Some Bartenders walk into a bar and start a bad joke

Feeling:
accomplished

who: Bethany and Jack
where: Bar
when: mid-to late afternoon

From an objective perspective (wow, he was even rhyming in his head, how dorky was that?) the bar wasn't really all that impressive. It was small, a little run down and as he pushed open the door to go in, not very big on the inside either. There was a pool table and jukebox off in the corner, both looking a little worse for wear. If they really wanted to get this place to work, they'd need to talk about getting the inside fixed a bit. The good thing was, for him at least, that it was mostly a wood interior. He was more amused by the dance floor than anything else, an amused smirk finding its way onto his face.

He found himself working out dimensions in his head as he stepped a little further in, keys jangling in his hand as he made his way over to the bar area. He'd been told that, as he'd gone to collect a set of keys this morning, the people in charge of the town would be the ones to talk to about pay rates and various other things, but he'd have to work out the shifts with the other people working the bar when they cropped up.

"Hello? Anyone here? Or am I talking to thin air again?"

 - .

At just five years over the legal drinking age, Bethany was sometimes impressed with both her tolerance for alcohol and her ability to mix drinks rather quickly. She had gotten a job at a pub almost immediately after she had turned twenty-one; the tips were wonderful for her college tuition, and she gained enough experience to maneuver her way around almost any bar. After all, she traveled a lot, and what town didn't have some sort of tavern, despite its size? None she had been to, that was for sure.

Plus, most proprietors seemed more than happy to have a female barkeep to work their counters.

Her black cardigan was pulled a little tighter around her frame as the temperature dropped degree by degree—it wasn't terribly late, but nighttime in Russia seemed to come on quicker than back in the United States. Still slightly unnerved by her conversation with Shane, she approached the bar, the clicking of her red high heels very out-of-place on the almost deserted street. This didn't seem to be the best part of town, but she had seen much worse in her roaming. By the time she got to the bar itself, the door was open and she could hear someone shuffling around inside. She could only hope it was the owner, and cautiously poked her head past the threshold, slowly inching her way inside, trying not to startle him. His unassuming question made one corner of her lips quirk upwards as she answered.

"Not unless thin air can talk back."

 - .

Blinking in surprise Jack turned, looking over at the door. He hadn't expected to be snuck up on, even though he technically wasn't, and his heart beat a little faster despite himself. Grinning, he put on his best "let's make friends" face, tilting his head and scratching the back of his neck as he ambled over to say hello. He'd come pretty much straight from home after dropping off his satchel, so he had a bit of wood dust up the insides of his forearms.

"Well, thin air isn't as nice to look at. Hi. I'm Jack, I'll be your associate bartender for the immediate future." He said, wiping his hand off on his pants (not totally ineffectual, but it did spread some of the dust on his jeans around) and held it out to shake. He'd hoped that he was coming over as nice rather than a slob.

He wasn't lying though. Bethany was rather pretty to look at, and it didn't hurt that she seemed to like to dress nicely. He felt like a bit of a dork in comparison, but he hadn't really thought before leaving the house. If worst came to worst he could go wash up as much as he could in the sink behind the bar. Besides, he didn't have anything in his hair, which was a bonus.

 - .

The smile she gave in return was a little more cautious, not as open as perhaps it should have been. The blonde wasn't easily intimidated, but being in the ramshackle part of town made her a little edgier than normal. She didn't find this man particularly imposing—he was certainly larger than her, but his face was kind. He had the look of someone who was used to working, and she appreciated that, respected it—living right in the middle of a national park could teach a person just what it mean to work. She was sure that whatever his job was—besides bartending—it wasn't an easy one.

Compliments weren't something she had been subjected to in a while, and she felt the back of her neck heat as a light blush tinged her skin. It had certainly been a while since that had happened, and she was caught off guard. But she recovered almost immediately and took the proffered hand, giving it a firm shake and offering another smile. "I'm Bethany. Nice to meet you, Jack."

