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.
She tried not to grin at his scolding and bouncing, but failed. Perhaps he'd stop being cute and endearing and rather lovable and very tackle able later. Probably not, but it could happen.
She nodded slightly at the introduction while wondering what the other side of the room had to do with anything. All she could see was pool tables. It was the gentleman of the other couple that caught Nikhila's attention and she blinked rather surprised. That was defiantly the head of Meridian's archives and with the same woman she'd seen outside the library. They made a cute couple.
"A pleasure to see you again Kem."Â?
It was said pleasantly enough, if slightly sedate at least in comparison to Xeph's more outgoing greeting.
Turning to her date she explained.
"Aidan, this is Kem. He was kind enough to help me with some of my research recently."Â?
Of course Xeph would understand what she was researching. And while Nikhila didn't think Kem had much, if any tie to her work it didn't hurt to give a bit of a heads up.
Reign was the other member of the party she almost knew. She looked a great deal like her mother, although you could see her father as well. As Xeph had shared his suspicions about Reign's boyfriend with her, it was now just the petite woman that was a wild card. She smiled warmly and welcomingly at both of them, not wanting them to feel excluded or ignored.
Ummm.. yeah no comment that sort of spoke for itself didn't it.
She, however, beamed at the Doc.
"Heya Doc. Good to see you."Â? A wicked grin crossed her face, "I thought I'd leave that side of the room be... ... unless you want to put some money on it."Â?
This was followed by a companionable elbow to Bastian's ribs for being a goof about being incompetent. What was there to know... ball lane... throw knock things down it was a good game.
"Hey no knocking any one out... well at least not me. I drove and I'm not spending the night in a bowling alley."Â?
She cheerfully quipped at Kem.
Oi there were a lot of people here. And so many of them seemed to know each other. She knew the Doc, the Doc's date seemed to know Kem, in a second she'd find out the Doc's date was old school pals with Aishe.
Rolling her eyes at Bas reign turned the semi-jealous comment on him.
"Of course I didn't. I've no plans on sharing you with him."Â?
Thank god Kem had taken on keeping score. At least one of them was focused!
She smiled at him when they were introduced; with her short reach, and draped as she was over Kem's shoulder, shaking hands would have been awkward. Besides, Bastian's handshake could suffice for a "group handshake" she hoped.
So this was Aidan Xephier. He didn't need to give his surname. Aishe and Kem had had him on their radar for quite some time after Kem had learned he was somehow connected with the werewolf incident at the mall. He was huge, even taller than Kem, whose six foot three was nothing to scoff at, in her book. He seemed friendly enough, but then again she didn't maintain any illusions that if they were all to reveal their "secret selves" there wouldn't be just a few questions. At any rate, all she and Kem knew that he was connected with, not a member of, the mall wolves.
"Small world," she said when Nikhila introduced herself. "Nice to meet you, Nikhila."
Aishe's smile was genuine. Even when she knew she should be guarded, that mindset didn't come easily to her. She was far more inclined to trust first. But perhaps that was why she kept Kem around. He was suspicious enough for both of them.
Reign's use of the name "Doc" caught her attention, though she already knew this man held both an MD and a DVM. Researching Aidan Xephier was about as difficult as putting on pants in the morning... his family was rather prominent, and he did have a reputation as one of Nachton's very eligible bachelors, since moving there.
Apparently it was a small world. His thoughts echoed Aishe's sentiments as he turned to see Aidan Xephier standing on the lane next to theirs. Just behind him was Nikhila Gounder, Dr. Xephier's date. Interesting. He hadn't realized they were a couple.
"A pleasure to see you again too, Nikhila," he greeted the tall woman. "I hope the research is going well. Nice to meet you, Aidan."
That was the extent of what he'd say about it; he had a feeling Aishe would kill him (again) if he managed to turn a night of fun into a work discussion. Kem addressed Xephier by the name he gave; the man was obviously out for a casual night. Kem wasn't going to start with honorifics if no one else did.
