2007-09-07: Nolan's Birdnest


Church_icon.gif Felix_icon.gif Mara_icon.gif Mariska_icon.gif

Summary: Even Company Agents can double date. And engage in catfights.

Date It Happened: September 7, 2007

Nolan's Birdnest

Chinatown - Cherry Blossoms Restaurant

Fel is not gonna drag his new Company buddies to his old drinking hole. That'd demand way too many explanations. So, instead, they're all heading out to one of the better and cheaper places in Chinatown. This really wasn't his beat, so the cop and the former cop should be safe from random acquaintances. Fel is in his usual sharply tailored suit, after a day of dealing with debriefings at work.

Ever since her official release from Primatech holding cell hell, Mariska's daily activities have become something of the next big mystery. Unlike Felix, she never had a job on the 'outside' to go back to; on the 'inside', she's defined solely as 'not an agent' so… what does that make her? Slightly better dressed, for one thing. An evening out for a meal calls for a dress; something crimson and floral but not too fancy. She's the other Russian's red shadow tonight, sandwiched in between him and the poor, unfortunate bastards who were foolish enough to think this might be a good idea — one Church, one Mara.

The working-man look isn't just for Felix, it is also what Church seems to go by as well; the same blazer-over-shirt effect everyone knows him for and what he has been using at the new job. It's just enough dress to not be casual in the daytime, but post-school an undone button can do wonders. It is with hesitance that he comes along with Felix, Mara, and Mariska, though for the most part his hesitance comes from the two Russians. He blew one up and made the other practically lose her shit about said blowing-up. Hospital wing conversations have not been forgotten either. This equals some awkwardness on his part. Certainly it isn't a common predicament, but with Mara along for the ride, Lawrence does feel significantly more- secure? A little. They file into the moderately small restaurant behind the other duo, Church seeming oddly careful not to sandwich too close to anyone. What does someone need when feeling awkward? A distraction, of course, just inside of the door. "Hot dog, look at the size of those carp."

"Koi, silly." Mara pats Church's arm as she files in beside him. She has the same idea as Mariska. A night out calls for a dress. Mara's is a deep purple strapless thing that shows plenty of leg. Dressy enough for polite company but perhaps risque enough for one of the divier bars. For her part, she doesn't feel too terribly awkward on this outing, save for feeling bad for Mariska situation.

Felix has been perfectly civil, this evening, though he's a little distant, as is his habit. Mara knows how he is. Just get a few drinks into him , it'll change. But it's like all the madness in the cells never even happened. Apparently Fel was in earnest about bygones actually being bygones. Misha's already gotten her compliments, since Fel brought her, first. "Damaris, you look good," he says, genially enough. Look, we're all grownups here.

Mmm. Off-camera compliments are the best. Just the right amount of charming and suave without the least bit of awkward — at least, they would be for other people. With Felix and Mariska, it probably went along the lines of, 'That's a gorgeous dress. Can I borrow it later?' Or something. The Russian woman allows herself to be distracted by Church's very audible admiration for giant fish and she turns her head to see that there are, indeed, great big carp (koi, whatever) to be ogled. "It has been a long time since I have had good Chinese," she says to no one in particular.

"Koi is Japanese for carp. Also from the word 'nishikigoi', 'colored carp'. They are just…domesticated and ornamental." See, Mara, I know what I'm on about! The man pats her grasping hand with his other one. He sounds like a smartass at first, but it's easy to tell he is just trying to find a personal distraction. Feeshies work. Like Felix, Lawrence has probably paid his compliments; unfortunately, he is not quite sound enough with telling Mariska she 'looks good'. He'll probably end up in the fish tank.

"Mister Know-It-All, here." Whether Mara's blushing at being corrected, or Felix's compliment is uncertain. "Thank you," she graciously accepts. "I wish I could say something like 'this old thing,' but nothing in my closet qualifies as old anymore. Well, except for my Oxford sweatshirt. And that isn't that old." Because admitting the sweatshirt from her first year of college is old would be admitting that she's old, and she certainly isn't that.

Now, we all know that Misha has totally gone through Felix's bathroom to make sure he doesn't actually own any makeup. But we'll leave that for a later montage. "It's honestly really good here, and I can say t hat having had the best there is in San Francisco," Felix assures her, as they're all guided to their table. "Ha," he says to Mara, amused. "Well, I don't care if you just yanked it off the rack this afternoon."

