Beat back the Night
Gris had settled himself in a the small set of room in Shady Pines. He'd see about renting a condo somewhere else off the compound later. Right now he was content to be among his own kind and...hopeful. Greer was the only Grayson around, among these R'asa he was the same as everyone else. He could shine here, make a difference without his past getting in the way.
He followed the sound of drumming, his doumbek balanced on one hip. There was a large bonfire keeping away the chill in the night air. Spring was just beginning to arrive but the nights still had a little wintery edge to them. With a fire and some activity everyone would be warm in no time.
Sliding through the group of dancers, he moved closer to the flames in order to warm up the head of his drum. This one didn't need it like some of the others but it was something of a habit. Besides it was a good excuse to stay near the fire for a few minutes himself.
She'd run right after work, through an industrial area and some construction sights. It had been a wonderful release miles of obstetrical and she'd over come them all. It had left her feeling satisfied. Enough that she had asked Nikhila for another run and decided to join the fire tonight. After a quick shower she'd dressed, casually for her, comfortably, the clothes were easy to move in yet showed her off a bit she might even dance tonight. They would also shed quickly if she decided to run again. It was good to have options. Dressed she collected her violin and made her way outside.
It wasn't hard to hear the drums and follow the sound and the smell of smoke. Maybe she would only play, hide in the shadows and enjoy the company of her family without really engaging them. After all if she did she might run into Vaughn and that would only lead to another awkward situation and a far more public one. Determinedly turning all of her senses off to anything that might indicate the Alpha was here she wound through people. As she did so though she did see a familiar figure.
There was no planning, no reason, she just reacted. Her instrument was set carefully aside and trotted and weaved through the others before quite literally jumping on him, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him soundly on each cheek.
If she smiled much more widely her face would hurt. The only person ThÃ©rÃ¨se would have been happier to see would be his cousin. Even though she knew Greer was coming, however, this was still a treat.
"Trees!" He called her by the name that he had used when he was little, unable to grasp the pronunciation difference in what he was saying and her actual name. After that it just sort of stuck. Gannon found it amusing even though he had occasionally tried to correct his young cousin.
Greer hugged her close and then set her down, taking a better look at her in the fire. Arching both eyebrows, he smirked with good humor. "You look much better without the pigtails." Therese had always been one of his favorite people to follow at the large gatherings of the pack and he had probably annoyed her greatly. His cousin had been his idol and one of the few people in the family who hadn't distanced themselves from him after his brother's death.
"How have you been?" Gris watched her, even as he bent to pick up his drum. "Shall we move somewhere out of the way?"
((OOC: He might be making that pigtail thing up to tease her, your call on whether its true or not. ))
Holding him tighter than she probably should, desperate for any one or anything that reminded her of home, of being safe and loved and a less complicated life, she even allowed him to call her by that name.
"Mon Dieu! It was only the once. I cannot help it if my father had no talent with hair. He does not have as much as you."
Her mother had been away, working, she was the only girl in the family. Her poor father. Some days she thought it would have been easier on him if she had been a boy as well.
Firmly taking his arm she lead them to the edge of the gathering. It was cooler way from the fire but some warmth was still to be had. More important it was quieter and they could talk.
"When you have been here a week I will answer that question."
As much as Nikhila had proved to be a good shoulder to cry on, as she was not Pack it was hard to thoroughly explain the situation. But she also didn't want to just drop it in poor Greer's lap.
"But you? Tell me everything."
He let her lead him to a place to sit further away. Setting the drum down on the ground, he moved closer and listened to her answer. Frowning, he narrowed green eyes at Therese.
"I don't need to be in Nachton ten minutes to know that evasion doesn't sound good." Gris sighed, and added. "So tell me should I let this continuance go uncontested or press for answers?"
Reaching for her hand, he said softly, more seriously. "We can take a walk. Talk to me. I'm happy to listen. You're more like family than most of my own." She knew his story and knew why that was true.
