If You Don't, You'll Be Alone (attn: Cris)
Aishe practically exploded out of her car as she pulled them into a parking spot nearby the first store Cris wanted to go to. She'd arrived at his place slightly early only to be met right at the door and tugged away again. He hadn't told her anything about what they were doing or where they were going, only that it had something to do with Rowan and it was very important G-14 classified, life and death urgency, or something like that. Not that those were Cris's exact words - she was paraphrasing.
However, he'd explained it to her in the car on the way to the Strip and now she was excited. More than excited, ecstatic. Because she'd been driving she couldn't express herself exactly, but once outside in the cool air she bounded over to her creator and practically mauled him in as big a bear hug as she could give.
"I'm so excited. I'm so happy! It's going to be wonderful! Can I wear a pretty gown? Can Shaweh carry the rings? Maybe not. Flowers? Also a bad idea. Maybe ix-nay the raccoon at the ceremony."
Then her eyes grew wide. "I do get to see the ceremony right?"
Cris was very private. She wouldn't put it beyond him to do everything on the sly. But surely their family and close friends would be there! She knew she was getting ahead of herself. Cris hadn't asked Rowan anything yet, but to her it was a foregone conclusion. Who wouldn't want to be with Cris forever and ever? She might be biased but if she was, then Rowan was ten times worse.
Barely able to contain herself she threaded her arm through Cris's and walked with him along the road, pressing the 'lock' button on her fob and listening for the little beep that was her VW Rabbit.
"What do you have in mind for it? Or will you know when you see it?"
Aishe was supposed to give advice. She hoped she could do that well. She'd had several conversations with Rowan over the past few months; they often bumped into each other at Liefde. On top of that they'd seen each other at more than a couple social events, and had the occasional hot drink together outside of Barney's. She couldn't approve more of the redheaded doctor, particularly as Cris's partner. And while she obviously didn't have years of life with Cris behind her, she had never seen him happier than when he was with Rowan. Or talking about Rowan. She was pretty sure she'd caught him daydreaming about Rowan while at work, too. It was adorable.
He did whirl Aishe around once before letting her go. "I do not know about raccoons at the ceremony. I need Rowan to say yes first.â€ Cris certainly hoped that his lover would agree and most of him expected to hear that answer but until Rowan officially said yes then a teeny tiny part of him would worry.
"I would imagine that you would get to see the ceremony.â€ He smiled at his daughter. "I was not planning on a top secret wedding.â€ It would get out that he was married to Rowan and he wanted people to know that, the world to know. A part of him worried that in the future someone might try to harm Rowan to get to him but he thought that was unlikely. He wasn't Alfarinn. And right now Rowan worked as the doctor for The Towers which meant he was somewhere close and as protected as an Evenhet could be. He did have to go out and hunt but Rowan wasn't a baby vampire either.
Baby vampire...Cris glanced at Aishe. No, if someone wanted to get to him then it would be far easier to do so through his daughter AND she was the Elder of Nachton's fiancee. Perhaps he was going to revise his feelings on the worth of his future son-in-law after all... And consider a security detail for his daughter every time she stepped foot outside her home.
Shrugging to her last question, he said. "I do not know exactly. This would be the engagement ring. I am sure Rowan would like to be with me when we pick out the wedding rings.â€ Cris steered them toward the first jewelry store. "I was thinking, since he is a doctor, that maybe I should get him something other than a ring as an engagement token.â€ He turned to Aishe with a slightly worried expression. "Do you think that would be okay? A necklace would be something that he wouldn't need to take off as often.â€ Perhaps he should go traditional. No one got down on one knee and presented a necklace did they? This ring thing wasn't a very old custom, perhaps he should do it however he wanted.
She clung to her Creator and joined in his enthusiasm as she was spun around then placed gently down. She shook her head at him. "Of course he'll say yes. How could he not say yes? You've talked about it before, right? He's never given you any indication that he doesn't care to be married?"
Aishe knew Rowan had never been truly attached to anyone before Cris. He had said so himself on one or two occasions. Aishe had asked why on both and had received two different answers. The first was that he was recovering from a personal tragedy involving an opera singer and a wagon load of watermelons and the second was that he had never met anyone who could use the force in bed before.
She wasn't entirely sure either answer was wholly true or false. That happened, a lot, when you had a personal conversation with Rowan.
Cris told her she would get to see the ceremony, that it was hardly top secret. Aishe squeezed his arm. "Even if it's top secret I should be there! As a witness."
Cris could surely find older and more qualified witnesses to his marriages but Aishe was going to fight for this one, even if it wasn't necessary to fight at all. She so badly wanted to see this happen. This was good for Cris. Good for Rowan too. They were so cute together.
As Cris discussed his thoughts with her she watched his face with a little smile of her own. The concerned appearance was similar to the one he'd had when she'd helped him get ready to have company at his home last year. She recognized it well. It was the face he wore when he wanted and needed everything to be perfect, and with Cris, the pursuit of perfection could be very time consuming. He was meticulous in his planning and his attention to detail, and he always had a knack for getting things to run smoothly. She wanted to remind him to have fun, again. This was his engagement after all. As far as she knew he had never been married before. At least he'd never mentioned it.
"I've never seen a man wearing both an engagement ring and a wedding band," she mused thoughtfully. "I can't see Rowan having an issue with anything you decided to get him, though. He doesn't seem like the traditional type."