Mariska seems oddly eager for a change of subject but isn't the sort to just spit out an abrupt 'SO…' and just trail off; which means she endures the current conversation with a stoic and Siberian silence. Seating arrangements being what they are, it's probably Felix and Mariska on one side facing Mara and Church on the other. Oh, look. A menu. And, hey. Koi. Tucking a lock of dark hair behind her ear, she buries her nose in the dish list.

Church is old-school enough to pull out the chair for Mara before sitting down himself. Say all you want, haters, but Churchie is cute. Where's the menu? Lawrence plucks up one of the plastic-covered booklets and almost hides behind it. The funniest thing? Nobody here has ever seen him eat before. At least he's picking up his part of the tab. "So-" Lawrence momentarily echoes, peeking over the top edge of his menu. "-someone's gotta tell me what's good, cause I'm feeling indecisive." He's looking at Mara and Felix, thanks. At least he hopes they've been here before.

Mara smiles when Church pulls the chair out for her, pleasantly surprised. She returns the favour by surreptitiously resting one hand on his knee underneath the table as she leaves the menu flat on the table in front of her to peruse. "I'm partial to pork fried rice, though my partner seems to be attempting to train me not to eat it, so I may have to settle for chicken."

"Who's your partner?" Felix wonders, glancing up from the menu. "Everything I've had here has been good. The General's chicken especially, if you like spicy. I'm gonna get the mandarin beef, myself," Oh so discreetly, under the cover of the tablecloth, his hand seeks out Misha's, and he glances at her.

Aw. God, that's just cute, isn't it folks? It's like they're in eighth grade. The cool kids can't know! That's okay. Mariska's all for keeping their haphazard reconciliation on the down-low for now. It's only been a few days. Tomorrow they could be screaming at each other and hurling bric-a-brac to express their affection. "Birdnest soup!" Is that a new piece of profanity now? Should Church be writing this down? "I haven't had birdnest soup in years." Because, dear God, it's expensive. And, uh, kinda gross if you think about it.

Church is ticking menu items off in silence, the knee underneath Mara's sneaky hand already tapping heel against the floor every few moments. He looks like a child might in a candy store; that smug, smiling face he always gets when something seems to be going well. Some might equate it to a dog. The fuzzy kind, of course. Birdnest soup isn't quite in his tastes, luckily, so Mariska only gets a bit of a raised brow from across the table. "You a fan of delicacy, Mariska?" A tame enough question, right?

"Oh, I don't kiss and tell. Not on the first date." That's Mara's polite way of declining to mention her partner's name in public. After all, the man's a trouble magnet in and of himself. It just seems like a bad omen some days. Of course, Church always has the option of outing her. She smirks faintly at the bouncing beneath her hand, offering a squeeze. Good puppy-doggy.

Yeah. They're going at this whole thing completely bassackwards, considering. She's already had the kid, there may be marriage on the horizon, and love after that. Hey, what jerk edited this movie in reverse? Fel gives Mara a quizzical look, like he's about to argue. And then says nothing, looking back to Mariska. "I've never had it," he confesses.

Obviously, Christopher Nolan (and Team Todd!) got brought in to advise on the structure of the Felix/Mariska storyline for this season of Heroes. The Russian woman makes a stab at humor in response to Lawrence's very subtly worded inquiry, "If this is your way of gauging my interests, I don't do tentacles." See? Almost hilarious. Pause. And then to Felix, she suggests with a small, sweetened smile, "You can have some of mine. If you like, I share with you."

What. Tentacles. What. Lawrence has no response to that part, but. He'll stop asking food questions now. He does, however, aside to Felix across the table, half hidden behind the menu and eyes giving Mariska a mockingly suspicious look. "'Bird's Nest' isn't a fancy nickname. Just wanna make sure you know that." Church then mumbles something about 'bird spit' as he sits back again.

A clean-dressed waiter arrives with four glasses of water, which he sets in front of each diner. As soon as the pad and paper comes out, Mara is quick to give him her order. Pork fried rice and an order of egg rolls. Next?

Felix orders General Whomever's chicken, and a coke. Honestly, it's sort of surreal. Trying to pretend this is just some random after-work meeting of co-workers.

