Second Date


cassandra_icon.gif zelda2_icon.gif

Scene Title Second Date
Synopsis Cassandra and Zelda finally meet up for a second date, and discuss many things.
Date October 1, 2018

Cherryblossom Noodle Cafe

The Cherryblossom Noodle Cafe is a famous authentic ramen cafe situated at the northern border of Yamagato Park where 86th street is divided by an overpass and partitioned by a chain link fence. The cafe features a vibrant neon sigh of a cherry blossom tree in full bloom, with vibrant pink petals and a neon blue trunk. The outdoor cafe has stool seating and serves ramen dishes and appetizers prepared by professional chefs. The meals are somewhat high-priced form ramen, but the preparation and presentation are without compare through Yamagato Park.

It has taken a lot of texting, time, and a good deal of patience, trying to get Wilhelmina Falkenrath to get out of her work bubble and into the real world. Doing so has come with its fair share of warnings; Zelda spends a lot of her time and energy on work, and it drains her capacity for other things at times.

She’s also a self-proclaimed hermit, which makes it all the more difficult for the introverted woman to come out of her shell. Social interactions occasionally leave her drained, and she does best with a rest after such ventures.

Her most recent adventure has also brought with it an interesting new development. She’s tested it out as much as she can with television programming, and her hunch that she’s finally manifested has become less of a hunch and more of a certainty — when people lie, it makes Zelda feel less-than-comfortable.

So this date, which Zelda has had scheduled with Cassandra for two weeks now, will likely serve two purposes. One, she can get to know the other girl, who intrigues her enough already; two, she can use Cassandra as a test subject — with the other woman’s knowledge and understanding, of course.

She’s dressed up nicely for this, too — wearing a pair of high-waisted paisley pants in brown and orange, and a yellow tank top that appears to be made of sweater material, and her hair teased out to an enormous pouf, Zelda looks a bit like something out of a 70’s theme party, complete with a pair of rosy-tinted sunglasses. It seems her theme for today was intentional, not to mention fairly stylish.

She’s seated at one of the stools at the Cherryblossom Noodle Cafe, her purse (which, in off-white faux-suede, matches her outfit) set upon the seat next to her to save the spot. She’s already ordered a pot of tea, which she sips quietly as she waits, enjoying the scenery.

It’s not a common thing for Cassandra to go out.

Her days were normally taken up with researching and investigating things for SESA in the small conference room she was given as a workspace, and in the middle of looking over what bit of evidence needed digging into, most of her free time was spent gazing out of the one small window overlooking the bay. All in all, it’s not that bad of a gig, come to think of it. She’s paid well, has a safe place to work, has a safe home, and gets to really make a difference in the world thanks to her ability, but it can get tedious at the best of times. Wilhelmina Zelda Falkenrath has been the victim or beneficiary of that tedium, depending on how one looks at it, with text messages exchanged at a fairly decent clip despite the poor cell service, little conversations had it bite-sized pieces over time.

This evening finds Cassandra dressed in something other than her uniform that she wears for work. Although Zelda certainly has seen her in her SESA uniform once or twice, she’s decided to dress up a little more nicely for their date - their second one, if they’re counting the pizza place as a first one. The cool of the evening as Fall starts to settle in has dictated something comfortable, and Cassandra has chosen, she thinks, very well. A long-sleeved off-the-shoulder in a light cream rests over a dark, well-loved T-shirt advertising some video game from before the war. The t-shirt is tucked into some starched blue jeans with the ankles turned up a little, and cute socks with stylized snails disappear into matching leather shoes. Over it all is a knitted infinity scarf that provides a splash of color - a warm orange that is taken right from the leaves falling off the trees in Central Park.

She actually matches Wilhelmina. This was not planned.

“Well isn’t this lovely?” Cassandra stands behind the saved seat at the bar, leaning over into Zelda’s line of sight, a hand resting on the back of her chair, the other on Zelda’s shoulder. “You know, youp clean up very nicely, Miss Falkenrath.”

Brown eyes turn up, a smile forming across Zelda’s features as Cassandra makes her presence known. The woman stands, wrapping one arm around the shorter woman’s shoulders in a small hug, before moving her purse and gesturing for Cassandra to join her. “So good to see you again,” she murmurs, a small laugh in her voice.

