Two Plus Two Equals Four

Title: Two Plus Two Equals Four
Who: Colin and Tiago
When: September 12th, 2010
Where: A bar in the Melting Pot
What: Secrets emerge over a quiet beer when Colin notices that his new friend Tiago has the same distinctive accent as Thorn's new friend Spook.

===< The Melting Pot >---------< #98 >===
The Melting Pot is a very laid back and exotic part of San Angeles. Low cost housing is available along with bars with plenty of personality, coffee houses that often feature live poetry readings and bands, occult bookstores, dozens of private art galleries, antiques shops, tattoo parlors and the less mainstream shops that wouldn't be viable in more upscale locations. The best ethnic restaurants can be found here, usually arranged in clumps of a block or two holding both food and shops of a particular ethnicity.
The architectural style of the Melting Pot is a sort of history of the architecture of California. The streets are laid out in a spiral pattern with the area surrounding Norton Station being the most modern, and then changing gradually from style to style as one moves towards the center of the area where the bulk of the galleries can be found.
Mandiba……………………<MA> The Other Change of Hobbit…..<CH>
Market Row…………………<MR> Beachfront…………………<BF>
Residential District………..<RD> Norton Station……………..<NS>

Even superheroes are allowed to take a night off now and again. In his other identity as Spook, Tiago has been floating intangibly between rooftops and stalking invisibly down alleyways a lot over the last week or two so he feels he's earned a more relaxing evening. Plus, his day job has been taxing lately. The deadline for his latest collection is rapidly approaching, as is the all important runway show that will accompany it, so it's all stress stress stress at the sewing machine right now. A quiet drink would be most welcome. To that end, he's made the trip to a small bar he knows on one of the hipper streets in the Melting Pot. He's fond of the place because the patrons tend to be friendly but not over-bearingly so. If he's sitting at a table with a friend then they'll almost certainly be left alone and since his intended companion for the evening is someone he doesn't know very well yet, that's preferable. Planning ahead, Tiago fished out Colin Reed's business card before he left for the bar and gave him a call, inviting him to join him. Now, he's sitting at a table at the side of the bar, which is pretty quiet for a Saturday night, his eyes on the door as he taps the side of his beer bottle and awaits Colin's arrival.

When Colin got the call, he was working on something in the lab. Probably something involving natural-made sound bafflers on the off chance he runs into Virtuoso once again. He's been doing his own patrols, as well, but he's easing up a bit. He's not as driven, or guilt-ridden about the incident over a week ago. He's decided he just has to know better next time. Rose pinged him in the lab, and patched the call through, which was met by Colin with some surprise. It /was/ Tiago, and he wanted Colin to come hang out at a bar with him! After cutting the call, Colin saved his work, sealed his lab, changed his clothes and fended off lovingly snarky comments from his computer. Colin then found his computer had an active imagination, for one. Still, in a white polo shirt and black jeans, Colin finds the bar indicated in the call, and looks at the outer face for a moment. There /is/ a bar here; he just didn't really notice. He pushes the door open, eyes moving amongst the crowd.

Tiago's features brighten as he sees Colin slip into the bar. Quickly, he stands from his seat, lifting a hand to catch the other man's attention. "Colin," he says, taking a step away from the table to greet his drinking companion, ducking around a girl dressed in a fantastic shirt that he didn't design but wishes he had. There are quite a few people milling around, granting the place a pleasant buzz but it isn't too loud so he doesn't think he should have a problem being noticed by Colin. "I am glad you could make it!" he says enthusiastically, which is how he says most things. Guiding Colin back to the table, he gestures at a chilled beer bottle waiting patiently to be sipped at. "I got you a beer but if you want something else, just say the word. I will make sure the beer is not wasted," he grins.

"That's no problem, but I'm buying the next round," Colin replies, as he takes his seat. He runs a finger along the collar of his own shirt, internally wondering if he's overdressed. Still, he lowers his shoulders, trying to make himself feel a little more relaxed. Which is why he picks up the bottle in his fingertips and tilts it back. "Still, thank you. I've been a bit pre-occupied, I'll admit. Work's been rough." In a way, he's telling the truth.

