"Reign? Before you say anything, please let me speak. I know I've thrown a lot at you lately, and I wouldn't be surprised if it takes time for you to come to any kind of terms with it, but I'd really like to see you again. I promise there won't be any changing, or further things to shock you...just a nice evening out?"
He called the next day, just as he had promised last night, before he had run off into the night. Reign had reacted well to what she had gone through, but he was afraid if he left her alone too long, she might begin to think about things, and that could result in her turning him down for anything more. He couldn't let that happen, so he was following up now, and didn't plan on accepting anything less than a positive answer.
"There is a sculpture exhibit at the museum...Myron, Phidias, Praxiteles...Bernini, and even a da Vinci...do you remember our visit to Roma, and Greece?" It had been one of the happiest times in Bastian's life, that cruise, and specifically when he and Reign had toured Italy, and Greece, and admired the ancient sculptures.
"I have no idea how the curator got them, but I was very impressed to hear the list. It opens Saturday, and I thought afterwards we might get something to eat, then maybe look into the nightlife?"
Bastian had checked around and found several things they could do, and he was ready to offer them all up as options, but the museum and dinner he figured would be a pretty safe bet. What they did afterwards would remain to be seen.
"What do you say? Do you think you might enjoy that?"
She asked weakly. Outside of classical sculpture, she had a particular fondness for Da Vinci.
Switching the phone from one ear to the other, she continued to fix Sirius his dinner. As she set it down she answered.
“I’m supposed to meet with Hans… …” Pausing she bit her lip and considered. “I’ll reschedule. I’d love to go with you.”
"Meraviglioso! Shall I pick you up about six then?" The wheels in his head were spinning rapidly, as he not only began making arrangements for Saturday night, but some pre-plans as well. To him, this would be their first real DATE since he had found her, and he wanted it all to be perfect.
Cradling the phone between his shoulder and ear, Bastian shuffled some things across the top of his desk as he sought out a small memo pad. Once he found it, he pulled a pen from the drawer, and jotted down a few things. He usually had an excellent memory, but sometimes he just felt better having them written down on paper to refer to.
"And shall we do it up right...or would you prefer something more casual?" Again he was trying to make things comfortable for her, and knew she never had really liked dressing up. If she wanted to go somewhere in her cargo pants, so be it. He always thought she looked smashing, no matter what she wore, though his mind did remember her in a sexy, silky pantsuit she wore once...and a Princess Leia costume that would have made Carrie Fisher envious. He couldn't contain a chuckle when he recalled that night.
“Six is perfect.”
Casual or dressy? Hmmmm… somehow this felt like a special occasion and they’d done casual with his dinner. Although she did appreciate the offer. No, no, she wanted to have fun and sort of dress it up.
“Let’s make it a special occasion shall we?”
"Special...certainly." Was it age that had given Reign a penchant for dressing up, or was she doing so because she remembered how much he enjoyed it? Bastian didn't really care, but a small part of him hoped it was the latter.
He didn't really want to say goodbye, but he did, telling her how much he would be looking forward to the evening.
To add to that hecticness, two border terrier pups had been delivered just the day before, and Bastian had to make arrangements for where the pups would stay during the day, while he was working, but also during the evenings while he was up at the house. The pups were ten weeks old, and well weaned, but still needy, as young animals were prone to be. Still, he adored them on sight, and was excited to tell Reign about them when he saw her. Even better, it gave him another excuse for inviting Reign back to his place, all the sooner.
Yet even in the middle of the craziness, Bastian had managed to order a bouquet of flowers be delivered to Reign. A little angry that he hadn't had time to do the other things he had planned, he was damned if he didn't find some way to get the flowers to her, and managed to find a way. He hoped she liked the roses, sent in four different arrangements, but all yellow. He had learned the meanings for the colors of roses back when they were in college, and aside from the fact that she liked yellow, that they also meant joy, promise of a new beginning, and remembrance.
Taking more pains with his dress than he had in months, Bastian settled on a casual suit. He really never cared or paid much attention to clothes, once they were bought and paid for he just wore them. He did know how to dress appropriately, and enjoyed the kinds of places that required the patrons to wear more than a pair of jeans, and t-shirts. But was also comfortable around the stables in his jeans and flannels.
