Modus Operandi

International House of Pancakes
The International House of Pancakes somewhat maintains that small diner feel, even though it is a much larger franchise. Beige walls are decorated with pictures of various menu items, and are lined with four-person booths. The center aisle is also comprised of booths, with a short privacy wall between them. The kitchen is mostly hidden from view, but the smell of cooking food continually wafts through the restaurant.

The International House of Pancakes, it's where James has taken Tasha to make sure she eats; not that he minds doing it after-work, he still does the occasional glancing over in her direction, curious and slightly cautious; debating if not needing to drag the woman along this early morning is a good thing. Still, there he is, sitting in one of the booths for a measure of privacy while idly glancing over the menu set before him. He'll be off to work in a few hours, but clean-shaven and smelling rather decent has him at least refreshed. "So," he states in leading to a conversation.

Tasha is not too sure about this place, but she is here, and with minimal complaint, so that's something. She absently flips through the menu, oblivious to whatever thoughts have James periodically glancing over at her. Two of the menu pages stick together, and she pries them apart with a little face, reaching over to pluck a napkin from the dispenser so that she can wipe away the dried jam on the corner of the page. Still, there's no comment other than her expression. Balling up the napkin and putting it aside, she looks back up from the menu, smoothing her features and then lifting her eyebrows a bit. "So…" she says, as though agreeing with that point.

"We have a bit of a problem, mate," sparks the man in reply, his accented words hushed but still with that excited, charged tone as he glances up from the menu before him. He reaches down for it and flips it over, holding it up and into the light and leaning to the side. The shift of posture is so that James can better quietly talk to Tasha while splitting his gaze between her and the menu. He knows what he wants for the most part but it doesn't look like the waitress will arrive any time soon.

Careful to first check the edge of the table for further patches of stickiness, Tasha then leans forward lightly, bracing herself on her forearms which are crossed over the table's edge, the menu left lying flat in front of her, though her attention now shifts almost entirely to James. "And what do you propose we do about it?" she inquires, unable to keep from smiling slightly at the boyish excitement he shows. She casts a quick glance over her shoulder to make sure there are no hoverers hanging about in earshot.

James looks once more to the menu and then swings its flaps shut and sets it aside at a slight-rakish angle compared to the rest of the table. "Well, I started to figure we'd talk about it. You know, since I don't want to involve the entire department in on things, or get fired, or probation or, you see where this is going? Not sure what we can do with what we've found," he trails off at that and waits for a response from her, rather than he continue spouting off at the mouth. In giving his mouth pause, his mind picks up in speed in an effort at solving the problem alongside his listening.

"And I certainly don't want those things for you either," Tasha agrees with a thoughtful frown, reaching out to put a supportive hand over his as he sets the menu aside. Not that he seems terribly worried, but, well, she's trying. And then switches to the problem of the hour as she glances down at the menu, not really seeing it as she stares into the middle distance. "I'm not sure. We could try asking around the community, see if anyone recognizes any of it, but that … carries risks," she admits.

James smiles at the touch and with her hand over his he reaches up with his other hand and places it over hers, nodding once before glancing aside to nothing in particular. At least, it's nothing in particular beyond to look at the restaurant in a lazy fashion. "I," he trails off with a shortened inhale before restarting, "There was another attack, you know, but it doesn't involve the same M.O. I don't think - but this is just going on a personal hunch. Remember Abbey, right?" Oh, he remembers about their hands and lets go after a reassuring squeeze, only to see the approach of a waitress.

Tasha draws her hand back as he releases it, her quick smile fading into a thoughtful look as she considers his comments thus far. "Broken rib, yes," she agrees, nodding as to remembering Abbey, if only due to the injury. Well, and perhaps the fact that she actually treated a non-Pack member for no favours owing for the first time pretty much ever, but the first reason sounds better to her. "You don't think she's involved?" Tasha is both surprised and suspicious, since James clearly was friendly enough with the woman to beg the favour in the first place. But she pauses at that, following his gaze towards the waitress, straightening back up and casting a quick look to the menu, settling on the first edible item she sees.

James slowly nods to the injury spoken of and he looks at his hands before turning his attention forward, focusing back on Tasha. The waitress arrives and that has him retain his lapsing quiet with regards to their conversation in order for him to place his order: a pancake special without specialty treats like whipped cream or strawberries. He also nabs the opportunity for a glass of orange juice. When the waitress leaves after both of their orders though, he turns back to Tasha and momentarily sticks to just looking at her. She places him somewhere between surprised, confused, and annoyed, which leads him to briefly ask, "You're -just- going to eat that?"
ooc It was SO worth it.

