Pain and Bad Decisions

Summary:
June 22 2014: Jericho Trent and Sara Pezzini's paths cross in a nightclub in the Meatpacking District.

Ceilo

A well known New York night club, Ceilo is celebrated for its music and DJ's. Like many night clubs it's fairly unremarkable on the outside… but once inside…


Characters

NPCs
*


Mood Music:
[*]


Sara doesn't usually spend a lot of time in clubs. She's usually more interested in diners, or dive bars, or places where things are a little more quiet. But tonight, after several bad days, she needed something to take her mind off of everything. So she pulled out a little black dress, cleaned herself up, and went out to a club where the flashing lights and thumping beat are designed to drive rational thought out of people's minds. She's managed to claim a space at the bar at the moment, there to call over an order for what is probably her third (maybe fourth) drink of the evening so far.

*

Jericho doesn't ever spend time in clubs, unless he's on business. He's not really flashy or quite good looking enough to get in unless he knows someone. That happens to be the case here. He'd come to exchange some information of the sensitive kind with a hacker contact named AliA5. Yeah. He's not real fond of the internet's spelling conventions either. Anyway, coming here meant blending in so he's managed to clean himself up, get his relatively short hair tousled in the manner of someone five or six years his junior and score some club wear that doesn't look absolutely ridiculous, in this case club casual consisting of dark pants, white button up with a green ivy motif running along it and an open dark brown vest with the same. Here his 'tattoos' don't draw any raised eyebrows. Plenty of people have them and his just look techno-exotic. Even gotten him one or two compliments.

The exchange is quite done now and he was just on his way out when a little black dress over by the bar catches his eye. Someone who looks like they're here to get away from the world, not live it up. He blinks a moment to clear the flashing lights and thumping bass from his vision. That couldn't be…"

He makes his way over and sits down next to the woman without preamble, looking over. Is it…?

*

"Hey, I'm a big girl, I know when I need to stop," Sara is assuring the bartender, pushing a few bills across the counter. And, to be fair, she's definitely not at the point of stumbling or slurring her words just yet. Though she might be close.

"Just gimme the damned scotch, before I start checking IDs in here and see how many underage kids you've served tonight." That does the trick, and as she waits for her drink, Sara turns to look down the bar, brows rising when she sees Jericho.

"Seriously? You didn't really strike me as the club sort of person."

*

Jeri blinks. It is. And he could say the same, but doesn't cause he sees… well, something he recognizes.

"I'm not, ordinarily," is the response he settles on. "This doesn't quite strike me as your regular scene either though."

Not that she doesn't look pretty good in that dress. Another thing he keeps to himself. Not prudent, not prudent.

"Though I've been wrong about that sort of thing before. You've got kind of a look though…"

Yeah, she does. The kind of look he'd see in Afghanistan when someone'd had a bad day outside the wire.

"You okay?"

*

Sara doesn't answer that question right off. Answering that question means thinking about what she's trying to forget.

"Sometimes I like to shake things up," she says instead, taking her scotch from the bartender and taking a hefty swallow before she looks back to Jericho.

"Besides, maybe the way I've always been doing things isn't the best way anyhow. Maybe I've just been wasting my time fighting something that's never going to change."

*

The hacker motions for a beer, silently taking in Sara's worlds whilst simultaneously attempting to tune out the club's rather penetrating beat.

"Mmm. What's that, specifically, if I may ask?" He'd not been monitoring police traffic today so he doesn't have any specifics, but he does, out of curiosity do a brief scan on the news networks for anything that might give him a clue as to what's eating at Sara here.

*

The news is there, and not too far below the surface. A prison riot, broken up by Heroes for Hire and someone in armor. And a fire at a halfway foster home, with an as yet undetermined number of children and social workers dead.

"Anything. Everything. Whatever." Sara takes another drink, elbows on the edge of the bar. "Seems like lately, no matter what I do, I'm doing it wrong. All I want to do is make sure people are safe. Make sure things stay the way they're supposed to be. But all I end up doing is screwing it up and chasing people away."

*

Jericho scans through the news items and then closes the windows on his HUD. Yeah, he was right. It was that look.

"You can't win every fight Detective." He says with a sigh and another sip of his beer. "But that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong." He half turns in his seat.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Always a tricky question. On the one hand, if she readily wanted to talk about it she probably wouldn't be here on her clearly-not-first scotch. On the other… if she absolutely didn't she wouldn't have let him engage her to begin with. But this stuff is never easy to deal with no matter how tough you are and nearly impossible to deal with alone. He knows.

*

"Is talking about it going to bring those kids back?" Sara's features are dark as she looks back to the hacker, though there's a glimmer of something behind her eyes, a hint of the rage that comes from the Witchblade. "The social workers who were trying to help them? It's my fault, Jericho. I brought them all there. I stupidly thought I had a damned clue what I was doing, that I could fix it. Instead of leaving well enough alone. I brought them together and I made this whole thing…so it could happen."

