Go Left, Right? (attn: Therese)
Kiyo stared at the big white building in front of him. Again. Damnit. he jogged back to the subway sign and stared at it. Then he turned back to the big white building, the Arch Museum of Art. Blergh. Art. Kiyo poked his tongue out and made a "yargh" face. This was the third time he'd seen this building in the past hour. He was going to be late to work.
He'd met Tavi for a late lunch in the city and he was heading to Terminus now after having made a stop in the city himself. His shift started soon and he could have sworn he'd gotten on the correct subway line but somehow he had managed to go the wrong direction and he was now deeper into the city than he'd wanted.
Trying to make sense of the subway sign he got on again and ended up on the wrong line completely. Now he stood up on the road outside the art (blech) museum trying to figure out how the heck to get down to the other side of the subway tracks. He didn't see another entrance.
After the second time around he stomped his frustrated way back up to the road and sighed as he looked at the white building again. He could just walk. Terminus was... that way.
White building again. Fine. Terminus was... that way.
Gah. Kiyo sat on the steps of the white building and tried calling Evan, but no answer. Maybe he was in the shower. He should be up, or close to it, by now. Kiyo had spent the last couple of nights with him, coming in discreetly after Guillaume was in bed and making sure his Packmate didn't see him leave. He had an idea of Evan's routine and their schedules were fairly similar. Only, today, Kiyo had gotten up early to see Tavi.
He finally texted Evan. 'Lost in Nachton. SO sorry. Trying not to be late for work.'
Just because he was sleeping with the boss didn't mean he got to be late. He was just an employee like everyone else; there was no difference at work. They both knew it wouldn't fly well and Kiyo in particular didn't want anyone to get the impression that Terminus was some kind of gay bar.
Sadly, Kiyo did not have a smart phone... no googling directions for him. He put it at the top of his list of things to purchase. Nachton was confusing for someone whose sense of direction was maybe not what it should be.
Bravely he struck out once more, sure that Terminus was that way. Twenty minutes later he rounded a corner and stared at the Arch Museum of Omnipresence or whatever the hell it was. It was following him. It had to be following him.
He sat down on the steps again, shaking his phone forlornly, hoping Evan would call him soon.
ThÃ©rÃ¨se muttered as she juggled far too many things as she half walked, half trotted down the stairs. There were three prints, her laptop case, her purse, and a folder that hadn't fit in the case, thick with contracts, schedules and notes. She'd tried to shuffle everything around freeing up one hand to check a text that she'd just gotten. In all the moving things about she'd dropped the folder. A slight breeze caught it and now three of the pages had escaped.
Quickly dropping her purse on top of the folder to prevent more work from blowing away and as delicately, yet hurriedly, setting everything down she'd started chasing down her work. The first was easily snapped up. The second though, she was so focused on she nearly ran over a man seated on the steps. It was a combination of shear luck, her knack for jumping and years of training that kept her from injuring either him or her self. ThÃ©rÃ¨se only just managed to half leap down the stairs, avoid the long haired man, grab her paper and land on her own two feet.
It would have gone better if she hadn't been wearing heels. As it was when she landed one ankle folded under her quite badly. Which brought forth another, more sever, curse under her breath. Gingerly holding her ankle so she put no weight on it ThÃ©rÃ¨se turned to asses the damage.
"Pardon. You are all right I hope? I did not run into you?"
Getting a better look she smiled more warmly at the man. They had never been introduced but she knew him by site and from her cousin's description. He was part of the Pack. Kiyoshi if she remembered correctly although Navid called him Kiyo.
Just his luck, he thought as he trotted back, readjusting his backpack over his shoulders. Leave it to him to try and sit down out of the way and still get someone all tripped up. He thrust the paper at the woman who was standing on one foot.
"Here," he mumbled, feeling guilty, "this is yours I think. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be in the way."