Despite Lawrence Church's valiant efforts to warn her of the lacking misnomer, Mariska follows through with her threat of ordering bird's nest soup as well as a plate of vegetable stir-fry. To drink? Rice wine. Why play it light?

There are a few seconds between Felix's order and Lawrence's. The pause is just long enough to grant curiosity, but not long enough to make him look indecisive. When Lawrence does open his mouth again, it is to rattle off a myriad of items one by one off of the menu in his hands. He doesn't even bother looking up as he does it, picking out all of what sounds like enough for another entire table of people. Maybe more, with the right imagination. Only when Church is finished spouting these off does he look up at the waitress, eyebrows raised with a remarkably unphased face below. "You get all that?"

Mara's brows hike at Church's order, as does the person taking it down. There's a quick, hasty nod before a swift departure. Before Church can add anything else to the order! "Wow, Lawrence. You really going to eat all that? Or are you just stocking your fridge for the next week?"

Well, Misha always has such fun when she's drunk, right? "Good god," says Fel, wryly. "You can't be serious. You must have a metabolism like a reactor to eat like that."

There had been a little bit of under the table thumb-over-knuckling going on between Felix and Misha… right up to the point when Church's order hit dish number four. Five. Six. Seven. Wait. Seriously? Mariska can't help but cock her head at the man across the table as she asks earnestly, "Did you just… was that the whole left side of the menu?"

Church looks extremely pleased with himself until Mara practically insults his grocery-shopping prowess. Scoffing. "I can shop for myself, thanks. Pbbt." Then Felix. Oh-ho. And Misha too. He's back to looking smug. "Most of the left side. Some of the right. One thing off the back. And Felix-" He looks Very Seriously across the table, but his white smile breaks it up in no time. "-the phrase 'like a reactor' is much closer than you think. Of course I'm going to eat it all. It'd be rude not to." At that, he sips at his water.

Mara shakes her head with an amused smile. "This, I have to see." It's clear that she finds this absolutely charming. Nobody ever said her tastes aren't strange. "Ooh. Like a reactor," she echoes. "That makes sense, now that I think about it. That must be terribly expensive. Have a lot of ramen in your cupboards?" It really isn't meant as a dig at his grocery-shopping abilities, or even his cooking abilities. But if you have to eat that much, you'd be spending your whole day cooking! Ramen is fast and easy. It's just a fact.

"I can imagine," Fel says, voice dry. "I'll be wearing a scar or two 'til the day I die. Between you and Babenkov, I'll have some stories to tell the grandkids." He still doesn't seem angry about all of it. Merely resigned, now. Rainer must be terribly persuasive.

Having recently gotten a good look at the aforementioned scars-to-be, Mariska, too, can't help but look momentarily stilled in thought as she recalls what she bore witness to in the cells. And now they're getting a good idea of just how much fuel it takes to stoke the furnace of the demolition man. Maybe his karmic penance is meant to be paid via lifetime of exorbitant grocery bills.

The waiter returns to their table with drinks, everyone gifted with a glass of something in turn. Mariska wastes no time to drawing the rice wine to her lips. It'll lubricate her smile.

Church frowns guiltily. "…Yes. I do have a lot of ramen, but I know how to cook perfectly well. Really!" His brown eyes alight just a bit at Felix when he responds; Grandkids? Haha. Wait. Was he serious? Oh. Hm. "Stories, huh? I'm not gonna be turned into a kaiju big battle-version of the Big Bad Wolf, am I?" He'll huff, and he'll puff, and he'll blow your house down. Up. Down?

Mara smiles and rubs Church's knee gently. "Bad wolf, huh?" The smirk fades and she sits back in her seat, hands in her lap now, a shudder running through her. What in the world was that? The redhead shakes it off and puts her smile back into place after a drink of water to settle her nerves.

Well, he's already got the one daughter. Let's hope Sasha carries on the august line of secret police. "No," he says, chuckling. "Because that makes me either a little pig (which is arguably accurate), or Little Red Riding Hood," Fel points out.

"Or Peter," Misha replies, recalling a story much closer to her Russian heart. And, also, one in which Felix might actually be the victor and not the victim. She slides a sly smile over to Church. Is he familiar with the fairy tale? Mara's sudden shudder is noted with only the most covert of glances.

