Friends...a good thing
It was an extraordinary night. The air was cool for summer, at least any summer's Fallon could remember, and yet it was obvious summer was still in full bloom, along with all the flowers native to Nachton. The air was still a bit humid and heady with all kinds of wonderful scents.
Since she'd come to realize her cat abilities were giving her added perks, Fallon had just accepted it and started enjoying them. It was that much more incredible when she and Cyrus would run in the forrest, and it also seemed to allow her change to happen more smoothly. That, or all the practice was paying off, as she never seemed to have any anxiety about it anymore.
She had also refrained from too much contact with Suki over the past week, thinking it would be easier on the three of them this way. Trying not to give the girl orders or instructions was more difficult than Fallon had thought it would be, only because Suki was just so helpful all the time. So distance was the only way she could see clear to try and break the cycle. Cyrus was Suki's master, and only master. For Fallon she could be a friend, and that was all.
In the grand scheme of things Fallon preferred it like that anyway. She had no desire to have the responsibility of anyone else. Outside of the responsiblity she felt for Cyrus, which was only a responsibility in so far as one lover would have for another. Being responsible for a familiar was too much like having a child. Not anything Fallon had the need for.
But Fallon did need to get together with Suki to start planning the party they'd be having when the new house was finished. Ever since Fallon had invited her few friends over to her little cottage for the get together, she'd wanted to have another celebration. She loved playing hostess, and visiting with her friends, and since Cyrus didn't seem to mind, the new house was just the excuse she could use.
And speaking of friends, and new houses, she was just as excited to be seeing Ana again, and thrilled she and Suki and Fallon could spend the evening together. Since Cyrus had to meet with his buyers, it worked out well for everyone.
Since Ana had only moved into the cottage a couple days earlier, Fallon wanted to make sure everything was still working well, and hoped to hear her friend was settled and enjoying her new home.
Finding it more difficult to be cooped up inside these days, Fallon chose the restaurant at the marina to meet at. She loved the smell of the ocean, and the seating at the outside patio was perfect. Once she parked the RAV and walked up to the hostess, she found she was the first to arrive. Leaving her name with the friendly woman, Fallon went to her table, and watched a few small boats sailing back and forth across the calm water, as she waited for the others to arrive.
Since she was not working most of her long black hair hung straight down her back. Only the front was pulled back into a small intricate braid that lay atop her mane. Nervously following the hostess, Suki brushed her hand along the side of her head, tucking her hair behind her ear even though it was all contained behind it already. A ready smile and nod of thanks were for the hostess as she reached her destination.
For the past week Fallon had avoided her, hopefully they were still friends after her colossal mistake earlier. Rather than bite her lip she smiled with hope for forgiveness at her Master's mate.
Home. Somehow, her apartment in the University didn't feel like home, not to the point that Fallon's old house now did. It made her smile to herself as she thought of "home," and slowly click-clomped her way across the parking lot.
Crossing the entrance lane, a valet caught her attention as she started to ascend the steps. "Miss, you should have brought that to us, we could have parked it..."
Turning to the young gentleman, she handed him her abundant pile of keychains with exactly three keys on it. "Well, if you don't mind, you can bring it up for me when I leave then?" She flashed him a smile and he nodded to her. She saw him indicate a sign saying 'ten dollars for valet parking'... And kicked herself again. She'd paid twelve to park where she did.
For a brief moment when she reached the top of the stairs she recalled the old Peanuts' cartoons that had a frustrated Charlie Brown or Lucy yelling a vocal "AAAAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHH."
Closing her eyes, Ana took a deep breath and, gazing at herself momentarily in the reflective glass of the door, swung it open and stepped inside.
The tiny heels of her white sandals clicked as she approached the host stand. "Ana Kensington here to meet Fallon Tierney, please."
"It'll be just a moment ma'am," replied the hostess.
Ana looked around, taking in the visible parts of the bar and entrance hall that she could see. Her eyes caught a stunningly beautiful woman in a teal dre... "Wait, that's me!" Stepping a bit to her left, Ana saw her full reflection in a narrow mirror at the edge of a wall. Her normally voluminous hair was partially pulled back in a coral-colored hair tie. A tiny, three-pointed silver pendant dangled from her neck, almost perfectly equidistant from the edges of her teal dress and the hollow of her throat. Ana was rather unused to having so much of her chest bared while wearing a dress, but when she saw such a wonderful piece in Penney's, she had to get it. The dark teal chiffon flowed about her legs as she walked, and with the silky view of her partially-bared chest in the mirror, she suddenly felt very aware and proud of her breasts. It wasn't tight, either; she felt like she was wearing solid air.
