Opposites Attract?

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.

It's late in the evening, coming up on the witching hour, and most of the city should be asleep, lost in the dreams and the darkness of the long watches of the night. But for those few who find sleeping difficult, this is the perfect place. Good food, hot coffee and they never, never, ever close. Even in the late hours of the night, the IHOP is open, and busy, though the majority of the people now filling the tables are drunk or high, coming down from whatever it is they were on with whatever they can figure out how to order now that the bars and the clubs have closed. The few who are outside of that collective, the insomniacs, the ranchers eating early before heading out of town, the other and sundry mostly ignore the mind-altered masses.

Neither mind-altered nor a rancher, Paige Logan still finds herself occupying a booth at the rear of the restaurant, a series of papers and folders piled up around her table, leaving little room for the coffee she ordered, though there's no trace of food either already at her place or on its way out. They didn't even bring her the complimentary bottle of ketchup. But it's not as though the woman noticed. She's too intent on her writing, and seems dressed for the long haul, in a camisole and track suit bottoms, her hair done up in a bun with two extra pencils. Why have fashion at all, if it can't be useful fashion?

Quite frankly? Hugo is slumming it. Normally he chooses to dine in nice fancy restaurants since he can. But at this hour he's feeling restless and no nice restaurants are open. It's yet another thing he misses about New York. That city never sleeps. Still, he has a fondness for IHOP, having spent many a homeless winter's night in there nursing a cup of coffee and the cheapest plate available till the light of dawn. It's a good place to go for inspiration. Strolling in, his eyes flicker to the sign that says ~Please Seat Yourself~ and smirks, ambling in as he takes in the atmosphere, the patrons, his gaze wandering about unabashedly. When he espies a familiar face, his feet change direction and drawing closer he pauses, studying Paige and the table before her before shifting over to the booth next to hers and sliding into place. He sits with his back to the wall and the table to his right, laying his sketchbook down and idly picking up a menu. He only has to turn his head to the left to look straight at Paige from across her table of papers. His left arm rests against the back of his bench, fingers idly drumming against the edge as he browses the menu. He sidles another glance her way, smirking slightly, before noting, "You know, you could get yourself an office. I hear those are nice. You don't even have to take your papers away with you when you're done!"

For some, it's slumming it. For others, it's a nice meal out. When she remembers to eat. But it's not as if she notices the man taking the booth next to hers, being rather intent on scribbling out something that's been written and penciling in something else in blue. Unlike red, it's the standard journalist's copy editing color. But Paige can't miss the drumming, or the comment that comes her way, and per pencil stops mid-scratch as she looks over to see a familiar face, "And, you know, if I could afford an office, that might just be a great idea. But unlike you, I don't have that sort of disposable income. But I suppose when you're a have, you don't really think about what it's like to be a have-not."

Her words might be cutting to some, but Hugo just smiles and replies, "No room in your place for even a desk?" Resting his chin on his arm, ocean-blue eyes scan over all those papers for awhile and then look up at Paige's face in a beguiling manner. "Believe me," he notes without rancor or melodrama, "I know what it is to have-not. So what is all this anyways? What are you working on?" He's curious. Simple, ordinary, curious. His eyes scan the table again and before she even gets the chance to answer that question he asks, "Have you eaten yet?" This is quite a different man from the elegant figure he cut at both the auction and the country club. Just a t-shirt now, and the kind that looks like it's been worn and washed a few too many times, a scuffed up sneaker peeking out from the end of the booth's bench.

"Yes, that's a perfect idea. I don't know why I didn't think about it. Then I could spend all of my life in my house, like some sort of anti-social cave troll, except for when the crew pushes aside the boulder barring the door so I can go on the road." Paige finally sets down the pencil, moving to gather up the papers, either to clear space, or just to keep Hugo from reading whatever it is she's working on, which seems to be copy for an episode of Paranormal Investigations. Paige makes no reply to Hugo's comment about knowing what it's like to be a have-not, though it's obvious from her expression she's holding herself back. Instead, she'll answer the questions posed, which, likely, seems easier, and to be honest, while it is in her nature to be flippant, it's not to be downright mean, "The new season of the show is starting soon, and we need to get all of the write-ups and copy and voiceovers done and turned into the station, before they'll air it. And no, I haven't. I ordered coffee a few hours ago, but I think it's cold by now."

