Just Desserts
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"Webber, party of two. Webber, party of two. Your table is ready, sir. Please, right this way."

Cecconi's in West Hollywood

April 28th, 9:00 PM

"…"

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It's a busy night at Cecconi's, with couples lining many of the tables of the West Hollywood restaurant.

Tucked away into a corner of Cecconi's West Hollywood, a detective and a reporter sit across the table, midway through their mains. The dinner has gone surprisingly well so far. Hana hadn't even mentioned work— not once, not even in passing— much to Andrew's surprise. It's been casual thus far. The pair talked about food, shoes, and LA's beautiful climate.

Well. It had been going well until Andrew's spaghetti backfired on him. The voice resounded in his head when it had happened. He could even hear the cadence, and envision the body language that would've accompanied it: Andrew, never, ever ever ever order red sauce on a first day. Cardinal rule. Scout's honour.

Despite himself, he'd found his smile only moments after dripping red sauce down his white button up shirt, commenting idly, "Should've worn the red shirt, I guess— " Of course, the red shirt hadn't matched the shoes he's decided to wear this afternoon. Gold Adidas with wings. Icarus abounds. The waiter returns with a glass of club soda which Andrew uses to dab at the white fabric. "Well, there's no way that's not going to loose a stain." He offers a good humoured smile. "So… you from California?"

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Hana smiles, gamely but sympathetic so that her teeth end up biting her lip to prevent the further tragedy of laughing; so he's cute when he spills, oh well. "What, you don't have anyone at ACRU who erodes the cells of the stains or whatever it is you'd do?" Her joke splits off when she rolls her eyes for her own ignorance, leaning forward to take a safe and tidy bite of her Greek salad. Hana Deacon knows the rules of day one dating. "Actually, no," she answers after dabbing at her mouth with the napkin from her lap, "Arizona. Weird, right?" A couple of fingers tip towards her pale face teasingly.

"Not that I know of, but that would be an undeniably heroic gift," Andrew smirks as he dabs at the stain a little more. It's now thoroughly saturated in club soda and an orange hue. The stain is never coming out. Andrew may as well admit defeat. He rests the napkin he's been working with on the table again. "Arizona," he repeats with a curious quirk of his eyebrow. "And what brought you to LA then?" He slides the cup of club soda away from him (mostly so he doesn't accidentally drink it).

"Umm. Work," she admits — a simple, and noble, enough aspiration, but shyness claims Hana and her eyes graze downwards, fittingly at the greens on her plate. A hand fiddles with the fork without quite committing to picking up another bite. With a fling of her hair, she lifts her head to smile at him, "You?"

Andrew's lips flicker into a softer smile. A small twitch of lips. "I'm still new-ish to LA," he admits before bringing his real glass of water to his lips. "Born and raised in New York. Left not-too-long-ago to come here." He pauses. "For the sun. Time away from the smog. Open skies." His throat clears, "All of that stuff."

"To get away from the smog? In California?" Another soft tease before she takes another bite, mulling around the food — but not chewing around her words — "Boy, am I grateful you didn't ask what I came here to do," without seeming to realize this might defeat the purpose.

There's another smirk at the teasing. "Well, a fella does the best he can." Andrew actually shrugs at this, although his cheeks flush slightly. Nothing like being innocently called out on a lie. The comment warrants a cant of Andrew's head, with the question that weighs on his mind, "So what did you come here to do then?"

With no other warning, Andrew's phone starts ringing. The caller ID indicates it to be Archibald.

Aghast, Hana quickly recovers with a swallow, pointing to the phone with her fork. "You're gonna get that?"

Lips parting, it appears like the detective intends to say something else, but Hana's question is met with a vague nod. Andrew looks at the phone, and his smile tightens. "Sorry," he murmurs to his date. He manages to conceal most of the sigh that emits from his mouth before he brings the phone to his ear. "Webber here. What's going on, Archie?"

"Archibald." The correction is almost automatic by now. "What was it that the victim's roommate said about her profession?" There's a pause and he adds, "Are you at a restaurant?"

"Student," Andrew replies flatly, only to twist away from his date, murmuring yet another apology as he does so. That little voice in his head gnaws at him a little more. "Yeah, I'm at a restaurant. It's called a social life. You should try it some day." He swallows hard as he turns back towards Hana, "I gotta go— " and with that, he's hanging up the phone and returning his attention to Hana.

"So… how long have you been in LA then?" his eyes track downwards, expecting the phone to buzz again.

Hana's bright grin relieves him of any supposed guilt. "A few years— " she says, quickly, sniping it out as fast as she wonders, "Work?" at the phone he watches so keenly.

"Yeah… my partner," Andrew answers idly as he brings his water to his lips. "Archie is a little… detail oriented." And then, thinking twice about that, he tacks on, "Makes him a good detective." His nose wrinkles. "So did reporting bring you here then?" his forehead creases as his eyes track up towards Hana again. He rolls his pasta on his fork and takes another bite. It's not as much an interrogation as a steering of the conversation. He reminds himself: No talking about work. No talking about Alice. No talking about New York or family.

Are his palms getting sweaty?

