[P] reach for the moon and hit the ground
Finally, finally, he had reached the promised land.

And goddamn if it wasn't a sight for sore eyes. From the outside, the old school house looked rather unassuming, but a keen sense of smell gave Chad some inkling as to what spoils lay within. Booze, weed, other people -- after such a long stretch of nothing, Chad thought he might've died and went to heaven.

But he couldn't get ahead of himself, no; couldn't be starstruck and forget how to function like a regular being. He had a job to do, first and foremost, but after that, it was all play.

Reaching La Roja just before nightfall, he gave the area a brief look-around to make sure there would be ample room to set up camp after he'd had his fun. A terrible shiver shook through his whole body, a bitter reminder of the cold that was ever present this time of year, and this served as no better motivation for him to hurry up and get inside, a pep in his step as he passed through the threshold to a world of wonders yet unknown --

Only to be told he needed to pay for entry. A momentary setback, and Chad realized he might've been getting ahead of himself. Flashing the doorman (who was really fucking tall and perfectly tailored for the role, freak of nature he was) a winsome grin, he reached back into his pack and presented what looked to be a cigarette, carefully wrapped in brown paper vaguely smelling of skunk.

It was dangerous to give too many away without something tangible in return, but Chadwick made peace with the fact that this was for the greater good: an investment for the future.

"For your troubles," he chuckled, winking at him knowingly. "And there's more where that came from. Tell your friends."

He had no way of knowing that the Red Star already had a dealer, but it never hurt to network.

At last in his element, Chadwick swaggered up to the bar and slid into one of the chairs easily, letting out a loud sigh as he marveled at the courtesans carrying on with their boisterous conversations and laughter all around him.

One day, he told himself resolutely. One day, this'll be us.

"Hey, sweetheart -- "

He called out to the pretty young girl manning the bar, throwing in a little whistle for good measure.

"What's a guy gotta do for a drink around here?"

Despite his words, his smile was lax and easygoing, and he hoped she didn't turn out to be as much of a square as the huge black wolf at the door seemed to be.

round 1 of chad's la roja adventure -- vs. serafina! :D (assumptions of polliwog ok'd by larki)
A feature of the bar was that she spent a long time observing others. It was strange to see the ebb and flow of energy, how the influx of a few miserable faces could change the temperature of a room; she considered it a good night when the patrons were smiling overall, even if the smiles were spurred on by drinks or lust or whatever else a person could desire.

It had been a good night for her when Chad came in. The bard was on a roll and the dancers were clapping, whooping—a crowd around the counter had just deserted it, giving Serafina the necessary break to collect empty mugs and wipe down the spills. It was a different life than she imagined, but much better than staying in a place where she was unwanted.

She was glad that Tercero had found someone he liked. Really. She was glad that she hadn't upended his world for nothing, that something new and lovely could come of all they'd been through. She only wished she'd known that something wasn't her a little earlier, a little sooner than the moment she'd shown up at his door unexpectedly with flowers and a big foolish grin, shouting surprise at two people entangled in the most intimate of ways.

Serafina ducked under the counter so that she could groan her own embarrassment into her hand. It was easier when things were busy, so the worst, most mortifying moments of her life couldn't find her in the crowd. To her luck, a voice called to her from above, a trumpet of mercy.

"Oh, sorry!" She popped up, wiping her hands on the black apron at her waist. The patron still smelt like the cold outside, and she was positive she'd never seen his face before — the eyes were an unforgettable sunset hue. "First one's on us. A little token of appreciation for new friends," she told him with a wink. "What can I get you?"

As she set about preparing this for him, she went on to ask, "What brings you to Roja?"
(—) | NPCs:
oh hi chad
Her bubbliness – probably fake, considering her position and the sorts of people she had to deal with shuffling up to her bar and giving her a hard time – nevertheless had Chadwick cheesing just a little wider, a little brighter, the intensity of his smile causing the skin around his eyes to crinkle.

”Oh, I am all about making new friends,” he assured her, resting his elbows against the wood and leaning in. Her scent was masked by the bite of alcohol, but she looked like she might smell flowery and soft, like a girl he knew once that smiled too freely and too often. She'd given her heart to him without a second thought, only for him to leave it – and her – the next morning once the fun was over.

The more he watched the green-eyed woman, the more Chad realized that she didn’t look like a bartender at all.

”Whatever your favorite drink is, I’ll try that.” He did not intend to drink all of it. He needed his senses to remain razor-sharp to take in all of the sights and sounds – of which there were plenty.

”I heard about it on the road,” he watched her flitter about as his dark claws tapped against the counter in a lazy rhythm. ”Where I’m from, there’s a bar on every corner, but here – it’s bone dry. Desperate times,” he lamented with a sigh, though as busy as the Red Star was that night, she likely already knew this.

”So what’s the name of the prettiest girl in the room?”

Chad rested his chin in his palm, pursing his lips as he looked up at her from beneath his deceptively long lashes.

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