2011 06 28: Exceeding Expectations

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Mission Name: Exceeding Expectations
Date of Mission: June 28 2011
Locale: Office — Sugarpuss's Restaurant - Queens

Nadia and Mack meet up for a discussion about her potential job at Sugarpuss's, while discussing her currently employers.

Mack Nadia

A Tuesday night is not exactly a peak time for a restaurant's busy hour. There are a few business men sitting at the bar in the back and some elderly people eating dinner, but aside from that, Sugarpuss's is not a bastion of activity tonight. Mack is standing near the podium at the front of the restaurant with one of his servers, talking in a low tone to her in a low tone. "And the next time that some drunk man tips you $100, you don't need to tell all the other waitresses and act like the cat who got the bird." He tells her.

"You mean the cat that got the canary?" The scantily clad blonde asks.

"…Yeah, whatever. Get back to work. And don't let me catch you taking another twenty minute smoke break again. There are a lot of more responsible young women who might want a job here."

Did someone say 'responsible young woman'? Like summoning her from an alternate dimension, it's those very words that herald Nadia's entrance into the restaurant. For all her perceived innocence, the nature of the establishment and the scant clothing on the waitress get only a brief look, and the young woman doesn't seem terribly surprised. She does, however, seem glad to spot Mack right there at the podium, saving her the trouble of trying to find him or learning that he's not working tonight. Offering a wave, she heads in that direction with a friendly smile, but as she gets nearer, she detects a bit of tension between Mack and his waitress, and so hangs back just slightly rather than intrude on the conversation.

The waitress does get back to work as one might predict. When she walks away, it's clear to see where Mack's field of vision is. He's looking at her derriere and not being subtle about it, perhaps even resisting the urge to give the girl a little slap on it. It's obvious when he turns around that he's not expecting to see Nadia there. He doesn't seem too embarrassed if she's caught him ogling one of his waitresses, although it probably doesn't speak highly for his business conduct. "Hello, Nadia. Come on in. Amy there and I were just talking about her work ethic." Mack steps out from around the podium and moves a little closer to Nadia. "Did you find the place okay?"

Nadia has spent most of her time with men, so she's not completely oblivious to these things. His ogling causes her eyebrows to lift just slightly, but her smile is still in place when he turns back to face her. "Yes, it was … not so hard from the subway," she replies, following his lead and using English, although hers is still marked by that heavy accent. "I am sorry you are, ah, having trouble with these things," she adds, casting a glance towards the departing waitress, but only momentarily. "If you are busy, I can come back?"

Mack shakes his head. "No, this is hardly busy at all. Come on back to my office where we can speak a little more freely." Mack says, waving her on to follow him. Clearly he wants to speak Russian to her but it might get a few strange looks from the patrons or his employees. "Are you hungry, thirsty? I can have something brought to the office if you'd like to sample the wares firsthand, free of charge."

"Freely, yes. That is good," Nadia concurs readily, having a few things of her own that can't exactly be said out in the open. She comes around the podium to follow him towards the office, taking the opportunity to look around at the restaurant more properly now. "It is a nice place here that you have." She considers his offer, tempted, but also not wanting to take advantage - it isn't hard to see that in her expression either. "If there is something that is not too much trouble, perhaps?" she finally decides.

Mack nods to her and leads her down the hallway that opens up into the kitchen near the back, the two restrooms on either side, and the office. He pokes his head into the kitchen and asks, "Can I get a cheeseburger and fry combo sent to the office? Perhaps two cups of coffee, too. Thanks." The spatula wielding cook nods with less enthusiasm before Mack veers off into the office. It's empty, but air conditioned and inviting enough, if not a little bland. Once Nadia is in, Mack closes the door behind him.

An observant little thing, Nadia takes in the lay of the land as she follows Mack towards the office, even leaning in to take a quick peek into the kitchen. There's nothing malicious or judging about it; she's just curious. She doesn't speak again until they're inside the office and the door is closed. "It's safe to talk here?" she confirms, switching readily back to Russian. There's a certain pointedness to her words that could tip him off she might mean more than just HR policy and job offers.

Mack picks up on the cadence of Nadia's words immediately after he closes the door. His eyebrows furrow before he nods, pulling a chair over to his desk for Nadia to sit in. He pulls it out for her and waits for her to sit before he does. When he speaks again, it is in Russian once more. "Of course. Is there something bothering you?" Mack asks, trying to keep some neutrality in his voice, but there's a little bit of slippage in it.

"Bothering? No, not exactly," Nadia assures him with a smile as she settles herself into the chair, her hands gathered in her lap. "I was talking to my employers and it seems that we have more in common than I thought." Even though he's confirmed it's safe to speak here, she keeps from saying things outright until he's clear on why she wanted to make sure it was safe - safe for one purpose does not always mean safe for another. "We work for the same people, they tell me. They found it quite funny, actually."

