Better Than Hell No


corbin_icon.gif daphne_icon.gif

Scene Title Better Than Hell No
Synopsis Will there be a second date? Corbin finds Daphne's "maybe" an optimistic answer.
Date January 26, 2010

A rooftop in SoHo

Corbin probably thought Daphne blew him off. By 6:00 p.m., there was still no text of the place, though the time had been set for 8 p.m. Finally, at 6:29 p.m. a text came through: Starboard, a rooftop restaurant in SoHo. It's a little known secret of the city, popular with locals but kept from tourists. The food is good and worth the money, though not expensive; the servers are hip but in a pleasant and friendly way. But of course, the big draw is the view. The city at night is a sea of sparkling lights, a crown of sparkling jewels, and there is no way better to appreciate the fact than from a roof of one of the towering buildings. SoHo's buildings may not be towering, but the open-air top of a ten-story is plenty for some; also the food is better than most of the restaurants at the tourist attractions — most of which are gone these days, anyway, thanks to the Midtown explosion.

Most rooftop dining experiences are only open in the spring, summer, and early fall, but Starboard is an exception, except in especially inclement weather. Tonight is clear enough and the chilly air is kept at bay by outdoor heaters flanking every table.

Daphne is here, already, but lurking in a shadowy corner, waiting for Corbin to arrive first. There have been enough strange happenings in the past few weeks, to her sleeping self, her friends, and in the news, that she doesn't trust a complete stranger — especially one that she didn't hear about from the criminal grapevine. She can trust a crook, to an extent — at least more than an unknown factor. Even if he does wear Hawaiian shirts and red snow boots.

Tonight it would seem Corbin's taken some effort to not wear Hawaiian shirts or red snow boots. But that doesn't mean he passes anything close to a dress code. Unless a dark t-shirt advertising 'Trouble Finds Me' in bold white print, a dress jacket and jeans counts as a kind of dress code. It's one of the more color dull clothes he's decided to wear, until his shoes come into sight. Okay, he did bring the red snow boots.

Name is given to a waiter, who leads him over to the small shadowed corner table, where he sits down and examines the heaters. "It's almost like they're trying to heat the whole city! Not that I'd say no if they did." The cold may be something he's accustomed to, but…

Looking out from the rooftop, he can see both the ruination and the beauty. The bomb took a lot from a lot of people… Him included. "I guess you're not afraid of heights, or you wouldn't have picked this place."

Daphne, now that he's within the ring of candlelight that illuminates their table, is still in a coat, but it's a feminine one in a satiny black that almost looks like a dress, with a cinched belt and a flared bottom. There's likely something under, but it's not visible aside from a hint of red at the color. Black thick tights and knee high grey boots finish the ensemble. Her hair looks almost done, a red crocheted beret keeping it in place. Her cheeks are a pink from the chill or maybe the heat from the lamp that feels like a small sun.

"It's toasty. It'd be too hot almost except that you get little breezes that make you think you're in Greenland now and then," she agrees, raising her glass of something brownish red and clear. "Been here before?"
"No, not here," Corbin says, settling into his seat and feeling the cold air ruffle his hair that is a little too long to be neatly put into place. For a change, he's the one who looks like he's been windblown. That catches his attention, head tilted to the side, before he smiles faintly, "Your hair looks good." Genuine and simple, but it does come off as a flirting compliment, from the slight curve of his eyebrows, and the tug on his lips.

"But I do like rooftop restraunts. Never been to one in the winter, but the heaters are an interesting touch. I guess it's the closest they can get to a fire-side meal without breaking city code." He looks around as if he's thinking of writing an article about it. "I was starting to think you forgot about our plans. I thought I'd be eating alone tonight." Or at the bookstore, where he's spent too little time.

"I keep my promises, Friday. If I say I'll text, I'll text. Unless I'm indisposed or someone stole my cell phone, anyway," Daphne says, taking a sip of her port, then setting it down again on the table. She reaches a hand up to her hair, tucking a strand behind a small ear. "I clean up once in a while, anyway."

Nodding to Corbin's shirt, she arches a brow. "Trouble Finds You, or you go looking for it?" she asks, a little amused. After all, he's the one who asked her out. "Aside from asking me out and trying to jump off bridges, you don't seem like Mr. Danger Man or anything."

"I try to avoid looking for it, unless I have to," Corbin admits, touching his shirt rather fondly. It'd been a joke gift from one of his partners. Not the one he still stays in contact with, but one of the short lived ones. Not that he could explain that to her. "Someone I worked with used to say I had terrible luck when it came to things. I kept running into dangerous situations. How I met you was one of many, I'm afraid." And since he doesn't like carrying gun, in his side job, dangerous situations are especially dangerous!

"So a rooftop… You don't happen to fly, do you?"

