Tales from a goblin-infested brewery (home of Jake Thrash and Badsider Brew), and a lawyer-infested sports bar (home of Kalamere Ar'Din and The Line).

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PJ Ramirez
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Post by PJ Ramirez » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:19 am

“But… But… Jake!” PJ broke out the infamous pout and mini foot stomp. “I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of you in ANY way. I can handle this.”

What she was trying (and failing) to handle was the addition to the brewery. An addition that was being done just for PJ and her kids. Her vision of a home for the three was obviously out of whack with reality. Physics and building codes were a bitch.

So, yet again, her boss, her mentor and one of her dearest friends was bailing her out… and being a bit of an ogre about it. Ok, so he was being a half-ogre. Truth was, PJ was thankful for Jake Thrash and all he’d done for her. He’d picked her up and dusted her off so many times, she’d lost count. The job, the apartment… and now a home of her own.

She’d talked to him about it before she’d left on some personal time. When she had returned, she was shocked, amazed and nearly brought to tears by the help he’d hired and the PJ-Perfect cottage design… and where he’d decided to put it. Atop the brewery was… perfect. She had a killer view of Dragon’s Gate! PJ had always called the brewery her home-away-from home, but now… Now it was home.

And that was another thing entirely! Jake was entrusting her to more and more brewery business. She would still be Badsider Brew’s spokesmodel, but now she was learning more about the advertising and marketing. Yet another Jake Thrash hand out to one of his Duel of Fist protégés.

As Jake grumbled and eyed the bills and bills of lading for the construction materials, PJ sort of melted. Her own black-as-night eyes softened as she rounded his desk and threw her arms around the one man that had NEVER let her down.

“Thank you, Jake” she whispered. “I love the cottage… and you.”

(cross-posted in Daughters of Decadence - RDI)
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Post by Jake » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:54 am

"Thank you, Jake" she whispered. "I love the cottage... and you."

The half-orc was normally not one to be affected by professions of love. At least not for many years. It had become unfamiliar territory.

The truth of the matter was that reality was not quite as PJ had interpreted it.

When she had first told him of her desire for a home, something more permanent than the apartment he had provided for her at the brewery, he had worried that he might lose his spokesmodel. The woman who had made Badsider Brew such a success. Naturally he wanted to help her, as she was very important to him, but he also wanted to keep her close.

There were properties within the district that might make good homes. Without her knowledge, he had begun scouting them. Looking for something he considered suitable. Something with good security.

Something with good security, and something that met an orc's idea of good security were two different things. Potential home after potential home failed to meet with his satisfaction. The doors of that one were too flimsy (and how the realtor had whined when Jake broke the door in). Another had too many windows that could not be properly secured. One after another, they failed his inspection. Perhaps he was being too hard on them. Maybe he sought excuses to reject them.

Eventually Jake elected to build something for her. Something with strong, solid stone walls, and steel reinforced doors of thick ironwood. The half-orc's crude, crayon-drawn attempts at designing a home looked more like fortresses than homes. In fact, they tended to resemble the reinforced architecture of the brewery itself.

With a pile of crumpled up designs overflowing from his wastebasket and spilling onto the floor, the orc decided to take a break and head back into the brewery to check on the latest batch of Badsider. He knew this batch was going to be special. A vintage Badsider. The lights in the brewery were dim. There was no activity beyond checking on the progress of the fermentation. He expected it would only be a few days more, perhaps a week, before he could begin bottling. The air inside the main brewery was cool. Even the goblins were absent, something Jake generally considered a blessing.

Jake poured off a mug of Orktoberfest ale and made his way back to his office.

Had he left his office door open? That was unlike him. He frowned as he moved up the last few steps and then froze as he heard sounds coming from within.

The half-orc rushed in, slamming the door aside, to surprise the intruder, and then froze again, barely a step inside the door, when he saw who the invader was.

Jake groaned.

"Jake! JakeJakeJakeJake! I found your drawings! Wow! What are we building? A castle? Wow! Are you still using crayons after all these years? HeeHee. Look! Look! I like this one best. I fixed it for you! See?! See! I added stuff."

The orc lunged at the desk, in spite of years of failing to catch the elusive goblin. This time was no exception. The goblin jammed a drawing out, and somehow, stepped just far enough away to avoid Jake's grasping hands. All Jake succeeded in grasping was the drawing, which had pretty crayon flowers (that sang and smiled gleefully out of the drawing), and small colorful animals that danced about the crenellations and windows.

