The woods are lovely, dark and deep
Their suitcases were brought up just as they were heading out the door. Joshua decided that he should not go tromping around through the forest in a suit. Gretta decided that perhaps a dress was inappropriate for this venture as well, though the sunhat had been quite nice.
Rummaging through her clothes, she found a tank top in a light blue, a pair of khaki shorts and a pair of mid-cafe length jungle boots. Gretta pulled her long blond hair up in a single braid and then headed outside to wait for Josh. This was much better for exploring.
It did not take long for her partner to appear. She suspected he actually took less time to choose something to wear but spent extra time making sure his suit had been properly put away or something. She didn't know but one rarely had to wait on Joshua for very long and today was no exception.
Gretta looked him over; he was now wearing jeans and a tee shirt. It was an improvement as far as she was concerned. It looked more comfortable and everyone should be comfortable.
"Ready?â€ She smiled at him. "This was your idea so you pick which way we go.â€
((OOC: Feel free to drop in and say hello and such ))
Certainly, Mel balanced them out. He smiled at her as they headed down the stairs the Alpha had led them up. They emerged behind the Den and Joshua looked out at the vast expanse of forest. There were several trails to choose, all unmarked. Josh picked the one furthest to the left, shrugging his shoulders.
"This seems as good a place as any," he said.
He started down it at a brisk walk. He'd have preferred to run but he hadn't had a chance to dig out more appropriate clothes for that and he didn't want to be sweaty and hot for dinner. A nice walk would do for now; there was a gym in the Den he would familiarize himself with later that night.
The trail led them down a slight hill into a pretty forest that was a combination of large fir trees and smaller deciduous trees that were bright with the first flush of spring foliage. It was different from the forests in Europe, not completely unalike, just new. The smells were different and the plants were different yet they weren't so strange that Josh felt like they were in a foreign country.
Along the way they passed an enormous structure, smaller than the Den but still very large. It was a log home, a very plush one.
"I suppose that's the Alpha's home," Josh said, pointing it out. It was back behind the trees a bit. Obviously it could be accessed by a different trail than they'd taken. There was no mistaking the fact that it was massive though.
They continued on down the hill to a flatter area. Ahead of them the land sloped up a hill to the left and again to the right. The hilly land was a welcome sight; they were used to hills. Josh stopped and looked around, appreciating the way the evening sunlight fell through the leaves to dapple the ground.
"It's pretty, don't you think Mel?"
This could definitely be home, for a while.
The house that Joshua pointed out was enormous. She smiled and shrugged. "He is big guy. Perhaps he is expecting to have many, equally large, children.â€ So long as the alpha was around for his children then the house would not seem too large in the eyes of his offspring. Without loving parents then a large home felt like a daunting empty place.
She took in the sights and smells of their new residence, filling her senses with them. They would soon become familiar but Gretta wondered how long it would be before she started associating those scents and this place as an actual permanent home. It was something they had not experienced since their childhood. Through all their travels she had always had Joshua. He was her home and where ever he chose to stay would be home, for a few days, a week, or hopefully much more.
They came to a valley between two hills and the sunlight danced among the trees, leaving dappled golden spots dancing on the ground. An evening breeze shook the leaves, making a quiet timeless rustle that was softer and more soothing than true silence. Everything around them seemed still for the moment. Daylight animals were making their way to their homes and the night time animals were only now beginning to stir.
"It is lovely.â€ Gretta turned to Joshua and agreed. "Do you think you will like it here?â€
Joshua enjoyed the company of children. They were still innocent and hadn't yet had half the world dumped on them. Maybe he felt some resentment for his own stolen childhood, or maybe he had just gotten used to having younger siblings running underfoot. Whatever the reason, a home never felt quite like home without a few little boys and girls in it.
Mel turned to him, the evening sun lighting up her fair hair like platinum. Josh thought about her question and then nodded. "I think so. You're here. What about you? Will you be happy?"