At her words he glanced up at her. She was taller than he was, made more so by the heels she wore. She was pretty, with black hair and bright green eyes, and she spoke with a reasonably heavy accent.
"I'm fine, are you all right?"
Kiyo slid his eyes away again, thinking her face looked vaguely familiar to him but she wasn't someone he knew. She might have been to Terminus or something. Oh! If she had, then she would definitely know the way.
She said as she accepted the last of the paper. Looking down at it she couldn't help but laugh lightly, it was completely useless. She'd meant to throw it away earlier today and simply hadn't gotten to it.
Experimentally she put some weight on her ankle, it was worse than she though. Well it would heal soon enough.
"Heavens you are not in the way. The stairs are quite public and not for practicing my hurdles."
It was the first time ThÃ©rÃ¨se had gotten a good look at this young man. He was far too pretty and she would probably kill for his hair. She knew full well he was part of the Rasa but the way he avoided eye contact, and Guillaume's description, suggested submissiveness. Well they couldn't all be alphas could they?
"Oh I will be fine soon enough, we do mend rather well don't we? You are Kiyoshi aren't you?ThÃ©rÃ¨se, a pleasure to officially meet you."
Holding the papers now in one hand she offered the other to the young man with a small smile. It wasn't merely polite either, there was some warmth behind it. He was both family and her cousin's employee she was honestly pleased to meet him.
"I should have been paying attention," he insisted. Regardless of fault, Kiyoshi generally assumed it was his.
Her next words took him by surprise until she told him her name. Tavi had mentioned a Therese. Curator of the Arch, this museum, and a Packmate, from both Tavi's words and Therese's.
"Yes ma'am," he said. "Kiyoshi Salinas. Nice to meet you too."
He glanced up long enough to see her offer her hand. Knowing she was Pack exacerbated his submissive streak; he shook her hand but looked away after meeting her eyes once, turning his head and flashing his neck at her briefly. She wasn't his Alpha, but she was Pack and as far as he knew, there wasn't anyone in the R'asa more submissive than he. If her wolf demanded a show of submission, Kiyo's should content it. Some people had more control than others; for Kiyo, who was naturally shy anyway, his submissive wolf tended to show itself even when the full moon was well off.
"Do you need help getting off your feet? It looks like you hurt your ankle."
Kiyo was mortified to have caused anyone an injury, even without having done anything but be in the way. These sorts of things just tended to happen when he was around. She didn't seem angry with him, which was a miracle.
She teased him lightly. ThÃ©rÃ¨se was in a fairly good mood and feeling rather playful. Her keeper hadn't bothered her of late, although she knew he was still keeping an eye on her. She hadn't encountered a great deal of overt hostility for being the apparent cause of Vaughn's divorce. Of course, they were still being rather discreet. But over all the past few weeks hadn't been bad, she was relaxing just a little bit.
His body language was, to put it bluntly it was a mess. It was not the nature of a wolf to encourage another to a greater sense of self, a show of force but this was nearly painful. While she could be forceful and was rather disinclined to be submissive to most what she was seeing in Kiyoshi was extream.
"I promise I do not bite."
She said that very softly, if he hadn't been a wolf he very probably would not have heard it. But she immediately carried on with the conversation without pause as if she hadn't said anything.
"Oh I did." ThÃ©rÃ¨se answered cheerfully. "It isn't bad. It will be fine."
Unfortunately she knew that from experience. This would be her second sprain since coming to Nachton. At least this one she'd earned on her own.
"Perhaps if it isn't too much trouble you could help me get this mess to my car though? Unless of course you were headed some where, I should not like to keep you."
Even though he'd been sitting on the steps ThÃ©rÃ¨se could only imagine that had not been his destination. This was not Philadelphia the steps of the Arch were not a tourist destination.
"All right." He took Therese's word that she would be fine. She was a R'asa, after all. They were resilient and their bodies healed quickly.