"Me? Fly?" Daphne says, eyes widening and looking amused. "No. I came up the elevator, same as you." She tilts her head. "You don't… remember? What I can do?" she says a little uncertainly. Bad timing — their server comes by right at that moment and she snaps her mouth shut, then smiles up at the black-clad server. The young man introduces himself — his name is Trev — and hands them black menus with little silver sparkles all over it. More sparkles! He takes a drink order for Corbin and leaves them to peruse the menus. Daphne just glances back at Corbin and tilts her head, to await his answer to the last question.

The waiter come and gone, Corbin ordered a foreign kind of beer and looks back at her once they're alone again. "I remember some of it, but I was a little distracted by my dead sister and nearly falling off a bridge to my death." Distractions can do that sort of thing! "I'm not sure how you got up to the bridge so fast, but… I know you're able to move around quickly— and now we're eating on a roof. Most people wouldn't think this would be an easy place to get out of, if things go badly, but with how you showed up on the bridge out of nowhere…" Sometimes he's perceptive. The last minute choice, the rare open air…

Her brows knit together as he puts together her motives. He's definitely smarter than he works, this one.

"I can't fly," Daphne says almost defensively. "And this is a popular place." She nods to the other diners. "In summer it
has an hour or two's wait. And I waited to make sure the weather was going to hold. Otherwise I had a back up location." She picks up her glass, dark eyes sliding to take in the view of the city as she takes a sip. "So what kind of stories you write?"

"That's too bad. Flying would be one of the few abilities I think would be fun to have," Corbin says, idly looking off to the view of the city as well, not seeming to have minded the defensiveness. But when he looks back, he's still smiling, but leans forward a bit. "You could say I write a little of everything. Mostly for the online portion. I do some freelance, too. If you read anything on the Ghost of the Montauk Monster, that was me." He taps his chest, and even laughs a little.

That had so not been sanctained. But it was fun. "I'm working on an article about the Summer Meadows project, and I've got an interview with the leader of Phoenix I need to do soon, too."

Daphne raises a brow. "Montauk Monster? No. But I mighta been out of town. I travel a lot." The server returns to take their orders, and the speedster orders a steak with mashed potatoes. No dainty fru-fru salads for her. She has a metabolism to feed! Once the server is gone again, she tilts her head. "So you're not … you know." She gestures at him with her hand, as if casting a spell, a parody of Evolved powers such as Electrokinesis or Telekinesis. "You're not Evolved?"

A lady who eats! And one so tiny, too. Corbin also orders a steak, but he has the steamed veggies to go along with it. "No, I'm not Evolved," he says, raising his hand and flicking at the air as if he might have some idea how to do those things. "I've known a couple, though. My best friend is one of them." Not Registered, but known anyway. Company Agents could get away with it, sometimes… "I'm just your normal Friday." As normal as a guy can be in this world, at least.

Daphne nods. "The one you said was fighting the dream guy?" she says, picking up her wine and sipping it again. "Haven't had any more. Just mine and … well, yours, I guess. Still weird how that happened." Her dark eyes flicker out to the lights beyond the roof, and back. "That was your sister? In the dream? She died in the bomb?" She looks guardedly sympathetic, brows knitted together with silent apology and condolences, four years too late.

"Yeah, that one," Corbin says, wondering how much of the dream meeting had been him doing what she wanted him to do, and how much had been her sending Daphne to pull his ass out of the fire. It almost seems like that's exactly what she did. "Yeah, my mother and sister both died," he says, a mild shrug of his shoulders trying to dismiss the piece of information as unharmful. The Bad Dream Dude knew otherwise, though. "I'm hoping that the dreams will start getting better, soon. I haven't heard much news about mysterious suicides. So they must be getting prevented." He's tried to prevent them too. It doesn't always work out that way.

Mysterious suicides, or mysterious near-homicies, accidental as her encounter with Hiro may have been. She doesn't bring it up, except to say, "Some things might not show as suicides. But accidents, falls… the dream guy could even maybe make someone hurt another person… I mean, if you woke up with blood on your hands, would you admit it to the cops? There might be more people in the hospital from this than you think." Her own guilt weighs heavy for a moment, and she searches for a way to lighten the mood. Luckily, this time the server has good timing, showing up with steaks and drinks.

"You could be right," Corbin says quietly, watching the happy fun mood he might want to have get shot out of the sky. It makes him look out toward the city again, wondering how many people they haven't managed to help. It could be quite a bit more than he'd like… "Then it sounds like I might have to get to work being a dream warrior, or whatever." There's a glance back at her, and a smile begins to appear again. "You'd probably make a pretty might one, I could picture you in a little pirate costume with a rapier. With really great shoes." Cause pirates usually don't have great shoes.

