(1939-09-24) Den of Frivolity
Details for Den of Frivolity
Summary: Charlie finally manages to drag James out for a brotherly meal. Things go about as expected for the Shaughnessy brothers.
Date: 24 September, 1939
Location: The Natrix Dance Hall

After weeks of being hounded by his brother to "loosen up", James has apparently caved. The large stoic can be found waiting outside of The Natrix looking all-together unimpressed with what he's seen, so far. He checks his watch and a frown creeps to his lips as his brother manages to, once again, be late.

A taxi pulls to a stop in front of the restaurant. Within, Charlie can be seen leaning conversing with the driver, making a lot of back-and-forth motions with his hands. Finally, he counts out some paper notes and hands them over before crawling out. Popping his hat onto his head, he gives James a broad smile and opens his arms invitingly. "Jimmy! I was afraid you wouldn't show up."

James shudders slightly as his nickname is shouted and raises a hand to his brother, "James will suffice in public." He looks over his shoulder at the line of people who are making their way in for dinner and swallows harshly. He may not be a prohi anymore, but there's something about such flagrant inebriation that sticks in his craw. He checks his watch, once more and offers, "It is thirty minutes past when you told me to be here. I'm sure any reservations you made have been rendered void."

"Reservations are for suckers." As his brother doesn't seem receptive to a hug (is he ever?), Charlie offers a hand to shake instead. "Sorry I'm late. Something came up that I just couldn't ignore." In fact, "something" left a little lipstick on Charlie's collar. Charlie wastes no time walking straight to the front of the line to speak with the doorman, and his magic begins. Not the kind done with a wand, but rather with his mouth a five-pound note. "Hey, Jimmy," he says, beckoning James toward the door, "We're in. Let's go."

James will shake his brother's hand, with the promise of it staving off a hug. He'll hang back as his brother works things over with the doorman, only slightly hoping that the brute will give Charlie a shiner and have to be hauled down to the station. Unfortunately, the duo gets inside. James follows after Charles and his scowl only deepens once he crosses the threshold, but for his brother's sake he'll offer up an entirely-too-forced smile and says, "Lovely."

"Isn't this place great?" Charlie smirks at his brother, holding back a chuckle at the painful smile. "You're gonna love it, I promise. You like Italian, don't you?" Without waiting for a confirmation, Charlie saunters up to the host and flashes a charming smile. "The special table, please. Courtsey of Tony." There is a brief sizing up of Charlie, and perhaps another subtle passing of money, and soon the two Shaughnessy men are being shown to a table near the bandstand, where a small band is playing soft, soothing background music. "How about this, Jimmy? Classy, right?"

"The food far more than the people," James clarifies. His tired eyes move around, taking in the absurdity of it all and he just nods to Charlie as they are shown to the table, adding, "Yes. Classy." He'll remove his overcoat and offer it to the host before he unbuttons his jacket and has a seat, still looking entirely too uncomfortable. "I suppose I should expect the traditional Italian fare?"

"I think they've got some more local dishes, too. To be honest, I've never been here this early. Later on, the place turns into a dance hall." Charlies settles in, grinning victoriously at James. "I thought I'd have to tell you there was a stick-up somewhere to get you to come out with me."

"How lovely," James responds to the notion of a bunch of drunk dancers. His eyes finally return from surveying the area and rest on Charlie, "Yes, well. A rock can only resist the battering of the waves for so long."

"I don't know how you do it, Jimmy. When's the last time you did something just for the sheer enjoyment of it?" Charlie smiles to the waiter that arrives to take drink orders, "A glass of red…something with 'Chateau' in the name. Jimmy? Come on, you've got to at least have a sip of something."

"Integrity plays a hand in it, Charles," James retorts, leaving off the 'but you wouldn't know a thing about that' bit. Once the waiter arrives, he'll raise a hand and state, "One glass of milk will suit me fine, thank you." His eyes move back to Charlie and he says, "How are you finding London?"

