A Few Shots in the Dark (Invite Only)
Josh rode passenger for the second time that night in Greer's sporty car. Only this time, he'd brought a towel to dry the leather seats with and even an umbrella so he wouldn't have a repeat. He'd left Mel's phone at the apartment with her and he turned his off during the drive here. He didn't want any interruptions; it would vibrate and he could screen his calls.
He was more than a little nervous. Josh was a workaholic, it was what he did. He took care of people. This felt suspiciously like a date all of a sudden, which might have been a good thing. Had it been planned, maybe he'd have chickened out and run the other way no matter how badly he'd wanted it. He didn't know. It was a harmless dinner for now, though, and he planned to enjoy Greer's company.
The restaurant was in an established building on the Strip. The building itself had a shop and a few apartments above it, with the restaurant located underground. Very convenient, when you hosted a place for dining in the dark. From the sidewalk they descended a very short flight of stairs into a foyer where their coats and Josh's umbrella were taken from them. Then they were given menus so they could order in the light.
Perusing the menu quickly Josh ordered tomato basil soup, chicken marsala with vegetables, and a napoleon. The menu items all came in threes - appetizer, entree, dessert. He briefly wondered how he was supposed to eat all of this when he couldn't see to use his utensils, but that was part of the experience. To learn what life was like without one of your major senses.
He noticed the very clear sign that informed him he was not to use his cell phone once inside for any reason. He slid his hand into his pocket and flicked it off altogether to avoid temptation. It made sense; not only would any light be very obvious in their dinner setting, but he wanted Gris to have his full attention. Not that the blond didn't anyway.
Their server introduced herself as Jocelyn and told them she had been blind from birth. She asked them to trust her and told them she would guide them through dinner. Josh suspected he and Gris could fumble through dinner on their own, and probably have fun doing so, but again this was the spirit of the place. When Jocelyn asked them to put their hands on her shoulders and follow one after the other, holding onto each other, Josh gestured to Gris to go in front of him.
He hesitated only a moment before resting his hands gently upon Gris's shoulders. As he did he gave in to temptation and let his hands brush gently against those unruly golden curls, diving beneath them to feel solid shoulders. He resisted the urge to squeeze them softly but he did, perhaps, 'accidentally' brush the sides of Greer's neck with his thumbs. Just an accident. Of course.
Then they were off, passing through two curtained doorways, each darker than the next, diving into the darkness of the underground windowless restaurant with no light whatsoever. Josh didn't feel the panic he had expected. Rather, he felt a little chill of excitement. He dropped his voice to a whisper since it seemed appropriate, leaning forward a bit to say to Gris, "I hope you don't mind scraping me off the ground when I miss my chair completely."
In truth, he was pretty sure he could manage to seat himself but oh, the possibilities. He let his mind wander away with them for a little bit.
That was until he saw that the place was below ground.
After being told that there could be absolutely no cell phone calls while dining, Gris texted one of his co-workers that had been working late. He gave the junior lawyer the name of the restaurant and said if he was needed, in a life or death situation, then he would need to call the restaurant land line and ask for him. He made it clear, with the use of several exclamation marks even, that someone had better be dying or in jail. Gris put the phone away and looked at his companion for the evening.
"I don't expect to be needed but if there are any questions then I don't want him waiting around for me to answer when instead he can ring up someone else who would likely be more available.â€ Gris smiled and added. "And less likely to bite his head off for being disturbed.â€ He liked helping the younger guys and therefore they tended to call on him first, especially since he looked like one of them. He might seem accessible, less intimidating but Gris had made it clear that tonight multiple law questions would not be welcomed.
Looking at the menu, he started out with a ginger butternut squash soup,then grilled shrimp with the herb goat cheese cous cous and grilled asparagus and bernais on the side. To finish everything off, Gris chose a piece of coconut pie.
Jocelyn, their waitress and guide for the evening, told them that she would lead them to the table. They were to go single file, one with their hands on her shoulders and the other following the first. Joshua gestured for him to go first. Gris gave Joshua a knowing smile and the accepted his place as second in line.
He dutifully placed his hands on Jocelyn's slender shoulders, anticipating the feel of Joshua's on his. Those warm hands slid under his hair and brushed against his neck as they made their way into the dark. Gris barely repressed a shiver and the automatic urge to tighten his grip on Jocelyn. He leaned his head to the side and brushed his cheek along Joshua's hand in a gentle caress, acknowledging the subtle touches he had received and enjoyed.
Trying to see, Gris opened his senses as much as he could manage. The varying smells of different dishes was nearly overwhelming without his sight to help him sort them out. He could get a sense of the place by the sound and timbre of people's voice. There were perhaps twenty booths arranged along the sides of the walls. He suspected that there was some structure in the middle because he could hear rustling and occasional soft thumps and clinks. He had started counting from the first booth they had passed, confirming new tables by the different voices and conversations and finding them more or less where he guessed the next table should be.
There appeared to be a textured track on the floor along the sides of their pathway. Gris suspected that it let the employees know which side of the room they were on. Jocelyn reached out and felt along the top of a booth seat; he could feel her shoulder rotate and then push upward as she encountered the piece of furniture. She paused and ran her fingers briefly along something before moving forward a few steps.
Chuckling softly at Joshua's comment, Gris murmured. "I would not mind. I don't think it will be necessary but if you are worried about it then you are welcome to come sit in my lap and I will keep a tight hold on you.â€ It would be difficult to eat with Joshua in his lap but Gris was certain that he could find other things to occupy his attention. So much so that food would be the last thing on his mind. It was not high on his list of concerns right now, even without his dark haired companion sitting on top of him.
Jocelyn turned in his grasp and guided one of his hands to the back of the booth. "Slide in here. There you go.â€ Once he was settled in his seat, she turned her attention to Joshua and guided him toward the other side.
"If you need to go to the restroom or go out for any reason then simply press the button.â€ She reached for each of their hands and guided them along the outside edge of the table to a button that was situated beneath the table near the edge. It made it easy to find again without being in the way of their food or in some place that they could accidentally trigger while fumbling around or that could be bumped into by the staff.
"What would you like to drink, Gentlemen?â€
Gris thought a glass of wine would have been lovely but since he was driving he settled for water. Perhaps Joshua would care to drink a few. He might like the results of that.
As they made their way into the darkness he felt the caress of Greer's cheek against his hand and he smiled to himself. The little gesture was small but sweet, indicative of what he knew so far of the man in front of him. Josh had inadvertently visited a great deal of imposition upon Greer but he took it with good grace and humor, and Josh understood from that that he was a kind spirit. Perhaps that was what drew him to Greer. Initially, anyway. Clever green eyes and a ready smile accompanied by those gorgeous blond locks didn't hurt either.
Gris continued to set Josh's nerves on delightful end with his soft words before being seated. Joshua smiled his faint smile but then realized Gris wouldn't be able to see it, so he let out a soft rumbling laugh as well. "So instead of falling into your arms, you're suggesting I just begin there? I'll admit the idea has a great deal of appeal." Clearly Greer was joking, so he didn't take the man's words too seriously, although for a moment he was tempted. Maybe more than a moment.
Jocelyn got them both seated and Josh let his hands slide reluctantly away from the smooth fabric of Greer's suit so the other man could get settled first. Once they were ensconced in their very private-feeling booth Jocelyn asked them what they wanted to drink. After a question or two about the wine list Josh ordered a dry merlot to compliment the slightly sweeter marsala. One glass of wine wouldn't hurt anything. He didn't want to over-indulge but it was rare for him to let loose even a little bit. This was a compromise of sorts.
Before leaving Jocelyn described to them how the table was laid out, encouraging them to explore it with their hands as well. There was a basket of bread and a chilled bowl of wrapped butter. As Jocelyn left Josh groped for the basket, managed to uncover the warm bread, and retrieved a piece for himself. The butter, fortunately, in spite of the cold bowl, was not too hard to spread easily. He managed the task of buttering his own bread without too much trouble, although the process felt slightly awkward. He understood immediately how easy it was to take sight for granted.
