(1939-10-27) When A Highbrow Meets A Lowbrow
Details for When A Highbrow Meets A Lowbrow
Summary: Faulkner invites Rena out for a rather high-toned night on the town at the opera.
Date: 1939/10/27
Location: Royal Opera House
Related: A Gentleman and a Scholar

Flight Lieutenant Charles "Birdie" Faulkner is, it seems, prompt in arriving for his opera 'date' with 'Miss Lee'. Because the most formal RAF uniform - mess dress - has been discontinued for the duration of the war, he wears his regular service dress, though it appears to be bespoke, rather than off the rack, and is clearly his best dress, his row of ribbons neatly ordered, the wings a slightly gleaming bullion, the fabric fine, and the cut accentuating his broad shoulders and narrow hips. He has his service cap tucked under his arm as he comes downstairs from the room he's rented for the evening in a very nice hotel, his highly polished shoes clicking on the marble lobby tile, and his overcoat jauntily resting only over his shoulders, hanging like a cape.

Because he's the one "coming in from out of town" (if only he knew), they've agreed to meet in the lobby. He finds a place in a quiet but visible spot, pulls out his cigarette case, and waits for Miss Irene Lee's arrival.

Faulkner might need a moment to recognize Rena when she does arrive. For one thing, her gleaming red hair is no longer pinned up in her typical way. For tonight, she has a much more current style, and it hangs down to her shoulders in pretty waves that end in loose curls. For another thing, she is wearing a deep blue evening gown with a floor length skirt that swishes lightly around her feet as she walks. The bodice is of a strapless cut, but her pale shoulders are covered by fine, matching lace. Cunning little capped sleeves are gathered high on her arms; and her slim hands are covered by evening gloves.
"Birdie!" Rena exclaims, sweeping across the lobby with a bright smile. "Don't you look marvelous?"

True, the times Rena has seen Faulkner he's been wearing a far more informal uniform. Upon seeing her, he puts out his cigarette, then approaches her to take her hand and bend over it again as he did last time, but then rather boldly offers her a more European near-kiss of each cheek. "How lovely to see you again, Rena, dear. Shall we?" He offers his arm to her to lead her back outside, getting the doorman to hail them one of London's famous black cabs - one of the few forms of motor transportation still operating. The doorman opens the cab door for her, but Faulkner helps her in before moving around to the other side and instructing the driver, "Covent Garden, please."

"Roight ya'r, guv." the bald driver in a newsboy flat cap says, nodding, and soon they are moving through London's darkened streets towards the Royal Opera House.

If only Birdie knew that the sparkling in Rena's dark eyes came from the endless amusement she finds in being treated like such a proper lady. As if she belonged to the upper classes of society and not the gutters and dregs in which she grew up. No one has ever made her feel the part of a lady more.
Slipping her arm through his, the elegant little redhead must look terribly smart on the arm of such a distinguished pilot in his unform. Small wonder the pair draws some interested stares as they leave the hotel and step out into the night. Gracefully, she slides onto the cab seat and daintily smoothes her skirt while Faulkner moves around to the other side to join her. Once he has done so and the cab begins to move, Rena looks over to her companion with great interest. "I'm afraid I don't know what any of those ribbons and marks on your jacket mean. I wish I did, though. You didn't tell me you were a decorated war hero," she half-teases.

"Oh, hardly decorated, really." Faulkner explains - because that's in his nature - that the stripes on his sleeve are rank, and then what the ribbons are - two for service in the Great War, commonly called 'pip' and 'squeak', another for service in Palestine after the war, and then the Croix de Guerre from France. The little palm on his Victory Medal means he was mentioned in the dispatches - he tells her she really doesn't want to hear the story of how that happened. All that patter kills most of the time en-route to the theatre, but as they pull up before the darkened Opera House, he turns to her and says, "I've been remiss… the /first/ thing I should have said was how lovely you look tonight." He smiles, and adds, gently, "Few men could be so fortunate as to have such a proper lady on his arm." He gives her a little wink, then a reassuring pat on the hand, as if suspecting she might be a bit anxious.

