Title: The Trade - Part 3 - Dinner and random discussions
'Location: Maxwell Ranch
Synopsis: Just a bored afternoon at the ranch, with random odd discussions going on. Until things turn towards the wanted trade. Will Heather buy in once she knows the whole plan that Elizabeth has in mind?
Elizabeth Maxwell slips in from outside, making sure no dirt is on her shoes, and looking around the entryway quietly.
Martin Grace is kneeling by the coat rack, apparently fixing one of the legs which brace it. He has some glue, a vise-grip to hold the thing steady while he works, and so forth.
Elizabeth Maxwell pauses and glances down at that, hmming a little bit. "Hmm, it gave out, huh? Did it just finally collapse, or did something happen? Or don't you know?"
Martin Grace says, "My attorney has advised me not to answer that question," he looks up, "on the grounds that it might incriminate me."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit at that. "Hmm. Ouch. Sorry to hear if you stubbed your toe on it that hard."
Martin Grace says "Naw, it didn't hu-" Pause. "Oh, you're good. You're very good. I'm still going to have to refuse to make any further statements. Next thing you know, you'll have my master plan to make you all eat Keshy tonight."
Elizabeth Maxwell offers a smile at that, and nods a little bit. "It's all right. Thank you for fixing it. Might need to get a new one sometime, with as many people as we have staying here, over the winter."
Martin Grace nods. "You say that *now*, but you haven't yet eaten the Keshy." He rises. "That should hold it till the glue sets."
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms and nods, looking at it. "Keshy? Hmm… never heard of that really."
Martin Grace says, "It's a weird little Euro-Caribbean dish I picked up a recipe for from an expatriate Dutchman just outside Curacao." He holds open the door to the living room for her, making an 'after you' motion. "You make a kind of cooked stuffing out of minced chicken, finely chopped veggies, bread crumbs, and some raisins and dates for sweetness, then shove it in a hollowed out wheel of hard cheese, like Edam or Gouda or Brie. Then bake it in the oven till the cheese is nice and bubbly around the already cooked stuffing."
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms a little bit and nods, raising her eyebrows a little bit. "Ah. Sounds interesting."
Martin Grace shrugs. "Dad always taught us that if a man can cook, he'll never go hungry, and he doesn't have to rely on a woman to do it for him."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs just a little bit. "Probably a good thing in this day and age, since heavily career-minded women often don't cook, at least not much. I know how to cook some at least… better to know, if there's a chance you might have to fix your own meals at some point. Means not having to live from canned things."
Martin Grace moves to the Living Room .
You go to Living Room.
Martin Grace explains a bit further. "When I was a sailor, I learned that the quickest way to learn a place was to eat where the natives eat, even when you don't know what it is. You ask *after* you finish the meal, preferably the next morning after you've digested it all. You learn a great deal."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit and nods. "I'm sure. Especially in some places." She makes a slight face. "Sometimes better not to know what you ate, yes?"
Martin Grace nods. "Precisely. But you learn a few things. My older brother used to joke that I'd make someone a good wife someday. But he's still active duty Coast Guard, last I checked. Commands his own small patrol boat back east. Which means he *has* a galley mate to cook for him." A pause. "Haven't spoken to Ollie in years. I'm almost afraid to. What if he's, you know, a collaborator? Do I really want to find that out?"
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms a little and shakes her head. "Or if he's been taken already. Bad to even think about it, either way. Ever had to eat something really bad when you knew what it was?"
Martin Grace says, "Yeah." A pause. "Don't ask. You *really* don't want to know."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles just a little bit and nods. "Mm-hmm. Yeah, know what you mean. About the same for me. All dependent on the circumstances…"
Martin Grace flops down on the couch. "I'll get started on the making of the minced chicken pretty soon."
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit, settling in on the chair next to the couch. "If there's anything I can do to help fix it, just say. One of these nights I'll probably be cooking myself."
Martin Grace says, "I was going to ask about that." He leans forward on the couch now, eyeing her. "We were talking last week, I think, about you growing up overnight and all. Did you get some kind of mental transfer of information with it, or are you still learning stuff that an adult would know?" A pause. "God, that sounds awful. I'm sorry."
Elizabeth Maxwell shakes her head a bit. "Still learning actually. A lot over the year in between, but… well, when a war comes back onto the doorstep, you tend to learn things a lot faster."
Martin Grace nods. "Have they included GED-type stuff? I mean, when this is all done and you're ready to have a normal life, you're going to want to have at least the equivalent education."
Elizabeth Maxwell sighs a little bit and shakes her head. "I'll worry about that… after the war is over. Before that, it doesn't entirely matter."
Martin Grace nods. "Well, if there's anything I can do. I mean, I'm not Mike or Heather, but I know some of the things they don't, so it evens out."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little more and shrugs. "I guess we'll find out. For the moment I'm only thinking about that on the off day where I have spare time. Otherwise I'm more concerned with the situation at hand, at the time."
Martin Grace nods. "Yeah, yeah, I know." A pause. "So what's on your agenda for today?"
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms just a little bit. "I'm not entirely sure, other than maybe helping with cooking…" She smiles then. "Just have to wait and see what happens later."
Martin Grace says, "Fair enough." He starts to rise. "Can I get you a drink?"
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit and hmms. "Just water, if you would. Thanks."
Martin Grace says, "Sure. Back in a jif."
