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1
Profiles / Keiran Greenly
« on: February 06, 2020, 07:59:40 PM »
ESSENTIALS
Name: Keiran Greenly
Nickname: N/A
Apparent Age: Looks to be mid twenties
Occupation: Thief


APPEARANCE
FACECLAIM: Eddie Redmayne
Height: 5'5"
Weight: 137lbs
Eye Color: Green
Hair Color: Auburn
Hair Style: Shaggy a-line style; long in the front, short in the back, and perpetually messy.
Skin Color: Caucasian, mid tone, with a splotchy freckles.  Has snake bit lip piercings.
Physique: Trim and lanky.


PERSONALITY
Bristly and guarded, Keiran is quite the introvert and tends to avoid social settings or spending much time with anyone.  He seems a little on the skittish side, and those nerves manifest in snark and even aggression.  He has a hard time trusting people, and has a tendency to through up high, thick walls.  He's also very vague with any information about himself, and tends to direct conversations in different directions when they start to get too personal for him.  Or he'll give different answers for the same questions, even to the same person.  It's genuinely difficult to tell if he's lying or telling the truth.


IMPRESSIONS  Prickly personality and tends to disappear into the background and vanish altogether if it suits him. 

2
Roleplaying / Re: Charmed [Avery/Tucker]
« on: January 26, 2020, 10:51:36 AM »

[ Redacted]

Tossing the shirt by the basket he looked at Tucker before taking a seat next to him on the bed. He looked at the marks and the hair and gave a sly smile as if amused by his work.


Dark brows arched at that smile before following his line of sight as it slid down from the mark on his neck to the marks on his thigh.  He touched one of the scratches carefully, lips tugging up on one side.  "See something you like?" It was faintly teasing, baby blues flicking back up.


"I do." He leaned in to place a kiss on his shoulder before settling back. "Do you want to stay or do you have to rush off somewhere?"


The smile grew into a full grin before Avery was leaning in to brush lips against his shoulder.  It softened guarded features, so did the invitation to stay.  "I can stick around for a while." If you want me to.


"Good." Avery pressed a quick kiss to his forehead. "Did you want to get under the covers or still too warm?"


It was an unexpectedly tender gesture that had Tucker blinking up at him in surprise, resisting the sudden temptation to reach up and touch the spot.  Instead he tried to focus of Avery's question.  "Under, I think."  And he slid to the edge of the bed to swing his legs offer to plant his feet on the ground.  Not that standing yet was a good idea.  He's legs felt unsteady, hips and thighs a little sore.  In the best way.


Nodding, Avery got to his feet, slowly, his muscles still arguing in protest at not being anything other than horizontal on a soft surface. He offered a hand to Tucker if he wanted it.


In almost any other situation stubbornness would have insisted he ignore that offered hand, but he didn't want to, this time. He reached out to lay his hand in Avery's and pulled himself up on legs that felt a bit like Jell-O.


He held Tucker's arm as if to either keep him close or to keep his knees from buckling. With the free hand he pulled back the covers to plain white sheets below and let him sit down first if he wanted.


He locked his knees, it helped, but he didn't try to slide his arm from Avery's loose grip.  Justed waited, gaze flicking down the other boy's back as he pulled the blankets down, then sat when the chance was given.  "Do you have to go anywhere later, or..?"  He wasn't sure what time it was, but it had to be after six by now.


Avery shook his head sitting down as well. "Nah, I am usually doing classwork until I doze off."


A dark brown arched, his head tipping to the side as he looked up at the bigger man.  "Am I keeping you from any important homework if I stay?"


"Not really, not anything I can't do tomorrow instead." He pressed his shoulder to Tuck's. "You?"


He shook his head, leaning into Avery after the other man hand initiated contact.  Every touch was a reassurance that he was wanted there.  "No, nothing pressing."


Avery grinned before patting the bed as a gesture he could lay down. "Just let me know when you do have to leave."


Tucker glanced down at the bed as if considering it, and then turned as he rose up on his knees.  He put his hands on Avery's shoulders to push him down first so he could crawl up to lay on top of him.


Avery rose a brow for a second before realization washed over him and he laid down with Tuck's push. When Tuck was settled he languidly ran his fingers up and down on his back.


He folded his arms across Avery's chest and lay his cheek against them, eyes half closing as he looked lazily around the room.  "Were you serious before,” he asked after a few moments, tone careful.  Like he'd been mulling over the question.  "About wanting more than just a quick fuck?"


"Yes." His own eyes closed as he continued to draw lazy circles and lines along this back. "But you won't hurt my feelings telling me you don't want to."


The fingers on his right hand spread against tanned skin, nails running lightly along his chest in tickling lines.  A reassurance.  "No, it's not-"  he bit off the protest, started over.  "I'm just trying to figure out how much I should let myself get used to this, and to you."


There was a hint of goosebumps across his skin as he tickled nails along his skin. "You can tell me how much or how little you want me to be in this relationship. Set whatever boundaries."


The word relationship made him twitch, head turning to press his face into his arms.  It made his voice come out muffled.  "I don't think I know how to do that.  I've never really..." He huffed a sigh.  "You don't even really know me, why do you want to be with me?"  He sounded confused, cautious.


"Or acquaintances, whatever you want to call this." He opened an eye and tilted it to look at him. "I know what it is like to enjoy something while you can."


He didn't know how normal relationships worked.  After a moment he lifted his head so he could see Avery's face again.  He seemed so patient and understanding.  "What's your last name?"


"Keane." He replied without hesitating, it was the most current last name he had.


His lips twitched, almost a smile.  "Mines Williams."  If they were going to do this then they needed to know more about each other.  "I get bad anxiety sometimes, I smoke to keep it in check, and I get stupidly into games on my phone."


"Mm." He murmured as if he was memorizing it all before giving a soft smile. "I  have a temper at times so I play rugby to let it loose, I am pretty competitive no matter what little game it is and I don't tend to live in places too long."


"Are there plans to leave anytime soon?"  He settled his chin on his arms again, features relaxing again finally as they talked.


"And try to get into another university?  No thanks, this was pain enough." He snorted rather jokingly on the matter. "The most is maybe dorm rooms."


Tuck smiled, stroking his thumb along Avery's collarbone.  "Good."


"What sort of job do you want when you graduate?" It was an easy sort of question, but he was curious.


His shoulders moved in what was meant to be a shrug but didn't quite work with how he was laying.  "I don't know, I haven't thought about it as much as I should be."  Didn't like thinking about it.  "Somewhere that pays well, that has good hours, I guess."


"Fair enough, are you going to keep playing soccer?" He didn't seem bothered at all by the vague answer.


"I'd like to."  Another small smile.  "I'd jump at a chance to try out for the USA team."  It didn't sound like he thought it was a possibility, despite how well he played.


"I am sure you could do well if you tried." He ran his fingers along his arm, shoulder. "Would be amazing."


Baby blues turned thoughtful, like he was gauging how truthful Avery was being.  "It'd be nice.  I won't know until next year if I qualify though."


"A year to train, does that mean you will be putting in extra hours?" It was a fair question, if he was he would be panicking too.


"Not quite yet.  I'll wait to see how this year goes."  To see if he even had a chance of making the cut.  "I think I'd want to wait until after I knew I had a degree under my belt, just in case."


"Safety is always good, not that I would want you to injury yourself but that seems to be the fate of any athlete so a backup plan is wise." He wouldn't want anyone to be injured and lose something they enjoyed doing but it was realistic.


"Are you going to try to keep playing rugby?"  Were there leagues outside of schools?  He didn't know.  "After you graduate, I mean."


"I will probably join some local team, more of a hobby but I guess it depends on the job I take." It was more of a question if he stayed in a place long enough to be on a team.


He hummed thoughtfully, fingertips tapping along Avery's collarbone before he smoothed his fingers along it.  "I don't know a lot about rugby.  I might have to swing by practice sometime, see what it's all about."  If it was before soccer he probably had time to catch the beginning, if nothing else.


"I would like that." It wasn't often he had anyone there really to watch anything he did at rugby.


This was...new.  Different, in a good way.  Tucker felt warm and comfortable laying against Avery's chest and he let out a content little sigh as he relaxed a little more against him, legs shifting to straddle his hips.


Avery closed his eyes, his hands still drifting over bare skin, letting the silence fall contently.


Tuck let it stretch for a while longer, one arm stretching up to drape over Avery's shoulder so he could slip his fingers into the soft, multicolored hair.  He could feel the big man's heart beating against his chest, every long breath.  He liked it.  "We can see where things go, at least," he said after a while, eyes closed, voice drowsy.


"Yes..." Avery replied, his hands moving slowly and his own voice drowsy or at least miles away as if dozing himself. It was rather comfortable having the smaller man draped across him, and warm.  A missing feeling for a while.


It wouldn't hurt to fall asleep like that, right?  Tucker's fingers moved lazily in Avery's hair as he weighed the pros and cons of letting himself fall asleep like that.  In the end, he didn't even make a choice, his body made it for him.  Breath evening out as he drifted off, warm and comfortable.


He didn't know when he stopped running his fingers along Tuck's skin, or when he wrapped his hands loosely around his waist but he drifted off without a worry.

3
Roleplaying / Re: Charmed [Avery/Tucker]
« on: January 26, 2020, 10:45:38 AM »
"Which building?"  They were the same year, it'd make sense if they were in the same building.


"Winburn." He looked around for the shortest line on food.


Tuck followed, falling into line just behind him.  "That's my building, too.  Second floor."  Maybe that's where he'd seen him before.

Then he frowned, remembering tearing through the hall at an all out sprint while an angry looking man chased after him.  He didn't recall passing anyone as he ran...


"Oh, I am on the third, maybe I've passed you on the stairs?" He shrugged it off as if not concerned, ambling forward in the line to the trays.


"It's possible."  He'd make a point to watch for Avery in the halls now.  Tall, good looking, bright hair -- he stood out a bit.  Tucker stayed with him in line.


Taking his tray he picked out some food, mostly meat with a sprinkling of something healthy. "Do you do anything besides sports?"


Tucker grabbed a sandwich, and a  bag of chips.  He was looking over fruit choices as he mulled over the question with a thoughtful hum.  "Art.  I draw a lot in my free time."  Of which he had plenty.  "Mostly sketching."


"Oh?" He was amused grabbing a pudding cup. "Change from economics."


"Yeah, well."  He grabbed an apple, moving down the line further.  "Economics is safer than majoring in art.  That's a fickle job market."


"True, and rather have a job then none." Money was something he could understand.


"Yeah.  I didn't want to run the risk of not finding anything and having to struggle."  He shrugged.  It was all very logical, but it was obvious that was why he'd gone that direction.


"I get it, I made sure mine made money too." He headed to the cashiers to pay.


He pulled his wallet out as he balanced his tray on one hand and slid up to the next available register to pay.  After he found a table, but only so he could transfer the chips and the apple to his bag, and wrap the sandwich up so it'd be easy to handle while they walked back.  "Do you want to stop at the dorms and drop off the bags before going back to the, uh.  Lockers."  He didn't look up, cheeks a little pink.


"Sure." He had stuffed his own food into a box and readjusted his bag.


Bag readjusted and sandwich in hand he headed for the door.  The dorms weren't far, but far enough for Tucker to finish off his sandwich, at least.  Which...didn't take long.  He ate at the pace of any hungry college guy.  When his hands were free again he tucked them back into his pockets, pale features thoughtful as he glanced sidelong up at the taller boy.


Avery was used to eating and walking so he dived into the styrofoam box without much of a word. When he was done he chucked it in the trash can and downed some more water.


Tucker grabbed the door again, thoughtlessly, and held it for Avery to slip through as well and then headed for the  stairs.  "I'll drop this then meet you," he started, head tipping as he considered.  "Stairwell?"

He slid past him and got the door to the stairwell. "Sounds like a plan see you in five."


Tucker was quick.  He lingered in his room long enough to toss his dirty clothes from practice in his hamper and grab the apple from his bag, and then made his way back to the stairs to wait.  Back against the railing, he took a bite, head tipped back against the wall to keep an eye on the third floor landing as he chewed.  Still not entirely sure he had a grasp of what was actually going on, but hoping maybe he did.


Avery looked around the room, his roommate had conveniently vanished, or at least somewhere that wasn't anywhere in his line of sight. Heading to the stairs he leaned over the railing. "Tucker?"


Apple halfway to his lips, mouth open, he paused to blink up as Avery appeared again.  "Yeah?"


"My roommate is out if you want to come up?" He rose his brows.


Dark brows arched, but he pushed off from the rail.  "Sure.  That's convenient." Taking another bite, he went up.


"Hey if I don't have to see him it makes my day better." He shrugged as he held the door.


"He sounds like a real winner," he tossed back jokingly as he walked past him into the dorm, gaze skipping around curiously.


"I don't think he'll last." He shrugged, letting the door shut behind him.


"You think he'll drop out or fail?"  Hey quirked a brow, taking a last bite of his apple before looking around for a bin to toss the core in.  "Garbage?"


"Either-or.  Either he'll fail for not going to class or quit altogether." He nodded to the sink. "Underneath."


He murmured a thanks as he walked over to throw the apple away.  "That's such a waste, but at least you'd be rid of him."  He chuckled as he said it, and now that his hands were free he had to fight not to fidget.  He slid his palms along the sides of his thighs as he walked back, head tipping as he looked up at Avery.


"I won't complain, I get a feeling he's in it for the loan check." He watched him, bright blue eyes looking down. "I would say you can lay on the couch but probably not safe so you'll have to make do with my bed."


No pretenses, then.  Tuck glanced towards the door with Avery's name on it and moved towards it.  "So, uh.  Shirt on or..?"  He rubbed at his cheek, trying to rub away the color he knew was there.


Avery followed. "Shirt off."


He'd hesitate for a long moment before curling his fingers around the hem of his shirt, but it'd be almost immediately obvious why as he pulled it up over his head.  He was lean and fit, not cut but bordering on defined.  But there were scars, small and round, almost a dozen.  They were scattered randomly, along with a few smaller, thinner scars.  All of them old.


Avery's blue eyes glanced over him, noting the scars but not saying anything about them or even letting his eyes linger too long, he knew the feeling. Instead he pulled the comforter tighter across the bed as if to make it even neater.


Tucker waited for Avery to fuss with the blanket before crawling up and sliding slowly onto his stomach, arms folding under his head.  There was no pretending he wasn't flushed now, it'd spread down his neck and over his shoulders.  Again, he hoped he wasn't reading too deeply into this.  Head turning to lay his cheek on his arm, he rolled his eyes up to Avery again, trying to read his expression.  Looking for interest, or disinterest.  Something.


Avery pulled his shoes off before setting a knee on the bed, and then another as if to straddle him a bit. "Sorry, you ok still?"


"Yeah, you're good.  I'm okay."  As Avery moved out of his field of vision he turned his head back to rest his brow on his arms.


He ran his fingers down his back to follow his spine as if to trace it before putting his palm flat down between his shoulder blades and pressed to pop a little of the tension out.


It'd make him shiver, which made the blush worse, because it was a very obvious reaction.  But he took in a breath as Avery pressed, and his shoulders relaxed as he released it.


Avery smirked a bit to himself before trailing his fingers down, a little lower, to put pressure to pop again.


Every press got a series of pops.  He'd been carrying a lot of tension.  For the most part he was quiet, only the slight intake of breath with each press.


Avery continued a few times either a little higher or lower until he felt satisfied that most of the tension there was relieved. From there he started to move his thumbs in slow, deep motions to rub the muscles out.


He bit back most of a satisfied groan as thumbs pressed into his muscles, and he ducked his head a little more, stretching his neck out to make it easier.


Avery smirked to himself at the noise as he continued, working along his shoulder blades and up.


It'd have him shifting his arms, head lowering to the bed instead as he slid his arms further down so Avery could reach his shoulders better.  It felt amazing, but that was hardly surprising with how many knots the larger boy would find.  But Avery's hands were large and warm, and he had no control of the goosebumps that flowed over his skin in response.


Avery had done this enough times to know how to keep any signs of arousal from being noticed but he had a sense Tucker in some way was appreciating it. He kept an even pressure, letting his fingers work each knot out before shifting to the next one.


The lingering color was probably proof enough that he did appreciate it.  He stayed quiet, beyond the odd soft wince when Avery started on a new knot, when it was still super tender, but he was trying very hard to keep a handle on the moans and groans that kept crawling up his throat.


"You still ok?" He asked in a lower voice as he started to move down his back.


He'd nod, having to clear his throat before actually answering.  "Yeah, th-that feels good."


"Feeling better?"  He continued to move lower, not at all in an attempt to tease.


Another nod, and Tucker pulled his arms in closer, back moving under Avery's hands as he worked lower.


He got as low as to the edge of his pants before working a little bit up.


His back arched, he couldn't quite help it, and pale fingers curled just slightly into the comforter.  This time he couldn't quite help an appreciative hum.


Avery let his fingers slide down slipping a little below the line.


That'd make Tucker go still, but if he'd still been unsure of whether or not Avery was interested, he wasn't now.


He didn't go too far, not wanting to freak him out if he had no interest.


Tuck pulled in a slow breath, let it go slower, and relaxed under the firm press of those warm hands.  He half turned his head, just enough to look back at the taller boy.


"Want me to get up?" Blue eyes gazed at him with interest.


He licked at his lower lip, shaking his head before laying his cheek on the bed.


"Mmm, more of a massage or.." He ran his fingers up his back, tilting a bit.


Again he'd shiver, eyes closing briefly before he looked back up at him.  "What else did you have in mind?"


"Something a little more physical." He dragged his fingers down, testing.


He made a small sound, eyes closing again with the rush of goosebumps that followed the stroke of Avery's finger.  After a moment he rose up to rest on his elbows, head tipped up and to the side.


Hesitantly he leaned forward, pressing a kiss on his shoulder.


He tilted his head as lips brushed his shoulder, eyes half lidded.  "Are you looking for something potentially lasting, or more of a one time sort of deal..?"  He almost hadn't asked, because if it was the latter that'd be disappointing.  Not a hard no, but disappointing.


"Lasting would be nice, considering proximity, but I would understand if you have no interest in it. Won't offend me." He replied with his lips brushing his skin.


Swallowing, he turned his head until his cheek brushed Avery's temple.  He wasn't worried about the blush now, not now that he knew he wasn't reading the situation wrong.  "Why me?"  There were other boys on the soccer team, taller, more built, less awkward.


"I like people who are good at what they do, and like I said, despite your size you were better than the others." It was a bit shallow, but usually he found people that dedicated had reasons, like him.


Another small sound, and he turned his head to brush his lips against Avery's eyes closed, brows creased.


He pressed a tentative kiss to his lips, and again a little more eager.


Tuck gave a soft hum at the second kiss, lips parting in a subtle invitation to make it deeper.


He deepened it, letting his tongue slip past as his hands skimmed his skin again.


He opened his mouth wider, pressed his tongue back against Avery's, tentative at first, and then more sure as he felt the warmth of those strong hands on his back again.


