When It Rains...


bella_icon.gif leonardo_icon.gif

Scene Title When It Rains…
Synopsis Bella goes on the first of her two scheduled dates. Raphael demonstrates an interest in her professional career, as well as her personal life.
Date November 9, 2009

Leonardo's Apartment

Having put other people to work who are more than qualified to handle his duties, Leonardo has taken most of the day off to get to know a certain therapist. She's been invited to his apartment for lunch, since there's a highly paid maid who really needs to earn her keep and cook something. He's dressed as casual as possible, which for him is wearing an expensive casual suit with the jacket worn open and a white buttoned up shirt worn over a black cotton shirt, and no tie. He's even got dark-blue jeans on!

He's sitting in the spacious living room which one enters after exitting a long hall and various room doors. It's rather well-furnished with quite a few statues, ranging from figurine sized, to the one 1/1 statue sitting in the corner, a metal version of the Birth of Venus. Virtually all of his statues are metal, and compliment the artwork on the walls quite nicely.

His blue couch is a crescent shape, quite long and obviously made for lots of people, and in front of that is an oval shaped metallic coffee table, no edges at all, across from a very impressive entertainment center and what appears to be a large white sheet above it, covering a large portion of the wall. Possibly for a projector?

She's very happy that it's lunch he asked her to, since Bella knows that an offer to come over for dinner would have been one she'd have to politely refuse and (don't tell Leonardo) Bella doesn't feel in any position to refuse much any offer at this point. Years of ignoring her essential loneliness or, rather, aloneness, have finally built up, and she has to basically drill herself on the proper etiquette and progression of dating to avoid her trying to jump the gun. She's a woman in a man's world and, much as she wish it weren't the case, she's got to play the game if she wants to stay on top.
The address is not hard to find, and Bella immediate wishes she'd worn something just a touch further up the posh-scale when she looks up at the gorgeous building Leonardo calls home. She imagines this to be the sort of place top-knotch call girls and dual super/fashion models go when on dates. She's upper middle class, don't get her wrong, but this is /way/ out of her socio-economic comfort zone. The butterflies in her stomach have more to do with the feeling that she's a less adorable Eliza Doolittle than with excitement over Leonardo himself, but she's more than happy to let him change that. She's in a nice silk blouse, steel grey, with malachite dangly earrings and some bangles on her left wrist. Her trousers are black with white pinstripes, sort of masculine, but with a very feminine cut, which she thinks represents her well. Her shoes, low heels, were a steal at the price she bought them, which still wasn't low, and might be the priciest thing in her ensemble. Still, she feels half mortified as she buzzes through the front doors and hits the elevator up to Leonardo's flat.
When she arrives at his door she takes a good fifteens second to compose herself, adjusting the purse at her shoulder and doing a quick makeup check. All right. Here goes. She knocks.

Figuring it might be a tad showy to have his maid answer, Leonardo answers himself, smiling a more genuine smile than she may have seen at the Center. He's in his own element now, there's no one to fool or lie to, but there's still an obvious guard. Can't let a strange woman get into your head on your second meeting! He's not very nervous at all, in fact he comes off quite confident, more curious to learn about her than anything else on his mind. "Welcome, Isabella. Make yourself at home. When you've got an idea of what you'd like for lunch, the maid will start preparing everything, but there's no rush."
From afar, Candy snickers.

Okay, now the butterflies are shifting to the right causal orientation. Bella sees him, sees the jeans in particularly, at starts to feel more at ease money/class-wise; he's obviously classy enough to not make you feel classless. This gives her room to be wowed by his looks and his various assets. Bella's not looking for love, not right now, and better she fall in love with someone living like /this/, right? She smiles, as dazzlingly as she can manage, which really isn't too shabby, and steps into Leonardo's demesne.
"Thank you, Leonardo. It's such a relief to get away from work for a while. I'm glad we bumped into each other last night. I'm sorry I had to leave so quickly. I'm not afraid to say I was hoping you'd call. I'm pleased you called so soon." Bella tries not to come on too strong, to apply just the level of flirtation that will make him know he's free to woo her. She's in the mood to be wooed. She moves over to the couch, and sets her purse on the coffee table, before looking around. Metal statues, everywhere. And a metal table. An interior design sense with a real theme behind it. Bella considers whether or not it would be appropriate to talk interior design on a date. Does it count as an 'interest'? She settles for something almost-but-not-quite.
"These are beautiful statues," she remarks, "Are you a collector?"

