Just Like Home (private)

Henri was up and about before Christian or Rowan were; that was to be expected. They had looked like hell. Well, Rowan had - although Henri was giving Christian the benefit of the doubt and assuming he normally looked a bit healthier. Henri had slept a lot on the plane though, and hadn't been terribly tired so before the sun rose he'd managed to make a short shopping trip and return to the apartment without trouble.

He made a short, quiet call to Renee from the privacy of the small guest room to reassure her he'd landed safely and that Rowan was currently all right. Then he went out to the kitchen, put on the apron he'd brought with him, and located all the supplies he would need. The kitchen was well-stocked; obviously Christian did a bit of cooking himself. It sure wasn't Rowan.

Everything was neat as a pin, which pleased Henri. Of course they couldn't be inconvenienced by food borne illnesses but the majority of the Earth's population could so he was very meticulous in his own kitchen and took great care with this one, too.

Security might be his profession; one might even narrow that down a bit to assassination, or information-gathering, but baking was his first love. He always joked that it was a good thing for him he was turned before he became too fat. As he mixed ingredients, though, he also thought. He thought about the man who was trying to kill his only child. His brother, his very long-time friend.

He was glad he'd come. He didn't think anyone here was incompetent; Chief Bern wouldn't put up with that. But if anything happened to Rowan and he'd been stubbornly sitting in Paris he wouldn't have forgiven himself.

There was little he could do for now, but perhaps paternal instinct made him want to do something for Rowan, and for Christian. So he turned his thoughts back to several centuries ago and found his hands unconsciously kneading dough into an old favorite of Rowan's. Comfort food, that was the term for it. It needed coffee, but he wasn't entirely sure when either of the two men in the upstairs room would be awake.

So he kneaded and he thought, and pretty soon he'd come up with a fairly impressive array of things to put into the oven and not very many practical solutions to what was ailing Rowan - except for one, and that would require getting blood on his hands. Henri was fine with that.

Christian Bern 10 years ago
Cris snuggled up against Rowan for a little longer, enjoying the knowledge that he did not have to immediately jump out of bed and start getting ready for his day. The very good of this very bad situation had been that since he was shadowing Rowan night and day that meant that they were both on the same work and sleep schedule and that meant that he got to sleep with his partner every night. He was thoroughly spoiled and he did not want to think of going back to going to bed alone some nights when Rowan was still at the hospital.

Laying there, content against his companion, Cris noticed an interesting aroma. He raised his head off Rowan's chest and inhaled more deeply. It had been centuries since he awoken to the smell of cooking in his home. Not quite centuries for wakening up to it elsewhere. He and Alfarinn had stayed in the little place in Italy right next to a restaurant and they went to bed each morning to the smell of coffee and pastries and the sound of busy people stopping only long enough to grab something and go.

He looked down at Rowan sleeping peacefully for the moment and smiled. Giving his lover a gentle kiss on the cheek, Cris slowly slid out of bed. He wrapped his bathrobe around himself and made his way down the stairs.

A quick inspection found no scar on his cheek, perhaps there was a faint red line still but the majority of that cut had been healed. The deeper stab wounds on his back were still there but they too would be completely gone in another day. Cris felt sore, like he had been rolled over by large truck. He would have sworn the werewolf weighed almost as much.

Coming around the corner, he stopped in the doorway. Speaking quietly, he said. "Bonjour, Henri.” Cris looked around at all the things that his guest had been busy making and smiled. "You have been busy.”

Stepping into the kitchen, Cris stood at the coffee maker and began making preparations for something to drink to go alone with the things that Henri had made. "Would you care for some coffee? I suspect that Rowan will be down shortly.” They had a little time to talk. It usually took Rowan at least fifteen minutes to wake up anyway. Cris hoped that his partner would sleep a little longer but he suspected that as soon as it filtered down into Rowan's subconscious that he was alone in the bed that his lover would begin to wake up.
Rowan Murphy 10 years ago
Rowan dreamed of things he might not have expected to, had he been awake and processing higher thoughts. He and Cris strolled through a forest, lit by odd sparkling lights in red and orange that flickered like firelight but didn't burn. Strange shapes flew through the air. Someone sang, a soft song in Irish meant to drive evil spirits away.

Then, just like that, they were walking down a sidewalk in Paris. From a window in the second story of a building Henri called. Rowan turned to wave at him and Henri jumped from the window and flew over to where they were. The smells of fresh breads and pastries wafted up to him and they all looked around for a cafe to eat at.

As they walked toward one Cris suddenly turned to him, kissed him on the cheek, and released Rowan's hand. Then he walked away, his footsteps sounding oddly hollow and wooden on the pavement in Rowan's dream.

That wasn't right. Cris didn't leave him in dreams. What was going on? Where was Cris going?

Rowan called out to Cris, imploring, trying to get him to come back. But he couldn't follow. His feet seemed rooted to the ground. Henri said farewell and also went the same way as Cris. How frustrating. Rowan sought to pull his feet off the pavement, succeeding after several desperate attempts.