"Are you implying I eat grandmothers? Oh Felix, that's disgusting." Harharhar. Lawrence teases, making one of his more comically disgusted faces. It seeps away when Misha brings up the third wolf tale. Now it's a smile. "How's that for irony. I ordered some duck."

"Peter and the Wolf," Mara muses. "Always a favorite of mine when I was young…er." Not old. Remember? Not. "How's the wine, Miss Dmitryeva? I was thinking about ordering some myself, but… I'm more the cocktail type."

Felix slants Misha an amused look. "Better," he says, nodding at her. He hums a few bars of Peter's theme. "What, Mara?" he asks. That little motion didn't go unnoticed. "No, Lawrence. I don't think you're that unscrupulous, though it does seem you have a tendency to devour whatever else is in your path."

For the sake of not being the anchor that tanks otherwise upbeat conversation, Mariska notably fails to mention that Peter and Wolf also happened to be a bedtime story for her daughter. Years ago. Instead, she just smiles politely at Mara and says, "It is good." She even smacks her lips once as if for emphasis of quality.

"Devour? That's a strong word." Lawrence winces at the corners of his mouth. "I'd say I'm more like a… magnetized katamari." Granted they know what that is. He goes about rearranging the sugars in the little basket at this point, putting all the blues and pinks in their place. Why? No reason. It's there, and he's getting fidgety.

"Nothing. M'fine. It was just… I don't know. It was one of those bad feelings I just can't explain. I'm sure it's nothing." Mara flashes a mild smile to Felix and Mariska before turning a curious glance on to her date. "Is something the matter, Lawrence?"

Katamari? Felix does actually know what one is, albeit obliquely, and snorts at Church. Mara he continues to watch, though, not really reassured. He glances at the others, and wonders, voice dry, "So. How long've you both been working for our particular employers?"

Mariska quietly withdraws her hand from the secret clasping beneath the table, camouflaging the movement as a momentary straightening of her dress against her knees. With wine in hand, she sits quietly by and makes careful study of her tablemates, as if they were all players in some contrived murder mystery scenario. Faces, hands, idiosyncratic gestures; it's all taken in with eagle eye scrutiny.

Church glances up for a second to look at Mara. "Sugar's out of order." Well, she asked. He stops anyway, sinking his hands into his lap as Felix asks a rather burning question. Church knits his eyebrows, eyes peering at the air just above his forehead. BRB, thinking. "Hm. Twenty…two. Three. Between twenty-two and twenty-three years…? No more than twenty five…" He seems to have lost tally, voice trailing off.

"I've only been on since mid-April." Mara replies. "I took to it kicking and screaming. But I'm coming into my own, I think." She shrugs and flags down a waiter. "Rice wine. Please." This is important, okay? Gotta make it through the night.

Wow. That's actually alarming. They really have done a number on the older guy's memory. "How'd they get you?" Fel asks, toying idly with his fork, having brought that hand back up to the table. There's something almost like pity lurking at the back of that blue gaze, which somewhat mutes his current inadvertent air of interrogation.

Apparently Sasha isn't the only one with a slightly Swiss cheese brain. That Lawrence now seems to stumble a bit over his employment anniversary strikes Mariska as both noteworthy and yet somehow unsurprising. This is apparently what they do to people too dangerous to be themselves. Memory coring. She wonders what else he can't remember but doesn't voice her curiosity so obviously. Instead, she asks, "…and what did you do before that?" Mara's joining her in wine consumption earns a little lift of Mariska's glass in acknowledgment but the gesture isn't raised high enough to be a toast.

Church 's nervous smiling wavers into a flat expression, the outer ends of his eyebrows twitching upward. "I don't remember." That's his answer to both questions. He lifts a hand to scratch idly at his jaw, looking determinedly away from Felix's blue stare.

Felix earns himself a glare from his former (and, well, current) co-worker. We do not point out memory gaps. It's just not polite. "It was a long time ago. I'm sure it doesn't even matter anymore, right?" Mara makes a valiant attempt to play it off, and then change the subject. "Say, Felix? Do you remember that time where you and I got so drunk that we decided it would be a great idea to play a prank on Demsky?"

No one can mention the shining wire! Fel's expression is momentarily almost openly pitying….and then certainly lost. So, this is what long service with these people earns you. "Right," Fel says, gently, before giving Mara a horrified look. "Which prank….?"