Raising one hand to her face, light glinting off her sparkly pale green nail polish, she resettled her glasses on her face and waited for the hostess to take her to the table.
(( Indications of the pendant can be viewed here and here; it is the three-point bladed weapon called a Moon Blade.
Suki or Fallon have permission for this thread for minor movements and such ))
"SUKI!" Fallon nearly toppled her chair backwards when she jumped up and pulled Suki into a hug. "You look wonderful...I've missed you so...come, sit, tell me how you've been?"
Fallon really did think the other girl looked very chic. Suki had a style that Fallon wished she could 'get', but that always seemed to allude her.
"And that color of purple is so flattering on you. I feel so...dumpy next to you." A wink to her friend, and Fallon hoped she knew she was kidding.
The dress Fallon wore she loved, and never would have joked if she didn't think Suki would understand, Suki having bought the dress for Fallon, and all.
"You know of course I love this dress, and the little strappy sandals match perfectly...I don't know how you always manage to dress me so much better than I could dress myself."
Reaching across the table, Fallon gave Suki's hand a squeeze, and looked up to catch a flash of blue behind her friend's shoulder.
"Ana!" Recognizing her other friend, this time Fallon managed to stand and push the chair back without incident. She also managed to keep the level of her voice soft enough to be heard, but not terribly annoying to the other diners. A small wave, and she hoped she caught the girl's eye.
"Oh I'm just so glad you both were able to come."
Sitting down gracefully across the table her smile never faded. Things like matching shoes to outfits came easy to her, especially when her credit card was unlimited and paid by someone else. Still it was a compliment that made her glow with pride.
At Fallon's next leap upward, Suki looked over her own shoulder to see who else was coming. Ana? Ah yes, the girl from the spa. Suki recognized those glasses but the woman wearing them looked unbelievably fashionable, moreso than last time she had seen her dressed in a torn robe.
Standing politely, Suki stretched one hand out for Ana to shake as she got closer to the table. "Hi Ana, Suki Langston. We met before, though briefly."
When she approached the table, she smiled at her dinner companions. Shaking Suki's hand gently but firmly, she replied, "Nice to re-meet you, Suki. You look quite fetching in both spa attire as well as dinner date ensembles." Beaming somewhat embarassedly as she let go of the woman's hand, she amended, "I'm not sure if I ever properly thanked you for coming to my rescue that day, but thank you."
Giving a gentle hug to Suki first, then turning to Fallon, she explained briefly, "That night I met you and Rorri at the Piazza, we went to the spa at the hotel. Suki helped save me from embarassment and full frontal nudity and made sure I was uninjured after a... collision with a towel cart." Leaning in, she gave Fallon a hug and indicated the table. "Shall we get comfortable? I'm so hungry I could eat a whole farm, but I want to take my time, unless you ladies have other plans."
She hugged her friend back, and nodded to the chair at the end of the table, between where Suki and Fallon already were sitting.
"Of course! Sit! Sit! We haven't even ordered drinks yet, perfect timing!"
Being so excited to see two of the people closest to her in the world, Fallon did need to watch her enthusiasm. She didn't want to create a scene in the restaurant, but found it hard to be too sedate.
"I've no other plans. I've the entire evening to spend with you both, and want to hear everything that has been going on in your lives. But first, does anyone but me want something to drink?"
Best to get that out of the way, so they could really start chatting. Though it hadn't been that long really, that Fallon had seen either woman, it seemed that neither had spent much time talking, concentrating more on other things.
Drinks were easy, she wanted a glass of wine. "I think some pinot grigio sounds good tonight for me. Just a glass though."
Since her week had been busy working closely with Cyrus on the house, Suki had tons of things to tell Fallon. Rather than launch right into it she politely waited for Ana to note her drink of choice.
Of course she didn't recall ever trying pinot grigio in her travels, and had stuck to soda at Fallon's party.
She had, hadn't she? The majority of the night was a blur except for what happened after the meal...
Anat felt her cheeks warming as she recalled some of the night and hid her reddening cheeks behind the menu. "I hope I don't drive the other ladies nuts asking what has shellfish or mustard..."
"Sooo...fill me in!" She said with exuberance and a hearty smile.
"I know it really hasn't been that long since I've actually seen either of you, but it seems like ages since we really talked. Ana? How are you getting settled, do you like your new home, Bob hasn't been pestering you has he? And Suki...what have you been doing BESIDES working on the house...please tell me you have been doing something else...?"
In truth, Fallon did care about her friends, but was there more for their company than collecting data. If they all wanted to talk about the weather or hockey scores, she wouldn't have minded.
