"Murder," He Says


elisabeth_icon.gif ace2_icon.gif pride2_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title "Murder," He Says
Synopsis Two couples get to know each other on a double date. More is revealed than expected.
Date September 26, 2020

“It’s not that I’m nervous, exactly. It’s just that I want them to be able to see how—” Odessa shakes her head, using the reflection of her vanity mirror to angle a look at her partner behind her. “I just want to look nice tonight, that’s it. We’re trying to make a good impression on my boss and his wife, after all. Shouldn’t I want to look my best?” Her expression softens, amused as she insists, “You always look your best.”

Ace knows enough to know an impression on her boss doesn't need made, exactly. Not by her, at least. Otherwise, the man wouldn't have sheltered her from the eye and the arm of the law for years, doing for her exactly the sort of thing that Ace himself had planned on doing for her.

But he digresses.

"It's only fair you look as stunning as I do," he agrees with an upward curl of one side of his mouth. He sets his hand on Odessa's shoulder, thumb resting over the back of her neck.

Finally found a fella
Almost completely divine
But his vocabulary is killin’ this romance of mine
We get into an intimate situation
And then begins this character’s conversation

Holding the last roller in place, she secures it with a bobby pin. Then a second. Then a third. “Do you think I used enough?” There’s only one left in the pack, so she plucks it up and adds it to the roller in front for good measure. May as well. “Could you hand me the hairspray, please?” She turns to look over her shoulder properly now and offers a smile. “I set your cufflinks out upstairs, by the way. On top of the dresser next to my jewelry. They match my earrings.”

Fondness enters his gaze, overwriting the immediate feeling of doubt toward her motivations for dressing well. Because, after all, if they look well together, is that not reason enough? "We'll be the smartest-looking match in the entire city," Ace remarks, reaching for the requested can and offering it out at a tilt for her.

He says, “murder,” he says
Every time we kiss
He says, “murder,” he says
At a time like this
He says, “murder,” he says
Is that the language of love?

The can is shaken, a hand held up to shield her eyes as she blasts the front of her rolled hair with the setting spray. Only after he’s stepped back, though. He knows the routine by now and knows to avoid the great aerosol cloud that goes up while Odessa makes sure her set is going to hold.

Her focus on her task possibly makes the way his eyes half-lid in thought again at just who she's putting this face on for. Occasionally, he gets pangs of this— he wouldn't call it jealousy, but he's uncertain what it is. As much as Ace believes that Odessa's beauty deserves to be appreciated, there's times where he watches the way people look at her. He wonders what he'll see tonight when he looks at her employer looking at her, for example. Worse, what he'll see when she looks to him.

The thoughts are stowed by the time the air begins to clear.

He says, “solid,” he says
Takes me in his arms
And says, “solid,” he says
Meaning all of my charms
He says, “solid,” he says
Is that the language of love?

The vanity mirror is flipped down, turning the surface back into a desk. Her cosmetics are all carefully concealed below, leaving the space clear for the large plastic case she sets in the middle. A cord leads from it, plugged into the wall. The lid is snapped open, and it unfolds into a hard plastic bonnet dryer, a portable version of what’s found in a salon. “Alright.” This is her least favorite part. “I’ll be under for about an hour. If you need me?” She holds up her new phone and tips it from side to side once. “Text me. I won’t hear you otherwise.”

Ace leans down to press a kiss to the side of her forehead, mindful of the careful construct of rollers pinned to head. "I'll leave you to it," he tells her without argument, stepping back toward the door. "Likewise, if you need something, just let me know."

The sliding doors on both entrances to the study are already closed, and he sees himself out by walking right through a set of them.

He says, “chick, chick, you torture me!”
“Zig! Are we livin’?”
I’m thinkin’ of leavin’ him flat
He says, “dig, dig the jumps the old ticker is givin’”
He can talk plainer than that

The whine of the dryer is nearly as loud as a vacuum cleaner, but at least the doors to her study shut out the bulk of it, leaving it just as white noise to him while he sets off to do… Well, whatever it is that he does when he doesn’t have to start getting ready to go out two whole hours ahead of time the way she does, Odessa supposes. She unlocks her phone and slips into the private texting app, enters another password, then taps on the conversation she’s been carrying on and off with Amanvir. I’m fine. She lifts her phone and snaps a glamour shot of herself under the dryer in all her roller-headed glory, winking for the camera. It’s sent along with her next message. Just getting ready for a show tonight. Boss will be there.

Staten Island
September 26, 2020
10:28 pm

It’s the final song of the final set of the evening and Ourania Pride has just as much energy as when she began. Granted, she hasn’t been the focal point the entire night. On some selections, she’s only provided harmonies, or hasn’t sung at all. But the final number is all hers. A tune popularized in the 1940s that she is having good fun with as solo vocalist, backed by the rest of the band.

The VIP box on the second floor of the club has an excellent overhead view of the stage below, and provides a good view toward the pianist in particular as she plays. The lights in the club are low, the focus having been on the show, and it's much the same in the box as well. The dark wood of the coffee table is lit by the thin light of a table lamp, at least, making it that much easier to confirm whose drink is whose.

Harry Stoltz sits with his arm stretched out across the back of the sofa he occupies by himself. His seating partner hasn't arrived yet, after all. He's dressed in a casual-leaning suit, black with a deep emerald tie patterned with black stitching of a grid of 'impossible' cube shapes. The cufflinks worn with his shirt and blazer are flat, a matte purple that drinks in the light rather than reflects it. He's been amicable company, though it's clear his attention is on the show rather than any meaningful conversation. No, that will likely have to wait until the set is complete.

"I've never heard this one," he remarks in an aside to the guests who've joined him.

The red accents to Richard’s ensemble contrast Harry’s own; his more-professional black suit accessorized with a crimson tie, his own cufflinks a gleaming red, stylized little birds if one looks closely. The fact that he’s wearing dark-lensed glasses indoors is notable, but someone in a position like his can generally afford an eccentricity or two. It doesn’t seem to be preventing him from seeing at all.

“I told her that you’d end up wanting to get on stage with her,” he glances to Elisabeth with a gentle tease, “I know you hear the call of the piano already.”

With her hair pinned into a loose, somewhat untidy 'casual' knot and wearing a simple black sheath dress that bares her shoulders and falls just to her knees, Elisabeth dressed for the occasion. She's not a flashy dresser, though there's a pretty set of hair sticks holding her blonde mass in place decorated with rhinestones and tiny red birds on the end. Her only other concession to the place Richard now occupies in society these days is a subdued torque-like necklace at her throat in simple gold with a center red gem in it and her diamond wedding band. Somewhere along the way, though she dislikes formality, she has settled into an ease with it that speaks to familiarity. She has been enjoying listening to Odessa Ourania sing.