Tilting his head back to look up at the stars, Gris answered her question. "Let's see I am out of law school and have been for years. My family helped me set up a practice of my own. I represent a lot of people for the pack when they need it. Of course its not good enough to be worth even a mention at Christmas dinner." He looked back down at her. "Nothing ever is. So now I'm here and hopefully I can make something for myself out of life."
Standing up, he took her hand. "Come on, let's take a walk. We can come back to circle and embarrass ourselves with wild abandoned dancing later."
"Oui, it is fine stuff. You should share it with the less fortunate."
The smile died on her lips. If he had been Gannon she very probably would have rested her head on his chest. But Greer, while a good friend, was still 'an annoying little cousin'. They were close but did not sure the same intimacy as she and Gannon.
"As you wish. I simply hate to start you out like this. You should get settled in first."
Still she let him lead them off in a walk. It wasn't clear how much ThÃ©rÃ¨se would say on the matter, but she might say something. She squeezed his arm reassuringly.
"I have adopted you. You and Gannon both. If you'd like you may file the paper work and make it legally binding."
That he had graduated and was in practice brought an enthusiastic cheer and congratulations as well as a few statments about how she knew he would. It still bothered her, the way these Graysons' could treat their offspring. But she had been known to enjoy the company of the sons on more than one occasion.
"Of course you will. I have no doubt."
She laughed, the second time in one night. It was a bit of a record, at least these days.
"has your dancing improved any?"
When he looked up there she was, jumping into the arms of some young blonde that he didn't recognize. Therese obviously knew him, she laughed as he twirled her around.
Vaughn's heart was a leaden weight in his chest. He found it hard to breath. His fingers had stopped moving on the guitar, and at Tavi's gentle reminder, he tore his gaze from the two of them long enough to pick the song back up.
They moved off to the side and sat down together. He couldn't see Therese's expression but he could see the blonde frown and take her hand. Was she telling him about her troubles? About him? Or perhaps Therese trusted this man enough to tell him about whoever attacked her? Vaughn watched as they stood and moved away from the light of the fire and headed towards the woods.
Had he been replaced so quickly? Vaughn looked down at his guitar through blurry vision fighting back the sharp agony that the thought brought him. He should be happy for her. Why then did he want to run to her, fight for her, claim her as his for all the pack to see, damn the consequences?
The sight of her in the stranger's arms, her head thrown back and laughing, played again and again in a cruel endless loop in his mind. Let her go, he had to let her go.
Choking back his sorrow, he tried to focus on the song. Tavi's mellow soprano drifting to him through the haze of his pain.
"I can't run anymore,
I fall before you,
Here I am,
I have nothing left,
Though I've tried to forget,
You're all that I am,
Take me home,
I'm through fighting it,
I give up,
You're my only strength,
I can't go on,
Ever again. "
Tavi knew the second Vaughn saw her; she could feel him tense beneath her touch. He stopped playing and those around him started to notice. Tavi squeezed his shoulders gently and he looked down,picking up the song again.
She felt for him as she sang, surprised by that empathy but feeling it just the same.
"My only hope,
(All the times I've tried)
My only peace,
(To walk away from you)
My only joy,
My only strength,
(I fall into your abounding grace)
My only power,
My only life,
(And love is where I am)
My only love."
((OOC: October by Evanescence ))
He protested her worry. "I am settled. I do that easily." After the first five or so boarding schools a person learned to make themselves at home fairly quickly. For Gris no place had ever felt very important to him, nothing was stable so one place was as good as the next.
Smiling at her, he placed his hand over her's. "Thank you, should they finally kick me out then I will have a place to turn to. Greer Dubois doesn't sound so bad."
Her cutting remark about his dancing brought forth an affronted gasp. "I'll have you know that toddler jiggle was all the rage among the milk drinking crowd." Gris wiggled his eyebrows. "If you're lucky I'll honor you with the updated version."
They passed a smaller group that had a couple of girls singing and a guitar player. The main singer was hard to miss; though she was tiny. Her hair was several shades of sea coloured green. Her eyes were bright and she watched him as he moved away with Therese. Her voice followed him.