Her gaze automatically flicked around the bar, and she cocked one eyebrow—she had been in worse, but the place could most definitely use a little cleaning up. She wasn't a mother hen by any means, but disorganization wasn't something she could stand for very long. She focused on Jack again, smiling automatically. That seemed to be the best default for the time being. "Does this place have a name, or is it just to be referred to as 'the bar?'" She meant it as a joke, and sorely hoped that he would at least chuckle—laughter was something she missed dearly.

 - .

Shaking her hand, Jack made sure that she was able to pull away if she wanted. He wasn't sure what the hell it was that was going on in this town, but he didn't want to be the first one to cause any waves. At least she was smiling. Her handshake was firm at least, so she wasn't freaked out. Which was good. Or at least, as far as he could tell.

He tried not to grin as he caught her blushing, letting her go and watching her for a moment as she looked around the bar. If he was going to be working with her, he should probably do his best not to piss her off. The bar wouldn't have been his first choice to work at, but it was better than nothing, at least. Looking over at the solitary, sad looking pool table, he grinned, making an amused sound at the back of his throat as he shrugged.

"I don't think it has a name. Maybe it'll get one once people start coming here. What worries me more is the jukebox. If it's fitting with the theme of this place, it'll be full of Dolly Parton or some such shit." He said, heading over to have a look behind the bar. Everything was a little dusty, but they could clean. Perhaps.

 - .

He seemed so normal. She hated having to use that word, because it meant others were abnormal, but it was true. There were no twitches, no signs at all that he was messed up because of an experiment. She hadn't been aware that there could be people who hadn't been involved brought around, but then, she hadn't been contacted by her superiors at all since she had arrived a week ago. There could be so many things she didn't know, and that, more than anything about this outlandish town, irked her to no end.

A bar without an official name wasn't something she was unaccustomed to—small towns all across Europe merely had signs that said "pub" or "tavern." Sometimes, just a banner with a mug of ale to let passersby know that there were drinks available. So she just nodded, following his gaze over to the jukebox.

The thing was completely novel to her—she had seen a few in her life, but had never been able to get very close, whether because of a crowd of people or she was on shift. She took a few steps towards it, heels clicking again, reminding her that she didn't look as if she belonged there. But then, who did? They were all misfits in one way or another—except for Jack, it seemed. "I'm more of a Tim McGraw person, myself. Some of Dolly's old work is nice, though, depending on the mood." Her tone was sort of distant, detached. Music had been one of the few forms of entertainment in Wyoming—aside from her painting—and she had made sure to expose herself to all kinds. Country, though, held a special place in her heart for some reason.

 - .

Watching her as she made her way over to the jukebox, he smiled. He wouldn't have pegged her for a country music fan, but it must've depended on where she was from. He'd never really gotten into the genre himself, preffering loud, angry bands to anything else, but was pretty much willing to listen to anything as long as it wasn't rap music or something like that.

"The only country artist I'm familiar with is Johnny Cash." He said, trying not to feel so damn awkward. Scratching the back of his neck, he smiled, heading over with her and going to lean against the pool table. It shifted a little and he wrinkled his nose, crouching down to have a look at it. He wasn't familiar with pool tables at all, but if all it needed was a couple of braces and some nails, he could handle that. He didn't want the thing falling down on anyone.

"Which probably doesn't say much. What would you name the bar, if you had the choice?"

He wasn't sure how to ask if she was in an experiment or not. It'd seem rathe crass, just coming out and saying it. He didn't want to say or trigger anything, because then what the hell would he do?

 - .

A small grin tugged at her lips as she slowly drew a finger over the dusty glass front of the jukebox. She was more than willing to start cleaning—after she got to know Jack a bit more, of course. She wasn't about to go rushing into her new job without learning a little about her coworkers. So the fact that he knew of Johnny didn't surprise her much; most people had heard his songs, and they usually found at least one they liked. "I Walk the Line" was one of her personal favorites—she had heard it so often in Wyoming that sometimes she hummed a few bars without even realizing what she was doing.

The question made her pause, and she cocked her head to the side in thought. What would she name a pub, huh? She had been in more than a few, and there were plenty of names to choose from. The ones she particularly liked, though, were from taverns she had worked in on her European tour, ones that had stuck in her mind because the patrons were great tippers. She could think of a few German names—they always had the best brews—but decided that English would be better, since it was obviously the common tongue.