Martin Grace returns after a moment with a bottle of beer for himself, and a bottle of spring water for Liz. Settles back down. "I was going to put this" He holds up the cold water bottle, "on your bare shoulder, but then I thought, 'you know, I like my anatomy in one piece.'" He hands her the bottle. "Here."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles, taking the bottle happily and opening it. "thanks…" she laughs a little. "Hmm. I'm not mean enough to do that, really…" She smiles and takes a sip. "Well, I don't think, I have been known to be a little twitchy and react badly to being surprised or cornered, a long time ago…"
Martin Grace laughs. "I know the feeling. Of course, I'm big as a barn door, so the things that threaten me would threaten most folks."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit and nods. "I can definitely see where that would help. Especially around LA. Makes you less of a target for people wanting to mug someone quickly for cash."
Martin Grace laughs. "You'd be surprised, actually. I remember this one time, in Manila, these local thugs tried to roust me for my wallet, because they'd seen me buy a round of jugo de cana for folks at this beachside cabana party and figured I'd be an easy mark." He shakes his head. "Thank the Good Lord for corrupt cops, because one of *them* thought I'd be a good shakedown for a bribe. So I paid him off, and he got rid of them, and then I bashed him in the back of the head with a crate of produce, and got the Hell out of there."
Elizabeth Maxwell pauses a little and hmms, raising her eyebrows. "Yikes. Yeah, I suppose that larger groups will go after anyone. Greedy people are everywhere, I suppose, though."
Martin Grace takes a swig of the beer. "You got that right."
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit. "The ones who organize for percentages are the worst of the lot, as well. They become the biggest problems." she looks down at her water a bit for just a moment. "And they feed themselves dangerously."
Martin Grace says, "You're thinking of someone in particular?"
Elizabeth Maxwell shakes her head a little bit. "Not really. Just thinking out loud. I do that sometimes." She laughs a bit. "I should probably stop before I get depressing."
Martin Grace says, "Naw, it's okay. It makes you more of a real person, you know, and not just someone this has all happened to."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles and settles into her chair a little further. "Thanks. There have been people who easily would dismiss such an idea, for some reason. The re-invasion essentially shut them up, though."
Martin Grace says, "Which part?"
Elizabeth Maxwell shrugs a little bit. "Mostly a general rant about a lot of newspeople. Especially two, forget what station they were with though." she laughs and shakes her head. "I'm actually wondering whether or not I should change my name and move somewhere as far from southern California as I can get, once things get back to normal."
Martin Grace says, "Let me know if you go that route. I've got friends throughout the Pacific Rim and Oceania. We could set you up."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit and shrugs. "Oh, I'll tell the people I know where I'm at, and stay in touch. I just want to make sure that I don't get bothered excessively. Because judging by last time, there are certainly people who would /do/ it."
Martin Grace says, "Well, you're young, beautiful, infamous, a celebrity, and have odd powers beyond those of we mere Earthmen." He shrugs. "You're *going* to get attention, Elizabeth."
Elizabeth Maxwell shrugs a little bit. "I don't want attention. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm betting that when things wind down, both Ham and Chris Faber are going to vanish. Attention is bad for their line of work. Let Mike and Julie deal with it. Media coverage is good for their jobs. Unless things radically change, though, I would rather not be bothered when I don't really have anything useful to say."
Martin Grace says, "Yeah. Chris is more anonymous than Ham, though. Got the generic big fat guy thing going on. He still around? I ain't seen him since I've been back, and I owe him an eating contest ass-kicking. He beat me by half a hot dog last time." A shake of the head. "HALF A HOT DOG. That's tough for a man of my competitive nature to handle."
Elizabeth Maxwell blinks and laughs a little bit. "Ouch. I'm assuming he's still around, since Ham is." She smiles really widely then. "And at least now I know where some of that extra padding on him came from." She laughs and shakes her head. "Just two more things to worry about. People choking while having hot dog eating contests, and people having heart attacks from excessive weight gain."
Martin Grace says, "Bah." He looks at you and then says again, "Bah. BAH, I say!" He drains a swig of the beer. "I put in a very hard day's labor to work it off, thank you very much. We're not all kung fu demons like Heather, but some of us make up for it with pure physical power, thanks."
Elizabeth Maxwell just keeps laughing at that. "I'm just teasing mostly. Still, do make sure someone's around in case of choking problems. Heck, I'd want to watch." She grins a little. "Yeah, I'm trying to poke Heather to teach me some of that, as well."
Martin Grace says, "You should. It's handy knowing if you don't have the mass to just do what I do and bash people."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit and nods. "Yes, I do realize that I'm too little to bash people." she shakes her head a little. "Part of why I haven't even bothered trying to, as yet."
Martin Grace nods. "I understand, trust me."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little and shrugs. "I'd probably get snapped like a twig if I tried fighting hand to hand. I'm trying to get better with the longer ranged stuff, but its a slow process."
Martin Grace says, "It takes more practice to be a good marksman than to be a good hand-to-hand fighter. Folks think it should be the other way around, but it's not."
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms a little bit and nods, smiling and shrugging. "Maybe. I've had 7 months… I'm not exactly a perfect shot, but at least I can hit the target more than once in a blue moon."
Martin Grace says, "You did fairly well for yourself at the barn. I had the advantage of a big gun."
Elizabeth Maxwell sighs a little and blushes at that. "Yeah, that was my blonde moment for… hopefully a while. I missed a clear shot, and took a hit for it." Martin Grace laughs, setting down the mostly empty beer bottle. "You're blushing."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit and shrugs. "It happens once in a while. I was just a little embarrassed about it. Still am."