If she means to piss him off or drive him again, she is utterly failing to do. Paige's waspishness seems to only amuse and entertain Hugo all the more, his grin spreading wider and wider as she snarks at him with such cool aplomb. "I dunnoooo," he offers in return. "I think you got the anti-social cave troll thing down pretty well already." Waving a hand at all of those papers, Hugo orders, "Leave them. Come and join me over here and I'll buy you dinner. Or breakfast. Or whatever." His hand waves again, as if dismissing the importance of having the right title. "What do you say? A offer of tasty IHOP food from a have to a have-not. You won't even have to move your stuff or risk getting your papers dirty." And then, as if expecting her to refuse, he pats the barrier between them and urges, "Come on, you need to keep your energy up if you're going to finish all of that in time. And it's FREE! No strings attached, no guilt required. Snark is optional."

"It's one of my many talents. I also do crochet and know how to run a mushing team." Paige continues to put her papers away, or at least to cover up anything that might be written. It's just good business. Not that there are moles looking to steal the secrets of the show, but really, you don't just leave that sort of thing where everyone can read it. So she takes a few minutes to finish piling everything up, before she counters the man's offer with one of her own. "How about you come and sit here, and I'll pay for my own meal?" That's her counter offer and it's the best she's going to do.

Shrugging good naturedly, Hugo replies, "Well. If you insist," in his most regal of tones before slipping out of his booth and shifting into hers. Yep, faded and holey jeans as well. Both his shirt and his jeans have paint on them, oil paint by the faint smell of it. Fresh. "What's a mushing team? You mean like with dogs?" he inquires, one hand fake-cracking a whip as he makes a 'wha-chik!' cracking whip sound. He's totally not interested in stealing any secrets from the show, but Hugo is totally interested. "So! Paranormal Investigations, huh? I bet your ratings went way up after the great revelation." Gesturing to her now tidy stack of papers Hugo asks, "So what is your role in all of this? Do you write it? Edit it? Produce it? Researcher? All of the above? Do fries go with that shake?" Okay, well, it is late and Hugo's feeling perhaps a bit more flippant than usual perhaps. Or maybe it's just Paige's dry humor that brings out the worst in the artist. Passing her a menu, Hugo sits sideways again, bending one knee up so his foot is resting on his bench, sprawled out again as he asks, "So? What are you going to order? I still think you should let me pay. It's the least I can do for annoying you and interrupting your work."

What Hugo's wearing is no worse that what Paige wears most days, though she's usually coated in house paint and plaster dust. Doing it yourself when you're not the handiest tool in the box has that effect on a person's wardrobe, "Yes, like with dogs. What else do you think there is to do in Alaska? Dogs and oil and fishing, that's it." There's a light lift of her shoulders as Hugo comes to her table, and she shifts to the topic of the show, "Actually, the show started after the Great Revelation. They wanted to focus on vampires to start, but we ended up going with ghosts and other hauntings. And I do a little of everything. We're not exactly prime time and when you're on local access, you do a lot of the work yourself. When we're in the field, I'm a researcher, I go out with the team and our equipment and see what there is to see. When we're not, I write most of the copy for the show, handle the behind the scenes of arranging the show orders and the information that goes out to the stations that carry us. "Only if they're sweet potato fries." The menu is accepted, and she actually does give it a once over. So many things to choose from, how is a girl to make up her mind?! "Chicken fried steak, I think, maybe with some of the harvest nut and grain pancakes, instead of the buttermilk. And no. I'll pay for myself. Thank you, though. So why are you here? In between flashes of inspiration?"

