A modest proposal (Private, Attn: Rowan)
Cris debated with himself over many of the details of the night but one particular detail gave him the most trouble. He worried over it for days while he worked on the bracelets in the shop. Eventually Grisha threatened to water board him if he didn't spill whatever it was that was bothering him.
That had just made him worry all the more. So he explained to Grisha what he was planning and what his current problem was, waiting also to see what his Creator thought of the plan.
"Your strategy is sound, if that's what your worried about.â€ His oldest friend seemed amused. "Stop looking at me like I didn't answer your question, Crispin.â€ He settled back further into the chair and eyed his vampire son with steely blue eyes. "I think that it will work out just fine, either way. This might be one of the unexpected portions of the evening. So plan for it and move on. I suspect that whatever way the evening goes it will seem like perfection to your redheaded healer.â€
Cris nodded and waited, not turning back to his tools. He watched his Creator silently.
Finally Grisha snorted and shook his head. "What? I like him. He seems sensible. He likes books and he takes care of them...â€ That made Cris smile; leave it to Grisha to measure someone's worth by how they treated reading material. "He has a good head on his shoulders and still has some mischief in him. So long as that isn't directed my way then its a good trait.â€ Grisha sighed and stood up from his chair. As he walked past, he placed a hand on Cris's shoulder. "And he makes you happy.â€ It was rare disclosure from his Creator but he was happy to hear that Grisha approved of Rowan. It wouldn't change his course of action but it would have made him a little sad if Grisha had thought he had lost his mind.
The parting gruff murmur as he wandered back toward his book store sounded something like. "Now that I approve did you want me to give you away?â€ And then there was amused coughing laughter. Cris could only imagine what mental image had prompted such humor.
Alone again with his tools, he muttered to himself. "Maybe, but I am not wearing a dress.â€ He would at least like Grisha to be there and be happy for him and that sounded like what he was going to get.
His Creator had been right about the potential problem that was worrying him. He would just have to handle things as they arose and he thought that he had planned for that eventuality.
So now he stood by the door dressed in a slim cut suit of medium grey with a lighter grey pin stripe pattern. His shirt was white and his tie was a pale grey that looked almost silver. Hands in his coat pockets, he did his best to look casual as he waited for Rowan to join him. Hopefully any errant behavior would be attributed to excitment caused by their imminent Caribbean holiday.
So while he managed to be pretty neat with Cris Rowan had prepared in a frenzy tonight. It was a special night; Cris had asked him to dinner and had told him to dress nicely. The fact that it was a special invitation from Cris had sent him into full vanity mode and he'd spent the last two hours making sure he looked perfect. Cris deserved perfect, or as close to it as Rowan could manage.
Most of his suits lay strewn across the bed and the chair, flat, one on top of the other. He wasn't about to wrinkle them by throwing them in careless heaps; he would hang everything back up when they returned home. Then, realizing that perhaps upon their return they may want the bed sooner rather than later, he laid everything neatly aside.
Now he had on a three piece suit, one of his favorites, a charcoal plaid with a subtle dark purple plaid pattern. It was a very modern look, a slimming 'skinny' fit. The vest was immaculately tailored, the jacket perfectly fit across his broad shoulders, the pants trim and neat. Under the suit he wore a purple shirt of a medium shade. His tie was a deeper purple still, matching the plaid in the suit.
Naturally, a suit required the perfect accessorizing. This, to Rowan, meant more metal - not less. Particularly since the cut of the suit already implied a more youthful muse. He wore hoops instead of studs in each piercing. All of them had hematite beads on them and they clacked together pleasantly. His nose remained a small piercing, not a hoop but a hammered flat piece of steel. For once, he didn't wear a necklace since he had a tie on, but he did have jewelry on his hands. There were two rings on his left hand; one of these had a delicate jeweler's chain on it that trailed up into his shirt sleeve, obviously connected to something around his wrist. A slim leather band, if it were to be revealed. His right hand bore a single ring as well, a simple band of sterling silver inlaid with different colored stones; turquoise, jasper, jade.
His hair, he wore down after rearranging it six or seven times. Rather than tuck it back he let it fall naturally; it was actually getting a little long. The pieces that normally framed his face and just touched his collar bones were an inch or two past them. He had considered cutting it but he was reconsidering. Maybe he'd let those bits grow and just trim the back for an even more exaggerated style.
Later, on that. Now, it was time to go meet Cris, who had gone downstairs at least twenty minutes ago. Rowan glanced at the clock again, winced, and headed down to where his partner waited, patting the pocket of his jacket to make sure the item he wanted to bring with him was still there.
"Sorry love," he said, jogging down the stairs. "I was trying to make it worth the wait."
He slipped his arms around Cris's waist and kissed him, giving a soft 'mmm' of pleasure as he did. Nothing tasted as good as Cris. Tonight, he was especially delectable. Maybe it was the fact that they were leaving in just a very short while to go on their first vacation together; Rowan was over the moon about that. He'd outfitted the Buccaneer with everything they would need for their voyage, a great deal of it things he'd purchased with Cris in mind.