"Either 'The Rising Sun' or 'The White Hart.'" She thought for a moment, and then plunged into an explanation. "A sun rising represents a new dawn—sort of a hope thing. King Edward III had it on his coat of arms, along with King William II and King William III. And a white hart, well, it's a sort of deer—a stag, more like. King Richard II was one rare sort of bastard, and it was on his coat of arms. So pub owners used to hang a sign displaying it outside their taverns as a sort of way to show they were loyal to him, and as a silent plea not to have their bar burnt to the ground." As she had been speaking, she'd begun moving her arms in time with her words, almost drawing pictures of what she was saying. But when her voice died she stopped cold, cheeks flushing in embarrassment, arms dropping to her sides with a dull thump. So she liked history. There wasn't anything wrong with that, right?

 - .

His brain had bee supplying names like "The Dive" and "Also, Another Dive," so he wasn't going to hold creativity against her. Bracing his hand against the floor and ignoringt he dust, he smiled, pushing himself up. Wiping his hand off left a wide streak of dust along his knee, but he didn't particularly care. Did this place even have a broom?

"Maybe we could mesh the two together in a logo?" He asked, watching as she sketched her ideas out in the air. It was nice to see someone to animated, and he was vaugely disappointed when she stopped talking and let her hands fall to her sides. He kept talking, wandering over towards the bar to see if he could find a broom. It was propped up against the wall and he reached for it, just rolling is eyes when the head of the broom fell off.

"Because I'd rather not have the place burnt down, and this town is a new start for everyone, I guess. How'dyou know all that stuff, anyway? Pay attention in history class?" He asked, more than happy to keep talking about it if that's what she wanted. He wasn't adverse to learning new things, really. Jamming the head back on the broom and waiting to see if it'll stay there, he gave it a good shake before just sighing, heading over to start sweeping. He was used to the repeditive action, found it rather calming even, and honestly didn't mind.

 - .

Her eyes flicked over to him, and she idly registered how he seemed to be covered in a thin layer of dust and dirt—he blended right in, but, surprisingly, she didn't mind. It fit him, fit the place. Made her feel as if she stood out more, but that was okay. She was used to that feeling. Being socially active wasn't a challenge, but just something she preferred not to deal with. Maybe she'd be able to fit in like him soon, and wouldn't feel so awkward about her position for the experiments.

Maybe.

The blonde paused, stepping away from the jukebox and watching with amusement as the broom broke. God only knew how many times the exact same thing had happened to her at the junction—they were so far away from civilization that a lot of their supplies were outdated by a ridiculous amount of time. But his suggestion—it made some form of sense. The Rising Hart. She mentally tasted the name, trying to figure out if it would sound nice, already designing a sign in her head. She would paint it by hand, of course. Her fingers were itching for a brush, her eyes burning for a subject to reflect onto a clean, white canvas.

Bethany ambled towards the bar, perching herself on one of the stools and pulling her cardigan's sleeves over her hands. "I traveled around Europe before the—well, before." Another fidget. "It's easy to pick up local history if you listen close enough. Some of those old men's drunken ramblings were particularly educational."

 - .

The sweeping was relaxing. He started behind the bar first, nodding along with her as she talked, listening. He tried not to stir up too much dust as he made his way over to the other side of the bar. It reminded him of his apprenticeship, in a way. Sweeping the wood shavings and metal filings out and into the open, collecting them and sometimes, if he was particularly bored, heaving them up into the air to start again, covered in a fine layer of wood and dust afterwards. His boss hadn't really gotten mad at him for it on nice days, because the doors were open and the wind came through and brushed everything out the way anyway.

"Where abouts in Europe?" He asked, moderately interested. He was glad she was talking, at least. He'd been worried about the whole awkward thing, but they seemed to be getting along okay. "You must've picked up a lot of local history with them trying to impress you all the time." He said with a smile. He'd been there before, but on the opposite end of the spectrum. It wasn't that you -lied-, but you were willing to show knowledge in the hopes of impressing the someone that caught your eye.