He was a little nervous to be here alone with Gris, as his imagination continued to run wild. Granted, he wasn't really sure anything could truly happen with them sitting across from each other like this but that was probably for the best. Josh didn't want to overreach his own grasp where Gris was concerned. He wasn't looking for a casual fling; he didn't do those well. He was looking for someone to share much more with, and he could wait it out to learn if he was with such a person.
He still felt a little thrill though... he'd denied himself this luxury for a very long time. He had a family to take care of, a Pack to help look after. A relationship had seemed so far out of the picture. He was still uncertain but... he did want to know more about Greer. Even if nothing real came of it.
To that end he let his voice warm and said softly, "So tell me about Gris. I know you didn't grow up here, that you are a lawyer. You like plants, you make candles. You're incredibly intelligent and immensely kindhearted. You have an ironic sense of humor. You appear to like green, and it certainly suits you. What else can you tell me? Or, what else would you like me to know?"
Josh was straightforward in his brief assessment of what he knew about Gris. There was no more point in dancing around the topic of sexuality. It was clear to him that they were attracted to each other. Whether this was a one-time thing for Gris or a lifestyle choice would become evident sooner or later. Josh had experiences with both types. Gris didn't seem nervous about it though, so Josh would have guessed the latter and that pleased him. Josh was happy with who he was; he wanted to be with someone who felt the same. Maybe it was his age, but dealing with hang-ups about being gay seemed like a poor way to start any relationship.
His silverware was to his right where one would expect to find it. He wondered if the left handed people groped around a bit before finding it or if they were used to things being on the right. Unwrapping the napkin, he placed it over his knee and then picked up the fork and the butter. He had to tap the side of the dish to locate where the opening was but after that the buttering of the bread went fairly smoothly.
"You know, the good thing about this is that if you spill something on yourself then it goes completely unnoticed by the other person until after the dinner.â€ And everyone else in the restaurant, but he was not concerned about their opinions, just Joshua's.
His companion told him about himself. Gris found the comments about his intelligence and kindness to be particularly wonderful. He also liked that Joshua was paying attention. Then his dinner date asked him to give him more information.
Gris considered for a moment before speaking. "I like to cook. Really enjoy it actually. I love to make a day of preparing an excellent dinner. I just rarely have that kind of time.â€ He finished up his piece of bread while he thought about the other things he could say. He did not want to answer with only things that said something wonderful about him. Self adulation was unattractive even if you considered it to be the truth. This was not a job interview, even though he wanted Joshua to think the best of him; it helped if he mixed it with a little humble honesty. If Joshua was interested enough to stay around then he would find out what the real Gris was like soon enough anyway. "I play the cello and the harmonica.â€ Gris smiled and laughed softly. "That, I started because I thought it would be funny if I ever got thrown in a cell for contempt of court. You know, it occasionally happens and now I am prepared to entertain myself if it does.â€
Jocelyn came back and set their drinks down on the table. The table had cup holders recessed into it. She held her hands on the glasses and asked them to reach out and find them. Once they had both taken hold of their drinks, she released them and, after asking them if there was anything else they needed, went on her way again.
"I have been labeled somewhat superstitious. It might be odd in a lawyer but there are some of us that have our little rituals. I believe there is more out there than we understand. The supernatural might not be what our ancestors believed it to be but I do think that its there.â€ Actually he knew for certain, werewolves and vampires existed. Gris was one hundred percent positive. "I don't watch alien autopsy or anything like that. I don't have a tin foil hat and believe that the government has a camera in my bathroom and is filming my every movement.â€
Taking a sip of his drink, he paused and looked in the direction of Joshua despite not being able to see him. "I will tell you what I won't say and that is how old I am.â€ He knew how young he looked and he knew that it had to be on Joshua's mind. It was always an issue, even now. In his twenties he had looked like a minor and that had made finding dates had been tricky at best. He had to find men who were interested in him and willing to believe he simply appeared young for his age. It was difficult finding men who were willing to sleep with someone who looked so young and who were not perverts who just liked young boys. Gris leaned forward and lowered his voice. "It doesn't matter. How old you are, doesn't matter to me. I find you attractive, intelligent, selfless and, so far, completely wonderful.â€
Leaning back again, he smiled. "I promise you I am legal. I can officially drink and drive so I won't land you in jail. If I behave immaturely then its probably simply a character flaw but I do try to be an adult most of the time so hopefully you'll give me a chance?â€ His voice lilted upward in question. He thought that Joshua was willing; that almost kiss before and the brief touches on his shoulders suggested someone who was interested.
It could all change quickly though and he knew that better than anyone. The young guy who seems older than he appears was great to talk to, flirt and dance with but then faced with him naked in a bed and he suddenly seems so much younger. More than once a date ended right there; the guy he was with finding that he couldn't go through with it. They always said he looked so innocent, so beautiful, and vulnerable. It made them feel as though they were taking advantage of him. Sometimes he could coax them back into bed, prove to them that he was not as innocent as he seemed but other times there was nothing he could do to salvage the moment. He wanted to eventually find himself naked in a bed with Joshua and when he did he hoped that Joshua did not change his mind and decide that their apparent age difference was a problem after all.
"So, I demand my right to equal disclosure. Tell me some things about yourself, Mr. Wesson.â€
((OOC: He's not reading Joshua's mind or anything. This is something that he deals with all the time because he likes men his own age the best and those tend to be worry about the age difference. So its been on his mind to say that it doesn't matter to him and that he hopes it won't matter to Joshua either. Please give Gris a chance! ))
It didn't surprise him terribly to find Gris enjoyed cooking. He had a wonderful, vast knowledge of the plants and herbs around here and Josh thought it fitting to know how to use them, not just what they were. It seemed like the two hobbies would go well together. He had wondered initially if Gris enjoyed cooking, and was happy to have the question answered.
That his companion not only enjoyed music but performed it himself had Josh's attention, too. Music was an important part of Josh's life. He couldn't fathom being with someone who didn't like it, and if Gris played the cello then surely his taste in musical might run toward the classical. Josh liked plenty of music, but classical was what he tended to play himself. When he composed, however, the music was much more free-form. Classical in inspiration but much more modern in expression. He found himself somewhat eager to expand that part of their discussion, but he didn't want to interrupt.
He found himself laughing softly along with the notion that the blond would wind up in jail playing a harmonica, a visual he was still chuckling over when Jocelyn returned with their drinks. Josh sipped softly at his wine as Gris continued, an invisible but rapt audience of one.
It was interesting to Josh that Gris refused to tell him his age. Of course it had been on Joshua's mind. How could it not bother him, to be interested in someone who appeared to be half his age? He couldn't have been drawn to anyone who acted immaturely though, he reasoned. Josh wasn't looking to bed a child. And while he might not like being in the dark (ha, ha) on the topic, Josh understood the gist of Gris's words. He understood he looked young, but he wanted to be judged by his personality on not his appearance.
How could Josh not approve of that sentiment? As much as he would have liked to know the actual number he had to admit it had little bearing on whether or not they were compatible. So far Gris was everything he enjoyed in a companion. If he didn't have trouble dating a man who looked so much older, Josh would take no issue with a man who looked so much younger. He wasn't exactly ready for the nursing home. He looked down at himself although he couldn't see anything. Maybe a few more reps in the gym... his obliques could use a little more definition.
Having been very quiet while Gris spoke Joshua responded immediately when Gris asked him for the same. "Very well," he said, trying to put a smile into his tone. "And please... call me Josh. I'm happy that you don't care how old I am, but could we perhaps not make it worse with the formalities? And for the record, I'm forty. Not quite over the hill, and doing my best to stave off the unavoidable peak and decline."
