Characters: Brynjolf, Delvin Mallory, Tara Calleri, and Evangeline Duval.
Setting: Nine Fine Irishmen Pub, New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas Nevada
She left the small corner store and tugged her leather jacket further over her chest. The sandwich and soda she'd managed to snatch - the idiot cashier probably would have let her walk out with the stuff in the open, he was too lazy to give a shit - were cold against her skin underneath her oversized pull-over hoodie. She shivered, looking down the street. It was the beginning of November, and she was starting to dread her options. If she didn't find someplace steady to squat things were going to get a lot worse. Her pride wouldn't allow her to return home... god anything but that. She was sick and tired of bickering with her mother. Alex wasn't an option, she was never going back to that idiot. Anyone who could manage to flunk out of culinary school was so not worth her time.
The young redhead sighed and walked past the large building to the right of the convenient shop - some kind of business she didn't care about - and slipped into the alley. She hopped up on a couple of crates stacked by a row of empty wooden skids and settled down. She pulled the bottle of 7Up out and took a long guzzle before setting it to the side. Carefully she unwrapped the sandwich, a simple tuna on cheap white bread, that had been smushed just a little when she concealed it. She rolled her eyes. "Shit, even if I had the money, $3.95 for this thing? Like I'd pay that," she grumbled. She finished the skimpy sandwich in about five bites. She took another swig of the soda and then hugged her legs to her chest. It really was cold tonight.
"Damn this is gonna be a crappy night." Tara leaned back and took in a deep breath of night air as a breeze passed through the alley... and an absolutely delightful smell hit her senses. Her sapphire-green eyes widened and she took another breath through her nose. Her stomach responded to the odor with a few complaining rumbles, not at all satisfied by the lousy tuna and dry bread. "What is that... sausages?" She sniffed again. "Beer-battered at that!" She was off the crates in a flash, already forgetting about the half-full bottle of soda. Tugging again at her jacket she realized she was just on the other side of the Strip, maybe a block or so away. Licking her lips, she considered her options. She felt bold. Maybe she could get in and out quickly. Maybe even snatch a wallet or two.
Eager and perhaps getting ahead of herself, she left the alley, soda bottle forgotten, and headed through the back lots and down along a small stretch of highway until she came out on an area of the Strip. Immediately her sharp eyes caught sight of a Bosmer in a rather ridiculous get-up going back inside the back entrance to what looked like an Irish pub. "How quaint... a bunch of ditsy servers in slutty uniforms. This really is my lucky night."
There was a decent line to get inside, but once she was in she slipped over to the bar, scanning the setup carefully.
It was a busy day at the pub. Not that Delvin was surprised. Friday evening seemed to be the day when everyone decided to get shit-faced. And that was fine with him. He liked it when the pub was busy. It made it easier for him to slink off somewhere and not be found for hours at a time. It wasn't that he didn't like working the front of the house, but... He just didn't like working period. At least, not for something like this. There was no challenge in it. Required no thought. It was damned mind-numbing. He never had understood how Brynjolf got off on this job.
He looked downright bored as he assisted at the front, feeling a bit like he was herding cattle. People were damned stupid when it came to filing into a line. Pushing and shoving just so they could be first into the pub? It didn't matter. Brynjolf would keep the pub open so long as people were still willing to drink... To a certain extent. The man's patience threshold seemed to deteriorate sometime after two in the morning. "Stop shovin'," He grumbled at one robust man who had shoved to the front with his wife.
"We've been waiting thirty minutes for a table," The man grumbled. He stank of tourist. Delvin didn't like tourists. "What's the update?"
"Dunno. Go'n wait at the bar if you're thirsty, I think we've got a spot ope--" He blinked, and watched as a ruffled looking young woman shoved her way past and made a beeline for the bar. "..Ne'rmind then."
Her arrival at the bar didn't go unnoticed, and especially not by a man who noticed everything. Brynjolf was watching quietly, letting Vekel handle most of the customers as he stayed to the back of the bar, idly wiping a glass dry. This girl definitely wasn't the sort of customers they usually drew in. The Irishmen wasn't cheap, after all. He waved Vekel off as the other man made a move to go tend to her. "I've got this one," Brynjolf patted him on the shoulder, and then squeezed past. Working automatically, he fetched a napkin and a coaster, and set them down in front of her. Keeping his green eyes fixed on hers, the man crossed his arms over his chest.