His hands roamed, touching every part of his bare skin as he continued to explore his mouth generously.


Tuck sighed against Avery's mouth, hands curling in the blanket, and a part of him wanted to turn, wanted to be able to reach other boy as well, but there was something about not being able to.


He nipped tentatively at his lower lip, giving him a moment to catch his breath before moving down his jaw.


It'd make his breath hitch, pull a small sound from him that was almost protest as Avery started to work his way down, but it quieted.


He continued, alternating between kisses and nips along his shoulders and then to his back.


He felt a little dazed, had to catch his breath as Avery worked lips and teeth down his shoulder and around.  He ducked his head, catching his lip between his teeth, and his hips shifted beneath the taller boy's frame.


He continued down, teasing a bit as his hands slid to hem of his pants, fingertips pressing into his hips.


"Shit..."  It was soft, breathy, and the press of fingertips into his hips had him arching back into it before he lowered back to lay against the bed.  "Let me roll over?"


Avery chuckled and moved to get off the bed. "Of course."


He hadn't wanted him to get off completely, and as he rolled onto his side he looked back up at him, his hand drifting down to adjust the front of his pants, and the contents of his pocket.  "You didn't have to go that far."


"I thought it would be easier on you." He put a knee on the bed, leaning down to kiss his lips.


Tucker reached out to curl his fingers into the front of Avery's shirt, pulling softly even as he leaned in again, and he tipped his head up for the kiss as he rolled onto his back.  He could touch him now, slide his free hand up along the length of a muscled arm, over the broad curve of his shoulder to the side of his neck.  So out of his league, and it'd been him Avery had wanted to meet.


He deepened the kiss, his hands trailing down now to his stomach, to his hips.


There were a few burns and other scars on the front as well, but he didn't shy away from the stroke of tanned hands along his stomach.  He curled his hand along the back of Avery's neck, fingers sliding up into that bright, unusual hair, curling gently so he was holding, but not pulling.  His lips parted easily, and he slid his tongue against Avery's, head tipping.


His fingers twirled, not treating the scars any differently than the rest of him, instead they memorized it. He sucked on his tongue more eager than before.


Tuck pulled at the front of his shirt again to draw him closer still before smoothing that hand along his side to his back, exploring the way the taller boy felt under the tee shirt.  He moaned softly into the kiss before drawing back enough that he could catch his breath, attempt to gather his bearings.  "God, you're hot," he managed breathlessly, admiringly, as he looked up at him.


He would feel toned muscles and scars scattered across his skin under the shirt, none uniformed and most either patches or long jagged ones.  Watching him under blue eyes he smirked at the compliment. "You are pretty hot yourself."

4
Roleplaying / All stars [Avery/Tucker]
« on: January 26, 2020, 10:42:10 AM »
Getting back on the field regularly after everything that'd been happening in the previous few weeks felt good.  Helped him through the anxiety and restless energy that would otherwise have been creeping in to overwhelm him.  Part of that might have been just being able to get out and move around freely again, but there was something extremely cathartic about getting back into the game he loved playing.

At the moment they were running suicides, sprinting back and forth from one end of the field to gradually further points along the length of it.  They were killer, Tucker was good at them.  The boys with the longer legs started faster, but he had the stamina, and as they slowed he kept going.

He only just caught the bright glimpse of color from the stands as he dipped to smack the line in the grass.  A brief glance, pale features puzzled, and then he was off again.  He was pretty sure maybe he'd seen him before, but couldn't recall when or where.


Bright blue eyes followed as the players ran up and down the field, as Avery slowly let himself get lost in thought. The last few weeks, between his roommate's new girlfriend and the letters he had received, he didn't want to just be sitting around on his bed staring at the ceiling like a rat caught in a corner.

As the whistle blew it drew him back, staring at the figures as they continued to practice, a few of them he had seen around campus, a few he wouldn't mind getting to know.


Tuck slowed into a jog as the whistle blew, head back, and legs feeling just a touch like Jell-O, but he knew better than to stop moving. Jogging slowed to walking, and he pulled the hem of his shirt up to wipe at his face before catching sight of the colorful hair a second time.  He dropped his shirt back into place as he gave the taller boy a longer look, brows drawn thoughtfully before his coach was calling them together so he could wrap up the practice.

Five minutes later and they were being dismissed to the locker room, and baby blues flicked up once again to meet that bright gaze as he headed in to clean up.


Avery was still in the same spot, he had some realization that the practice had ended but he hadn't really considered moving from where he was. Instead he drew his eyes to the figure he had been watching earlier, shorter than the others but he was doing well despite missing a few weeks.


It'd take about ten minutes for Tucker to grab a quicky shower to wash the sweat away, then he'd reemerged from the locker room in a graphic tee and a pair of soccer pants with his bag slung over one shoulder.  Dark hair was a little unruly -- he continuously forgot to bring a comb or brush of any kind -- but he certainly didn't smell like sweat or dirt, which was the point.  He paused as he walked out into the sun, head tipping to the side to flick his gaze across the stands again, looking for the figure that had been there before, unsure whether he hoped he was or wasn't.

He'd seen him watching, it made him a touch uneasy.


He stared, more like a space cadet,  before blinking and realizing he had been staring too much at the dark haired figure down below. Shit... He muttered to himself as he realized there was a gaze directed back at him,  Now not only did he draw a bit of attention but he looked like a freaking creeper.

Raising a hand he tried to brush it off, casually. "Sorry, I was daydreaming.. off into space..."


Half turning, Tucker sank his hands into his pockets.  "Day dreaming earlier too?" It was about as round-about as he could think to ask why he'd been watching earlier.  A few weeks ago Tucker wouldn't have noticed if there'd been people watching in the stands, no one was ever there for him anyways.  Now?  He was just a touch paranoid.


"That and avoiding walking in on my roommate and his girlfriend when they forget what time my practice ends." He folded his arms on his knees as he attempted to put some sort of vague smile on.


"You're a student?"  There was another reason Tucker had a single dorm all to himself.  No awkward walk ins.

He was trying to recall where he might have seen him.  If he had practice, if he was a student, then he was probably on a sports team.  Football maybe?  He had the figure for it.


"Yea." His fingers twitching a bit before glancing towards the fields and back to him. "I'm on the rugby team, or what scramble bit of a rugby team we have."


Rugby made sense.

And with that confirmed Tucker's somewhat chilly disposition thawed.  His brows relaxing, frown fading into a small smile.  Wariness melting away to plain old curiosity.  "Do you watch our practice a lot?"


"Lately yea, takes my mind off of school and junk. Not to mention I try to see if there is any sort of tricks I could use in a rugby match." The tension eased, finally, as he noticed the smile. "If I had any sense I'd try to recruit a few more members to our side."


He cracked a genuine smile.  "How's that going, trying to pick up tricks?"  He had a vague idea of how rugby worked.  It seemed like a mash up between football and soccer, to him, but there was probably more to it.


"Not bad, helps to think outside the box on plays." He shrugged with a loop-sided grin.


It was a nice grin, kind of infectious, easy to return.  And not just a pretty face.  "True enough.  Glad we could help, then."


"You're not bad." Really he wanted to say good but that grin was too good. "How long have you been playing soccer?"


He blinked, like he wasn't used to anyone other than his coaches or his team noticing him.  "Thanks," he said a little hesitantly.  "Uh, since I was seven, or eight maybe."


"Not a chance I could get you to play rugby?" He joked as he got up, slinging his bag over his shoulder before holding out a hand. "Avery."


"I don't think so, I'd rather not get dogpiled on by a bunch of guys roughly the same size as you.  Sounds like it'd hurt." He grinned again, stepping closer to the stands so he could reach up to take the offered hand.  "I'm Tucker.”


"Nice to have a name to the face." He gave a firm shake, calloused fingertips that felt strange to the touch. "That’s the fun of the sport."


A dark brow arched at that, lips twitching up in the corners, again, like he wasn't quite used to the attention.  It distracted from Tucker noticing anything about the handshake other than the strength in his hand.  "Getting hurt is the fun part?"  He said it skeptically, amused, gaze on the band-aid across his nose.


"For me yea, but then again it could just be a cheap way to burn out anger when I need to." He gave a wide grin as he finally stepped down to the ground.


He was taller than he'd seemed while standing up on the bleachers.  Tucker had to tip his head up to meet that bright gaze.  "Sports are good for that," he agreed easily.  "What year are you in?"


"Start of Junior year. You?" He pulled the strap higher up on his shoulder as he slowly started to head towards the dining hall.


It was easy to follow, to fall into step beside the taller boy.  He had to head that way anyways.  "Me too."


"What major?" He rose a brow, maybe he had seen him around on the campus but knowing him he was trying to keep his head down doing so.


"Economics," he answered with a shrug, fully aware it wasn't the most glamorous of majors.  "You?"


"International studies and German." It was a lot but so far he had found they sort of went hand in hand, sort of.


He turned wide eyes up to the tall boy beside him.  It was a more impressive field of study than Tucker was pursuing, for sure.  But Tuck hadn't known what he'd wanted to do.  "Third year German,  I'm assuming?"


"Yea, I mean I knew German before starting, and a few other languages." He shrugged as he gave a somewhat shy smile at the compliment.


"Really?"  More impressed, head tipping as he gave the big guy a considering look.  "From high school, or something?  And what other languages?"


"Sort of, home schooling mostly." He sort of shrugged it off a bit. "My mom knew a lot of languages."


His chin dipped in a small nod.  "Fluent in anything else?"


"French, Spanish, and my Italian isn’t too bad. I learned a little Manadarin and Japanese but its not really worth the attempt to speak to someone else." He scratched at his cheek at the bandaid there.


"Shit."  He could barely stumble through basic Spanish.  "That's...ha, really impressive."  An almost nervous chuckle followed, Tuck dragging his hands from his pockets to sweep them back through messy hair before kneading his fingers at the back of his neck.  "I feel a bit outclassed."


He chuckled and gave a shrug. "My mom drilled the languages into my brain, so really it's just a lot of practice. Nothing special."


There was still that sense of inadequacy, and maybe a little envy, not that he let the latter show.  "Useful to have, though."


"It was, so I figured I would just keep learning it and maybe make some semblance of a job." He glanced at him.


He pressed his thumbs into the muscles between shoulders and spine to loosen them up a little.  He'd been all knotted up for well over a week now.  It didn't bother him during practice or games, but after, or in class, he felt stiff.  "That's the sort of thing that seems pretty high-demand."


"Yea, at least I don't have to struggle for a job later, though economics is good.  Math really isn't something I have a handle on." He eyed him, watching him trying to loosen his back up. "Tense?"


"I like math."  It was idle, absent almost, wincing just a bit as he pushed awkwardly against a tight knot.  "Yeah, a bit.  I think I might have slept funny."


"I could help with that." He said idly as he scanned the campus ahead.


He flicked his eyes up to him again, trying to read past that idle offer.  "What do you mean?"


"Something I used to do to help ease back pain." He shrugged not wanting to make it sound weirder, it was more of a sports thing really.


His hands lowered slowly, brows twitching.  "What sort of a thing?"  He definitely didn't sound put off.


"Massage, rub down a bit." He held up his hands, just in case. "We sometimes do it in rugby after a couple of rough hits or being at the bottom of a dog pile."


He opened his mouth, closed it, baby blues sliding down along broad shoulders and muscled arms before he had to look away altogether as he felt warmth starting to raise up in his cheeks.  "D-do you go around offering to massage all the soccer players you chat with?"


"No, just to teammates really." He shoved the heat down his throat at what he said.


He wasn't sure if that cleared things up or just made it more confusing.  Pale features were thoughtful, and there was a longish moment of consideration before he glanced back up again, just long enough to see Avery's face before he answered.  "Sure, alright."


Avery nodded, a hint of a smirk on his lips at at least not getting punched in the gut for his words. "I would suggest the locker room but that means turning back, but my roommate is not someone you want to run into."


"We could go back, unless you were heading this way to get something to eat."  A hand came up to adjust the strap on his bag so it wasn't digging quite as sharply.  "You're roommate a dick?"


"A little hungry yea, but I can wait." He grinned as he nodded. "Very, my fault for trying to be cheapish."


"I could eat."  Practices usually left him pretty hungry.  "Could grab something portable, eat on the way back."


"Sounds like a plan to me." At least he wouldn't have to ignore his stomach longer.


Tucker smiled as a plan was agreed upon, but didn't say anything for a moment.  Instead, he kept his eyes on the path they were walking.  "Your roommate bigger than you or something?  Couldn't you just pin him to floor if he was being shitty?"  He grabbed for the handle of the mess hall door as they reached it, hauling it open.


"Nah, a bit smaller but if I pined him to the floor he is likely to spit in my face and say something about it." He shrugged a bit. "Plus I'd have to deal with his passive bullshitness the rest of the year."


He wrinkled his nose, holding the door for Avery before following him inside.  "That sucks.  Are you in a dorm, or an apartment?"


"Dorm, I am hoping to get out of it at the end of the term." He slipped past him into the bustle of the cafeteria hall.

5
Roleplaying / Re: Charmed [Rabi/Tucker/Lukas]
« on: January 24, 2020, 08:25:54 PM »
Tucker bristled, reacting to the sharpness in Rabi's tone.  "I'm involved because you involved me.  And yeah, I could just give it back, take you at your word that you'll do what you said you'd do, but that's a lot of trust to put in someone, and you've never done anything to earn even a sliver of my trust."  He'd had a week to mule it all over, and there was something more than just answering anger in his tone.  Something tired and worn down.  "So no, it's not just your life being fucked around with."


"You have the option to leave." He leaned forward again, still sharp. "You think you get to make this choice, why, because you have it now?"


"Leave where, Rabi?  Where am I gunna go?"  His hands came up, palms pressing into his face as he sighed before dropping back to his sides.  "You think any of this is what I want?  I don't want this.  I don't want to keep you trapped here, but I don't want to get fucked over, either."


He shrugged, gesturing loosely at Tucker. "That's still your decision. You have the choice."


He looked almost miserable, like he would have preferred to be almost anywhere else.  "It's not much of one, is it? Make us both unhappy, or give you what your want and hope you're feeling charitable enough to not only make all this mess disappear, but also not simply burn me where I stand the second you don't need me anymore."


"It's still an option." He shrugged, tapping fingers against his arm. "It's a choice."


Pale eyes flicked away from Rabi and around the room before landing on the clock and he made a small sound at the back of his throat.  "I have to go to class."  It was an out, and he was going to take it, backing towards the door with a hand back to grope for the handle.


"Uh huh." He didn't look impressed, or like he believed it -- just watched Tucker somewhat flatly.


His fingers wrapped around the handle, but he paused just long enough to look around the room for the books he'd left there the week before.  When he didn't see them he looked back at Rabi like he wasn't entirely sure if he wanted to ask for them back just then.  Not the best time.  He'd ask later.

Eyes too wide, he pulled the door open and hurried through it, letting it close behind him as he moved swiftly back down the hall to leave the building.


He'd have time to stress about it -- or get over it -- before he was due to meet Lukas that evening -- in a coffee shop that was very hip, with communal coffee table seating and high ceilings and an island bar. And Lukas nowhere in sight again.


At least he had class as a distraction, which did help.  He'd put all his focus on that, and when the last one wrapped up he'd make his way to the coffee shop with the help of the pen, dropping the disguise before he arrived after ducking into a convenience store bathroom.

Then he'd wait, nudging the handle of a mug sitting in front of him in an absent, twitchy way.  Gaze turned out the window, but his mind was elsewhere.

Only five minutes late or so, Lukas sat down next to him with a coffee that smelled like lavender and a pastry that was huge and flecked with chocolate chips. "Rough day?"


He looked up as Lukas sat down and flashed him a wane smile.  "Little bit."  Tucker had most of vanilla latte left.


He broke the pastry in half to offer Tucker half, absently. "Some days are like that. And others, you make a couple grand."


It made him smile softly, lips tugging up at the corners as he pinched a piece off the offered pastry to try it.  "Thanks."  Though it was followed by a small snort and a laugh.  "I'd like to know what the latter feels like."


"It feels like the opposite of being caught and ending up in prison." He smiled at Tucker, a little more gently this time.


He flicked his eyes up, brows arching.  "Is that experience talking?"


"I plead the fifth." He grinned at Tucker again, easy, leaning over to hook his bag.


The answering grin came easily, and tugged another piece of the pastry off, bigger this time.  "Well I definitely don't want to know what that feels like."


"It happens to the best of us, clearly." He dug into the bag to pull out a small box -- not actually a ring box, it looked like a takeout container.


Tuck sat up straighter when he saw the box, leaning on his arms as he finished off the bit of pastry he'd torn off.  Eager to see just what Lukas had come up with.


He wiggled it in his grasp, but didn't hand it over just yet: instead he held onto it as he took a sip. "Trade you."


"Oh, right."  He straightened so he could pull the bundle of neat bills from his pocket, and then handed it over after counting it just to be sure.  "Here."


In return, he gave Tucker the box, and he could tear in if he wanted. The ring was a simple band, hammered, darker than silver.


He'd open it once it was in his hands to pull the ring out, turning it in his hands before testing to see which finger it'd fit on best.  "What kind of metal is this?  Not silver."


"It's silver, just oxidized." It'd probably fit best on his middle finger; big but hopefully not too loose. Once it was on, Lukas caught his hand to test the fit, carefully.


Lukas catching his hand would make him jerk, initially, but he relaxed quickly, pale eyes rolling up from tanned fingers to the other man's face, watching for just a moment before looking back down.


"I think it'll hold." His eyebrows knitted, Lukas looked serious for the moment -- thoughtful.


Tuck tipped his head, brows arching curiously.  "What does that mean?"  It didn't sound especially comforting.  "There's a chance it won't?"


He blinked, once, then looked up at Tucker with the smile back in place. "If it were too big it'd slip off, and then what would it do you?"


"Oh.  Yeah.  I thought you meant something else.  Not the fit."  He flexed his fingers gently, eyes on the band.  "How much stronger is it supposed to make me?"


"You'll have to make a fist for it to do anything -- it'll help keep you from smashing your phone when you hold it, and all that." He tapped the back of the band. "But you should pack a wallop. I wouldn't face off against a vampire, but...."


"Good thinking."  Knowing him, accidently crushing his phone would have been a real concern.  "I'll have to be careful with soccer."


He blinked at the idea, and then looked amused, picking up the rest of the pastry for a big bite. "Or take it off."


He worked his head thoughtfully, running his thumb along the inside of the band.  "Or that."  He'd hate to forget to put it back on, though.


"String around the neck." He chewed thoughtfully, his head cocked. "Not too hard."


That would work.  That'd work real well.  "That's a good idea.  I don't want to accidentally knock a teammate out."


"No, I imagine not." It made him smile, all at once, eyebrows raised. "They'd wonder, if nothing else."


"Just a bit," he agreed, smiling back.  "Might like the extra oomph getting the ball across the field, though."  Which was absolutely cheating.