"But we're in Texas," Hugo points out plaintively, with just a whisper of sarcasm in his voice. But for the rest of it he sits and listens, even if it looks more like he's sitting and ignoring and reading the menu. "Pity," he finally offers, "That you guys weren't on before the great revelation." And then there is a pause before he ponders, "And why do we call it that? The great revelation. What, like there haven't been other great revelations throughout time and history? Why don't we called it Vampire Coming Out Day? Or the vampire revelation? Or, guess what honey, dem deres vampires!?" Hmmmm, perhaps Hugo should be a little more circumspect in his ponderings and wanderings of mind. Fortunately, though there are either no vampires at the IHOP tonight, or they just don't give a *bleep*. "Sweet potato fries? At an IHOP? Honey, you are dreaming." Hugo makes his choices but doesn't announce them folding his menu closed and turning to look at Paige again. "Mmmmm, a little of this and a little of that. Wanted food that I didn't have at my place. Wanted to get out for a bit. Needed a break. Wanted to see if there was anything to be seen and captured. Inspiration is everywhere people are, so it's good for me to get out of the studio and look around."

"Yes, we are in Texas, which makes most of my skills and natural talents pretty much useless. No one needs to know how to soup a dog, or how to pick out who'll run as a good lead as opposed to a wheel or swing. Although I suppose I could make a living if this all goes belly up gutting fish along the coast." Paige doesn't ask what Hugo plans to order, since the checks will be separate anyway. "Alicia's been running her show for years, since before, but she's gone through quite a few different formats. This is just the one that's stuck, for now." As for why the Great Revelation is what it is, well, "Well, I imagine because when the majority of the people in the world found out about vampires, their general reaction was 'OMGWTFBBQ (yes, she says the whole thing, but the letters are easier to type) there's something else living in the world besides us and the animals!' It's pretty monumental, finding out you're not the only big dog in the house." As for the fries, that gets a sniff from Paige, "I know. They're my kryptonite." And then, a more understanding nod, as he explains his reasons for coming out, "That's why I come out myself, sometimes, it's easier to get a feel for people when you're actually around them."

"Ahhhh, so you're originally from Alaska then," he extrapolates with a quirking of one eyebrow. "That's a big switch, Alaska to Texas." Leaning his elbow on the table, his cheek on his palm, Hugo chuckles and shrugs and notes, "There have been a lot of monumental things over the years but yeah, I guess that one is kinda unique. Although some would argue that we've known they've been here all the time, we were just in denial. Mythology and legends bear that to truth. His smile curls wider, his eyes gleaming with mischief as Paige offers Hugo a chink in her armor, that little detail filed away for future reference. "You're an interesting woman," he announces, apropos of nothing in particular. But the chance to reply is delayed by the arrival of a waitress to take their order. "I'd like a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato, a cup of the tomato bisque, onion rings instead of fries, and a black coffee. Oh, and whatever she wants," he notes, gesturing with his thumb over to Paige. "One check is fine." He is persistent.

"Born in Kodiak, but I grew up in Nome. Only left to go to college. Ended up here for my Master's. Stayed on when I got with the show." A funny thing perhaps, to sum up your whole life in three sentences, but it is what it is. Boring details are still boring details, even when Paige knows how to spin a good story. "The human race lives in denial. It's the way we survive the world in which we live. If we knew what was out there waiting for us, most of us would either never leave the safety of our homes, or would go into our bathrooms and blow our brains out to save the trouble of being pulled apart a piece at a time. We tell ourselves the lies we need to keep waking up every morning and living our lives." And not finding herself to be terribly interesting, she chalks up the compliment to what it is. A pretty boy used to throwing compliments around like she throws around wads of paper. "Two checks. Coffee for me is fine. A chicken-fried steak, two eggs, over-medium, with ketchup please. No hash browns, but nut and grain pancakes instead. Thank you."

"Simple and to the point," Hugo muses with a wry smile at her summation of her life. "That seems to be you to a T." He lets her finish her points and place her order before shaking his head and chuckling. "You are one seriously tough customer. Fine, you're as dull as unbuttered toast, that appeal to your sense of the world?" Hugo's head tilts to one side as he notes, "What's in the world isn't necessarily waiting for you or for me though. Maybe, but not necessarily. And there's an equal amount of beauty and wonder in the world. It's just easier to see the twisted and the terrible and take the rest for granted." The waitress returns to drop off coffee in a carafe and water before departing. Hugo pours them each a cup before picking his up and sipping it black. "What did you study in college?"

