A Long Run (Attn: Therese)
She -could- drive but Nikhila currently didn't have a license, even if she did she didn't have a car. It had been her habit to take public transportation, or if she was feeling particularly indulgant, a cab. Aidan had taken exception to that. It hadn't been an argument, but she had protested a bit even if she had lost in the long run which is how Nikhila came to be driving twoard the preserve with a very nice wolf from security, Sam. It seemed silly to have to be driven to a meeting with a friend but given the choice between feeling a little silly and being confined on the grounds she'd take the silly.
They pulled into the parking lot, and it didn't appear that ThÃ©rÃ¨se was here yet. She really didn't know what to make this request. Granted she and ThÃ©rÃ¨se hadn't had much of a chance to talk since the French woman's arrival into Nachton, but having a child had made that a bit difficult. Still when the request came she was quick to agree to it.
It was perhaps a bit cold out for a run but that was one hobby both of them shared. Although Nikhila was a bit of a traditionalist and not as apt to run up the side of a building as ThÃ©rÃ¨se. She waited in the car chatting with Sam until ThÃ©rÃ¨se arrival. Only a few minutes later another car pulled into the nearly empty parking lot and her friend appeared. Before Nikhila could slide out of the car Sam reminded her he wouldn't be too far away and that he wouldn't leave until Aidan came to pick her up.
She'd emailed Nikhila as she needed someone to talk to, although she also knew that her friend had a very strong sense of right and wrong. Nikhila's moral compass was not going to give any one any wiggle room. Still it was some one to talk to who wasn't connected to the pack, to any of this.
Browsing the society pages for likely donors and for a bit more information on this Arin Bjorn ThÃ©rÃ¨se had come upon Nikhila's fiancÃ©. That was something of a surprise, there was a story there. But it also meant that ThÃ©rÃ¨se was not at all surprised to see Nikhila slide out of a car with a driver. And from the way the driver watched, it was easy to guess he was more than just a chauffeur. She approved though, it showed Xephier was taking care of his mate, and some one should keep an eye out for Nikhila.
Leaving that line of thought she embraced the taller woman and quickly kissing both cheeks ThÃ©rÃ¨se smiled. The first genuine smile she had in some time.
"Mon Dieu! I though you just had a child?"
"I did. I know you were sent pictures."
"Oui, I was and he is beautiful, congratulations again. You look quite good."
Nikhila smiled a bit self consciously. She had made an effort to regain her figure both Aidan and Lily had been a huge help with Noah and she'd been able to run again and resume her yoga. Of course, two full moons didn't hurt anything either.
"And you. You must be settling in well."
By mutual consent the moved down toward the beach to stretch and run. It would be colder by the ocean, but it would be snow free and they were both dressed for a cold weather run.
Nikhila watched ThÃ©rÃ¨se surreptitiously as she stretched and warmed up. The French woman didn't often think without speaking and now she seemed to be thinking a lot.
"Into work, oui, quite well. The museum is magnificent and the staff is very good at what they do. It was a good decision."
Although, it hadn't really been a decision. No he was behind it. For a moment or two ThÃ©rÃ¨se considered attempting to tell Nikhila about -him- as well. Perhaps she would have an idea or a way of countering the mulo. But the idea was quickly dismissed. She would hardly believe that a local lawyer was a vampire. It was an idea worth trying at some point though. Certainly Nikhila would be trusted with knowledge of the Pack.
Nikhila broke her out of her thoughts on that matter though.
"And into the city? You certainly don't expect me to believe you work, run and then sit at home alone every night?"
The teasing in Nikhila's odd blended accent relaxed ThÃ©rÃ¨se and made her smile again as they started down the firm packed sand just beyond the tides reach at a slow jog.
"Yes that is right. I do seem recall you were the one pulling me out at night from club to club."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se returned the gentle jibe easily as they both found their stride.
Between the other woman's serious expression and now avoiding or at least turning a blind eye to personal questions Nikhila reached what would be an obvious conclusion for any woman.