*

"The fire at the halfway house? I take it that wasn't just… normal. You must have had a reason though, Detective. I think I know enough about you to know that you don't go off half cocked."

He's still trying to parse what she means about 'chasing people away.' Who on earth has she chased away. Besides Lockdown? And damn is he glad she did that. He'd be slab-hacker probably if she hadn't.

*

Sara laughs, though there's no humor in the sound. "No, going off half-cocked is sort of my usual procedure. How I've gotten myself into most of the trouble I have in my life." She drinks again, leaning her forearms on the bar and closing her eyes for a moment.

"Do you know what it's like, to fight something you're not even sure if wrong?"

*

"Little bit." He says quietly, pausing for a good thirty seconds as the question brings back memories. "War gets ugly. I did three tours in the infantry and four years in SOAR. The killing people who were trying to kill me? That was easy. Me or them. Black and white. Cut and dry. Special ops?" He shakes his head. "That gets nasty. Killing people for what they might do? Stealing things from people who are just doing what they think is right? Looking at the hatred in a mother's eyes, a hatred so intense she'll sacrifice her child by giving him a gun and telling him to shoot you? That's enough to make you question if you're really on the right side."

Long breath out. "What was it for you?"

*

"Everything." Sara pushes a hand through her hair, then raises her right hand, shaking her bracelet. "This thing. It's called the balance. Except it's not very balanced on its own. It's violent. It's hungry. It's angry. Sometimes I feel like it's all of the worst things about the Darkness and all of the worst things about the Angelus, wrapped up into one. It always wants to fight, wants to destroy. And it's always my job to hold it back. Except you know what? When I let go, it feels good. I don't have to think about what I'm doing, or whether it's wrong or right."

*

That's… well interesting certainly and also a bit frightening.

"You said it had a mind of its own too right?" He seems to remember something like that.

"I… that seems like that'd be rough. It'd be like a gun wanting to kill. And rewarding you when you did."

Jericho sips his beer again, partly to give him time to choose his next words. "Do you think it's influencing your decisions? Or would you make them again and you're just regretting how it felt when you carried them out?"

*

"It makes me question them sometimes. Decisions made in the heat of a fight. But no." Sara falls silent for a moment. "No, I made this decision on my own. I held it back. I didn't give in. And that's maybe worse. I can't blame the Witchblade. This one's on me." She lifts her glass, but before she can drink, she ends up setting it back down on the bar.

"So's the Partisan. Tried to do the right thing, bring some of the information to Paul. He flipped out. Accused me of…" Shaking her head, she looks away.

"Said I'd been bought."

*
Ugh. Paul's a suspicious type and no mistake. Jumped to conclusions about Jericho being a SHIELD operative back in Gotham. It'd be laughable if it weren't so damned annoying.

"He did, huh? I'm going to guess that stung more than just a little." By the look of her it stung a lot. It'd be like a squadmate accusing him of selling out to the enemy. Those people were in some ways closer than family. Not too far a stretch to think that a cop's partner might be the same.

"What happened?"

*

"We argued." That's all Sara seems inclined to say about it just yet. As far as the argument goes, at least. "It's not easy. Balancing everything. Trying to make it all work. You know? I'm a cop, yeah. It's my job to keep the law. To make sure that justice is served. Except sometimes, justice isn't about the law. And sometimes, the right thing isn't…" She lets out a heavy breath, pressing her hand over the mouth of her glass.

"I try to be a good person, but sometimes I think maybe I'm just not."

*

"You are, Detective. You know how I can tell?" He takes another swig of beer. "A bad person wouldn't be worrying about that kind of thing. The fact that you do tells me you've got a center. You're just… well… things aren't lining up the way you've always been taught they should. Maybe the way they always have before. Stuff gets ugly when you get this deep in. Believe me I know. Right and wrong get a little hard to see when the people who should be your friends end up working for your enemies. Doesn't mean they've gone away though. Just… you know, hidden behind the clouds."

He looks over across the bar not at anything in particular. "Some things our laws just weren't made to handle. I run into those. I'll bet you run into more, dealing with magic and light and darkness. Our laws were made for men and… well, some things out there just aren't. But knowing that doesn't make you a bad person, Detective. Hell, even Partisan thinks you're in a class of your own. Good woman, she said and believe me she doesn't toss phrases like that around. Ever."

*

"Yeah. But what's it saying when a self-described terrorist says you're a good person?" Sara closes her hand around the glass, lifting it for another drink.

"What's it mean to be a good person if you don't try to bring that person in? Paul's right, she killed a cop. No judge, no jury. Just her research and a decision. Except it seems to me she knows what she's doing. And if this Hydra group's as deep in things as she says, then maybe there wasn't any other way to deal with it. He would've just gotten off anyhow."

