It Never Rains, It Pours (invite only)
Josh looked up dubiously at the looming clouds overhead. They had soared in faster than he would have imagined possible. When he and Mel had come out, it had been cloudy. The clouds were puffy and white though, not low and ominous. That had changed quickly and now the air was heavy with rain.
All around them the busy evening city-goers were claiming cabs and cluttering doorways in anticipation of a coming storm. Josh frowned. Well, lesson learned. If they had to shop, they should avoid this time of day. It wasn't rush hour but it was near enough to it, he supposed, that the roads were already congested.
He glanced at Mel, and then pointedly up toward the sky. They were both still in the process of finding things to make their new homes seem even more like home, so they had a few bags with them. In Josh's case he'd found some fabric he planned to make something out of and some sheet music he wanted to play on the new piano that sat proudly in the living area of his apartment.
Both bags hung from one arm; the other, unfortunately, hung at his side, the fiberglass cast around his wrist almost concealed by the dark blazer he wore. His misdaventure from the previous week had resulted in a compound fracture that would take a month or more to mend. Fortunately that had been the only real lasting injury.
"I think we should look into finding some shelter," he said. He looked down at his purchases, both of which would not fare well if gotten wet. "It seems like that might not be an easy thing to do."
He stepped out toward the curb and looked both ways up and down the street. It would be difficult to find a cab but that was their best bet right now for getting home in a timely manner. The storm was ready to burst. Indeed, as he tried to find an unoccupied taxi, some cool, smallish drops began to fall upon them. A low rumble told them this was no short, passing shower.
When Joshua mentioned finding shelter, she looked around at the various buildings. There were probably some interesting places in which to wait out the rain. Perhaps they could watch a movie, have dinner, go to an arcade... She frowned and then glanced over at her partner. The last one would not be fair to poor Josh who had a cast on his arm.
He seemed to be intent at hailing a cab, which was probably the wise and responsible thing to do. They each had purchases that they would like not to get wet. She had found an interesting lighting store and had purchased several lamps for different rooms. Some of the more delicate ones, like the brass garland lampshade that looked like beautiful wild vines and butterflies would be shipped to her. She walked out with a couple of etched light bulbs that created subtle patterns on the wall and a book rest reading light. Gretta had fallen in love with it immediately. It was cute and practical. The shape was that of a simple rectangular box with a triangular top. When you placed your open book down over the lamp it looked like a little house and it kept your place until the next time your were ready to read. She also had a couple of pillows for her sofa that looked like grey speckled stones. They were perfect. It would be best if they didn't get wet before she even got them home.
Stepping up beside Josh, Gretta set her bags down close to her partner. Then she stepped out into the street in front of the next taxi and waved one arm above her head. The curb was still right beside her; she was in no real danger but she was hard to miss. Her long blond hair had been tamed, mostly, into a high ponytail with a gauzy white scarf tied around it. Gretta found that it was nice to have her hair off her neck because, while a storm was on its way, it was still very hot and muggy outside. She was wearing a cute retro black and white gingham halter dress with a heart bust line, ruffled trim, little black buttons and heart shaped pockets. Her phone rested in one of those pockets...she was pretty sure.
The yellow cab came to a screeching halt as she hopped back onto the curb. The guy in the cab yelled out the window asking her if she was crazy.
"No, just wet.â€
Picking up her bags, Gretta smiled at Josh. "If that didn't work I was going to resort to you hobbling around and waving your cast in the air in the hopes of sympathy.â€ If he was forced to wear it for a while then it should be a benefit to him in as many ways as possible. She had already offered to sew him different sleeves for it to match his clothes or in some other way coordinate with it.
Gretta placed her purchases in the car and then slid inside herself. Before moving over, she reached out for her partner's bags so that he was free to climb in the car unencumbered.
((OOC: Dress ))
He chuckled softly at her words and shook his head. "I would have looked like a menacing old psycho," he snorted.
"Thanks," he said as she took his bags from him. Josh was trying not to be irritable in front of anyone else, but having a handicap was stressing him out. He lived with people who were many times his physical superior but he trained hard, very hard, to stay as physically fit as possible and that task became more and more important the older he got. Having a limb not working was getting to him, but he was sure Mel knew that. She was being especially kind and helpful and he appreciated her far too much to gripe at her.
Sliding in to the cab he huffed a sigh and leaned his head back against the seat. Closing his eyes, glad they weren't stuck in the rain, he listened with satisfaction as the rain began to come down in earnest, drumming on the top and windows of the cab. Outside, it had grown just about as dark as night.
