Reign had come by the Den, with Sirius Drew was starting to wonder if she went any where without the dog, with the intention of helping him look at some PhD programs. He still wasn't keen on the idea but he wasn't ruling it out. She seemed to be pushing the idea. Of course that lead to him needling her about what she was doing with her degree and that lead to a fight. The girl did seem to love to argue sometimes.
They'd been in the middle of said argument when she got a call from her manager and had to run. Drew couldn't help but wonder what constituted a pool emergency, but he didn't ask. Promising to only be an hour or two, she asked if she could leave Sirius with him. Drew had been too surprised to say no. He and the dog got on OK though and for a while, they just hung out in his rooms. However, Reign was now almost late and the dog was getting restless. So Drew grabbed and old baseball and took himself and Sirius out to the huge lawn to play fetch. At least it was a good work out for his arm.
At some point Jesse would finish his rounds, and catch up with her, and since he almost always called her on his way home, she stuck her cell phone in her jeans to be available. Other than that she wore a lightweight but long sleeved deep purple shirt, with a scoop neck, and a pair of soft suede boots. Her hair was pulled back into a high pony tail, tied up with wide white silk ribbon, ends trailing in her hair.
Skipping down the steps, movement off to her left caught her eye. Earlier thoughts of just wandering aimlessly shelved, Jillian trotted sprightly toward the movement, and was delighted to see Drew. Soon enough she could see her friend wasn't alone, and his company was a rather good size dog. Catch, or fetch, depending on what end of the ball you were on, seemed to be the order of the day.
"Too late for spring training, isn't it?"
Approaching from behind Drew, Jillian kept her eyes on the dog, unsure how her appearance would be received.
Sirius had bounded up to him happily, dropped the ball at his feet and proceeded to start to sniff her. Fortunately, the dog had fairly decent manners.
“Nope this is either really early for spring training or just a nice fall work out.”
He was keeping an eye on the big dog but looked a little confused about what to do next, Reign always gave the mutt all his commands in Latin. A language Drew didn’t speak. Finally giving up he tried a good old fashioned ‘sit’. It apparently worked.
“Huh, he’s bilingual. He’s friendly too.”
Drew added, he didn’t want Jillian to be wary of the dog.
“What are you doing out and about this time of day Chica? No classes? No dates? To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”
She got his best winning grin before he scooped up the baseball, wiped it off a bit and offered it to Jillian. No better way to make friends than to toss a ball around.
"Bilingual? Have you taught him Navajo?"
The word 'friendly' immediately allowed Jillian to move closer to the dog, kneel down, and gently grab the ruff of fur to the sides of his neck, lightly giving him a mock roughing.
"Hello boy! Are you having fun playing catch with Drew? You're sure a pretty boy. Yes you are!"
Her words uninhibited, as was her new feeling toward the dog. Jillian loved animals, though she knew they took too much care for her to accommodate one in her life now.
Kissing the dog on top of his head, Jillian stood, facing Drew, thumbs hooked into her jean pockets.
"I didn't know you had a dog. What's his name?"
Casually dropping her hand to the top of the dog's head, Jillian scratched him behind his ear.
"Class let out early. The prof had some emergency, and you know me, I'm not going to hang around anywhere inside, if I can be outside. Jesse should be home soon, so I thought I'd go for a walk in the mean time, but that was when I was alone. If you don't mind the company, I'd love to hang around with you for a bit."
Without second thoughts Jillian took the ball and waved it in front of the dog's eyes, before throwing it.
“Nah he speaks Latin.”
He was a bit surprised by Jillian’s reaction to the dog. But then again, none of them was that different and he’d been told that the mutt had even run with a wolf before.
“Sirius, as in the dog star.”
Best to give Jillian a heads up to prevent a lecture from the dog’s mistress.
He watched as Sirius took off like a shot after the ball. This was going to ruin the ball but he had others.
“Emergencies seem to be going around, that’s why I’ve got him. I sort of got conned into dog sitting for a few hours.”