Before he knew it he had driven from his place to Reign's, and was again standing on her porch, one red rose in hand now, and knocking. The red rose was significant in a way the yellow ones hadn't been, and truly did need to be hand delivered.
The flowers though made her smile. He knew she didn't set much store in them but some how she always loved it when he sent them. Why was that?
Ugh! She could not go into this just questioning everything.
At least getting dressed gave her something else to think about. She actually took some time with things to night, coaxing her hair into lose curls and picking out a dressier top than she usually would. She liked the dark gray color of it and that she could still move in it. That and some full-legged black pants, and some heels were enough for her. Although why the hell she'd put on heels was beyond her.
She was just putting on the earrings that matched her pendant she heard the knock and Sirius went nuts.
Putting in the second earring she picked up her small bag.
She really hoped Sirius would start dealing better with Bastian, but for now she'd settle for him being obedient, and he was.
Opening the door, she grinned at her date.
Not very, not enough to give him hell about but what else was she going to say... 'hi'?
"Are you ready?" It was very strange, this date they were now beginning, and Bastian felt as if it were almost as awkward as their first. No...after thinking about it, this one was definitely more awkward.
"I need to apologize. I am nervous all of a sudden. I know it makes no sense, but there you are."
And as he stood there it came to him. They really had another chance together. As much as he had wanted, hoped, and searched for her, it was just now that he truly felt they had could make it work. And with that thought, came the realization that they could also fail.
Refusing to think on the latter any longer, Bastian gestured towards his car.
It was quite pretty, but she couldn’t see carrying it around all night.
“Why don’t you come in for two seconds I’ll put this in water and grab my coat and then I’m good.”
As Reign disappeared into the kitchen Sirius stood and gave Bastian a through once over. He wasn’t hostile tonight, but not playful either; jut watchful and curious.
Not often having flowers about Reign didn’t have a vase but she did find a pretty glass to set the flower in and then set it on the dining room table next to her endless pile of work.
It only took another second to grab a black wool three quarter length coat and be ready.
It was an odd command but that was Sirius’ command to lay down, which he did perfectly.
“Take care of the place and don’t wait up.”
Grinning at Bas she held the door open.
“Ready when you are.”
When Reign reappeared, and gave Sirius instructions not to wait up, Bastian winked at the dog, and grinned. Whether or not Sirius understood it was Bastian's way of proving a point or not didn't matter. The time would come when Sirius would have no choice but to accept Bastian's position in Reign's life, and Bastian self-assuredly didn't think it would take long.
Leading Reign to the Hummer, Bastian held the door for her, and shut it once she was seated. Jogging to his side, he got in and was quickly on the way to the museum.
"Unless you're hungry, I thought the museum first?" He turned and smiled at her, sitting close, her scent nearly intoxicating him. He couldn't pinpoint the smell, so he wasn't sure if it was artificial, or just the clean natural scent she had after bathing. Something as simple as changing soaps would alter the way she smelled from a distance. To get her real essence Bastian would need to bury his nose in her skin, and right now didn't quite seem the appropriate time for that. He would accomplish that at some point during the evening though, that was a given.
His eyes lingered on her bare shoulders, and thoughts of kissing, and nuzzling began distracting him from the road. Shifting in the seat, to redirect his vision on the traffic, and to alleviate a growing concern elsewhere, Bastian remained smiling. How comforting it was to see that somethings never changed, at least from his vantage point. Reign still had the ability to turn him on like no other woman ever, and it was a sensation sorely missed, that he now relished.
The silence between them didn't concern him. Bastian felt as at ease with Reign now, as he had years passed, but he was curious to know a few things.
"You may choose not to answer this question...I have no business asking, but unfortunately that doesn't mean I won't." He now glanced back and forth between Reign and the road, given a little more attention to the direction in which they were traveling. "In any event, I was curious...that man you were with in the diner...Will? Are you...very fond of him?"