As for Reign, he shot her his quick mischievous grin when she warned him not to knock her out, and gave her a little bow from where he sat. "I'll do my best. It's tough, you know. While assembling slideshows for the Geriatric Archivists' Association one can become remarkably nearsighted and tend to lose track of things like hand-eye coordination."
To Reign he said, "I'm not Doc unless I've got the white coat on, if you please, and I'll put money on your side any time. Good doctor-client PR, you know. That and I'd just rather win than lose."
He looked over at Nikhila, surprised to see she recognized the strange-looking man with the unforgettably pale features. As she introduced him further he gave an "oh" of understanding and looked Kem over.
"Nikhila told me you were a big help to her," he said. "It was good of you to help her on your time."
Something odd though. What was it? Oh yes. Nikhila had caught this man outside the library and the woman he was with (presumably Aishe?) had said something about being careful. A strange piece of conversation, to be sure. He had nothing to go on, but maybe there was value in keeping half an eye on these two. It shouldn't be hard; features like Kem's would stand out in any crowd.
The cute woman, Aishe, was making a face at Bastian and claiming no particular skill at bowling, which pleased him. Forget political intrigue for a few moments, he told himself. Just roll the damn ball and have fun.
Speaking of, though, he'd done his share. "Your turn," he said to Nikhila, gesturing with a sweep of his arm toward the lane. "Show me what you've got."
He gave her his most innocent smile, doing his best to let go of the Alpha routine for the moment. he couldn't help but wonder if Bastian would make the same leap of logic as he had though. Granted, Xeph probably had more information to go on, but Bastian's actions outside Reign's house had been somewhat rash and impulsive. He didn't think the man would be much different when unchanged.
Bastian's own eyes flashed back toward those of the man in question. That was it! His eyes were different, as those of the werewolf from Reign's yard had been! They were one and the same, and Bastian restrained himself from growling, as he was want.
Kem helped Nikhila with research...was that as an innocent, or did the two know about Aidan. Bastian now looked to Aishe...'small world'...what did that mean? Were the four in on it? Was Aishe's claim to be meeting Nikhila for the first time, a ruse? Hadn't Bastian wondered about Kem and Aishe when he'd met them...hadn't he considered there might be more to the duo than they had let on? He glanced at Reign, and noticed how she watched them all...he wouldn't tell her, he couldn't. He remembered the way she considered the whole werewolf incident in the yard of her house, and was too afraid she might not believe him if he were to tell her who that wolf was...how it had been her vet stalking her. That notion left him with a decided emptiness in the pit of his stomach.
Who could he trust...if he could trust anyone outside his pack?
Taking the initiative, as well as noting his name was first on the scoreboard, Bastian walked over and picked up his bowling ball. He wiped his right palm on the denim covering his thigh, then slipped his fingers into the smoothly drilled holes of the deep green ball he held. Standing off to the side a bit, Bastian waited and watched the pair next to them. Since neither were ready to go, Bastian positioned himself in the center of the lane, approached, and delivered the ball in a way he hadn't in years. Rusty, to be sure, his form wasn't bad, and the ball traveled quite fast down the lane, striking the pins at the end with considerable force. Unfortunately, when all was cleared, one pin remained, dead center.
"Ah well, better than I expected, but not steller by any means."
He chuckled and returned to wait for his ball. He grinned at Reign, and looked to Kem to see what the man was up to. The longer he considered it, the more he thought Reign's neighbor might be the one for Bastian to garner with his trust. But he would think on it a while longer, before making a final decision.
Now he waited for the woman, Nikhila, to take her turn, as manners dictated. When she was finished, he completed his turn, picking up the lone pin, then returning to the seats. He teasingly bumped Reign's hip when he sat, and casually looked to the lane next to them. Watching.
She taunted him. Although she did add his shunning of the honorific to her reasons of why she liked her vet.
Having turned her attention to Kem she rolled her eyes at him.
“Remind me to hide behind Aishe all night then. Sorry Aishe, I’m just thinking he’ll be less likely to injury you.”