Tiago follows Colin's lead in sitting himself down and taking a swig from his own bottle, which he's already drunk half of. He's not feeling tipsy though. His student days provided him with pretty decent alcohol tolerance levels. His eye is caught when Colin runs his finger along his collar. If there's one thing Tiago is perceptive about, it's how comfortable people are in their clothes. "I have a shirt like that," he notes, nodding his head at Colin's outfit. "It looks a lot better on you than it does on me," he adds, with a soft smile. He's trying to help Colin feel comfortable, but he's also telling the truth. Colin /does/ look good and Tiago isn't often shy about saying such things. He nods when Colin talks about work. "Tell me about it," he says in his accented voice, coupling his words with a grimace. "I have had a little stress headache all week. It is good to get away from things. You are… having trouble in the lab?" Tiago realises he has no real idea what a rough work week would entail for someone like Colin.

Comments like that make Colin's inner gears turn. Was Tiago just giving him a compliment, or actually flirting with him? For all his vaunted intelligence, Colin isn't exactly the best when it comes to picking up signals. He also is someone who is told to go out by his home-built AI. He slouches a little at the comment, trying not to look embarassed. "Yeah," he admits. "Some design work, some new projects, and at least one…accident, but with minimal lasting harm." He gestures with the bottle, in between draughts. "Why so stressed?"

Tiago's bottle pauses at his lips as Colin mentions an accident, a look of concern crossing his features. Rather unsubtly, his gaze sweeps over what he can see of Colin's body, looking for signs of broken or missing limbs that he might have somehow missed before. "An accident? But you are okay, yes?" Only semi-satisfied that Colin isn't about to collapse, Tiago takes a sip of his drink before grimacing again at Colin's question. "Oh, do you remember the runway show I mentioned, the one I showed you the design for? The deadline for that is approaching. I have a few more days to finalise the collection and I am not ready yet. Every time I figure out one detail, I find another three that need attention. You know how it is." He and Colin work in very different fields but he imagines the problems they run into professionally are similar in nature if not in form. "I have not been devoting enough time to it, I admit," he confesses, flicking at the edge of the label on the bottle with his thumb as he tries to avoid explaining what other things he might have been busy with. He can't really tell Colin he's been reducing his design time so that he can spend his evenings handling carjackers and burglars. "Sometimes I do not find it easy to balance everything in my life, you know?"

"I'm all right." Just Colin's pride was wounded, and that's working on sealing itself up. He listens intently to what Tiago has to say about his job, though in his head he's trying to match what Tiago says to things similar in his lab work…and it succeeds. One detail, one chrosome pair here, which affects another set, which have to be altered slightly and in just the right way so he doesn't create a gross mutation. "I hear you," he says, in a low voice. "It's like there's not enough hours…" Something in his head clicks. Something starts to make a lot of sense right now. He takes a long drink, draining the bottle, which he puts down on the coaster. Then, Colin starts to laugh; a low chuckle at first, until his shoulders start shaking as he tries to hold in the serious high volume.

Relief is evident in Tiago's face when Colin confirms that he isn't about to shuffle off this mortal coil. He celebrates by downing the last mouthful of his beer, though it isn't very nice. He doesn't like the wateriness of beer when it gets to the end of the bottle. But then, he's not a huge fan of beer in general, he just figured it'd be an easy choice for tonight. He generally prefers spirits, which is appropriate for a man named Spook. When Colin starts to laugh, Tiago hesitates, but a big grin soon appears on his lips even though he doesn't know what they're laughing at. Laughter pleases him. It occurs to him that he might have said something silly. He's fluent in English but it isn't unheard of for him to make a mistake and use the wrong word. Still, he doesn't think that has happened during this conversation, so he leans forward a little, resting his elbows on the table as he smiles at his friend curiously. "What? What do you laugh at, Colin?"