In the quiet bedroom he lay prone, giving no outward sign of his subconscious struggle. About five minutes after Cris left the bed, Rowan opened his eyes. He didn't see anything. His hand, however, reached out and fell upon the nearly faded warmth where Cris had slept.
Henri 10 years ago
Henri heard someone coming down the stairs. He suspected Christian; Rowan woke up very slowly so it would make sense that his partner would rise first unless he had a similar issue. It was Christian, who greeted Henri in English. Henri smiled and looked up from brushing a bit of clarified butter over the top of a sweet roll.

"Good morning, Chief Bern." He surveyed his work of the past couple of hours, an array of small baked goods. It made no sense to make large ones when he'd made so many varieties. Centuries of experience had taught him how to bake for groups small or large, for Henri hated waste and you could only preserve a baked good for so long.

Before him were some little cranberry muffins, some small brioche filled with raspberry cream, and some beignet with smoked ham and gouda cheese. Just about finished in the oven were a few miniature croissants filled with almond paste.


"I have been thinking," he explained with a smile to his host, "and when I think, my hands need to be busy."

It took just as much work to make small batches of food as large; such things were time consuming if they were to be done properly. Henri disdained the mass production of these products. No matter how high quality your ingredients, things made and put on shelves to sit for days just didn't taste as good as those you made by hand to eat immediately, or the next day.


"Coffee would be wonderful," he said, "and will perhaps get Ruan down here slightly faster than usual."

He didn't know if that was still the case. He frowned briefly, realizing that while he and Rowan had lived apart the redhead had been changing. Rowan always liked to do new things and see new places. What habits might have changed while Henri was stubbornly staying in France? Was it possible now that Christian knew Rowan better than Henri did?

He found the notion slightly unsettling, not because he was jealous or because he disapproved of their relationship, but because it meant he had grown further away from Rowan than he had ever meant to. Perhaps if he'd not been so distant and unreachable, he would have been here to help earlier than this.

Henri looked at Christian, a man of much mystery. He didn't seem like the iron fist of Evenhet Security, not standing here in the kitchen in a bathrobe making coffee, a man smaller and more slender than Henri, a man who looked like he might break if you hit him too many times with a werewolf. He did not seem like the passionate lovers Henri had seen Rowan take in the past, this man who was notorious for his lack of passion. Yet here he stood, and Henri had watched him with Rowan just a few hours ago. He would have said that there was plenty of passion. A man like Christian bore watching, if only because it was an interesting juxtaposition of two different personalities.


"If you don't mind my asking, how did you and Ruan meet each other?"

Henri smiled as he asked the question. He would like to hear it from Christian. Rowan would tell thirteen different stories, all with mixed facts, none of them completely true and none of them completely false.
Christian Bern 10 years ago
"Just Cris.” He smiled. "We are, if Rowan has anything to say about it, going to be friends. It would be hard to drink and cause mischief with someone reminding me of my responsibilities.” It would certainly put a damper on any partying they might be doing. "Though I will admit to being out of practice on making mischief.”

Walking over to peer out of the kitchen and up to the stairs, Cris checked for signs of movement. Seeing no signs of life yet, he turned back to Henri and grinned. "Although...I did recently arrest Rowan and my wayward child who was taken in by his charms and convinced to cause trouble.” It was a funny story; he had loved their April Fool's prank.

Cris smiled at Henri and went back to putting the coffee on, filling up the pot with enough for three people to have several cups. He figured that they might sit down at the kitchen/dining room table and actually eat and talk. It could be something leisurely which might require several cups of coffee and more than one of Henri's creations.

He totally understood thinking while keeping his hands busy. Cris pointed to the little dragon cookie jar and the clockwork salt and pepper shakers. "That is how I keep my hands busy while thinking. If I did not make things. Let us say that this job is stressful sometimes. Working with my hands lets me focus on something other than security needs." And sometimes that change in task was enough to give his mind the break he needed to come up with solutions to the puzzles that had perplexed him earlier in the day.

Henri asked about how he and Rowan had met. The better question, unknown to Rowan's Creator, would be how they started dating. Cris set out three mugs. One read, 'Me Boss You Not'. Another had blue letters that said 'Yet, despite the look on my face, you keep talking'. The final one was made by a crafty person in security with a sense of humor; it was black with the words 'Another month ends, All goals met. All targets secure. All systems working. All areas quiet. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.' She had given them out to everyone on The Towers security team.

Finished with the coffee prep for the moment, he turned and leaned against the counter. "Well, I was getting coffee up at Barney's and went to find a place to sit. The shop was packed so I was unable to brood in solitude so I found a spot with this redhead I had never seen before and this blond man who was a recent face around Liefde.”

"As it turned out, it was Rowan's first day in the city. He wanted to know what there was to do in Nachton. We never came up with an actual outing planned that day but Eiryk later invited us both over to his apartment for movie night.” And then there was the drinking and the staggering and the ending up in bed together...the rest was history.

"I suspect I am not who you ever imagined him to be seeing." Cris smiled at Henri. "Rowan is the most wonderful person I have ever met. Now I cannot picture my life without Rowan in it.” Frowning at the floor, he added more quietly. "Nor do I want to.”
Rowan Murphy 10 years ago
Rowan gripped the sheets with his hand as if clinging to that last bit of warmth. He wanted to be wherever Cris had gone. He blinked several times, still not really seeing anything. Little details began to filter into his brain. Familiar bed. Very familiar smells. Why was he smelling such things? Right. Henri was there. There was home. He was disgustingly thirsty. And the smells wafting up from the kitchen made him want to investigate. One in particular. Oh, it had been a very very long time since he'd smelled that. Henri must have done it, he would have known.

