01.04.3014: A Different Tune
Summary: Jane and Rook have another etiquette mini-lesson on Mare Maris, but the conversation is much deeper than that.
Date: 2 November 2013
Related: None
Ithaca Jane 

The Grotto - New Atlantis, Mare Maris
This restaurant specializes in seafood, of course, including sushi. It is done up in soothing shades of blue, grey, and sea green, with dcor resembling the ocean visible outside the windows. Along the windows, tables that can seat four are bordered by comfortable armchairs. The inner wall is lined with one solid booth structure, with smaller tables scattered along the curve with a squared armchair on the other side. The floors are a cool-toned slate, and the subtle lighting adds to the sense of being underwater.
4 January 3014

Rook likes Mare Maris. She did some work here, helping with an overpopulation of sharks, and she's come back a few times to visit on her own. She hasn't been inside the city of New Atlantis before, so she's adjusting a little to the concept of being underwater. At the end of the day, it's much the same as being on a space station - don't go outside. That's simple enough. She stands outside the Grotto restaurant, waiting to meet with Jane for her next lesson, dressed simply in leather breeches and a loose blouse under a battered canvas jacket.

"What? No heels? Tsk," Jane greets Ithaca outside of the restaurant, offering her companion a charming smile while she snaps open a pocket mirror to double-check her hair. Not a tendril out of place at the moment, which is just the way she likes it. She snaps the mirror shut and slips it into her tiny purse before eyeballing the Grotto curiously. "Do not laugh at me, my dear, but I have never been to Mare Maris. I was almost going to save myself for Lady Eirene, but I'm actually grateful for the opportunity to get a glimpse before she takes us about. I do not want to look like a yokel from the Vale." Holding out one pale, bare arm, Jane offers her elbow to Ithaca. "It has been far too long since we have seen each other. You must tell me everything you have been doing." Using her free hand, she twitches the hem of her skirt and lifts it to keep from stomping on the fabric as she walks.

"Don't have the shoes anymore," Rook admits with a tight smile. She gave back all the clothes, shoes, and jewelry Nitrim bought her. She takes the arm awkwardly and lets Jane lead her into the classy place with its stunning views of the ocean. "Went to some training. Been working. Spent time with brother," she lists as the things she's been doing.

Jane frowns slightly, realizing rather belatedly her little faux pas. Her cheeks turn pink in her embarassment, but she is grateful that Ithaca pushes the conversation past the sore spot. "Training, really?" she inquires, holding up two fingers to the hostess to inform her that it will just be the pair for food. She walks quickly to keep pace with Rook who is, by far, going to be walking faster in her comfortable boots than Jane can manage teetering on a pair of heels - but it works for the actress. When they reach the table, she pulls out Rook's chair and waits for the woman to take a seat, pushing it in beneath her as she does. Circling around to the other side of the table, Jane smooths her dress against her legs as she settles onto her own chair. "What kind of training is it? Or am I not supposed to ask?"

Rook looks utterly perplexed at the chair tango being done. When Jane pulls it out, she moves to the other one thinking the woman would sit in that. Then pulls out the other, realizes the actress wants her to sit in the first one, and lets out an eep sound when the chair is pushed in beneath her. "Hermetic training," she explains, in her usual blunt manner. "Stronger now that I'm clean."

Lauging quietly, Jane takes the napkin from atop the table and unfolds it, smoothing it out over her lap while gesturing for her companion to do the same. She lets out a low whistle at the reply, however, eyes widening. "I didn't realize — of course, I should have. I should have realized, considering that Lord Ni — well, in any case, I find it terribly fascinating. You know, I have always wondered…" She leans over the table a bit, dropping her voice to a loud whisper, and glancing to either side to be sure nobody is listening in. "How does it feel? I mean, do you feel any different at all when you're using your power? Ah, hot tea, please, with cream and sugar." Before the waiter can even mutter a word about the specials, he is sent back to the kitchen to fetch their drinks.

Rook mimics Jane's movements in a less graceful manner, setting her napkin in her lap and nodding to the waiter, "Just water please." She cocks her head a little at the woman's question and ponders the answer. "Different. In tune with everything. More alive," she admits.

The actress sighs longingly and leans back in her chair, turning her head from side to side to take in the surroundings. "Sometimes I think it would be thrilling to experience that, but it is also a burden, and one I am not willing to bear. I must find the joy in being mundane, I suppose." She offers Rook a wry smile, resting her right hand on the table and fiddling with the polished silverware. "It is good you have been spending time with your brother, I think. Sometimes family can be good for people. Then you have been getting along well? You aren't in great need of anything?"

"Not yet," Rook answers vaguely. "Found a stove. Fixed it up, works great. Lincoln cooks sometimes. He's an actor, like you. Big fan of yours." Her lips twitch in a faint smile as she reaches for the menu and boggles at the variety of things she's never seen before.