"And see! See! We could build it on the roof of the brewery! Wouldn't that be wonderful? It will have the BEST view!" The goblin teetered about the edge of the desk, arms flailing excitedly, and dancing along in floppy red boots that seemed ready to slide off the desk at any moment. "And we can plant pretty flowers, and trees, and shrubberies...don't you love shrubberies? I just love shrubberies. I especially like mulberry bushes! We should plant those too. And we can invite sugarplum fairies to live in the shrubberies and keep them pretty all year long! OOOOooooOOOoooo! And we can build a garden! And we can hold tea parties!"

The goblin, ever one to live in his own world, dashed off singing happily. "Wheeeeeeeee...we're gonna need roses and mulberries and honeysuckle and toadstools and lillies and a weeping willow...but we'll find one that isn't sad all the time...and sugarplums and oooo! We need gingerbread! Lots and lots of gingerbread!"

The orc's worst nightmare was coming to pass. And all he could do was bang his head on his desk. Over and over again. And hope the pain would go away.


Jake vetoed many of the goblins ideas. Gingerbread simply was not going to be a suitable building material. Instead, fine quarried stone become the material of choice. The orc convinced the goblin it would support creeping ivy better than gingerbread.

Bills and delivery receipts were stacking up as materials came in from all over the city and places beyond. The goblin was an insanely efficient haggler. Jake suspected that merchants just gave up and sold their goods to the goblin at whatever price he offered just to get the goblin out of their stores. Over the years, many angry merchants had wandered by the brewery to complain about fairy gold that turned to straw the day after Mojo had made a purchase. The orc did finally convince Mojo that fairy gold was not suitable for purchasing goods and services. Except from other goblins and faerie creatures. Still, there was the occasional complaint about buttons and thimbles being used in lieu of gold. He was still a goblin after all.

Work proceeded quickly. The cottage took shape in days. Armies of gnomes and brownies planted the gardens and tended the grounds while more hardy types constructed the cottage itself.

Jake did his best to keep an eye on the construction. A decorative, but sturdy, wrought iron fence was erected around the edges of the brewery roof to contain the area of the cottage and garden. The faerie types shied away from the iron, but otherwise seemed happy enough in their labors. The cottage itself was far roomier than Jake would have thought necessary, but Mojo assured him that lots of space was needed for the rearing of human children.

Pixies and sprites took great delight in decorating the nursery of the cottage. Antique furniture was brought in to decorate the majority of the rooms. Some of it was flimsy in the estimation of the orc, but as long as PJ found it acceptable he could let the furniture go if the rest of the cottage was properly defensible.

It was nearly complete when PJ returned to the brewery and discovered the present. She had rushed into his office to thank him, and he had barely gotten a word in to explain how it was not quite what he had planned. Wrapped up in her hug, he could only listen as she expressed her thanks and her love.

He mumbled something about hoping she liked it and hugged her tight.
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PJ Ramirez
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Post by PJ Ramirez » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:08 pm

~ 6 ½ Months Prior ~

“Gavin, I don’t care what you tell people. Tell them anything you want, except that I’m going to rehab.”

She flopped down on Gavin’s couch with a heavy sigh. The fact that Gavin even had a couch was proof that he had made a nice little life for himself and their children in Rhydin, PJ thought with a twinge of envy. It wasn’t the envy sending her off to get cleaned up though, it was Liam and Laci.

God, she was going to miss them, but in the long run it would be worlds better for PJ and them. PJ was a borderline saint when the kids were with her, but when they were with Gavin, she still lived the same drinkin’-n-druggin’ party life she’d always known. She’d already told them she was going away, that she was sick and needed to go get better. Laci was far too young to understand it at all, and Liam? Well, Liam quietly nodded and had barely left PJ’s side since getting the news.

PJ glanced over to the two halves of her heart as they played on the floor. She was doing this for them, but she was doing it for herself, too. Six months was going to feel like forever.

She looked up at Gavin again, unusually quiet and pensive. “Please, Gavin. You don’t have to do it for me, but for the sake of Lee and Laci. I know you don’t mind them being here, but will you cover for me? You and Jake are the only two people who know where I’m really going. I want to keep it that way. I don’t want to see the looks on anyone’s face if I … “ She broke way before “fail” could fall from her lips. Wasn’t it bad enough that she could see her posters in her head, with the word stamped over her face in big, bold letters? Another shaky sigh escaped as she lowered her eyes to her folded hands. She wondered for the millionth time if she was making a huge mistake in going away, in giving Gavin such a long, unbroken time with the kids… in even trying to give up her addictions.