He took a bite of his bread and chewed slowly. "I enjoy music a good deal, as well, although I can't play the harmonica or the cello."
He considered whether to tell Gris about the piano. It was a very personal piece of information to him, but after a few moments he decided on it.
"I play the piano, myself. When I was younger I wanted to be a concert pianist. Obviously I didn't do that, but I still play. And I enjoy composing."
Josh didn't go into further detail. It was somewhat heavy, for a first date. Many people had dreams that never amounted to much when they were young. That he didn't go to music school after all probably wasn't that interesting.
Jocelyn arrived with their soup just then, placing it in front of them and explaining how to drink it. Not with a spoon, which would surely have people spilling all over the place, emerging from their dinner looking like they'd just played paintball. Instead it was served in a mug with two handles, easily sipped. Very clever. And very neat.
Josh sampled the tomato basil and found it tasty. It wasn't frozen or canned, clearly made with fresh ingredients. It was an excellent compliment to the dry red wine as well. After a few sips he dabbed his mouth with his napkin.
"I was born in the beginning of May, so I'm a Taurus, if it matters. May 13th, to be exact."
Josh would admit to owning many of the qualities his zodiac sign was said to embody, the bad as well as the good. Speaking of the bad, he supposed that if they were going to be very honest he should do as Gris had done and offer some of his more... difficult to understand traits.
"I don't intend to come off as emotionless but I suppose I do. It's not meant, really. When I was growing up, I just learned to be... stoic, I guess is what I feel about it. Sometimes you may need to ask me what I feel. I get a lot of misunderstandings about it."
Quite often, people assumed he wasn't amused by - well, anything at all. It wasn't true. He just didn't express it well all the time. He was making a conscious effort with Gris, because he was so very interested in getting to know him, but he was sure the matter would come up sooner or later. It usually did.
"This cooking of yours, then, is it something you might like to do... with someone else? A date, perhaps? I enjoy it myself. I'm not exactly chef material but I can follow a recipe."
It was much like writing a song. Layers of flavor, layers of notes. Everything working together in harmony. Exact measurements, exact lengths of time. Josh liked activities that were somewhat structured and both music and cooking were just that.
Joshua went on to tell him that he played the piano and had wanted to be a concert pianist when he was younger. Gris wondered what had changed to make that dream not come true. His family was the reason for his change of career but he hoped that it was something more personal for Josh and that his companion was happy with his decision to do what he was currently doing.
"There is no reason you couldn't do both to an extent, right?â€ It was the advice that Kiyoshi had given him about his own career and while it was difficult to lose oneself in a jungle studying the plants and still make a court hearing the next day, it might be easier to play the piano for others while still being a diplomat. "Perhaps there might be." He didn't want to make light of Joshua's decision to give up the life of a performer. "I don't know but I hope you enjoy what you do now.â€ For his own situation, he could still take vacations to the deepest darkest jungles in order to study. It was just that a large part of him wanted to be 'all in' or nothing. It was possible that Josh felt the same way about performing. No, doubt he still played the piano; he had said as much, but he might not feel comfortable sharing that with others without the enormous amount of daily practice and skill honing that would accompany being a concert pianist.
It was interesting to hear that Joshua composed. That was a level of creativity that he personally did not possess, unless one counted riffing on a drum with a bunch of pack mates around a fire. He didn't think that counted as composing; it was free styling.
Josh then told him about his birthday and his zodiac sign. That information made Gris feel better. It said to him that his companion might not make fun of him for his superstitions, which he felt were simply a belief in things beyond the scientific. His birthday was going to be easy to remember. Gris smiled into the darkness. "I was born on a Friday. July 13th. I am a cancer.â€ They had a month between their birthdays. Gris found himself daydreaming of them celebrating that between month together, as a mutual birthday. They could start on Josh's birthday and have a final celebration on his. Perhaps on June 13th they could throw a large party and invite everyone. The rest of the time they could celebrate privately together.
The little daydream surprised him and Gris did not know exactly what had come over him. He did not have relationships long enough to have a birthday celebration tradition. Thinking about the urge to settle into something more stable with Josh, Gris decided that it involved many factors. The conversation with Eiryk and Kiyoshi, meeting Evan, seeing Kiyo look so happy and content compared to the first time they had met, and the intention to stay in Nachton all added up to him seriously considering finding the right man and finally settling down. It helped that he now looked old enough to be considered an adult and to be in a relationship, if he was lucky, with someone closer to his own age.
He loved the way Josh looked and wished he could truly express all the reasons he found the man to be more attractive than some twenty year old cocksure college boy. Gris loved the grey in Josh's hair, the small crinkles around his eyes that barely showed until he truly smiled or laughed. He adored Josh's responsible, sensible attitude. He even loved, despite being somewhat frustrated by it, his companion's restraint.
Joshua explained his stoic personality and Gris was surprised. He had not seen that. Maybe that was because he had never met Josh while he was working but he had never found the man lacking in emotion. "I am British. We aren't known for our grand expressions of passion.â€ Stiff upper lip, stand tall, move along, mind your head and carry on; it was the way you were taught to behave. Perhaps that was why he did not find Josh's behavior odd but instead it was comforting; it reminded him of home without the judgments and criticism. "I would have said you are composed, maybe reserved but not unemotional. I can respect that there is a time and a place for an expression of your feelings. You don't have to declare your undying love for me over the PA system of a Bandits game. I promise that I will be just as happy if you mention it over dinner...in the dark.â€ Gris smiled. "Too soon?â€
Gris took up another piece of bread and took a bite out of it. His words were muffled by the bread but he talked around the side of it. "Oh, by the way in case you haven't noticed, I have been told I have trouble being serious and that I don't know when to shut my mouth.â€ Waving the remaining slice of bread to emphasize his words, he said. "I take issue with that. I do know how and when to be serious. I also know when to shut my mouth.â€ The next part was spoken in a quiet murmur. "I just don't often do it.â€
Josh asked about his cooking. Gris thought about it briefly and answered. "How about this plan... While we are hiking we can look for things that are edible. We can then get some food to accompany our herbs and make a nice dinner with fresh ingredients.â€ He liked the idea of sharing the entire day with Josh, not just a few hours hiking in the forest; though, he liked the idea of that also.
"None whatsoever," Josh said, when Gris asked about combining his piano playing with his current job. There wasn't even a hint of the wistfulness he felt inside in his voice; it had been a long time since making that choice. Time enough to exercise control over the regret he felt for not following his heart. He wouldn't have changed a thing if he had to go do it again. He'd made his choices for his family, for his little sisters and his mother, and Josh would never hold his own choices against them. Every now and then, however, there was still that sensation of 'what might have been' and he felt it keenly. But only every now and then. For the most part he had convinced himself to be content with what he could get away with in terms of time spent playing and writing.
"I do enjoy what I do now," he said. "It isn't every man or woman who can say they've helped someone make a difference and I, at least, know that when the day is done I've had an opportunity to do so. Whether or not I managed that goal sometimes remains to be seen, but I'll take what I can get."
He had explained to Gris that he helped out his countrymen, and also that he helped represent his country's interests. So while he was referring to something else completely when he spoke of his job, the description still applied. Josh knew they couldn't build a relationship on lies, but it was too soon to go spilling all kinds of supernatural truths. He found it amusing that Gris professed to believe in things like alien life. It gave him hope that, if and when the time came to confess about his Pack, Gris wouldn't run screaming but might actually be interested.
When Gris mentioned the date and day of his birth Josh briefly wondered how many thirteenths of July fell on a Friday, and if he could possibly ascertain his companion's age by that. It was only a brief consideration, however. There were plenty of 'Friday the thirteenths' in any given year, and tracking down a particular month would be a pain in the ass. Plus, more importantly, Gris had already made his feelings plain on that topic and Josh respected them. If Gris wanted Josh to know how old he was, he would say. And Josh could wait. It wasn't so important that he was about to obsess over it. Would he suffer a little bit of doubt because they appeared to be such different ages? Yes, probably, but what Gris said was correct - they were both consenting adults and that mattered most.