"Yes, that's what I've been told. I'm sure you're used to a bit more flustering and blubbering and stumbling over words that you can't keep from coming out of your mouth." Paige might be a country girl, but she's not THAT country that she can't recognize how attractive Hugo is. Or the affect he seems to be having on most of the women in the IHOP, drug-addled brains or no, who look as if one look from him might make them wet their knickers. "I like unbuttered toast. It's the perfect vehicle for strawberry jam." Paige shakes her head, pausing as the coffee is delivered and she pours herself a cup as well, adding cream and sugar. Jenny Craig would go out of business if she was a customer, "My job is is to see the terrible and the twisted. I don't deny that the rest exists, but I focus on one aspect, clearly you focus on the other. We both have our set of blinders on." A sip of her coffee to taste, and she adds a bit more cream, "Journalism, up in Seattle, then Journalism and Videography down here. What about you? You a self-made success, or an art-school dropout?"

At that snipe, Hugo bursts out laughing, his head tilting back as he doesn't seem to care what anyone might think of him. He seems utterly oblivious to any ogling or goggling going on as well. And when he's done, he wipes at his eyes and grins at Paige, countering cheerfully, "Are you trying to tell me that I am unnecessarily verbose and that I really should do something to curb my excess verbiage?" No, the only woman that is holding Hugo's attention at the moment is Paige herself. For better or worse, as the case may be. "Heathen," Hugo mutters sotto voce, shaking his head and correcting, "Butter and strawberry jam." One brow lifts curiously at her statement noting, "I'm guessing that focus is due to the fact that misery sells? And if you think I focus on the other, you haven't seen much of my art I'm guessing. I see both sides of the coin, I merely chose to focus on the bright and shiny side of hope rather than hide in the safety of my home or blow my brains out in the bathroom. Nice alliteration there, by the by." Tilting his head to one side, Hugo muses, "Never went to art school, unless you consider studying art in what you here in the States would call 'high school' counts. So I guess that means I'm a self-made success? But really, there's no such thing as self-made. Success depends greatly on the notice and support of others. I made the art, but someone else made me the famous artist. The two are decidedly not the same."

Paige waits, rather sedately, while Hugo has his laugh, at her expense. She's been there before, "I was merely commenting on how I imagine most women when faced with the wattage of both your ego and your face are likely to react to you." Paige's demeanor shifts, as she puts some of the small acting talent she'd had to cultivate on the job to work, "OH MY GOD…He's looking right at me…Oh, oh, he's talking to me. I can't think, but maybe if I just keep talking, he'll keep looking at me, OMG!" And for the time it takes for her to get through her impression, she's every bit the lust-blind woman…and then. Impression over, and she's back to being and looking like herself. "Thank you," comes the acceptance of the heathen compliment. "Of course it does. That's why people like horror movies, and the reason they watch my show. They want to be frightened, within the safety of their own homes. They want the thrill without the danger. And that's the mindset I have to get into while I'm working. I imagine it's no different than when you're painting. You get a feeling or idea, and you have to hold onto it as long as you can until you can translate it onto the canvas." As for the difference between being an artist and being made a success, well, "And yet you certainly haven't made much of the difference." And really, what famous person does? It's nice to be rich and recognized and in fashion.

Actually the laugh was at his expense, since it was Hugo that Paige was mocking. He just happened to find he humor in it. But realizing that his translation was different than her intention, Hugo just chuckles and shakes his head. "Ahh, I misunderstood you. And no, I don't generally find women to become flustered and run off at the mouth when they meet me. But from your assumption, I must assume in turn that you find me… handsome? Attractive? Charming?" Leaning toward Paige, Hugo's eyes dance with delight and amusement as she 'performs' for him. Indeed, performs for the whole restaurant. And when she is done, Hugo laughs and claps, calling out, "Bravo! Bravo! Encore!" Leaning on his palm again, leaning as close as he can, Hugo compliments, "Paige? You're a hoot." Sitting back he listens once again to her explanation of her work and nods thoughtfully. "The only difference is that you're creating for an audience that you need to, forgive me for being so crude, pander to. I paint what I want, not what people want me to paint. Fortunately what I want to paint is in demand. For now." His head tilts to one side, expression sobering and becoming more thoughtful as he asks, "What do you mean, I haven't made much of the difference?"

