ellen_icon.gif hao-tung_icon.gif

Scene Title Facades
Synopsis There are many different kinds.
Date August 3, 2009

Golden Luck Dragon Restaurant

On the surface, there is little about the Golden Luck Dragon Restaurant that seems unusual. The two-floor and upscale restaurant is one of the finest eateries in Chinatown, serving traditional Chinese cuisine alongside the more Americanized "Chinese Food". The restaurant's ground floor is an open-concept structure, with the majority of the tables and booths visible from the entrance. Much of the decour is themed with rich browns of stained wood framework around the large doorways, deep crimson carpets, and gold trimmed curtains that give the restaurant a dimly lit and intimate quality even during the day.

The restaurant's second floor is a balcony that overlooks the ground floor dining spaces, usually reserved for large parties and functions, it is often closed off by a velvet rope.

There's myriads of places in any Chinatown to dabble at for an excellent meal; experimentation certainly doesn't hurt, and probably is encouraged given the wide array of streets and specialties and choices. But there are some days when it's a pleasant thing just to be able to sit down in a familiar, comfortably upscale setting. This is one of those afternoons. Nobody can say that this Triad official, at least, doesn't know how to treat a lady.

Of course, there's something to be said for the fact that Golden Luck is operationally a front for the Flying Dragons, so it might or might not be that Hao-Tung had been able to slip a better deal than many around here. Old faces, old prices, after all. Still, though. Though only for two people, and though it's only lunchtime, this particular spread is a tasty combination of dishes both new and familiar. There is the requisite tea, but also dumplings, vegetable congee, and plenty of other fare should Ellen hunger for something out of the ordinary. "«Any plans on what you're doing with the rest of your day?»" the man asks idly in Cantonese, focused on getting his chopsticks around a wrapped, pork-filled bun. It's not quite as formal an occasion as dinner; right now, he looks moderately dressy in a collared shirt, slacks, and shined loafers.

Ellen has never been afraid of trying something new, though she has often lacked for opportunity. Even now in her dining, she takes easily as much of the unfamiliar as those foods she's grown up with, and both are approached with an utter lack of hesitance. She does enjoy the finer things in life, having gone without for far too long. But she is keen enough and been at this enough to mostly fit right in, aside from a rare lapse into lower-class manners. She's dressed nicely for the occasion, though not overly so: a simply silk blouse paired with a dark A-line skirt that she hopes is conservative enough for the company. She's taken a break from eating for the moment, never blessed with an appetite to match her desire to try a bit of everything. It's over a sip of tea that she considers his question, setting the cup lightly down before she replies, matching his language of choice simply out of reflex. "«Inventory, perhaps. There's a large shipment in next week. I'd like to get things squared away before it arrives.»" Still, she doesn't sound altogether eager to get back to that particular duty.

Fortunately, Hao-Tung has no such reservations about the reach of his appetite. His table manners are solid enough, and he might not exactly eat like somebody who's starving, but he hasn't shown any signs of slowing where Ellen has. He doesn't change his expression much when Ellen brings up inventory, but his face does register some semblance of distaste. Thanks to a sudden bird-like peal of laughter from a large group of women the next table over— Chinese people can be so notoriously jovial sometimes— he has to lift his voice slightly to make his next statement heard. "«I'll have lots of work to do myself. Perhaps we can relax later this evening, hm?»" They've both been so annoyingly busy.

Ellen glances sidelong at the women as they laugh so loudly. She's never been a giggler herself. But her dark gaze returns to Hao-Tung a moment later as he speaks, and her smile seems genuine. "«Relaxing. Yes, I'd like that. All work and no play…»" she intones, rolling her eyes slightly at the sentiment. Unable to resist, she takes another dumpling, one that she hasn't yet tried, capturing it gracefully between her chopsticks and depositing it onto her plate. "«I'll come by once I've finished?»" she suggests, assuming his place will be the site of this relaxing, as it so often is.

And heaven knows Hao-Tung does not approve of gigglers. He is blessed to have a woman with sensibilities by his side, yes? "«That'll be fine,»" he comments in short reply, neither more nor less curtly than Ellen is used to. The tips of his chopsticks are allowed to hover in midair, close to the surface of the table, as a thoughtful scowl forms on his face. Only then do they dip downwards in search of their next target: a nearby, slippery rice noodle roll. "«You know, even with Yi dead, there are still plenty of idiots in the group to deal with. I might not be home until later. I'll call.»"

And the curt response doesn't put Ellen out any. She simply nods her head in one long bob and then sets to working on her dumpling, though she continues watching him as she does. The thoughtful scowl is met with a small raise of her brows before she straightens and wipes daintily at her mouth, setting down the chopsticks again, for another sip of her tea. "«They're lucky to have you to keep things on track,»" she notes with a sympathetic smile, sitting back a little more in her seat once she's set the cup back down. "«But I hope it won't keep you too late. Are things really that bad right now?»"

The crease in Hao-Tung's brow eases up a bit as Ellen sits back in her chair. Just a bit. But enough to indicate that the compliment hadn't been out of place — there's a reason he likes her. "«No worse than they usually are,»" is his still-grumpy answer as he lifts the roll to his mouth, taking a conservative bite. The woman's been around him long enough to know how he feels about the Evolved, the Ye family, and everything to do with them. Probably heard it multiple times, no less. "«But you know how it is. Things have done nothing but slip downhill since Chang's unfortunate passing.»"