Jesse was the stray… er new guy Jillian had run into. He actually felt a bit better about the guy if he hadn’t slunk off into the night by now. OK points for the new guy.
“I like this plan so far. How is the new guy. I’m guessing since there have been no other raids on my closet he’s found some clothes at the very least.”
Drew teased. He really hadn’t minded the loan at all.
Jillian directed her comment to the dog once he returned with the ball in his mouth.
"Does his owner live here?"
Jillian's hand again fell to the dog's head, where she scratched absently. She hadn't seen Sirius about the Den or Long Run, so she suspected perhaps his owner was an outside friend of Drew's, but her question didn't seem inappropriate. It also put off the topic she knew Drew would eventually get into, even if only for a moment.
Not that she didn't want to discuss Jesse. She could probably talk for hours about the new man in her life. That was her fear though. She could easily ramble on and on about her friend, yet thought to do so was a slight betrayal of sorts at this time. Jesse was a grown man, who could speak for himself very well, and she wanted the other pack mates to get to know him that way, rather than through her anecdotes.
She also felt a little odd talking about him behind his back. Fortunately she had nothing bad to say about him, so she didn't feel THAT bad.
"Ach! I knew I would forget that! Yes, he's doing well, and now even has a decent wardrobe. Plus I have some replacement clothes for you too that I'll bring over later...hopefully you'll like them. I tried to find things as close to what we got from you. The sizes should be spot on...I only hope you'll like the colors. Jesse suggested a pretty coral colored shirt, with plaid pants that go really well together."
Of course Jillian was joking, but she managed to keep her face completely serious, and maintained her look at Drew, hoping he would believe her. They had gotten to know each other some over the past few months, but was now counting on that they didn't know each other TOO well, to pull off her tease.
Sirius shoved his head into Jillian wanting to go after the ball again, apparently the big guy wasn’t wore out just yet.
Drew didn’t bother to explain about Reign. He took it for granted the Jillian would know she was an Illamar. He wouldn’t invite just any one to the Den for just any reason. There were plenty of parks and the beach etc. so there was no need to offer some one outside of the pack use of the Tikerak.
Coral? Drew made an very odd face.
“That’s like pink right? I might be able to pull off the plaid but I think I need something more teal or lime green to compliment my coloring.”
Having liked Drew from nearly the moment she'd met him, Jillian had briefly courted the idea of having feelings for him that went beyond those of friendship. He was, afterall, cute, smart, around her age, and of her pack...what could have been better? But after spending a little time with him she knew they could only ever be friends. Whatever spark there was that caused the more passionate feelings between two people, just didn't seem to be there between them. But in a way that had been a welcomed relief as well. She didn't think she was at all ready to be in any really serious relationship, and this way she now had a brother she'd always wanted. Whether Drew knew it or not.
As such, Jillian wanted her brother to be happy, and even if she wasn't ready to be looking for a life mate, Drew was getting on. Even if he was aware of it or not, she thought he should begin looking at least.
Stumbling just a little when Sirius nudged her energetically, Jillian laughed. Taking the ball she again threw it out along the run. Then, seeing the strange look that came across Drew's face, laughed even harder.
"I'm kidding! Though the fact that you might even consider plaid does worry me a little."
Giggling a bit more, she shook her head.
"Relax...no coral, or pink, or plaid. I agree with you on the teal, and think you'll be pleasantly surprised."
The sudden vibration in her pocket made Jillian jump a little. Digging into the denim she pulled out her phone and answered it, her face alive with an animated look of delight.
"Hey! Yep. Uh huh. I'm out on the Long Run with Drew and a friend of his."
Jillian winked at Drew as she continued.
"Okay, I'll see you then!"
Snapping her phone closed, Jillian slipped it back into her pocket.
"Jesse. He's on his way home. You should meet him shortly. I know he's going to be starving...do you have any plans?"
Of course they couldn't take Sirius anywhere, but Jillian didn't know how long the dog sitting was to be for, or even if Drew was interested in joining her and Jesse.
“Do I look like I have fashion sense?”