And suddenly, Mariska finds renewed enthusiasm for her wine, which she summarily finishes in haste before knocking the bottom of cup hard against the table before announcing, "Excuse me, please." She stands up abruptly and makes a line for… somewhere that's else. Bathrooms, maybe. She has to stop and ask at the hostess station along the way.

Church has the impression that he might of just done something. But, he doesn't choose to ask into it. "Yeah. It was a long time ago." The man instead just shrugs it off(not really, because now it is on his mind), and goes about the task of unfolding his napkin from around his utensils. Curses.

"I don't know. Any of them. Though the time I recommending Saran wrapping his toilet seat was gold." Mara points to Felix across the table, brows quirked. Yeah? Wasn'it tho'? The smile falls off her face and she tips her head ceilingward, tapping her chin, "Though, in hindsight, it probably would have gone better if I hadn't used the red with the Christmas tree print."

"Honestly, I'm surprised he didn't shoot us both. We made his life hell - you're such a bad influence when you're drunk," Fel notes to Mara, though now his gaze has drifted to watch Misha go. It's not precisely lascivious, that look, almost more gauging. He actually pats Church on the hand, rather absentmindedly, as if reassuring a pet. "Man. I can't imagine twenty years at any one job. I did ten years in the NYPD…."

Listening intently to the two talk about their old days, the tap on Church's hand actually makes him jump just the smallest bit. Wha. Oh. He looks at Felix with a blink, which soon turns into a half-smile. "I've done other things, at the same time, though. It's not my only job. Like now? I'm a guidance counselor." Lawrence smiles even wider at this. "Usually I like kids. But now I'm surrounded by teenage hormones."

"Oh, no kidding. I'm surprised he still hasn't killed me." Mara decides she's waited long enough. She smiles to the boys. "Excuse me. I think Miss Dmitryeva has the right idea." And off she heads in the direction Mariska disappeared to.

Fel withdraws his hand as if unconscious of having made the gesture in the first place. "Oh, man," he says, shaking his head. "Now there's a job I know I couldn't do. Not without a stunprod and zip ties. I've got no patience for kids that age." And then there goes Mara, and now he's alone with Church. Totally playing it cool, right.

Church watches Mara leave the table with a slightly apprehensive look. Crap. Lifeline missing. He clears his throat and plays with his spoon. "I've thought about the zip ties, yeah. At least there are some attractive moms. That's definitely a perk." … "How have you been doing?" Lawrence asks this in a more subdued tone, leaving it vague enough.

The waitress approaches, and Felix gets his coke. And orders a rice wine for himself, as well. "Well enough," he says, easily, expression urbane again. "I haven't heard what my training schedule will be like - I have to sneak out there on weekends and after hours at the Bureau," he notes, unthinkingly rubbing the scar that remains as Babenkov's little present.

Huh. Weird. Mariska never seems to have made it to the restroom after all. Or, if she did, it was a quick trip and she isn't there now. But, then there's a sharp popping noise from the last stall and the scuffling of shoes on the tiled floor, the metal bar slides back, the door opens and… there she is. It's like a magic trick, eh?

"Maybe you'll get lucky and get a good teacher." Church sips at his water again, if just to skip speech. "I don't know all of who is up here yet, but there's got to be someone more experienced than the others you've met so far. Not that any of them are incapable, of course." …Topic change again! It's an irrelevant one. Maybe. "So. What's your favorite color?"

Oh, for God's sake. Mara glances about the otherwise empty restroom and dashes over to the door to turn the lock with an audible click. "Are you crazy? You can't just do that! You're in public. One minute, somebody sees a pair of feet under a stall, the next? There's nothing. Or worse, there's nothing there and then there is. You cannot just pop in and out whenever you please. That's a recipe for disaster."

"Cobalt blue," Felix says, without hesitation. "Yours?" Well, it's trivia, but there's no harm in it, right? "Actually, any advice for this job? I still feel like I'm all at sea, and risk infringing all these unwritten rules."

Mariska's cold, green gaze is all but lethal. Left alone with Mara in such close quarters might make for a disastrous recipe but the Russian woman settles for sticking to her Siberian silence as she makes her way over to the sink. It's not to wash her hands, however, it's just to lean, facing the mirror and not Mara, though reflections make for handy indirect line of sight providers.