Once seated, Zelda grins over at Cassandra. “Did you hear the radio broadcast the other night? With Quentin Frady being an absolute minger?” She seems…excited? “I think I manifested while he was lying about corporate funding.” She also seems extremely sure that he was lying.

“Sorry to start the ball rolling so suddenly, but I need you to do me a favor. Tell me two truths and one lie.” She grins. “I bet I’ll win every time.”

Cassie was expecting small talk, sharing of tea, holding hands, maybe, if it came to it, but once she’s seated and her satchel is placed on the little hook between her legs on the back of the counter that Zelda chose for them to sit at. She scoots around after the hug and moves Zelda’s bag over, placing it on the hook next to hers, out of the way and easily accessible for money while being utterly accessible to anyone who isn’t supposed to have access to. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Two weeks of anticipation distilled into one moment that started about twenty seconds ago.”

“I did hear the radio broadcast. I was hoping for something a little more debate worthy, not people just bashing Yamagato and trying to get that Quentin fellow’s financial records. He really needs to think some things through before speaking. Listening to the verbal gymnastics he was having to go through was entertaining, and hearing your lovely voice over it all was nice as well. You are very well spoken, and the accent certainly gained you a few fans.”

Cassandra blinks. “Manifested? Like, last night at the speech on the radio? That’s wonderful.” She bounces a little taking Zelda’s hands in hers and giving them a squeeze. “What? Two truths and a lie? Um…okay?” She’s not normally deceitful, so she goes with the obvious first. “We are in a restaurant. You are wearing pants. I am wearing a dress.” Two truths and a lie, easily discerned by looking. She’ll do the cute ones later.

The little white lie elicits a slight response from Zelda — for a moment, she flinches ever-so-slightly. She can’t help but laugh softly. “Give me something more complicated than that — obviously the last one was false.” She grins.

“But I felt it. It’s like…an uncomfortable knot suddenly appears in my stomach.” She pats her belly. “And I can feel it all the way to my fingers and behind my eyes.” She taps one finger against her forehead, watching Cassandra with a faint smile.

“Sorry I’m dominating the conversation with this, I just…I’ve known since they started testing that I was Evolved, and I’m sure I’ve finally got my ability, after thirty-three years.” She giggles a bit, leaning a little closer to Cassandra for a moment. Then, she turns to the owner of the restaurant, ordering two Tonkatsu Ramens and a bottle of sake.

“So, wait, how does this work exactly?” Cassandra settles into her seat, motioning to add a second of the soy eggs to her bowl as she turns back to Zelda. “You hear a lie and you actually have a physical reaction to it? That’s…” she searches for the words. “That’s amazing.”

Truth. Zelda doesn’t feel anything negative there. And it may make work a little more difficult. Cable news, certainly, will be a big no-no, assuming there’s such a thing at Yamagato or in the safe zone outside of the one conspiracy-laden radio show. Cassie pushes a lock of hair behind her ear and studies the other woman for a second. “Hmm…let’s see. Things you couldn’t know were truth or lie. I’m fluent in french creole for one, I enjoy spending time at work, and I’m not wearing any underwear.” One of those might be half-true.

“Which one of those is the lie, Miss Zelda?” She grins, winking.

It’s the half-truth that has Zelda wrinkling her nose and flinching slightly — though it seems weaker than the lies she was watching on court TV. “I think…you’re actually wearing underwear? That one feels false” He ability isn’t good enough to pinpoint what’s being lied about, just that she knows what is a lie and what isn’t. It also doesn’t stop her from blushing a bit.

She lifts a hand, playing with a strand of curled hair. “It’s fascinating. If it’s as good as I think it is, I might see if I can do more for both Yamagato and SESA.” Assuming it’s in her employment contract that she can do such a thing.

After a moment, she offers a coy smile. “Oh, so consider yourself a lucky first wave invitee. I’ve somehow been placed in charge of a Jidai Matsuri here at Yamagato Park next month — it’s another reason I haven’t been able to go out as often as I’d like, and why I had to postpone last week.”

