8598/Why Do They Call It Purgatory

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Why Do They Call It Purgatory
Date of Scene: 08 November 2021
Location: Purgatory Night Club - Hellfire Club
Synopsis: Because you're caught there with strangers and there's no liquor! Just... guys from Rhode Island.
Cast of Characters: Toni Monetti, Valeria Richards, Mark Grayson

Toni Monetti has posed:
Toni Monetti had come into the city with her father's car - a very nice black car, not too overpowered or flashy, but definitely the car of a serious person who takes serious things - in order to run a couple of high value errands.

A little over an hour and a half ago, that car suddenly died while at a red light. "Are you ****ing KIDDING ME??" Toni had screamed.

It was towed. There was a mechanic. Phone calls. It would be OK. Nobody was hurt. It was kind of funny, and the main annoyance was a glitch in Midtown traffic. It did leave Toni with a pretty serious problem which is "what to do with herself for the night," and just getting on the train wasn't something she was in the mood to do.

Fortunately, there was a place in town her father nagged her to go to. Somewhere trustworthy. ("DON'T GO DOWNSTAIRS.")

And that is why, right now, Toni Monetti is seated at the bar of PURGATORY. She has her chin in one hand as she goes through a bunch of stuff on her phone, looking a mixture of bored, irritated, and hungry -- one of these things can probably be addressed readily enough, and indeed she already has some kind of fruit drink in front of her. With a clatter, she puts the phone down, and slouches forwards, head in her hands.

"UuuuuuUUUUUGUGGGGGGGHHHHRHRRRRRGHHHHHHHHH," Toni enunciates for about seven seconds straight.

(The club in general is not bopping. There's a piped-in set of tracks and sparse attendance on the dance floor. There will be something later, but later is like another two hours.)

Valeria Richards has posed:
Clubs are not the usual habitat of Valeria Richards. That dubious honor belongs to laboratories and workshops. Maybe spaceships. But clubs? Not so much.

After a solid two weeks of study on her current project though, she was ordered in no uncertain terms to get out of the house and do something in the category of normal teenage fun. Lacking any real knowledge of normal teenage fun places, she defaulted to the Hellfire Club, because at least she knows it exists and where it is.

How to //dress// for a club is another question entirely, so after a solid hour of internet research, she went to her closet to discover that she didn't even own anything that fit the right criteria and surrendered to jeans and a t-shirt with a blazer that might count as fashionable. For stockholder meetings. But hey, she rolled up the sleeves!

"Um." She steps up to the bar just in time to hear Toni's groan and quirks a brow, leaning over to check in on her. "Are you okay?"

Mark Grayson has posed:
As a general rule Mark Grayson isn't really the sort to frequent night clubs. It's not really his thing at least most of the time. Almost all of the time really. But sometimes he lets himself get talked into certain things. Things like going into New York City for the evening. Things like going to some 'amazing place'. For the sake of friendship. And possibly a little bit of a guilty conscience given that in recent months he has not been a particularly amazing friend. His life has taken a very big if not entirely unexpected twist and so he suddenly finds himself available far less frequently then might be nice. Particularly to be a good friend.

So he gave in, agreed to hit the city with his best friend William. Agreed to come to this nightclub. For friendship.

Yeah, that was a mistake.

The dark-haired young man has been here for all of ten minutes and now stands in a quiet corner of the generally quiet club. Apparently things get hopping a little later in New York City then Happy Harbor. Who knew. A look of disbelief is on his face as he stares incredulously at his friend. "I can't believe you're ditching me. You're the one who wanted to come all this way," he says to his best friend.

"I know, but..."

"And you were just complaining that we hadn't got to hang out lately. You've been laying the guilt trip on me for the past week. And now you're ditching me," Mark adds flatly.

William sighs and nods his head in resignation. "I know. I suck. But have you seen that guy? He's hot. I swear I'll make it up to you."

And with that, William is gone. And Mark is left glancing about the club, running a hand through his hair.

Well, this night's not off to a great start.

Toni Monetti has posed:
Someone speaks to her. A heroic outreach.

Toni says, "I am the complete and legal medical opposite of all right because I am now STUCK here when I didn't WANT to be here and I can't even, like, leave that fast or I'm gonna get like forty frigging texts about it because this is the weekend and I agreed I was gonna spend this week with the family and they're not BLAMING me about the frigging CAR but they probably already want to and -"

Toni stops.

Toni looks up at Valeria, gradually.

