[author's notes]

this blends both movie verse with book verse, although you can see the movie verse shines through a little more.

disclaimer: i don't drink, i will never drink, and bar etiquette is something that escapes me. any mistakes (in terms of the setting) is more than likely due to a lack of available research elements. in any case, thank you for taking a read!

"A martini, if you will? Oh, and dry. Please."

Carol flashed a coy smile the bartender's way, to which he nodded, tossing a similar sort of smile her way. Carol wasn't exactly an uncommon guest at Gertrude's, and the divorce certainly had not helped things in the slightest. If anything, Carol's infrequent drop-ins became much more constant, and any regular from around the area knew why. In short: Harge was a dastardly bastard, and Carol really wanted nothing more than to see him burn. Alas.

The drink was placed in front of her, and Carol took a sip. "Thanks, you're a dear." She stared at the bartender's back for a moment as he walked down to help another customer, before she turned her head to look at the rest of the place. Admittedly, most of the customers were ones she could pick out of a crowd fairly easily. Although Carol would hardly call herself one to gloat, the bar absolutely reeked of high society. Pricey drinks for folks with pricier attitudes; Carol couldn't say she was exempt from that group.

Though today, something interesting walked through those doors. Carol placed the glass to her lips, and imitated a look of smug curiosity; one eyebrow raised while she smudged the rims with a lipstick-coated smirk.

"You can't back out of it now, Terry," spoke a man with a rather skittish-looking woman attached to his sleeve. "Besides, you could do with a drink or two. You look a little frazzled."

"No, no. Nervous," the woman managed to choke out after a moment or so. Christ, Carol thought with a twinge of amusement. Son of a gun can't tell when his own girlfriend is uncomfortable? Or rather, perhaps he's hoping that she isn't, and covered it up with false bravado. Something that painfully reminded her of her own ex-husband, though perhaps it'd be animalistic to judge all men as barbaric because of two bad encounters. Carol looked away, but kept one ear trained to the conversation.

The man smiled. "Well, it's our first night out as a married duo. Of course you'd be a little nervous about the whole thing, right? Come on, let's get you a drink."

Carol snorted, and turned back to them. They sat themselves at a table, while Richard eyed up the bartender. God. What a way to miss hundreds of social cues; the poor thing was practically shaking in her boots. Downing yet another sip of alcohol, Carol felt her eyes roll.

"Richard," the woman started with no undue amount of unsureness in her tone, "you didn't have to do this, you know? Take me out. I mean, I was happily content to relax and watch a movie at home."

The couple began to bicker (in hushed tones, of course, because there was a standard to be held in such a place like this), and Carol felt no envy for this Terry character at all. Sympathy was a given—Harge had been just as pushy, and Carol had been just as much a pushover. In all stages except the end of course, and Carol took a private little pleasure in debating over whether these two would be returning to Gertrude's or not. Carol's best guess was that Richard would be back in one month's time, without Terry on his arm and very much with a chip on his shoulder.

Then again, Carol's been wrong before (wrong about a certain Harge, came the thought in all its bitterness). Would Carol say she'd be particularly happy about being wrong in this instance? Well, perhaps not. It wasn't her place to say whether Richard and Terry were necessarily happy or not.

She was vaguely drunk and sticking her nose in places where it didn't belong, as per the course.

"Richard!" A man from across the bar hustled up to the duo, and Richard looked absolutely delighted. "Shit, it really is you. You could have told me that you were heading to New York, hey?"

"Phil, it's great to see you," Richard stood up to give a welcoming hug to the supposed friend. "We were planning to leave it as a surprise until next week, actually."

"We, you say?"

Richard's grin widened. "Why yes! Therese and I married just a month ago! I couldn't have been a luckier guy even if I wanted to be, Phil." Therese said nothing, but offered up a polite smile. Carol's eyes flicked away; she had a cute smile, and she'd forever curse herself for even having that thought in the first place.

"Congratulations, Therese, Richard. By the way," Phil continued, after dipping his head and smiling, "I know a guy who's looking for submissions to an art exhibition of sorts. Not quite a competition, but word on the street is that the guy hosting it's actually a talent scout. I was gonna phone you up on Sunday about it, but since you're already here… You got a minute to spare?"

"Oh, shoot." Richard gave a look to Therese. "You don't mind, baby? I'll be back with you in a smidge." Therese signalled to him, shooing him off with a flick of her hand, and she smiled again. As soon as Richard and Phil were off in the corner, Carol figured that this was her chance.

Carol's tipsy enough to the point where she might not hate herself in the morning.

Therese looked pleasantly shocked when Carol took her glass and slid into the seat across from hers—the one that Richard had been sitting in. Getting a closer look at her, Carol took in the intricacies of her character. Her hair curled towards the center of her face, and her eyes were big, green. Like grass against a warm autumn's light. Carol could have stared for hours.

"Forgive me for the intrusion," she spoke airily. "You don't mind me taking a quick seat, do you? If I'm making you uncomfortable, I want to know."

"No," Therese said, after a moment of contemplation. "They'll be talking for a while yet. Richard and Phil, I mean. They've been friends for quite a while, and I…"

Carol stared at Therese with a smile.

"Forgive me, I've lost my train of thought… Ah, I haven't introduced myself, have I?"

