Free Lunch


graeme_icon.gif remi_icon.gif renard_icon.gif

Scene Title Free Lunch
Synopsis Free lunch for everyone at Piccoli's, with a side of class privilege, and a side of unforeseen common ground.
Date February 3, 2011

Piccoli's Delicatessen

Even the impending weather hasn't stopped the lunch-time crowd at Piccoli's. Early in the afternoon, the lines are beginning to thin, people having gone back to work, back to what they were doing.

At least, most of them. Graeme Cormac sits at one of the tables, half a sandwich still in front of him, watching the door. Unlike most of the people out today, for whom the impending weather is no issue because they simply add more layers of clothing, Graeme is distinctly not dressed for the weather outside. He's wearing jeans, and the button down shirt has the sleeves rolled partially up, the top button unbuttoned, and there's a lightweight jacket over the back of his chair, like the impending snowstorm just doesn't bother the man. He's impatiently turning a cell phone around on the table, as if expecting it to ring, not that it has.

Normally, Soleil Remi Davignon prefers to eat out at nice restaurants, like d'Sarthe's. Places that write out the entire recipe for their menu entry, usually in complicated cooking lingo that makes sense to all but food connoiseurs. Delicate, multi-faceted flavors made from premium ingredients that blend together in unexpected but amazing ways is usually Remi's favored flavor.

But sometimes, you just want something simple. Like a bunch of veggies on half a loaf of french bread. Which is exactly what the little redheaded ballerina is after today. She's bundled up today, wearing a warm black peacoat that ends at her knees and jeans, an a pair of her designer boots to complete the outfit. Impeccable makeup, designer purse, designer everything. She even smells expensive.

Why is she all dolled up? Well, mostly because there's a recital tonight and she likes to look nice. That, and she likes to look nice as often as she can. She slips into the restaurant, lifting her sunglasses to the top of her head as she steps up to the line. Graeme is not noticed yet; she's hungry.

The large windows outside darken suddenly, not from sudden meteorological changes. Rather, three rather large, extremely luxurious SUVs pull up in tandem to park. Ominously dark, glossy, like massive hunched beetles crouching at the curb, belching foggy exhaust into the cold winter air. Suddenly, the doors on the central one swing open to disgorge five men. Four of them are identically dressed, in fine but severe black suits. Some features differentiate them - a facial scar, baldness, an eye-patch, and prescription glasses. The fifth man is obviously cut of a different cloth, and his suit and appearance suggests extraordinary wealth without being gaudy or ostentatious.

Glasses opens the door for the upper-class man, who is preceded by Scarface. When the red-headed executive walks in, he tugs his gloves off and tucks them away. One-Eye and Chromedome follow him inside, completing a perimeter around the redhead. When the redhead opens his mouth, an incredibly cultured and commanding voice rolls out, grabbing the collected attention of the deli by the nose. "Good afternoon. I understand that some of the best Italian sandwiches are served here. I much desire one, and if you would kindly allow me to advance to the front of the line, I would be more than happy to cover every diner's bill this afternoon." He speaks kindly, dangling the carrot of a free lunch in lieu of the stick he obviously commands. The effects are instantaneous as the majority of the line parts like the red sea. There is something to be said for outright bribery in the face of class discomfort.

While the aristocrat is controlling the crown with a mixture of cash and charm, the four men surrounding his are looking around, studying the crowd. The diner's layout, entrances and exits. They make no overt threat, display no weapons, make nary a scowl - but still their professionalism radiates a kind of waiting menance, like guard dogs. As their charge approaches the counter, they maintain a strict perimeter and buffer. At least until they are about to pass Remi, and a subtle gesture stops them. "Soleil Remi Davignon." The redhead speaks lower, in a more personal tone. "Belle femme. Après votre performance au Metropolitan, je peine à croire à vous trouver ici. Cette grâce et l'équilibre. Pourrais-je avoir l'honneur de votre compagnie pour le déjeuner?" His elbow is even offered, with perfect grace and upper-class poise. The working class is certainly getting quite the show with their dinner! What kind of fancy upper-class drama is unfolding here between this mysterious stranger and the beautiful woman?

Turn for the unexpected, point one. Graeme leans back in his chair, fingers drumming slightly on the table as the remaining part of his sandwich is ignored. Remi he recognises, but the predominant thought in his mind is that even in New York City, four bodyguards is pretty much asking for trouble. In fact, the man seems to glance over the crowd now in much the same way as the bodyguards do, head tilted to one side. Well then, at least I'm not paying for my lunch. Or something. I should get more to eat, take advantage. For the time being, though, all Graeme does is observe. Would hate to have my lunch interrupted, but hey, I'm no longer paying for it. His thoughts meander, considering reasons why someone would need four bodyguards, and he idly considers his soda, not really paying much attention to it.

