The Internet is Better

It was a chilly, sunny day. Xeph was a wolf of his word, so around noon he pounced on his very pregnant almost-wife (in a nonthreatening, playful way of course) and told her it was time to shop. She had wanted shopping. And lunch or dinner would have to happen as well, because if Xeph was going to expend energy wrestling the raging hordes away from his mate, he would require sustenance.

He suppressed a groan as they parked his SUV in the outdoor parking of the mall, and told himself that the sooner they did this, the sooner they could finish. Hopping out, he went around the passenger side. He held his arms out for Nikhila and didn't assist her out but rather lifted her gently and set her upon her feet on the pavement. He retrieved her purse from behind her seat and handed it to her before locking the car.

He regarded the enormous mall a little apprehensively. There were so many better ways to shop. Like, the internet. And, the internet.


"So, where do you want to start?" He asked Nikhila. "And what exactly are we buying? You have a list right?"

He sure hoped she had a list. Nikhila always had lists. She was the organizational guru he was not. The yin to his yang. The ham to his potatoes. Or something.

Nikhila 10 years ago
This was the third time she'd been off the grounds in more than half a year. Even the mall was an adventure for her these days. All those years of travel and she was now excited by the mall, she never would have thought that would be the case. She wasn't complaining though, not at all. Out was out!

She'd attempted to get out of the SUV on her own, but Aidan was too quick for her and she was removed from the car with very little effort of her own. Nikhila giggled at his expression. This time last year they were huddled around a computer monitor shopping, but she had wanted to brave the crowds.


"Of course I have a list. It has three parts: 'House', 'Baby', 'Christmas'. There is a little bit of cross over as we do need two trees still. One for The Den and one for our place. Obviously that goes under both 'Christmas' and 'House'."Â?

It was over kill and she knew it but she was also rather proud of her list. Aidan might make fun of her for it, but the list would let them finish up faster and that he would appreciate. And since she was going so forgetful thanks to the baby, she needed the list. With a flourish she produced it from her purse and handed it to him.

"The Christmas part is the shortest. Did you want to start there? Something for you parents? And a thank you for the Pipers?"Â?

She'd already ordered his present on line so there would be no trying to sneak off and keep him from knowing what she'd gotten him.
Xeph 10 years ago
Xeph was completely unsurprised to see the list. Which would from then on be known as The List in his mind. Because he was pretty sure he wouldn't be leaving the mall until The List was complete.

He blinked at Nikhila.
"But I don't have any idea what to get them. Any of them. I'm horrible at shopping."

He perked up though.
"I got Viv a flower though. I think she liked that. But it might have been my one brilliant inspiration for the year."

Aside from his way over-the-top gift to Nikhila, which he would have delivered on Christmas Eve.

"The tree for the Den is being brought in," he said. "I already ordered it. I went with a live tree. It seemed like a good idea."

He was tired of killing trees. This year he'd asked for a live tree with the root ball intact. They would decorate it, water it, and keep it alive indoors for month and when Christmas was over Xeph would see it planted out in the Long Run.

"We'll start wherever you want to start," he said as they walked toward the ominous mall entrance. "It doesn't make any difference. It'll all get done."
Nikhila 10 years ago
"That was a very good thought."Â?

Nikhila said regarding the flower. She was a bit sorry to have missed that dinner, but impressed with Aidan's housewarming gift.

They got to the door, and she didn't even bother to try and open it. Someday she'd walk into a door expecting him to open is, but today wasn't that day. No sooner than they had set foot in the place than there were Christmas carols, lights and sale signs.

She beamed at his answer about the tree for the Den and cheerfully hugged his arm, very much approving.


"I think that is an excellent idea and the makings of a yearly tradition."Â?

She thoughtfully scowled at the list.

"Well... maybe we should start with the baby then. Stroller, linens, car seat? Doesn't that sound like fun?"Â?

Nikhila steered them to one of those handy 'you are here' maps and looked for a likely store.
Xeph 10 years ago
"Yeah, I have those once in a while," Xeph admitted modestly, giving Nikhila a cheesy grin.

He nodded about the tree; he'd been thinking that himself. he liked the idea of planting it out behind the Den when the season was over. Think of all the trees... huh. He might have to see about buying more land and extending the Long Run. He could call it the Longer Run.


"Yeah. This is super exciting," he said as Nikhila made a beeline to the map. He rolled his eyes behind her head, when she couldn't see it. "Is he going to care what color his linens are, really? We can't just buy white? Or green? Or purple, pick a color!"

He was mostly teasing... mostly. Xeph was perfectly well aware that Nikhila was enjoying decorating things for the baby, and he wasn't going to rain on her parade. Nor was he going to deny that he liked it too. Maybe he wasn't as particular as Nikhila, but it wasn't every day he got to pick things out for his firstborn. This was a one shot deal and he planned to be in on every step with his mate.