Charlie sighs, shaking his head at James. "Milk? You can't drink milk in a place like this. Bring my brother a glass of what I'm having." He holds up a finger to James, adding, "I'm buying. No argument. Oh, speaking of which…" Charlie takes another five-pound note from his wallet, laying it on the table and sliding it across. "Didn't think I'd pay you back, did you? As you can see, London is treating me well."

James eyes the money on the table and says, "I believe I offered you ten, Charles." In any case, he'll take it and tuck it into his breast pocket. "What, pray tell, has kept you busy over these past few weeks, Charles?"

"Was it ten? Damn. Well, I'll have to get you next time." Charlie puts his wallet away, giving James a grin. "Anyhow, mostly I've been meeting people. Done a few odd jobs here and there to pick up some scratch. Just got paid for my last one, which is why I wanted to treat you. Listen, I want to really thank you for loaning me that note. It was a lifesaver."

"Yes, well, it's expected of me," James replies, still not quite as comfortable in these surroundings as he would like to be. He slightly moves about in his chair, sitting a bit more straight up and saying, "I trust you've been keeping out of trouble?"

Charlie spreads his hands in an incredulous expression. "Jimmy. I just did a dime in Sing Sing. You really think I crossed an ocean to get myself into trouble? Unless you're counting gettin' a little tipsy and makin' time with a pretty shop girl. I'm almost positive she wasn't married, so I don't think I'm in trouble." His wry smirk makes it difficult to tell how serious he's being, but it certainly isn't outside of his wheelhouse.

James gives Charlie a slightly incredulous look but reigns it in before he says, "I don't have the pull here that I had back in New York. With the mounting aggressions and the recent tension against the Irish, I've been cast to the bottom of the heap. Any trouble you may get into will rest on your shoulders alone, Charles."

Charlie sighs, his good spirits starting to drain. "I've never asked you to get me out of trouble, Jimmy. You're the one that wanted to come to my rescue, to ease your conscience, I suppose. Is it so hard for you not to assume the worst of me? Do I got a rap sheet here already? Do you keep it in your pocket, just in case?"

"Father entrusted me with keeping you safe, Charles, despite your efforts to fashion it into a Sisyphean task," James responds, taking a roll from the basket as it's delivere by the waiter, along with their drinks.

"That's because Father thought I was a weakling. How was I supposed to toughen up with my big brother constantly looming over me? And you wonder why I had to get away and stretch my wings" The arrival of Charlie's wine is perfect timing, and he enjoys a long, soothing sip. "Mm. That's fantastic. Jimmy, c'mon, just take one sip. One sip won't 'hinder your faculties', or however you'd say it."

"I'm fine with the bread, for now, thank you," James explains, tearing off a piece of it and placing it in his mouth. "And with those wings, you became a modern-day Icarus, Charles. Sometimes a bird is best confined to the nest."

"Sometimes a nest is actually a cage," Charlie counters. "But hey, I ended up in a cage after all. So maybe you're right," he says with a sarcastic curl of his lip, taking a defiant mouthful of wine.

James takes another mouthful of bread and chews it methodically before swallowing it and saying, "I am only looking out for you, Charles. Father loved you, and I love you, but I believe it may be time for you to find a good woman and begin making a life for yourself."

Charlie nearly chokes on a piece of bread, and takes a moment to wash it down with some more wine. "Ahh…heh. Get married? Speaking of cages. No, Jimmy. That's the life for you, not me. There ain't a dame out there that can tame me."

A weaker man would have just rolled his eyes at Charlie, but James refrains. He vocalizes a nearly-silent 'hrmm' before setting his bread down on one of the small saucers that was provided with the bread basket, "It's a decent life, Charles. A certain peace of mine to it."

"Be honest with yourself, Jimmy. Can you really see me in an armchair, feet up, newspaper open with a pipe in my mouth? A couple'a rugrats runnin' around while the little lady cooks dinner? 'Honey? Is that pot roast gonna be ready soon?'" Charlie chuckles and shakes his head. "It's great for you. You'll provide for Shannon and Felicity, and I'm sure you'll all be very happy. But for me? That's death, Jimmy."

