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It's Five O'Clock Somewhere (IC)


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*The TV screen in the small midtown bar flashes the same footage of a brave FCPD officer diving in front of a fusillade of automatic weapons fire as the well equiped would be bank robbers opened fire on the crowd of bystanders.  The reporter can be heard screaming in terror until it becomes clear the bullets are pancaking against the muscular chest of the officer in question at which point her voice rings out, "Tell me you are getting this Earl?!" as the footage freezes and snaps to the uper right corner and the anchor weighs in.

"We're still waiting on official word from the FCPD on the identity of the individual from this exclusive footage."  she explains as they slide a comparison picture of the officer cropped from a recent Acadamy graduation, "However our sources tell us this is rookie officer Mathew Bright, now we go to our panel."  and the screen fills with the usual round table of talking heads when new heroes emerge.*

Mike sits quietly at the bar knocking back shots with a sure and steady rythm wincing with the burn of each potent liqour bomb sliding down his throat.  Around the bar the other patrons glance from him to the screen giving him a wide berth just in case.  One wild haired panelist is insisting the officer must be the secret identity of the long unseen hero Phalanx only to be laughed off the screen as Phalanx unlike the officer in question clearly did not wear glasses.  Mike had changed out of the tattered uniform that he had put on for the first time just earlier that week, but the simple if slightly too tight blue polo and jeans he wore now was not exactly a far cry from the explosize footage being replayed all over town.

"Another."  he requests flatly taping the bar lightly with one finger the bartender looking at him somewhat incredulously and pulling down a fresh bottle to get the man another shot.  "Thank you."  the big man politely intones as he knocks back another with a wince of distaste but without a tremor in his speech or tightly controlled movement despite the prodigious amount of high octane liquor he'd been downing for the last hour.

Edited by angrydurf
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"Here let me get that." Without waiting.for an answer the smartly dressed African American woman slid onto the stool next to him, gesturing to the barman to give her the same "Dancia Devons of the Freedom Ledger" she flashed her press pass "I was in the area and popped in for a drink. Do I recognize you from somewhere... Maybe TV?"

In fact she had been flying over the area as Triakosia when the incident went down and even with her enhanced senses it had taken her this long to track him down.

"I know a little about living a double life myself, so I thought you might like the company. If you did want to tell you story I can promise to be discreet."

In truth she wasn't after the story, she as her to help a fellow hero.

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Mike stood as she moved to the seat next to him waiting for her to be seated before sitting himself.  "Thank you." he replied after a long pause he spent trying to figure out how to explain the windfal his investment in AEON had grown too from the birthday bonds he'd cashed in to help Alex start it.  No much better to graciously accept a kind offer than that whole story.

His gaze was a bit guarded as she introduced herself as a member of the press and he let out a small sigh, "I suppose this is to be expected now." Mike lamented slightly and shrugged before squaring his shoulders and extending a hand for a firm handshake.  "Mike Harris."  he introduced and offered her a polite smile as he heard the footage replying behind him once more.  "I'm not at liberty to discuss what I may or may not know about the events at Mid-town savings and trust if you wish a statement you can contact the FCPD office of public relations or The Fraternal Order of Police Officers press office."  he said almost by rote with a bit of sadness in his eyes and turned to take the shot she had bought him making a face no experianced drinker had ever made with the most rotgut of moonshine.

Setting the glass down he shook his head slightly, "Double life, I can't seem to manage even a single one."  he admitted almost under his breath.

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Dancia listened impassively as Mike went by the book in his statement, though it was something heard thousands of time. When if finished she added though in a matter of fact manner.

“Seeing as you here and it’s all over the networks i think it’ too late to quote the official line. I believe there are statutes back from Moore to deal with these kind of things.”

Her voice softened a little as Mike bemoan his life, and she also arranged a refill for both of them she was hopeful that she could pass them off as expensive.

“As a reporter I’m supposed to watch passively and not get involved if people are in danger, but there is no way I wouldn’t try to help if I can. I don’t think a life, even half of one, where I wouldn’t do that is worth living.”

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Mike smiled slightly and shrugged, "I'm a bit of a rule follower, gets on my friends nerves all the time."  he admitted though did not elaborate about events of earlier in the day.  The department and union both had requested they handle the media and Mike really had no interest.  He sighed as he raised the shot, "Or it did."  he lamented and rolled his eyes.  "Sorry."  he appologized, "Old habits die hard."  he smirked as his days of being the Eeyore of Young Freedom were mostly behind him. 