"They might wonder about that, too." He settled his elbows on the table and looked around the place, absently.


"Better to just avoid it." He reached out to pull his mug closer as he said it, lifting it to take a long drink now that it wasn't scalding.


He looked back to Tucker, quick, faintly amused. "I suppose so."


He shrugged somewhat helplessly, because he was out of his depth and Lukas already knew that.  No sense pretending he knew what he was doing.  "So is this like, indefinite?  The charm?"


"Things like this usually gain strength over time." He spread a hand, absently. "It's just a little boost now..."


"Really?"  Brows arched as he looked back at the ring.  "I was worried the...I don't know, magical potency, or whatever you'd call it, would fade over time."


"No, not generally. But when I say over time, I mean..." He licked his lips, looking for words. "These things become stronger over hundreds of years. It probably won't change much in your lifetime."


"Ah."  Mild disappointment, then a small shrug.  "But so long as it doesn't get weaker over time that's still great."


"Right." He smiled at Tucker. "That or figure out how to survive a couple hundred years, right? Though most of the options I've found have some extreme downsides."


He cocked his head to the side.  "Like being a vampire?"  A very tiny smile played at the corner of his lips.  Like even knowing they existed now, it was impossible to shake that last kernel of doubt.

]
"Yeah, like that." He made a little face, and picked up the pastry. "To never eat again...oof."

]
"Not being able to go out in the sun," he added, wrinkling his nose.  It definitely wasn't for him.  "Hard pass."

]
"No Mexican adventures." He took a big bite of his pastry, shaking his head. "Seems too much to me."

]
"Couldn't finish school.  Couldn't work a normal job.  It's too much to give up."  He took another drink, looking thoughtful.  "But I guess if the choice was between that and dying.  Not eventually, but like, on the spot."


"I just feel like with enough effort I can find something better." He shrugged just a little bit, sipping at his coffee -- and sighing. Cool already.


"Probably."  This was definitely outside his wheelhouse, but he enjoyed the speculation.  And Lukas was just easy to talk to.


"Worst case I sell my soul." He smiled suddenly, like it was a joke. Maybe it was.


It got a startled blink, Tucker lifting his head from the rim of his mug.  "That's a real thing?"


"I'm sure it is." He said it agreeably, unconcerned. "To someone. The fae like that sort of thing..."


"They do?"  Well now he was glad he'd avoided the fae on the list Beau has given him for another reason.   He huffed a sigh as he took another drink.


"Sure. I'll give you power, all you have to do is promise to follow by my rules exactly and never step out of line -- if that's not selling your soul, I'm not sure what is." He shrugged just a bit.


He wrinkled his nose, glancing away.  There was a familiarity to it that left a bad taste in his mouth.  "Hard pass on that, too."  The ring tapped lightly against the ceramic in his hands.  "It'd be handy if there was like an encyclopedia for shit like that."  Avoid the fae was sound advice, but now he knew why.


"There are dozens of encyclopedia; just look up any book of fairy tales or any myth. Not all of it is true, of course, but a good amount of it is grounded in experience." He watched Tucker out of the corner of his eye.


Maybe he'd give searching for the pin another go, now that he knew a little more about what Rabi could do.  And it wouldn't hurt to have at least some minor understanding of what could possibly be out there.  He spun the ring on his finger as he considered it.  "You're pretty in the know around here, yeah?  What would you say is the most dangerous thing in this city to cross paths with?"


Lukas blinked a bit, looking down at him -- and hesitated as he thought it over a bit. "One on one, or....well, I mean, physically or politically?"


Pale eyes rolled back to look up at him.  "All of the above?"


"Politically, I'd say the fae; they're well connected, rich, and old. They know the rules better than most." He tapped fingers against his elbows, weighing it over. "Physically, a dragon. They're temperamental and hard to predict. And might eat you."


"Do they all just look human, or are there ways of telling they're not?"  He'd set the mug down completely, head turned back to watch the other man.


"Some things look human, and some don't." He finished off the pastry, idly, his eyes flicking briefly toward the counter, where a twenty-something with facial piercings was working on orders. "Some things don't look human but are."


Tuck followed Lukas' line of sight but gave a small sigh, still confused.  Not so straight forward as he'd hoped.


"You'll figure it out. Or you won't." That made him grin back at Tucker again. He finished off his (cold) coffee.


"Sink or swim, right?"  He said it jokingly, but there was a thread of anxiety to it as he finished off the rest of his latte as well.


"If you're clever, you might do better than just survive." He shrugged, shoved the last bite of pastry into his mouth, and swiped his hands clean.


"If," he agreed softly, almost ruefully.  He wasn't sure he'd count himself as clever, or he might not have landed in the mess he was in.

But he'd managed so far, so maybe.


Lukas laughed again, grabbing his bag and shrugging at Tucker. "Or you could end up chasing down vampires. Not sure that's clever at all."


"Ha, no.  I think I'll pass on that."  He stood, gathering up Lukas' plate and mug as well as his own.  "Sounds like the opposite of survival."


"No one ever accused me of being smart." He stood as well, smoothly, head cocked to the side.


He chuckled as he grabbed his bag as well, balancing the dishes in one hand to sling it over his shoulder.  "I dunno, you seem pretty smart to me."


"Kind of you to say so." He watched Tucker another moment, then shifted to fish out his phone and check the time. "Call if you have problems."


"Will do."  He set the dishes on the little bit of counter designated for it and glanced back.  "And I know you said not to say it, but still, thanks."  It might have been a business deal, but Lukas could have refused.


He rumbled a little, amused despite himself. "Did I do you a favor?"


Tucker shrugged, smiling back.  "You didn't know know me, still don't, really. You could have said no."


"Well, you can just owe me one." He took a step back as he said it, head tipped to the side.

He made a face, still smiling, and lifted a hand to wave him out the door.

6
Roleplaying / Charmed [Rabi/Tucker/Lukas]
« on: January 24, 2020, 08:25:07 PM »
It would be radio silence from Tucker in the following days.  The younger man holding onto that irritation and stewing in it to the point that even when he did start going back to classes a couple of days after he wouldn't contact Rabi to ask for his school books back.  He'd borrow from classmates, only long enough to get his homework done, and when asked why he'd been so scarce lately he'd told them he'd caught a bad virus that'd knocked him on his ass for a week and change.

The story was the same for his coach and his teammates.  A stomach bug, something that would have made practicing a nightmare, and they hadn’t pushed it.

Having a routine again helped with the ever present low buzz of anxiety he'd been existing in since he'd gotten wrapped up in everything.  It was easier to ignore it when he was busy, and for small pockets of time he even forgot his world was a chaotic mess, if only for a few minutes.

Certainly not in art class, though.  It'd be the only place he'd run into Rabi, if he was even there teaching.


The first class it was a sub: a reprieve, for Tucker, not only because it wasn't Rabi, but also because the woman seemed into his work, gave him easy high marks for his classwork. But the second, Rabi showed up: with his hair wildly red and dressed halfway to rockstar, with flame colored boots and pants that fit and probably most of the class was going to be distracted, today.


Tucker would stare at him for a handful of moments at the top of the class, brows drawn, before shaking his head and concentrating on whatever work they had for the day.  And maybe he had learned something from Rabi's constant picking, or maybe he was just making adjustments so he didn't draw attention, but he'd put more creativity into it than normal.  More mediums, less structured.


If he'd thought that Rabi nitpicking was bad, this would probably be worse: completely ignored in favor of any other student in the class, his focus gone elsewhere. He got no critiques, no comments or suggestions for improvement. He'd have to figure it out himself.


Would have been worse, if Tucker hadn't still been obviously unhappy with the man.  He didn't try to get his attention, didn't even try to catch his eye.  He worked quietly, and as the time started rounding out at the end he'd clean up his supplies and put everything away without so much as a word.  Then he waited, patiently, for the clock to tick over so he could leave.


Still not a moment's hesitation; no call after for him to stay after class, just Rabi focused on one of the simple blondes who'd decided to make her assignment with makeup. Maybe more focused on her than it really deserved.


He wasn’t the first out the door when it was time, but it was close.  He slung his bag up on his shoulder and walked out, his free hand slipping into his pocket.  Heading to his next class like there was absolutely nothing going on.


Maybe there wasn't; maybe it was just on his end. But Rabi didn't show up to help him out or hand him more money. He had his own projects on his plate.


A break from the constant chaos, then.  Rabi could go about whatever tasks he had without Tucker calling and bothering him, and Tuck could pretend his life hadn’t been turned upside down, at least that week.  Eventually Lukas would call about the charm.


Eight or nine days; it wasn't exactly a week, that was for sure. And he called around eleven at night, when Tucker was probably not at his best.


He'd already been asleep for about an hour, and it'd show in the grogginess of his voice when he answered.  "Hello?"  It'd taken a tired moment to remember who the number belonged to.


"Drinking yourself under the table again?" In contrast, Lukas sounded chipper, fully awake.


He rolled into his back, rubbing a hand over his face before answering.  "Not this time.  I started going to class again earlier in the week."


He made a quiet, amused sound, rustling through some papers. "A likely story."


"Likely cause it's true," he tossed back easily.  There was a pause as he tipped his head to look at the clock.  "What's up?"


"I have something for you." It wasn't suggestive. It shouldn't have been. But the laugh behind it made it that way, maybe. "When can you get out?"


Quiet as he thought it over.  There was certainly a part of him that wanted to say he could meet him now, but not only was that reckless, he didn't have the rest of the cash on him.  But maybe Lukas would hear that little bit of regret in his voice.  "Tomorrow evening?"


He hummed a tiny bit, amused again, and it came through in his voice. "Afternoon? I have to run out tomorrow night."


"What time?  I have practice at three, so I could do it early afternoon."  He might have to skip a class, but what was another absence?


"Before or after?" He tapped fingers against the phone, fidgety. "I have sunset plans."


"After would be great, anytime after five.  We should be done by then."  No missed classes, either.  "Where?"


"Coffee shop, called Neutral Grounds." It was immediate, unhesitating. "I can text you the address."


"That works.  I'll meet you there at five thirty then?"  Which gave him plenty of time to get the rest of the money.


"Five thirty, but be quick because I'll have to run." He let Tucker go, to get his own things together.


He said goodbye, and then lay there for a long moment debating before scrolling through his contacts to find Rabi's office number.  It was late, but he could leave a message.  But better to reach out now, so it wasn't hanging over his head while he tried to get back to sleep.


It rang through; he wouldn't have to deal with Rabi tonight, at least. He could leave a message for later.


There was something a little unsettling about Rabi not answering.  "It's me.  The charms finished.  I need the rest of the money so I can pick it up tomorrow after practice."  Short and to the point.  There was a slight pause before he hung up, but he didn't add anything else.  Just rolled over to go back to sleep.


Rabi's call back was at four in the morning. Which had to be intentional.


He sounded half dead when he answered with a groan.  "It's four in the morning, dude."  It also sounded like he'd dragged the phone under the blankets with him.


"You need money?" Rabi sounded smooth, just a little mean. "How are you planning on getting it?"


There was a silent pause, but when Tucker spoke again he sounded more alert, less groggy.  "By reminding you that this was your idea."  He sounded restrained, like there was more he could have added but had biten it back.


"I don't think the charm was my idea." It was still casual. Expectant. Mocking, but subtly so.


"You suggested enhancing physical strength.  I'd call that your idea."  It was level and sure.


Rabi laughed at him, though, so maybe it wasn't that good an argument.


Tucker didn't say anything at first, but there was the subtle shift of blankets.  "Is this how it's going to be now?


"I don't know." He let his tone go easy, pointedly relaxed. "You told me I couldn't be a dick, but then you expertly took over that position yourself."


"How am I being a dick?"  He pushed his hand through his hair, settling against his pillow in s resigned sort of way.


"You called me this afternoon to demand that I deliver you a large amount of money." Something crept in; something that sapped the casual edge from his voice and made it sharper, more dangerous. "Does this mean you can demand money whenever you want? You don't need to speak to me, you can just make demands?"


His brows dipped at the tone.  "I wasn't demanding, I said I needed it.  I assumed at least some of that money was meant for this reason."  A slight pause.  "Are you pissed I wasn't talking to you?"


"I'm pissed that you think you can call me and demand things without..." He drew in a careful breath. "I'm pissed you think I'm at your beck and call."


"I've never thought that."  The frown carried through his voice, puzzled.  "I don't think I've demanded anything from you.  I've asked for help, but that's not the same thing."


"If you don't think that message was a demand, then I don't know what is." It didn't soften him a bit. "Think on it." And he hung up.


He'd opened his mouth to respond but Rabi had hung up on him.  And at that point he was too irritated by the entire interaction to go back to sleep so he'd gotten up and showered, gotten ready for the day.

And it was still too early for class at that point, so he made his way towards the art building, because maybe things would go better if they talked face to face instead.


The office door was closed, but the lights were on -- so if he knocked, Rabi might let him in. Or not; it wasn't exactly office hours.


He lingered outside for a few moments wondering how he'd gone from feeling justifiably pissed to vaguely guilty, and finally knocked.


There was a movement -- a beat of silence -- and then Rabi came to open the door, still dressed up. There was even more red in his hair, now, and one rough streak of yellow. He looked Tucker over without inviting him in.


He flicked his gaze up to the yellow streak and then back down.  "I should have phrased it better."  He was tired, unhappy, his hands disappearing into his pockets.  "I was mad before and that made it awkward, so it came out very curt."


"Uh huh." He cocked his head just a little bit, eyebrows raised. "And now you're here to ask nicer?"


"That too."  His frowned smoothed from cranky into something more confused.


"Naturally." He slid hands into his pockets, rolling his shoulders back carefully. And waited.


Tucker sighed, looking down at his feet for a moment before bringing pale eyes up again.  "Can you pay for the rest of the charm, please?"


He mulled it over, resting his hip against the doorframe and thinking it over. "I'm not just a bank."


Tucker blinked, a little startled maybe, and he stood up straighter.  "This is to keep you safe as much as it is me, isn't it?"  Something had changed, and he wasn't sure what it was.  "I thought-" It sounded stupid in his head, and he bit back the rest of that statement, exhaling sharply.  "Can we talk about this in your office, please?"  Standing in the hall, he felt very exposed.


"Fine." He stepped back, finally, to go take a place behind his desk -- where he was going through sketches.


A little tension seeped from his shoulders as he followed him in, but he reached up to rub at the back of his neck like it was sore.  Maybe it was.  "This isn't just about me."  He glanced around maybe looking for his school books before looking back at Rabi.  "You're not a bank, but the charms not just to keep me safe."


"If you don't talk to someone aside from when you want money from them, that makes them a bank." He didn't look up at Tucker as he said it.


He made a rude sound.  "I didn't talk to you because I was mad at you.  It's got nothing to do with you having all the money we need right now."


Rabi snorted at him, finally flicking up a look. "Nursing imaginary wounds."


"You implied I was too stupid or too horny to keep from putting us both in danger, and that's after getting pissy for whatever fucking reason.  You were being an ass."  He folded his arms, dark brows drawn down.  "And it doesn't even matter, because you were avoiding me as much as I was avoiding you."


"You were being stupid. You were flirting with a magician who straight up hinted you should give him hair and blood." He leaned back, then, voice sharpening. "You were very drunk."


"Drunk or not, I didn't give him either, and I didn't tell him anything about you, the pin, why John's after me, or any of it."   Pale eyes narrowed in response to Rabi's tone.  "And it doesn't matter if I was flirting, he's not interested in me aside from the money he's making off me."

He shrugged, indifferently, head tilted to the side. "How do you know?"


His shoulders hiked up a little, head turning to look at one of the paintings.  "Because, as you say, I'm transparent as hell.  If he'd wanted anything to do with me he would have made a move."


"If he wanted to fuck you he'd make a move." It was clearly deliberately blunt, his chin tipped up.


"He didn't, so he doesn't."  He still wasn't looking at him, and pale cheeks were a shade darker


"That doesn't mean there's nothing else he wants from you." Rabi snorted at him, unimpressed.


"There's nothing else I have that he's got any knowledge of."  He glanced back, finally, frowning.


Rabi shrugged, frowning at him still -- annoyed, definitely, though it was hard to tell why.


He watched him for a long moment like he was trying to puzzle something out, chewing at his cheek, and finally just shook his head.  "We don't have to deal with him anymore after today, cause I'm not hiring a bodyguard."


"That's fine." He stared at Tucker back, arms folding over his chest. Considering it. "I have cash."


Long breath in, slow exhale, and he nodded.  "We already paid half, so I have to give him the second half today, then that's it."  He wouldn't need Rabi's money after that.


"Mhm. How much?" He looked Tucker over, his head tilted just slightly to one side.


"Eleven hundred."  He shifted, tapping the toe of his boot against the floor as he looked down, arms still crossed."


He counted it out of the bag and then dropped it onto the desk in front of Tucker, roughly.


He looked down at it for a moment before unfolding his arms and stepping up to the desk so he could collect it.  "Thank you."


Rabi shrugged, folding arms over his chest again. "You're still fucking with my life when you do stupid things."


His head tilted as he looked down at him, and there was something conflicted there, for just a moment.  "That goes both ways."


"No, the only reason you're involved at all is because you're holding onto that fucking pin." It was sharper than he meant, definitely; it prickled at the edges of things. "You have the option to leave all this."

7
Roleplaying / Re: Late night summons [Rowan and Fletcher]
« on: January 20, 2020, 08:23:13 AM »
"Play it until you've got it a hundred percent." He hesitated just a little bit, adjusting the way that he sat into a more comfortable sprawl, propped on the armrest. "Then wake me up and play it again."


A small flicker of a smile as he picked the instrument up and settled it on his leg again.  "Alright."  If it'd help, he was happy to do it.  He'd have been happy to regardless, but that was probably the magic.  Either way, he looked back up at the music and started plucking at the strings again.  Still slowly, but there'd be considerably less errors and his singing was more sure of itself from the start.


It was tricky fingering; it was definitely going to take him a bit to get it all right, and then it was up to Fletcher to decide what 'a hundred percent' meant, in terms of dynamics, and tone, sticking to the script versus making his own adjustments. Rowan would definitely tell him if it was wrong.


When finished the first playthrough he headed straight into another, tempo picking up so he could play with the pacing.  Over and over again until he had to lyrics down, fingers moving by muscle memory.  Enough to shift until he was sitting with his back against the couch Rowan was lounging on, one leg stretched out and one curved close.


Rowan slept, but it was more of a doze than a deep, dead to the world sleep. At some point, he reached out idly to put his hand on the top of Fletcher's head and let it rest there, fingers just barely moving. It was a sharp contrast to the edges and danger of being in his bedroom. Or even the limo.


He'd tip his head back at the feel of those fingers moving slowly through his hair, eyes closing as he played.  It was very relaxing, and Fletcher took his time, made sure he could play the song through without the slightest hiccup.  He'd play with the pacing and the highs and lows in his singing until it sounded right, to him.  Maybe twenty minutes, maybe longer, but when he thought he had it he reached up to touch the hand on his head, sliding his fingers back over his knuckles and up over his wrist.