"Of course I can help," he said immediately to her request. As if saying no were an option for him. He relieved her of everything but her purse and gathered it all up, settling his shoulders beneath his backpack and making sure he had it all. "Do you need to lean on me?"
He offered her his arm if she wanted it; helping her along if her ankle hurt was no trouble. She was taller than he but she was slim. He would guess he had more than ten pounds on her despite their slight difference in height. Even without that, werewolf strength was useful.
"I was on my way to work but it's okay." Kiyo glanced down at his phone, held in his hand, and winced. "I'm going to be late anyway."
He didn't want to admit he was completely lost, although he'd have to, if he were going to ask her for directions. He looked around, trying to locate the entrance to the other side of the subway. If he could find that he might make it. He only hoped Evan wasn't annoyed with him. He didn't want it to look like he was taking advantage of whatever they had going on between them.
It was kind but she was slightly startled by the enthusiasm that Kiyoshi embraced the simple request. Really she had hoped he'd just take the prints and maybe her laptop bag.
"No, no I will be fine, I will just may skip my run tonight. Although, I do have to admit the heels have advantages..."
They did make her legs look better, that was one of their redeeming qualities. And as she had on a skirt today she didn't mind flaunting a bit. Not that she was flirting with Kiyoshi, not even remotely. But it was nice when certain people noticed. Perhaps as she suddenly didn't have to work in a run she could find something or someone else to fill that time. With some little effort ThÃ©rÃ¨se pulled herself away from that day dream.
Doing her best not to limp, wince or other wise show she was in any pain (and of late hiding this type of injury was something she'd become quite adept at) but walking considerably slower than usual, she started them to her car. She shook her head sympathetically at his admission of being late.
"That is quite a long walk yet. I would be happy to give you a ride if you'd like."
After all she was only going home.
"I hear you are quite the showman and I'd hate to be responsible for you being late."
Therese mentioned her heels had advantages. Kiyo stared blankly at her for a moment, blinking. She seemed to expect something from him. "You... want to be... taller?"
He had no idea what he was supposed to do there. Was she trying to flirt or fishing for a compliment? Kiyo looked down at her shoes. "They're, uh, very..." What did people want their shoes to be praised for? "...wobbly," he finished.
Then he winced. No, that hadn't been the right word at all. Maybe she'd ignore his awkwardness. She seemed nice enough. Kiyo knew he'd just failed Compliments 101.
"Oh, that would really help," he said when she offered him a ride. She was R'asa, it would be all right. And he might even make it on time. Suddenly he jerked to a stop, staring at her again. "You know where I work?" Then her next words hit and he stammered, "Uh... I am?"
He felt his face grow red. Why on Earth would anyone be discussing him? Granted, he was the only internationally ranked flairtender in Nachton... he knew; they were a small community and he'd checked before even coming here to make sure he wouldn't be stepping on anyone's toes. He supposed that might draw some attention but he hadn't expected it from a Packmate.
"I have never had my shoes called wobbly but I do believe you are right. Let us call that a disadvantage though."
When he stopped suddenly she did the same and winced as she came down harder on her ankle than she'd intended. That was not a reaction she'd expected. He seemed both surprised and embarrassed. ThÃ©rÃ¨se chose to ignore the blush and the stammering though hoping that perhaps it would help the young man relax.
"Oui. That is what I hear. I do apologize I have not had a chance to come and see for myself though."
Truthfully she was half avoiding Guillaume. After their initial blow out things had gotten better, but they were still a bit strained. Each of them was making an effort though. The thought occurred to ThÃ©rÃ¨se that she should introduce him to Vaughn. That might help, perhaps he wouldn't feel as if she was hiding the relationship.
"Ah, I do apologize I have you at a disadvantage. Perhaps I should complete the introduction, ThÃ©rÃ¨se DuBois."
He didn't look at Therese until she apologized for not seeing him. He was baffled by that. He'd just met her now, why would she apologize for not coming to see him? She had missed his birthday too but he wasn't going to hold that against her.