Lifting her glass of wine to her lips, Elisabeth shifts her gaze from the stage to her husband. She might indeed want to do that, having never had the opportunity to sing with her friend before, but with a reluctant smile she shakes her head. "It might draw too much of the wrong kind of attention," she points out. Although she likes to tell herself that he is the public figure, being a CEO and all, well… she draws her own kind of attention. "I've never had the chance to really hear her cut loose," she adds. "I knew she could play really well." Glancing around the club, she can't help but laugh. "I find it somewhat amusing that a few years ago… I was doing that and she was the one out here," she confesses to both of her companions. Reversal of positions from Bright, indeed.

He says, “murder,” he says
Every time we kiss
He says, “murder,” he says
Keep it up like this
He says, “murder,” he says
In that impossible tone
Will bring on nobody’s murder but his own

From their vantage point, the gems of the chandelier earrings worn by the songstress appear to be black. However, when the spotlight catches them just right as she tips her head one way or the other, they show the same deep purple of Harry’s cufflinks. Her blonde hair has been brushed into sleek Old Hollywood waves that just skim her bare shoulders. Her other jewelry consists of a pair of chunky silver rhinestone bracelets and a pendant on a chain that swings like the pendulum of a grandfather clock when she rocks forward and back in time with the tempo of the music.

The upper bodice of her dress is a rich, royal purple, followed by a swipe of green below the bust. The two colors continue to alternate in horizontal stripes until just above the knee, where the skirt opens up mermaid style, the same shade of emerald now a cascade of silk that pools on the floor of the stage at her feet, accented with panels of amethyst.

It’s ostentatious, but she’ll match Harry nicely when she joins her party in the VIP box after the set.

Made abruptly aware he's in the presence of another musician, Harry's attention drifts from the stage in idle surprise. Brows lifting up, his head turns to Elisabeth. "You used to play?" he asks with warm interest. He shifts in his seat, arm coming down off the back of the couch, though his leg doesn't leave its fold over the other.

"Where at?" An aficionado of the arts, this is what draws his interest more fully to his seating partners. "'A few years ago' was an interesting time in the world, after all…"

“Nowhere that exists anymore,” Richard provides without missing a beat, one shoulder coming up in a shrug - though he does look at Elisabeth with some pride and a warm smile, reaching a hand out to give hers a squeeze.

“My wife’s an accomplished pianist, though. And I didn’t mean for you to get up there tonight, I think security might object,” he chuckles, “I know the piano still calls to you, though.”

A gaze hidden by dark lenses sweeps back to Harry, and he inquires, “Do you perform yourself, at all?”

Twining her fingers into Richard's to squeeze back, Elisabeth is grateful for the low light of the club while the performance is going on. Color climbed her cheeks at drawing Harry's attention like that. Clearing her throat, she confesses, "The only things you might find now are the recordings for an album called 'Liberty.'" It's the one and only thing she might be known for musically in their world.

Taking another sip of her wine, she watches Harry with curiosity for the answer to the question of his own performance history.

He says, “Jackson,” he says
And my name’s Marie,
He says, “Jackson,” he says
“Shoot the snoot for me”
He says, “Jackson,” he says
Is that the language of love?

One thing Ourania has been careful to do throughout her entire performance is not give too much attention toward the upper box. In fact, she’s hardly glanced that way at all in the moments when she’s scanned the audience, keeping her focus instead on the main floor. It keeps them engaged. Doesn’t give them the impression that they aren’t as important as, well, the Very Importants.

But now, she is looking that way, and she no longer has Harry’s attention. An expression that had meant to be flirtatious mellows out into something cooler, but never edges into anything approaching disdain, and it’s banished the moment she darts her gaze back to the larger crowd, smile no worse for wear.

Harry's expression twinges in sympathy to know the venue doesn't exist anymore. "The war tended to do that," he acknowledges ruefully. "Though it's still a shame to hear it." Leaning forward to capture his glass between three fingers, he supposes, "I'll have to ask Ourania about it. I'm sure it was marvelous." A smile is flashed over the thin layer of foam of his whiskey sour as he settles back to take a sip.

His easygoing smile fades into something more self-conscious when asked if he plays. "No, I'm afraid not. I'm what you might call a singer without a voice." Harry lets out a small laugh, bright even if it's at his own expense. "All passion, no talent. I dabble, but what she does…" It's too late to catch the pianist's eyes that he looks back to the stage, his own half-lidded in fondness for what he hears, what he sees. "Well, what I can do doesn't hold a candle to that."

A beat and a blink later, his thoughts drift to the album Elisabeth named. "Liberty…" Harry repeats back, searching his memory.

“Liberty! I nearly forgot about that one…” A low chuckle escapes Richard as it’s mentioned, his fingers curled with his wife’s resting on the seat between them, “I need to see if I still have a copy somewhere— ah, it was a political album largely, released just before the war started. We gave it a lot of play on WRAY back in the day. It hit a chord in the zeitgeist at the time.”

His gaze sweeps to watch the performer, and he admits, “To be fair, it’s hard to match O’s voice.”

The album and that interview she gave Russo are the only two things she really contributed to the war itself, and Elisabeth's slight shrug accompanies her smile. "It served its purpose," she points out modestly. Her own attention is drawn back to the stage, then, and she immediately nods.

"She's got a beautiful voice. If there's one thing that all of the upheaval did for music, it took away the auto-tuning and augmenting so that people have to really have talent and skill to do this. She hits the notes perfectly," Elisabeth observes softly. She can't catch Dessa's eye from here, but she looks proud of the other woman's talent.

He says “mmmhm” when he likes my hat
He says, “
tch tch tch
What the heck is that?
He says, “woo hoo!” he says
Is that the language of love?

"Ah, there's my fault," Harry acknowledges with sudden understanding. "I'm not from New York initially. Always admired the scene out here, but my knowledge of the city was mostly limited to what playbills I could collect at any given point." He takes another sip off his drink before setting it aside.

"I suppose if I can find a copy, I'll know just who to go to in getting it signed," he remarks with a small smile leveled in Elisabeth's direction. He tilts his head as he wonders, "So, I know what it is Richard here does…" by nature of having had it explained to him, naturally, "What is it you're doing now, if not music?"