At least she didn't try to get away with just a fruit salad, though Tasha's selection of the Two-Egg breakfast is perhaps not quite as substantial as the rest of the fare on the menu. As he questions her food choices, her eyebrows lift, and her own expression becomes a little more stubborn. "And what else would you like me to do with it?" she inquires, deliberately misinterpreting which part he has a problem with - that she's just going to eat it, rather than it's only that which she's going to eat. The menu gone now, she sits back in the booth, threading her fingers and resting her hands on the edge of the table.

"You - J-… Alright then, I'll stop pushing about it." James wryly smiles, all things considered and everything. He won't push it, at least not during any time of the foreseeable future. He intertwines his fingers at the edge of the booth's table and sits up and back, to keep his posture from looking a might hunched in the shoulder area. "I don't think Abbey's involved, not directly at least. She's not violent at all, neither is her friend, but I think her friend is a large black dog," the way he looks, well, he's not particularly fond of Abbey's dog Steele but he's not speaking of the mastiff at the moment. "His name's Orion, know him?"

Tasha cants her head to one side, before giving a small nod as he concedes the point about her eating habits. At least she is eating something, or vaguely plans to. "I'm glad we agree." As he goes on with his theory, it starts to make a little more sense, and while her suspicion doesn't entirely abate, at least the surprise fades. "A large black dog named Orion… I don't believe I've had the pleasure." But she's not entirely sure; it's possible she met him and dismissed him as not really worth bothering to remember. "And you think he had something to do with this, or just this newest attack?"

James lifts his chin just a bit at her response, jaw setting itself there and he biting back a smarmy set of responding answers to the comment. It presses into a thinned smirk though and soon enough he's moving to reply in general, speaking up and all that wonderful jazz of a strong voice. "He either had something to do with the big scheme of things, or he's just a really poor bastard at the moment. I'm not going to lie: he seems like a nice guy, but that was just during the last full moon. I'd like to get some sort of account from a witness, a better description at least," he eases his shoulders into a shrug with his words, listening to himself speak. "Or the size of his foot ought to work."

Tasha can't miss the fact that James isn't exactly happy with her response, but she doesn't push the issue further, since she's gotten her way. Instead he just gets a reconciliatory smile before she turns more serious, considering the matter of this black dog. "It sounds as though he's the closest thing we have to a suspect. Did he … smell familiar?" she inquires, dropping her voice slightly at that strange phrasing. Still, either way, she's not ready to make a diagnosis yet. "Perhaps your friend could set up a meeting with him? Or can you fake doing this officially?" Taking him down to the station for a few questions without really taking him down to the station; she's not sure how that'd work.

"Um, no," not that James goes around sniffing people, but that answer of his comes out readily enough and adamantly truthful enough. He shrugs again and reaches up with his right hand to rub idly at the back of his neck. It's a touchy issue, involving the department. "I'd rather avoid making things official, in case something comes back to bite us on the ass an' all," he winces a bit and moves to settle back down. It's mainly his that would be bitten; and not in a very decidedly fun and exciting way. "We can use Abbey though."

"Then we use her," Tasha agrees readily, not terribly surprised by his reluctance to drag his job into it. "By my count, she owes you a favour anyway." In her mind, she checked out Abbey as a favour to James, who fronted that favour as a favour to Abbey. And now it's come full circle in a stunning display of symmetry. "The rest, well, we'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it." No sense putting his ass on the line if they don't need to. Of course, if they do need to, she's willing to make that sacrifice?

"Right," James pipes up quickly and quietly. He leaves it at that, having to go about manipulating a friend of his for the greater good. It doesn't sound all that heroic to him though, or all that good in-general, but there he is agreeing to it and still able to lightly smile across the table to her. "I'm thinking we will, but it's not like I mind all too much." He shakes his head a bit and in the process notes the waitress returns with drinks. He sits up and goes on a brief, distracting tangent, "And so I figured that it'd be okay to invite them over for dinner, just to smooth things over."

Since James doesn't argue with that decision, Tasha just gives a nod, accepting it. Of course, it's not exactly going to keep her up at nights, and it doesn't even really occur to her that it might bother him. "Yes, we probably will," she goes on in agreement, not bothering to deny that fact or sugar-coat it. "But we'll come up with a fitting cover when we need to." She has some practice at getting away with things at work, after all. As he goes on that tangent, she drags her gaze back from the waitress to look at him with an arched eyebrow. "Well, you're welcome to invite whomever you want for dinner," she points out, deciding to interpret that as him doing this alone.