She smiles, a little weakly. "Hey," she says. "Sorry. Long day. I'm Toni, thanks for like, reaching out to me. I like your blazer. Are you with anyone?"

Toni looks around then. "I'm gonna drag that guy over here and flirt with him, if that's not your scene that is absolutely cool but I want to buy you an appetizer or something for being sweet. Like I realize this isn't a broke place but like, that's the spirit." Toni then lifts her voice to full brass. "HEY! Hey you! C'mere!" Urgent gestures will follow up indicating that Toni, does in fact mean Mark.

"That's kind of forward of me, I know? But I have to do it cuz of my skin condition and everything," Toni tells Valeria. (Moody starlight graphics makes it hard to tell.) "Do you come here a lot? My dad's a member but I've only been here like twice."

Valeria Richards has posed:
That is so many words. Valeria doesn't actually answer Toni until all the words are out, a faint smile quirking as she keeps the list in her head. "I'm Val," she introduces herself first, offering over a hand. "And I'd offer to help with the car thing, because honestly that's more my speed than the bar thing, but I'm betting that's already being handled. Just me tonight," she shrugs, though she looks over as Toni sends out the invite. "I checked to see if Franklin was home, but he wasn't. And he left his tracker in his room, of course."

She sighs, setting her elbows on the bar top and pushing up onto her toes to peer for a menu on the other side. "I've been here before. We had a legacy membership for a while. Mom and Dad don't...//love// the place, but at least it's a known quantity." At the mention of a skin condition, her smile quirks again, wry. "You know, they're pretty cool with 'skin conditions' around here."

Mark Grayson has posed:
It's not exactly like he is trapped here. He can step outside, find some quiet place and be skybound in moments, well on his way home with minimal muss and fuss. But that might raise a few uncomfortable questions around exactly how he got there given that William was his ride. So it looks like -- for better or worse -- he's stuck in the city for the next several hours.

Of course just because he's stuck in the city doesn't mean that Mark is exactly trapped here. And indeed, the young man's gaze flickers towards the entrance. Dropping the cover charge to get in hurts a bit if he's gonna leave after barely fifteen minutes. But it isn't the end of the world. Even being ditched isn't the end of the world and it isn't like he didn't have it coming with the number of times he's put his friend in the exact same spot. So Mark comes to a decision and starts towards the door.

At least he does until he hears Toni all but shouting and motioning towards him. The club is hardly so busy that he isn't fairly sure that she is trying to get his attention. So quirking a brow, the dark-haired young man slips over in the direction of the bar, dipping his head to the pair already gathered there. "Uh. Hi."

Toni Monetti has posed:
"That is so sweet of you, Val," says Toni. "My dad's really picky on who works on it though? Like I had to wait for this j-o from the Bronx to get here because he's like no, it HAS to be Sforzo, that's the only guy in the five boroughs I trust. He's just paranoid since he's in government, but I mean, who can blame him?"

Toni complains further, pulling a face, "I had to like sit there and wait on it, he was like 'keep anyone who isn't a cop away from it until the tow truck gets there, ANYBODY,' it was like, hello, you're paranoid, old man."

("Yeah? Nobody gave me shit the first time, but I mean, it was a party," Toni adds, more confidentially. She may have completely missed the mention of trackers and someone named Franklin.)

But then, here comes Mark. "Hey~," Toni says, before shifting into a somewhat less... ...you know tone of voice now that Mark is within 'not shouting' range. "I'm Toni, this is Val, we were just hanging out here and I thought, hey, he looks lonely over there. You wanna sit down? I'm gonna be getting some hummus in like five minutes, I think they have to mash the chickpeas fresh."

"You look like you're from out of town," Toni continues. She glances to Val as if for validation.

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Yeah, I get that," Valeria nods on the topic of the car. "Probably for the best anyhow. I didn't exactly bring any tools. Hi," she adds with a quick smile for Mark, waving a bit awkwardly.

"I mean, maybe not out of town," she adds quickly. "Just, you know. Not a regular. The regulars usually have like...Well, there's two types." While the bartenders are busy, she reaches behind the bar to snag a couple of menus, passing them to the others.

"Type one is having //way// more fun because they're here all the time and they're just not super worried about the whole experience. And type two has something to prove, either to themselves or to the rest of the people here, usually about how important they are." A smile flashes as she shrugs.

"You look like this wasn't your first choice tonight. Which is totally okay, wasn't mine either. I was told to get out of the house with the added caveat of //not// out of the universe. Or city. Honestly, at a certain point I stopped listening to the caveats and accepted my fate."