As they ride to their destination, Faulkner might easily guess that Rena is once more his captive audience while he explains the parts of his uniform. Occasionally, when a little flicker of light enters the cab, he can probably catch a glimpse of her keen interest.
The pat on her hand is much appreciated. Rena is quite anxious, truth be told. Fortunately, they are going into a place where she cannot talk at random as she often does when she happens to feel anxiety coming on. If it weren't for that, the unfortunate man might have had the intricacies of sneaking into a posh theatre with ones' girlfriends explained in great detail. But, for the moment, Faulkner is saved.
Blushing quite deeply, Rena's appreciative smile is just barely visible in the dimness. "Oh, g'on with you," she says with a faint laugh. "You're going to spoil me with your compliments, Birdie.

Faulkner laughs gently as she tells him to 'g'awn'. "Well, it's the truth. You look smashing." The cabbie announces that they've arrived - "'ere y'ah, guv!" - and Faulkner steps out of the car and lets Rena out, helping her to the kerb before he turns around and pays the driver from his coinpurse. Fixing his hat at the appropriate angle and adjusting the position of his overcoat on his shoulders, he offers his arm and slowly leads her up the steps and into the grand lobby. Whatever insight he seems to have, after their tickets are taken at the door he stops in the center of the massive entrance hall and lets Rena have a moment to drink it all in - her first time at the opera as a proper lady and all. Another little reassuring pat of her hand with his opposite one, and he takes their coats to check.

Rena may look in-place, but never before has she felt so utterly out of her element… well, with the exception of being inside of a certain aristocratic Wizarding family's house that might just as well be a museum.
Standing there in the midst of the elegance and grandeur, the young woman seems to feel her smallness in the face of it all quite keenly. "Coooor…" she breathes out softly - almost inaudibly - as her eyes sweep the room and the crowd. Checking herself before long, she realizes that she's been standing there with her lips slightly parted in awe. Her mouth snaps shut, and she finds herself almost instinctively inching her way back over to Faulkner. Even Rena Bold-As-A-Brass-Monkey Lee can lapse into timidity and shyness. Thankfully, Faulkner is a reliable safety-net to fall back on. Nothing like a gentleman in uniform to instill a sense of confidence.

Coats checked, opera glasses and libretti obtained, and a few minutes to spare before curtain, so Faulkner takes her to the bar behind their row of boxes and gets two small drinks. He keeps his voice down, and leans in as he says, "A bit of sherry to calm your nerves." he says, then smiles brightly, "You'd think that you were singing." Whoever the friend who gave him the tickets was, he's got connections - or maybe attendance is down. They have one of the boxes in a middle tier of the 'horseshoe', on stage left. Still, a wonderful place to listen from. He touches his glass to hers, says, "To proper ladies." and then drinks it down before taking her over to their box and the seats inside, a few minutes before the curtain is to rise.

"You mean there's a bar in these opera 'ouses?" Rena asks of Faulkner as they approach it, keeping her voice low and guarded. Will wonders never cease? She continues to be amazed by everything, here. Perhaps the girl from Wapping on the waterfront is showing through the facade of decorum, after all.
Acceptng the glass of Sherry, the redhead smiles a bit ruefully at his remark about her nerves: "You've got to understand, though. Girls like me are never supposed to find their way to places like this. Oh, I've managed to climb up from where I started a bit - but… still, I never thought I'd be //here." But still, she does raise her glass to meet his lightly before drinking to his toast. That sparkling mirth returns to her eyes as they set the glasses aside and go to take their seats.
Still fascinated by her surroundings, Rena leans forward and gazes down on the audience filling the lower part of the theatre. Occasionally, a glance darts to the orchestra pit, and then further to the curtains concealing the stage. "It's all so grand…"

The chairs are regular - though velvet padded and reasonably comfy - chairs, and so Faulkner pulls her out for her and then pushes it back forward after she sits, then takes his own seat next to her. "Well, yes, Rena. It's obvious you've come a long way in the world. I mean - you talk about being a showgirl, but you're not one anymore, and even if you were, what's wrong with that?" He gives her a little shrug, and then says, "And everyone should get to have a little bit of things like this in their lives. What use is having great musical and artistic heritage if no one gets to appreciate it?"