"Who is he?"
They had eliminated career and ThÃ©rÃ¨se's initial email had indicated her family was well so that left only one choice.
"I do not know what you are talking about." But the French woman's stride bobbled.
"You do, how many miles were we going to do before you brought him up?"
"At least two."
Nikhila laughed at the honest answer. They had run together often enough to each be aware of the other's limits. Two miles meant ThÃ©rÃ¨se wanted her focused and moderately forgiving but still aware of what was going on around her rather than just the run.
"I do hope he is worth the trouble he must be causing."
A slight growl made its way into her words. ThÃ©rÃ¨se was a good friend and she didn't like the idea of some one causing her trouble. She'd always been so in control of her relationships too and wasn't one to put up with much, so this was a cause for curiosity and just a little worry.
Neither said a word for the next few minutes. ThÃ©rÃ¨se had meant it when she said it was a conversation she'd start in two miles. Their pace gradually picked up, ThÃ©rÃ¨se was the faster of the two but knew Nikhila's stamina put her to shame. With that in mind she was tempted to wait until the third mile, but honestly it wasn't going to get any easier.
When she judged that they had passed the two mile mark and both of them were warm and concentrating on their running she did finally say something.
"He is married."
It was Nikhila's turn to bobble she slowed down too, but quickly rebounded and caught back up.
"Two children, grown though not that it makes it any more acceptable just perhaps... less..."
She managed to shrug without breaking stride, but at no point turned to look at the tall Indian woman running next to her. She didn't want to see the look on her former Professor's face.
"Did you know?"
"Suspected. He didn't hide it, I was simply careful not to ask."
Well that limited the amount of sympathy she could offer and it pained Nikhila. If ThÃ©rÃ¨se had thought they were separated, divorced or even that he had been widowed that would be one thing.
What did you say next? She didn't know what ThÃ©rÃ¨se hoped to gain from this conversation, what she wanted her to say.
"Have you... acted upon this attraction?"
And what was she going to say if the answer was yes and Nikhila was willing to bet the answer was yes or ThÃ©rÃ¨se wouldn't be looking for a sympathetic ear.
But explaining that to a relatively mild mannered, slightly conservative, happily engaged friend was not easy. They ran with only the sound of their feet and the ocean for a bit while ThÃ©rÃ¨se worked on an answer, thankful that Nikhila didn't feel the need to fill silences.
"It was only one day. The first time... neither of us were ourselves we didn't know what we were doing it was... instinct."
They should have left it at that. Left it as instinct and lust, fewer emotional complications and the odds were it would be dismissed if any one found out. Possibly not by his wife, but at least there would have been an excuse that most would have understood.
"After that it was more conscious. The only thing I can say is we both agree it cannot happen again."
And that was the part that was bothering her. It might be the right thing to do but it felt very wrong. It wasn't just the physical either, she had basically lost him. She had to, they had to, the good of the Pack had to come first and ThÃ©rÃ¨se wasn't going to tear down leadership from inside.
She didn't want to condemn her friend though. Although, certainly there was no way she could endorse the action. There had to be away to support ThÃ©rÃ¨se while not supporting adultery.
"I take it this is more than just a fling."
"It could be... no it cannot be. I should like it to be but it cannot be. It cannot be anything."
Nikhila was surprised by the vehemence in ThÃ©rÃ¨se's answer. Turning her head she even saw ThÃ©rÃ¨se shaking her head. It was as if she was trying to convince herself and that pained Nikhila, it was all too familiar.
"And his feelings?"
It might be easier if he did not reciprocate, if this was a one sided infatuation. She doubted it was. Knowing ThÃ©rÃ¨se's practical nature she would have squashed any 'silly romantic notions' before this.
Again she did not answer right away and considered the question. His words, his body language, no one was that good an actor.