She grinned at Cris. Of course Rowan wasn't the traditional type. He wore so much metal that he must surely set off detectors everywhere, and his piercings were from before his turning, for she had seen him with no earrings on and the holes were still present. Yet he was so laid back and friendly that she couldn't see him minding traditional either.
"I think you've chosen someone who loves you for you," she said. "So whatever you go with, I think the symbolism of it will probably appeal to him more than the form. Make it something that is meaningful to you. If it's a ring, get him a ring. If a necklace then go with that."
She shrugged helplessly. "That's probably not very helpful, huh. But I think anything you give him will be important to him because it comes from you."
As they walked Aishe looked up at Cris. "Have you ever been married before?"
She knew Cris had an unpleasant past, but that was all she knew. They had never discussed it in detail. It didn't really matter, the details, really. All that mattered is that Cris was so happy now. Aishe just wanted that to last and last.
"We have mentioned it.â€ He winced and raised his eyebrows and his shoulders indicating that it might have once or twice barely come up in a conversation. "Not at length but Rowan did not seem opposed to the idea.â€
Aishe was determined to be at the wedding whether he and Rowan ran away and eloped or not. Cris laughed and nodded. "I will give your recommendations to the potential future spouse.â€
She also seemed to think that he could do something different than an engagement ring, pointing out that men rarely wore two rings on their wedding band finger. "I was thinking he could wear this one on the other hand once we are married.â€ Cris paused and savored that idea, once we are married. The thought made him smile.
He didn't think he would be getting Rowan a diamond solitaire or anything like that. He was marrying a man; that seemed to break with tradition enough to warrant something other than a big rock in a feminine band.
Aishe asked him if he had ever been married. Cris stopped and looked at her. "That is something that I would have told you." He grinned and shrugged. "Most likely." Giving his daughter a one armed hug, he answered the question more directly. "No, I have never been married." Almost, once. But it never had the chance to happen. Aishe had not asked him if he had ever been engaged. It was something that he didn't want to talk about right now. He wanted to focus on Rowan and the future.
Almost as soon as they walked into the store they were greeted by a carefully cheerful woman who asked whether or not she could help them find anything particular today. Cris told her that they would like to look around first and she wisely nodded and went on her way. Safely behind a counter, she continued to cast glances in their direction every minute or so.
"Look, these are nice...but for later.â€ Cris pointed to the Triton collection beneath the case. They immediately drew his attention with their simple lines and strong masculine appearance. Some looked very much like Rowan and others looked very much like him. Perhaps they could find a pair that looked like the both of them.
Pointing at another one, he smiled at Aishe. "He would wear that but I think buying him a skull ring sends the wrong message. Do you agree?â€ The ring was blackened steel with a ring of stainless steel skulls.
"Let's see what else we can find." Cris wandered away from the rings and tried to find necklaces. He saw watches and cufflinks and charms but no actual masculine necklaces in this store.
((OOC: Jared came up first on the google search and this is what they have. They had the nice wedding rings but no actual necklaces. Apparently real men don't wear neckbling.))
"Oh, that's a good idea. I've seen him wear rings like that before," she replied when Cris said Rowan might wear one ring on each hand. She recalled seeing Rowan with several rings before, just never with two on one finger. She was a jewelry buff and did tend to notice what people around her were wearing. She couldn't help it.
She also didn't miss Cris's smile when he mentioned marriage. Smiles came more frequently, too, nowadays. Not just laughter. It disappeared briefly when he answered her question negatively - no, he hadn't been married. There was more of a story there, clearly, but just as obvious was the fact that they were here to get Cris married to Rowan. Bringing up past failed relationships was a horrible way to go about preparing for the current successful one.
The clerk in the jewelry store seemed content to let them wander, and Aishe wondered if she might just assume that Aishe and Cris were a couple. That could be entertaining, depending how mischievous her Creator was feeling. Joking around hadn't really been her style but with both Kem and a small army of raccoons in her life, her sense of humor had evolved a bit.
Or devolved. She wasn't sure which.
"Oh," she said, looking down at the first selection of rings, the Triton ones. "They are nice," she agreed. "Definitely wedding band material."
As they paused over the skull ring Aishe nodded. "I suppose it could mean until death," she mused, "or, it could just mean you really really like pirates - or one pirate in particular. But yeah, I think you're safer not going there."
They struck out when it came to items for men that weren't rings or watches, although Aishe did find the small collection of charms in one corner with some rope chains that were clearly intended for men. She looked at them with Cris. "There's nothing there that I think Rowan would like, really, but you could always get him a chain and put something on it?"
Cris was clever with metals. He could certainly make something. "That almost seems a bit less 'marry me' and slightly more 'birthday' though. I guess it would depend on the pendant."
She looked at Cris and raised her eyebrows, wondering if he had any brilliant ideas. There might not be enough time for him to create something of his own between now and his planned proposal date.
Aishe agreed with him about the Triton wedding bands and he was happy to have his taste confirmed by his daughter. She was still young enough to be a human from this era and had a much better grasp on what was fashionable and why. He did his best to keep up but sometimes he simply wore what he liked and hoped that it didn't look too terribly odd. Cris did note that he had yet to run around town wearing a cloak and leggings simply because they were extremely cozy.
