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2015-02-16 08:46 am (UTC)
Whiskey and Wine
Sorry if I'm doing this wrong, this is my first fill! ^.^ I saw this and had to do it. Won't be very shippy, though, terribly sorry. But there IS bonding!
Warnings for alcohol.
The 'Sweet Serenade' was nearly legend in New York's gritty underground. Rumour had it that several men had been murdered on it's premises during the bar's lifetime, and honestly no one was expecting otherwise. It's residents were slick as they were sticky -sticking to the bottom of the barrel that made up the Big Apple's respectable society, yet oily and perverse enough to con and claw their way to greatness with little to no questions asked, if you knew the right people. From it's moonshine liquor, smoke-laden interior, however, there was one thing that drew them back. And that was the music.
Music. Universally, it seems to be the thing that all mankind can enjoy together, besides a good shot of vodka and the satisfaction of a job well done. Music hold sway over people's minds, when woven together by the right hands, and delivered with enough strength. Perhaps that's what kept them rolling in to the rundown bar off of Beufort and 89th. It most certainly wasn't the service.
When an artist came to the 'Sweet Serenade,' it meant that they were at the last of their options. Good men fell hard during what seemed to be such a 'rich' and 'glorious' point in history. Some men had never seen past the grit and grime and devastation that infested New York's grisly underbelly. Many didn't want to. They grew like crustaceans on its filth, and flourished on its excess.
But always, the music called them back. Soulful, bitter, the last outcries of people whose remaining hopes were being drowned out by the clamped of the rich and their own moonshine. The brutal hopelessness. Yeah, that's probably what did it. Commiseration and condescension blur when your livelihood's been hung out to dry.
'Sweet Serenade' suffered from a severe case of dilapidation. It's wallpaper, antique and cheap and modeled after that of an Edwardian aristocrat, was peeling and yellowing at its edges, permanently smelling of smoke and salt and whiskey. It's doors, when opened, greeted one with a sense of drowning, being enveloped by the intoxicating unknown. Crooked barstools obscured the view of its bartender, said to have run the pub since it's opening oh so long ago. There were no windows at its exterior, nor a sign to mark it's place among the faceless conglomeration of brick and mortar that built up New York's lower class. But somehow, it's wretched children kept flowing in, and 'Serenade' greeted them with molding, decrepit arms.
There were certain things that one did not do while in visitation at the 'Sweet Serenade.' Talk of politics, for starters, was frowned upon severely, as all such recognition of the real world and it's problems was left at the door (along with your coat and wallet to make sure you paid your due). All damaged invoked by the inevitable brawls of every so often were to be paid in full by contribution from every party involved. It was popular belief that 'Serenade' was the crime family of Vargas' favorite location of business, and so any desire to skimp out on this rule was crushed relatively quickly. And perhaps most importantly, there was to be no pestering of the pub's jovial, bespectacled bartender. And so it was nothing to bat an eye at when three men, quite drunk off of their right minds, started tormenting the man, that several willing parties stepped in. Most were not of note, regulars and followers of the crowd the like, but one in particular stood out from among the rest. He had spent the evening simply sitting and listening to the music, so it was a surprise to all when he stood at an insult to the bartender's character, and slugged the offender across the face.
His smile was crooked and roguish, sure to have brought several dolls to swooning, and his manner light. "Monsieur, I do apologize for that," he remarked, regarding the fallen drunk with a cold glint in his rather shocking eyes. The bartender was unamused, and the fallen drunk's allies were frothing at the mouth.
"What's the big idea?!" One of them yelled, fist curling over his thumb in manner that clearly showed him to be an amateur of brawling. The other seemed much more hammered, and therefore that much more dangerous.
"Ah'm... Gonna... Killya..!" A knife made a sloppy appearance, shining dangerously in the pub's low light, but before a move could be made, the bartender took out a shotgun -heavy and intimidating and in all likelihood, unloaded. However, the men, in their drunken and fazed logic, did not catch this, and stumbled back. Their senses of self-preservation seemed to rule over avenging their fallen comrade in this situation.
"I'd really doubt that, Mister," 'Serenade's' bartender grinned ruthlessly, perhaps enjoying the suffering of his would-be attackers a little too much. "Now scram before you end up scum on my wall."
In record time the two high-tailed it out of the 'Sweet Serenade,' and its bartender's shotgun was put away as if the incident never happened. The man clicked his fingers, and two boys appeared -seemingly out of nowhere- to carry the unconscious leader out the door. The bartender watched them leave for but a moment before turning to his 'savior' and grinning widely, straightening his glasses as he did so.
"Hi there, then! Name's Alfred!" He extended his hand, worn and calloused around the edges as all men's from the rougher parts of the city were. The other man regarded Alfred's hand for but a second before grasping it firmly in both of his own and smiling widely.
"And I am called Francis Bonnefouy. It is wonderful to meet you, Alfred." Francis' accent brought a whole new sound to Alfred's name, and all the bartender knew was that he'd liked it. Alfred's expression settled at its normal smirk, and he began wiping down his counter, the movements almost seeming involuntary.