"You should know better. We all have to be careful. Just because you're alone when you blink out doesn't mean that you're still alone when you blink back in." Case in point, this entire scenario. "Listen, I know you're not used to all of this. These rules seem oppressive, and, yes, they are, but the rules need to be followed, or you risk exposing us all." Mara approaches the sink, taking the direct line of sight. "What did you do? Pop home to use your own loo?"

"Yellow. And. Well. The best advice I have, is just to do what you're asked. But if you do have an issue, bring it up. Don't let it stew." Lawrence glances for a moment towards where the ladies zipped off to. Women and restrooms. Fft. More small talk. "What do you like to listen to?" He must be catching some High Schooler conversation disease.

"Music?" Fel says, thoughtfully. "All kinds. Acid jazz. Classical. Industrial. I hate country, save for Johnny Cash. I don't own an mp3 player." The appetizers are brought, as is the wine, and he picks it up to sip tentatively from it. Definitely not his usual poison.

"Are you done now?" Mariska asks, voice venomous and hugging the hard curves of a Soviet drawl. She seems to be taking the younger woman's lecture about as well as can be expected. White-knuckled hands grip the edge of the countertop tightly, threatening to tear away whole chunks in her fists if someone tried to pull her away right now. Yes, yes. These two are going to be fast friends… can't you tell?

Church has to pull himself away from eating something right now. The ladies are not back yet! Have to wait. He eyes the food like a vulture, though. Smells like noms. "I'm an Elvis guy, myself. And Musicals. And anything without words." He will not mention the pop divas. No. Not today. After a pause, out of nowhere- "Do you think I'm gay?" The smallest of serious, questioning headtilts follows. On the radio from somewhere in the back, Elvis actually does croon up on the waves. Bad timing, King. Abort, abort.

"Are you?" Mara asks bluntly. "I want to like you, Miss Dmitryeva. I really, really do. If Felix likes you, that means you're a good person and worth liking. That's why I'm telling you, you have to be careful. If you aren't, and someone who doesn't want to be your friend catches you? You'll end up in a cell again so fast that your head will spin. Trust me on that one."

Oh, god, where is Mara? Where is Misha? That question has Fel eyeing Church as if not entirely sure if the older man is messing with him. "Elvis is a classic," he says, slowly. "There's a simple way to answer that question," he notes, dropping his voice, though there's an amused flicker in his eyes. "Ask yourself not necessarily whom you've fucked, but who you were thinking about when you did it."

Mariska turns, slowly. The hands that had been hugging the lip of the counter are now rested behind her back and she regards the other woman with a slightly appraising tilt of her chin. For a long minute or two, she does nothing but stare Mara down, face set into a stony mask of indifference. Finally, she says in a neutral tone, "I… appreciate your advice." Wait — what? "Is there anything else you'd like to say to me before you leave?" 'You leave'. Not 'we leave'.

Church runs his tongue over the front edge of his teeth, mouth staying shut. It makes him look like he's concentrating. He leans back in his seat now, swallowing a dry lump. "There was that nice older woman from Starbucks a couple weeks or so ago…" After thinking back on this and looking serious all the while, the agent's face suddenly pales over at Felix. "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhh." Is the nervous noise that comes out, Lawrence's face wrenching into a frown. He then mumbles something that sounds like a name. What was that, again?

Fel doesn't ask. His expression is again almost gentle. "Because people can fake it. People can deceive themselves, especially where it's so frowned upon. But if you look, you know what you ultimately want."

"Just one." Mara steps forward. If Mariska doesn't move away, the half-Brit will close in close enough that she might look about to kiss the Russian. "I don't care what your past is with Felix, but I can see you two are going to try and salvage a future. If you break Felix's heart…" She leans forward now, to drop her voice to a whisper in Mariska's ear. "I'll break your neck." On that note, she with draws and offers a cold parting smile before heading for the door.

Church is looking in there again. He is in disbelief. No. I am a creepy old man that likes cute college girls! Maybe he just likes both? No way. He just frowns more. "What I want?" He reiterates, looking up nervously to the man across the table. Lawrence looks like he might be on the verge of throwing his drinking water on himself. But really, the sooner he says it, the sooner it is said. He'll never get what he was thinking of, though. Ever. "…………in that case, I wanted Mohinder."

