15511/Is this how normal people do it

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Is this how normal people do it
Date of Scene: 21 August 2023
Location: A boutique coffee shop in Gotham
Synopsis: Jason and Helena manage to meet for coffee like real, civilized people. It pretty much almost works. But too much cinnamon.
Cast of Characters: Red Hood, Huntress

Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd sat in a booth in the back of the small coffee shop. It's the sort that proudly serves its own sourced coffee, roasts and packages it. But it's also the sort that acutally tastes good. That matters.

He sits with a glass of ice water for the moment as he waits on someone to meet him. His phone rests on the table and he silently watches the clock tick off the minutes.
Huntress has posed:
In some ways, it's much harder to slip away during the day. Night covers a lot, and Helena's familiar with navigating it. These days, during the day, she has multiple guards around her at all times. Not her idea, but a necessity. She's got to be seen to be taking the attempts on her life seriously, if only to discourage such further attempts.

She's late.

He can hear her when she arrives though, in her booted heels; he knows her well enough by now to recognize her tread even before she drops down into the seat opposite him. She's wearing jeans, a cashmere sweater, and sunglasses. Her arm isn't in the sling -- it's too visibly recognizeable -- but she still holds it close against her body, the shoulder far from fully healed.

"I'm supposed to be at a day spa. It was the only place they refused to go."

He can't really see Helena's eyes beneath the sunglasses, but the pause, the way she holds herself, tells him she's studying his expression, anyway. She doesn't ask if he's okay.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd does recognize her walk and he looks up slowly, trying not to act over eager. He stands as she draws near and nods. "Well who wants to laze around and get pampered all day anyway?" Who indeed.

He notices her arm and that she's keeping up appearances. "You look beautiful" he offers in a quiet voice. Even if she does have sunglasses on still. No mention or bother from her late arrival. That she's here speaks volumes. He spares a quick glance past her to see if she has any shadows, or attracted attention of the bad sort. It's habit and probably will never change.

He tilts his head and opens his arms to offer a hug. "What can I order for you?" Letting her slip into the booth for some privacy seems his first plan.
Huntress has posed:
"Maybe in another life," Helena agrees, with an amused twist of lips, as she uses her good arm to lift her sunglasses up, settling them onto the top of her head. Whatever, who whoever she's hiding from, it isn't Jason.

There's just a heart beat of hesitation before she steps into the circle of his arms, leaning into him for that hug. She tilts her head upwards just enough to kiss his jaw as she does. So few people have seen Helena soften the way she does in that moment, smile lighting her features.

Once she's settled in the booth, she expels a breath. "A latte. And whatever the best pie is. Blueberry? I'd love to make some. I haven't had a chance to cook in far too long." Her voice is pitched low, leaning into his side. "I'll have what we need soon on Santo. I went outside, but she'll be discreet."
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd hugs her - gently. He's aware of her shoulder after all. It's a protective hug just the same. As she kisses his jaw, he turns to kiss her temple before easing away.

"Latte and the best pie in the place" he confirms. Then she talks business and for a brief moment he seems annoyed. Not because he isn't interested in what she's sharing. More that, just for a few minutes, he hoped to attempt to spend time like normal people do. Of course normal is a relative term. Normal will sort itself out for them one way or the other though. As quickly as the annoyance shows it is gone and he spares a thin smile. "Good. I've got a lead from Tommy the Snitch. But we can sort that out later" he offers. With a genuine smile he slips out "Back in a few" he assures as he heads to the counter to place the order for their drinks and food.
Huntress has posed:
Normal is definitely what they are not. Though they have pretended otherwise on occasion.

It's likely that flicker of annoyance that clues Helena in. Jason didn't call her here to talk business. But what else could be worth risking both their covers for?