“Correct.” Cassandra says with a smirk. “The last one was a half-truth, really. I am wearing underwear. Mostly. So.” She leaves that for Zelda to figure out. So bold, Cassandra is, the woman giggling and flirty. She’s obviously comfortable around Zelda, otherwise she wouldn’t say such things, actually reaching out to touch the other woman’s hand for just a second before the sake is brought, the cups clinking on their little plates as they are set down in front of the pair.

“SESA would certainly be able to use you. A truth detector would do wonders in interrogations. Even the courts or defense attorneys would love to just have you sitting on the bench next to them to say when things are true or not. There’s only so much I can do with my ability - it doesn’t work on living people in real time, like yours seems to do.” Cassandra smiles, turning her body toward Zelda a little more, crossing her legs and gently bumping the other woman’s foot.

The mention of a matsuri causes a little bit of a wrinkling of brow followed by a blink. “A…a what?”

The taller woman laughs softly, shaking her head — her cheeks are burning right now. The touch to her hand only makes that even more of an issue, and she turns, smiling to Cassandra as her fingers briefly brush hers. “I don’t think I can tell the difference between half-truths and lies, it’s just…knowing when someone isn’t being truthful.” She laughs.

“I’ll have to check to see if I have any non-competition clause in my employment contract,” Zelda replies, laughing. “It’s nice to know that my ability will ensure that I will never go without a good job, though.” Man, it would have done wonders in the law practice.

“It’s a fall festival,” she continues, dipping her head. “Lots of costumes and music, and so much food, and games…” She grins. “Somehow, I’ve found myself in charge of organizing it all. I’m the last person I would think of for such a thing, but…well.”

So it's binary. How interesting. Cassie will have to let the higher up people in SESA know about the potential for cross-corporate assistance. If Zelda approves, of course. “It's an opportunity.” She says with a smile, taking up her same cup between thumb and forefinger, lifting it and smelling it before taking a small sip. “What's the celebration for? Just fall in general, or something else? Yamagato was getting beaten up last night by that radio guy. Everyone pretty much knows he's in the pocket of Praxis, but he never commits.”

“Well, the festival I’ve been told to draw inspiration from,” Zelda starts, lifting her sake cup and taking a small whiff, “is traditionally a celebration of Japanese history, largely the history of when Kyoto was the capital city of Japan.” She’s already done some research. “There’s usually a parade with costumes from different periods of time.”

She pauses, throwing back her first cup of sake. “I’m focusing a lot on community, and putting a large emphasis on food, as well as games and activities.” She smiles sheepishly. “I’m kind of flying by the seat of my pants, here.” She laughs at the remark about Quentin. “Oh, he’s lying about his lack of involvement — that’s where I manifested. Almost threw up on some poor kid who had the mic before me.”

She’s going to make sure Quentin’s life is difficult, too, once she gets her registration updated.

Cassandra and drinking is a fun thing to do. She doesn’t do it often due to the cost required and the potential issues with her ability if she drinks too much, but a little nip, now and again, is something she can handle fairly well. There’s also the advantage of being a cheap date, since not that much alcohol can be used to generate the same effect as a lot of alcohol on someone that drinks a lot. The cup, once drained, is set back down on the plate that it came from, the white porcelain bottle lifted and another cup poured for Zelda. She at least has the manners down for sake drinking.

“Yeah, I heard him. It really made sense, what he said, about concentrating on making now better instead of rebuilding the past to the way it was before. I mean, I can remember life from before the war, but anyone who’s, like twenty? The world as is is all they’ve ever known. I just hope that people can figure something else out that helps.” She gestures to Zelda. “Your Matsuri might be a good place to start.”

Turning toward Zelda, Cassandra gauges the time she has to chat - plenty, she thinks, judging from the stack of tickets the Ramen guys are quickly burning through. “Where are you planning to have it? Location is probably the most important thing. If you do it at Yamagato Park, it’d be considered just for your company and those associated with it…” She trails off, thoughtful. “Have you thought of using this as an opportunity to…y’know…establish Yamagato somewhere else in the zone? Find a neighborhood or something with a lot of space, rehabilitate it, and then have the festival there. Bring food and clean water and power in to help support the festival and then, when you’re done, leave the infrastructure in place, but deed it over to the city or something as a gesture of goodwill. Hell, have neighborhoods actually compete or do some research for where could use the most help and go there. Or somewhere super public, like Red Hook. Just on the edge of Park Slope?”

