1964-07-01 - French Fries are not French
Summary: Vesper and Clark go bowling, but the night takes a weird turn at the end.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
clark 


There's some late folks at the Biology labs tonight. Studies and tests and control groups and variables and lots of those petry dishes with interesting cultures and more things that are difficult to comprehend by lay people. It's quite busy in the lab tonight, but unfortunately Hubert is there.

I don't mean to speak ill about Hubert, but the man makes people feel creeped out. Girls especially. He stares just a bit too long and lingers just a bit too long and gives off that general vibe of discomfort. Over the last couple of weeks, our friend Hubert seems to have been paying a lot of attention to Vesper.

Hubert seems to have left an hour ago, by the time that Vesper is finishing up. Hopefully she's still willing to meet Clark for bowling at the student union tonight. I say hopefully because it's going to be awkward for Clark if he's staying there by himself.


Vesper's laboratory is one of those places almost hermetically sealed off. The cost of the equipment used in her very select field is so expensive, on the whole, that every machine hour needs to be counted. Her dean keeps track of monthly reports like some kind of housewife tracks beans. No one walks in there casually. Turns out she takes matters pretty seriously. That includes strangers from the press (almost none) and janitors (all of them). Sign-in sheets for her and her fellow researchers conducting their painstaking, weeks-long work are essential.

A clipboard hangs outside the tiny common area where they keep their sorry coffeemaker and the world's least comfy couch. That might be the place where she expects to be ambushed by Hubert. The brunette hurries to drop off several coffee cups and then dashes back to lock her door. That she forgets to remove the lab coat causes a sigh. It just has to come with her.

Cue Clark at the union finding the rare, still weird to many people sight of a young woman wearing said coat complete with her surname - Mezieres - on the pocket. She isn't wearing scrubs or anything. Nope, jeans here. But she does have to stuff her badges into her bag.


By the time Clark notices that she's coming he stands up from the lane that he got for them and waves to her. He looks somewhat ridiculous in his bowling shoes, but so does everyone. "Hey, coming from the lab. Working late?"


The saving grace of being Gallic: pulling off funny footwear is something they do normally. The downside: she's still French in America.

Vesper looks around, hugging her coat and her soft bag. "Oui, always. It was smart to stay late today." Her nose softly wrinkles at the reason for why she hunkered down. So passes the shadow in favour of a smile for Clark. She approaches him and hopefully has no trouble putting her belongings down on a seat. Her flats are almost suitable for the alley but someone will absolutley make her wear those things, won't they? "I do not know how to play, you know."


"Oh!" Clark exclaims, not having realized that. "Alright, the scoring is kind of weird. But basically you take the ball and roll it down the lane. You want to try and keep it in the middle and knock down as many pins as possible. You get two chances each frame to knock them all down, and you get bonuses the more often you get them all knocked down." He does his best to try and simplify the game a little bit. Bowling is a big deal in the midwest these days.


"I see." These instructions make sense enough, and observation is a powerful inducement to figure out what needs to be done. Provided that she can muster some kind of resistance to uncleaned, sweaty shoes, Vesper has a hope. "That sounds good. There is a score, oui? How do you know what the right one is? The pins fall have a number?" Smoothing her hands over her shirt and tugging the hem a little lower, she looks at the rack of spheres of varied sizes waiting for someone to take them. Someone as slim as she is is going to have a problem, no doubt.


"Well, each one is worth one point, but if you get them all down it's sort of…cumulative," Clark says as he tries to think of the proper words that would translate well. "You know, don't worry about the scoring to start with. Just focus on getting the ball down the lane." He looks behind them for the lightest ball he can find to start off with. "Let's start with this one and move to heavier once you're ready for it."


|ROLL| Vesper +rolls 1d20 for: 2


Thank the powers that be: giving her a heavy ball is not a great way to start an unfamiliar game. Vesper holds onto the sphere like a great canteloupe, her hands squeezing the sides. Forget even putting her fingers in the holes. When Clark lets it go, she bends forward more than a little. Yes, it's heavy. And she is stronger than she thinks or knows. So she carries it with some care to the lane and stares at the pins, then down at the ball. Everyone else seems to have it quite down. Straightforward, relatively. Walk and carry the thing at their sides. Release the ball with a scooping motion to send it shuttling to the pins.

And that bit about their fingers in the holes will make sense after she releases the ball with far too much spin. It doesn't smash into the boards, but it goes wobbling for a gutter fairly early in.