Reign raised her hand apologetically at her petite neighbor. Self-defense and survival of the fittest and all that after all.
Although she was in an particularly good mood and out to have a good time it was easy enough for her to pick up something was a bit off with Bastian. She couldn’t tell what or why. He didn’t seem to dwell on it though and so she didn’t. If what ever it was kept bothering him she’d ask, certainly after they got home she’d ask she just wouldn’t force his hand in such a crowd.
Sitting next to Bas she half checked him running her shoulder into his.
“Show off.” Looking up at the score keeping display she jumped up. “Whoops my turn.”
Bowling was not pool and Reign managed to toss a stellar gutter ball before bowing to the group and picking up her ball again to knock down five whole pins. Thank god she wasn’t a professional bowler, she’d starve.
“I’ve decided I need something to drink. That must be the problem. Any one else?”
Soda, beer, what ever she was thirsty and therefore that was the problem. She did make the offer to the Doc and his date as well. No sense being anti social. Damned his date was more than a bit good-looking, at least this lighting did wonders for the woman.
“It might be appreciated if you did mess up my game. It’s not going very well.”
Other than her strike Nikhila hadn’t had the best of luck. Although the flirting and teasing was not helping her concentration.
A slight nod was the only answer she gave Xeph, who had obviously picked up on her meaning. She briefly let an arm snake around his waist as he and Reign bantered with each other. As they did she remembered that Regan had said her daughter was a professional pool player. Ah it all made sense now.
Understanding Kem’s unspoken desire not to get bogged down in work, something she and Xeph were working on tonight as well, she replied briefly.
“Yes as well as can be expected thank you.”
She didn’t know what to make of Bastian. Knowing Reign’s mother, and knowing a bit about the woman herself Nikhila felt certain Reign would chose her significant other wisely and with care but he seemed hesitant? Alert? She couldn’t come up with the word. But taking a queue from Xeph Nikhila didn’t dwell on it.
“I have a very large ball and ten pins. Soon I hope to have no ball and no pins.”
Enthusiastically she threw/rolled the ball down the lane and took out a number of them. Her second try Nikhila underestimated the momentum of the ball and nearly knocked herself over. If it hadn’t been for her extraordinary grace she certainly would have hit the floor.
Shaking off the error she cheerfully pointed out to Aidan.
“That’s called a spare right?”
That she’d gotten them all.
To Reign she added.
“I’d be happy to give you a hand. It might be difficult managing drinks for so many.”
She was happy to help of course. And it was tempting to get a little bit more of an idea about Regan’s daughter. Especially as something seemed to focus on Reign.
Approaching the line, she heard murmurs of a drink order being gathered up, but Kem knew what she liked so she focused on her bowling. She'd never qualify for any awards, but she hadn't done too badly when she'd tried it in the past. A strike here, a gutterball there, and sometimes she broke one hundred.
Taking a good two steps, she tried to mimic Nikhila's grace as best she could. Her form, she imagined, left something to the imagination and instead of gliding smoothly from her hand the ball gave a little "pop" and dropped onto the lane, but it wobbled steadily down the middle and knocked over enough pins to satisfy her, placing her somewhere between Bas and Reign. Her second shot earned her another two pins, for a total of eight, which did not displease her.
Turning back to the group she gave a little thumbs-up. "No one died. I consider my turn a success!"
To Aidan, he simply shrugged and said, "It wasn't any trouble. The library was on my way home and I was glad to help."
As Reign gathered up a drink order he turned to her and said, "That would be great, thanks Reign. A beer would work. Anything imported and can-less. And a cherry coke for Aishe please."
Not normally a huge beer drinker, Kem reasoned that beer and bowling just seemed to go together. If it hadn't been his turn just then he'd have offered to help Reign, but Nikhila spoke up for the job. So Kem stood and retrieved the dark blue bowling ball from the ball return, gave Aishe a quick kiss as he passed her, and lined himself up for frame one.
Using telekinesis for assistance had long since ceased to tempt him in these matters. It had been fun when the ability was new, but Kem was a pretty upright sort and cheating of any kind didn't come naturally. So when he had the satisfaction of seeing every pin fall over on his first try, he gave a small mental cheer.
