Dinner Discussion

April 25, 2015:

Soft-spoken Cameron invites Kate for dinner, beer, and an ear-bending

Cameron Tenoaks' Apartment -- Metropolis

This modest apartment bears a bedroom, a full bathroom, a proper
kitchen area, and a living room. The furniture is a bit faded and worn, with
some of it looking like perhaps it was acquired in the good ol' college
fashion. There are blackout curtains on the windows, and there is modest
lighting from endtable lamps and the sort.

This gives the place a nice 'lived-in' yet 'not pigsty' sort of
ambience.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Cameron Tenoaks is a paradox wrapped inside an enigma inside Schrodinger's Box. Okay, perhaps not that complex, but it is hard to put a finger on her motivations at times, and her rather down-to-earth approach about being a premier power in the Big Apricot provides some very important… perspective.

She doesn't seek the glory, the fame, the money, or the influence that being a big-time hero should get, yet… she seems to garner it just the same, perhaps because she paradoxically does not seek it.

When rumors and hints of turmoil at the Lakehouse started puttering around, Cameron did what most adults would do in this day and age. She dropped a text to Kate, gave her an address, a time, and the text also said 'Beers on me'.

The orange-haired paramedic has since been running around, purchasing a case of good micro-brew, and cooking up enough pasta to feed two armies. Why two? Because she's ONE of the armies to be fed.

Now the question remains… will her company show up?

Kate did at least patch things up with Wonder Woman, but that doesn't mean she wants to go back to the house and chance having to deal with Steve just yet. So the offer of a beer and a chance to spend some time with someone else is a welcome one. She's a couple minutes late, but eventually the doorbell rings, with one Kate Bishop - in over-sized sweats - waiting outside. At least she found something other than heels to wear with them. Not that the uggs are much more fashion forward.

There's a brief pause as the paramedic skip-hops to the buzzer and lays on it for a few moments to allow the sweats-clad Avenger into the building. It's not hard to find Cameron's apartment, it's on the third floor, in the corner, and the door is propped open slightly as the smell of red sauce and pasta wafts out invitingly. It's not often that there are guests, so it's a bit exciting. And if it turns out it's paparazzi attempting to sneak in… well… accidents can happen in the kitchen… and Cam can HEAL those.

Currently, she's clad in sweats herself, yet there seems to be a greenish bodysuit under it, with reinforced gloves and boots. Running outfit, maybe?

"Kate, come on in when you get up here, food's almost ready and the beer is cold."

Kate is practiced with stairs. So it doesn't take her too long to jog up them to the apartment, peeking inside when she sees the door cracked. "Hey, Cam," she calls in, looking around with a small smile. "Nice place. Thanks for the invite," she adds, reaching back to push the door closed behind herself. "I'm uh. Not quite ready to go back to the lake house right now. How've you been with all this?"

The taller woman reaches into the fridge and pulls out a beer and hands it to Kate. Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA. She nods with a bit of a smile when she does that, and is thankful that Kate has the manners to close the door. After a moment or two a monster foil container of pasta loaded with red sauce is brought out. The meat's okay, the sauce looks decently thick, the pasta cooked 'just so'.

"You're welcome. And… I think it stinks. This whole France thing. There's something really rotten about it. But that's not why I dropped you a text. More after you get yourself a plate and load up, okay?"

She'll wait a few moments for Kate to partake of whatever amount of noodles she wants before loading up a monster pile onto her own plate.

"Mom's always saying you should discuss things with a full stomach, otherwise being hungry makes you cranky."

Well, that's either prescient or coincidental.

"So says the snickers bar advertising team," Kate replies with a rueful smile, loading up a hefty serving for herself. "I sort of stormed out on food before I had more than a couple bites. Thanks." Once she has a full plate, she goes to settle into a seat, already taking a bite. "The whole France thing is definitely off," she agrees. "There's no rational reason for Congress to be questioning the JLA about any of it. Actually, it's pretty questionably legal when it comes down to it."

The mystery of the vast quantities is solved rather quickly as the orange-haired woman just piles a good chunk of the plate away without really even pausing.

"Why the immediate attack on the first responders? That's the thing that's bugging the bejesus out of me. But aside from that, there's talk of excessive force and complaints that folks were too vigorous trying to stop a situation from getting out of hand? No, this feels like that… Julius Caesar… no.. Marc Antony… 'I come here to bury Caesar, not to praise him'?"

Cameron sort of muses on that for a moment as she glances over at her house guest. "See what I'm thinking?"

"Because it's a set up," Kate replies with a shrug. "I don't think that's even in question, honestly. Who's a good question. Whether or not any of the people on that committee have ties to HYDRA, that's a good question. But the biggest one, the one that matters, is what are we going to do about it?" She continues to eat, thinking it through. "It was in France. We weren't tasked with protecting the President in the first place. I mean, I don't like that they're going after Kara, but at least I can understand that part. That's the only part that makes any sense. The rest of it? It's like…I mean, if Paris cops had been first on the scene, this wouldn't be the response."