Clark's grimace turns into a smile as she turns back around. He tilts his head in comfort, "That's totally normal, don't worry about it." He picks his ball up and holds it at his side. "At first you're going to just want to do what's comfortable. From there, you'll want to focus on doing the same thing each time. It's a sport based on repetition, really." He pauses. "Well, not a sport. You know what I mean." He gives an upwards nod to the ball as it approaches. "I can help you, if you want," he offers, not wanting to encroach on her space without permission.


"It feels like a sport." That ball is heavy enough to be a weapon, so it counts as a sport. Probably. Vesper arches her eyebrows to the offer and smiles a bit at Clark. "Helping me may be faster than watching your score become very high. Or me taking so long." Her voice isn't terribly loud, giving him an out if the idea suddenly causes a need to run away as fast as he can. That said, she goes to obtain another one of the balls. He makes it look so terribly easy, throwing such things around with any sort of familiarity. Not that she holds any jealousy.


"It's just because this is what we do for fun in Kansas," Clark says, answering a question he thinks might be rolling around in her mind. It surely has nothing to do with that he's a space alien from the planet Krypton with a ton of crazy powers. Or whatever. "Here." As she walks up to the lane, Clark begins to show her some of the form that his father taught him. He stands behind her and draws out her arm and shows her how to move her foot. Hopefully it will help a bit.

Meanwhile, sitting at the bar, Hubert is watching them and peering angrily. "You want something more to drink, Hubie?" the bartender asks.

"Shots. Keep them coming."


France lacks certain things America really likes. Football. Huge plates of food. Bowling. America lacks certain things, like Victor Hugo, wine for every meal, and general comfort with the human condition. The ball between her hands is squeezed and rolled. She has to get a better feel for the sphere's weight. The finger holes are pretty awkward to get figured out but once she can get a grip without cratering the floor they'll be fine. Or paying for repairs, maybe. Clark is taller than she is and much more assured about the whole coordination of step to throw. Guiding her is easy; very easy. Blame the ballet for years as she swings her arm forward. "Like this?" The lock to her elbow isn't there that time. Looking past her hip to check where his foot ended up. Then something clicks. "It is like dancing! Except that we throw the ball at the pins." Okay, it's not exactly but he is in a position where teaching is like a dance.


"Hey, that's pretty good," Clark says with his face grinning. "You know, I'm an awful dancer. And I would never, ever tell anyone how to dance. That being said, in this country we dance face to face. Generally. I admit that I'm not familiar with a lot of what goes on in the clubs of this town."


"Non? Do you not have country dances in Kansas?" Objective line drawn between countryside and the bucolic cultural heritage in her own nation is a failing on Vesper%<u2019>s part. She means well. Her eyebrows arch slightly and then she smiles. "You do not tell people how to dance. You do it. Music helps. Not this, either." A little nod since her hands are occupied indicates the speakers and whatever plays over the radio. "Most of our dances are face to face too. But not all. They can become complicated, the old court ones. But then ladies had dresses to the floor so no one could see when they made mistakes." How this relates to bowling probably requires that ballerina connection. Vesper smiles up at Clark still. "Is it your throw at those wooden butlers lined up, or mine?"


Clark laughs and absently takes his hand off her hip which was there, accidentally, a bit too long. "We do, but I've never been very good at them," he answers a bit bashfully. For a moment, he forgets whose turn it is, but then remembers it is still her part of the frame, "You go ahead." Scoring is sort of out the window anyhow, here.


|ROLL| Vesper +rolls 1d20 for: 17


The slide of his hand away from her hip turns her. That's just how it goes. Vesper rises onto her toes in those flats, still having yet to get a pair of proper bowling shoes. She is perfectly capable of balancing with the ball held close to her abdomen. "Something to learn when interest comes. You already have much you know already, oui?" Encouragement then to take Clark's mind off the shyness or a cause of unease. "This is why we go to university, sometimes. I think it is finding ourselves and what we like."

Let him chew those thoughts over. The Gallic student focuses on the lane and the feel of the heavy ball. She traipses up to the line: not really a walk or a run. When she steps with her leading leg, her upper body stays mostly straight. The swing of her arm goes further back than before, and she releases well into the swing. Her fingers point for the center of the pins and hey, the ball may be inclined to follow. Beginner's luck, maybe, to punch down all the pins with considerable force. Maybe one or none stand. She isn't there to notice, hopping up and down with a squeak.