The redheaded woman blinks a few times, turning to peer at Renard as he enters, one brow arching. At first, his prompt greeting to the majority of the restaurant prompts a faint roll of her eyes up toward the ceiling. She's much more subtle about her wealth, using her appearance to make the statement. No need to make with the bodyguards— none yet, at least.

Then, her brows raise as the rich man stops at her, blue eyes turning up toward his face and brows raising. She knows that face, and he's French. After a moment, she offers a small smile, a pleasant change from the roll of her eyes offered not moments ago; immediately, her mind snaps to his, to determine his intentions, while that she appears to consider his offer.

"Je suis content que vous avez aimé ma performance. Je n'ai pas dansé depuis des années. J'enseigne à l'American Ballet Theater de nos jours." She offers a faint smile, before quietly considering his offered elbow. "Tout l'entourage que vous avez là, monsieur. Des soucis que vous suivez, ou vous êtes tout simplement un homme très paranoïaque? Je ne sais pas comment je suis bien je suis avec elles pèsent sur mon épaule."

Graeme's thoughts are recognized, and she turns as if he's just called out, offering him a brief smile and a little half-wave.

The elegant Frenchman maintains his own personal poise, and simply radiates confidence as he responds with calming smoothness. «My memory is long, and time ill-equipped to wear away the vision of your skill.» His mind is clicking along, information calling forth like tumblers in a lock. The Met, Autumn, Swan Lake. «I have studied, but never practiced the art. Perhaps we could speak at further length over lunch?» He smiles slightly - revealing perfect teeth. Finally, someone pleasant to look at and a discussion to take my mind of the Event on the Island. A subtle gesture encompasses the men around him, and they nod to her amicably.

«Assistants. I am afraid I am but one man, and can do so much. Have no concern. They will not trouble us.» His voice is oh so pleasant, as if well used to smoothing over potential bad news. Their assistance in keeping me alive from terrorists and anti-evolved nutcases is important. I could scarcely do it myself. As if in an echo, the thoughts of the four men bounce and drift, all awake with thoughts of loyalty and protection. They seem dedicated all all get out.

Graeme ducks a bit of an abashed nod to Remi. Fancy seeing her here. Wait a second, I didn't even say anything … He doesn't even seem to be attempting to eavesdrop on their conversation ‚Äî not that it would do him any good, not speaking French. Yet, Graeme also clearly falls into the subset of people who are more than slightly put off by the obvious display of class influence. Who in the world does he think he is?

It would seem that Graeme's thoughts are shared by many, though no one yet has protested the acquisition of free lunch, and the seem pleased with Renard's presence. I mean, most people are raised better than that. If anything the man is making a target of himself, with such a show. Then again, maybe he made a target of himself first. Graeme picks up the sandwich in front of him, and at least appears to be intent on eating his sandwich while making as little of a mess as possible, which is a good cover for the alertness he's had ever since Renard walked in.

The woman's brows raise up on her forehead, the woman tilting her head toward the Frenchman with a small smirk upon her face. "«Well, thank you for the compliment. I appreciate it.»" She laughs softly, closing her eyes for a moment, before she opens them again to smile up at the man. "«It is always quite wonderful to meet one who appreciates the arts.»"

She smiles for another moment, before she shakes her head softly. "«Your 'assistants' appear to be more body guard than office associates.»" A face scar? An eye patch? Bald? Really? "«I'm not worried about them, I am worried about the attention they will draw. Really, by having such an entourage following you around, you attract unwanted attention.»" A charming smile remains on her face. "«In any case, I much prefer obscurity, these days. So…perhaps we can have lunch at another time when you feel comfortable without your associates looming about.»"

She can't help but agree with Graeme's thoughts on the subject.

An almost imperceptible gesture looses Spectacles, allowing him to place an order for Renard with a quiet, business-like voice. Very softly. See, ordering food - that is not a bodyguard job. Renard frowns, so very slightly, his expression guarded. «I am afraid that interests beyond my self-concern make their presence a necessity. Heavy is the head which wears the crown.» He sounds a little worn, actually. I'd rather not have them here, but too many depend on me being alive. He sighs, softly. «Your refusal burdens me with regret. I apologize for inconveniencing you, and drawing untoward attention to your person. I hope that you can find it in your heart to one day join me for lunch.» A card is offered to her, breath-takingly elegant but understated. The watch on Renard's wrist is…plain, but in the way that extraordinarily expensive things can be.