Her dark eyes track him as he goes to the counter, thoughtful.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd returns with the drinks, "Here you go" he offers with a smile. He has a cup of dark roast for himself. Returning to get the tray, he comes back and sets it down. The requested slice of pie and packet of plastic utensils for Helena, and on his side, a piece of coffee cake and his own packet of utensils. Plus a half dozen hazelnut creamer pods and what must be a fist sized pile of sweetner packets. Pulling the lid off the coffee, he sets into mixing his concoction to his liking.

"Sorry. I'm not trying be upset by talking shop.." He looks to her over a pouring creamer pod. "I just.. wanted to see you."
Huntress has posed:
Whatever Helena was expecting to hear from Jason, this is not it. Her mouth parts as if to say something, but she lacks the words, and so her gaze just drops to the cup he's brought, reaching over to stir in some sweetener.

She's not embarrassed; it's just a thing she's wholly unused to.

It takes her a moment more to convince herself that, to any else in the shop, none of this matters. They don't know who Helena or Jason is. It's safe for her to just reach over, as he sets the creamer back down, and brush her fingertips over his wrist. "Okay," is all she says. And then after a beat, "I missed you, too."
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd has learned by this point that Helena has definite ideas of Family, the good sort, and he has come to accept them. He doesn't mind that she helps him fix his coffee. It's sweet. The gesture. And the final mixture that gets his approval.

He watches as she processes what he said. He understands. Really. He hadn't intended to find someone he couldn't just leave at their place and drive home the Morning After and forget. But it happened.

As she affirms she feels the same he smiles boyishly. Whatever the reason, she has become the one person he feels he can actually just be himself around. Even if it still scares the hell out of him.

"Yeah..." is all he can say to her reply but he turns his hand to catch at hers. There's no reason they can't hold hands. Well. There are a lot of reasons. But he was careful, here. The booth was in the back of the small shop, away from all the windows. There was a little time to just.. be.

But even still his mind is trying to wander to shop-talk. It's habit. One he forces himself to ignore. "So.." he pauses to sip at his coffee (syrup), ".. It seems that The Pope has found a boyfriend and, uh, gotten busy at some point in the past." He looks at her with amusement. "I now have the sworn duty to guard her and her five kittens."
Huntress has posed:
Truthfully, it's fair to say their lives revolve almost primarily around work. Certainly Helena's does, doubly so now that she's 'parted ways' with the school she was teaching part time at, and she's trying to hold together a mafia family in the middle of a fractious war.

If it scares the hell out of him, it's doubly true for Helena. But still, she wants that contact, her fingers resting against his.

"No," she sucks a breath in. "Really?" Her head tilts, and an impish smile appears. "You know who could /really/ use a kitten?" a beat. "Bruce."
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd laughs, an honest laugh, at the suggestion to give a kitten to Bruce. "He wouldn't know what to do with it and Alfred would get stuck taking care of it" he considers with a smirk. "But I am considering giving them each vigilante names. Bat-Cat. Bat-Cat-Girl. Night-Cat. Hunty-Cat. Totally-Awesome-Red-Hood-Cat." It is said with the utmost seriousness. Even if the glint in his eyes suggest he's trying to get her to laugh, too.

He pauses to sip again at his drink before stabbing off a bite of his coffee cake while he watches her. The thumb of his other hand slowly runs across the back of her hand absently.
Huntress has posed:
"Alfred would look after it, like he looks after all of Bruce's strays," Helena agrees, with a kind of softness; she always had a fondness for the English butler. "But if a cat can find its way into your life and into mine, maybe it can do wonders for Bruce, too."

The idea of naming them after vigilantes does make the Italian woman laugh, warmth spilling out in her laughter. "Oh, but no. That poor TARHC. He'll be stuck with an acronym because it's so long. I might have to adopt him. I could use something warm in my bed." Just a knowing look sent his way, before she reaches for the fork to cut off a piece of that pie.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd nods, "Yeah, he would. He's put up with a lot of things he shouldn't have had to. But he still does it. Man's a living saint if anyone is."

