"I'll eat some fruit." There was a big bowl; he gestured vaguely in that direction, digging into the fridge first.
He looked back at the spread, then up at Rowan again. "Is this all for me?" He was hungry, and he was a young man that could, when he actually remembered to do so, eat his own weight in food, but still.
It was daunting, but that didn't stop him from helping himself to a steak with all the fixin's. Plate in hand, he glanced around the kitchen. "Where would you like me to sit?"
He pointed to a couple of tall stools off to one side, the gesture loose and careless, and fished out another bottle of wine. This one looked more normal
. "Whatever you don't eat will be put away."
With a nod he moved to set his plate and utensils down, drawing the stool out so he could take a seat. Now that there was food in front of him, the savory smell of the steak practically smacking him in the face, he felt the hunger he hadn't noticed up to that point. His stomach growled softly as he started cutting the steak. "This looks great, thank you."
And it was great. Hot and savory and just the right amount of doneness. the first bite had him humming in delight. Then he tried a bite of potatoes. The salad, and finally he took a moment to cut his roll in half so he could butter it. He ate quickly, but neatly, his napkin on his lap and his bites manageable and not boarish,
The thank you
dragged his attention up immediately, made him slosh wine across the counter -- and he had to pause, set it down carefully, and then go to fetch a paper towel to clean it up. "...I need to train you before you meet anyone else."
He'd pause when the wine was spilled, fork lowering back to his plate to watch Rowan grab a paper towel to clean it up. "Train me?" He'd caused that, somehow, but he wasn't sure how exactly.
"You owe me, now. For the dinner." He gestured at it, loosely. "Don't say thank you
It made him look down at his plate, then back again, and Ferris' voice talking about negotiating slid through his mind. "I didn't realize. Um...What do I do to repay this?"
"A favor, I suppose. I don't give gifts
." He stabbed a strawberry out of the fruit bowl, sharply.
With his fork he nudged at his potatoes, a little reluctant to continue eating but after a moment the fork came up and he took a bite. "What sort of favor?"
He spoke around the strawberry, and maybe he was a bit annoyed. "I'll have to think on it."
He nodded, lips twitching on one side before he returned to his meal, but slower this time. His heel bouncing.
He worked on his strawberry, and then poked another, straightening to put the bottle of wine away. He was quiet while Fletcher ate, considering.
Fletcher was quiet as well. The delighted energy from a moment before not gone,
but tucked away until he'd either managed to make up for the faux pas, or things otherwise calmed again. When he was finished he looked up at Rowan again, and there was a second of pause, as if when he looked away for too long he forgot just how lovely the other man was. Pale features softened as he let out quiet breath.
He'd drunk most of his glass of wine, and a healthy pile of strawberries: picking them out from the melon and the pineapple. It left his lips and tongue slightly pink. When he realized Fletcher was watching him, his own eyes flicked onto the young man. "...you should confirm the food is safe before eating, too."
Brows drew in, head tilting as he looked down at his empty plate again. "And how does one do that?" And why would he need to?
"You say 'is this food safe?'" He pointed down to Fletcher's plate, briefly. "This was."
The confusion only deepened. "I just ask it aloud, 'Is this food safe?'"
"We don't lie." He grabbed his fork and tossed it in the sink, carelessly.
"We being..?" He'd pushed his plate forward enough that he could fold his arms on the counter in front of him, leaning forward.
One more strawberry, then, so that he could work on it while he considered his answer. "Anyone at these parties."
He wasn't sure what he was expecting so he just nodded, chewing on the inside of his lip. "What do you want me to do with my plate?"
"Leave it. They'll clean up." He dropped the stem onto the counter, carelessly, and licked juice from his thumb.
That made him look around, but there was no one else there. There'd been no one else since they'd walked into the house. "Okay..." The napkin from his lap was folded and set on his plate as is slid off the stool. "Can I get some water?"
"Bottles in the fridge." He was shedding his tie as he started toward the way they'd come again, back toward that central staircase.
Fletcher took a bottle, opening it before he grabbed his jacket from the counter and hurried to catch up, drinking as he fell into step behind Rowan again. It felt very familiar at this point.
"It's a tricky group." He said it carefully, wending his way back through the fine furniture to the staircase. "I can explain better, but it's been a while since I had to. I have to think about it."
