(2018-09-07) Computers and Creepers
Katherine sells Ethan a laptop, tries to show him how to use it, and they discuss an issue she's having with a boarder.

The Boardroom

An old-school layout puts a wooden bar in the center of this small, hole-in-the-wall establishment, lacking for things like "free wi-fi" and slick interior design. The whole place has fewer than ten small, round tables with mismatched chairs scattered across the wooden floor and one curved bar in the middle with five stools in front of it. This is not the place to come asking for specialty liquors, but it's a decent joint if you're looking for some place downtown, and the location means it turns a good bit of business on a weekend. The food menu is limited: wings, fries, chili dogs, hamburgers, typical bar-food coming out of a tiny kitchen through the back. But there are decent beers on tap, and you can get a middle-of-the-road cocktail for a not-unreasonable price. There's one, good-sized TV stuck to the wall next to the bar, inevitably tuned to sports, and every other spare space on the wall is occupied by a random assortment of decorations - advertisements for liquor or local businesses, a smattering of framed photographs of South American scenery, pennants for the Rockies and the Broncos, and a dartboard at the back. The smell of beer, peanuts, and patrons hangs in the air, often battling with whatever song someone convinces the old-school jukebox to pump out.

It takes a couple days to connect, a few messages back and forth, before it's finally possible to get Ethan on the phone, and then it's the bar-phone, not whatever the other number was. But a time is agreed upon, before the place is likely to be packed for the night - though, it's Friday, the crowd does kinda start early. Anyway, he waits outside on the sidewalk, under the eaves of the building and out of the rain; the door to the Boardroom is open, music and conversation spilling out into the square of light painted on the concrete. He stands just to one side of that square, finishing a cigarette and watching the trickle of nighttime foot-traffic.

Katherine walks fast, holding an umbrella above her head as she tries to keep dry. She casts a wary eye into the bar, frowning at how busy it is, but continues on her way. Spotting Ethan, she raises her hand to wave to him, a smile forming on her face. "Hey, you're a hard man to get a hold of." She huddles under the eaves, closing her umbrella and leaning it against the building. She pulls back the flap of her shoulder bag, a pink laptop showing inside the warm bag. "Someone walking by is going to think we're trading drugs or something." She rolls her eyes, looking completely amused.

"Yeah, sorry about that." Ethan blows the last drag out of his mouth to the side, making sure the wind carries it away from Katherine, and throws the rest of the cigarette into the watery street, where it promptly goes out and is carried away by the gutter-stream. "Thanks for bringing it down here, though. What'd we say? Twenty bucks?" He fishes a wallet out of his back-pocket, perching briefly onto his toes to peer at what can be seen of his new treasure. "Trading drugs," he repeats, snickering at the turn of phrase.

Katherine squints at Ethan, rolling her eyes as she holds out a hand. "Make fun at the face I make at beer. Make fun of my turn of phrase, what's next?" She asks, smirking a bit as she pulls the laptop from her bag. She holds out the garish pink thing, princess glimmering along the top with rainbow sparkles. A crown taking the place of the dot on the i. "Is it horribly busy in there? I actually need a drink, maybe even an alcoholic one." She sighs, huddling even more under the eaves. "I really wish this rain would let up, it's on my fucking nerves."

Ethan says nothing about all the mockery, just smiles and bats his lashes in a show of supreme innocence before he hands over the promised twenty dollar bill. "Oh, it's all that I hoped and dreamed it would be," he says of the laptop, collecting it and hugging it to his chest girlishly. He's still doing that when Katherine motions toward the interior, and he gives an iffy shrug. "Not horribly, still kinda early. We could fix you up something that doesn't taste nasty if you want - on the house, on account of you coming all the way down here with my purty new 'puter."

"No need for on the house, but I can use something. I'm stressed out." Katherine says, gesturing for Ethan to go first. "I can show you the basics while I have a drink, if you want." She glances over her shoulder, her eyes scanning the wet, rainy street. There is a soft snort as he hugs the computer to his chest. "Wait until you see the keyboard. Rainbow. Lights up. I'm sure you'll be absolutely in love with it." She shivers, stepping into the Boardroom, looking around for a place to sit.

Ethan drawls lengthily, garishly, offensively(?), "Faaaaabulous," with a tiny lisp in evidence when it comes to rainbow light-up keyboards, omg yay. "Does it have to be online or whatever? Because there's only internet in the office, and you don't wanna go back there, trust me." He also checks for a seat, suggesting, "Grab that little table, and I'll get you a cocktail to take the edge off."