"Mm, well, if you do find you need something, please do not hesitate to let me know," Jane murmurs, perusing the menu and running a finger down the list as she goes. A great many of the dishes she recognizes, but there are a few that sound quite exotic - perhaps too much for her digestion, even. "I have found that food from Mare Maris can be rich, sometimes. It's hard not to be decadent with fish. I suggest picking something whose ingredients sound mostly familiar to you. I think I'll go with the tagine." She sets the menu atop the empty, clean plate in front of her, and offers the watier a smile as he reappears with a glass of water to set before Rook, and an array of tea things for Jane. She waits until her cup is poured before asking the waiter for a little more time with the menu. "Your brother is an actor? That is wonderful. Has he been in anything I might have seen, or is it mostly stage work? Or maybe a 'vid series?" The tiny tea spoon clinks in her cup as she stirs in both cream and sugar.

"Some stage, has a thing coming up. Will send you a ticket," Rook promises. She looks up at the waiter. "Grilled shrimp," she requests. She sips her water and glances across at Jane for a long moment. "Do you have kids?" she asks, out of the blue.

Jane hands off the menus to the waiter along with an order for seafood tangine and a polite request for a basket of biscuits. When she eats out, she goes all out. "Ohh, please do! Could I, by chance, purchase an extra ticket? I have half a mind to bring someone along - someone who could use a good bit of culture outside of his own." She smiles at Rook and sips her tea, upon which she nearly chokes when the sudden question is sent her way. Coughing, Jane covers her mouth with her napkin before using a corner to dab at her watering eyes. "I — no, I do not have any — children. Ahem. I am not married, and never have been. Why do you ask? Do you?"

"Not yet," Rook answers, just like previously. Maybe that's the indicator that she might need help in the future. "Want one. I'm last of mother's family. Don't think it should end with me," she explains. "I can ask for more tickets, yes."

"Yet?" The deliberate choice of words prompts Jane to raise an eyebrow, and she is careful to wait until after Rook is finished speaking before she takes another sip of her tea. The cup clinks as she returns it to the saucer. "I hadn't realized you were much the maternal type, but I can understand the draw. I thought you said you have a brother, though? That wouldn't make you the very last of your mother's people, then, would it?"

"Brother has same father, not mother," Rook explains. "He's not Nysa's son." She sweeps the condensation off the side of her glass with two fingertips. "Not about being maternal, about genetics. Some good things to pass one," amid a lot of bad no doubt. "Lot will be lost in the war. Should save the good things, let the family line continue."

Jane considers this quietly, reaching out to pluck a biscuit from the basket. She sets it on her plate and pries it open, watching the curls of steam emanating from the fluffy middle. After nibbling on the edge of one half, she nods slowly to Rook. "I can understand that, I suppose, in a sense. I am an only child, and my family line would wither if I should decide motherhood is not for me. Do you want a child of your own, or do you just want to know your genetics have been passed along?"

Rook thinks about it for a long bit, staring at her glass. "I want my own. Want to be a mother. Want to be better than mine was," she says softly. She flits her glance upwards at Jane. "Is that crazy? To want that? Being me?"

"What? No, of course it isn't." Jane presses her lips together and gazes rather sternly at Rook, picking little crumbs from her biscuit and rolling them between her fingertips. "I don't know everything about you, or what you have lurking in your past, and it doesn't really matter. I find that the women who want to be mothers are the ones who make the best mothers, generally. If you are willing to sacrifice for a child, and if you are willing to always do your best, then there isn't anything else that you should be."

"I was an accident. Want a baby to be my choice, my terms," Rook murmurs. She sniffs the biscuit and then takes a bite, making a sound of approval at the flavor.

This is territory with which Jane is wildly unfamiliar, and so she covers her discomfort by opening the butter dish and scooping out a tiny serving on the tip of her butter knife. "Accidents are such a rarity these days," she murmurs conversationally while spreading the butter over a biscuit half and taking a bite. "Mmm, delicious. If you want it, Rook, then do it. Don't waffle about, don't second-guess yourself, and don't let anybody tell you they know how you should live your life. Only you know. So, go get pregnant." Pregnancy is, perhaps, not the best table-talk, so the last order is delivered in a near-whisper — and good timing, too, as the waiter has appeared with their dinner.

"Might be already," Rook notes quietly, as calm as one can be. As her meal is placed before her, she watches how Jane eats and tries to imitate the polish with which the actress sets about her food.

At this rate, Rook is going to look like a first-class diner next to Jane, who is startled a second time and drops her fork with a clatter. It bounces off of her plate and lands on the floor with a muffled thud, which she politely ignores in favor of taking up her unused salad fork. "Did you opt for a father you know, or did you prefer the anonymity of a donation bank?" she inquires primly of her companion as she spears a bit of succulent shrimp with the metal prongs.

Rook just shrugs in response. It seems that topic is off limits, she won't discuss the paternal origins of her possible spawn. "Doesn't matter. Mine. No one else's."