"Gee, thanks for helpin' me put there, pal. I could've handled 'em, but with the deader outta the way, my job was a lot easier."
Francis shook his head, his long, archaically-styled hair swaying as he did so. "There is no need to thank me, honestly. I am sure any here would have done the same."
Casting an evaluating eye over Francis', and apparently liking what he saw, Alfred clapped the other man's shoulder over the counter and laughed , quite loudly. This seemed to set everyone else in the establishment at ease once more, because everything that had paused to watch the impending bar brawl began moving again. Alfred stepped out from behind his bar, a glass of whiskey in hand and his towel slum haphazardly over his shoulder. "Still, I owe you, pal. So what'll it be? Hey, anything you want, it's on the house." Francis' look turned sly, but he seemed to push the thoughts away, and shrugged.
"What is your best wine?"
Alfred blinked, taken aback. "Our best wine? Hell, friend, to tell you the truth, I don't even think we have wine to begin with!" He laughed good-naturedly, but, upon catching the rather serious look on Francis' face, shrugged. "'Suppose it wouldn't hurt to look..." Alfred ducked behind his bar once more, the distinct sound of clattering glass and creaking wood following wherever he went. Francis honestly wondered how Alfred managed to keep the 'Sweet Serenade' as clean as he already did with how careless and reckless his attitude seemed to be. Alfred's head eventually stuck itself over the bar, an irrepressible cowlick nearly all Francis could see. "You from 'round here? I mean, I haven't seen you before, and with that accent of yours I'd assume not, but..."
Francis chuckled and shook his head. "No, I am not. I am a Parisienne, born and bred. And yourself?"
Alfred disappeared once again with a cock of his head, huffing. "Been here long enough, I reckon." There was a muffled "Ah-ha!", and Alfred emerged once more, this time with a bottle held proudly in his hand. He extended it out to Francis, pride evident on his rather easy-to-read features. "There ya' go, pal. 'Sweet Serenade's' finest, on the house."
As Francis turned the bottle over in his hands, Alfred set a glass at his side, obviously intended for a drink other than wine. Francis decided not to comment, instead taken aback by the surprisingly quality wine presented him. "A port! And from le Chateu de la Prisque, no less! I must say, I am impressed." Francis nodded in respect to Alfred, and the younger man grinned brightly, leaning against the bar excitedly.
"Really?! That's perfect! I have no idea where that's from... Still! It'd be a waste not to enjoy it, then!" Alfred provided Francis with a corkscrew, and pulled out his own canteen of moonshine whiskey, pouring himself another glass. Francis couldn't help but turn his nose up in disgust at the crude liquor in front of him. Alfred laughed, the sound absorbed easily by the dirt-awful acoustics at the pub. "What, the Frenchie can't handle a bit 'a moonshine?"
Francis humphed, opening his bottle and spinning it's contents methodically before pouring a glass of the strong-smelling port carefully, aerating it as he went. "I simply have more refined tastes, mon ami. Try this, see if it is to your liking."
Without hesitation, Alfred put the proffered glass to his lips and tilted it back. Francis watched with growing curiosity. The other man blinked once, twiceF before handing the half-drained glass back to Francis and shaking his head, expression soured. "That... No."
Francis had to fight to keep his laughter under control.
"No, non, I refuse to believe it."
"Refuse all ya' want, pal, I swear to God that it's true!"
Both men dissolved into fits of laughter, their amounts of consumed alcohol definitely playing a factor to their current conversation. The night had moved on as the sat together and talked, Alfred keeping his customers happy as best as he could when slightly tipsy. Now, though, the 'Sweet Serenade' was nearly empty of life. It the musicians were still going strong, and maybe would be while Alfred was closing up.
A silence fell between the two men, and they were left to enjoy the rich chords falling from the resident pianist's fingertips. The atmosphere of the room seemed thick as molasses, and as breathable, too. Alfred held up a finger, trying to collect his thoughts and failing miserably, the effects of his moonshine taking full effect.
"'Ve always h'ted blues..." Alfred slurred confidently. Francis quirked an eyebrow, humming in agreement.
"The blues are... Not comparative... To jazz. There..." Francis had to pause for a hiccup. "There is less elegance." The long haired blond nodded, as of that explained everything.
Alfred leaned up against Francis' side, his glasses nearly slipping off the bridge of his nose a sudden wave of tiredness overtook him. "J'zz doesn't h'ave 'anything t' be s'd 'bout. Blues's d'pressing..."
The younger man dropped off to sleep, and Francis chucked, hiccuping and casting his eyes over the peculiar sight of the 'Sweet Serenade' as his own eyelids felt heavy. "Together though... I may see the appeal... They go together. Like... Like... Like whiskey and wine..."
And through the muted halls of the rust bucket tavern at the corner of Befort and 87th, a mourning cry of a saxophone signaled the end of yet another day at the 'Sweet Serenade.'
/AN: There you have it! I'm almost certain that I'm posting this wrong, but I can't think about it anymore because it's four in the morning, I have school tomorrow, and I'm awful with technology. This was incredibly fun to write! Even if I've probably done it wrong XD
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