His incredible creative daughter came up with some good suggestions for a potential meaning behind buying Rowan a skull ring. Cris couldn't help but laugh and give her another hug.
This, and their proximity to the wedding rings, apparently sent a hopeful message to the saleswoman. She looked up and smiled encouragingly at them and opened her mouth to speak. Cris feigned as though he hadn't noticed and found something in a nearby case to state intently at.
They then moved on to other things only to find that there weren't many appropriate other things in the store. Nothing really said Rowan to him.
Another pearl of wisdom came from his daughter, Cris looked over at her and smiled. "That is a brilliant idea.â€ He led them toward the door. "I think we should look some more, just in case there is something perfect but you are a genius. You must take after your father.â€ He mused as they headed back outside. She wasn't blood related to him, exactly, and the statement was made even more amusing by their apparent similarity in age and complete disparity in race.
They had to walk across the street and down another block before they got to the next store on his list. This one was more 'Rowan' if a store could be anything like his very unique partner. "Perhaps this one will do better."
Cris opened the door and headed into the very dark interior. He glanced down at his rust coloured pullover and jeans and wondered if he shouldn't have come dressed for work for this store. A glance at the other patrons suggested that he wasn't wearing enough black or enough make up.
She couldn't help but grin to herself when Cris showed his other side to the saleswoman, giving her the politely neutral brush-off before she could start a sales pitch. She didn't blame him; there wasn't anything in this store they were interested in immediately, so why listen to the schtick?
They left that store quickly enough since it didn't have what they were looking for, whatever they were looking for. Cris proclaimed her brilliant and Aishe smiled and allowed a pleasant feeling of pride to fill her. She liked when Cris was happy with her; take that, creative writing teacher, she thought, mentally raising her fist at the one professor in college who'd labeled her unoriginal and dull.
"I'm sure he had a lot to do with it. He's a brilliant guy himself," she beamed. She slipped her arm back around Cris's and squeezed, content to walk like that if Cris didn't pull away. They didn't come out like this very often. Mostly they met at the Towers, sometimes Cris and Rowan came to their place or vice versa. It wasn't every day Aishe had her Creator to herself outside of work.
The walk to the next store was brief. Aishe could see 'Rowan' written all over the place here. "You sure he doesn't have stock in this place?" she whispered to Cris as they entered.
There were shirts, hoodies, jeans, cosmetics, jewelry, all of which had a punk/goth sort of theme, most of which she could envision Cris's partner in. Particularly the jewelry, Aishe thought as she looked through it. She could see Rowan wearing all of these. In fact, she thought as she saw a set of tapers with rainbows and stars on them, she had actually seen him wear those. She pointed them out to Cris.
"Look, proof - he's been here," she said, as if solving a part of a mystery.
She frowned after a few minutes of searching though. "I don't know if you're going to find what you want here," she said dubiously.
The place certainly looked like Rowan could roll around in it and emerge with a full wardrobe, but it didn't seem like it had the quality to it one would want when purchasing an engagement gift.
"Do you see anything that catches your eye? Aside from, well, everything in here, which would look good on him."
Turning to Cris, Aishe looked him up and down. "And most of it would look pretty hot on you too," she added. "Wouldn't it be fun to surprise him with your very own Rowan-inspired outfit?"
She raised her eyebrows at Cris with a smile. She wasn't really even joking; these jeans would look wonderful on Cris. Assuming he didn't have clothing like this already; she knew he wasn't a one-trick pony when it came to wardrobe himself.
They walked around and Aishe pointed out a pair of earrings that were the same design as a pair that Rowan owned. He smiled and nodded but felt compelled to point out other possibilities. "Not proof. He could have ordered online.â€ Cris grinned. "It is evidence that he interested in their merchandise.â€ That was clear by looking at Rowan on most days.
He wandered around the place some more and decided that a lot of the things in the store were interesting but most of it appeared to be of low cost and quality. It was great for costume jewelry or a budget whose major earnings were gained by taking out the trash and folding laundry.
Aishe came to the same conclusion that he was coming to and that was that here was not the place to find what he was looking for. Cris sighed softly and nodded. "I do not think I will either.â€
Casting a final glance around the store, he smiled. "It does all look good on him.â€ And off him but he kept that thought to himself.
Cris raised his eyebrows at Aishe's comment about him coming home dressed in his own dark apparel. "I am pretty sure he would think there was something up if I walked in dressed up like this....â€ He then gave her another smile and looked a little closer at the clothes. "I could come up with a different outing...before -the- outing. A date at some gothic nightclub.â€ Perhaps a meal for them both. They could split up and hunt or hunt together or he could watch Rowan hunt...or hunt Rowan. It all had potential.
"I am liking your idea for making something original much better but we can check out the next place. Just in case.â€ Cris looked at his daughter. "Shall we go or did you want to play dress up? I realize that we have not had much time for tea parties and make believe so..." He grinned and gestured at the clothing racks. "Let me know if there is something you want me to try on."
She caught sight of a pair of pants, wide legs, with stripes of purple on them and chain accents. She was also pretty sure she'd seen those on the redhead at some point. There were plenty of skinny jeans on every rack too, but Rowan seemed to prefer the other variety. He did have skinny jeans though. She knew she'd seen him in them in occasion. She had not, however, seen Cris in any such thing to her knowledge.
