You're taking me where? (Atten: Xeph)
It was slightly perplexing and Nikhila really had no idea what to make of the situation. On the one hand she was quite happy to be spending non-Academy, non-Pack time with Xeph. There was only so far a relationship could go when students and the mystery lab project were the principle topics of conversation, but on the other hand he was taking her where?
Granted neither of them had been terribly specific about when and where they wanted to go out but apparently, she was going to have ideas next time. Because once the idea had come up some one, who would remain nameless, wouldn't let it go.
"You know they'll make you wear shoes. They have to cover themselves in case you drop something heavy on your foot."Â?
To make a suggestive joke about dropping balls was not Nikhila's style and that was as close as she would get.
She hesitated a bit outside looking up and the extremely large building, this was very much not her style. However, she made up her mind to enjoy herself and simply followed Xeph upstairs. At least the bowling alley area wasn't crowded, that was encouraging.
She half giggled at the racks of shoes behind the attendant. Certainly she wasn't keen on wearing rented shoes but...
"I'm not certain I've ever been bowling. You'd think I'd remember something like that."Â?
There were memories of course, faint, fuzzy, and she honestly couldn't say if they were hers or someone who came before. Either way they weren't that distinct so Nikhila suspected that bowling was not central to anything important.
So here they were, engaging in some "whatever." He made a sour face at the shoe rack. "I'd forgotten that bit. Think they'll need to cut out the toes for me?"
He laughed softly at Nikhila's comment about dropping heavy objects. "I'm pretty sure they're because of the floor. I don't think a little bit of leather is going to save me from a couple broken toes."
As he watched her gaze at the balls and shoes, a grin on his face, he gave her a nudge. "You'll do just fine. Who can resist? Hurling heavy objects at top speed? This is a great game. Puts hair on your chest."
He wiggled his eyebrows at her, well aware that he was going to earn himself a punch on the shoulder if he kept it up. That was fine with him, where Nikhila was concerned a punch was good enough foreplay. It didn't take much. He laid his hand on he small of her back as they approached the counter and asked for shoes in their sizes. The attendant raised her eyebrows a bit but didn't hesitate to go find them... most likely from the "giant" section off in a musty corner somewhere.
“Maybe they’ll just sew two pair together. Either way I’m glad to hear the threat of broken toes isn’t keeping you from enjoying this sport.”
Although she was currently debating if this indeed qualified as a sport.
As the attendant had disappeared temporarily, she felt able to respond to Xeph’s teasing. She sharply poked him in the arm while managing to keep a stern teacher face in place, even if her eyes gave it away.
“I had no idea you had a thing for hair on my chest. I didn’t think I’d been away so long your taste had so totally changed. Perhaps I should take up cigar smoking as well.”
He gave her a feral-looking grin and then added in low tones, "Of course I like hair on your chest... once a month. You can go barechested the rest of the month. In fact, that would be nice."
He rolled his eyes to the ceiling, stroking his chin in mock thoughtfulness. "Yes, very nice."
Poor Nikhila, he thought. He reserved his unique brand of crass humor for only a very few people. Hammer bore the brunt of it, but Nikhila, too, got to deal with it and she did so with grace on every occasion. He was only familiar enough with them to joke with them. What did that say about him?
He was interrupted by the attendant, apparently triumphant in her search for shoes. Paying for the rental, he took both pairs and led Nikhila to their assigned lane. With a wrinkling of his nose, he put the shoes on to discover they were slightly small but would work just fine for tonight. Standing and bouncing on his toes a few times, he gave Nikhila another big grin.
"Now for the best part. We need to locate heavy objects to throw. I mean roll."
“I’ll plan a head next time. You may owe me something classical or educational, it depends on how the rest of the evening goes.”
His suggestive teasing caused Nikhila to color very slightly. She had, however, encouraged him and was a bit prepared. Quite seriously and very innocently she bat her eyes at him.
“And will you be changing the dress code so this suggestion is acceptable for the entire staff? I must say if nothing else I’m sure to get more students to sign up for the advanced classes if you do.”