In all of her insistence that her beau meet her ex boss, Ourania neglected to mention his wife, beyond the fact that they, too, are old friends. That the two have a daughter that she’d had the good fortune to look after some when the girl was young. But in the chanteuse’s defense, she hasn’t seen Elisabeth in the real world since her return. She doesn’t think of her by her profession, only their bond.

It’s very likely, Ourania will realize later, that she’ll have to answer for that oversight. For now, she is none the wiser as she clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth in a practiced way that makes the sound pop for the line, leaning away from the mic when she crows woo hoo!, her head tossed back as her unamplified voice still carries through the space, then leans back into the microphone to croon sweetly once more.

Honestly, Elisabeth is kind of grateful that he doesn't seem to have any idea who she is. Although she doesn't have the problem as bad as some, eluding photographers is definitely something she's gotten a little practice within the last couple of years. She blames Richard for it (she knows that's only part of it). "I suppose if you really feel it necessary," she replies lightly, clearly assuming Harry's teasing.

Picking up her wine to sip from the glass, she squeezes Richard's hand in her other one lightly. "Since I came back to New York, I've been running the SCOUT division as we rebuild the NYPD," Liz answers easily. "My captain, thank God, deals with the politics, so I get to keep my boots on the ground. Although…" She slants Richard an affectionate smile, self-conscious as she admits, "I might be persuaded in the not-so-distant future to put a little distance between me and the PD. I've written or co-written a couple of pieces lately."

“As if he should be handling politics,” Richard murmurs in dry tones as he takes a drink, lowering the wineglass afterwards. His head turns just a bit as his wife explains her job, eyes sliding behind dark lenses to watch Harry’s reaction to that particular revelation.

He says “hep hep with helium”
“Now babe, we’re cookin’”
And other expressions to wit
He says “we’re in the groove and the groove is good lookin’”
Sounds like his uppers don’t fit!

"Oh." Harry blinks once, then twice, expression shifting. His voice lightens. "Really?" He looks the part of a man out of his class— sharing a booth with not just a CEO, but a leader of the police force. "Talk about a hell of a job shift…" He sounds nothing if not impressed, though he turns a look of surprise down to Ourania below.

This is the kind of company she keeps?

"Though— good for you, if you're getting back to what makes your heart sing." With that thought aired, Harry turns back to the conversation, to Elisabeth in particular with a small smile. "That we all might be so lucky in our endeavors." He lifts his glass in a toast to her, looking to Richard after. Catching the stiff comment from him, his smile widens a touch. "Ah, but there's politics in every field, at the end of the day. It's good she's got a leader in front of her who shoulders the burden of it."

"Hey, Wilson does great," Elisabeth grins. Then she shrugs just slightly. "I was a cop before the war too. I actually started out as a cop back before Midtown. When all that happened, I left the force for a while and picked up a teaching certificate. I had a music minor in college, so…And then some things happened and I went back. So it's not as big a shift as you might think."

If she thinks there's anything strange about Harry's response, she doesn't show that. She salutes his glass with hers in acknowledgement of the toast. 'To Wilson, for taking the BS' is implied in her grin. "What about yourself, Harry. You said you don't do music either. What keeps you busy during the workday?"

“A necessary evil, I suppose,” Richard allows begrudgingly, and with a bit of a chuckle, bringing the wine glass up to return the toast before taking a sip thereof. Setting it back down, he glances to Elisabeth and then back to Harry with a brow’s slight raise.

“And how did you meet our dear Ourania?”

After her previous disappointment when she attempted to catch Harry’s eye earlier, Ourania has decided not to set herself up for that failure a second time. To say she’s pointedly ignoring the VIP box would be a little strong, but she is certainly avoiding glancing up any longer. If she’d caught the look Harry was giving her just then, she might have missed a note.

He says, “murder,” he says
Every time we kiss
He says “murder,” he says
Keep it up like this
And that “murder,” he says
In that impossible tone

"I was lucky enough to cross paths with her here," Harry replies, nodding his head down toward a table near the stage. "I was in one night right after she started playing here, and…" Self-conscious as he slips into the memory, he lets out a faint breath of laughter. "I couldn't take my eyes off her. I got up the nerve to talk to her after she came down off the stage. Luckily, I didn't put my foot in my mouth, or if I did, she forgave me for it. She let me buy her a drink."

It’s not hard to imagine, given the way she commands attention from the audience. The ones actually inclined to pay attention to the performance on stage — and why would anyone be here of all places if they weren’t? — are drawn to her. And she clearly basks in the glow of that spotlight. It’s possible she has many admirers, but Ourania only has eyes for one.

"And things… sort of just went from there," Harry supposes, bringing his attention away from the floor. "As for me, my day job is at a travel agency across the water. I do my part to try to bring more money back to New York City and the surrounding area … convincing those from out of town and out of country they really should spend their free time relaxing in the Adirondacks, and find places to spend their time and money around town before they get back on their planes." With a lift of one shoulder, he smiles a little knowingly. "The most fun part of my day, I suppose, is when I get to bend the truth a little to make this all more appealing than it seems on paper. Selling a story is an art all its own."

Brows lifting, Harry looks back to Richard and ventures, "Worlds apart, to be sure, but maybe not altogether different from any other business in the Safe Zone."

Elisabeth snickers a soft laugh. "I'd have to say … you're definitely right about that," she murmurs under her breath at his 'bending the truth' to sell a story. Like her whole life isn't the example of that. "The Adirondacks are one of my favorite places, though."

Setting her wine glass on the table, the blonde leans sideways and kisses Richard's cheek. "Order me another?" she asks with a smile. "Get O— Ourania one too. I'm going to take advantage of the end of her set to drag her off to the ladies' room for a girl moment." She winks at Harry with a cheeky grin. "Gotta get the dish on her dish."

She slips out of her seat and heads for the stage, hips swinging in those three-inch heels. She might have been looking to impress her husband this evening.

“Business is business, no matter what kind,” Richard agrees with an easy nod of agreement to Harry. After the kiss to his cheek, he looks to his wife with a warm smile, fingers squeezing hers before releasing them. “Of course,” he chuckles, watching her as she goes. She’s showing off, and he’s here for a show, after all. Maybe not this one, but he’s certainly appreciating it.