Luckily, Colin's not that drunk. He's not much of a drinker, but one beer isn't going to flatten him out. He finally chills out from laughing, and looks up at Tiago's question. "I am…" He starts chuckling again. "I am laughing at fate. Or fate is having a good roaring laugh at my expenese right now." He moves the emoty beer bottle to one side, closer to the edge of the table, and mentally reminds himself that he is buying the next round. "You don't see it…do you," he asks. When he answers his own question in his mind, his right hand moves and removes the watch on his left wrist. "Tiago, look at my watch," he says. "Tell me what you see."

For his part, Tiago seems to retain good humour about this situation. As Colin starts to explain, he still doesn't really understand but that's okay. Whatever it is seems to be amusing Colin and that's good enough for him. Something about what Colin is saying though, the talk of fate… it all seems like it has a more serious undercurrent and he finds himself wondering what's really going on here. It even occurs to him that Colin might be flirting, albeit in a form Tiago hasn't encountered before. "See what?" he replies quietly through his befuddled grin, before Colin slides his watch towards him. Tiago eyes him with a lopsided smile for a moment before deciding to play along by looking down at the watch. It isn't what he expected to see. He assumed it would be something high-tech but it's… made of wood. Entirely. "Colin, this is amazing," he breathes, not catching on for a moment and instead just bedazzled by the coolness. "I have never seen such a thing. Did you make—" Suddenly, he stops talking, his jaw clamping shut. Because the wooden watch reminds him of something, which reminds him that Colin's voice reminds him of something, which reminds him that Colin's hair and lips remind him of something… "Oh." His thoughts slam against the sides of his brain as unexpected realisations make themselves known. He lifts his gaze to stare at Colin's face, eyes impossibly round. "…Oh."

"I did make it," Colin says, in a quiet voice. "It's sort of…what I do for a living." His smile tuoches his eyes. "I think you know that, now," he explains. He pauses, and calls a member of the wait staff over to get them drinks, whatever Tiago wants. Money's not an issue for Colin so much; his patents have made sure he will never worry about money, unless he buys something big. Like an island. Then, his smile gets a little lopsided. "I like it here," he says, looking around. "Much less drafty that our usual rooftop."

Tiago's lips slowly part as he stares at Colin and listens to his response, as though he's about to say something. He isn't though. He's just becoming a little slack-jawed with shock. Fingers splayed on the table, he finds his gaze drifting back down to the watch as he nods his head. "It is beautiful," he murmurs absently. He means it but it would be fair to say that the unique watch isn't really occupying his thoughts at the moment. He looks up when the waitress comes over and immediately orders a double scotch. He needs it. He'll thank Colin for it later, when his brain works again. Once the waitress is gone, Tiago finds himself staring at Colin, studying the curve of the other man's smile, fascinated that he didn't notice the similarities to somebody else before now and too shocked to think much further than that until Colin mentions their rooftop. At that, his eyes meet Colin's again and he feels a broad smile spreading across his lips. For a few long, agonising seconds, this realisation felt like the most frightening and exposing thing in the world. But all of a sudden it just seems… awesome. "Yes. And the seats are comfortabler here." 'Comfortabler' isn't correct English but he can probably be forgiven for getting it wrong given the circumstances. A bark of a laugh passes his lips, delight in his eyes as he shakes his head. "Colin… this is… Colin, you're…" He laughs again and rubs a hand across his face. "Wow. How did you know?" It has never occured to him that his accent could give him away. Ever. That's how smart he isn't.

Given the choice, Colin order a Black Russian. Like a White Russian, just with more chocolate flavor. And he knows drinking liquor after beer is usually a bad idea, he figures one can't really bug him that much. He drinks part of it, and feels the fuzzyness in his head. It's slight' only a buzz. "I'd love to say I have intensive decuctive powers, and base it on your body language or something." He pauses. "But your accent, admittedly, is a dead giveaway."