"Uh, it's okay. It's nothing big. I can show. you any time," he said. Mostly, if there were bottles and glasses handy. "If you want."
It took him a moment to figure out what Therese meant when she completed her introduction and then he recognized Guillaume's surname. "Oh. Are you Guillaume's... mmmsister?"
She looked slightly older then Guillaume, Kiyo guessed, but not old enough to be Guillaume's mother. It was tough to tell with Pack sometimes, though. Kiyo was forty, but not one ever looked at him and thought, "pathetic middle-aged loser." Instead they generally tended to go for "pathetic college-aged loser."
He was mortified by his almost-assumption, which had been based on Therese's somewhat kindly, maybe matronly attitude and manners. His little 'mmm' could easily have been interpreted as a hum of conjecture though, since nothing but that first syllable had escaped his lips before his brain had finally responded quickly enough to censor him.
He did wonder where she'd parked. It was an awfully long walk so far.
She'd not seen too many flair tenders, at least not ones as good as she understood her packmate was. And they seemed to well improvise. And as she understood this was something of a performance art it seemed logical there should be a schedule.
Although, she might just wait until Guillaume had a charter and would be out of town before going to see Terminus. It was strange and unnatural to feel this leery of her cousin, her favorite cousin. It had to get better. Perhaps once she was free of the mulo it would, she'd be able to explain everything then. ThÃ©rÃ¨se held fast to that belief.
"Non, we are cousins. His father and mine are brothers."
She frowned slightly just thinking of Navid's immediate family. His mother and her uncle. She still wasn't sure what to make of that. Perhaps that is why she'd always concentrated on him rather than the surrounding difficulties.
"Although I suppose as we grew up together sister is as good as anything. Ah, here we are."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se had a habit of parking quite far away, she enjoyed the extra walk to the building. Although it did give that monster an opportunity to grab her, but not today. She quickly unlocked the doors of the black sedan so Kiyoshi could get in and set things down.
"You can just put everything in the back seat if you would. How did you get into flairtending then? It seems like an unusual occupation."
Those were the only two things Kiyo did at Terminus thus far. He supposed he should offer something else up like Diabolo, but so far folks seemed to enjoy the shows he did do.
They reached Therese's car and Kiyo placed her things on the back seat then climbed into the passenger seat in the front. He bit his lip some when she asked how he got into flairtending. Kiyo hated discussing his personal life. He knew she was just being polite; everyone just tried to be polite.
"I worked as a bartender down in South America," he said briefly. "I just... had a knack for it. I could do it when I saw someone else try it. So I kept learning."
It was nothing special, what he did. Anyone could learn it if they practiced. Kiyo loved Terminus though, for being such an open and freestyle environment. He was making up new tricks every night as people yelled suggestions for him to attempt. It was an invaluable resource and one he planned to exploit when he went to his next competition.
No, she didn't remember that but could imagine it would add something special.
Starting the car she eased into traffic and started to Terminus. While she'd never been there, ThÃ©rÃ¨se did know where it was located and didn't need directions. She did wonder, however, if Kiyoshi would think it was odd if she only dropped him off and didn't go in to visit her cousin. Well perhaps Kiyoshi wouldn't even notice.
"Well then I can only assume you enjoy it or you wouldn't keep learning."
She was tempted to ask how he'd gotten to the steps of the Arch when he was late for work, but could only assume that he'd gotten a bit lost. If that was the case she didn't want to further embarrass him about it.
"Tell me about Terminus then, Guillaume can be quite tight lipped when he he wants to be."
She hoped that her cousin was a reasonable employer. Oh he could be, but he could also be every bit as demanding as she. However, from what she she understood he wasn't dealing too much with the patrons.
Just then his phone buzzed and he looked down with relief as Evan finally answered his earlier text.