And that's how you make people into alcoholics, yay~!

Katherine taps her phone, shaking her head. "I can create a hotspot if it's necessary. I'm not sure I'm ready to see the office, if it's going to stress me out and make me want to clean, best to keep me out of there." She settles into the indicated seat, crosses her legs and peels off her hoodie. She folds her slender arms across her chest and gazes at the television as she waits, foot twitching as she waits for Ethan to return.

"I did warn you that I don't computer, right?" That 'cause what she said about the hotspot failed to kindle any light of recognition in Ethan, who's already moving away to deal with that drink - oh, except he comes back after a second to put the laptop on the table. Then he goes and gets drinks, returning a minute or two later with a small glass of what looks like Kool Aid and a bottle of beer. Katherine gets the little pink drink, he keeps the beer, warning, "It's sour, but that'll keep you from tasting the booze."

Katherine, meanwhile, has been setting up the computer and powering it on. The keyboard lights up in rainbow across the keys, and she taps it until the program she wants comes up. She picks up the glass, gives it a careful sniff, and then takes a drink. She blinks a few times, shuddering as it travels down her throat. "What..is it?" She manages to get out, sipping again as if she hopes to chase away the shivers with more of it. She leans forward, fishing her cell phone from her back pocket, tapping it until it lights up. "You don't have to computer, I'm computering. If you don't get what I put down in a few lessons, you'll have to hire me to do your paperwork. Or bribe me.." She tilts her head to the side, daydreaming for a moment. Whatever is in her imagination makes her laugh softly.

Full disclosure: the drink is Crown Royal, sour apple Schnapps, and cranberry juice, shaken with ice and strained, so yeah, it's sour. Ethan settles into the chair across from Katherine's, taking a pull off his beer and smiling like he hasn't just handed her a sour hangover in a cup. "I'm not sure you wanna know the name, Kate, so let's just say… it's what a pro suggested for someone that doesn't like liquor." He points with the base of his bottle to the bartender, then lets Katherine have her daydream moment uninterrupted. "I'm not sure I like the idea of bribing my unofficial bookkeeper. Just sounds like bad business."

Katherine jumps every single time she takes a sip, looking slightly put upon as she boots up Quickbooks. "Why don't you be a dear, go get me some receipts, and I'll..deal with this." She stares at the drink like it's a coiled snake with a rattle making noise at her. She looks from the drink to the bartender, and then back again. "Oh dear." She screws her face up, takes hold of the glass, and steels herself. She drinks two or three gulps, and after she swallows she gasps and giggles erupt from her. "Oh wow." She whispers, pushing the cup a little away from herself.

Ethan gets up slowly, watching Katherine's reaction to the second sip with a mixture of amusement and concern - it's all fun and games till someone throws up, after all. Watching her side-eyed, he leaves his beer on the table and disappears into the back for a few minutes, returning presently with a file folder of receipts and a tall glass of water, both of which he puts on the table in front of Katherine. "Drink plenty of water," is all he says, picking up his beer again.

Katherine pulls the water close and takes a drink. "The aftertaste of the drink and water do not mix." She announces, and then she pulls the folder over to her, opening it up. "So when I said bribe, I meant with chocolate or something. Just..as an aside." She tries to clarify, glancing briefly at Ethan before she shakes her head and pulls out a receipt. "Okay, scoot closer. Watch." She starts to input receipts, chatting easily as she does, explaining where to put them and why. She starts on income, pointing from one area to the next as she types them in. "So did you retain any of that?" She asks, as she pulls payroll from the folder, aiming a look toward Ethan. Distracted as she is, she reaches out for the sour drink, and takes a swallow, making a face as she swallows. "Jarring. Every time."

Just a readily agreeable, "Of course," for what she meant about bribery. Ethan's chair makes a loud scrape when he obediently scoots closer, attentively watching just how Katherine does everything, even nodding here and there like it all just makes perfect sense. "Sure. Bang on the keyboard, numbers numbers numbers, profit. Got it." He works through his own drink in no particular hurry, more nursing it than drinking it, and politely avoids a full-on snicker when she makes a face again. "Maybe liquor just isn't your thing, Kate. I'm sure somebody in here has some weed…" Turning in his chair, he looks over the crowd for a likely suspect.