"Didn't exactly expect that," he said as he turned back. "I won't complain."
He shook his head at her and added, "I'll stay on the sidelines and bet on you, thanks very much."
He muttered good-naturedly at Nikhila's spare. "That's it, we're definitely going to find a good, boring seminar next time. I'm not sure my ego can handle this sort of defeat."
Still, he gamely grabbed his ball and hurled it with gusto down the lane. For a moment he thought he'd missed just one pin, but evidently the lone standout decided it was safer to simply fall over and play dead, and Xeph cheered his own strike.
Paying attention to the conversation around him, and not missing much as he was pretty quickly back in the seating area, Xeph was there to hear Kem's response to him and wondered if the guy was really as nice as he seemed. The words didn't have any kind of false sincerity to them whatsoever, and he reminded him of Nikhila in the sense that when he said something was a pleasure he really meant it.
And, speaking of Nikhila, she was about to head off and make a drink run. So he nodded his head toward Kem and said, "What he said. Sounds good to me."
He passed Nikhila a bill from his pocket as she headed up. "First round's mine," he claimed, giving her more than enough to cover everyone's drinks with a substantial tip.
In the meantime, Bastian had been pretty quiet. Xeph resisted needling the man. He didn't want trouble tonight. Maybe Reign's boyfriend would realize, from their interaction, that he and Reign were on friendly terms. If he saw that he might make the leap of logic and determine that Xeph had been trying to look out for her. he could hardly have expected her to be hanging out with another were.
Or, maybe he'd mirror his previous actions, take it the wrong way, and they could throw down in the parking lot later. Xeph could go either way.
Bastian directed to Reign when she started to leave for the bar, his gaze on Kem, and his request completely distracted. For one of the few times in his life, Bastian's mind wasn't on Reign, or anything having to do with her. All in the world he could focus on was his meeting with Thanos, what litte additional information he now had about the mysterious werewolf, and the need to converse with Kem.
It was taking all his strength and concentration to remain calm, and not do anything rash. That he was given to hot-headed reactions was a given, but it was also something Bastian was doing his best to overcome. At the moment he had no reason to do anything else. Reign was safe, and her innocuous flirtations with the werewolf vet - and how irritating was that...they shared the same profession - weren't harmful. They went beyond irritating as far as Bastian was concerned, but that was his issue, not hers.
When it was his turn next to bowl, he did so, striking all ten pins down at the same time. Turning before the ball struck, and looking at Kem, Bastian was oblivious to his action and the result. He tilted his head at Kem as he approached the man, and walked back to the bench where he'd sat, but remained standing. He hoped the man caught his gesture, but was prepared to repeat it if necessary.
"I think your ego needs to be beat on occasion. But there is a seminar coming up in two weeks I'd like to attend."Â?
Oh dear and just when they were getting his ego under control he went and got a strike. A light golf clap acknowledged his success as she stood to follow Reign.
"I didn't know you liked cherry coke."Â?
Nikhila teased lightly.
It was a nice evening with every one playing by the rules and being polite and simply wanting to have fun. While she wanted to say something to Reign she also didn't want to start anything.
As she and Reign separated from the group she finally decided it might be wise to establish some familiarity with the younger woman. Nothing imposing just a link.
"It is a pleasure to meet you Reign. Your mother speaks quite highly of you. We've worked together on several projects."Â?
It was mostly true and she felt not terribly alarming.
Reign rattled off their drink orders turning to Nikhila for hers she requested a white wine. Everything was supplied quickly, although she was suspicious of wine in a plastic cup, and Nikhila gathered more than half of it up easily before following the blond back.
“Well try harder! Kem looks sturdy enough.”
Reign encouraged Aishe to do more damage. She was almost concerned about her wolf. He wasn’t the most social or outgoing but this change in mood seemed almost sudden. And she had no idea why.