Dubiously eyeing the rented shoes Nikhila decided she’d been through much worse and simply put them on. They fit oddly and had a very smooth sole. Watching him experimentally bounce in his shoes she couldn’t help but grin, it was just so cute. Even his enthusiasm for heavy objects.
“I think they have plenty to chose from.”
She found her way to the ball racks and haphazardly rolled them around so she could see what the finger sizes and weights were. Not that any of that meant anything to her. Finally she settled on one, primarily because she liked the color and her fingers seemed to fit into it and decided it was round and could be thrown… rolled.
She set it down on their lane’s ball return and found something much more her speed. The little computer that kept score, at least she could enter their names right. Hers didn’t fit entirely but most of it did.
"Educational? That's date material? Blech. What planet are you from again?" He and Nikhila had been over this ground before... she would next wonder how he managed to obtain multiple PhD's, both in medical fields no less, and he would smile winningly and get sex. Wait, smile winningly and give her his mysterious-but-charming look and then bowl and then get sex. Hmm. The order of operations needed work.
He trailed her over to the rack of balls and picked up a suitably manly one in the sense that it wasn't pink and didn't weigh six pounds. His hands were big enough that he didn't need the finger holes, but he thought the attendants might get a little annoyed if he really hurled it down the lane so he found one that fit and toted it dutifully back to the ball return.
By that time he was through pondering the idea of Nikhila walking topless through the Den and able to think up a coherent response. "Fine... I guess it can just be your private dress code. In my rooms." He leered a wolfish grin at her, leaned down to kiss her cheek softly, and then looked at the screen. "Nikhi? That's... cute."
Maybe they could just catch the end of a performance after work one day. That way he wouldn’t have to suffer through a whole concert/opera and she’d still enjoy herself. It was an idea that warranted further consideration.
The ball he selected made hers look positively petite. Oh dear all these ball references, it didn’t take much imagination to decide this would be popping up from time to time tonight.
She loved the grin, that look that only Xeph seemed to be manage properly, it always made her warm. Nikhila smiled demurely as he kissed her.
“You know that dress cod will apply to you as well.”
She countered quickly before chuffing at the computer-imposed nickname.
“Two more letters.”
Nikhila sulked slightly.
“You are first oh rugged manly hurler of small objects. Educate me as to the skill and object of this game.”
Her eyes danced merrily, she enjoyed teasing him and truly was anxious to see him in action. Especially as he was so excited about throwing the ball at the pins.
Perhaps she was utterly taken with the idea of him following the same dress code.
Yeah, he'd go with that one.
"I kind of like it," he said in regards to her shortened name. "What's wrong with a nickname anyway?" He quirked one eyebrow up at her, reminding her that even she called him Xeph on a regular basis. Not that he minded; the only one who used his given name all the time was his mother, and he had to admit she certainly had the right to do so.
Grabbing his ball, he tossed it casually in one hand, up and down a few times, until he caught the shoe rental attendant glaring at him over the counter. Stilling himself he said, "Skill? none required for casual play. Object? Hit pins. Lots of them."
Fitting his fingers into the holes in the ball, he swung his left arm back, lined it up with the pins, and released. The ball went careening down the lane and smashed into the pins, knocking seven of them down and leaving three in an atrocious split that Xeph would never hit in his wildest dreams.
"Viola," he said to Nikhila. "Pins smashed. I win!"
“I’m not sure the idea of a nick name is bad in and of itself, Aidan.” She deliberately used his first name. “I’m simply not certain that one quite works.”
In Xeph’s case that was how he’d introduced himself to her, how she’d gotten to know him. It was not only how she identified him but how he’d identified himself. It wasn’t that Nikhila never used his given name, she did, when it seemed appropriate.
The other thing was the name Nikki (or Nikhi in her case) just created images of blond cheerleaders and endless rows of perfect houses in suburbia. Perhaps it was vanity but she felt a bit too exotic for such a bland nickname.
That said, she also knew she’d let Xeph get away with it if he wanted.
“So throwing large heavy things at smaller things and smashing them into dust? I’m surprised you haven’t taken me bowling before.”