James looks up to the waitress and smiles in thanks, foregoing the conversation for the time being and keeping to himself with hushed appreciation for the glasses. Then, she departs for their actual breakfast. "What, I didn't notice she was that close," so he made something up. Cheeky, he flashes a small grin and lifts his glass up to distract himself. The werewolf then sets it aside and clears his throat. "We'll find who's doing all of this."

"Oh, thank God," Tasha breathes a sigh of relief, when he reveals that she will not be forced through a social dinner pretending to be nice so she might get what she wants out of them. She picks up her own drink: just water, apparently, since she forgot to actually order one in her rushed choice. After taking a small sip, she sets it back down and then gives a thoughtful frown down at the table. "I'm sure we will. It's just a question of how long it will take us to get there…"

James grins all the more but that settles back into a relaxed quirk of a smile after a stray thought or two. He doesn't readily speak up about them but he does pass the time with pressing forefinger and middle of his right hand to the base of his orange juice and pushing the glass across the table in Tasha's direction. He nods to it before speaking up. "I'm more worried about the why," he replies. "Or better yet, if whoever is doing this wants to make this easy - or a pain in our asses, but, I guess I'll be damned if I disappoint you and your wish, or allow you to disappoint your…" He trails off, looking up and around: "Colleagues."

Tasha glances down at the orange juice, and as is beginning to become a bit of a habit, finds herself both rolling her eyes and smiling rather indulgently at his fussing. After a slight pause, she nods in acknowledgement and reaches out to take the orange juice, following with a little sip. Every now and then, she does actually pick her battles. "I've no doubt that they'll be wanting to make it as difficult as possible. In fact, it seems almost as if they're going out of their way to expose us all. That isn't the sort of personality that will go down without a fight." Still, his sentiment about not wanting to disappoint her means this rather dour statement is accompanied by an incongruous grin. "But … I've set my mind to it now. We won't fail."

"Yeah, we will." He nods. James then offers his glass a brief look all culminating to his sitting back far enough to rest his head against the back of his booth, listening to her voice and smiling to it. "You're the smart one of this pair, mind psychoanalyzing their personality a bit, eh? I'll let you punch them in the face some, if it comes to getting physical." He chuckles and opens his eyes to check her expression at that idle jest. He smiles more warmly now, even if he deserves a bit of revenge done against him for referencing the bar fight.

Her expression betrays nothing except a smile that is really unsettlingly sweet. It is promptly followed, however, by a sharp kick under the table, aimed for about where Tasha figures his mid-shin should be. Without missing a beat, she goes on to answer his question. "I am smart, but I'm hardly a psychiatrist or profiler. But considering how brazen these have been, how this person isn't even really bothering to cover their tracks, I'm guessing he also considers himself to be smarter than everyone else. It feels almost like a game, doesn't it? We're being baited, and either this person doesn't care about being caught, or is so certain he will outsmart us."

James is kicked. It results in nothing along the lines of fanfare or other atypical explosions but he does give a mutter just above a whisper, "Fuck." He growls it out and shifts his weight to the side in order to reposition himself in case Tasha decides to kick him further. Then again, he should continue cursing. There isn't anyone young around him or anything, it's fairly empty. "Maybe it's a woman," he adds, quietly, without adding a joke alongside it. No jokes. He's a quick-learner at least. "I'd like to be there when your, uh, boss sees to them. Can't say it'll be a friendly little get together - food time."

Tasha's oh-so-sweet smile merely grows at his muttered curse. If her sensibilities were that easy to offend, they'd be in a very different situation. There aren't any further kicks attempted for now, since she feels she made her point clearly enough. "Maybe," she allows, as to the attackers gender. "I suppose it's best not to jump to any conclusions before we have more facts." She's about to add something further about her … 'work' situation, but his announcement of food time has her pause, picking up her ill-gotten orange juice, and glance around for the waitress.

James swallows down a side comment and quiets down as well now that the waitress has come into view. It's easy to smell the food and it's now become so much easier for the two of them to simply see it, the young woman lowering the first plates and then secondary ones alongside it. Given the time, theirs is made-to-order and looks of perfection, all things considered. The cop once again thanks the waitress with light words of praise and smiles, but with the waitress departing soon enough he returns his attention and focus back on Tasha. "She's almost as pretty as you."