At the laughter, he stops and listens. "I like it when you laugh." It's honest if a bit awkward as an admission because he doesn't often give anyone compliments.

"I'll have you know that TARHC will be an amazing enacter of justice upon every wayward rodent that breaks the law."

Then she talks the cat sharing her bed. Some things just go too far! He mutters in defeat, "Yeah? Well if that's what his fate is going to be, I'm going to kick him to the curb. Hard enough without competition."
Huntress has posed:
"I still sent him a card, every Christmas." The admission is quiet. "Even while I was gone. I don't think he ever told Bruce. Or maybe he did, I don't know." There are sometimes little suggestions that, despite her admissions she is very much outside of the Bat Family -- that maybe she hasn't always wanted, or doesn't want to be. This is probably one of those things.

His honest confession is met with a smile from the Italian woman as she finishes a bite of the pie. "I don't think I have in a while," she admits, as she cuts off another fork-ful of the pie, offering it to Jason.

"Mmhmm. He'll be a killer, all right." Except... that's probably the wrong thing to say, and Helena realizes as she's already said it, giving him an apologetic look. "...of rats." Which, given how she's planning to frame Santo Cassamento, might also be ironic.

"Don't you dare, Jason Peter Todd. I love that cat, even if he is an ass sometimes." Yeah, she's not talking about the cat anymore. Hasn't been for a while.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd seems surprised in a good way that she mentions the card. He can read the unspoken things between the lines.

"I'm sure Alfred would tell him. He isn't the sort to hold back information" Unlike Bruce. Maybe there will come a time where they both feel like they are more of a part of the Family. Even just a little.

"I like it" he affirms of her laughter. "We're going to get to a point where you can again." It's a promise. A certainty.

"If he is, then Bat-Cat is going to disown him as a sibling too" he mutters with a smirk. But then she goes and uses his full name and he blinks innocently. "Maybe he's an ass because he wants to be sure he's getting some attention and acting out is the easiest way to get it." Or you know, just go around killing mob goons and shutting down their operations as Red Hood. That got attention too.
Huntress has posed:
The news that Alfred probably told Bruce gets a thoughtful look from Helena. Something she hadn't considered. Does it change anything? Probably not. Except it does change the whole 'no one looked for her' narrative just a little.

Her smile is fainter. "Are we?" going to get to a point where she can. "This is... what we're doing is good. I'm not sure there's an easy way out for me. I hadn't planned that far." She hadn't really planned to survive, exactly. Just to fight her hardest. None of this is probably a surprise given who she is.

"Yeah, he got attention all right," Helena mutters, ruefully. Her hand in his squeezes, briefly. "But he doesn't have to do that. Not anymore. All he has to do is ask."
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd nods. Certain. "We are." There will be a resolution, and it will be over.

He squeezes hers back. "Yeah. Turns out asking isn't always easy." A gentle verbale nudge back her way as well.

"There will be a way through all of this. No one is getting left behind when this is all done." That is something he will make sure of.

He finally leans in to take that offered bite once the important words are said. "That's pretty good for coffee shop pie." It's a compliment. Not as good as home baked, but as far as pie to be ordered, it's right up there.

"Coffee cake's not bad, either. I guess this place can stay on the list." Because everyone has to have a list of preferred places to go.
Huntress has posed:
"Asking isn't easy," Helena agrees, the timbre of her voice knowing. She finds it hard too. Even for something simple like help. Her dark eyes are on him the whole time. Hard to say whether she agrees with his sentiment that there's a way through this, but it makes her smile briefly, anyway, that he believes so.

She's not about to say otherwise, whether or not she believes it.

"Pretty good," Helena says, as she works her way through the pie. "Play your cards right, I might let you take me on another date here next week."
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd nods. "It's a new thing. But it isn't bad." The asking for help.

He smiles back at her. He isn't sure how it's all going to play out, either. But he's going to do his damnedest to help get them both through this. If Batman were involved, it might be easier to leverage a good outcome. But he's still too proud to ask for that sort of help.

