Characters: Mutt/Indy, a few OCs, inconsequential other than to this story
Rating: T for language
Setting: Post KotCS
Disclaimer: The usual :-)
Description: Indy and Mutt spend the evening together, trying to find some common ground, and find far more than they dreamed possible. It was fun to write, and I hope it will be as fun for you to read!
If you asked anybody, they'd probably say Brookie's Pool Hall was one step up from a dive, but it had the merits of being comfortable, well-worn and familiar. It was where your friends gathered… well, if you had that kind of friends. The kind of friends the parental units didn't usually approve of. Where they knew how you shot your pool, what cigarettes you smoked, what you drank, and usually how much you could consume before you lost your edge on the table. It was a Friday night and it was crowded, as usual, despite it being close to midnight.
Brookie himself was behind the bar tonight and his left eyebrow nearly crawled into his hairline as he saw Mutt Jones come in with a townie… an older one, at that, complete with gray hair, eyeglasses, tweed jacket and waistcoat and bowtie. What the hell is that fool kid up to now? the owner wondered.
The older guy seemed a little surprised to see how warmly Mutt was greeted, with a level of intimacy he obviously wasn't thrilled about. But Mutt strutted his stuff, pulling out his cue from its leather case and walked up to the last table that was empty in the place. "Whaddya say, Daddio? Eight ball?"
The older guy shrugged. "Either that or nine ball… your pleasure."
Brookie frowned a little; he felt as though he knew that voice. Something wasn't adding up.
"You want something, kid?" the man asked as he headed to the bar.
Brookie could see the hesitation on Mutt's face, and almost grinned. He knew Mutt wasn't eighteen yet; he occasionally gave the kid a beer on the side, or one of the others he was shooting against would buy one for him. But Brookie didn't know this guy and it wasn't gonna happen with him here. No way was he risking a liquor license for Mutt Jones.
Mutt frowned a moment, then shook his head. "Nah… I'm good."
The man nodded and turned toward the bartender. "A beer, please," he said, his deep voice rumbling in his chest. As soon as the grey-green-gold eyes turned toward the bar's owner, Brookie nearly dropped his teeth, but was forestalled by an urgent glance from the other man, indicating Brookie shouldn't give away that they knew each other. So that explains it. Jones… of course! Christ, he hadn't seen Indiana Jones in a good ten years! "Sure, fella. Any special brand?" Only his eyes danced; he remembered Indiana preferred Budweiser, if he couldn't get Irish poteen.
"Whatever you've got in a long neck."
Without another word, Brookie slapped a cold Bud on the bar and shoved it toward Indiana.
"Thanks," Indy winked, tossing him some money. "How about a Coke for the kid?"
Indy returned to the table, the two longnecks clasped in one hand, glancing at the rack on the right and choosing a cue on his way by. Though Indy carefully pointed the bottle of Coke at the boy as he returned to the table, Mutt grinned and tried to snag the beer instead. Laughing, he accepted the bottle of Coke after a stern look from his father. "You can have the first break, Junior," Indy offered, taking a swig of the cold beer, and hefting his cue.
"I do, and you won't pick up your cue for the rest of the night," Mutt grinned.
"Don't get cocky, kid," warned Indy amiably.
Kid was almost right, too, except for a slightly off-center bank shot which cleared all but one ball from his side, lows. Indy picked up his cue. "Good. I was getting bored." He lined up a shot, an easy one, but made it look like a struggle. "Tell me about your mother while you were growing up," he said quietly. "There's a lot I missed. Looks like between Oxley and Marion, you were okay?"
Mutt shrugged as he watched the ten ball teeter precariously on the edge of a side pocket before falling in. "We did okay. Mom worked for the museum for awhile; she knew more about the Egyptian exhibits than the curator did, but they paid her squat until Ox gave 'em hell."
Indy harrumphed. "Figures," he said darkly. "That's pretty typical of a bureaucracy. Nine in the far corner." Once again, the ball teetered there painfully, then dropped in, and Indy made a slight show of breathing in relief. Mutt kept his expression clear, but grinned inwardly. Sure enough, he'd wipe the floor with his dad tonight!
"So, this your old man, Mutt?" Both Jones' turned toward a street tough whose face looked like it had been rearranged once or twice since birth, and not for the better.