"Sounds tricky," he agreed. "If I have to be worried about my food being safe." Another drink, then he replaced the cap.
He made a tiny sound, thoughtful, starting up the stairs. The jacket he'd left on the banister was gone; he deposited his tie in its place. "Tricky is an excellent word."
He spared a glance for the absent jacket, and the tie that replaced it, then followed Rowan up. "Are they dangerous?"
"Yes." He didn't even hesitate over that, hand light on the railing as he went.
The footsteps following paused, Fletcher stopping on the steps to stare up at him. "If they're dangerous why do you allow them in your home?" He started climbing again, very little was making sense anymore.
"I can handle them. But you're eminently fragile." He didn't look back down at Fletcher.
There was nothing comforting about that. Fletcher opened his mouth to say something but couldn't actually come up with anything so just closed it again.
Only once he was at the landing did Rowan half turn to look, frowning at Fletcher. "I just need to give you a rule book. You like rules anyway."
That actually seemed to perk him up a little. Rules were simple, safe. "I do." Had he said as much? It had probably just been obvious. Rowan was perceptive, but Fletcher was very much an open book.
Impossibly so. His face like a light bulb at the promise of instruction. It was enough to make Rowan sigh -- but not exactly displeased -- and beckon Fletcher after him with two fingers again.
He followed, taking in whatever there was to see on the second floor as kept close to Rowan's heels.
This was a private living space and -- it was no less expensive, no less elegant, but there was considerably less stuff
up here. It was bordering on modern, cool and clean, pale and washed out. Rowan kicked off his shoes at the entrance to the bedroom, and left them where they fell.
Just inside the door Fletcher slowed as he glanced down at Rowan's shoes then up again at his back. "Should I leave my shoes here, too?"
He was pretty sure his entire apartment could have fit in this one part of Rowan's home. And it wasn't a tiny apartment.
It was possible. This place was designed to house a family, and staff, and likely more than that. Rowan undid the top button of his shirt, shooting a look back at Fletcher like he was thinking it over. "Take all your clothes off."
[ Section Redacted ]
He had plenty of time: Rowan didn't take a short
shower. He lingered, a good half an hour, enough time for Fletcher to flop out and doze again if he dared. And when he came back out, he was dressed fully in pajamas -- silk, floral -- with wet hair trailing down to his waist.
Sweaty and still a little sticky Fletcher wasn’t going to crawl up in the bed, he didn't want to get the new comforter dirty. Not after the trouble it was too change it. Instead he dug his phone out of his abandoned jeans, folded the old comforter into a relatively comfortable shape, and took a seat there, long legs stretched out and ankles crossed. He looked up as he heard the footsteps returning, phone lowering to his lap.
Rowan was brushing the hair out to bind it back out of the way -- not that it would do that much good, it was still going to soak anything it touched. He looked down at Fletcher, head canted, considering. He even had on fancy slippers. "Small. 28 long."
The mark on his neck was very dark, the one on his back would be darker when he rolled back up to his feet and set his phone on the closest surface. "Yes. His gaze flicked to the bathroom, the steam still faintly rolling out the open door, then back at Rowan. "I wasn't sure where to put this, but I can move it if this isn't acceptable." A hand had come up to rest at the back of his neck scratching faintly at buzzed, ginger hair.
"You can leave it." He stepped in, delicately, to brush a finger over the bruise. And he looked pleased, maybe. "They'll take care of it."
He looked down as Rowan touched his shoulder, lips twitching up at the corners ever so slightly. "Could I take that shower now?"
"Go." He moved past; whatever he'd been wearing was already gone, but his cell phone was on the armoire. He grabbed it.
His mouth opened to say 'thank you,' but he stopped himself, nodding instead and headed for the bathroom. Inside he'd give the shower a look, turning on the water then ducking back out to glance around for towel. Once he found one he poked his head back into the bedroom. "I don't suppose there's a toothbrush here I could use..?"
He looked up from his work -- settled comfortably out on the bed with the phone in his hand. "No. There could be, though."
Fletcher leaned against the doorframe. "If it's not any trouble, please."
He stared up at Fletcher for another long moment, then went back to the phone. "You can use mine. I'll get a new one."
He lingered in the doorway a second or two more, possibly thinking that over, before nodding and disappearing back into the bathroom.