Cris mused about coming home in some sort of punk ensemble and Aishe shrugged. "Doesn't have to be tonight," she said. "You could just surprise him with it later. What do you think he'd say?"
Rowan knew far more about Cris by now than she ever had. Maybe it wouldn't surprise him at all to see Cris dressed in something so completely different from his usual style.
At least they agreed that this store wasn't necessarily going to have what Cris was looking for. It was a fun store to be in, though. The idea missing dress-up and tea parties made Aishe laugh softly. She had a brief visual of herself at a little tiny children's table surrounded by stuffed vampires with a teeny tea set. Then she put Cris into her daydream, looking calm and unruffled as he sat there all squished up on a mini chair trying to delicately drink imaginary tea. It was almost too much.
"Hmm," she said thoughtfully, eying the racks of clothing. "I actually like a lot of what they have."
Turning away from what she was looking at she smiled at Cris. "But I'd rather we find what you're looking for, if we can."
She headed toward the store's exit. "So what do you think you would make him?"
Cris's inventions were always cleverly made and creative. Aishe loved them. She could only imagine what he might come up with for the man he was asking to marry him. It would have to be romantic, wouldn't it? Or in some way say 'forever' or something similar. Just thinking about it got her all excited all over again. She wanted Cris to propose yesterday.
"And where are you two going for your vacation, or hasn't Rowan told you exactly where yet?"
Aishe knew they were leaving Nachton for a few weeks but she didn't know where. Just that Rowan's boat was involved. "You're going to ask him before you leave right?"
Giving a last look at the clothes, he smiled to Aishe. "You know this opportunity might not come again...â€ He was in very high spirits today and could probably be talked into more now than usual. Cris highly doubted that Aishe would have any problem talking him into doing something as harmless as playing dress up at any other time but he wasn't willing to tell her that.
It just wasn't wise to outright admit to your children that they had that kind of power.
He found a bench outside and headed toward it while he contemplated her question. "I do not know. I would have to give it some thought.â€ Cris looked at the night sky and thought his partner and all the things that Rowan loved. "Maybe a little mechanical ship in a bottle?â€ He held his fingers up to show that it was something tiny he was considering. "Perhaps with a little fluid in the bottle so it actually moved...â€ But, while that would be adorable and Rowan would probably love it very much, it didn't say much about him or they connection to each other.
"A key perhaps...â€ Cris frowned. The key to his heart sounded rather cheesy and expected. It would have to unlock something. He couldn't make a key that didn't unlock something. It went against his nature. So then what box would he make and why would he make it. What significance would it hold for them both.
Aishe asked him about their vacation and Cris gave her a small shrug. "The captain says we are going to the Caribbean and beyond that I think the plan is fairly open.â€ He knew that Rowan had some places that he wanted them to go but he suspected that this trip would involve lots of unplanned adventure and exploration. They would do what they felt like doing and go where they felt like going. Normally he would have a strategy and a plan but he liked this approach. It offered the potential for amazing experiences that they might not have on a tightly scheduled agenda.
"Yes, I plan to ask him before we go.â€ Cris affirmed when she asked. "It might be more romantic on a beach somewhere but I would not have complete control of the timing, atmosphere...â€ He smiled and looked very unapologetic for his nature. In this there would be a strategy and a plan. It was far too important to him; he would take no chances that it wouldn't be perfect.
"Perhaps something that combines something from both of us.â€ Cris went back to musing on what he would make Rowan. "We both love to sword fight...not appropriate... He loves to write and I can send...â€ Cris sent to Rowan quite often. They had conversations through out the day, sometimes short and sometimes long but they always required that Cris initiate them. If Rowan had something he wanted to say then he would need to call or text.
"What about a band.â€ Cris wrapped his fingers around his wrist. "One that would fold out flat when you take it off. On the inside it could have a little pressure screen and on the side near the claspâ€ He gestured with his fingers, seeing the item in his head. "It could have a tiny stylus that is telescoping so that it can become big enough to write with. Rowan could write messages on his and it would be delivered to mine.â€ He looked at Aishe to see what she thought of this idea. "There could be a little microphone recorder as well to deliver an audio message and another button to send me a signal that he wants me to send to him.â€ There might be times when Rowan wanted a more private conversation. "Oh....â€ Cris smiled. "I could make sleeves for it to change the look.â€ It could have openings for the screen and buttons. "Something in black leather, something with a pirate feel...â€ He was thinking that his own would be a rather plain brushed steel, sleek with the message button indicators on side of the clasp so that it looked like a simple polished band. Rowan's might also look like that but perhaps out of a different metal. Then he could make a few sleeves for them. Perhaps later Rowan would like to come up with some more looks for them with him. "What do you think?â€
She wandered back to the section of the store that had all kinds of crazy semi- and demi-permanent hair colors. Eying them critically she went back and forth for a little while between really blue, electric blue, and dark blue. Finally she chose the electric, almost neon, blue and brought it to the register. With a smile she thanked the sales girl and hung the little plastic bag they had given it to her in from her wrist.
"Never hurts to be prepared," Aishe said. "Just in case we happen to need some blue hair dye."
She smiled sweetly at Cris and accompanied him out of the store, sitting next to him on the bench and watching him while he pondered different things to make. She held up her hand and rocked it back and forth in a 'maybe' gesture at the ship in a bottle, then tilted her head sideways at the idea of a key. "A key to what, though?" she asked. The key had to fit into something, didn't it?
