Night On The Town


elisabeth_icon.gif maxwell_icon.gif

Scene Title Night On The Town
Synopsis It's just a date! Really! No explosions, no insanity, just dinner!
Date Aug 13, 2009

Italian Restaurant

"Is this it up here?" asks Max as he searches for the sign that marks the Italian restaurant and for a parking space for his car. The car is a blue 1969 Mustang, absolute mint condition, but with more modern leather seats, a GPS system and an MP3 player. It is certainly an action hero type car, and the ride on the way over was…interesting. He didn't break any traffic laws, but he's a…well, not an aggressive driver, but certainly a confident one.

He's dressed nicely for the occasion, with a pair of neat dark slacks and a short sleeved collared shirt. He's even wearing a whiff of some expensive, subtle cologne. He's shaved, hair-combed, and overall a lot more presentable than she's seen him before. Then again, both times they've met, he's been made up to look like someone beat the crap out of him.

After driving with Felix Ivanov (and really, her own driving in Manhattan) as well as any number of insane cab drivers over the years, Elisabeth's not easily frightened by Max's driving. Though he did have a close call with one of the kamikaze cabs. She dressed nicely for the evening, a mid-calf-length lavender skirt topped with a short-sleeved T-shirt in a darker shade of purple and a pair of white sandals with a small heel on them. She summery and comfortable, dressy enough for 'out' but not fancy. She points toward an awning and says, "That's it there." It takes another half a block before a parking space presents itself. As they get out, she says, "It's not a large place, they gear it toward the locals. But word of mouth gets them a pretty loyal clientele. It's good food," she informs him as she slips an arm through his to walk back toward the restaurant's doors.

Good thing Max has done some training in stunt driving. His reaction time's good. He's also used to driving in LA. His car has a security system, so there's a chirp as he hits a button on his keychain and secures it. "Well, hey. You can't really go wrong with Italian food in New York, huh?"

He slips the keys into his pocket and accepts the arm.

When they reach the door, he tugs it open and waits for her to pass through.

Stepping into the place, it's easy to see why she said 'you don't have to dress fancy.' Oh, sure, it's a little nicer than the usual places — there are white linens, real napkins, things like that. But it's also clear that it's geared toward a wide range of clients. A couple of families near the front with kids are loud and boisterous, and the servers seem to be enjoying themselves along with the customers. There's a hostess at the door who smiles easily when they ask for a seat near the back. And there's a minimal wait while she gets things settled to seat them. "Ivy'll be your server tonight. The specials are on the board," the hostess points to a wipe-board on the wall, "and please enjoy your meal!" And then she leaves them to it.

It's not really what Max was expecting, and he's not really sure what to make of the fact that this was her choice. Not that he minds, but, on the first date, choices like this say somethng.

The stuntman keeps up with his gentlemanly behavior though, and tugs out the chair to seat her. Then he sits down himself and goes for the wine list. "Well. Shall we have something to drink first, then? Red seems like the way to go, though I admit I don't know very much about wine."

The back of the restaurant is far quieter than the front, and Elisabeth grins at him as he sits. "You have that look," she tells him, settling into her seat and waiting for him to do the same. "I'm never quite sure what that look is when a man makes it. If you don't like the ambience, we can go somewhere else. Buuut…." She eyes him and says with a grin, "I only tell men I actually like about this place. It's some of the best Italian I've ever had outside my own grandmother's."

"No, no!" Max raises a hand and glances around the restaurant. "I'm just learning more about you. I didn't quite have you pegged for a down-home Italian restaurant sort of woman. But I like being surprised." He seems sincere in that. "So. Chardonnay? Or do you think you'll order something with a white sauce? That's how it works, isn't it?" A brow quirks. He looks momentarily confused. And a little sheepish.

Ah…! Interesting. Elisabeth chuckles softly. "Why? Because I'm a hard-edged cop?" She considers. "If you're having something tomato-based, go with the red. Cream sauce, seafood, or chicken, go with the white," she tells him easily. "Food-wise, I'm no gourmet. I mean… I'd have been equally happy to take you to a steak place or a sushi place if that's what you wanted. I actually have a particular fondness for the farfalle alfredo they do here — it's chicken, broccoli, and zucchini in an alfredo sauce that's so light I have no idea how they manage it."

"Not cause you're a cop, because you seem like a big-city type. But maybe I'm just jaded from being around LA women who only want to go to restaurants owned by celebrity chefs or frequented by celebrities. If it didn't come with a something-something-glaze or reduction or was fusion or, whatever," he waves a vague hand. He looks down at the menu, then grins up at her. "It's refreshing, actually. Just took me by surprise is all."