Without looking away, he inquires casually, “And how’s ol’ Gideon doing these days? Haven’t had the pleasure in years, personally…”

Will bring on nobody’s murder
But his own

As Elisabeth makes her way past the curtain that divides their box from the stairwell and landing to another, Ourania hits the last note and holds it. Her hands lifted from the piano, she slowly brings her arms up over her head as the band fades out instrument by instrument, leaving just the walking bassline, then only her vibrato. When she finally forms the last consonant, the brass kicks back with one last hurrah. When she’s reached the bottom of the stairs, the crowd has erupted into applause. The band, save for Ourania, stand and take their bows.

The blonde at the piano demurely nods her head, murmuring her thanks into the microphone. Once the thunder of it has died down, she takes her cane from where it’s been propped against the far side of her bench and pushes to her feet. With the help of the bass player, she descends the stairs from the stage and to the main floor where she is surprised to find Elisabeth waiting for her. It’s a pleasant surprise, at least. She acknowledges that this is a hand-off with a nod to her escort, who gently pats her on the arm before heading to the backstage with the other performers.

Ourania smiles brightly for her friend, pulling her into a hug with her free arm. “Oh, I’m so glad you got to see me perform!” She draws back and then takes a glance around. “…Where’s Richard?” Her expression stays neutral even as she glances up to the box, unable to see its occupants now that she’s on the floor rather than from the elevation of the stage. Alarm bells are going off in her head as she turns back to Elisabeth. “We shouldn’t keep them waiting,” she suggests with a conspiratory grin.

Harry's eyes are down on the floor, on the embrace between Elisabeth and Ourania, when he smiles. "As the owner of your own company, I suppose it only makes sense you'd ask after the owner of mine. I don't really interact with Mr. d'Sarthe, but I'm given to understand he's well. His ventures are expanding, after all. The discounts I'm able to offer to those who choose to do business with the d'Sarthe Group while in town are only growing."

His smile persists as he looks back to Richard. "Staten Island in particular has a handful of such businesses now."

“Oh? A pity, he’s an interesting fellow,” Richard observes, leaning back in the booth and bringing his glass up to take a sip from it, “I’m surprised that he’s been buying up businesses here— he was never interested in New York before the war, but I suppose the war changed things for everyone.”

He looks over the glass to the other man, “If you do happen to run into him, do pass on my regards.”

Hugging Ourania tightly, Elisabeth's grin is the genuine article. She is thrilled to see this show and her friend. Looping her arm into Ourania's, her laughter definitely has a mischievous twinkle to it. She walks deliberately slowly up the aisle. "Oh, I don't think they mind much," she replies. "You might as well let Richard get it out of his system now instead of having him shadow in on the poor guy in his home some night."

With Elisabeth providing stability, Ourania tucks her cane under her arm and leans against her friend as they make their way far more slowly than she’d like to back toward the stairs to the VIP floor. “He better fucking not,” she laughs of the notion of Richard shadowing in with a touch of nervousness. “It’s my home too.”

Again, the singer glances up under the concerned furrow of brows. “I don’t want Richard to scare him off, Liz. I really like this guy. He’s not like us. He has no idea about all the crazy shit.” She hugs the other blonde’s arm a bit tighter. “How’s it been going up there otherwise?”

In the VIP box, Harry gestures with his glass. "Well, what the war did to crash real estate values around the city was a boon for any investor who was wise enough to see that the Safe Zone Initiative would turn out to be as successful as it's turned out to be. It may only be now that the payout is coming for places like, say, Rossignol…"

He smiles with a cant of his head. "But patience pays off."

With a glance to the floor, seeing that the ladies have moved on, Harry takes another sip of his drink. "If I run into Mr. d'Sarthe, I'll let him know of your interest in his business and his health."

Awww. Dessa's cute when she's into a guy. Elisabeth can't help but grin. "I'll warn him, but it's not like he hasn't seen it all before," she teases good-naturedly. "Still, you're probably right — I would think that's something he'd rather not shadow in on." Her laughter is accompanied by a faux ducking back, as if she expects to get swatted. But she never releases Ourania's arm.

"I think it's going all right. He told us how he met you, and we'll give Richard until we get back to the table to interrogate him a little, and then we'll have drinks!" Elisabeth is nothing if not amused at the whole situation.

“That it does, that it does… still, Staten Island’s been cursed property for a long time,” Richard breathes out a chuckle, “May the investors here have better luck than the last several who decided that it was worth the risk.”

He takes a sip of his wine, swirling it around in the glass, “Things seem to be going well with you and Doctor Pride. She seems quite fond of you.”

Ourania flushes pink when Elisabeth jokes about what Richard might find if he showed up unannounced. She gasps, mortified. “I would perish on the spot,” she insists. No swats forthcoming, just immense embarrassment.

She chuckles softly and rolls her eyes. “Drinks sound fantastic right now. It’s been a long night.” Ourania sighs. “Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. But three sets a night is a lot now that I’m spending time in the lab again.” She’s quick with an assuring grin, “I wouldn’t trade it, though. Best of both worlds. It’ll get easier the more I adjust. And the more my strength comes back.”

Harry's eyes light up a touch at that observation regarding his relationship with Ourania. "I'd like to say she sees the potential in me, just like I see the potential in her." He leans forward, elbows resting on his knees as he regards Richard. "You know, I really am glad she decided to pursue both this here as well as working for Raytech."

"I think it will be good for her," he confesses. "See that she's able to both follow her heart while not wasting her talents."

Elisabeth has to laugh, remembering her own time doing what Ourania's doing. "Yeah," she agrees. "It's not easy to break in, even just on the club circuit. And hell, the club circuit was a lot bigger when I was doing it. Remember when I was waiting tables between sets?" Singing had just barely started to make her some halfway decent money while Dessa was there, but it didn't pay the bills. "Keep at it, though. Seriously," she tells her friend. "I've never actually heard you sing. You're really good."

The tone is not so much surprise as it is support and encouragement. The same kind Dessa gave her once upon a time.

“So am I,” Richard admits, “As much as I’d like to see her using her talents more extensively for me… I think something like this is good for her. She’s always had a tendency to hide herself in her work, really.” He looks out at the piano, then back to Harry with a brow’s raise, “And I do want what’s best for Ourania. Whatever that may be.”

With the curve of a smile lifting one side of his mouth, Harry meets Richard's look directly. "We are aligned in that, then," he confides in a lower register than previously. Wanting what's best for her. "But it is up to her to choose. What an outsider sees as best means very little against what she decides for herself."

"And she's very happy with the moves she's made lately," he points out in a lighter voice, posture fighting just slightly even though he hasn't sat all the way up. "You've noted that yourself. If you ask me, that seems like irrefutable evidence that here is just as much as where she belongs."

