2009-11-08: Pomegranate and Pink



Date: November 8, 2009


Hallis comes down to visit her new companion's other city.

"Pomegranate and Pink"

Washington, DC

It's the middle of the afternoon on Sunday. The religious folk are still out with their families doing the dinner thing like good folk do on a Sunday. Today's busy spot of choice is Ruth's Chris Steak House, one of the fancier places that Washington people like for the all important steak and potato. The restaurant is packed, literally, to the gills with a wide array of patrons. There is a line up at the door for tables and most are being told a 45-60 minute wait when they come in. Unfortunately, it's not the sort of place where a well placed $50 gets you a table right away. It's first come first serve.

Enter Hallis Van Cortdlandt, currently on the arm of Congressman Dawson, a little hungover and quite out of her element. She's never been to the city and thus far she's not completely impressed. Too many sights to see and not enough designer shops. "We should have flown to Miami, George," she murmurs quietly as they progress in the line. Luckily they have been there for a little while and since the Congressman has been recognized (much to the chagrin of the celebutante) a few people have offered him their spot in line.

Everyone's heard the joke about God sending a flood victim two boats and a helicopter, right? George politely turned down the first couple such offers before finally acquiescing, so it's more like 15-30 for them. "But I don't get my two weeks vacation until January," he deadpans. "Besides, planes always leave me feeling folded in half all day afterward - trains are much nicer, you get to actually relax." Not like the subway, he thinks to himself, and promptly shoves his memory of that one shooting incident back into long-term storage.

As they move forward in the line, Hallis is pleasantly surprised by a young woman who comes up and asks for her autograph. The socialite is not used to her date being more popular than she is and it has stuck a little bit of a craw in the back of her throat. But this turn around has set her spirit up nicely and as she signs the paper for the fan she turns to George and gives him a winning smile. "Oh George, silly, you don't need two weeks to see Miami. You only need a night." After she finishes penning her name, she returns to his side and hugs his arm, the expression on her face smoothing to serenity as they are called upon and shown to their table.

Congratulations, Hallis, you've officially gone nationwide! Or at least interstate. Or whatever. "That quick, huh? CSI always makes it look like time drags on forever down there."

He waves politely to the fan as she heads off; upon reaching the booth, however, he settles in and focuses fully on his date. "Speaking of, though, what else did you want to do while you're here?" Their time together on the train didn't exactly involve a lot of talking.

Hallis sits in the same side of the booth as George, leaving the other side for their coats, her purse, his briefcase, gloves and whatnots. As she slides in and makes herself comfortable, she brushes her nearly bare leg up against his. When he announced their trip this morning, she allowed him to help her chose an appropriate outfit for the day. And so, for almost the first time in her adult life, the woman is dressed modestly and properly. This is a good thing. A Martha Stewart Good Thing.

"What is there to do here?" Hallis queries, genuinely curious as to what sorts of attractions there are in the country's capital. "What about that man in the big top hat?" Lincoln.

Not that he minds her usual choice of clothes - far from it - but it's not the sort of attention he feels like having drawn to them here. Safer to keep that back in New York.

"Lincoln Memorial," George echoes automatically. "Lots of things worth seeing if you're interested, but the tour guides can fill you in better on the monuments. I was thinking more the Tidal Basin, see how the cherry blossoms are coming along." Where, a quarter of a century ago, another congressman's career was cut short by a drunken fight with a stripper. "Maybe the Smithsonian, if we still have time?"

Hallis puckers her lips a little in thought and tilts her head toward him, half lidding her eyes. "Those sound alright," she murmurs quietly. Apparently, through her action she is trying to show her good side to someone… somewhere… *flash!* The bulb of a camera goes off and she looks up at him with a smile. "I wonder what this cover will say, hmm?" She doesn't even seem to mind the attention they are garnering. For whatever reason, her father seems to be pleased enough with the woman that he actually bid her a good day in a message passed through her mother.

George shakes his head. "I don't even want to guess— whatever I come up with, they'll probably print something even crazier. That's their job, right?" He takes the paparazzi in stride as well - the ones here are looking more for overt scandal than mere association, and while he's had a chance to look up past stories about his companion, he figures the worst of those are probably overblown.

"True.." Hallis concedes, she still loves the attention, practically thrives on it. As the waiter comes by to get their drink orders, Hallis peruses the menu silently, pointing out what she would like to George. As is polite, she waits for him to order for her, not giving the waiter more attention than a brief smile and a nod when George is finished. After the man in black and white drifts away, she tilts her head a little to look up at the congressman and takes a small breath inward. "I can't believe you wanted me to come here with you. I almost feel like it's 'Bring Your Girlfriend to Work' day."

George shakes his head. "No, it's more like 'Bring Your Girlfriend to Avoid Work' day…" Something about that phrasing brings him up short for a moment. Is that what the fling is turning into? He'll have to think that over later. "Just stretching the break out while I can, I'm gonna be tied up for at least a week after."