Martin Grace says, "I know. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to call attention to it. I'd just never seen you do it. Blush, I mean. You didn't strike me as the type. I guess I'm not used to Resistance Women, anymore."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and shrugs. "Well… it doesn't exactly happen often." She raises her eyebrows a bit. "At least I didn't get shot down again at the LAX mess…" She laughs softly.
Martin Grace says, "I know what you mean." A nod. "Talk about performance anxiety."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and nods. "Yeah… After getting shot down when I wasn't actually doing anything, taking off during that was… a little unnerving. I'm just glad I wasn't alone for it. "Two captured fighters and a Harrier are better for an air mess, anyway. Better able to cover each other, more fire for the enemy to avoid."
Martin Grace nods. "Yeah. I can, I note, fly a chopper, if we have one of those. I dunno if you knew that. That's kinda how I got recruited."
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms a little and nods. "Could probably find one. We mostly grabbed the Harrier because Heather knows how to fly it. I'll start poking around."
Martin Grace nods. "I used to be a chopper pilot, when I was in my teens. My dad ran a charter helicopter tour business in the Florida Keys. It's been awhile, but it's not something you really forget."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit. "Ah… hmm. Probably take a little practice if we found an armed military one… but… might be worth it."
Martin Grace says, "It needn't be one that extravagant." He laughs. "A simple one for scouting and errands will do. Maybe one of Donovan's buddies has a news copter we could use. They hardly attract attention."
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms and nods a little bit. "Yeah, I suppose that would probably be safer…" She smiles a little bit. "Probably easier to get hold of as well." She hmms a little. "Guess I'm thinking too much about keeping sizable military force around."
Martin Grace says, "You are, and that can be dangerous. So stop it." He laughs. "Anyway, I should get started on cooking dinner. You just want me to call you if I need help?"
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit and shrugs. "I suppose it can be dangerous, so okay." She smiles a little. "Well, I could go in with you now if you liked… nicer to not be stuck out alone in the kitchen, yes?"
Martin Grace says, "Yeah, but — and don't get me wrong, it's not that I mind the view — you might want to throw something on over the bikini top, in case some oil spatters while I'm preparing the stuffing."
Martin Grace rises from the couch.
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit. "I'll be okay. Just a matter of getting it off and using a little cold water if a splatter hits."
Martin Grace says, "Fair enough." He motions again with that 'after you' gesture. "Shall we?"
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles, and slips up, nodding. "Okay."
Martin Grace moves to the Kitchen .
You go to Kitchen.
Martin Grace says, "Alright. How are you with a big ol' knife?"
Elizabeth Maxwell slips in and looks around quickly. "Hmm. The calm before the next mess." She rolls her eyes and looks around. "For cooking, fine. It isn't that hard."
Martin Grace says, "Right." He reaches into the pantry. "I picked this up yesterday. I know you all were wondering why." And he slams what must be a 5 or 6 pound red-rinded cheese wheel down on the countertop. "Peel off the red wax, stand this sucker on its side, and cut a slice about, oh, an inch deep off, all the way around. Give a shout-out when you've got it taken care of."
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms a little and nods, peeling on the wax quickly. "Okay…" She checks it, and the knife, then starts making a delicate cut into it, to start peeling an inch away all around.
Martin Grace, for his own part, cleans up a good 4 or 5 pounds of chicken leg quarters, then takes a cleaver and hacks it into smaller pieces. In between the cleaning and hacking, he sets a combination of canola oil and fresh butter to heating in a big ol' pan.
Elizabeth Maxwell watches that interestedly, and hmms a little bit, getting a small implement from a drawer. With a check, she nods, and simply cuts a one inch mark into one spot of the wheel, and sticks the cheese cutter into it, starting to strip 1/4 inch at at time all the way around, simply rolling the cheese block a little bit, when she reaches the bottom.
Martin Grace throws the chicken into the pan to sauté, and while doing so, starts chopping up vegetables — a couple of large onions, two or three green peppers, a tomato, some cucumber. He mixes the onions and peppers, sets those aside. Then pours some chicken broth from a can over the sautéing chicken. "I prefer the homemade chicken stock, but I was too lazy to make it today. This is going to take about 45 minutes to simmer. In the meanwhile, you can start hollowing out the bigger hunk of cheese. It's like making a breadbowl. The inch you cut away will 'cover' it in the oven, and we're going to hollow out enough gouda to make a bowl to fit the stuffing in."
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit and smiles. "Ah." She finishes cutting the inch off finally, saving the 'cover' over to the side. "Okay…" She checks the cheese, and starts hollowing, slicing cuts in, and trying to peel layer after layer back from the inside, delicately. '
Martin Grace says, "We can save the stuff you're carving out and shred it fine for omelettes or something in the morning."
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit, trying to carefully peel it out, making sure to get the center sunk in first, before starting to peel away around the edges. "Right… I didn't plan on throwing all that cheese away anyway." she smiles a little bit, stacking up the strips she peeled from the center with the cheese cutter, and setting them aside. "I should be done soon."
Martin Grace says, "No worries." He returns the smile briefly, half-fills a big stock pot, the kind that would be used to simmer a whole big chicken, with cold water, and sets that pot aside. "When you're done, the wheel and the cover can go in here. the cold water will harden them a bit, until we're ready to use them in an hour."