"I believe they are the same."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se cut Nikhila off before she could continue. It was evident by her tone and hesitation that she was extremely reluctant to even consider the option. This was her problem, not Nikhila's, she wasn't going to ask a friend to compromise their beliefs. Not for something like this.
"Non. He.. it does not sound ideal but it is not an option, nor will I suggest it. I do not want your blessing to tear something apart. I understand this isn't... right. There is no future. As much as I'd like to see if there is one, I cannot. I know that."
That realization brought ThÃ©rÃ¨se up short. She stopped and braced her hands on her knees panting slightly. She knew it and yet she was trying to deny it. That's what all this was about, not wanting it to be true.
"What do you need from me?"
There was a pause as ThÃ©rÃ¨se straightened up and visibly got a hold of herself.
"I do not know. There really is nothing to be done is there?"
Nikhila smiled sympathetically but said nothing. It seemed to her that ThÃ©rÃ¨se had a good handle on the situation. As long as she didn't let emotion cloud her judgment things would just have to work out on their own. It was painful now, but with luck and time it might get better.
She wished there was something she could do to help, but as was too often the case, there wasn't. She could only be there and offer silent support. Giving ThÃ©rÃ¨se another second or two Nikhila finally nudged her friend in the shoulder.
"Come on, you'll get stiff we should get moving again."
It was also a subtle reminder that ThÃ©rÃ¨se couldn't let herself dwell on this situation. She had to cope with it and move on.
"For listening. I'm not sorry for what I did but I'm not proud of it either I appreciate you listening and not lecturing."
So often the spirits seemed to cast judgment on what she did that ThÃ©rÃ¨se had half expected Nikhila to do the same. She had been waiting for some one to tell her what she had done was wrong, it was a relief to find at least understanding and sympathy. Nikhila had understood the situation she'd gotten herself in was painful and didn't add to that or belittle it.
"You know I am here to listen any time you need."
Having gotten that off her chest though ThÃ©rÃ¨se became quite quiet for a while. Once conversation resumed though it was lighter, quick mentions of work some old stories and Nikhila did play the proud mother raving about her infant son for a few moments. Although not wanting to upset ThÃ©rÃ¨se any further she didn't mention her mate, thinking it was unfair she should be happy in a relationship when ThÃ©rÃ¨se couldn't be.
Suddenly the weather turned on them, and the storm that had been threatening let loose. It was not a gentle or subtle thing either. While cold the day was too warm for snow and one second it was dry and ominous and the next torrents of icy cold rain fell from the sky, hard enough to sting. Nikhila and ThÃ©rÃ¨se both stopped in their tracks and swore. They were miles from the parking lot and any shelter at all.
"On your marks, get set, go?"
The race was such in name only as both women, despite being tired from an already long run, made good time back to the parking lot. Noticing that Nikhila had avoided talking about the father, and only mentioned her child ThÃ©rÃ¨se asked a few questions about Xephier. He was both a potential donor and she wanted to ensure the professor had found someone who would take good care of her. While Nikhila didn't, and between the running and the rain couldn't really, go into great detail ThÃ©rÃ¨se did pick up enough to want to meet him, more than in passing as they had in the mall before Christmas.
Finally, the parking lot was in view and the rain started to slacken a bit. They had both slowed to a trot a ways back and were walking the remaining distance and were both thoroughly soaked. ThÃ©rÃ¨se fished for her keys as Nikhila hailed an SUV with a big wave and a smile that ThÃ©rÃ¨se was willing to bet the other woman wasn't even aware of.
His timing was pretty good. Stepping out of the SUV without bothering to tug up the hood of his own jacket he reached into the back seat and grabbed both towels. He got out of the car and went over to Nikhila, wrapping her up in the first towel.
"Doesn't either of you look up before running?" He grinned. "You know, those dark things in the sky are clouds. Say it with me. Clouds. They make it rain. That's this wet stuff."
When Therese turned he tossed her the second towel with a shake of his head.
"Enjoy your run?"
((ooc: permission for Caretaker's granted. ))
"I was expecting snow, not rain."