The balls hit the pins with a loud bang and fly in all sorts of directions. When the dust settles they're all knocked over. Clark lets out a clap with his hands as she hops up and down. Once she rejoins him, he smiles down on her. "Nice work." But when it goes quiet, he harkens back to the last thing she said. "You've been college age for a few years now. Have you found yourself and what you like?"


"It is not a complete process. One never stops learning." Those words of wisdom from a hard-won battle are given freely. She returns to sit on one of the uncomfortable folding chairs alongside the ball rack so Clark can make his own shot without her in the way. "My field is very small, and sometimes too exclusive. Ladies are not welcome. I spent much time learning about whether it's what I wanted to do. It is. So I have a little more gumption about it now." She uses that word with a bit of vivacity for finding something that probably has a Midwestern meaning.


Clark nods to her, "I can't imagine what that must be like; dealing with that sort of thing every day." In fact, it's one of his fears. Should anyone find out he's an alien he worries for a future of ridicule and mistrust. The Kansas native approaches the floor and simply glides into the shot, rolling a strike with little effort. Jonathan Kent might be able to tell, knowing about his abilities, that he's showing off. But it's not clear whether he's actually trying to or not.


Vesper is not one of those people who'd know. She applauds politely when the ball is released and strikes the pins authoritatively. Presuming none fly back to knock her in the head. Her toes stretched out in front of her, she tugs a little on her capri pant leg. Better for mobility. "Change comes in time. I hope to show my contributions are valuable and I work together with others. It will help." Or so the eternal optimism must shine for swimming upstream is a nightmare. "Do not feel so bad. There are many people worse off than we are."


Clark nods, "That's a fair point." And it's something that his family has tried to etch into his mind. It's tough, though, especially when you are young. He plops down in the seat next to her, "Thanks for coming, tonight. It's nice to be able to hang out with someone. The campus is dead here in summer."


"I spend so much time in my laboratory, with the research or my study. It is good to be around other people." Her tone is light and soft-spoken, lest anyone think she is ungrateful for having a room to work in. "This is a good way. Will you run away when the autumn rolls in with all the other students?" Clark might just be on the spot as she turns to pick her next ball. This time she tries to remember the same thing she did before and gives a gentle swing of her arm as practice. The footwork causes her a little more difficulty but throwing a ball isn't so hard. The round won't be her best after that second, but she manages to knock over three pins.


"I don't think so," Clark says with a confused look. "Why would I run away?" He chuckles a bit as something dawns on him, "Maybe a senior won't want to run around with a freshman anymore. Did you consider that?"


Vesper's silence and raised eyebrows leave clear she really hasn't thought that at all. "Why would that matter?" The urge to put her hand to her mouth builds, but she retreats to sit on the folding chair. Then she can sit on her fingers, too. "It sounded that when things were busy, you might have more choice." This is awkward. Her head ducked, she can explore the linoleum floor in the waiting area very intently. Don't blush. Her cheeks, of course, obey no such request. The floor is not opening up fast enough for her. "I enjoy your company. You do not act like some students here, of any age."


"I guess I don't know you well enough to know what actually matters," Clark admits as he looks to her. He smiles a bit and shakes his head, "What do you mean? Bowling isn't that weird, is it?"


Vesper clears her throat as the perennial plague of her toxified body causes discomfort. No coughing interrupts the conversation. Merely a reminder of her jumbled genetic code asking for fresh air outside the city for the next decade, please. "That is an easy solution then. Ask questions, I suppose. You may discover I am not so very exciting." Her feet cross and she sits up the straighter. "Tell me what you like to do. Bowl. Write. Upset business people with their noses in the air, a good thing. What else?" But currency for the knowledge is worth sharing, too. "Bowling is normal. Some students here would rather have too much beer to drink and act crudely. They don't seem to study and they harass the girls. Not all of us want the attention."


"That's okay. When you get down to it, I'm really not that exciting either," Clark admits as he leans and taps his elbow softly into her upper arm as he rocks. "I've never really lived in the big city, so I guess I like to do big city things. I think I've always been drawn toward the sophistication of the city. Cosmopolitan things. They're so different from back home." He raises his eyebrow at her, "You said you grew up outside Paris?"