"Of course." Jane allows the conversation to lull, if only so they can both take time to truly enjoy their supper. Her gaze wanders toward the windows allowing a glimpse of their surroundings, and she has to work hard to suppress a shudder at recalling that they are, in fact, deep underwater. "I may have children some day. I — there is a man, one man in particular, who would make a good father, but the situation is…well, different. I am not sure what he wants, yet. I haven't asked him. I would make an awful mother, though, so I'm not entirely sure I will ever go through with it."

Ithaca says, "Citizen or noble?" Rook asks, bluntly, between forkfuls of shrimp and sides. Her brow arches a little bit at Jane. "Why not? Awful people are parents all the time.""

Jane takes another bite, holding off on answering for another few seconds until she swallows. "Awful people are parents because they don't realize they're going to be awful until it's too late. The ones who know beforehand they are going to be awful usually opt out, because why would we subject a child to that? It doesn't make any sense." Using her fork, she pushes around the food in her bowl while staring at some point behind Rook. "He is a noble. He is ridiculously handsome and ridiculously manly in all of those romance-novel ways, the kind of bullshit you don't expect to be real. We have so much in common that at times it seems surreal. I am absolutely mad for him, I think, which means I am so very, very doomed."

"Good luck," Rook mutters, pushing her food around on her plate with her fork. Clearly, her opinion on companions and how that allegedly glamorous life goes is a negative one. "Be careful," she adds quietly.

"I know the dangers," Jane admits quietly, using her knife to cut a particularly large vegetable into bite-size pieces. "I know that while it will work for us as long as it may, there is no lifetime guarantee unless his future wife is willing to let it continue. That he shall one day be married, and not married to me, is something with which I am quite okay. I understand duty, even if I am not of the nobility. I know our children will never be recognized, but I am fine with that, because they needn't be. I will never need rely on him for financial support, because I am doing well enough for myself already. But I want him for however long I can call him mine, because some time with him is better than no time at all. Is that wrong of me?"

"Foolish. But not wrong," Rook replies. "Stronger than me. Couldn't handle it. If he doesn't lie, stick with him." Another shrug. There is a tinge of bitterness to her tone and expression but she shoves it aside.

Jane's brows knit together, and she is silent as she studies her food. Her appetite is quickly diminishing, as the conversation is headed into territory she had not expected to encounter this evening. She clears her throat quietly and takes another bite, chewing it slowly while gazing pensively at nothing in particular. "He doesn't lie. I'm not sure he has a need to, at least not yet. I don't know. I don't like planning for problems. I'll deal with whatever happens whenever it comes. If nothing else, he will break my heart beyond repair, I will never love anyone ever again, and I will grow old and die bitter but rich and famous. Well, two out of three isn't the worst ending ever."

"I'm not rich and famous," Rook notes with a frown. Clearly she just got left with the other things. "But we survive. Less trusting, but moving on." She pushes her plate aside, full for the moment. "You should be happy. Deserve it. Been so nice to me."

"You're not rich and famous yet, you mean," Jane answers with a light laugh, happier now that the conversation is drifting away from the doom and gloom. She perks up, straightening in her seat, and takes a few quick bites from her food. She has some catching up to do, having spent the majority of her time talking and poking at her dinner. "We are the makers of our own happiness, so we have to believe we deserve it before it'll happen. But, I will get there, because I want it. And — thank you for saying that. It really means something to hear you say it. By the way, the trick with the silverware is easy - start outside and work your way inside, and when you are finished, rest your utensils against the right-hand edge of your plate. This signals that your plate can be collected."

Rook soaks up the etiquette lesson with intense eyes. She sets her utensils as instructed and seems shocked at how the waiter reacts so quickly to it. "Wow, wish I knew that before." She reaches into her bag to pull out some cash for her part of the meal. "Won't ever be rich," too much debt for that, "and infamous way more likely." She grins a little.

Jane holds out a hand to stop Rook from paying. "Come on, you know these are my treats. I am nice to you because I really like you. I think you are weird and sometimes awkward, but you are honest and despite your tough-girl facade, you are kind-hearted. You are more brave than anyone will ever realize, perhaps the smartest person I have ever met, and you take a hit and keep on going. You are stronger than I am, and you teach me how to be less of an useless idiot while I teach you a little about mingling with the likes of the other useless idiots. So let me pay, please. You can cover the tip if you insist." Already she has spun her bracelet on her wrist to face the waiter so it can be scanned quickly.

Rook ponders a long moment, then she nods her head, calculating the tip in her head from the menu prices of the items she looked at in the beginning. She remembers numbers well. She sets the cash under the water glass, as if a breeze might blow through the ocean floor and disperse the bills. "Thank you, Jane. You are a good friend." The words come slowly, but those are complete sentences. She stands, hugs the actress, then heads out without further adieu.

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