A pirate costume? "You have to wear Halloween costumes for your dream warrior-ing?" Daphne says, with a tilt of her head and then a smile that's actually real. It is an amusing image. "And what are you going as — Bookstore Ninja, Reporter Samurai? Do you get to run around with throwing stars or maybe a big ol' katana blade? I guess if it's your dream, you get to be what you want. At least you envision me as something cool. This kid I know? He'd probably picture me as Sailor Moon or something."

"No Sailor Moon from me. I think I'd just be me… Maybe me with a motorcycle." Corbin looks up as if processing that thought. "Yeah, I think me with a motorcycle would be good. One of those little hats with goggles too." He hadn't thought of something to use to protect himself in the dream yet, but oh, now he has. And he likes it. "So you didn't say what you actually do." Subject change. But hey, she doesn't fly… but he knows she doesn't need to have a ride home. Most of the time.

"I temp," Daphne says with a wrinkle of her nose. Well, it's kind of true. Her job takes her to different places, requires different skills, she never knows how much she's going to get paid, and sometimes the job just sucks. "I type really really fast," she adds. That's very true. A truth balances out a lie, right? "I didn't go to college. Travelled around the world a bit instead, so, you know. Not a lot of marketable job skills to throw up on And I get bored easy and want to take off when I want, so a steady 9 to 5 doesn't work for me." She begins to cut into her steak, cutting off a dainty bite and popping it into her mouth to chew. "You like writing?"

"I'll give you a call next time I need someone to type up an urgent story for me," Corbin says, grinning a bit, though it's clear he doesn't quite believe her on that. "If you're worried I'll call the Registration office, that's not my job." He hadn't intended to drag the young Phoenix Leader in either, but he does understand the paranoia. More for the Phoenix Leader, since she knew he was a part of 'The Company' and she had a view of what they did. Which wasn't entirely accurate. But wasn't entirely inaccurate either. For a time, he focuses on his steak and veggies, before he says, "So where's your favorite place to visit?"

True, so far no men in black suits have popped out of nowhere to drag her off to the Company or to Register, so Daphne's relaxing a touch with the cheerful reporter. "Favorite city is Paris," she says without hesitation. "I lived there for a couple years, when I first left home, so it's kinda another home to me. But after the bomb, I came back here, to be closer to family. Well, my dad. He's about all I have. And my favorite not-city would be Machu Picchu, I think. Beautiful and ancient and makes you feel … I don't know. Somehow part of a bigger picture, I guess."

Well, now, that's too serious. "Are those contacts or are those your real eyes?" she says, suddenly, squinting at him.

"No contacts, all me," Corbin says, though he laughs with a fork sticking in his mouth. It's a funny change of topics, but… "I've not really been anywhere outside of New York. I didn't get to do the travelling thing, except for a trip down to Mexico in college. So in a way I kind of envy you, going around doing what you want to do, where you want to do it."

The fork is put down, so he can take a drink, before he adds, "I do like my job. I like writing stories, I like finding out about things before other people— hearing about different points of view." But his original job hadn't been that… originally he wrote spin stories, to protect Evolved and the Company…

"It's also nice to dig up the good stories in the sea of bad ones that happen these days."

"There's a lot of bad," Daphne agrees, looking at him a bit strangely. He's a nice guy. She doesn't know what to do with such a person. Charismatic and witty, she is used to, but he seems like a good person who would probably not like her if he knew what she were really up to, or how she earned the money for the fancy coat and boots she's wearing. She sets down her fork and sighs.

"Look, Corbin," apparently she does know his name, "you're a really nice guy. A really really nice guy. But you don't know anything about me, and you probably wouldn't like it if you did. I don't want you to …" to what? get hurt? get to know her? like her?

But she sort of does want that. She sighs, a heavy thing that puffs out one of her white-blond strands of hair from her face.

"Everybody's got skeletons in their closets," Corbin says, though he's smiling some as she said his name. He glances off toward the city. His skeletons are carefully concealed in many ways, and for good reasons. "Some less so. I mean I'm divorced. My ex-wife is a blood sucking monster that calls when anything goes wrong." And he uses her as an excuse to run off and do Company business all the time… "This is a thanks for saving my life dinner. And if you want to try to make a second dinner date… I'll leave that up to you. I can be the opposite of pushy."

"Ex wife, hm? So we know you're not the commitment phobe in this friendship," she says with a self-deprecating smirk, shivering a little as one of those winds makes its way past the heat lamps. "Any kids?" It's the polite thing to ask, and who knows, she could use one as an excuse not to date him, if he is indeed a father. It wouldn't be nice, but it'd be simpler. And maybe nicer than just losing his phone number, which part of her thinks is the best case scenario for both of them.

"No, no kids," Corbin says with a shake of his head. "I wasn't that old when I got married, and we weren't married very long, either. Though you wouldn't know it by the way she talks when she calls me up." At least he doesn't owe child support. Not that he wouldn't like to have kids someday, it just hasn't happened. "So you're not getting out of returning my calls that easy." Is she that transparent? Or is he just observant?