Cris didn't elaborate on that idea but she knew him well enough to understand that there would have to be something the key went to, and that could be very interesting.
"Now that should be fun," Aishe said. "The Caribbean, vampire style. I bet there's one hell of a night life there."
Vacationing tourists... now there was a plentiful food source. Reliable, too, especially if you didn't mind ingesting a sometimes unreasonable amount of alcohol along with your meal. But humans on vacation could be remarkably uninhibited. There were plenty of opportunities, and lots of anonymity involved. Sure, I remember that cute blond I met in the Caribbean when we were on that cruise. I don't remember -exactly- what happened because I was a little drunk, but he sure made an impression!
That sort of thing. Of course, Aishe had never visited the Caribbean but it was a popular cruise destination so she felt safe in her assumption. No doubt Rowan was familiar with it. She knew it had been, in the days of Piracy, a very popular port of call for non-affiliated ships. They had called it Pirates of the Caribbean for a reason.
When Cris mentioned controlling the situation, almost as if excusing himself from not doing the romantic beach thing, Aishe laughed. "Controlling the situation is not overrated," she pointed out. "Did I tell you what happened to poor Kem when he was trying to propose? Every time he found a nice, romantic setting with the right atmosphere something went horribly wrong."
Aishe didn't know if she'd ever told Cris that particular story, how in the end she'd found the ring he'd planned to give her and had basically proposed to herself. Sort of. After the fact they'd laughed. It had been a difficult time, when her father had been in the hospital and Cris had been away but in the end everything had turned out well.
Cris went back to considering what to make for Rowan s a gift and Aishe perked up at his next idea. "Now that's a great idea," she said. "And it's sweet! I think he would love having some way to let you know he wants to talk to you."
Hell, she knew plenty of people in the Towers who would give their right arm for such a device. "A sleeve that's washable," she said. "It might get dirty with his job. Maybe you can find something that would cover it completely but still make it functional, kind of like the screen protector on a phone but wrapping all around it?"
She was smiling; this idea was so unique Rowan would have to love it. And with his taste in accessories it sounded perfect. "You could even, maybe, find wedding bands that match the material you make the bracelets from. But Cris, if you're leaving in just a couple days can you make such a thing in time?"
This concept had to be ridiculously intricate. How could Cris hope to craft it in the little time he had? "Want me to work your shifts for you so you can do it? That way Rowan won't suspect."
Knowing Cris, he had planned to work right up until their departure. Maybe if Aishe took his shifts from him and worked extra hours, Cris could complete his gift in time.
When they started discussing his various ideas for making Rowan's gift, Aishe agreed with him about the key problem. He shrugged and then moved on to other ideas.
He paused his creative brainstorming to look over at his daughter and raise his eyebrows when she talked about Kem's proposal. It sounded as though there had been trouble or that it did not go as planned at the very least. "I have heard only the vaguest of rumors.â€ He was a security chief with the ability to walk around unseen. He heard many things and what he didn't hear his Creator heard. Grisha's knowledge of....everything, still amazed him. Of course it didn't matter to him whether Grisha had somehow managed to be a fly on the wall as Kem proposed to his daughter or not. He wanted to hear the story from straight from Aishe. "This sounds like a cautionary tale in the making....go on.â€ Cris smiled.
"Oh!â€ He placed his hand on her arm to stall that thought as he came up with another idea. They brainstormed together, talking about the merits of the idea and how to work with the sleeves. "Yes, it should be protected on the inside.â€ He would have to do the metal cuff in overlapping linked slabs so that it would roll out flat when the bracelet was taken off. Blood and grim inside the tiny pieces would be hell to clean. "Making it a clear film all along with inside with the design along the outside would work nicely.â€ They could just slide them in and out of the sleeves from one end.â€
His daughter brought up a very practical problem. Cris considered his time management. "I could get some help making them from the labs. I have a few friends in there that could be roped into such a project..â€ Bellazone would love to help but he was a busy man. There were plenty of designers and engineers who loved little side projects. "I would need help with the screen anyway.â€ He couldn't make that part himself but the rest was fairly simple electronics.
Turning to Aishe, he smiled. "I accept your offer of aid, My Darling Daughter.â€ Cris wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close, leaning forward on the bench. Once in the little huddle of two, he said. "Rowan is still around The Towers so I can't disappear completely but I think, between the two of us and MARI, I can slip away often enough to get this done.â€ He walked rounds quite often. Rowan would not expect him to be at his desk all the time but if he was always absent then his partner would know something was up. He had a workshop in the commercial tower of the buildings. It was behind Grisha's shop. Sound proofing had been done to keep the noise of machines down and a part of the space had been walled off to be used as storage for a large portion of Grisha's inventory of books. Those helped the sound proofing even more. They weren't his Creator's most valuable collections, those were locked under case and key in another room. These were the currently popular, constantly changing stock. They were in no real danger being stored on shelves and with the seal around his door, no metal filings and bits got into Grisha's space.
He could have had his own shop. Alfarinn and others kept telling him that there was room. For a while any time a shop went out of business or moved out of The Towers for any reason, Alfarinn would point it out and give him the merits of the location. He always declined and his friend stopped offering , perhaps understanding his reasons.