That didn't mean he wasn't going to pleasantly give her hell though.
Therese 10 years ago
Malls, what a thoroughly American concept. Originally she would have avoided this one but she was told it would probably be the fastest place for her to find a few things. However, the crowds and having so many stores in one place was a bit overwhelming. Thérèse was very quickly growing irritable.

She had decided to give up and check on of those idiotic maps. Scowling at it with fierce concentration she didn't really notice the couple next to her until she she accidentally bumped into the man. Thérèse looked up and absently apologized.


"Pardon moi."Â?

She returned her attention to the map for a moment or two before realizing that she recognized the woman. Thérèse looked back up smiling brightly.

"Dr. Gounder!"Â?

Thérèse had been trying to find time to see her friend but hadn't managed yet. Not with the museum, and not with... him. How fortunate. She went to hug the Indian woman but couldn't work out how to do so.

"Mon Dieu! You are huge! Who did this to you?"Â?
Nikhila 10 years ago
"Do not let it go to your head."Â?

She laughed before pleasantly punching him in the side as he teased her about her shopping for the baby.

"You may be blazé about our fourth child but I expect you to be excited about at least the first three. And if you don't behave he will have a pink Hello Kitty room."�

Nikhila chided him, although she wasn't really cross with him. Aidan was doing his fare share of getting ready for their first child. They'd not talk about how many they'd wind up with, they just both knew it would be more than one

Ha! success, she'd found what she was looking for on the map and was just about to drag him off when she heard her name. Looking up she saw a dark haired French woman. She had said she was moving here but Nikhila hadn't had the time, or the ability to leave the grounds, to go looking for her.


"Thérèse! I hadn't expected to see you here of all places."�

Nikhila blushed slightly at her former student's rather obvious observation and laughed slightly.

"Had I not told you? But... he did. Thérèse this is Aidan Xephier my... fiancee."�

She'd never said the word before. It was odd, but made her smile. Thank god she'd managed 'fiancee' rather than mate. That could have been awkward.

A slightly surprised Thérèse extended her hand to Aidan.
Xeph 10 years ago
"Too late," Xeph replied to Nikhila with a shrug and a smug smile.

Her threat made him shudder and grimace.
"You would never. That's not even funny."

Hello Kitty? For his son? Even the thought of it was too terrible to fathom.
"Please don't ever say that again. As it is I might have to cut this trip short and go drink a gallon of bleach."

He was saved the trouble of finding further methods to cleanse that image from his mind when they ran into someone Nikhila apparently knew. Xeph shook the other woman's hand and shrugged. "Guilty as charged, on all counts. Nice to meet you Therese."
Therese 10 years ago
"Fiancee?"Â?

Thérèse was shocked but shook the man's hand while discreetly sizing him up. Quite attractive, a good firm grip, and his name sounded familiar, although she couldn't place it.

"A pleasure to meet you. I believe congratulations are in order. I am quite impressed you managed to tie her down. Or perhaps, that is what the child is for?"Â?

She teased. Thérèse was certain Nikhila would not take offense to that statement, she could only assume he would not. Still, she beamed. Though Nikkhila was not part of the pack, Thérèse couldn't help but be pleased she was pregnant. She would be an excellent mother. Even outside of the family children were the future.

"May I?"Â?

Thérèse gestured to the rather large belly that was between them. Nikhila nodded and hesitantly Thérèse placed her hand on it. Nikhila helped guide her hand to where the baby was currently resting. While the child didn't punch or kick dramatically she could still feel some movement. Thérèse had to admit she was a bit jealous. She had never had a child. Ah well perhaps some day. She was still young after all. Removing her hand she smiled at her former professor.

"We are going to have to work on your letter writing skills. Since when do you stay in one place long enough to meet any one much less become engaged?"Â?
Therese 10 years ago
"Fiancee?"Â?

Thérèse was shocked but shook the man's hand while discreetly sizing him up. Quite attractive, a good firm grip, and his name sounded familiar, although she couldn't place it.

"A pleasure to meet you. I believe congratulations are in order. I am quite impressed you managed to tie her down. Or perhaps, that is what the child is for?"Â?

She teased. Thérèse was certain Nikhila would not take offense to that statement, she could only assume he would not. Still, she beamed. Though Nikkhila was not part of the pack, Thérèse couldn't help but be pleased she was pregnant. She would be an excellent mother. Even outside of the family children were the future.

"May I?"Â?

Thérèse gestured to the rather large belly that was between them. Nikhila nodded and hesitantly Thérèse placed her hand on it. Nikhila helped guide her hand to where the baby was currently resting. While the child didn't punch or kick dramatically she could still feel some movement. Thérèse had to admit she was a bit jealous. She had never had a child. Ah well perhaps some day. She was still young after all. Removing her hand she smiled at her former professor.