 - .

Bethany swiveled on the stool to watch him—she had always found it rude not to look at a person when talking to them. "I started in Germany, and worked my way south-east towards Greece. Then I took a detour back to the United Kingdom, and caught a ferry across the North Sea to Denmark." She could see the path clearly in her head; the railway cars she'd been on, the sheep-filled trucks she'd hitched rides on. She had bought herself a special satellite phone so she could keep in touch with her family, but had lost it somewhere in Belarus. "Skipped over Germany again, then trekked east through Poland. I ended up turning north and was in Latvia before, well, this."

Saying it out loud made it seem a lot more impressive than it had been; there had been plenty of museums along the way, countless pieces of artwork for her to admire. But more than a few of the towns she had stayed in were small, unimportant places with their fair share of poverty and crime. There had been temperatures cold enough to numb her entire body for days, and hot enough to make her shoes melt to the concrete. But she had indeed learned much, and was content with her choice to take the tour.

A wry grin crossed her lips, and a small shake of her head sent unruly blonde locks into her face, which she quickly brushed away. "Their tongues were always looser after a few mugs of ale, but they didn't always speak in a language I understood. But whenever I got a job at a bakery, I did learn quite a bit. Bakers love their gossip."

 - .

He was trying to figure out what she sounded like. Strangely formal, a little stilted. Smiling as he listened, he swept his way around the bar stools, careful not to bump her legs. It sounded...impressive. A little intimidating to tell the truth, because this was the first time he'd ever been out of America, and where'd he come to? Bumfuck Russia. Fantastic.

"You did that all by yourself? That took some balls." He said, raising his eyebrows. He was perfectly aware that made his face look like some retarded imitation of a basset hound, but he didn't particularly care. She had a nice voice to listen to, and he looked over at her as he swept a bunch of debris up into a pile. Someone'd left a window open or something, he was sure of it.

"If you ever wanna hear someone gossip, get a bunch of tradesmen together, give them a beer and a bunch of sausages to eat and watch sparks fly. I swear to god, no matter how many times they tell you how tough they are, all they want to do is gossip." He'd been known for being a bit of a dork about it himself, honestly. Who had a new car, who was getting married (divorced, who was gay) and who's kids were being the biggest pain in the ass.

She looked a little more relaxed at least, perched up on that stool. That was something.

 - .

Maybe her lack of social activity was beginning to catch up with her—ever since that poor girl had died, she'd done her best to avoid interacting with too many people. But Jack hadn't been a part of that, she was sure now. He was just a regular guy who had ended up in the wrong place at the right time, and something akin to relief was edging its way into her mind. Keeping everything to herself was something she had done since childhood, but it felt almost good to let someone else have a piece of it.

"I had some money from auctioning my paintings," she explained tilting her head towards the ceiling. Stray beams of sunlight peeked through cracks in the walls and roof, illuminating swirling groups of dust motes. She would have loved to capture the scene on paper, but she was far too comfortable to get up and find some supplies. She gave a half shrug, letting her eyes drift back towards his face. "Taking a trip through Europe seemed like a good idea at the time."

She hadn't felt this at east in God knew how long. Listening to his voice was so easy, speaking in return came so natural. This was odd for her, and something in the back of her mind nagged that she shouldn't be so open with someone she hardly knew, but she ignored it. Beneath the composed exterior, she was scared—scared to be in that town, scared that she would be taken away and subjected to an experiment just like that other intern. Maybe letting go now was making up for lost time, just in case. "Gossip's worth its weight in gold," she quoted, giving a true smile, teeth and all. How long since she had done that? Far too long, and she knew it.

 - .

“You’re an artist?” He asked, sweeping the dust and leaves into a big pile, moving it over to the side of the counter so it wouldn’t be blown away. He wasn’t looking forward to having to sweep it all up again if the wind got a hold of it. It was a soothing, repetitive motion, really. He didn’t mind doing it as much as he had when he was younger. Maybe he just had a greater appreciation for it now. “Taking a trip through anywhere is a good idea. Staying too long in one place gives me hives.”