Faulkner quiets as the orchestra finishes tuning and gives a final, long note. Then, the house lights go down…

The curtain opens into the opening act of the Opera. The setting of Violetta's house is shown, and the actors take their places. The leading soprano, of course, playing the young courtesan dying of consumption. Alfredo, the leading tenor, the man very much in love with her. The baron, sung in a rich baritone. Alfredo and Violetta sing their duet, ' Un d, felice, eterea'. Faulkner watches throug his opera glasses, making sure that Rena can work hers as well, and drinks it all in.

No, Rena is not a showgirl anymore… There is a moment in which her glance drifts uncomfortably askance, and her expression falls. Fortunately, she's quick to recover it, and she merely smiles. Even if the expression is subdued, the opening of the curtains and the dimming of the lights come to her rescue, just in the nick of time.
Completely and utterly enraptured by the performance taking place on stage, the little redhead seems to be quite lost to the real world as the story unfolds. Of course, for her, the language is an issue. She can't understand a single word of the lyrics. But, where words fail, body language and acting seem to help her to muddle through. There is no mistaking the hint of distress painting her features as Violetta struggles poignantly with her illness.
When the curtains close on act I, it takes Rena a moment to snap out of it and return to reality so that she can join in the applause of the crowd.

Faulkner seems to notice something in Rena's expression, though he didn't get much of a chance before the lights went down. He reaches over and squeezes her hand reassuringly again, but then drops his hand more politely back onto his own chair as they watch and listen. The performance is of the highest quality, as one would expect, and Faulkner applauds lustily as the first act ends. "Are you enjoying yourself?" he asks. If she hasn't made use of the libretto yet, he indicates where it discusses the plot of the act they've just seen, and the meanings of some of the songs.

"Oh, yes!" Rena replies breathlessly to Faulkner's question. She turns in her seat to face him more fully, and he can plainly see that the bright smile has returned in all its sunshiny glory. Once the applause comes to an end, her hands remain clasped together for a moment or two longer before dropping slowly to her lap. Her gaze moves to the libretto as Faulkner points out that it does actually demystify things a fair bit by explaining each act of the opera. She has to laugh quietly at her own silliness, although she does naturally blush, as well. Good job blending in and showing how well you fit into these high-society gatherings, Rena… good job.
When the second act begins, Rena's expression changes again. A slight pang of… something. Guilt, perhaps? Violetta and Alberto are living together, quite happily in love, but most certainly not married. It's enough to make any proper lady blush!

Of course, after the first song, things are not destined to go well for Violetta and Alberto. He departs for Paris, and Giorgio, his father, arrives to tell Violetta she's not a worthy match. They are separated as the second scene begins, at the party. Misunderstood love, the possibility of a duel. Verdi knew how to keep it exciting. And he apparently was not so much of a prude as the censors would have liked. Maybe it's okay, because it's written in another language and takes place in the past.

Faulkner, for his part, is giving the opera his rapt and total attention. She can see his head move and his hand lift appreciatively with some of the music, tracing along with the conductor subtly, lifting his hand as they find and hit the high notes.