Nodding slowly, Hallis looks out at the crowd in the restaurant, her large blue eyes scrutinizing almost everyone in the place. Slowly, she lowers the hand that's between them down and laces her fingers through his. The lack of artificial sunshine in her system has her thinking deeper thoughts that usual and she twitches her lips as the congressman excuses himself from her company for the next little while. "A week? That should be enough time for me to get a few things done. I met another man from our building, did you know that a Lancaster is living there too?"

George thinks that over as well, then snaps his fingers. "I've heard of a few— wait, you mean Lancaster as in Electronics? I think I met the owner once, don't they have like four kids or something?" Five, actually. As it happens, he and the fifth were at the same party once a couple years back, but happened to miss one another, and Eric may or may not have identified himself with the family back then anyhow.

Nodding, Hallis gives him a small smile. "Yeah, we met at the little grocery a little while after…" The woman drops silent and her lips twitch nervously. She hasn't mentioned anything about the fire-man since they had started drinking last night. By this time their drinks and appetizers have landed in front of them and the woman picks her martini off the table to take a small sip. "Mmm have you tried the pomegranate martinis here before? These are delicious!" Idle chatter, that's the ticket to avoiding issues and problems.

"I've always preferred raspberry myself," George replies smoothly, leaning back in his seat a little. "I didn't realize you did your own grocery shopping." He doesn't say anything else out loud, just waits for her to fill in the rest of the story in her own time.

"Grocery shopping? No, I was just buying water and something for dinner." Hallis smiles at him, taking another sip of her drink. "But I think I could probably shop for groceries, I'm rather good at shopping." Self depreciating humor or actual truth? You decide. Through the course of the meal, they continue to chat idly… mostly about nothing. George finds out about some of Hallis' inner most secrets, like how she kept a spider as a pet in a jar in her closet as a child. Things that most people don't know about her and that go a little deeper than the surface she shows.

And in return, George shares a few of his own. Spiders? Back in Scout camp, he got 'em thrown in his face once (but just harmless daddy longlegs). Then there were those few but memorable years in New Orleans, which offers a month of near-nonstop parties around Mardi Gras - or did until Katrina, anyway, but the recovery was already well under way by the time he moved on to New York. The half-explained incident with the Lancasters continues to be politely ignored.

Throughout the meal, Hallis is smiling, cordial, and (most importantly) actually picking at her food. A few bites make it past her lips and into her mouth. To be precise, about three bites of each thing on her plate. At the end of the meal, she leans her head against the man's shoulder, quite stuffed and almost in a food coma. "I can't believe you were so wild! And in New Orleans!" She laughs lightly as she exclaims her joy over hearing their similarities.

At some point, George has slipped an arm casually and comfortably around her waist, turning and shaking his head. "I wasn't that wild, even back then - but yeah, it was a lot of fun. But slow during the off season— that's mostly why I ended up in New York, they don't have one." As usual, the waiter stops by again to offer dessert and/or coffee, only to be politely waved off.

In turn, Hallis' arm has also slipped comfortable around George's waist to result in the two looking quite cuddly in the booth. A few more flashes through the window has led the wait staff to close the blinds, though the female counterpart of the duo doesn't seem to mind the media attention at all. In fact, she seems to be ignoring it in favor of listening to the politician as he tells his stories. It hasn't even been a week that they've been seen together, already rumors are flying around her home town and magazines have sported covers of the two of them. The scene in the restaurant would only help to solidify their 'coupledom' in the eyes of the public.

"New Orleans get slow? This is why you need to go to Miami with me, it's never slow there." The young blonde smiles, using her free hand to touch his nose lightly. "You know, since you'll be busy next week, I was thinking that maybe I should go to Los Angeles to visit Soleil. Just to get away… that thing it's just…" She seems to be having a little trouble spitting out exactly what that thing is.

"What thing?" George prompts, leaning a little closer. He's equally oblivious to the occasional camera flashes; the sense of being a couple is beginning to take hold in the back of his mind, too. Not to the point where he would consciously call it that, or expect it to behave like that, but he's actually concerned about answering a question that goes beyond the small talk from earlier.

"With the man that was throwing the fire around, and his friend." Hallis murmurs, averting her eyes. She stares at the point where his collar meets his neck, focusing on his adam's apple as he speaks. Her eyes flit to the table where her second martini glass stands empty. Dismayed, she looks up into his eyes. "I just can't get my head around it. Maybe if I go California…" She doesn't need to say it, maybe if she goes to California, they won't be there.

Ah, that thing. George purses his lips, considering. "I don't know, Los Angeles is pretty big too… they've probably got their own. Maybe if you got out of the big cities entirely?" Sure, that's gonna happen. "It could help clear your head, though. Why's Soleil out there? I thought you said she was part of the local crowd."

This question places a sudden smile on Hallis' face, "Oh George… Don't ever let her hear you say that. Haven't you seen her movies? She's been a star all her life." It also earns a small peck on the cheek, as though they hadn't done enough of that on the train ride up here. Her free hand is now on his knee her index finger trailing small invisible patterns on his pant leg. "There was even a website counting down when she would turn eighteen, I can't believe you missed all of that."