He’d been like that while he was still living in America. He’d never stayed more than a year in the same place, feeling like there was something he was missing out on, or someone he should know just one town, or one state over. And as for why he’d ended up in town...well, that was a product of his moving around so damn much, he guessed.

He looked over at her as she spoke again, and was rather gratified to see her smile. He felt an answering grin tug at his lips so he shrugged and let it out, nodding. “Definitely, especially when you’re a bartender. How long’ve you been in the business?” And great, now he sounded like a mafia don. Rolling his eyes at himself, he snorted. “That wasn’t supposed to sound as Capone as it did.”

 - .

Bethany nodded in response, looking down at her hands. Her fingers were long and slender, nails relatively clean but with a bit of polish stuck in the crevices. She could never seem to get the paint out from under them, but she didn't particularly mind. They were an artist's hands, a pair that had been tainted by writing reports meant to harm people. But she didn't allow herself to dwell on that—painting was one of the few things that would help her survive this town. She wouldn't last a month if she couldn't paint. "Whatever we decide to call the pub, I'd like to hand-paint the sign," she ventured, voicing her earlier idea. It wasn't a bad one, and she could only hope he'd agree.

The question surprised her—not because of the mobster-esque manner in which it was posed, but because nobody had ever asked her that before. It didn't seem to be very important around Europe, where the legal drinking age varied from country to country—sometimes, town to town. "Since I was twenty-one," she answered promptly, idly wondering if he'd ask her actual age next. She had never found that question offensive—asking a person their age was just another way to create a mental image of who they were.

Before he could, though, she fired the inquiry back at him. "And you?" He seemed to know quite a bit about the business, and she was willing to bet that he'd been at it as long as, if not longer than, her. Or populating pubs for enough years to know how they worked. That latter was an interesting, but unlikely, option. He didn't look like the sort of man who would drink excessively, but then, appearances could be deceiving.

 - .

He wouldn't have picked that, just looking at her. From his limited experience, she didn't look the part. Then again, his experience consisted of highschool art and that angry guy that'd lived behind him in Tampa. Snorting to himself, he looked over at her again, nodding and smiling. "Feel free. I can get the wood for you, if you want to make a sturdier sign." He said.

He was tempted to ask her what her age was. Really, really tempted, but his sisters (often painful) lessons about how to treat women had been ingrained so far into his brain that he didn't even make a motion to ask. having his question turned back on him stunned him a little. Smiling at her a little sheepishly, he shrugged.

"I lied about my age to get a job." he said, smiling quietly. He'd been twenty, so it'd only been a year, but that left him with about nine years of working in the bar. "I've been here and there for nine years or so. Not always bartending, but that's mostly it."

 - .

The blonde found herself nodding in agreement to his suggestion, idly flexing her fingers against the denim of her jeans. A nice, hardy sign would be best—she had been to a few places where the angry drunks threw things at them, and the flimsy ones had a habit of falling down at the mildest provocation. "I'll have to paint with the grain, but that should work just fine," she murmured, letting her attention wander for just a second before focusing on Jack again.

One eyebrow cocked upwards, but she found that the revelation didn't surprise her very much. He seemed like the sort of person who would add a few years to his age to get a job, but she decided that she didn't mind much at all. Maybe if he hadn't taken on that extra year, she wouldn't be working with him and would be stuck with a complete jerk for a boss.

Not wanting to be the cause for a lull in conversation, she gestured to his clothes and tilted her head to the side curiously. "You're also a carpenter, right?" That seemed like a fair assumption—between the dust covering his clothing and his offer to get her wood, she was sure he was something like that.

 - .

"You could try a sealant on the wood, but I'm not sure if that'd be the look you're going for." he said, shrugging as he made his way over towards the pool table. He didn't like the way everything in here seemed to be that much run down. It looked like he had some work ahead of him.

Her raising her eyebrow at him made him grin. He hadn't seen anyone do that in a while, and it'd always amused him. He wasn't that worried about someone finding out he'd lied about his age now, but for a while there he'd been convinced he was going to be arrested.

"Yeah, I am." He said, rather surprised that she'd guessed. Not that he should be. Huh. "How'd you guess? Wood talk a giveaway?"

