False Proposal


melissa_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title False Proposal
Synopsis When Russo shows up to take Melissa out on her first ever date, things go well…at first.
Date September 21, 2010

Italian Restaurant

Low and behold, he called (apparently some guys follow through on what they say they're going to do!)! The idea of following-through has been so ingrained in Brad, that he wouldn't dare not call, even if the idea of a date, albeit a fake date, made him slightly queasy.

The black SUV pulls up to the address she'd given him and Bradley Russo steps out of the vehicle. His Toyota Highlander hybrid was the only way Karolina would let him purchase something remotely resembling a truck, now, over four years later, he secretly wishes he'd just bought the all out truck, then he'd have something to cart his plants back and forth in with greater ease. He might be one of the few New Yorkers to really drive a car, but to garden well he needs it, no cab wants to haul small seedling trees back and forth across the city.

Despite this not being a real date (whatever that means), Brad looks like he's dressed for a real date: a pair of kahkis, a blue shirt, and a black blazer — something his producer had dressed him in on a Friday show months before. Carefully, he grasps the bouquet of lilies, smattered with pink colouring and dotted near-freckles, in his hand.

When he approaches the door, he takes a deep, calming breath to soothe his nerves before knocking and allowing his bright smile to light his face. Nerves or not, he's determined to make this a fun date.

The first response he gets to the knock is the sound of a dog barking. A big dog, from the sound of it. Shortly after is the sound of Melissa yelling at the dog. "Hush Jerry! I hear it! Go lay down already!" Moments later the door opens to reveal Melissa dressed in a pair of black slacks and a short sleeved black blouse, and a German Shepherd laying down nearby, looking as though he's just dying to jump up and greet the stranger.

"Holy shit you remembered the lilies," she says with a grin as she looks at the flowers. "I didn't think you would, given how much we drank the other night," is added as she reaches for the flowers, stuffing her own nerves down. This may be a fake date, but it's still a date and she has no idea how one acts on one of those.

"So you did tell me about the lilies. I wasn't sure that actually happened, I just know I felt like I needed to buy lilies," Brad shoots her a quick grin and a small chuckle of apology, he drank more than he'd intended, that much is clear. He cranes his neck to get a better look at the dog before asking, "May I?" reaching a hand forward to give him a pat. "I always wanted a dog, but wasn't allowed pets as a kid… something about not being responsible enough." Of course, his fish did die, so, there's supporting evidence, even if it's like twenty years old.

And then, as a kind of afterthought, in a 'before I forget manner' he lifts a single finger, "Make sure you bring socks. I realize that not all female shoes are conducive to shocks, but bring some just the same." He shoots her another smile, broader than the first, this one edging on mischievous.

Laughing, Melissa nods. "Yeah, I told you about the lilies. I think. And yeah, you can pet Jerry. Be warned though, even if I bought him as a guard dog, he's more likely to lick someone to death." Which, the moment he reaches towards the dog, is exactly what it tries to do, giving a happy yip and excitedly greeting Brad.

"And socks? Well not something I expected to hear, but as it happens, I'm wearing some. Should I ask why, or just let myself be surprised?" she asks, grinning. "And be right back. Gonna go put these in water before we go," she says, slipping off towards the kitchen to do so.

"Hey buddy," the licking doesn't phase him. Unlike those he works with and for, Brad isn't a total germaphobe. If he was, he might not have such a proclivity towards gardening. He squats down towards the large dog, even if it's wholly unnecessary thanks to Jerry's size. The dog is scratched behind the ears as Melissa disappears to take care of the flowers.

"Yes! Socks! And… I'll never tell!" he calls after her, referencing the socks. Except it's a lie, she'll find out soon enough. And then turning back to Jerry, his voice lowers, "Who's a good boy? Hey! Who's a good boy."

If Russo wanted a hyperactive dog on his hands, he said just the right words to get it. Barking again, tail wagging like mad, Jerry does his best to knock Russo over so he can thoroughly lick his face.

Melissa gives another laugh and returns a minute later, sans flowers. She pauses to grin and watch man and dog, shaking her head. "You really are a dog person. As it happens, I get the never having one. I wasn't allowed one either. My house was more of a museum than a home, so no pets of any sort were allowed," she says, heading over towards them.

Sure enough Jerry knocks over the television host and Brad's face is thoroughly licked. "Awesome," he murmurs with a soft chuckle as he manages to push the dog away and clamber back to his feet. His jacket is smoothed followed by his hair.

"My mom was a nurse, and I think, overly paranoid that I'd catch something and die." He shakes his head slightly, his family is still something he'll cling to, even post-mortem. "I guess that's what happens when all you have are each other." He winks and then shrugs before adding, "You look lovely, by the way."