He quirked a brow at her hint of her own heroic tendancies, "I always thought that was the benefit of a reporter cover?"  he asked with a smile, "Show up at events without raising questions but low enough profile no one notices you go missing to change." he said in a barely audible whisper respectful of her perhaps not wanting to be outed in the bar.  He waved to the bartender indicating he'd cover the drinks, "This ones on me only fair."  he said with a nod and offered some explanation, "Thats why I joined the Force."  he offered evenly, "Against advice of people I really ought to know to listen to by now."  he added with a wry laugh.

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"It does have that benefit..." She gave a smile "But the down side is that you have to actually have to report the stories of quest get asked. I was in Japan earlier this year when than Earthquake happened..."

Her smile faded as she remembered that week and she downed he drink before continuing.

"I spent the wholt time on disaster relief, even though I was one of the few reporters who stayed on the ground. Luckily I filed a few human interest stories and kept my job, but I'm not going to get off web storier for a while..."

She paused and recovered her composure.

"But enough about my problem, I'd like to help you sort out yours."


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Mike offered a slow thoughtful nod at her mention of her recent exploits knowing well the sting of not feeling one did enough, "I'm sure you were a great help."  he said quietly but allowed her to move the subject forward after her pause.  

He watched her for a long moment as she offered to help, "I appreciate the offer."  he replied hesitantly as he eyed her curiously.  A less trusting person would have worried she was just trying to milk out a story exclusive of some kind however Mike generally thought the best of people until proven otherwise.  He nodded slowly, "There isn't much to it.  I tried the simple life, no capes no mask."  he shrugged not that he'd ever worn a mask but the point was got across he felt.  He gestured to the freeze of him amid a hail of bullets playing once more on the screen and sighed, "That did not work out so well."  he smirked, "I mean I'm glad I was there and was able to help."  he clarified quickly, "But it's clear now that normal isn't in the cards."  he remarked somewhat solemnly.  

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"You can do normal you just have to find the right kind of normal, I'be heard a of a couple of heroes who are doctors and nurses. And you sometimes have to choose a time and place to allow yourself to be normal, nobody can do this 24/7."

As she spoke she could hear dozen of events going on in the surrounding blocks, but figured right now this was important. Besides Freedom City wasn't exactly short of heroes.

"And you also have to remember that likes Cop's we also look out for each other..."

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"And you know, normal is relative," came another voice from behind Mike. Erin White dropped comfortably onto the stool on his other side, still dressed in the simple blue uniform she wore as head of securty at HAX. She looked at Mike's little collection of empty shot glasses, then plunked a large white styrofoam cup down onto the bar and slid it over to him. "You'll probably enjoy this more, and it'll have the same effect. I got it from that place you like." Inside the cup was a chocolate milkshake, only slightly melty from the heat, the same sort he and Erin had gotten during their one practice date years ago. "Our mutual friend is worried about you. Rounded up a little moral support. Are you okay?" 

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"He'll be fine," said Mark with steady warmth and perfect confidence, seemingly appearing out of nowhere as he pulled up a seat  next to the group already at the bar. "I came back from Geneva as soon as I heard, good buddy," he told Mike, reaching over to squeeze his friend's massive bicep. He hadn't seen much of Mike since the former had chosen civil service at home and Mark had chosen civil service abroad, but in some ways, despite their differences, they'd made some very similar choices in the years after high school. "You know," he said confidentially, his voice dropping so the rest of the bar couldn't hear. "It's not too late to spin this thing in your favor. We could tell people it was a hoax, or a shapeshifter disguised as you, or another one of the Curator's robots..." He was ticking off points on his fingers as he spoke, his crewcut blonde hair practically gleaming in the overhead light, his teeth perfect and white. 

Edited by Avenger Assembled
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"That is true."  Mike replied to Dancia somewhat thoughtfully, "I've seen some people try."  he frowned slightly at that as those heroes had paid high costs for thier devotions.  He smiled wide when Erin approached with the shake in hand and Mark offered his ever mark like advice.  Standing nodding to her and Mark in turn he made introductions, "Dancia this is Erin White and Mark Lucas my -"  he paused for a moment not sure what to call them as they certainly weren't team mates now, "We went to high school together."  he finished somewhat lamely, "Mark, Erin, this is Dancia Devons, She's a reporter for the Ledger."  he explained as he returned to his seat thanking Erin for hte shake as he took a deep drink trying to wash the taste of alchohol from his mouth.

He shook his head at Mark, "Yea but then theres the next time Mark."  he pointed out gently, "Also so far they are waiving prosecution for the fraud given my meritous if brief service."  he admitted quietly,  "So I probably shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth."