 - .

She gave a half-shrug, running possible designs through her head. "A sealant would work, maybe. The sign wouldn't look very aged, but I wouldn't mind that." Since she had figured that it would just be the two of them working as of yet, keeping the place up and running and clean was something she was planning on doing. Even if it meant coming in during the day, she would find some time to dust and sweep and wipe down countertops.

Another smile tugged her lips. "That, and the dust covering your clothes. Plus the way you looked at the pool table, like you were planning on fixing it." In all honesty, having someone who could double as a handyman working in the bar was more than she could've hoped for. Things always tended to break in places like this, and she had no doubt that this place was almost as rickety as they came.

Realizing that he might have found it sort of creepy that she'd noticed that at all, she added, "I'm good with detail." As if that made it any less odd, but she hoped he wouldn't be too put-off.

 - .

"Tell me what kind of wood you want and I can get it. While we're at the whole bar thing, did you want to work together in shifts or take shifts in tandem?" He asked, wanting to get that out of the way before he stewed on it any more. It could be fun, working with aother person. And besides, that'd give him more time to come in and work on getting this place up to code.

He wasn't all that surprised at the attention to detail thing. Some people were just like that, and yeah, it was a little unnerving at first, but if that's the way she was then he'd learn to deal. "Someone needs to fix the damn thing, or order in a new one. It won't fall straight over, but I don't like the way it wobbles." He said, smiling slightly.

"You've got to be good with detail to be an artist, right?" He asked, genuinely curious. He was good with detail as far as his work went, or so he'd thought. He was a little rusty on the people aspect, but he'd learn.

 - .

Pausing, she ran through all the types of wood she knew—the mental list was actually pretty long. Having park rangers for parents could make a person learn some obscure details about nature. She could name countless types of moss and grass, and knew which sort of flowers were edible and which would send a person running to the woods looking for a place to throw up. "Red oak, should you happen to find it. If not, maple will work just as well. The oak has a nicer grain, I think, and would just look better."

The shifts question was a good one, and she had to think about it for a moment. Her tone was one of forced calm and carelessness as she answered. "I imagine business will be slow until word gets out that the place is open, so I'd say in tandem. For the time being, of course." No need to let him know that working there alone would unnerve her, make her feel vulnerable. She was handy with a knife—keeping one under the bar would be no trouble at all.

Her gaze flicked over to the billiards table, and she nodded in agreement. "I don't know how quickly we'd be able to get a knew one, so fixing this one up is probably our best bet." It was funny, she realized, how she was already using plural pronouns when discussing the bar. To her, it didn't feel as if she was just working there—it was more like they were partners, even though they hadn't worked together for a single minute yet. But she quickly stowed that idea away before it got out of hand—she wasn't about to get too comfortable only to have to up and move again. "And yes," she added with a smile, "most artists are very good at spotting details."

 - .

He was quite happy to see if he could find some of the wood for her. He wasn't sure about the availability, but if it was building grade, he'd probably have some. If not, he could get some ordered in, as a special dispensation to the town. Maybe. "I'll see what I can get a hold of. I haven't been able to go through the list of what we've got with regards to building supplies, but I can order something in if you need it." He said, smiling at her as he hunted around for a dustpan.

He wasn't too sure about the whole shift thing, which is why he'd asked. He wasn't looking to be in charge of it all, and would prefer to be able to co-manage the place. He knew about ordering and shift payments and crap, but only because his last manager was a douche who'd decided early on to neglect all that paperwork. "Whatever you want. If you want to have a shift or something with me there, give me a shout. I'd prefer we did first shift together, just to get a feel for the place, if that's okay?" That and to figure out who'd come to the bar and what they were like as drinkers. From what he'd gathered, most of these people were pretty fucked up, and it could get dangerous.

"I can put some dark wood braces on it, I guess. I don't like the way it wobbles. We could look into getting new music for the jukebox, too." He said, rather liking the idea of having someone to work with. As much fun as he found carpentry, it was a pretty solitary job, unless he got Adam in on what he was doing too.