Rowan finally moved. And then he decided that moving wasn't the best idea. While he imagined he was mostly healed he was incredibly sore, as if he'd been jumped on by several hundred pounds of vampire and werewolf. Oh, yeah. He'd been jumped on by several hundred pounds of vampire and werewolf. It was nothing a good drink wouldn't fix, but there was no drink handy in the bedroom.

Rowan moaned into his pillow, sounding something like a cross between a dying giraffe and a hippopotamus in heat. It ended in the word,
"Ow."

As his mind struggled to process all this information, move his limbs, and form more coherent words he blinked a few more times. He could hear voices talking softly downstairs, two very familiar voices. He wanted to go join them.

With a massive effort he heaved himself semi upright but there was very little in the way of motor control happening, so he flopped over the side of the bed like a big ungainly redheaded fish out of water. Then, inch by inch, he sort of slid off of it to land with a
thump on the floor, face down.

"Hate you," he said to the floor in muzzy Irish. "Coffee."
Henri 10 years ago
Henri smiled. "Cris, then," he said to Rowan's lover. "I am happy to find Ruan suing for peace. It took him some time to reach that point."

Rowan was not always the Doctor, striving for everyone to get along. Sometimes Henri couldn't believe how he'd grown but then he thought about his own life, and the ways in which he too had changed as the centuries passed, and it wasn't so unreasonable. Time changed you, no matter who you were or where you came from.


Christian... no, Cris, Henri corrected himself, then informed him he'd recently arrested Rowan. Henri raised his eyebrows but maintained a mild expression otherwise.
"Now that sounds more like the Ruan I know. Although he's not fond of prison... what exactly did he do to earn a sentence?"

Judging by Cris's grin there was a story behind that tidbit of information; Henri was eager to hear it. Rowan had written him only once or twice since his trouble had started; Henri understood that letters and emails had not been foremost on Rowan's mind recently but that didn't make him any less interested in all aspects of the life of the only man he'd ever turned.

Henri turned to open the oven door, putting a mitt on one hand and reaching in to remove the tray of almond-paste croissants. These were Rowan's favorite, something had Henri made regularly for him when they lived together. Setting the baking sheet down on the stove top, he turned to see the evidence of Cris's busy work.


"I was wondering," he said, a look of sudden comprehension on his face. He had noticed the little items in the kitchen, and, obviously, the dragon guarding the cookies, and he'd wondered how they'd gotten there. They weren't like any mass-made items he'd ever seen and seemed to be unique. Therefore they had to be special somehow. "You have a remarkable talent," Henri said, one craftsman to another.

He chuckled as Cris pulled out three equally amusing coffee mugs. Let it not be said that the Chief of Security had no sense of humor. He lifted the croissants off the hot tray and onto a wire rack as Cris explained how he and Rowan had met.


"Ah, is Eiryk still here?" Rowan had said so in his letters. "Ruan has told me he is happily settled down with someone of his own." Henri rolled his eyes upward and placed his oven-mittened hand over his heart. "Ah, l'amour. How quickly it soothes the savage beast."

Suddenly from upstairs there was an... unusual noise. Henri swallowed a laugh and attended to Cris's soft words. He tilted his head thoughtfully at what the smaller man said.


"No," he said honestly. "You are not the person I imagined Ruan would be with. But having had a chance to talk to you, I can see that you aren't what you would have the rest of us believe. A masterful deception." He gave Cris a little half-bow of acknowledgement. "What I would ask, in the interest of the man I love like a son or a brother, is this - do you care enough for him to love him more than your job?"

Henri had to admit that while he was quickly learning many new things about Christian Bern, the man still had a reputation for not just being the head of Evenhet Security, but being Evenhet Security. Henri was well aware of the depth of Rowan's feelings, but would Cris's also stand up to the stress test that might just be inevitable? Perhaps it wouldn't be soon, but at some point in their lives Cris would probably have to choose between his career and his partner. Henri knew things could always change, but he was curious to know exactly how deep Cris's feelings went, too.

He was no empath but he was a fine judge of character. As he watched Cris, waiting for the answer, there was a loud thud from above. He raised his hand and coughed a chuckle into it
. "And speaking of savage beasts..."
Christian Bern 10 years ago
Cris smiled and realized that Henri had lived with Rowan for many many more years. He knew the Rowan that was not saint-like and that was interesting to Cris. He wanted to hear all about this mischief making younger version.

Grinning about the prank they pulled, Cris started the explanation with the necessary piece of background information. "While Rowan was having trouble sleeping I told him about a dream where my daughter's raccoons stormed The Towers with little bandoleers and grenades and how Eiryk decided to redo the Security Team uniforms in something more....flashy. It was so Rowan had something else to think about instead of his troubles at the moment.” Cris chuckled softly and then continued. "So Rowan decided to make this happen and enlisted Aishe's aid. She made a little bandoleer for one of her raccoons and sent him into my office with a water balloon with the word 'grenade' written on it. I demanded that Shaweh hand over his weapon and surrender. I then promised to go easy on him if he gave up his accomplices. He, wisely, decided to cooperate and took me to Rowan and Aishe. So, I had them both arrested and sent to holding cells.” It further reinforced that he had no sense of humor. "Aishe and I will find some way to repay Rowan for his little bit humor. I am sure.”

