|Leon Kennedy||Leon Kennedy isn't one to break the bank on a thing like a date, but he's acutely aware of the fact that Ashley is 'The President's Daughter' and everything about her life is about ten steps fancier than his. This didn't matter quite as much when they were literally scrounging in the trash for food, but now that they're back in civilization the young police officer keenly feels the difference, or at least he thinks he does, despite Ashley's continued insistence that she's a simple girl with simple tastes and not to overthink it, yada yada yada.
To that end, he's asked at the front desk what a nice place to eat would be where the food is good but isn't going to cost him a hundred bucks for dinner. The recommendation is Rioja, a new, Spanish-inspired restaurant that's been operating in Denver since sometime late last year. There's a Wolfgang Puck chef solidifying her reputation there, and the menu is competitively priced with some of the higher-end chain restaurants, so it's not total insanity. All he's told Ashley is to wear something nice and meet him in the lobby to catch a taxi at seven. For Leon, something nice means a crisp blue button-down and grey slacks, black leather shoes and belt, and that nice new watch strapped to his wrist. He's rolled the sleeves up to just below his elbow, because he has nice arms and he doesn't like to button the ends of his sleeves. It's a pain in the neck. The man waits patiently in a big cushy chair near the door.
|Ashley Graham|| When you're as nice on the eyes as Leon Kennedy, you don't really have to wear much other than yourself. Ashley was actually in the hotel bar, partaking in a jittery pre-date seltzer because alcohol laws are stupid, and at 6:58 she steps into the lobby to look for Leon. She looks sharp, dressed in a black fit-n-flare dress embroidered with white flowers around the waist, which seem to be drizzled up and down the dress for a natural effect. She has a smart black jacket over the ensemble to keep her warm in Denver's April evening.
When she sees Leon, her general smile of polite contentment blossoms into one of delight, complete with a flash of pearly whites. "Am I early?" she asks as she approaches him, swaying slightly in the black and white wingtip heels she wears. "If so, I'll go hide in the back a few more minutes. A woman is never supposed to be early," she teases.
|Leon Kennedy||Indeed, it's a bit of a contradiction to even have 'woman' and 'early' in the same sentence, but there she is. Leon gets to his feet, returning her smile with a broad grin of his own, his smile natural and relaxed as he quickly runs his fingers around his waistband to make sure his shirt is still tucked in right. The damn things always ride up out eventually. "No, you're perfect," he assures her, running his eyes up and down her figure quickly, and his smile only broadens. "A little better than my shirt and yoga pants," he admits, with a teasing note in his voice. "You look fantastic. Are you ready?"|
|Ashley Graham|| Damn right she looks fantastic. Ashley knows it, but Leon's praise of her appearance makes her grin happily either way. "Thank you," she says, with a slight flush to her cheeks. "Though yoga pants are coming in, I hear," she tells him playfully. It turns out she'll be right--the country will suffer under a decade of people confusing yoga pants with pants. It will be a dark time for us all.
One he's standing, though, she slips her arm in with his if he'll allow. "Of course I'm ready," she says, more matter-of-factly than her previous teasing. "I'm a believer in punctuality. Where are we going?"
|Leon Kennedy||"This Spanish place," Leon replies vaguely, letting her take his arm and heading for the door to hail a taxi or whatever. Luckily the hotel has a service and it won't take long. "It's supposed to be really good." That's pretty much all he knows about it, that and it's not going to put him in the poorhouse. They're at the Ritz, so when the taxi arrives the valet steps forward to open the door for them, and he lets her get in first before following behind.
"Where to, mister?" the cabbie inquires, and Leon leans forward to converse through the little window. "Uh, do you know where Rioja is?"
"Oh yeah, we go there all the time from here."
"Great, that's where we're going. Thank you."
|Ashley Graham|| In the cab, Ashley slides to the far side to allow Leon to settle in. She's smiling, damn near beaming. Maybe one's not supposed to show happiness so early on a first date, or so much of it, but Ashley doesn't seem to care. She's thrilled to be with Leon again.
It won't take them long to get to the restaurat, and Ashley will allow Leon to slide out before she does, reaching up to take his hand so she can swing both her legs out at the same time and stand. No Brittany Spears here, even if it is 2005.