Mack sits down in his chair and looks at Nadia, his eyes glinting almost dangerously for a moment before he reaches into the lower drawer of his desk and pulls out a bottle of the old Stolichnaya and two small shot glasses. He doesn't bother to ask her how old she is before he pours her a glass of it and sits it in front of her, then pouring himself a small glass. "If we are referring to the same people, then I'm sure they found it hysterical." There's nothing that indicates in his voice how funny he finds it, however. "The job offer still stands if you want it. In fact, this could be mutually beneficial for both of us."

Luckily for Mack, Nadia is of legal drinking age, even in this conservative country. Back home, she's been able to drink for years. "You can confirm with them, if you want. I understand the need to be cautious," she assures him, taking no offence if he chooses not to just trust her word on this. She picks up her glass and tosses it back, wincing just slightly as it goes down. "They are all right with me taking the work, as long as it doesn't interfere with the work I do for them. Which is actually in an office," she adds to clarify, not wanting to seem like she's trying to pass herself off as anything but the resident file clerk.

The cook decides to come in with the food, without knocking. Which seems to be rather fine to Mack as a whole. He motions toward Nadia and the cook sets it down before scurrying back to the kitchen. The food doesn't look half-bad, either. It's not gourmet but it's better than the food of a dive bar. "No, I believe you. If you're a double agent, you're doing a convincing job." There's a safe bet that he's going to follow up on this anyway. It would be madness not to. "Please, eat up." He pauses. "I'll admit that mostly I need an office girl to intercept my phone calls when I can't be here, or when I have to tend to things out front. Most of it isn't very exciting, and the things that you are used to dealing in wouldn't be obvious to someone without your training."

Nadia does look a little surprised as the cook just marches in, but after a glance to Mack, she relaxes again, once more following the older man's lead in this. "No, not an agent," she promises with a smile, shaking her head. "I am not so high-level. Maybe some day, but I don't think my brother would ever allow that," she grants with a little laugh, eyeing the food and then scooching a little closer to the desk so she can eat more easily without having to reach across a wide open space. "I'm used to 'not exciting'. It may be better than the alternative, considering. When things are quiet, I feel safe." She gives a little shrug with that as she nibbles on a fry.

"How much did they tell you about me?" Mack asks her curiously. He doesn't seem too concerned about whatever they did tell her. He pounds back his shot and pours another one, not even wincing at the taste. He crosses his legs with his ankle resting over the other knee, deciding to look somewhere besides at Nadia's face. Most people don't like to be observed like that when they're eating, after all. "The lower level you can keep yourself, the better, in some ways. How's the food? Let me know if there's anything that I can get for you."

"They didn't tell me much. They never do," Nadia replies, not in complaint but honestly enough. "I know only what I need to know. You work for them, and this place is involved." She gestures to the ceiling of the room but really means the restaurant as a whole. "I don't need to know more than that," she adds, lest he think she's pushing for further details. "You sound like my brother," she adds more fondly, giving him a grin and then nodding. "The food is good. I can't think of anything else. Really, you're too kind."

Mack seems content when Nadia says that she doesn't need to know more than that. It's apparently information that he feels is on a need to know basis, and for one reason or another, she doesn't need to know. Perhaps he's genuinely trying to shield her from the nature of his work. "Be thankful that they tell you very little, then… it's not good to be too involved in this. How did you come to work for them, Nadia? If you don't my asking. You seem far too nice for them…" Mack furrows his brows when he thinks about it, but decides to stop until she tells him. He'll just give himself a migraine thinking of their recruitment methods. He drinks another shot and then pours yet another.

"I don't mind," Nadia replies with another shrug, never seeming to mind very much. "But I'm less nice than I seem, perhaps." She says it with a grin, probably doing nothing to prove her case. "It was because of my brother, but not his fault. My own fault, and I don't think he's forgiven me for it entirely. I wanted to help him, and now I'm here, and he's back home." She lets out a sigh and then gives one more shrug. "Such is life. It never goes how we think it will." She's quiet then for a moment, in order to eat some of the burger.

"Perhaps. But with a face like that, would anyone ever believe you?" Mack counters, smiling at her good naturedly. He listens to her before nodding. "If my younger sister got involved with these men, I too would be upset. But you're right. Life never turns out how you expect it will. Can you believe that I've been working for them for nearly twenty years now?" Mack asks her, smiling. "It seems far-fetched given that once you enter into certain contracts, you are not expected to live very long. I think I've exceeded my expectations." He takes it a little slower with his third shot, watching Nadia a little more closely now. "I guess now you must think I'm an old fart as well."

Nadia just gives a quiet laugh to his point about her face. "Probably not, but at least you can't say I didn't warn you," she replies without missing a beat. "How old is your sister?" she can't help but wonder, setting down the burger now that she's made a small dent in it. "I'm glad you exceeded them then. It is dangerous, I know." Her good nature falters now, replaced with a frown. "I worry about my brother, probably as much as he worried about me, but I'm not allowed to say it." She looks back at him, her smile returning more gently as she shakes her head. "Not so old. And definitely not a fart." Despite her own seriousness, she can't help but laugh at that.