Jerry sits down, but continues to look hopeful. Melissa, however, works on ushering Brad away from the overlarge puppy and out the door. She does give him a smile though at the compliment. "Thanks. You look pretty good yourself," she says, shutting the door, much to Jerry's disappointment. But then, he wasn't invited on the date, so has to stay home. Poor puppy.

After he's ushered out of the house, Brad ushers her to his car, quickening his steps slightly at the end in an odd race to her door, which he opens; the gentleman in him rears his head thanks to that private school education. Once she's safely inside, he closes the door and rounds the vehicle to his own side, which he promptly enters and starts the SUV.

"So. I hope you like Italian," he smirks as his eyes flit to her and then back to the road before pulling away from the curb. His driving is safe although no one would call it cautious, perhaps from years of experience, with only one hand on the wheel, even though the vehicle is automatic, much to his chagrin (again, a feature for Karolina in particular).

"Of course… if you're not a pasta person it's not too late to change…" his eyes twinkle with that same unspoken mischief. "Also, I think they have pizza…" his expression turns thoughtful before he nods. "Actually, I'm like certain they have pizza…"

Having him get her door has Melissa looking amused, just as she did when he got the door at the bar. But she slips in and gets comfy before looking over at him and grinning. "Honey, I like food. If I don't have to cook it, which I couldn't even if I wanted to, then I'm perfectly happy with whatever. Italian, however, is definitely high on my list of favorites. I mean, what's not to like about it?"

There's a moment of silence before another grin forms, this one more impish. "You know, I was surprised you actually called. Didn't really expect you to follow through on all this given that we were both drunk at the time. At least I didn't once I sobered up," she admits.

"Excellent! It's decided then! Italian!" Brad's grin grows. "I love pasta. One of these days I'm going to learn to cook it for myself from scratch with flour… all from the farmer's market. I swear food it so much better when it's fresh." This is one of his favourite topics. "I mean, have you been to the farmer's market? It's astounding! There was this seller peddling his peaches and they were like biting into candy, delicious juicy candy." His cheeks blush a little. "One day I'm going to grow food like that. Move to California. Have an orchard." Pause. "Or just a gigantic garden in New York City. Like a community garden — a food project to…" his voice drifts off. "Sorry. I'm probably boring you, most people don't really care about making things grow…"

"And as far as calling is concerned — I try to follow through on what I say I'm going to do." He shrugs. "I had a single mother, if I didn't call, she wasn't above smacking me." A reminiscent smile edges his lips before he shakes his head, "So. You grew up in a veritable museum. Sounds like visiting my grandparents' house. I wasn't allowed to touch anything. Except the floor, and only then…" his voice raises a few octaves in an effort o impersonate his grandmother, "'Bradley Benjamin Russo, Russos don't sit on the floor'." He smirks as shakes his head.

Melissa snickers and nods. "Yeah, sitting on the floor wasn't allowed in my house either. Or anything that would embarrass my parents or cause a scandal. Pity that I did so enjoy disobeying," she says, mischief in her eyes. "And I believe you do follow through, but we both know this isn't a real date, though I do appreciate it and all, and the flowers were beautiful."

"As for growing things and cooking…I couldn't cook if my life depended on it. Believe me, I've tried. A friend tried to teach me. I took cooking classes. Yet I still ruin anything I try to make. I practically burn water when I try to boil it! It's sad really, but all the places that deliver to my house adore me. Never tried growing things though. But I've considered it. Got this nice big backyard but nothing in it."

"It's not dignified, apparently. I'm sure my grandmother would be mortified at the state of my new" Brad has lived there for four years "apartment. There's next to nothing in it. Didn't really see the point of furnishing it if I was the only one there." He shrugs nonchalantly, all too aware that he has a condo full of his own furniture and a townhouse of his mother's.

As far as the backyard is concerned, "You need to plan something. Vegetable gardens are good. Herb gardens give the best spices. But, at the risk of yielding my man card, flowers make a yard into a haven and, in a lot of ways, are easier to maintain than the others. I'd be willing to help you with any — or all — of those things." His lips twitch into that omnipresent smile as he puts the car into park.

He undoes his seatbelt and turns to face her. "So. We're here. You have a choice." There's a pause as he points to the pasta house on one side of the street, "We can eat first," and then he points to the opposite side of the street to a rollercade, "OR we can go roller skating first…" his cheeks flush slightly, he really hasn't done this date thing in awhile.

