Fine Cuisine


remi2_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Fine Cuisine
Synopsis Two strangers meet in a diner.
Date March 18, 2019

Nite Owl Diner

The Nite Owl Diner is a small restaurant located on a narrow strip of land adjacent to the Greenwood Heights Cemetery in Bay Ridge. It is a classic metal-walled diner with large windows, checkerboard linoleum floor, and a neon owl over the entrance that blinks at those entering. The outside signage even promises Coney Island Hot Dogs, even if Coney Island only exists in memory now. Inside, there's an L-shaped main counter, complete with vintage soda fountain and worn steel stools. All of the cooking is done on the ranges ranked against the rear wall. The outer wall is lined with booths upholstered in cracked scarlet vinyl, tables trimmed with polished chrome. Despite its age, it's been lovingly maintained. The air is redolent with the scent of fresh coffee, vanilla, and frying food.

The atmosphere in here is a gentle sort of nice today. The between-dinner-and-lunch lull leaves a few customers sitting quietly in their own worlds, scrolling idly on their phones while the clinky sounds of dishes being done serves as background noise.

Sitting at the counter, on one of the shiny stools, is Zachery. He's hunched forward with both elbows on the counter, resting his head in one hand and holding a half-empty coffee cup in the other. Staring, quite obviously, at one of the other patrons of the diner. Said patron - a man sitting at a booth enjoying his nice eggs on toast while staring idly out the window - seems to be blissfully unaware. This does not appear to placate Zachery, who draws in the biggest possible breath he can, and then breathes it back out in the most dramatic way a hardly audible sound could leave a person's body.

With a jingle of a bell, the door swings open, admitting another patron here to eat good food and spend money on it. Sure, she could probably fend for herself and get her own kind of food, but some days you just need a soda and a chili dog. That’s the reason Remi has come, at least — such things have been difficult for her to obtain for years, and having a place that has them readily available is like a dream come true.

A glance is cast around as the door clangs shut behind the redhead, brows raised high as she takes in the people. After a moment of contemplation, she decides that the mostly empty counter is her best bet for quick service. Out of courtesy, an empty chair is left between her and Zach, the woman slipping off her coat and placing it between herself and the man.

“Chili cheese dog with onions and a cream soda, if you please,” she murmurs to the server in her best American accent — and considering her formal training in acting, it’s a pretty good one. Once her food is ordered, she settles in, running her hands through her hair as blue eyes skim the restaurant once again.

Zachery's fingers press harder into the side of his face, before he lifts his head at the sound of someone taking a seat nearby. His now free hand reaches idly to straighten the collar of his lightly wrinkled dress shirt, and his attention shifts to Remi as though she's a friend he was waiting for all this time. He doesn't look her over, just looks her straight in the eyes, and after she's placed her order, starts speaking with a somewhat muted British accent of his own, "Hey, hello, yes, can I ask you a question?" No pause, "Do you ever just want something to go wrong? Anything at all?"

For a moment, it seems the woman is taken quite aback — she blinked a few times, blue eyes snapping to Zachery’s face as her eyebrows climb their way up her face to reflect her surprise. She even goes so far as to glance around, just to make sure he’s not talking to someone else; when it becomes obvious that he isn’t, she turns her gaze back to the man.

It takes another moment for her to recover from her surprise. As far as she can tell, he’s not acting like he knows her, which would be a welcome change from the occasional haunted looks she gets from people who knew the other version of her that was here first. She blinks a few times again, and then finally puts a bit of thought into her response.

“Sometimes?” A shrug makes its way across her narrow shoulders as she leans against the counter, resting her elbows atop it and clasping her hands near her chin. Might as well enjoy some conversation while she waits on her food, and the poor guy seems like he might need some company anyhow. “Yes and no, I guess.” She’s purposely vague.

There's something about the way Zachery observes Remi that might suggest that he enjoys this sort of thing. Other people's confusion. There's no friendly smile while he stares, nor any attempt to placate any feelings of puzzlement with an apology. But the crow's feet he probably doesn't even know he's acquired just yet crease just slightly. "Don't worry, I'm not trying to sell you anything."

The answer he receives has him perk up a little from his full-on slump. He lifts the coffee mug to down most of the drink in one go, and once it's back on the counter, he continues that stare right into Remi's eyes. But also… he pokes an index finger at the mug. With a dull 'tink', it skids forward toward the server's edge of the counter a little. Just a little. The finger stays, pointed. The stare does too. "… When is it 'no'?"

Blue eyes turn down to the mug, then back up to the man’s face. Right about now, Remi wishes that her ability would just come the fuck back already — but she’s losing hope on that front. She leans forward on the barstool, resting a bit more heavily on her elbows as she ponders. “When it’s on a global scale, I guess?” The question mostly brings to mind what happened in her world, when the Vanguard succeeded and plunged the world into a slow death by extreme global warming.

She doesn’t mention that part, though. “What do you mean by going wrong, though? Like…global disaster? Local disaster? Or a personal one?” She tilts her head toward her shoulder, blue eyes taking Zach in and seeming to almost size him up. “The ‘no’ varies,” she adds, lifting a hand to tangle her fingers in her red locks.