I can't run anymore,
I give myself to you,
In all my bitterness,
All that's real and true,
All I need is you,
When night falls on me,
I'll not close my eyes,
I'm too alive,
And you're too strong,
I can't lie anymore,
I fall down before you,
The guitar player looked up briefly, his pale blue eyes fixed on the two of them. Greer felt his heart stop in his chest at the look he was given. He never backed down from much of anything in his life but he'd have backed down from that man and the emotion in his eyes.
Unsettled, he didn't breath deeply until they reached the woods. He walked in silence for a bit until they were far enough away for the sound of the drums to become a faint rhythm in the background. Leaning against a tree, he turned knowing eyes to Therese.
"Okay, who is he?" He gave her a crooked half smile. " You've got a great job, you're beautiful, and healthy so that leaves a man." Gannon had told him that Therese ran the Arch now and the rest was as he said. Gris supposed it could be many things but he'd stick with his first guess until she proved him wrong.
Of that she had no doubt. She suspected the old man hoped for a blood tie between the two family. But he never said anything.
"Non it sounds rather good. Although, we will have to work on your accent."
She giggled at his protests about his dancing skills. Vanity thy name was Grayson.
As they walked she spotted Tavi and smiled, wondering how the cat caper was going. Apparently it wasn't so engaging that she couldn't find some time around the fire. And that was how it should be.
She saw Vaughn as well, just the top of his head as he played and she found herself dragging her feet, lingering for the chance to see him, for just a moment of eye contact. It didn't come though. It never occur to her that being with Gris would be an issue. After all they had agreed to move on, even if they hadn't they couldn't be faithful to each other. Besides which being with Gris would help muddy any trail they might have left, and most importantly, she had no designs on her friend as handsome as he was, not even to make Vaughn jealous. Greer was her friend.
ThÃ©rÃ¨se rolled her eyes at Greer as they slipped far enough way from the drums and fire to hear each other and not be over heard.
"I am transparent. I though the French were to be brooding secretive passionate lovers."
And yet he was the second person who had seen right through her. She was going to have to control herself better. This could not go well if she did not. She should have moved so she did not give them away.
"That or your cousine talks far too much."
He raised his eyebrows at needing to work on his accent and shrugged. "Its not proper now as it is. The Americans like it but no one else would consider it anything but hopelessly mashed up."
Therese at least had the good sense to not deny the trouble. "Gannon had nothing to do with it. What other trouble could there be?" He smiled at her softly. "You can brood later if you like, properly, over a nice glass of wine."
Gris crossed his arms over his chest and went back to the subject of this man who was giving her trouble. "So who is this man? Does he need a hit over the head? His eyesight checked? Whatever it is, I'm here for you. Just let me know."
Not that there hadn't been brooding and wine, but she'd been trying to limit it. Continually telling herself there was nothing to be done.
She smiled at him. This would be different than talking to Nikhila, he would understand more. He would know how the moon could almost make things happen. And how after something like this you had to try and live with it.
She said simply as she found a place to sit down. Finding a log she sat with her knees drawn up to her chest. It was a position both pensive and closed off. So much of this had to be kept to herself. Yes she could explain the situation to some close friends but she had to protect Vaughn in all of this. It was not his fault.
"It was the full moon..." She shrugged nothing more had to be said there. "Have you ever?"
They'd all succumb to the moons urges. Taken lovers the didn't mean to, or didn't remember just for that one night. The run, the chase, and then the morning came, they regained their minds and life went on. She had never been so obsessed by a moment. Not like this. And that was the question she was asking.
Her short answer was enough to make clear the immediate problem with the guy. Gris nodded and gestured for her to continue. Therese then explained about the full moon and he smiled a bit. Those kind of things happened and the pack was normally very forgiving of it, even the couples involved for the most part. Occasionally some Nothos didn't understand and became jealous but those born and raised in the pack let such things go as natural. However, Therese was Paterna so surely she wasn't concerned that the pack would be upset even if some little hussy gave her problems about fooling around with her wolf under the full moon. Nothing serious enough to be the reason for extra drinking.