"Look around, Hugo." Paige does, in her turns, a hand rising to indicate the women clustered around the restaurant, "It's not me that's got their attention over here. Although I am doing two-pencils tonight, and I'm told that's a good look for me." She waves it away, "But then, perhaps you're used to high society women. The sort that know how to keep their emotions in check. Lady on the street, whore in the bedroom." That's about all the answer Hugo is going to get on what Paige does or doesn't think of the man, "Glad that I could entertain you." As Hugo picks apart her work, Paige nods, "Of course I am. That's part of what making a show like this is all about. Whoring yourself out for the masses. And believe me, I can whore myself out with the best of them. That's why we're this close to going national. I built Paranormal Investigations into what it is, and I did that by selling myself and the team better than anyone else could." There's a moment, when Paige considers how best to explain, and then, "You became the success that they made you. You love every minute of it, revel in it. With your clothes and your dinner dates and your fancy car and everything else. You could have chosen to continue to live a simple life, but instead, you chose to become everything that they made you out to be. Famous artist, vagabond playboy, the New York City sensation. And there's nothing wrong with that, if that's your choice. Lord knows there are people who would kill to be in your position."

"You're good at making assumptions about people," Hugo retorts good-naturedly. "Pegging them into a particular shaped hole, not bothering to check and see if it actually fits." His eyes lift, glancing about the restaurant, but to his gaze most of the people seem to be doing their own thing, in their little groups and couples, though a few look toward the booth that Hugo and Paige share. "Well, you might be at the height of fashion with your two-pencils, but maybe there just aren't any lesbians here tonight?" he offers, tongue in cheek. There's a subtle shift in his gaze, something a little dangerous, a little dark and serious as Hugo murmurs, "You have no idea what I'm used to." But then it's gone, a cheerful smile curling his lips as the waitress arrives with their food. "Thank you," he offers to her as she places the plates in front of them and then departs. Picking up one half of his sandwich, Hugo dunks the corner of it into his tomato soup and takes a bite. "The way I see, I have a chance to enjoy myself and yes, live large for a change. In some ways you might consider me quite the spendthrift. In other ways I still live a simple life. I don't own a house in the city and a vacation home in the Hamptons. And being a single man, I have no one to spend the money I earn on other than myself. I rent an apartment which is large because it includes my studio, but otherwise it is simple and modest. I have nice clothes for when I need to look nice and then I have the clothes I wear the rest of the time. This is all temporary. Fleeting. I think it best to enjoy success while it is available to me. But make no mistake. I've earned my success and I've worked hard for it. And when it is gone, I'll still be painting what I believe in, regardless of whether it is popular or makes me successful. I'll still be working hard."

"I'm good at giving back what I get," is all Paige offers as Hugo offers his insult. There's a shrug, as she turns to thank the waitress for her meal as it's placed on the table, "So what you're saying, is that the only person who would find me attractive is a lesbian? Well, it's not to my taste, I suppose that's better than nothing." There's a moment, when Paige's expression changes, serious, but not in the way it has been for most of the evening, but it passes as if it weren't there, lasting barely more than a moment, barely as long as the look she catches in your expression, before she turns her attention to her meal, eating with her usual interest. There's no attempt to make it look dainty or feminine. It's food. "As I said, it's your choice. You don't need to defend yourself to me. Or explain why you do what you do. Your life is your own, and certainly doesn't have anything to do with me."