He nudges her. Vesper wings her arm out a little to nudge Clark's right back. It is a test for the scientific mind behind the smile, seeing what it does. The response may have to be tested more than once. "I did, oui. Paris felt so big but New York must be a whole country." She is probably not the first to share this sentiment about the Big Apple. Try Big Apple Orchard. "The part I lived in was not beside the city center, but deeper into the outer arrondissements." She draws an oval with her fingers. "Imagine the Seine goes around the middle. I was down this way." A wiggle of her left thumb. "All my life until I went to Cambridge." Right. Nothing like just bombshelling some with that news. "And then New York, here."


Clark smiles sheepishly at her as she nudges him, but looks away with a bit of a blush. "Cambridge. What was that like? You must be super smart," he says with a bit of awe. "It sounds like your time has been spent mostly in cities. That gives me a good idea. Strawberries are in season these days. Have you ever been strawberry picking?"


His reaction startles the brunette, but she is good at hiding that. More an understanding if this is one of those American foibles compared to Gallic culture, she nudges her arm against his again. While looking down their empty lane, so he has the chance to think it's accidental. "Only cities. Cambridge is not in London. It has its own ancient town, like… ah, you know the Metropolitan Museum here? Cloisters has the medieval art. It looks like an old monastery. I walked by similar churches to class." She's not lying or trying to embellish, giving something to compare to mostly. "English live differently from Parisians. I had to learn their customs. As I do here, again. Do you miss seeing the green fields and the open sky? I am told often to see the places in the country. New York's." Not many people saying 'go visit New Mexico' or 'Nebraska is for Vespers.'

"Strawberries? Non! I only buy them or see them in pots. Is there somewhere to pick them?"


"Oh, I guess I never really looked into Cambridge. I thought it was in London," Clark says with a chuckle. He leans into Vesper's arm and leaves it there. "That sounds really nice. Pretty different from our campus, here." He shrugs his shoulders at the question about the fields. In truth, he can get to the country any time he wants. "I think everything has its benefits. I miss it sometimes, but I'll head home when I can." He nods about the strawberries, "If we want to take a train ride to New Jersey there are plenty of farms. That might sound kind of dumb, but it's something besides city stuff. And I'm betting it's something no one else is asking you to do."


|ROLL| Vesper +rolls 1d20 for: 6


There's no bowling bowl to worry about. The mysterious mechanics underneath the lane brought back the ball or blew it up, remounted it, and rolled it to sit among the others. Vesper swings her feet out in front of her so she can stand quickly. "Right now? We played only part of a game. But it should not be so far to get there." It's not like she can fly around to get there. Public transportation, the champion of the common person.


"No," Clark says with a laugh. "Not now. Next time. I mean, assuming there is a next time." Clark watches her hop up to take her shot and chuckles. "It would take a while to get out there, anyhow, and we have to wait until they're open."


"Clark." It's still new, using his name, and not Monsieur Clark or some other variation. She's still looking away. "I'm not very good about how things are done in this country." Or any country on this part, for that matter. So all she has to fall back on is her gumption. Maybe charm, as it is. "Is it proper to let you pick me up? I can bring my own transportation to get you if that's how it happens. Bringing that wouldn't be so much of a problem. I have a driving license."


Clark shrugs his shoulders, "I'm not really worried about culture or being correct." He laughs, "I don't have a car, here. I guess no one does. I figured we'd take the train, but if you've got a car that'd be easy." Pause. "I could pay you for the gas, of course."


"If you are taking me to strawberries, you do not have to pay." Vesper is dead serious on that front. "I am treating you. Or this is a date. It wouldn't be polite to ask you to pay. You can tell me a story on the way. Do we have to bring our baskets? Do they have baskets?" She halts on that point as a hitching point of thought. "I don't think I have ever been to a farm except Petit Trianon. That is the farm made by Marie Antoinette. It's not really real."


"It wouldn't be polite to let a gal pay. Which I realize is totally sexist, but in my defense I was raised in Kansas and we're pretty backwards, there," Clark says with a grin. "Really, I just use old ice cream pails. If you have a basket you're already one step ahead of me." The idea of Marie Antoinette's farm makes him laugh out loud. He has no response for that.


But truth is spoken, and he can laughs. She smiles. "You didn't tell me what it was. You let me know when you figure it out. I shall not offend your proper upbringing." Points to Mr. and Mrs. Kent for their quality virtues and manners. The moment passes as she puts her hands on the side of the chair to lift herself up. She stretches her arms out behind her with a supple roll of her shoulders. Getting another ball, she picks one of medium size and hands it to him. "Your turn, then. The Petit Trianon is beautiful. A model of a farm the way famous royalty thought it would be. I imagine they had no idea of what milkmaids do."


