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Unforeseen For The Precog

Posted on Fri Mar 22nd, 2024 @ 22:34 by Phoebe Hunter & Matteo Beneventi

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: New Cresthill
Timeline: 7:15pm - Friday, 11th December
2211 words - 4.4 OF Standard Post Measure

Phoebe had offered to wait until the end of Matt’s shift to give him a lift home. She had not had a vision, but something was setting her off enough that she offered and refused to back down. Even now as she sat there in the pub looking around at the usual Friday night crowd she did not regret the decision as in the pit of her stomach something felt wrong with the world. The people all looked the normal after work crowds that flocked to pubs after work on a Friday intent on getting in out of their system. The history teacher was almost envious of them, wishing she could bring a few of her friends out for the same reason.

She watched Matt walking back and forth serving people before disappearing in the back for a moment before coming back with some food. He was totally at ease whilst Phoebe was on edge.

'At ease' in Matt's case was a specific type of compliance where he remained connected enough to the events going on around him to carry out his job efficiently but failed to exchange more than a few words with any of the customers he served. Most of them didn't really look at him, which was partially the fate of all wait-staff in many cases, but as tended to happen when a community experienced an upset, there were ripples of tension beneath the surface that only added to his innate ability to be the least important thing in the room. In this instance, there was no specific catalyst, nothing like the grandiose invasion of recent events to set the tone abuzz, but the chatter was a little livelier than usual and the pub was more crowded than even a Friday night typically boasted.

His hands full of empties, Matt wove through the tables to snippets of conversation that utterly failed to involve him in any way.

"Our Sally says..."

"Him up top pub counted about four."

"Y'wouldn't know it to look at her."

"Keep at it, I say, be worse without it."

Out of context, most of it passed as the idle prattle of people about to head into their weekends. As he made his way his way back to where Phoebe sat, however, Matt's forehead creased to a furrow.

Phoebe glanced up as the man appeared beside her and saw his frown. "What is up?" She wondered knowing he had purposely been avoiding where she had been sat so they could not be overly connected other than a passing hello or have you finished with the glass? It was easier for them both but stood there his whole demeanour had changed.

"Busy in here tonight." It wasn't a direct response but it hinted at why his gaze was currently wandering around the sea of faces in an effort to count how many he recognised. "Seems we got almost all the fairweathers."

It was a local colloquialism for the sub-section of the community that refused to pledge silent allegiance to one singular pub. The long history of rivalry that had made the choice as contentious as aligning oneself to a sport team was muddled and invariably warped by the retelling but even the conservative 'new blood' that frequented the Middle Pub had a certain opinion about those who jumped between all three. Business was business and they were very rarely denied entry, and since they were a useful source of intel, some were even welcomed with a degree of wariness, but they were still seen to be odd and having such a large quantity of them all select the same pub on the same night was practically unheard of.

Phoebe glanced around seeing what he meant about the crowd and inclined her head. “What happens when you refuse to pick sides and try and make a safe space for all.” She commented hoping that they made more all for it. Pubs were costly to run and were closing all over the country so she hoped its stance helped maintain it.

"It could be that," Matt replied, sounding less than convinced. The snippets of overheard conversation weren't very helpful, not when he'd slowly come to accept that village gossip was its own beast and needed to be taken with more than a few grains of salt if you actually wanted to dig down to the meat of an issue.

Phoebe suddenly stood as she sensed something and covered her face as the window next to her burst apart shattering glass and her own blood over the table as something hit her. The crowd let out screams as they took in what happened as a second rock came through another window but this time did not hit anyone as the person who had been at that table had been at the bar.

He'd been too late to intercept but it didn't stop Matt from landing himself between Phoebe and the window, with an arm slung around her to pull her in against his chest away from secondary debris. The second window prompted him to retreat back through the tables, sheltering her the entire way until one of the stools at the bar became the safest refuge, far enough from any exterior entrance to be out of the firing line. The pub was already in an uproar, several had already taken to the street to involve themselves in an exchange of opinions with the culprits, and those who remained were being only partially contained by the staff as the publican disappeared around the corner to phone the police.

Matt's only concern was the woman directly in front of him.

"Where did it hit?" Large, warm hands cupped her cheeks as he scanned her features looking for injury.

The woman was too shocked to argue as he pulled her close and then away from the blood-spattered table and her book. She had been enjoying that book, she thought helplessly. "I did not... I did not see it until it was too late." She whispered thinking it was more a spur-of-the-moment judgement. She put a hand to her head and pulled in away to see blood. "I think it was the glass."

It struck Matt as an odd thing, and with that he realised that at least some of Phoebe's confusion was at her own lack of prediction. A quick trip around the other side of the bar saw him return with a clean towel, which he pressed to her brow. It was difficult to see exactly where the cut was through the blood but, judging by its insistence in trickling towards her eye, his first guess seemed as good as any. "Hold this, I'll grab some ice." Picking up her hand, he gently used it to replace the pressure his had provided and moved quickly to gather up another towel full of ice from the kitchen.