Mark Grayson has posed:
Arriving just in time to catch a bit about the car troubles that Toni is currently suffering from, he rather gets the feeling that he might not be the only one who happens to be here without actually really wanting to be here. That assumption seems to be a rather good one, at least if Valerie's comments are anything to go on.

A brief smile lights on Mark's face and he dips his head in apparent admission. "You're not wrong. I mean, I have lived here before but I'm a few hours away these days, at least most of the time," he admits, confirming Toni's insights. "I'm here with my friend. Errr, I was here with my friend. He wanted to check this place out and since I haven't been the very best of friends lately I agreed," he says, giving his head a small shake of his head. "But he seems to have met someone so I am now at loose ends. Thanks for the invite. I could definitely use a bite to eat and have a few hours to kill," he admits, pulling himself up onto the stool.

His head quirks slightly at the mention of not leaving the universe -- possibly because he has received the same advice from time to time -- and glances the pair over. "I take it neither of you are regular visitors to this, uh, place?"

Toni Monetti has posed:
Toni muses over the two types of attendees. Valeria can probably infer reasonably that she's going 'but which am I?' "And all that for a frigging teen bar, right?" she says to Valeria. "I oughta have my 21st here, really get daddy pissed off." Toni is then menued, though she doesn't give it much of a look.

She did hear that universe comment and it makes her glance at Valeria again. Then back to Mark, who gets a more attentive /expression/ for sure, probably because of the flirt angling. "Wow, that's rude," Toni says. "You ought to brag at him about how you're the one who got picked up, right? Especially if he strikes out, which, no hate on your friend, I'm definitely cheering against him for being cold."

"I was telling Val I've been here like twice, three times I guess with tonight," Toni continues, "because I guess I'm what they call a legacy thing? Like you probably overheard me cuz I talk like I'm in traffic all the time, but I'm here for dinner and everything because my dad's being paranoid about the car. Honestly I think maybe he's more worried about the car than me. Probably try to tan my ass over it. Shit."

"This is a like, really cool room concept, though, isn't it? Even if this is a teen bar kinda thing," Toni continues. (At this point the bartender drops off Toni's hummus plate, which is indeed a little much for one woman but a decent appetizer. It's got some kind of lemon juice spritzer on top and an artistic galaxy pattern with chili powder and a couple other types of seasoned salt/nuts/something.)

Valeria Richards has posed:
"I've been a few times, for event type things," Valeria shrugs, skimming over the menu. When the bartender drops off Toni's tray, she puts in an order for a sparkling fruit drink of some sort. "But I'm not really big on clubs. Not that I don't like people! People are great. New people are great. I just usually like them in more of a..."

She trails off, reaching up to rub a hand at the back of her neck, then changes the subject. "Anyhow, welcome and all that," she smiles swiftly. "I didn't catch your name?"

It's about then that the pieces of Toni's conversation fall into place and she looks back to the other girl. "Oh! Your dad's a senator, right? Definitely explains the car worries."

Mark Grayson has posed:
"I'm sorry. I'm Mark," he says, quickly offering up an introduction as it's pointed out that he hasn't done so yet, running a hand back through that dark hair again in an absent gesture before flashing a brief smile Toni's way. "Thanks, I appreciate the support," he says wryly. "But it's probably the least I deserve given how often I've had to bail on him at the last minute lately," he admits. Any irritation he might have felt towards William seems to have dissipated. Young he might be, but he is not entirely irrational.

"I have to admit, I've never been here. Clubs aren't really my thing either," he admits with a small shrug. "Though this is pretty... different then anything they have back home. It seems like things don't really get going until a fair bit later then they would back home too," he adds, glancing around the still scant crowd. At least he's consistent in avoiding any semblance of coolness.

"Sorry to hear about the car trouble. Hopefully you don't catch too much grief from your dad," he adds, glancing between the other two at the mention of just how significant Toni's dad might be. Of course, if he knew who Val's father was... "Looks like they do pretty good hummus at least..."

Toni Monetti has posed:
"Hey, that's right," Toni says to Val.

There's a pause as she picks up a pita chip and asks in a significantly less airheaded tone, "How'd you figure that one out?" (Her voice lowers, further yet. "If you're Batman I understand you can't tell anyone.")

She attends to what Mark is saying. "So where are you from? You don't sound like Jersey so I'd guess... like... out near Pittsburgh?" Toni says, before smiling a little more. "What would you RATHER be doing right now?"

After this comes more pita chip eating.