"Good god a man who blushes. I thought it was the tequila!" Melissa says when she spots the color in his cheeks, sounding both delighted and amused. "And let's eat first. That way I won't have to sit down after falling on my ass over and over again. More comfortable that way. And maybe I'll let you talk me into planting something in my backyard while we eat. I agree that it needs something, but maybe it needs a hot tub instead of flowers. Or, like, a swing. I don't know!" she says, grinning at him.

The mention of his blushing only makes Brad's cheeks flush further. "Good grief!" he says aloud. "Sorry! I don't normally — " he cuts himself off with a slight shake of his head " — it's been awhile. I'm out of practice, which makes me feel… unprepared." He shrugs slightly. "And I'm never unprepared." With another shake of his head, he opens his own door before glancing at her, "Stay there." Beat. "Please." His door closes and within moments he's at hers, opening it for her. "Sorry. Old habits die hard."

He escorts her into the restaurant and within a matter of minutes, they're ushered to their table, given menus, and poured water. When the host disappears, Brad lowers the menu and leans forward, "Do you want wine? I know you said you don't like it… or something…" he cringes, his memory of that night still a little foggy all things considered. "We could order a bottle…." The question is abandoned for a moment before adding, "And, just for the record, you could have a hot tub and an awesome garden. Depending on your space. Well. And the size of the tub." Shrug.

Melissa is still laughing when he opens her door, and she slips out to walk with him into the restaurant. But not before she gets in one more dig about his blushing. "You know, you're pretty cute when you blush," she teases.

Once they're settled and the host gone, she grins again. "I think I probably said something about not being able to get decently drunk off of wine, but I drink it at dinner when I'm out. Or when one of my roommates insists upon something more proper than hard liquor. Which, really, is anytime I talk her into drinking."

She starts glancing over the menu as she continues talking. "And true, about the hot tub and garden. It is a pretty big space. I honestly hadn't decided on anything, just that it needs something. Maybe I'll ask for my roomies opinions, since it's their backyard too." She glances up and grins. "Besides, it'd be selfish of me not to given that I have four roommates."

"Ahhhh. Yes. That was it. A person can't get properly drunk off wine. Well, I think we should get a bottle to share so when we go roller skating we are the perfect amount of tipsy to do it," Brad's eyes glimmer with that same mischief like a little boy itching to pull a prank. "You need to get your roommate onto tequila," he observes before glancing at the wine list, "The house white? I know red is like technically healthier, but I'm convinced white is better and people only drink red wine to prove they have culture of some kind."

"Yeah, ask their thoughts. Your space should be a sanctuary. Especially outside. So much destruction around us… I think seeing something grow is its own reward. That's all conjecture, I guess. And opinion. Sorry… gardening is one of my life's passions. And cooking from the garden is another."

Melissa can't help but grin at that mischief and she nods. "Tipsy roller skating. Sounds perfect. Just wish I'd worn something thicker over my butt so it doesn't end up so bruised tomorrow from all the falling!" She glances over the wine list as well and nods. "The white works. And most people who think they have culture do. Just the sort that grows in petri dishes," she says with a smirk.

"Glad you enjoy stuff though, even if I can't get your hobbies. Seriously, last time I tried cooking, the house stunk for three days afterwards. It's horrible, really it is. But maybe I'd like gardening, I dunno. Probably not, since it involves dirt and I'm pretty OCD about cleanliness. My house is spotless, and when I'm bummed out or whatever, I clean to relax. Go figure."

"You just haven't been inspired by the right teacher," he soothes with that ever-present grin and punctuates with a wink. "Food is one of those things that brings people together. It summons the masses, sparks debate, and moves forward relations and thoughts!" the tone is matter-of-fact, like he's given this great thought in some philosophical realm instead of explicating pure conjecture and opinion.

"Cleanliness, hey? Yeah, I'm not so big on the cleaning up. The growing? I'm all about that. And the cooking. Also… all about that. Someday I will make you homemade pasta and you will like it… well maybe you won't" he smirks now "because the kitchen will be in total disarray."

When the waiter returns, Russo orders a bottle of the house for the table, nothing like liquor to further loosen lips.

"No it won't," Melissa assures him with a smirk. "Because the moment I got a look at your kitchen I'd be cleaning it until you didn't recognize it. It's a bad habit I have. I literally cringe when I walk into a messy room. So I'll stick to the cleaning and let you do the cooking. Because trust me, I can't cook. The friend who tried to teach me? She's a good cook. Had no luck. I can't even make lasagna, and she assures me that it's super easy since she doesn't make her pasta from scratch."