"It's strawberries," Clark says, being jokingly evasive on purpose as he smiles up at her. He stands up, taking the ball and the grin never leaves. "They're small fruits that grow on plants. You'll love them, trust me. Better than candy." Clark rolls the ball, getting nine of the pins down. "I think she'd have been horrified," he says absently about Marie Antoinette.


|ROLL| Vesper +rolls 1d20 for: 19


"Better than candy. You set a very high bar." Never mind Vesper isn't all that big on candy, she has a professed passion for pastries. Nothing like an eclair or fresh cream in a profiterole. There is something truly magical to the blend. The gamine waif watches the pins fall without too much competition in her blood. She fetches up a ball for herself, and carelessly forgets whatever else she was supposed to be doing. "I would like to show you Cloisters. Maybe something you like. It is not too busy, like the markets in Chelsea." This said, she wets her lips with her tongue. Concentration has her focused on the new set of pins, and releasing the ball without too much backspin. Maybe not the strongest person in the world - she stills strikes them all down in a throw.


"I'll go wherever," Clark says with a grin. He gives a clap at her recent successful streak and gets to his feet, ready to take his turn. "I haven't seen too much around town, so it'll be a learning experience for me. Plus, the company."


A nod. Two ideas, then, two notions and the world is good. "You throw the next. I will get something to drink. What do you like?" The back end of the lanes surely sells more than gummy bears and aged popcorn, but it's no problem for her to decipher the options. They probably have the chance to yell at her for not wearing bowling shoes, even though her flats are not scuffing the floor.


"Gotchya," Clark says as he moves to throw his ball. As Vesper walks towards the bar, she'll get the feeling that there are a pair of eyes upon her, but the moment is fleeting and then gone. Where Hubert was sitting, there's nothing but an empty shot glass and some money for the tab.


Nothing out of the ordinary is a good thing. Vesper has the instincts of a cloistered girl literally raised by nuns at one point. Detecting trouble is not one of her stronger suits. She looks at the selections of food and drinks. Water for her; yeah, she's boring. For him, given the array of choices, she goes for lemonade. Because what constitutes a possible drink that would not be unacceptable? French fries come with it, and a bag of chips just in case. She notes the empty stool while waiting to pay. Then it comes down to figuring out how to carry everything. Answer: carefully.

"Special delivery. Do you want ketchup?"


"Whoa, thanks," Clark says coming over. "Ketchup is great." He seems bewildered, as if he should have offered to buy her food or something. Like he missed an opportunity and then was rude in retrospect. "Are you one of the French people who enjoy mayonnaise instead?"


Ketchup is great, especially on piping hot fries. It takes a little juggling on Vesper's part to pass over the drinks or the meal. "Working hard makes for an appetite." Trust that the French possibly know something about gustatory values and possibilities of activity, hunger, and ways to handle them. Her smile stays warmly cast despite the fairness of her skin and the inevitable cautions needed against overexerting herself. Throwing a ball every few minutes hasn't completely worn her down. "Mayonnaise? Non, absolutely not. Eugh. I do not like the texture at all, except mixed for some sandwiches." Her nose wrinkles and she makes a very polite, icky expression probably cleaving six or eight years off her appearance. "You have been a good teacher so far. I cleared all those pegs. So we can pause for a little celebration, oui?"


"Sounds good to me," Clark says with a smile in response. His look falters a bit, again worrying about her condition. "Are you alright?" he asks, trying not to be too overbearing. Striking a right balance between his genuine concern and being annoying is a line he doesn't want to cross.


What delicious joys can be found in a properly crisped potato. His question is taken as it was probably intended, kind, and she dips her head in a nod. A few tendrils escape Vesper's chignon, the dark shadows lightly curling against her brow and her throat. She dashes them away with a fingertip where she can. "I am well, and you?" The first fry she picks up she turns around in her fingers. "You know after the Revolution in Paris, the potato became a food of liberty and equality? It's quite true. My teachers would tell us of all the recipes made with potatoes. Not just fries, bread, crepes, even fish. They would serve up potatoes to look like cod or other fish." She takes a swipe through the ketchup. "Nothing better than this, though."


"Is that true?" Clark says with a smile. "I didn't realize that the potato had such a political history. That's amazing." He smiles as he watches her eat before he snags one for himself. After finishing his chewing he raises an eyebrow toward her, "Is it true that fries are actually Belgian?"