"Well, honestly I don't have too much time to do more than that. But I did put in a few hours at my, um, waitressing job as well as several hours at the dojo working out. Oh and I discovered this great store, it carries a really amazing line by Gothic-Ah. Dont worry though, I havent put anything too extreme in your closet!"
She could not really see Fallon in full out goth club wear, but some things would be nice. Just for going out to the House of Pain maybe. So that the couple matched sometimes. Restraining a giggle behind her hand at the thought, Suki tried to behave.
Crab-stuffed mushrooms. Crabcakes. Crab-stuffed flounder. Crab legs.
Fried, boiled, grilled shrimp.
Fried clams. Clams casino. Clam chowder.
Shrimp and lobster gumbo.
It wasn't very often she regretted some of the allergies that her body saddled her with, but she did so wish she could eat most of what was on the menu.
Carefully disguising a sigh behind the glass of water that suddenly appeared in her field of vision, brought by the server, she reached for the glass. Setting down the hefty folder, she decided on a pan-seared white-wine-marinated swordfish steak with steamed seasonal vegetables.
When she realized Fallon had been speaking to her, she caught Suki's restrained giggle and tried to imagine either Fallon or herself dressed in such... different attire. She snorted and coughed as a teensy bit of water decided to make its way into her sinuses. Quickly grabbing her napkin, she dropped her utensils on the floor as she covered her face just in time to catch a sneeze. Hacking for a moment or two, she received a few soft thumps on her back from Suki before her lungs and sinuses calmed.
Wheezing slightly, voice raspy, eyes watering behind her glasses she claimed, "I'm okay, thanks, water went down the wrong pipe."
"Working out is good...it probably helps you keep your stress levels in tact? I've started running...in the evenings...it's fun." While both girls knew Fallon had things in common with Cyrus...the vampire thing being the biggest, Fallon had yet to tell either of them about her new abilities. So for now she just grinned a little mysteriously, and went on.
"Ana...you okay?" Fallon grew concerned when her friend seemed to be suffering some sort of reaction or something. Seeing it all brought under control, she reached across the table and rubbed her hand soothingly, and continued.
"You've just got to come by...for sure to our party, but I'd like to have you over for dinner some time. The house we're in now is just awesome, but the one coming...well, I can't do it justice trying to explain it...you'll have to see it when it's completed. It's not just the house though...the land around it is so serene, and peaceful...all trees, and forrests, and a creek..." As was her way these days, any time Fallon talked about Cyrus, or her home, or her friends, or anything she loved, her face took on a myriad of expressions.
"That's where I love to run...Cyrus and I have even...camped out." And with that statement Fallon giggled...oh how she wanted to say something about her turning into a bobcat, but she just didn't know how to approach it. Maybe after dinner they could all go on a walk and Fallon could show them. She had gotten very good at shifting into her cat, and shifting back, but shifting back still took a bit out of her.
With a wink she picked up her glass and took a sip only to pretend to need to chew the fluid. After a suitable period of suspicion she swallowed with a smile, hoping the other woman would find her actions silly not insulting. Finding something to talk about was easy since Fallon had commented upon it.
"So you just moved into a new place Ana? And who is Bob?"
Fallon's talk of Cyrus and the house made Suki beam with pride. She was so proud to be of assistance, especially to create something admitedly 'awesome'. Knowing that her master was quite secretive about some things still did not stop her from forming guesses as to what and how the two camped out. Still she made no comment, instead she arched her brows inquiringly.
Sipping showily from her glass again, then tipping a nod at Suki with an 'ah hah! I -can- drink normally' look, she indicated Fallon as she set down the glass. "It's her fault, really, planting the seed of the idea into my head. Though it is nice having more than one distinct room to myself. My last apartment at the University was a studio."
"So she moved out and you moved in? How great is that. I had hoped her prior home wouldnt be left empty. How great is it that you could move in there! Are you all settled already or do you still have unpacking to do?"
Breaking up the inquisition slightly with a sip of water before asking more. "I looked at those Univeristy apartments. They were small and had so many fees and potential issues that I picked my quiet condo instead. Though I have hopes of moving when The House is finished if Fallon doesnt mind."
Since she had already been given authorization to move into the large house once it was completed she was hoping Fallon did not mind in the least. It would make her life easier to be closer to her master.
She reached over to squeeze Fallon's hand in gratitude.
Turning her smile up encouragingly before looking towards Fallon. "So, how have you spent your week? And do you really not want me to talk about the house? There is a lot of exciting things happening over there now!"