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Girl genius," Valeria responds cheerfully to Toni, picking up a pita chip to try some of the hummus. It //sounds// like a joke at least. "New York is definitely a late-night city," she agrees with Mark. "Sometimes that's cool, like when it's the middle of the night and you //really// want some pizza because you forgot to eat all day. Other times it's just weird and means you do a lot more planning if you want to do the club thing when it's busy."

She takes a bite then hums at Toni, pointing with the rest of the chip. "That's good," she says from behind a hand.

Mark Grayson has posed:
"Don't get me wrong. The evening has turned around some," Mark offers up with a smile -- he's not totally socially awkward -- before reaching for one of the chips as well. Toni did offer afterall, it does look good and he's more then a little bit hungry. It all seems like sufficient justification to help himself to some of the snack. "But yeah, all things considered I'd rather be at the movies, or just hanging out in the basement.

"Pretty good guess actually. You must have an ear for accents," he says, shaking his head slowly. "Rhode Island actually. There's a little town there, Happy Harbor. There's a school that my parents wanted me to attend so..." he offers up by way of explanation, giving a small shrug of his shoulders.

"It's not a bad place but yeah, definitely a lot different then New York. I mean, Sunday to Thursday there's not a whole lot open after 9pm. On Friday and Saturday though they really let their hair down. Some places stay open all the way to 11pm. You really get to cut loose," he points out with just a hint of a smile."

Toni Monetti has posed:
"I think by 11 pm I'm ready for lunch," Toni says.

"Seriously though, I can see how that'd be uncomfortable. But Rhode *ISLAND*, wow! Did you take the train here? I guess it's easier to get back and forth that way. Maybe all the weirdos just come into the city, huh?"

"You live in the city?" Toni asks Val, for clarity.

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Happy Harbor?" Val asks, tilting her head with a curious look that holds just a little more sharpness. "I know a few people who go there. Sounds like a nice place from everything I've heard. It'd kill me living out there though," she shakes her head.

At Toni's question she nods, accepting delivery of her drink from the bartender. "Yeah, Four Freedoms Plaza," she answers easily. She's too used to being recognized to play coy about it. "Honestly though, sometimes I think it's quicker to get places in the city from the train than //from// in the city."

Mark Grayson has posed:
That draws a quiet laugh and a nod from Mark. "But you'll be in luck. There will still be somewhere open serving lunch," he points out, the corners of his mouth twisting up wryly as he reaches for another of those pita chips. "It really is good," he adds, echoing Valerie's earlier comment, shifting in his seat a little to better face the other two. And, not entirely incidentally, that hummus platter.

"The train would have been a good way to do it, but my friend wanted to drive it this time. It's definitely a hike. The plan was to head back after we were done but I'm thinking I'll be calling up one of my friends to see if we can crash for the night," he admits. Hey, it's an experience. One that does not involve fighting aliens or extra-dimensional creatures or mad geniuses. He'll take it.

Turning towards Val he nods his head and gives a small shrug. "It's got a surprising rep, I guess. I've gotten used to it, but yeah, it would be a huge adjustment after New York," he admits. His eyes do widen a little bit at the mention of her living arrangements. "You live at Four Freedoms Plaza? That's got to be amazing."

Toni Monetti has posed:
Toni looks at Val again, this time narrowing her eyes slightly. Now it is her turn to become the bat.

Four Freedoms Plaza, Toni thinks. Do a lot of people live there?

Unless she's--!!

To Mark, she says, "I'm having to get a hotel room, or I guess, I am *choosing* to get a hotel room, ha ha. You have a lot of friends in the city?" Then she tilts her head, peering towards the dance floor. "Is that your friend who just got dipped out there? I guess maybe he's not striking out."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"It's awesome," Val assures Mark with a grin. "I mean, sure, every now and then the Mole Man rolls up and demands tribute or something, but we've got pretty good defenses for dealing with that sort of thing. If you need a place to stay, we've always got spare rooms," she adds to Toni.

A beat, then she raises a finger as though coming to a realization. "That probably would have been a better offer if I hadn't //just// mentioned the Mole Man thing. Honestly, it doesn't happen that often. But you know, I get it, hotels are cool too."

Mark Grayson has posed:
Given that Mark is an unabashed comic book nerd and general superhero fanboy for a whole host of reasons, one would think that the mention of where Val lives would be a pretty big clue. But then his own experience is quite different, what with the working hard to keep a secret identity -- up to and including lying to his best friend on a regular basis about where he is and why he can't hang out. And of course there is no towering technological marvel to call home. Just a suburban home and a super sekrit government contact doling out the occasional assignment. "Mole Man!" he enthuses. "That's so awesome," he adds. Not necessarily a conventional response, but then no one called him ordinary.