"I figured you'd have to be." He said, frowning softly when he found a dustpan but not the accompanying broom. He'd have to use the big one then.

 - .

The blonde returned his smile, feeling the muscles of her face almost protest the expression. She hadn't smiled this much since—well, in a long while. It felt nice. She would have to get used to it again, though, if she was going to play the role of sympathetic bartender again. "I'll get a list to you in a few days," she said, rolling her shoulders and looking around the room again. From the appearance of the place, they might end up needing a lot of supplies.

The way he worded it—"get a feel for the place"—made her a little less reluctant to share a shift. She wasn't too keen on having people look out for her, and it didn't seem as if that was what he was attempting to do. That made her like him a little more, maybe even give him a twinge of trust. Few people were able to get that much from her, even after weeks of speaking on friendly terms. This was odd, but she had already decided to throw caution to the wind for a little while. Why not start with Jack? It seemed easy enough, so far.

She was already nodding in agreement, making a playlist of favorite songs in her head. Several were country and perfect for a saloon, but she made sure to add in a few alternatives for people who weren't into Garth Brooks or Billy Ray Cyrus. Her eyes flicked over to him when he grabbed the dustpan, and she hopped down from the chair, taking the broom in her hands, offering another smile. Her cheeks were starting to hurt. "You hold, I'll sweep."

 - .

He was rather relieved to see her smiling. He wasn't sure she actually -could-, which had worried him a little. A list would be helpful, however. He had a crap memory for lists. Give him numbers and he's fine, but words? Not so good. "Awesome, thanks." He said, trying to get the rest of the dirt into a neat sort of pile so he could get it up.

She didn't protest working the first few shifts together, which made him feel rather relieved. He wasn't sure how she'd handle a shift by herself, and as mysoginistic as that made him feel, it could be worse. She seemed nice enough, at least. And was rather nice to look at, so that was all okay.

Blinking in surprise as she took the broom off him, he smiled in return, saluting her and doing as he was asked, holding onto the dustpan, tilting it for her so she could sweep the dirt up. "Yes ma'am." He said, rather amused.

"We'd better set an opening time, y'know." He said, frowning softly. He wasn't too fond of the idea of having the bar open during the day, but if they had two of them, one of them (when they got more comfortable) could take the day shift, and the other night. It wasn't like it was a -big- bar. Maybe they'd end up with more employees.

 - .

It had been a long time since she'd felt this, well, relaxed. For the moment, there were no experiments to worry about, no people to watch or poison or underfeed. Just her and this man having a casual conversation as if they weren't in some godforsaken city in the middle of Russia. The last time she'd felt this at ease was probably back in college, before her life had spiraled out of control. She figured that her first mistake in getting mixed up in this experiment business was the moment she set foot in Europe. Not that she regretted her time there in the least, but maybe if she'd stayed home like a good girl, none of this would've happened.

On the other hand, if she hadn't gotten involved with the experiments, she probably would've never met Jack, and she was already thinking about counting him among her friends.

Bethany carefully swept the dirt and debris towards the pan, making little strokes with the broom to avoid leaving a trail that would have to be gathered again. A small cloud of dust rose with the movement, but it wasn't anything substantial enough to make the mess even worse. "I'd say five in the evening, to start with. Maybe in a few weeks we could open during the day and serve lunch or something." It was sort of funny, how she was already planning ahead. Maybe she had subconsciously decided that they were going to be there for a while, and was just preparing.

She paused, then corrected herself: "Baked goods, anyway. I'm completely useless at cooking actual food." She looked towards him and cocked an eyebrow, her lips quirked upwards slightly. "Unless you can cook?"

 - .

It was nice to have someone to talk to, really. She didn't seem to expect any personal revelations, or wonder what he was doing there in the first place. It was relaxing, not to have to explain himself. He hadn't really thought he'd make any friends this quickly, but he was willing to be friendly with the people he worked with, at least. She seemed to be decent enough, and seemed to understand social cues, even if she had been stuck in an experiment or something for so long.

He watched as she got everything swept up, wrinkling his nose at the dust and smiling. Her idea was a good one, really. He was hopeless at cooking himself, but it'd get more business and more money in, so.