Still quite wrapped up in the story, and interested in the troubles that seem to endlessly plague Violetta and the unfortunate Alberto, Rena truly does seem to be enjoying herself. Of course, Giorgio brings out a bit of a scowl. She knows all too well what it's like to be told she isn't good enough for… well, a good many things and people. She gets it from two worlds though, instead of just one.
Despite the language barrier, she does well enough keeping up with the story by glancing at the useful libretto every so often. On one such occasion, she glances over and notices Faulkner's movements faintly. His enjoyment and deep appreciation for the music brings a sweet little smile to her lips, and she watches him, rather than the opera for a short length of time.
When the time comes for another act to close, the audience erupts with applause once more. Only when they begin to quiet does Rena lean a little toward Faulkner with a hint of sadness in her features. "Poor Violetta," she says with a sigh, genuinely moved by the other woman's plight. "'E didn't 'ave any call to do that to 'er at all…"

"The chorus certainly didn't think so. An illustration of the danger of accepting things as we think they are, instead of how they actually are, perhaps. When you hold onto something so tightly…" Faulkner says, speaking quietly during the entre'acte. There is perhaps a faint bit of pain of his own before he admits, "Or, as they say, we only really hurt the ones we love."

If Rena has found the story painful to this point, she will no doubt find the third act to be at least equally wrenching. The curtain opens with Violetta in her bedroom, getting the bad news from her doctor about the worsening of her consumption. The bittersweet letter from Giorgio - Alberto is on his way, but Violetta fears he will be too late. He is not, and they are reconciled, but only for her to die in the arms of her Alberto. Together at the end, but only for those few brief moments.

The curtain closes, and the applause is thunderous as the opera company makes its curtain calls.

We only hurt the ones we love. That statement seems to give Rena pause - far more than anything else Faulkner has ever said to her. It's a deep thought, and one that delves into the realms of conscience. She would never intentionally hurt anyone…
Once the story comes to its bitter-sweet, tragic ending, the young woman applauds with the rest of the audience once more; but, it's all been a bit much for her to handle. Moved to tears by the last moments of Violetta's life, a few glistening droplets overflow and run down her cheeks. Naturally, she begins to fumble in her small evening handbag for a handkerchief to dab them away before anyone can notice.

And there he is, always the gentleman, Faulkner presenting her with a clean, folded handkerchief to blot her eyes. "Here, Miss Lee, take this." Strange that he chooses this moment to exhibit such a level of formality with the way things have been going between them. He gives her a few moments to compose herself before he stands and stretches a bit, bouncing on his toes and fixing his tie and uniform blouse.

Rena couldn't appreciate the gesture more. Of course, she can only whisper her thanks at the moment. Hurriedly accepting the handkerchief, she sniffs lightly whilst dabbing at her eyes. Fortunately, she's not one to wear heavy makeup at all, and she isn't troubled overmuch by running mascara. However, she does take a moment to re-apply a little powder to her nose to refresh her face a bit before tucking things away in her purse.
Rising to her feet, Rena brushes down her skirt and gives it a little swish with her hand to be sure everything is in order. Then, smiling again, she says cheerfully: "There, all better, now."

Faulkner begins to escort her back out the way they came, then seems to get a thought. Stopping, he turns towards her a bit, "There's a dance hall not far from here that I know. Would you… like to go for a little bit?"

Rena's eyes practically light up. Faulkner's question takes her quite by surprise, and pleasantly so: "Dancing, really?" She asks excitedly, practically bouncing at the idea. Obviously, the little redhead's enthusiasm for the notion of dancing knows no bounds. Of course, it would have to be somewhat more sophisticated dancing than she's been used to - as a rule - with the long skirt she's wearing.
"I'd love to… that is, if you would, I mean." Rena checks herself quickly. Really, she needs to learn to curb herself a bit.

Faulkner grins, "I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want to." They can't exactly sprint away, with her in proper skirts, but soon they've reclaimed their outer garments and he's led her out onto the street. He stops at a flower girl on the way out and gets a flower, which he teasingly tucks behind Rena's ear, brushing her hair back, and then, arm in arm, leads her down the street a block or two to the darkened dance hall - well, it's light inside.