She apparently doesn't have a problem deciding what she likes though, and since lasagna is on her mind and they're in an Italian restaurant, that's what she orders. "So what do you wanna do that you're not good at?" she asks once she's ordered and set her menu down.

He orders the three cheese ravioli, oh the excitement of stuffed pasta! "I believe you. I've met people who can't cook at all. For me it's just a hobby. I'm not talented as much as I can follow a recipe and it normally turns out." Brad shrugs, "And I enjoy it which is half the appeal."

An eyebrow is arched at the question, considered in turn. "I'm not normally asked questions, I'm the one doing the asking…" He hmmms quietly, considering, "Sing. Play an instrument. Be in a band… " these answers are all accompanied with that bright smile, but it fades at the next bit, "… let go of things… find some grounding… " the last one said even quieter, "… move on." He presses his lips into a thin line before bringing his water to his lips and wondering where that wine (that he only just ordered) is.

Melissa laughs. "Well what do you expect me to do on a date, fake or otherwise? Isn't that what people are supposed to do? Talk and ask questions and get to know the other person?" she asks, brows lifted.

But she heard that last quiet comment and her features soften, her smile reforming, sympathetic this time. "It's not easy, I know. And I'll bet a fiance is harder to get over than a brother in any case. But hey, this should help, right? I mean, fake or not, it's a date, which is sort of a step in the right direction, don't you think?"

"It's not just her. It's them. Both of them," there's a softness to the smile before Brad shakes his head slightly, pushing the memory of them and what happened aside. "I was raised by a single mother. I never knew my father… mom was it. Losing them both at once…" he clucks his tongue as the waiter returns and pours each a glass of wine, a polite silence taking over the table until the server's exit.

"But you're right. Maybe this is a step in the right direction." He raises his glass in a kind of cheers motion, aiming to clink his with hers, "To living life." And letting the dead lie.

Melissa takes her glass and lifts it as well, keeping that soft, sympathetic smile on her lips. "And to moving on," she adds before sipping. But she takes her own toast a bit more literally, at least for the moment. Which means she's changing the subject.

"So how in the world did you get into doing something like the Advocate? I mean I know you said it started with a radio show, but still. Most people don't grow up thinking that they want to be the host of a political debate show," she asks, tone as casual as she can make it.

He takes a sip of the wine before returning the glass to the table, alcohol has been his best friend these last four years, well for three of them, anyways. Brad hmmms quietly at the question, "I wanted to be a DJ. Seriously! I couldn't really sing or play an instrument so it seemed like a way to get into the music industry… so I took a degree in communications, but along with that…" His features tighten, a near-strain across his face, "…I went to a private school, the grandparents paid for it… I like debate. So I was a dual major, the second in political science."

"And you? How did you get where you are? I imagine you get to be near the music." He clucks his tongue, "I went about it the wrong way — should've just told school to screw it, mortified my grandparents and my mother in the process."

"A DJ? Maybe I should introduce you to the DJ of my club. Real bubbly girl. you'd like her," Melissa says, grinning. "And me…I'm not really sure just how I ended up where I am," she admits. "Moved to New York for a job that fell through. I had some money from my parents so I didn't really need to work right off, but I hate being idle. I was looking for a club where I could hang out and dance, and found Tartarus. It wasn't open yet, but it was a goth club, and needed a manager, so…" She trails off and shrugs. "There ya go."

Another sip then she puts her own glass down. "The Suresh Center was simpler though. I'm Evolved, so I'm, of course, sympathetic to them, and I had a…my brother got kicked out by his parents when they found out he was evolved. I wanted to do what I could to prevent others from dealing with the same thing, so I became a counselor."

"Hard place to be? The Suresh Centre, I mean? It's good to have safe space, but sometimes I wonder whether it's restrictively safe. When things get segregated people are allowed to be afraid of each other. And while it's good to cater to groups, it fosters 'us' vs. 'them' mentalities…" the television voice comes out and finally he acknowledges it, causing his cheeks to flush again. "Sorry. It's… my job. We talk about these things, try to understand modalities of power — who has it, who doesn't… For the record? I'm registered non-evolved. And I registered early, although I'm not sure how I feel about mandatory registration…" His eyebrows furrow.

"Well the thing about the Suresh Center is that it isn't just the evolved. We also get families of the evolved showing up to try to deal with the fact that their husband or sibling or child has an ability. So it's not as segregated as you might think," Melissa says with a shrug. "And you may not know how you feel about mandatory registration, but I know I sure as hell do. I think it's a load of shit and that the government should get a kick to the ass for even considering it, much less implementing it."