It was all she could do not to laugh, as it was she smiled impishly at him as he prepared to throw the ball. The look from the attendant was also not lost on Nikhila.
Cringing slightly she watch him hurl the ball down the lane. Well he had that part down pat and she did chuckle at his declaration of winning.
“Hardly fair for you to win before I’ve even had a turn!”
She protested amicably. It didn’t seem that the game would be over. And according to the scoring, they each had ten round.
She finally allowed herself to laugh a bit as she looked up at the screen, which was flashing ‘Split’; it didn’t take a PhD to determine that was considered less than desirable.
“I think the computer disagrees with you as well and it looks like you get to go again.”
"I guess that means I have to hit some more of them," he said with a sagacious nod.
He'd never been much of a bowler. He knew the rules, more or less. He also had a competent grasp of physics. Using both at the same time, he reasoned that if he put enough curve on the ball he might get one of the remaning three pins to knock into another, but how to get all three was beyond him.
He twisted his left hand as he launched the ball down the lane, wincing as it hit the gutter with enough spin to actually pop back out again and careen wildly along, tapping one pin and knocking it down after a prolonged wobble.
Turning to Nikhila with a sheepish grin he said, "More than one would have been nice but I don't think I can complain."
The remaining two pins were swept away, and he made a gesture with his arm. "After you." Taking a seat beside her at the computer, he shimmied his hips and bumped Nikhila out of the way.
She nodded in slow agreement. Although, she wished she hadn’t his next toss was down right scary, but as no one was hurt and he did knock down some pins, a pin, she deemed it a success as well.
As Xeph tried to push her off the little scorekeeper seat Nikhila opted to fight back a bit. She pushed back at him, with out much success due to the smooth soles, but enough to be a nuisance and to play with him.
Finding and picking up her ball Nikhila experimentally put her fingers in and out of the holes, trying to decided if they would stick or not. She had no desire to throw herself down the alley. Rather than brute force she tried to aim, fortunately she had a bit of power behind it too.
Watching the ball roll down the alley, she cocked her head at it, willing it to curve back toward the center just a bit. Apparently, she could force bowling balls to do her bidding as it did just that and all ten pins fell. Rather shocked she turned and looked at Xeph with wide-eyed innocence.
“Does that mean I’ve won?”
"Three of those and you're out," he said after telling her the term. "It's like baseball."
The look of mischief on his face left no doubt that he was joking.
"No no, you can't win with one of those. All that means is it's on now."
He grabbed his own ball once the pins were reset and sighted down the lane. Aiming carefully, giving it no small amount of heft, he sent the ball flying smoothly in between the head pin and the one on its left. The result was a very satisfying crash. The ball itself only knocked over six of the pins, maybe seven, but it had been thrown with such force that the spinning pins took out the rest of their brethren.
"See? I'm not going down without a fight."
“Since I don’t know those rules either, we could be in trouble.”
She replied primly before giggling at as he attacked his own ball. She was highly tempting to do something very distracting, but that didn’t seem sporting.
His performance, seemed to attract some attention as one or two of the few patrons in the alley looked over. She dismissed it as coincidence, it was a bowling alley there were loud crashes all the time. Maybe not quite that loud but not much quieter.
Walking over to retrieve her own implement of small-scale destruction, she rested a hand on his shoulder and leaned into him slightly and answered his last comment in a half whisper.
“Some times you do.”
And then took up her place on the line and tried to aim again. Certainly, beginner’s luck couldn’t hold out all night.
He didn't even notice how she bowled. All he knew was when she finally turned to come back he was doing his best to scrape his jaw up off the floor and look cool.
"You know, I don't actually have a comeback for that," he finally said. "You've successfully torn my attention away from our game though."
And gotten it attached to another game entirely, one that was hardly polite to play to its conclusion in a public bowling alley. Grumbling to himself over the fact that they'd barely started, Xeph walked over to the ball return, picked his ball up in one hand, took two steps up to the line, winged the ball without paying much attention, and walked back to where Nikhila stood, letting the computer worry about the score.
"Now where were we? We were leaving, right?"
He didn't actually expect her to agree to leaving, but a guy could always hope. He had promised her a night out though.