"Perhaps your outlook will mature in time, Charles. It's not a life of frivolities, but one of providing and nurturing something besides yourself," James says with a pointed look before his eyes move to the wine that was delivered for him.

"That's my point," Charlie says with another chuckle. "I'm not made for taking care of others. Sure, I can look after some broad if we're a thing. But kids? A family dog? A house? She'd better be one sweet tomato."

James sighs a bit wearily at Charlie's response and says, "Not surprising." He picks up the glass of wine and inspects it thoroughly, doing his best 'swirl and sniff' that he sees all of the upper-crust doing.

Charlie arches an eyebrow in surprise at James. That he'd even touch the wine glass is unexpected. Hoping his brother will at least try it, he's tries to take the pressure off by talking about something he'll enjoy. "So, Felicity's off to school now, right? Is she liking it so far?"

"From what I've heard, yes. Though she is concerned about the lack of time she's had available to practice piano," James responds, eyes resting on the wine as a war of morality rages inside that head of his.

"Do they at least have music lessons? Seems a waste to send her somewhere that won't nurture a musical talent." Charlie may not desire children of his own, but he's developed a certain affection for his niece.

"They do. An arts club, of sorts. I'm not familiar with the curriculum," James responds, setting the glass down and looking back across the table to Charlie, "So, Charles, what are your sights set on, these days? Where would you like to end up?"

"Buckingham Palace looks nice." Charlie grins playfully. "But seriously, I'm thinking of getting in shipping. Imports and exports. I figure I've got good people skills for the business side of things, and it might mean I can travel now and then. Y'know, so I don't get restless." His eyes flicker down to the wine glass, then back up to James with a silent question in them.

"I'd advise caution in that area, Charles. Ships from the orient are moving heroin in at an exponential rate. It can be a dangerous venture for a clean business man," James remarks. There's a moment of indecision before he finally takes a small sip of wine to appease his brother.

"Well, who better than me to spot dirty business early? I'll recognize the signs," Charlie's words drift a moment as his brother drinks, bringing a smile to his face, "…and I'll know what to avoid. Wouldn't you rather have your own flesh and blood in the business, keepin' it clean?"

"Yes. Well, one can always count on you to keep things clean, Charles," James says with just a tinge of sarcasm as he sets the glass down and goes back to his bread.

Charlie lets the dig go. He's more interested in his brother's taste of wine. "Well? How was it? Tell me that isn't smooth as silk."

"It was bitter and unpleasant," responds James. There's no doubt that Shannon would have found much more enjoyment in it than he. He takes a bite from his bread and looks up as the waiter arrives to take their orders. James choses the staple of basic spaghetti with meat sauce and gestures for Charlie to order as well.

Charlie puts in an order for some fancy ravioli and a light salad. When the waiter leaves, Charlie's eyes are on the wine. Try as he might to bite his tongue, his poor judgement gets the better of him. "It must taste like sunshine when the word 'sacramental' is attached to it, then."

James cuts his eyes at Charlie, "It surprises me that you remember how communion works, Charles. When was the last time you managed to get to church, hrmm?"

"There was a chapel at Sing Sing," Charlie says with a hint of iciness. "Christ, I just want you to try to enjoy yourself, Jimmy. The way you live…you're going to die a bitter, lonely old man. That is, if you don't give yourself a heart attack by fifty. You're too wound up. You need release."

"I will find release in the Kingdom of Heaven, Charles," retorts James with unwavering conviction. "And when I do die, I will be content in the knowledge that I have built a good life for my wife and child."

"You're gonna be in the Kingdom of Heaven a lot sooner than you expect if you don't loosen up." Charlie sighs, taking his wine back and finishing off the glass. "Personally, I'd be more concerned about being around a little longer for my wife and kid."

Signe emerges from the back stage, pulling on gloves as she walks, and talks to the man beside her. "And make sure the car is pulled around," she remarks. Sure the opera starts late this evening, but she can't afford to be tardy. With one last tug, her gloves are perfect and she climbs up onto the stage - not to sing, but to carry on a hushed conversation with one of the men in the band.