She shakes her head, looking disgusted. "This is supposed to be the land of the free, but there's not much freedom at all anymore. It really is just a second holocaust, and it's mostly those being persecuted who realize it."

"I don't think it's gotten there yet, but there's certainly the possibility of that trajectory. And a government that monitors its citizens is one to be distrusted," always Mr. Neutral when it comes to actual political discussion, if Brad has an opinion on where things are, it's hazy at best. "On the other hand, they're trying to prevent incidents like the one that happened… so much loss. And if I'm honest, I can't really think of other logical means for prevention. Not that monitoring does much good in the scheme of things." He pauses, "It's not like a person can take a pill and stop being who they are. Hell, if they could, who would want to? Or expect someone else to? If I could fly, I'd use it all the time. No more cars for me. Point is… it's a different world than the one I grew up in. The rules have changed, and I think peaceful coexistence should rule the day."

"And how are we going to have peaceful coexistence when people like me are locked up just for being who they are?" Melissa shoots back. "Even if they've done nothing wrong, just because they have a dangerous ability? It's like locking up everyone who drives a car. Or owns a weapon. And might as well lock up anyone who can fly too, because look at what happened on nine eleven." She certainly does get worked up about this topic.

"I don't disagree with you. It's a multifaceted debate," And one he's too familiar with considering he purchased his human registration rather than outright registering for something he hasn't even manifested. Brad sips at his wine again, "And they've tried to regulate everything else. Licenses for cars and planes. Registration for weapons — which I know is not really mandatory… but they're doing what they do. Governments regulate. THe problem is this regulation isn't something external. It's regulating people for being who they are; that's why the debate and the uproar." He shrugs. "The problem is the majority of people aren't using any foresight here and trying to look ahead at what's coming."

"Licenses for cars, at least, are to prove that you can handle it. But that's not why people have to register their evolved status," Melissa says, shaking her head. "They're afraid of what we might do because we're different. Because…Dammit. We weren't supposed to get into a debate about this. I could go on for hours, and you're not supposed to spend a date arguing! At least I don't think you are."

"I'm sorry." Brad raises a hand in apology, "My fault. It's a professional hazard, I'm afraid. I spend so much time reading and talking to people to understand every side of an issue that sometimes I get carried away." His lips quirk upwards only to be interrupted by the food which the server brings to the table. Again, polite silence rules the day for a few moments. "We can talk about something else…" His lips purse as he considers a topic change.

"Wait. You asked me what I want to do that I'm not good at… your turn. Missy, what do you want to do that you're not good at?"

Melissa shakes her head. "It's not your fault. I'm just very passionate about the whole issue, and it's bound to get me in an arguing mood because of it. Call it a hazard of working at the Center," she says with a faint smile. She takes a moment to take a bite of her food, then shrugs a little. "I've always wanted to sing and cook, and I suck equally at both of them. You know the sound of nails on a chalkboard? It's more pleasant than me singing."

"Well you said the cooking is out the window. Singing too then?" he also takes a bite of his food, the pasta enjoyed along with the glass of wine. Brad clucks his tongue again. "Anything you in the process of learning? One of these days I'm going to take lessons and get good at yoga. One day. I'm horribly inflexible, everything is always so tight and has been since before…" he smirks now, some faint secret pulls at his lips, "…before my army days. So no one can blame the military for that one. Hoo-rah." He grins before shovelling another bite of pasta into his mouth.

"Afraid so. It really is horrible. Which is why I won't be going up on stage for karaoke," Melissa says, actually sounding a bit disappointed. "And yoga? Weird. Never heard of a guy really into yoga. But god. You were military? Where's the buzz cut? The snappy salutes?" A pause, then she asks mischievously, "The uniform?"

"I want to be into yoga. I'm not, as it stands." There's a pause before he adds, "You could come onstage and sing with me… I mean, if I haven't scared you away with this date… and the more charming nuances of my personality.." Brad's words are slightly masochistic, self-depreciative, a kind of humour he lives and breathes.

"And for the record I have the uniform. It's hanging up in some closet. In my mother's house." Someday maybe he'll need to go and get it. Maybe.

Melissa laughs. "You haven't scared me away, but you'd actually want me next to you, singing, when I've told you how bad my singing is?" she asks, amused once more. "And your personality is just fine, otherwise I wouldn't be here at all, drunken acceptance or not."

"What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment! Come and sing! It'll be fun. I can't sing either, can barely carry a tune so you'll be in good company, and honestly? Karaoke is about owning what you can do." Brad shoots her another flicker of a smile before shaking his head, "I'm much better and easier to take when other people are drinking." The smile turns lopsided as he takes another bite of his pasta.