Collecting drink orders she lead the way to the bar, noticing for the first time how tall Nikhila was. Good lord. Tall and skinny… bitch. But she seemed so NICE. Oh well.
She did a double take.
“Really? You know Ma? I guess it really is a small world.”
Orders were given, Heineken was the best beer they could manage… well she got a Killian’s but the guys weren’t specific and so they must suffer.
They returned and passed the drinks out and Reign called her thanks to the Doc. It was damned generous.
“Next one’s mine though.”
She sat close to Bas and touched his hand lightly. It was half question and half offer. What’s wrong and can I help?
“Hey! Who said you could get a strike while I was gone?”
She needled her date before standing and managing her own strike. Well… wonders never ceased did they?
"I don't know, I might have to refocus my efforts if you keep doing that," she joked.
The mood seemed pretty light, save for Bastian who had gotten very quiet. Aishe figured that was fairly normal for him though. He seemed somewhat quiet and reserved. In a way he reminded her of Kem in that regard; not so quick to trust, a little hard to crack but fine once you got through the shell on the outside. She'd had a while to work on her vampire; perhaps Reign was still breaking in Bastian.
She accepted her coke with thanks, happy to see the bartender had done it properly with grenadine and cherries, instead of the pre-flavored stuff she hated. As usual she plucked out a cherry and bit into it happily before sipping at the drink itself and waving her thanks to the Good Doctor.
Putting the glass down she gave a fake crack of her knuckles, retrieved her purple bowling ball, and took her turn on the lane, scoring the same as before but in two groups of four.
"Well... at least I'm consistent. That probably says something about me. I'm not sure what, but I am sure it's not terribly exciting."
She was still mildly amused over the fact that everyone here had sort of a "six degrees of separation" thing going on. Wat ever would they come up with next? Aishe once again crossed paths with Kem as he stood to take his turn, noting the slightly perplexed expression on his face. She tilted her head at him slightly, her very subtle invitation for him to chat with her their way, and sat herself down near Bastian and Reign, but close enough to be sociable with Aidan and Nikhila as well.
Sipping at the beer distractedly, Kem mulled things over in his head for a couple moments. What could Bastian need to say that was of importance right now? And whatever it was, it was obviously something that needed to be said privately.
He huffed a little, blowing a stream of air across the lip of the bottle to produce a flutelike sound. Sending would make things so much easier in this case, but that was absolutely out of the question.
Unable to think of a good excuse to get away in the short time he had, Kem stood to take his turn and caught Aishe's expression as he did.
[Something's up,] was all he was able to send for the moment. [Nothing bad, I don't think, just... odd things are going on. You get that feeling, too?]
Certainly, Aishe's feelings were to be trusted implicitly. Kem rolled his bowling ball down the lane, oblivious to what he'd actually done until he heard the crack of pins and realized he'd knocked them all over again.
"Huh. Will wonders never cease."
Turning, he shrugged with a sheepish grin. "Maybe I missed my calling."
He offered another shrug, this time glancing at Bastian as if to say, "How the heck do we get out of here tactfully?" At least that's what he hoped it said. He didn't think it was an emergency, but if Bas wanted to talk about something Kem would accomodate him if it was possible.
It was Nikhila's turn but she was getting drinks with Reign. He'd have helped but he suspected she might take the chance to say something to Regan's daughter, and Xeph didn't want to interfere. Instead he took his seat, stretched out his legs, and watched the bowlers on the other lane. Aishe, Kem's date, seemed like she'd have fun regardless of whether she won or lost. She was fun to watch as a result, since she didn't put so much emphasis on a good performance that it detracted from her prettiness. Kem seemed much the same, with a sort of mild-mannered and unassuming air, looking surprised to bowl two strikes in a row.
Xeph put his hands together for Kem's performance, which was all the more entertaining because it was obviously unexpected. "That's the kind of beginner's luck I was hoping for," he said.
Nikhila returned, not with a cherry coke, but with a decent beer. Xeph thanked her and nodded at the screen above them that displayed the scores. "All yours. But I think we're all being put to shame." He pointed at Kem's score on the neighboring screen.