Mack smiles slightly. "She's thirty-three now. My other brother is thirty-one. My sister is married with two children. They all still live in Saint Petersburg." He finishes up his shot and pours a fourth, seeming unphased by all the alcohol he's been ingesting thus far. "Brothers are always supposed to be strong protectors. When your sister does something that you don't want her to and you realize she's no longer a baby, it's hard. I didn't want my sister to marry her husband, but I just had to accept that she was growing up." He reaches into a higher desk drawer than the one he keeps his Stolichnaya stash in and retrieves a set of W-2 forms, passing them to her. "If you're serious, I'll have to have you fill this out." He pauses. "And thank you for making an old man feel not so old."

"Thirty-three and she's not even the true baby of the family… I guess I will never be free from his worry," Nadia notes with a grin, neither surprised not terribly upset by that. She'd expect nothing less, although the age of 33 seems so distant to still be worrying about it, from her young age now. "I know it isn't easy for him. But I'm not in trouble, not really. The work is probably better than what I'd be doing if I'd stayed at home," she points out with a shrug, sounding like she's had this argument with the brother in question several times. She leans forward to take the form and gives it a look. "You are not an old man, I've told you. And I'm good at paperwork," she notes as she looks back up. "You want me to do this here or should I bring it back later?"

"If you'd like to do it here, you can, or you can take it with you and bring it back. It doesn't really matter to me, so long as you come back," Mack says it playfully before smiling at her. "It is true that there aren't many… reputable jobs for girls in Russia, such as working in offices. You are doing better than you could be." He weighs her options in his head and decides that it's probably for the best she's working in a mafia office instead of in a mafia prostitution ring, after all. "How well do you read English? I could help if it trips you up." It doesn't sound like he's saying it with a condescending tone, but a helpful one.

"I will come back," Nadia promises with a grin as she continues looking over the form, just skimming while most of her attention remains on him for now. "Yes, see? Perhaps I'll have you tell my brother that. Not that he'd listen to you either, but you'd stand a better chance." She doesn't seriously intend to sic one man on the other though, and end up putting all three of them in an awkward spot, no doubt. Family matters remain just that at the heart of it. "I read better than I speak, but I may need help on some of these. It would save me getting my dictionary."

Mack laughs quietly. "I do not think I'd mince words with your brother so readily. He could probably beat me." Mack caps the Stolichnaya off and puts it in his desk drawer where he found it, pounding back his last shot before he glances over to the application and takes it back. He grabs a pen from his desk and begins to write in Cyrillic, translating all of the directions for her so that she'll understand. "I hope they won't have a problem with this, but I should assume not since I'm sure you have the proper documents to be in the country and you have the right to a translator."

Nadia laughs a little herself, before pausing an canting her head as though to concede that point. "He might, if he thought you were trying to get me into more trouble," she has to admit. "He doesn't understand that I don't need the help." She hands back the application, watching idly as he begins translating it over. "I think it should be all right, as long as I write the answers in English. My paperwork is all in order, if they decide it requires further examination. I'm careful about that," she assures him.

"He's your brother and he loves you. He'll always try to tell you what to do if he doesn't agree with what it is you're doing. But it's because he wants to help you… all you can do is show him that you can make it by yourself." He finally hands the application back with a smile. "Oh, you look like a careful girl. I'm not worried. But if someone comes, we'll be prepared." He leans back in his seat and uncrosses his legs, stretching his arms over his head before folding his hands on his lap.

"I know, I know. And I would be lost without him, and probably be in much more trouble if I didn't have to stop to think about what he's going to say about something," Nadia grants easily. "But as much as he looks after me, I look after him. I just can't let him know that's what I'm doing." Her job is the harder one, she thinks. Taking the application back, she gives it another glance, this time skimming it much more quickly. "Everything above board that can be above board, I understand. That's what I do too. A loose thread could prove very dangerous indeed."

"Chances are, he knows exactly that's what you're doing but is too stubborn and proud to admit it," Mack says as he stands from his seat and adjusts his jacket, moving over to the door. He opens it for Nadia, perhaps signalling in a not rude, but certainly abrupt way that the meeting is adjourned. And just in time too. There's a loud crash in the kitchen and Mack sighs quietly. "I'm sorry, Nadia. Please excuse me. It was lovely to talk with you and I look forward to seeing you again soon. I'm sure you can show yourself out." Mack seems considerably less nice when he starts marching down the hallway to the kitchen.

Nadia folds the application form first in half and then into quarters, each fold done neatly and crisply, so that she can tuck it away safely. She rises to her feet, giving him an understanding smile. "Of course. You're busy. Go, do what you need to do," she urges, waving him onward to go ahead. "Thank you for seeing me. I'll bring this back soon." She pats her purse where the form now sits securely. After snagging one last fry from the plate, she exits the office to find her way back out of the restaurant.

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