Ashley seems to know how to be on a date. She holds Leon's arm with hers firmly yet gently, yet doesn't stand too far away from him or rub herself up against him. It's a flirtatious closeness without being suggestive. "I loved Spain," she confides in the man. "What a wonderful choice." In case Leon was worried about the place he'd selected.
|Leon Kennedy||Oh, that's right. She's been to Spain. Leon forgot about that. It's so hard to find good ethnic food in America when the person's already had the 'real deal' in the actual country it's inspired by. Hopefully the night isn't doomed.
The rookie cop manages to fix his smile back into place after the moment of consternation, smiling back at her as they head toward the door. "I hope it's as good as Spain was," he suggests hopefully, pulling the door open and letting her in. Again they approach the host station, and this time Leon doesn't have to look for her, just saying "Kennedy for two" and away they go to a table.
|Ashley Graham|| "Well, I don't know," Ashley says slowly and thoughtfully as they take their seats. She smooths out her dress as she sits, so she's a picture perfect version of a high class girl. "Sangria is cheaper in Spain than coke," she tells him, grinning a touch. "But you're not in Spain," she also says. "So we'll have to see if it's as good as Spain, or if Spain is as good as Denver." She grins, teasing him, having fun with him, and just happy to be around him.
"Though before we fall too far into the date," the blonde says as she plucks up her water to sip. "I have a bit of a serious question that maybe you can help me with. I met a man at the bar today who'd been turned down for a job at a resteraunt. He'd survived Raccoon City but couldn't find a job." Her smile turns into a pouty, thoughtful frown. "Is this a problem a lot of people are having?" Because being rich and priveladged means she doesn't see that.
|Leon Kennedy||"Sangria is just something girls drink to pretend they're in a sorority, where I'm from," Leon remarks dryly, remembering community college. Oh, the fun of being a commuter and wanting to be a 'real college student' so bad that some of those kids had. There's a big bottle of chilled springwater on the table, and glasses for them to fill themselves, so he pops the lid open and fills one for each of them. "Oh, there's lemons in here." What a discovery. He peeks in a dish, and finds sliced lemons. Dropping one into his water, he leans back in the chair a little to listen to her question.
"To be honest I couldn't tell you. It's been a week. I figured most people without a good reason to stay would just sort of... move on. Not try to find work around here." One hand lazily spins the glass in a slow circle, making the lemon twirl around. "I know I haven't even bothered to look yet."
|Ashley Graham|| "I rather like Sangria," Ashley says, half as a simple statement, half as a dare. Want to double down on talking sorority smack? Her smile says she's ready.
Once the water is poured, she takes a sip of her own. "No, I know you haven't looked yet," she agrees, knowing he'd have told her if he did. Besides, he seemed pretty set on checking out DC first. That memory makes her smile.
"But like you said, for your mom getting here it was a challenge. Do you have flights picked out for that yet?" she asks as a quick aside, and then continues. "There's got to be a lot of people like you, or like Trixie, who made their lives in Racccon City and really lost everything." She frowns. "I don't know how to help them, but someone should."
|Leon Kennedy||"I've never flown on a plane," Leon admits, frowning a little and covering the expression with a sip of water. The lemon is nicely bright and acidic, and it distracts him from his embarrassment. "I'm not even really sure how to go about finding one. I guess I'll look online." He's not a big tech nerd, that Leon. Looking over the menu, he glances up at her. "What're you getting? There's so much that sounds good even though I'm not a hundred percent sure what it even is."|
|Ashley Graham|| "You can call a travel agent," Ashley suggests gently, before finally lifting her own menu to flip through. "Well," she says, thoughtfully. "We can do tapas." So much for Leon's wallet. "Get five or six of them, you can try a bit of everything and that's usually enouhg of a meal," she suggests, lowering the menu to peer at him. And then she smiles.
"Flying is horrible," she informs him. "It's miserable. There's nothing to miss there. You're a happier, better-adjusted individual for not having been subjected to the dehumanization of American Air or Delta."
|Leon Kennedy||"A travel agent," Leon repeats, not liking the words 'travel' or 'agent' in that phrase. Both of them sound expensive. "I guess so." He knows nothing.