"I'll need to see some ID from you before I serve you, lass. If not, I'm going to have to ask you to wait with the other customers. The bar's for drinking patrons only." He was polite, but he was firm. "And I'll warn you, I can see a fake from a mile away."
She really didn't want a drink, but this guy didn't look like he was gonna buy any cute eyelash batting and let her get just an appetizer. She usually had her best luck with older men who thought she was some sweet little misguided girl and boys her own age who hoped they might get into her pants later. Too bad for them, she wasn't a thing like her mother in that regards. No, this guy didn't fit either part. He was handsome enough she supposed, for an older guy. The Irish accent was kind of sexy, but again, only if he were about fifteen years younger.
Damn, what had happened to all those flaky waitresses anyway? Hopefully she could just stall the guy and order food from someone else. She only had like ten bucks on her, and this place had looked a little less fancy from the outside. But now her appetite was set on acquiring the foods here that were making those delectable smells. The hell with her cash, she could pick a tourist later or something. She always managed. She pulled out her wallet, a cute little leather-look thing with hello kitty printed all over it, and then glanced at him briefly. Even though she really was old enough to drink the wallet made her feel kind of embarrassed.
"Aha, well my sister gave me this wallet so...," she lied. Whatever, it was good enough. "Anyway yeah I'm not really dressed to sit down so I thought the bar was probably the best route. See-" she held out her license a bit too close to his face "-just turned this spring!"
Her ID was completely legit but even now the guy kind of made her nervous. And it was hard to make Tara nervous, she'd been living by the skin of her teeth for years now. Just, something about him seemed a bit sharper than she'd like. She tried to ignore it, wondered if it was just guilty conscience from all those times she had used fake IDs. Yeah, that had to be it.
Brynjolf's expression remained the same as she pulled out her wallet. Honestly, he could care less what sort of wallet people carried their money in, as long as they were legal and that money found its way onto their tables. He stored the information away regardless, however. You never knew when a small detail like that could come in handy. As she explained, he gave his hand a little wave, as if to say that he didn't care. "We're not in middle school, lass," He reminded her. "You can carry your money in whatever you like. I've bigger problems to fuss over.." He took her ID from her and gave it a long look. He had memorized the Nevada ID's, though he had a book for other states. But this? This was legitimate, and he handed it back in about a minute.
"That seems to be in order," He said simply. And like that, his entire demeanor shifted. He had been on the offensive before, but now that she was a prospective customer... He offered her a little smile, and lightly, lazily, leaned his hip against the bar. "What can I do you for then, lass? We've the best stout in the country." He reached beneath the counter, and handed her a menu. Though it was mostly drinks, it featured a few food items as well.
"Something for you to peruse. I'll give you a moment. When you're ready, you lift your finger and I'll see right to you." To be honest, she didn't look like a woman who had a lot of money. He was seldom wrong, but it had happened a few times before. And now, it was safer to not assume. He didn't like looking like a fool. He moved to attend to another customer, but kept his eyes on her all the same. She was new, and she was mildly intriguing. A pleasant distraction for the time being. And he'd like to know before he prepared anything that she'd have the money to pay.
She felt her cheeks flush and immediately chided herself. Really, was she actually embarrassed about that now?! God what was it about this guy that had her so on edge? It was like he could see right through her, and she was not used to that at all. She just took the license back, averting his gaze. She'd always felt some odd sort of pride at her bright blue-green eyes, but his eyes were just as bright, and terribly intimidating. For a moment she wondered if she should just split and go to In And Out instead. But the wait there was horrid and she was starved. And she wanted those sausages!
She took the menu with a tiny "thanks" and began searching it. Her stomach grumbled furiously as she read it over. Even as hungry as she was she kept glancing back up to check on where the man was, trying to look casual. She knew she was failing. He had his eyes everywhere at once it seemed. He didn't miss anything. This was getting really frustrating. Maybe he was a cop undercover. Yeah, that had to be it. This was definitely a bad idea.
Chill the fuck out, Tara! she scolded herself. Seriously, you're losing it!