"Quite true. The recipes sounded atrocious. I am willing to try many things, but I cannot believe cuisine only based on a potato is a good one." She hasn't ever been to Ireland, then, at least old Ireland. Vesper takes a neat little bite of the fry. At this rate, she might finish it in under five minutes. "Frites, fries, they are Belgian. I have heard different stories. Belgian farmers in a river valley would eat potatoes in the winter served like the fish they caught the rest of the year. Fried up and so. They are called French fries because the American soldiers in the great war had them in France."


Clark almost looks like a little boy listening to a story. She seems to know so much about the world, rattling it off like it's nothing. It's like having your very own teacher to ask questions of. When she's done talking, "What's your favorite type of fry? And where did you have it?"


Knowledge is relative. Ask her about a tractor. She might even know the English word and that it operates in a field, pulled by its own engine, and approximately nothing more. Ask her to drive such a thing and she is likely to be found hiding somewhere properly urbanised and modern.

"My favourite type? Frites made fresh in beef… ah, tallow? I think that is the right word. Cut about a third of an inch thick and fried deeply. It must be an indulgence wrapped in cardboard." Her lips are licked at the memory. "The more picturesque the setting the better. Maybe a square with a flower garden. A lovely view of church spires and townhouses. The flavour is tricky. The sauces? Ah, there are good ones. Andalusian, maybe. It has some spice to it. The kiss of spice is not too strong but enough to make the tongue and lips tingle."


Clark laughs as he takes another fry, dips it, and bites off half of it. "I think, if I ever make it to the deserts of Andalusia, I might have to stop and get a bite." He purses his own lips for a moment, thinking about something, and then it's gone. "If you could go one place in the world, where would you go?"


"You can get them in Brussels or Paris, any such stand. We like food we can walk with," Vesper replies. She laughs and eats the fries between statements. All things said and done, the meal is pretty satisfying. Add the lemonades and the chips for spice as needed. "Where would I go? Oh, that is so hard. I have not been able to travel much." She won't say too sick for most of her life, but the pause for reflection stands in well. Studying or resources are easy excuses. "Tahiti. The colour! The beautiful sea and the tropical forest. And the fruit. They say the people there are the souls of kindness and charm. I also love to see the stars, and the air there would be very good for it. How about you?"


Clark's eyebrows raise as he looks a bit lost, trying to decide. "Well, before New York it was New York. I think I would really like Milan. Paris is up there as well. For somewhere scenic, China maybe, but I don't think that's realistic with Mao."


"Milano." Hello, got that sigh in one. "The Duomo church. Italian food. So very elegant. Venice would be somewhere else I would like to see. They say it's beautiful at sunset on the lagoon." Vesper tries not to sound wistful or terribly poetic. Might as well tell an apple to behave like a radiator.


"That sounds really nice," Clark says as he takes a sip from his lemonade and looks to her. "Someday I'd really like to start travelling. People always say that and then life gets in the way. I guess I'll either do it or live to regret not doing it."


"You do what you can with what you have. Life has many roads we cannot take. Travel is a bit different. Going to a place you haven't seen before even in New York still counts." She wiggles her toes in the shell of her shoes. Vesper takes a sip of the lemonade and puts the glass in the middle of the food again. "Should we keep playing or has your interest gone elsewhere? Oh, yes. My question. Tell me your perfect day."


"My perfect day?" Clark says with a laugh. "Well, it'd probably begin with walking my dog at sunrise. I think, aside from my parents, I didn't realize how much I would miss my dog. So, when I walk her, it has to be early or she'll bug the tar out of me. From there, maybe a Kansas football game on the radio, hopefully where they win…which doesn't happen a ton. From there lunch somewhere I can see the Statue of Liberty and dinner…I dunno, let's say in Milan." He shrugs, "So long as we're talking perfection."

He tilts his head, "Actually it's getting late. I should probably walk you home."


"Perfection." It's hard to toast someone with lemonade. Vesper makes a gesture of it anyways. "What is your dog's name? Is she a little breed or a large one?" She takes one last sip and takes the bag of chips, seeing they are perfectly good. Nothing there to halt their progress as she reclaims her purse too. "It sounds like a lovely day. And if you wish to, I would not complain."


"Shelby. She's a golden retriever, so a bit bigger. She's a good dog to have on a farm because she's so lazy she makes me feel like I'm working hard." As she begins to wrap up, he smiles at her. "Thank you for coming out with me tonight. I had a really good time."