He could tell Reign still had feelings for him, or the feelings she had were being reawakened, but that didn't mean she might also have feelings for someone else. No matter how adult and sophisticated Bastian could be, when it came to Reign he had less success remaining indifferent to the idea of other men in her life. Whatever her response might be, he knew he would have to live with it, but if there was the chance that what he had seen meant little more than friendship, he wanted that peace of mind now.
Trying to look ahead to the road or out the window Reign failed and did her best to study him, but discreetly. The light seemed to highlight a few stray gray hairs and now that she was looking for it she could see where time was being kinder to him than her.
“No that sounds wonderful. With my luck I’d spill something on myself and look like a fool at the museum.”
She grinned at him taking humor over nerves was a winning decision any day of the week and especially right now.
His question took her off guard and Reign was suddenly very self conscious and slightly guilty. It wasn’t as if she’d done anything wrong after all they weren’t dating or exclusive or anything. However, it was hard not to remember that Bas could be jealous, more importantly this new start was far too delicate to stand much strain right now.
Cautiously, concerned for Bastian’s feelings and not wanting to start a fight she thought about her answer, perhaps just a second too long.
“I like him yes. He seems like a very nice honest sort. But we haven’t known each other very long at all. So its hard to say.”
She started chewing at the inside of her cheek, a nervous habit she had thought long gone but Bastian seemed to bring that back.
“Lupo it’s been a long time for us, I’ve been divorced a while and I met him before I knew you were in town… or willing to speak to you for that matter. I’m not going to apologize for going on a date or two.”
Nor was she ready to promise not to go on another one, not that she was going to say anything about that.
He never begrudged her marrying Vince, but was honestly happy when things didn't work out for the two of them. Not that he wanted her in pain, and had he imagined she would take on complete responsibility for the marriage's failure, he would have been a lot less happy, but Bastian never believed the marriage would last more than a few years at best. He suspected Reign and Vince would have a few years of happiness, and then just come to realize neither one of them were where they knew they should be. That things got ugly was unfortunate, and Bastian would have liked it had he been able to prevent that. But at the time it all went down, he just wasn't able to.
Still...her response left too many openings for the future, and Bastian needed to press her for more. It was unfair as hell, and she might yet rebel, but he had to try and pin her down, for his own peace of mind.
"Then you're telling me, if you have more time to get to know him better...things between the two of you...could become serious?"
It was the part of his mind that believed in logic that made him ask. The part of his mind that believed in fantasy, and romance made the question sink to the pit of his stomach as he waited for her answer. What she did answer wouldn't make him give up his pursuit, but it would sure make things a lot less pleasant.
"And I don't expect an apology." Turning towards her, he put his arm along the backs of the seats, caressing her cheek with the back of his finger. "I am the only one to apologize for anything here, and if you need it, I can say I'm sorry from now till the ends of our days."
That was just the tip of the iceberg, when it came to what he would do to try and prove his love for her, and to win her back.
"I guess I'm looking for equal time, and possibly confirmation that I too stand a chance?"
Even begging was not beneath him right now, but he would reserve the right to hold back on that for awhile. He wasn't a pretty sight begging, and had been fortunate in life to not have been reduced to that since he was quite young.
She challenged as she turned towards him with one eyebrow raised more than slightly imperiously.
How dare he come back into her life after so long and immediately try to control her and who she saw. With reason or no he had created this whole situation and could damned well live with, she had to.
The gentleness of his touch and the softness of his words caused Reign to back down slightly. It wasn’t often Bastian approached her in such a manner, at least that’s how she remembered things, and when he did it nearly always had a calming effect. Besides, he looked so damned endearing. Taking his had from her cheek she squeezed it slightly before returning it to him.
“I’m not going to play favorites between you and if you didn’t have a chance you wouldn’t be here now. You can’t have forgotten that much about me.”
The direct aggressive manners and bluntness beyond words, no there was no way Reign would have accepted this date with out some feeling, some desire to try again.
What he wanted was for Reign to tell him she had been dating the new guy, but now that Bastian was back, she was going to drop everything, and return to building on their relationship again. But he also knew that was ridiculous, and she would never just take him back into her life. Her strength and stubbornness were traits that drew him to her before. How could he have ever forgotten the fight he'd had winning her over then, and why would he ever imagine it would be different now?