With that she took a deep breath and went back to looking at the menu. Ah, there they were: sausages! She licked her lips... and then she saw the price. Two dollars short. How pathetic was that?! "Ugghh, this is so lame," she muttered under her breath. At that point she decided it was either bail or follow through. Tara Calleri did not like bailing; it meant defeat, it meant she wasn't up to the challenge. She began to calm down, slipping into her thief mentality. Now her adrenaline took over fear and nervous, sharpened her senses, got her ready to find a possible target. And she did. The noisy tourist couple she'd managed to shove past when she came in was getting a seat at the bar beside her now. They were in a foul mood by now, distracted and not paying nearly enough attention to their wallets. Sausages here I come! she mused, already getting ready for the perfect moment for a slight of hand.
What she forgot to take into account was that while she might have slipped under the radar had she kept her cool earlier, she'd been acting awfully antsy and that bartender's eyes were pinned right on her for good now.
He hadn't saw the moment she started reaching for the wallet. Momentarily distracted, Brynjolf had bent his head to answer one of Vekel's questions as he handed the other man a clean glass. Chuckling, he at last returned his attention to his new customer, mostly to see if she had decided on what she wanted. He intended to make his way over to her, but that didn't happen. He froze instead, his eyes narrowing as he watched her hand slither back from where it had been no doubt rooting in some tourist couple's wallet.
He was a Nightingale. He made his fortune off of thieving. But there was a time and a place for it, and he wasn't about to let it happen in his pub. Without a word, he threw down the rag he had been using to help Vekel with the glasses.
No. Calm. He must be calm. Slowly, Brynjolf took a deep breath. Not like this. It wasn't his way. Turning to Vekel, he offered the other man a smile. "Mind the bar, lad. Going to slip away for a moment." He clapped the man on the shoulder, then slid out from behind the bar. He gave the newcomer a wide berth, watching her carefully. She wasn't leaving with her loot? She was either very confident, then... Or perhaps she hadn't had that much money when she had come into the pub. While that was unfortunate, Brynjolf hadn't gotten rich because of his compassion. Like thieving, there was a time and place for it.
And it wasn't here.
He was silent as he stalked up behind her, his brow furrowed as he dropped a strong hand down onto Tara's shoulder. He gripped hard, holding her down into her seat so no one would see her jump. He didn't want anyone jumping to her defense. The smile on his face was convincingly easy as he leaned over her, and spoke quietly in Tara's ear.
"Hello, lass. Why don't you come with me?" He squeezed his hand on her shoulder. His voice was quiet, but firm. It brooked no disobedience. "Now."
There really wasn't any better reaction for the situation. She thought about running but the place was packed and this guy was strong, one fumble and she'd be facing 'resisting arrest' charges on top of petty theft. After the initial jolt ran through her body she began to look around frantically. Quick thinking, that was what she needed now.
And quick hands.
With a flick of her hand she flipped the handful of cash she'd been sifting through over in her palm and shot her hand back over to the pocket of the loose jacket the tourist was wearing. Before the cop could stop her she had already slipped it in and her plan was off to a start.
"HEY!" she shouted in her best distressed damsel impression she could. Her already startled and frightened state did a great deal to add to the credibility of her act. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET YOUR PAWS OFF OF ME YOU CREEP!" She spun with all of her body weight forward on the stool and used the momentum to loosen his grip on her. "HELP!!!" In the split second her eyes met his she gave him a little wink, too quick for anyone else to catch, and then she bolted through the crowd that had now turned and parted to see the scene.
It wasn't often that Brynjolf was taken by surprise. It was even more rare when he allowed himself to show that surprise, but when this little thief started to shriek and make a scene, his brows knit together in brief confusion, and then growing fury. She had accomplished what she had wanted, and she more or less had the eyes of every person in the pub on her. And for a few moments, it looked as if she might even have a legitimate claim. There was little he could do but release her with a flourish and watch her scamper. He was furious, but he wasn't afraid. He knew that she wouldn't get far. And so, calmly, he crossed his arms over his chest and gestured to the people around him to go back to their meals.
"Relax," He advised, voice calm. "Nothing's amiss. Enjoy your food." He turned around, and leaned his arms on the bar. Now, all there was to do was wait.
"We don't take reservations," Delvin felt as if he were explaining this for the tenth time today. Likely because he was. With a sigh, he leaned back in his chair and scratched at his chin. "Not unless it's a large party, see. Must have talked to a newbie. We don't take no reservations for two. Not on a Friday."
"This is our last day in Vegas," A man was arguing, talking wildly with his hands. "It's our anniversary dinner. Just find us a table," He snapped, and Delvin cocked an eyebrow.