The shower itself felt amazing,
hot water cascading over him like he'd stepped under a waterfall. The only hitch came when the heat hit the bite on his back and made him wince, twitching, before the sting faded and the water was nothing but soothing. He looked through all
the soaps, and used the most generic looking bottles he could find (not that anything in there was really generic), and finally stepped out again feeling refreshed and pleasantly clean, towel wrapped around his waist.
He'd smell like Rowan by the end, wrapped up in a plush towel, warm from the shower. And when he came out
of the shower, there'd be a bundle waiting for him. Soft pajama pants, 28 long. Small t-shirt, dark green, with a very wide neck and a bird in a cage embroidered on the front. Rowan pointed at them without looking up.
He blinked down at the folded clothes, the shirt with its cage sitting right on top, and he reached out to trail his fingers along the stitching as he glanced up at Rowan on the bed. The silent directive that followed had been expected, and the redhead nodded as he loosened the towel and brought it up to rub over his hair to dry it, which turned it into a half damp, fluffy mess that he didn't seem to pay much mind to.
He got dressed, brushed his teeth, and then stood there for a moment looking at himself in the mirror, his fingers touching the bruise on display at the crook of his neck. He was still touching it as he walked out, but that hand slid back and long his neck as he approached the bed.
Rowan looked up, then, dropping the phone onto the bed next to him -- and he was thinking it over, trying to decide what to do with Fletcher now. "Make your case."
He stopped short, but he would have anyways. It was easiest to just not assume anything, especially here, so he'd had no plans to simply crawl into bed. "Case?" Case for what?
To sleep in Rowan's bed for the night? He wasn't sure what else Rowan could have been talking about.
"Um..." Did he have a case to make? Brows creased, gaze skimming the bed and up over Rowan. "I could dry and braid your hair, so you wouldn't have to sleep on it wet."
"Hm." It wasn't what he'd expected, maybe. Rowan tipped his head and then shrugged his shoulders, slowly. "....fine. I'm sure there's a dryer in one of the drawers."
A quick flicker of a smile as he turned to head back into the bathroom to seek out a dryer. He returned about a minute and a half later with the dryer and cord in one hand and a hairbrush in the other. Crouching, he found an outlet close the the ground between bed and side table. After plugging it in he straightened, hesitating for a moment before climbing up on the bed to crawl across it towards the other man, dryer still in one hand, brush in the other. His hair hanging messily over his brow.
"You're not moving in here." He said it idly, scooting forward so that Fletcher could sit behind him -- his phone on the bed behind him and shoulders loose. "This is far more than an hour."
He moved up behind him, fingertips brushing the back of Rowan's neck as he lifted the wet hair away from his back. "I didn't think I was," he said with a small shrug, not that Rowan would see it. "You told me I'd be here tonight, so I'm here, but that's at your whim, not mine."
It got a breathless little sound, like the start of a laugh -- swallowed. "You're almost too well behaved."
Fingers slowed, Fletcher's head tilting as he picked up the dryer beside him and turned it on low. It was quieter than any dryer he'd ever seen before. Must have been expensive. "Is that a bad thing?"
"I don't know yet." He closed his eyes and let himself relax into the touch. "I have to decide."
It was clearly not the first time he'd done this. Lengths of soft hair were separated and brushed through as he directed gentle heat over them, one at a time, over and over.
He wanted to stay in Rowan’s good graces. Not just for the chance to touch or be touched, but because he'd seen the fury in green eyes and he didn't want to see it directed at him
again. He just needed to know the rules. He was good at following the rules.
He breathed out slowly, and the touch did sap that rigid danger away; left him just looking young and pretty, pussycat instead of tiger. He let Fletcher keep brushing it after it was dry, more than half asleep.
The dryer was set aside, but Rowan's hair was soft and warm and he was enjoying the way it slid through his hands, again. Almost as much as Rowan himself seemed to be enjoying it. He hated to interrupt the peaceful quiet that'd settled around them, but he did have more he had to do. But he kept his voice soft, careful. "I need something to tie the braid off with."
"Hmmm." It was drowsy, distracted. He tipped his head again, then gestured loosely toward a box on top of his dresser. Fletcher'd have to get up to explore the treasure trove of jewelry and accessories inside, in search of something simple enough to sleep in.