"There's plenty more here to eat, don't worry, I'll leave enough for you." Cameron notes with a smile as she dishes up another plate and nods.

"Bit of a change of topic here, okay? Based on little grumblings I heard after Africa and a couple of other things — we need to train together. Even though I'm not a firefighter, I know roughly what they have to go through in combating a blaze, just like they have a rough idea of what we have to do to provide emergency health services. We couldn't function as an organization without that kind of understanding. Sure, we kid each other, poke a bit sometimes, but when push comes to shove we all pull ourselves together and focus on what is important. But that comes from training, practice, and working together, right?"

"That's what I said earlier," Kate nods, grimacing. "Apparently Steve decided that meant I was trying to start a mutiny or something. Because suggesting we should practice is criticizing the last mission, and criticizing something that ended the way that did is just unpatriotic or something." She frowns, poking more slowly at her pasta. "I didn't expect that line from him. The whole, unquestioning obedience thing."

Cameron's appetite has not abated, though she does pause to speak. "You ever go to a call, a mission, or whatnot where everything you did was a failure, and the best you can come up with is 'at least it wasn't worse'? Pretty sure Steve and Diana are BOTH there right now. Have I lost patients because either traffic was bad, or things just didn't fall the way they needed to? Yes. And there is no more rotten feeling in the world than feeling that price of failure. Even if there wasn't a damn thing you could do about it."

She takes a sip from her own beer, pondering.

"It takes time to recover from that kind of thing. It doesn't happen overnight, in days, weeks, or maybe even years for some people. And when folks are hurting like that, there's two reactions. Either you curl up into a ball and you don't want to deal with anything or you lash out at what you think is causing the problem. That's if you haven't had any sort of field training. Steve and Diana are both warriors — different eras, but still. When they get pushed, conditioning is to fall back on training. And when you're backed against the corner, well? Not saying its right, just saying… I think I can see where he's coming from, and I think I can see where you're coming from?"

Cameron plows into her plate to give Kate a chance to respond.

"Maybe that whole criticizing the leadership is criticizing the whole organization thing flies with him, but not me," Kate shakes her head, pushing the pasta around her plate. "What good is something if no one questions it? How can we be stronger, better, if we aren't willing to look at where we're weak first? It's not a challenge. It's not a rift. It's trust. Trust that we can be honest with each other, no matter what we have to say."

"Yes, but at the same time you know that there is a time and a place for that, right? I wouldn't do it in the middle of a fight, and I wouldn't do it when some outside power is trying to get us to fight against each other. That's just playing into their hands. If we've got a grievance and it's not the kind of thing we can work out on the Department, we can get a hold of our union rep, but usually that isn't necessary because things work out without that kind of intervention. Personally, I'd rather be a builder than a breaker. It's too easy to break things, too hard to build them so they last. I mean, look at this country and what it is going through right now, and what it's gone through in the past."

Cameron shakes her head and sips at her beer.

"Sorry, kind of went off on a tangent there. Honesty is important in team-building. So is trust. But we need to have more team cohesion to get to that point. Right now? Steve's a living legend, Diana much the same, you're the social master, Captain Colostomy is good at disemboweling folks, Booster is good at photo ops and doing the 'right thing'… I could just keep going on and on. Point is, we're not a team yet. On paper, sure. And people with heart like yourself are binding us together. But no team grows without bumps and stumbles, right?"

"It's not like I did it in public," Kate points out, wrinkling her nose. "I did it at home, in our own house. And all I said was, we should be more clear about leadership, and we needed to do more team building. So we could be better. I didn't even actually criticize anything," she adds, finally wrapping some pasta around her fork. "But apparently saying we could do more was bad enough." She takes a deep breath, shaking her head as she lets it out. "I just want to help fix things. I wasn't there when it happened. I can't do anything about that. But I can be here now."

"Okay. The House is a neutral safe-zone, right? It's supposed to be the place we can all go to for haven, to unwind, to just be, right? Sort of like quarters at a station, or barracks on an army base, right? The quiet spot where we turn it all off and just disconnect, right?"

Cameron's thinking something profound, and it hopefully is a good idea and not a bad one.

"I think we should put together a suggested training program, but not mention it at the House. Do it at the Hall of Justice. That way, we're keeping the business at work, and the down-time at the House? I know it might sound silly, but… part of the reason I live here and not say, with my parents, or with a bunch of my fellow paramedics is because I need a place to get away, to unwind, to not be either Cameron OR Columbia? Does that make any sort of sense, or am I just babbling? I'm not really good at this talking thing, so if I'm screwing it all up, tell me?"

She starts eating from her plate once more.

"You're not babbling." Kate sets the tines against her plate, frowning down at the pasta. "I get what you're saying. Where you're coming from. I guess…" She pauses, considering. "I guess I don't see it that way. For me, it's not something to get away from, or unwind from. It's everything."

"When was the last time you took a vacation? An honest-to-God away-from-it-all disconnected vacation? Have you ever tried? Not with other people, just yourself?"