Elisabeth is surprised. "Wow… you really do hang out with the wrong crowd of people," she tells him with a smile. "I was born and raised in this city. And I can walk the walk if I have to… my parents were both lawyers. Well, my dad still is. And we've done our share of fancy restaurants. But… there's a time and a place." She shrugs a little and looks at him. "Honestly? I didn't feel like being someone I'm not. I don't generally play games like that. Flirting games? Sure thing," she gives him a slow grin. "Now that's a different story. Tell me something about you that the stupid tabloids don't know, Max. Something that's real," she invites, propping her elbows on the table.

"It's an image thing, I guess. Everyone's so concerned about what they look like, they don't do things they enjoy." Max pauses long enough to order wine when the waitress comes back around. He orders a carafe of red for himself, but defers to her for her own drink order. Once the waitress moves off, he folds his hands together and twitches a little smile. "I once dated this girl who loved bowling. She told me all about how much fun she had in leagues, how her dad was a champion. So as a surprise, I took her to this cosmic bowling place. She nearly had a fit at me. She was trying to be a model, so she felt like she couldn't be seen bowling."

As far as the real him? He gets another one of those sheepish looks. "Oh, uh. Well, my parents run a hardware store in Syracuse. It's a miracle they haven't been pushed out for WalMart. Uh. I have two younger brothers. I used to be an army grunt. Spent four years in, did a couple tours overseas."

Well, he won't have to worry about Elisabeth and her 'image' here. She orders a chardonnay when the waitress comes, and then turns her full attention back to him. "See… now that's a guy who's not caught up in his own press or the whole bullshit Hollywood scene," she comments mildly. "That's why I said yes," she admits to him. "I tend to find that people who are too worried about their image don't have much substance under it all. You didn't strike me that way."

"Well, uh, at the risk of coming off as modest? I don't feel very Hollywood." Max lowers his voice and leans in as he speaks, as if that's some big secret. "I got into stuntwork because I love the thrill and the artistry of it. I feel like the only person in LA who doesn't actually want to be an actor. But hell, with the money they've offered, how can I turn it down?"

Elisabeth chuckles quietly. "Hey…. if you're good at it and they're willing to pay the big bucks for something you like doing? You'd be an idiot not to," she tells him. When the drinks come back, the waitress asks nicely if they're ready to order. She queries him with a simple raised brow, and when he nods, she goes ahead and orders the pasta alfredo that she mentioned to him. Only after she's given her order and the waitress departs does she look back again. "So… what do you do in your spare time?" she asks.

"It's also a way to get noticed, get on to bigger movies, more subtle stuntwork. Ah," Max grins. "…I know 'subtle stuntwork' sounds like an oxymoron. But I mean, stunts that look real. Like, the stuff Ridley Scott does. I'd love to do a Gladiator-type movie. Do historically-accurate fight scenes and stuff. And you know, acting in a movie like this, even if it isn't good…well, I do all my own work, and my name gets out there."

His order? Baked spaghetti. Lots of cheese, lots of pasta, lots of sauce. And a caesar salad. Cause you know, that'll even out the carbs and fat. "In my spare time? I rock climb, uh…been learning to paraglide. Was taking chopper piloting — " he stops himself. "Man, I am a big jock, aren't I?" He chuckles self-consciously and reach for a slice of complimentary bread. "What about you, hmm? What do you do when you're not out kicking ass for great justice?"

There's a soft laugh. "Lately? Not a damn thing," she admits mildly. She too takes a piece of bread to nibble on while they wait for the salads. "I don't get a lot of time to … really do this," she admits, gesturing around. "I like to cook some. I like to bake a bit too. Mostly wind up doing that when I'm laid up from being shot and stuff." She looks a bit stricken. "Sorry… I don't mean to sound cavalier about that or anything. It's just… well, it's happened a few times this year. Uhm… I like to hike and bicycle, though I don't get to do that much. I do like to run. I get in at least a couple times a week with that." She shrugs a little. "I like to go target shooting?" she offers with a grin that says 'lord, you're gonna think I'm such a stereotype or something'.

"No, it's okay. It's hazard of the job. Sort of, uh, like it's nothing to write home about when I break something. Except, uh…" Max raises his glass to his lips and uses it to hide a bit of a shamed sort of look, "…I get hurt chasing after fake bad guys."

He looks left and right, then leans in with a conspiratorial look on his face. "You wanna know a secret?"

She laughs again, this time softly. Not at him, but at the comment. "Sure," Liz replies easily. "Tell me a secret."

