Also horribly backdated, because who likes posting logs anyway?
MA and Kevin, at the bar.
It wasn't hard to find Kevin - find the bars at the ski lodge, and then find the one that had the fewest trendy drinks on the menu, and that didn't serve anything described as farm-to-table or artisanal. And turned a blind eye to smoking, no matter what the laws said. There was always one. "Am I interrupting any important drinking?" Marie-Ange asked, as she approached. By now she was confident that she could interrupt the drinking itself, but not necessarily anything else that might accompany it. "Or can I join you?"
"All drinking is important, but very little of it is not improved by adding an attractive redhead, in my experience." He said, looking up from his bourbon and his newspaper. This time, it was Der Tagesspiegel. It was a constant source of wonder just how Sydney was able to get his hands on physical newspapers from around the world at seemingly a drop of a hat. Which made sense, since he was the only one to wear a hat regularly.
"Well. I would not know, my drinking always comes with a pretty redhead." Marie-Ange sat down, and set her own drink on the bar. Uncharastically, it was neither wine nor something colourless with fruit on a plastic sword. "So I have nothing to compare it to, no?"
"Add another pretty redhead. It pretty much hits the same buttons." He took a generous swallow and leaned back. "Finally, someone not trying to make me try a small batch, oak aged, flavoured with unicorn blood artesinal, gluten free parody of booze. I mean, seriously future, how could you fuck up drinking?"
Marie-Ange frowned at Kevin's description of alcohol. "I thought all your drinks were oak-aged? I know I have not been that badly educated on bourbon and scotch and whiskies. Or is it the description that is so bad?" She tapped the rim of her glass with a freshly manicured nail that matched the amber of the alcohol. "This tastes like gasoline. I like my future if it means I can drink something that does not taste like a car."
"Booze is booze. People who get too excited about vintages and small batches forget that sticking a glass of rye in your face tastes good. Everything else is just extra."
"But if people enjoy the extra, is that so bad?" Marie-Ange asked. "Or do you just not get excited about anything because you are nine hundred?" She smiled though, teasing. "Domino says you are nine hundred. She gave us your birth certificate, it was carved in limestone."
"No, I hate everything young because I am nine hundred. And that's just my temporary birth certificate. The real one is painted next to a bunch of mammoths in Spain."
"Really though," Marie-Ange started - and then tasted her drink and made a face. "This is awful, I cannot learn to like this. I tried. And is the future really so bad? I suppose there are arguments to be made about the surveillance state and unmanned drones, but we do not have smallpox anymore."
"We did that in '79. Where as the future is trying to bring back whooping cough at the urging of a nudie mag model and a comedian who puppets his own ass. My working theory is that common sense is rooted in body hair. The second you all started shaving it all off, things went crazy." Kevin waved over the waitress. "Here, give me that and order something you like. The look you're making with every sip is painful."
"You are not even a little helpful. I have to try to predict those horrible futures with polio and President Dr. Phil." And yet, Marie-Ange was still half-smiling as she ordered a glass of wine, and pushed the other drink over to Kevin. "Now I have to get drunk because I want to forget Jim Carrey even exists."
"Enh. I had Jerry Lewis for three decades. There are worse things."
"My people love Jerry Lewis." Marie-Ange's accent went instantly thicker, almost a bad stereotype of her usual. "I should be offended that you are stomping on my native culture with your big American feet."
"Well, you could follow tradition and just surrender." He finished off his glass and toasted her with the one she'd passed over.
"And then spend a decade sneaking around as a spy in the resistance. My great-grandfather, ah, one of them, my papa's grandather, was in a resistance cell. My papa said he never wanted to talk of it, and I never understood why well after I started working at Snow Valley."
"Well, half a decade in any case. I used to work with some of the old OSS agents who coordinated resistance responses in Europe."
"Why? I mean not to pry but I am going to pry, why are you still at it? You could disappear." Marie-Ange asked, cautiously. "Of all the people who could, you know you could and never be found, and stay out of any conflicts that are going to come up."
"So could you. A young women with a pre-cognitive talent. I doubt you need your paycheck here to make ends meet if you point your mind to it. Or is it because, at my age, I should be calling it quits?"
"I was curious, I suppose." Marie-Ange said. "It is, yes, a little bit your age but also that I still know very little about who you are. Many people retire after a long career just out of fatigue, so I wondered why you had not."
