On The Surface


lucrezia_icon.gif sonny_icon.gif

Scene Title On The Surface
Synopsis Your boyfriend and your family will never get along.
Date February 25, 2009

The Orchid Lounge

Back when Prohibition was still in full swing, folks would be getting off work right about now and sneaking off to their favorite clandestine gin joint for a little something known as 'happy hour' to imbibe some booze before heading home to their unfortunate families to enjoy a meal of grief and ungratefulness. Nowadays, 'happy hour' has become little more than an excuse to lure people into a bar with reasonably-priced drinks instead of the usually ridiculous rates that kick in after nightfall.

The Orchid Lounge is no exception, though their particular brand of bait appeals to a slightly more upscale clientele. Take, for example, the dark-haired woman seated solo in a massive corner booth that ought to really be occupied with eight other people. She's sipping a mimosa that's supposedly poured with discounted Dom Perignon. But, the verity of this claim isn't left to guessing games; the bottle it came from is hosted right there on the table in its very own chilled seating arrangements, proclaiming to passers-by that the reason she isn't sharing her seat with anyone is because she's apparently paid for the privilege.

Sonny Bianco is not a man for whom going out is a relaxation. Not as himself, in any event. Not in the places he's expected to frequent. He comes to places like this to be seen, to talk to the right people, either for his own interests or his father's. It is perhaps unusual then that he is unescorted as well.

The doc's wearing a suit and dress shirt, minus the tie, perhaps indicating he's come straight from the clinic. He looks distracted and not entirely together. His nose has a slight crook to it and a bit of reddening around the edges, but for the most part, his face has healed. He moves through the crowd, distracted until he's got a glass of wine in his hand. Then he turns and takes a moment to survey the room.

There's the daughter of a senator over there, the son of a business mogul and his posse to the left. A minor film star lingers near the coat check, waiting for a major TV star. They are all familiar faces, but none on a personal level. Which is why Lucrezia stands out from them.

At first he's not sure that it's her, given the distance and angle from the bar. But then with a slight shift, he confirms her identity. He looks around and then approaches her table. He stands, one hand in his pocket, head slightly cocked. "Seems like you've put up a 'do not disturb' sign in public. Any particular reason?"

From the occupied side of the booth, Lucrezia's dark eyes slowly slide their way over Sonny's presented front from hips to chest to cheeks in an inspection that borders on tactile in its intrusive familiarity. Her smile slowly unfurls and she gestures to the vast void of empty space located to her left as she says, "I was merely waiting for the proper company. Have a seat." That statement doesn't come across so much as a generous invitation as it might be a subtle demand. "Join me." She isn't making any attempts to relocate in order to accommodate him but, then again, she really doesn't need to; there's plenty of booth and space below the table to go around. Wherever Sonny might feel most comfortable…

Sonny checks to see who's looking their way much like a driver would check a rear-view mirror before backing up. They're attracing some attention, but the presence of the tabloid favourite couple by the coat check are receiving the most interest. The doc pulls a hand out of his pocket and slips into the seat beside Lucrezia. "I never did thank you for stepping in that night at the party, did I?" He sets his glass of wine down and leans an arm on the table.

"Non," Lucrezia replies, accent invariably making that single, simple word sound foreign and short even when she's still speaking English. "How is your face?" It's an odd question to ask, especially since she can easily see for herself what stage of recovery Sonny's visibly sporting. Unless his physical face isn't what she was referring to… could she be nursing a care for the young man's reputation? Or maybe she's more apt to be concerned about a family name soon to be as dear to her as her own?

"Well, thank you. I'm…I guess I wasn't stupid enough when I was akid. I needed to get some of it out of my system." There's a shrug from Sonny and a bright, Hollywood smile. "My face is fine, fine. I'm going to straighten my nose back out again once it's healed a little more. And you? You seem to have recovered all right."

Lucrezia's still wearing long sleeves, for what it's worth, but tis the season. Spring never seems to arrive on time in New York City any more — not since nuclear winter — and so it's still sweaters and turtlenecks and tweed for the next several weeks. Had this happened in the summertime, vanity might have kept her inside entirely. She sips her champagne and orange juice nonchalantly before she says with a smile hidden behind the thin rim of her glass, "That must be what Teo sees in you." Once again, though dark eyes are on him. "How is business? Better or worse after your little outburst?" It's time to unscientifically test the theory about whether or not there's such a thing as 'bad' publicity.