Yes, she is well aware on his feeling about the Evolved, which is why Ellen merely nods and goes with the flow of the conversation, as always. "«From what you've said, they've made quite a mess of things, yes,»" she agrees with a shake of her head. Of course she's going to take his side in this. "«Such a loss. And now you have to put up with so many headaches.»" She sighs, her sympathy not even feigned, which is a rare thing for her. Of course, part of it is because his headaches end up impacting her as well, but it isn't just that. "«At least we can still have a nice lunch»," she goes on, trying to lighten the mood a little.

"«Yes, we can.»" So far as Hao-Tung is concerned, that's a pretty good point. With a curt exhalation, the tension in his brow visibly dissipates a little more. No point in working himself up more than necessary, probably, because these are things that he'll be attempting to deal with for a long time to come. "Pass the shrimp bonnets, will you?"

There's a little smile at that, both because she succeeds in getting him to relax a little more and because, well, she enjoys being right. Ellen sits up again to dutifully pass the shrimp bonnets along, leaning forward to set them down nearer to him. "«It's a nice place»," she observes with a glance around, by way of thanking him for taking her to such a nice place without actually having to be so trite as to come out and say the words.

The luxury of being right is relinquished to few people besides Hao-Tung when he's anywhere near them, but Ellen, of course, is one of the rare (and pleasant) exceptions. She receives a lift of one brow at that observation, Hao-Tung taking the plate from her hands without a rough grunt of thanks. "«You know what it is, don't you?»" He isn't sure if he's told her what's buried in the cellar, concealed behind a steel door and armed guards. He might've. Then again, it's not something that she's had to know.

Ellen hands off the plate before sitting back again. At his question, her eyebrows lift slightly and there's a keener edge in the way she glances about the place, as though she's trying to guess before he can tell her. It's all fairly subtle, but for one who knows her, it's not that hard to guess that's what she's doing. Apparently her attempts to guess are unsuccessful though, since after a moment, her gaze returns to him. "«What is it?»"

"«A facade. A pretty one.»" Another dismissive grunt, but Ellen continues to receive a meaningful look for a moment longer. He isn't willing to elaborate too much further on that point in public, even if they are surrounded by an environment of excitable and chatty diners. She's no doubt intelligent enough to pick up the thread of what he's saying by herself, anyway — with the knowledge of everything the man sitting close to her has been involved in. He can always go into more detail later.

One corner of her mouth quirks upwards in a faint and wry smile. Oh yes, she gets it. Ellen just muses on that for a moment, though she has the good sense not to ask any further questions here and now. "«Well, we can't hold that against it,»" she goes on, with maybe a bit of meta to the statement. She has been guilty of being a pretty facade once or twice herself, after all. Perhaps it's a risky game reminding him of that, but then, that's why she doesn't come right out and say it.

Honesty's always been a trait Hao-Tung straightforwardly appreciates, even if it does have the tendency to madden and irk him a lot, coming from the mouths of other people. Ellen's reference earns a 'heh' and a knowing upwards glance, but nothing else for a few seconds. "«It's been at it a bit longer than you have,»" is his dry response as he tucks another bite from his chopsticks into his mouth, but he doesn't look annoyed. In fact, there's just a bare hint of the contrary.

Ellen's eyes linger on him for a moment before they begin drifting about the various features of the fancy restaurant. "«Then perhaps I should pay attention. I might learn a trick or two, hm?»" she suggests, though there's a trace of humour to her expression as she says that. "«Though I'm not so good a cook as to ply them with food like this,»" she goes on, bringing her gaze back to the table and at the wonderful assortment of food. Not that she isn't without her own wiles, of course.

With Hao-Tung those wiles are something of a double-edged sword. Aggravating, but at the same time, intriguing. Like frozen yogurt. "«Coming from a family like yours, I'm not surprised you think so»." And there we go with the crudeness that the Triad vanguard is so well-liked for. He eyes her over a long, thorough gulp of his now-cooled jasmine tea. "«But there's not too much you'd have to learn. And your cooking is good enough.»" See those? Those were compliments! …One would think.

There's a pause as Ellen considers how to react to that crude comment about her family. Not a horribly long pause, but a pause nonetheless. She finally responds with a simple cant of her head, acknowledging the point without really granting it - but not arguing it either. "«Yes, 'good enough' for us to eat out most of the time,»" she goes on, opting to take that compliment at least somewhat wryly. Of course, if it were something she was truly self-conscious about, it would never have been raised in the first place.

There is no sign of him even noticing the length of the pause from Ellen, much less reacting to it. Around another mouthful, though, he asserts: "«Nonsense. I just wanted a change today.»" And odds are that if she really wanted to, Hao-Tung would have no objections to her cooking for them both a lot more often than she does now. He might be something of a critical eater, but he's critical all-around and when it comes right down to it, food is food.

His insistence that her food is at least edible actually gets a small but sincere smile from the woman as she looks across at him. "«Mm, well perhaps if you play your cards right, Mister, I will make my grandmother's speciality sometime»," Ellen suggests with a subdued playful smirk. What that speciality is, other than a heaping amount of guilt, she doesn't elaborate. But at least from her tone, it is meant to be a special treat. Then again, she could just be teasing him.

Ellen gets a slight lift of both brows in response to this. "«Another day, we'll see»," he acquiesces, wiping one large palm on the napkin spread across his lap. Whether she's teasing about the mystery specialty or not, hey. She know it isn't anything he'd be averse to trying out, and it'll be on her own time. The only cards in question are her own.

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