(1939-12-27) The Flyboy and the Thief
Details for The Flyboy and the Thief
Summary: As Rena's home life continues to crumble, she takes herself to Blackfriars Pub for some peace and quiet… only to find herself uncomfortably placed between two men who have very similar, yet different interests in her.
Date: 1939/12/27
Location: Blackfriars Pub

Most of Rena's kind avoid places like Blackfriars Pub due to its being a notorious den of Muggledom; however, the mere fact that it has a reputation for being such is what brings her here. It lies near her old home territory… and besides, this is where a lot of the military men hang about. It feels safe, warm and homey to her. However, this evening, she has seemingly sequestered herself away into one of the smaller alcoves in the back part of the bar. And, of all the alcoves she could have picked, somehow this one seems the most appropriate. The carved stone above the open doorway reads: Wisdom Is Rare.
Tucked away at her table, the little redheaded woman is visible, but seemingly very thoughtful and preoccupied. She has a drink before her, but it's difficult to say whether she's already had some, or is simply idling away over this one.

Charlie rises from a stool at the bar, shaking hands with the man next to him. He had spotted the vibrant redheaded witch when she entered, but he had business to conclude, so he kept his head down to avoid notice. But with his arrangements made, his curiosity gets the better of him, and he goes searching. It isn't long before he is plopping down into the seat across from her as casually as if he'd just taken a loo break. He says nothing, letting his dark eyes and cocky smile speak for him.

The abrupt arrival of Charlie does seem to startle Rena slightly. Although her eyes remain fixed on the drink in her hand for a second, the realization comes over her quickly, and it slips free of her grasp. Fortunately, the glass merely lands on the table without spilling. Otherwise, that would've been embarrassing.
"Charlie!" The little redhead says, giving a start. Briefly, her dark eyes go wide and dart around almost guiltily. It's almost as though she's looking for someone…
"I… 'eavens, it's er… been a long time, 'asn't it?" She asks, her cheeks turning quite red. Again, that guilty look slips into her expression, but Rena quickly forces it back with a smile.

Charlie nods slowly, sucking through his teeth. "Well, yeah, doll. I'ts been a couple'a months. Makes a fella start to wonder if you're avoiding him." He lifts his brow inquisitively. "You aren't avoiding me, are you, Red?" Charlie extends a hand across the table to take hers.

A poker face, Rena does not have. She's just the type of person you want to gamble against because she'll give herself away every time - especially if she's had a drink or two.
"I… haven't been avoiding you," she says, dropping her gaze to the table the moment she says it. The redness in her cheeks only seems to brighten when Charlie takes hold of her hand. "I mean… th-things 'ave been a little mad over the last few months, and…" How can she even hope to explain. Of course, now she's worried that she's hurt his feelings by staying away.
How fortunate that she decided to hide herself away in one of these small back alcoves. Surely no one else will notice her there, now that she's been joined by the dashing, dark-haired American. Right?

Charlie chuckles, shaking his hand and giving her hand a squeeze. "Did you forget? That's what I do, Red. I take the madness away." He tilts his head, causing a few errand strands of hair to flop into his eyes. "What's so awful that you forgot all about me?"

A man in an RAF Flight Lieutenant's uniform walks in, along with a couple of officers. They're laughing and joking on a liberty pass, and the older one - Faulkner - stops to light up a cigarette. As he does, he looks towards the back of the room and notices a familiar face. "This round is on me, lads." he says, leaving money on the table and getting a drink for himself, "Now, if you'll forgive me, I have to go say hello to a friend." There is a lot of ribbing at his expense, but it's all good natured, and Faulkner makes his way towards the back and the flash of red hair, to see if it is who he thinks it is. "Irene!" he says, as he draws closer.

Charlie is familiar enough with Rena to know that she has the capacity for about three drinks - maybe four at the most - before she's really gone. She's clearly had one, at the very least, and her ability to think clearly is already a bit diminished.
"I know you do," she says softly, struggling against something in the back of her mind. Some memories are a little too sharp to be suppressed. "It's just that I…"
The young woman gets no further. The familiar voice of Flight Lieutenant Faulkner hits her like a splash of cold water, and she sits up quite straight. "Birdie!" She exclaims, quite startled again. Her eyes dart between Charlie and Faulkner twice before she shakes it off and finds herself able to stammer: "Ch-Charlie, this is Charles… I mean, Flight Lieutenant Faulkner. A-and, Birdie, this is Charlie Johnson." Two men named Charles. Small world, ain't it?

Rather abruptly, Rena lifts the glass before her and drinks the contents down.

Charlie arches an eyebrow at Rena, mouthing Irene with a questioning smirk. He turns and rises to greet Faulkner. "Charles, huh? Can I call you Chuck?" Could this guy be any more American? He offers a hand to the RAF man. "Flyboy, huh? Sit down, let me get your next drink."