That Josh was reserved didn't seem to bother Gris, and that filled Josh with relief. Grand expressions of passion were not his forte. He was the quiet sort, always there, always supportive, rarely overly expressive. People had told him before that they had to rely on his actions and not his words to ascertain his feelings. Josh couldn't help but smile at Gris's next statement though. Had he been able to see he might have reached out to touch the man across from him but instead he gave those words a moment's thought before responding.
"It's never too soon to tell someone you care about them," he said, "or to let them know they've changed you in some small way just by being around."
A confession of love, it was not, but Josh figured Gris was joking about that part. Love at first sight would be nice, but it hadn't happened here. He and Gris had crossed paths several times the day they had met without any choirs of angels bursting onto the scene to serenade either of them. That they were here now after Josh had dropped unceremoniously onto Gris's head was something of a serendipitous surprise; Josh would take what he was given. He was happy they'd met.
The next admission pulled another soft chuckle from him. All this laughing he was doing... it was uncharacteristic but not unwelcome. "Maybe we can balance each other out," Josh suggested. "I wish I had the ability to say what I mean all the time. I admire it."
That Gris wasn't afraid to state his feelings was nice. Josh hated not knowing where he stood with someone. If Gris was inclined to be blunt about it, maybe Josh wouldn't have to flounder around and wonder. At the same time, he had to remember not to do to Gris what he himself hated. That was the hard part. But so far, he thought he had expressed himself well.
His smile grew when Gris picked up on exactly where Josh had been going regarding their hiking trip. "You read my mind," he said softly. "I think that would be fantastic."
What better way to learn about Nachton than to walk through it, smell it, feel it, taste it, even? And with Gris's company Josh found his heart pounding against his chest once again. He liked Gris. A lot.
"Can you spare an entire day? And are you sure you want to waste it with me? You can't possibly have a lot of free time at your fingertips."
Lawyers never did. Gris had just said he rarely got the chance to spend a day partaking in that particular hobby. A whole day, though, sounded like a lot of fun.
"What is your favorite food? Is there something you enjoy most of all?"
It was the natural direction for the conversation to turn in since they were discussing cooking. But Josh found he had an overwhelming urge to know as much as he could about Gris. There was more than just a spark; there was something very real here and Josh wanted to make more of it if he could.
The description of his duties did strike a chord. The one thing that was good about being a lawyer was his ability to help people. He enjoyed being a defense lawyer far more than being a prosecuting attorney. Law was something that few people understood; the court room was a scary place and they had to trust him, sometimes with their very lives. That was a heady situation. He was at his best when the stakes were high. He had worked independently for a while before joining a R'asa law firm. The good thing about representing his pack was that his education and experience were going to help his people and they understood that while he looked twenty one at best, he was actually closer to forty. They let him do consulting work, bring in non-werewolf clients to help generate money for the R'asa. Of course, VR legal issues always came first.
Despite occasionally loving his job, he still wondered what could have been and different his life would be if he had followed his dream.
His companion seemed to have taken his cheeky remark somewhat seriously. Gris stopped with the little mug of soup about halfway to his mouth and stared in the direction of Joshua. He wondered how he had changed Josh is so short a time unless by being there to cushion his fall he had changed him by allowing him to stay almost entirely in one piece. "Well, I hope it is for the better and that it continues to be.â€ Gris said seriously.
The comment about them balancing each other out amused him; it was probably true. Gris smiled and shrugged in the darkness. "I admire restraint. My cousin is a master of cool, level headed decorum at all times. I have always admired that about him and I admire that about you.â€ He could not imagine anyone riling Joshua up to the point that he snapped and said something unwise. He didn't think that Josh had a problem with his sharp tongue getting him into trouble because he couldn't help but say what he thought. His quick wit made for a good lawyer, being fast on a response but he wanted to be a great lawyer. Holding back the comments until necessary and being cool and professional all the time; that was how he wanted to be. Mr. Hoang was like that. If the man had another expression other than serene confidence then Gris hadn't seen it.
They moved on to their plans for the trip to the woods. Josh asked if he could spare the time and whether he wanted to spend an entire day with him. Hell yes, were the words that came immediately to mind. Gris took another sip of his soup, savoring the smooth texture and savory flavor in order to allow his brain to come up with something more suitable. "Judges like to have their weekends off which generally means, barring some big case, that I have my weekends off.â€ He set down the soup and added. "I would love to spend the entire day with you and I don't think any of it would be a waste.â€ He couldn't say that enough; the idea of spending time with Josh had him excited. He was looking forward to the weekend; it couldn't get here fast enough.
"I have so many favorites. It depends on my mood. I like light flavorful pastas, fresh fish cooked just right. I like roasts that have been cooked with fresh herbs.â€ Gris felt it only fitting to know the same information; it would make cooking for Joshua better if he knew there was something that his companion preferred. "And how about you? Favorites? Anything you are allergic to that we should leave out of the meal?â€
"Me too," he responded to Gris, once again with typical honesty. He did hope they continued to see each other. Maybe that would change the more they learned but Josh hoped not. Either way it was all part of the process of getting to know someone else. You either hit it off or you didn't, and learning was the fun of it.
That Gris admired his restraint was interesting. Having just expressed admiration for the opposite in Gris, Josh laughed softly. He could understand. You always admired in others those traits that you did not possess yourself. Instead of expounding on that thought, though, he seized on the other bit of dropped information.
"Do you have a large family? Brothers and sisters? Are any of them here?" Josh continued on his own thoughts, volunteering the information before Gris had to try to pry it out of him (which wouldn't have been hard). "Gretta is the closest family I have here. Back in Liechtenstein I have four younger sisters, and my mother. My grandparents all live there as well. And a slew of cousins."
Josh had a very large family, but that hadn't meant he could dodge out on the responsibility of taking care of them. He'd had help, though, plenty of it, since he himself had been no more than a child of eight when his father had been killed. As he'd gotten older though he'd relied on them less and less, learning to be father, brother, and friend all in one.
It was good to know Gris had the weekend free, and Josh now looked forward to spending a day together without worrying that he was distracting the other man from something more important. Their taste in food seemed similar too, which meant no matter what they made they would probably have fun and enjoy it.
"That all sounds great to me," he responded emphatically. "Do you follow recipes when you cook? I usually need to... but I take direction fairly well too. You can lead that effort. And I don't have any allergies. Not that I know of, anyhow. Hopefully we won't have to find out the hard way."
Noises nearby heralded Jocelyn's return, this time with their entrees. She slid each plate in front of them and described, using numbers on a clock, where each part of the meal was located. Josh had a dubious feeling about this part but it was all fun. He might end up with marsala up his nose but at least he'd be able to describe the bouquet. He felt himself chuckling as he reflected that this might be the very first meal where he emerged from the restaurant and asked his date if he had any food stuck in his hair instead of between his teeth. Lest Gris think he was laughing at him, Josh explained what he'd found amusing as he located his fork and stabbed it successfully into something soft that was somewhere around 3 o'clock.
Their plans for their day together were coming along famously. Joshua did not appear to be allergic to anything and had not expressed a distaste for any of the foods he had mentioned. "I don't follow a recipe very often unless I am making something I have never made before. The first time or so of trying something new then I will use a recipe, decide what I like about it, how I want to change it, make it better or at least put my own flavor on it.â€
Their entrees arrived and Joshua could be heard chuckling about something. Gris figured that it had to do with his food because he had not said anything particularly amusing and they had paused when Jocelyn had arrived. Perhaps they had given him the wrong order? It occurred to Gris that this would be a terrible place to be if you had a severe food allergy that was common. There was no way for you to tell that you meal did not include mushrooms until you bit into it. Surprise!