He looked over at the things on the counter and shrugged slightly. "Thank you.”

The talk turned to Eiryk and Alex and whether they were still residing in Nachton. "Yes, He and Alex seem quite happy. Alex runs a outdoor supplies store and teaches yoga and other such things. Eiryk seems to be quite busy with his decorating.”

The question that Henri asked him next was a fair, if personal, one. Cris thought of almost losing Rowan to a fire and seeing him in the fight with the werewolf. "I love him more than anything else.” If giving up his job kept Rowan safer somehow then he would do it, in a heartbeat. If his job ever came between him and Rowan and he had to choose, even if it only meant their happiness together, then he would choose Rowan over his job.

There was a loud thud that heralded Rowan's return to the land of the living. He smiled and turned toward the three mugs that he had placed out earlier. Beginning one for Rowan, he made it the way his partner tended to enjoy it.

[Are you all right, Love? We are down in the kitchen.] That much should be obvious by the smell of baking but Rowan was probably not fully awake. Cris grasped the handle of the mug and waited for the appearance of his sleepy redhead.
Rowan Murphy 10 years ago
Rowan noted their floor smelled pretty good. Then he realized he was lying on it. That was just wrong. He blinked a few more times and opened his eyes as Cris sent to him from the kitchen, apparently. Lifting his head a bit he inhaled. The scents from downstairs made him think happy thoughts. In fact, some of those scents he recognized very very well.

[Sleepy. Missed you.] It wasn't an answer, exactly, but Rowan was sure Cris would understand. [Got the number of the train that hit me?]

Groaning, he worked his way to a half-asleep upright state and shambled toward the stairs. Weaving a bit he made his way down them and into the kitchen. Passing Henri, he patted his Creator absent-mindedly on the shoulder as he made a beeline for Cris. Sliding one arm around Cris's waist and leaning on his partner just a little bit, Rowan bent down and kissed Cris on the lips. He didn't immediately pull away; he lingered and tasted, uttering a long soft sigh. When he lifted his head he kissed Cris softly on the temple and brushed his fingers over his mostly healed cheek.


"Looks better," he said, still not worrying about full sentences. Cris was very good at translating Rowan's morning-speak.

He finally turned to smile sleepily at Henri, wrapping his other arm around Cris's waist and pressing close, unwilling to let go of his partner. Even for coffee. And brioche with raspberry cream. And... oh, yum.


"Are those almond croissants?"

His Creator smiled at him with a sparkle in his brown eyes. He found a plate and lifted a croissant onto it, then handed it to Rowan. Rowan let go of Cris with one arm. Taking the plate he set it onto the counter. Then he took the croissant off of it and bit into it, closing his eyes and humming in pleasure at the mildly sweet taste of almond paste, warm inside the flaky, buttery croissant.

It was almost too good, coffee and homemade pastry with the two most important people in the world to him.


"I might be awake now."
Henri 10 years ago
Henri found himself chuckling softly as Cris described the prank that had been played on him, and the retaliation that had been meted out. Inwardly, he was touched by Cris's care and his obvious love for Rowan. Henri couldn't complain about Cris's desire to keep Rowan's mind off of his troubles. And it seemed Rowan, with his prank, had been thinking along similar lines.

It seemed only right to offer his support.
"If there is anything I can help with, please let me know. I know many of his soft spots."

Oh yes. He was offering to help Cris get revenge. Shamelessly.

He listened to Cris describe Eiryk's current partner, enjoying a brief few minutes to start to get to know Cris in a different light than 'Security Chief.' Cris handled Henri's rather personal question very well, his quiet response full of conviction. He did not answer with a straight yes or no, but what he did say was better than any one word could have been. He smiled and nodded, and murmured,
"Very good then."

Just then there was a lot of noise from the staircase. Rowan appeared around the corner, gesturing briefly to Henri and then continuing on to Cris without any fanfare. Henri turned away as Rowan embraced Cris, discreetly checking on the warm baked goods.

When he turned back around he handed a croissant to Rowan.
"Of course they are," he said. "Did you think I would drop in unexpectedly without offering you some kind of compensation for having to put up with me?"

He enjoyed Rowan's response to the food; he knew Rowan's favorites and had made most of them. He gestured to the rest of the small baked goods.
"Please. Help yourselves. It is not blood, but maybe more food for the soul."
Christian Bern 10 years ago
"That might just be helpful.” Cris said to Henri when Rowan's Creator offered to help with the harmless revenge on their favorite doctor.

And while they were speaking of that particular doctor, he answered the sending with something adorably sleepy. [I am afraid it was a hit and run, Love]

It was not long after the sending that Rowan appeared, still looking somewhat disoriented but mostly awake. Cris couldn't help but smile at his partner; he loved watching Rowan wake up. There was just something about his sleepy, somewhat disoriented, snuggly companion that tugged at his heart.