Her reverie was interrupted by the high pitch squeal and giggle of Laci. PJ looked up just in time to see Liam making silly faces at his sister, much to the baby’s delight. It tugged at PJ’s heart and her lips, turning them upwards into a faint smile. Her night-colored eyes lifted to Gavin again, watching his face and expressions for a hint of the answer to come.
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PJ Ramirez
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Post by PJ Ramirez » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:11 pm

~~~El Jardín Rehabilitation Center~~~

From the doc’s window, the sun glanced off the ocean waves and reflected back upon her face, radiating its light and warmth. It looked like a million diamonds glittering upon gentle waves. It looked so peaceful and serene. PJ, however, was anything but.

One month into rehab, she was sober and detoxed, but she still didn’t feel any better. Upon telling the residence head-shrinker the same, he stated the simple and obvious truth:

“It takes much longer to detoxify the mind than it does the body.”

PJ’s reply was a derisive snort, though she knew the man spoke the truth. PJ’s mind was toxic. It accounted for many of her bad choices in lifestyle, habits and men. PJ had never been one to sleep around, that wasn’t the issue in the least. But when it came to men, PJ leaned towards the bad boy side of things. Ok, so she didn’t lean, she fell right over. She could always get away with the bad behavior simply because the men in her life had the same sort of misguided behaviors. She never had to be held accountable for her actions. Of course, having this pointed out by a quiet, little bookworm type didn’t sit well with the Badsider Brew Babe. He studied her for another moment, letting her turn things over in her mind.

“PJ? What are you thinking?” He interrupted her silent brooding, struck by the look in her dark eyes when she looked back to him again.

She lifted her shoulders at nonchalantly as she could muster.

“I’m thinking the truth hurts”. She gave him another shrug and pressed out the door.
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Post by PJ Ramirez » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:05 pm

~~Night Time is the (not) Right Time~~

~El Jardin Rehabilitation Center~

Nights at El Jardin were the worst. It was entirely too quiet out in the country for the Rhydin born and raised, street brawling, drinkin’, druggin’ city girl. It left her mind far too much room to wander. And wander it did; towards the future and worse, back to the past.

This night found her recalling her conversation with Gavin prior to her departure…

PJ held Gavin's gaze as long as she could. Yet, before she could speak again, she had to drop her eyes. The kids playing on the floor was at least a good excuse. “ What do I have to do, Gavin? Beg? Beg you to do one little favor for the sake of them?” She asked quietly.

Gavin's eyes fell with hers before rising again. He pointed toward the bedroom door and stepped around the two children to lead the way there. Of course she would get the wrong idea, he knew her well enough. Then again, Gavin always liked to see what people were willing to do when prompted without knowing the full details

She hesitated, getting the wrong idea. Then in a quick rethink, she didn't believe he would go so far with the kids in the next room. She inhaled deeply and let it out slowly to calm her nerves. Sheesh, she wasn't in rehab yet and already she was jonesing for a drink. Then again, Gavin had that effect on her. She stood up off the couch and followed him to the bedroom, she closed the door behind her, all but an inch so she'd still hear Liam and Laci, and be able to peek at them.

“Of all people, you are the last one with any right to even attempt to get what you want by hiding behind them.” His tone was actually kind of heated, along with a point over her shoulder to the door. “What changed this time? What's so different now that all of this is for the right thing, as opposed to all the many other chances before this?”

PJ looked at him and tried to think of something he'd buy, some reason that would make a difference. In the end, she just shrugged in defeat, dark eyes focused on the carpet. Even his angered tone didn't bring up PJ's ire like it usually did. She answered him quietly.

“I dunno. I dunno what's changed or why. I just know... it has.”

“I want them full time until further notice. If you're doing what you say you're doing, fine. I think you would understand if I want to make sure you actually stick with it for a while afterward, though. Before anything changes.” His eyes were narrowed, his voice terse,

“Look at me, if you're taking this seriously.”

She looked up at him on command, with just a quick flick of her eyes to the gap in the door.

“You'll have them full time while I'm.... there.”

Rehab still wasn't her favorite word. She was slightly confused though. Of course he'd have them full time, she was going to be gone. It seemed like sort of a "Duh" kind of thing to her.

“When I get back, then we'll go back to joint custody, like it is now.”

“No, when you get back, it will stay full time until you've shown me this is not just a temporary fix that goes back to relapse.” His arms were folded over his chest as he looked down at her. “

“I'm taking them to Talsiny until you are finished. After that, I'll decide if I bring them back here, and then after that we talk about sharing.”

“Whoa, whoa... wait a minute. So, if I don't go to rehab, nothing changes. Joint custody and all that like it is. But if I go, you're... You're taking the kids away?” He could have just stabbed her straight in the heart, it would have been easier to deal with. “