Joshua explained that his amusement had to do with having to ask if he had food in his hair instead of between his teeth when this was all over. Gris smiled and echoed Josh's chuckle with soft laughter of his own. "Do you know how much trouble we could cause? You could start a food fight in here and no one would know who the instigator was... unless they have special night vision cameras installed and then we'd be in trouble.â€
"So aside from championship food tossing, which everyone loves, what is your favorite Olympic sport?â€
"I'm so sorry," he said softly. Gris was not inclined to elaborate and Josh understood that too. Someday, maybe, they would explore it. The desire to know everything that made Gris tick had not diminished in the short time they'd been at dinner. If anything else Josh was eager to hear more, but those painful details could definitely wait. For his part, if Gris expressed interest in he death of his father Josh would very gladly tell it. It would always hurt, but Josh had long since come to terms with the fact that nothing he could ever do would bring his father back, or make his mother well.
Rather than dwell on it some more Josh listened with a soft sigh to Gris's voice coming out of the dark, enjoying the timbre and the soft British accent. He was quickly determining that Gris must, indeed, be a little older than he looked. How else would his accent be so understated? Someone fresh from the Isles would surely have a stronger accent? These were simply thoughts that bounced around idly in his head, however, while Gris spoke. There was no weight to them.
"I'm looking forward to this weekend," he said. "You make it sound so interesting, I'm inclined to run out to the woods now and start picking things. Of course, with my luck, I'll stumble into the first patch of poison ivy I find unless you stay close to keep me out of it."
When Gris mentioned food fights Josh reached out and tapped his fingers upon the tabletop. "Don't tempt me," he warned with a smile. How was it Gris could bring out this playful person inside with just the merest little impish suggestion? "I would prefer to isolate our troublemaking to effect just us. Having a third party involved has proved troublesome enough already."
Just the two of them. Josh liked the sound of it. He already had his hands full wrestling with Melanie and her constant apologies. She seemed half terrified that she had caused some kind of international scandal, and half hopeful that Josh would... would what? Fall madly in love with her or something? Hardly likely.
"My favorite?" Josh considered that for a few moments while he chewed on a bit of broccoli. "I like watching a lot of them," he said. "I would prefer to participate in sports myself, but if I have to watch I do enjoy gymnastics and diving. Track and field too."
He coughed softly and added, in a very wry tone, "Some for more reasons than one. You? Do you have a favorite?"
There was rice on his plate as well, covered in some of the delicious marsala sauce, and he was doing his best to eat it neatly, cupping his hand beneath his fork as he brought it to his mouth. Joking aside, he really would prefer not to exit the restaurant looking like he'd finger-painted dinner onto his shirt.
"How is your dinner? The marsala is quite good. You're welcome to try some."
Food sharing - it was something he knew turned some people off. Josh didn't mind it. He enjoyed it, in fact. When his family went to dinner they shared everything, but it seemed to be one of those things that people either loved or hated. Josh wouldn't care either way, whichever Gris went, but he should probably figure it out sooner rather than later. And, he admitted to himself, he would rather enjoy sharing with Gris.
They turned to the conversation to other things by mutual unsaid consent and Gris appreciated that. He chuckled softly at Joshua's enthusiasm and the potential to proudly bring home some poisonous itchy plants. Of course he had never had a problem with poison ivy and could roll in it with no lasting troubles but it would be a valid concern for Joshua.
Gris wasn't sure he wanted to roll in the stuff either despite an unnatural regneration.
"I will show you what it looks like but if you aren't sure just remember this saying they have here to teach children how to identify it. 'Leaves of three, let it be.' and you should be fine. Each stem has a grouping of three leaves.â€ He could point out what the vines on trees looked like; they were quite distinctive with the hairy tendrils that were often reddish. "I have never tried to eat it. I don't think we will find many recipes for poison ivy spiced meals so its probably just as well if we don't pick any.â€
He raised his eyebrows, which a moment later he realized Josh couldn't see, when his companion mentioned past troubles with third parties in their activities. Gris wondered if he meant Melanie or Gretta. They were both involved but it seemed unlikely that he would hold his partner responsible for their misadventure with the cab. Unless... "Let me guess, Gretta chose the ill fated cab?â€
If she did then that was a reason to give her a gift along with the Christmas card.
Imagining watching Josh closely and cheering him on while he engaged in physical activity was distracting. He almost didn't have an answer to the expected return question, especially when Josh mentioned ulterior motives for watching, which had been exactly where his thoughts were at that moment. "Swimming. Not a huge fan of diving, at least not the high dive though at least they are jumping into water. Gymnastics is interesting and rowing and cycling. I like a lot of the summer Olympics. The winter Olympics has more mountains and people doing insane things on them.â€
Gris paused to eat some of his asparagus and then added. "Skating is nice though.â€ Slippery but level and that was fine. Skiing was okay; it was the jumping while skiing that was worrisome. Watching other people do something that he wouldn't do was sometimes exciting though.
"Does Lichtenstein have any athletes at the game this time?â€
Joshua offered him some of his dinner. Gris wasn't sure he would successfully find Josh's plate without accidentally stabbing the poor man with his fork. He decided there was a simple solution to problem. Taking hold of his plate, he held the end of the table and slid out of the booth. Running his hand along the edge, he found where it stopped, set his plate down on the other side. He slid into the booth on Josh's side.
"We can share better this way. Maybe we will make less of a mess?â€ That was still debatable with them eating in the dark but at least they wouldn't be trying to pass food across the table.
Of course his decision to move might have also been motivated by the excuse to move closer to Josh. He found where he had placed his fork, picked it up with his right hand and leaned over in front of his dinner companion. Gris found Joshua's plate and carefully scooped up some of the marsala.
"Mmm, it is good. The shrimp is excellent and so is the cous cous.â€ Gris set his fork down on the right side of his plate where his knife rested. He leaned back and placed a hand lightly on Josh's leg. "Have some, if you like.â€
When Gris asked if Gretta had chosen their broken down cab Josh laughed softly. "Well yes, she did, now that you mention it. I was thinking of the lady with the mace however. She has been... persistent... in her apologies."
He took another bite of his meal, chewed swallowed, and added, "To be honest it seems my misfortunes lately have all ended with a rather particular silver lining."
If he were inclined to be romantic he might say that fate kept bringing them together, that their stars were in alignment, they were meant to be, et cetera, et cetera. Maybe he was inclined to be romantic... but he also had his fair share of superstition so lest he jinx any potential he would keep those romantic notions to himself until some hopeful point in the future when perhaps he might be able to reveal them.
As they continued to chat easily, Joshua observed that Gris's fear of heights was definitely far more intense than simply not liking to be up there. It seemed to extend to not even liking to see them on the TV screen. He filed that away for future reference; Josh was a caretaker. He did his utmost in his job and his personal life to make sure the people he came into contact with were safe, secure, and looked after. If that meant no heights, ever, at all, for Gris, then that fact had just become of utmost importance.
He groped gently for his wine glass, located it, and took a sip, doing his best to return it to exactly where it had been. That done, he had to relocate his utensils and find something else edible on his plate. This experience wasn't exactly enjoyable... it wasn't unpleasant either, mind, but it was work. Interesting, enlightening work, which was exactly what it was meant to be. He sort of liked the dark around them. He almost wished they were in a more private setting.
"Liechtenstein does, indeed, have a whopping three athletes in the Olympics," Josh said. "Actually not a bad ratio if you consider our entire country is only about twenty-four kilometers long. Sadly, our swimmer and tennis player have been knocked out and all of our hopes are resting on one lone marathon-runner."