Spectacles returns in a moment, with a boxed lunch. "So sorry to have inconvenienced you all. I believe I will take my lunch to go, and trouble you all no further." Scarface opens the door again, letting a chill wind blow through the diner. "Please, enjoy my largesse and travel safely when you leave." He tugs his gloves back on, and goes to exit the diner.

As long as he still pays for everyone's lunch, there's no inconvenience. That thought of Graeme's is followed by a great deal of curiosity as to what the two are saying in French, as most of the deli has quieted in curiosity, making it easy enough to overhear if not to actually eavesdrop. Graeme ducks a nod to Renard, enough of one that should be noticed, as he's sitting directly in the line of sight as one leaves. Wonder what they were saying. Once again, he offers that same slightly bashful nod to Remi, with a very quiet gesture to the seat across from him, if she would like to take it. The offer put out there, he picks up his soda again. Would be nice to have company for lunch. Though I swear, she responds to things I don't say…

The woman offers a charming smile to Renard as he presents the business card, reaching out to take it with perfectly manicured nails. She peers over it for a moment, before slipping it into her purse. "«I understand that. There is no need to apologize to me, the circumstances are what they are. Perhaps we can have lunch in a less public forum, where it is less…attention-grabbing.»" She turns her eyes toward the ceiling, then back to Renard. "«How about Sunday, at d'Sarthe's? They serve a wonderful brunch. It seems a much more…fitting forum for us to converse in, yes?»"

Then, she turns her blue eyes toward Graeme as Renard motions to leave, offering a faint smile and a nod, motioning to him to hold on for one moment while she picks up her order. Though now, she supposes, she'll have attention, anyhow, after that exchange in French.

Renard nods to her. «I will reserve a section. I look forward to seeing you there. Farewell.» With a bit of a flourish, he leaves just as quickly as he had come. He and his entourage re-board the center SUV, and mini-convoy heads off. Leaving behind a diner of flabbergasted but well supplied patrons. Free lunch for everyone.

Despite Renard's departure, the deli remains quiet, as if people still aren't sure what to think of all of this. Most of them, to their benefit, do little more than offer Remi a smile or a nod, perhaps embarrassed for her, overall. A few think that she seemed to handle it all quite well.

Graeme's eyebrows raise slightly, and he runs his fingers over the perpetual stubble on his face, stubble that's starting to resemble a very, very short beard. He picks up the cell phone from the table, puts it in his pocket. No use worrying about Keira right now. No one seems to know anything anyway. I'll find her or I don't, least I can do today is enjoy lunch. And maybe I will get a bit more food, another sandwich or something. The corned beef here is amazing, I'd forgotten what good sandwiches were like when I was in New Mexico. God knows I have been running enough to warrant it. His thoughts continue to ramble, with little to no pause.

Smiling after Renard, Remi finally places her order, though it is a bit on the shy side that she does so. Despite the blessed lack of real attention, she still had eyes on her. For a performer, she certainly is shy. Or maybe she's just secretive. With Renard gone, she focuses on Graeme's mind, blocking out the thoughts of others in the restaurant. Her sandwich is quickly made, a simple veggie sub and a tea.

Then, she finally makes her way toward Graeme, sipping at her tea as she moves to join him. "'Ello, Monsieur Graeme." She tips her head toward him, leaning back in her seat. "'Ow are you today?"

Whoa, she's actually sitting down. It seems that Graeme wasn't actually expecting her to do so. He was probably expecting her to dart out of the restaurant after the exchange. "Ms. Remi," he greets. "It's a wonderful surprise to see you here." There's that slow bit of a drawl in Graeme's speech, and a warmth tinged to it that one might be able to guess, given his thoughts, doesn't come out very often. "I am well. Yourself?"

Remi smiles faintly, sipping at her tea, before she sets to work unwrapping her sandwich. "I usually eat 'ere for lunch. It 'as good sandwiches, and it's worth ze lines." She glances around briefly to be sure that everyone has their attention back on their sandwiches, before she promptly takes a bite out of hers. Hungry ballerina is hungry.

"I am doing fairly well— much better zan I was ze other night." Her French accent is a bit stronger than normal, after the conversation held in her native tongue. A temporary effect, really. "Thank you for 'elping me out. I appreciate it." A charming smile crosses her face, before she's back to chomping down that sandwich.