It's a swanky joint, with a decidedly 20s vibe. People in evening wear or uniform, a big band orchestra, a lot of couples dancing, round tables set with candles, and a plethora of martini glasses. After checking their coats (again!) he turns towards her and cocks his head towards the dance floor.

Could this evening get any better? Not by much, in Rena's estimation. And yet, Faulkner just keeps finding little ways to make everything more wonderful. For her part, the redhead can't stop smiling once he buys the flower and tucks it behind her ear. She looks positively adorable.
As unfamiliar as Rena was with the opera house, she is very familiar with places like this. Small wonder that she has the excited look of a girl who's made her way home.
Beaming, she joins Faulkner and allows him to lead the way onto the dance floor. Wonderful music fills the air, and Rena couldn't be closer to cloud nine if she were flying.

Faulkner takes her by the hand as they face each other on the dance floor, and with a smile beings to take the petite redhead for a spin around the floor. The band is playing music suitable for the foxtrot, and so he puts his hand on her upper back. Slow-slow-quick-quick they go - she unfortunately mostly moving backwards. It's a quickstep version, though, and soon they're having a grand time. Faulkner isn't the best dancer ever, truth be told, but he's good /enough/, and he manages a few underarm turns, dips, and lifts.

Faulkner is very much in luck with Rena. She's the kind of a girl one expects to exist within the silver screen in a cinema musical. It's not beyond or above her to break out into song at the drop of a hat - or to dance by herself. She could be with a man with two left feet, and it wouldn't trouble her greatly.
"Birdie," Rena says laughingly, "I bet you don't even know 'ow much fun you've given me tonight. Can't even remember the things I usually worry about right now. They're gone - just like that!" She adds, snapping her fingers.

"I'm very gratified to hear that." Faulkner says, with a bright laugh. Then the music turns to 'Sing Sing Sing', the drums hammering away, and the band switching into swing mode, and the Lieutenant, without even thinking about it, throws Rena out into a spin, and then pulls her back to set off dancing again. Can you jitterbug in a floor-length gown? Rena is about to find out, because this dance, her 'date' seems to know a lot better.

Rena gasps at the sudden change, finding herself spinning out, and then spinning back in to meet Faulkner once more. Her long skirt can't even begin to compensate for the rapid movements, and almost tangles itself around her legs before falling back into place. However, Rena laughs with delight. His question earns a rather impish smile in return: "We'll just 'ave to find out, won't we?" She asks.
With a quick snatch of her hand, she catches up her skirt on one side to help keep it out of the way. "We'll just improvise!"

Say what you will about those RAF chaps, but they keep in good shape, at least mostly, and Faulkner proves this time to be as energetic as a partner nearly twice Rena's age could be. She's spun, caught, lifted, sent over his back, and otherwise swing-danced along with the other girls in the club as those big band horns sound their brassy notes. There's even a bit of a throw in there before, as the music fades into an echo, they wind up belly to back with his arms around her waist.

Rena expected it to be fun, but she didn't expect to be swept up in such a whirlwind! Faulkner absolutely astounds her. She didn't think he'd be nearly so good as all that once they got started. He sweeps her off her feet - quite literally - and only when he reels her back in at the finish does she have a moment to begin to catch her breath. She's too winded to speak for a moment, but she does laugh, leaning back against Faulkner a moment before finally managing to say: "Cor! I thought you were supposed to be a 'boring' school teacher. Proved everyone wrong, you did."

"Well, I'm old, but I had one good dance in me." Faulkner chides her, and then they find a small table to have a break. He orders drinks, and pulls out a pack of cigarettes, offering one to her if she's so inclined - and lighting it for her if she is. He leans back a bit in the chair, "This has been a fun evening! Thank you."

"Old is it?" Rena chides Faulkner right back, shooting him a reproachful glance as she takes a seat. "Old, indeed! You and Guy - you're just as bad as one another, always making out that you're old as the 'ills and your days are numbered."
Rena smiles and shakes her head genially to decline the cigarette. In the meantime, she does what little she can to fix her hair. Good thing she wore it down. It would have ended up that way, regardless, after that workout. "Pleasure's all been mine, Birdie - and I mean that. I don't get much of a chance to get out and do things like this anymore."