"You stopped again." Barely asleep, then; just enough to make his voice rough and rumbly, instead of the usual clear-as-a-bell.


His hand lingered against Rowan's skin, head tipping back to look up at him.  "You said to wake you when I have it down a hundred percent."  He kept his voice on softer side, not wanting to break the peace that'd settled in the room.  "I'm ready to play it for you."  Hoped it was up to the right standard.  He didn't want to disappoint.


He made a very small sound, attention dragging off of Fletcher to check the time - rumpled but more together as he brushed his hair back, thinking it over. "Alright."


He flashed a small smile, fingers lingering a second more before trailing back over his hand and away so he could set them back against the strings, ready and poised.  A second ago it'd been so easy, he knew the notes, he knew the words, he knew he had it down.  Now he needed to take a breath to settle before he started playing, eyes closing as he let his fingertips fly over the strings, voice rising in accompaniment.


It was, perhaps, unkind that Rowan reached out to touch the back of his neck while he played -- his fingers there distracting in a way that had to be intentional, and his eyes half closed.


A distraction that helped to ease that little bit of nerves that had settled when he'd woken Rowan to play for him.  The magic of his touch thrilled along the soft skin at the nape of his neck, and Fletcher tipped his head back against it, posture loosening, and he managed to do it all without skipping a beat or missing a word.  These days he was at his best when he thought he was appreciated, and that one touch, to him, was that.


Rowan tapped at the back of his neck in the silence after, like he was thinking about it -- and then pulled his hand back to grab his glass and straighten a bit where he sat. "We can work on the pronunciation."


Fletcher kept his head back against the couch cushion, watching Rowan for approval, dislike, anything.  He was a hard one to read, but the lack of overall criticism was taken as a good sign by the bassist and a look of content settled on freckle kissed features.


It was the best he was going to get, probably. Rowan rubbed at his eyes, downed the last of his wine, and then used Fletcher as a prop to get up. "You want to put me to bed?"


Fletcher'd brace for it, holding very still as Rowan got to his feet again, and only after those warm fingers had slid away did he move to put the guitar away.  "Yes."  Closing the case and setting it gently on the piano bench with his change of clothes on top, he shifted on his knees to get the sheet music from the chair he'd been using as a stand and set it on the piano.


Rowan left the glass on the piano, which seemed blasphemous, considering the beauty of the instrument, and started back through the house. Some of the hard energy had gone out of him, relaxed down to something calmer.


Baby blues spared a glance to glass, but he remembered Ferris' comment about the brownies.  Surely they wouldn't let anything happen to Rowan's piano.  No rings.  So he left it, left everything there, and turned to follow Rowan, falling into step at his side, but a step or two behind.


"How's your album?" It came with a slantwise look, eyebrows raised. "And more importantly, my songs?"


"Albums going well.  I'm laying down some lyrics for some of the first composed melodies, but I still need to find a big enough space for recording."  He gave a soft huff, like perhaps the latter had been giving him trouble.  "I've got the start of something promising for one of your's.  The melody is coming together nicely, but it needs more still."  He was missing something with it, he knew it, it was just a matter of finding it.


"Melody before the words?" He raised an eyebrow, flicking a look back to Fletcher, brief.


He raised one right back, head tilting.  "The music usually comes to me first.  Not always, but usually."


"Did you work with a lyricist?" He paused with a hand light on the banister, considering.


Rowan stopping had Fletcher stopping as well.  "My old...singer, he wrote, but we collaborated on quite a lot."  A soft, puzzled frown took over.  "The music comes first, but once it's there the rest falls into place.  Once I can play it, then I feel it."

"Like magic." His tone was casually mocking, as he took a step up the stairs.


"I guess so."  Brows twitched, the frown lingering, but he started moving again as well.


"Some people don't have to try very hard in life." He raked at his hair again, heading up the stairs slowly. His other hand ghosted over the top of the rail.


"That's very true."  Fame had almost literally fallen into Fletcher's lap.  There would be no argument from him on the matter.


Rowan made a rumbling sound of ascent, just a little sour. "What do you do with your days?"


"These days I write, work with my manager on staying relevant, take meetings with possible investors."  He shrugged.  It was quite the turn around, considering before Beau's little party he'd been trying to inebriate himself into oblivion most of his waking hours.


"Add exercise to your schedule." He said it with the easy carelessness of someone who expected to be obeyed. Not a request, but a simple order.


"O-okay."  A slight hesitation, like that hadn't been what he'd expected Rowan to say.  "Is there something in particular I should be working on, or just overall fitness?"


"Fitness. Cardiovascular health. You're human; a lack of exercise won't just make you a little soft around the middle -- " said like, maybe, Fletcher was. A little. " -- but also can lead to larger problems."


Well, he wasn't wrong.

Fletcher mulled that over a moment as they continued on before his shoulders rolled in an agreeable shrug.  "I'll look into personal trainers tomorrow."


"I mean, I could make it so you didn't have to bother but..." He wavered a little on the top step, considering. "I don't think you could afford it."


That got a head tilt as Fletcher stopped a couple of steps beneath him.  "What do you mean?"


"Maybe just go to the gym. Run on the treadmill while you listen to where you started." He beckoned Fletcher along to the bedroom.


A puzzled frown followed, but he let it go as he trailed after the other man into the bedroom.  Fingertips skimming along the doorframe as he entered.


"You won't be young forever is all I'm saying." There was a flash of unkind amusement behind that. Rowan shrugged out of his robe and tossed it onto a chair, fingers going up into his hair again.


Door close behind him, Fletcher had to tuck his hands into his pockets to keep from reaching out to run his fingers through Rowan's hair.  A look of longing flowing over freckled features.


Rowan half-turned to look at him already starting to bind his own hair up -- quick and familiar like he'd done it a million times. The look on Fletcher's face made him pause, assess. "I need to sleep."


He blinked like he hadn't even realized he'd been staring until it was pointed out, and a touch of color darkened pale cheeks.  "Of course.  What do you want me to do?"


"I just want to be very clear." He rolled his shoulders and then finished sweeping up his hair, stepping away toward the bathroom. "Your pajamas should be in the bottom dresser drawer."


He nodded.  "I wouldn't try anything unless I knew it was welcomed."  That dynamic had been set up with that first rough kiss.  Crouching at the dresser, he paused with his hands on the soft material of the pajamas and looked up again.  "Do I have to wear the shirt?"


"You can wear whatever you like." He eased into the bathroom, speaking from the distance. "You can stay here or I can have them make up the guest room."


Just the bottoms then.  He pulled them out and laid them on the edge of the bed so he could strip out of the jeans and tee shirt he'd worn over.  "I’d rather stay in here."  With you.

He folded what he'd just taken off and laid them on a chair, slid into the soft bottoms a moment later, then drew down the blankets on the side he'd slept on last time and climbed up to sit on the edge of the bed, waiting.


Rowan lingered in the bathroom: washed his face, bound his hair up tight so it wouldn't catch in the night, brushed his teeth - and came out with just a faint frown, distracted as he sat on the other side of the bed.


Waiting was fine.  Fletcher seemed to have bottomless wells of patience by nature.  As Rowan walked out the redhead looked up from his phone, setting it on the side table as he turned on the bed.  "Is something wrong?"  Not prying, not demanding, concerned curiosity.


He thought about it -- head tipped -- and then reached out to flick off the light. "Don't know where I left my phone."


The phone Rowan had given him was sitting with his clothes, since he doubted he'd need it when he was with the man, but he glanced at it now before the lights were flicked off.  "I could call it for you..."  But he probably didn't need it just then.  "In the morning, if you want."

Even as he said it he was tucking his legs under the covers, stretching out on his side as he curled an arm around the nearest pillow and pressed his face into the fabric to breath in any scent that might have clung there.


"It should show up in the morning." Reluctant, but he flopped down onto the bed rubbing along the line of his jaw.


Fletcher shifted, drawing a leg up as he turned on his side again and slid a little closer.   "Okay.  If you're sure."


Rowan flicked him a look and then shrugged just a tiny bit, grimacing at Fletcher. "Any emergencies can wait four or five hours anyway."


One arm tucked under his pillow, the other curled on the bed between them.  Close, but not touching, his fingers curling against the sheets.  "Can I touch you?  Nothing sexual or anything, just..."


He narrowed his eyes, focusing back in on Fletcher. "Just don't wake me up."


He shook his head, the effect a little lost with the pillow, but there was a tiny flicker of a smile.  The hand laying between them relaxed before sliding those last few inches to Rowan's arm, fingers gliding along that soft, warm skin from elbow to shoulder.  Light, caressing.  Something he'd always liked done to him when he'd had trouble sleeping.  It'd always been really relaxing.


He watched Fletcher through narrowed eyes in the dark, thinking it over -- and then closed them and let it be, working to relax.


This close he could smell that summer breeze scent that always clung to the other man, and the bassist sighed softly, turning his head to press his face into the pillow.  The overly early hour of the morning was catching up with him.  The lack of sleep before Rowan's call had woken him up and the given task had kept him alert.  Whatever energy he'd managed to tap into to play was seeping away.

His hand made another few strokes along Rowan's arm before the movements grew more sluggish, palm coming to rest against his shoulder finally, his thumb stroking slowly back and forth.  That buzz, glamour, feeling wonderful against his skin.


Rowan must have slept at some point -- the idea had been for him to sleep. But he was very quiet in the bed, and even quieter when he got up again, so that Fletcher would wake up alone.


He slept deeply, and when Rowan woke and slipped from the bed Fletcher moved in his sleep like he was seeking out the absence of heat that'd been there before.  But he didn't wake up, not for some long hours.  When he opened his eyes again the room was light, sun filtering in through thin curtains.  He yawned as he rolled onto his back, stretching from the tips of his fingers to curl of his toes.  The bed was comfortable, it would have been easy enough to roll over and go back to sleep.

Instead he pushed himself up so he could sit on the side of the bed, rub the sleep from his eyes.  Listening for any sign that there was anyone else in the house.


There was sound, maybe, from the kitchen -- but nothing here, and none of the prickle that would say Rowan was waiting to have coffee with him, or showering before an early morning toss, or anything else. A late night booty call with no booty.


After a few moments to wake a little more fully the redhead finally stood and shuffled across the room and out the door.  Down the steps, towards the kitchen, following the faint sounds of movement he thought he'd heard coming from that direction.


Not a soul. Not even Ferris, this morning. But there was breakfast out, the same huge spread he'd had before, and cash for a cab. If he needed it.


He stood in the doorway for a long moment eyeing the food thoughtfully.  Then turned on his heel to head back through to the room they'd been in the night before so he could fetch his other phone to shoot a quick text to Rowan before grabbing the clean clothes he'd brought with him and heading back upstairs to change and grab the stuff he'd left in Rowan's room.

[Is this food/cash safe?]


It'd be a good forty minutes before the reply: [Safe.] and that was it.


It was all the reassurance he needed to fill a plate and settle into a big breakfast.  In the time he'd waited he changed, cleaned himself up a bit, folded and packed up the last night's clothes in the guitar case with his guitar, and still had time to sit at the counter with his personal phone in his hand, playing with lyrics in his notes app.

When he was finished he washed his dishes and put them away, called himself a ride home, and gathered up his belongings.  When he got home he looked into whether or not his apartment building had a gym.

8
Roleplaying / Late night summons [Rowan and Fletcher]
« on: January 20, 2020, 08:22:35 AM »
His phone rang, so late in the night that it was almost morning: long after most people had gone to bed, after parties had even closed down. At first, maybe Fletcher would dismiss it as not important enough to get up. But eventually, hopefully, he'd figure out that it wasn't his ringtone; it was the other phone. Ringing for the first time in about five days.


He answered in the pause between the fifth and sixth ring, voice heavy and coming off an obvious yawn.  "Hello?"  There'd be the sound of blankets moving, a small grunt as Fletcher pushed himself up on his elbows so he wouldn't be muffled against the pillow.


"Can you get yourself here, or do I need to send a car?" His voice was low and rumbling, just a little dangerous.


Fletcher was very much not a morning person.  He peered blearily at the clock for a second or two before answering.  "I can get an Uber if you text me the address."  No reason to wake up Ferris, and besides that, it'd take longer for a car to pick him up just to drive all the way across town.


"How long will that take?" He huffed as he asked it - maybe the words a little blurry. a little blended together.


Since it seemed pretty obvious he wasn't going back to sleep he pushed himself up, a hand coming up to push his hair out of his face as he yawned again.  "Maybe thirty minutes?  Probably less with the roads empty.  Am I staying there the rest of the night or going home?"


"Bring a change of clothes." The imperious tone would tug at that hook in Fletcher's belly, the one that had settled with a promise and a kiss.


"Alright."  He was up and out of bed, at his dresser before he really realized it.  "I'll order the uber and be there as soon as I can.  Do you want me to text when I'm close?"  He had a shirt and a pair of jeans already in his arms, and was pulling out a second to wear over.  Looser, more comfortable.


"Bring a guitar, if you want." That was it the line cut off before Fletcher could reply.


"O-kay..."  He sighed softly, yawned again, and pulled up the uber app on his main phone to arrange a ride.  Then he headed into the bathroom to brush his teeth and get dressed before loading his guitar into his hard case along with the spare clothes folded neatly on top of it.  By the time he'd made his way down and out the front doors the car was waiting and he climbed into the back.

A little under twenty minutes later and the car was pulling up to the gate.  Fletcher rolled down his window to hit the button on the intercom to announce his arrival.


It was an uber: not that nice. It'd be a moment before Rowan's voice crackled over the intercom. "How do you not own a car? Or at least a motorcycle?"


"I didn't want to run the risk of falling asleep and wrecking.  This was safer."  It wasn't a lack of means.  It was a tired bassist that had once dozed on a drive home and ended up in a ditch.


He got a long moment to wait, while Rowan assessed -- a good minute, and it felt like a peeved silence, somehow -- before the car was buzzed in.


The moment made worse by the stunned murmuring of the driver asking who owned the place, how Fletcher knew them, to which the musician just shook his head.

When the gate opened he let out a little sigh, both relieved and not, and hopped out of the car as they rolled to a stop near the front door.  Fletch thanked him as he got out and pulled his guitar case from the back and watched as he drove away.  Then he went up to knock on the big front doors.


They opened not a moment later, so at least Rowan didn't make him wait here -- he looked tired and grumpy, with his hair loose, in a silk bathrobe over pajama pants. He also looked damned good like that, which wasn't entirely fair.


Whatever he was going to say in greeting got caught at the back of his throat as he saw Rowan and parted lips closed.  It definitely want fair.

No doubt, behind the wide and appreciative eyes Fletcher looked tired as well.  He'd tried to tame his hair, but he'd gone to sleep with it wet so there was only so much he could do with it.  The tee shirt was worn, dove grey, and the jeanes were pale and worn through along the thighs and knees.  Either age or factory distressed.

"Do you have to pay the car?" His eyes flicked past Fletcher and out onto the driveway. His tone was still sharp, edgy.


"Already paid."  Soft, gaze still lingering.  The tone alone should have been worrying, and it was, but Rowan dressed down and a little rumpled(if that was even the right word for it) looked just as good as Rowan in the expensive suits and intricate hair.  Maybe more so.


"Come on, then." He caught the front of Fletcher's shirt to pull him through, so he could close the door and start back toward the salon.


He managed not to stumble as Rowan yanked him through the door, guitar case swaying in his hand, and felt into step at Rowan's back to follow him through the house to the salon.


It was set up to entertain - a bottle of wine on ice, mostly drunk, a handful of cakes and fruits. it was hard to tell if it had been set up for Fletcher or if Rowan had had a small get together. His glass sat on the piano, he grabbed it and folded down to sit on a loveseat. "Sit."


The setting of the room was taken in with a sweeping glance before Rowan's command compelled him to take a seat on the edge of a slipper chair more or less across from the other man, guitar case on end between his knees.


Rowan sprawled - knees spread, sunk down in the chair, with hair falling loose over his shoulder and the robe open. "Play something. old."


With a quirk of his lips Fletcher nodded and leaned forward to lay the case at his feet so he could bend down and pop the clasps that held it closed.  He shifted the extra clothes he'd brought along to sit on the inside of the top of the case and pulled a six string from the padded interior that was by no means as old as anything Cooper Cole had had hanging on his walls, but still had a vintage look to it.  The body was polished black with gold and pearl inlays around the hole and up the length of the neck.

He settled it on his thigh, slid the pick from where it'd been woven through the strings up near the tuning pegs, and took a moment to consider what to play, plucking at the strings to make sure they were still in tune.  "Do you want me sing, too?"


"Yes." He didn't hesitate. instead he watched Fletcher in a stormy way - tired and annoyed and scraping hair roughly out of his face.


Another nod, And Fletcher pulled the capo from the end of the neck to clamp over the strings at the farthest fret.  Then he started playing.  It was soft and lulling, and very well could have been immediately recognizable.  Older, certainly well out outside Fletcher's generation.  "Well I hear there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the lord, but you don't really care for music, do ya?"  It was low and the lyrics and the tempo fitting well with Fletcher's range.  "And it goes like this: the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift.  The baffled king composing Hallelujah."

As he played he added to the chords, made them more without taking away from the singing.  Both lyrics and melody playing off one another seamlessly.


Rowan breathed out a slow sigh, watching Fletcher - thoughtfully. it was helping to take some of that harsh energy out of him, but - "You know anything older?"


He leaned forward, arm resting in the dip of the guitar as he thought about it.  "Not much that I know the lyrics for, but I can look some up and learn them."  He slid his pinky lightly over a string as he thought.  "But I do know some classical acoustic that doesn't have singing."


"Do you sight read?" Rowan shrugged - and then seemed to realize all at once he was holding his drink, and took a sip. Deep.


"Usually."  He certainly wasn't bad at it, but he also hadn't gotten much sleep and didn't want to guarantee a flawless playthrough.  Especially not if Rowan wasn't in the best mood.  "Do you have a piece in mind?"


"I can find something." and then he drained the glass so he could set it down empty and roll up to stand, heading for the piano.


Fletcher waited patiently, watching Rowan drain the last of the wine from his glass before rolling gracefully up to his feet.

It wasn't just a physical thing for Fletcher, at least not at first, but with the value Rowan placed in him and his talent...  And the magic, the way Rowan touched him and the way his body felt under Fletcher's hands.  He couldn't help but want him.  The open front of the robe an alluring slice of perfectly pale musculed flesh.


Just a fine dusting of very fair hair, downy, down his stomach -- he bent over the piano bench to root around, and somehow even in his PJs, he looked put together. "The trick is finding something arranged for modern guitar."


He brought his other arm up, crossing it over the curve of the guitar and rested his chin there as he watched Rowan root around in the bench.  An agreeable sound following the comment.