He gestured to his own wrinkled cargo shorts and faded baseball sleeves.
“Besides I have no fear of anything. Except maybe paisley I’ve never understood it.”
Jillian’s phone rang and he did his best not to eavesdrop. Not that the little he couldn’t help but over hear was very personal. He did want to meet this new guy. Silly as it sounded he didn’t want Jillian getting involved with a slacker or a bad egg and every family had them it just couldn’t be helped.
“I like this idea of food. His keeper should be along soon enough.” He checked his own phone and frowned. “Should have been back thirty minutes ago. Think we could raid the kitchens super quick and make something of a picnic?”
"You don't dress that bad, for a guy your age without a woman around...who isn't gay."
Jillian giggled again. Her friend Jason at school wore fabulous clothes, but he was rich, AND gay, and didn't make any bones about the fact that he came by his fashion sense naturally. She liked Jason because he was so friendly, and uninhibited, and hilariously funny. And while he teased her mercilessly sometimes about her own dress, and manners, he was never mean, or hurtful. She wondered what he would think of Jesse, but had yet to get the time or opportunity to introduce them to each other.
When she had thought about dinner earlier, she just assumed they would be going to a small place in town, but when Drew brought up the idea of a picnic, Jillian's eyes lit up!
"Oh YES! What a great idea! Lets! I'm sure Jesse will be more than grateful if he doesn't have to jump into the shower and dress up as soon as he gets home. If you're sure your friend won't mind?"
Hearing the friend was running late, Jillian wondered if there might be cause to worry.
"Should you try to call them...see if they're okay?"
She was already slowly walking toward the Den's entrance, thinking of what they might put together for dinner, but still a little concerned about 'the friend'.
She hadn’t meant to leave Drew with Sirius so long but was happy to see he’d taken the mutt outside. They seemed to have picked up another friend as well.
Reign let a sharp whistle cut through the air and the big dog’s head shot up and he charged toward her, complete with slobbery baseball. She grinned at that pulled the ball from Sirius and threw it to Drew. He caught it. The mutt, however, padded along next to her on her left side.
“Sorry about that boyo. It got out of hand. Appreciate you watching out for him though.”
She quickly sized up the girl who was chatting with Drew. Young, but she’d learned that appearance among the Pack didn’t always indicate age. More cute than pretty sort of a sweet look to her, she looked nice enough. Reign raised her hand in greeting.
Even the idea made him laugh. Hey, it was right for some people and more power to them. It wasn't so much for him, that was all.
He was pleased she liked his idea and was trying to work out what to do with Sirius while the ran around the kitchen when he heard the whistle. The note was sharp, direct and boy did it carry but there was no doubting who it was.
"Why don't we ask her?"Â?
Catching the slimy ball, he made a show of wiping the slobber off on his shorts.
"I do you a favor and all I get out of it is a slimy baseball? We're going to have to work on your gratitude skills."Â?
That was libel to earn him either a snide comment or a punch, but it was worth it.
He waited a second to see if either woman recognized the other and it didn't seem they did. That left him to do introductions.
"Jillian this is Reign, keeper of the beast. Reign, Jillian she's a friend of mine."Â?
Reign, as she had been introduced, was taller and larger than Jillian, as well as older. In fact Jillian wondered if the blond woman wasn't even older than Drew. But then she stopped that kind of thinking, knowing it didn't make a whit of difference. If Drew liked her, Reign must be a good sort.
"Hi Reign, keeper of the beast. It's good to meet you. We were playing fetch with your beast, but decided before we turned into beasts ourselves we would check out the kitchen and see if we could put together something for dinner. Does a picnic sound okay to you?"
Jillian assumed Reign would be included for dinner, just as Jesse was. She was excited to have somewhat of a double date set up, even if Drew hadn't made any declarations as far as just exactly how he thought of Reign. In theory Jillian and Jesse were just friends too. For now anyway. But having even a small get together of friends her age, or almost her age, sounded like a lot of fun. And having Jesse be one of those friends made it even that much more special.
