Heath Ledger, the Brothers Fiennes
"You have got to be kidding."
Ralph swirls his cognac, shakes his head. "Do I look like I'm kidding?"
No, Joseph has to admit, Ralph does not look like he's kidding. But, him? "Ralph, he looks like something the cat drug in, took a look at in the light, and back out again...we'll have to fumigate him first."
"If necessary, we'll fumigate him first."
"He's wearing a Casio, for godsake!"
Ralph smiles, strokes Joseph's reddening cheek, plucks a pen from his inside pocket and begins scribbling out a note as he answers Joseph. "All the better to keep your mind off stealing his jewelry, and on more interesting things we might take from him." One raised finger summons a passing slaveboy, and Ralph passes him the napkin. "Would you kindly deliver this, along with another of whatever swill he's drinking, to that large boy with the duffel bag on his shoulder and the sock on his head?" Produces a twenty, tucks it into the slaveboy's g-string.
Heath's not used to having everything done for him, but when he sees the slaveboy heading his way he figures it wouldn't hurt to ask for another beer. It's nice just to sit down and relax for a few days and he might as well make the most of it. His open mouth is promptly snapped shut however, when the slaveboy hands him a note and asks what drink he would like. Heath looks at the note curiously, brows knitting together as he reads the three simple words on it. Join us. Now. Looking up, he glances around the bar suspiciously, dark eyes finally settling on two men sitting in a corner across from the bar. What the fuck?
Ralph smiles, raises his glass and nudges out a third chair.
Joseph scowls, receives a kick beneath the table, then manages an unconvincing imitation of his brother's smile.
Heath considers the invitation for a moment then sends the slaveboy away to get him that elusive beer. He came here for a good time, right? No harm in meeting new friends. He pushes himself away from the table and heads on over, depositing the bags just under the new table. "Evening."
"Good evening," Joseph's mocks. Casio, for godsake, clothing by WalMart, hat presumably from the dumpster out back...
Ralph stands, extends his hand. The big boy's non-designer clothing deters him not in the least, he's already mentally undressed him and has no objection to what he sees. "Ralph. This surly jackass is Joseph. And, you are...?"
"Heath," he smiles at the sitting man's sulk, then looks back at the one called Ralph. Hello handsome. "You are the writer of the strange note, I take it?"
"Strange?" Ralph shrugs. "I hadn't thought it strange. Unceremonious, perhaps. I don't care to mince words."
Joseph takes the concept of unceremonious a step further. Points to Heath's scruffy duffel bag. "What's in there? Your worldly possessions?"
Ralph's eyes narrow briefly on his brother. They'll have a discussion, later, about manners. For the time being, though, he'd have to admit that this is a question he'd like to hear the answer to, as well. If the boy is indeed homeless, although it's something of a mystery how a vagrant could afford the extravagant cost of Citadel membership, then the promise of a full belly and a warm bed...between two other warm bodies... would be an appealing bauble to dangle. The boy would be grateful. Grateful boys are delightfully easy to manipulate.
Heath lifts an eyebrow at Joseph's question, sitting down beside Ralph. "No, though I wouldn't be surprised if I found your brain in there, as it seems to have vacated your head. However, you're right. I only carry what I need, and I need my instruments."
"Instruments?" Now it's Ralph who raises a brow. What an interesting word, so many possibilities. Instruments of a trade?...of pleasure?...torture? In any case, his curiosity as to the boy's financial standing remains unsatisfied, but there are more subtle ways to derive the information. "Have you eaten?" he asks, gently pushing their sampler platter of mushrooms and wings and peppers a few inches closer to their guest.
"Musical instruments. My didgeridoo," Heath gestures at the long narrow bag, "panpipes and lute," at the other duffel bag. "To put it simply, I use them to make money." Hungry eyes scour the plate as it's pushed in front of him, and Heath plucks a wing from it, biting into the tender flesh with a sigh of appreciation. He'd eaten earlier, but only a meager breakfast of bread and coffee - just enough to get him through half the day without spending too much.
One question answered, then. Ralph's lips stretch into a thin smile. He's fairly sure of the answer to his next, by the boy's bearing, but confirmation is never a bad idea. He takes a mushroom from the plate, raises it toward Heath's mouth in his fingertips. "Try this."
Out of habit, Heath leans back and plucks the mushroom from Ralph's fingers before popping it in his mouth. "Mm... that's good. Isn't your friend having any?" He glances toward Joseph and smiles at the sour-faced man. They look very similar, perhaps brothers.
"My friend," Ralph removes another morsel from the platter, holds it in his palm rather than his fingertips, the way a man would feed a horse when wary of being bitten, "will eat at my discretion." Even as his hand offers the food to Joseph, his eyes, disapproving now, are heavy on Heath. This, his eyes explain coldly, is the response we are seeking, boy.
Joseph's face is the picture of restrained fury as he snaps the morsel from Ralph's hand.
Heath stares at the second offered mushroom for the few seconds before it disappears, then raises his dark gaze up at Ralph, eyes twinkling. He knows the game they play, was taught it well several years ago. "Doesn't look as though your friend likes it too much," he says with a smirk, sneaking a glance at Joseph's glaring face.
"My friend sometimes needs to be reminded of what he likes." Without warning, Ralph's still-extended hand angles vertically and deals a vicious backhand blow to Joseph's jaw. His pale eyes never waver from Heath's face. "You, on the other hand, probably require no similar refresher courses?"
It's the smack rather than seeing it that makes Heath jump, but he isn't surprised by it. In this place anything can, and will, happen, and you don't have time to ask questions. "I know my place," he says, picking his words carefully.
Joseph's head is drooping like a basset hound's, amber eyes aimed at his own lap. He's still not happy, but the swaggering bravado has left him entirely.
A trace of approval softens Ralph's gaze. "Good." Again, he draws the pen from his breast pocket and, again, he begins scribbling on a napkin. "This is the address," he says, laying a fifty dollar bill atop and sliding both toward Heath, "and this is cab fare." Ralph stands. Gestures upward, commanding Joseph to do likewise. "Come as you are. Or not. Your choice." His eyes turn meaningfully toward his watch. "No hurry, making your decision, of course. The offer is open for another thirty minutes."
It's not a hard choice. Either he stays here and waits for a good time, or he goes with these men and gets one. It's pretty much answered before he has time to think about it. "I'll be there shortly," Heath nods courteously at Ralph and raises his drink to him before finishing it off.
Legal Disclaimer - Site Map