"Unless you play the lute." He straightened, head tipped down to pore over the pages, and maybe now that Fletcher knew what to look for, he'd see the little things that weren't human. the delicate point of those ears. The too fine features. The aura he had.


He'd take the chance provided to let his gaze pour over the other man in appreciation, letting the new knowledge of what he was settle in more fully.  Ferris had been easy to accept in the moment, Fletcher had seen what he could do.  Rowan was both more subtle and not subtle at all.

"Not presently, but I could probably pick it up pretty quickly if I got my hands on one for a week or two."  Strummed and picked string instruments were all very similar.  Well, to him.


"I'm sure."  He tilted his head a little, going through the pages -- and then held one out to Fletcher. Old enough to have yellowed; older than rock, definitely. It was complicated fingerpicking, but a simple tune and simple melody, with a celtic feeling.


He'd keep on watching until Rowan found something and held it out to him, then he straightened up to reach for it.  Nothing he'd ever seen before, which wasn't surprising.  He gave it a quick scan as he stood up and turned, nudging the case out of the way with his foot so he could prop the music against the back of the chair so he could read it.  Then he took a seat on the ground and adjusted the guitar again.


Rowan eased over to pour himself another tall glass of wine, shoulders rolling to work out some tension (it didn't work) before he sat again. "You don't have to get it right on the first try."


That was good, because he doubted he'd get it perfect on the first playthrough.  It was complicated picking, and not all the lyrics were English--or not English used today.

He'd have to start slow, and after a few notes he abandoned the pick to pluck the strings with his fingertips instead which worked better.  Made it more fluid and smooth, if sedate.  The singing was the trickier part.  Not just the bits he didn't recognize, but where to place the pitch.  He settled for something in the middle, singing softly along with the picking.  Decent, improving as he worked through the song.


That, finally, made Rowan breathe out a sigh: made him close his eyes and relax into the corner of the loveseat, with the glass dangling from his fingers. Almost, it made him look approachable. Almost. Except when Fletcher missed a note and his eyes opened.


He didn't have enough attention to spare to see how Rowan felt about his playing.  Had to keep his eyes on the page, which meant he couldn't watch his fingers at all so the occasional misstep happened.  He powered through, moving right into the next without skipping a beat, because he didn't want to lose the groove.


It was very much unlike what Tuck Fhis played; it was slow but pretty, though it would have been prettier with a second voice to sing the counterpoint. Rowan tipped his head down, eyes closing again, and seemed almost asleep.


It was closer to what Fletcher had been studying before Mal had found him and talked him into starting a band.  It wasn't unfamiliar pacing, and the more he played and sang the more confident he got.  By the end of it there'd been very few errors, and his voice had been stronger and sure of itself.  As the last note hung in the air he looked up at Rowan.


He looked -- maybe he was asleep, with his head propped in his hand and the glass of wine tipped just slightly to one side, threatening to spill.


Fletcher waited eyes flicking between Rowan's face and the glass of wine tipping precarious, and he wasn’t sure what to do.  If the point of his being there was oo help the man get to sleep than waking him seemed like a bad idea.  If he didn't... Maybe brownies could get wine out of silk and furniture, and maybe they couldn't.

At the very least he could prevent a spill.  Guitar set back in the case he crawled the short distance from it to where Rowan was sitting and reached up to press a finger against the edge of the glass to keep it upright, the other hovering near the base to catch it in case it slipped.  He tipped his gaze back up to Rowan's face, and had the keenest urge to tuck that golden hair behind the point of his ear.


The movement made him twitch -- eyes opening suddenly to settle on Fletcher. His hand tightened reflexively but he didn't move, otherwise, just sprawled there considering. Working his mouth to find words. "You stopped."


He pulled his hands away to set them in his lap, looking up from where he kneeled at Rowan's feet.  "I didn't want your wine to spill.  The glass looked like it was starting to tip."


He closed his eyes for a moment, considering that -- and then reached out to put it on the side table. "I haven't slept."


Fletcher's head tilted, lips tugging subtly to one side.  "For how long?"  Not that he could speak to the sleeping habits of fae, but he'd had plenty of his own sleepless nights, and they took a toll.


A little shrug, waving that off. He reached up finally to scrape fingers through his hair, to drag it out of his face. "Play it again."


He nodded, sliding back to where he'd left the guitar.  "What do you want me to do if you fall asleep?"


9
Roleplaying / Re: New day [Ferris and Fletcher]
« on: January 20, 2020, 07:22:32 AM »
He caught himself before a 'thank you' slipped out as Ferris got the door.  That was going to be the hardest to break, he thought.  That and apologizing.  He was all about manners, and not saying either went so far against the grain for him.

"Shit, I think this is better than the phone I already have."  Newer, for sure.   He swiped it open, pulling up the contacts to find only one number, unsurprising.


There was a beat, at that, a hint of a frown. Ferris folded his arms. "I assumed you were independently wealthy as well."


Fletcher looked up.  "I am, there's just nothing wrong with the phone I have so I haven't upgraded it yet."  It came with a shrug.


"That's good. If you were reliant on the money as well, that'd put another hook in you." He blew out a breath, assessing. "Where's the restaurant?"


Made sense.  "I get royalties from albums and stuff, so I'm fine."  Like the recent attention, the break up had produced a surge of sales.  He hated it, that that was why.  It left a bad taste in his mouth if he dwelled on it too long.

"It's just down this street, at the corner."  He gestured, slipping the new phone into his other pocket as he started walking.


Ferris walked silently along with him, head tipped and expression quiet. "You could do well for yourself. If you were smart."


"My manager agrees with you."  It was neutral, came with a small roll of his shoulders.


"I mean with the Summer Princeling." He wavered a hand, back and forth, so so. "He has a wide reach."


"He told me he wasn’t going to invest, but he did hire me to write and perform..."  Maybe he could change Rowan's mind.

"Wait.  Do you mean that literally?"


"Which part?" He frowned, head cocked to look at Fletcher.


"Princeling.  Is he actually royalty?"  He stared sidelong at Ferris.


"Not human royalty." Ferris raised one eyebrow at Fletcher.


"Fae royalty?"  He thought he already knew from the way Ferris had answered him already.


It got just a brief, amused flicker. "I mean, did you think he was average?"


A look of almost panic fluttered through wide, blue eyes before something else took over.  Something a little more thoughtful and almost pleased. Something that came with an odd little tug of his lips.  "Definitely not average, but I didn't know what to think beyond that, and my frame of reference for Fae is pretty limited."


"He's a visiting diplomat, at the moment." Ferris shrugged, dragging his eyes off of Fletcher again. "But yes. As much as royalty means anything anymore."


"Visiting from where?"  They'd reached their destination, and Fletcher stepped forward to pull the door open.  The restaurant was small, but it was exceptionally neat with a modern furnish, and a nicely dressed hostess there to greet them.


"They're all English, but..." He paused at the door, considering, then went through first. Again. He still didn't like it. "It's a technical term. They've been here for a while."


"Ah."  He'd lowered his voice as they walked in, but as they approached the hostess he flashed her a bright smile as she greeted them.  "Two."  Blue eyes flashed over the available tables.   "Could we have that booth in the corner over there?"  He gestured back towards a secluded table away from windows and other patrons.


Ferris followed his finger, looking across the room to the booth -- and then nodded just a bit, agreeable. It stole some of the tension from his shoulders.


The hostess grinned back as she let them know it'd be no problem, and grabbed a couple of menus as she lead the way back.  Fletcher caught the nod out the corner of his eye as he followed after, and hesitated beside the table, waiting for Ferris to pick the side he wanted to sit at.


the corner, facing out, legs stretched under the table. he watched Fletcher, seriously. "You could probably still get out of it."


Fletcher sat opposite him, arms resting on the table and hands folded together.  "I don't know that I want to.  It is a lot to take in and remember, and you're not wrong about him having far reaching influence.  I must have met a hundred people in the business last night."  Of course that was only a part of it.  "I just don't know."


"Hm." Ferris shrugged, like it didn't matter to him - and why should it. "It's your decision."


"If I did want to, how would I do that?"  Just to know what his options where.

Their server brought them waters, asked if they wanted anything else to drink and Fletcher ordered a cocktail, something on the fruitier side.


"Make him break his end of the bargain." Ferris looked up and got a glass of wine. it was still lunch.


"That wouldn't be easy."  He made a slight face.  "He had me so flustered and buzzed by the time we made the deal his side is very win win."  He pulled his glass over, nail tapping against the side of it as he frowned.  "He's getting the better deal, it's beneficial for both of us."


"Did he promise not to hurt you?" Ferris said it with a grimace that implied he thought not.


His shoulder blades twitched with the question.  "No."  He wouldn't have thought to include it, it would have ruled out certain things he liked in the right situations.  He thought back to the party, the deal.  "He has to..."  Fletcher blushed as he tried to find a way to say it that didn't make him sound as desperate as he'd felt in the moment he'd made the deal.  "I get a guaranteed hour of his time every week."  Just sticking to the basic facts.


"Then I guess your 'out' is rigging it so he doesn't show, at some. point." Ferris was still matter of fact, pouring over the menu.


The way Ferris said it sounded so simple.  It wouldn't be, but it was something, if Fletcher found he ever did need the option.

He thought about it for another moment longer before taking a drink of his water and picking up his menu.  Not that he needed to look at it to know what he wanted.  "What are you thinking of getting?"


"Omakase." He dropped the menu decisively as he said it. "Chef always knows best." plus it had the benefit of being expensive.


"Good choice.  Everything here is always really fresh."  He set his menu on top of Ferris's, squaring up the corners.  "Do you like eel?"


"I'll eat whatever he brings out." Ferris raised an eyebrow. "You should try it. as I understand, you like relinquishing control."


"I might, but I also want something with eel in it."  Their server was back with drinks.  Fletcher thanked her politely and slid his cocktail in to sip from the little black straw.  "It's a lot to get both though.  But if you wanted some of the eel that'd make it an easy choice."


"Honey." Ferris watched him bemusedly. "What kind of rock star are you? just say omaakse with eel in it. they'll oblige you."


By the look on Fletcher's face it was clear he hadn't thought of that.  "Oh.  I thought maybe that'd defeat the whole point of it being omakase."  It did solve his menu dilemma nicely.  "But that works."


"How do I know that and not you?" He turned the wine in his hand, definitely amused. it relaxed him.


Fletcher shrugged, straw caught and held between his teeth.  "It seemed like an imposition."


"So impose." He lounged in the chair - leaned back with his wine, looking comfortable. "You have to ask for what you want."


He made a face like that was the last thing he'd want to do, like it was almost a foreign concept.  "I'm not great at that."  Except when it came to sex, he could ask for things then.


"Then you won't get what you want." He said it smoothly, easily, eyes raising as the waitress came back. Instead of flirting, it made him go quiet; he'd let Fletcher take the lead. A test maybe.


He made a sound that wasn't quite a protest, but before he could say anything their server came back.  Fletcher smiled automatically, bashfully, blue eyes flicking to Ferris then up again.  "I'd like the omakase, please."  A pause, and then.  "With eel."


Ferris held up two fingers to indicate he'd have the same, absent; didn't so much as open his mouth this time, not until the waitress was gone. "Not too hard?"


"No."  But he glanced at their server as she walked away, gaze lingering like he was looking for any sign of annoyance.  There didn't seem to be.  He took another drink as he looked back across at Ferris.


Ferris was smiling again -- smirking, maybe more like, just a little twist of his lips. "Didn't kill you, anyway."


He huffed softly, lips twitching around his straw as he rolled it between his teeth.  "No."


And Ferris actually laughed at that, head tipped back a little bit, to look around the place. "Okay."


And that'd make Fletcher laugh, relaxing back into the booth with his drink in his hand.


It was going to be a quiet lunch -- Ferris wasn't chatty, and mostly seemed interested in focusing on the food, in working through the mountain of fish brought out to them. He wasn't, apparently, particularly picky.


Quiet was fine now that it felt companionable.  They could eat their way through it and anything left at the end Ferris could claim if he wanted, but it wouldn't go to waste.


He'd take it all with him, contentedly. It'd be several lunches, instead of just the one. "Do you need anything else?"


The bill had come at some point and Fletcher hadn't even looked at it when he set his card in the holder and slid it back to the edge of the table.  "I don't...think so."  He said it thoughtfully.  "Do you need my number for anything, or do I need yours?"


Ferris flashed him a look, head cocked just slightly to one side. "Are you asking for my number?"


"Yeeees?"  He elongated the vowels, voice questioning.  "Unless that's not allowed.  Or not safe."


"Give me your phone." He beckoned for it, casually.


"Which one?" He pulled out both and offered them over.  "You mentioned dragons and seem on guard."  Timid or not, he was observant.  "What do I do if something happens if you or Rowan aren't around?  Or do I even have to worry about that?"


"I have no idea. I don't know where you stand, or anything." He shrugged just one quick shoulder. taking Fletcher's phone to plug his number into it. "I don't know what you can do."


"Try to call Rowan, I guess?"  He wouldn't even know what to watch out for.  "Are dragons common?"


"No. Extremely rare. I've never seen one." He put Ferris into the top, but didn't snap a picture for the contact info. "But I mean what can you do."


"Do?  You mean against a threat?"  He frowned, sipping at what was left of his drink.  "Run quickly.  I don't know how to fight, and I don't have a weapon."


"In a threat or, you know, any other time." He shook his head, sliding the phone back to Fletcher. "Do you have any magic at all?"


Fletch shook his head.  "Not that I'm aware of."  Which made him think, head tilting.  "Is there a way to check that?"


Ferris just shrugged, somewhat helplessly, rolling up to stand. "I like to think you'd know."


Maybe Rowan would know.  Fletcher could ask him later maybe.  "Is this phone just for him to contact me, or can I text him with questions if I need to?"  Or anything, really.  He didn't want to be a bother, but it'd be nice to know one way or another.


Ferris shrugged again -- slowly, shoulders raised, still watching Fletcher in a bemused kind of way. "I'm not in charge here."


Lips twisted to the side as he got up finally, drinking the last of his cocktail and made sure he'd put his card back in his wallet.  "I'll figure it out, you've already been a huge help."


"I would err on the side of ask first." He shrugged as he started for the door, gathering up the leftovers. "With fae in general, the high fae especially, and him in particular."


"Yeah, I mean I'll see him in a week anyways."  He shrugged and started for the door.


"Or before that." Ferris shook his head again, phone tucked into his back pocket.


"Or before," he agreed, conceding that he didn't have a clue.

10
Roleplaying / Re: New day [Ferris and Fletcher]
« on: January 20, 2020, 07:20:25 AM »
"Is Rowan's name actually Rowan, then?  Originally he had me call him Absinthe, but Cooper Cole called him Rowan last night, and that seemed to really piss him off."  Another thought came to mind.  "Are you really Ferris, or is that an...alias?"


Ferris smiled at him in the mirror, suddenly. "That's the first smart question you've asked. None of those names are people's true names."


So then he was at a disadvantage. Rowan and Ferris both knew his name, because he'd very easily offered it up in greeting.  "Power..."  It was soft, Fletcher laying his head back against the seat as he thought back to the night before and how almost euphoric it felt every time Rowan said his name when introducing him.  "Why no iron?"  It was the strangest of the rules he'd found in the first section.


"Makes us uncomfortable." He shrugged just a tiny bit, crookedly. "Burns, a bit. Some worse than others."


Strange.  Not what he'd been expecting.  "And when you say us, what do you mean?  I tried to ask Rowan last night, but I didn't get a straight answer."


"The fae."  He looked up again into the mirror, then, eyes bright. Waiting for cliches, probably.


He didn't say anything, seemed to be thinking it over as he ran his finger back and forth along the edge of the pages in the binder.  It was certainly outside the scoop of his known reality, the idea of lore being real, magic, and maybe if he hadn't had that first night and the last it would have seemed silly.  But he'd told Ferris he was going to keep an open mind, and when he applied that label to the more...puzzling things he'd experienced, it wasn't so hard not dismissing it out of hand.

"Like from Gaelic folklore?  Just not...lore."  He glanced out the window, at the city drifting by.  "The brownies comment makes sense now.   Is that why his skin feels like that?"


He smiled again, a little quirk, amused. But maybe not displeased. For the first time. "The lore can be a sore spot."


"I can't imagine it's all entirely accurate, so I can see why it would be."  On that first night Rowan had mentioned magic and Fletcher had just shrugged it off as something said in the moment.   "The wine, it's not normal wine, is it?"  Which would explain how he'd gotten drunk on two swallows.

Magic was heady shit.


"Depends what you mean by normal wine, I suppose." Ferris sounded almost cheerful, now. "It's definitely his norm."


"Normal being..."  It wasn't the best way to explain what he meant so he abandoned the terminology.  "Is it..magic?  It's stronger than any drink I've ever had before."


"It's fae food." He pulled around the corner onto Fletcher's block, shrugging a little bit. "As opposed to what you ate this morning."


"Is it all that potent?"  Familiar scenery outside the window had him sitting up, and capping his water bottle, closing the binder.


"For you, probably. Unless he gave you something to protect you...?" It lilted a little, questioning.


His head tilted, regarding Ferris in the mirror.  "Like what?"


"Some kind of charm? Necklace? No? You'd know..." He pulled into a spot opposite Fletcher's building, leaning back to look at him through the divider. "In that case, you're sink or swim."


He shook his head as Ferris listed possibilities.  "No, nothing like that."  He slid to the edge of the seat, ready to get out into the mid morning Georgia heat.  "Would that be a part of the 'is this food safe' thing, it being fae food?"


"That's most of it, yes." He raised an eyebrow, and then climbed out of the car to get the door for Fletcher.


"Good to know."  Then he slid out.

It was already hot, and if he hadn't already had his hands full the bassist would have stripped off the jacket.  That not being an option, he moved quickly across the street, leading Ferris into a modern, posh looking lobby and into an elevator.


Ferris seemed unbothered -- locking up the limo and just leaving it there, on the street, like nothing could happen, as he followed. "It's the gift problem, too."


"Magic in gifts," he repeated lowly, thumbing the button for the 12th floor.  "Is it all just like walking carefully through a minefield?"


"You don't give away more than you're willing. It's not that complicated." Ferris leaned next to him, shrugging a bit.


"It's hard for me to say no to people."  Which was something he probably should have kept to himself, but talking through the car ride over had lowered Fletcher's guard considerably.  The elevator slowed to a stop, doors sliding open silently on a clean, monochromatic hallway with very few doors.


"Uh huh." Ferris was -- unsurprised. It was hardly enlightening. He gestured Fletcher along first.


He pushed away from the wall with his hips to lead the way down the hall and around the corner, all the way to the end.  As he walked he popped the bottle end into his mouth to hold it so he could fish his keys out and unlock the door one handed, shouldering it open to let Ferris pass.

It was a spacious floor plan, very open, with living area to one side and a kitchen separated by a large island.   The walls in here were shades of blues and greens and tans, and there were a lot of windows.  Hardwood floors were covered by numerous rugs, and there were instruments tucked away everywhere.