Whether she really wanted to bowl, or had come along to try out the pool table in the back, it didn't matter. Bastian hadn't been bowling in eons, and was looking forward to doing something a bit different tonight. That Reign agreed was all the counted, and if he had to play her a set in the back later, it would be worth it. He laughed at the image that conjured up though, since there was no way in hell he could ever be even a decent opponent for her.
When she suggested they call Kem and Aishe, he didn't mind. Reign had taken a definite liking to the couple, and Bastian had to agree they were friendly, and enjoyable to spend time with. Bastian held the door for the other two, as well, and followed them all inside.
When they were paying for the games, and checking out their shoes, Bastian looked around the place. Luckily for them only about half the lanes were taken, so at least they wouldn't have to wait, and there would be no NEED to kill time playing pool.
"Oh merde. Guess we'll have to put off the pool tournament for later."
He kept a serious face, but the teasing could be seen clearly in his eyes.
Walking down to the alley they'd been assigned to, Bastian quickly put on his shoes, and began looking for a ball to use.
Turning back to let Xeph have his turn she noted he still looked a bit flustered and was pleased beyond words. But his quip caused her to give a very un seductress like giggle.
"Then I definitely win."Â?
It didn't matter what the scores were at the end of the night if she'd rendered him speechless for a second or two she had won.
She coughed to cover another laugh as he threw his ball without really concentrating and very primly and properly shook her head.
"No, not just yet. We haven't even finished the game and if I remember right this was your idea."Â?
Her eyes flicked away from him in a semi-flirtatious manner and she caught sight of something she hadn't expected to see. Reign. Well that was interesting. Of course the woman had no idea who she was so Nikhila let her attention shift back to Xeph with a sweet and innocent smile.
She absently followed him while keeping her eyes peeled for a pool table. There almost always was one in a bowling alley. Oh there it was. Meh, bar box, bar box, oh... eight footer and the felt looked maybe OK...
What? Oh! Bowling right. Bad Reign, pay attention. Good girl. She stuck her tongue out at Bastian.
"Yeah yeah yeah. Besides if I pick up a stick we'll be mobbed by adoring fans and we don't want that do we?"Â?
She said with more than a little irony. Outside of a legit pool hall very few people knew who she was... and she liked it that way.
Sliding on the shoes of ten thousand feet she sidled after Bastian looking for a ball, deliberately picking something very light. She had a tournament soon and didn't need to strain her arm. Hans would kill her.
As they made their way back to the lane she noticed her vet. Well that was a surprise. Oh he looked distracted, not surprising the woman he seemed to be with. Did she know the doc was taken? Probably not and not surprising he was a good looking sort and a nice guy to boot. If she and her wolf hadn't reconciled she might have considered hitting him over the head or something equally romantic.
Discreetly pointing at the couple she said to Bas.
"That is my vet, and he apparently has a date. Are vets allowed to date? Don't ya'll take a vow of celibacy or something?"Â?
She'd felt slightly guilty waking Kem, but he had told her he wanted to spend time with her. She'd lured him out of bed with a tempting hot shower and then, well...
...the wet bedsheets were in the dryer now. And they'd only been a little late meeting Reign and Bastian.
The venue was the Elektronicka Arcade. Aishe had been here before, once with Alec, a few times when Kem had pulled her in. She'd never come up to the bowling alley though and it was neat. The sitting area was dark like the rest of the building, blacklit with a spinning light here and there for effect. The lanes were well-lit, but the light didn't spill over to the back, so the dark, futuristic interior stayed the same.
As they got shoes from the attendant at the counter, in line right behind Bastian and Reign. Carrying them with her, she found a decent-sized ball with finger-holes small enough for her and waited for Kem to do the same before rejoining their friends.
"I forgot we get to wear saddle shoes," he remarked upon seeing the footwear presented to them. Aishe poked him in the side and he dutifully followed to find an appropriate ball.
[I suppose you're going to get suspicious if I bowl ten perfect strikes?] he sent to her as they caught up with Bastian and Reign. He shot her a grin.
"it's been a really long time since I did this," he said. "With luck, I won't knock anyone out."