"Oh, umm… no… not that," a nervous swipe of her hand pushes her bangs away from her forehead as she deeply contemplates the wisdom of the Greek dressing. "No… oh my God, you're gonna laugh." And she does; soft and nervous and beautiful.

The laugh eases Andrew's nerves, prompting him to smile once more. He releases a quiet breath, and his blue eyes only reflect that same good humour as he watches her with interest. "I like laughing," he encourages with a side smile that exposes a single dimple.

Ring ring. Again, Archibald. Perhaps he likes laughing, too.

"I— " the ringtone cuts her off and Hana flashes him a reassuring smile. "Archie?" Ventured without much guessing.

The sigh that follows the question is accompanied by a nod. Yes, Andrew is already annoyed. And yes, he knows this could go on for a very very long time. "Hold that thought?" he asks with a smaller smile now, trying to make it as obvious as he can that he would rather be wholly present for this moment than have one with Archibald on the phone. A button is pressed and the phone held to his ear, "What's going on, Archie?" Same question as before. No greeting this time.

"Archibald." The detective emphasizes it, perhaps thinking that Andrew is like a dog that needs to be trained. "Was she wearing a blue shirt when you interviewed her?"

Andrew's eyebrows draw together as prominent forehead lines form along his head. "Why does that matter?" He fails to successfully fight the frustration seeping into his tone, and only after he clears his throat, closes his eyes, and releases a long breath, does he offer, "Yes. She was wearing a blue shirt." After this, he hangs up once more. "So.. I like laughing…" he turns back towards Hana. The apologetic tone is accompanied by a now-wearied smile that prompts him to bring his water glass back to his lips. Only it's the club soda. Yup.

"Good," winces Hana, anticipating her hurried words' lateness as she reaches an emphasizing wait finger in the air, "Because you're about to drink your club soda and laugh about it years later— "

But it's just a second too late. Bubble-filled water enters Andrew's mouth and his cheeks immediately flush. As much as the texture, flavour, and general consistency of the carbonated water disgust him in every way, he forces it downwards. Down the pipes. It won't kill him, but it's all kinds of awful. His expression sours, pulling his eyelids shut as he takes that hit thanks to his own Archibald-created distraction. A moment passes and he takes a small breath accompanied by a half-choking/half-clearing sounds. *AHEM*. The tight-lipped smile he manages only lasts a moment before he actually chuckles at himself. A hand presses to his forehead as he stifles whatever laughter he can before it's dropped to the table. "Sorry. I've been a comedy of errors tonight— " in nearly every way.

"Just say you're doing it on purpose." Advice from the reporter as she subtly — or tries to be subtle; she's not miss perfect society date, herself — scoots her chair closer and lays a hand across the table where it's within arms' reach of his. "You know, to make your beautiful but nervous date feel like she couldn't possibly do worse…" Twinkle in her eyes seeks him out shyly, her lips pressed tightly together afterward.

"Yeah, it's all a ploy," there's just a hint of mischief in Andrew's gaze at the 'confession'. "Clearly." He tugs on his jacket, smoothing it out again while clearing his throat once more. His gaze drifts towards Hana’s hand on the table, and then back up to her eyes where she earns an equally shy smile in exchange. “So,” he swallows hard, and inches a stitch closer to her in turn, “you came for work—“ there had been a story there somewhere. And, as an extra source of encouragement, if she’ll let him, he reaches out to give her hand a small squeeze.

She can't hide the flash of a reassured smile when he touches her hand, not even when she's trying to remain poised and aloof after the offer. Hana clears her throat to regain her reporter coolness, shaking her head so that her boisterous natural red hair drapes around her face. "You're not gonna— "

Ring, ring.

It seems impossible: three for three. But there it is. Hana's mouth drops open in overdone aghast, muttering, "Is he outside or something— ?" Only to be startled, hand jumping out of Andrew's, when her own phone rumbles in alarm behind her last breath.

The phone virtually causes Andrew to jump, and the sharp movement of Hana's hand causes him to withdraw his own. As much as he can flirt, he's never been particularly good at the follow-through. A point he's all too aware of. He shrugs as he leans back in his seat, "Work?" There's almost something encouraging in his stare. It's an interruption he knows all too well.

His own phone is plucked from the table and pressed to his ear, "Hello?"

She echoes him in spirit, blinking. "This is Deacon…"

There is no preamble, only Archibald's solemn voice as he tells Andrew, "There's been a break-in at the Everly house. Alice Everly is missing." This time it's Archibald who hangs up on Andrew. Turn about and all that.

Across the way, Hana's back shoots up, straightening with a stiffness that lowers her eyebrows as she continues to listen.

The news causes blue eyes to widen and lips to part. Andrew curses as Archibald hangs up. He motions for the waiter, "Cheque please," before glancing back towards Hana, and mouthing a silent Sorry. It's all too familiar. That alone could make his blood boil. He reaches into his pocket for his wallet. Webber is going to be on the move in short order.

"Webber, I— " but her words drop out as Hana's eyes fall, then sharply raise, "I've got it. Get out of here." Guilt flushes her cheeks; she's still on the phone but clearly no longer quite listening.

He'll hear it on the radio after he leaves: KABC ran the story about Alice; they called her a psychic.

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