"I can't cook, but I'm pretty sure we could find someone who can who'd need a job, right? Unless they -want- to eat instant noodles." The smirk on her face was really rather endearing. "Which taste like wood chips anyway, so we're pretty much set."

 - .

Interacting on this level was sort of new to her—more because of how quickly it had happened than anything else. Usually, it took at least a few days of being around a person for her to be comfortable enough to actually talk to them this way. But Jack seemed to have some sort of relaxing, open air about him that made her want to talk to him. The sensation was different, one she hadn't felt in a long time, if ever. Maybe things could be semi-normal, if she was around people like him. Maybe.

The blonde nodded idly, finishing the sweeping and then taking half a step back so he could stand up. Having another person working at the bar was a good idea, though something in her head was rejecting the idea. What if they weren't as, well, normal as Jack? She didn't know if she could handle being around a person whose personality had been altered from the norm by the experiments, knowing that maybe they had been a person she herself had helped warp.

But instead of saying that she just smiled, a little more guarded than before. "Five o'clock, then. And no lunch until one of us learns to cook or we hire someone else." It sounded like a solid plan, for the time being. "When do you think we could open to the public, then?"

 - .

He stood when she finished, wandering over towards the bin to put the dust and dirt out of the way. It was kind of nice to just talk to someone without having to worry about what they were thinking. Okay, so maybe that was a lie. He was a little worried, but she seemed relatively normal and didn't look like she was about to tear his face off for saying something wrong. So that was a plus.

"If I try to cook, we'd better be ready to call the fire department." He said, smiling at her. He grabbed a cloth so he could clean off the bench, rather amused at the way she seemed to already have an idea in her head of what to do. "I think some time tomorrow or the next day, perhaps? I'll get in here in the morning and fix that table."

 - .

A nod, and she glanced around. "I think we could be ready by tomorrow. I'll come in too, and start cleaning." Because the place was seriously in need of a scrubbing. Bethany contradicted herself when it came to organization; she couldn't stand messes, but she was never really inclined to tidy up unless circumstances demanded it. This was one of those instances, though, when she would put aside her disdain for mopping and dusting in favor of making this place look halfway decent.

The blonde flicked her gaze towards the window; the sun had moved quite a bit across the sky. "I should get home, before it gets dark." The unspoken message was there in her voice: I don't want to be caught by myself at night. But she'd never say it outloud, because that would make it all the more real. And reality was not something she was ready to face just yet.

 - .

Nodding, Jack saluted her absently, frowning a little at the bar and the surrounding area. It'd take a good, long scrubbing but if they got it looking at least a little up to scratch, he could repair any structural problems. Maybe ask Adam down to help. The man'd looked like he needed to get out more. "Sounds like a plan to me. I'll swing by the hardware store in the morning and get some supplies, or something." He said, nodding to himself. It was good that he had something to focus on, really. Like making that step for Rin (he'd better get right on that, whoops) and getting the bar up to scratch. He liked to have things to do.

He looked out the window as she spoke, nodding amicably. He could understand wanting to get back. This town freaked him out a little, in the dark. It was like an episode of the X-files or something, waiting for some alien or monster made of trash and other people's ideas to come crashing out and munch on his brain. He didn't think he'd share that tibit of information, however.

"Sure. I'll see you tomorrow, then? What time did you have in mind?"

 - .

Bethany tugged the sleeves of her cardigan over her hands after she leaned the broom against the countertop, heels clicking against the hardwood as she took a few steps towards the door. "Probably seven or so," she said idly, eyes flicking around once more, taking a mental picture of the place. It was hard to believe that she'd be able to settle in this easily. She was sure they had something in mind for her, and wouldn't let the respite last very long.

"Bye, Jack." Another smile was tossed his way, a real one, before she lightly stepped out the door and into the chilly evening air.

 - .

Waving almost absently as she exited, he frowned a little, watching until the door closed before sinking back against the bar, tilting his head and looking up at the ceiling.

He didn't know if he was looking forward to the work or not, but at least he'd have someone to hang out with while it was going on, right?

Right.