"Remarked the man who earlier voiced his opinion against having a wife and child," James says, taking another sip from the wine glass and resting it on the table.

"I'm just trying to put myself in your shoes. So sue me for trying to look out for my bro-…holy mother of God. Would you look at that." Charlie's eyes are drawn away line they were on a fishing line, gazing up at the blonde woman on the stage.

"I enjoyed a conversation with her in the park the other day," James says of the woman, clearing his saucer away as the waiter arrives with the plates. He offers a nod of his head and another strained smile to the server and sends him along his way.

Taking a stack of sheet music from the man on the stage, Signe flips through them, before pulling out one of the songs in particular, and offering it back to him. She speaks to him in softly wheedling tones - though it doesn't seem to be necessary. She easily gets a nod of agreement.

"You know her?" Charlie boggles at his brother. It's an expression not dissimilar to the one he got the first time he met James's gorgeous wife. "Then you've got to introduce us. Invite her to sit with us."

"Miss Cole," James remarks, attempting to gain Signe's attention, clarifying to his brother, "One meets people from all walks of life in my position."

At the sound of her name, Signe looks towards the table. There's surprise on her features a first, followed by a smile, as she climbs down from the stage. "Detective," she greets him. "I can't say I expected to see you here, today." What was his name? It had sounded Irish, she thinks.

Charlie should have been more specific. He was shocked that a beautiful woman would tolerate his brother long enough for him to learn her name. But he bites his tongue, rising as Signe approaches the table. "Miss Cole? Sydney Cole?" He recalls the name from a sign outside the club, and puts two and two together. "Charlie Johnson. I'm a huge fan, Miss Cole. My brother told me he'd met you, and…forgive me, I twisted his arm to introduce us. Please, won't you sit with us awhile?" He pulls out a chair invitingly.

James raises an eyebrow at Charlie's use of 'Johnson' over 'Shaughnessy', but says nothing of it for the time being, instead taking up his fork and spoon, offering an awkward smile to the woman, "I trust you've managed to shake Roberto D'Allessio off for the evening?"

"I suppose I could say for a short time…" Signe responds with only a hint of hesitation creeping into her voice. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mister Johnson. I'm afraid I won't be staying too long, however. I have a performance at the Royal Albert tonight."

As James speaks, Signe gives him a surprised, and slightly confused look. "Are you… acquainted with Robert?" she asks uncertainly. "I believe he's out tonight."

"My brother makes it a point to know everything about everyone," Charlie mentions with a smirk. "Whereas I merely try to know those that make an impression. And please, call me Charlie. I only want strangers and store clerks to call me Mr. Johnson."

"I'm acquainted with with a few members of Mister Montague's organization, madam," James says, flatly before taking a small bite of his spaghetti. Once again, Charlie uses a false name and it brings a visible question to James' eyes, but for now, he'll continue enjoying his spaghetti.

"Well. Charlie, then," Signe corrects herself. "I'm sure you gentlemen are both enjoying yourselves?" Once settled into her seat, she smooths at her skirt, fixing any wrinkles. James' flat statement earns him a curious and uncertain look. "I… see."

She clearly doesn't.

Montague. Another name Charlie spotted on the signs outside. But…organization? That's not usually how one refers to a singer's entourage. Then again, his brother is an odd duck sometimes. "We're havin' a ball. Jimmy doesn't get many chances to get out and shake loose like this." He can scarcely contain his amusement at his own words. "Figured I'd treat him to a night out."

James is picking up on the fact that Signe isn't tuned in to the type of things that happen in those back rooms and simply offers a nod before grunting in response to Charlie's explanation.

"Well, that is good of you," Signe directs towards Charlie - all things told, he seems much easier to deal with than the other - who seems a bit odd. "And you both came together from America? It was so kind of you to follow a friend so far from home. Unless you both met here, I suppose?" That probably makes more sense - come to think of it.