Shelby. If only she knew anything about snakes. "Are you a fan of Cobras?" Because this is the only Vesper can make… to Carroll Shelby and his delicious striped blue and white muscle car. It's a hell of a roadster. Let that be a course of curiosity for Clark. They are slowly learning more about that. "I had a lovely time. Bowling was fun, and I scored more than once. It makes me feel that I have beginner's luck." Her laughter goes with a shake of her head as she heads outside with Clark.


"Snakes? No I don't really l…Oh, I get it," Clark says with a chuckle. "No, that was her name already. We got her from the pound." He walks out with Vesper, wishing the night didn't have to come to an end, but he has to get up rather early tomorrow. Besides, staying out too late with a girl would probably disappoint his mother and be too forceful anyways. Lost in thought and conversation, and even with his super senses, he does not notice Hubert out in the parking lot.


Vesper might be a little more concerned for the state of the bus or her car than anything immediate. She has an idea of where to angle as they leave the student union. "What is a pound? Not the British money." A bit of a joke could be in there. Her own stride is fairly easy as she entertains a few thoughts about her research, the day's events, and tomorrow's dinner. Without having to worry what her parents think, this is a freedom of adulthood. Do one's own work. "The farm sounds so peaceful. Do you find the noise here hard?" Idle questions, really, from a completely normal young woman.

Minus the whole jumble of alien DNA that tells a different truth, one she's seen with her own eyes. These are normal cares. Hubert is a figure skimmed by her gaze at most.


"Well, it's a place where they keep lost animals," Clark replies. He doesn't fill her in on some of the more gruesome details. "Actually, I kind of like the noise. It makes it hard to sleep but it always feels like something is going on." Speaking of. From behind a tree, Hubert pops out with a handgun and takes aim at each of them. Before Clark or Vesper can even respond he's pumping shots in their direction.

Everything slows. The first thing that Clark does is put his body in between the gunman and Vesper. He takes the four shots right in the back as he covers her up. Rather than terror, Clark has a look of anger that Vesper won't quite be able to see.


In her world, guns are so fleeting rare. The war's end brought those pistols and rifles to general disuse. Parisians might fear a knife displayed more than they would ever expect someone to pull out an H&K. Never mind the French make decent firearms. She grew up practically sheltered in a boarding school where terrible things were further insulated by books and ignorance. When Hubert emerges to point at them she is more than flat-footed. Her mind has trouble comprehending what it is. Clark could dance with castanets and scold the man in Dutch before she can utter a sound.

No scream emerges from her throat even though her lips part. The scientist clicks into place instead of the frightened girl. She reaches out, almost anticipating blood and exit wounds. Falling back. If he hasn't fallen then what? Her hand is already pressed against Clark's spine. She might be saying something but she can't even hear herself over the rush of her pulse in her ears.


"Run," Clark says to her probably a bit too calmly. He's not worried about safety at all. He's more worried about his secret. He gives her a little push to encourage her, but wastes no more time on it. Instead he's turning and reaching out to take Hubert's arm. A twist forces the gunman to drop the gun and the snap announces the oncoming of a cast once this guy gets arrested. Clark kicks the gun down the sidewalk before shoving Hubert onto the ground.


Run. She should run. Vesper staggers back a step or two when nudged away. Other people are heroes, running into the fire to scoop up fallen soldiers. She rescues kittens from trees with difficulty. Anguish strikes those wide doe-brown eyes showing too much white. "«Mon dieu, Clark, non!»" It's natural to flit into French as he goes after Hubert. But some kick of adrenaline trips her switch to flight and run she does for the bowling alley in the student union building. Maybe the doors will open freely and give her a chance to account for a place to hide. A phone for the police.


There's some sort of melee going on behind Vesper as she rushes into the bowling alley. Hearing the shots, the patrons are freaking out, understandably. Several flee away from the door as the French woman arrives, mostly because they don't want the shooter to come their way. Nevertheless, there are plenty of places to hide and a phone to use.

Meanwhile, Clark is angrily looking down at Hubert, "Why would you do this?!" The words spill out of him in his exasperation. "I…I shot you!"