He couldn't have all of his family with him; his sisters were Gifted and three of them were married and had children of their own. Really, that was one of the biggest motivators for Josh to leave. His family really didn't quite need him as much as they had twenty, or even ten years ago. In fact, he realized, taking in the sights around them, maybe... just maybe, living here in Nachton, he could actually think about his own future as Amaroq.
It wasn't that he didn't like being Illamar; he did. It gave him a unique perspective that he was tempted to keep. But in his heart he knew what he wanted and had always wanted. He hadn't thought it was within his reach. Maybe it wasn't as far off as he'd feared.
He'd been at it for miles and had lost count how many and was pleasantly wore out, and hungry. A shower and a pile of raw meat sounded like the best idea ever. He'd slowed his pace some time ago and wasn't nearly as sweaty or breathing as hard as he had been and was able to enjoy the scenery. The freak snow storm hadn't stuck around long and none of the vegetation seemed any the worse for wear. You didn't even need to make much of an effort to smell the new fresh earth and things growing. Funny how like home and how different from home the smells were.
Cresting a hill and headed down he saw two figures. This wasn't unusual. He didn't recognize them. That was a little more unusual. While Drew didn't know everyone he was fairly social and did know a lot of folks at least by site even if they'd never spoken. These two sounded a bit like new arrivals, at least if he had caught those few words correctly.
"Probably." He said with a grin slowing down even further, almost stopping. If he got signals to move on he would but Drew would like to stop and introduce himself.[/i] "Its a good place not hard to be happy here."
Giving up any pretense of a run by greeting Drew stopped a respectable distance away and offered a bit of a wave.
"Drew. Nice to meet you."
His smile was easy open and friendly, but some people could still take offense to him just joining a conversation. He was prepared for that, never bothered him much.
Gretta turned away from the sound to smile at Joshua, finding it comforting and sweet that his words echoed her thoughts. She was about to answer when the newcomer answered for her. That was odd. He did not know her so how could he know whether or not she would like living in the city?
She tilting her head to the side, Gretta looked at the newcomer and decided that he was probably just proud of this place and happy here. His guess at her answer was more an endorsement of the place and pack mates here and less an assumption about her nature.
Turning to Joshua, she smiled. "Yes, I think we could both be happy here.â€
Their newly met pack mate introduced himself as Drew. Gretta waved back at him and then introduced herself and her partner. "Hello Drew, I'm Gretta and this is Joshua.â€
"So,â€ She turned to Drew and smiled up at him. "How long have you been here?â€ Gretta doubted any adults of their kind were actually born in Nachton; therefore they all came from somewhere else.
"Nice to meet you Drew," he said, "and good to have the opinion of someone who's been here a bit."
He stepped forward and offered his hand to their Packmate, or who he assumed was their Packmate. Alpha Xephier had not said anything about people who weren't Pack walking on the grounds. In fact, security had been fairly strict when they'd come in. Joshua figured it was a reasonable assumption.
Aside from the gesture of friendship, however, he simply waited for Drew to answer Mel's question. Although he did take a moment to marvel at the fact that this man was taller than he. The Alpha had towered over him. What was in the water in Nachton? Josh didn't consider himself terribly small, but he was going to get a little man complex if this kept up.
Must be all the fresh air and healthy living.
Stepping forward he took Joshua's offered hand. It didn't escape Drew's notice that he had been introduced at Joshua not Josh or any other shortened form or nickname. Well he'd try and remember that. The guy was pale though, maybe getting out here to Nachton would change that could be he came from some where you couldn't get out much.
"Well you get points for not telling me off for just interrupting your conversation.â€
He grinned at Josh.. er... Joshua.
The woman with him was, that is Drew couldn't help but notice she was pretty. Her smile seemed kind. OK he could be imagining that or something, it was hard to say. It had been a while since he'd been on a date. Heck, since Tavi oh no he'd been out once since then a girl he played softball with. Tavi had been a nice girl, fun, Drew was still kind of perplexed it hadn't worked out but it just hadn't. He felt kind of bad about it.