The drinks are delivered - a martini for him and probably something sweeter for her, and he sits and looks at her as he smokes, then raises his glass, "Here's to a mutually pleasurable evening, then." He smiles and takes a bit sip, sighing in contentment. "Age is just a number, eh? And I can't believe nobody's willing to take you dancing. You can take me along whenever you like. Well, provided I can get liberty."

Something light, refreshing and ladylike - thank goodness a swanky place like this has drinks to fit just about any bill.
Rena raises the glass and toasts Faulkner before taking a sip of her drink. She closes her eyes and savors it for a long moment before taking another. She needs it quite badly.
A tired Rena is a loose-tongued Rena, unfortunately. "That's only 'alf the trouble. Really, it's more the job keeps me too busy for things like…" Realizing what she said, the young woman freezes. Think of a save - any save will do. Why isn't anything coming to her mind?

Seeing her foundering, Faulkner throws a life preserver, "Tut, it's against the rules to talk about work after hours, Miss Lee, you should know that. Oh, is that that new Glen Miller tune they're playing?" He makes it all happen so smoothly that she might not even realize how he's deflected any possible attention from her misstep, and he finishes his drink, and stubs out his cigarette, rising as "In the Mood" starts to play.

On the surface, Rena seems to be a sweet, uncomplicated and unpretentious little redhead who apparently made her way out of the East End and into the hearts of a few RAF men. But, there are secrets lurking under the exterior that are best left unknown. Thank heavens for Faulkner's incredible ability to mend just about any situation like a true gentleman.
Rena downs a little more of her drink to ease her nerves. Then, smiling with relief, she also rises to her feet: "Thanks, Birdie," she says gratefully, not specifying what she is thanking him for. "Just… thanks."

Faulkner waves a hand as she thanks him, "Really, no thanks are necessary, Rena, dear." He slips one of his hands into hers, the other around her waist. He takes it a bit easier this time - probably more for him than her, as the eventually famous brassy opening trumpets and trombones give way to smoother syncopation. As they dance, he says, "I just want you to know, I'm having a wonderful time, too. There's too little fun to be had these days."

"I'm awfully glad," Rena replies warmly. Her smile remains intact as she allows her glance to travel over the room full of dancing couples, and others seated at tables nearby: "It's so easy to forget about the War when you're inside a bright place like this… well, if you try a little. I'm afraid I 'ave a nasty 'abit of not being able to leave work and the war be'ind." The young woman admits, somewhat ruefully as her gaze drifts back to Faulkner.
How fortunate that the song is much easier to dance to than the last. Rena needn't focus so heavily on what she's doing with her feet this time around, and she can focus on her partner a little more. "You've no idea what a grand time it's been for me, tonight. I never met anyone like you, as I said before. Most upper-class gents like yourself always treat me like the third-class citizen I am. Thanks for making me feel like I don't just belong on the waterfront where I came from." She says with a light smirk.

Educated man that he is, Faulkner provides an appropriate quote for the situation, "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully. As Samuel Johnson put it. I don't know about a fortnight, but the prospect of combat means that I take my happy moments where I can find them. And life isn't even so bad for us, compared to the footsloggers." He and Rena swirl through with the other dancing couples - there are other men in uniform, though most of them much younger. A more expensive place, they do tend to be officers.

Faulkner actually looks a little put out when she talks about previous experiences, "Shameful - a poor reflection on them, not on you. My mother would have sent them off to bed without supper." He smiles, and says, "You're a very vivacious young woman, Irene Lee. But if you're concerned about impressing the finishing school girls and their beaus, I can have you sounding like you came out of the Institut Alpin Videmanette in no time." He lifts his arm and twirls her.