"We are going to have to work on your letter writing skills. Since when do you stay in one place long enough to meet any one much less become engaged?"Â?
Nikhila 10 years ago
"Given your reaction, it is hysterical."Â?

Nikhila lightly kissed him on the cheek. Hello Kitty would never cross the threshold of their home, not even if they had a girl, but the might hold on to the threat for future shock value.

She only shook her head at Thérèse's comment to Aidan. She couldn't even bother to be shocked. After all Thérèse had seen her turn down nearly every man who'd ever asked her out. Of course, she'd wonder about Aidan

Slightly surprised at the other woman's interest in the child Nikhila nodded and placed Thérèse's hand on her belly. She never would have thought that Thérèse was interested in children. She had always seemed so focused on her career. Well they all did have biological clocks and Thérèse didn't have the luxury of a werewolf life span.


"And yours. What in the world are you doing in Nachton, and the mall at that?"Â?
Xeph 10 years ago
"I didn't know I was marrying a sadist," Xeph grumbled softly into Nikhila's ear.

He smiled at Therese and nodded.
"Well, it was better than actually tying her down. She gets irritable when you do that."

What was it about women needing to touch other womens' pregnant bellies? Xeph didn't get it. He stood by, mildly amused, while Therese met his son. Maybe it was a genetic thing. The need to reach out and touch. Who knew? He'd done it several times but he had an excuse. It was Nikhila, and it as his baby too. He'd never felt the urge to walk up to a random woman and get grabby.

Xeph answered Therese's question himself.
"Nikhila and I have actually known each other for quite a long time, wandering feet or no," he explained. "Since I'm quite the traveler myself, it wasn't unusual for us to bump into each other from time to time. It was only a matter of time until I wore her down."
Therese 10 years ago
Thérèse laughed lightly at the observation.

"I would not know I have never had cause to try and tie her down."Â?

Ah, now that made some sense. Thérèse had wondered if there was someone in the professor's life. It was positively in human that any one person should have that little interest in the opposite sex.

"It is good that you did."Â?

After all, she liked Nikhila, a great deal and wanted the other woman to be happy. She suspected this would make her friend happy.

It did figure that Nikhila would wind up with another wanderer.


"I just moved here. I accepted a job curating at the Arch. It has been a few years since I've dealt with a winter and needed somethings."Â?

She sneered at the mall and the crowds of shoppers.

"I was told this would be the place to get them quickly and easily. I was not told it was a test of my survival skills."Â?
Nikhila 10 years ago
Nikhila poked Aidan in the arm for that comment, of course Thérèse was no better. Rather than encourage either of them she just ignored things for now.

"That is actually how Thérèse and I met she was my student... twice? Three times? And in a different country each time. At first I thought she was just fond of my classes, but it turned out she travels nearly as much as I do... did."�

Did, Nikhila amended. She hadn't moved any where in several years now. She was certainly ready for a trip, an adventure, somewhere, anywhere, but she'd never travel like that again. And of course, any trip would have to wait until after the baby.

At first Nikhila had even wondered if Thérèse was part of the Pack. They certainly had their fair share of wanderers. But there had never been anything to indicate that the other woman was Kadzait.

She gave Aidan a grateful look for the way he'd phrased that. They both knew full well she'd been the one to need wearing down.


"Wonderful! It couldn't have a better care taker. I shall have to come by and see it soon."Â?
Xeph 10 years ago
Xeph raised his brows at Therese. "I'm jealous," he said. "At least you can leave when you want to."

He smiled innocently at Nikhila, expecting some form of payback but not horribly worried about what.


"Curator huh? That sounds like fun." He made a mental note; the Stafford Foundation regularly funded grants and research. If Therese was a friend of Nikhila's he'd have to double check on their contributions to the Arch and make sure there was something going their way. He wasn't above playing favorites.

"Maybe the three of us will come for a visit," he said with a significant glance at Nikhila. She was due soon. Anytime in the next month or so, really. There was a very good chance that by the time they visited Therese at the museum, there would be a third family member in tow. The idea of that made him smile and he slipped his arm around Nikhila's waist, rubbing her back.
Therese 10 years ago
"At this rate I would rather freeze to death than than stay her much longer."Â?

She laughed. At least the man had a sense of humor. She sincerely hoped he was good to Nikhila, although, Thérèse couldn't imagine Nikhila staying with a man who wasn't.

"It is a challenge but I'm enjoying it."Â?

Nikhila looked like she was about to pop so when he said three of them Thérèse smiled happily.

"Yes, please do. I'm afraid the exhibition with illustrations from children's books will be gone by the end of this month but still.... You must let me know when you are coming though."Â?