In contrast, Faulkner couldn't be more English, "Terribly sorry, but I'd rather you didn't. Call me Birdie, though, everyone else does." He switches his cigarette and drink to the other hand, then extends his right, exchanging a firm shake. "That's right. 812 Squadron, RAF, out at Biggin Hill. Yank, I take it?"

The drink burns all the way down. Why does Rena even drink the stuff? She never gets used to that feeling, and it always makes her cringe as it goes down. It must be the after-effects she's after - like a good, strong medicine. Yes, Irene - she flashes a look back at him that says it plain enough.
"Charlie came over from America some months back," she explains, trying quite hard to get a grip on herself, now. "'E were a bit lost and I 'elped him find 'is way about, as you might say." That sounds innocent enough, even if it's only a fraction of the story.

"Birdie it is, then." Charlie gestures to the remaining chair as he reclaims his own seat. Nodding to Rena, he continues, "That's right. I'd still be roaming the Underground if Red here hadn't rescued me. So, you two go way back?" He arches an eyebrow at Rena. "I don't think you've mentioned Birdie here before."

"A few months, since I went back into the RAF at the start of the war." Faulkner says, "We had some friends in common and all." He sits down and sips his drink, then puts it down as he puts the cigarette to his lips and takes a long drag off the senior service brand, leaving a stream of smoke behind as he gestures with one hand, "The underground is complicated, I'll grant. Easier to navigate than the surface streets, though. At least it wasn't laid out a thousand years ago by livestock." He motions towards the saying on the wall, "Strangely appropriate, that."

Stop looking so guilty!
Rena chides herself inwardly and makes an attempt at regulating her expression. Not such an easy task when her mind is beginning to buzz from the last drink. The nerves are starting to slip away. "I met 'im at the airfield," she interjects helpfully, smiling quite warmly all of a sudden. "They decided since I like to sing and perform for them out there, I'm sort of an unofficial mascot. They call me Spitfire. Everybody 'as a nickname in the airforce, practically."
Now that she's becoming "chatty," the little redhead is turning into a windup toy that seemingly won't wind down. "And then I met Birdie again out there and 'e gave me a shooting lesson and became friends." That's normal, right? Guns can bring people together.

"A few months, hm?" Charlie nods, eyes flitting to Rena. He files away that little bit of information. Maybe it means nothing. Maybe it's coincidence. But one doesn't survive in his line of work by ignoring details. "Spitfire. That's cute. Well, I'm sorry I missed the performances. Sounds like quite a show."

"The lads were very grateful that Miss Lee decided to stop by. She's a wonderful singer." Faulkner says, with a bit of a look at Charlie, before reaching for his drink and taking a sip. "It can be difficult, being away from home and on an RAF base, especially now that the Germans decide to fly to our side of the channel now and again."

"It was!" Rena replies brightly, remembering the performance. "Well, a little later for Squadron Leader Grosvenor's birthday. I 'ad a uniform jacket cut down and trimmed in so it made a good dress to perform in." One can easily imagine how short the "dress" was. Clearly, judging by her enthusiasm, she really did enjoy herself that day. Covering her lips with her fingers briefly, she stifles back a giggle: "Good thing no one was offended at me doing that to a uniform. Don't think 'is majesty would approve, though."
Glancing at Faulkner, the little redhead blushes a little and beams: "Birdie's always so kind to me. The party got cut short by an air raid, and we 'ad to take cover for the night. But 'e let me 'ave his coat - and drove me back to London next morning."

Charlie lifts his brow in mock surprise, turning his gaze to Faulkner. "The next morning? Must have been one helluva night. Did the raid do any damage? I hear a lot of those are false alarms. Can't be too careful, I guess." He flags down a passing waitress, flashing her a charming smile. "A beer for me, dollface, and whatever these two want next is on me."

"That one didn't, know. They really haven't reached London yet. I heard that they dropped a bomb in the Orkneys last month, and they do try still, but Jerry hasn't made a concerted effort yet. That's no doubt coming." Faulkner explains, "But still, there was the sheltering, and then patrols before the all clear, so…" A little shrug, but he doesn't go into details. Loose lips, and all that. He does shoot a look at Rena, arching a brow slightly. But he finishes his drink, and says, "Scotch, thanks." at the offer to a new drink.

Rena glances between Birdie and Charlie and takes on a little furrow of worry in her brow. Lowering her hand to the table, she says: "I'm sorry, Birdie. I guess I'm talking too much…" Only just now, for this fleeing moment, she realizes just how talkative she's being.
"Chocol…" She begins to say with a hint of a smirk directed at Charlie; but, she pulls up short. Not that drink. "Gin and Tonic, thanks. You know me - it's sort of my drink… as a rule." It's a safer one than some of the harder alcohol, and that's a fact.