"I just came back to New York recently," Graeme says, grinning. Three weeks, no closer to anything, I suppose it's time for chance to play out. Sheepishly, in fact. "New Mexico is a pretty different place." And warm. "But they sure as anything don't have sandwiches this good." The last quarter of the sandwich he'd had disappear in a few quick bites. Remi's not the only person who's hungry.

"I went to college in New Mexico," he says. "Was lucky, I suppose." Dad wasn't so lucky. Wish he'd have gone on that trip with Jessa. It's hard, seeing New York. If it wasn't for hope of finding this Keira, I'd be on the first plane back to New Mexico. Maybe. Nothing left for me there, either. Graeme shrugs a bit, and takes a sip of the soda. Sprite, probably, or some other clear one.

The woman listens to both thoughts and spoken words, chewing thoughtfully on her veggie sandwich, before washing it down with her tea. "I 'ave never been to New Mexico. 'Ollywood, Miami, Vegas…zat is about ze extent of my travels to America." She tilts her head toward Graeme, listening thoughtfully; she can't help but offer a sympathetic frown when the thoughts of his father's death, the lost woman he is searching for, and his lack of anything left for him.

If anything, she knows how it feels to lose a parent. Her eyes lose focus for a moment as she seems to remember something, before she turns a faint, almost half-hearted smile toward Graeme. "I was born and raised in Marseilles, France…and when I was ten, I went to Moscow to become a ballerina. I ended up being named a Prima Ballerina." On November 8th, 2006— only hours before her mother died.

Graeme nods. "I grew up upstate," he says. Hell. One home, then another, no one wanted me, not until Dad and Jessa… "We moved to Manhattan, when I was ten." Graeme's smile isn't forced, per se, rather that he's trying to keep himself collected, and the tight-lipped smile is a good way to do so. "But aside from here, and upstate, New Mexico's the only place I've ever been. I don't count airport layovers, not really."

Sometimes, she just can't help herself. When you can hear what people are actually thinking, it's hard not to at least try to be sympathetic. Suddenly, with her sandwich poised in one hand, Remi's free hand shoots out, gently taking Graeme's. "It— it must be difficult, seeing Manhattan as it is. I know zat it 'as been difficult for me…" It seems quite unprompted for someone who doesn't know that she's a telepath.

Still, it's quite interesting what you can learn about a person by peering into their private thoughts. Possibly the main reason that most people don't trust telepaths— and not without good reason. Remi probably wouldn't trust herself either, were the roles reversed. Secrets are difficult to keep when someone can just lift them out of your thoughts.

Graeme's fingers carefully wrap around Remi's hand, and the thought flicks across his mind that her hand seems so … delicate, even as he's slightly surprised by the young woman's move. Or perhaps simply surprised by her kindness shown towards him. "Yeah," he says, quiet. "It is a very, very different place, now. "The city was beautiful, you know?"

"I didn't necessarily think I'd ever come back." He pauses, letting his grip on Remi's hand relax such that if she chooses to pull it back, she can, but not letting go, either. "Life's funny when it hands you unexpected turns like that. Ends up that I had to come back, to settle some business affairs of my mother's." Graeme bits down on his lower lip, stopping it from betraying anything going on in his thoughts to anyone who might be watching. And as far as he's concerned, stopping it from betraying the slightly tumultuous state of his thoughts to Remi, as well.

For someone as delicate as she seems, she also carries a sort of hidden strength. Those muscles, lean as they are, have been carefully toned over the years. She's just as much of an athlete as a runner or a sports player, she's just developed differently. She offers his hand a gentle squeeze, not releasing it. Sometimes, people just need a hand to hold on to. He seems like he could use it right now.

"My mother— 'er office was right in the middle. Right near where ze bomb went off." Possibly a random revalation, but she's been reading his mind. She might as well initiate the common ground. "It was difficult— still is." She doesn't offer more on the subject, because she doesn't really have much of an 'it gets better' story to tell him. It just…is.

"It— it's good zat you came back, oui? I would 'ave never 'ad ze pleasure of meeting with you." She offers a faint, weak smile to him.

"Not meeting you would have been a great travesty indeed, Remi," Graeme says. That at least makes him smile, and it's clear that he finds some amount of calm in her company that he doesn't let himself have very often. Being in NYC again has Graeme on edge more than not, and most of his friends from boyhood are either dead from the bomb, or scattered like the winds to the edges of the world. His thumb traces the edge of hers, idly. "My father's office was in the middle, too," he says. Common ground indeed. "Our house wasn't far from it, either."

A sympathetic smile is the best way to describe the expression on Remi's face. She squeezes Graeme's hands tight, tilting her head toward him. "Oui, it would 'ave been a great travesty." She dips her head toward him, sipping at her tea. "It's difficult, non? I work close to where it all 'appened, and it's so…difficult to think of it." She smiles faintly.