His inquiry about sharing his dinner with Gris was answered in the most pleasant way possible, which Josh probably would never have suggested but had definitely hoped for. He felt the shift in weight as Gris joined him on his side of the table, immediately became aware of the heat of the other man's body next to him. It stole his breath away for a moment. It had been so long...
Gris did take a sample of his dinner, and Josh found it pleasing. He really did like to share. It was such an intimate thing, something you only did with those you cared about. Then Gris's hand rested lightly upon his leg and Josh let out a soft, "Oh," of pleasure and encouragement.
It was difficult to concentrate; Josh's heart was pounding against his chest like a hammer. He wanted to touch. He shifted a little closer so that their legs brushed. His arm would be trapped awkwardly between the two of them so instead he raised it, laid it along the back of the bench seat behind Gris.
"I will," he said in response to the counter-offer. Leaning forward slightly Josh managed to locate one of the grilled shrimp. It was definitely enjoyable, although he doubted he'd remember the taste of it later.
He replaced his fork back on the table and dropped his free hand to the one on his leg. In the dark, he gently smoothed his hand over the long, slim fingers, giving a soft hum of pleasure. Gris had attractive hands. Josh noticed them in others, perhaps because he played the piano, but he tended to look at them first. Now, although he couldn't see, he could feel them and it sent a spike of heated arousal through him. He tugged, lightly, boldly encouraging exploration, something very forward for him. Maybe it was the darkness. He doubted he could be like this in the light, but it seemed like the entire restaurant was dimming away leaving the two of them ensconced in the booth with the beating of Josh's heart as the only noise.
A small smug part of him said that Joshua did not seem to lean in her direction. Another little voice then helpfully pointed out that he did not know much about Josh yet and he could, in fact, swing in both directions. It had certainly happened before.
There was this really hot redhead the one time...that he had snagged away from some brunette who had been flirting quite heavily until her boyfriend managed to sober up enough to wander onto the dance floor. She led the drunken sot back to his bar stool, ordered him another drink, kissed him and then headed back to dance but by then Gris, who had been eyeing the other man already, had moved closer and found him equally interested. It hadn't been the first time he had slept with someone who also liked woman and it hadn't been the last either.
He pushed aside the voice of doubt by reminding it that he was here and she was not and if he had anything to say about it that would be a future trend as well.
Joshua explained to him that Lichtenstein had three athletes in the summer games. Gris raised his eyebrows in surprise, that was truly astounding for the size of their nation. Joshua explained they had not won any medals yet but they had one more hope. "Well we will cheer for him...if he is not running against a Brit, or a likable American. Okay we will cheer for him anyway.â€
Conversation ceased as he moved around the table and leaned down to sample Josh's dinner. He had offered some in return but it seemed that his hand on Josh's leg was a bit distracting. Gris smiled in the darkness, enjoying that small 'oh' of surprised pleasure.
Joshua did try some of his food. Which food and the opinion of it was not entirely forth coming.
Instead he felt Josh's hand slide over his own with another sound of pleasure. A part of him wished he could see his companion and another part of him was happy to focus on these different indications of Josh's feelings.
His hand was tugged gently upward. Gris didn't need to be given any more hints than that. However, he didn't take the expected direction either. Sliding his hand out from under Josh's, he moved it slowly down toward his companion's knee. He pressed gently as he went, encouraging Josh to open his legs a little more, press this one even further up against his own.
On bare skin he might have used a lighter touch but there was fabric covering what he wanted to feel, even if that material was a light summer weight trouser. The muscles beneath his hand were well sculpted and he could easily feel the results of dedication and time that Josh spent on perfecting his physical form. Gris silently appreciated that dedication. He pressed his thumb down at a place just above and on the inside of Josh's knee and then slowly pushed it upward in a long smooth motion until it barely brushed the place he wanted to touch the most.
There he paused, listening to Josh's breathing, feeling his muscles tighten, and all the other signs that he was making an impression on his companion.
Eventually he slid long fingers lightly along the very hard length between Josh's legs. He reached further down, the tips of his fingers gently rubbing the fabric that covered softer portions of Josh's anatomy.
Leaning into Joshua's shoulder, he turned toward his companion and murmured softly. "There are other things that I would like to taste but I was not entirely sure they were on the menu.â€ Gris ran his hand back up Josh's erection, rubbing the fabric over it and warming it with his hand. "If I am wrong...â€ He leaned a little closer and whispered. "well, it is dark and you did suggest that we keep the trouble between the two of us.â€ He doubted anyone else would be under the table.
The softly accented words in the dark were tempting. Oh God. Oh God oh God. This was why it would have been useful to have Mel here, because Josh had already known he was attracted to Gris and her presence would have served as a restraint when his libido was telling him yes but his head was telling him things like 'oh, no,' and 'not here.'
What if Gris only wanted a night? Just a quick hour or two of pleasure, and then to move on? Josh wasn't really a big one nighter kind of person. He'd had short relationships, and yes, he'd had a one-night stand before but it was rare for him. Would he be willing to do so here? His heart squeezed; he did like Gris a lot. He didn't want to give in to mindless lust (wait, yes, yes he did). He actually did want more (but what was wrong with just a little bit of mindless lust?).
Rather than answer Gris in words, since they seemed to be failing him at the moment, Josh let his arm slide the very short distance from the back of the booth to Gris's shoulders. He lightly brushed his fingertips along the back of Gris's neck, diving gently into the soft blond curls. Josh could feel the heat of Gris's breath when he spoke next, and it told him where to aim.
He brought his free hand away from his leg, giving a soft, soft moan as Gris's hand stroked between his wide-spread legs. Slowly he reached up and found the line of Gris's jaw. Turning toward his companion, Josh closed the small space between them and sought Gris's lips. It wasn't a difficult quest, given their current proximity to each other. He was gentle at first, trying to gauge Gris's response before taking too much liberty.
Breaking away after a brief, delicious taste Josh tried to find his words. "Are you a little more certain now?"
He shifted his hips, pushing himself firmly against Gris's hand. "I'd hate to leave you wondering."
He hadn't been entirely joking when they'd first met and he'd mentioned with his deadpan expression that hugging was for date number two. Sure, that was an exaggeration but all the same Josh didn't generally move too quickly. Gris was... inspiring, however. Josh was half inclined to see where this led. Maybe more than half.
With a soft groan he bent toward Gris once again, his hand dropping from that well-sculpted jaw to trace down the lapel of Gris's coat again. Only this time, he let his hand slip inside of it, to the light fabric of the shirt beneath and the warmth of Gris's body. He spread his hand wide, pulled his companion a little closer, and kissed him again with barely restrained ferocity.
((ooc: In spite of Gris's fairly obvious words, no, Josh has not realized what he suggested at the end of his last post. It just doesn't occur to him that 'here and now' is an option. He isn't ignoring it!))
Joshua pulled his hand away and for a brief moment Gris wondered where his companion was going with it. He could hear the rustle of clothing and feel the faint trail of heat where Josh was moving. Upward, he thought, not exactly the direction Gris had expected. He was slightly surprised by the fingers that brushed his neck as the other hand lightly stroked his jaw. It did not occur to him that he wasn't breathing until Josh leaned forward and kissed him. The gentle embrace left him even more breathless and he sucked in much needed air as Josh asked if that made the matter more clear.
"A bit.â€ He murmured softly, "Show me again.â€
His companion pushed himself further into Gris's exploring fingers. The message seemed fairly clear and he liked what it was saying.
Just as he was about to pull away and move to a spot that would give him better access for such a taste test, Josh pulled him close again. Gris moaned softly into that more assertive kiss. He loved those and he wanted more of them.
He invited another, granting Josh access to his mouth and welcoming him in with a quick flicker of his tongue across soft lips. Meanwhile his hand was busy, gently easing down the zipper of Josh's trousers. Gris slid his hand inside with another satisfied moan. His questing fingers found soft boxers and then skin. He stroked it gently, not wanting to do more than tease before he could wrap his mouth around that firm length. It wouldn't do for Josh to walk out with a conspicuous stain, now would it? Best if he just keep the inevitable outcome to himself.