He tried to hand Rowan the coffee but found himself embraced instead. Cris held the mug out of the way and wrapped his free hand around Rowan, returning his lover's kiss with slow tenderness.

Rowan touched his cheek and pronounced it much better; Cris nodded, noting that Rowan's cheek was now entirely healed. Setting his partner's coffee down on the counter, Cris brushed his fingers lightly over Rowan's cheek. "Yours is looking improved also.”

Cris held Rowan tightly and waited for his lover to decide what he wanted next. He smiled when it seemed that Rowan finally noticed all the wonderful baked goods and something in particular. Cris made note of the ones that Rowan seemed especially interested in. He wondered if Henri would be willing to give him the recipe so that he could make them for Rowan from time to time.

Rowan pronounced himself probably awake. Cris smiled and looked over at Henri. "You were right. That took less time than usual. So the secret is baked goods. I would not have guessed that.”

He hugged Rowan close, nuzzling his lover's neck before giving it a final kiss and then letting him go. Turning to the other two coffee mugs, Cris asked Henri. "How do you take your coffee?”
Rowan Murphy 10 years ago
"It's just fine," he said to Cris, slightly more coherent after having such a nice kiss. "I'm just a bit sore, that's all. Are you holding up all right?"

Rowan took the mug of coffee from Cris, letting go of his partner's waist so he could make two more.
"Thank you," he murmured to Cris, leaning down to place a warm kiss against the side of Cris's neck. The coffee was perfect; Rowan didn't always drink it the same way but Cris had grown used to Rowan's habits, and he seemed to know what Rowan liked for what mood. it made Rowan happy, that Cris paid attention.

"Hardly," he said, "although they helped. The problem was, there was one too few people in the bed."

Rowan had known when Cris got up. He didn't like it. The bed felt wrong without his partner in it, curled up in his arms or with his arms around Rowan instead; they took turns. He smiled at the hug and the caress to his own neck, and almost reluctantly picked his croissant back up.

Making his way to the table to set his mug and plate down he turned around and answered the question Cris posed to Henri.


"Everything is better with cream and sugar," he said, in an exact mimic of his Creator's voice.

Henri laughed softly, his hands full as well as he brought his tasty creations to the table to be shared. Rowan sat but didn't eat; he wanted to wait for Cris and Henri to both join him.
Henri 10 years ago
Henri was amused by Rowan's imitation. Such things had gotten him in trouble in the past; Rowan had definitely used that ability for evil. Now, though, it was a party trick. Henri approved of Rowan's conscience.

He nodded in agreement, shrugging. "It is true," he said. "Cream and sugar. Please."

He had acquainted himself with Christian's kitchen while waiting for the others to awaken, so it was no trouble to set out plates, silverware, and napkins. The less work for Cris or Rowan, the better, in his opinion. While they looked much improved they were probably still a little sore, and Henri was here to help.


"So tonight," Henri said, "I hope I might get an idea of the layout of this city. A crash course, I suppose, but it would be useful to know."

He wanted to learn the ins and outs of the place as quickly as possible. If he were one man, that might be far more difficult but Henri was one man with a shit ton of bats. There were no better mappers on the planet as far as he was concerned. Bats lived in colonies and were fairly territorial. They generally had a very good understanding of how many people were in an area, if they knew the boundaries of that area, and what buildings were where. He planned to find a few winged friends and learn a thing or two.


"Hopefully you can tell me if there are any places that are, well, off-limits for a meal as well," he said as Cris joined them at the table.
Christian Bern 10 years ago
"I am fine, Love.” Cris reassured Rowan with a smile. He was not telling his partner an untruth, which would be fruitless against an empath anyway, because Rowan would likely sense something was wrong if he did. Cris was still sore and not fully healed but he could move around without any problems today and nothing should bother him so long as he stayed away from any heavy lifting or twisting that would tear at the wounds on his back.

He had already promised to take a few days off which worked out well since it had been the start of Rowan's weekend anyway. Normally he would have been working with his team to track down any leads the new information might have given them but he could go over it later in the evening and see if anything else came to mind. Cris doubted that it would; his people were well trained, resourceful and intelligent. He suspected that they were working hard to come up with any way to identify this guy that they could and finding something they missed seemed unlikely. He would still look.

Cris smiled at Rowan and squeezed him a little tighter when Rowan mentioned the reason he woke up. It was a comfort to know that he was missed by his partner even with how deeply Rowan slept. He found that he had the same problem when his lover left the bed before him but he was a very light sleeper. In a way the combination of their sleeping habits worked out well together. Until lately, Rowan was a quiet bed companion; he didn't toss and turn or snore. After the fire though, his lover's sleep had not been as peaceful as it once had been. Cris was glad that he could wake up and be there for Rowan when he had trouble sleeping.

The imitation of Henri was quite good. Cris grinned and turned back to the two mugs, making Henri's and then his own. While he finished the preparation of their drinks, Henri grabbed them plates and utensils.

They settled comfortably around the table and Cris retrieved a croissant for himself. He fell silent for the first few bites, enjoying the warm flaky goodness. It was a rare treat to have the taste of warm pastry fresh from the oven.

Henri asked about the city and wanted to take a tour of it in the evening. Cris set the croissant down and nodded. "That can be arranged. MARI can get you a current map and we take you around.” He looked over at Rowan. "Or find someone who can.”