The idea of Faulkner (or any of the RAF boys, really) being hurt or killed in combat is a troubling one for Rena. Something she understands fully, but also something that she pushes to the back of her mind where it can't be found as a rule. She hates to think of losing any of them. And yet, maybe that's why she enjoys spending so much time with them, trying to make them happy now.
Faulkner brings her smile back when he speaks of what his mother would do to those naughty society boys for treating her so. She laughs softly, remarking: "Your mum sounds like a force to be reckoned with."
The offer made to teach her proper speaking and etiquette has an unusual effect on the little redhead. Everything seems to stop. Her feet freeze mid-twirl with her facing him from an arm's length away, and the look on her face is some strange mixture of mild panic and fright. "I… I couldn't," Rena says thinly, shaking her head. "He wouldn't stand for it." Slips out before she can stop it from getting through.

Faulkner steps forward and lifts his arm higher to bring her back towards him. God only knows what's going through his mind. Abusive relationship? Is she secretly a working girl? Is that the job she won't talk about? Who won't stand for it. But then, there's that whole thing he said about good manners putting other people at ease. So he puts his arm around her waist to lead her off the dance floor, and then puts his fingertips lightly on her cheek to turn her to look up at him. "That's fine, Rena - it was just an offer. But if there's anything wrong, or anything you need, you know that the boys and I are here for you. Anything you need." He leans in and gives her a peck on the cheek. "Now. You look like you need another drink. As for my mother - she was as loving a woman as one could ever ask to be raised by, but she wouldn't tolerate bad manners."

For a brief moment, a look of panic is so clearly written all over Rena's features. Inside, she struggles with the overwhelming inclination to just grab her handbag and make a dash for the door. Of course, that would be terribly Cinderella-ish of her, but she can't do that to Faulkner; not when he's been so kind to her.
He gently brings her gaze up to meet his, and his words seem to have the desired effect of calming her down. The tension slowly eases and melts away. Once more, Faulkner makes it unnecessary for her to explain herself or make excuses. How could she ever begin to explain the tangled up mess she's made of her life at home? Even if she tried, she couldn't. "Th-thank you…" she says, struggling to find her voice again, looking at the man with genuine trust. "I know I can depend on you."
They return to their table so that Rena can have another much-needed drink, and she is seated again with a faint sigh of relief. Faulkner speaks more of his mum, bringing a wistful smile to Rena's lips: "You're lucky, you are. I never 'ad a mum, one way or the other. I don't know that I missed it growing up, but I certainly miss it now."

No doubt there is a part of him that's burning to know what's behind the facade of the cute little former-showgirl whose made good doing something that she can't talk about. How bad can it possibly be? Well, he's no child, he knows the answer to any question like that. So, rather than ruin the evening, he just doesn't ask. Instead, he smiles when she says she can trust him, and then Faulkner sips a fresh martini as they sit, flicking a bit of invisible lint off the cuff of his tailored service dress blouse, "My father was the distant, high-expectations sort. He was working hard to send me to the best schools so that I could go to one of the best universities. Mother, on the other hand, was always ready with a hug or fresh cookies. She, of course, was very strong in her way, and was always there for us when we needed her… So, yes, my brother and I won the sweepstakes when it came to mothering."

Faulkner takes a long sip of his martini then, then plucks an olive - he orders his martinis with three - off the cocktail skewer and swallows it down. "I'd say that who we are is more important than where we came from, but the two are interrelated, aren't they?" He motions for another round.

Never before has Rena been so utterly grateful for a martini in her life. It is a welcome distraction, as well as a good kick in the backside to bolster her courage and inner resolve not to spoil things when they've been so wonderful all along. Fortunately for her, Faulkner doesn't press her for more answers. She would give anything to know what he must think of her, now. But, she isn't going to venture asking the question, and she doesn't dare presume.
Smiling softly while Faulkner talks about his parents, her expression becomes quite thoughtful and far away. If only she had been so lucky as he in being dealt such a nice hand in life with a mother and father like that.
"Hmm?" His question brings her back into reality suddenly. "Oh, yes, they are… very much so," Rena answers. "I'm not generally allowed to talk about my past, to be honest. Maybe that's why I like you RAF fellows so much. You don't seem to mind."