"Yer havin' yer anniversary dinner at a pub? I'm not one to judge, but..." He drifted off, his eyes sliding sideways as he heard the pattering of feet... And just as a young woman began running past his podium, he reached out with expert quickness and grabbed hold of her ear, efficiently bringing her to a stop. "You the one 'oo's been causin' all that rukus by the bar?" He asked, and then glanced at the stunned looking tourists he had been helping. "S'cuse me."
He didn' let go of her ear, and instead, he dragged the girl forward, his expression blank, mannerisms casual. "Yer in a 'eap of trouble I bet," Delvin mused. "Step up. Don't wanna tear your ear off your 'ead. But I'm takin' you to the boss regardless. Hope you weren't thievin'," He added. "Nothin' grinds his gears like bein' stolen from." Pure irony at its best, that.
Tara yelped loudly when the rough hand grabbed her ear, delivering a pleading look for help to the tourists at the door as she was jerked back. They didn't look too interested in getting involved. On the contrary, they were backing away from the podium now, obviously having decided maybe this was not the best place to eat.
"I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!" she lied, swinging an elbow towards the man holding her to try and get him to let go. Unfortunately he was twice her size and her short arms really couldn't reach him well enough to get a good hit. The burly, oddly nonchalant Irishman dragged her back over towards the bar, where the customers had all cleared a wide pathway. She was quite sure no one was going to come to her aid at this point. Tricks like she'd pulled before only ever worked for a minute or two. It definitely looked like defeat at this point.
She cringed a little when she came face-to-face with the bartender again, thinking about the wink she'd shot him early, a true insult to injury he clearly hadn't forgotten. The man was fuming. But it was that calm, completely rational, in control anger. The kind that terrified her. That kind of person was far more dangerous. And far more difficult to talk down.
"I know my rights!" she said grudgingly. "I'm not answering anything without a lawyer." Not that she could afford a lawyer, but the delightfully criminal-friendly United States government could provide her with a substandard one. Good enough for this.
Her quick move of returning the cash earlier left them with no evidence. She'd never been caught, but one didn't get as far as she had without at least having considered what she would do if she was caught. She'd heard people say how criminals always get caught because they get too cocky. They decide to take on something out of their reach because of foolish pride, and the risk-taker and the idiot become one and the same.
"Brynjolf," Delvin greeted casually once he was close enough to the bar to do so, his fingers still on the little thief's ear. "Got somethin' for you. Nearly left the pub in a tornado, this one." He gave Tara a little shake as if to emphasize his point. "You need me to call the authorities?" He meant it as a joke. The very last thing they wanted in this place were the authorities. But this girl didn't know that.
"I'll handle this." It was firm, and he gestured back to the front of the restaurant. "Take care of the front of house. I'll be back." He gripped the girl's upper arm firmly, and marched her behind the bar, and through the set of doors that led to both two small offices to one side, and the kitchens and bathrooms in the right. There seemed to be little activity in the kitchen area: All of his staff had apparently herd the trouble outside, and had paused to watch as Brynjolf finally walked past with the instigator. Near the back, someone snickered.
"Back to work." It wasn't angry, but it was firm, and order not to be disobeyed. At once, the kitchen went back to life. Briefly, Brynjolf took a headcount of the kitchen staff and the waiters and waitresses queuing up to take on the evening shift. They were missing one... "Niruin," He turned the most senior of his servers on staff, catching the Bosmer by surprise as he stepped through the doors. His dark eyes widened, before he relaxed, sparing Tara only a parting glance.
"We're missing someone. Find out who and make some calls."
Without a word, the Bosmer nodded his head, and moved toward the kitchens to check the roster. "It's Evangeline," He spoke up, tapping her name on the paper. "I'll give her a call."
"Do that," Brynjolf requested, and then continued his march to his office. It was small, and it smelled faintly of the food from next door, but at least it was clean, and he guided her to the chair behind his desk. His desktop was humming faintly, but it wasn't on. "Sit." He preferred to stand. He pushed her down into the chair, and then moved to shut the door. Returning to her, he leaned his palms on the desk, standing opposite of her, his own green eyes boring into her own.
"Empty your pockets, lass. Every single one. I want to see what you have in there. Don't argue," He added, sensing that a rebuttal was coming. "I don't have time for it. Just do as I say."