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit and smiles. "Okay, sounds good…" she keeps trying to hollow it out as accurately as possible, trying to make sure to leave enough cheese to seal it in.
Martin Grace waits, watching.
Elizabeth Maxwell sets the hollowed out and the cover into the pot then. "Okay. Done."
Martin Grace says, "Well, we've got about 40 minutes at this point. We can crack open a bottle of wi—-er, water, and sit and relax."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit and shakes her head. "you can have wine if you want. I may just get a soda for myself."
Martin Grace says, "Wine's no fun to drink alone, and the *last* thing I should be doing is getting drunk with you and corrupting your minor self. I'll have a soda, myself."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles and slips for the fridge, getting a Mountain Dew for herself. "I'd think if you were going to drink, that it would be better for someone to stay sober and take you to your bed if needed." She raises her eyebrows. "Anyway, what would you like?"
Martin Grace laughs. "I'm a big enough boy to find my own bed. Got any Dr. Pepper?"
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms and digs into the fridge a little more, pulling a bottle out. "Certainly. And as for finding your own bed…" she grins a little more, looking back and up at you. "Doesn't that depend on how drunk you get?"
Martin Grace moves in to take the bottle, pops off the top. "I try not to get that drunk. And you're being cute, and you should stop that, because it's very distracting, frankly, as much as it's one of the perks around here." He drains a swig of Dr. Pepper. "And that made me sound like a real ass, and I'm sorry about that."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and pokes you in the stomach lightly. "Don't worry about it. I don't mind. I certainly deserve to be teased back anyway, for teasing you."
Martin Grace says, "Yeah, but, see, firstly, I only go where I'm invited, and secondly, when you're my size, flirting is often perceived as creepy stalking." He looks down at his stomach, where you poked him. Then back up. "But I'll bear it in mind."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little more. "Mostly for people who don't know you, though. I know you well enough to know that it isn't." She leans back against the counter then, drinking from her Dew.
Martin Grace settles for enjoying the view as you do that, leaning back against the opposite counter. And then just shakes his head. "It *does* make me feel like a lech, though. I mean, criminy." He takes a long swig of soda. "And I think if the men on this ranch took any more cold showers, we'd somehow break the laws of physics and run out of *cold* water."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and shakes her head a bit. "I'm not exactly worried about roaming hands from people who haven't taken enough cold showers. Except maybe for Briggs. Not entire sure what to make of him yet."
Martin Grace laughs. "'Not exactly worried'. Yeah, I suppose. Heather's very protective. Come to think of it…" A long swig of soda. "…is she on active duty, or is she detached to work with the Resistance? I mean, if necessary, can we expect active reinforcements?"
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms a little and scratches her head. "I think she's on detached duty to work with us, for the moment. I doubt if we'll get much in the line of personnel. They'll offer equipment to a good extent, but not people."
Martin Grace looks impressed, regardless. "I've fired an RPG or two, Elizabeth. If she can get us a few of those, we're in business."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit and nods. "Well, then I'll see if we can't get you one the next time we go up for some supplies."
Martin Grace nods. "And as for Briggs, don't you worry. Unlike Heather, I'll leave him in one piece if he tries something funny. But he won't enjoy it." He raises the half-empty soda bottle in a belated "Cheers."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and rolls her eyes, nodding. "Cheers. And if he tries something towards me, well…" she smiles and shrugs a bit. "I'm easily capable of defending myself, through any means necessary."
Martin Grace says, "I know. I know. I don't mean to get all patriarchal, either. That certainly would be hypocritical, given what we've been talking about." A momentary sheepish look. "But fortunately, *I've* had a cold shower recently."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs and shakes her head, slipping up next to you on your counter. "It's okay…"
Martin Grace raises an eyebrow. "That's a pretty loaded statement, when sidling up like that."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit and shrugs. "Yeah, I suppose it is. I shouldn't be quite like that either, since I already have a girlfriend to be with."
Martin Grace says, "Yeah, so we gathered. And it'd be hard to keep a secret like that. Don't think I'm not *incredibly* flattered in that special little way by the fact that you sidled over here next to me, either. I am. And another cold shower will be on the menu soon."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit and blushes just slightly. "Sorry… didn't mean to provoke you into needing that." She grins a little and looks up at you for just a moment, then laughs again.
Martin Grace looks confused now, as if trying to figure out what's so funny, in that 'should I be offended?' way.
Elizabeth Maxwell keeps smiling quietly, just laughing and shaking her head slightly. "Sorry. I'm really getting silly by now. Natural response to stress, or somesuch."
Martin Grace says, "And I'm making this flirting more stressful than it needs to be by thinking about it." He nods. Takes a swig of Dr. Pepper. "For what it's worth, I almost kept my mouth shut when you moved over here. And you're blushing again."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and shrugs. "Oh, you're not the cause of it. Just that the stress is there, so I'm trying to relax until I need to worry about it." She takes another drink, glancing over at the fridge a little bit and hmming softly.
Martin Grace reaches over and squeezes your shoulder, once. The only contact since the whole conversation started. "Still sorry." Then his hand comes back down to his side.
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles, and pats your arm gently, taking it. Then she sighs just a little. "You heard about what's going on lately, right?"
Martin Grace raises the held arm slightly in the way that one does when offering to loop it around someone. "Not the details, no."
Elizabeth Maxwell sighs a little and nods. "Oh. Probably not entirely my place to tell you, but…" She considers. "Well, if you saw the TV lately, they have Mike's kid again. Since they want me in exchange, the best option is… a little on the risky side. Enough to leave me worried about it, just a little."