He visibly winced at the mention of their mutual friend and his eyes were downcast, "Uhm yea."  he replied, "I'm alright just,"  he shrugged anything he had left to say lost in the guilt he felt at the whole reason for postponing, everything really had fallen apart so spectacularly.

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“I certainly don’t do the hero thing all the time.” A blonde woman in jeans and a button down vest had just strolled into the bar. “I’ve got a restaurant to run.” Maybelle McQueen, known alternately as the head chef of the popular eatery Southern Queen and the superhero Queenie, pulled up a chair and took a seat. She was, as she often was, smiling gently. She cast a disapproving eye on the Styrofoam cup, but remarkably for her, said nothing about it. She chuckled ruefully. “It never gets any easier, though. But if I could borrow a phrase, easy’s not for heroes.”

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So the real heroes where here to help Mike out, more than her babblings could ever hope to achieve, she was happy that his friends could help him out. She had been more than happy to just slip out and leave them to it, after settling the tab first, but once introduced it would have been rude.

"It's a pleasure to meet you all. I promise you that I'm off duty at the moment, though if you want to contact me later I'll happily pass on my card." she gave them a friendly smile and drain her glass for some Dutch courage. Not that the alcohol did anything for her.

"I'm also in the same business as the rest of you, though you've probably never heard of me."

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Mike blinked at the new arrival in some surprise.  Maybe this is what being out and out is like he thought as he took a calming breath, people just walk up to talk about superhero stuff no cloak nor dagger about it.  Chris would be outraged.  None the less he stood and introduced himself, "Mike Harris, pleasure to meet you,"  He paused as he didn't catch her name perhaps he should know it already this really wasn't getting off to the right foot.

He flashed a smile to Dancia, "That could be considered an achievment."  he chuckled, "And if you're alter ego has escaped Marks notice it would be a first."  he joked kindly about his ex-roomies, exhaustive, knowledge of all things superheroic.

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Erin cast a quick glance over the two heroes she didn't know, briefly assessing the potential threat each one posed. When both seemed reasonably unlikely to be any danger, she gave each of them a brief nod of greeting. "I'm Erin, and this is Mark," she said with a nod to her much better-known colleague, then focued her attention back on Mike. "I'm sorry it happened this way," she told him sincerely. Even if they'd all seen the disaster coming, it still sucked to have it actually strike. "I know you were hoping for a lot more from the police academy. Do you need a place to hole up for a few days? We've got lots of extra room, and it's very private." 

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"Or you could come back to Geneva with me!" Mark offered cheerfully. "It's great, you can see the lake from my apartment and there's more chocolate than even you can eat." Mark fell silent, figuring this might not be what his friend wanted to hear. Geez, I haven't even talked to Mike in forever! he thought glumly. He probably lives in Alex's place anyway. "And I know you," he said to Dancia with a wink. "Probably! No use in sharing a lot of personal information right now." He turned back to Queenie. "Hey, you have that restaurant, don't you! I love that place, but have you ever thought about poutine burgers?" he asked. "That's where you take fried potatoes, and gravy, and cheese curds, and you just put them on the burger and they're so good!" He smiled winningly, then went on, "My mom learned how to make those from her mom back in Quebec. She used to make those all the time and I miss them. I know it's not technically Southern-style, but it's from southern...Canada, eh?" He winked. 

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Dancia wasn’t completely immune to Mark charms, even though he really wasn’t her type, and she returned a smile.

“I’m so glad we cleared up the fact that you might know who I am, but won’t say who, if you know it!”

In fact she was pretty sure that he had access to her Freedom League files, though she wasn’t sure if he actually read her files. She wasn’t sure how but she was actually confusing herself, but to let it go for now.

“Best I can do is offer you a couch, and you’d have to share with Centurion.” realising that could be misunderstood she added “He’s my tabby cat, like to sleep on the couch....” she gave a little shrug, maybe she wasn’t as immune to the alcohol as she thought.

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Mike shrugged his broad shoulders and let out a small sigh, "Yea not exactly how I planned it."  he acknowledged but offered a hint of a smile, "And I appreciate the distinct lack of 'I told you so's' for what it's worth."  he joked lightly as while perhaps this specific plan hand't been disccused beyond himself and Alex over all, his penchant for 'the simple life' had long been at the heart of disagreements among the friends.  Mike made a slight frown at the mention of the poutine as ones relationship with the savory offring was never really the same after it had lived past it's prime in ones mini fridge.  "Mark I don't think you can get much further from southern than canada."  he pointed out gently because he had aparently slept through the discussion of the Acadian migration in school.