Katherine gives Ethan a healthy dose of side eye when he equates her hard work to bang bang numbers profit, but doesn't say anything aloud. She hears the amusement when she takes a drink and bang goes the glass on the table, as she exhales out a sigh. "Liquor is fine. I'm just…" She is being a bit dramatic when she gestures to the glass, her hands gesticulating as she moans. "Why does it have to be so sour!" Her gaze shifts around the bar as he turns to look for weed, eyebrows raised slightly. "You're serious, right?" She laughs, leaning an elbow on the table, fingers wrapping around a curl as she waits. "Weed is pretty relaxing, and I need to chill. Let me ask you a question, you're a man, right?" She blinks and then her eyes blink, getting wide for a moment. "That's not the question, oh..man, holy shit." She holds up both hands and takes a breath. "I can words." She says quietly, before speaking up again. "Would you be slightly suspicious if someone knew you for two days and wanted to like…talk about relationship things?"

It's Colorado. Chances are, half the people in the room have weed. But Ethan doesn't do anything to secure any, instead laughing while he answers, "The sour covers the booze is why." The shift in subject-matter brings his attention back to Katherine instead of the thickening crowd, and he brow-knits while trying to follow her train of thought. Such as it is. "So, you're officially cut-off, just to get that clear." He puts a hand over the top of her cup and slides it out of the way, then frowns and leans back at the actual question. "Yeah? Are you talking like a new friend who offers to let you vent about your boyfriend? Or some dude you dated twice who's ready to move in?"

"Surely there is another taste or texture that can cover up the booze. Or whatever. I can take it." Katherine says, laughing as he puts his hand over the glass and slides it away. "What?" Her eyes follow the glass and then she gazes at Ethan. "You think I'm drunk? I just had…that." She points at whatever measurement the glass is, rolling her eyes. Huffing out a grunt and a sigh, she sits back in her chair meeting his gaze. "The second. He swears it's love at first sight. He's super nice, and very touchy feely and I feel like he's either setting me up for something, or is going to harvest my organs one night when I'm shitfaced from a sour drink that almost makes me feel like I have to pee." She quirks an eyebrow at Ethan, clearly trying not to laugh. Her lips are pressed together and she glances away toward the crowd that starting to form at the bar.

Ethan shifts awkwardly at first, like he'd really rather wish this conversational door hadn't been kicked open, but… "Well, I guess we're into it now. So I'mma ask an uncomfortable question here, Kate." He takes a longer drink out of his beer, then settles it and looks levelly at Katherine. "Did you fuck him?"

Katherine stares at Ethan for a moment and then leans forward, glancing around before she speaks. "I said I knew him for two days, now I have a bit of a wild streak, but not that wild." She holds up a hand, shaking her head back and forth. "He makes me nervous, I can't have sex with someone who makes me nervous." She realizes that she hasn't answered directly and clears her throat. "No, I didn't fuck him. I went out on one date with him, and he's living at the B&B until he gets a place."

Ethan's brows raise, and he tilts his head into a shrug, a sort of 'enh' gesture as if to say Katherine wouldn't be the first person to hop into bed with someone after a whole two days. "Sure you can." He grins suddenly, looking at her cocktail glass when he says, "It'd just be a really awkward fuck." And he laughs right up to the point that he takes another drink from his bottle, then sobers up (ha ha) to return to Kate's dilemma. "Well, maybe he's just trying to get you to fuck him? It's sleazy, sure, but love at first sight is a classic ploy."

"Here I thought men were complicated creatures. So he's thinking with his dick. Well too bad for him." Katherine leans over to reach for the glass. "There isn't much left, so let me finish it, hmm?" She pouts toward Ethan. "Awkward isn't fun, you know. I'm not a sentimental sap who needs every lay to mean something, but I'd like it to, at least, not be awkward." She puts her attention back to the computer, entering in the payroll. "So how long do you think it's going to take for your books to get firmly in the black?"

Sorry, but Ethan keeps that glass out of reach, sliding it across the table at arm's length and shaking his head sternly; speaking of awkward, it leaves him splayed across the table, uncomfortably, but look at the lengths he's willing to go to! "No no no, I can't - in good conscience - let you get hammered and go home to some dude that's trying to get in your pants with the lamest line known to man. Sorry, Katy." For her, for her safety! Oh, but the computer. "What the fuck kind of segue was that? You can't go from 'hey, I met a total creeper who wants to bang me' to 'let's talk about payroll' without some kind of transitional statement."