The litany didn't cease as it repeated helplessly in Joshua's mind. The taste of Greer's lips, his soft demand to be kissed again, the questing fingers, the complete blackness they found themselves in... this was the best worst idea ever.
He responded to that tempting flick of a tongue against his lips by giving the softest growl and lowering his restraint a bit. Josh was aggressive in bed by nature; to be invited in so sweetly was something he was not inclined to fight against. He invaded Gris's mouth, tasting, exploring with the tip of his tongue, feeling a shiver course down his spine as their lips mingled together pleasantly. When he pulled away for a quick breath it was only momentary and then he was back, nipping, sucking gently at Gris's lower lip before deepening into a more satisfying kiss once again. He could do this forever.
The feel of warm fingers against his hard length, though, that caused him to stiffen and expel a soft gasp. He pulled away from Gris's mouth and buried his face against his companion's neck, muffling a moan in those soft blond curls. His hands tightened at Gris's side and in his hair and Josh bit back a louder noise of encouragement.
That brought him to his senses. Sort of. Through the rush of blood in his ears he once more heard the soft murmur of voices. The clink of silverware. They were in the middle of a restaurant, dark though it was, and if they could hear the other diners then those diners could hear them. Josh, normally so very restrained in every day interactions, was definitely a vocal partner in the bedroom. He was not quiet, and he enjoyed it when his partner was also not quiet.
His ardor was further cooled when he thought about the situation. He wanted Gris - oh, so very badly. But he wanted to wait. Josh really did like him. There was definitely a spark there. Josh wanted to fan that spark into a flame while getting to know Gris better, he wanted to feel the eventual explosion that could potentially occur.
He wanted more than one night of mindless lust. And he wanted Gris to want that, too.
Josh forced himself to release his grip on his companion, although he kept his hands where they were, stroking softly. "Gris," he murmured, his tone pained. "We have to stop. Or slow down."
Even as he said the words, he lowered his lips to Gris's once again, making very little attempt to dissuade Gris from using that wicked hand further.
"They can hear us. They'll know."
Even if the other diners remained miraculously oblivious their servers did this all the time. What were the odds hat no one in the history of Dining in the Dark had ever tried to use the blanket of darkness and anonymity as an excuse to get frisky in public? With servers who relied on every sense but sight to tell them what was going on? They may as well be in broad daylight where the blind were concerned, and while Josh might be aggressive in bed he was not particularly eager to put himself on display.
But, God, it nearly physically hurt to stop. He was shaking with the effort to restrain himself. It had been far too long since he'd been with anyone, and what he felt now was far more powerful than he remembered. He wanted to lay Gris back right here in this booth and take him mercilessly, until they were both screaming their release. And he couldn't. It would be far sweeter in a few weeks, a month, however long it took for them to reach a point where there were more emotions involved.
Josh removed his hand from Gris's side and laid his fingertips against his jaw once more. He pressed his own cheek to the other side of Gris's face and murmured low, into the other's ear, "You fascinate me. You're killing me. So very well."
His attraction to Josh was nearly overwhelming; he expected that knowing more about the man might take away some of the mystery and dull the edge of something that had been a nagging need since he met Josh the first time. He had not been pining away listlessly, staring out a window for days or anything so dramatic but Joshua entered his thoughts, frequently. The man had even entered his dreams once. It was part of the reason he had not called in the following few days after their first encounter; a part of him was afraid to find out where it might lead and another, even bigger part, was afraid not to. Gris had resolved to call Josh this weekend but he had found him standing out in the rain instead.
Joshua pulled away from his lips and buried his face in Gris's shoulder. He could feel as well as hear the tiny moan. His other hand wrapped around Josh's back and hugging him tightly; he could feel muscles that were tense almost to the point of shaking.
When his companion loosened his grip and said that they needed to stop, a wave of relief washed over him quickly followed by another of disappointment. He nodded silently, knowing that Josh could feel his answer with his head on his shoulder.
He was kissed again and Gris wondered at the confusing signals that Joshua sent. Hia companion had answered him so affirmatively but then wanted him to stop and now he was kissing him again. It was rare not to know what someone wanted from him. Perhaps it would have been easier if he could see Josh, but then again, perhaps not.
Josh pointed out that they could be heard. He bit back the response that was on the tip of his tongue with effort. The others wouldn't hear if they were both very quiet. Gris reminded himself that he had wanted to wait but he was finding that hard to do.
Giving the erection in his hand one more farewell stroke over the top with his thumb, he straightened Joshua's clothes and carefully zipped back up the trousers. He reached up, wrapping his newly freed arm over Josh's shoulder and rested his hand against his companion's neck. Hugging him tightly for a moment, Gris kissed Josh gently on the cheek. "Its okay. We can stop.â€ He wouldn't do anything Joshua didn't really want to do but he could feel his companion shaking and he had barely gotten started. He stroked Joshua's back in long soothing movements, wanting to let him know that it really was okay.
The words spoken softly in his ear, made him smile. He placed another kiss on Josh's cheek and hugged him tightly once more. "I haven't even gotten to the unforgettable part yet.â€ Gris brushed his smile against Josh's skin so his companion could feel it. On their first encounter being unforgettable in bed had been alluded to. He had plenty of confidence in his skills as a lover but he had actually meant that it was hard to forget having sex with someone, anyone, at least so soon afterward. If he sounded a bit sure of himself, well, he was that too.
He turned, still keeping one arm around Joshua's waist and reached out for a drink. Gris brought the glass to his lips and found his hand shaking. It would seem Joshua wasn't the only one having difficulties. He took a large swallow of the liquid only to find what his nose had been trying to reveal to him a little too late, and that was he had picked up the wrong glass.
Coughing, he blinked his watering eyes and leaned further out until he found his own glass. Gris took another healthy gulp and let it settle his throat. Then he explained the commotion though it was probably obvious. "Wrong glass.â€
Picking up his knife and releasing Josh so that he could pick up his fork, Gris paused before returning to his food. "You are doing a fine job of murdering me also...but I agree, I would rather we do that differently.â€
He gave a soft sigh of disappointment when Gris's hand moved away with a farewell caress. He felt Gris's touch to his neck, the strokes on his back that went a long way toward soothing his restlessness even as his mind took him briefly to a land where they hadn't stopped their delicious, stealthy activity.
Josh felt Gris's smile and felt a pleasant rush of warmth, that perhaps he'd caused it. The soft, humorous, accompanying words made him smile in return and he brushed his thumb across Gris's cheek before dropping that hand. "Believe me, you're unforgettable now."
As he moved his hand away he let it drop to Gris's leg, resting there warmly for a second. A huge part of him wanted to return to what they'd been doing but this was the right choice. Right choices were never easy, and this was one of the hardest things he'd possibly ever done.
His thoughts were interrupted by a fit of coughing next to him as Gris either sent his drink down the wrong pipe, or took too much, or something. Josh patted his back gently while he recovered and gave a soft chuckle at the explanation. Apparently he wasn't the only one distracted. "All right now?"
As they returned to some semblance of normalcy Josh chased his lukewarm food around his plate with his fork. Literally - he was completely thrown off by their little side adventure and it took him a little while to find the rest of his nearly-forgotten chicken. He could still feel the warmth of Gris's thigh pressed against his own leg and that had him more than a little preoccupied, still.
His body was sill remembering their very recent activity and he found it a little hard to concentrate on dinner when certain parts of his anatomy were still raging with desire. Josh forced himself to breathe normally, knowing he would regain control shortly. He could have groaned at the thought of going home alone to a bottle of lotion and a handful of tissue, though. So not appealing after their little diversion.