"How long? Hmmmm...â€
Drew scratched his head and tried to think about it. Well the Chief and Nikhila hadn't had any kids, hell had they even been living together? And he was no longer an intern and had a real job. Wow he'd been here longer than he'd thought. It might be time to think about making a trip home for a visit.
"Three years... almost four. Time flies when you're having fun. You two new arrivals then?â€
She smiled at Drew but looked puzzled. He did not seem to be very abrasive to her. "Do people normally 'tell you off'?â€
From the man's answer to Joshua's question, he had been here a while. Drew also seemed to like the place if his earlier endorsement was something to go on.
He asked if they were new arrivals; Gretta would have thought that was obvious from the conversation he walked up on. However, she supposed they could have visited Nachton several times and were only just now choosing to live here.
"Yes, Xephier asked us to come here now that there was a significant population of Kadzait living permanently in the city.â€ She supposed living permanently was an optimistic choice of wording but so far they had managed to remain here under the noses of the vampire elite without starting a war. Gretta hoped that was progress of some kind. Gretta turned to Josh to see if he felt like explaining their choice of career, if not then she would wait and see if Drew was even interested.
Mel asked a question along the same lines, and Joshua waited for the answer with amusement that didn't show on his features. Drew seemed young. He might be Illamar, he might be Amaroq. It was hard to tell sometimes. Either way, he didn't really seem to have a whole ton of life experience on first impression.
When Mel turned to him to complete the explanation she'd begun, Joshua offered Drew one of his mild, professional smiles. "We're Pack liaisons," he continued what she'd begun. "We help people adjust to... all of this. We also help with relations between the Pack and everyone else."
He gestured with his arm to encompass all of the land around them, themselves included. "Since you've been here for a while, maybe you wouldn't mind telling us a few good places to begin learning about the city? Is there a welcome center, or a cultural district, or something?"
Most cities had something like that, with basic information about their history and founding, and Joshua thought such places would be perfect to start in.
"No, not normally. I just like to be prepared.â€
Wow, The Chief had asked them to come here and they were just now arriving. That was interesting they must be busy. His eyebrows raised a little bit as Joshua explained what they were doing there. OK yeah they might be busy. They'd never had liaisons out in Bitter Springs. Probably because any outsiders would have one hell of a time getting through to his family and they didn't bring in outsiders. But he was interested.
"That sounds interesting. So... when you say adjust are we talking like Power Point presentations or lectures or one one one tutoring? Stuff like that?â€
He was curious how it worked, especially when he said 'The Pack and everyone else'. Like lobbyist? Putting Kadzait representatives in congress, help with zoning laws? Drew immediately saw a lot of possibilities and potential, of course he knew half of them couldn't possibly be right.
"Are there a lot of folks like you then?â€
Absently Drew stretched a little bit. He didn't want to stiffen up too much but he wasn't ready to stop talking.
"Down by the water there is the cultural center. The marina, opera house, library and the like. And there is the strip just about everything is there shopping wise any way and some good restaurants and some fun places to hang out. Or you can go uptown and there is the botanical gardens, the art museum, and a couple of clubs then over by Founder's Tree Square is all the official stuff cops fire hospital and the lot. That should cover everything. I'd start by the marina if I were you though if you don't want to go shopping any way.â€
He thought that should have covered everything but wasn't quite sure.
"I'd be happy to show you around some if you'd like.â€
That was a daring offer considering his sense of direction but it wasn't malicious, it was a genuine desire to help.
Joshua gave a more detailed description of what they did within the pack, picking that perfect line between informative and yawn inducing detail. They both understood that not everyone was as fascinated by their work as they were. Drew asked a question about how they operated and she answered. "No, more like counselors and representatives, depending on which is needed in a situation. Sometimes there is tutoring if someone is finding it hard to adjust to the change or something of the like.â€
She tried to imagine giving new pack members a power point presentation on their new life amongst the Kadzait. They could just walk in the room, have several new werewolves come for the meeting and pop in the pre-made video, 'Welcome to Your New Life!'. This could be followed by 'The Moon and You: How to deal with that monthly urge' and 'Pack Relations: Why some members won't be nominated pack mate of the year. They could be flashy with sleek graphics, interviews and graphs. Somehow, while the idea was amusing, Gretta didn't think it would convey the personal touch that they generally wanted.