"See, once again you misunderstand me. I'm starting to think you do so deliberately now. After all you were the one complaining that all the women here are ogling me and not you, even though you have your infamous 'two-pencil' look going. So naturally the logical explanation is a lack of lesbians at the IHOP." Hugo studies Paige for a moment, shaking his head in wonderment at how such a smart woman could get so many things wrong. Or maybe his sense of humor simply eludes her. "I have to assume that you don't own a mirror. Or that you're delusional. Because you're obviously beautiful, two-pencil hair-do be damned." Dipping his sandwich again, Hugo takes a bite and chews, pondering the complex woman across from him before stating, "I think from here on out I'm just going to plead the 5th. You seem to take a perverse delight in misunderstanding and labeling me to your preferences." And with that the artist sighs and shrugs, his attention shifting to his food and the other patrons of the restaurant.

Paige opens her mouth. Closes it. Thinks a moment. Sets down her knife and fork, and the reaches for her check. The waitress, clearly deferring to the woman, which seemed the best thing to do…girl power and all that, brought two checks. "I do quite a few things deliberately. Misunderstanding you is not one of them." She leaves the rest of her meal at the table, as she slides out of the booth, the man's attention already shifted away from her, reaching for her stack of paperwork and gathering it against her chest. "Thank you for the conversation, and the company. Enjoy the rest of your evening." With that, she turns, to head back over towards the cashier's, check in hand.

The first reaction is anger. After all, Paige has been sniping at him since the moment he sat down. And while it was fun for awhile, being either deliberately or accidentally misunderstood again and again, and getting the flack for it, was starting to wear thin. Too much like him and Jo. Too much like family. Grimacing, Hugo shifts from the booth, putting his unfinished food on one plate and carrying it up to the counter, his sketchbook tucked under one arm. Long legs put him before Paige as he hands the waitress his meal and says, "Do you mind boxing this up? Thanks." With no one to tend the cash register, Hugo turns and faces Paige, all the humor and fun gone now as he points out, "Look. I don't know what your problem is, but I guess I must personify it or something. You were here first, so why don't you go back to your table, finish your meal, and then you can get back to your work. You seem to need to be here. I don't. So logistically it's only logical that I leave." And with that he puts down his check on the counter with enough money to cover it and turns around, placing his back against the cash register as he waits for the waitress to return with his leftovers.

Paige doesn't miss the fact that Hugo cuts her off on his way to the counter, nor does she miss the look on his face. Which is not at all like the look on her face. She looks, well, upset, but not angry. And there's a sadness in her expression that, for once, she doesn't try to mask. But she does not, either, try to play it up. What she does do, is answer, while the cashier is packing up Hugo's meal, and she's setting out enough money to cover her own, not seeming terribly concerned about getting change or what have you, "I don't have a problem. Well, perhaps I do, but if I do, it certainly would not be you. Or have anything to do with you. I'm sorry that I misunderstood you, and that you thought I was doing it deliberately, just so that I could…I imagine make unpleasant comments at your expense. If I've upset you or hurt your feelings, I sincerely apologize, it won't happen again. So there's no reason for you to leave. I've gotta go grab my bike before I find out someone cut the lock."

"Too late," he returns quietly, since his food is in the process of being boxed up as they speak. Normally he might be moved by the look of upset on her face, but in truth Hugo is feeling a bit too cross to care if Paige's feelings were somehow hurt in the confusion of it all. Opposites attract? Heh. Only in one direction it would seem. "Your food is still on the table, still hot. Well, warm. Stay. Eat. Work." The apology rankles a bit. It's contrary to what Hugo's feeling and turning to Paige, he just stares at her for a moment, trying to make her out before shaking his head. "Maybe it's me. Maybe I don't understand you. Maybe all this barbed banter hits a little too close to home." The waitress returns with his boxes and with a rumble of thanks and handing her the check and his money, he turns back to Paige and offers, "At any rate, I'm off, so you might as well stay. Have a good night and good luck with your deadlines." And with that Hugo turns and opens up the door, which jingles with ironic cheerfulness as he pushes his way out.

Well, there's not much Paige can say or do at this point, once the man has paid and left, and so, she does the same. Sitting back down really doesn't have any sort of appeal. Maybe she should have just stayed home. When she's alone, the only person she can piss off is herself. And so, once her own check is covered, and the remainder left as a tip, she too heads out of the restaurant, heading back towards her messenger's bike, to start the trek back to West Dallas.

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