Kiyo quickly tapped a response, feeling almost lightheaded with the fact that Evan did not seem angry, at least not via text.
Kiyoshi looked up at Therese, somewhat unsurprised when she mentioned Guillaume's reticence to speak.
Kiyo looked out the window. His sense of direction wasn't so bad that he couldn't tell where they were going. He recognized some landmarks by now and knew they couldn't be too terribly far off.
He had priorities, after all. Looking back up to Therese he said,
Kiyo smiled down at the phone. Then he held it up for Therese.
< <3 >
He put his phone in his lap, not wanting to be rude. "Anyway the club's gotten great reviews so far."
She pondered the brief description of Terminus and nodded slightly that sounded like something her cousin would be interested in.
As she was driving she couldn't quite read the whole chain of text but she did catch a few words here and there and grinned.
"Kidnap?" ThÃ©rÃ¨se chuckled slightly. "Well we don't want to worry him. I promise that you are quite safe with me."
The only other thing she really caught was the sushi reference. And if she wasn't much mistaken Kiyoshi was at least relatively new in town.
"There is a lovely little restaurant near the Arch that does a very nice steak tartar if your tastes run that way."
Kiyoshi did fine in the country where he could rely on his senses to tell him where to go. The city, however, was full of layers and layers of confusing sounds and sights and, worst of all, more smells than he cared to process on a deep level. It was much easier for him to get turned around there. It didn't happen often, even so, but when it did he tended to get frustrated.
"Oh? What is it called?"
Kiyoshi was always up for a good restaurant to try out. He might ask Tavi if she wanted to go along with him. He knew Evan didn't eat much, sadly. He understood the vampire's reasoning and respected that Evan didn't like to be wasteful but he would still like to share a meal with him sometime. Well, either way he really enjoyed Tavi's company too.
Kiyo marveled for a moment at the fact that he had two people who he liked here in Nachton so far. And that one of them was even part of his Pack. He gave a happy little sigh, smiling as he looked out the car window, watching the buildings go by.
She absently waved a hand at the load she'd come out of work with. Now that she considered it she should have brought her car closer to the building and then brought everything out. C'est la vie. She'd remember for next time. More to the point he was part of the pack and it was in her nature to help a packmate when and where she could.
He was so quite though. She didn't know if he was just this shy or if this was still part of that submissive behavior she'd seen before or something else, maybe a combination of both and or something else. It was perplexing. Not that she minded silence, but she didn't want him to feel awkward either.
"Thirty five. I know it is an odd name but the chef had a goal of opening his own restaurant before he was thirty five and so that is what he called it. They also do some excellent steaks and the servers have not looked at me too oddly when I've asked for something -very- rare."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se almost suspected at least some of the staff of being or at least knowing about their kind. But some of the signs weren't there and they hadn't dropped or picked up on any hints. She was starting to think they were just very polite.
"So you have been in Nachton just since the bar opened? Have you settled in well?"
Some how she doubted it. With his retiring demeanor, almost nervous as if he expected some kind of abuse and the fact that she very rarely if ever saw him around the fire and when she did see him it was in passing, as if he were trying to go unobserved. Of course she had her own reasons to keep her presence low key as well. So ThÃ©rÃ¨se wasn't judging, just observing.
He could cut the cooked parts off of a steak and eat the raw middle, but Kiyoshi simply could not stomach cooked meat and it made dining out difficult usually. If this place was as understanding as Therese said, it might be a great place for him to go. Usually though he stuck to raw meats from the supermarket. That at least didn't make him feel like he had to explain to anyone when he ate it. Not to mention dining out became prohibitively expensive when his seemingly bottomless stomach demanded more than one serving.
He nodded at Therese as she drove. "Yes ma'am. I came to Nachton to apply for the job there. Heard about it through the grapevine."
He bit his lip as he considered the next part. "Yes. I've settled in just fine."