"Tapas sounds good," he agrees, doing his best to hide the twinge of reluctance in his voice at glancing over the price. They're like, $9 each and she's talking about five or six. "...why don't you pick three, I'll pick three, and we'll both have some of everything?"
He chuckles at her characterization of flight. Especially since they were kids, flying has changed, or at least the process to get on the freaking plane. "I mean, would you think less of me if I was a TSA worker instead of a cop?"
|Ashley Graham|| It's a no-win situation. Ashley doesn't understand the value of things, but offering to pay would likely wound Leon's pride. How do you win in that situation?
Still, she manages to chuckle at him. And she shakes his head.
"Of course not," she says. "For one, I know you. A little, in a certain way," she clarifies. "And for that I know you'd make everyone safe when they were flying. It's a big burden, and having someone like you there, it would be a burden lifted." She grins at him.
"For another, like I said. I know you in a certain way. I couldn't think less of you, Leon. Quite the opposite. I'm constnatly impressed with you."
|Leon Kennedy||Two worlds COLLIDE. Lower-middle-class Leon and Highest-Possible-Class Ashley. Ah well.
They put their order in, a bunch of fantastic tapas things that are sure to be delicious and spoil the poor guy for anything else for the rest of his life. Thanks Ashley. Chili's will never be the same. "I just do what anyone else would have done," he responds humbly, not out to get a big head or have praise heaped upon him. "A lot of cops back there did braver things than I did."
|Ashley Graham|| "Not everyone would have done that," Ashley reminds him. "And not everyone would have succeeded. So yes, if I look up and see you there asking to search my bags, I'll be as happy as anything," she says with a grin, sitting back in her seat after the tapas have been chosen. Isn't this nice, Leon? A nice merging of cultures, one might say!
"Still," the girl continues. "I heard TerraSave is trying to raise money for survivors to just try to make ends meet. I was thinking about reaching out to them, to see if there's anything I could offer." Her big blue eyes watch him, curious as to his response.
|Leon Kennedy||"I think that'd be a great fit for you, really," Leon replies, shaking his head in the way that doesn't mean no. "You were very convincing even in the middle of everything that happened. Someone like you could probably do a lot of good there." The rookie cop gets serious for the moment while he says this, since it's a serious subject about the future and all that.
It doesn't take too long for the tapas to come out. The kitchen is experienced and this is something people come there specifically to order, so they're pumping them out at a fast pace. "This looks amazing," he states frankly, with a broad grin at Ashley. "Good recommendation."
|Ashley Graham|| "Good resteraunt choice," She counters back to him, plucking up her fork. "And at least here I can eat anything I want off your plate," she tells him with a chuckle. It's true: everything comes out in small plates meant to be shared. She immediately steals a fried baby octopus from in front of Leon and pockets it in her mouth, grinning sweetly to him.
"I'll look into it," she assures him, and looks back up to Leon's eyes. "You're a handsome man," she compliments, perhaps a touch bluntly. "I always figured you were good-looking under the grime. But seeing you all cleaned up like this? It's no wonder every waitress we've had together gives us the best possible service," she teases.
|Leon Kennedy||"I guess it was," Leon agrees, grinning. You did well, Ritz-Carlton receptionist. "You can keep stealing those," he admits quietly as she takes one of the octopi. Apparently he's not into tentacles.
"I just figured they were all trying to make friends with you," he counters. "You look like one of those nice, popular girls that will take you with her on her way to fame and popularity." Because there are so many of those. "And you're stunning. Really, when you were running around in that shirt and covered in dirt, I would have never guessed," he teases, with a wink.
|Ashley Graham||Mmmm, baby octopus. Ashley chews with thoughtful appreciation. "I know they're rather terrifying," she says, seeing as the little creatures look exactly like what they are. Miniature full octipii fried in a light breading. "But you're really missing out." To prove her point, she pops another one into her mouth and grins once she's finished chewing.