Then, she tilts her head to one side, suddenly peering thoughtfully at Graeme. "…You live in an 'otel, oui?"

"Yes," he says. For now. "It's somewhere to stay, I don't spend particularly long there." Graeme's fingers disentangle from Remi's so that he can pick up his soda, and the tight, terse smile gives way to something a little more relaxed. "When I'm not wrapping up business, I run, or work out, or whatever." Not that I manage to tire myself out. I miss being able to do that.

"It's amazing, too," he adds. "Everything that's happened to New York City and people still come back here. They get up in the morning and they go to work and they meet their friends and they live. Despite it all."

As their fingers disentangle, Remi lifts her own sandwich, chomping down another bite as she thoughtfully watches Graeme. He's like an open book, really; though he hardly knows her, she feels like she already knows him. But she's trying to be normal for his sake. He seems nice, and she really does prefer to keep him being nice, rather than untrusting. She'll save the reveal for later.

Probably why she's thinking what she's thinking.

"New York City fights 'ard, despite all that 'as been thrown at it." She offers a faint smile, taking a bite of her sandwich and chewing for a moment, before washing it down with more tea. "It's beautiful, really, ze fighting spirit of zis city."

After a moment, she raises her brows. "'Ow much do you pay for you 'otel room?"

Graeme pauses, a brief flurry of confusion and sorting of numbers in his thoughts as the man finishes the last few sips of soda from the glass. "Nine hundred a week," he says. It's a casually thrown number, not inclusive of tax or the few amenities he gets from the hotel. And it's a number he hasn't thought much about, because the underlying intent was never to stay overly long in New York. "Thereabouts, I think." New York City is so much more expensive than New Mexico, too.

Remi almost visibly cringes at mention of just how much Graeme is spending on his hotel room. Oooh, that's even expensive for her taste. Think of all of the purses and shoes that could be bought with that money! Probably only a few, but. She thoughtfully watches Graeme for a long moment, her head dipping toward one shoulder as she thoughtfully chews on her straw.

What she's about to do next might seem like a nice thing to do for a relative stranger who she hardly knows, but it's more of a business venture, for her. A way to earn a bit more income to fund her love for fashion and shiny things. And her love for fancy vacations to fancy places that have fancy names and fancy beaches and they serve fancy drinks at the bar. A vacation to the Maldives soon flashes thruogh her head.

"For five 'undred a week, I have an equally nice room. I can cook, I 'ave a laundry service, and all you 'ave to do is pick up after yourself. And you save at least four 'undred a week, oui?" A smile alights on her lips as she leans forward. "I could use a room mate, and you seem as likely a candidate as any, oui?." And he's so polite.

There's a bit more mental math going on in Graeme's thoughts, and a bit of consideration, with the eventual conclusion that it seems like a good idea. A small mental caveat is made, that Graeme does sometimes spend the night with a boyhood … friend of his, and there's an impression that there isn't much sleeping going on, those occasional nights. But they can always get a hotel room for discretion there, too, he reminds himself.

And so Graeme nods, offering Remi another bit of a smile, but not quite trusting his voice. "I cook occasionally," he finally says, the thoughts behind the words validating that not only can he cook, but he typically enjoys doing so. "You'd be surprised what a man learns, living on his own."

Oh— oh, that makes it even better that she decided to ask him, of all people to be her room mate. It makes so much sense now. She can't help but smile faintly, nodding to Graeme. She's suddenly a bit more excited about having a room mate. Perhaps, on top of being extra money for her spending pleasure, she can also have a little fun.

"Well, zen you and I are a perfect match." She offers a wink. "Ze room is already furnished. I 'ave a cleaning service come through ev other week." As if she would do any real cleaning aside from washing her dishes in the dishwasher. "What do you say? Save money, and per'aps 'ave a bit of company."

Graeme nods, still sorting out the slightly tumultuous thoughts. "You're quite kind, Ms. Remi," he says. "It sounds right wonderful, then." I suppose finding a roommate in the woman you nearly ran into who probably saw too much regarding your ability to begin with is fortuitous. I wonder if she'll notice I don't sleep more than two or three hours, most nights.

Graeme grins a bit, once more running his fingers over the bit of a beard on his face. "I don't have that much, in terms of belongings with me at the hotel," he says. "What do you say tomorrow we get them?" It'll be nice to be somewhere not a hotel. Fortuitous indeed. Graeme leans back in his chair, and for the moment, smiles.

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