"So what else do you do for fun? Close to your roommates? Colleagues?"

"Okay, fine. One song," Melissa says, smiling. "And stop putting yourself down before I kick you under the table, hmm?" That threat seems genuine. "I don't really have much time for fun, but when I do, it's hanging out with friends, like my roommates, or dancing, or watching movies. I'm a huge movie buff. Got a ton of 'em, and I force friends to watch them on a regular basis."

"Good! It's decided then!" Brad slaps his hands on the table like it's been decided. "And, drink enough booze you won't care about how you sing." He winks before finishing off his glass of wine. Trust the alcoholic to recommend drinking as a way around nerves. "So. We have: cleaning, hanging with friends, and movies as your predominant hobbies." He nods slightly, "Are there any others? If I'm honest, I haven't even told you my favourite hobby. I love love love playing pranks… a well played and time prank is like a painting…"

"Oh, it's not me I'm worried about. Even my closest friends who adore me wince and ask me to shut the hell up when I sing," Melissa tells him with a grin. "And…Yeah, you forgot the dancing. I really do love dancing. But that's really it. Like I said, I don't have a lot of time for fun." Her head cocks then, brows lifting. "You're a prankster though, hmm? Should I be cautious around you then? Do those lilies really squirt water or something? Turn my nose pink? Itching powder, maybe?" she teases.

"Ha! Amateur stuff! The best pranks take thought and preparation. Sometimes months! Once I ran this prank on one of my staff — I staged an incident she was in and just had this random actor I paid spaz out at her… she laughed when it was over… after she got mad at me." He shrugs. "I'm always going to play pranks and always going to be apologizing for them." His cheeks flush a little brighter as he finishes his pasta. "Here's a question for you… what makes you tick? Like what keeps you going?"

Though Melissa is grinning as he talks about pranks, the serious question has her face falling into more sober lines and she takes a minute to eat and think. "My friends, I guess. Hope for the future. Pure stubborness. Pride. Any and all of the above. I just can't let the people I care about down. Especially not when they depend on me."

"Combined good things," Russo murmurs quietly, setting his fork onto his now empty plate. He's got a healthy appetite, that much is true. "People are important. Hope, also important," he half smiles. "There's no point in living in despair. Too easy to get stuck there." He did, he talks from experience. His lips press together into a thin line while he studies her carefully, "All you can do is the best you can under whatever circumstances are there."

"Which is exactly what I'm doing. I'm not exactly happy, but it's sure as hell better than the alternative," Melissa says, shrugging. Soon her fork is laid down as well. Though she's a woman, she doesn't seem to have that desire to eat like a bird and pick at her food that some women do on dates. "What gets you by?"

"Seriously, not used to having the questions turned on me…" the lopsided grin turns into an all-on one, warm and bright with a white flash of teeth. The smile fades as Brad considers the question though, losing some of its lustre and brightness, changing into an almost dull expression. "Justice, I guess? Mercy, maybe? I almost gave up for awhile…" And every day it's a constant fight not to give up — oftentimes a losing battle. "…the only that pulled me back was the idea justice could be found. Some balance of power could be achieved… that maybe I could actually make a difference…" his eyebrows furrow and his head shakes, "Sorry. Heavy question for a first date…" his eyes narrow a little before he tacks on, "Even a fake one." Although, if he's honest, he almost forgot the nature of this date.

Though she wouldn't admit it, Melissa's almost forgotten herself. "Yeah, well, it'll probably be the only date, won't it? I mean, didn't you just ask me so I couldn't say I'd never been on a date before?" she reminds him with a shrug. "And maybe it is a heavy question, but hey, it's out of the way now, right?"

The statement is left alone for awhile in contemplative silence as Brad reaches for his water. It's a bide for time, a way to carry on without incident. As he reaches for it, he opens his mouth to reply only to knock the water glass over. The clumsy strike again! Water spills across the table in a large bead before it cascades to the floor and perhaps towards Melissa, his date. "Shit — " he's already up from his seat, napkin at the ready to wick away moisture as needed.

Before Melissa can do much more than gasp at the spill, she ends up with a lapful of water, which has her abruptly scooting back her chair to avoid ending up with the rest of the water on her. "Dammit," she mutters, reaching for a napkin of her own, though rather than looking upset, she just looks resigned.

Assuming he's allowed, Brad is at her side, with his napkin muttering apology after apology, "I'm so so sorry… aw Miss… " he frowns his expression clearly more upset than hers. "Freakin' have the worst luck this week…" he's not one to swear thanks to his unscripted spot on network television, it's luxury he doesn't normally allow himself. As it stands, he's kneeling on the floor next to her, dabbing at the moisture as best he can and as much she'll let him.