"Oh, she's that Soleil? I think I heard something about that, but I mostly just caught the bad jokes comparing her to Punky Brewster." Besides, they'd mostly be movies for kids, right? Well, some of them, at least. "So—" He's distracted by the sensation of fingertip against cloth, glancing briefly downward. Not here, Hallis. "-so does she live here or there? They do a lot of filming both places."

"Punky Brewster? Ooo… Don't ever let her hear you say that either." Hallis giggles, even wincing at the thought. Shaking her head, she reaches over to grab his free hand and lace her fingers with his. At least it keeps her finger from exploring more than his knee. "She has a house in Beverly Hills and a penthouse in New York, so I suppose she lives here and there. She's not exactly busy right now, she just finished some movie about WWII. It's supposed to be really good." She utters the last bit, her eyes moving toward the rest of the room where she can feel dozens of eyes on them.

"Mmm, Tarantino's set a new bar on that one," George muses, "or at least one that people our age will actually remember." It's a broad age range that includes them both, but then it's an equally broad gap going back to Schindler's List, which is the last really big WWII movie he can remember offhand. Sorry, Tom, Valkyrie doesn't count.

And there's that unconscious frame of mind making itself subtly known once again. "Guess we'll have to check it out, then." We. It's such a simple word.

"Anyway," he continues, "I think we've about worn out our welcome here, what do you say we get going? Still got plenty to do."

Nodding, Hallis slips from the booth and coincidentally from his loose grip around her waist. She reaches into the other side to collect her scarf, gloves, coat and purse, placing the smaller pieces on the table and looking to George to help her in putting her coat on. However, the waiter seems to have been keeping tabs on the duo and is behind the woman in a flash, offering his aide.

Bad move, buddy, you just knocked your tip down from 20 percent to 15. You don't want to look too eager, unless you're serving tourists who expect that sort of thing. Patiently, George waits for him to get out of the way, then picks up his own things and takes Hallis's hand once again, leaving a small pile of bills behind under his empty martini glass.

As they emerge into the street, there are no flashes or cameras in sight. Perhaps they have found some power couple to focus on for the time being. Taking her chances during the small reprieve, Hallis grips his hand with both of hers as she smiles up at him. "So we're going to that bowl thing now? To see… winter cherries?" The poor girl, the sights of Washington are lost on her.

George laughs, shaking his head. "Close enough. C'mon, we can still beat the traffic." They're not lost yet, if nothing else she can go back home and talk about all the pretty colors. The pink and white should be out in full force by now.

The ride to the Tidal Basin is relatively uneventful, in fact it's downright boring aside from the canoodling going on in the back of the cab. During the entire trip the cabby has kept one eye on the pair and the other on the road. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a curious man who doesn't know what the man in the suit has that he doesn't. Three things: A career that puts him in the spotlight, enough money to buy the girl pretty things, and Hallis herself.

As they exit the car, Hallis widens her eyes and looks about in awe. "George… it's.." Pink and white, the perfect color combination to go with her beige and pink ensemble. Of course the beauty of the sight is compared against how good she looks in it, and after a small meal and a few to give her that rosy glow… she does look good with the trees in the background. Quickly, she pulls her iPhone out of her pocket and hands it to him, "Take my picture? Please?"

George always gets a kick out of visiting this spot - there are some cherry trees at Sakura Park too, but not on the same scale - and more so as he watches Hallis share in the simple pleasure of it. It takes him a little while to line up a decent shot, he hasn't done a lot of this and there's the sun glare to worry about. At least they sort of blend in with the other people pursuing a similar photo op.

After the shot has been taken, Hallis skips to his side and liberates the cellular from his hands. Then she huddles close to him and captures a picture of the two of them together, for posterity. The photo isn't terrible, but it's definitely an amateur shot. With the sun shining so brightly, the young woman pulls a pair of dark shades from her purse and puts them on, "Will you take another picture of me with my sunglasses on?" Apparently, she's never shy of a photograph and from the file load in her phone… she collects a lot of them.

Like many other things, sunglasses are just a functional thing for George. (Not all things, as she'll discover if she ever visits his apartment.) But he gets that she's on a different wavelength, and goes along with a few more shots from different angles until she offers some sign that she's satisfied with the results.

After all of the posing, the shots together, and the general carousing, Hallis places her phone into her pocket and loops her arm through George's. Then they begin their walk in earnest, with the girl actually paying attention to her surroundings rather than letting the background fade into a general din as she makes her way someplace else. "Thank you for bringing me here, George." she says, giving him a small smile.

"Hey," he answers, "thanks for getting me to pay some more attention to it - usually it's just kind of in the background while I'm working through something else." Another subtle benefit of his ability, perhaps, there haven't been any 911 pages from his staff during all this. Which probably means they'll double up on him tomorrow, but them's the breaks.

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