If Sonny had wine in his mouth, he would have sputtered it. Fortunately for him, he was just about to take a sip, so he retains his dignity. "Teo's a good friend. And I do hope you're keeping the fact that we know each other under wraps. It wouldn't exactly be good for him if word got around." His smile is slightly strained, wondering just what it is this woman knows. This woman who associates with men who blackmail him into changing other peoples' faces.

"Ah, the same, really. Fortunately for me, these women care more about their looks than a little bad press of their own. New bookings have slowed down, but I'm just as happy for that."

"It would be worse for you, I think…" croons the Italian movie queen, eyes no longer lingering on her tablemate so much as they've taken the opportunity to wander out into the crowd. Lucrezia surveys the place as if it were her exclusive domain; a proxy province of her Royal Suite kingdom hereby proclaimed in her name. "But, who can resist a little taste of the bad boy every now and then, hm?" By the time her gaze swings back to Sonny, she's smiling smugly in a way that seems so familiar. A beat. "I know I can't…" She's ribbing gently but only verbally. Odds are, this isn't supposed to be as much of a veiled threat as it might come across.

Sonny's smile disappears. His expression becomes more neutral - a mask. The defenses are up. "What are you implying?" His shoulders square. His eyes have gone cold. He's clearly not taking it as ribbing. Stiffly, he picks up his glass of wine and swallows a mouthful.

In an unabashed violation of personal space, Lucrezia reaches out to lay a hand on Sonny's knee so that she might be able to support herself without being unseemly when she leans in to disclose her advice discreetly. "Salvatore, women want a good bad boy… not a bad good boy." This phrase is repeated quickly in Italian, as if that might make it clearer even though she knows full well Sonny doesn't speak the language. Anything that requires translation must automatically be received as gospel. She sets her empty champagne flute aside and recalls the hand briefly borrowed by the young man's knee and explains with vague gestures that relate the interaction of her ample breasts to the rest of the world. She presses her palm to her chest and says, "If you're going to continue getting into fist fights at any more parties, you might think about adjusting your image a bit, that's all."

That's…not really what he meant when he asked what she was implying. Sonny clears his throat and continues to look guarded. His hands are folded together and rest on the table. "And why do you care, Lucrezia, about my image?" For an Italian, he doesn't give her name the lyric quality it deserves. That's the problem when you're a born-and-bred New Yorker with three generations of Italian-American relatives. He's got a grandmother from Tuscany, but she's about the only one in the Bianco family who doesn't sound more mobster than European.

However, her expression abruptly falls from a playful, smiling brim to something much more serious as she finally gets down to brass tacks and tackles his original question. "Because someone ought to… since you obviously don't. You're getting sloppy. And you need to think of how the things you do reflect on your family — your father — so either clean up your act and do some charity…" Wearing your own face, buddy. "…or stop screwing around and start screwing up in a publicly acceptable fashion." Sonny probably isn't old enough to really reckon with the irony that's playing out here but there's no doubt that, at some point in Lucrezia's early career, someone sat her down and spewed this same spiel. Only entirely in Italian… and possibly with an accordion playing in the background.

She doesn't get to finger his curls for long. Sonny's hand grabs up and tugs her wrist down. He doesn't hold it for long - just long enough to make it clear that he doesn't appreciate the touch. His jaw sets and he looks her in the eye. It's a hard look, but there's some fear there as well. He doesn't like it when someone found his underbelly - let alone someone like her. He doesn't bother denying it. He can only assume that for some reason Teo told her. Something that he's not especially happy about, judging by the tension that's shot through his entire body.

"This…" he has to force his tone to be as even as possible. "…still doesn't answer the question why this is any of your concern. All my adult life has been spent worrying about how what I do reflects on my father. All of it. Right down to where I eat and where I buy my fucking shoes." All these words are flat and quiet, void of passion that might prick the ears of eavesdroppers. "I don't need a lecture from you."

It wasn't too long ago that she was keeping company with one Ethan Holden and so to make the claim that she can't remember the last time she'd been manhandled might be pushing things a frame or two beyond belief. However, Lucrezia does have the dignity enough look neither surprised nor insulted when he forcefully removes her fingers from his hair. Disappointed, perhaps, since she is so apt to pout at the drop of a hat, but not hurt. "You're right." He is? She readily concedes the point without even the vaguest hint of putting up much further of a fight. With her discarded champagne once again reclaimed, she goes back to staring off into the slowly expanding crowd and remains silent (but not sullen) for a for long and awkward moments. Finally, she offers what she hopes will be an intriguing and fruitful counterpoint: "So, Salvatore, what do you need from me…?" It's always nice to be needed, after all.