"Yeah. Pops, this is Crockett. Crock, Henry Jones," introduced Mutt, a little wary.
Indy nodded at the young tough, who eyed him up, and continued to chalk his cue. When the other kid stretched out a hand, Indy responded in kind, keeping his face clear as the kid started gripping his outstretched hand very tightly. Indy smiled, and returned the favor, making the Crock's eyes widen and bulge a little. Mutt rolled his own eyes and focused them back on the table, shaking his head.
"Nice to meet you," Indy said quietly, with a cheerful smile as he finally released the kid, who was now angrily nursing a sore hand as surreptitiously as possible. Indy turned back to the table and deliberately missed his next shot, giving Mutt a chance to win the first game.
"Did she like working there?"
"Huh? Oh, the museum," Mutt nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, she did, actually. They put her in charge of exhibits and information. She really liked it." He sank the shot, playing dangerously near the eight ball, and grinned at his father. "Almost as much as I liked beatin' you just then."
Indy grinned back at him. "Night's young, Junior. Rack 'em up."
"What was he like?"
"My grandfather Jones."
Indy didn't have to try to miss the ball that time. His cue damn near ripped the felt. He drew in a breath and glanced at his son. "He was brilliant and … um… he was….difficult."
Mutt raised an eyebrow and sipped at his coke before getting behind the ball as he father stepped away from the table. This was probably the most disconcerted he'd seen his old man. "Difficult, how? Did he drink?"
"Drink?" Indy chuckled. "No… well, no more than anyone else. No, he was… well, let's just say he was really interested in his own hobbies." The last was said dryly.
"Mom says he had a thing over the Holy Grail," Mutt mentioned as he sank the four ball and started again on lows. "That true?"
Thoughtfully, Indy scratched behind his ear. "Yeah. Spent his whole life hunting it down. Almost ended it hunting it down. Mine, too." Indy became aware once again of the surroundings and leaned against the wall as he was watched his son. "He was … kind of uninvolved with me after my mom died. Things got a lot better before he died, but when I was a kid..." Indy let his voice drift off and shrugged.
"Uninvolved?" Mutt frowned as he aimed, and glanced at his father. "But… what if you got in trouble, or needed help with something?" He swore under his breath as he missed his shot, and stepped back from the table.
Indy moved up, his expression carefully neutral. "I told you, kid. I pretty much raised myself. Except for one or two times I got into trouble when I was nearly your age, I don't think my old man was even aware I was around." Indy shrugged again at the look on his son's face. "Hey, it was what it was. I survived." And sank the twelve ball cleanly. "I guess when Mom died, he just didn't know what else to do."
Mutt just couldn't imagine it. He simply couldn't imagine a life that didn't include his mother. She'd been everything to him, mother, father, grandparent, teacher, chief cook and bottle washer, executioner and amusement park proprietor. "I saw the picture of your mom that you have on your desk," he said softly. "She was really beautiful. Her hair was light colored?"
Indy's expression softened as he remembered Anna Jones. "Yeah," he said quietly. "She had the most beautiful golden blonde hair. I was blond until I was about sixteen or seventeen, then it started to darken." He glanced at his son who was thoughtfully chalking. "Your eyes are the same color as hers."
"They're the same as yours," Mutt corrected.
Indy smiled. "I don't look at my own eyes often; but I can remember hers." He sighed and got to his feet. "You gonna jaw or shoot pool, Junior?"
An hour, two more cokes, another beer and Indy's tweed jacket later, they were on game number four, two to one, Mutt's favor. Mutt was so involved listening to the stories, he barely noticed that they were starting to gather an audience. He was beginning to notice, however, that his father was making shots more easily that he'd flummoxed earlier on, and frowned.
"So, you said except for a few times when you were my age, your old man pretty much ignored you," Mutt observed, thinking to try to psych his old man out. "So what'd you do, rob a bank?"
"Nope," replied Indy, studying the table; he'd had a horrendous break and was left looking at a dismal array in front of him. "A store."
Mutt nearly dropped his cue. "Get out. You- you robbed a store?!"