"It's only been, what, a minute?" The tone was joking, although the look on Therese's face told Carol that perhaps the quick jab stabbed a little deeper than she had intended. So perhaps she was drunk beyond the point of making this encounter go anything but badly. "Don't worry about it. I'm Carol Aird. But not Carole."

There was that darling smile once more. "Carol," she repeated, if for no reason other than to feel that name upon her lips. And how Carol loved the way Therese said her name. "It's a lovely name. I'm Therese Belivet… No, no. Semco. Therese Semco. But not Thereese." Therese looked awkward, venusian, as though she was both here and there, but she was smiling, and she was beautiful. Carol liked it.

"Therese, treize." She grinned, and leaned forward, propping up her chin with her hands. "You look like you'd rather be anywhere but here."

Despite expecting her to cringe at this statement, Therese actually laughed. "Well, you wouldn't be terribly wrong." Her expression sours. This girl wore her heart on her sleeve. "Richard, he's always doing things like this. I'm not… Not really a high-rise girl. These big establishments, they're not really my thing."

"Or is it because you're out with him?"

The look of pause and hesitation is all Carol needs to know that she was right. The corners of her lips turned into a smirk. "No, that's not it at all," Therese said, perhaps only after noticing that Carol's smile was akin to that of a cat's. Carol had the strangest feeling, one that said she knew exactly what Therese's next words would be. "It's just that he likes to rush into things, that's it."

So he forced you into marriage, is what Carol wanted to say, but she figured she'd already prodded too much into Therese's marital matters for one night.

"Let's take it a little slower then," Carol offered, and freed up one hand to take another sip of martini. For the confidence boost. "Therese Semco, yes? What is it that you do?"

Therese stared at Carol's drink, looking rather unfocused. "Nothing important, really. I'm a pianist. I'm not the best, of course not, but I do simple shows. Richard says my photography is my best skill. I've never sold anything, ha. I mean. I haven't even put together a portfolio, not yet…" Her speech had been gradually speeding up as time past. Carol's silence seemed to get her to freeze. "Oh, I'm rambling."

"No, that was interesting." Carol's immediate thoughts went to the grand in her home. Harge had been the only one to play it after Carol's father died. They had neither the mind nor time to get the damn thing moved, and she wondered if maybe, just maybe, Therese would one day be playing a song for you. "I'll hire you to play for me someday. And I'm sure you have a wonderful eye for art."

"Maybe," Therese replied, a giddy little grin curling her lips. "What about you, Ms. Aird—"

"Carol, darling."

"Oh, um, sorry. Carol." She made a face, as though the thought of not being able to use honorific titles was disrespectful. Carol repressed the urge to grin wider. "You must do something interesting, right?"

She laughed. "No, hardly. I'm an employee for a furniture store; I sell things. In other words, a commonplace job you'd find just about anywhere else in New York. There's significantly less pianists with an affinity for photography."

"Probably not," Therese said, but giggled nonetheless. Carol wondered if a stranger making passes at you, a married woman, was an appropriate thing to be laughing about. Well, with her luck, nothing would be taken seriously.

Carol took a pause to look into the corner where Richard had lumbered off to. It looked like he was heading back to his table—looking much more pleased, assuming something like that was even possible in the first place. With his ego…

Perhaps Carol was being unnecessarily bitter.

"Hey, what's this?" Richard pulled into a third seat, and Carol turned to give him a polite smile. He already had some unnamed drink for himself, and slid something of similar make Therese's way. She stared down at it, making it fairly obvious she wasn't about to drink. "I leave for a minute, and Terry's already making friends!" His boisterous attitude was annoying at best, and completely unbearable at the very worst. "Richard Semco, Therese's husband. And you?"

"Carol Aird," she supplied him, with a heedless wink. Formalities were a natural given. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Semco. Is this your first time here?"

Therese shifted uncomfortably, and Carol threw a semi-reassuring look her way.

"Yeah," Richard chuckled. "Friend rec'd us the place, figured it'd be a great way to spend our first evening out as spouses." The touch of venom in his voice didn't go unnoticed, but Carol smiled as though she hadn't caught it. Therese and Richard's eyes made contact with each other for a hard moment, and she was the first to break away. He looked at Carol, just as joyous as he'd been before. To save face, she thought.

"I take it that you've just moved in, yes? And you've never been to New York in the past?" She leaned in.

"I have," Richard raised his hand. "Not Terry, though. To be honest, though, I've only visited once with Phil." One bout of nervous laughter, and a slightly annoyed look was shot in his general direction, via Therese.

"I could show you around," Carol offered.

"Shucks, Mrs. Aird." Miss Aird, but Carol won't correct him, "That sounds like a grand offer, but I'll be in my studio working on illustration for most of the week. A lil' longer and a lil' later than a regular work day, I'm afraid. Terry though…" They look at each other, and Therese offers up nothing but an indifferent—no, not indifferent, it was unsure, but Therese certainly cared—shrug.

"I should be free on Sunday, then?" Carol picked up her glass to take a drink, but upon realizing that there was nothing left, she instead settled for disinterestedly swirling around the backwash in her glass. "Of course, if you'd rather not, I'm more than happy to wait."

"No," Therese said. She sounded as though she needed a bit of convincing herself; Carol wondered, and felt. "Sunday is good."

Sunday was good.