"The last couple of years…" a sly smile spreads. "…I've been taking dance lessons. Jazz, modern…" a cough-mumble, "…ballet." His cheeks colour slightly. "No one in the industry'd admit it, but a good fight sequence is really just manly dance."

Elisabeth's enjoying his abashed presentation of this information. And she giggles softly. "That's actually really damn cool, Max," she tells him in a whisper, a twinkle in her blue eyes. "Cuz you're right, it is. And I think it'll make your fights look even more manly than they already do." She winks at him. "Now if we can just get you into ballroom dancing, you're all set. Cuz there's nothing hotter than a man who can actually dance, if you want my opinion."

"It's helped a lot, you know. It's about memorizing steps and following your 'partner,' who's playing the part of the bad guy. And you do it all in order to create the illusion that you're beating the shit out of each other. There's a lot of trust involved."

Max lifts a shoulder. There's a moment's lull as the salads are delivered. "Hell, I could probably pick up ballroom pretty easily. I used to go to this swing dance club when I first got to LA."

Elisabeth sits back when the salads come and she nods. "If you can pick up fight sequences in a week, I have a feeling learning something like a cha-cha or a foxtrot would be child's play," she tells him with a smile. "Honestly, I haven't gone dancing in ages." Well… a date with Alec months ago aside. "I have a friend who actually can dance," she admits, "we've gone before. But it's something that you kind of have to be looking for. The salsa clubs in the area are getting better, though, so it opens opportunities." And then she laughs. "As if I ever have time these days." She lowers her voice to make sure it's between the two of them. "Truth be told, be a cop in New York right now? Kinda scary stuff. Being an Evolved cop on top of it? So much the Not Fun."

"I can imagine," says Max, his tone suddenly quite serious. "I've been feeling some of the backlash and I'm not even one. This movie is one of the first to employ a lot of Evolved. People are nervous. I mean, six people were killed. I'm really surprised they didn't shut us down after that." He pushes a few leaves of romaine around on the plate. "Do you think this Frontline thing is going to help?"

Elisabeth pushes onions aside and nibbles on a bite of tomato from her house salad. "Honestly? I don't know," she admits softly. "There are a lot of pros and cons to that topic." She looks at him. "On the one hand, they're basically specifically an Evolved federal law enforcement agency. On the other hand, they're basically a private paramilitary force for the government. There are agencies already in place whose job it already is to deal with things like Staten Island. And they should have been mobilized when it all first happened. Now, the place may as well be its own country." She shakes her head. "I have… concerns, I guess. About the rules that Frontline gets to play by, more than anything else."

"It does kinda seem like an arm of martial law with superpowers, huh?" Max purses his lips. "But," a small laugh, "…I really shouldn't try and talk about this sort of thing. I'm not exactly well-informed. Most of the time, I don't even get home in time to catch the late news."

Elisabeth shrugs and smiles slightly. "Since when does anyone in this country need to be well-informed to have an opinion?" she asks easily, taking the sting out of her words with a glance at him. "It's definitely too serious a topic for dinner, though… especially on a first date." She tilts her head and asks mildly, "What made you get out of the service?"

Maxwell swallows a mouthful of wine to hide any sting he might have felt from that. But it passes quickly enough. "Uh, well. I never really wanted to be in it in the first place. Dad really wanted to get in, but he had some health problems that kept him out. Usual 'father putting pressure on sons' thing. But it was good experience. I learned a lot about myself and how good we have it here. And then," he laughs, "…I moved straight to LA. I dunno what that says about me."

"We do have it good here," Elisabeth admits mildly. "Most people would say that we have the best system in the world. I think we certainly have it far better than many… maybe even most." She shrugs a little. "I think moving to LA just says that you wanted to get out there and do your own thing. There's nothing wrong with the job you do, you know," she offers, her eyes studying him thoughtfully. "You…. I kind of keep hearing this… like you're making fun of your job and apologizing for liking it." She bites her lip. "Forgive me if it's too forward, but… you shouldn't. It pays the bills, you're obviously pretty good at it… it's all anyone can ask of a job or a career. If you like it or even love it? That's a bonus, Max. Be grateful that it worked out that way. There are far worse ways to make a living."

"I dunno, it's…" Max inhales slowly. "Sorta like, there are parts of it I love. Parts of it I can't believe I'm getting paid to do, that I'd pay people to let me do. But the other side of it. The parties, the tabloids, the part where I try to act. Well, that part doesn't really feel like me. I kinda hope I never get that good at acting. Cause it might get worse. As long as I'm the cheesy action guy, people aren't going to pay that much attention to me. But," a whuff of laughter. "I feel like all we're doing is talking about me."

