More Bad Dating Advice

May 09, 2016:

Claire and Carol get together for dinner and talk. Mostly about Claire's relationship attempt.

Some tapas place - NYC

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Ford Bennett

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

While sometimes the temptation is to ask to head out for drinks, Claire did remember that, with Carol, that's never the wisest idea. But Tapas, where they can fatten themselves slowly over many hours, seems like a great idea. So, there's a lovely little place just off of St. Marks'. It's late enough (Claire having worked until 8 pm) that its not too crowded or loud. Claire is settled in a back seat, still in her scrubs, because getting food was more important than looking nice to go out. She has a menu in front of her, but she's not quite staring at it. She's staring just slightly off to the side with that gaze which says she's a million miles somewhere else.


Not a texting maven by any stretch, Carol Danvers still has a modern phone and knows how to use it. And she doesn't need commercial air to get from Delaware to New York City, either. It's just a quick supersonic flight from Metropolis, out to sea and back. Quick-change powers are handy, too, so Carol comes walking into the restaurant in civvies, not a costume, without a bit of glow about her. It helps her pass less noticed, and she's dressed down, sporting jeans and a simple blouse, rather than the skirt suit she wore to work today and most days.

A quick visual sweep once her eyes adjust, and Carol makes her way to the back, sliding into the booth across from Claire, noting the other woman's scrubs. "Hey. Did you order yet?" she inquires, watching Claire's responsiveness before she tries summoning any waitstaff.


It's not until Carol's voice comes that Claire jumps out of her lost thoughts, realizing her friend has actually arrived. A smile immediately crosses her features and she leans up and over the table for one of those half hugs that comes between good friends when they never much get time together. "Carol! Thanks for coming. Sorry. I… I probably should have changed, but I was starving. And no, I haven't ordered yet. We could really just get one of everything, right? My credit card won't cry too hard." Claire admits with a half laugh, looking back down to the menu which does look good, but also New York expensive. "…Seriously. Thanks. I know it's a trip."


"Don't worry about that. You know travel is the easy part, for me." Finding time in her busy schedule is much harder for Carol, but she strives to never lt that get so much in the way that she loses touch with friends; she doesn't have that many, and fewer still who are alive and talking to her. "We can order that much, if you want. I can cover my half of the bill, and it makes it easier than poring through the menu to pick things out." With that and the hug exchanged, Carol gestures towards one of the waitstaff, and gets their orders in. "So. Rough day today? Or rough month?" Carol offers once the waitstaff is gone. That kind of stare into nothing has to mean something, and she'll at least ask, even if she won't prod forcefully if rebuffed.


"…Rough…I don't know if that's the word for it." Claire starts with a bit of a sigh. She finally does set down the menu, seemingly content with just getting one of everything in the tapas selections. She'd probably eat almost that much after such a long shift. She exhales a slow breath, crossing her long legs beneath the table. "I… I had 4 patients die in one day a few weeks ago. Had to go through the mortality review board, was suspended a few days with pay. I was cleared of any wrong doing, but the hospital has cut back on double shifts. So… I've only been working singles for weeks. It's strange. It'll change when two people quit and we're understaffed, but… For now…" She gives a half smile and a shrug, even if that might not be exactly why she needed a girls' night. "How are *you*?"


Carol reaches out a hand, laying it lightly on the table to make fingertip contact with Claire, her tiny way of showing support without being overdone about it. She gets it. She has been through it, though not as a nurse of course. They all have their ghosts, and the pain they bear. "I'm alright. Nothing major. Mostly the same old thing." Of course, Carol has never been huge on sharing. But she's not nearly as closed-off as she used to be in the bad old days. "One of the reporters is having an issue, I'm trying to help out. Good guy, pretty darned good reporter. But with the financial crunch of the papers, it's hard. I hate having to think like that. It's against my nature."


"I…can't imagine print publishing is doing well at all these days. That's got to be miserable. You know if there is anyway I can ever help, you just ask, right? I mean… even if someone just needs somewhere to crash a little while. Or a shoulder to lean on." Claire offers with a softer sort of amile, studying Carol's lovely, paler features with an earnest bit of worry for a few moments. She's still working on not pushing *too* hard with the woman, but pushing enough that she can open up when she needs to. Claire's been quite firm about being a safe space for the blonde. That's never going to change.