"We need to go to..." Josh paused and looked at Mel. "Where are we going?"
They were probably done shopping, but that didn't mean they were ready to go straight home. There were lots of things to see in the city and it was yet fairly early. There wasn't an urgent need to get back to the Den. Their workload was pretty light so far. One or two little mishaps to straighten out, and one young teenager who'd run away from home when he had surprisingly turned into a werewolf the month after his first rather rowdy makeout session with his new girlfriend. Hell of a surprise, that one, but the boy seemed like he'd pull through with some time and patience.
"Dinner?" He asked Gretta, raising an eyebrow. "Something else?"
She leaned forward in the seat and looked meaningfully at the cab driver. He started up the vehicle and turned around to concentrate on the road, but not before she saw him roll his eyes. Gretta supposed he had something against eating in non-traditional environments. To each their own.
Settling back in the seat, she watched as Nachton moved past her window. It was not happening quickly but they were not stopped completely. The rhythm of the rain drops lulled her into a relaxed almost meditative state. Gretta lapsed into silence, letting her thoughts drift away much like the buildings they drove past.
Eventually she straightened and turned away from the window and toward her partner. Something caught her eye out of the back windshield. There was a white smoke rising steadily from the rear of the car.
"I don't think that's normal...â€ She looked at Joshua and pointed out the back.
"Its fine.â€ muttered the cab driver.
After a few more streets, almost to the highway, the cab was not fine. In fact, it was far from fine. It sputtered to a complete halt with smoke pouring out the back.
"How do you feel about a late dinner?â€
He turned to Mel and considered. The dining in the dark thing seemed interesting. Would Mel get much out of it though? Josh was intimately acquainted with the traits of werewolves, being from a family of them himself, and he knew how much keener her senses were. He supposed she might find it entertaining to be robbed of her sight for a bit. Josh might find it less amusing after a while himself, but then again maybe not.
He lifted one shoulder. "Okay," he said. "They have something like that here in Nachton?"
He glanced at the recalcitrant cabbie, who nodded grudgingly. The whole experience had actually begun not too far from them, in Switzerland, as he understood it. He'd never tried it, but he knew many restaurants of that nature were run by those who were blind or vision impaired and the proceeds generally helped organizations that promoted learning and research. Josh could almost always get on board with that kind of program, especially considering what he and Mel did for a living. Helping people adjust to a condition that often did seem strange and like an impairment at first.
When Mel decided to ride silently in the cab Josh pulled his phone out and checked his emails. Nothing terribly important. Things had been quiet since they moved here, which was nice. It gave them a chance to explore and learn the city. Josh had been doing so diligently for the last week at least, but it was a big city with a long history. There was much to learn about, and some things required time and total immersion to understand.
He did look up at Mel's voice, directing his attention to the billowing smoke from the back of the cab. "No, you're right," he said mildly.
The driver protested, continuing on, and soon enough the cab was handicapped itself, in the middle of the road, smoke everywhere. Fortunately the interior was clear, for the rain had not ceased to pound.
"I'll call you another cab," the driver said, sounding a little miffed. Josh was pretty sure it wasn't at them - they hadn't broken his cab. He shouldn't have kept driving it.
"Thank you," Joshua said. He looked at Gretta and lifted his shoulders. "Now, later, whatever works."
He leaned back against the seat and scrolled through his mail while the cab driver made his calls then got out to open the hood of the car, which belched acrid smoke. As Josh glanced up, he realized the meter was still running. When their driver returned, he pointed it out.
"You're still using the car," the man said brusquely.
"The broken car, which isn't getting us where it was supposed to," Josh said.
The cabbie crossed his arms belligerently. "You're still in it."
Josh, momentarily at a loss for words, glanced at Mel to see if she had an opinion. He'd be happy to continue arguing the point. Outside, the thunder rumbled and the storm raged.
Joshua pointed out that the meter was still on. The driver pointed out that they were still using the vehicle.
"But we are not going to where we wish to go. Your cab being broken means our time is being wasted and we are no closer to our destination. Honestly,â€ Gretta looked at the name badge and driver's certification clipped to the dash. "Albert, does that sound fair to you?â€
"A man needs to make money.â€ He muttered. His phone rang and he picked it up.
Meanwhile, Gretta looked at him, really looked at him. His rigid posture and set jaw suggested that arguing was going to get them nowhere. Further delving showed her that he had a driving need to provide for his family. He needed to get his cab fixed so that he could make money for those he cared about and to get his cab fixed he needed money. Hence, he was being belligerent about the cab fair despite how wrong it was. She suspected he felt bad about it.