Which meant that there had to be more to the story than that.
Sighing, he shook his head.
"No, my only problem during the full moon was making sure none of them tried to claim me afterward. " Gris threw up his and waved his fingers towards the almighty in the universe. "the whole it was -meant- to be thing." He personally had never found anyone, lunar blessed or otherwise, that shouted to him that the fates had brought them together.
He came over and sat down beside her. Greer wasn't Gannon and he somehow thought his older cousin would be much better suited to handling this conversation. Somehow his relative managed all kinds of difficult talks with a skill that was awe inspiring. Scooting closer, he put an arm around her shoulders.
"So tell me about this guy? You like him? Does he feel the same?"
"Bah, the English too much practicality and not enough romance." She teased him with a small smile. "You should claim some one though for longer than a night or two."
She said it out of concern for him rather than the 'duty' that his family might see. Man or woman, wolf or human she wanted him to have some one who would help and support him. At least he had some idea where she was coming from though.
Resting her head on his shoulder ThÃ©rÃ¨se tried to figure out how much she could say. She had yet to actually name Vaughn as the object of her desires, not even to Nikhila who wouldn't know him, telling Gris would be... inappropriate.
"Like is... yes. Quite a bit. He makes me smile. This whole mess... it hurts him."
Which in turn hurt her. Quite a vicious little circle really.
"We met rather by accident and it has... grown. I think perhaps we both wanted to be misreading signals but... she took care of that."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se glared at the less than full moon hanging in the sky. She was going to have to avoid Vaughn during the next full moon. Perhaps she would run in the preserve.
"He is smart and sweet, his sense of humor is rather understated, he dances and plays and has been quite kind to me and is an excellent lover. "
She threw the last bit in just to see if she could make Greer blush, or at least do a double take. It was do damned difficult to phase a Grayson.
It hadn't happened yet. He was beginning to believe that it never would.
He watched her as she spoke. This man had obviously made quite an impression. Gris was touched that she was worried about this married man's feelings more so than her own. He wondered whether the man was worth it. Was he out with his wife with not a care in the world about what his affections had done to Therese or was he similarly conflicted and miserable?
Gris looked up at the moon and then back at his companion. So they had known about their interest before but had done nothing about it. He was somewhat relieved by that news but it did make things more complicated. He gathered that they both felt the same way then; it was not just a fling under lunar influences. That this man did at least try to keep his attraction in check suggested that he was not some callous loser that was not worth her time.
He might yet not be worth her time but at least he was not immediately dropped into Greer's completely useless jerk list.
Gris turned and wrapped his other arm around her as he listened to her list off this man's wonderful traits. He smiled sadly, wondering where he could find one himself. What would he do if the perfect guy were married? He didn't know.
Arching an eyebrow at her, he smiled. "That's quite the list. That last part is definitely important."
More seriously he said. "I wish I could tell you that he wasn't worth your time but he doesn't sound like he meant for this to happen any more than you did, aside from being attracted to you."
Should she pursue him then, a married man? What if it was the love of a lifetime? Should she give up on being happy just because the situation was less than ideal?
"Do you love him?"
"You will. You just have exceptional taste and it takes time to find an exceptional person.â€?
How much easier this would all be if she had simply fallen in love with Gannon, or Gris, or any of the Graysons for that matter. Although too many of them could be too stuffy for her taste the two cousins were her favorites.
She rolled her eyes at herself. Muttering under her breath in French that she was a love sick fool and a few other choice phrases about being pathetic and unrealistic. She had never waxed near poetic about any of her other lovers and try as she might she could not get these feelings under control. Everything would be fine for a day or two and then they would run into each other, or she would see him across the room or the fire and everything would come rushing back. It was becoming quite tempting to just sneak out in the dead of night and find a new place to live or rent a room at a hotel for a week or two and hope things would pass.