There was a nice comfortable chair in the corner of his workplace that belonged to his Creator and Grisha would come sit and talk for many hours while he worked. Some days Cris worked entirely alone but other days he had a constant stream of tales and interesting sitings from his oldest companion. He would never ask Grisha to join him but the chair was there and the invitation was always open. That was how they worked. Grisha knew why he stayed in the back room of his bookstore and Cris knew why Grisha came and spent so much time with him.
"I can sneak up to the shop pretty often if you help me keep up with the work.â€ He could let Aishe oversee some of the teams and talk to some of the people with problems personally. Cris could later talk to her about it so that he was not out of the loop or he could get the information by sending to her. It would be a good opportunity for her to learn some of his portion of the job. He had been planning to give her a team to run anyway but that could wait until after he got back from vacation. Cris smiled at the thought and wondered what misfits he could saddle his daughter with. He would have some time to think about it...not much time, especially if he had his way with Rowan. And he very much intended too. Cris doubted Rowan's plans were any different.
"Okay, we can plan some more on the way home. Now tell me about this proposal."
"Maybe we could suggest that Rowan go take care of things that need to be prepped for the trip," she said thoughtfully, then shrugged. "I bet he's already doing that though isn't he. Maybe he'll be out of the Towers for a little bit. Then we won't have to misdirect him at all, really. Maybe we can find a task for him in his new clinic, too. We could send him off to take care of Alex."
Aishe had been running Alex's yoga and tai chi classes for him for the last few days. While somewhat improved from his bout of influenza, he still sounded like a hung over chain smoker. Aishe thought it was tragic, to hear that normally cultured, almost 'pretty' voice sound so beat-up. Alex wasn't classically handsome - Aishe thought he was attractive, but not necessarily fall over drooling cute - his voice always reminded her of melting chocolate. Well everything reminded her of chocolate, but Alex's voice especially.
Keeping Rowan distracted, though, was not likely to be a problem. Aishe worked in Security and she didn't noticed the redhead making obnoxious numbers of office calls to his partner.
They seemed to have this planned, for the most part, so when Cris returned to the topic of Kiamhaat's proposal Aishe laughed.
"Poor Kem," she said. "You might have to ask him for the details but as far as I know he tried three times to propose to me. The first was at Vesper, and we were interrupted by, well... by Ellis. With a shotgun. After that we were at Meridian, outside Barney's, and it was Pakpao with a watergun. That one left him stranded with a very realistic plastic shotgun in the middle of a crowd of onlookers. Fortunately most of them saw what happened so there wasn't a big scene... really. And then he was going to ask me at home, but my mother called to tell me my father had had a heart attack."
She smiled sadly and shrugged. "From there, of course, we went straight to Egypt. But the ring had fallen out of the pocket of his jeans and before we left I found the box in the couch cushions. So I held onto it."
Grinning at Cris she said, "When we got back I waited for a little while to see what would happen but he's just too damn stoic. I couldn't tell one way or another what he was planning. So I eventually showed him I had it and inquired as to whether or not I should be planning a wedding."
Poor Kiamhaat, she thought to herself. He had taken pains to try and find the perfect time and perfect place, never good about expressing his feelings, and in the end she'd done it for him. Not that he hadn't had his say after the fact. He'd certainly gotten a few words in. They laughed about it now, though, which made it even better.
"Hopefully your proposal will go much more smoothly," Aishe said.
Kem was generally a good planner. Far better than she at seeing the big picture and dealing with long-term outlooks. But he had no luck sometimes, and there was an element of luck involved in just about every situation.
"I am sure we can come up with some other crisis that requires my time.â€ He winked at his daughter. It might need to be at least partially real. It was difficult to lie to an empath, at least when you normally didn't shield yourself around him. Rowan was also a very good judge of people and he would likely know something was up if the whole thing was fake. Plus, he had never lied, even for a good cause, to his partner and he would prefer not to do so now. Exaggerating the severity of a work crisis...that he could do. "Perhaps Grisha can find something suitable.â€ If not totally create the problem in the first place. His creator had a hidden streak of trouble maker that few people knew about. The grumpy old goat guise fooled most everyone.
Cris listened in rapt fascination of this story about his future son in law and his daughter. Vesper sounded like a good idea. Beautiful quiet setting. "Ellis? Shotgun?â€ What the hell was that about? "I take it she was not intent on attacking either of you.â€ Together they might have survived Ellis on a rampage even unarmed, but not without some injuries. His daughter would have to rely on her combat training and instincts. Empathy was helpful to some degree but an army of raccoons was not always available. Hopefully later she would develop blending or telekinesis; in the mean time he would continue teaching her to be calm in a crisis and use the strengths that she had. Aishe had all the makings of a well adjusted vampire and that boded well for a long future.
Outside Barney's? Kem must have been really desperate at that point. It didn't sound very romantic but then intention and passion could make up for much, including setting. Apparently it couldn't make up for one programmer with a water gun. "I am not even going to ask why she had one...â€ He was pretty sure the security team could fill him in if he cared to know.
The next situation made him feel guilty again. He hadn't been there when she needed her family. Cris was glad that Kem had been there for her but he still felt he should have been there too. "I should have been there." He hugged her close and listened to the rest of her story.
By the end of her tale he wasn't sure who he felt more sorry for, Aishe for not having the romantic proposal that she deserved or Kem for all the unsuccessful attempts. "Perhaps he should try again. One more time.â€ He would even be willing to help make sure that it went smoothly. Sometimes it was good to be in charge of an army, especially some with the ability to be completely unseen.