Trusting that Albert Foster did not speak German, she turned and quietly spoke to Joshua. "Wir mÃ¼ssen uns verÃ¤ndern das, was er braucht.â€ He knew her abilities and so could probably guess what she meant.
He might not guess what she was about to do about it though. "Bleiben Sie hier. Ich werde gehen.â€ Leaving her packages in the vehicle with Josh, Gretta opened the door and jumped out. She was immediately drenched. In the heat it didn't feel so bad. However, she was not wearing the proper shoes for this occasion. Tilting up her toes, Gretta regarded the little white ballet flats thoughtfully before reaching down and slipping them both off.
Tucking the shoes safely under her arm, she stalked barefoot around to the front of the cab. Gretta stood there watching Albert through the pouring rain. He had stopped talking to the phone and was simply staring at her with his mouth open.
((OOC: 1. We need to change what he needs. 2. Stay here. I will go. ))
Josh could hardly expect to do as he was told. He wasn't generally inclined to wait in comfort while Mel got soaked. He gave a sigh of impatience, with the situation and with the cabbie, and opened his door. He left the bags on the back seat, since the taxi wasn't going anywhere.
"Is there a fare for only baggage?" he asked somewhat sarcastically.
He'd probably have been inclined to leave a substantial tip, had the driver been understanding. Certainly more than what the fare would have been. They weren't unsympathetic and a broken cab could not bode well for one who made his living that way. Josh was feeling less and less charitable by the second though; maybe it was small of him but acts of random kindness should go both ways.
At any rate he stepped out of the cab and into the downpour, grimacing as the fabric of his blazer was immediately soaked, as if he had walked into a shower. He rounded the cab and gently took Mel's shoes from her, protecting them under his coat, then headed back to the side of the cab to slip them safely inside.
Returning to Mel he asked, "Is there any chance that this is going to help our cause in any way, shape or form? Because now we're just plain wet."
Hell, at this rate they were more than 'plain wet.' They were downright sodden. His shirt was clinging to him like a transparent second skin, the light cotton definitely not made for such abuse. There were puddles in his shoes and his boxers were uncomfortably clingy. Josh might actually have enjoyed the rainstorm had he been prepared for it; as it was, it had been sunny when they'd left the Den and he hadn't even brought an umbrella.
Little good it would do them now. Mel's dress was worrying him, what with its pale color and all. He wriggled out of his wet jacket and draped it over her shoulders. It wouldn't help keep her dry but it would shield her from prying eyes that did not need to see anything... risque. He crossed his arms and waited, water running in rivulets down his neck and face, for their next cab to arrive. Not that it would do much good at this point, but at least their purchases were still dry.
Traffic was piling up behind them, horns blaring impatiently, as the people in working cars began to go around them when there were gaps in the other lanes. Ah, city drivers. So kind and forgiving.
Josh pulled his coat off and wrapped it around her shoulders, she smiled up at him and wrapped an arm around his waist, giving him a little comforting squeeze before letting him go. Whatever this need of his was, it was vague but strong and she was willing to get stand out in the rain for something that was important to him.
"It will help. Trust me.â€ She looked at the driver who was obviously muttering to himself and rolling down the window.
"Come on get back and the car.â€ He grumbled. "You're causing a scene.â€
Gretta leaned down and pointed through his open window at the meter. He sighed and shut it off. "Happy now?â€
She turned and looked back at Joshua. He still needed to be standing out in the rain. Odd, she could have sworn that would somehow sort it out. Like, maybe he needed another cab to see them both in obvious need of a new ride or maybe he needed to walk home. She wasn't really sure why he needed to be out here, just that he did.
Stalling, Gretta shrugged and waited for him to answer. A lime green sporty looking car pulled around their unmoving vehicle and stopped. The window rolled down and a young blond leaned out and looked at Joshua, clearly amused but somewhat concerned.
Gris had been lucky enough to be near the cab when it stalled. After some jostling with a few cars in the unfortunate lane who shoved over trying to get out, he was able to move past the source of the problem. Now, he was able to see that this man truly had phenomenally bad luck.
"Its no trouble.â€ He smiled. "And I won't even charge you a fee.â€
The cab driver was gripping his steering wheel so hard that his knuckles were white and Gris wondered what was the matter with him. He obviously couldn't expect the two of them to stay with him and his broken taxi.