ThÃ©rÃ¨se considered the question very seriously not entirely certain of the answer. Did being extremely jealous of his wife count as love? Not willing to commit to an answer and certainly not wanting to say those words to any one, who knew who was listening, she settled on an answer.
"I want more than to be his lover.â€?
The physical, while wonderful, was not enough. This was about Vaughn though, not his position in the Pack. If he were not the Alpha she would have no hesitation about laying claim to him even challenging his wife if that is what it took.
He listened to Therese's answer when she finally gave it. She didn't say she loved him and that was perhaps more telling than if she had. A lovesick crush, romantic and obsessive might be mistaken for love, Gris had seen it often, even been the object of it once or twice. Therese had been thoughtful and careful in her words; he could tell she had given this plenty of objective thought not just wistful pining. Looking down at her, he asked.
"And what of this wife? Does he want to be with her or you?"
Gris needed to know what he could about the situation before he could give even halfway decent advice. She should know that, like all Graysons, his moral compass might not belong to what humans call an average law abiding citizen. He was willing to entertain the idea that she should pursue this man. Indeed he believed she had every right to do so; what remained to be seen was whether or not she should.
"He says it is not... healthy. I have never even seen them in the same room."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se had rather studiously gone out of her way to avoid his wife, even to the point of hearing about her. The only accounts she had were from Vaughn himself.
"It is complicated, he is in the public eye. I... believe... hope that he would be with me if he could."
He'd not said that in so many words but that day in the laundry room he'd alluded to that. It was rather hard to say. He hadn't wanted her to leave the grounds, but he'd also said he understood she would move on. At the same time, he'd asked her to stay she had wanted to believe that meant with him not just here at the asylum. He'd said it with such passion, but the words were vague. Or she was making them vague, deliberately misunderstanding for her own sanity.
However, athletes, rock stars and actors were all famous for the one month marriages so no one would really even bat an eye at the news of a divorce from one of them.
Maybe she meant in the public eye of the pack. That would be more problematic since marriage was taken so very seriously. It couldn't be any of the Legion, they weren't allowed to marry if they had taken the Kal and the officers all definitely had.
That really left the Jiro and the Sarkis. Gris took a deep breath. The idea of disrupting the marriage of the Beta or Alpha was daunting. He wasn't sure he could advise that in good conscience. He could also understand why this man might have trouble simply asking his wife for a divorce even if he wanted to be with Therese.
"Well, Flower, that's a pretty problem." He sighed. "How's this? Give it another month. In that time if you still feel very much the same then you should talk to him again. Its not so very long and if you think about only needing to last that small amount of time then you can do it." Gris smiled down at her. "And we can our very best to divert your attention in any way we can. You can show me all the places you've found in Nachton."
((OOC: He's a little too smart for his own good but he's not even going to mention that he thinks he's narrowed it down. ))
"A second time hardly makes it right. We have been lucky so far that no one has found out."
Although, some must suspect. After all both of them had disappeared for a day. Given the amount of snow it was almost understandable but she was certain that it had been noticed and some would suspect even though they had come back at different times from different directions.
"I have been debating running in the preserve this month."
She couldn't, wouldn't, tell Vaughn that though. ThÃ©rÃ¨se didn't think she'd approve. But she didn't think she could keep herself from chasing him again.
Apparently the situation was daunting even to Greer as he addressed her as yet another type of flora. ThÃ©rÃ¨se pinched his arm lightly but was happy to let the conversation drift away.
"What would you like to see. I have found some educational spots and some entertaining ones. It is your choice."
Squeezing her tight, he smiled. "Because who could live without you?"
He listened to her choice of place to run and said. "In the city? Then I will run with you. One shouldn't run alone." Gris had done it often while in boarding schools not around the pack. It was perhaps the one thing about being in Nachton that was different from the other places he had lived. He was here to be with his people. Running with the pack, that was what it meant to him to be home.
Thinking about her question, he said. "I've got plenty of education so lets start with entertainment."