"None of those girls have been wagging themselves at me," the blonde points out, clearly teasing him. Truly I'm honored that you've penciled me in." She's grinning that mad, happy grin just now as she watches him.
|Leon Kennedy||"Well, I had so many other things to do, it's true," Leon agrees, with a little snort of amusement, reaching out with his own fork to spear a bite of chorizo. "But I'm glad you were able to fit me in on such notice tonight." Chewing experimentally, he nods in short order, his eyes lighting up a little. "This is really good," he enthuses, pleased with the choice even more so now that he's tasted the (admittedly expensive) food.|
|Ashley Graham|| But is expense such a crime when it's paired with quality? It's the very definition of bang for your buck! "Like shopping?" she asks, playfully. "I actually saw Trixie today when I was going through the department stores." After all, that lovely dress isn't something that came about from Secret Service or the White House Secretary. "She looks well, she's doing well." Ashley sighs a little. "She's just as lost as everyone else, though. Where do you go from here when you've no life left?" She sighs, shaking her head. "Sorry, I just keep thinking about it."
She takes a bite of something that looks suspiciously like a home fry with mayonaise on it.
"That reminds me, though, of what I was telling her. The UN is looking to put something together to try to address bioterrorism, focused on coroprate crimes I should think."
|Leon Kennedy||That would be a house-cut small-batch potato sliver fried in pig fat and topped with aioli, there, Ashley, not a damn /home fry/. Leon didn't pay $10 for a home fry. "I got new clothes and I haven't been back to the store," the cop replies with a little shrug as he picks up a small apple chip with tuna sashimi and tartare on top. "I'm glad she's okay. Who knows what any of us are going to do, besides move somewhere else and get jobs again." That's what he's doing. "And they're a few months overdue on that, if you ask me," he notes of the UN.|
|Ashley Graham||"The UN usually is. Their very existence is reactionary," Ashley says. "Both times." Because the UN is the League of Nations precurser, and even that was a reactionary organization. "Still, Umbrella is a multi-national corporation. Whatever happens from here, it's going to be an international action." She sits back for a moment, biting softly, gently on the lower right corner of her mouth. "I'm going to finish my studies," she tells him. "Become a lawyer with a focus on international law. I imagine it's as much as I can do to help. And I sent an email to TerraSave to see if I could help that way." She lifts her blue eyes to the man, and she looks a touch sad. "I'm so angry, Leon. I want justice now. In truth I probaly want retribution more, as wrong as that is to want. But I want something."|
|Leon Kennedy||"Yeah, well. The wheels of justice turn slow, when they turn at all," Leon replies glumly, reaching for another tuna bite. "These are good," he lets her know before he eats them all himself, so she can grab one if she wants to. "I'm glad you're getting involved, at least. If people know something is wrong, and they have the power to stop it, they should. Or at least try to." His career choice was largely built on reactions to other man-made disasters and abuses, but this one outweighs them all. If he can do something to keep it from happening again, he's going to. "I'm not sure what I can do but I'm going to keep protecting people, that much I do know."|
|Ashley Graham|| Are they? Well then Ashley will deftly and sneakily slip her fork in there to scoop one up and bring it to her own small plate. So sneaky! She glances up at him once in her little theft, her smile fond and playful for the handsome man before her.
"You're good at protecting people," she tells him, honestly. "Lord above knows, I should know better than anyone. But you did what a lot of older, better-trained people couldn't do. That speaks volumes of you and your abilities." She takes a bite of the tuna, mmming and nodding, and then finishes the small appatizer.
"Whatever you chose to do, in DC or elsewhere? There's no doubt in my mind you're going to become a great man."
|Leon Kennedy||"I don't know about that," Leon replies reluctantly, picking up a piece of warm, pinenut crusted goat cheese that he has no idea what it actually is. "I told you, I just did what any other cop would have done. I'm glad it worked out, but it wasn't because of anything special about me." Wasn't it? "Were you going to be a lawyer before? I mean, is that what you were studying at the university?" He didn't know her until that subway station, after all.|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley gives him something of a knowing look. "I didn't see any other cops doing quite like you did. I'm sure some did, but I'm sure some didn't. It's a compliment, Leon. I've never met a handsome man so difficult to compliment." She ends her little statement in a grin, going for one of the crusted goat cheeses as he does.