It's really kind of TMI. Felix is blushing, but he ain't laughing. "Well, he is very handsome," he concedes, reaching desperately for the rice wine, and shooting a pleading look over at the ladies room. What are they doing in there?

The Russian woman merely returns Mara's icy star and waits for her to leave the loo before she turns back around the face the mirror and give herself a long, hard look. Her shoulders sink and she confides in the wash basin beneath a heavily-heaved sigh, «…he doesn't have a heart.» The next breath she draws in puff her back up again and she puts on a sociable face before emerging from the 'Ladies' and rejoining her tablemates, none the wiser on either account as to the interaction having taken place in the others' absence.

Church is not thinking about ladies in bathrooms all of a sudden. This is la-la-land. "Are you kidding? He's gorgeous." After that, Lawrence literally bites his tongue, eyebrows pointed up into the center of his forehead. "I did not just say that-" Oh my god oh god the ladies are coming back.

Fel is bright red. And man, it shows on someone that pale. He hides his face in his wine for a moment. "Well, then, you've answered your question," he says, simply, as he sets the wine down.

Mara returns to the table with a brilliant, gap-toothed smile. "Who's gorgeous?" She reclaims her seat and reaches out to squeeze Church's hand. Hey there, I'm back.

Mariska retakes her seat, passing a momentary glance from Mara to Felix before focusing on the food now at hand. She begins to wordlessly pick and choose from the various vegetable sprouts and stir-fried green things, pointedly ignoring the animal flesh, no matter how sweetly sautéed or sauced.

Church almost says it. Bad idea. He gives Felix a bewildered glance before he smiles up at Mara. Lawrence opts for immediate suavity. He takes Mara's hand without a beat to kiss her knuckles. "You, of course." That means it was man-talk. Totally. Hem. Now, it is time for food. He wastes no time in making sure that he is unable to speak- primarily because of the pile of food he just shoveled into his mouth.

Felix gives the returning ladies a rather sheepish grin, before devoting his efforts to his food, as well.

Well, that was unexpected. And it takes Mara's breath away when Lawrence kisses her knuckles. Blushing, she leans in to ask her date, "Do you want to take this to go?" While it looks devilish, Mara really just wants to get away from Mariska right about now. Help me out, honey?

For her part, Mariska may just as well be seated at a table for one. She's content to quietly consume her snow pods while staring off absently at the koi in their massive tank. She is just as easily ignoring as ignored.

Church whines past a mouthful of buttered green beans. "Oh come on." He barely swallows the mouthful. "We were doing great until now. I thought it was going so well." Whoops. Where did those plates of food go? Maybe Lawrence is really a vaccuum, not an exploding man.

…maybe what makes Church explode is actually just a whole lot of gas and hot air?

"Is something wrong?" Felix wonders, glancing between Misha and Mara with a furrowed brow.

Deep breath. This is not a total disaster just yet. "Everything's just fine. I just want to, ah, get some alone time." Mara shrugs and shakes her head, "You know me, Felix. I've never been the double-date type." Now that is a lie, and he knows it.

"Fine," Mariska mynahs, taking a sudden and intensely invested interest in her sesame sprouts… and with good reason. Church is seriously chowing down and if she doesn't act now, there might not be any greenery left to graze on! A surreptitious look is tossed over to Felix. Is he buying their poorly-constructed ruse? Probably not. Does it much matter at this point? Uh, yeah… probably not.

Well, it's not as if Felix is going to put the women in a jar and shake until they fight. But he is trained in interrogation, and not easily deceived. He takes a few bites of his chicken, before asking, calmly, "What sort of argument did you get into?"

In the meanwhile, the waitress stops by with a few of the main dishes. She is practically watching her fingers around Church. Still eating. Oh! Duck! Quack. He's listening, but not watching. He has to make sure he doesn't bite off his own finger. Good boy, Felix, stall them for me.

"Nothing that can be talked about outside of work." Mara replies sweetly. "I'm sure Miss Dmitryeva will be happy to explain it to you later."

Mariska isn't in this to make Mara look good and now seems just as good a time as any to cue the full-on, table-overturning showdown. Or — maybe she'll spare the theatrics and just switch over into Russian (even if it's rude). Once her mouthful of snowpods has been swallowed, that is. «She said she'd break my neck if I broke your heart.» She gives the other woman an even look and then adds: «Not the cliche I would have gone for…»

"You didn't tell her I don't have a heart that can be broken?" Felix inquires, tone clinical. "She knows me, Mariska. She knows just what species of bastard I am," His expression turns fond. "As do you."