Before Jillian could say anything else, the sound of something coming through the trees caught her attention, and she again turned, this time to see Jesse the were running almost full force toward her.
There was a moment of what looked like indecision, before the young wolf slowed his gait, and ambled alongside Jillian.
"Well how's that for good timing?"
Jillian's remark was directed to Drew and Reign, but she then spoke to Jesse.
"Why don't you go get dressed, and meet us in the kitchen. Nothing fancy - we're having a picnic."
Her hand rested on top of his head, much like it had with Sirius earlier. Jesse had told her several days ago, during one of their long talks, that though he didn't really hear 'words' when people spoke to him, somehow he understood everything being said. Jillian understood because she was the same way. Were all weres like that? She didn't know, but since communication never seemed to be an issue, she figured they might be.
Before she had time to consider otherwise, Jesse took off up the steps and into the Den.
"I'll introduce you all when he returns, but that was Jesse."
Near to bursting with pride, and...whatever else she was feeling for the young man, Jillian smiled at the other two, and began making her way into the Den as well.
Reign quipped in mock hostile manner at Drew.
Vince had insisted on professional training for the mutt, and that was one thing she was very grateful for. Sirius now simply lay down beside her as they paused, he only raised his head when the wolf approached.
“Good. Anything to wear this monster out. I don’t think he gets nearly enough exercise.”
She smiled her thanks to the younger woman.
“If there are smores involved I could totally be talked into a picnic. Or do you only have smores with camp fires?”
She would have suggested a beer as well but the girl didn’t look old enough to drink.
She watched with some interest as the other wolf approached. Maybe it was envy, she wasn’t sure. Either way she was getting used to this sort of interaction.
Drew said as he tossed the still slobbery ball at Reign, she caught it out of reflex.
“I’d say that’s something warranting gratitude. Do you –always- make such a charming first impression?”
He was a little worried Reign’s slightly… ummm… abrasive personality might put Jillian off. It wasn’t that she was mean she was just blunt and it could be misunderstood.
Drew had no issues speaking to wolves, it was just habit he supposed. He wondered if Reign did, he’d never had occasion to change with Reign about.
“Hell yes let’s go find food. I’m ravenous.”
He grabbed one arm from each woman and started them back toward the den and the kitchen.
“Its not often I get two beautiful women to cook for me. … ow!”
Reign had smacked him upside the back of the head for that one. He should have seen it coming.
He had met her at school for lunch on more than one occasion lately, and that was never just a one on one experience. People seemed to flock to the girl, like moths to a flame. So he realized early on that if he wanted to hang around her, he would need to deal with that. Surprisingly he found it wasn't difficult.
Because his job at the Tikerak had a regular schedule, and because Jesse often shifted to or from wolf at some point nearly every day, he had purchased a small, sturdy trunk that he kept discreetly hidden along his daily traveled route. It was here he placed the clothes he'd worn before he changed to go home. At some time during one of the following days, or nights, he would come back in wolf form, change, and put those clothes back on. It seemed to be a good solution to what might have been a tiresome problem.
Running back to the Den on all fours was exceedingly faster for him, and he managed to catch Jillian while she was still outside. Once the small gathering was in sight, Jesse slowed, and observed not only the girl he was growing very fond of, but a guy he had seen around the Den, as well as another woman. There was a large dog with them, but Jesse all but ignored that fact. He had never been a big fan of pets, preferring to see animals running free, and undomesticated. Plus he had never been able to have any pets while growing up, which might have accounted for the way he felt.
Jillian stood out among the other two, like a beacon of light on a midnight shoreline. Such a thought made him laugh at himself, and wonder just where it might have come from. He had never been in any way poetic before.
The male then became the focus of his attention, and for a flickering second a small flash of jealousy reared its head. When logic filtered in, and Jesse remembered it was he who Jillian seemed to want to spend time with, he admonished himself, and looked to the blond lady. There was little spark of interest there, so he moved on and was soon nudging his head against Jillian's hip.