She nibbles, nodding to his question. "Yes. I wanted to be a politician, though please don't hold that against me." Because ew. Politicians. "Now? Now I think I want to do something a bit more tangible. And yet being a legislator is the best way to actually change things. New laws, protecting the people, all of that. So I'm not sure, now."
|Leon Kennedy||"Well, I /did/ get a special call from a secret government agent. Or just a regular one, but I doubt that happened to anyone else." Picking up a piece of beef on toasted brioche, another real item from the 2005 Rioja menu, he gives her a small, difficult grin. "I know. I'm just trying to stay humble." Would it be better if he had a huge ego to go with his handsome face? Probably not.
"Short of actually getting inside these corporations, Umbrella and the others I'm sure are out there, I don't know how you'd stop them. We /have/ regulatory agencies and it still happened."
|Ashley Graham|| "The regulatory system failed," Ashley says, admitting it with full belief and honesty. "This time. The worst time. In the worst way. But it doesn't have to be that way. Just because something broke doesn't mean it can't be fixed." She's got some zeal for this. It brings a touch of color to her cheeks.
She's left one octopus for him, but otherwise doesn't seem to be picking much more heavily. Instead, she sits back, and sighs. "I'm sorry," she says gently. "We're supposed to be spending this evening getting to know each other."
|Leon Kennedy||"It's okay, we are getting to know each other," Leon replies, shaking his head, eyes turning up from the food to find hers. "Talking about our ideas is still talking about each other, in a way." There's some kind of Spanish meatball he hasn't tried yet, so that's his next bite. "This is all good," he's decided aloud, although notably he ignores the octopus she left for him, so far anyway.
"So, if you would rather talk about something else, where are you from? It wasn't always DC, was it?"
|Ashley Graham||"I may as well have been," Ashley says with a smile. "Spent most of my childhood in memory there, or near there," she explains. "It's actually a very rare thing. When you're in DC, everyone always asks 'where are you from?' Because no one's actually from DC. It's a very transient city." She pauses there, her eyes softening as she looks over him. "Are you still planning to come out and visit, to see if you like it?" She speaks so gently. She doesn't want to nag him. She wants to give him a way out, if he desires it.|
|Leon Kennedy||"That makes sense, what with so many people being elected or on an elected person's staff or something similar," Leon replies, munching away and glancing with some trepidation at that lone octopi. "And of course I am," he assures her with a smile, taking a sip of that lemon-flavored water and running it over his mouth. "I wouldn't miss it for the world. I've always wanted to see DC."|
|Ashley Graham|| His answer makes her smile. Grin, even. "Well alright then," she says easily. "Are you much of a city boy?" The blonde asks, continuing in an attempt to get to know him. "Did you grow up in an urban or a suburban place, or way out in the boonies?" She doesn't say 'boonies' like it's a bad thing. She just says it like it's a thing.
"DC isn't really a big city like New York or LA," she warns. "And if you like the more rural or suburban spots, there's lots of commutable places. You know, if you like it. Of course."
|Leon Kennedy||"No, not hardly," Leon replies, chuckling to himself. "I wouldn't call it 'the boonies' per se, but it was definitely out of the way." Just to the left of nowhere. "Apparently there used to be a paper plant and a denim mill there but they were all gone by the time I showed up with my parents. Now it's just a hicktown with nothing to do and only one red light." Ah, fly-over country. "My dad taught me how to use a gun and all that stuff."
When the conversation steers back toward DC, he hops along with it. "I didn't mind living here in Raccoo- I didn't mind living in the city that much," he amends, catching himself. "DC might be a bit further on the 'crazy busy' spectrum though."
|Ashley Graham||"Oh, you might be surprised," Ashley says. She's sitting back now, hands curved gingerly around her water glass while they talk. Yes, she's done eating. It's all on you, Leon. You and that octopus. "I've lived in Georgetown for awhile, before we moved into the White House. And you'd hardly see a car, down there. It's all brownstones but it's all very quiet. There are quiet spots." Georgetown is also one of the most expensive districts in the country. Sure Leon can live there, right?!