Except for the fact that he hadn't. Not really. God, his life was such a mess. In a good way, for the most part. Sure, he didn't have much to do with his own Pack but he was all right with that if a little sad about it. They wouldn't react well to his choice of bedmate. And that, Kiyo wasn't about to give up. For the first time in his life he felt elated to be with someone. It was a secret and he preferred that. He'd rather keep his private life close to himself.
It was one of her regular places for lunch, that and sushi were about the only socially acceptable options for business lunches. She was certain some of her staff and a number of her business contacts had noticed. Some days ThÃ©rÃ¨se wondered what they thought of her tendencies.
"Mon Dieu! Please do not call me ma'am." She laughed. "Not even my mother is a ma'am yet."
She was careful to keep her tone light and smile as she said that though. If he was half as submissive as she suspected almost anything could be taken as a show of dominance, a smack down. And so far, what she'd seen of Kiyoshi ThÃ©rÃ¨se rather liked him. Undoubtedly Guillaume had -no- idea what to do with him.
"Grapevines can be remarkably useful. Where did this particular one find you?"
Well maybe he had settled in fine. Maybe she was misjudging Kiyoshi all together. But she didn't think so. But ThÃ©rÃ¨se simply didn't know how to go about drawing him out. It was -much- easier to deal with display of dominance.
"I am glad to hear it. I do hope they are letting you out of the bar at least occasionally though. It is a lovely city and has quite a lot to offer. And if I know my cousin he is no help at all in getting you out and about. I know I have been quite pleased with the arts here, although I've not gone to the opera just yet."
Perhaps she could talk Vaughn into accompanying her. It may still be too soon to be seen in public together though. Perhaps. It was worth considering.
"And there are some wonderful spots to run."
It was a long and rambling conversation aside. It was a tenative offer of friendship and a hope that they could strike upon something that interested Kiyoshi but at the same time she was trying not to pry.
Kiyo winced at Therese's admonishment, even as light as it was. "Sorry," he said. It was second nature for him to refer to people as sir and ma'am. It was just manners. But he could swear no one in this entire city wanted anyone else to be polite! He might have to find another way to address his betters if that one was going to keep getting him nagged at.
He eagerly moved on to squirm out of her next question... it wasn't that he was trying to be unfriendly, but he hated having to give details. He had a hard time believing anyone would care where he was at some random point in time. "I was... between positions," he said. "In Europe. A friend of a friend told me about Terminus and said they might still be looking to hire someone, so I came."
Living in a hostel in Spain to be exact. He'd liked it well enough there and he'd been laid off from his prior job at a hotel bar for, of course, missing too many days.
He was quick to defend both of his bosses in front of Therese, not because she sounded accusatory but because both Evan and Guillaume had been very good to him so far and he felt a great deal of loyalty to them both. "Uh, oh yeah. They make me take a day or two off every week."
Kiyo was still very eager to show his thanks, and knowing that he was bound to miss work eventually he wanted to put in extra days when the moon was not full. It generally backfired on him when both Evan and Guillaume ganged up on him and made him go someplace that wasn't Terminus for a day or two, which generally meant hiding in his room at Shady Pines or creeping out to the common area to quietly watch a movie until someone else came along and he felt compelled to vanish. He'd rather work.
"I'm not very good at things like... well, I mean, the arts... they're very intellectual," Kiyo said gingerly. He did not see himself as bright enough to truly appreciate opera or photography or artwork, in spite of the fact that he loved to draw. He found staring at pictures boring and his hearing made the opera somewhat intolerable as it was a bit too sensitive and he generally picked up every little rustle and cough and sneeze in the audience which distracted him.
He did perk up a bit at Therese's next comment. "To run? You mean safe places? Secluded?"
Kiyo hated to run with others. He was still looking for someplace private to be that was apart from everyone else. Of course, such places were rare. He had been heading out of town... well out of town... recently. But that wasn't practical. He needed something closer to the city.