Finally, a bar. A good, old-fashioned, 'get some drinks and unwind' bar. This I can handle. This I know.

For the first time since breaking out of the prison, Jack felt a tiny bit a relief creep into his conscious mind. The omnipresent throbbing in his broken leg had dulled slightly, but not enough to be of any real relief. He could walk, and even perform some hamstrung approximation of running if the situation called for it, but it didn't take a trained eye to notice the wince on his face when he did so. It was obvious that Jack was trying to hide his pain from the others, so as not to be left behind as Jocelyn had flippantly suggested earlier in the day.

She's probably scared. We're all scared. Well, except for Ponch there, he seems to be enjoying himself. And the quiet one, she's....calm. Ok, so THREE of us are scared.

Jack lagged behind the group a bit as they entered the bar, situated in a low brick building toward the eastern end of the Third Ward Free Market. As he made his way over the threshold, all the familiar sensations greeted him. A small, crowded barroom, with lights turned down low and mismatched tables and chairs strewn about by way of furnishings. A low hum of conversation between patrons, with the occasional hearty laugh or slam of a mug on the bar rising above. The smell of unwashed bodies, sweat, blood, and shit, all packed like sardines in a tin and left to fester in an alcoholic brine.

The group settled down at a round table, weary from the day's travels and eager for respite. The quiet one had promised to buy a round of drinks, and true to her word, she materialized out of the crowd with 5 short, heavy glasses, caramel-colored liquid sloshing around in the bottom of each. I didn't even see her walk away...how the fuck does she do that? Jack eagerly scooped up a glass and took a long sip, relishing the warmth of the booze as it made its way down into his belly and up into his brain. He turned slightly toward the quiet one, intending to thank her, but noticed that she was staring intently into her drink, as if trying to boil it with her thoughts. O-kay....maybe talk to her later.

As Jack turned back toward the rest of the table, he noticed that some of the others had gone to try and chat up a group of particularly rowdy pirates. Right. He suddenly remembered why, out of all the bars in all the towns in all the world, they had walked into this one. This bar was a pirate bar, and they needed a fast way out of town, a way that the Waltzers wouldn't have jurisdiction to inspect.

Jack didn't particularly want to get involved with Sullivan's Fleet, but the others had convinced him that there were no viable alternatives. Jack knew they were right - the Waltzers would be out for revenge. They had thrown him in jail just for breaking into one of their warehouses; Jack didn't want to contemplate what they would do to him now that he was complicit in the carving up of a couple of their boys. Jack briefly considered breaking away from the group, lying low with his fence Julian for a few days, finding a way out of town on his own, but he quickly dismissed the notion. Someone in his condition wouldn't make it alone in the city, and besides, he didn't want to risk bringing the Waltzers down on Julian's operation. With a pang of guilt, Jack realized that meant that he also couldn't go home again, at least not for a long while, not til the heat cooled down. Shit....Mom. She's gonna go nuts if I just disappear...I need to find some way to get word to her and Dad that I'm alright.

Jack was snapped out of his contemplation by the high-pitched crash of glass shattering from behind him. Jack flinched at the sound, then wheeled around in his chair, reflexively reaching for the knife he usually kept sheathed in his beltline. Fuck. It was gone, confiscated when he had been thrown into his cell earlier in the day.

As his gaze swung to the source of the noise, Jack's alarm turned to relief. A group of pirates stood laughing giddily at one of their compatriots, who was sheepishly sweeping the remains of a beer mug under their table with his boot. One of them noticed Jack watching, and raised his eyebrows challengingly. Jack waved him off with a grin, and was turning back to his empty glass when someone by the bar caught his eye.

She had hair the color of rusted iron, swept back behind her ears and tied in place with a short length of twine. She glanced toward Jack, baby blues fixing on him for just a second before she coyly looked away. She stood shorter and more solidly built than most women, but she wasn't overweight. Rather, she was muscular in a way rare in women, a way indicative of years of manual labor. Heh...manual. She had a pretty, if not overly feminine face, and a commanding air about her. The pirates she stood with seemed to accept her as one of their own, but even from far away, Jack could see that they were careful around her, reserved. Someone with some authority, then. Perfect.

A plan swirled into Jack's head even as he was rising from his chair. He began to walk over toward the redhead, the ache in his leg dulled by whiskey and purpose. Jack had finally found a way to prove his worth to the others. He would get them onto a ship and out of Milwaukee, and all he had to do was convince her to let them aboard. Should be easy enough. Her gaze met his again as he approached, and she quietly stepped away from her cohorts to meet Jack between their two tables. Time to break out the charm, Jackie.

"Is it just me, or are there a lot of pirates here?"