Looking slightly worried again as she spoke of his impending proposal, Cris nodded. "I certainly hope so.â€ It would go smoothly. He would make absolutely certain of it. As cautionary tales went, it had been a good one. He was now more determined than ever to make sure every little detail was thought of so that hopefully the ones that he did miss, because there was always something, were minor and would be able to be fixed on the fly or go unnoticed all together.
He did want to know one thing. "Do you miss it not being how you wanted it?â€ Aishe had obviously said yes and she still intended to marry Kem despite the proposal not going as planned but he wanted to know the truth, for both her sake and for his own, should things fall apart when he made his own attempt. Cris watched her intently, waiting to see what she said and what her aura said about it as well.
Maybe he really would like to be a part of the whole affair. Aishe tried to reconcile her image of grumpy Grisha in her mind with one of Grisha all worked up and excited about his son's coming marriage and decided it was maybe better not to go there, lest her head explode.
As she explained Kiamhaat's thwarted attempts at marriage proposals to Cris he asked a question here and there. She answered him before moving on with the story.
"No Ellis was not after us. Something about her coffee. It didn't have whipped cream on it... I'm not sure, it was a very strange situation. She did stop and greet us quite nicely before blowing a hole in the next tree over. I almost wanted to stay and see what the hell was going on, but Kem was pretty insistent we leave."
As far as Pak, Aishe shrugged her shoulders and grinned. "I don't know why she had one either. Kem soaked her pretty well when he 'returned' it to her though, which was fun."
When she mentioned her parents Aishe realized Cris would feel bad about not being there. As he hugged her close she wrapped her arms around his waist and squeezed inhumanly hard. "Stop it," she said. "You had work to do. And you're here now. But even if you weren't I would still love you."
She tipped her head up, kissed him on the cheek, and hugged him tightly again, laughing and shaking her head at the idea that Kem should try again. "Why does it matter?" she asked. "We've been engaged forever. It's not even that important to me, the ceremony of it. We could get a marriage license tomorrow and that would be fine. It was more for my parents, I think, and for Kem, to do the right thing."
Aishe rolled her eyes. "My mother is in heaven planning everything. If I had my way I would just have a small private ceremony here at home, with a few of the people I love close. That's what we plan to do after the big schindig in Egypt, anyway, so pencil us in. You know, next summer some time. Then again, maybe I can convince him to elope with me. He has about has much vacation time as you do."
Which was, months. Maybe years. Who knew how time off accrued when you worked for the same company for eight hundred years?
Cris's next question had her thinking, but Aishe's answer was not long in coming. She shook her head at him with conviction.
"I don't think I can miss something I never had any expectations for," she said. Then, realizing how wrongly that had come out, she held up a forestalling finger. "What I mean is, I was never one of those girls who dreamed about her perfect wedding proposal or anything like that. What was important to me was the man doing the proposing. All the romance or pretty music and perfect dinners would have meant very little if it weren't Kem on the other end of the ring."
Maybe a romantic, over-the-top proposal would have been fun but it would have felt wrong coming from Kiamhaat. That sort of thing wasn't his style. She had enjoyed her discovery of the ring when she'd found where it had fallen, and just knowing what he intended had warmed her.
"Don't worry," she assured her Creator with a cheeky grin. "There's been no lack of romance from Kem since then. Turns out when he's not nervous about popping the question he's pretty good at setting the mood."
Truthfully, the match worked out perfectly because Grisha expressed his love of someone through acceptance and quiet little displays that might get missed. He had said that he liked Cris because he was able to take care of himself. He wouldn't be an idiot young vampire doing reckless things or a needy one wailing about his lost humanity and following him around like a lost puppy. Grisha had threatened to unmake him if he ever became either of those, and in the beginning, Cris was fairly certain he had meant it.
"I haven't told him yet.â€ Cris gifted his daughter with a conspiratorial grin. "You are the only one. You know what they say, if you want to keep something a secret then don't tell anyone.â€ Giving Aishe one of his stern looks, he said. "So if there is an information leak then I will know where it came from.â€
Not that he expected anything of the kind. Grisha wasn't the only who knew how to choose his progeny carefully.
Aishe explained the reason Ellis had barged in on them in the gardens...though it made less sense afterward than it had before. The reason for Pak and a water gun was not given but at least that was within his realm of understanding. Programmers let off steam in weird ways; it was a fact of their anti-social lives. Not that he was the person to judge.
Properly scolded for feeling guilty, Cris hugged Aishe a little tighter and said nothing more about not being there for her.
He pouted when she explained that the proposal didn't matter much and that she would much rather simply elope or have a tiny wedding in a courthouse somewhere. "Not fair.â€ Cris poked a finger at her. "If you get to wear a gown and bring a raccoon to my wedding then you have to have one that allows me to give you away properly.â€ He didn't have a raccoon to harass her with but he was basically asking her to get married twice. She still had living parents to consider and they would certainly think it odd if some blond haired boy demanded to give their daughter away.
She made a very good point about the real meaning behind the gesture. If she hadn't wanted to be with Kem then all the fancy proposals in the world wouldn't have mattered. Of course he thought that just because she loved the crusty old fart didn't mean that Kem was allowed an out on making a romantic effort. Perhaps he needed to have a little chat with the man about taking care of all his daughter's needs, whether she thought she needed it or not.