He had been thinking about Joshua and wishing that he could have found some way to see him again without seeming too desperate for companionship. Gris was a little disappointed to find the man in the company of a pretty woman and now he was second guessing his earlier impression. Perhaps it had been wishful thinking on his part.
The grouchy cab driver turned off the meter and asked if they were happy. Josh blinked at him, an expression that probably lost a lot of its impact as he was blinking water out of his eyes anyway. "Not particularly," he said honestly, with his usual stony expression.
Just then a bright green car pulled up ahead of them. Josh's heart, surprisingly, actually skipped a beat before plummeting into his stomach as he recognized the handsome face and the head of blond curls. He hadn't forgotten Greer. You don't forget the person you fell on top of and quite possibly could have killed or maimed or somehow seriously injured. Josh glanced down at the cast on his wrist, which was quite uncomfortable now that the padding was wet, and tried to hide his hand behind Mel or behind his back.
This was disastrous. Not only did he seem to have taken a liking to this man, who had to be at least half his age, but it seemed he was fated to look his worst every time they bumped into each other. He doubted it mattered though. Greer was bright and handsome and young. Even if he swung 'that way' Josh didn't doubt he would have any trouble finding a partner. He didn't need to swim into the deep end of the age pool for companionship.
Greer's words, however, made him laugh a little. "Not only give it back, but make a charitable donation to her favorite organization, clean her house, and buy her a puppy," he said.
Greer offered to give them a ride, which was beyond kind given the weather... he was getting wet, himself, leaning out the window. Josh would have protested, worried about getting the interior of Greer's car wet, but even though they'd just recently met Josh did not get the impression that Greer was the type of person to pass the bar then not make the leap of logic to figure out that wet people in the rain would be wet people in his car. So he nodded to Mel and guided her toward Greer's car with his good hand on the small of her back.
"Please," he said. "We'd really appreciate it if it isn't too much trouble."
He flashed Greer a brief, soggy smile and then turned to get their bags from the back of the cab, where Albert Foster still sat looking grim and, Josh realized, more than a little down. He pulled his wet wallet from the pocket of his slacks and took two very large bills out. This bad luck epidemic was costly. He handed the bills to the cab driver, well aware that they were far more than he'd have gotten even with the meter running during the break down. The man looked at him in surprise.
"For your kindness, the next time someone needs it," Josh explained gruffly.
He took the bags he and Mel had had and placed them carefully in the back of Greer's car, hanging some of them from his bad arm without putting pressure on the cast. Then he headed back to the green car and slid into the front seat which Mel had left for him. He cast her a quick glance and felt his cheeks heat up slightly. Of course he'd told her about Greer. And, since she was Mel, he had told her he found the man... intriguing.
"It seems you keep saving me," Josh said as he closed the door. "Thanks again. This is the partner I told you about before, Gretta Lang. Gretta, the young man who was kind enough to break my fall, Greer Grayson."
Yes... he had looked up Greer's name. Of course he had. Wouldn't anyone? To further introduce Mel Josh explained, "Gretta and I have been working together for years. She's like a sister to me."
Subtle, yes. But Josh wanted to point that out. It probably wouldn't matter to Greer anyhow, but if there was any doubt... well... Josh certainly wasn't going to be sleeping with his sister.
She settled into the comfortable seat and fastened the belt, accepting the packages from Josh as he handed them to her.
Setting the packages down beside her, Gretta sneaked another peak at Joshua before he climbed into the front seat of the car. This was definitely what he needed. There was no more cause for him to stand out in the rain. Now, he needed to connect with the man behind the wheel.
Of course, she couldn't help but look at Greer's needs as well. There was that same strong sense of need for Joshua, vague but intense. The immediate concern was to keep Joshua with him. When the passenger side door shut and they were slowly moving into the flow of traffic once more, it changed slightly, becoming a need to get to know her pack mate.
Gretta wondered how Joshua felt about being saved, as he had put it to their rescuer. Her partner was normally the one doing the saving. He had always been the responsible one in his family, in their friendship, in their career. He helped save many of their pack mates in ways both big and small. It must be different to be on the receiving end of that kind of care.
He had told her about his meeting with the blond. How could he not? Joshua had come home with red eyes and a fractured wrist. There was obviously a story there. It had been interesting to her how little time was spent explaining the accident and the woman with the mace and how much time had been spent describing his encounter with the young blond lawyer. That said volumes to her of his interest; that and the absent little twitch of an almost smile that he got while thinking back on their conversation.