Tasha just gives an efficient nod to the waitress, not bothering with making nicey-nice with the almost-as-pretty woman. The food is given a cursory look, and then, as the waitress leaves and James speaks up, she looks back over at him. From her expression, she's not quite sure whether to be flattered or jealous that he's thinking about how pretty the waitress is. "Yeah, well, they don't give the big prizes to the runners up," is her somewhat neutral response instead. Then without further preamble, she picks up where she left off in the conversation. "If he's in your debt, I suspect it could be arranged. Though it would be easier if you were … a part of the team, as well." It's spoken lightly enough, but she's watching him a little too closely for his reaction for it to be entirely innocent.

James mockingly leans his head to the side in order to look after the waitress but it is -only- a passing glance and he makes sure he moves his legs from where his torso is, just so he sits at a slanted angle while still being comfortable. "It's okay. I like you, won't touch anyone else now," he pauses and then reaches forward for a fork while listening to her. If she isn't going to hesitate in continuing the conversation than the high-metabolism grinding gears within his body isn't going to hesitate at being satiated by a plate or two of food. "Yes, well," he's avoided the topic for a while now. Even with him looking down at his food being further prepared, it's not hard for him to note her watching. He continues for a moment longer and then in lingering strokes of his hands he slows and looks to her; "Is there really any difference either way? I don't see you lookin' down on me about it."

There's a thump from under the table suggesting that Tasha just kicked his bench where his legs should have been. And it's a fairly loud thump too. Even without making contact, it perhaps serves as a warning shot. Her only response to his reassurance is a simple, "Mm," but she seems a little more put at ease as they move on to the slightly more delicate situation. "There is and I would - normally," she replies without hesitation or doubt. Still, she casts a glance out at the restaurant at large, realizing that this really isn't the time or place to get into the usual dissertation that she generally would in this situation. "Just … think about it and we'll discuss it further later," she decides, looking back to him again.

James folds his legs now that things are relatively safe for him, allowing him to sit up and return to eating. He's slow though and he blames Tasha for that. It's the answer she gives. With a thinned smile, he continues to eat away with glances switched between the food and her. He chews down a forkful and swallows, leading him to murmur quietly to her, "And if I want to talk about it right here and now? Not that I care to endanger the either of us, not at all, but am I special now? What if I don't think about it?" He gives a brief pause to allow that much to sink in, all before continuing: whispering a question, "No sex 'till I bow down to you- this?"

Tasha looks back to him, an eyebrow arching at a response she finds rather surprising. "We can't discuss it here and now because we can't discuss it here and now," she points out, making a vague gesture to the restaurant at large. "You're special to me because, well…" She trails off with an emphatic shrug that suggests the reasons really should be obvious. As he goes on, her eyebrow hitches higher. "Are you asking or suggesting?" she asks a bit tartly. "I'm just asking you to think about it. I don't understand why you're being so difficult about that." She finally reaches for her own utensils, unfurling the napkin to lay it across her lap.

"Because I like being difficult, and you need to eat," James points with his fork to the plate before her and then thinly smiles, all before returning to his meal. He reaches to the side in order to further dress the breakfast up with salt and pepper but beyond that he seems well enough. Though, after a passing second he pipes up quickly, "It was definitely a question, too, like hell I'd suggest -that- of all things." He makes a face too and then shakes his head to return to eating.

"I am eating," Tasha insists, holding up her newly unwrapped fork, though it's yet to actually touch food. Finally, she spears a piece of melon to nibble on from the fruit on the side of her plate. "And, well, if I were to force you, I'm sure I'd be smart enough to find a way that doesn't punish the both of us," she points out with a small shrug, now using the side of her fork to break off a bit of the egg. There's a pause, and then a little more insistently, she can't help but clarify, "So you will think about it, yes?"

James looks up and over to make sure she really is eating but it's just a quick flash of time that he hawks over her before returning to his things and biding his time. He eats and he eats a lot, but he isn't sloppy about things. "Love ya too, mate," teasingly replies the man, content now that a no-sex rule punishes the both of them. He looks up to her and lowers his brows in the process. He doesn't readily respond this time around. "I'll think about it. I'm not making promises, but I can at least think about it, for you." He relaxes his expression and quiets down, so they can eat.

Tasha either has far less of an appetite or is watching her figure or both, but she is at least eating - slowly but steadily enough, if only to avoid the nagging that she's sure will come if she tries to beg off after a few bites. She doesn't seem quite sure what to do about that L-word bandied about so easily, and there's a slight, uncertain pause before she decides to chalk it up to teasing. Instead, she chooses to focus on his reply to the other part. "Think about it. That's all I'm asking," she confirms with a nod. She may ask more if the thinking about it doesn't pan out the way she wants, but for now, she's content with that answer.

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