Katherine stares at the glass and then turns that gaze to Ethan. He looks ridiculous. She starts to look amused. "Do I *look* hammered?" She asks, slapping a hand down on the table. She looks a little wired and slightly drunk, trying not to laugh while she tries to frown at Ethan. "Ugh, Katy. Call me Kate." She glances at the computer when he does and then rolls her eyes. "So we're just going to talk about someone trying to bang me, and then I'm just going to do the bookkeeping? I think, in that case, I should get the drink. I mean - come on."

"No, but - " Ethan holds up one finger, risking harm to his bottle by setting it on the table. He solves this whole dilemma in one gesture: he knocks back what's left in the bottom of Katherine's glass, grimacing at what has to be a funk-filled mess in his mouth (cigarette + beer + sour cocktail). "Christ, I can't believe you drank any of that. And all I'm saying is, you can't come out of left field talking about some kind of weirdo and then try to go back to QuickBooks without time to really digest that. You gotta… ease through these subjects."

Katherine gawps at Ethan as he drinks the rest of her drink, eyes wide. "You gave it to me! It would have been rude to refuse to drink it. You get a drink at a bar, you suck it up and you drink it!" She frowns and lets out a gusty sigh. "It's just polite." She mutters, glaring in his direction. "Okay, well my easing skills went out the window after two gulps of that thing you just finished. I'm all corners, jerks and wobbles, okay?" She taps her fingers on the table and shakes her head. "There was a guy, Declan, who was staying with me too. He was a nice buffer. He's moving out in the next few days." She gazes at Ethan. "I'm usually better at handling things like this."

Ethan gestures with the empty cup to the increasing crowd, most of whom are drowning in Coors Lite while they argue about how the Broncos are looking this season. "Do you think you're in the kind of joint that cares about how polite you are to the bartender?" He tsks his tongue against the back of his teeth, then finishes what's left in his beer bottle, swishing it around to try to unfunk it. It sorta works, so he returns his attention to Katherine, not unsympathetically. "Look. Kate." He pauses, making sure she catches that he gave up the Katy bit. "If it was me, I'd go with my instinct on this. If the guy is tripping your spidey senses, there's probably a reason. Tell him what's up, then at least you know that he knows you're not cool with the weirdo thing."

Kate takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly as she turns to gaze at the crowd being noisy at the bar. Turning back to Ethan she shakes her head and waves a hand, almost clipping the laptop. "Being polite shouldn't be based on what kind of bar you're in. I haven't been rude, without a great reason, in years." She slants a look back at Ethan, picking up paperwork and tapping the computer keys with a little more force than might be necessary. "I did. I told him. He thinks I'm just being overly cautious and he's going to give me time." She picks up the water and takes a drink, shrugging. "Been a while, you know, since I did the whole relationship thing. Perhaps I'm fucked up." She gazes toward Ethan over her glass, looking contemplative. "Could be me!" She turns the computer back toward him. "I'm not easing again, but you'll have to deal with that. "So right now, your bottom line doesn't look terrible. You might want to consider making a few small changes, and you could possibly make a halfway decent profit. Provided you keep up on things and be smart."

"Uh, no," Ethan says immediately when Katherine suggests the issue is hers. "Don't do that." He clamshells the laptop, totally disregarding all the work she did to make the business look good~! "If some guy is being a creepy fucker? It's not you. It's the creepy fucker. Tell him to back off, tell him to find another place to stay, and tell him you have a Louisville Slugger with his name on it if he has a problem with that. Give you some time, that's such asshole bullshit." He's not mad, per se, but clearly Kate's story twigged.

Katherine tilts her head up at the first words spoken, but then he closes the laptop and she inhales to respond, looking slightly peeved. He speaks first and she just sits there for the moment, listening to Ethan. "Mmphf." Was that English? "I run a business, so I can't just boot him out. It's not the first time someone has stayed in the B&B and hit on me. I'll just tell him that I'm not interested, and if he keeps making passes at me while he's in my place of business, I'll ask him to go." She goes quiet, gazing from Ethan to the laptop a few times. "You just lost…all of those numbers that I put in there, you know that right?" She asks, pushing his hands off of the computer and slowly sliding it in her direction. Is she mad? Probably not, the corners of her lips are twitching and threatening a smile.