No authorities? As in, this 'Brynjolf' wasn't the authorities? That could either be really good, or really bad. She cringed as the man grabbed her arm and tugged her towards the back. This was unbelievably embarrassing. She tugged halfheartedly against him through the scene in the kitchen, more out of irritation with the situation than any real effort to get away. Though in all outward appearances she might have looked quite defeated, Tara was taking careful note of how the kitchen was arranged and the staff.
The same bosmer woman she'd spotted earlier was loading up a tray to take out. The elf's expression as she looked her over with vivid, bright green eyes was sickeningly smug. Tara blew her a kiss.
The office he brought her to was significantly less impressive than the rest of the pub, but it was neat and organized. Her butt hit the seat hard and she winced faintly. This guy really was strong. "Are you a cop or not? You can't detain me!" she ranted as he moved to the side. She couldn't help but eye the door. But no, not yet. He was still far too ready for any more escape attempts.
His demand took her aback a little, and then she couldn't help but start to laugh. "Seriously?" He'd been a whole lot more intimidating a minute ago; she didn't even care now. With a huge shrug she stood up. Tara shoved both hands in either side of her hoodie and yanked the pockets out. A couple hair clips fell out and clattered to the floor. The redhead huffed and picked them up, slapping them unceremoniously on his desk.
Next she fussed around with her leather jacket, pulling out a couple pencils from the breast pouch, and a dollar bill she had no idea she'd had. "Sweet!" she exclaimed. Out came the hello kitty wallet from the inside pocket of her jacket and she stuff the dollar in there before eying Brynjolf suspiciously. With a great deal of reprehension, she finally handed the wallet over. She tugged the main pockets of her coat inside out, revealing only a toothbrush and a couple crumpled up pieces of paper, including a faded In And Out receipt.
Her skinny jeans didn't have real pockets except in the back. She spun around and reached in the back pockets. "They don't pull out bro," she said, turning her head around to give him a warning glare. "Touch my ass and you're dead!" A crumpled photo of a young man hugging a pit bull fell out, along with some loose change. She glared at the photo for a second and then flung it in the general direction of the trash can.
With that she plopped back down in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest, staring at him. He didn't have a damned thing on her.
Brynjolf watched patiently as the girl emptied her pockets. At her question, he merely cracked a small grin. She thought him the police? The irony made him smile. "I'm not the police, lass. Not in the official sense, at least. But in this pub, my word is law." That was all he'd say on the matter. And he was glad he wasn't going to have to repeat himself: Already she was emptying her pockets, albeit in a very disgruntled manner. Hairclips, a dollar bill, a wallet... Which, when handed to him, he opened up and flipped through without a word. She had eleven dollars all together. Barely enough to get a salad. Hardly enough money to get her a full meal... Was that why she had been thieving? He eyed her carefully.
People stole for many reasons. Some did it for the thrill of the game. Others did it because they were greedy, some because it was the only option she had. And this lass was no stranger to it: Else, her intuition was remarkable. It was a shame he couldn't trust her. She might have made a fine member of their organization. Pity. "I'm not a pervert, lass. There's nothing on you I want to touch." He handed back her wallet without another word, but he wasn't finished with her yet. His eyes were hard, and his voice was deadly calm. "Look at me." It wasn't an order to be refused.
Once he had her attention, he began speaking. "I don't want to see your face around here again, lass. No one steals from the Irishmen. Not a one. You have no idea who you're dealing with. You're in far more above your head than you can imagine. Do you understand me? Look me in the eye, lass. I want to hear you say it." And he was dead serious.
"I should freaking hope not man, you're like twice my age. But this is Vegas," she responded to his assurances that he was not going to try anything.
Tara just scrunched up her face and snatched the wallet back. "You're sharper than the average bartender," she admitted. "You'd make a good cop, too." Her paranoid assumptions about the man were at least founded based on how observant and collected he was. She stuffed her hairclips back in her pockets, and then let him finish up his lecture. A slap on the wrist? Was this it?
But no, it was more than that. When the adrenaline wore off and the fear subsided, pride started to kick in. She was downright humiliated. How could she have been so stupid to even come in to this fancy place? She met his eyes back. "Yeah. Got it." It was honest, but it was also very clear from her attitude that she felt like a goddamned idiot. "Ya know technically I wasn't stealing from you though. Just wanna point that out. But I'm gone," she added, standing and heading for the door.