“If I go to try and be totally clean... You're going to punish me.”

“If you don't go, I will go to the courts. How is that?” After letting that drop, he took a look through the crack of the door. Liam was busy watching a video and Laci looked asleep. “I bet you get phone calls at all hours of the night, don't you? All of your friends who don't realize that you have bigger responsibilities because of the way you act when you don't have those responsibilities right in front of you.”

Courts and authority, she thought. Damn, he knew how to hit her. Better an informal agreement than a formal one, she supposed. She sighed and pushed her fingers up into her hair, giving her own head a slight squeeze to stave off tears she could feel behind her eyes.

“No, I don't.” Not that he'd believe her. She rarely went out anymore, even when she didn't have the kids. “Fine... take 'em to Talsiny.”

“If you write to them, I will read it to them.” He looked her over. He looked out the door again, but didn't open it yet. He seemed to be giving her time to collect herself.

She nodded and took another breath, silently thankful for the time he gave. She was calm and cool again. “

“Thank you Gavin, for being so good... to them.” Lord knew he could still be a raging prick to her.

“Shut up, Paige. Don't treat me like I'm doing you a favor by caring about my own children. You can't seem to accept the reality of me. You never could.” Gavin rolled his eyes.

That sparked a little bit of temper, but she choked it back down. The only hint of it was that her voice wasn't quite as soft as it had been.

“I didn't mean it that way. I just ... never mind. We don't need to get into it. I should get them home. I'm going to pack up a few extra things to send along.”

“Do you need help?” He started to push the door open, but hung back to let her leave before him.

“No, thank you.” She started for the door, then stopped to look at him. Her eyes were narrowed just slightly as she stared at and studied his face. Maybe if she looked long enough, she'd see something there she hadn't before.

He looked back at her. As good as he normally was at keeping his mask up. PJ knew him well enough to pick out small pieces of hurt here and there among his features. She could only wonder what she had done to put that look there. She blew out a breath and brushed a fast, faint kiss across his cheek.

“I'll see you in a couple of days then.”

She couldn't take the close quarters any more. Too much emotion, her heart still too broken, it would be all too easy to fall into Gavin's arms, if he'd even take her, that is. She shimmied around him, only to see that both kids had fallen asleep there on the floor. She smiled at the sight and was still smiling when she turned back to Gavin to whisper. “ Why don’t I get them in the morning. There's no reason to wake them up... I mean, unless you have plans for later.” It wasn't his night for the kids, after all.

“Nothing is planned tonight.” He was looking at her instead of the kids. “Morning isn't that far off. You can sleep here with them.” Unexpectedly, he amended his statement, making it seem more innocent. “I will go to a hotel.”

She looked at the kids, then back at him, shaking her head no. “ I'm going to head home. I can probably get more packed in a couple hours tonight than I will all day tomorrow. “

She watched as he moved and very gently lifted Laci from her seat and held her against his shoulder, he'd never been more careful of anything than he was of waking the little girl up. His look to PJ was one of understanding. Gavin looked at Laci's sleeping face, seemingly waiting for PJ to go before putting the baby in her bed.

PJ knelt by Liam first and gently kissed his brow, then stood and moved to Gavin and kissed Laci's cheek. She looked up at Gavin and mouthed "Good Night". She headed for the door, thinking yet again how hard it was going to be away from Lace and Lee for so long. She let herself out and shut down her brain. No more thinking tonight.
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PJ Ramirez
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Post by PJ Ramirez » Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:05 am

“I’m sorry, Ms. Ramirez, but counseling is indeed mandatory. You’ve already missed your allotted appointment for the day, and I’ll let this one slide by, but you’ll have to keep tomorrow’s appointment or your stay at El Jardin will be over.”

The program director pursed her lips at the scowling Latina, as if debating whether or not it was worth risking PJ’s wrath to continue. She obviously decided against it, muttering something under her breath about celebrities and preferential treatment.

PJ let the irritated look slide off her face once the woman was gone. PJ really didn’t have anything against the shrink, nor did she mind the mandatory group sessions. It was the one-on-ones with the doc she really didn’t like.

Who would like them? She wondered. The man hardly said anything at all, but everything he did say forced PJ to address issues and emotions she wanted to leave deeply buried in her mind and past.


“Tell me about your family.” Such a seemingly innocuous thing to ask. PJ had gone on to tell him all about Liam and Laci. The pride of a mother knew no bounds. Like most Mom’s, PJ thought her kids were just about perfect. Of course, they were too young to be anything but. They weren’t yet of an age where trouble making starts in earnest.