Church is staying out of this. Oh, Jesus. Food is the best distraction ever. Then some more comes. Oh! Noodles. Even a cake with Mohinder inside could not lead him astray.

The Russian catches Mara off her guard and she sits up a little straighter in her chair, looking vaguely frightened. It's worse when Felix responds. "That isn't the whole story." Her lips purse with frustration. "I'm not having this discussion. Lawrence, I'm leaving. Are you coming or not?" She's already reaching into her purse to put a twenty down on the table. Dinner, drinks, and a generous tip.

Mariska is remorseless, green eyes absolutely glazed with malted malice as she watches Mara abandon ship and prepare to flee. The Russian woman snaps up another small speck of sprouts with her chopsticks, her appetite seemingly unaffected by the mounting drama (but not immune to the vittle-vacuuming proficiency of one Lawrence Church), at least. Felix's fond look is bounced back with a subdued level of reciprocation and only from the side. No need to encourage him.

Felix sighs,and finishes the last of his rice wine. It's apparently sufficient signal for departure, even though it's Church Mara's been prodding. He takes care of his share of dinner and tip, and rises as well.

Church is caught in the fray, now, whether he likes it or not. Why did you say my name? "Uh." He looks at Felix across the table. You're a guy! Help! When in doubt, group into gender. "Can I ask for some boxes? I mean, I did order a lot. Though I suppose you could just leave me here…" But that would be like abandoning your dog at the park! Wouldn't it?

"I'll bring the car around. I'm sure you'll have everything squared by then, yes?" That might be an order. "Box mine, too." Well, that definitely was. And considering it's untouched and she still paid for it… "Ask your babymomma about her blinking problem, Felix." Mara's expression turns icy just before she stands up from the table and heads at a quick clip for the door.

Oh, now we're done? Mariska seems to side with Church on this one, disinclined to leave. Until Mara opens her mouth again and Mariska finds her feet a bit faster than someone inclined to make a casual exit might. The table shakes and the dishes clink. That's the 'someone's cruising for an imminent and brutal bruising' pose right there.

And the mask that Felix wears over real anger snaps into place. Mara's seen it before, but usually directed over some scarred table at a recalcitrant suspect. He doesn't run after her, but he walks about as fast as dignity allows to catch up, snagging the door right as she reaches it. "Damaris, what the hell is your major malfunction? You know what our new bosses have done to her. Nevermind what *I* did to her. Why are you making this personal?"

Church has a tentative fork of food in his mouth when Mariska stands up all of a sudden. Then Felix is gone, and he's stuck with a piece of silverware in his mug with both brown eyes on the Russian woman. Er. Hi. Luckily for him, the waitress had heard the word 'box' and drawn her own conclusions from the visible situation.

"Because, Felix, she could get us all in a lot of trouble. I don't want to have my memory swiss cheese'd because I can't keep your woman in check. Somebody has to." Mara frowns and fixes him with a serious look, "Talk to her. I need to go. Now."

OH HI. Left alone with Church, Mariska distracts herself from Felix's futile attempts to corral Mara by peering down at the man with his mouth full. Lawrence is at least spared the full-on, ball-shrinking stare but she's obviously more than a little bit incensed by what's been said.

"She's not 'my woman'," Felix says, nettled, but he lets Mara go, turning away from the door to head back. «What happened?» He asks Mariska, with the characteristic little shrug of someone trying to settle a shoulder holster into a more comfortable position.

Church smiiiles at Misha. Without opening his mouth, of course. It's a nervous smile. She's going to reach over and dig my eyes out, isn't she? All of a sudden, Boxes! Of food. And empty ones. Reluctantly, Lawrence starts patiently putting his food away. "Well, then." Clearing his throat and downing the rest of his water, he stands to find his wallet from his rear pocket. "This was…nice. Thanks for letting me tag along." Lawrence says it out loud, but it is aimed moreso at Felix. He leaves money for the bill, gathers his own things, and is out of that restaurant in record time.

So he won't listen to her. Mara just has to make sure that it isn't her funeral. If she's lucky, it won't be his, either. Outside the restaurant, she pulls the car up and waits for Church to climb in before she pulls out to head back to his place.

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