"There is something, but its not pressing. I do want to talk to Kem before the night is out, and we can talk about it later tonight if you'd like."
So there, he had confided that he had something on his mind, but in a way he hoped wouldn't spoil her evening.
It was his turn again, and not wanting to hold anyone up, Bastian took his place on the lane. The ball was thrown a little harder than intended, and sounded like it when it hit the pins. For a second Bastian squeezed his eyes shut, afraid he might have made mince meat of the pins, but was relieved to see two standing and no shards lying about. When the ball was thrown the second time, the two pins went down.
Almost as a second thought, he shrugged. He was doing okay, not great, but it didn't bother him that Kem might win the game. Even if he hadn't been thinking on other things, Bastian never had been terribly competitive, and when confronted with something he didn't know well, even less than normal. To that end, his machismo didn't extend.
Returning to his seat, he patted Reign's ass as she stood to take her turn, and gave it his all to pay attention. The matter with Kem would need to wait. Eventually though, he told himself...eventually he'd have the other man's ear, and would hopefully get an objective opinion on the subject that bothered Bastian to no end.
"Okay, Cara...get them all!"
He shouted his support, and waved his beer in salute to her, not really caring how well she did, but that she was enjoying herself.
Before taking her turn she watched Kem bowl and raised an eyebrow at him. Xeph was quite right, they were being put to shame.
"Archivist and master bowler? You are a man of many talents sir."
She smiled, only with her eyes, at Kem. It wasn't often that she felt able to tease some one she didn't know terribly well. However, she and Kem seemed to understand each other well enough she thought she might be able to get away with it.
"You don't need luck. You have brute force."
Nikhila tossed at Xeph as she took her turn. It wasn't bad she managed another spare. It probably wouldn't last but she would enjoy it while it did.
She was also enjoying the banter and the atmosphere. The other couples were fun to be around, although she did wonder about Bastian. Perhaps he'd reached some sort of conclusion about recent events. It might be better if he didn't and just enjoyed the night. Still Reign seemed to pull him a bit out of himself and she approved of that.
Reign challenged before mocking with a friendly smile.
"Ummm I thought splits were bad."
She said to Aishe. But she was pleased some one wasn't taking the game too seriously. Reign couldn't help it, she liked to win and would probably sulk later if she did badly.
"That or you're a dirty rotten cheater."
Reign beamed at Kem. Although something about his bowling two strikes in a row reminded her of Pakpao and their first and only pool game. Reign mentally shrugged and brushed it off. The odds of running into another telekinetic vampire with a taste for cheating were slim at best.
Apology accepted. Reign temporarily leaned into Bas and nodded. He had acknowledged something was up but he also said it wasn't too big a deal and that was good enough for her. He might accuse her of being stubborn and contrary but he scored big points in those areas too.
"About the Geriatric Archivist convention he's working on?"
She teased knowing full well that wasn't the issue at hand.
Poking Bastian squarely in the ribs for the ass handling she winked and then retrieved her ball and set about tossing it down the lane. Her skills were so random she went from a strike to managing to get a whole two pins. She didn't even pick up the spare but got a nice solid six more on her next toss before sitting down next to Bas.
The Doc and his date were cute she decided. The tall quiet woman wasn't quite what she'd have pictured her vet with. He seemed more... well more something. Of course she didn't think she'd have mentally paired Kem and Aishe if she'd met them separately, hell she wouldn't have paired herself and Bastian but as long as every one was happy right? Apparently she just didn't have a career as a match maker ahead of her. Thank god.
More to the point as long as her wolf snapped out of it. He seemed to be, defiantly looked less broody, hell he'd even cheered her on. Mentally shoving her sucking aside she slid an arm around Bastian's waist. Nope she wasn't going to get cuddly or cute, not in public, but she did intend to be a bit more alert to things and try and sort out what was bugging him. He was supposed to get to have fun too.
"I missed some."Â?
She said to him, stating the obvious.
"Do you think they'd let me just hit them with a stick?"Â?