"Wow. Are we on a date?" He looks around with a growing conspiratorial grin. "Weeeell it seems we -are-. And totally unchaperoned. Imagine the things we could get away with!"
Huntress has posed:
"A meal. Holding hands. Not talking work. Yeah, sounds like a date. No flowers though, so points off for that. And you didn't pick me up at my door," nevermind the load of Bertinelli soldiers who would be in the way. Helena has standards. "So you still have work to do, Jay."

Her brows go upward at that latter thought, smile pulling up the corners of her lips. "I can think of a /few/ things," she says, giving him a knowing, heated look. "But they involve finishing the pie, and it's really good pie. I'm going to savor every... single... bite." And she does. Real slowly and expressively. It's good pie! Total coincidence if it's any kind of tease.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd ticks off the things he did wrong. "Well as soon as I can pick you up without expecting certain death I'll be there. Do plastic flowers count? Real ones are already dead when you get them." It's a waste of money. Seriously.

He watches with narrowing eyes as she starts eating the pie slowly. "Devil woman" he mutters with a smirk. "Maybe I'll do the same with my cake" Because there's nothing better than a guy sexy-eating. Right? That's a thing isn't it?
Huntress has posed:
Helena's eyes narrow briefly. She isn't truly mad -- she can tell quite well by now when she is. "Seriously? Dead flowers? All right. A bottle of wine then -- but a good one. Not the cheap stuff." That she's not arguing he might be facing death just for picking her up for a date is a concession.

Helena slowly and deliberately licks some extra sauce off the fork, and then lifts an eyebrow in his direction. "Oh yeah? Give it your best try." She even sets her fork down to give him the whole of her attention.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd looks up. "What? That's what 'Cut flowers' are. They're dead they just haven't shown it yet." Pretty pessimistic view. But he attempts to save himself a little face at least. "A good bottle of wine and some pretty, real, flowers. Noted."

Busted. Now he has to do it. Well crap.

He meets her gaze and gives her The Smoulder (tm) look while cutting off a bite of the coffee cake. With so called Hungry Eyes he brings the bite to his mouth but he proceeds to inhale at the wrong moment. Inhaling cinnamon crumble from the top of coffee cake isn't the best of health fads. He starts coughing, barely putting the fork back down while he proceeds to try and not die, face turning red and eyes watering.

He grabs for his coffee to get the dryness from his throat with a muttered curse.

"Should come with a safety warning on that cake.. But that was totally hot and sexy. Right?" He's so convincing, he could sell snake oil to a snake, he's certain of it!
Huntress has posed:
"Oh. Oh, no." Helena actually laughs, even before he gets to the part where he inhales a bit of cinnamon.

It must hurt, or at least be vaguely uncomfortable, for her to reach across with her injured arm, but she does it anyway, fingers gripping at his shirt to try and tug him towards her, even as she leans forward.

"That was terrible," Helena murmurs mirthfully, and then she kisses him. Must not be /that/ terrible. "Don't ever to that again." Another kiss. "Promise."
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd knew it was terrible. And yet he did it. The things a guy will do for love. He starts to protest when she reaches over to tug at his shirt. But instead he rises up to lean over the table for the kiss. ".. yes ma'am" he says seriously. Another kiss? This date was moving up the ranks of all time great events in his life!

"Promise. I'll never try to inhale an entire cinnamon stick ever again" But sexy eating with The Smoulder (tm)? You KNOW that's coming out again sometime. Next time with Mac 'n Cheese. Or a big sub sammich.
Huntress has posed:
"You're impossible," Helena says, with a faint snort. It's funny how, with precisely the right timbre and accompanied by the right look, a complaint like that can sound like 'I love you'.

"All right. I have," she checks her watch. "Twenty seven minutes before I need to be back at the day spa down the street. How exactly do you want to spend those twenty seven minutes, Jason Peter Todd?" It's definitely a challenge. Helena enjoys those.