“I used to be shy,” Ourania claims about having kept her voice to herself. It’s absolutely false. In reality, it’s the influence of Destiny on her amalgamated personality that’s inspired her to pursue song. And a desire for something simple. Normal. But something still able to earn her some recognition and feed her ego. “I’m very lucky here,” she admits. “I mean, this certainly wouldn’t pay the bills if it was all I was doing, but I’ve got my Raytech position, and Harry… He makes sure I have what I need.”

There’s nothing but impossible fondness on her face when she talks about him, even while she’s making her slow way up the stairs with obvious difficulty. When they reach the top, Ourania pauses to lean heavily against Elisabeth, catching her breath and making sure the effort of the climb will be absent from her expression before they pass through the curtain dividing them from their respective partners.

Her cane is shifted to the hand that’s looped through Elisabeth’s arm so she can smooth a hand carefully over her hair. “How do I look?” she asks nervously. The fatigue is already easing from her features and her posture, leaving behind the glow of someone prepared to enjoy the remainder of her evening when she smiles.

All the way up the aisle and the stairs, Elisabeth holds Ourania's arm, conscious of the physical limitations while not drawing attention to them. Once they successfully negotiate the staircase, the blonde pauses and reaches out with a smile to tuck an errant flyaway lock back into place while Ourania catches her breath.

"Beautiful," she assures in a soft voice, affection clear in her expression. "Let's go knock these silly men on their asses, hmm?"

When she's sure Ourania's ready (and the gentlemen aren't talking something maybe they don't want to hear), Elisabeth moves to pull aside the curtain that affords their table some privacy. "Our one and only nightingale graces us with her presence, gentlemen," she announces with a dramatic flourish.

“I don’t know that even needs to be said,” Richard chuckles easily, one shoulder coming up in a shrug, “She’s always made her own decisions, after all. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make, though, as I said - she certainly seems happy here, and that’s a good thing.”

A smile, as he brings the wineglass up to his lips for another sip.

Harry fixes Richard with a slightly knowing expression. He'd caught onto, after all, that the CEO would prefer her exclusivity, her proximity. But the attempt at innocence is let slide— especially in light of the entrance of the women back into the booth.

He comes to his feet, glass set aside before he sweeps himself up. He wears a warm smile for Ourania alone, one hand lifted to accept hers when she draws near. "You were positively divine tonight, Ourania. Brava, dear." A chaste kiss is pressed to her cheek as he takes her hand.

There’s a quick nod just before Elisabeth pulls back the curtain to signal that Ourania’s ready to make her entrance. She flashes smiles to both Richard and Harry (in that order) and takes the latter’s hand once she’s made her way to his side with the assistance of her cane for stability. She’s positively glowing with his praise, dropping a kiss just shy of his cheek so she doesn’t smudge her lipstick on him.

“Oh, gosh, I’m so glad you liked it. We tried out some new numbers tonight and… I think they went well!” The singer turns so she can fit herself against her partner’s side and smiles across to Richard and Elisabeth. “I’m so glad you came! I mean, look at this place!” She’s excited. “I just knew you had to see it. I know Staten Island invokes certain images, and we’re just… really making strides out here!” Ourania laces her fingers with Harry’s and turns her face up toward him, beaming proudly. But as she catches eye contact (see also: engages her ability), there’s a shift behind her own eyes, even though her smile stays perfectly fixed.

She squeezes his hand. “Soooo…” Her attention shifts back to Richard briefly. “Has everyone been having a good time so far?” She looks to Liz for confirmation of that.

Following Ourania all the way in, Elisabeth tugs the curtain back into place behind them before moving to stand next to Richard while all the greetings are exchanged. As she shares a smile with him and slides her hand into his once more, her blue eyes flicker back to Ourania. There is a protectiveness toward both Richard and Ourania, a vague wariness of Harry along with hope that his intentions toward Ourania are genuine. "I've been having a fantastic time," she assures the singer. "Dinner and a show is a welcome evening."

Her emotions are a mix of things, mostly a deep, abiding love of the man next to her and amusement and a kind of relief as she holds his hand, but there's a flash of regret mixed in. "We never got to see Silas get the theater open, and I really enjoy seeing the place coming to life again." Even if it is in the cesspool of Staten.

Richard rises from his feet as well as the singer and his wife return, a broad smile curving to his lips and his hands coming together in a few playful claps of applause. “You were wonderful,” he observes in approval, “And now I really want to see Liz playing and you singing, sometime, I think you’d harmonize amazingly together.” Genuine warmth there; pleasure at the show, at the company. He’s emotionally at ease, comfortable despite the light conversational sparring.

Or perhaps because of it.

Easing back down, his hand clasping with Liz’s warmly as she takes it again, “Staten’s come a long way. It’s still got a long way to go, but I think given another year or two it’ll be a true part of the Safe Zone. We have a food depository in the Rookery, actually, to take care of some of the people out here…”

Harry lets out a chuckle, squeezing Ourania's hand in his. He gives her a lift of his brow like to indicate well that's something when she praises the state of Staten Island, meeting her look with a pressed-lip smile. Behind it lies the quiet rumblings of darker emotion, likewise kept at bay by something amusing, but an undercurrent that lives deep beneath his mask nonetheless.

His hand unwinds from hers only to place a gentle touch of encouragement to her back so she sits first, and then he resumes his seat as well. He lays his arm along the back of the couch while Ourania settles, embracing her presence without crowding her by touch. It takes only a moment for him to resume his place in the conversation again, just as visibly at ease as before.

"You have friends in the theatre as well?" Harry asks with a touch of appreciation, smile returning. "Is this a recent attempt at restarting affairs there, or a pre-war mention? I've heard good things about the scene unfolding back in Brooklyn just off of campus…"

It should have been abundantly clear before now that this was a bad idea, but in case it wasn’t, the emotion Ourania receives from Harry — a flavor of darkness she’s very familiar with by now — cinches that notion. She sinks down to sit just as surely as her heart sinks into her stomach. The seemingly innocuous comment about Silas’ theater sends a note of alarm through her that she’s glad no one else present can sense.

“Yes, it’s a shame,” Ourania notes with a sadness to her smile, trying to catch Elisabeth’s eye so she can give the barest shake of her head. She slides a little closer to her partner, invading his space where he’s been too gentlemanly to encroach on hers. “Roosevelt Island’s looking good these days, too.” That seems neutral enough ground to be treading. “Maybe we can find ourselves a karaoke bar and knock some people’s socks off?” she asks the other blonde with a coy smile.