Perhaps it was that he felt the good they'd shared totally outweighed the bad, and with those memories it would be natural to feel as he did...ready to begin again.
"No...I haven't forgotten anything about you."
His comment was said with a slight lilt of humor, but in no way sarcastically. And she was right...if she didn't have feelings for him, she wouldn't be with him, but with Will. So there was hope, whether or not it manifested into his desires would still remain to be seen. Until then, he would just need to put the other man out of his mind, and go on as he originally intended.
The silence continued for a few minutes longer, until they pulled up into the museum parking lot. Knowing she would open her own door, Bastian put a quick hand out across her, but not touching her.
"Just a minute please."
And then shutting off the engine, and removing his seat belt, he jumped out of the hummer, and hustled to her side of the car, to open her door.
"The inquisition is over, I promise, and I'm sorry for saying anything that might have upset you. The rest of the evening is just about us, and I'll not mention 'him' again."
He hoped she believed him, and wouldn't let the discussion turn the rest of the evening into a difficult situation.
Waiting for her to get out of the car, Bastian enjoyed the slightly warmer weather of the early evening, and also how the parking lot was not terribly full. That meant the two of them could enjoy their visit there, without fighting a crowd.
She was happy that he was willing to let it go. She wasn’t certain how much she wanted to peruse things with Will, but to at least have him understand things were still open… yes that was a good thing.
Feeling like being slightly silly, rather than stepping out of the Hummer she leapt out of it at him. And after all these years, and all the bad, she still trusted him to catch her.
“Well I’m glad to hear that Torquemada. I was hoping for something more interesting than discussing my love life… or lack there of.”
Meeting Will when she had was pure coincidence, it wasn’t like Reign had a date every night or even once a week. She was too introverted for that.
It took more than a little restraint but she managed not to question him back and demand who he’d been out with and how many he’d… er… while they’d been apart.
Grinning and standing properly she lightly kissed his cheek before taking his hand she half dragged him towards the doors.
“Besides I was promised Da Vinci and I’m holding you to that.”
The kiss was nice, but he was a bit put out with himself for not anticipating it more quickly, and turning it into something more than just a peck on the cheek. Then all too soon she was out of his arms, and pulling him along, a silly grin plastered on his face.
"And I plan to deliver."
Once he had paid their admission his hand returned to her, but slid around her shoulders, companionably. There was no way he could be so close to her and remain apart. Any chance he had to touch, or caress her, he was going to take advantage of. Unless she said something different, of course, and for now she didn't seem to mind.
He had picked up a brochure, which gave a map of the museum, and gently guided Reign in that direction.
"I don't recall asking...why is it you favor Da Vinci...I understand of course, he is Italian...and far more than a mere artist, could that be why?"
Bastian pointed to the sign over the archway that spoke of the exhibit, and continued walking through it. He chuckled as he waited for Reign to admit her weakness for Italian men.
She companionably put an elbow in his side at the Da Vinci question and teased him right back.
“I’m not sure the Italian has anything to do with it but he was a genius. A wonderful renaissance man, how can you not appreciate that.”
Treating the question with the seriousness she thought it deserved she considered for a moment or two longer.
“Actually I’m not overly fond of most of his paintings, but the sketches and writings are amazing. I wish I could be half so brilliant or even smart enough to understand what he was thinking some times. I mean how do you get that far ahead of your time?”
Once Bastian dealt with the elbow in his side, which he anticipated instinctively, he recalled that Vince was Italian as well, and recognized to pursue that line of thought could lead he and Reign back down a dangerous road.
"Tonight I'll cede the point though, and give you Da Vinci on his merits beyond being Italian."
Grinning playfully, Bastian squeezed Reign a bit tighter around her waist, adoring the feel and closeness of her.
He too was more fond of Da Vinci's sketches than his actual paintings, finding Da Vinci's women both earthy, and lusty. Because it was rumored that Da Vinci's sexual persuasions ran along the more masculine line, Bastian always thought his paintings of women were more honest, and not prone to fancy, much like Bastian's tastes in women ran.