She stifled an amused giggle as her darling partner made it very clear that they were more like family and less like lovers. A lot less, for many reasons. Gretta smiled and leaned forward as far as the seat belt would let her go. "A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Grayson. I would like to thank you for your earlier 'rescue' of Josh. I think he is so much nicer in one piece.â€ Almost one piece, she silently amended. He had been hiding his injury; something she had not failed to notice. Far be it for her to out him.
The diplomat leaned in to the cab and spoke quietly to the driver about future charity. Easily heard by werewolf ears, even over the rain and the cars behind them. It was exceedingly nice of Joshua to pay the man for a ride that didn't happen. The cabbie was going to losing money while his cab was being fixed and times were tough. It was obvious that Joshua was a very kind man, almost too good to be true. It made Gris wonder what vices the dark haired man might have and if any of those could involve a hotel room, a bed and a naked blond. He even knew a blond who would gladly volunteer.
He smiled when Joshua got into the car and mentioned being saved a second time. Gris shrugged slightly. "I am happy to help.â€ Perhaps for less than selfless reasons; he could be honest with himself.
His heart skipped a beat when Joshua explained who the woman was. It started beating again, much faster, when Joshua made it a point to say she was like a sister to him. There was no need to point out the kind of relationship they had with each other unless he was thought it might affect their relationship in some way, or the potential for one.
"A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Lang. Please, both of you, call me Greer, or Gris, if you like. That is what my friends call me.â€ Joshua knew his whole name and that meant he had gone through the trouble of looking it up. Gris couldn't have been happier to be known. He smiled into the rear view mirror at the blond woman in the back seat. She was looking at him as though she could see through him. It was disconcerting; Gris chose to focus his attention on Joshua. Far less worrisome and far more appealing.
"So, has he always been so nice?â€ There was a solemn nod to the affirmative from the back seat and a quiet "Yes, always.â€ Gris glanced sideways at Joshua and then added another question with a crooked smile. "Has he always had such bad luck with it?â€
((OOC: He is not sensing her use of abilities or anything like that. She really was staring at him, rather openly. ))
He became the subject of conversation rather quickly, which amused him somewhat, but wasn't terribly surprising given the circumstances Greer seemed to be good at finding him in. He was labeled nice, and also unfortunate, and he couldn't refute either label. He did try, at least, to be nice, and he couldn't argue that without a doubt he had been mightily unlucky in the last couple weeks.
"I like being in one piece myself," he said with a glance at Mel. He held his casted wrist in his lap now, unable to hide it, the dark colored fiberglass very easy to see beneath the sodden white cotton of his shirt. It had seemed like a good color choice at the time, given his tendency to wear dark suit jackets, but now it was like a neon sign.
He watched Greer - Gris - from beneath lowered lashes as he tried to drip mostly over the floor mat. He was actually very excited to see the other man again, because he had enjoyed talking to him previously. They hadn't had a chance to go hiking at all and Josh was hoping it was simply a scheduling thing and not because Gris was uninterested. He found he actually did want to learn what Gris knew, and he wasn't sure if that was because the subject matter was interesting or the person delivering the information was... delicious. Possibly both.
He answered Greer's question before Mel could, his lips twisting up in a quick, dry smile - the only thing about him that was currently dry. "He hasn't had such terrible luck until coming to Nachton," he said, referring to himself in third-person for a moment.
It was true, Joshua wasn't really the accident-prone type. Since arriving in the city, though, he did seem to attract it. He was all right with it, if Gris was planning to show up like this every time something went wrong. Troublemaking could quickly become a habit.
Realizing they hadn't mentioned to their impromptu chauffeur where they needed to go Josh said, "We were going to attempt to go to dinner but I think at the very least we need to stop at the office first."
He gave Greer the name of the street it was on, a small multi-story building they used for their business on the outside of the city, not too far out but well enough away to be out of the mainstream traffic. Both he and Mel had offices on he bottom floor. On the upper stories were a few apartments, which they could use for those new to the Pack who needed some adjustment time alone. They themselves kept a few changes of clothes there in case they were also needed. It happened that way often enough and it was their job to be a friend to those who were learning to adjust in a new world.
"Are we interrupting your plans tonight?" Josh asked. "If you had nothing to do, perhaps you'd let us buy you dinner?"
