t need to keep track of absolutely everyone. He just needed to find a face in the crowd. Pushing his way past, and even through, a few congregations of people, Ramius finally found who he was looking for. Standing against a wall near the dom-jot tables, she was intensely watching a group that was getting rowdy.
“Problems?” Ramius asked once he finally made it over to her.
“Not anything I can’t handle,” she replied coolly, arms crossed, as she recognized him.
In the mix of the brewing trouble were a few different types, but sticking out like sore thumbs were the cadet uniforms. Raised voices were claiming that someone was cheating, and more than a few insults were being hurled around. From along the wall, one of the bar employees came up to the owner looking concerned,
“Security is busy. They didn’t give me a timeframe for when they might show up, unless something turns into an emergency.”
“They're always busy…”
A shout laden with expletives could be heard from one of the dom-jot players, and voices started rising. Nathan could feel things turning up to eleven in real time. Angry talk, turned to threatening shouts, turned to feverish yelling, before finally someone put hands on and shoved another. That is when the fisticuffs started. Cadets had held their punches at first, but the locals weren’t holding back. The situation was escalating quickly, as one cadet was thrown onto a dom-jot table and hit repeatedly on the head with a cue.
“Stop! Hey! Y’all are fixin’ to get booted and banned!” the owner tried to shout above the ruckus, and a few of the more local regulars in the fray paid attention. The rest, however, kept fighting.
“I could intervene if you’d like… Starfleet Security and all,” Nathan mentioned, stopping himself from intervening without being asked; his past creeping up into memory.
Watching her face, and studying her hazel eyes, Ramius could see the brunette contemplating declining. There were one or two bouncers moving from the front doors, but the crowds were closing ranks, drawn together to see the fight. With their progress impeded, they were a long way off. If there were other staff coming to help, they couldn’t be seen, likely similarly waylaid. So even if the bouncers made it, they’d be sorely outnumbered.
“What do you want?” she rolled her eyes again, arms crossed again.
“Nothing, it’s my duty.”
“Right,” she laughed, clearly misconstruing Ramius’ sincerity, “c’mon already, someone is going to get hurt. Tell me your price.”
“Your name,” he gave in, “and for you to personally take our drink order.”
Her eyes narrowed, and Nathan tried to figure out if her nostrils flared a little. But the sound of a beer bottle being smashed caught her attention, and her eyes widened with worry. Ramius was also growing more concerned, and thought about stepping in regardless.
“Fine. But you’ve got to break it up in less than a minute. Otherwise you help tend the bar for the night.”
“Alright, but if I do, you owe me a spin on the floor on top of everything else too,” Nathan didn’t know why he had added the condition, confusing even himself. He didn’t even want to dance in the first place. But something about her requirement had just made him react without thinking.
“Better hurry cowboy, time’s ticking,” she looked toward a clock on the wall, then back to Ramius.
Cracking his neck, Nathan pushed himself forcefully toward the dom-jot tables. More than a few of the patrons resented his brashness, but didn’t call him out for it when they saw him and his determination. Once he made it to the edge of the growing circle of chaos at the tables, he looked at the combatants, many of whom were Academy cadets.
“Hey!” he bellowed, “Stand down!”
A couple of Cadets darted their eyes toward him. Perhaps they considered stopping, but there was too much adrenaline coursing through them. That, or they didn’t care, as they didn’t see a uniform making the demand. It caused a glower to unfurl from Nathan’s brows. Stepping into the fray wasn’t an option. If he did, Ramius knew he’d just become another combatant. Instead, he reverted to a trick he’d learned from someone else. Wetting his lips, and placing his fingers in his mouth, Nathan let out a powerfully loud two-note wolf-whistle.
The action at the tables stopped almost immediately, with several of the cadets instantly coming to attention from pavlovian conditioning. The response brought a funny smirk to Nathan’s face, but not before he quickly wiped it away, replacing a sternness in its place. Stepping forward out of the gathered crowd behind him, the rebuking look Nathan wore was that of a seasoned officer marinated with disapproval; another trait he borrowed from a certain redhead of his past.
“Cadets! You’ll report to Gymnasium Three at zero-five hundred for PT tomorrow. Fall out and head to your bunks, now.”
There were plenty who grumbled, and one or two that looked like they might argue, but all the cadets eventually began to file out. Holes were made in the crowd for the parting cadets, which made room for the bouncers to get through too. They began to handle the rest who weren’t Academy residents. Happy that there didn’t seem to be any major injuries, Nathan let out a sigh of relief before chastising himself mentally. He knew that he should have just got stuck in, regardless of how the owner felt. The back and forth between them had eaten up time that could have led to someone getting hurt. Worse, Nathan had asked for something he didn’t even really want.
I don’t even want to dance tonight…
“Well, looks like you took care of that. Helped that most of them were yours I think,” the owner had come up beside Nathan’s elbow, looking at the carnage.
“A trick I learned from a boss of mine,” he replied with a sigh, still feeling bad about not stepping in on his own volition.
“Your boss teach you to take advantage of civilians too?” it sounded like a sharp snap, which made Ramius feel even worse, but he missed the heavy sarcasm.
“What? Ah… no… it was… what I meant was…”
“Ruby-Jo, but most people just call me Bo,” she interrupted Nathan’s stammering with her name and a handshake.
“Nathan Ramius,” he finally spit out after his brain reset, “and you don’t owe me anything. I’m sorry I didn’t just step in and take care of it.”
“No, it isn’t your fault. I knew you were going to step in, and I didn’t want you to take care of it. I prefer to handle things on my own. Kind of a stubborn, prideful *** that way. And I usually can, but it’s been so busy, and I’m so short staffed.”
“Let me help y’all clean up some?” Ramius offered; a part of him knowing it was to ease his own conscience.
“Sure, knock yourself out,” Bo chuckled, shaking her head as she headed back to the main bar.
== tbc ==