Martin Grace still holds his arm up. Nods. "What are we doing, then?"
Elizabeth Maxwell shakes her head a little bit. "Final decision hasn't been made, but since they likely know what I look like, they won't agree to a dark tunnel exchange, even if Mike thinks they will. We'd just have to get Sean across halfway… I'm just too afraid that a fake would be seen through, and it would erupt into a firefight on the spot. We want a firefight, but at the time /we/ pick, when they can't make a run to get the kid. Which… puts me in the position of being the easiest target, while I'm shooting and trying to pull back."
Martin Grace says, "*Have* they named an exchange site yet?" He pulls his arm back down, without shaking your light grip off. "Or are they waiting on that?"
Elizabeth Maxwell shakes her head. "there hasn't even been an exchange agreed to yet. They just made the demand at this point."
Martin Grace says, "Yeah, I can see why you're stress. I presume Heather's off scouting appropriate locations for something we can turn to our advantage."
Elizabeth Maxwell sighs a little bit. "Heather doesn't want me anywhere near it. It's going to be a fight regardless. I would rather not have to be the one to say 'I told you so' if it flops, and they shoot Sean. Or attack straight off, where we might lose even more people."
Martin Grace nods. "Wow, yea, that does put my libido in perspective, doesn't it?" He finishes his Dr. Pepper. And then pushes away to stir the pieces of chicken in the saucepan. "Maybe see if we can do a stealth hit-and-run on some of their rear guard as they set up, and plant our own men in Lizard uniforms on the perimeter?"
Elizabeth Maxwell sighs and shakes her head. "there won't be enough, and it would be caught too easily."
Martin Grace says, "Maybe set the requirement that they take you *and* someone else, so at least you're not alone and have a better chance of fighting your way out?"
Elizabeth Maxwell shakes her head. "I'm the only one they want. And Mike would rather leave 'protecting me' on other people's tombstones than allow it to happen."
Martin Grace says, "Well, hell, I'm stumped." He stirs the chicken a bit. "But then, I'm just a grunt."
Elizabeth Maxwell sighs a little bit and nods. "Even what I'm proposing is a major risk. But it seems the most likely one to get Sean back without being dragged off and tossed into the conversion chamber right after." Martin Grace says, "Will the conversion chamber work on you?"
Elizabeth Maxwell shrugs a little bit. "If I'm trapped up there long enough and she has enough chance to mess with the settings, if it didn't work the first time she eventually might figure out how to make it work. Unless I could fake a success, after the first failure. Would be really dangerous…"
Martin Grace says, "Yeah. And depressing. I *am* sorry." He stirs a bit more. "Alright." He motions. "Hand me that slotted spoon."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles just a little and shrugs. "Well, depressing, but probably plan B if anything goes wrong." she gets the spoon and hands it over.
Martin Grace takes the spoon, pulls the chicken slowly from the still lightly simmering mixture of oil and broth. "Okay, grab a knife and fork and start tearing the meat from the bone while I start cooking up the vegetables." Clearly he's putting her to work to stop the depressing line of thought. Big man not subtle. Rar.
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit, getting the knife and fork as told, starting to tear the meat away carefully. "Right…" She keeps peeling at it. "hmm, the chicken smells good." She smiles a little bit.
Martin Grace says, "Yeah. It'll smell even better, soon." He throws in the mixed chopped onions and peppers. "As soon as these get tender, I'll mix in the tomato and raisins, and then the cucumber, tomato paste, and breadcrumbs. Once that's all cooked, the shredded chicken meat simmers a bit while we dry off the cheese and then we stuff it."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little and nods, continuing to strip the chicken off, until the bones are left by themselves. "Okay then…" she starts trying to shred the chicken properly.
Martin Grace says, "Then we use the bones for some voodoo to make us feel better." He looks around as if he's just revealed a Dark Secret, all shifty-eyed. "I might be kidding."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs just a little and rolls her eyes. "Uh… huh." She keeps working on the chicken, till she has it shredded properly, then slips over to the sink and cleans her hands off quickly under the faucet with soap.
Martin Grace starts to make the magic happen, and then, a few minutes later, tucks the stuffed cheese wheel into a lined dutch oven. "In about another 30 minutes or so, that should be wonderful." He moves to re-wash his own hands. "Want another soda?"
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit and watches, nodding a bit. "that's good…." She smiles, opening the fridge. "sounds like an idea. I'll get you another one as well…"
Martin Grace says, "Bah, and here I was going to be a gentleman and fetch them."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles and shakes her head a little, offering another Dr. Pepper. "Sorry, not this time." She glances back in the fridge and hmsm a moment, before closing it.
Martin Grace says, "Problem?"
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles and shakes her head. "Not really. Just smelling food and getting more hungry for it."
Martin Grace laughs. "Well, it's gonna be half an hour. You want to go fetch some of the others to start setting the table while we wait?" He pops open the soda.
Elizabeth Maxwell hmms a little and smiles. "Might be a good idea… If its gonna take a half hour though, wouldn't need it quite yet." Martin Grace says, "You've clearly not tried herding this group to dinner very much."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit. "I guess not. I guess I assumed that they'd all come running when the idea of food was mentioned. Most people do…"
Heather O'Leary arrives from Dining Room.
Elizabeth Maxwell and Martin are hanging around the kitchen, essentially working on fixing something to eat for the house overall.