It seemed the least they could do. Josh didn't hesitate to couch the request in that way, although his daydreams (oh yes, he had them) did not generally include Mel along with them. He was hardly going to exclude her though. Spending any time with Gris was appealing to him. He found that he was fiddling with the button on the cuff of his shirt sleeve, waiting for Greer to answer. He cleared his throat softly and took his hand away, smoothing the wet fabric into place and looking out the window ahead of him at the heavy, slow-moving traffic and the rain that continued to come down like a monsoon.
She did wonder what Greer would make of that statement. Still, it was only the truth.
Josh invited the blond to dinner. Gretta nodded her approval toward the rear view mirror and then proceeded to watch the city go by through the watery streaks on her window. The patter of the rain was peaceful and she was content to let the two of them talk to each other.
She noted that they were headed to the office and she considered what clothing she had placed there. It would be nice to be dry again. The rain had felt good while she had been out in it but now she was in the cool confines of an air conditioned car and her wet dress was starting to make her somewhat chilly. Gretta felt bad for Josh, who's coat she was currently wearing. He was in that thin wet dress shirt and was probably freezing.
For a moment, she considered offering him his coat back but she knew him and knew that he probably would insist that he was fine and that she should keep it.
The not thinking about it was not working so well.
"Its alright, mate. There's no use in trying to make it slightly less wet. Relax. I'll turn the seat warmer on. You've got to be cold.â€ Gris gave him slight smile. He had felt that Joshua was cold and if it were possible his pale skin was even lighter. "Besides, then I can see out my side view.â€ Joshua was not exactly in the way but it was going to be hard to keep leaning forward and still let Gris see.
"I think you are better in one piece.â€ He found the traffic extremely interesting after admitting that piece of personal opinion.
Joshua stated that he hadn't had such terrible luck until he had reached Nachton. Funny, Gris thought his luck was getting better after reaching the city. He now had friends that he considered actual friends and not companions. Kiyoshi had joined Evan in the people he liked and trusted list. The bartender was even a werewolf and one of his own pack. Leo and his friends were pretty good guys as well. Gris was pretty sure that he could join the little group of mischief makers with some small amount of effort but they had been friends for ages and it would take time to not feel like an outsider. Besides, he would prefer being with one or two people that really meant something to him than going about town in a big group of party goers.
He sort of hoped that Joshua didn't consider his luck all that bad; though he supposed being maced and knocked off a bridge was not good and then finding the one taxi that was on the verge of a breakdown wasn't great either.
"At least you weren't injured this time.â€ Gris gave his passenger a small smile. Gretta stated that she didn't think that Joshua had much misfortune at all. He glanced up into the rear view mirror at her but she just smiled at him and turned to look out her window. Could she be talking about him? Gris did not see what else had come of the attack and tumble off a bridge.
"Why, might I ask, were you standing out in the rain? I know the taxi was broken but surely the driver would have gotten you another one.â€
Taking note of the address for the office that he was given, Gris pressed the GPS button on the console and spoke the city and address. A route was plotted and a nice soothing female voice with a educated British accent told him to continue straight for the next two miles.
Joshua invited him to join them for dinner. Weighing his extreme desire to continue talking to Joshua and the potential appearance of desperation, Gris finally decided that dinner did not sound that needy. After all, everyone needed to eat, it was that time of day, and he was playing chauffeur at the moment. It would be almost rude to refuse.
Somewhere in the back of his mind Gris believed he was rationalizing his desires but he could live with that.
"No, I was just headed to get some dinner.â€ He glanced over at his companion and smiled. It was true; of course he had been planning to go home and get something to eat but food had still been a part of the plan. "That would be nice. Where were you thinking of going?â€
The seat warmed up quickly and Josh nodded at Greer. "Thank you," he said, his tone also much warmer, much less impersonal than it usually was. Greer's consideration and kindness were appreciated, and so was the sentiment that matched his own about remaining whole. "I'm glad we can all agree there."
He watched Gris was he kept his attention riveted to the road now, enjoying the man's profile. He was handsome, built on slender lines but not scrawny. The hand he'd pressed to Josh's chest had been gentle but firm, and Josh looked at it now as it wrapped around the steering wheel of the car, slim hands with long slender fingers. He wanted to be touched by them again.
Mel spoke up from the back seat and Josh realized he'd nearly forgotten she was there. What was wrong with him? Being cold and wet was making him delirious, maybe. He turned to look at Mel, raising an eyebrow at her in question, her words causing his heart to skip again. He did have good luck, to meet Greer, he agreed, for he understood her words perfectly. But Mel's abilities only saw what was needed, and if Josh needed to connect with this man he had to do it on his own power. And how did he do that when the man in question was young, vibrant, and Josh was... neither of those things.