The woman smiles brightly, leaning her chin against one hand as she watches Cassandra talk. After a moment, she reaches up, brushing a hair away from the woman’s face. “That young man was remarkable. He’s certainly got a way with words.” She chuckles softly.

“I’ve actually got express permission — this will all be set here in Yamagato Park, and it will be open to the entire safe zone.” She smiles, lifting her tea to alternate — she’ll pace herself so she doesn’t get too inebriated around Cassandra. “This is, after all, as much a public relations bid as it is a celebration.”

She finally lifts her sake cup, throwing it back. She doesn’t accept a refill just yet. “It plays to the employees of Yamagato — a good portion of them are from Japan.” She’s picked up a good deal of Japanese just working here. “And it also serves to bring the public in, to know that we are not a cold, unfeeling corporate entity — we are here to help.”

She, at least, has a lofty view of what her company means.

It’s not that she’s trying to get Wilhelmina drunk, but just following protocol. You drink sake, your friend drinks sake, you refill their glass, plain and simple. She doesn’t refill her glass at all, sitting back and nodding along with Zelda as she speaks, the sake bottle set aside.

“It’s a great idea, but there will be a few detractors just because of where it’s being held. I understand why it’s being held there, though.” Surely the dark-skinned woman has thought of this stuff. Public relations aren’t Cassandra’s thing, at all, but she can see it as more of Yamagato allowing the public into their realm instead of going out into the territories while making their Japanese employees feel a little bit better, as it were. “Do the Yamagato employees need to be played to, though?”

“It’s more of a cultural thing, I think,” she replies, leaning back in her seat and crossing her legs at the ankle. “Inviting the public into our space, and letting them share in our culture. Have you seen Japanese Matsuris?” The Briton laughs. “I’ve been watching videos and looking at pictures, and they are amazing. Food for miles, fun games, and I’m planning on opening some stalls so local businesses can have a part too.” Those flyers are set to go live soon.

“As to the employees…well, morale is down a bit, it seems, what with all of the turmoil outside of the park. They listen to the radio just as much as everyone else, and they hear the outcries against Yamagato.” Zelda finally lifts her sake cup, raising it to Cassandra.

“Mostly, I hope I don’t make a disaster of this.” She’s so nervous.

“You just do your best. Make it affordable and accessible to everyone who wants to come. Drum up some good publicity for Yamagato, donate any leftovers to the local food banks to help feed people, if there are any leftovers, and make people aware that they’re welcome.” There’s no twisting in Zelda’s stomach when Cassandra says this - so what she’s saying is earnest, if not true in her eyes.

“And no, I’ve never seen a Japanese Matsuri. The biggest festival I ever went to was Mardi Gras, but that was before the war. I’d imagine it would be something like that, minus the floats and beads and public intoxication. I look forward to seeing yours, though.”

Zelda watches the woman, a smile on her face. “That’s the plan,” she replies — the donation thing is definitely a good idea that she’ll spin to Kam, too. “It’s a little like that, but with more Shintoism thrown in, and lots of tradition is baked into every one that I’ve seen.” She seems excited. “We’re probably flying in some vendors, as well, to offer some traditional Matsuri food. I’m personally looking forward to some Taiyaki.”

She then gets a small smile, reaching for Cassandra’s hand. “Also, we’ll be finishing up the festival with a gala. And I was thinking,” she squeezes her hand, “that you could be my plus one.”

The food arrives, and after a small caress of her fingertips over Cassandra’s knuckles, Zelda pulls away to start devouring her food.

There will be issues - there always are - but Cassandra hopes that things go well for Zelda and the planning of the Matsuri. It’ll take a lot to rehabilitate Yamagato in the eyes of those in the safe zone, but the effort will, of course, be appreciated. The trick, of course, will be to make the celebration about the Safe Zone and its residents, not about Yamagato showing off it’s wealth and power.

Cassandra sits back as the steaming bowl of ramen is slid in front of her. She smiles and pushes her hair back, leaning back in to take a deep sniff of the scented steam rising from the perfectly made broth, two lightly seasoned eggs floating in there, just waiting to be eaten. “I haven’t been here in months.” she says off-handedly, getting her spoon, dipping it in and taking a sip of the stuff, letting out a soft sigh of delight. “It’s good.”