"Jimmy's my big brother," Charlie reminds her. "Felt it was time to start a new life, so I followed him here. What timing, huh? Right before England declares war." He chuckles, shaking his head.

James nods in agreement to Charlies words and looks over to Signe, looking to his watch, "Surely you must be coming up on showtime, yes? You mentioned something at the Albert?"

"I'll have to leave shortly," Signe confirms. "Gio's bringing the car around. And we do start late on weeknights - gives folks a chance to get changed and have some dinner before we start." Looking between the two brothers, she wonders if the pair are half-bothers - that would explain the name discrepency. "You must be so proud of your niece," adds towards Charlie. "I heard she got into an excellent school."

Charlie frowns at James. "Don't rush her, Jimmy. We're just gettin' to know each other." At the mention of his niece, Charlie beams broadly. "I couldn't be prouder, Miss Cole. She's a great kid. Did you get a chance to meet her?"

"Not everyone's work hours are quite as flexible as yours, Charles. Some people have responsibilities," James remarks before taking another bite from his spaghetti.

"I shant allow myself to be late," Signe reassures James. "It isn't professional. And there are so many depending on me."

Returning her attention to Charlie, she adds, "I'm afraid I didn't have the pleasure - and she must be off at her school already. I believe you said it was a boarding school, Detective…?" she asks. "Though, I was told she is practicing the piano, which I think is simply marvelous."

"She's got a great ear," Charlie confirms. "Who knows, maybe one day she'll be a star of the stage, like you." He glances to James, suddenly curious just what he would think of his daughter becoming an entertainer. She might have to perform in a den of frivolity like the Natrix!

"I'm sure she could be," James replies to Charlie, leaving it at that. He sets his spoon and fork down on a nearby napkin and looks to Signe, asking, "I trust everything has been going well for you, Miss Cole?"

"Well, if she needs any further encouragement - perhaps she could come here, one day, when the band is rehearsing?" Signe suggests. "During her school breaks, naturally. I think it's so important to encourage a love of the arts."

Her attention lands on James as she adds, "Oh, wonderfully. I'll be an Aunt myself soon, you know. My sister is expecting her first child in about a month. The anticipation has been absolutely dreadful."

Charlie points a finger from Signe to James. "That is a great idea. Bring Felicity down here to see what a real music gig is like. Maybe over Christmas? They always let boarding kids out for Christmas, right?"

Wolfgang, even when he's just rolled out of bed and gotten ready he still looks well styled and put together. He makes his host greetings and makes sure that everyone is having a good time and satisfied with the meal. Usually he makes the rounds, but this time he's pretty much making through the crowd headed right for Signe and the Brothers. "Gentlemen, I hope that you are enjoying your meal." He kisses the top of Signe's head and then extends his hand to James and then Charlie. "Wolfgang Montague. Welcome to the Natrix."

"I'm sure she would it, thoroughly. Perhaps we can make a family day out of it," James replies, taking a sip of his wine and wincing noticably as he does so. Once Wolfgang makes his appearance, James holds up a hand at Wolfgang's offered shake and says, "I apologize, my hands are dirty. Detective Inspector James Shaughnessy."

Shaughnessy! That was it! "Wolfgang, darling, so glad I could catch you before I go." Signe reaches back to capture the man's hand, and smiles up at him. "I met Detective Shaughnessy at Hyde park the other day. It turns out his daughter is learning piano - and I thought it would be simply lovely if she could come watch the band rehearse one day, while she's home from school. It never hurts to inspire the youth."

Charlie arches an eyebrow at the kiss to Signe's head. Damn. Damn, damn, double-damn. Maybe she's a cousin? Not likely. Ah well, plenty of birds in the sea. Charlie rises to greet Wolfgang, taking his hand for a firm shake. So this is Montague. "Charlie Johnson. Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Montague."