The blonde shrugs a bit. "It's not, on its own. We do more than enough digital media work, it's not like the paper is going under. But they're still very tight, and going to stay that way for the foreseeable figure. So, I'm helping him out, covering for him while he deals with the issue. But it's chancy." Carol won't come out and say who or what is going on; they're not her secrets to tell. But she has given enough of an idea of the generalities. "My biggest tension moment this week was some poor kid crazy enough to ask /me/ for dating advice. As if I have clue one beyond 'don't, just don't'."


The nurse gives a small nod, only pausing in their conversation to look up and actually order for them. She gets an iced tea, waiting to see if Carol wants a drink also. Once the waiter is gone, Claire gives a slightly wry smile and a half laugh, "…Then I guess this isn't the time to say I could use some sense talked into me about a guy, hmm?" She actually is blushing a bit more, an awkward smile across her lips.


Carol just smirks and shrugs. "If you want to talk, I'll listen. If something occurs to me, I'll mention it. But Claire, you should know me well enough by now to know, I don't have any good advice for someone trying to date. My advice is to avoid it entirely. It only turns out badly." At least, that has been Carol's experience. Her running joke has been that any guy she's interested in is certain to be a villain, usually an alien despot intent on ruling Earth by force. Anyone interested in her is almost certain to be a psychotic murderer. And woe be unto all when the two intersect.


A slight wrinkle comes to Claire's nose, "I know, I know… and generally, I agree. I've avoided dating for so damn long… and here comes this rich, stuck up… full of himself…handsome… *Asshole* and suddenly I'm… I don't know. Dating. I guess we are. Ford. The guy from the gala. It… It wasn't just the gala, and I *know* it's a bad idea. But…he's been sweet. Really sweet. After I set some limits, he's completely respected them, through and through. Shit…he takes *care* of me. I don't even know what to do with that." She admits with an awkward bit of a sigh.


Carol listens, and nods. She'd guessed about the dating thing, even though they hadn't discussed it ahead of time. "Well. Is he taking care of you in the good way? Or in the way that makes you feel he doubts your ability to take care of yourself?" Carol's guess from the context is that it's in the good way, but the right thing to do, as a friend, is ask and let the woman answer for herself. And to herself, which is the most important. "I admit, I wouldn't know what to do with someone who tried to take care of me in the right ways, either. I've been doing it myself since I was sixteen." Even before she left home. Because Pappa Danvers wasn't going to have his daughter doing those things. And to Hell with him. "So. Why is he an asshole? What'd he say? What'd he do?" She didn't see anything she'd have identified as 'Stark Syndrome' out of the guy during the gala. But then again, that was only then. Who knows?


"No, the good way. He tried the other way and I very firmly put him in his place. I guess… that's where the asshole side comes in. He's used to being a womanizer… to being the rich boy who just tosses money at problems, and multiple women. I've had to snap him to more than once. I keep expecting him to run. I know I don't make it easy. But, instead… he seems to be listening and learning. He still has moments where he doesn't think but…he keeps getting better. I went into this because he promised to donate half a million to the hospital if I went on one date with him — basically prostituted myself for the damn hospital, but you know, I'd do it again. And now… hell…I…I think I like it." And Claire seemingly finds that weird. Very, very weird. Her nose wrinkles, hackles still a bit up about the whole thing as she looks up to her friend and searches for some sense to be talked into her about it.


"Claire …" Carol begins, then shrugs one shoulder. Just one. She can even be laconic with her body language, go figure. "Asshole is when he doesn't learn. When he won't. If he learns, and stays taught, then he's just a guy. A putz, maybe, but just a guy." She settles quietly, considering what more to say, when the food arrives, and her drink. Hooray for fruit juice. It's like wine, but no alcohol. "I've done it, you know. Two mil, myself. Stark donated to a charity for underprivileged kids for math and science." And Carol went on a date with him, because he asked. And because he had the wherewithall to actually think about what would mean something to her, and then act on it. "I didn't sleep with him." But she did kiss him. "If you like it. If you like him. Then … go for it. That's all anyone can do, Claire."