Glancing back towards Toni he nods. "Oh yeah, I'm back in the city enough that I kept up with some of the friends I had while living here. I'm sure one of them will put me and William up for the night," he says confidently before following to where she points, glancing over towards the dance floor where a tall, blonde athlete type is dancing with his best friend. "I guess the quiet chatting in some corner part of the evening is done," he agrees drily. "Well, I guess Operation Find William a Date is a success."

Toni Monetti has posed:
Toni's eyebrows raise a little, before saying, "I gotta ask, is the Mole Man like a serious thing here? Like give me an estimate of the odds," and now Toni leans to say quietly, "/miss richards/," before straightening up and eating a pita chip triumphantly.

"I guess you maybe should still ask him if he wants to crash cuz I'm gonna say this place has a rep but it's actually kind of, a bad idea to go to someone's house straight from the dancing," Toni says. "On the other hand: Maybe he's in the groove. You don't want to get your revenge by messing up his night, right? That's just mean."

Valeria Richards has posed:
Valeria taps the remains of a pita chip against her nose with a wink for Toni before she finishes it. "The seriousness of the Mole Man is a relative thing," she shrugs. "But I'm not aware of any current subway projects, so you're probably in the clear. He usually only shows up when you dig too deep. Like a short, near-sighted Balrog."

She laughs to herself then follows the others' gaze to William, smile broadening a bit. "Awww, it's sweet!" she exclaims. "Though Toni's got a point. I wouldn't just go home with anyone here." Like she didn't //just// extend an invitation.

Mark Grayson has posed:
At that comment from Toni, Mark blinks in surprise and swings his gaze around the club as if looks for some sign, maybe brightly flashing 'XXX's somewhere before he gives a quiet cough and dips his head her way in thanks. "I'll, uh, see if I can steal him away for a minute or two and have a word with him to see exactly what he was, ummm, looking for when he picked this place out. Thanks for the head's up." He certainly doesn't want to get in his friend's way, especially given his general luck at the dating thing but it is clear that the darkhaired young man appreciates the warning.

When Toni drops Val's last name Mark is quick to shake his head, eyes wide. "Ugh, I can't believe I didn't see it. You're actually a part of them. That's like, the coolest thing ever. What is Mr. Fantastic actually lik... sorry, sorry," he says, catching himself and clearing his throat, flashing an apologetic look her way. "I imagine you get that a lot. More then you'd like I'm sure," he says sheepishly. "I'm a bit of a superhero buff," he says wryly, again sweeping a hand back through his hair.

Toni Monetti has posed:
"Yeah, public works is kind of passe lately," Toni says. She then looks to Mark as he seems to fluster a little. This makes Toni laugh, but lightly. "You shouldn't apologize so much even if it's cute!"

"What, other than the whole part where they mean like way fewer people die horribly, do you like about them?" Toni asks.

Valeria Richards has posed:
"It's cool, it's normal," Valeria assures Mark with a wry smile. "He's great. But he's my dad, so I'm kind of biased." She seems interested in the answer to Toni's question though, taking a sip of her drink.

There was never a question of the sort of life she'd lead, so it all seems like a foregone conclusion to her. It's always interesting to hear another take on it.

Mark Grayson has posed:
"I'm sure it gets old, and I promised myself I would avoid going into sheer geek overload this weekend," Mark says wryly before giving a small shrug. At least he caught himself before sending an absolute barrage of questions Val's way. "And it's kinda something I've had since I was a kid. My dad's a writer. I grew up on tales of superhumans since as long as I can remember. I just never grew out of it I guess. It's kinda one of the things I share with him. And yes, I am admittedly a pretty big fan of the fact that a whole lot less people die horribly when they're about too," he admits with a half-smile.

As the song out on the dance floor comes to an end Mark throws a glance over in that direction and lets out a slow breath. This... is going to be a different discussion. "Looks like this might be my opening. I'm just gonna check in on my friend. Maybe drag him back here to introduce you if he, uh, didn't know everything about this club," he offers up. "Though fair warning, he will probably geek out just as hard as me," he warns Val before glancing back to Toni and flashing a grin. "Thanks for calling me over rather then letting me awkwardly shuffle about. And for sharing your snack," he adds. "Wish me luck," he says, hopping off the stool and starting for the dance floor. To find out just how much his best friend knew about Purgatory before he suggested they come check it out.