Tara paused though. Self-image just wouldn't let her leave it unsaid. She turned slowly to look at the man. "Hey look, just like, for the record? I'm not usually this dumb okay? Just... haven't had much to eat last couple of days and..." Oh for fuck's sake, listen to yourself Tara! His expression was unreadable, but he was paying attention, which in itself was kind of odd. "Forget it man, what do you care? Have a nice life, bro!" She turned around and shoved the door open.
He'd make a good cop, would he? Brynjolf supposed that was true. He had sharper eyes than most, and a mind like a whip. Any government organization would be chomping at the bit to have him, if only they knew what they were missing. But Brynjolf wanted no part of that: In his experience, sometimes the government was more corrupt than the people it worked with. Actually, he knew it as a fact. It was evidenced by the number of officials the Nightingales had in their back pocket.
Nevertheless, he was satisfied that he wouldn't have any more trouble from her. "Stealing from the people around me is as good as stealing from me, lass. People don't return to places where they've had things stolen from them. It's bad business. The door's over there. You'll find your way." He listened as she explained she was hungry and hadn't had anything to eat. His face remained impassive. "Find your way, lass." He said simply. "It's what I did. It's what everyone does. Find your place, or get smarter. Sink or swim. And I'm no "bro" of yours." She'd missed that opportunity.
He turned to watch her as she left, and didn't so much as blink in surprise as the door thunked into something, though he quickly walked around the table at the yelp that came after. "Careful," He reprimanded Tara with a sharp word as he took the woman who had been standing behind the door by the arm, and tugged her into the room. Her nose was bleeding. "Pinch your nose and tip your head forward, lass," He instructed, pulling the drying rag from his belt and handed it to her. "Here, use that."
"I'm so sorry I'm late," The red-headed woman sniffed, taking Brynjolf's advice and leaning her bottom on the edge of his desk. She wrinkled her nose as she sniffed, and then snorted, trying to force more blood into the cloth. "Car's dumb.. Who's this? New server?" She eyed Tara curiously, and there was no anger there, despite having her face smashed with a door. "You were pretty vicious with that door."
Brynjolf remained silent, one hand pressed against Evangeline's back. She was one of their newer acquisitions, still in the early stages of conditioning. She was farther along than most at this stage: Then again, she had had everything to gain. Her trust came easy. "No, not a server. You'll escort her outside once you clean yourself up. I want you cleaned up and on the floor in thirty minutes, Evangeline. I need to get back to the front." He'd be damned if he'd leave the pub in Delvin's hands for more than twenty minutes at a time. "Remember what I told you, lass," He added to Tara. "Sink or swim." That said, he patted Evangeline on the shoulder and left his office. The redhead was silent for a bit, until at last her nose stopped bleeding, and she looked at Tara cautiously.
"Soo... I'm Evangeline.."
She scowled at that last bit, even as she was opening the door. "Well then I guess I'm not your 'lass', am I?"
The door swung open and the dull thud immediately made Tara jump. "SHIT!" she yelped, peering around the side to see a young woman about her age, a little taller, with dusty reddish hair holding her nose. "SHIT I'M SORRY!" she said again. And then that Brynjolf had to interject. "Oh bite me," she grumbled at him, turning back to the girl. "Oh my god you seriously should like knock or something are you okay?"
She stood and watched Brynjolf fuss over the girl for a moment, surprised to see him so compassionate. Then again his servers probably didn't steal from his place so there was that. Tara huffed a little when he glared at her but remained quiet, really feeling terribly awkward now. "Sorry I was uh, anxious to get the hell out of here I guess." She gave Brynjolf an annoyed look.
When he finally left with a departing word to her, she wished she had something to throw. "For your information I was swimming just fine, I'll be sure to chart these waters as thoroughly shark-infested!" she snapped at his back. "AND I'M NOT YOUR LASS!"
Tara stood and watched the girl for a good few minutes, marking this as official the most awkward moment of her life to date. She shuffled a bit and started at her feet. There was a hole in her Sketchers sneakers. Dammit, shoes were hard to lift too. One of the few things stores still kept well-guarded. And they were always smart enough to only leave one shoe on display, so it wasn't like she could just grab a pair on display in her size. Finally the girl spoke, and she was shaken out of her thoughts. She looked up.