Indy chuckled and shrugged. "No, not really. When I was about fifteen, I shoplifted something on a dare," he explained. "It was stupid and childish. I'd have got away with it, too, except that the guy who dared me was setting me up. Apparently, he didn't like the fact that the girl I wanted to take out was someone he'd wanted to date, too. So he did the usual lame-ass, adolescent, I-dare-you bullshit, and I fell for it like a ton of bricks." He nodded to himself. "Six in the corner, off the four."
Mutt's eyes widened as the ball sank in like it had freaking eyes. He swallowed hard. Hustling me. The old bastard's been hustling me!! "What'd your old man do to you?" he asked weakly.
"Marched me back to the store and made me return, in person, whatever the hell it was I lifted – I can't even remember what it was, now -- , then he gave me a detailed lecture on the hellfire that awaits thieves, and finally saw to it I didn't sit comfortably for a week," answered Indy dryly, and eyed his son warningly. "Be thankful for the invention of razor blades, kid. Razor strops are no fun."
Mutt winced. Sure, his mother had spanked him a few times when he was very small, but he'd been grateful that he'd never had that kind of thing happen to him, though he knew other guys who had.
"And the other thing?" asked Mutt. "What was the other thing?"
Indy sighed. "Kid…"
"C'mon, Dad, you're hearing all about my stuff from Mom. Fair's fair." Mutt grinned. "Other kids get to hear this stuff from their grandparents, and that ain't an option for me."
Indy laughed, and scratched behind his ear. "I guess that's true, isn't it? It's just so foolish…Well, that one was a little more dramatic. I drove his car into the front porch."
Mutt's jaw dropped.
Indy shrugged again, flushing a bit. "I was only about fourteen, teaching myself how to drive. I managed the starting and moving just fine. Stopping was a finer art I hadn't mastered."
Mutt's bark of delighted laughter made Indy's ears burn a little redder. "Hot damn… that's pretty funny. Was that another whipping?"
Indy winced a little at the memory, and sighed. "Yeah." He gestured toward the table as he'd just missed a bank shot, opening up opportunities for Mutt. As his son moved around the table, eyeing his options, Indy chuckled at the memories. Now a father himself, he had a bit more sympathy for his father's frustration. "Poor Dad… there was a period of time there… well, I really don't know why he didn't kill me."
"Hey, Old Timer. You and the kid want to shoot some doubles?" Crockett was back, this time with another Neanderthal that looked just about as overburdened with brains as the "Crock".
Indy and Mutt glanced at each other, their eyes gleaming. "Rack 'em up," they said, in unison.
It was hovering around 3:00 a.m. Indy's stubble was pronounced now, his sleeves rolled up, the tie off and stuffed in his pocket. The jacket was folded on a table behind them and the glasses were off. Now he looked more like the adventurer Mutt had followed into Peru three months ago. And the bastard could shoot pool, for sure.
Once the sparring between father and son was done and they joined forces, Mutt and Indiana held that table and not one of Brookie's regulars could shake 'em loose. Indy'd had another two beers, and Mutt had managed to sneak half of a third before his father caught him and smacked the back of his head.
"Hey!" Mutt protested. "Watch the hair, man!"
"Watch more than that, Junior," warned his father, sternly. "No drinking!" He moved in closer, his voice low. "Listen, bud, it's getting late and I want to get home to your mother."
"Jeez, man!" Mutt began in disgust, "Some things I just don't need to know!"
Indy rolled his eyes. "Knock it off! Let's just put these idiots away and go home, okay?" The older man's eyes gleamed, and Mutt's couldn't help responding in kind.
"Sure, Pops, you got it."
There was forty bucks lying on the table they'd been hustling. And in two more round, Indy and Mutt had closed the deal, to the utter shock of Crockett and his cave-man buddy.
"Wait a minute," Crockett muttered as he watched the balls breathlessly fly around the table, sinking themselves into pocket after pocket, kissing the other balls in perfect English shots, and landing exactly where one of the Jones boys called it. "Wait a minute…"
"Ain't got a minute, son," replied Indy, picking up the money and tossing half at his son. "I've got a beautiful bride waiting at home for me. Thanks for the game. C'mon Junior. "
"Wait a minute!" The roar shook the pool room. Quickly the ranks settled themselves… about eight of Crockett's men against the two Joneses. "You been hustling us!"
"See, Dad? I told you he'd catch on," stated Mutt airily. Indy glared and Mutt grinned impudently.