At Dancia's suggestion his eyes grew wide, even after Erin and Marks offers it seemed a bit forward and he blinked slowly at her, "Uhm I appreciate the offer," he murmured and cast about to Mark and Erin unsure of how or if he was supposed to point out he was engaged.  Yea being raised in a secret government facility did wonders for ones social skills.  He finally cleared his throat and fixed his gaze on Erin, "Uhm yea that sounds great."  he said perhaps a little too eagerly, "I don't think I need to drag a press circus to my folks house."  because of course he was still living with his parents, it of course did not occur to him that the obsesively private Trevor might not be big in favor of that on his doorstep either.

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Erin gave Dancia a suspicious glare that had more than a touch of hostility in it. Who the hell was this woman anyway, coming along and giving Mike alcohol, then trying to pick him up, right in front of his friends? Sure, Mike was handsome and all, but taking advantage of a naive young guy on the worst day of his life, that was just low. Lower than low. "You know, I don't think I caught your name," she told Dancia, with a smile that showed teeth, "and while it's nice that you're trying to help, I think we'd better get Mike home before the reporters sniff him out. His fiancee is really worried about him." She looked over to Mike, her expression softening back to normal. "You ready to settle up here?" 

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“Dancia Devons.”

Dancia could hold Erin look for long but she tried her best, the soldier in her told her it was important to do such a things. As she did her brain slowly processed what Erin was claiming.

“Wait... what... you think?” she shook her head “No you’ve got it all wrong. Mike’s here is a great guy but he’s not my type at all. I just wanted to help out as a friend, nothing more I promise.”

As she spoke she counted out the bills she had in her purse.

“And I’ll cover for the drinks, just get him somewhere safe and maybe feed him a few coffee’s just in case.”

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"Ooh, I'll come with you guys," offered Mark, offering Mike a steadying hand as the latter rose. Whew! Glad that lady stopped trying to pick Mike up! "I haven't been over to the old place in forever, so we can all catch up." Spontaneously, he hugged Mike, the usually tall and sculpted Mark looking decidedly noodly next to the big, muscular powerhouse. A lot of things had happened between the two men, but high school was a long, long time in the past - all that mattered now was what a terrible day this had been for one of his oldest friends, and how it was his job to help make everything better. "Need a ride? I can make doubly sure there aren't any paparazzi on Mike's tail." Turning a winning glance back to Queenie, he went on, "Remember, poutine burgers, eh? It's the best stuff on Earth! Ooh, and maybe you could get in some Tim Hortons' doughnuts while you're at it, those things are great!" 

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Mike flashed Erin a grateful smile as she dealt with the awkward uncertainties of Dancias offer.  For all his other growth, physical and emotional, he was still more than a bit shy when it came to relationships.  "Yea, I think so."  he agreed as he stood and waved off Dancias offered payment, "I appreciate it Ma'am."  he explained genuinely, "But I am not in so dire financial straits."  he said as he nodded to the Barman to close up his tab and return his credit card.  He smiled down at the repoerters protests and nodded, "Glad to have that cleared up then."  he replied calmly and glanced to Erin with a hint of uncertainty before continueing, "To new friends and old then."  he intoned and raised the mostly empty milkshake in a small toast with far more comfort than he had managed any of the many many shots he'd consumed.

Though the big man needed no steadying hand, his prodigious drinking having had no more effect than the hail up bullets earlier in the day, he gladly returned Marks hug and nodded, "Thanks for coming Mark."  he said warmly, He'd never doubt Mark would be there for him after all, that was just who Mark was, even if Mikes own behavior hadn't always deserved it.  "And uh yea that might be lower profile than my usual way of getting about."  he acknowledged with a small grin, "and I imagine Tr-", he paused unsure if he should mention the usually secretive Tevor in front of reporters, new friend or no, "The houses owners."  he prevaricated, "Would appreciate the additional attention."

He smiled to Queenie, "Nice to meet you Ma'am."  and nodded to Dancia, "and you as well, thanks for the pep talk, maybe I can return the favor some day." he suggested forthrightly, "If I do need to tell my side I know who to call."

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“No problems I hope we meet again in better circumstances.” she raised a glass with the last dregs of alcohol “You've got good friends there they’ll take good care of you.” she gave Erin and Mark a friendly smile

She waited until they’d left until she went back up to the bar and go another drink, payed for this time, and raised it toward the still playing video of the event.

“To successful futures!”

She drowned the glass and looked into space for a few moments, just her and Centurion on the couch tonight then, and gave a little smile to herself.

Then she caught the sounds of someone in trouble and left the bar in a hurry to do what was needed.

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