She thought to introduce herself but it seemed kind of pointless. She wasn't gonna be coming here ever again. "Uh...yeah uhm.. Hi? Look uh, I'm sorry you really don't have to 'escort' me out. I'm more than capable of getting out of this place." Getting out with even a sliver of her pride in tact was another question entirely.
If Brynjolf heard the parting words from Tara, he gave no such indication. But the moment Tara informed Evangeline that she didn't need her help, the Breton shook her head and got to her feet. "If Brynjolf wants me to see you out, then I really should. Sorry," She added with a little smile. "I'll try to stay out of your way. But when he gives you a job, it's best that you do it." Brynjolf wasn't exactly a difficult task-master, but he did expect the tasks he asked of you to be done quickly and efficiently. He was stern, but he was fair.
"So, what are you doing here?" She asked curiously. It wasn't often that Brynjolf took someone to his office, after all. And it usually didn't bode well for whoever was inside, either. The last few times he'd taken someone back there, it had ended up with someone getting let go. "I don't think I've seen you before, and I've learned most of the regulars... Like I said, I'm Evangeline," She was getting a touch chatty, and offered the other girl a smile. "But Eva's just fine. Nice hair," She winked. "Us red-heads need to stay together, right?" She paused then, at last taking stock of Tara's expression, and cocked her head.
"Is something wrong? Oh, and don't worry about Brynjolf calling you "lass"." She added. "He does that to mostly everyone here. Everyone's a lad or a lass to him. I'd say it's a term of endearment, but I think it's more general than that... Just don't let it get to you."
Tara shuffled in her spot. "Ah... I'm Tara but... I'm sorry we probably won't ever meet again. I'm not exactly welcome in these parts now." Not that she was all that eager about ever seeing Brynjolf again. She avoided the inquiry regarding her presence, figuring the cheerful demeanor would disappear as soon as she found out she was just a lowlife thief. "Ah, it's NOT a term of endearment. I can promise you that."
She looked around the office. She'd grabbed everything - everything except that stupid picture of that stupid ex-boyfriend that still sat a few inches from the trashcan on the floor. "Yeah well anyway, sorry about your nose. Let's get this over with then. Maybe I can still salvage some of my pride another day." She managed a really weak smile for the girl and then headed out the door into the kitchen, eyeing the food being prepared and sinking into a more sour mood as her stomach continued to complain.
That Bosmer wasn't in the back anymore, must have been serving tables. That was good, at least. Her pride seriously couldn't take much more of this. She forced herself to stop staring at the food and waited for Eva to show her out. "Hey uhm... can we go a back way? I really don't wish to be seen by everyone right now." She managed a sheepish, hopeful smile.
"Tara, huh ? And why wouldn't you be welcome? We love business," Eva grinned. "Everyone's welcome, as long as they don't cause trouble." She hesitated then, and gave Tara a measured look. Did that mean she'd--? Ooooh. "Well, whatever you did.." She chose her words carefully. "...I'm sure they'll forget about it." Eventually. But Brynjolf had a sharp eye and a sharper memory. He remembered the details that other people forgot, and he didn't forget faces.
At Tara's request, she snapped out of her thoughts and nodded. "We'll take the back entrance. It's a bit smellier, but it's more private. C'mon." Without another word, Eva lead the way out of Brynjolf's office and down the narrow hall, passing the kitchen without a second glance. Looking back, she noticed that Tara was much more enthralled, and a gnawing question rose in Eva's stomach. She didn't say anything, and instead, lead the woman on past a set of double doors into what appeared to be a storage room.
"The doors out are over there," She explained, and pointed Tara in that direction. But before that... "..Look, if you're hungry," She hesitated. She knew this was against the rules, but.. "...We're allowed to pick on whatever dishes aren't cooked right. I could check to see if anything's been sent back to the kitchens, " She offered. "That is, if you don't mind something being a bit burnt."
"I'm not gonna bother to test that. I try not to go back to places I've made a total ass of myself at," she grumbled. A server shoved past her just then with a platter full of none other than the beer-battered sausages she had wanted so badly. She rolled her eyes. "Fuck my life."
"Thanks," Tara said. "Heh, don't worry about smelly, I've slept in some pretty fettid places," she laughed, giving the girl a little grin. When it looked like Eva was about to feel sorry for her, she quickly added, "Dating will do that to ya!" She winked. She knew she was probably quite visibly gawking at the food, so when Eva stopped and got a thoughtful look on her face she wasn't really surprised.