Drawing out a square, he explained about the city. "It was based on the typical square design originally. So the government buildings and the oldest part of Nachton are still formed on a grid around the Founders' Square.” He thought about the places that were off limits to drinking. "There are several but the most public one is Shades, a jazz club in town. The House of Pain is a popular feeding place but both clans and the Tacharan have a solid presence there so finding a familiar or another vampire is easy to do.” It was one of the few places were the vampire population was reasonably high. Cris was not fond of hunting there because the likelihood of running into another vampire was greater at the HoP than pretty much anywhere else. Sometimes, he went there when he was looking for something different but usually he chose to go elsewhere to do his feeding.
Rowan Murphy 10 years ago
Rowan quietly observed Cris while they moved about the kitchen and eventually arranged themselves at the table. He was used to reading his patients' movements as well as listening to their words. He had found that, in his profession, people rarely told the whole truth. It was his heart speaking as he scrutinized his partner though; his mind told him there was no way his partner could possibly be worse unless he hadn't been feeding and Rowan knew that not to be the case. Therefore Cris would continue to get steadily better.

Screw logic, said his heart. He thought he was entitled to some worry, as the significant other of the patient in question. This was what love was. Rowan had avoided or escaped (he wasn't sure which) this feeling for so long, he wasn't about to take less than the whole package. When he thought that having no worry or stress meant having no Cris, both his mind and his heart quickly agreed that they would happily suffer the negatives for all the good Cris brought to his life.

It became moot, however, as the old familiarity of sitting at a table with Henri soothed him. The taste of coffee, the texture of the croissant, all calmed him. Nothing worked so much as hearing Cris's smooth tenor, though, and Rowan found an incongruous little smile on his face as the two made their plans.

Rowan helped himself to a smoked ham and gouda pastry next, enjoying the taste of the ham and the creamy melted cheese. He smiled at Henri when Cris offered to show him around the city. Henri never needed a tour guide - not for learning a layout of the city. And Rowan didn't think he and Cris should be out and about.

He turned to Cris just in time to see his partner looking at him. When Cris changed that aspect of he plan Rowan laughed softly and smiled.


"Humor me for one more night please, love," he requested. "After that I will give you a medical note to go back to light duty." His eyes sparkled with mischief, knowing Cris required no such note - or Rowan's permission - to get back to work. He was hoping Cris would humor him for twenty-four more hours though. Rowan didn't want to stop Cris from catching a killer, and indeed it nearly killed him to slow his partner down on this chase, for time spent healing was time their quarry had to go to ground and plan some more, or kill again. He just couldn't stomach the thought of losing Cris because he hadn't rested enough and had returned to the battle half-healed. It made him feel horribly guilty, dark and evil inside, but he would be willing to sacrifice the life of a child for Cris's safety. He kept that thought to himself.

"Our werewolf friend is probably healing as well," Rowan said. "I promise you, I for one did not pull any punches."

He didn't know where on the attacker's face he'd hit but Rowan knew he'd had a few seconds before the wolf shifted to pound the crap out of him, and Rowan was not a weak man with a girlish punch. Nor were Cris and Gary.
Henri 10 years ago
Henri thanked Cris for the coffee as it was handed to him. He found himself enjoying this odd little situation, in spite of the circumstances. Cris and Rowan seemed in reasonably good spirits considering everything that was happening. Rowan, however, was difficult to really bring down. Even his worst moods lasted for a far shorter time than most people Henri knew, and he had always been that way. It wasn't like they were about to throw any parties, but Rowan was not the type to mope around.

Henri chose one of the brioche from his tray of prepared goods. The raspberry cream inside was nearly a mousse, and it was a fitting compliment to the light sweet bread. He liked being able to cook here, particularly for Cris and Rowan, who would hopefully enjoy it. Henri silently admitted to himself that he was, perhaps, babying Rowan just a bit and Cris along with him... but he came to terms with that very quickly.

Cris offered to help Henri with his quick and dirty Nachton tour, and Rowan shot Henri a smile. Henri nodded graciously to Cris.


"I would appreciate MARI's map," he said. "I think that is all I will need, though. A tour guide will not be necessary; perhaps when this situation is resolved I will see the sights."

For now, he only needed to get outside and let his many soon-to-be acquaintances do their thing. Bats were delightful little creatures; a little cautious, but curious and mostly friendly when they knew their territory wasn't being threatened. Henri had long been using them to learn the lay of every piece of land he came across; Renee and Rowan had both joked that he should grow bat's ears and a nose. Henri supposed he was simply used to 'seeing' in his mind what the bats described to him.

He looked down at the tables as Cris demonstrated the city layout to him, nodding in understanding. He repeated the name of the jazz club, Shades, so that he might remember it and not commit some kind of faux pas by inadvertently trespassing on unwanted ground.


"The House of Pain," he repeated, raising one eyebrow. "Sounds delightful."

Although, if an easy meal were to be had there it might fit the bill. Henri enjoyed a good hunt as much as the next person but he was not here for leisure. If he could feed quickly, study the city, and return to Rowan and Christian, he would be happiest that way. Leaving them alone for a few hours probably wasn't a bad thing, though, he reminded himself. He was a guest in their home, and he and Cris had never really mingled for personal reasons. He didn't want Cris to feel put out at all.