"I…I didn't sleep with him either, for what it's worth. Hell. I *haven't* slept with him yet. I keep waiting for some other shoe to drop… But… damn. It's tempting." Claire admits with a bit of a blush as the first round of tapas comes with the drinks. Claire isn't a delicate eater. She takes a piece of everything onto her plate, eagerly digging in over the discussions they have. "…How did it go with Stark? Clearly… he ended up a putz, if you aren't still dating him.


Though, Claire does look a bit relieved as Carol mentions she's done it before. That's almost reassuring.


Carol shrugs. Both shoulders, this time. "Enh. He wasn't terrible. But he has ADHD where relationships are concerned. Something new and shiny came along, and that was that. We parted friends. Hell, he was my AA sponsor when I started. But we'll never date again." Carol's convinced part of the reason for that is that she's a blonde, not a redhead. But so be it. She doesn't eat ravenously, but she's patient and methodical. Food does disappear.


The look in Claire's eyes softens just a bit as Carol mentions that she and Tony are still friends. She nods in approval, "…I'm glad there's a half decent ending to that story, at least." She exhales quietly, lost in her thoughts again for a moment before taking another bite of the tuna pieces she's chosen. When she's finished chewing, she gives a half smile. "…Maybe I'm scared. It's easier alone."


Carol snorts. "Easier? Nah. It's just what you're used to." Carol can be incredibly incisive. Insightful is someone different. But Carol cuts through the crap, often with a minimum of words. It's probably the military in her. "Change sucks. You can't ever know where you'll end up, or how. But if you want it better, the only way on is through. It may blow up. It may suck. But you won't know any of that unless you try." And if he screws up badly, Carol can make his body disappear. Handy dandy stars and gravity wells are handy for that.


Dark eyes narrow at Carol a bit more, a small smile tugging across her lips as she pauses in demolishing the food and just studies her friend. "And you said you weren't good at giving dating advice. That's a hell of a lot better than the girls at the hospital, just yelling at me to marry him because he's rich. Or what I was doing on my own. Thanks…" Claire's hand stretches out, giving a brief squeeze to Carol's palm, mirroring the touch from earlier.


The blonde pilot shrugs one shoulder, but accepts the contact, the little squeeze. "You're welcome, for what little it's worth. It still all comes down to you." Which is why Carol feels like she's not very good at such things. Because when it all comes down to her … well. That doesn't work out. And that's just how it is. Carol keeps up nibbling, though she lets Claire have the lion's share of everything, as more and more arrives.


Even Claire is starting to slow down now, having satisfied that post-work ravenous feeling. She still smiles, her hand pulling back so she can work on the last few nibbles of food. "…Aren't you hungry? I can't imagine how many calories your metabolism goes through in a day with… everything you do." She's smart enough not to directly talk about powers at the table, but the implication is there behind her voice.


Carol lifts a shoulder. "Generally, I suck up a lot from all the energy in the air around me. A quick bounce up into unfiltered sunlight helps." Carol doesn't have to power her incredible powers just with food she eats, is her point. "That, and I ate today. You have a tendency not to, while on shift. So you're hungrier than I am, right now." But truth told, Carol eats like a squad of teenaged boys in a football program, by comparison to her few 'normal' friends. And she knows how that drives them nuts.


"…Carol, I'm going to burst if I eat much more. Seriously. *Eat* you might be half plant or something, but you're not all plant." Claire pushes one of the plates of some crostini across the table towards her friend, a bit more relaxed, a smile upon her lips again. "And, I will say… with all this good advice, you might consider taking some of it yourself. Maybe I'll ask Ford if he has a friend. We can double date."


The pilot takes the food, and eats a bit. And a bit more. She doesn't pick up speed. But she is calmly methodical, emptying tiny plate after tiny plate. "One. I am not part plant. Two. No. Not maybe. Not I would prefer not. Just no. Absolutely. Irrevocably. No." Because that's just the bridge too far.


Claire gives a slight but earnest pout towards Carol, pale eyes levelling with her. "…If you went with me, then I could get your real opinion of Ford… could consider it a spy mission!" She teases, but she waves it off before Carol throws something at her. The rest of the evening is spent in casual, enjoyable conversation and relaxed laughing.

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