Heather O'Leary sniffs the air, following her nose from the Bedroom to the Kitchen, "Something smells good…."
Martin Grace says, "Back off, you. It's not done yet." He's leaning against a counter, sipping from a Dr. Pepper. "It's a wheel of gouda, stuffed with minced chicken and vegetables and raisins and dates, and now it's baking to a semi-soft consistency around the stuffing. 'Keshy' is the one word short name for it — the guy that taught me how to make it gave up on teaching me the whole phrase."
Heather O'Leary smiles, "Well, how long til I can help devour it? And pass me a D.P., Martin." She winks.
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit at Heather. "A half hour or just under." She slips into the fridge and gets Heather a DP. "Here you go…"
Martin Grace says, "It'll be ready in, oh, about, …. 20 minutes?" He checks a clock to confirm. "Maybe 15."
Heather O'Leary takes the Dr Pepper and opens it. Sipping it lightly.
Martin Grace says, "Anyway, Elizabeth was telling me what a bad situation we're in with the exchange thing. As the chef for the evening, I'm declaring it an off-limits dinner subject. Let's have a pleasant dinner with much gooey feasting, okay?"
Elizabeth Maxwell glances over at Heather at the mention in front of her, frowning but not saying anything.
Heather O'Leary shrugs slightly, "Whatever Martin. I'll not bring it over dinner…." She looks at Elizabeth, and just sighs, knowing they are having a small disagreement, or it a real fight?
Martin Grace looks back and forth between the two of them. "Did I say something wrong? It's just that we've already been discussing it long enough to be freakin' depressing." He drains some more of the soda, then starts the kitchen cleanup.
Elizabeth Maxwell just sighs and shakes her head. "No, you didn't say anything wrong…" She closes her eyes softly.
Heather O'Leary shrugs, "No worries Martin, Small Disagreement that will work itself out." It better, sleeping on the floor kinda sucks.
Martin Grace says, "You both want to start setting the table while I gather the usual suspects?"
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit. "I've… already started trying to work the disagreement out, through other channels. And sure, I will, anyway…"
Heather O'Leary nods, and moves to get the plates down. She carries the plates towards the Dining Room, "Or did we want to eat at the counters? Either way works for me."
Elizabeth Maxwell shrugs a little bit. "It… doesn't really matter to me, either way. Whichever, I guess."
Martin Grace says, "Up to you all. I'm just the chef."
Heather O'Leary shrugs herself, than carries the plates into the Dining Room. She sighs softly, o O (If this keeps up, I may have to borrow a couch tonight…)
Heather O'Leary moves to the Dining Room .
You go to Dining Room.
Elizabeth Maxwell slips out behind Heather, taking silverware and glasses for the table, starting to quietly set them up, just watching as she does.
Heather O'Leary starts placing the plates around the table, maybe anticipating a few more arrivals when the smell permeate through the entire House.
Elizabeth Maxwell goes around twice really. Once to set the silverware, then again to make sure its straight in any place she put it on before the plates were down. She checks the glasses and silverware a she sets them down, to make sure they don't have water spots or anything else on them, trying to concentrate on that.
Heather O'Leary looks at Elizabeth and says, "Liz…." She stops, and shakes her head, not sure what to say. She instead moves and inspects the Living Room from a short distance.
Elizabeth Maxwell sighs a little bit, and glances up, nodding a little bit.
Heather O'Leary asks softly, "How long?" How long til what? They can talk? How long until they stop this fight? How long until Liz forgives her? Could be alot of things she is asking.
Elizabeth Maxwell shrugs slightly. "If you wish to talk about it, I suppose it can be now. If there's enough time before the food is done."
Heather O'Leary shakes her head, "I don't think I want to discuss it in front of everyone else…." She sighs, "Maybe instead of eating, I'll just go outside, so you don't have to not enjoy your meal, with me around."
Elizabeth Maxwell shakes her head in return. "we could go to our room, then. And I'll enjoy my meal just fine with you around. Don't avoid supper for that."
Heather O'Leary shrugs slightly and says, "And say what? I don't want you to get hurt? You know that… I don't want them getting their scaly paws on you? You know that…"
Elizabeth Maxwell glances over and shakes her head. "They're not going to go for a dark tunnel swap again. And I'd rather not have people dying in the name of protecting me. Especially not you. I could never live with that."
Heather O'Leary arches an eyebrow, "Has Diana already turned down the tunnel? Even if they don't go for it… we will find another way. We can not turn you over to them, even if it means that we try something else…."
Elizabeth Maxwell sighs and shakes her head. "I'd only have to get to halfway, to 'check' Sean, and get a hard grab on him."
Heather O'Leary nods, "I could accept that… Probably would be better to have me up in the Harrier to make sure they can't run down the tunnel after you… A Maverick to seal off the tunnel, after a Maverick to their escape Vehicle… But that is only if they go for the Tunnel Exchange… Beyond that, I don't know."
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit. "If they don't, keep the Harrier hidden, and on ready-standby, then its just a matter of making certain that they don't have any snipers 'watching'. Know a way to fix a rope so it would look like someone's hands were tied, when they weren't?"
Heather O'Leary nods slightly, "Fairly easy, all in all…" She shrugs, "Mind you, If you were thinking of trying to do something like walk up to Diana, with falsely tied hands, and than shoot her, you do know that you would be dying for something that won't do a lot of good… Killing Diana wouldn't solve the Problems of the world…."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little bit. "Not 'walking up', more like 'covering my retreat' after grabbing Sean. Especially since she'd never believe that I'd actually do it, and work nice as a glaring response to her wanting me to be one of them. So I'd still be shooting at her. Just not from up close."