"I was more than happy. You're a beautiful woman, and even from the short time we spoke it was evident that you're someone with a real story." Leonardo stands, offering his hand to guide her over to his life-sized Birth of Venus, the only statue in the room that's on a 1/1 scale. "I made these. I spent years perfecting my Birth of Venus. Though it'll probably be a long time before I consider her a completed work, I often make little changes here and there when I feel my skills and eye for detail have increased. I suppose she's my pet project."

Bella wonders what Wendy would think of his work. Bella is, herself, very impressed, but she knows so little of art that impressing her is an easy task. She looks from the work, to Leonardo, then back, then again to him, trying to imagine the process that caused the naked woman in the shell to emerge from the mind and talent of this well dressed gentleman. "Why this particularly image? Botticelli, right? Something about it speak to you? Do you dream of the perfect woman emerging from the foam before your eyes?" Her smile is a touch coquettish, and she looks flattered at his compliments without addressing or answering them directly.

"Botticelli, yes." Leonardo casually confirms, moving to raise her hand against the cheek of the work, showing that it's alright to touch. "I suppose you could say that I like a powerful woman, not in status, but in personality, and it doesn't get much stronger than a red=headed goddess." he teases, grinning before he starts to head back to the couch.

Bella's brow arches, but she's still smiling. Very forward. That's not a bad thing. She reaches out to run her fingernails against the ridges of the goddess's hair. "Then this is a Pygmalion project?" she teases, "An attempt to make the perfect woman," she turns towards Leonardo, remaining standing, though she plans to sit down soon, give her leg a rest, "How do you do it? Make them? I know a sculptor, but I've never asked about metal work. I imagine a big warehouse and a blast mask… but I have a hard time imagining you in that setting."

"I assure you, the only perfect woman is one made of flesh and bone, and I'm currently incapable of making such a creation." Leonardo gestures down the hall with all the doors lined up, the one leading to the exit of his apartment. "I have a room, soundproof and generally smellproof, the room's air is regulated by vents so I don't do a pesky thing like die. And there's rarely a need for a blast mask, I typically wear protective glasses, and I suppose you could say I solder the metal, which is quite safe and doesn't involve big torches or anything. Powerful torches are usually what I use when I'm carving out the general shapes of a project, the rest is very meticulous and detailed work that you simply can't get from blazing fire, thus, the use of soldering irons."

Bella takes a slightly arced path towards the couch, glancing towards his other works before taking a seat next to Leonardo, maintaining a respectable distance, a distance just asking to be closed over the course of the conversation. Bella crosses her legs, guiding her injured limb up onto her healthy one with a subtle hand, then turning to gaze at Leonardo, considering his words. "I'd like to see you at work sometime, if that wouldn't be too intrusive. You'll have to tell me what to wear, though, since I imagine this," she gestures at her ensemble, "Wouldn't do."

"Of course you could. As long as a work isn't inspired by the person who's viewing, then I'm always happy to let someone watch." Leonardo gestures to the entrance that leads into the kitchen, then shifts his body with one knee up on the couch to face her, his arm resting on the back of it. "So, have you decided what you'd like for lunch? And we can watch a movie if you'd like. I've had this HD Projector for a while, but I've been too busy to really use it."

Bella grins, "So if you refuse to let me see you latest project in progress, I'll know I've had an effect on you," she teases. It's a bit much, she feels, but what the hell? Gotta plunge in head first. Still, she takes the topic of food, a rather tame one, and uses it as an effective escape route. "I think I'd like a pasta dish. Pesto dressing, some white wine. Not too much, though. Something I can enjoy slowly, take my time with." Which is to suggest she's happy to stay for a while. "If we do watch a film, let's make it something we can discuss. I'd like to get to know you, Leonardo. Your opinions, thoughts, fascinations."