Zachery's eyebrows lift at the mention of global scale, in a sort of… 'yeah, fair enough' way. His shoulders draw up and then back a little when she looks him over, as if maybe he doesn't enjoy the observing quite as much when it's directed at him, but amusement makes its way onto his face when she asks more questions in return for his.

"… See." His gaze trails elsewhere, ahead of him, then down to the mug. Tink. A little closer to the edge still. "That's a fair question. Though I think it's funny that you should go to the word 'disaster' so quickly. Bit of an escalation." His chin ends up in his palm again, fingers curled toward his chin as he eyes Remi as his weight is shifted lazily forward once more. "What are you, a…" His eyes narrow. "Journalist?" Probably a poor guess, his tone implies.

“With the way the world is these days, can you really blame me for jumping to disaster?” Not to mention the world she came from, where something going wrong caused the entire planet to spiral into disaster. “I mean, a few things going wrong caused this country to fall into a civil war.” Something about her tone seems to imply that she’s seen worse.

Amusement sparkles in her eyes as he throws out a possible guess, and the woman shakes her head with a small chuckle. “Far from it. Theater geek,” she replies. As her soda arrives, she smiles to the waitress, who also refills Zachery’s cup on her way, giving the man what can be only described as an irate smile.

And who could blame her. Honestly, it sort of looks like he's been here a while. But strangely, the refilling of his mug draws a look of mild disappointment from Zachery, fingers rapping once on the countertop. A few more tinks and the mug would've landed on the floor. Much more fun. Alas, he pulls it close again with both hands, without so much as a look at the waitress.

"I mean—" He wants to make an argument, but freezes with his mouth still open. Well. "… Alright, you've got me there. Things around here have certainly looked…" His gaze flicks toward the view to outside but then quick back to Remi. "Brighter?" That doesn't quite sound right, but then it's a hard thing to summarise. After a few seconds, his right arm leaves the countertop and… comes very close to offering a handshake? He'd better hope it's not too obvious, because he immediately tries to play it off as having reached for a quick scratch on the outside of his leg. "Nice to meet you, theater geek."

The woman watches Zachery somewhat closely, eyes hooding a bit — she’s always been good at people watching, even without the ability that lets her see into what they think, and the man appears to be no exception, her eyes tracking the hesitant movement of his hand. After a moment, she turns her gaze back to the sparkling golden liquid in her glass, leaning forward and taking a sip from the straw.

“Well, now you know about me, but I have no clue who you are, beyond some guy who asked me a random existential question.” She turns a warm smile toward him, a chuckle accompanying her words. “Amelie Laurent,” she continues, holder her hand out for the handshake that Zachery seems to have been too reluctant to offer.

"I was going to ask you more, for what it's worth." These words spill out without thought, much like the hand that comes back up to meet that handshake. In contrast to how hesitant he might have been a moment ago, muscle memory makes this handshake a FIRM and practiced one. Like he's shaken maybe a thousand more hands than he'd have cared for. "Zachery Miller. I… work at Elmhurst Hospital."

What a fun subject! Let's linger on that for 0.23 seconds, shall we. NEXT. "—But let's move back a little. When is it 'yes, things going wrong please, that sounds very nice'?" The question leaves him with all the artificial sweetness in the world, though his perking up a little betrays genuine interest.

Remi’s handshake, in response, is fairly firm — she’s relatively strong, and demonstrates as much by keeping her own handshake firm and professional. Then, she pulls her hand back, taking a small sip of her soda. “Pleased to meet you,” she murmurs, filing his name into the back of her mind for future reference. “I don’t have a place of employment yet, but I’m working with a few friends on a floating dinner theater.”

His question prompts a thoughtful expression to settle over her face, eyes turning up toward the ceiling as she attempts to think of specifics to a rather confusing question. “Depends on the situation, I suppose,” she replies. “Depends on the people involved, too? Maybe I’m spiteful,” she states with a small shrug.

"Good answer." This isn't… a compliment so much as it is Zachery giving his surprise some words. "See. I knew I was good at picking random strangers I hadn't even really looked at before to talk to. Sometimes." His mug is drawn close again. "At the risk of this starting like a bad date— tell me about this floating dinner theater." The way that last part comes out, it's like he assumes it to be fictional. Again, half of that mug is drained in a real hurry, thoughtlessly. Good thing it's not hot enough to burn. Probably.

The woman seems amused by Zachery, taking another tiny sip of her soda. As her chili cheese dog arrives, she brightens up a bit — another food item she never thought she would enjoy again, and here she is sitting down with a random stranger to eat. She busies herself with unwrapping her silverware from the napkin it’s been folded into, and carefully cuts a bit of the food for consumption — she’s far too dainty to eat it with her hands.

“It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. A dinner theater built onto a boat.” She pauses, taking the first bite of her chili dog. Her reaction is visceral, eyes rolling a bit as she enjoys the flavor like someone who hasn’t had real food in years. After this brief moment of pure bliss, she finally comes to, blue eyes turning back to the man. “We’ve already got the boat secured, we’ll be building the actual theater pretty soon.”