Nothing like the panicked running into a fracas while trying to depart the same fracas. Students are scattered leaves before an autumn wind. Vesper wraps her arm around her midsection and drops behind a concrete planter plastered by a few withered leaves and at least three stickers. Her lungs ache and shallow breaths come too rapid to be good. An assessment finds no blood on herself or her fingers. Her ears still ring from proximity to the gun and the phantom pressure of Clark's palm and fingers imprinted upon her upper arm. Eyes wet with fear and mouth dried by the same force sting. It takes more effort that she dares to admit to look over the planter instead of covering her head with her hands. Someone out there is hurt. No medic, she can do some good. Surely?

The sight arrests her in place. Man against man in primal savagery. She should run for the police. "Oh no. No." The words are too quiet for her to hear even at her normal volume. "Don't hurt him. Please!"


Clark sighs at him with disgust and finally just knocks him out cold. Police sirens can be heard in the background and he knows he must act quickly to avoid being found out. He tears away part of his shirt and under shirt that were hit with bullets and throws them onto the pavement. For a moment, his eyes turn a hint of red and in the next, two burn marks on the sidewalk are all that's left. His shirt looks badly torn, but his cover story is that the gunman tore it off him. That's his story and he's sticking to it. Finally he walks into the building amidst more screams. Knowing full well that someone has already called the police, he re-iterates in order to let people know he's not the gunman. "Someone call the police!" He begins to look for Vesper.


Vesper didn't get very far. She reached the door of the student union and hidden behind the concrete planter. People running inside to the bowling alley leave a stream of fallen chairs and scattered chips, bowling shoes, and papers. It will take some effort to clean up; spare a thought for the employees. What she's seen fails to exactly imprint in the deeper portions of her logical mind where sensory impressions get broken down into rational explanations and clarity.

Pale is her default state. What Clark finds corresponds to a frightened young woman nearly shot. Eyes dominating her face turn up to him, the consequences rounding her mouth. She probably sees him before the other way around and she plants her hand on the concrete. "Are you hurt? It is not safe. He might…" Don't think about that. "We should not stay…"


"No, I'm okay," Clark says as he gives her a weary smile and holds his hand out towards him. "The police are coming, it's alright. He won't hurt you. Are you okay?" he asks looking down to her.


Never mind the constriction in her throat. The terror that will catch up later with Vesper putting her head to the cold tiles of her floor. It's too far distant now to be much of concern when the kick of adrenaline insists now is the very best time to run. Fly. Flee. She holds out her hand, purse still forgotten on her shoulder. It's small, portable. Good for times like these. The best she can offer is a quick little nod. Pulling her to him wouldn't be terribly hard. Direction is not going to be her forte.


"Come on," Clark says as he lifts her gently and puts his arm around her. It looks somewhat ridiculous. A giant linebacker looking guy with half a shirt holding a small, dainty French girl, but it works for now. As they walk out the front doors, she can see that the police are locking up the assailant. She'll recognize him, of course. Either way, Clark takes a hard left—an alternate route back to drop her off.


It might look ridiculous but it works, especially given no one is likely to ask Clark too many questions. Carrying the wounded or the less agile still rules conventional thinking. Certain doctors are still known for giving women a pass for hysteria just because it fits their worldview. The hiccup from her almost approaches a worrisome pitch, so very high. It falls to her to stay quiet, questions blocked up behind a dam that has time elsewhere to break. It's enough to put one foot in front of the other with a tidy, steady rate.


After a few tense moments, Clark finally delivers her safely to her door. This must have been the worst first date in the history of man kind. That being said, at least she lived to tell about it. "Are you sure you're alright," Clark asks as he stops at her front door. "If anything weird happens, call me and I'll be right over."


The worst first date would probably have been in Hiroshima in 1945, right about the time some nice Japanese boy took a friendly girl down by the Genbaku Dome. They'd be merely shadows permanently painted on the wall.

Her apartment isn't far. Nor is it particularly fancy; she does not live on the Upper East Side in a great big mansion somewhere. The door leads up to multistoreyed flats and one is hers. "Are you all right?" A question more pressing for Vesper. Her fingers bunch the hem of her shirt for lack of movement. "I will be okay. It was random and the police will fix it."


"Yeah, fine," Clark says with a shrug of his shoulders. "I guess that guy was a really terrible shot. Lucky us, right?" One of his hands nervously goes into his pocket as he reaches out to squeeze her hand with his. "I'm glad you're alright. If you need anything, just call." He lingers there for a split second and gives her a nod, "Bye." He turns to walk back to his dorm.


"Clark?" A soft farewell is hers, who hates farewells. "Be safe."


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