It wasn't that he lacked confidence in himself. Joshua knew he had plenty to offer a prospective partner, but Greer was younger than he normally went for and for some reason Josh was... even more interested than usual. Had it been so long since he'd been with anyone? Five years, at least. His job kept him moving around plenty. But now that they were here, they were planning to stay and they were both free to find someone more permanent. Josh hadn't realized he was sort of looking.
At any rate, he thought to himself with a soft sigh, they'd only just met and he didn't know Greer well enough. There was physical attraction though, plenty of it, and a desire to learn more about him. So Josh answered the next question as well, suspecting Mel would continue to be quiet.
"A matter of principle," he said. "The man insisted on keeping the meter running even after the cab broke down."
He lifted his shoulders. "It seemed to me that paying a fare for a cab that wasn't moving was ridiculous."
As Greer pondered the notion of joining them for dinner Josh held his breath once more. He would enjoy it very much if the blond came along. Greer's positive response made his heart pound as he realized where their plans were going to take them previously. His mind raced with all kinds of possible fantastic scenarios that could take place in the pitch black restaurant.
His mouth seemed to have suddenly gone dry. "We were thinking of trying out dining in the dark," he said. He cleared his throat. "We could save that experience for another night, though. Is there some place you like? A certain food? We don't know the city that well yet so we'll take your recommendation."
No, he would very much like to dine in the dark with Greer. He didn't know how it was possible, but he did have the distinct impression a flirtation or two would not be unwelcome. He closed his eyes for a moment, imagining it. A soft brush of a thigh, the touch of a hand, the little things people did when they were interested in each other and wanted to show it... it had been a while, for sure.
Gretta was only vaguely listening to the conversation that was going on in the front seat. She did notice that her seat was getting warmer and that helped tremendously. She was happy to know that she had not been forgotten by their new friend, even if he seemed far more interested in Josh.
Her partner was explaining their reasons for being outside. She thought that was most of the reason, or at least part of the reason but she wasn't about to mention the rest. Gris probably wouldn't believe her and Josh probably wouldn't appreciate it.
If keeping his hands off his passenger had been difficult then focusing solely on the road was just as hard. Gris did not think he was going to manage it for very long.
Joshua explained why they were standing out in the rain. Gris laughed and shook his head. "Effective but difficult on the dry cleaning. I think I would have just threatened to sue him...but I realize not everyone has that option and the business card to back it up.â€ Sure, plenty of people claimed they were going to sue over this and that; they did it all the time. It was a different matter when a lawyer said it.
He liked that Joshua was willing to stand by his principles. It made the short conversation with the cab driver all the more special. Joshua had given him money even after their argument over the fair but made it clear that he was doing it out of kindness and not because he felt forced into it.
The discussion turned toward dinner. Joshua explained where they were planning on going for their food and entertainment for the evening. He raised his eyebrows and considered the idea. It had...potential. He would prefer to see Joshua while he conversed with him but not seeing... that could be interesting also.
"That sounds fun to me.â€ It would be different to be without one of his senses... and if he happened to fumble blindly around in the dark for his silverware and happened to brush Joshua's hand...well, he could hardly be blamed for the 'accidental' touch.
He smiled and shook his head at Greer's solution to the irritable cab driver. "I did want to argue with him some more," Josh admitted, "but Gretta often reminds me that there are other ways to get what I want."
Today, it had been with her silent protest. Josh might have, might not have, done it that way eventually. He'd been primed for a good debate though, so he'd gone that route first.
Their planned destination was given approval by their guest and Josh's heart started up its furious rhythm again. He wouldn't be able to see Greer but knowing he was right there, knowing something could happen, even if it didn't, was enough to keep Josh's imagination going.
"Then we'll do that," he said with a short nod of decision. And he would do his best to keep his hands to himself. Josh wasn't always the forward type. Sometimes, not always. He liked Greer and they had only just met. He didn't want to ruin a potential friendship by going into unwanted territory. Glancing at Greer he wished there were some way to avoid the dance that would surely follow, the 'are you, or are you not' that people of his gender generally had to perform lest they be ostracized for going against the norm. A tattoo, a secret handshake, something.
Still, in Greer's looks, in his general attitude, Josh had the impression that an advance wouldn't be offensive. At the very least he seemed like the sort of guy who could laugh it off, politely decline, and go right on as if nothing had happened. Josh sighed to himself, softly. It might be best if this little crush remained unrequited. After all, he was probably old enough to be Greer's father.