*

"Investigated four times by IA, always cleared on a technicality." Jeri confirms. He'd done that research after all.

"Look, Detective, I've spent the last thirteen months running for my life while they turned every system we've ever built in this nation against me and sent contract killers after me. Terrorist watch lists, no fly lists, you name it. I got chased through Chicago by SWAT because they got an anonymous tip off that I was there to sabotage a nearby nuclear reactor. The law isn't good. It isn't bad either. I think that's maybe where you're getting a little tied up. The law is just the law. What matters is the people behind it. Now you could have run me in or iced me before now and you haven't. I trust you, to the extent that I'm able. I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you otherwise. Cops like you make the law a just thing. Without cops like you? The law's just words to be used by the strong against the weak."

*

"Yeah, well. To be fair, you could say the same thing about IA and me," Sara grimaces, setting down her glass once more. "I'm just…tired. Nothing seems to be working out the way it's supposed to lately. I feel like an idiot. Like I'm constantly in over my head. And the only solution I can see is signing on with SHIELD, where I'm sure to stay in over my head. But nothing's black and white anymore. Nothing's a clear win. Nothing's easy."

*

"Nothing worthwhile ever is. Trite, but sadly true." He rolls his shoulder. "There might be other options though. SHIELD's hardly the only game in town with the influence they have, though all of them mean working someone… well I suppose you could quite the force and go independent. Though…" He glances back to her. "… not super likely to do that are you? Let me ask you this, if you had to make the decisions you made today again, knowing what you knew then, would you?"

*

"No." Sara tosses back the last of her drink, pushing the empty glass back toward the bartender. "I wouldn't. I went in without fully understanding what I was doing. I assumed I knew enough about what was going on, about the strange things that happen, that I was doing the right thing. But instead I played right into it." She pushes a hand through her hair, turning to look around the club. "I've never really been good."

*

"Then you did what you could." He shrugs. "It doesn't take a supernatural opponent to walk right into a trap thinking that you know what's going on. It's not arrogance on your part, Detective. It's just being human."

"Mmmmm. Well what would you call yourself then?" He cants his head as she pushes a hand through her hair and follows her eyes. It's a gesture really not unlike one he does and that's a little eerie.

*

Sara laughs softly at that question, shaking her head. "Maybe I'm a good woman, Jericho, but I've always been a little bit of a bad girl. I think it's why I can manage this thing," she adds, spinning the bracelet around her wrist.

"Too dark, and you don't want to resist what it offers. Too good, and you don't know enough to recognize when it's screwing with you."

*

That draws a snort from him. "Well, I don't imagine someone that innocent would make it very far in the NYPD anyway, good intentions or no. Maybe you have that thing because like it, you are balanced. There's as much value to darkness as to light when you know how to use them. You're used to working in the light. Above board, for the PD, on the right side of the law. This is just… the mirror image. Not pretty, I'll grant. Not one I like all the time but… sometimes the only good option."

*

"Yeah. Well." Sara lets out a slow breath, rubbing a hand at her brow. "Not crazy about the options, honestly. Not a lot I can do about it, though. So I figured, what the hell. Might as well go out, have some drinks, make some bad decisions." She looks around the club, checking out the people on the dance floor. "Plenty of bad decisions out there, right? And chances are, not one of them has a clue about demons, and darkness, and mythical, mystical balances."

*

"Yeah, no shortage of bad decisions out there." Jericho agrees. He's looking at some *really* bad decisions right now moving on the dance floor. Disco, sir, is dead and you're the one who killed it. He glances back. He… doesn't really know Sara but… oh what the hell. Worst case scenario she decks him and as unpleasant as that would be, he can handle that.

"Hey Sara, you want me to stick around?" Hell he already did what he came to do and he's not doing anything else tonight. She's done him some seriously good turns before and he doesn't mind. And she's easy to look at. No issues there at all.

*

Sara pauses for a moment at the offer, considering, before she shakes her head. "I'm shitty company right now," she says. "And I've had my fill of disappointing the people around me. Need a night of no expectations. Don't worry," she adds, summoning up a faint smile. "I can make it home."

*

He nods. If it were one of his squaddies, he'd push. Hell if he knew her better, he might push a little, but she's a big girl as she was telling the bartender. "Alright." He nods and reaches over, patting her hand once before he rises from the bar stool. One hand dips into his pocket and comes out with a card. "Give me a call if you need anything okay?" The card is blank but for a phone number. "City as connected as this, I'm never that far away. And I get around pretty fast when I need to."

He leaves the money on the bar for the beer. "Goodnight Sara."

*

"Night, Jericho," Sara raises a hand, stepping carefully away from the bar. "Thanks for…Thanks." That's as much as she says, though, before she disappears onto the dance floor, throwing herself into something else to take her mind off of the more complex questions.


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