There was a beat before Ferris headed in before him -- just a bit tense, just a bit wary, eyes raking the place for trouble before the rest of him followed. He looked over the instruments in a cursory way, and then the windows in a more serious, slightly concerned way.


Emotional lability more often than not, Fletcher was very emphatic.  He picked up on the changes in a person's mood and demeanor, however subtle they might be.  Usually to effect of his own heightened anxiety, but every so often it actually proved useful.  As he set the binder and bottle on the island he watched Ferris, the way his eyes slid over the apartment, lingering on the windows.  "What?"


"I hate this apartment." His eyes were on the windows more than anything else; they put tension between his shoulders. "You must not be at risk in any way."


Keys were dropped into a basket beside the door as he locked it again.  "We're on the twelfth floor, what are we at risk from?"


"Anything that can fly, to start." He moved around the place, carefully, until he found somewhere not too exposed to the windows to sit.


A challenge, that.  The couch and the rest of the more comfortable seating was beside the biggest window.  There were stools tucked under one side of the island, a bench at the keyboard, and a few others.  The safest were probably anything near the instruments.  "Remembering for a moment that I'm just a measly human, what flying things should I be looking out for?"


"Dragons." He smiled just the tiniest bit at Fletcher, shoulders raised in a quick shrug. "Let's see the binder then."


He stopped short with a hand resting on the handle of the fridge.  "Why hasn't anyone seen dragons...?"  Not doubting their existence, though that was by far the hardest stretch of reality thus far.

"Um."  He opened the door.  "Do you want something to drink?"


Ferris leaned back with a sigh, slow. "At our fancy lunch, I'll drink plenty."


"Okay."  The door closed without Fletcher having taken anything out.  He scooped up the binder as he headed over to take a seat on the keyboard bench.


Ferris held out a hand to take it -- a little impatient -- and then went through it carefully, but quickly. An experienced skim. Searching. "Do you have questions?"


"The bits about rooms and things that are off limits is pretty straight forward, but I'd like to go over party etiquette, just to make sure I'm understanding it all properly."  Hands on his thighs, he rubbed the heels of his palms along the thick denim.


"It's probably just easier if you try not to talk to anyone, and definitely don't go off alone with anyone." He mused, looking that page over with his head cocked. "I assume he'll boss you around a whole bunch, so that'll make it simpler."


"So can everyone....or does everyone," he floundered a bit, trying to figure out how to ask his question.  "It feels almost like a low current of electricity coming off his skin, will that be the same for everyone?  Can you do it?"


"I'm not....." Ferris brushed at his hair, brief, slightly annoyed. "I don't have a knack for glamour."


That's what it was called, then.  "Do they?"  It was the whole reason he'd followed Rowan in the first place, why he'd looked for him for so long.  Why he'd made the deal.  If there were other people he'd be interacting with that could do the same, it'd be good to know.


"It's most of what he does." Ferris turned the page, idly. "Which isn't to say it's not a lot, but..."


A relieved sigh, hands curling against the tops of his thighs.  "Good, that's good."  Baby blues flicked down to the book again, then up at Ferris.  "How often does he host parties?"


"It's not parties." He cocked his head a little debating. "Or, I guess I wouldn't call them parties. It's diplomatic. Business."


One hand came up, waving vaguely.  "Whatever they are, does it happen often?  Am I meant to be there every time?"


"I don't know, you'd have to ask him that." Ferris looked down again, eyes skating down the page. "It seems likely, though. At least one a week."


He chewed on the side of his thumb before stopping himself and placing his hand back on his lap.   "Is there anything else you think I should know?  Any warnings?"


"You're already in up to your neck, so running isn't an option." He stretched his legs out, watching Fletcher's expression thoughtfully. "Do you actually like him? Or is it just the magic?"


The question made him blink, like he hadn't actually considered that until that moment.  "I don't know."  Brows creased, gaze sliding away as he thought it through.  "I think so."  Especially when Rowan showed interest.  Fletcher was weak for that, always had been.


He crossed one leg over the other, and in this light, his features looked a little softer. A little finer. The freckles weren't visible, and his chin was delicately pointed like Rowan's. "You're into men, though."


He did a bit of a double take when he noticed the freckles, the shape of his chin, and it left him staring for a long moment before the question snapped him back to attention.  "I like men and women..."  Brows dipped.  "You had freckles earlier, and your jaw was more square."


"This wasn't your first, then? With a man?" Ferris leaned in -- he definitely looked more like Rowan, and maybe that would be attractive to Fletcher. Maybe that was the point.


Fletcher straightened, back hitting the keyboard as he stared at Ferris.  "No."  It was disconcerting looking at Rowan's face on Ferris' body, the latter's voice coming from that pretty mouth.  "Is that your knack, then?"


"You'll need to be more specific." He smiled, rubbing a hand along his jaw. The hair was still short; it wrecked the effect a little.


"Changing your appearance.  I wasn't sure at first if maybe I just hadn't remembered right, but you didn't have freckles that first night, and you look like Rowan now."  There was wariness in his posture.


"Yes, that's my knack." He smoothed a finger down the length of his nose, still leaned in a bit toward Fletcher. "It makes for a useful bodyguard."


"I can see how that'd be useful, but why are you doing it now?"  Unless he was just showing it off, but then why was he leaning in like that.


"Watching for signs of interest or arousal. I could go the rest of the way." As he said it, his skin lightened: it was like a mirage, impossible to tell when it happened, but he looked more like Rowan, slowly.


The flush was sudden and dark, eyes widening.  "But why?"  It wasn't quite the same as having Rowan sitting there talking to him.  It wasn't his voice, it wasn't the way he talked.


"You wanted to know if it was just the magic." He reached up idly, to brush at his hair -- and it lengthened under his hand.


He made a sound at the back of his throat.  "It's not just physical I'm into, though," he protested, gaze following the sway of that long, pale hair.  "It's more than that."


Ferris closed his eyes for a moment, thinking -- and then opened them green. And the amount he looked like Rowan was almost uncomfortable, in that moment. He fumbled for the voice. "You don't say."


He pressed even farther back into the keyboard until it was digging into his spine.  "Did he ask you to do this?"


"No, you did." Rowan's imperious tone broke into something distractedly annoyed, instead; Ferris tapped fingers against his knee.


That was just down right creepy.  "Regardless, It's not just how he looks."  Which was beautiful, undeniably so, but he needed more than that.


"Yes, I can do the rest of it. I can tell you to sit --" And his voice shifted, a good imitation of Rowan's as he tapped fingers against his knee again. "Stay."


Very very disconcerting.  Fletcher pulled his gaze away, looked down at the floor between his boots instead.  "It takes more than that, too."  Though he did like that, as evidenced by the darkening color in his face.


Ferris sat back, then -- and as he did, he folded back into his own shape. Not the one with the freckles, more masculine and matched to Fletcher, but the androgynous, hard to figure out one, skinny and long. Licking his -- his? -- lips, he thought that over. "Well, I mean, that seems to answer your question anyway. You know what you like."


He breathed out a sigh as Ferris sat back again, looking up almost cautiously, but once he had his head lifted, eyes widening again as he stared.  "That really is incredible."  A little frightening, but still incredible.

The color faded slowly, a hand coming up to to smooth his hair back only for it to fall into his face again.  "Am I more or less fucked because I actually like him?"


The hair was still long; they grimaced as they shrugged it over one shoulder. "I'm the wrong person to ask. I'm about the only person I've ever met who didn't want to fuck him."


"Immune to his charms."  Charms could have been--probably should have been--sarcastic but actually wasn't.  Fletcher was too nice for that.


"No, it's not personal. I've never really been interested in anyone." Another shrug, leaning back a little. "Not in me, I guess."


"Ah."  Nothing wrong with that.  Fletcher'd wondered at one point if that might have been the case for him, but clearly not.  It just took more than a pretty face.

He shifted, realized he still had the jacket on, and shrugged it off his shoulders to lay it over the bench beside him.  "Any more advice or words of warning?"


Ferris closed green eyes, head cocked to think it over. It hadn't nearly been an hour yet; only fair to give Fletcher his full value. "He's mercurial. He can get angry."


His lips pressed, drawing back in almost a grimace.  "I did notice that.  Last night."


"Just follow your rules. Any rules." When those eyes opened again they were brown, dark and warm, assessing Fletcher. "And don't let your attention wander."


He did like rules.  Rules made things uncomplicated.  Fletch nodded, glancing down at the book on Ferris' lap, before looking up again.  "It would have been nice to know them last night."  He could have avoided pissing Rowan off about the tie, maybe.  "And I don't think that'll be a problem."


"You say that now, but they just --" He paused, digging for some kind of explanation. "It's all games. And you're human, which makes you a pawn."


"Well, shit."  Resigned, he got to his feet, stretching his arms up over his head with a yawn.  The more they talked the more nervous he felt about the whole thing, and there was only so much preparing he was going to be able to do short of making sure he memorized to information in that binder.

"Rowan mentioned something about giving me a phone, do you know anything about that?"


"Oh." Ferris blinked, brushed at their hair, attention turning toward the door. "It's in the car. We can grab it when we go to lunch."


"That's fine.  I want to change before we go.  Whenever that happens to be."  He glanced back down at the book and held a hand out for it.  "I need to sign that first page, right?  Do I get to hold onto the binder for a bit?"


"The binder's yours, but I'll take the first page back to him." Ferris refocused on Fletcher, thoughtfully. "Are you going to put something less...extreme on?"


He'd take the binder over to the counter, opening a drawer to dig out a pen as he flipped to the first page.  His signature was sweeping and neat, and when he was finished he removed the page to slide it across the counter.

Only to look down at himself at the comment, frowning.  "What's extreme about jeans and a tee shirt?  It's a lot more tame than the pants I was wearing the first night."  There was literal fetish gear less extreme than the stitched up leather pants he'd worn to the warehouse party...


Ferris hesitated over that, digging a little bit -- trying to put something in words -- "I don't like to get noticed."


Fletcher frowned, plucking at the shirt as he looked down at himself.  "Well, what would you suggest, then?


Dark eyes raked up to the piercings, and the hair -- and with a grimace Ferris shrugged it off. "Wear whatever you'd like."


He waited, just in case Ferris had something more to add, then moved through the kitchen to head back to his room, drawing his shirt up over his head as he disappeared through the door.

He came back a few moments later in a very low-key pair of jeans, neat but ordinary, a plain great tee shirt, and a pair of black converse.  The bruise on his neck peeked out now and again as he walked.


He still looked eminently fuckable; he was still going to turn heads, for sure. Ferris sighed, and for his part, he looked more...indistinct, now. Nothing that would stand out. Just a guy. He rolled up to stand. "Maybe everyone'll be too busy looking at you."


"I'd rather they didn't, but you're probably right."  Now more than ever, if possible.  Tuck Fhis breaking up had launched all  of them further into the spotlight than success had.  Gossip and social media.  "There's probably not a lot of open parking, especially not for a limo.  It might be easier to walk, it’s only a block away."


Ferris raised his eyebrows, looking aside -- and then nodded a little bit, agreeable enough. "I can walk. If it's safe here."


"It should be, not a lot of active crime around here."  He grabbed his phone, still on the verge of dying, and his keys, and went to hold the door open.  "Let's grab the phone out of the car, though."  More just to have it than out of any fear of it getting stolen.


Ferris nodded a little, getting the door for Fletcher; he could lead the way out and down to the car, to fish the phone out of the cup holder to offer up.



11
Roleplaying / New day [Ferris and Fletcher]
« on: January 20, 2020, 07:18:57 AM »
Maybe Rowan slept -- if he did, he got in bed quietly  and left quietly. When Fletcher woke up the next morning, it would be alone, sprawled out in the giant bed, with yesterday's clothes in a clean pile on a chair in one corner and any sign of the blankets from yesterday long gone.


He woke up with the sheet tangled around his legs and half curled around one of many pillows and didn't quite know where he was for a moment or two as he pushed himself up with a yawn.  It came back to him quickly, fingertips coming up to brush the place on his shoulder where the bruise showed.

He got up, brushed his teeth and his hair, changed back into the clothes he'd had on the night before, and grabbed his phone(very nearly dead at this point).  He also pulled the sheets and the blankets back up on the bed, straightening up before heading down stairs.


The place still had that strange emptiness to it -- no one there -- except that it also didn't quite. There was sound in the distance, like there was someone there, and movement at the edge of Fletcher's vision -- which vanished when he tried to look harder. He wouldn't see anyone until the smell of food drew him into the kitchen, where Ferris sat reading a newspaper.


It was a lot more noticeable with rowan gone, the big house seeming even bigger somehow.  He was glad he'd paid attention to the small portion of the layout he'd walked through, it made it easier to find the kitchen, the smell of food a good draw.

Ferris' presence really wasn't a surprise, and the redhead lifted a hand in a small wave of greeting as he murmured a good morning, looking around.


Today, Ferris looked much more -- masculine, somehow, stretching legs out under the table and frowning across at Fletcher. There was a scattering of freckles over his nose and cheeks. "There's food. It's safe."


His head tilted as Ferris looked up, eyes lingering a second too long before he turned his attention to breakfast.  Maybe it'd been the lack of actual lighting the last two times...?  "Am I going to owe more if I eat again?"  He flicked a look over to the fridge, debating looking for another bottle of water.


"No. That's what makes it safe." He twitched the newspaper to fold it over, head cocked to watch the way Fletcher moved. Maybe the freckles and the more masculine face did make him more approachable. Or at least easier to relate to.


"Oh."  A thoughtful look.  "Are the bottles of water in the fridge safe?"  He grabbed a plate, helping himself to what he assumed to be stuffed French toast--a taste off the tip of one finger confirmed--and he loaded the three slices with strawberries and whipped cream.  A few stipes of bacon, a sausage patty, and he set the plate on the counter where he'd eaten the night before.


"Yes. And the ones in the limo." Ferris watched him move around, his own plate empty in front of him next to a cup of coffee.


The bassist nodded, helping himself to one of those too.  "And the coffee?"  He looked over at Ferris' cup, then around the counter space for a coffee maker.

"I don't suppose you'd just tell me everything that is safe?"  He really doubted it, but he asked anyways.


Ferris blew out a breath, trying to decide how to answer that. "Gifts aren't safe, because gifts aren't really gifts; they come with strings attached. Accepting a gift means you owe one. So, as long as it's not a gift, you're fine." He gestured toward the coffee pot.


"Th-er.  Good to know."  He reached for a mug, other hand on the handle of the coffee pot before pausing, looking thoughtful.  "So the pajamas...?"


As if Ferris knew anything about the pajamas. But he paused, chewing it over, expression disapproving. "I wouldn't take them home with you."


He breathed out a little sigh and poured his coffee, adding cream and sugar until it was pale and sweet.  "I left them folded on the bed upstairs."  A pleased sound as he took a cautious sip and sat down to eat.


"That was probably wise." He tipped his head, though, eyes raking over Fletcher like he was trying to figure something out -- "I'm surprised pajamas were involved at all."


The feel of eyes raking over him had him looking up from a bite of French toast, and a faint flush crept over his cheeks at the comment.  At the very least Ferris had to have an idea of what had been going on the night before, even if he hadn't seen with the partition up, it didn't take a genius to make that leap.  "He asked me if I wore pajamas when we were in the car, and they were waiting for me in the bathroom when I got out of the shower."  His free hand reached up to feel where the collar of his shirt lay, if it covered the mark.  Probably not completely.


Better than the pajamas had, though; those had been chosen not to cover it up. Ferris just raised an eyebrow, picking up his cup of coffee. "I have a binder for you in the car."


Eyes steadfastly on his breakfast, Fletcher cleared his throat awkwardly and cut himself another bite of toast.  "He mentioned there would be."  And there again that thoughtful look crossed freckled features as he chewed.  With distance came the ability to think clearly.  "How much trouble am I in?"

"Your life is short; worst case, I'd say, eighty years of trouble." Ferris said it like that was nothing, of course, strumming his fingers against the cup. "...considering your lifestyle, probably less."


He almost dropped his fork, eyes wide.  "You're serious?"  It was a six month contract, or...agreement, rather.


"You don't strike me as very bright." He said it smoothly, sipping at the coffee. "Hand you a shovel and you'll dig your own grave."


It smacked very close to something Rowan had said the night before, and he lowered his eyes to his food again.  "It doesn't seem like he's that interested in me."  Interested enough, obviously, if he was here, but still.


"I don't know if you noticed, but he likes to collect things." Ferris gestured back out toward the hall, loosely, toward all the antiques and fine art. "But you're right. He might get bored. Then it'll be considerably shorter."


He had noticed.  Last night he'd wanted to tke time to look over some of the collection.  A flick of blue eyes back on Ferris.  "Why does that sound so ominous?"


"It's just how I talk." He spoke around the rim of the coffee cup.


Which wasn't comforting.  Fletcher could feel his shoulders tightening as he continued eating.


It made Ferris smile a little, leaning in against the table. "You want me to go through the binder with you?"


He only lifted his eyes, taking his time to chew and swallow a bite before answering.  Possibly to give himself a chance to think it through.  "Are you trying to help me?"  Or sabotage...  It didn't feel fair to wonder about that, Ferris hadn't done anything to make him suspect his motives.  But those disapproving looks, he hadn't missed those.


"What have I done that makes you think I'm not trying to help?" He raised both eyebrows, hands still wrapped around his cup. "It's my job to make sure you get home safe, today."


"N-nothing."  Now he felt bad, and it showed.  "Rowan implied that everyone was dangerous."  Including himself.  "You've been nothing but pleasant and accommodating, it’s just..."  He nudged a strawberry across his place with his fork.  "It doesn't seem like you approve of me being around, I guess."


"It's a terrible idea and it's going to end badly for someone." That was kind of like Ferris's version of agreeing. He shrugged. "I'm not going to take you out back and shoot you, though. Not unless you're really dumb."


He stared for a long moment like he was wondering how serious that last comment was, then went back to eating, thinking.  Finishing the last few bits of soggy French toast left on his plate so he could go and set it in the sink.  He didn't sit again when he came back, but stood with his elbows resting on the counter and his hands around his coffee mug.  It was warm.  "I'd rather not fuck things up for myself or anyone else, so if you're willing to take the time to go over the binder with me than I'd appreciate the help."  A beat.  "And I'm sorry."


Ferris's reply was a long, slow, suffering kind of sigh. He set the cup down and leaned in a little bit more. "You're the kind of guy who opens up an interaction with I'm Sorry, aren't you?"


"No."  But it was a little defensive.  He took a drink of his coffee, found it'd cooled to an easily drinkable temperature and took a longer drink, draining the rest of it so he could put it with his plate.


He smoothed a thumb up the bridge of his nose, trying to figure out where to go with that. "We'll start simply, which is that we never do anything for free. And if you accept the favor before you negotiate the price, you lose your negotiating power."


"If that's the case, does this assistance have a price on it as well?"  Now that his hands were free he crossed his arms over his chest, hip leaning on the counter.