Instead he turned his thoughts to what he had to wear at the office. Nothing horribly casual; they'd only been in the city for a couple weeks. He had a suit or two, he thought, and a pair of jeans. Everything was presentable, it always was. He might even have the time for a quick shower, which would be wonderful.
Mel had been very quiet, so he turned around to look at her. "Are you all right?"
He thought so, but he wanted to make sure. It was habit. She was a sister to him just as surely as if she'd been born into his family. There was no difference to Josh.
Looking back at Greer he said, "It should be the next road on the left. If you don't mind waiting just a couple minutes we'll get ready and be ready to go back out again soon."
It wasn't a very long drive to the office. When they finally did pull up the rain had lightened up just a little bit. "Would you like to come in?" Josh asked Greer. He certainly didn't intend to make the man wait in the car when the inside of the office and apartments was comfortable, if not terribly personal. These weren't their regular dwellings. Josh suspected Greer would understand why there were no real personal touches without Josh having to make up a story. After all, they were still new here. It could easily be assumed they simply hadn't had time to decorate.
There was nothing she could do for them. Gretta let her gaze drift elsewhere, which was helped along by the fact that the car was moving on from the red light. Her gifts and observations, the expectations placed on her by her father and her grandmother, clearly seeing their need for her to be 'normal', processing the needs and wants of pack mates and friends and helping them through their troubles was all too much sometimes. It was why she had no phone in her home, disconnected the ones in the hotel rooms unless she planned on using them and why she meditated daily. Leaving behind the concern for others from time to time was absolutely necessary to her sanity. It was also why she indulged herself whenever it did not harm anyone else. Gretta knew she seemed flighty, absent minded and prone to whims but sometimes she just needed to do something good, for herself or someone else.
She looked up when Josh asked her if she was okay. Somewhere in the back of her mind, their conversation had been processed; she knew they had talked about the cab driver and then had moved on to dinner.
"I'm fine.â€ Gretta reached up and squeezed Josh's shoulder. "Thank you for joining me in the rain.â€ He didn't have to but she was glad he did, not for the cab driver's sake but because he got to see Gris again. That made her happy.
They reached the building, parked in the deck that served the set of offices and apartments in the area. There was a covered walkway to each of the three buildings. Theirs connected on the side. It was handy; their stuff and their rescuer wouldn't get wet.
Once they all made it into the office and upstairs, Gretta turned to Joshua. "You go and have a shower first. I'll keep our valiant knight company while you change.â€ She made shooing gestures and then gently shoved Josh toward the shower.
Turning back to Gris, she smiled. "Drink?â€
"So...Are you interested in my partner?â€ Gretta had turned to him with a glass of orange juice in her hand.
"Yes.â€ Gris was surprised by her blunt question but he could be equally frank and he saw no reason to lie to her. Joshua stated that Gretta was like a sister to him and he knew that such a relationship was to be respected. Gretta's opinion would matter to Joshua and if he wanted to have a chance of a future, potential, possible relationship then he shouldn't start off badly with the one person in Nachton that Joshua considered family.
"Oh good.â€ She smiled at him. "Here you go.â€
He took the juice from her and sipped it. "Do you think he...Did he say...?â€
Gretta was in the process of making herself hot cocoa but at his question she turned around and looked at him with a serene smile. "You will have to ask him. That's not for me to say.â€ She shrugged and went back to her drink preparations.
Gris found her answer mildly frustrating but loyal. It was nice that she left the answer to Joshua but he would have really liked to know if he was even the man's type. She had said that his interest in her friend was good and that gave him hope that she meant it was good for Joshua. That she knew something that he didn't but fervently hoped for.
He waited on the sofa and looked around the room. There was not much to see, very few personal touches but that was to be expected for an office, especially of people new to the area.
Gris drank his juice and did his best to look relaxed, comfortable and patient. He was truly none of the three. Instead, he was somewhat anxious, hopeful and impatient. Gretta seemed like a nice woman but he really wanted to spend time with Joshua.
It was very hard to take his mind off the fact that Joshua was wet and naked nearby. The mental image sprang insistently to his mind. Gretta talked to him about his job and some about how he and Joshua had met. She assured him that the woman who attacked Joshua with the mace was actually a very nice woman if a bit overzealous. He was not sure that was the term he would have used and wondered if Gretta did not know a better word to describe the trigger happy paranoia that caused the woman to immediately spray someone in the face when they approached her.
Meanwhile Gris was absently wondering which part of his body Joshua was currently washing.