Wolfgang doesn't seem irked by the lack of hand shake and he continues to give a charming wolfish grin to the table. "Detective Shaughnessy, Mr. Johnson. Allow me to comp you on your drinks. Little Miss Shaughnessy would be more than welcomed to stop by. Of course, the whole family is welcomed. Bit of a key tickler myself, would love to help the future of the business. Anything I can get you gentlemen before I steal away such beautiful company?" He asks while offering his hand to help Signe rise and draw her in against him and wrap her up with one arm around the waist. Definitely not a cousin, sorry Charlie.

"Thank you, but I'm sure we'll manage just fine, Montague," James responds with a bit of heat, wiping his hands off with his napking and setting it down on the table. "You can tell D'Allessio I said 'hello', though. Once he's back in."

Signe places her hand in Wolfgang's and rises gracefully, more than happy to tuck in beside the man, and wrap her own arm around him. "I'll have to scamper soon," she reminds Wolfgang, her eyes finding James as he mentions Roberto again by name.

Charlie's eyes dart between James and Wolfgang. He'd already noted the strange way his brother had referred to Montague earlier, and this confirms it all in Charlie's mind: Wolfgang Montague is his kind of guy…and apparently a big shot around here. So the American man gives the Wolfgang a charming smile, suggesting, "Since you're stealin' away the lovely Miss Cole, how 'bout you put my name on the list for next time she's performing?" He glances to James. "You want on the list, Jimmy? I expect you'll be busy at home with the Missus."

Wolfgang's smile never faulters. "I will tell Bobby you said hello, of course, Detective." That title is said with a curt sort of respect, like any good gangster he's almost over respectful of the Detective, nothing to see here! "The list, you bet Mr. Johnson. Charlie Johnson. Got it. You can slide right on in tomorrow night and hell, you can even sit with me and we can watch Signe together." And chat about crime and things. He's made Charlie out, though his company with a Detective also has him concerned about Charlie's ethics, maybe Charlie's a stoolie and Signe interuppted a rat's meal. But that will all be gleaned soon enough. "Come on Dollface, let's get you to the Opera. Gentlemen, it was a pleasure. Hope to see you again soon."

"Stay safe, Mister Montague," James responds, plucking his fork and spoon up, once more and returning to the business of eating his spaghetti. He looks across the table at Charlie with a look that says 'don't even think about it'. But he knows he will.

"Enjoy your evening, gentlemen," Signe directs towards Charlie and James as she allows herself to be swept out of the restaurant and towards the waiting car. "Wolfgang - I had the oddest encounter this afternoon…" she murmurs to the man at her side.

"See you around," Charlie says to Signe and Wolfgang as they depart. When he sits again and looks across the table at this brother, he feels the weight of that stare. Of course he knows what it means…and of course he's going to ignore it. Nevertheless, he spreads his hands with an oh-so-innocent, "What? He seems like a nice fella."

"He's a man of ill-repute, Charles. Not the sort that an upstanding businessman like yourself should be seen fraternizing with," James explains, continuing to eye his brother.

Charlie shakes his head with a smile, slicing into one of the raviolis to make for a smaller bite. "Look around at this place. This is a classy joint. I guarantee you that it's chock full of upstanding businessmen. I can make connections here. Besides, what makes you think he's so ill-reputed?"

"Do what you will, Charles," James responds, taking a moment to look at his watch before he says, "How long are you going to have me out tonight?"

Charlie puts his hand to his chest in the universal sign of being wounded. "I'm so sorry to keep you. I thought you might want to actually finish your meal. Maybe even enjoy it." Charlie shakes his head, focusing on his ravioli.

James breathes a weary sigh and sets his napkin down on top of the empty plate, leaning back slightly in his chair, but somehow continuing to look just as uncomfortable, "Shannon is a worrier."

Peregrine walks into the dance hall in the evening, and approaches the bar, removing his hat and putting it down on the bar. "Whiskey, please." he says, and then fiddles in his pocket before pushing a few large penny coins across the bar.

Charlie glances up at James with annoyance in his eyes. "Sure. It's because of Shannon. Well, can't have her worrying about you. You should probably get going." He spears another ravioli…just maaaybe pretending it's James's face.