Elisabeth's blue eyes sharpen on Ourania at the subtle headshake. Although her expression doesn't broadcast it, the shift in her emotions is not subtle to the empath — instant wariness and suspicion. Her smile, however, never falters as she sits again and smooths her skirt under her thighs in that graceful, quintessentially feminine movement that all women seem born knowing.

"Cat's Cradle has good acoustics," she replies mildly to the karaoke. "Maybe not quite as good as a venue built for entertainment on this level," Elisabeth concedes. She settles in next to Richard and crosses her legs. "You did order another round of drinks, yeah?" she teases him.

A stirring of mild concern might be felt from Richard, though it doesn’t show in his face save for a brief, questioning glance to his wife — a squeeze of his hand against hers. He releases it then to raise up in a beckoning to the waitstaff, chuckling. “Sorry, I forgot. I was so absorbed in the music.” Definitely not in sizing up Ourania’s new beau.

“At this rate I should just build a music hall on campus,” he observes in playful tones, “Not sure how I could justify the budget request, though— acoustical research?”

Harry's poker face falters at the mention of Cat's Cradle, eyes narrowing a touch with a thinning of his mouth. He tilts his head as he tries to decide how to voice his thoughts on that one. "I'm sure the right back alley has the same level of acoustics as a place like Cat's Cradle," he says mildly. "And maybe half as much trouble as a place like that attracts."

He picks up his drink to finish it, and seeming satisfied with the last of its taste, turns to Ourania at his side. "Lemon drop?" he asks her in an undertone, leaving the topic of how Richard should best spend his money for himself to decide, sans peanut gallery.

Ourania lifts her head when Harry asks his question, breaking her attention off from the way she’s been trying to spontaneously manifest some kind of telepathic ability to explain to her friends why certain subjects are taboo in front of her beau. In their defense, she probably should have made a list in the first place. But she hadn’t expected the alternate universe version of one of their associates to come up. Cat’s Cradle should have been expected, though. Especially given that she opened that door herself.

“Yes, darling,” she replies to Harry, “that’d be lovely.” She would very much like a drink at this juncture. Turning back to the others, Ourania feels compelled to explain. “Miss Mas stopped in here a week or so back and made quite the scene. I don’t think we’ll be repaying the favor to her establishment any time soon.” Which is putting things very delicately, but she expects Richard and Elisabeth will understand the reluctance.

They already have a lab for acoustical research and Elisabeth smirks at her husband, shoving him lightly with her shoulder. "Ass," she murmurs under her breath.

Harry's comment about Eve's bar doesn't precisely sit well with her, but she swallows that too, understanding his acerbic comment when Ourania explains. "Ahhhh," she murmurs with a sigh. "She doesn't make a very good impression," she agrees mildly. "But the club itself is actually not too bad. Girls' night for karaoke is lots of fun there." She pauses and grins at Ourania. "Of course it could just be cuz it's Izzy and me and Devi, and shit's always fun when we go out." There's a definite twinkle in her expression — those trips are pure mischief and fun. "Maybe you can join us, Ourania."

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Richard replies at the push of shoulder against his, flashing his wife a grin back before looking back to the other two - and that grin fades. There’s a frustrated tide that wells up within him at the mention of Eve, carrying worry with it. Not worry for Eve, it may be noticed.

“I should’ve known,” he grumbles, reaching for his glass and the remainder of his drink, “She’s even more unstable than she’s ever been before, I think. To be fair, though, I doubt she’ll be visiting the Cradle anytime soon - I expect the place is being staked out by the feds twenty-four-seven.”

Harry lifts his head to murmur his refills to the approached waiter called over by Richard, nodding afterward to Liz and Richard for them to give theirs. He slips his arm off the back of the couch, settling it around Ourania's shoulders. He brushes his thumb over the bare curve of it once.

"Staten being Staten still, I'm sure you can imagine why that would be a damper on business here," he says aloud with a measure of sympathy. "There have been follow-up visits by agencies I would not have even expected be on her trail." Harry lets out a fond chuckle at that memory, echoes of amusement and interest from that first meeting surfacing— void of the deep, venomous suspicion he'd held at the time. "Should she show up again here, I'm afraid they might set up shop somewhat permanently."

Turning to Ourania, he relents, "But far be it from me to keep you from girl's night. That sounds like an invitation, O." With a small smile, he teases at his own expense, "I suppose I shouldn't have to worry about your safety with that group and locale, between Elisabeth's badge and the other agents' to fend off opportunist thugs like you might run into out here." His mood shifts, one-armed embrace around her suring firmly for a moment. "Just mind for any of those 'protestors' that hang out around that den. Those people truly do not care who they hit."

Looking back to Richard and Liz, Harry holds up a single finger. "Really, the Evolved population is what— one percent of the US? Even after the reports that came out this summer? The way those protesters carry on, you'd think it more like ten. Hell, they'd have an easier time targeting redheads than Evolved, just going by sheer numbers… not to mention visibility." He lets out a faint laugh at that.

There’s a brief flicker of surprise in the songstress’ eyes at Harry’s words. “A badge?” The penny drops and her expression softens. Oh. “Well, so that’s what you’re up to these days,” she murmurs, as though she hadn’t known at all about Elisabeth’s profession.

God, he could have her fooled if only she weren’t employing the use of her ability. If it weren’t for the tension he can feel winding its way through her shoulders, he might think she was none the wiser about his annoyance. Ourania leans into the embrace, resting her head on Harry’s shoulder when his hand settles at hers. Her eyes close for a moment and she smiles absently at the brief brush of affection. This is about showing her friends that she’s happy and she lets out a quiet little sigh that could be interpreted as an expression of that. But her partner feels the way she sags against him just that little bit more, as though succumbing to exhaustion.

It will be much easier to keep pretending there’s no trouble in paradise now that she’s disengaged from her empathic senses.

Opening her eyes again without a (further) trace of tiredness, her smile grows a little broader on Elisabeth. “That’s quite the crew you have put together there. I don’t know that I’ve met th—” There’s a moment of recognition just before she makes the assertion, lifting her chin with a soft ah, then nodding. “Izzy, yes. Of course. So then it’s just Devi I’ve not gotten acquainted with yet. Well, so long as she doesn’t subject us to that moonshine of hers, I’m sure we’ll have a lovely time.”

Richard, for all that he isn’t wrong, still receives a mildly reproachful look. He of all people should understand supporting family, no matter how radical they might be. Still, her expression softens after only the briefest of moments. “I just hope Eve does the right thing sooner than later,” Ourania laments absently. “We’ll all be better off for it.” On that note, her hand comes up to cross over her body and rest over Harry’s at her shoulder. A grateful squeeze means to telegraph how glad she was that he was there during her encounter with her cousin.

