They've only known each other for three hours and Paulie has already decided he hates Lucci's guts.
He's not even sure why. The obvious reason would be the way Lucci seems to exude a sense of superiority despite the fact that he speaks only with the aid of pigeon. Or maybe even the bird itself, and the way it acts condescending toward Paulie even though it's, well, a pigeon. Then there's the look. That eternal gaze of indifferent blankness, tinged with the barest hint of contempt. It's like he's just refusing to fit in with everyone else, to be one of the guys, and that's just irritating. What, like he's too good for his coworkers? Snobby, stuck-up, rude bastard. Paulie hates him. Paulie wants to deck him, and will be looking for a good excuse to do exactly that.
In the meantime, however, he's under orders from Iceburg to try to get along. Kaku, the other new guy, seems perfectly amiable, and the new bartender in town is a pretty good guy. Hell, even that brazen woman flaunting her exposed flesh all over the shipyard wouldn't be half bad if she covered up. So what the hell is Lucci's problem? Paulie wonders silently to the bottom of his almost-empty tankard if some people are just naturally unlikable.
"One of whatever he's having," says a voice to Paulie's right as someone settles onto the bar stool beside him. This is normally a signal to look up and greet the newcomer, but Paulie isn't budging, because that was a pigeon's voice and he doesn't feel like putting up with this at the moment. He drums his fingers on the bar until the bartender drops Lucci's requested beverage in front of him, but for some reason he reflexively glances up when Lucci picks up the tankard and downs a gulp. The glass hits the bar again, and Lucci turns to look at Paulie, one eyebrow arched. "Want another? It's on me," his pigeon suggests.
On one hand, Paulie has just been offered a drink by a talking bird. (Well, a man talking via bird, but still.) On the other hand, Paulie has just been offered a free drink. Besides, what's he going to do to it while Paulie is sitting there watching? Unless he's somehow in cahoots with the bartender…
Paulie stares for a moment at the friendly, hulking bar owner with the interesting hairstyle, and then glances back at Lucci. Nah, that's just paranoid. No way are those two working together.
"Fine," Paulie eventually grumbles, as if this is some great burden that he has kindly deigned to accept and will trouble him greatly. Lucci nods to the bartender, who dispenses another pint of liquor and scoots it across the bar to Paulie. He picks it up and raises it briefly to the man behind the bar in thanks before knocking back a sizeable swallow. "So," Paulie says, wiping his mouth on his sleeve and leaning back to look Lucci in the face. "What do you want?"
Lucci fixes him with a cool gaze of the sort attempting not to convey how stupid he thinks Paulie is. "I don't want anything," the pigeon replies, and preens under his wing. Paulie shoots the bird a grimace before returning his attention to its owner.
"Why the hell do you only talk through a bird?" Paulie demanded, grip tight on the handle of his tankard as he stared into the hollow eyes of his new coworker.
There is a burdened pause, and Lucci raises an eyebrow. "I'm shy," the pigeon deadpans, after which Lucci turns back to his drink.
Paulie stares at the bird and its master for several seconds before completely forgetting to conceal a snicker. "Shy, are ya?" he says, grinning only a bit meanly. "Well, you're gonna have to get over that pretty quick if you wanna survive around here."
"I was being facetious," the pigeon retorts as his master swigs some more of his drink.
Paulie glowers. "I know," he snaps, because he's fairly sure that means 'joking'. "What do you think I am, stupid?"
Lucci places the tankard back on the bar and fixes Paulie with a very pointed look. "Do you really want me to answer that question?" the pigeon asks dryly.
"All right," Paulie snaps, dropping his drink onto the counter with a loud thunk, "What do you want from me? You have ten seconds to speak up or we finish this discussion outside."
"Paulie, you're half-drunk and you couldn't beat me in a fight sober," says the pigeon, a bit wearily, head cradled in its wing as Lucci glares. "But if you must know, I am attempting to form an alliance."
Luckily for the other patrons of the bar, Paulie's partially inebriated brain skips over the first part of the statement and latches onto the last. "Alliance?" he says skeptically.
"Considering that we will be working rather closely together, it would behoove us to get along," the pigeon explains, eerily matching Lucci's too-serious expression. Paulie blinks at the pigeon—creepy little feathered bastard—and then frowns at its master.
"Yeah, well." Paulie finishes off his drink before continuing. "I'm not the one who made a terrible first impression."
"I beg to differ," says the pigeon, fluffing its wings a bit. Lucci makes an accompanying sound that could be described as a scoff if it were more vocal.
"Look, pigeon-boy," Paulie says, jabbing a finger at Lucci's chest. "All you've done since you got here is be condescending and arrogant. And rude. And…"
"Buy you drinks?" Lucci's pigeon ventures. Paulie glares at it, and then at Lucci.
"You're gonna cause trouble," he says, almost under his breath, prodding Lucci's chest for emphasis. "I don't know how, and I don't know when, but I know you will."
"I suppose I might," says the pigeon, as coolly as is likely possible for a bird to speak, while Lucci finishes the rest of his drink. "I might develop a terrible gambling habit and start using any means possible to evade bill collectors, no matter the consequences."
Paulie stares at the man next to him, mouth hanging open, for several seconds. "How did…what did you—"
"You have a reputation, Paulie," the pigeon interrupts, clearly exasperated. "It's not exactly a secret."
Paulie has to agree to that. He doesn't have to agree to it out loud, though. "Freak," he mutters. "How'd you like it if I started asking around about you behind your back, huh?"
"I'd be fascinated to see what you come up with," the pigeon chirrups, and Lucci fixes Paulie with a look both vaguely interested and ever so slightly warning. Paulie glowers.
"I really don't like you," he eventually grinds out.
"Likewise," the pigeon responds. "But that doesn't mean we can't try to get along on the job."
Paulie looks scandalized. "Of course we're gonna get along on the job. What kinda shipwright would I be if I let personal feelings get in the way of my work?"
"Well," says a new voice, this one belonging to Kaku, who has just come up to the two of them wearing an amicable smile, "that's something, at least. See? You two might get along yet."
"Don't count on it," Paulie and Lucci's pigeon snap in unison. They spend the next several seconds glaring at each other, but Kaku only smiles and wanders off, apparently not wanting to interrupt the current happenings.
"All right, look," Paulie says eventually, as solemn as can be expected of a man teetering on the brink of intoxication. "You're the one who wanted…"
"Yeah. So let's have an agreement; no fighting on the job, no matter how much of a jackass you are."
"And no matter how much of an ill-mannered moron you are," Lucci's pigeon adds, and they—the ones with hands—shake on it.
But when Paulie tries to extricate his hand, Lucci's grip tightens. "I do trust that you won't break your word," says the pigeon, and Paulie finds himself held in place by a penetrating stare. He feels as though Lucci is searching through his thoughts, turning his soul back to front and tipping it upside down to see if anything falls out, which is rather uncomfortable—and also oddly captivating.
When Lucci finally lets him go, it's only to ask if he wants another drink as long as they're both sitting there and to focus his gaze on the wall behind the bar. Paulie isn't quite sure what's just happened, and he doesn't understand the worried, almost disappointed look on Kaku's face as he slips out the door.
"Never break my word," Paulie mutters under his breath, a little defensively but not really focused.
Lucci sips his drink and looks at the wall, silent.