"Anna, make some sort of pasta, with pesto dressing. Since it's not every day, or even every month that I take an interest in anything other than business, please, get the Montrachet for my guest." Leonardo instucts, the woman apparently already knowing what he wants for lunch. She's moderately attractive, in a modest uniform, though her general demeanor suggests that they don't have much of a personal relationship beyond employer and maid. "Well, Evolved are a generally popular topic these days. What sort of movie would you like? I'm sure we can order it." he assures, scooting a bit closer to her.

Bella does take note of the way Leonardo and his maid interact. Having attractive help sort of begs a few questions, ones that Bella doesn't consider irrelevant to her current situation. The professional interchange doesn't carry any awkwardness and charge that she can detect, so she figures at least if there's something going on it's very discreet. She reacts to increased proximity by leaning back a little, as if to say 'well, if an arm happened to find its way back here I wouldn't necessarily complain'. She gives a small laugh, "Surprise me. Show me something you think I'd like to see. I want to get a measure of your measure of me. It'll let me know if I'll end up surprising you," she says, lips curling in a smile.

"Hmm, something I think you'd like to see…" Leonardo eventually ends up with only a foot of couch inbetween them, and his arm on the back of the couch is behind her, but not touching her. The maid's disappeared into the kitchen, and she knows how to stay quiet. When he grabs the remote, the lights dim a bit, and the projector picture is quite clear (It is an HD projector) as he clicks through various menus. "You seem like a woman who's likely politically minded enough for a movie like Milk, and perhaps when you're not trying to impress, WALL-E." he jokes, smiling over at her. See, he doesn't bite! "Surprisingly, both movies really raise a lot of questions about the state of society right now."

"Oh, I /love/ Pixar to /death/," Bella says, and her enthusiasm seems genuine. Then again, who with taste doesn't appreciate Pixar? "I actually haven't seen WALL-E yet. I heard someone on the bus complain about it, and… I have no idea why, but it stopped me from ever bothering to see it. You say it comments on society? I had no idea. The idiot on the bus just said it was boring. Teaches me not to believe just anyone!"

"You have to paint a very obvious picture for a slow mind to understand anything." Leonardo clicks on the movie, ordering it and sitting back with her to watch as the smell of pasta begins to flow into the room. "The movie is as much environmental as it is about our increasing dependance on technology."

Bella pushes off her shoes, toe to heel, and then carefully pulls her legs up onto the couch, bare feet clean and pale pink as she draws them up next to herself. She leans against the back of the couch, her hair falling back to brush Leonardo's arm. Everything is precisely where it ought to be, in Bella's mind, as she watches the screen, nodding at Leonardo's analysis. "I'm intrigued."

"But you know, I'm curious about you as well. What do you do exactly? I'm aware that you're possibly some sort of doctor." Leonardo figured out that much from what she said at the Suresh Center. When her hair brushes his arm, the arm carefully slides from the couch and around her shoulders. "And, if you don't mind me asking, where do you see yourself in the next five years? I ask potential employees that question too, but it's not so much a business question as much as something that simply tells you a lot about a person and how they view their lives, and life in general."

"Oh, I'm sure. And companies make employees register their relationships with each other. Not outright denying, just taking note. Businesses want to know all that about people. It's not unimportant," Bella says, with a wry but playful edge, cynical, but not a downer. More like 'isn't it clever?' She clears her throat, wiggling a bit as she straightens herself. "I, Isabella Sheridan, am a medical doctor with a specialty in psychiatry, and a further specialty in Evolved psychological research. In five years… I see myself conducting important studies with the help of the Suresh center and various investors, learning more about the specifics of Evolved psychology, and even pioneering new treatments suited to their specific needs."

"Very noble work, and brave, considering that people seemingly in support of Evolved become targets. Tell me, if you don't mind me asking, are you Evolved?" Leonardo asks, though his tone suggests it's not a very big deal, a thumb subtly caressing her shoulder. "I took the company from my father a few years ago, so I suppose you could say that I'm exactly where I want to be five years from now, though I intend to gradually rebuild Midtown and make Staten safe and civil again."

ella's only response to the brush of the thumb is to lift her shoulder the barest fraction of an inch towards the touch. "No, I'm not. And, in a way, despite my fascination, I'm glad of that. Having advocates for the Evolved and Evolved study who don't seem to have a person, vested interest, is important. And I would never know if I was being objected," she dips her head, perusing Leonardo from the corner of her eyes, "And what about you? Do you have some power I'm going to find out about?"