Rumors of his butterfingers were greatly exaggerated though. Kem was pretty sure he and Pak might, at one point, have possibly relieved the soda machine of a few water bottles and maybe done some archive-bowling.
All right, more than once. But it was during their lunch hour!
Deciding to keep his mouth shut on that one lest their neighbors think he was less than professional while at work, he sat at the computer and punched in their names as best he could. 'Bastian' wouldn't fit, so he settled for 'Bas' since the man in question didn't seem opposed to the nickname.
He retrieved his ball before Nikhila could retaliate and took a more serious shot at the two pins that had remained upright from his previous attempt. Both went down, and he gave a bounce of pelasure, since Nikhila seemed to get a kick out of his bouncing, and turned back to her.
The activity on the lane next to theirs caught his attention and he saw four newcomers getting ready to start a game. There was a man with oddly pale hair and eyes sitting at the computer, putting names in. A smallish, cute woman leaned over him, her proximity indicating familiarity and then intimacy as she hugged him from behind.
The other man and woman (Aha! Double date?) were standing close together as the woman said something obviously meant for just the man. As she pulled away Xeph recognized her and broke into a smile.
"Hi Reign. Fancy meeting you here. I would have thought that side of the room would be more your pace... unless you're taking pity on your friends."
He nodded to the folks along with her. The man she was standing close to, who if Xeph was any good at adding two and two, was her boyfriend and likely the whippersnapper he'd bumped into in her yard a few weeks back. Reign had mentioned Siruis' potential upset at moving, and he didn't think she was the sort to be seeing several guys at once.
So. Reign and a Vyusher here. He glanced at the other man and woman again. Packmates perhaps? Were the VR taking over the bowling alley? Kind of a roundabout way to dominate Nachton, but who was Xeph to question their methods?
"I'm Aidan," he said by way of introduction, "and this is Nikhila. We'll be happy to do our best not to screw up your game with our incompetence."
Before he sat down though, Reign piped up and mentioned the couple on one side of them included the veterinarian she had taken Sirius to. Bastian had thought at the time that he really should stop by the man's office, and introduce himself, as a collegue might come in handy should he run up against a particularly difficult case. Unfortunately time had other ideas and he had yet to make it into town to do just that.
"Oh yes, that vow...I forgot to tell you it will be kicking in on the fifth Tuesday of the next month with a 'K' in it."
He kidded, and bent low for a quick peck before turning his eyes in the direction of the infamous vet.
The woman was a pretty thing, rather dark, like Aishe, but different features, of course, and quite tall, from what he could see in the light. Not that it was pitch black, but it was considerably darker than it had been the last time he'd bowled.
In any event, it seemed normal to check out the feminine part of the couple first, though he wouldn't admit that to Reign anytime soon. It was purely his upbringing, and had absolutely nothing to do with designs on the woman.
The man next to her seemed friendly enough, though his familiarity with Reign rankled Bastian slightly. It wasn't a case of jealousy, per se...the man obviously had a woman of his own to keep busy with, but Bastian always took exception with men who he didn't know, and the way they appeared to know his woman on familiar terms. It was just another case of his Italian machismo kicking up, and he recognized it for what it was.
He crossed the few feet that separated them, and held out his hand to the tall man.
"Good to meet you Aidan, I'm Bastian, and please don't worry about your incompetence when I'm sure it will be met equally at least by me."
He chuckled in a self-deprecating way, and shrugged.
Struck by something in the man's appearance, Bastian stalled for just a few seconds, before backing away, retracing his steps, until the seat hit the backs of his legs. Catching that his eyes had never left Aidan's face, he mentally shook himself, and offered up introductions for Kem and Aishe.
"Our friends, Kem and Aishe. I'll let them speak for themselves and their bowling prowess."
While Bastian waited for all the greetings to be made, he continued to study the larger man, with a niggling, and very foggy image trying to make itself clearer in his mind.
"You failed to mention how attractive Sirius' vet was."
He was teasing yet again, not at all displeased with Reign, or anyone else for that matter, but also quite cautious of the situation, and Aidan.