Honestly, Elisabeth is hoping the same thing. That Eve fucking survived Detroit was not even certain at first, so she's grateful the woman survived. For a lot of reasons. But everyone knows right now, especially, that Eve is a danger to friend and enemy alike. She leaves that topic in the past and merely grins at Ourania. "Yeah… I guess certain people," *cough*Donovan*cough*, "like the … how shall we say… stage presence of someone like me as the NYPD rebuilds. And according to some quarters, the fact that I'm a pretty face also doesn't hurt." She shrugs a little. "All I really wanted was some kind of a return to the old days, something that I did before all the bullshit. Dumb idea." Accompanied by a roll of her eyes, "I should have taken Richard's advice and just been a kept woman for a while. Coulda been a recluse."

She slants a smile at him but then she breaks out laughing softly, "Oh God, Izzy's moonshine. I don't care what flavor she offers you, never take her up on Lemon Death. Cuz… honestly I think I almost went blind on that shit. Lucky Aura's not brain damaged or something," she snorts.

“Don’t look at me like that, we both know that Eve needs to get back on her antipsychotic medication and get some serious therapy after everything she’s been through,” Richard observes with a slight shake of his head to Ourania’s look, one shoulder coming up in a shrug, “I don’t want things to go badly for her, I just want her to get help and stop endangering herself and others.”

The mention of moonshine and kept women brings a chuckle from him, his head shaking, “Devi— well. I think you’d like her. And God knows she could use some time off from work, I think she’s going stir-crazy down in Automation.”

He sets down the now-emptied glass, and flashes a smile (that isn’t a smile, for those who know him) back to Harry, “Oh? So you don’t think there’s any serious threat from groups like Pure Earth and such?”

"On the contrary," Harry replies immediately, seriously, meeting Richard's look directly. "I think they'd be bold enough to lynch any person they crossed paths with, blood tests be damned. The Itinerant Dawn spoke to that. Are they intelligent? No. Are they dangerous? Without a doubt."

His gaze shifts off of Richard when the waiter returns with two drinks— Ourania and Harry's orders are predictable, and the bartender knows them. With a lift of his chin, he unwinds his arm from Ourania to accept both of theirs, then pass hers on to her. While doing so, he slides a sly look Elisabeth's direction. "Well, that would have been no fun at all, though," he confides conspiratorially, letting out a quiet chuckle. "I'm sure a woman like you would have been clawing at the walls very soon after."

“Thank you, darling.” Ourania offers a small smile as she takes her martini glass from Harry. She taps her glass gently to his before she takes her first sip. “I’ll have to make sure I make a point of meeting her, then,” she says of Devi, “if she’s in Automation and all.” She could stand to make friends with the co-workers outside of her own department.

And Sera Lang.

The turn of the topic to more political things at first sees Ourania straightening her back and seeming like she’s going to jump into the fray. But she turns to listen to Harry, nodding along silently. “Not like either of us have much to worry about on that front,” is how she chooses to contribute to the conversation. “Outside of becoming collateral damage, I suppose.”

Ourania lays her hand over Harry’s knee. “We are both painfully normal,” she asserts. Richard and Elisabeth register the genuine anguish in her eyes that she attempts to hide by nearly lidding them as she takes another longer sip from her lemon drop. Being without dominion over time has been excruciatingly devastating to her. Maybe it makes some sense that she would choose a partner that can’t outshine her in that respect.

Elisabeth sips her wine and wishes there were something stronger in her glass just now. The hand holding Richard's tightens just slightly, as if in warning not to get into an argument with the guy Ourania wants so much to be with. She does quirk a brief eyebrow at Ourania's comment though — painfully normal is about the last phrase she herself would use to describe anything, much less Ourania herself.

"The choices for karaoke are a bit limited unless we head for Albany or Rochester," she comments mildly. "Although you're not wrong — it might be a little less fractious and I might be less inclined to have to maim someone there." Her dry tone is intended to be an indicator or exaggeration, although considering what Richard and Ourania know of her — maybe it's less hyperbole than she's pretending.

"And yes, at least at that point in time, I definitely would have clawing the walls like the woman in the 'Yellow Wallpaper' story. I just… didn't want to have to build a career from scratch." Again. Her blue eyes trail over their venue. "I admit that sitting here tonight, I really miss it."

“Don’t dismiss them as unintelligent, Harry. These kind of people didn’t take the government the last time because they were dumb,” says Richard with a slight shake of his head, although the man’s answer seems to have mollified him some. His thumb brushes reassuringly against the back of Liz’s, and he glances to her with a slight, apologetic smile.

Clearing his throat, he changes the subject, admitting, “I don’t know if I can imagine you as a recluse for long, love. The walls would be vibrating within days, then the house would explode from sheer stress at not having anything to do.”

Harry lets out a chuckle at Ourania's emphasis, teasingly murmuring to her voz en sotto, "Darling, you make it sound so terrible." He pats his hand over hers twice before looking back to Richard and Elisabeth, sensing there are two very distinct conversations happening here now.

He opts to let his attention settle on the one fraught with heavier-weight politics.

"We can play semantics over the difference between intelligent and wise, but it doesn't change how backwater their ideals are," Harry interjects more quietly. "Humanity isn't going to take its next leap forward if we keep shooting the messengers."

“Would it be so terrible if I could fly? Or teleport anywhere in the world? Or heal the sick and the wounded?” Ourania tips her face up to regard Harry, expression brightening with a smile, eyes narrowed slightly with amusement. “I suppose I’ll have to settle for having the power to win your heart with my song.”

She squeezes his knee in response to the pat, taking a long drink from her glass. “There is a reason we used to refer to the SLC-Expressive as Evolved,” she concurs with her partner. “With the numbers growing, it’s perhaps only a matter of time.” Ourania flashes a knowing sort of look to Elisabeth, addressing her topic: “There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re trapped in a routine and the walls are closing in.”

Yeeeeeeeah. Elisabeth hasn't been in prison, but she can imagine Ourania is the expert on that. But now it becomes rather clear to her whereas before she only wondered — Ourania hasn't told her lover that she used to be Evo. Shitfuck. Not that it's that big a thing since she's not anymore. So her game face remains in place even as she smiles at her husband.