Bella's only response to the brush of the thumb is to lift her shoulder the barest fraction of an inch towards the touch. "No, I'm not. And, in a way, despite my fascination, I'm glad of that. Having advocates for the Evolved and Evolved study who don't seem to have a person, vested interest, is important. And I would never know if I was being objected," she dips her head, perusing Leonardo from the corner of her eyes, "And what about you? Do you have some power I'm going to find out about?"

"Well I've certainly never been tested." Leonardo offers as a kind of non-answer, not appearing to be overtly suspicious, but it could be the kind of answer one gives when they have no intention of lying, but also no intention of saying more than they have to. "And you're correct, the Evolved do need their share of non-Evolved advocates. But, tell me, what exactly would you do if you suddenly came into a large investor?"

This would be a great time to pull the old 'ah, but I thought this was pleasure, not business', but not only is that line extremely tired and cheesy, he's also (potentially) insinuating an opportunity that, if it were to come through, might mean big things for her. She tries to behave like the question is entirely hypothetical, which, to be fair, it might be. "I'd… try and set up a clinic for people suffering psychological distress in relation to their Evolved status or, better, for all Evolved suffering distress regardless of how it relates to their being Evolved."

"And this isn't something you could use the Suresh Center for?" Leonardo wonders, though it's more one of those questions you ask when you simply want more information than something he didn't already know. "How exactly would you run this clinic? Do you have staff in mind?"

"I would definitely need staff," Bella says, admittedly getting caught up in the planning. It's something of a dream for her, and it's hard not to talk about one's dreams, especially if someone actually seems interested, "Young psychologists, ideally. Ones with open minds and an active interest in the differences between Evolved neuroanatomy and average, unexceptional neuroanatomy. I'd want to treat, but I'd want every treatment to yield research, increase the body of knowledge. And yes… I imagine I could, though I'd want dedicated space at the Center, not just rented space."

"It's nice to know you're ambitious. It's certainly something to think about. When you leave and have free time, why don't you think hard on the specifics and drop off a proposal some time?" Leonardo suggests, though again he has that casual 'Don't sweat it' air about him, someone who's used to handling this sort of business. "Is there anything else you'd like to know about me? Since I've certainly just learned a lot about you."

This offer complicates things, since Bella isn't exactly sure what is expected of her to make this deal happen. She wants that financial backing, but she doesn't want to actually whore herself out for it. And if she acts like she /is/ whoring herself out, he might not actually be a low down like that and he'll be horrified at her lack of principle and… ah, it makes the head spin. She opts to believe in his honesty and decency. "Yes, Leonardo. There is. I'd like to know who it is you are. Because I don't read Forbes or Fortune 500, and even the Wall Street Journal gives me a headache. Just precisely who is it I'm sharing a couch with at this moment?"

"Who am I?" Leonardo doesn't answer right away, he actually gives it some thought. "Well, I was more or less raised in this environment, though I can't say I was ever quite handed things. My parents made it a point to teach me the lesson that everything I have can be taken away and then earned back again with enough hard work. My company, Maxwell Development Corporation, is rather large. We have properties and businesses scattered all over the city. We're a real estate company, but we also make money from sources that are only indirectly related, like high class restaurants. We find a potential owner, then let them run the place to their liking, we simply get a share of the profits and have them regularly inspected to make sure they stay successful. As President, I have a lot of duties, but most of my duties involve making sure people are doing what they need to do, and making company-wide decisions. I like to think that I'm improving the city, or at least working toward that goal, and making money all at the same time. In no way do I believe I'm better than anyone else because of wealth or status, I make discreet donations to charities and causes all the time, I believe my money should be spent to better the world when I'm not entertaining myself, don't you agree?"

"A valiant tycoon, a real cavalier in Armani," Bella says, grinning, "So that's why you were at the memorial? Paying your generous respects to the fallen?"