Charlie gets a subtle smirk at Rena's almost-order, flashing her a quick look. "Oh, you're not talkin' too much, kitten. I'm sure Birdie enjoys listening to you as much as I do. Obviously he knows how fun you are. So, Birdie, how long you figure before we gotta start dodging bombs?"

"That's hard to say. If we do our jobs, then hopefully a long time. But the Luftwaffe is no joke. They may be under the control of that rotund, self-deceptive, poxed megalomaniac, but they know how to fight, and a lot of them got their start in the war in Spain. Still, we'll give them a thrashing if they come this way." Birdie answers, confidently. He agrees, "Irene is altogether grand to be around, yes."

"Oh, g'on you two." Rena chides both men, her cheeks warming with the blush that seems to have taken up permanent residence there. "You make a girl self-conscious, you do. It'll go to my 'ead. I just enjoy making men…erm, people 'appy. Lucky for me the RAF gives me a chance to, now and then."
All laughing and smiles aside, the little redhead shifts uncomfortably in her seat and takes on a concerned expression: "I don't like to think about them… the Germans, I mean. I don't want anybody to go to war and die. Especially all my boys at Biggin Hill." Yes, she does think of them as 'her boys' now.

"You ain't kiddin'," Charlie nods to Faulkner. "The Krauts mean business, for sure. God bless you and your boys for all you're doin'." Charlie gives a wink as he rises to his feet. "I'd best get goin'. I didn't mean to butt in on your date…" his eyes flicker to Rena's, watching for a reaction, "or whatever it is. Anyhow, I promised to pay for drinks. That should cover it." He fishes a ten shillings from his pocket and lays them on the table.

"Err… I think that would be exceedingly generous. But I understand how you American chaps have a hard time with real money over here." Faulkner observes with a little grin. He tilts his head towards Rena - or Irene - "Miss Lee and I didn't have any plans for today. We just happened to be in the same place at the same time. Life is full of little surprises like that."

"Charlie, I…" Rena almost starts to stand when her American friend prepares to leave. Biting her lower lip, she eases back into her seat and seems somewhat abashed for a moment. "I hope I'll see you again, soon." She smiles then, her expression softening a little. Truly, she does mean it. "Take care of yourself, yea?"
Turning a glance toward Faulkner, the young woman tries to keep smiling: "Still, it were a nice surprise. I didn't think I'd find you 'ere." Although, perhaps she really hoped she might. Just one of those things that you happen to wish for and the wish comes true. However, there ought to be a law of the universe against one's various men meeting by accident. She's never going to live this down, probably.

"I'm an exceedingly generous American chap, pal." Charlie grins and gives Faulkner a wink. "Well, plans or not, you and 'Miss Lee' probably want a little time to yourselves. Besides, I've got some people to see, myself. It was good to meet you, Birdie." He offers his hand to Faulkner before addressing Rena. "I'll see you real soon, Red." Pushing in his chair, he nods to the pair before turning on his heel and heading out.

Faulkner stubs out his cigarette and stands, shaking hands, "The pleasure is mine, of course. I appreciate the drink. I'll stand the next round." He gives a slight smile, and then looks to Rena with a tilt of his head after Charlie leaves. Looocy, you gots some 'splainin' to dooo.

Charlie takes his leave, and this leaves the pair sitting under a cloud of rather awkward silence in their little alcove. For a moment, Rena's fingers rest on the table and thrum it, nervously. Then, working up the nerve to look into Faulkner's questioning gaze, the redhead swallows and says: "He's… a nice man. Yea?" A pause, and her gaze drifts uncertainly. "F-for an American, I mean." Because everybody knows Americans are always just a little bit iffy at best.

"For an American, I suppose." Faulkner says, with a little grin, "You know how the Yanks are. Anyway… I take it he and you have some history?" He pauses, and then waves his hand, "I'm sorry. That's none of my business. Whatever happened in the past happened, and blank slate, hrm?"

Shamefaced, Rena looks down into her glass and runs her index finger around the rim of it slowly. "I'm not an angel, Birdie. Not by a long shot." She says, blushing rather fiercely, now. "I was in a bad place, and 'aving a bad time of it… 'e came along, and I lost my head." She just comes out and says it. Better to pull the bandage off in one fast tug and get it over with. "It was before I met you, though," she adds quietly, as if that even begins to make the situation alright.

"And that's all that matters to me." Birdie says, reaching over, ruffling her hair a bit, and giving her a kiss on the cheek. Because, to him, that does make the situation alright. He gives her a smile, "I just want you to be in a better place in the future." He raises his glass and clinks it against hers, "Here's to better days ahead."

A look of surprise crosses Rena's features, and she looks up. Fixing her gaze on Faulkner's eyes, she tries very hard to read him, unsure if she can quite believe that he means it. Could anyone be so calm and understanding about that sort of indiscretion? especially given how things are between them.
Relief washes over Rena, and she breathes a little sigh. Meeting his glass with hers, the young woman smiles. "Better days," she says, softly. One can only hope.

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