Cameron peers thoughtfully at Kate between forkfulls

"The sword that is too sharp will lose its edge, right? How do you stake out 'you' time? No one can run full-tilt all the time."

"This…is my me time," Kate replies, quirking a brow curiously. "I don't have a job, Cam. I didn't even go to college. I mean. Sometimes I volunteer at the shelter, teach some self defense classes, help watch the kids while their moms job search. I spend a lot of time training. It's not easy keeping up with you guys, you know. I don't…have time for things that don't matter. That's what everyone else I grew up around does. One vacation after another."

"I… get it now."

Cameron loads up another plate and chows into a bit before explaining.

"You and Steve are opposite sides of the same coin. You are both constantly training, fighting to keep in trim, remain active, remain involved… maybe 'remain relevant', even? The problem with that, something I've run into a lot — if you say that things 'don't matter', then pretty soon all you're doing is your job and in your 'off-hours' you're STILL doing your job. If you ask me? Take some private time. Meditate. Read some fiction. Take in a show or two. Something to put you back in touch with being a human being. I have to fight for those brief moments so I savor them. The training will still be there for you to come back to it. If you keep at this pace, though… you could end up like that Punisher guy, or the Partisan?"

Kate shakes her head, finally eating the pasta on her fork. "It's a nice thought, Cam, but now's pretty much the worst time to do that. "I go out and take a beach vacation, and it's going to be on all the gossip rags how I'd rather get a tan while the world's falling apart. Which makes the league look bad, too. Maybe after all this blows over. Or if we need to make it look like we've stopped fighting. Or something. But now's not really a good time."

"If you go to the library and check out a book, are they going to accuse you of being too literate? If you arrange for a massage at the House, are they going to accuse you of being too soft? Gut feeling, I think if you live a *little* it'll be good not only for yourself but the League. Nothing crazy, but I'm sure you can think of stuff to get away from the insanity for a day or two? I mean, you arranged for the House, right? That means you know how to get a place set up like that. A discreet weekend away at a modest hotel won't kill you. And if it tries to, I have confidence in your ability to take it down."

"I don't really like reading. Didn't go the college, remember?" Kate says with a faint smile. "Besides, all my friends are in the hero business, too. Now's not the time to take a break. Now's the time to focus on being the best we can be. Maybe once all of this is under control, once it's all taken care of, then I can think about spending some time doing something else."

Cam finishes her beer and peers at Kate. "You're such an addict, you know that, right?" The tone is gentle, joking, though there is a little bit of a prod there, too. "It's all adventure and excitement and even when things are dark, well, it's just before the dawn, right? It's okay. I get it. It's sort of how I trained to not heal every single thing on the planet. Well, I can't claim I trained it all. Dad helped with it, actually…"

Maybe just a side-story to change the subject?

"Little bit, yeah," Kate says with a tired smile. "Addict. Hiding from actually dealing with things by hitting them. I know." She finishes the last of the pasta on her plate, setting her fork down carefully. "But for what it's worth, I've always tried to make a difference. That's something I believe one hundred percent. If we have the ability to help people, then we have the responsibility, too."

"The first step to fixing a problem is by knowing it exists, right? I'm not gonna twelve-step you, you know the dangers of what you're facing, you can see where the balance is right now. Just don't forget that, and try to remember that some folks are trying to cling to something 'normal' and when they get confronted with all sorts of things they might get a bit defensive? And responsibility and ability are only a part of the equation. Turn into too much of a martyr, and that's all people will remember you for. Not the good things you did while being one." Cameron nods to Kate.

"This was actually kind of cool. I think next time we do some rice dish or something. Something big. Maybe invite a couple of others?"

Well, it's worth a thought, right?

"Sure," Kate nods, smile faint. "Kara'd probably appreciate the invite. And you know, I think if the two of you get the chance, some training together would be really good for her. You've got a lot of the same instincts, but you've picked up a lot more of the procedure and the cautious side of thing from your EMT training. That could be a huge help to her, you-" She pauses, smile slipping ruefully crooked. "And there I go again."

"See, you recognize it. That's the hardest part. Sometimes just taking that and biting the tongue and watching can pay off a thousand times more than saying it. I like Kara's heart, but sometimes she's downright terrifying when she gets going. So yes, we should work on that, for the sort of reasons you mentioned. But first things first…"

The orange-haired woman heads to the kitchen and brings out a monster foil pan with a lid on it.

"Could you do me a huge favor and take this to the House? I'd do it, but I'm ducking some paparazzi and if they see me doing it…"

"You really wanna make some friends, you should take it down to them," Kate suggests with a low laugh, standing up. "But yeah, I can take it back to house. Thanks for dinner, Cam. And the chat. It was nice."

Cameron shakes her head, laughing. "You're welcome, and… I'll be by one of these days, probably sooner than later. Just… need some time away from it all, for the same sort of reason you need some time in it all? Anyways, have a great evening and be careful out there."

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