Kevin paused, saying nothing until his drink was refreshed (more liberally than the bartender intended, but the implied threat to find him and cut off his ankles had made his pouring hand a little heavier.
"You ever had a moment where to stop and for a second, you forgot yourself? Just for a moment, the identity that you've made for yourself gets hit with a sudden 'why' before things go back to normal?"
"Mine was rather longer than a moment. Months in New Orleans. But perhaps yes, I understand."
"Well, when I took a bullet through the back of the head watching the water on my dock, it changed everything. For years since then, my brain rebuilt itself through the experience of being dozens of people. Different lives, thoughts, beliefs. Those experiences are meshed why my life before then. So, in a world where I can be anything I want, how do I figure out who I am? Am I at the end of a life or at the beginning. This. Doing this. This at least I know, for now."
Marie-Ange nodded. "I can see that. It is, ah, home ground for you, yes? You can do many of the same things even when the world has changed itself around you while you were feeding the fish."
"It's a baseline, yes. I know who Kevin Sydney is and what he does. As opposed to letting that slip away."
"And now you figure out who the rest of you is, because changing your spots does change the leopard, for you?"
"We'll see about that. When you're drowning, you think about getting somewhere solid first, then plan what to do next." He waved for another glass, his scowl enough to pull the bartender away from the pair of snowbunnies he was giving the bar away to. "Or maybe I'm just a selfless do-gooder, unable to ignore injustice and not wear leather and the stuff."
The snort that came out of Marie-Ange's nose was eminently not ladylike, or polite. "Oh as though you have never considered leather. You were around for Burt Reynolds on a bear rug, hairy men in leather was in fashion even for straight men." Which, Marie-Ange was fair sure Kevin was. Mostly. Probably. "Selfless do-gooders do not try to expense the liquor cabinet."
"I was old at that point. I got to hate disco, gay men, and double knit suits simultaneously. You could be hairy, but you didn't lie on the rug. You nailed your secretary at polite office parties or your best friend's wife after the Tom Collins took control."
"You were born old. I cannot imagine you ever a child." Marie-Ange said - and then frowned, as though she regretted it. "I suppose that is a consequence of what you have just said though, you are fixed in your identity so that you can find who you really are? So who were you? Is it so far ago that who you were as a young man does not affect you now? Were you ever young and apple cheeked and full of ideals?" The questions came rapid fire, even in Marie-Ange's fluid measured way of speaking.
"I was a child, but it was a very different world. My old man was a Union man, back when that didn't mean a nice suit and negotiations. It meant picket line fights and scarred knuckles. I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks that the term is based on. Little clapboard house in South Chicago. Half the kids I played with were on a meal a day at best. We were a bit luckier. Union didn't pay great, but it was steady enough until the old man's thirst got bad. By that time, the war had turned the neighbourhood around. All the former gang kids signed up and all the older men suddenly found a hundred war industries hiring. You see, that's what we were grateful for. The fucking war." Kevin took a measured sip. "Those were my ideals. Beat the Krauts. Beat the Japs. Good ol' US of A patriotism. So by the time my war came, I didn't think twice about pulling the trigger on the sniper rifle."
He leaned back against the bar, slowly rotating the glass with the fingers of one hand. "The funny thing about government service, especially in intelligence, is that while it makes the most fucking cynical people in the world, you can't do it for forty years unless underneath all of it, you believe that what you're doing is the right thing for the big picture. Right up until I was assassinated, I believed that every decision that I made, no matter how heinous, was justified because it was to protect my country. They killed me for it, and I got to spend a decade learning what happens when you don't look like me and have little money. Are those experiences creating a natural evolution in thinking or are they replacing parts of my identity with new things. I don't know that yet."
"I am not sure it is so much a black and white thing either?" Marie-Ange said, really asked, carefully. "What if it is both? Which is so glib to ask, but I think... " She took out a deck of tarot cards. "I know I have said this in meetings, that looking at the future changes it, yes? Looking at who you are changes who you are, examining yourself is going to make you a different Kevin already? How much do you have have to weigh that also? Is all this trying to find yourself making you harder to find?"
"It's possible. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Which is why I meddle through right now. Do that long enough, and the future comes to you."
"I really find that marijuana brownies work better for that."
"I'll stick with booze and prostitutes. That way, there's no dishes to do later."