She watched Drew stretch and answered his other question. "Yes, there are a lot of us. It was a position that Alpha Xephier started when he became leader. In the beginning there were only were only a few groups. Hopefully, in time, there will be many more so that each area can have its own liaisons and they can be more tied to the pack they work with.â€
Her partner asked what there was to see in the city that Drew found worth visiting. Their new friend listed off quite a few places that they might want to visit and then offered to show them around. Gretta turned to Josh to see what he wanted to do, not wanting to make the decision for both of them but letting him know with her inquiring glance that she was fine with whatever he decided.
Drew gave them an extensive list of places he thought would be good for getting to know Nachton. Josh nodded again, smiling a little when the young man offered to play tour guide.
"The cultural center sounds like a great place to start," he said. "That's exactly the sort of place that would be useful."
He would have preferred to go on their own; his private nature warred briefly with the fact that it was their job to get to know their Packmates, and duty won out without much trouble.
"It'd be great if you could help get us started," he said. "Where is it your Pack is from? You said you'd only been here for a few years. What brought you to the city?"
He assumed Drew had been part of a Pack before coming to Nachton, anyway. He hadn't really implied either way, but in Josh's experience that meant there was a certain level of comfort that came with having been part of the Kadzait for a while. Of course, a few years was usually long enough but he supposed if his guess was wrong then Drew would certainly correct him.
He grinned broadly when Joshua took him up on the offer to show them around. That would give him a chance to grill them a bit. And maybe figure out exactly how he and Gretta ... well... OK so he wasn't getting and great signals but he probably was doing a rotten job on his side too. But he didn't want to ask her out if she was involved. Yeah he'd come close enough to that with Nikhila, and if he was going to get shot down Drew would prefer it be on his own merits.
"Great. I've got tomorrow off so whenever is good."
It would be fun, as long as they didn't get lost. Maybe he'd pre-program his GPS, just in case. He also wasn't sure how he'd get both of them in his truck, it would be cozy any way. But they'd work it out tomorrow.
It was impossible not to smile again when asked about home. He really did have to go home and visit soon, he missed everyone.
"The Rez around Bitter Springs Arizona. I got a job with Meridian and the Alpha back home thought I could stand to broaden my horizons a bit. We don't leave home too much..."
He said with a slightly apologetic shrug. Navajo in general weren't keen on leaving the Sacred Mountains. Hell if he thought about it too hard it bothered him but what kind of leader would he be if all he knew was the reservation.
Maybe she could convince Josh to get purposefully lost with her once they had seen a few of the very important things.
Drew said he was off the next day. Gretta smiled at him. "It is nice of you to give up part of your day off to spend with strangers.â€
Joshua asked Drew where he was from and the other man responded with the information. That answer made no sense to her. What was a rez? A residence? He obviously thought they should know because he did not further identify it as a specific place. It was not a city because he named a city and a state. Gretta had made it a point to learn each state and some interesting facts about each one. She hoped that she remembered them all.
Thinking of what she remembered about Arizona, she said. "The bola tie is the official state neckwear of Arizona.â€ She turned to her partner. "Do we have an official neckwear?â€ It was amazing what the Americans claimed as theirs 'officially'. She had found all kinds of official state this and official state that. It was more than a flag and a song; there were things like the official state fossil and the official state amphibian.
Turning back to Drew, she asked. "What is a rez?â€
Drew was the one willing to give them some of his free time. Josh figured it should be his choice when to go. He might want to sleep in some, and Joshua actually found himself hoping that was the case. He and Mel were bound to be somewhat jet lagged by then so a later starting time might be helpful, depending on when they actually went to sleep. The time here was six hours earlier than what they were used to, but it had been a long plane ride and a long early morning of preparation before that. Josh would be ready for bed in the next few hours, which might actually make the adjustment easier for them.