Heather O'Leary nods slightly, "We'll have to wait to hear from Mike… But Liz, I don't want you to even consider actually trading yourself… Please?"
Elizabeth Maxwell shakes her head. "you think I want to go up there and get thrown in the conversion chamber a few times? No thanks. And as for walking up and trying to kill Diana…" She sighs a little. "Until we can get rid of /all/ of them… it pains me to say this, but its better to have someone overly arrogant and exploitable trying to push them around. Rather than risk someone hard-line military being put in, in her stead." She pauses. "And I've already talked to Mike about it."
Heather O'Leary arches an eyebrow, "Oh?"
Martin Grace arrives from Kitchen.
Elizabeth Maxwell raises her eyebrows. "He was concerned that you and a few others might object to it. I admit, having to withdraw from halfway between the two groups while under fire is going to be a vulnerable spot… but its one that'll work best. The trade would, of course, have to be made at a close enough range where everyone would be recognizable…"
Martin Grace comes out of the kitchen, holding the bubbly wheel of half-melted baked cheese, from one or two cracks in which can be seen the stuffing of minced chicken, veggies, raisins, and dates. It's about the size of six medium pizza pies stacked atop each other, but soft and therefore 'gooshy'. "Alright, stand back, this thing is still pretty hot."
Heather O'Leary looks over at Martin, as he comes in, and mentions to Liz, "We'll finish this later…" She turns to look at the food, smiling.
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and nods. "Yeah, pre-mission planning can wait. Food first, definitely." She grins a little, slipping up and wrapping her arms around Heather gently. "So, gonna sit next to me?"
Heather O'Leary smiles and nods, returning the hug, as she moves to a seat, with another one next to it…
What is that wonderful Smell? Maybe someone just made dinner! Want to find out, Follow your Nose! Go to the Dining Room, or mayhaps the Kitchen
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles, slipping an arm around Heather as she sits, and snuggling gently.
Heather O'Leary whispers "I Love you…"
Heather O'Leary senses "Elizabeth Maxwell smiles and snuggles gently. "I love you too.""
Martin Grace doesn't yet sit. He grabs a big spatula-cutter, and begins to cut slices of the gooey mass.
Heather O'Leary looks at martin, Smiling, "Still smells good… Serve it up, eh?"
Martin Grace scoops up some of it. "You'll pardon if I don't do an outrageous French accent while I serve." He begins to place slices of the meal on plates.
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles, looking up at the food and laughing. "I don't mind…" She smiles as the food is set on her plate, picking up her silverware and getting to ready to eat as quickly as politely possible.
Heather O'Leary chuckles, "Well, I have had bad experience with french chefs, so if you can do Cajun, I'll forgive ya."
Martin Grace says, "My French-related experience is in Caribbean influenced-stuff, a little Moroccan. Blame the years at sea."
Michael Donovan arrives from Foyer. Michael Donovan has arrived.
Heather O'Leary nods, "Sounds like fun…" She picks up her fork, and tastes the concoction made by Martin, "Interesting flavor combination…." She remarks, after tasting it.
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles, taking a bite herself, and quickly getting another. "Tastes really good."
Martin Grace laughs. "Thanks. Like I said earlier, it helps to know how not to starve." He raps his knuckles on the table once. "I'll go fetch the stragglers and be back in a bit."
On the subject of stragglers, Donovan pokes his head into the room as though he followed his nose in order to find the place. "Did I miss dinner already?" he asks.
Heather O'Leary chuckles at Mike, "Not yet, but if you are not careful…."
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and nods, smiling to Martin. "hope to see you soon. And the stragglers as well. I'll try to keep anyone, mostly myself, from eating it all before that."
Heather O'Leary chuckles, "Good luck, Liz… *I* might eat another helping. Gotta refuel after a four mile run, followed by a two hour session downstairs…" Seems she is training harder lately… wonder why.
Michael Donovan promptly plunks himself down in an empty chair. "So, what's on the menu tonight and why does it smell so darn good?" Martin Grace says, "Good. Enjoy. Try not to get cheese all over the place. Back shortly."
It's a wheel of gouda, stuffed with minced chicken and vegetables and raisins and dates, and now it's baking to a semi-soft consistency around the stuffing. At least, that is what Martin said it was….
Elizabeth Maxwell keeps eating hers as quickly as politeness will allow. "Hmm. Pushing your workouts harder honey? I probably better not have seconds, for myself. I haven't done anything to work it off."
Heather O'Leary nods slightly, "Figure if I am going to be more into the Ground Fighting, like this group does, I had better be in shape for it… Not to mention, the embarrassment of Heat Exhaustion…" She is not even being polite in her slowness, she is wolfing down the first helping she was given.
Michael Donovan helps himself to a portion, not seeming put off for not immediately recognizing what it was. During his more journalistically-inclined days, there were quite a few things that he'd wolfed down without asking or knowing the list of ingredients. Fortunately, Martin's culinary contribution doesn't seem to include insects or obscure body parts of otherwise edible animals, so he digs in without reservation.
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles at Heather, snuggling her softly with one arm, continuing to eat down with the other. "I suppose so… You're in good shape as you are already, though…" She raises her eyebrows a little, taking another bite.