They'd had that blizzard last week, just about the time of the full moon. She'd enjoyed running those three nights and while she'd wound up wet chasing through the snow, she hadn't gotten near this soaked. Of course extremely dense fur did help with that.
She caught the other towel and smiled broadly. He just earned a few more points.
"Merci monsieur. Yes very much, I think if it hadn't been for the rain she would have left me thirty or forty miles down the beach."
She rolled her eyes at Nikhila who only shook her head and protested she'd never do such a thing. As she dried off as best she could ThÃ©rÃ¨se watched her friend's fiance. She didn't look too close just close enough to note that he had been trained and would be a formidable opponent. Good. It added to her conclusion that he would be good for Nikhila.
Deciding she was as dry as she was going to get, ThÃ©rÃ¨se handed Nikhila the borrowed towel, the hugged and exchanged quick good byes and slid into her car. It would feel good to get the heat going and then home and a long soak in a hot tub. But as she turned the key she was met with a tell tale click. Trying again she was met with the same click, and the overhead light flickered and died. Dead battery.
She slumped and let her head hit the steering column, the horn gave a pathetic warble and ThÃ©rÃ¨se muttered a great deal of French profanity under her breath.
"You do not, perchance, have jumper cables?"
She did have road side assistance but didn't want to sit for hours waiting for them. She must have truly angered some one or something.
He had only just opened his door when he heard the sickly-sounding horn from Therese's. Xeph poked his head back out and heard her question through the lightly pattering rain.
"Do I have jumper cables?" He asked incredulously. "Do chickens have feathers?"
He got the SUV into a better position, hopped back out, and closed the door so Nikhila could stay warm if she chose. Going to the back of the car he retrieved the cables and tried to look appropriately manly while considering the very very many crass jokes he could say in this situation.
Biting his tongue he managed the job with some class instead of crass. Nikhila should be proud of him.
She did raise her eyebrow at the chicken comment but was relieved to hear he had the cables. Nikhila wasn't terribly mechanically inclined and had no idea what Aidan kept in the back of the vehicle. She could and had jumped a car a few times during her travels and could even change a tier but it was not her forte. Rolling down the window she shook her head at ThÃ©rÃ¨se. Some days the woman just attracted bad luck.
"I am getting you a rabbit's foot. Or a four leaf clover or something."
While Aidan had the cables and was probably debating socially acceptable quips, Nikhila popped the hood of the SUV. Fortunately that could be done from inside.
ThÃ©rÃ¨se quipped, teasing as she did what she could to help Xephier get her car started. She probably should go to a garage or an auto parts store and get the battery looked at and possibly replaced but she was still cold and wet. Practicality only went so far. Besides it was practical to get home and get warm and dry.
She muttered a little prayer to whoever might be listening when her car sputtered to life. She didn't dare shut it off as she slid out she offered her hand in thanks and a quick kiss to each cheek.
"Thank you. I should not like to have waited her until a toe truck arrived. With my luck it would start to snow next. Perhaps you would let me treat you both to dinner some night?"
Not knowing him very well she didn't admonish him to take care of Nikhila. Besides, to all appearances, he did.
He nodded at Therese's offer. "Sure. We can do dinner, whenever you like. We'll even let you choose pup, or sans pup."
He knew Therese had wanted to meet Noah, but if she intended to go out it might be best to leave Nish at home. He could squall. Boy had some lungs. Other diners didn't need to hear him when he got cranky.
He watched Therese get into her car and stood there for a few moments until she was on her way out of the park. Then he put the jumper cables away, climbed back into the SUV with Nikhila, and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with an enthusiastic, suggestive kiss.
Xeph raised his eyebrows at Nikhila. "I'd better get you home before you catch cold," he said with a wolfish leer. "And maybe a very close examination to make sure you're not catching cold."
With that they, too, made their way out of the preserve and back to the Den.
((ooc: Xeph and Nikhila out))