At this point it may become clear that the main reason Zachery has asked about her entrepreneurial plans is just so that he can be quiet for a little while. And so he is, though he does end up… just kind of furrowing his brow as she digs into her meal. And then, flashing an uncertain grin. It's… a little critical looking, honestly, and he leans back just a bit, still holding that mug as though it might ESCAPE before he manages to get the rest of his umpteenth cup of coffee down.

When she mentions the boat again, he says, "I'm sorry, I'm— just sitting here wishing I enjoyed anything in life as much as you seem to be enjoying… that." Judging words, judging nod of his head in the direction of that chili dog, but his tone of voice is… sort of charmed? Definitely sort of charmed.

It’s not often that the woman gets flustered, but today, Zachery has accomplished just that. Her cheeks flush as he calls out her enjoyment of the simple, purely American food. She turns her gaze down to the food, then back up to Zachery with the hint of an embarrassed grin. “S-sorry,” she murmurs, and for just a second, one might think she sounds just a little bit European. Probably circumstantial.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had a chili dog,” she explains, reaching up to run a hand through her hair. “Never thought I’d get the chance to again,” she adds, chuckling. “Funny how great the little things are when you previously thought they were gone for good.” She does not elaborate.

Of all the different things Zachery has achieved in his life, both on the bigger side and small, favourable or… less so — causing someone to get flustered? That seems to be unfamiliar territory. His grin vanishes in surprise, and he peers at the woman next to him over his mug, like it'll protect him from… uhh? What'd I do wrong.

But whatever feelings of panic are bubbling up, curiosity largely overtakes them. His weight shifts further onto the arm still leaning on the counter, and he squints as if to observe more closely. And he is, just perhaps not purely visually. "Miss Amelie Laurent," He starts, with a tone of faux politeness but genuine inquisitiveness, "where have you been?"

To be fair, Zachery isn’t so much the source of her embarrassment as he is the catalyst for calling out her obvious enjoyment of the food. Slowly, the flush to her cheeks subsides, and she takes a smaller bite — she still clearly enjoys this, but she’s more subdued about it now. A sip of her soda is taken.

His next question earns a tilt of her head in his direction. Once finished chewing her food, she smiles charmingly to the man. “Nowhere civilized,” she replies, washing her food down with a swig of the cream soda. No further details are offered.

A curious answer. It doesn't exactly sate a curious mind, though. Zachery assumes this is by design though, it seems, and rather than press further on the subject, he leans back again and reaches for a black pea coat on the seat next to him. "I suppose there's worse places than prison."

It's only when he hears himself say the words that he realises he's said them, and with a twitch of his eyebrows, picks up his coffee again and downs the rest of it in one fell swoop. Don't have to have an expression if you're HIDING behind some ceramics.

The statement prompts Remi’s brows to climb upward on her forehead just a bit, and her expression turns from a charming one to a curious one. She doesn’t ask, though — if he wanted to tell her, he would.

Instead, she pops another bite of the chili cheese dog into her mouth, chewing thoughtfully for a moment while Zachery is hiding in his coffee cup. After the ponderous silence, she inclines her head in the man’s direction, her hands going up in a helpless shrug. “There are worse places than prison.”

She talks as if she has experience.

This conversation's turned a little weird. But while that might bother most people, at least a little, Zachery actually seems to relax, if nothing else. And that last comment of hers? It's got him giving 'Amelie' one more look, as if he might somehow see something new. When there doesn't appear to be anything of the sort, he swivels off of his seat, puts his mug down, and starts putting on his coat. A few notes are pulled out of his pocket, halfheartedly inspected, and left crumpled on the counter.

"I've got to go." But he pauses, leaning briefly onto his toes and then coming back down again, a shoulder rolling restlessly. "Important… hospital business." The words leave him in what sounds like idle thought, while he observes the rest of the diner for a moment. Like there's something not quite right. Something has yet to be DONE.

The woman watches him thoughtfully, tipping her head toward the man with a faint, possibly amused smile playing at the edges of her mouth. “It was nice to meet you, Zachery. If I ever find myself at Elmhurst, I’ll be certain to look you up.” The smile does appear, then, a charming one that brightens her features considerably.

“Good luck with your important hospital business,” she adds, turning back to her food and peering it over appraisingly.

Almost as if an actual nerve was struck, Zachery freezes with… the very beginnings of a grimace to contrast that very lovely smile he got back. But he does eventually manage to wrangle his expression back into something else, and with renewed vigour! A smile, before the realisation of what yet has to be done in the diner turns that straight into a grin. The words that follow are spoken as though he wanted them to come out calmly, but a certain anticipatory glee seems to override the attempt. "You know, I don't often wish for people to be at the hospital. But thank you. It's important workWHOOPS."

In a movement that couldn't possibly look less planned, and with that exclamation that couldn't possibly have sounded anything but forced, he turns for the door and stiiiicks out an elbow just enough to knock his empty mug out onto the floor. It hasn't even had time to meet its hard floored demise yet before he's already moving on his way out, hands in his pockets. The only thing he ends up adding is, maybe a little proudly but definitely sincerely, "Enjoy your— fine cuisine!"

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