Heather O'Leary nods, "I know my shape…" Well, she does, "But I haven't spent a lot of time getting ready to shoot things recently. A Little practice with the M-16 the other night, a little practice while fighting, when we took on the Visitors, but I am not accurate enough yet, I don't think."
Michael Donovan is polite enough to say the next between mouthfuls, "Well, you handle yourself pretty well, especially given that a lot of the people here started out with even less ground fighting experience than you did."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit and nods. "Yeah, especially me." She laughs a little bit, and raises her eyebrows at Heather then. "I know your shape as well…" she pauses and laughs a little. "that's why I mentioned it."
Heather O'Leary smirks, "Well, you have to understand how it was growing up. Dad was an Ex-SEAL… He made me and Talos into little molds of himself…" She eats some more, than continues, "I learned at a young age that if I wanted my father's respect, that I had to get it by fighting for it. So… I became a SEAL, without the school. Talos was lucky enough to know he could get the schooling, and he did… me, I had to do it the hard way, so I suppose, that is why I want to be better than I am, because I know what I am supposed to strive for… A Little Corny, I suppose, to blame my father…."
Michael Donovan shrugs lightly at that, his tone a little on the knowing side as he replies, "It's not that uncommon. I used to blame mine for a lot of things too…"
Elizabeth Maxwell laughs a little and shakes her head, rolling her eyes slightly. "I blame mine for everything. He's just lucky that Robin got to him first. I'm sure Ham would have had a much longer and more entertaining end in mind for him."
Heather O'Leary glances at Mike, not sure what exactly Liz is speaking about. She and Liz haven't really spoken much about Brian, or what happened back than. Heather knows some of it, purely from outside sources, no one that was there….
Michael Donovan grits his teeth slightly at that, "Well, considering that Ham wanted to test the dust on -Willie- first, I can't say I doubt that…" The nausea that would normally accompany the thoughts of what Ham Tyler is capable of doesn't seem to be deterring Mike's appetite any.
Elizabeth Maxwell shivers a little, then shrugs. "Just the joy of working with a self-acknowledged asshole, is it not? He's mellowed out lately just enough that I'm worried he's going soft. Still… if he'd had an entertaining end in mind, I would have volunteered to help. Instead of someone having the excuse to drag me off and try turning me in as a desperate peace bid, claiming they thought she might kill me next."
Heather O'Leary frowns, and remains quiet, reaching for a second helping of the food, before the average person would be halfway through their first. She sighs softly, as she is able to secure the serving Spoon, and fills her plate a second time. Maybe a late night jog around the pasture to burn off the calories….
Michael Donovan takes a deep sigh at that, the 'desperate peace bid' in question being part of why he's so hesitant to turn the 'starring role' of the upcoming hostage exchange over to Elizabeth. "Father Andrew had the best intentions, he just forgot that that's what the road to Hell is paved with."
Elizabeth Maxwell nods a little bit. "Oftentimes. It just depends on what the best intentions entail, in terms of actual planning. An act of desperation won't work. What I proposed to you last night, for example, is not a desperation act, but a full scale plan, involving exchange of fire. Much more useful." She wraps both arms around Heather's waist then, snuggling her tightly. "Sorry, honey. I'll stop talking about bad things during dinner. Didn't mean to upset you."
Heather O'Leary nods slightly, "You did promise Martin no Battle Plans discussions at dinner tonight…" She winks, than says to Mike, herself breaking the promise, "However, since it has been brought up, if they agree to the tunnel exchange, I think letting her go into the tunnel would be acceptable… better for me to be in the Harrier, or a Skyfighter, and drop the Visitor end of the tunnel, to provide cover for her and Sean…."
Michael Donovan nods in agreement with Heather, "I was thinking that you might be more useful in the air. Maybe take a run at their transport if you get the chance…" He seems a bit more agreeable to the idea of Elizabeth's direct involvement now that he sees Heather's support of the idea.
Heather O'Leary smiles, "Have to be in the Harrier than… A Maverick to the Mountain, followed by another to their Transport…. That would keep them on the ground while allowing us to get the hell out of dodge…." She is offering her support to Liz, mainly because you can not wrap a fighting spirit up in Bubblewrap, and keep them safe, without killing them inside.
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles and stretches out a little bit. "Just make sure I'm a little closer to our end when you shoot the mountain? Suggest you get a signal from below for it. In case the firefight gets a little hairy."
Heather O'Leary nods, "Oh, I imagine I can do that, while strafing the Snakes…."
Michael Donovan half-smirks a little grimly, "Sounds like we've got the making of a party, then. How much time do you need to get the plane up to spec?"
Heather O'Leary chuckles, "Already done… I learned how to fix those things a long time ago. Give me a day to fly it to the Dust Zone to get a Missile loadout of Mavericks and Sidewinders, and to get back… I can be ready with about 15 hours notice."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little bit at Heather and snuggles gently. "sounds like a plan then. Just need to set it up, now."
Michael Donovan nods once. "I'll call them up to arrange the meeting then. I'll let you know if there's a change of plans."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles a little and settles back. "Okay then. We're all good." She smiles at Heather a little. "So, want any company with you, to refill the plane? Or you want to go alone?"
Heather O'Leary shrugs slightly, "Might be best if I have company. That way, I have an excuse not to let them have it back… Some Base CO's might not like it… and even with the Presidential order out there, to assist me, they might make trouble… with someone else along, I can make it look like a training mission easier."
Elizabeth Maxwell smiles and snuggles tightly. "Okay then."