Just as he was beginning to plan his fatherly speech, Aishe further explained that Kem had gotten much better at the romance aspect of their relationship now that he was certain that Aishe wanted to be around him forever. Dummkopf, that should have been obvious when she went halfway across the world and barged into vampire society practically demanding that someone turn her. Those were not the actions of a woman who was going to say no.
"Good. He best keep making you happy. I have no qualms with sticking an elder in a jail cell.â€ Cris gave her his best serious face and hoped he could pull off some of Grisha's menacing air.
She didn't think Shaweh would agree with her if he were present, but he the fact was he wasn't so Aishe was relatively safe. Cris gave her an ultimatum about her wedding, though, which made her grin.
"So you're saying Shaweh can come to your wedding, then?" Which was pretty much what she'd gotten out of it. She scoffed at the idea that Cris would not be giving her away. "Of course you're going to give me away. The one my mother is planning, that's for the humans involved. And because I think my mom always dreamed of planning a huge obnoxious wedding. I don't think I like anything she's chosen so far, but this is her dream, not mine. I really want a small affair with just us and our friends here in the city."
She smiled charmingly at Cris. "That's why it's good you asked me here. Have you given any thought to your own actual wedding? Because I'm planning to pick your brain on it for my own if you do it locally."
Cris was focused on his proposal, but Aishe was certain he already had wedding plans too. She didn't think Cris was capable of ignoring long-term planning. Of course she assumed wedding plans would involve Rowan too but that didn't mean Cris didn't already have some ideas to discuss with his intended.
She was grateful to have a Creator like Cris, though, who was always watching out for her. It didn't matter anymore that he'd been gone right after turning her. She knew now that he hadn't forgotten about her and in the time they'd spent together since his return she had learned much more about him, enough to really understand the reason behind his disappearance. He could never have let Alfarinn go off alone. Protecting him was part of Cris's duty and Cris was incapable of shirking it.
"Oh, don't I know it," Aishe said, rolling her eyes humorously. "How could I think you'd hesitate for a second when you also threw your own daughter and your intended into jail also?"
She laughed softly. "He treats me right. Aside from some complete idiocy regarding his own feelings, do you really think he's capable of hurting anyone?"
Then she reconsidered. Cris had known Kem for far longer than she had. Not closely, of course, but Cris probably would remember any occasion in which Kem had not acted the part of the pacifist. He wasn't harmless by a long shot, but he certainly wouldn't intentionally harm her. Or anyone, really... not these days. He'd been pretty up front with her about his past, and Aishe didn't think it was as hideous as he made it out to be. Then again, she didn't see herself murdering anyone in cold blood in the next thousand years or so but times could change a person.
Maybe Cris would eventually have to lock her away. There was a thought. Aishe suspected that wouldn't be the case though. She was surrounded by good people who occasionally made tough choices but did so only when they had to. She couldn't believe that with Cris and Kem around, not to mention Alfarinn, Rowan, Pakpao, Eiryk, and all the other friends she'd made in Evenhet, she could ever fall so far as to be a truly evil person.
Pulling herself away from that line of thought she stood and offered her hands to Cris. "Where else would you like to go? We may as well get whatever supplies you'll need now, so you can put your adorable nose to the grindstone for the next couple of days."
He shrugged about whether the raccoon could come to his wedding. First he needed to have a fiancee and then they needed to discuss what kind of wedding they wanted to have. "I will be an advocate for the fuzzy little bandit but I make no guarantees.â€ It was a shame that Aishe was having a wedding where her wishes weren't really very important. Surely her mother asked for opinions on at least some of the planning. The dress? The guests? Cris smiled, "Well at least you got to pick the most important part.â€ The groom. Not even a century ago that would likely not have been the case...for a human. Vampires had been liberated for many centuries. You didn't boss around females who could easily kill you in your sleep.
She asked him what he had in mind for the wedding and he sighed. "I do not know. My idea of romantic or meaningful might not be Rowan's. I thought perhaps we could have it at The Towers. Perhaps on the bridge between the buildings." He thought they could each enter on opposite sides and have a small congregation meet them in the middle. They could have a much larger reception in the courtyard below. "We met in Meridian and fell for each other in Liefde. It seemed appropriate to me." Perhaps there was something more romantic that Rowan would prefer like the beach or the square. He was open to anything so long as Rowan said yes.
"Exactly.â€ Cris nodded, still feigning seriousness. He had put her and Rowan in a jail cell though they did not stay in them for very long. Despite his partner protesting, through the mental channels at least, that he was a very bad man and needed to be punished. Cris swore one of these days he was going to have to find a nice private cell to indulge Rowan's fantasies in. He could probably make one...
Bringing his thoughts away from Rowan for a moment and back to the conversation about putting Kem behind bars, Cris shook his head. "What is more important is that he would never hurt you.â€ The man might be capable of hurting someone for the right reasons but he was not a crazed psychopath and never had been. Since the world at large was likely safe from a rampaging Egyptian wielding a scroll in one hand and an iphone in another then he could focus on whether or not Kem was good for his daughter, and he thought that he was.
Getting up from the bench, he reached down and linked her arm with his. "Next stop Radio Shack.â€
((OOC: Both Out. Let me know if that is okay and such. ))