Elisabeth laughs. "Well,… it's a good way to get to know someone, right? And I kinda figured you might think I was boring if we got on the topic of me," she says with that twinkle again. "What would you like to talk about?" She takes a bite of her salad and glances up as the waitress also brings their dinner to set in front of them. Quality food, fast service, what's not to like?

Is fast service really a plus on a date, though? "You are an Evolved cop in New York, Liz. How can your life possibly be boring?" Max grins and pushes his salad aside to make room for his dinner. "Where'd you grow up? Do you have any siblings?"

Elisabeth takes a sip of her wine, seeming in no hurry to eat and leave. She's still working through her salad, smile bites at a time while they talk. "I don't have any siblings, no. I grew up here in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side," she admits with a grin. "My parents are — or were — both lawyers. Mom is gone now, a couple years ago." She doesn't want to really get into the how at this point. "Dad and I see each other …. eh, maybe a couple times a month for brunch or dinner; sometimes more, sometimes less." She smiles at him. "I've been a cop ever since college, aside from a couple of years after Midtown. I was a high school teacher for those couple of years, and then came back to the force. And believe me… being a cop anywhere is pretty much the same. 90 percent boredom dealing with squables and such on the streets, 8 percent annoyance because they're dorks out there, and 2 percent sheer terror," she laughs.

"A teacher, huh? Well, I bet the boys never skipped your class." From the wry delivery of that, Max means it as a tease. He winks and takes a bite of his cheesy meal. "That's kinda like the movie business. 90 percent waiting to get the shot, and the rest is doing the same shot repeatedly. Only the exciting bits make it on the screen."

Now there's a blush, and Elisabeth is forced to admit with a laugh, "No… no, they didn't." That brings to mind a long-ago conversation with Teo about students and their antics, about wondering whether a someone liked you. I'm sure he does like you, and he *was* looking! The memory makes her her actually shake her head, still laughing, as she looks up at Max. "See? So the jobs aren't so different," she remarks mildly. "It's kind of an odd place to be, really. I just got promoted to detective and we don't have the manpower, really, on my squad to guarantee partners all the time, so when I go out, I pair up with a couple of different people on cases that need it. You get to rehearse and reshoot when things go south, though… wish I could do that a lot of times."

"Mmm, not always. Sometimes there's only enough cash in the budget for one big push on the scene. And if you fuck it up, it ends up in the movie one way or another. Sometimes they try to cover it up, but there aren't always do-overs in the movie business either." Max takes a bite of his dinner. "This really is good."

Elisabeth grins at the praise of the food, paying attention to her own now. She slips the salad bowl sideways and starts on her pasta. The portions are pretty big — actually, she'll wind up taking not quite half home with her. She can never eat everything they put in front of her. "I'm glad you like it," she says sincerely. "I, uhm…" She hesitates and admits, "I wanted to share someplace that wasn't all glitzy and glamorous with you. I kinda… didn't really think I fit that scene anyway. I figured this was win/win… if you liked it and me for what they are, hey great. If you turned your nose up… well, then, I guess I didn't like your company that much anyway." She grins. "It's going pretty well so far,… I hope."

"Well, that's very…strategic," says Max with a little grin. "But hell, I grew up mostly eating from the Chinese place next door to the hardware store. Then it was Army food. I don't really have a sophisticated palate. I just have a high caloric intake requirement." The way he says those words, it's like he's puppeting them back. Probably froma personal trainer.

"I suppose," Elisabeth allows with a chuckle. "But considering the reputation that some actors who have egos far bigger than their talent, I figured maybe it was good, simple way to get past that hurdle anyway." She nibbles on a piece of chicken and challenges with a grin, "How many women do you actually date? Not publicity dates, but take out just because you actually like them, as a person?"

"More than you'd think," says Max with a little grin. "I have to be seen places with my co-star. She's a diva, but she actually has some talent. And we have a few things in common. Actually she's a sweetheart when no one else is around. Tabloids eat that up. And I'm not a big enough star for anyone to care who else I might be seeing."

There's a roll of her eyes, and Elisabeth says, "I've always kind of assumed that although acting is a difficult job — I mean, getting into character is not easy — that an actor is also only as good as the writing they get handed. Is that far off the mark?" She grins cheekily. "Cuz so far…. not so sure about your co-star's talent, except to fill out a tanktop."

"Hah, well, there's two. There's Particia, she plays the main villain. She's the one I'm seeing, for the press anyway." Max lifts a shoulder. "And there's Jasika. Jass…she's the one you saw in the heels with the badge. She's overdoing it." He makes a face. "And you're not going to like her characterization. She's the New York cop, but I'm the one who has to keep saving her ass. It's not very flattering. But Trish is actually playing a pretty strong bad guy. If you can get past the horrible Russian accent."