James eyes Charlie for a moment and straightens out his vest, saying, "Don't pretend like you enjoy my company, Charles." The larger brother sits up straight in his chair, resting his hands on the table.

Peregrine gets his drink, and then turns, and catches sight of the two men sitting over at the table, especially as the larger one sits up. His eyebrow arches just a bit, and then he sips his whiskey, as if debating something mentally. Putting the glass down at his elbow, he slaps his hands together and rubs them.

There is one man in the world that has demonstrated the ability to make Charlie lose his cool, and he's currently sitting across the table from him. Charlie's hand comes down hard on the table, rattling the tablewear. "God dammit, Jimmy. I'm trying. I coulda just stayed in New York. But I wanted to try to have an actual relationship with the family I got left. But I crossed the damn ocean to be near you. So, fine. No, I don't enjoy your company. Who could? You're an insufferable, holier-than-thou sonuvabitch whose face would split open if he tried to smile. But here I am anyhow, because you're my brother and believe it or not, I love you." He glances to the side, catching the eyes of a nearby table that was in earshot of his tirade. "What are you lookin' at? Eat your damn pasta."

"And you're a child, Charles. You can hardly take a moment to enjoy dinner with your brother without fraternizing with the enemy," James says with a gesture towards the back room. "You can follow me to London, you can bring my wife a bottle of wine, you can talk about how much you love your niece…you can do all of these things to show off how wonderful and sweet you are as a person, but it won't matter a…a damn bit when you end up floating in the Thames," James punctuates this by slamming his hand down on the table in return. "Is that what you want, Charles? Hrmmm?" James raises his eyebrows at his brother before asking, "You want me to find you floating face-down in the river because you screwed some yellow on a deal?"

As fascinating as this is, Peregrine can see the other staring. A shilling on the bar, and he says, "Send those two a double each, would you, and refill mine." After the drinks are made, he walks over with the waiter, and says, "Gentlemen, really… there are ladies present, and you might not want to… err… soak your dirty laundry in public. Have a drink, hrm?"

"Jesus Christ, Jim." Charlie sits back in his chair, chuckling mirthlessly. "You see enemies everywhere you look. I wanted to meet the lady, and I said hello to the man. Suddenly you think that means I'm colluding with Lucifer. You know what you're problem is, yo-…" He doesn't get to finish the thought, as suddenly there's Peregrine. "Just enjoyin' a dinner with my brother, pal. Nothin' you need to worry yourself over."

James stands up from the table and buttons his coat, looking down at Charlie and saying, "I love you, Charles, but I'm not investing in you until I see a change." His eyes move to Peregrine and he says, heatedly, "You would be wise to return to your seat at the bar, sir."

"And here I was, thinking this was a free country." Peregrine says, his Scots burr becoming more apparent. You know those stiff-necked northern types. "And I even bought you lads a drink, too." His smile is chill, and he adjusts the lapel of his frock coat with one hand.

Charlie's hand balls into a fist, but he pinches his lips and swallows down his anger. Got to keep his cool. "Don't waste your drinks on him, chum. He'll never appreciate 'em. But have a seat and you and I can kick a few back." Charlie turns his gaze to James. "I'm not an investment, Jimmy. I'm family. You've wanted that to mean somethin' to me for a long time. Well here I am. This is your chance. Don't miss it."

James cuts his eyes in response to Charlie before his head turns back to Peregrine, sizing him up for a moment before he brushes past him on his way to the door.

"I suppose I wouldn't turn down…" A pause, and it seems that Peregrine is groping for something mentally, "One for the King. Or something like that." He looks over at James as he brushes past, no doubt causing shoulders to bump, since he doesn't back down. "And good evening to you as well, sir." he says, with a slight shake of his head.

Charlie chuckles. "Sure, I'll drink to that. And don't mind Jimmy. He's mad at me, not you. That's family for you, huh?" Charlie lifts his glass to clink to Peregrine's. At least he'll get a good whiskey out of an evening gone bad.

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