She really did not see the need for much of a life. Since she socialized anywhere and everywhere she went, Suki did not lack for friends to chat with. Working on the house gave her such purpose and drive. Of course Cyrus needing her assistance with it pushed her further. Doing a good job was a reward in itself, but doing a great job for an appreciative master made her life complete.
"I'm sorry Ana...I forgot all about that. Yes, Bob did go away for three weeks, and did ask me to pick up his mail. Thank god you're who you are and just did so instinctively. He also left his house key underneath the pot on his back step...the one with the red geraniums in it...in case anything happens. You can put his mail on his kitchen counter if it gets to be too much." Frowning a bit, at having forgotten that little bit of news, Fallon shook her head.
"He's going to be so much better off with you as a neighbor." She hoped Ana didn't mind picking up the mail, and made a mental note to drop Bob a short note about the mix up.
She listened and was again happy that Ana had wanted to move into the cottage, and that it was still occupied by someone Fallon deemed worthy. It was odd that she felt that way, having only lived there a short while, but in that short while she'd built up some heavy memories.
"That little place will always hold a special place in my memory."
When Suki spoke of any possible reservations about her moving into the houses with Cyrus and Fallon, Fallon put a firm hand on Suki's arm and gave her a mock stern look.
"Don't you be silly, or think twice about living with us. As long as YOU don't mind, Cyrus and I both want you there. Seriously...I don't want you to doubt that for one second."
There was more that Fallon could say, but thought best to leave off where she did. Though she personally trusted Ana, and wouldn't have minded letting on that Suki was Cyrus' "assistant", it wasn't the type of think Fallon felt comfortable about discussing. Suki was Fallon's friend, and Cyrus' familiar, and Cyrus' interest in her came first...it just had to...it was just the way of things. But so far there were no issues with the arrangement, save the minor one that had been discussed just a week or so ago. And with Fallon remaining as just a friend, that issue should no longer exist.
"My week? Well I did help Ana move into HER new home, though she really didn't let me do much. And of course I don't mind you talking about the new house. But Ana...if you start nodding off, just kick me under the table. I will admit even though Cyrus and Suki are taking care of most of the construction, I have been choosing paints, and wallpapers, and carpet swatches. I've also been doing a little bit of shopping myself, but only random decorating accessories...you know a few vases, some pillows...knick knacks."
Fallon had been loafing as far as she was concerned, and just didn't know how much longer she'd be able to do so.
"Truthfully? I'm thinking about going back to work."
Finishing her wine, she refilled all the glasses, and sighed.
"It's nice having the luxury of spending my nights with Cyrus, and having time to meet with you two...but when Cyrus works, I feel at loose ends. I really don't shop, you know that Suki...and what little I've done this past week is enough to last me for months."
She shrugged a bit pitifully.
"I'm glad you're going back to work. I know what it's like, sitting at home with nothing to do but watch TV read sleep and eat... You need to keep your brain active, or it'll just melt into a puddle of goo and leak out your ears." Snickering to herself quietly, she looked to Suki.
"You're moving in with them?" She hoped her voice didn't carry the "why her?" tone she was feeling. "You must be pretty invaluable as an ..." Ana realized she didn't know exactly what Suki's position was in Fallon and Cyrus' household. "invaluable asset." She smiled sincerely, mentally scratching her head.
I also joined Cyrus' clan, and am a full fledged member of Anantya, but so far they've not required anything of me. Going back to teaching, for now...for a while...I think will be good. And Ana...I thought maybe I'd bring my class into the library for a little field trip, if you think the librarian wouldn't mind. These people learning English should have library cards and know how to locate and check out books to read...to keep bettering their skills."
Catching a change in her tone, Fallon remembered Ana didn't know who Suki was to her and Cyrus. Heel of hand to forehead, Fallon laughed.
"I'm sorry, I just take it for granted everyone knows who Suki is. She's Cyrus' assistant...his good right arm, so to speak. Not only is she in charge of getting our new house built, but she also took care of moving everything into our current house, and just helps Cyrus with everything he does practically."
Blushing, Fallon added a bit to that statement. "Well almost everything...he still keeps me around to make his bed, and wash his back." Shaking her head but grinning, Fallon did nod at Ana's final description.
"Yes, to Cyrus she is a valuable assistant, and to me she's a valuable friend." Reaching over to Ana's hand, Fallon slid her fingers around it and squeezed firmly. "As are you dear Ana."
Fallon did treasure Suki's friendship, but with Ana there was a special bond that she had with none of her other friends. She wasn't sure Ana was aware of her feelings, but she hoped her friend knew how much she loved her.