Elisabeth snorts mildly. "I haven't much liked the portrayal of women cops in most movies in the last decade or more anyway. Somehow they're almost always the stupid ones. I miss the days of Cagney and Lacey. Seriously. I mean… it was cheezy, but at least they were perfectly capable women." She glances at him and grins. "And now I'm seriously dating myself, huh?"

"It's…the action movie genre. I just hope people don't expect it to be some commentary on Evolved rights just because it's got Evolved in it. It's really just supposed to be fun." Max is making fairly short work of his dinner. All of it. "It may be trailblazing as far as actually talking about Evolved terrorists and things, but it's still basically Die Hard with superpowers."

She continues to eat as they talk, showing no indications of being terribl fashion-conscious or self-conscious at all about her food. She's more interested in their conversation anyway. "Hey, I liked the Die Hard movies," Elisabeth defends with a grin. "A good shoot-em-up is terrific. I also like car explosion movies. Truthfully, I like movies that entertain me — any movie. From old musicals to action to Star Trek to … " She shrugs. "I'm not what you'd call critical about my movies. As long as it's done well enough to let me suspend disbelief and enjoy? I'm there."

"Truth be told, I watch most movies for their stunts anyway. It's amazing how something as simple as a fistfight can be done so artfully that it seems very real and makes you wince. It's in a way, easier to do the more unrealistic looking stuff, although…" Max pauses to take a sip of his wine. "…with Evolved now, I guess none of it is actually unrealistic."

Elisabeth pauses and lifts her wine glass for a sip, looking thoughtful. "Well.. that's not entirely true. I mean…. I've seen quite a wide range of abilities, but …. you have to remember that just because you see it in a movie doesn't mean it can actually be done — or maybe ONE person who has the ability can do it but not someone else." She grins. "Does put a whole new spin on certain kinds of movies these days, though, doesn't it?"

"It does. I mean, I envy a lot of Evolved. It'd be badass to do even one of the things my character does in the movie. But the persecution does suck. And I know that some abilities have some pretty lame side effects." Max finishes up his dinner. He cleaned every bit of the pasta and the salad at pretty much an even pace.

There's a faint grimace at that, and Elisabeth comments, "Yeah… tell me about it." She shakes off the mood, though and smiles at him as she finishes her meal. As she expected, there's perhaps a third or so of it remaining, and she offers, "You're welcome to try it, if you like. Was it good?"

"Oh yeah, it was really good, I…" Max starts for her plate, then stops. "Ah. No. No." He doesn't want to look like a pig. "Plus, there's a great dessert place not far from the place I'm staying. Uh, if you'd like."

Liz doesn't seem to be bothered by the idea that he might eat that and then some — he gets a lot of exercise. She tilts her head at him, her smile easy. "That sounds wonderful, so long as coffee comes with that offer. Have you had a chance to see much of New York since you've been here?" she asks curiously.

"Oh yeah, yeah. Tons. Mostly in the car, going from one shoot location to the next. It looks like a very fascinating…blurry city," Max grins again and sips his wine. He makes a vague motion with his hand. "Looked to be some very nice…blurry shops and blurry restaurants."

She laughs at that. "Well, you know…. a lot of people who live here think that way about the place too, so…" Elisabeth's studying him thoughtfully, and then there's a ringtone. She freezes and murmurs, "Oh dear God…. seriously?" Pulling it out to see who it is, she closes her eyes with an expression of pure disappointment, then looks at him. "I'm so sorry, Max. I have to take this."

She answers the call with a brief, "Harrison." After a couple of 'uh-huh's, she sighs. "I'm on it. … Yeah, gimme … like, twenty." Then she hangs up the phone and looks at him.

Maxwell holds up his hands. "No need to explain. Duty calls," there's warmth in his gaze. "You'll just have to owe me for dessert and coffee another time." He stands as she goes to leave. If he's allowed, he'll lean in to kiss her on the cheek.

"So much for dessert, hmm?" she says regretfully. "Max…. " She meets his eyes, sincerely relaxed in his company. "This is the nicest time I've had in a while. Thank you." She smiles and turns her face slightly in the buss, not making it something more, just acknowledging and accepting it. "I would very much like coffee and dessert another time," she says with a smile. "Be careful getting back, and if you're past curfew and anyone gives you shit, give 'em my name, okay? Wouldn't want you getting harassed on my account." And then she heads outside to catch a cab back to work.

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