Thérèse noted the familiar and affectionate gesture and smile to herself. Now would also be a good time to excuse herself. She quickly fished around in her purse and came up with a business card and handed it to Nikhila.

"I shall hope to see you soon then. Now if you will excuse me. I do not believe over exposure to Christmas carols is an excuse for homicide in this country."Â?

Collecting one of Nikhila's cards in return Thérèse made polite goodbyes and disappeared into the holiday crowds. It had been very good to see an old friend. It was a point of sanity against... him.

((OOC... Thérèse out))
Nikhila 10 years ago
"Are you encouraging something educational?"Â?

Nikhila said feigning shock.

It would be a family outing and it made Nikhila all warm and fuzzy. As well as reminded her that they needed a stroller.

She was sorry to see Thérèse leave, but having exchanged cards she knew they'd see each other again soon enough. Probably not until after the baby but soon.


"I will be sorry to have missed it. But perhaps it might get held over."Â?

That would be possible. She bid her friend good bye absently leaning into Aidan, just that little bit of rubbing on her back felt -so- very good.

"The three of us? I like that idea. Now... Christmas presents and baby things. I do promise to make it worth your while."Â?
Xeph 10 years ago
"Nice to meet you Therese."

Xeph was glad Nikhila had met an old friend but just as happy to see her go... if he was going to have to endure shopping at the crowded mall all afternoon he fully intended to monopolize Nikhila.

"Yeah don't think it's going to be a trend or anything," he grouched with good humor.

He raised his eyebrows at Nikhila's promise.
"What do you mean?" he asked in all seriousness. "It's for us and our kid. How can it get any more worthwhile?"

Xeph shook his head at Nikhila. She had some downright silly ideas sometimes. Of course he didn't mind shopping with her. Mostly. If he had to shop at all, it should be with her.
Nikhila 10 years ago
"So I should ask your mother or one of the new professors to the opera?"Â?

She teased before taking hold of his hand and starting them off toward a baby oriented and an electronics store. It seemed like a reasonable place to find something. Maybe iTunes gift cards for the Pipers? What did you get people who moved furniture? Some how a fruit basket didn't seem quite appropriate.

Nikhila had been feeling the 'nesting' instinct, or would it be a dening instinct in wolves?, rather strongly lately and Aidan's statement made her all warm and fuzzy. As a result she unabashedly kissed the heck out of him.

Breaking away she again took his hand and led him into the baby store.


"That is a very good answer. Now... stroller."Â?

They'd found a very good one for running, even over the uneven trails of the Long Run, but it was a bit big and bulky for every day.

Before they could get to the strollers thought Nikhila was sidetracked by some very sweet linens. They were green with arctic type animals on them, bears and whales and such. Good for a boy or a girl and quite appropriate for a Kadzait pup not to mention matching the nursery which had already been painted.
Xeph 10 years ago
Xeph was not going to complain about being kissed in the middle of the mall. Granted there was always a chance someone spotted him, and then there would be cameras, and then things would get annoying, but until that point he was going to ignore that such things existed.

They entered a store specializing in baby needs, and Nikhila was immediately sidetracked by linens which didn't bother Xeph. He'd just been teasing her before anyhow. He did smile when she found an arctic-animal themed print. No wolves, but plenty of bears. Good enough.


"Cute," he said, when they were offered for inspection. "I approve, if that's what you're looking for."

He'd have approved of just about anything but in this case, he actually kind of liked them. He didn't think Nikhila would ever follow through on the Hello Kitty thing. But it wouldn't hurt to be on his best behavior just in case.

Around that time they were approached by a store employee and offered help.


"We're looking for a stroller," Xeph said. "For the baby. Not for her."

He tried not to tune out or let his eyes glaze over as they were led to the appropriate aisle and educated in everything 'stroller.' Had he promised no eye-glazing? Couldn't he just lob a credit card at the girl and just tell her to give them the best one?

He looked at Nikhila and tried not to whimper.
Nikhila 10 years ago
"Good."Â?

That was easy enough to agree on and she was pleased. Nikhila picked them up, and a spare set of sheets, some how she didn't think she was going to do laundry every thirty seconds.

Catching his look she smiled sympathetically. After listening intently to the sales assistant she picked out a stroller. And they picked out a few other odds and ends.


"Is it just me or do you keep thinking we are forgetting something?"Â?

It was driving her crazy. Nikhila was always prepared, for every eventuality. It was just how she was but this was an experience that no matter how many books she read she couldn't fully prepare for it. Sighing she got them checked out.

"Why don't you pick the next thing off the list.... or even something not on the list."Â?

Honestly Nikhila was just happy to be out. She was trying to encourage Aidan to have some fun. If he had fun then he'd let her out again at some point. She wondered if he had people following them right now, but didn't dare ask. She didn't want to know.