At this point, there was a slight oddness to the way the scene around them seemed to evolve without actually attempting to include them. Several patrons, along with the publican, were out on the street surveying the damage whilst some of the other staff had already started trying to clear away the glass from underfoot. One frazzled worker, the publican's own daughter, was attempting to get through the slew of patrons suddenly trying to pay so they could leave and yet, despite the frenzy, nobody had called for Matt, nor had they appeared to notice Phoebe as she teetered on the stool in an attempt not to pitch sideways. In almost any other circumstance, Matt would have placed his obligation to his employer first and made sure he was carrying his weight, but his priorities were clear, at least to him, and using his powers to avoid arguments seemed justifiable given the circumstance.

"Here," he arrived back and gently reached out to replace the soiled towel with the crude icepack. "We should get this checked out, make sure it doesn't need stitches."

Phoebe took in the scene in a strange daze, she should be getting up she was the one who was calm in situations like this but she was unable to get up and organise her thoughts. She took the ice pack and held it there but she could feel that she was still bleeding. "The doctor at the school is not there tonight." She said with a bit of a shrug. "Don't worry... you should help them."

"There's plenty of them and you're hurt."

Glancing around, there was a moment where Matt seemed to be searching for someone specifically. Evidently, by the time he broke away and disappeared into the crowd, he had either found them or opted for a more in depth search. What was clear, however, was that he had eased off using his powers to buy them a lack of interference because the elderly man who eventually followed him back didn't seem to be having any difficulty acknowledging who he was following, nor the injured woman sat at the bar he was subsequently ushered towards.

"I don't think it hit her directly." Matt appeared to be continuing a conversation already started. "But a piece of glass did." He turned then to his girlfriend. "This is Doc Brown. Doc, this is Phoebe."

Pushing up the glasses that had slipped partway down his nose, the slightly-overweight man peered at Phoebe. Well past the age of retirement, he was a jovial character who frequented the pub mostly on chess nights, or if a poker game was on offer. Most of his career had been spent servicing New Cresthill and Matt had come to understand the man was as much part of the local landscape as the hills and mountains themselves. It wasn't unusual for the older patrons to still consult him, more inclined to distrust the 'young fellow' that had taken over the practise upon Doc's retirement, and though Matt would normally have been loathe to bother the good-natured man himself, he was the only one immediately to hand that could give them proper advice.

"Got you a good'un, huh?" The large hand hovered just over where Phoebe's still held the compress to her head, a hesitation to seek permission to take a peek. "Let me take a look, lass."

Phoebe had not been expected him to return with a doctor. She had heard many people talking about him over the last couple of months but she had not had the pleasure of meeting him yet. The woman was gripping the bar tightly to keep in her seat whilst trying to keep the ice on her head but she was becoming aware than blood was most likely seeping down her face. “Sure.” She murmured loosening her grip just a little to allow him to look.

"It's a decent slice." It only took the doctor several seconds to evaluate, at which point he pressed the ice pack back into place and allowed Phoebe to maintain the pressure. "Clean though, and bleedin' worse than it deserves. Stitch or two will take care of it, I'll get my bag."

"I don't think he'll ever actually retire," Matt observed quietly, his tone fond amidst his gratitude. Worried eyes studied Phoebe's face while they waited. "You feeling okay? You probably shouldn't be driving, I can drop you back at the castle unless you want to stay at mine?" It was a tentative offer, mostly because the house was far from set up with the bare minimum required not to be an outright embarrassment.

“Thank you Doctor.” The woman called after him politely. She glanced up at the man who was looking far too worried for his own good. Phoebe offered a sad smile and shrugged. “I only seem to stay over when I get hurt.” She teased a little. She had been giving him space to sort out his life so she was truly teasing but it felt very much like that.

"Well, you're invited any time, you don't need to keep getting yourself injured." Though his tone was gentle, and meant with some humour, Matt didn't have a lot of luck eliminating the concern from his expression. "Someone should still keep an eye on you overnight. Last I checked, you weren't impervious to concussion."

“Thank you.” She said the words leaning out to touch his hand to offer him some support but the moment nearly tipped her off the stool so she quickly returned her grip to the bar. “I think it will be for the best.” She assured.

"Once the doc has you stitched up, I'll finish up here and lock the bike away out back so I can drive your car to my place." Having settled his hand gently against her jawline, Matt wiped at a splatter of drying blood under Phoebe's good eye with his thumb. "Juggling the transport can be tomorrow's problem." It wasn't an ideal way to spend their first night together in his new place, especially as Matt was still trying to pull together all the necessary furniture to has a baseline of comfort, but Phoebe wasn't wrong when she intimated that this was just how it seemed to go for them. At least the water and electricity had been fully switched over into his name.


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