Unfortunately, this is not the picture many other patrons get. People have their own impressions of what's transpiring. One elderly woman points over, "Look! He's proposing!"

At first Melissa looks amused at his upset and attempt to right things. But then she clearly hears the older woman, and glances over to see who's being proposed to. When she discovers that it's her the woman is pointed out, she gets a deer in the headlights type expression. Then her lips begin to twitch, just a little at first, her shoulders starting to shake a little. And when she speaks the fact that she's fighting not to laugh is obvious. "I think you've just ruined your rep as the bachelor host of the Advocate, darlin'," she whispers, nodding her head towards the elderly woman.

"Wha — " the deer in the headlights look is catching, apparently. Brad stares a moment before his posture mimics Melissa's with shoulders bobbing as he too starts cracking up. Where he'd just blushed before his face turns a bright shade of crimson, obviously embarrassed at the circumstances in which they find themselves. "I'm not… she's not… we…" he just shakes his head, it'll be nothing more than gossip fodder for the celebrity rags. Shrugging, he pushing himself to his feet, clearly resigned at the circumstances and still rather sheepish about it all.

When he starts trying to talk his way out of it, Melissa gives in and just busts out laughing. But she isn't the least bit shy or worried about talking in front of a crowd. She grins and looks towards the lady who spoke, but probably not in the way that Brad would prefer. "He's just a little nervous. Spur of the moment, you see. Spilled water in my lap and just had to apologize with a proposal," she says, in a tone that makes it all sound too far out there to be true, along with amusingly ridiculous. Not that it will stop the truly determined from believing just that.

Brad just cracks up at the attention they've received. So have several of the patrons, clapping loudly while others cheer. The resignation winning out and his sense of humour continuing to reign. He takes a small bow, eliciting more applause. He extends a hand to his assumed partner-in-crime, extending the applause to her and her talents at both catching a lapful of water and diffusing the situation. He reaches into his wallet and extracts a credit card which he puts on the table, with the scene, he doesn't want to linger here too much longer. When he sits down again he watches her, "Tell me… still up to skating or raincheck? It just means I'll need to take you out again for more hijinks and mayhem…"

"Good god, I just got you out of a proposal and you're talking about taking me on another date?" Melissa says with clearly feigned horror, shown to be a lie by the mischief in her eyes. "And as much as I'd like to say I was still up for skating, I happen to have this odd desire to change out of pants that aren't soaking wet."

Brad runs a hand through his hair, "Yeaaaah, I thought that might be the case. I swear I'm not normally this clumsy. Seriously… you've only seen that side of me." His eyebrows furrow as he shakes his head. "I'll get you home." There's a pause at that red hue continues to tinge his cheeks, "Thanks for getting me out of the proposal. I appreciate it."

Melissa grins as she rises out of her chair. "You really are cute when you blush," she says, shaking her head. "And hey, as much as I'd like a man of my own, I would prefer it to be someone who loves me and has thought about the whole proposal business. Though this was a hell of a lot more funny!"

His cheeks flush even more if at all possible at her words. "Yeah, I definitely had that one coming. People needed to be able to laugh." Brad shrugs after the waiter finishes processing his payment. He ushers her back towards his car, his hand settling on the small of her back while helping her outside. "I hope I didn't make it too harrowing an experience. I promise next time it'll be better. I flubbed this one by spilling water in your lap."

That just has Melissa laughing again and shaking her head, not seeming to notice the hand at her back. "Hell no, it wasn't harrowing at all. It was the best time I've had in a while. I could've done without the water, but the proposal thing was just hilarious. And sorry, never gonna be able to let you live that one down."

"Thanks," his tone borders on sarcasm as Brad opens the car door for her again, allowing her inside. "Yeah, sorry about that whole water thing, and the proposal was hilarious. I'm going to talk about it in my opening schpiel on my show tomorrow, it's a good anecdote." He closes the door and rounds the car again, heading to the driver's side and getting in. "So… was it good? Feedback would be appreciated… remember I haven't been on a date in a long time…"

"You're asking the girl who's never been on a date before and thus has nothing to compare it to?" Melissa asks with a grin. "But all in all I'd say it was a lot of fun. Definitely not the worst thing I can image for a first date, or any date for that matter, real or otherwise."