While she's watching the crowd, Sonny watches her. "What is your angle, Lucrezia?" He chuckles, but it's a strained, humourless sound. Fingers pusb back through his hair, as if putting the curls back into order. As if she actually pushed them out of place. Vain? Yes. But that was unconscious. "The better question is, what do you want from me? Blackmail? Political favours? See, now is the part where you say you'll ruin me if I don't do what you want." So young. So jaded.

"What could I possibly want from you?" she spews too hastily while wearing only a half-hearted smile. It sounds like an insult, even if it isn't; as if Sonny couldn't possibly possess anything she might have use for. Perhaps his utility has already been exceeded. The truth is… this is her response to rejection. Like and kind. Defend and deflect. Not more than a minute ago, Sonny showed her just how little he wanted to do with her, despite the fact that they're still sharing a booth. She's still sore. Old armor is so often more brittle than appearances might lead one to believe.

"Don't," she says, speaking aloud but not facing him or bothering to clarify until she's had another sip of champagne. With dark eyes unbound from the faceless out of frame, she implores Sonny gently, "Don't make the same mistakes I did." Didn't she tell Teo the same thing? "You need to trust someone. Not everyone is out to do you harm." The subtle insinuation there is that she's trying to be someone and not everyone.

Sonny barks a bit of humourless laughter. "Oh yes. Yes." He rubs his face. "I am supposed to trust a woman who associates with a man who threatened to kill me unless I did work for him. Yes. I'm going to trust you." His words are cold. He too avoids eye contact, instead looking out across the room.

He's quiet for a moment as his eyes skip over the sea of faces. It's a walking tabloid out there. "I do trust someone. The only reason I'm giving you the time of day is because you're his family. And he cares about you."

Lucrezia's head swivels as the incident with Ethan gets an audible mention and she snaps back in a bitter tone, "Did it look like I had much of a choice to you??" She was, after all, only a pair of paces shy from death's door with that gunshot wound to the gut. "What was I supposed to do?! Who do you think shot me in the first place!?" Her voice rises with her ire but swiftly falls when the word 'shot' needs to be uttered. In fact, the entire second phrase is spoken almost completely through a fence of tightly-grit teeth. "You ought to know better than anyone how dangerous it can be to judge something by seeing only what's on the surface."

"If he's your enemy, then why did he call me to help you?" Sonny's jaw sets. He looks her in the eye, as if he can tell by that whether or not she's telling the truth. He leans one elbow on the table and puts a hand to his face. "And why did he shoot you?"

While elsewhere in the city, the concept of 'eye for an eye' is being played out much more literally, Lucrezia's story holds no less as sincere the same sentiment — or, as she phrases it: "A life for a life." Dark eyes go dim as she recalls some not-so-distant memories. "I once saved someone he cared about. In return, he saved me. Of course, he has also done some unforgivable things to someone I care about… but if he hadn't done what he did, I'd be dead or…" You know what? No. Let's not bring up Homeland Security. Not with Sonny. Her champagne suddenly loses all appeal and she sets the glass aside, slowly pushing it out of her way so that she might be able to support the side of her jaw on a curled fist and keep Sonny in her sights while she speaks. "It's funny how the world works, hm?"

"You keep poor company, Lucrezia," says Sonny in a low murmur. He stares into the deep red of the wine that reflects from the Orchid's warm glowing lights. "You can see why associating with you might seem like a bad idea from my perspective, mmm?" The bridge of his nose is pinched between a pair of fingers. "And how your advice might seem dangerous." He picks up the wine glass and tips a little onto his tongue. He swallows.

The former starlet has possibly grown a little too secretly sensitive in her old age; her brittle ego's endured enough blows for tonight. "I think I know a cue to exit when I hear one…" And yet, surprisingly, it's Lucrezia who quietly slides out of the booth and vacates her seat as if she had been the one calling on Sonny in his purposefully unoccupied booth. "Buona notte, bello. Ciao." It's not so much that she has somewhere else she needs to be as she just suddenly feels compelled to be anywhere else than here. She saunters for the coat room and heads for the door without so much as a pause to toss a longing or mournful look over her shoulder before she's gone.

Sonny is a little surprised by her sudden exit, but nevertheless lets her go. He watches her exit with a look of confusion on her face. Strange. She seems sad. Not quite what he was expecting. He lingers only long enough to give her space to leave without them crossing paths again, then he too heads for the door.

February 25th: The Orchestra Adjourns
February 25th: "I'm Sorry"
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