He sought to bring the conversation back to something that would get their minds off the physical, for the time being. Something pleasant to think of for the very near future, too. "So. Did you have someplace in mind to go hiking? I don't know what sort of parks or trails are in Nachton yet. I did find the Gardens, but they seem a bit tame for a good walk."
That brought up another question, too. "Where did you want to cook, also? You're welcome to come back to the apartment, unless you have somewhere else you prefer."
Some cooks preferred their own space. Josh knew that. "I might not have everything we need in the kitchen yet, but we can probably get by."
He was already looking forward to the weekend, although the week was hardly over with. All he knew was that he wanted to know more and to spend plenty of time with Gris. Granted, he wanted it all now, but he knew how to be reasonably patient. How they might get through their planned day without finishing what they'd begun here at the restaurant, though, Josh didn't know. Maybe it would be wise to have a few items on hand, just in case.
As he considered that, Jocelyn returned to check on them and ask about their meal. "This is wonderful," he said to her with sincerity. "Everything is delicious."
Hopefully she wouldn't realize the double meaning behind the words. He might be paranoid, but he felt like everyone in the restaurant must surely know just how close they'd come to doing what they'd almost done.
As much as he had enjoyed his food, he ate rather mechanically now. His mind kept wandering back to their earlier embrace and the fierceness of Joshua's kiss, so unexpected but incredibly sexy from the quiet reserved diplomat. He was enthralled by the possibility of more; what would Josh be like when they were somewhere private enough to be themselves? Gris couldn't wait to find out and he was not accustomed to wanting something or someone so badly.
"The park and preserve.â€ Gris replied in answer to Joshua's question. "It has enough space to feel like you have gotten away from it all...without actually leaving the city. Its nice, sort of like Central Park but with less crime.â€ It was also very handy for werewolves in the city.
His companion then asked him where he wanted to cook. They couldn't go to the Asylum and he didn't want to take Joshua to a hotel. Gris had been meaning to get an apartment since he had decided to stay awhile and he couldn't bring his dates back to 'his' place at the moment.
His room at the asylum was in The Rails where Kiyo and Tavi were. It seemed like a fun place and he had loved the little train that ran around the common area. Plus, that had been the most likely area in which to find fellow gamers and non-conformists. He liked it and didn't want to give it up but he couldn't always take people to a hotel and Josh... Josh was too good for a hotel, even a very nice one.
"Your place will have to do for the moment. I was not entirely certain I was going to stay in Nachton. I've been living out of boxes and a suite at the Marquis. We will make it work. I can cook on a fire pit in the woods. I think we will be fine without a few fancy utensils.â€
Deciding he had eaten his fill of his food, Gris placed his utensils down and pushed his plate back. He didn't want to return to his side of the table; though, if Joshua was truly worried about appearances, he supposed he should. They had a legitimate reason for both sitting on the same side; it was perfectly innocent. Gris leaned back. He slid his fingers beneath Josh's jacket and gently smoothed his hand over the lean sculpted muscle he could feel beneath the thin shirt.
Jocelyn came back and asked about their dinner. Gris smiled cheerfully and agreed with Josh. "It was lovely. In fact, it was so good that we decided to share.â€ He would let her then draw the obvious conclusion about why he was over in the same booth. Not that it truly concerned him one way or another. Appearances mattered to him when it concerned his family, his pack or his job. She wasn't a lawyer, or a Greyson and the odds were extremely low that she was a werewolf.
She cleared the table and told them that she would be back with their desserts shortly.
Once she had gone a safe distance away, he leaned closer to Josh and spoke softly. "There is something else I should confess...â€ Gris smiled as he paused before continuing. "I am a certified masseuse.â€ Sliding his hand up to Josh's shoulder, he gave it a small squeeze and a little illustrative kneading with his thumb. Lowering his voice even further, Gris added. "I can't help but notice how much time you devote to your physique.â€ Oh, how he had noticed! "It makes me want to smooth oil on you and massage every inch after one of these work outs of yours.â€ He wanted to touch all of Josh and to feel him relax completely beneath his fingers. Of course these thoughts were not helping him relax, not at all.
He was eager to nail down a date and time. Hell, Gris could just come home with him tonight and stay for the rest of the week as far as Josh was concerned. He gave himself a mental check. He was going too far too fast. It had been a complaint of a previous partner of his. Josh tended to get possessive. He was not good at sharing. He liked Gris, and he wanted him. Josh had to give him room, though. He couldn't monopolize every waking moment. Although he did want to.
Gris's next words, however, made Josh frown a bit. Living out of boxes in a hotel? Josh didn't like hotels, for the most part. For traveling, of course, sure, but he'd never want to stay in one too long. Maybe it was because he traveled a lot that he had an appreciation for being surrounded by things that reminded him of home and family. He reached out, slipped his arm around Gris's shoulders, and leaned in to brush his lips against the warm skin of Gris's neck even as Gris reached out to him again. Josh gave a soft hum of approval at the feel of his companion's hand beneath his jacket.
"My place is fine," he said. "Whatever we need, I can pick up on our way back there." He wished he really could bring Gris back to his place. He and Gretta had been proactive in making their homes look like home. He would love to bring Gris to the Den and show him where he really lived; his new piano, the comfortable living area, the small, cozy kitchen and yes... the big, soft bed.
He reminded himself to bring a few of his own things to the apartment. It was meant for guests, not for a lot of personal use, but he would have to make an exception. He could hardly explain to Gris why the Liechtenstein attache would have an apartment on the grounds of a College.
As Gris mentioned their decision to share to Jocelyn, who was clearing the table, Josh reached over with his other hand, turning slightly toward Gris, and tracing his finger up the strong slender line of his companion's thigh. As the server left them, leaning close to each other, Josh heard Gris's soft voice make its 'confession.'
The imagery Josh got from it was astounding. Gris's words were seductive and suddenly Josh wondered why the hell he was holding back. They were consenting adults, and physical attraction was nothing to be ashamed of. If they slept together so early on, would Gris lose respect for him? Lose interest in him? He didn't want that. But... that hand on his shoulder, the little suggestive touch. The blatantly arousing words.
They were alone in the dark again, and Josh took advantage of it one more time. Resting his hand lightly on the inside of Gris's thigh he ducked his head close once more and breathed a warm line up the blond's neck. Flicking his tongue out he nipped at Gris's earlobe then sucked it gently in. When he pulled away he murmured low into Gris's ear.
"Are you trying to test my restraint?"
The words were low and intense but amused nonetheless. If Gris was trying to get him to change his mind, it was working. Josh might be reserved and he might move slowly, but if his companion continued to push for more, Josh wasn't a saint. If this was really what Gris wanted, he wouldn't continue to put a halt to the proceedings. He just hoped it wouldn't be a one-shot deal.
"Because I'm starting to feel the need for a workout. Some cardio, maybe, after this big meal."
Oh yes. Some physical activity would be very nice. Particularly with such a delightfully willing partner. While they waited for dessert Josh decided to help himself to what he really wanted, though. He brushed his nose lightly over Gris's cheek, using the small caress to locate his lips again. Giving him a soft kiss he pressed with his hands, one still around Gris's shoulders, one still against his thigh, drawing him close in an intimate embrace.
"A masseuse," he said warmly, enjoying learning yet another fact about Gris. "Then, you enjoy touching."
He kissed Gris again, a little more aggressively. "I will confess," he said, since they were on the subject of such things, "I think that makes me a little jealous."
Too far, too far, his brain said. Way to stifle the man. He relaxed his hold on Gris, giving him room to move away if he wanted to. His hands itched to go further, to bring them right back to where they'd been but to turn the tables slightly and be the one tugging at buttons and zippers. Josh didn't want to think about who else Gris touched with his gorgeous hands, who else might be on the receiving end of such a massage. He suddenly wanted to be the only one Gris thought about that way. Ever.