He'd find a happy medium, hopefully. As much as he was nearly bursting to ask Cris and Rowan all kinds of questions about their relationship, he did not. He'd discover the facts in due course, or they would chat at a more appropriate time. It wouldn't do to interrogate the Chief of Security about his personal life, no matter who it was with.


"Thank you," he said to Cris. "Is there any taboo here against drinking from one of the Orphans?"

Henri, personally, didn't care much for Tacharan as a Clan. He was Evenhet and as far as he was concerned they were the strongest and the best. He would drink from Tacharan without a qualm. But he respected the relationships between Clans in any city; if they were on very good terms here Henri would not deliberately seek one of them out for a meal.
Christian Bern 10 years ago
Cris raised his eyebrow at Rowan and continued eating his croissant. He paused and took a sip of coffee and murmured quietly. "That would be wise. I still have empty holding cells for troublesome doctors.” He reached for something new to try and added. [Do not worry, Love. I intend to keep my promise.] Short of the werewolf showing up at the house or a solid fix on the man. The last one might send him back to work but not into the line of fire. He had plenty of people and he knew when he was not working at his best. He refused to endanger anyone's life because they could not count on him to do his job well.

Henri said all he needed was the map and a little time. Cris nodded. He understood from working with Alfarinn just how helpful a savage savant with flying friends could be.

"I imagine he is.” He agreed with Rowan about the werewolf probably taking the time to heal. Cris still had people looking around the hospital for anyone who appeared bruised or injured among the staff or regular visitors and MARI was keeping a check on anyone who called out sick. "Gary and I went easy on him." Cris smiled at Rowan. "That way he will under estimate us the next time." In truth, he did not like how much the werewolf had learned about their tactics. It called for some change in their plans. Henri would be a nice addition for the next encounter.

He turned to Henri and shrugged. "There is no taboo about drinking from the Tacharan but there is a larger presence here of some of their older vampires, as well as their leaders.” Cris took another sip of his coffee. "So, if you do, then make sure it will not get back to us.” He doubted Henri needed the advice to keep his dinner choice from causing the clan any upheaval but he did think it would be fair to point out that there were older Orphans congregated here than one generally saw elsewhere. Cris suspected that was because Simon and Ellis were here.

"There was an incident a few years back.” He sat his coffee down and took another bite of pastry, chewing thoughtfully before finishing. "Ellis threw one of our clan members through the lobby doors after roughing him up.” Taking another bite, Cris set his food down and looked at them both. "To be fair the young Evenhet did drink from her familiar...and got caught doing it.” As he recalled Nic had been pretty stubborn about it originally. Cris didn't have a high life expectancy for that one; if Nic managed to live a millennia then it would be a miracle.
Rowan Murphy 10 years ago
Rowan raised his eyebrows back at Cris, not in the least intimidated by his partner's expression. He knew better. "Is that a threat or a promise, dear heart? Answer carefully - I can certainly show you 'troublesome' if you wish."

His lips tipped up impishly at the corners; he was not at all opposed to flirting shamelessly with Cris with Henri right there. Rowan would readily admit that Cris definitely knew how to make jail time pleasant - and fun. But then, it was really all part of Cris's seemingly endless allure. He knew what effect he had on Rowan, regardless of whether or not he could explain it, and Rowan took great pleasure in the games they played with each other.

Silently, though, he responded to Cris's sending with some relief and no small measure of love. [Thank you. I'll worry less, knowing that.] Cris did not break his promises and Rowan's trust in his lover was absolute. If Cris said he intended to take the day and evening to rest, Rowan knew he would do his best to make it so. Of course, things could change but those things would not be of Cris's doing. Rowan could handle that if it came up. The important thing was that Cris not push himself before he was ready unless it was imperative that he do so.

Henri commented on the House of Pain and Rowan shrugged at his Creator. "It can be," he said, remembering his last trip there with Cris, a trip he'd very much like to repeat in the future. "It's a club where you will find feeding excessively easy. There are plenty of willing donors, but also plenty of hungry vampires."

In Rowan's opinion, you didn't go to the HoP unless you were willing to be flexible. There had been one or two times when he and his chosen victim had failed to read each other correctly and Rowan had been surprised to find himself on the receiving end of a bite. He didn't mind. But then, feeding himself had never been much of an issue and his natural good humor made him simply laugh it off and head back out into the crowd to find a better meal for himself. Not everyone reacted the same way.

He listened with a curious expression as Cris described an incident with the notorious Tacharan leader from a few years back, wincing in sympathy for the vampire who'd been on the receiving end of her temper. "Must have been pleasant picking out those glass slivers."

He wouldn't want to find out how pleasant. There weren't a lot of vampires here in Nachton, but because this was where the leaders of the Clans had settled there were representatives from each of them; surely some overlap must be inevitable here and there.
Henri 10 years ago
Henri continued to be amused at the interaction between Cris and Rowan. Pleasantly so. He couldn't wait to tell Renee. Although younger then both he and Rowan by many centuries, there was a good deal of mother hen about her, particularly where Rowan was concerned. Specifically, she had been trying to get him 'settled down' with someone for quite some time. Henri would be very pleased, perhaps slightly smug, even, to tell her Rowan appeared to be very happily involved. It was Henri who had sued for patience. He knew that with Rowan some things took time. The stubborn redhead insisted on doing things his way, regardless of how complex or lengthy his way might be. Renee's pressure had been very gentle but still constant, and Henri had no doubt that it played at least some part in Rowan's insistence on a single lifestyle.