"I regularly donate to the Center, I thought visiting the memorial was the least I could do." Leonardo's thumb never ceases its subtle action, still occasionally paying attention to the movie. "I try very hard not to let my lifestyle cloud me as a person, and I certainly wouldn't want to come off as a rich and pretentious jerk. The things like the thousand dollar wine, well, that's to impress, not to say 'Hey look at me, I buy expensive stuff', but more 'I care more about making an impression than saving a few dollars'."

"So you want to make an impression, but not impress? It's a fine distinction, but I think I understand. It would be disingenuous to act as if you were poor, but you're not interested in acting rich for the sake of it," Bella suggests, flirting a bit with personality analysis. She frowns slightly, "Are you afraid you might accidentally become a pretentious jerk, if you're not careful? Are you concerned your money might start owning you, as opposed to the other way around?"

"I'm used to being surrounded by money, it's not something that can shape my personality any further than it already is. My true concerns are how it affects other people, and while I can do or say certain things because I have the power to, I certainly shouldn't. I have to remember that money has its place." Leonardo nods to her, before proceeding to make a point. "I could offer you or anyone else a car without really batting an eyelash, but it'd be inappropriate, it would be, well, buying you, and I'd much prefer you were attracted to something other than my ability to buy a car. On the other hand, if we've been, well, intimate, for a reasonable period of time, and we'd quite close, then it's far more reasonable that I might buy you an expensive gift, because you can't buy someone you already have."

Bella reaches up over her shoulder to where his hand tickles her. She clasps it, drawing it gently down, letting him rest it there, her own fingers slid over his. The gesture is totally in the background, not seeming connected to anything he says or how she replies. "Interesting. So its alright to spend considerable amounts of money on your intimates, but only /after/ they're intimate with you. How do you make sure that they're just trying to become intimate long enough to get a car out of you?"

"I've yet to have a relationship long enough to get to the gift buying stage. These socialite women, they're used to having everything handed to them, they don't realize that I actually have a career and cannot drop everything and take them to Spain." Leonardo shakes his head, apparently not objecting to the movement of his head. "So a few months later, which would be now, I've decided that perhaps it's time I attempted to date a mature career woman."

Bella tilts her head, giving Leonard a canny smile. "I appreciate your candor," she says, "Usually the line is 'there is just something about you, something I can't define, that draws me to you' or something like that. You're making a reasoned decision asking me over. Asking someone /like me/ over. You're lucky I'm cozy with statistics. I don't know how many other girls would like this level of honesty."

"Well, I also intend to get to know you more, but yes, I thought it was important that we relate on that one thing first." Leonardo scoots over just a bit more, closing in that one foot gap. "I understand that you're busy sometimes, and you understand that I'm busy. We have important jobs, but it'd also be nice to relax with a like-minded individual. I'm sure you can understand."

"I can see that business-like mind at work," Bella says, and she does sound impressed. Her expression is considering, and she leans just a little into the contact with him. "So you're looking for a regular thing, but not a tryst where we both compromise our careers in the name of passion? I like the sound of that."

"More or less. There's no reason passion can't be involved, as long as it's smart non-career threatening passion." Leonardo snickers, and the maid enters with their plates, sitting them on the coffee table. Bella has what she asked for, an exquisitely prepared pasta dish, and he has a grilled chicken stir-fry. "So why don't you tell me about how you grew up? If it's not too personal."

This is something to think about. Leonardo is a particular sort of man, an uncommon sort of man, and that demands an uncommon way of thinking from Bella. Luckily she enjoys such exercises. She leans forward and smells the delicious meal. "This must be the next best thing to having man who can cook. Or maybe it's vice versa."

"Well I am paying her, so that's one way to look at it." Leonardo smiles at the maid, then nods. "Thanks, Anna. You can excuse yourself until dinner, go out and have fun." he offers as he dismisses her, then removes his arm from Bella so he can lean forward and take his fork. "Now, let's eat and relax, just enjoy yourself while we watch the movie, we've got all day."

Bella takes her own utensils in hand. "Cleared your schedule for me, did you?" she says, with a sly smile, "I'm flattered, Leonardo."

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