Tara had to kick herself back into attention after the offer because she was pretty sure she almost started drooling. "I...I...," she stammered. She couldn't cost this poor girl her job though. No, even she wasn't that selfish. "I cant't... I don't want you getting fired because of me."
There was definitely something distinctly wrong about this situation. Evangeline didn't have a lot of money, but there were hardly any times when she had gone hungry, either. And that was before she had been allowed to eat for free at the Irishmen. But she knew what it was like to feel destitute, and she knew what it was like to wish that she could eat something other than peanut butter and jelly or bowls of cereal for every meal. And so when Tara began to protest, the Breton put her metaphorical foot down.
"It won't be any trouble, we're allowed to take anything we want if it comes back and the patron doesn't want it. Happens all the time with mixed-up orders or orders that are over cooked... And that doesn't mean the food's bad, some people like their meat still mooing, you know?" She explained. "Just hang tight, alright? I'll be right back." She had a horrible feeling that Tara wouldn't be there when she returned, but it was worth a try. Quickly, Eva slipped back into the hall and into the kitchens.
"Is there any food that's come back?" She asked of the staff, and was met by shrugs and negatives
"Some burger a bit ago, but it was gone within minutes," One of the cooks offered. With a sigh, Eva nodded. She opened her mouth to reassure them that everything was fine just as the server that had left previously returned with the platter of beer-battered sausages.
"Bitch swore she told me she didn't want them battered, but I know she didn't... We need another order of plain sausages, and quickly," The dunmer announced, and with a grin, Eva quickly snatched up the platter. She didn't think to ask if anyone else wanted them: In the Kitchen, it was every man for himself. She dumped the sausages and fries into a to-go box, and then hurried back outside.
"I've brought food!" She announced, a wide smile on her face as she pushed the container at Tara. "Go on, take it. They're sausages. And they're good, trust me."
Tara did, at least briefly, think about splitting. Not because she didn't want the food, but because she was nervous Brynjolf was going to show back up and flip his shit cause she was still on his property. But as she leaned back to peek through the doors she confirmed he was all the way out back to the bar by now. Good riddance. She felt a little bit easier then, and stood quietly to one side, doing her best to disappear into the shadows. Considering the fuss she'd just caused she actually did a pretty decent job of that.
She watched out the little crack in the doors, seeing how busy the kitchen was, how the staff shot jokes about each other around playfully and secretly mocked the more obnoxious customers. It sort of, if only for a moment, made her miss the bakery job she'd had. Granted it had only been that one summer, it was actually kind of fun. Work wasn't always so lousy. But who the hell would hire her? No one wanted a twenty-one-year-old with as little experience as she had. Not unless she wanted to flip burgers or run a quick stop cash register. And fuck that noise!
Just as she started to get used to the idea that she was successfully hidden, Eva came bursting through the storeroom doors again practically beaming. In her hands was a neat little to-go box. Did she seriously just say sausages?! Tara blinked for a second. "I..." Normally she didn't really like the idea of charity, but something about this girl put her at ease. She smiled. Genuinely. "I dunno what to say. Thank you!"
Evangeline flashed the girl a quick smile. The moment she saw Tara's expression, she knew she had done the right thing. After all, Evangeline knew what it felt like to go hungry sometimes. She'd been familiar with the sensation quite often when she had first moved into her apartment and had been barely scraping by with rent. At that time, most of the food she ate came from the dingy little diner in the Flamingo that she had worked at at the the time. Thank God she had... Er, met Brynjolf.
And thank God he was the sort of man who didn't make that sort of thing awkward after the fact.
"Thank you works," Eva winked, and then guided Tara toward the back door. "You can sit just inside to eat if you want to take advantage of the air conditioning. Make a left once you get out of those doors, and you'll be on your way back to the strip. I'm sorry, I can't stay much longer," Eva added, having just peered at her cell phone. "I need to be on the floor in fifteen minutes, and I still need to change and do check in. You take care of yourself, Tara," She added, and gave a small wave before she exited the storage room, hefted her backpack further up on her shoulder, and ducked into a bathroom to change. If someone had been caught stealing, no doubt Brynjolf was going to expect them to be especially up on their toes today.
It was going to be a long evening.