"Yeah, you can. People get kicked outta here all the time." Ethan looks around like he might do it right this second, just to prove a point, but the night is still young, and no one is truly shitfaced yet. So he doesn't kick anyone out, but - simmering down - he does conclude, "Just. Don't 'could be me' when it comes to guys who're assholes." He relinquishes the laptop willingly, settling back in his chair with a hapless shrug. "I warned you that I don't computer. No one ever believes me."

"Ethan…" Katherine props her elbow on top of the laptop, smooshing her cheek against her palm "..it really could be me. I'm not saying in this case that it is. I was kind of wary when he suddenly seemed to be very interested in me without knowing me first." She glances toward the bar when a shout goes up, but they're just cheering for sports. "I could be a shrew or something, and he'd not know that." She wrinkles her nose, gazing back toward Ethan again. "Anyways, I'll talk to him tomorrow. Tell him how I feel, and see where it goes from there. I get what you're saying, and that's why I asked. I'd rather have an opinion from someone who…has nothing to gain from it." She opens the laptop, and smirks. "How do you plan on dragging your ass into the future then? You'll absolutely have to hire someone to do your bookkeeping if you can't manage to grasp this easy little program I have on here."

Ethan, arms crossed low, looks levelly back at Katherine to say, "We all have our shit. It could be all of us. Just - I've said some dumb shit while chasing tail, but I'd never do that to a woman, not while I was living in her house. The whole thing just sounds scummy." The possibility that it could be love at first sight? Never even occurs to him.

So he shrugs again and smiles blithely. "I'll hire someone to do my bookkeeping. Tell me how much I can afford to pay them?"

Katherine returns the look, not flinching away. Liquid courage for the win. She breaks the stare down first, gazing down to put in the numbers again, tapping slowly and carefully. "You could afford minimum wage. You'd need someone at least twice a week. Depending on when you get your orders and when you want to pay out your bills." She taps again, before she gazes up at him. "You could include it in your payroll, or pay them under the table. If you paid them under the table, you'd save more." She goes quiet for a few minutes and then shrugs. "I'm pretty sure you don't chase tail, Ethan. It comes right in the bar looking for you."

"Under the table minimum wage bookkeeper? That has 'recipe for disaster' written all over it." Ethan trails off, chuckling and mumbling something about winding up in an orange jumpsuit. His laughter continues for a few extra seconds, then ends with a groan, and he scrubs his face with his hands, pulling his hair back at the end of the gesture. "This is all just ludicrous. I mean, thank you. Seriously. For the deal on the laptop and the lesson. But I think I've taken up way more of your time than I'm entitled to for a twenty dollar computer. Before this conversation goes back off the rails, lemme call you a cab - and lemme send you home with something." He gets up.

"I can walk home." Katherine insists, getting to her feet and pulling her bag up off the floor. "You can't afford more right now, but that might change. You're going to have to learn how to do it yourself until you can afford more." She rubs her hand over her face and glances away towards the door. "Send me home with what?" She looks slightly affronted at his laughter, but doesn't comment on it, standing straight and tall, looking mildly uncomfortable.

Ethan, again mostly under his breath, says something about an abacus and a quill. But he's headed toward the bar, weaving through patrons who don't have he faintest notion that he owns the place, which is why one or two give him an odd look. It's more like three or four with the odd looks when he produces a baseball bat, which he conscientiously holds slack at his side, less threateningly, when he brings it back to the table. "This is thirty-four inches of ash, just like Ozzie Smith used. Sleep with it next to the bed is my suggestion." Speaking of mildly uncomfortable~

Katherine takes the bat, swinging it up to her shoulder and shaking her head. "I was ..nevermind." Whatever she was going to say ends up being a sigh and she quirks a brow at Ethan. "Thanks. For the bat. For laughing at me, and kind of for yelling at me." She jerks her head toward the door, striding in its direction. "I'm going home and going to sleep. Today has been ..ugh!" She turns, walking backward for a step or two, and she doesn't even fall prey to her natural clumsiness. "I'll be back in a day or two for the next lesson, if I can get you to answer your damn phone." She points the bat in his direction, her voice loud now because of the distance between them. "Or maybe you can just come to my place. Bye Ethan!"

The only part he argues is with, "I was laughing at me, not you." Ethan's decent enough to see Katherine to the door - or maybe just wants to take a last look at his baseball bat before it walks out the door - before he gets swallowed up by a night's work. "Bye, Kate. Good luck with all the things, and thanks. Seriously."

Oh shit! He remembers the laptop a solid half-hour later. Thankfully, no one wanted to steal a pink laptop off a table in a bar, whew.

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