Rowan explained something about this House of Pain to him, and Henri gave an 'ah' of comprehension. There were similar clubs in Paris. Probably in any city where vampires had been residents long enough to become entrepreneurs and conrtibute to modern night life. Hell, some of the places he knew of had been around since before the term 'night club' had applied. It seemed that some humans had always had a fascination for their kind, and in every age they sought each other out one way or another.

He attended to Cris's advice regarding Tacharan, nodding solemnly when the Security Chief explained about the relationships here in Nachton. "I will do my best to avoid them altogether," he said. "I don't wish to commit a faux pas."

Feeding would be a simple matter here; he would just be economical about it and do his best not to tread on anyone else's property. He didn't think it would be terribly problematic. It wasn't as if there were familiars on every corner wearing big 'property of' sandwich signs.

"Is there any way I can be of help to you while you both remain here?" He glanced pointedly at Rowan but his eyes passed over Cris as well. If Henri was to take advantage of their hospitality, he was definitely going to make sure both of his hosts were taken care of and made comfortable. He didn't want either of them going out of their way for him.

"I would prefer to be of service if I can. Or, if you'd simply like to be left alone to discuss jail time and sentencing I can take my time doing my reconnaissance."
Christian Bern 10 years ago
Cris just smiled at Rowan and went back to drinking his coffee. He did not make threats that he was not willing to back up, so one could consider it a promise as well if they wished to take it that way. It would not matter if Rowan chose to be troublesome or not; he believed they would enjoy their time together no matter what happened.

Under the table, he reached out and placed his hand on Rowan's leg, giving it a gentle squeeze. He didn't want Rowan worrying about him when there was already so much that they had to concern themselves with. He would have to remember that his risk taking effected someone else these days. This was the first time in his life that the person he loved was not a part of the military, security or the like. Rowan had certainly seen his share of action but being a soldier or officer was different. Often his risks were to save lives and he would take them even knowing that he was putting himself in serious danger. His partner felt thev same way about what he did and Cris considered himself very fortunate that, most of the time, a surgeon's life was not full of life threatening hazards.

Cris finished his pastry while Rowan explained more about the House of Pain. Henri decided against eating Orphans and that was probably for the best at this time. Unlike the young blood he had mentioned, he was certain that Henri could deal with any mess he made. However, feeding from humans would certainly be more time efficient and much less hassle.

"Quite frankly I think the young man was lucky that Alfarinn did not throw him back out through the window. If he had been present that night I think that might have been a possibility.” As it was, Ellis left of her own accord after speaking with Theodosia and MARI. She was a bit of a daredevil but her many years of existence pointed to the fact that Ellis was not stupid. She had not come to The Towers for a fight. Ellis had come to make a statement and nothing more. It had been rather eloquent in its simplicity, violence and destruction of property.

Henri asked what he could do to help. Cris smiled and looked down at all the food they had yet to consume. "I think that if you are willing to lend your aid to us in security for this mission then I will be most grateful.” He sent an addition. [Thank you for coming. Rowan feels safer with you here and that alone is priceless.]

Arching an eyebrow at his partner, he turned back to Henri. "Well there is a certain doctor whose bedside manner deserves to be rewarded....”
Rowan Murphy 10 years ago
Rowan returned Cris's smile with a softer, knowing one of his own. When he felt Cris's hand on his leg he moved his own to cover it, giving it a squeeze before twining his fingers with Cris's and holding on. Perhaps it was clingy of him but there were nights when he simply could not touch Cris enough and this was one of them.

While Cris explained a little more about this youthful troublemaker who had prompted a visit from Ellis, Rowan finished his coffee with a sigh and slouched down in his chair a bit, leaning over and resting his head lightly upon Cris's shoulder. He wouldn't fall asleep again but he probably could. It had been a very long 24 hours.

The conversation turned yet another interesting corner when Henri politely, and not very subtly, offered to remain out of the apartment for several hours. Rowan snorted softly and chuckled at the idea of jail time and sentencing, which Cris countered with the equally appealing idea of rewarding him for his bedside manner. He knew exactly what that bedside manner was, and it made him smile in remembrance.

He rubbed his cheek on Cris's shoulder.
"You know I'm just here to help," he said, closing his eyes, still smiling. "I do try to treat all of my patients with attentiveness and care."

But some more than others. Rowan would admit to some very blatant favoritism where Cris was concerned. He did open his eyes, though, and look at Henri, whose pleasure was evident upon his face. Rowan figured he had to be eating this up after hundreds of years of Rowan's stubborn insistence that he did not need anyone special to be happy.

He would admit to being wrong in that case. He needed Cris. And having Cris was worth any number of 'I told you so's" from his own Creator. He had yet to hear a single one, though, which meant they were probably coming - Henri was clearly saving them up.