"Of course it does." That was the point. Ferris puffed out a breath and looked upward, as if for help. "I'll do it for a fancy lunch."


He thought it over, then sighed softly.  "Do you like sushi?"  It wasn't a terribly high price.


"Sure. But it has to be fancy sushi." He smiled just a little, slowly.


"That's fine."  He knew a place.  "How long do you think it'll take to go over the binder?"


"An hour, at least." He sat back again, then, looking down at his coffee.


"What part of the city are we in?"  Depending on where, it might make more sense to go through the binder at his apartment.


"Tideland." It was the expensive area, where there was enough room to expand, as opposed to the clustered-tight downtown or where apartment buildings flourished. Probably it was a decent ride home for Fletcher.


"The place I have in mind is closer to my place.  We might as well go over the binder there, then we can get lunch when we're done."  It was close enough they could have walked, if they were so inclined.


Ferris shrugged a little, slowly -- obviously it didn't much matter to him. "Drinks with lunch, too."


"Fine."  He grabbed his bottle of water.  "Whenever you're ready, then."


Ferris stood to dump out his cup in the sink and then wash it off, surprisingly thoroughly. When his jacket hitched just so, there was a bit of a bulge beneath; maybe the thing about taking him out back to shoot him hadn't entirely been a joke.


Fletcher straightened and adjusted his jacket but paused.  "Should I wash my dishes?  I was told not to last night, but that was last night."


"It's your choice. The brownies are reliable; I trust them. I just don't trust him half so much." He said it easily, leaning in to wash his hands too.


Not knowing exactly what to make of that Fletcher figured it was safer to just do them.  So he waited for Ferris to get out of the way then washed his own dishes..  Brownies?  Not the desert, obviously..

Now they could leave.


Ferris dried off his hands and stood to watch Fletcher do it, somewhat bemused. "Do you read?"


Fletch shot him a look, lips pressed and brows drawn as he dried his hands off.  "Yes, I read fine."


"I don't mean can you read. I mean do you read." He rolled a hand, leaning against the counter.


"Like recreationally?"  His head tilted.  "Sometimes."


Another of those disapproving little sounds. Ferris straightened to head toward the door. "He didn't tell you anything?"


Fletcher sighed as a result, a little frustrated.   "Anything about what?  He was very vague on...pretty much everything."


"That sounds on par. He didn't want to deal with you being incredulous, I suspect." He shook his head -- not heading out through the main foyer but through a side door toward the garage.


Grabbing his bottle, Fletcher followed, making a mental note of the new route through the house; where it lead, what he saw along the way.


It was less carefully decorated, here; there were things in boxes in a room off to one side, a half-finished painting leaning against one wall, things that looked unready for company. This wasn't the way anyone who mattered came in. "Well, yes. You know, 'You're kidding me.' or 'That's not real.' "


"Are you going to be filling me in, then?"  Blue eyes lingered on the painting, the boxes, his expression curious as he kept up with Ferris.


"Are you going to spout cliches when I do?" He shot a look back at Fletcher, one eyebrow raised.


"I can try not to.  Consider my disbelief suspended."  He looked back, both brows raised and looking earnest.


"Humans always say that, but I have my doubts. Maybe if we got high first, you'd be more inclined to explore it." Maybe that was teasing, though, joking.


It sounded appealing, it'd certainly been a while, and yet...  "I don't think he'd like that."


It made Ferris smile: sharp and sudden and sardonic, like that was exactly what he'd expected Fletcher to say. "I won't tell."


"Maybe not, but I'm a terrible liar and have no poker face."  And it was probably worse with Rowan.  He shook his head, hands disappearing into the pockets of his jacket.


"You'll have to develop the poker face, but honestly, it's better not to lie here, anyway. I suspect that's in the binder." He got the car door for Fletcher.


He'd always worn his heart on his sleeve.  Every emotion flashing across his face as he felt it.  It wasn't going to be easy to change that...

He slid in, eyes landing on a binder that had to be the one they were talking about.   He grabbed it as he tucked himself into a corner.


It was nice. Of course. Leather bound with gold-toned metal, with a tree on the cover -- a Rowan, probably. Ferris closed the door roughly behind him and got into the front. "I never much care if people lie; if you can, then it's an advantage you should take. But some of his kin get angry about it."


He traced his fingers over the branches of the tree on the cover before looking up at Ferris though the partition.  "I can't."  And he'd leave it at that, looking back down at the binder, flipping open the cover to the first page.  "Do you need my address?"


"Yes." It was only about thirty pages long; it didn't seem like that much. The first page was an affirmation for Fletcher to sign, stating he wouldn't pass the book around or show it to anyone who didn't already know its contents.


He gave it, rattling off the address to one of the higher end apartment buildings on the more pricey side of that part of town.  Then settled in to read, knowing well enough from his experience in the music industry to know exactly what he was signing before he signed, but he'd save the actual signing for when he wasn't in a car.

As he reached the bottom he turned to the next page.


There was a lot of words, but the basics of the rules were outline clear enough:

1. Keep any promise you make.
2. Be polite. Do not insult, interrupt, or speak out of turn.
3. Never say "Thank you."
4. Never say "I'm sorry."
5. Never accept food without making sure it's safe.
6. Never accept gifts or favors before finding out what they might cost.
7. Never offer gifts or favors.
8. Never bring iron into the house.
9. Listen carefully when spoken to.
10. Do not go off alone with strangers.
11. Tell no one your real name. If they ask, tell them Thrush.


There were a few things he'd already been told but he still read everything over carefully with the occasional pause to take a drink from his water.  It seemed to him that most of the rules seemed to make a certain sort of sense, just applying what little Rowan had told him already, but there were a few that were met with confusion, and as he finished that page he looked up at Ferris.  "Thrush?"


"A thrush is a bird." maybe Ferris had read it. Or maybe he just was quick to answer. "Songbird."


Well, the name fit, at least.  He wondered if the bird on the shirt had been a thrush as well.  "But why can't I tell anyone my real name?  Wouldn't they already know it?"  Rowan hadn't, but he had recognized him.   It seemed odd.  "Also, iron?"


"There's a difference between someone knowing your name and you telling it to them." He cocked his head a little bit, chewing it over. "Giving your name to someone gives them power over you."

12
Roleplaying / Re: Red carpet reunion [Rowan and Fletcher]
« on: January 19, 2020, 01:26:51 PM »
He followed the gesture to look up at the box, murmuring a quick 'okay' as he slid easily out from behind Rowan.  And since he was up he made a quick stop to put the brush and the dryer away before moving over to the dresser to look through the box.

There was plenty to choose from, but next to nothing seemed appropriate to sleep in.  He finally settled on a very small gold looking clip, like the ones he'd seen decorating the intricate braids Rowan had worn the first time he'd meet the men.  It was sturdy, seemed like it'd be secure.

He set it on the table beside Rowan and crawled back up behind him, reaching up to use the tips of his pinkies to section off the hair at the top of his head.


He'd moved just enough to turn the phone over, so he could watch it through slitted eyes in case any messages came through. "I'll be gone early. But Ferris can take you home, if you need."


That one section was split into three, and after that it'd be a rhythmic back and forth of picking up new hair from either side, adding and crossing it over, and combing his fingers through the steadily growing tail.  "If that's what you want."  It was neutral, voice soft.  As he reached the hair at the back of either ear he took his time there, nails grazing lightly at his scalp.  "Should I give you my number so you can contact me when the need arises?"


"I'll give you a phone." But it was distracted, unconcerned: Rowan clearly wasn't worried about getting in touch with Fletcher, with or without his number.


Blue eyes flicked up at the phone he'd left across the room, but he didn't argue that he didn't need another.  However Rowan decided to conduct his business, it wasn’t Fletcher's place to question it.  "Alright."


He cracked his eyes, then, turning his head just a little bit to see what he could of Fletcher. "I'll have rules delivered to you tomorrow."


He obliged by leaning a little to the side so he could be seen, brows arching.  "I'll read through them."  He'd reached the point where the braid was just a braid and his fingers worked quicker to finish it off.


"Those rules aren't a game. They're for your own safety." He blew out a sigh, stretching his shoulders as Fletcher finished. "And to keep you from embarrassing me."


At the end he reached over for the little clip and secured the tail off the braid, running his fingers down the length of it.  "I understand.  I'll take them seriously."


He took his braid back, then, swinging it over his shoulder -- fingers lifting to test the weave -- and rolled up to stand. "It's late. Sleep."


It slipped out of his fingers as Rowan took it back and Fletcher moved as the other man got to his feet.  To the long stretch of empty on the other side of where he'd been lounging.  It was late, had to be, and the mention of it was enough to make the redhead yawn.

With an agreeable hum he untucked the blankets and sheets enough to slide in between them, rolling immediately to his side, tired eyes watching Rowan.

13
Roleplaying / Re: Red carpet reunion [Rowan and Fletcher]
« on: January 19, 2020, 01:25:36 PM »
"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.


14
Roleplaying / Re: Red carpet reunion [Rowan and Fletcher]
« on: January 19, 2020, 01:13:50 PM »
He was watching the way whatever dim light there was within the car moved and shone as he combed his fingers through the now loose lengths of Rowan's hair, but he glanced at the profile of his face after that.  "Alright."  That was fine with him.  "Will it be a long ride?"


"Ten more minutes, maybe." Those eyes flicked onto Fletcher, instead, coming back into focus slowly. And then he considered the words and smiled, just a tiny bit. That wickedness coming back into it. "Why do you ask?"


That wicked smile was enough to bring color to thin cheeks.  "Just, ah.  Just curious."  But he had no poker face, so Rowan would have seen that flicker of something eager in blue eyes.


"Not long enough for what you have in mind." He turned the clip over in his fingers, slowly, while he considered. "Long enough for a drink, though."


Cheeks darkened, eyes lowering, but he was still toying with Rowan's hair, running it over and over again through his fingers.  "I put your bottle of wine in the fridge."


"Here I was worried you'd lost it." He pointed, meaningfully, in that direction.


That was all it took to get him moving towards the fridge to get the bottle.  "No, I wanted to make sure it stayed chilled." He came back with the bottle in hand, offering it over as he settled into his seat again.


Rowan cracked it open and took a slow swig: still slumped back into the chair, looking more relaxed. Less buttoned up, too. He swallowed. "You should drink a bottle of water."


Blue eyes lingered for just a second on the bottle before he returned to the fridge for the water.  It wasn't the first time that'd been suggested to him, and he'd learned there was usually a good reason for it.  He took a drink as he reclaimed his seat again.


In this case, judging from the flicker of amusement on his face as Rowan took another long swallow from the bottle, maybe it had just been to see if he'd do it. "Did you eat anything?"


He made a sound at the back of his throat as he thought about it, head tipping.  "Ye...no," he corrected.  "Not since lunch."  Forgetting to eat wasn’t unusual for the bassist.


Rowan nodded, slowly tucking the bottle -- suggestively -- between his knees to fish out his phone. Hair fell into his face as he tipped his head down to look at the screen, to punch out a message.


Fletcher wasn't much of a talker unless prompted.  He watched though, the placement of the bottle, the way Rowan's hair slid over his shoulder as he dipped his head to send a text.  It had Fletcher lifting a hand to sweep that soft gold back from that side of his face, lifting it to tuck behind the soft point of his ear.


He tipped his head at the touch, eyes on Fletcher again immediately. "Allergies?"


It might have seemed like he wasn’t even listening with the way he was just gazing, but he shook his head, tipping it after to rest against his own arm where it draped across the back of the seat.


"Focus, Fletcher Lewis." Fletcher's name rolled over his tongue, and the way Rowan said it was like a bucket of cold water. "I won't have people saying I take poor care of my people."


It made him blink, attention snapping more completely on Rowan's face.  "Sorry."  His hand lowered to his lap.  "No food allergies, no."


"Nor restrictions? Vegetarian? Gluten free?" He said this with something mocking behind it, head cocked.


"No restrictions."  When he did remember to eat there wasn't really anything he avoided.  "I'm not picky."


Rowan hummed, watching his face, and then looked back down to the phone to finish his message. When he was done, he tossed it onto the empty seat opposite them. "I am."


It wasn't surprising.  Rowan seemed particular, but then if he was in the business of investing then being particular was a good trait to have.  Probably?  It wasn't like Fletcher knew.  "With food?"


"With everything. It's a fair warning." He curled a hand around the neck of the wine bottle, absently. "I'm difficult."


"I'll remember, if you tell me."  He was good at that, at following directions and bending to fit another person's needs.  "I don't want to step out of bounds."


That got another of those little smiles. He brushed hair back over his shoulder, out of the way. "You'd just give away everything, wouldn't you?"


Ginger brows arched, his head lifting off his own arm.  "What do you mean?"


He smoothed his thumb over the mouth of the bottle, and that was definitely suggestive. "I mean that you're lucky I don't prefer a challenge."


It made him think, gaze lowering, but that meant he happened to notice what Rowan was doing with the bottle and all the color that'd faded from pale cheeks returned.  He bit his lip, looking away.  They had to be almost there. "I don't want to be a challenge," he answered honestly.


"There's a range, of course." He reached out absently with his free hand to catch the front of Fletcher's shirt and draw him in closer -- not quite for a kiss. "I have no patience for recalcitrance. But also, I wonder, if I had a pretty enough cage, if you'd just crawl into it."


He caught himself, one hand on Rowan's knee, as he was drawn in closer, and couldn't quite keep from looking down at full lips when he talked.  "That depends."  Now eyes flicked up again, meeting green.  "In why I'm in there, how long, and what came next."  And there was something there, more than the soft submission.  A spark of excitement, and certainly flirting.


Rowan licked his lips, slow, and then he smiled -- his own attention dragging over Fletcher's face. And, maybe, he looked pleased. "I'll keep an eye out, then."


Fletcher's lips ticked up in a smile as well, letting Rowan see exactly how he felt about that.  And maybe it emboldened him a bit, or maybe just being that close without touching after the relative calm of the car ride.  "Can I kiss you?"


"You can certainly ask." He licked that lower lip again -- pointedly this time -- and then tipped his head a little. "Yes."


The permission was enough.  Fletcher leaned in to close that small distance, head tipping, and the press of his mouth came with a soft brush of his tongue along Rowan's lower lips.  Asking without asking, but also tasting the lingering sweetness of the wine.  And like every time before it was almost a shock, magic, and he sighed into it, fingers tensing reflexively against the short man's leg.


Not quite so sweet as it had been with the promise but -- it felt right now, in a way it hadn't, like this was what he was supposed to be doing. Rowan sat, fingers still bunched in the front of Fletcher's shirt, and for a moment he just let Fletcher do it.

Then it shifted. All at once he was pushing back -- Fletcher shoved into the seat hard so that Rowan could lay claim to his mouth, rough.


It made him gasp, eyes going wide before the rough press of Rowan's mouth turned the surprise into a low moan, opening to the demand in his kiss.   Hands found the other man's waist, hesitant and light, then more sure a second later as they slid between jacket and shirt, around to his lower back.


He caught the bottle with his free hand, settled easily across Fletcher's knees -- and then yanked his head free to take another long, generous drink. Fletcher'd wondered earlier how he'd managed to stay sober on that wine; now, maybe, it was more obvious that he wasn't. Not entirely.


His head moved as Rowan pulled back, trying to hold onto the feel of Rowan's mouth before he'd drawn back entirely to take another swig from the chilled bottle.  He watched the way that pale throat worked as he drank, and Fletcher dipped to press his face in against the crock of his neck, drawing in the intoxicating scent of summer days.


It made Rowan shudder, suddenly, and then push him back flat against the seat -- just out of reach. It hit a button maybe. "I said you could ask."


His hands loosened with the push, sliding free of Rowan's jacket.  Letting go completely after over stepping.  "Sorry."  It was breathy, but sincere.  "Sorry.  God, you smell so good."


He had to draw in a couple deep breaths to settle, and with his hair loose and just a hint of a flush on his cheeks, Rowan didn't look quite so unattainable. Maybe that was part of the problem. He lingered there another moment, pressed in against Fletcher. "We're almost there."


Fletcher nodded, felling Rowan's weight pressed against him with every heavy breath.  He was beautiful.  Even with his hair falling around him and color on his cheeks.  Maybe more so.  "Can I touch you?"


"No." And with that, he sat back into the opposite seat,legs sprawled, and set the bottle on the ground. Pointedly, he set to sweeping his hair up again -- not into one of those fancy braids but a loose, tumbling bun. It looked artful.


He drew his hands back and away, just so he wouldn’t accidently touch as Rowan pushed himself up to claim the seat across from him.  Fletcher didn't immediately sit up though, instead he watched the artful sweep of all that gold hair as the other man tied it back again.  And that too was beautiful, the few wisps that fell around his face catching the dim light.

After he'd pull himself up again, smoothing a hand back through his hair and straightening his shirt.


"Drink your water." At some point they'd gone from the bustling area by the river to something more sprawling, green. Here the houses were separated, drivewayed, gated, surrounded by old trees dripping with moss.


Wordlessly he'd reach for the bottle again, unscrewing the cap slowly as he turned his attention out the window closest.  They were almost there, and he wanted to see what they'd be rolling up to before they arrived.  And while he watched the sprawling yards and houses he lifted the bottle to take a long drink.


It gave Rowan time to cork his own bottle and tuck it away, to put his clothes right, to make sure his hair looked intentional instead of tumbled. By the time they pulled up to a massive plantation house and Ferris got the door he was impossible to read again.


The bottle was empty as Fletcher followed Rowan out of the car, lips moving in a silent 'wow' as he looked up at the house.  Though he did pause to glance back at Ferris, offering a quick smile and a murmur of thanks.  He'd managed to get himself back to a presentable state, unrumpled, but then he hadn't been entirely put together in the first place.


Ferris didn't smile back at him. They stayed by the car, arms crossed, looking supremely unimpressed. But he wouldn't have time to worry about it. Again, Rowan set a crushing pace toward the front door. "You'll need a shower, I think."


If fletcher had been any shorter it would have been a really struggle to keep up with the brisk pace of the shorter man as he lead the way up to the house.  Thankfully there was no crowd to weave through this time, so he managed to stick on Rowan's heels.  "Alright."  He'd taken one before he'd left for the party, but he didn't argue.  Rowan had his own reasons.


The door should have been opened by a butler in a uniform, maybe; instead, it seemed to open on his own, into a carefully decorated foyer. Rowan rolled his shoulders as he examined the place. It was expensive: marble and old wood, pieces that were probably older than anyone in Fletcher's immediate family, flowers in vases on every surface. He made a quiet sound and looked back to Fletcher again, considering. "After food."


The door was given a curious glance as they walked inside but it didn't hold his attention for long.  The house itself was beautiful, which was no surprise considering it's owner.  Huge and old and richly furnished.  Fletcher turned as he walked to take in as much of foyer as he could before Rowan's voice pulled his focus effortlessly back to him.  "Whatever you say," he agreed with a smile, clearly impressed.