"I have never exploded a whole house," she informs him in an amused tone. "Only the windows and mirrors." And glassware. Exploding the walls of Pinehearst doesn't count! That was years ago! Wrinkling her nose at him, the blonde is definitely laughing at Richard.

Her eyes cut to Harry and she tips her head, considering him. "Before the Second Civil War, we hadn't yet finished fighting the first one. People are always afraid of what they don't understand. But it might be prudent to be cautious about how loudly you say that kind of thing out here. I don't have a team that can help you if Pure Earth fuckers take a potshot at you. And Eve has drawn you enough law enforcement attention for… standard business on Staten to potentially be problematic." She's sincere in her wish that Harry doesn't get hurt and her tone holds no judgement over the idea that whatever OTHER businesses he's involved in out here may not be quite legal.

Not her circus, not her problem.

Maybe strange, coming from a woman with a badge, but then again… her history and her choice of spouse sort of speak for themselves there.

“I don’t think that this place has anything to worry about, love. I have no doubt that the owner’s arranged for the finest security here,” Richard reassures Elisabeth with a slight shake of his head, allowing a bit more dryly, “And frankly I don’t respect those racist assholes enough to give them the respect of not badmouthing them in public. I refuse to let anyone be afraid of them.”

“The Dawn, though…” He sighs, lifting his drink, “We lost so much potential there. Not that, between you and I, it was ever likely to come back.”

Elisabeth's comment regarding the original Civil War brings a shift in Harry's air, leading him to quiet and gloss right past that moment with a drink from his whisky sour. He has, after all, a certain amount of privilege that causes issues like those to impact him. Instead, he smiles politely at her concern, settling his glass in his lap and letting his other arm drape around Ourania's shoulders again.

"I suppose I'm fortunate in general not to be involved in any of that." Harry tells Elisabeth sincerely.

With a small knowing smile, he lays aside the subject to turn to Ourania instead. "So, I'm curious. Elisabeth here was telling me about your history together." A gleam enters his eye as he tilts his head down just slightly in an expression of interest. "The stories there must be to share…"

The question immediately causes Ourania to choke on her drink, turning quickly away so she can cough as politely as she can manage into the crook of her elbow. Once she’s managed to clear her airway again, she leans forward so she can set her drink down on the polished table in front of their seat. “Sorry,” she murmurs with a wry smile. “Apparently I have a drinking problem.” It’s a joke. It’s funny. See? No tension here at all.

A cautious glance is darted across to the other blonde, trying to ascertain what she could have possibly said to have brought about this line of questioning. “Liz,” Ourania chides, her scolding ringing false, “what scandalous lies are you telling him?” Carefully, that ball is placed in the other woman’s court, so as to avoid giving away the wrong thing. “I’m trying very hard not to scare him away.” There’s a look shot to Richard then, too. Only once she’s schooled her expression back into something far more mild does she turn her attention back to Harry. “Whatever she’s told you, I’m sure it’s an exaggeration.”

Elisabeth's smile at Ourania is easy. "Well… not entirely. All I said was that I remember the days when it was me up there and you out here rooting for me, that's all," she demurs. "Our first meeting was maybe the weirdest part. We literally ran into each other in a park. I was running and I stopped for something. And I was kind of jumpy that day and accused her of being a mugger when she startled the hell out of me."

It's not exactly a lie. They did, in fact, have a day like that in the park. Just…. not here. "After I was done apologizing profusely, we just … hit it off. I'm really glad that story doesn't end with me actually hitting her or something," she admits in a laugh, winking at the singer.

"We had a few girls' nights, but I was pretty busy with my job and she was busy with hers. Sorry — nothing all that interesting about that." Just your everyday people hanging out!

“I’m afraid that any stories I have are covered by my own NDAs,” Richard jokes with a wink towards Ourania, raising his glass her way, “More’s the pity. Although, really, they’re mostly boring work stories anyway. Nothing terribly interesting there.”

It’s absolutely a lie, but he’s good at those.

It's Harry's turn to choke on a laugh now. I'm sorry? He blinks, saying as much without saying anything at the mention of NDAs. It's only a second later before he shakes his head at that, refusing to let anything weigh the conversation down. He finally finishes that chuckle, looking back to Ourania.

"See?" he teases her with a playful nudge. "Nothing too damning, I promise."

Ourania smiles demurely, rocking gently with that nudge. “No, just that she thought I was a mugger,” she laments with a dry chuckle, “and he makes it sound like I’m some sort of secret agent.” Richard, please. “I’m just a girl,” she promises, nudging Harry back gently.

Her gaze slides down to her hands folded in her lap, looking uncomfortable for a moment. “I hate to do this,” she finally speaks up, “but I’m just not…” She shakes her head, trying to collect herself. “I’m not 100 percent yet. I’m very, very tired.” Ourania sighs. Admitting her own limitations is hard. She lifts her head again to level an apologetic look at her friends. “I think I need to call it a night and go home to rest.”

Moving to set her wine glass down on the table, Elisabeth merely nods at that. "It's more draining than people realize, being up under those lights belting out notes that good," she sympathizes. "We're not offended, Ourania. You should get some rest." Her blue eyes flicker to the man Ourania is leaning on and her smile is soft despite the fact that she's still uncertain of his measure. "You take care of her, hmm? She always thinks she has to do more than she does."

“Hardly a secret agent,” Richard chuckles, “Raytech isn’t the same as that ridiculous show that presents me as some sort of spy or something. But we do have a lot of ‘don’t talk about things at the office’ rules, mostly for corporate security reasons…”

Then he looks over to her concernedly, a worried look on his face, “I understand, of course. Rest up if you need to, it was good to see you - and to meet you finally, Harry.”

Harry seems surprised at Ourania's admittance more than anything— after all, she'd looked so very much forward to this. "Of course," he concedes quietly to her need, giving her a sympathetic lilt of his head. The comment from Liz draws his eyes away from Ourania again, a small knowing smile biting at the corner of his lips. "Don't I know it? Just glad to hear her acknowledging her limits before they get ahead of her."

He leans forward to set what remains of his drink down without a second thought, pushing himself to his feet. Harry reaches a hand out toward Richard and Elisabeth both. "Again, wonderful to have met you both.

"Until next time?"

Since she’s not the one driving, Ourania takes the time to smoothly finish off the last of her martini while Harry shakes hands. Then, she rises to her feet so she can come around the table and give a hug to each of her friends in turn before taking Harry’s arm, letting him support her instead of her cane.

“Stay as long as you like. They’ll take good care of you here.” There’s one last contrite smile given as she wiggles her fingers in a wave. “See you next week.”

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