Drew's slang threw him off a little; he had studied America a good deal, particularly when it became the place their Alpha settled in. When Mel asked about the 'rez' he understood it to mean a Native American reservation; he had read about those when he'd studied the history of the country. Drew did have a Native American look to him, but beyond that Joshua could say little. He did not know what Meridian was, so that didn't give him much insight as to what their Packmate did for a living.
Trust Mel to spout out a random fact about Arizona though. Josh hid a smile behind a cough and then shook his head at Mel. "If we do, they didn't tell me about it," he said. Then he made a mental note to look and see if their own country had official neckwear. Now he had to know.
"What sort of work do you do?" Josh asked Drew, figuring he may as well add another question on top of Mel's.
Meanwhile he nodded his head in an inviting manner and began to walk deeper into the forested acreage the Pack owned. Drew's stretching indicated he wanted to keep moving, and Josh and Gretta had come out here to stretch their legs too. They could all walk and talk at the same time so he saw no reason to stand around idly.
Drew said with a good natured shrug. They were all here in the middle of the long run, that made them all family so of course he was going to help them out. That didn't explain Kiyoshi, of course he wasn't sure how much help he'd been to Kiyoshi either. Oh well it didn't bear much thinking about.
"Great. Call it 10am then? I'll just meet you outside The Den."
That would work with his night shift schedule and not make any one rush while still being early enough to get a good day in
It was impossible not to laugh at the random fact. It was accurate, just very random.
"Yeah it is but they are damned silly looking things if you ask me."
Not that he hadn't worn one before and probably would again for silly looking or not in the Arizona heat they were a lot more comfortable than a regular tie.
"Er... sorry about that. The reservation. Where they stuck the lot of us that got in the way of 'the man' back in the day."
It was always awkward explaining a reservation to white folks. He tried to do it matter of factly and with out judgment or prejudice. After all these folks hadn't done it personally odds were good they weren't even related to some one who had done it. All in all it was a very complicated issue and one he didn't have a good answer for and one he'd just assume not get into just yet.
Amicably he followed along since the wanted to keep walking and he was having a nice enough time chatting.
"I work in the archives at Meridian. I've put my resume in for a spot in collections though."
It was just one pay grade up and it was still the night shift so Drew had hope.
"What about you two thought? I know what you do but where did you come in from? Do you know any one else here besides The Chief?"
It appeared that she was not the only one who did not know if their country had official neckwear. Gretta patted Joshua on the arm. "It is probably best not to know. Our luck it is an Elizabethan style ruff.â€ She shrugged about the bola tie. It looked much like most ties to her. "I am not sure why men wear knotted ropes of any kind around their necks. It always seemed rather odd at best and somewhat dangerous at its worst.â€
Drew suggested a time and Gretta turned to look at Joshua. Based on her partner's words, she suspected that the time was perfectly fine with Josh and even if it wasn't he was unlikely to complain. Time management was not her strongest skill. She would trust Joshua to knock on her door with plenty of time for her to get ready so that they could both meet Drew on time.
Their new companion explained the meaning of the word he had used before. Gretta nodded and made a little 'ah' sound of understanding. The interesting thing to her was that this reservation was probably many times larger than their country. He then explained what he did for Meridian. The name had actually been familiar to her. "One of the best doctors that my mother saw was from Meridian.â€ Gretta had always liked the company after that. The doctor was actually very positive and helpful. For a time, her mother was much better when they came to see her. Gretta had been interested to learn about Meridian after that and she found out that they were a large company, doing many different things. They started out making their money by finding and preserving ancient artifacts, working with museums and such. With that money they branched out and now did a lot of cutting edge research in many different fields. She had heard that the Meridian Towers here were an impressive sight and that they offered a place for their local employees to live and work together. Gretta thought that was quite clever; it fostered a sense of community that went beyond being co-workers and became neighbors and friends. "It is a good place to work?â€
Gretta shook her head, no, to Drew's question of did they know anyone else other than Xephier. "Him and now you.â€ She smiled and looked over at her partner before explaining where they were from. "We come from Liechtenstein.â€ Gretta chuckled. "Our leaving has created a noticeable drop in the population.â€
The rental would suffice for a few days until they figured out whether or not they wanted a car. Josh was aware that there were cars available for their use at the Den as well, since they worked directly for the Pack, but he generally liked to have his own transportation.