'Why don't you go get dressed, and meet us in the kitchen. Nothing fancy - we're having a picnic.'
Just hearing her voice had a soothing, yet all too exciting effect on him. The touch of her hand on his head was pleasantly distracting as well. He was happy to hear he wouldn't need to get fancied up for dinner, and quickly departed for his rooms. He would forgo having Jillian all to himself tonight, for being in her company at all was worth whatever else he had to make do with.
Taking Drew's comment about 'charming first impressions' for the friendly teasing it was, Jillian decided she already liked Reign, even if she'd just met her moments before. There was something really honest about Drew's friend, that Jillian appreciated, even if she also seemed a tiny bit reticent. At least that was the perception Jillian had, and saw nothing unusual in.
"Smores!? No wonder I like you!"
She voiced, as smores really did sound yummy, and Jillian always had fun making them.
"But yea, I'm afraid they do require a campfire. I wonder how Xeph would feel about us making one on the Long Run?"
Looking to Drew expectantly, Jillian was growing more excited about the prospect with every step they took.
Once inside the monstrous kitchen, she again deferred to Drew and Reign.
"So should we go full out picnic...hot dogs, hamburgers?"
Running to the double refrigerator, and pulling open one of the the big doors, Jillian found an array of prepared dishes just waiting to be eaten. The cooks on staff often prepared meals to order, but they also seemed to keep the fridge well stocked for times when they weren't on duty as well.
"Hmmm...macaroni salad...some fruit concoction...OH! Hey, there's even some cold fried chicken in here..."
Hand on the door, Jillian looked up for comments.
“Anything with chocolate is a good thing. It’s getting the marshmallows all over my fingers that I can’t stand.”
Frowning she considered.
“Yeah I guess we shouldn’t burn the place down.”
Reign let the other two do the kitchen ransacking, she hung out near the door with Sirius. She didn’t mind him wandering around her kitchen but some people had issues and she didn’t want to be rude.
“Get the boy something raw and the chicken sounds good. But I’ve never trusted either macaroni salad or three bean. Both rather un-natural.”
She said while lounging against the door.
Drew asked, while lithely stepping from Reign’s reach.
“I have yet to meet a woman who didn’t occasionally get a craving for it.”
He liked it but he wasn’t a huge fan.
Reaching the kitchen, he buried himself in the fridge looking for something fresh and a little bloody for himself. Not everyone leaned that way but… well…
Ha! A nice raw slab of steak. Yum!
“What does the new guy go for? I’m easy enough, so are you… er… well about the food any way. So he’s the only one left.”
That had not come out at all the way he’d meant it to. Jillian was sort of a little sister and well… oops.
“What about potato salad?”
Pushing the salads aside, Jillian only removed the potato one, setting it on the counter next to the chicken. If Jesse wanted one of the other ones, she'd include it then.
Moving to the side a little, to give Drew room to rummage, Jillian eyed the steak he found, and hoped there was another. As luck would have it there were several more, and thinking about it further, Jillian wondered how she might have doubted there would be. Her response was cut short by Jesse himself.
"If that's a steak you have in your hand, this new guy would appreciate one of those if there are enough."
Jesse liked chicken, and could eat nearly anything to stay alive, and sometimes had, but he always preferred juicy red meat when given an option.
"If not, chicken is fine, as will be anything else you pull out of there, I'm sure."
Smiling a small, reserved smile, Jesse approached the blond woman first, since she seemed to be the least busy, and closest in proximity. His hand reached out to her in greeting.
"Jesse Katsaros. Nice to meet you."
Seeing Jillian was busy getting food together, Jesse made his own introduction. He assumed the man next to Jillian was Drew, and guessed this woman was the friend referred to in the earlier phone conversation. Jesse hadn't seen this one around the Den, but then he had never run into Drew yet either.
Walking toward the pair at the refrigerator, Jesse took a bowl from Jillian with one hand, and held the other toward Drew.
"And man, I really want to thank you for the loan of the clothes. Were the ones we picked out suitable replacements?"