"Stinkin' cheat!" roared the young thug, conveniently forgetting he'd planned to do the same to the Joneses, advancing on the older one.
"Now look, we played fair and square, and won fair and square, and – " And Indy's head nearly turned around on his neck from the belt in the chops Crockett dealt him. He shook his head to clear it.
"Oh, for Chrissake, Indy," Brookie grumbled, reaching for the nightstick he always kept near the register and came out from behind the bar. "Why does every night with you have to end in a brawl?!"
Fists flew for a few minutes, and people as well after a certain point, with Mutt holding his own. Indy checked on him once or twice, but gave up when every time he did, he ended up with a fist in the stomach or jaw.
A few swings of the nightstick and Brookie had things under control. "Get the hell outta here!" he snarled at Crockett and friends, "before I call the cops! And you!" he whirled on Indy. "You and Minnesota Fats over there get your asses outta here before I forget we're friends!"
"Is that any way to talk to a buddy, Brookie?" complained Indy, hastily grabbing up his jacket and clamping a fist full of Mutt's shirt, hustling him out of the pool hall through the back way. "See ya later!"
The filthy epithet that followed him and Mutt out the door made Indy grin.
"Known him awhile, have you?" asked Mutt dryly as the emerged into the alley behind the building.
"A few years," admitted Indy. At Mutt's reproving glanced, his eyes widened. "Hey, you never asked me if I'd been here before, you just asked if I'd heard of Brookie's."
Mutt rolled his eyes.
Out in the alley, under the street lamp, Indy shrugged into his jacket, frowned as he saw one sleeve of his shirt ripped beyond repair. Mutt was shrugging into his jacket, and trying to wipe away the blood from his lip without it hitting the leather. They looked at each other. "Your mother's going to have a fit," Indy sighed.
"At you, maybe. I'm just the innocent child in all this."
Indy arched a brow and winced, his hand gingerly moving toward his sore face.
Mutt whistled, studying his father's right eye. "You're gonna have a helluva shiner tomorrow if you don't ice that… might have one even if you do."
"Yeah, well, maybe the fat lip you're gonna be nursing will keep your smart mouth shut down for a bit," grunted Indy as he tenderly felt around his eye. He sighed. "Who're we kidding… your mother's going to kill us both."
Mutt swallowed uneasily and nodded. "Yeah."
"Well, we'd best go home and get it over with." Indy gestured toward the street beyond the end of the alley. "After you, Junior."
They warily approached the street, grateful that Crockett and company had apparently fled as requested and they started walking the four blocks to the house.
"So, where'd you learn to play pool?" asked Mutt after they'd walked a little.
"In England, when I went over there to join the Army," Indy answered, hands in his pocket and enjoying the peaceful night. "Learned darts, too. That's fun; you ever throw darts?"
"No," Mutt replied innocently.
Indy studied his son's face, and burst out laughing. "Sure you haven't." He grinned, shaking his head at Mutt's self-conscious grin. "You handled yourself pretty well back there. Where'd you learn to street fight?"
Mutt shrugged. "Here and there."
"Honest! I just picked it up as we went along," Mutt protested. "I never was a goody two-shoes, always hung out with the wilder crowd. It was just a skill I picked up. You know?"
Indy smiled. "Yeah, I know." He reached over and deliberately tousled the kid's perfect DA. "Anyway… thanks for watching my back."
"Do that again and I'll let 'em have ya next time," Mutt grumbled goodnaturedly, yanking out his comb to rearrange his hair.
The conversation on the remaining couple of blocks was neutral, but their steps lagged as they turned onto Grace Avenue and approached the house. They stood outside on the porch for a moment, gathering their courage.
"Think she's still up? Or did she just leave the lights on for us?" Indy whispered.
"She never goes to bed until I'm home. It's lame, but there it is."
Both jumped as the front door opened. "Where in the hell have you two been!" came the sotto voce rant of Marion Jones. "Get in here, the two of -- JONES! What happened to your eye? Mutt? Your lip is bleeding! What in God's name have you two been up to?!
"Now Marion, take it easy – "
As the two Joneses' hurried into the house to keep the neighbors from calling the cops on them, Mutt's voice could be heard:
"It's okay, Mom… we were just bonding!"