A smile essentially cracks across Brad's face, all good humour, sparkle, and delight as he pulls the SUV from the space, putting it into gear. "A glowing recommendation," his tone is sarcastic, but true merriment reflects in his eyes. "'Not the worst thing'" he repeats, "Well I guess I deserve that for spilling water in your lap, which, for the record, was definitely not on purpose." He turns to face her for an instant before returning his eyes to the road. "I think this was all evidence, I'm not ready to date." There's a substantial pause before he quips, "So. When am I taking you rollerskating? Sometime in the next few days… I know you owe me a song at karaoke tomorrow…." he emits a high pitched whistle accompanied by yet another dimpled smile.

Melissa busts out laughing. "You do realize what you just did, don't you, Brad? You said you weren't ready to date, then immediately asked me when we were going to go out again. You sure you're not actually ready to date?" she teases lightly. "But yes, karaoke tomorrow. And there's this thing I'm going to on Friday. At d'Sarthe's. Not sure about Thursday yet. Think I may have to work, don't remember if I scheduled myself for that day or not."

"What's on Friday?" the comment about not dating is blatantly ignored as he focuses on the road, like before, with one hand on the steering wheel and the other free. Brad shifts in his seat as he glances at her again. "Karaoke. That's such a fun word to say." His grin broadens as he focuses on the road. "Well… how about Saturday? Or are you working? I'd just hate your only date to be one where water was spilled across your lap." He winces slightly and then shrugs and shoots her another smile.

"Grand opening of some restaurant or club or something. Not entirely sure what it is. But I like grand openings. They're always…interesting." Melissa grins and glances back to him. "No, not working on Saturday, but I am questioning your motives."

"My motives? Really? Now you have a guy wondering if he came off creepy… while summarily talking about himself in the third person…" Brad shakes his head at himself now as his eyes glance from the road to her and back again. "No motives. Just hate having a bad date on my record, even if it was fun and provided a story, it's kind of an ego crusher. Also. I promised skating. I try to deliver on promises." Thanks to his mother. "You see, politicians and I don't have that in common."

"Nah, you didn't come off as creepy. And the date wasn't bad, even with the water," Melissa says with a grin. "But okay. Skating on Saturday. I'll be sure to wear something with lots of padding in the butt. Because I know I'm gonna fall more than once. It's been years since I put on roller skates."

"Done and done." It's good timing too as he pulls up to the house. "Hey. Just… wait a second… please?" again Brad twists out of the car, exiting his own door before opening hers for her. He shrugs, "I know it seems silly, but it's… it's like important." To him, anyways. He shrugs again, "What do I know?" Slowly, he strolls with her to her door, yup, he's that guy.

Melissa looks confused at his request but does remain in her seat until it's opened. Then she's grinning. "Wow. You really were raised a gentleman, weren't you?" she asks as she walks up to her door with him, digging out her keys. "Did you have fun though?"

There's a moment's consideration as he nods just a little, "I did." He issues her a small smile, cautious, unsure, but present. "I liked getting to know you. While sober." He tacks on, "Ish," with a wrinkle of his nose. He did drink wine, after all. "When you tell your friends the water part, can you stress the number of apologies you got — I'd really appreciate that." He winks.

She laughs. "Don't worry, Brad. I'll tell them. But I think they'll be a hell of a lot more interested in the false proposal," Melissa says, grinning at him. "And hey, since you've broken your years long fast on dating, maybe you can find someone to really hook up with. It could be a good thing for you."

"I'm sure they will. As will my viewers." He winks again, Brad is a man who can laugh at himself when the need or cause arises. "I'm not really looking right now. Just need to figure myself out." He's honest, at least. "But I did have a good time. And now that you've broken your no-date record, maybe you'll meet someone you're dying to be with who will take you out all of the time." She's issued another grin, genuine from start to finish as they reach her door.

"Who says you gotta be looking to find someone?" Melissa asks with a grin. "But figuring yourself out is the important thing. Anyway…I'll see you tomorrow night at karaoke, right? And Saturday?" she asks, leaning a shoulder against the doorframe.

"Yeah. I'll be at both," and if he says so, Brad will be. He issues her a three fingered wave before taking a single step back, not yet turning, waiting to be sure she's safely inside the house before his inevitable retreat.

The door is unlocked and opened, but Melissa pauses in the doorway to glance back at him and grin impishly. "What, no kiss? Isn't that how dates are supposed to end?" she asks, but it's pure teasing, and that's obvious enough.

"You have quite the sense of humour, Melissa," Brad winks, lingering a moment longer with that still lopsided grin on his lips. FInally, he turns on his heel, retreating to the car, his expression nearly indiscernible, even in his retreat.

Fighting back a laugh Melissa calls out, "So no kiss then? How ungentlemanly of you!" Then she gives into her laughter and disappears inside the house.

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