"I wasn't — I didn't — " Daphne protests then snaps her mouth shut and frowns, looking down at her steak to cut another piece, then chewing it for a moment to buy some time to think. Or plan an escape route. She's not used to this, and she feels uncertain. Feeling uncertain makes her nervous, and feeling nervous makes her want to run. "So you're all right with the whole Evo thing? Even when… what happened to your family and all, you don't think they're all monsters and freaks that should be studied like guinea pigs and lab bunnies?"

"Nawh, I'm against animal cruelty," Corbin says, even as he cuts off a piece of steak and chews on it. It's all done with a smile, one that sees the contridiction in that statement when paired with eating of a innocent cow! Well, maybe not so much. "In all seriousness, I do think that incidents like that should be avoided, stopped if possible, but I know not all of them are dangerous, and I certainly don't think they all should suffer for the mistakes of a few. There's a difference between Evolved and Dangerous Evolved."

"Well, yeah, of course. If someone can't control a power or is using it to hurt people," Daphne agrees, eating a couple of bites of mashed potatoes. "That's good though. A lot of people want to blame everything on the entire group of people, rather than thinking about it logically. I mean, anyone can buy a gun right? Does that mean everyone is as dangerous as a homicidal maniac with a gun? No." She makes a face, sitting back with her wine, finished with her plate, watching him in a rare moment of stillness. Of course, her feet, unseen under the table are bouncing, too much energy and wound up from sitting still for so long.

"Good analogy. And that doesn't even include how many people are killed in car accidents every year. Not everyone who drives is reckless, and not all accidents are caused by drunked driving or even reckless behavior. Doesn't mean we're going to take all driver's off the road until they pass really difficult safety tests…" Corbin takes a drink from his foreign beer, before adding on, "If all of them learned control it'd be best, but… Well, the current methods aren't working out too well." Oh, sometimes he misses the old days. Level Five may have been fearful, but most people got a headache and a memory hole and that was it.

The server comes with a bill and an offer of dessert, though Daphne shakes her head at the latter. She smiles at Corbin once the black-clad waiter leaves. "Thanks for dinner. Your life for a good steak anytime, you know?" she quips, trying to make light of the inevitable awkward moment that comes with the delivery of the bill.

The bill gets a nice credit card placed on it, but Corbin fishes out cash for the tip, sticking it under the table salt so it doesn't blow away on them. A generous tip, and everyone likes cash! "My life doesn't get saved that often. Even if trouble finds me it's usually not in the form of a fifty foot drop into the harbor." Luckily! "But… can expect to hear from you again sometime?" And if she doesn't ditch her phone, he has a number, thanks to the text.

Her dark eyes drop to the credit card, perhaps to check that his name matches on the card, and then up to his own pale gaze. "I … don't know," Daphne ways, uncertain but hey, for once honest. Hardly a glowing review, perhaps, but her ambivalence is due to the fact that part of her does like him, and the warring part of her doesn't want to trust him. She screws her mouth to one side for a moment, then blows that strand of hair out from her face once more. "Will you buy a maybe?"

"Maybe's better than 'hell, no, you're a freak, I just wanted free steak,'" Corbin says with a grin, one that touches his really really blue eyes. Most likely, he'll forgive her if she chooses not to call back, as well, but for the moment… maybe means maybe. "Be careful out there," he adds, the smile weakening a bit. "There's a lot of bad things going on. In some ways Australia wouldn't be a bad place to visit. Or Paris." Especially with a person sticking vicious fingers in everyone's dreams.

The acceptance of her maybe is almost too understanding. He's normal. She's the freak who can't take a compliment or a date at face value. Daphne's brows knit for a moment, as if perplexed by his easygoing answer, but then she smiles. "Thanks for dinner, Friday. Good luck being a dream warrior. Maybe I'll see you some night on your little motorcycle." She gets up from her seat and more quickly than he can react to, bends and kisses him on the cheek, and then is just as quickly turning away, heading for the stairs. Once out of sight, she'll put her speed on, leaving Corbin to wonder whether the date was a success or not.

Surprise! For a second he might wonder if her ability is that of surprise. The kiss on the cheek is both sweet and not as personal as other kisses, but not enough to give a ding-ding that the dinner date actually was a date. It's a maybe date. As she disappears out of sight, he recovers and walks after her, leaving some things at the table so he'll have to go back, but she's not there when he catches up. "Damn."

"You have to sign the check," the waiter says, though he's already tucked away his tip.

"I know, I was just going to say goodbye." Since he lost the words when she suddenly kissed him. Walking back to the table, he bends over to sign his name, collect his belongings, and he'll make a slower exit of the building.

Maybe is better than 'hell no' at least.

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