It would have been nicer, maybe, if it didn't ring hollow when they walked through the place -- if it felt occupied by more than the flowers. He shrugged out of his jacket as he went, leaving it on a banister and continuing.  "Is there a reason you didn't eat?"


"Not really.  I was writing before I had to get read for the premiere and I sort of forgot.  And then at the party, well, I hadn't been there long before I followed you."  The long and short of it was that he just hadn't been hungry enough to remember to eat.  "I get really focused and sometimes I just forget."  He shrugged, then shrugged out his jacket and laid it over his arm.


"Don't." He made it sound easy -- leading down a hall and around a corner, through a well-decorated and under-used salon, complete with a grand piano that had to be worth more than anything else in the room.


His head cocked, a small frown tugging at his lips.  "O-okay."  And then the piano caught his eye.  He slowed as he admired it, struck with the urge to run his fingers across the keys to see if it sounded as good as it looked.  "Is that piano in tune?"


"Yes." He paused, just a step, so that Fletcher could look. "I'm not a heathen like Cooper Cole. I keep it all in tune."


He flashed the shorter man a grateful smile as he slowed, taking the opportunity to move closer for a better look, but not yet touching.  "Would you permit me to play it sometime?  It's beautiful."  He glanced up as he moved around it.


"You'll play it when people are visiting." He slid hands into his pockets, and his tone was certain: unyielding.


Fletcher gave the piano a last longing stare as he stepped back from it, turning on his heel to return to Rowan's side.


"I host, frequently." He eased into motion again, head tipped to the side. "But my parties aren't like the ones you're used to."


He slung his jacket over one shoulder so he could sink his hands into his back pockets.  "What are they like?"


He started to say something -- a quiet sound, then aborted, his head tipped to the side. "...quieter."


He nodded, like that made sense.  Head on a pivot as he tried to take in as much of the house they were walking through as he could.


It was all like that: artifacts, practically, on the walls and decorating the place. There wasn't, it seemed, anything younger than Fletcher there. Eventually, they'd settle into a massive kitchen, where there was still no staff -- but a giant meal waited for them. Steak and potatoes, salad, fresh rolls. Still hot.


Later, if he had the time and the freedom for it, he wanted to go back through the path they'd walked to give the artifacts the attention they deserved, but he'd already made Rowan wait once and he didn't feel like testing his patience further.  "Your house is lovely."

Entering the kitchen the bassist paused as he took in the spread.  "That smells amazing."


"Eat." Again, that hook would tug, a compulsion to obey. Rowan pointed to plates and silverware, meaningfully.


He didn't really need the compulsion to dig in, just the greenlight.  He grabbed a plate, a napkin, a set of silverware and then turned to the food before pausing to look up.  "Are you eating as well?"  He asked it as he reached back for another plate, like he meant to hand one to the other man.

15
Roleplaying / Re: Red carpet reunion [Rowan and Fletcher]
« on: January 19, 2020, 01:11:24 PM »
"Chemicals are a distraction, albeit a fun one."  It was almost wistful.  Which could have meant a number of different things, but he didn't elaborate.

He looked back up at Rowan, waiting, but unsure as to what.


"And this?" Again he tucked fingers under Fletcher's chin, with that low spark of pleasure behind it.


His breath caught, lips parting as that warmth spread in a tingling rush.  "What is that?"  It was curious, breathy.


"What does it feel like?" He tipped his head a little, with a flicker of amusement coming into his expression: a crinkle at his eyes, a quirk of his mouth.


"It's..."  His hands slipped from his neck, fingers brushing the underside of Rowan's hand.  "Spreading, tingling warmth."  It came with a content sigh.



"Does it make you happy?" He sounded genuinely curious, studying Fletcher's face.


It was tentative, his hands turning to smooth along the back of that warm hand, slow and careful.  He wanted to nuzzle his face into Rowan's palm, breath in that summer air scent and wrap it around himself.  "It feels amazing."


"Not what I asked." He took his hand back, shaking Fletcher off - maybe because he hadn't answered the question.


He tried to hold on, his head jerking up to turn wide eyes up at Rowan.  "It does," he blurted.  "Please."


"I'm not sure that it qualifies as happiness." He considered Fletcher's desperation for a breath before settling fingers against the side of his neck. "Or if it's enough."


It was instantly calming, and Fletcher let out an almost shaking breath.  "It's the best I've felt..."  Brows creased, trying to articulate how he felt.  "I feel alive again.  I want to write, and play again.  I haven't been trying medicate myself into oblivion."


"I can give you this." It was, apparently, easy. He smoothed his thumb over Fletcher's mouth again. "But it'd cost you."


Lips parted under the stroke of his thumb. "Cost what?"  He lay a hand against the one on the side of his neck.


He licked his own lower lip, pressing the finger idly into Fletcher's mouth. It made his eyes heat and his skin take on a delicate flush. "Work for me for six months."


His tongue slid against the pad of Rowan's thumb, eyes closing and head tipping.  Down right lewd for the middle of an after party, but Fletcher didn't care, barely even remembered where he was.

He had to talk carefully.  "What do you want me to do?"


"Write me a song. Show up to events and perform. That's what you said you wanted to do, wasn't it?" As far as Rowan was concerned, apparently, it was just the pair of them. Hopefully no one had a camera turned their way.


He nodded, lips closing around Rowan's finger, and sliding to the tip so he could speak easier.  "I can do that.  I'd be happy to do that."


He leaned in over Fletcher again, curling fingers around the back of the chair. "And what is it exactly you want in return?"


His skin felt hot and flushed, every nerve alive.  "I...you."  His cheeks were burning.  "Take me home.  Touch me more, fu-"  he cut himself off with a small sound, head ducking and hand closing around Rowan's wrist.


"Once?" He raised an eyebrow at that, like it didn't much impress him, but Rowan's fingers tightened around the back of the chair. "For six months?"


It should have sounded crazy, probably did if anyone else happened to be listening.  Fletcher didn't care, or didn't realize, or was simply incapable of it while that warmth was still within reach.  He looked up again, meeting bright green with baby blue.  "Six months."  It was almost a question, like he didn't think he had the right to ask that, but it was honest.  Maybe even helpless.


"It's tempting to take advantage of you, but you're so...." He breathed out, his breath warm and very close to Fletcher's mouth now. "You can do better than that. Think about it."


It was getting harder and harder to think and Rowan's mouth so temptingly close wasn't helping.  A soft keen started and died at the back of his throat, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed.  The questions carried a weight he didn't completely understand, and he didn't want to say the wrong thing.  He'd already pissed the other man off once, and some how they'd still made it to this, but he didn't want to chance risking that again.

 "What if I want to be yours?  You called me that already, when you were introducing me."  His gaze flicked to Rowan's mouth then up again.


"That's the deal we're making." He raised his eyebrows, just a little bit mockingly; licked his lower lip when he caught Fletcher looking. "My beck and call, six months. And if that's your side of the deal, I'll have to rethink my own."


His own brows twitched, like he was trying to read through Rowan's expression and failing, but the flick of his tongue was distracting.

He had to close his eyes, breath in slowly, hold it, and let it out.  "I work for you for six months, and in return I get to be with you for that time.  In your life, and in your bed?"  It was a business deal, he knew that, and what he wanted was so far out of bounds, but Rowan had asked what he wanted.


"No. I refuse to be at your beck and call. It won't work like that." He started to straighten, but slowly. To give Fletcher time to reconsider.


"Not at mine," he added hastily.  Hands tightening around Rowan's wrist.  "I'm not, that's not..."  He shook his head, dipping it to rest his brow against the other man's knuckles unless he pulled his hand away.  "I can be at yours.  I just want the chance."


"Hmm." He paused, tipped his head a little like he was thinking that over. "I offer you an hour a week, in exchange, and more if you're interesting."


He lifted his head, lips brushing pale knuckles, and nodded.  "Deal."  He could live with that.  More would have been ideal, but he was still getting what he wanted, and he'd get to write, get to sing and perform.  It was a good deal.


Rowan looked affectionately exasperated, leaning in to tip Fletcher's chin up. "Done, then." And he finally pressed their lips together again -- carefully, delicately, though not quite chaste.


His lips tingled with the contact, the shock of it rushing through his body strong enough to pull an almost startled sound from the bassist as he opened his mouth to the other man.  This is what he'd wanted, this and more.  He wanted to feel everything.  Couldn't seem to get enough of the soft warmth of the other man's skin, or the summery scent of growth and life that flooded his senses when he was around him.  It was positively intoxicating.


It was more than that. The kiss was good, and then it was magic: magic that put a hook low in his stomach, that made him not only eager to please but unable to do anything else. A deal was a deal, and this one was binding. Rowan let it linger for a moment -- too short -- before he lifted his head. "How did you get here?"


Freckled features were slack when Rowan drew back from the kiss, eyes lingering closed a second after before he was looking up at the other man admiringly.  "Hired a driver."  Well, his manager had.  "They're waiting to pick me up."  He'd let his hands slide along Rowen's wrist until he was holding just the shorter man's fingers.  Like a lifeline in a storm.


"You should send them home." He said it easily, his chin tipped up a little. "I suspect my car is nicer."


"Okay."  There was no hesitation.  One hand dropped away to dig his phone from his pocket to send off a quick text, then it was tucked away again, Fletcher looking up.


He pulled away, and when he beckoned Fletcher along after -- two fingers, the same as he ever did -- that hook in his belly would compel him to follow. Probably he could resist it. If he really tried. "I'm going to grab the rest of that bottle and make my goodbyes."


Long fingers fell away reluctantly as Rowan stepped back, but he was quick to get back to his feet so he could follow.  Likely would have without the pull of magic compelling him.  "Is it a similar wine to the last one?"


Rowan thought that over, rolling his shoulders to settle his jacket into place and adjusting his tie. "I suppose. Similar enough."


"Strong like before?"  He'd never had anything that'd gotten him so drunk so quickly.  Which reminded him.  "It doesn't affect you the same."  Rowan hadn't even seemed buzzed.


"No, it's made for me." He still didn't seem buzzed but -- maybe that was just because of that impossibly calm demeanor, like he didn't give two shits about anything happening around him.


"It's very impressive."  Which didn't quite cover it, but it would do.  He was quiet after that as he followed along with the shorter man.


"It's a flower." He didn't look back to make sure that Fletcher was following: just wove his way to the bar. He was small enough to duck through the crowd. Fletcher might get shoulder checked a few times.


Like last time, keeping up was a challenge.  Where Rowan seemed to flow through the crowd with liquid grace, Fletcher was having to constantly murmur apologetic ‘excuse mes’ as he made his way through, shoulders knocked a few times, until he reached the bar.


Bruises, but he'd survive. And Rowan seemed unconcerned, already collecting the bottle from the bartender and half-turning to check on Fletcher's progresses. "Did you bring anything with you?"


It'd been a gauntlet of a different sort than the red carpet, but one nonetheless.  He looked over his shoulder at the happy, laughing elite before huffing out a breath.  "No, nothing."  Now eyes flicked to the bottle then back to the man.


He raked a skeptical look over Fletcher again, though, like he wasn't quite sure he believed it -- or maybe like that was just very sad. "Do you want to meet me outside?"


It was an odd look and Fletcher responded with something puzzled, brows arching.  "If that's what you want.  Which door?"  It wasn't strictly what Fletcher wanted, but if it'd make things smoother then it was fine.


"Go through the pool, and out the side." He ordered Fletcher around casually -- and that hook turned again, as he did. Fletcher had promised to be at his beck and call. After a moment, he pressed the bottle into Fletcher's hands, too. "I'll meet you there."


He'd already half expected to have the bottle handed off to him so he took it easily, head turning to glance back towards the pool to find the exit.  "Alright.  I'll be there."  A flicker of a smile and he headed off, like an obedient puppy.

Outside he'd find himself something to sit on, the bottle resting on the ground between his feet.  And he'd wait, attention on his phone to pass the time.  Filling his manager in on all the schmoozing he'd managed to do throughout the evening.


Rowan would be a while; the car would show up before he did, the driver climbing out to consider Fletcher. They were hard to pin down: just androgynous enough that it'd be a struggle to pick a pronoun (or maybe wiser not too) with warm brown skin and an unimpressed expression. "Ah. You again."


He'd look up when he heard a car slowing in front of him, watching curiously until the driver stepped out.  There wasn't immediate recognition, but the voice helped.  "Yeah, hi."  He turned a glance back at the car, then to the driver again.  "Is there anywhere in there to store this so it'll stay cold?"  And he'd reach down for the bottle.


"You can get in." They took one step to the right to get the door for him, expression still disapproving. "Don't drink it."


"Oh."  It'd be more comfortable in the car than the bench he'd found to sit on so he stood, bottle held carefully in his hands.  "Thank you."  He'd climb in one handed, scanning the interior for anything he could put the bottle in to chill.  The warning unneeded, he hadn't been planning on drinking it.  It wasn't his.


"There's a fridge." They offered it only after climbing into the driver's seat -- and, after a moment, punched a button to open the side door. Of course, the fridge was half full of beers and sodas and one bottle of very expensive Scotch.


"Perfect, thank you."  He'd flash the driver a smile, sliding along the seat so he could make enough room to tuck the bottle inside.

Then he sat back, hands on his thighs and gaze turning up to the building beside them before flicking back to the driver.  "I didn't get your name last time, I'm Fletcher."  He doubted he'd made a very good impression, all things considered.


"Ferris." And obviously not. The eyes that met his through the mirror were unimpressed -- and, at the moment, golden brown. Maybe they'd been darker in the alley, though. "How messed up are you?"


The look was enough to make him sink down in the seat a few more inches, and his hands came together on his lap, fingers twisting.  "I'm not.  I only had one drink early in the evening."


"How novel." A little tip of the head -- it was thoughtful, curious. And then they turned to look at him properly through the divider.


He looked back, brows arched in a silent question.  "So how long have you worked for Rowan?"  He'd asked mostly to fill the silence, but there was some genuine curiosity there as well.


Ferris just looked at him for a long moment, assessing. "Oh. What did you promise him?"


That got a blink.  "Um, he wants me to come work for him for six months.  Songwriting and performing at events."  His head tipped thoughtfully as he worked out how the two questions were related.  "Did you make a deal with him too?"


"I work for him. Does that qualify?" One dark arm folded across the divider, eyes still on Fletcher. "I keep my contract shorter than six months, though."


"I think so."  He wasn't sure what the difference was.  Like there was something he was missing in the way that'd been worded.  "So you haven't been driving for him too long yet?"


"It's been a while. I just keep the contract short." Ferris raised both eyebrows. "That way, I can negotiate."


"Oh."  That made sense.  Now, sitting out in the car and no longer touching the shorter man he wondered if maybe he should have negotiated more.  Possibly. But he hadn't wanted to push.  Afraid of pissing Rowan off again, or worse.

"Do you like working for him?" It was a thoughtful question.

"It's fine. But I also negotiate well." And, their look said, they doubted that Fletcher had done nearly so well.


He'd done next to no negotiating, but at the time, and even now, it still seemed like a good deal.  He was getting to work, do the things he loved to do, and he'd get Rowan... Maybe not for long, but still.


Ferris watched him for another moment, lingering, then made a low noise and turned around to put the divider up. Apparently they were done talking. Fletcher could stew for a bit in the backseat.


With the partition up it was like he was sitting in his own little quiet world, and he let his head fall back against the seat, eyes roaming around the inside of the car before rolling back up to the building.   If he had to guess it felt like he'd been waiting a while now.  A glance down at his phone confirmed that.


Better part of an hour, for sure, before the door finally opened and Rowan slid in -- looking shut down and a bit peeved.


Alone in the quiet of the car it would have been easy to doze off and if much more time had passed that's probably what would have happened.  But Fletcher hadn't quite been to that point yet, so the door opening was only mildly startling.

He turned his head, the start of a smile tugging at his lips before he noticed Rowan's expression and frowned instead, sitting up.  "Everything alright?"


"It's fine." He stretched his legs out as he settled into the chair, reaching up to work one of the braids loose from the back of his head.

"Okay."  Not his place to question.

For a moment he watched Rowan's hand working on the braid, then had a thought.  "Do...do you want me to do that for you?"  He knew having someone else playing with your hair felt great.


Rowan flicked him a look, assessing -- and then the closed divider -- and slowly started to relax. He dropped his hand. "Yes."


He waited, half turned on the seat, but slid closer with the permission, the almost smile from before making an appearance.  He reached out, fingers trailing lightly along the braid he'd been working on before continuing what he'd started with careful, gentle motions.


Rowan closed his eyes, then, breathing out slowly -- hands gone still, folded lightly in front of him. He had a lot of hair, and it probably ached from being like that for so long. "What size shirt and pants do you wear?"


He settled his shoulder against the back of the seat, settling into what he was doing.  Working free first one braid and then another, fingertips combing through what he'd already finished and over his scalp to soothe it.  He was meticulous, taking as much enjoyment from it as he was giving.  "Small, and 28 long."


Rowan's hands untangled slowly in his lap, his shoulders starting to relax. It dropped his voice a bit, made it softer, without that whipcord edge. "Do you wear pajamas?"


He had to think about that for a moment.  "Sometimes, usually not a shirt.  Sometimes I sleep just in boxers, but I like to pull on the bottoms in the morning until I get dressed."  This was nice, it was calm and relaxing and Rowan's hair was incredibly soft.


Silky; braiding it had probably been a nightmare, since it was so smooth under Fletcher's fingers. Rowan's hand twitched against his leg, then settled again. "Fine."


There were a number of them finished now and the soft blonde trailed into his lap as he moved into the next one.  "It's so unbelievably soft."


Rowan made a low sound, considering the slow progress of Fletcher's fingers through his hair. "Can you braid, as well?"


"Mmhmm.  I don't know if I can do anything super intricate, but I can french braid and do a few different types."  He'd finished another and moved to the next.


The hair, let loose, was probably midway down his back. Rowan sighed, slowly, tipping his head with the weight of it. "If you can do something simple, you could be taught the rest."


When he finished undoing another he took a moment to just comb his fingers through what was now free, enjoying the way it felt sliding between his fingers.  "True.  Given a chance to learn I'm sure I could pick it up.  It's not very unlike learning cords."  Tricky finger work involved with both.


After just a moment Rowan tipped his head back into the touch -- again, he'd taken that minute to think before responding.  They were moving, now; probably had been for a bit, but the car was very smooth, and the windows were very dark.


Another small, content smile as he trailed his nails lightly along the other man's scalp.  Even his hair was warm, down to the ends, bound and unbound.  He lay his temple against the back of the seat he started in on another braid, there were only a few left now and he made quick work of them.  Only then did he make any move to remove the ornate clip, freeing it carefully.  It was set lightly on Rowan's leg.


That about woke him up -- fingers twitching and coming out to take the clip, blinking his eyes open again. Even after a day in the braids, his hair was near straight, already losing any kink they may have put in it. "If I wasn't clear, you're spending the night."


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