The mention of the plus one at the end gets a little bit of a smile. “Why miss Zelda, are you asking me out on an official date date?” Like this wasn’t one already.

“I probably get this a little more than I should,” Zelda replies after slurping down a spoonful of noodles and a small piece of the pork. “But it’s so good, I can’t help it.” She grins, pulling another chopstick full of noodles out, rolling it onto her spoon. From there, she fills the rest of the deep spoon with a bit of broth, placing some of the pork and a few pieces of pickled ginger up top.

She glances to Cassandra at her question, laughing softly. “Why miss Cassandra, I do believe that I am,” she replies in her best imitation of a ‘royal’ accent.

British accents in the States are posh, no matter who’s saying it. Zelda could be talking about the weather or the price of bananas in the market and it would sound prim and proper. Cassandra can only smile and bob her head in the affirmative, slurping a noodle up before pushing her hair behind one ear with her free hand. She’s good with the chopsticks, too, swirling them in the broth to stir up the settled out bits before slurping from the bowl as is proper in a Ramen restaurant.

“I’ll have to find a dress. Formal isn’t something I do very often.” She says after swallowing her mouthful.

“Well,” Zelda replies, washing down a mouthful of ramen with a swig of water, “I am in need of a dress, as well.” She grins over at Cassandra, leaning toward her and resting her chin in her hand, elbow resting on the top of the bar. “Perhaps you could join me and we could be that corny couple in complementary clothing.”

A couple, hmm? That’s daring — but then, the sake is probably helping Zelda’s sense of confidence along.

“I suppose it all depends on what kind of dress we need to get together.” Cassandra sets her chopsticks straddling the edge of her bowl, slurping the rest of her noodles and wiping her mouth with her napkin. “You know better than I do, what to expect. Would we be expected to be in high fashion? Kimonos? I mean…” She glances away for a second. “I wouldn’t know what to even think.” Not to mention Emily would probably be there, too.

“It’s a halloween gala, so we could really be anything we like,” Zelda replies, smiling over at the woman. “I’m sure I will have to don a kimono at some point during the week-long affair, but whether you want to or not is entirely up to you.” She dabs at her own mouth, before taking another swig of water.

After a moment, she reaches out, attempting to take Cassandra’s hand in a shy gesture, emboldened by the small amount of sake. “Regardless, I’m sure you’ll look stunning in whatever you wear.”

“Now who’s the one telling lies?” Cassandra giggles softly as she turns her hand over for Zelda to take it on top of the counter, giving the other woman’s hand a squeeze. “I’m not the best person to dress up. I'm more comfortable in jeans and a loose shirt than a dress that makes my butt look amazing and costs more than I make in a month.” Even kimonos would be far beyond her means.

“I mean, I would love to, schedules permitting. I'm just afraid I'd embarrass you.” All true, according to Zelda’s newly minted powers.

“But it’s not a lie,” Zelda replies. “You’re beautiful.” The woman smiles faintly, reaching out to gently push Cassandra’s hair back. “I have a surplus of funds, as I don’t tend to buy much for myself beyond tea and business suits,” she adds, reaching to gently take Cassandra’s hand. “So two outfits for the Gala ball just so happens to be within my budget.”

She suddenly lifts the woman’s hand, planting a small kiss on her knuckles. “I promise, you couldn’t embarrass me if you tried.”

Cassandra blushes - really blushes - at that kiss against her knuckles. “It's so much, though…I mean…being stylish isn't cheap.” And it's not. With Europe closed off, England super anti-evo, and money limited, getting anything high fashion out of anywhere besides Yamagato is almost p impossible. Still, she bobs her head shortly in tentative agreement. “I mean…we’ll have to go shopping. And I don't want you to spend a lot.”

“It’s like I said,” Zelda replies, quietly running her fingers along Cassandra’s knuckles. “I have an issue of surplus funds lately, and it’s positively burning a hole in my pocket.” She chuckles softly. “We’ll have to get you a yukata.” She reaches up, then, gently brushing Cassandra’s hair away from her face. “Pull back your hair, and you’ll look…well. You always look good.”

She chuckles softly, only reluctantly pulling away from Cassandra to continue her meal. “No matter what, I’m excited to have you as my plus one.”

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