Faulkner smiles a very thin, very English smile, "You've seen the same posters we have, Rena. Loose lips sink ships and all that. If you can't talk about it, you can't talk about it." He throws back half of the martini. "The lads are very fond of you, really. So, of course I have to make sure I treat you right, so you'll report back that I'm a good chap. Can't have people thinking I'm some sort of rake." He gives her a bit of a wink, because he kind of is, but the lovable kind.

Rena hides behind her Martini glass partially, holding it up with both hands in a rather dainty, adorable way as she peers over the top at Faulkner. "But you are a rake. All pilots, soldiers and sailors are supposed to be rakes, one way or another. It takes a certain measure of rakishness to decide to take up arms to fight for king and country." She says, taking a sip of her drink, then. She can be somewhat poetic and thoughtful at times. Plying her with alcohol has been known to help.
"But, that's not what I meant, exactly. It's my present I can't talk about. And my past is just… where I come from, I'm just not allowed to discuss it because someone doesn't want to 'ear it." The admission to the latter half of her statement seems to pain her considerably. "People like you and Guy, you like 'earing about it, at least. I don't 'ave to always keep it bottled up inside."

Faulkner shakes his head, "No, you don't. Of course not. Bartenders, doctors, priests, and RAF pilots are known for our ability to keep a secret." Faulkner lifts his glass and clinks it with hers. "What do you say we get out of here and have a nightcap? I'll have a taxi take you home afterwards."

The smile returns once more, and Rena finishes her martini and sets it lightly on the table. Brushing one hand softly back through her hair on one side to push it over her shoulder, she laughs quietly - but in a way that might indicate she's already beginning to feel the effects of the drinks and growing slightly tipsy from them. Not in a bad way, particularly, but she could use a little fresh air.
"I think that'd be lovely, that would. Not that you could make this evening much better if you tried, Birdie." She's seemingly already forgotten (or at least pushed aside) the momentary unpleasantness from only a short time beforehand. "Why do they call it a nightcap, anyway?" Rena asks abruptly.

"I think the idea is that it caps off the evening." Faulkner says, with a laugh, reclaiming their coats and holding hers for her as she slides it on, then taking her out and finding a cab back to his hotel. Thank goodness he doesn't have to be back until noon tomorrow at the rate he's been putting away Martinis, though it hasn't done more than flush his cheeks a bit.

As they are passing through the lobby, Faulkner says, "I do hope that we will be able to do this again sometime. You know, if the gods of the air smile on me. I have had a very lovely evening. Though I will admit there is something very much mysterious about you, Irene." He arches a brow a bit as he uses her proper name, "Like there's a secret femme fatale behind that bubbly dancing girl exterior." It's just a statement, though, he still doesn't pry, especially not while the lift operator is standing right next to them on the way up.

By the time they reach the hotel, Rena is not perhaps what might be termed as sober, but she isn't quite as giddy in her head as she was before. At least she can hold her head up and walk a perfectly straight line with Faulkner. No one watching could be tempted to think she is anything but completely sober.
"I certainly 'ope so, too," Rena replies eagerly. Perhaps a touch too eager… But she's had such a wonderful time of it, she can't help her enthusiasm. Blushing rather deeply, she looks down at her handbag when he remarks on the mystery that seems to surround her. Oh, if he only knew. But, even if the statute of secrecy didn't insist on it, how would he feel if she said she were a Witch and practiced magic? He'd think she was out of her mind.
"Maybe someday I won't 'ave to be so mysterious. I'm not sure you'd believe anything I said though if I could tell you." Rena says with a chuckle.

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