Tiago should probably just sip at his drink because he's still reeling and should make an effort to retain a clear head. Of course, instead of doing that, he downs most of his scotch in a couple of big gulps. The hot sting at the back of his throat actually helps to bring him back to reality a little and he rubs his thumb once across his lips to dry them. At Colin's explanation, he laughs again, slightly more relaxed this time. "My accent! I never even thought about that before. I should be more careful." He's going to have to try to either thicken or soften his accent when he's in costume. Colin probably won't be the last person to hear both Tiago and Spook talk, especially if his costumed persona starts making the press and TV news more often. He pauses, his smile softening warmly. "I am glad I was not careful around you though." He wants to make sure Colin knows he's happy about this, even if he is shocked. "Nobody else knows. About me. I have never been able to talk to anyone…" He trails off, his smile returning in full force. "I think this is good. Fate has been very smart." His smile falters a moment. "You are okay with this, yes? With me knowing?"

"OUtside of registration, you're the only one I've really told," Colin answers. He holds the glass in his hand, seeing the bit of liquid still swirling around in there. "If I wasn't okay with it," he states. "I wouldn't have said anything just now, when it finally hit me where I'd heard that voice before tonight, again. So, you know what I've been going through." He laughs a touch. "I wasn't sure how to explain it to Spook. My identity and all. I found him to be easily trustworthy."

Tiago nods his head, visibly relaxing at Colin's words. He would've hated it if stumbling on each other's secret had made Colin uncomfortable. A touched smile brushes his lips when Colin mentions Spook's trustworthiness and he lowers his head a little. "I am glad. I liked Thorn too. A lot. Now I know why." He lets his gaze settle on the other man for a second or two longer than he should before drawing in a breath and glancing out into the bar. He'd almost forgotten there are other people around them and that's dangerous. Lots of people who could potentially pay more attention to their conversation than they might like. Tiago leans forward a little, grinning despite himself. "We probably should not talk about this too much here. Walls have eyes." He pauses a moment, thinking that through, then his grin broadens. "Walls have /ears/." He lifts one of his hands so that he can rub softly at the ever-present stubble at his jawline, still clearly bowled over by all this. He's still smiling though. "Now I /really/ want to see your lab. It must be… unique."

"This is true," Colin responds with as he downs the rest of his drink, especially as Tiago mentions wanting to see the lab. Because there's that part of Colin's mind that wants to show someone his workshop, and his efforts. He runs a finger along the end of his empty glass. "On both parts. Now, I'd be happy to show you the lab, because you're right about it being, well, unique," he adds. "So, to counter the dryness of a laboratory tour, how about I make dinner?" He lifts his finger from the lip of the glass. "Now, environmental and all, but I'm not a vegetarian."

"I would love that," Tiago replies immediately, with a big smile. Following suit, he downs the last of his scotch, aware of some furriness at the edges of his brain though a little fresh air should deal with that. "I am not a vegetarian either. In fact, I will usually eat anything which is put on a plate in front of me. This is why I exercise so much." It's not easy maintaining a superhero's body when you're this greedy. He pauses, a thought occuring to him. "Where is your lab? Is it close by? I do not know where you live."

Suddenly feeling the need to rest his chin in his cupped palm, Colin just grins. "Thursday, instead of meeting at the usual spot, meet me in De La Vega. You know where it is?" There's a part of Colin that, in anticipation of having someone see this, is near gleeful. That part of his head is not the one remembering that he has to tidy up the place.

"Yes, I know it," Tiago nods, smile affixed to his lips. "I like to walk there sometimes when I need to think about work stuff. The colors are good for inspiration." And lord knows he can't get enough inspiration. He forgets what he's talking about for a moment as he looks at Colin, aware instead of a feeling of warmth towards him. He's unsure if that's down to the sudden intimacy of knowing each other's biggest secret, or if it's just because he really likes him. Both, probably. Smile widening almost imperceptibly as he refocuses on the conversation, he lifts his eyebrows. "We can meet by the Zorro statue? Usual time?"

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License