He smiled and laughed softly at Mel's guess in regards to Liechtensteiner neck-wear. "You're right, maybe it's best not to know. I'm pretty sure that's not my style."
He would look anyway... he always did.
Mel seemed to know something about Meridian, and as she spoke about it Josh gave a little 'ah' under his breath as the name sort of came to him. Not that he was any the wiser, but perhaps Drew was in a medical profession? Why would a medical company have a collections department though? He filed the question away and added it to his list of further things to look up when he had a few moments.
When Mel commented on the population of Liechtenstein having gone down since their departure Joshua gave a dry laugh. "Well to be fair it's been a while since we left. Maybe someone has had a baby while we've been gone. Didn't Michael's daughter just get married?"
It was said with no small measure of amusement; Liechtenstein was a very small country. It was not beyond the realm of believability to actually be able to track its population accurately from year to year. Joshua's joke was only half a joke.
"Well I've almost gotten it caught in the copier before so... yeah I can see the danger aspect. Not quite the same as saving kids from a burning building, but still dangerous."
Nodding cheerfully at Gretta's inquiry he easily agreed.
"Yeah. Well I think so, my boss has been pretty good to me."
Code for 'I haven't been fire for calling in sick three nights a month'. Which was pretty impressive in its own right, even more so when you considered Kem was a vampire. But, that wasn't his place to go blabbing around. He might not care for vamps in general but Kem he respected and wouldn't just betray.
"Oh, you'll have to meet his Mrs and the kids all of them are adorable... er the kids are... you know what I mean."
He did still have a very mild crush on Nikhila, but it was so mild as to be non-existent. Maybe if she wasn't married, maybe if she wasn't some body's mother he'd feel differently, but she was, both and so he had managed to let his feelings fade. It had taken a while but there was very little left of his original infatuation.
For the life of him Drew couldn't come up with where Liechtenstein was. He was pretty sure it was some where in Europe maybe closer to Russia than Portugal but that was about the only thing he knew about it. Still, the way they talked about it made him laugh.
"That sounds like home. You must miss every one."
At least a little bit. It was something Drew experienced now and then, letters, emails and even the occasional Skype chat didn't quite fill the void. If they came from as small a population, he could only assume they felt the same way.
Joshua agreed that he probably did not want to see what their country's official neckwear was. She wondered if he would look it up anyway, just to know.
Nodding, Gretta expected they would meet the Alpha's wife and children soon since Xephier said they would all be joining the rest of the pack for dinner.
Josh mentioned home and that someone was bound to have had a baby or two since they had been traveling. Gretta smiled and tapped her cheek with one finger thoughtfully before waving it as she spoke, "You know I think you are right but I don't know what she sees in that boy.â€ Their country was small but not really 'that' small and it was mountainous so the separation of villages by less than level terrain made it seem as though other places were much further away.
"We do.â€ She agreed with Drew about missing everyone at home. Of course, you also knew everyone and they knew you. If you did something stupid then you could expect to be the subject of gossip by the entire community for a while until something more interesting came along. And when you were the daughter of a woman put into a mental institution by her husband you were watched very closely indeed. Gretta missed home but, at the same time, she felt more free to be herself, or perhaps even find out who the real Gretta was, away from everyone she knew. "Its no trouble to visit. I imagine that we will when we get tired of warm weather, apple pie, stars and stripes and your celebrity drama. Do they really have the troubles of Lady Gaga on the daily news programs?â€