"Your point with regard to his foresight is key, I think, to his success. His engineering theories...imagine conceiving of anything resembling a helicopter back in the fifteenth or sixteen century? Phenomenal! He truly must have been a brilliant person."
Back when Reign and he had been dating, Bastian had undergone a lack of faith in his abilities, and frequently worried about how he would grow as a man, and whether or not he'd be able to provide for himself, much less a family. Not financially...money never had been a problem, but to have a career he could be satisfied with, and feel he could do well enough to be an asset toward, was his worry.
Fortunately, through the past ten years he had not only come to terms with his wolf lifestyle, but had also come into his own as a successful business man, and no longer suffered pangs of insecurity.
Except when it came to Reign.
"Yet I wonder if he was a happy man. Having all that talent, and brilliance...do you think he worried about what any of it meant, or what it might lead to? Do you think he was happy with his ability to portray the future? And do you think he truly believed in the things he created, or perhaps he saw them all as just fantasy?"
Reign frowned. It seemed like this should be significant but she just couldn’t quite seem to work out how.
“Thank you. Not that it’s much of a concession, I’m right after all.”
OK they were behaving a bit silly, and it probably was a tiny bit immature holding each other like this in public but Reign just didn’t feel like being proper. So any one who didn’t like it could just deal with it.
“I think I heard some things along those lines, especially as he got older that he was alone and not very happy. However, I can’t imagine that he was ever anything less than committed to his work. Why would he devote such time and effort to things he didn’t believe in?”
Something else she admired in the man, his commitment.
About the Reign looked up and realized she had no idea where they should be headed.
“Ummmm… Lupo, where’s the exhibit?”
Her frown did nothing to bolster his feelings that the evening was going well. Try as he might, too often he found himself thinking of that other guy, and how he and Reign spent their time together. Bastian hated this sudden self doubt he was experiencing, and had been attempting to both get to the bottom of it, as well as ignore it, whichever seemed best at the time. But so far he wasn't being very successful.
Of course it didn't take a Da Vinci to know he was jealous, but he had been jealous before...this time there was more to it.
Her question made him stop in his tracks, and consult the brochure.
"Should be just ahead and around to the left." He'd removed his arm to hold the paper, but now returned it to her waist again, and steered them ahead. Once they had rounded the corner and walked through another archway Bastian knew they were in the right place.
Just looking at what was presented before them, on the walls, on pedestals, and platforms, Bastian couldn't help but feel awed. The talent was obvious, but what also impressed him was both the vision Reign mentioned, as well as the historical significance...these pieces were hundreds of years old, and for the most part looked just as they had when old Leo had created them.
"Amazing." Not a novice to museums, or art masterpieces, Bastian still never failed to be taken in by the beauty, and reverence these things evoked in him. For several seconds he almost forgot he wasn't alone, as he studied the painting closest to him. Seeing the brush strokes, he could almost see Da Vinci's hand as it swept back and forth across the canvas. Releasing Reign from his arm, he walked up to the painting on the wall for an even closer look.
“Lady with an Ermine.” She read allowed. “Looks like a ferret to me.”
Not that it mattered, and not that she’d ever seen an Ermine; apparently the two animals were related though.
Having, on more than one occasion, been asked to step back from a piece of art work she was half watching Bastian and expecting a guard to round the corner and tell him off. Deciding that since he hadn’t set off any alarms it must be ok she went back to her observations.
Quite remarkable, she decided. Of course there was always something about the eyes in a Da Vinci painting that fascinated her. Not that she could explain what or why, just that there was.
“I don’t care how good or how expensive the reproduction is you never get quite the same feel from it, do you? I’m not sure how that happens.”
Privately Reign was of the opinion that, as primitive and superstitious as it sounded, the artist always left behind a bit of their soul in any creation and that any copy lacked that and was therefore inferior. Or maybe anything that had been around as long as this painting simply developed its own aura, its own sense of being and history.
Who knew. Regardless it was all romantic nonsense and she just couldn’t bring herself to put any of it into words, even if it was true.