Ashley's smile turns a touch more sheepish. "I still can't really believe that you're going to come and look at the place," she admits. "I mean I'm very happy about it. It just still seems surprising."
|Leon Kennedy||Leon doesn't bother to reveal his ignorance by asking what a brownstone is, preferring instead to knock that octopus over so it can't stare at him so easily. "Why is that so surprising?" he questions, running the little octopod around the plate. "It's not like I have anything better to do, and... well, I'll miss you if I go anywhere else. I miss you during the day as it is."|
|Ashley Graham|| "It just seems too good to be true," she admits. "Because I miss you too," she confesses, without any shame. "And even if you don't like it there, at least I'll get to see you a little bit more." Ashley grins a little wider, her eyes flitting down to the octopus that Leon plays with.
"You survived a zombie-infested hell," she notes. "But a fried octopus frightens you?" She's teasing him. Daring him. Having fun with him.
|Leon Kennedy||"It's got tentacles, alright?" So what if she just ate multiples of them. Leon's not used to this sort of food. "I guess I'll try it," he agrees reluctantly, about the octopus, not DC. The tines of his fork slide in after brief resistance in a way that makes him squeamish, but he stays strong and before long he's chewing with a distinctly uncomfortable look on his face. "It's chewy," he remarks, finally getting the thing down and moving on with his life.
"...Now that /that's/ out of the way," he begins, coughing with embarrassment, "uh, yeah. DC. It's just to see how I like it, so there's no pressure, and I'll get to be near you and not have Ashley-withdrawal, so that's a plus. I could get a good job there, maybe even on one of the agencies instead of beating the streets, start my 'meteoric' rise through the law enforcement field," he jokes sarcastically. "If nothing else, I'll get to see some amazing sights. Oh, and the city." Wink.
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley smiles happily at the wink and little flirt. "My thoughts exactly," she agrees with him, sighing in contentment after a full meal and enjoyable company.
"Still, you can become a special agent yourself, if you like the idea of that," she says, lifting her glass and finishing the club soda before setting it aside. "And it's for the best for you. I've heard Ashley-withdrawl can be horrid. Wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."
|Leon Kennedy||"Oh, of course not," Leon replies, with a little smile as she goes along with his little made-up term. G-d they're corny. "I'd just be sleeping on the floor or something for no reason." The tapas were fantastic, and the two have basically managed to devour everything put in front of them. "Do I want dessert tonight?" the rookie cop jokes to her, raising his eyebrows.|
|Ashley Graham|| "Hopefully not for much longer," she says gently, her look softening. "It'll get better, I'm sure."
As for dessert? She bites her lower lip in thought, then shakes her head. "One thing I didn't care for in Spain was the deserts. It tends to be very heavy or not worth the calories," she admits. She cocks her head slightly to the side and considers the man. "Perhaps you'd just be willing to walk me home?"
|Leon Kennedy||Leon doesn't look like someone who worries about getting too many calories that much. Still, he's full up on appetizers sold as a meal, so he nods, smiling easily to the woman on the other side of the table. "Sure, it'd be a pleasure." He pays with cash, leaving enough on the table to cover the bill and avoiding the stupid real life back and forth that would actually happen, offering her his arm as they head out into the brisk spring air. "What do you think of Denver? I know we could be visiting under better circumstances, but it seems nice enough to me."|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley doesn't argue, perhaps a touch surprisingly. But then she's possibly also used to having things bought for her. She takes the arm, and she rises with him after sliding on her crisp black jacket. He gets a little squeeze, once they're arm in army, and a smile too.
"I think I could like Denver. I've been to Aspen, but not so much to the city of Denver proper. And while the circumstances could be better, I admit I'm pleased." And she certainly looks pleased, when she looks up at him.
|Leon Kennedy||Leon is a gentleman and he's paying for dinner, no questions asked. As they walk into the street, he smiles down at her, his grey-green eyes finding her blue ones for a moment. "The company's alright too," he admits. "...When I get to DC, I'd like it if we could do this again," he mentions, just making casual conversation, his eyes ahead again as they stroll down the sidewalk.|
|Ashley Graham||Leon's statement causes the girl to look up, with a blush to her cheeks. But she looks pleased. "I'd like that too," she admits, giving his arm another squeeze. She doesn't fully release the squeeze either, so she's walking a little closer to him, pressed slightly against him in the chill of the April air.|