“Not that family, Ms. Ramirez, tell me about growing up.” PJ knew all along that this was the direction he had been trying to lead her, but she had hoped by talking (e.g. bragging) about her children, the shrink would surmise her childhood had been overwritten by her present.

The doc flipped through the notes in her file, patiently waiting out her silence. When it became apparent that she wasn’t going to give in that easily, he read off some information as it appeared on record.

“It says here that you were raised by your brother. Do you remember anything of your parents at all?” PJ shook her head no. A faint imaged shimmered through her mind’s eye – a woman who looked a lot like PJ herself, with a kind, gentle smile. PJ brushed it off, not really knowing if it was her birth mother, or her dream mother. The dream mother that had been there when PJ had felt so small and alone as a child. The dream mother that comforted her when Spade could or would not.

Spade. Now that was a whole month of sessions in itself. She supposed, on one hand, that Spade had done the best he could given they were living on the street. Yet, on the other hand, she had met plenty of orphans and street kids that had never resorted to the types of things Spade had. Having a cute waif of a sister had only made it easier on Spade to move from begging, to pick-pocketing, to burglaries. No one ever suspected that the cute little girl with eyes like the night would intentionally run into them. No one ever thought that the ragged doll with the pitch black pigtails would lift their valuables just as pretty as you please. Spade had given her lines and pitches to use on the tourists and unsuspecting denizens of Rhydin. Then, when she was old enough, 10 or thereabouts (PJ didn’t even know how old she was, for certain) he would push her through windows that he was too big to get through. PJ would find the door and let him in. Just a couple months of that, and PJ had learned how to scale walls and fences all on her own. (In fact, that was a skill she still retained and put to good use at the Duel of Fists. Was it any wonder Styx was her favorite?) Learning to get in meant learning to get out. PJ was quite the pro when it came to escaping and running. She’d been running ever since.

Without Spade, would PJ have found her way into a life of crime? She didn’t really know. She couldn’t really imagine any other way of life at all.

"….Ms. Ramirez? PJ…?” PJ’s dark eyes turned to look at the head shrinker again. “Welcome back” he said with a slight smirk. It was highly probable that the smirk had been all in PJ’s mind. “Were you going to tell me about your family?”

“I don’t remember any of my family, sorry Doc.”
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PJ Ramirez
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Post by PJ Ramirez » Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:06 pm

~El Jardin Rehabilitation Center~

“And that’s how you got away from Sean?” For the first time, the shrink showed some surprise in his expression. He could hardly believe the woman standing before him now had, at one time, been an illiterate, dumpster-diving, people-avoiding, goth girl.

“Sean was all about his image. He did everything he could to control me, but when I’d show up at the rings looking and smelling that way, he’d avoid me. It was my escape. Or I guess I should say, my mini-escape. I didn’t get away for real until Tareth and Gnort stepped in.” PJ took a deep breath and let it out slowly, pushing away all the tension brought on by talking about Sean. PJ looked down at her wrists, and the tattoos that wrapped around them. Most days she kept them covered in makeup or with her sleeves, but there hadn’t been any reason to at El Jardin. Encircling her wrists were the artist’s rendering of slashes, of razored wrists, stitched with barbed wire. “That’s how these came to be. Even in death, I would have been trapped.”

“Until Tareth and G saved my scrawny little backside…” Her voice hitched, but she reined it in again. “Tareth’s sister taught me how to read. Cleaned me up. Sean eventually stopped dueling, but by then, it was the one place I felt secure. I couldn’t fight, not with any skill, but I didn’t have to, I just had to be there.”

“And you eventually began to duel, as well?” The doc had regained his own composure and was back to his cool, clinical detachment.

“Tried to at least. I never was much good with a sword, or a nerf bat, as the case was. But then….” PJ looked at the shrink and smiled warmly. “Then.. . I met Jake.”

“Jake Thrash, right?” The doc confirmed.

“Yeah… *My* Jake. “ PJ’s devotion and love for the half orc was easily read on her face. “Jake is a god. “ PJ grinned and laughed a little. “I think he’s the first person that I have ever trusted implicitly. And it didn’t take long at all for me to get there with him. He… accepted me as I was, yet, helped me become more… made me want to become more. He… He…” Once again, she was starting to choke up. This time though, she didn’t work so hard to hold it back. This time, it was a flood of happy, warm memories that welled in her eyes as tears.

“And he trusts me, trust me not to betray him, not to do anything to hurt him or the brewery. He’ll do anything for me, provided its not something I would hurt myself with. He taught me to fight, he taught me to stand for something, he gave me something to stand for and believe in. He’s the only man in my life that has never let me down, that has always been there for me.” PJ realized she was literally gushing about Jake, and she turned back to the shrink with a smile.

“I love that grumpy, cantankerous, ale-brewing, beer-drinking, puncheminnaface orc.”
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