Hugging Cris close he finally released him with one last kiss and then bounced up and down a little on his toes. "So where are we going? What are we doing?"
((ooc: Rowan's suit looks like this. Obviously with the changes described in the post above. ))
He wrapped his arms around Rowan, returning the kiss eagerly. For a moment it helped settle his nerves. This was the man he loved and everything was going to be alright.
"You are always worth the wait, Love.â€ Cris smiled and pulled Rowan close for another kiss.
An excited Rowan wanted to know where they were going and what they were doing. He smiled and shook his head. "I thought we could get a little preview of our upcoming vacation.â€ That was all he was going to say for the moment. Cris took Rowan's hand and led him down to the parking deck.
He had one of his cars brought in so that he had something that could carry two people. The black 1938 Bugatti type 57sc was rare and perhaps a little over the top, especially these days. He wouldn't be driving it on an every day basis but this was a special occasion. He did need to decide on another car for his main vehicle, one that could carry two people. Cris would decide whether or not to use one that he already owned or to add to his already large collection. That decision could wait until they got back from their trip.
"Something we can both fit in.â€
The trip was eventful, full of stares in the evening traffic, but at least the head turning did not cause any accidents. Soon enough he pulled the car up in front of their destination. The restaurant was one of many along the marina. This particular one specialized in Caribbean food, upscale with a flare for the dramatic.
That was obvious from the front of the building. The Broadside's front face was made of greyish weathered wood. Rows of windows lined the front, each with raised wooden 'awnings' that resembled the lids on the gun ports of a ship.
The inside continued along the same theme. Rigging ropes hung from the ceilings and rolled sails lined several places on the walls. Pirate and sailing paraphernalia littered just about every spare ounce of space. Warm wood and amber shaded lanterns added to rich atmosphere, evoking another time and place.
Standing at the front desk, a woman smiled and asked for their name. Cris gave her their reservation and she showed them to a deep booth in the back of the restaurant. The tall seats and large sides gave each booth a feeling of privacy. Each table was a heavy dark wood with a different weathered nautical map lacquered in thick resin onto the top.
He had picked the booth earlier in the week, both for its location in the restaurant and its map.
"So, is this a good start?â€ Cris smiled at Rowan and waited for his answer. While he hoped for a yes to that question and later to another far more important one, his fingers traced over various islands of the Caribbean.
They pulled up at a Caribbean restaurant on the Waterfront and Rowan beamed as he got out of the car. "Ooh. I've always wanted to eat here," he said.
The inside of the restaurant was decorated much like the ship it was named for, all in nautical themes with rolled sails, weathered wood, and assorted ship-related paraphernalia. Rowan found it amusing that this setting was now the basis of a highly-rated restaurant in Nachton. The romanticism of the pirate age apparently never died; it was more popular now than ever.
In reality, he doubted most people would believe him when he described the conditions he'd experienced on many ships. He hated busting anyone's romantic bubble though so it wasn't something he often spoke of. The past was the past - if they wanted to believe the life of a pirate was exciting and dashing and all that, they may as well.
Rowan slid into the booth next to Cris, rather than across from him. The other side of the table was too far away. Rowan would prefer to sit next to his partner, and this way they could both look at the map right side up. he beamed at Cris's question, nodding his head.
"Yeah, it's great," he said enthusiastically.
He looked down at Cris's slender fingers tracing the Caribbean islands and lifted his hand. He placed it gently over Cris's and steered his finger to one tiny dot in the Caribbean sea, an island technically in the Bahamas.
"First stop," he said. Not all the islands were labeled; some were just too tiny. This island was one such but he suspected Cris probably knew which it was anyway. It was Cat Island. It was a pretty island with a lot of history and a thriving population. Rowan didn't intend for them to live on bagged blood, although he did carry a supply on board for emergencies.
They were both capable of going several days without, though, and by the time they reached Cat Island they should be ready to debark and do a little hunting. It was generally not a difficult task nowadays; Rowan had been there several times. He took a little bit of pleasure in knowing there was at least one pirate still frequenting the Caribbean.
He smiled as Rowan slid in beside him instead of using the seat across from him. That might pose a problem later but he supposed that was something he could sort out easily enough. As unplanned events went, it was a minor one and pleasant.
His partner assured him that the choice had been a good one and then gently steered his hand toward Cat island in the Bahamas. Cris smiled remembering mention of it at some point in the past. It had once been fairly well known and then for a while it had gone mostly unremembered in favor of its larger brethren and now it was gaining popularity again. These days people tended to want to get away from it all while still having some form of civilization around.
"Is there something special you want to see there?â€
The question he had asked was about to be interrupted by the waitress. She smiled and waited for Rowan to answer before asking if they would like something to drink.
Cris asked for a glass of ginger ale which might not be an adult drinking choice but he figured they might have reason for a bottle of champagne later. The ginger ale would be a nice counter part to many of the sweeter flavors that made up Caribbean food.
After she had both of their orders and turned to leave, he opened up a menu and sat it out in front of them but away from the islands they had just been talking about in case Rowan wished to go back to the virtual tour.
He read over the menu and decided on the lobster curry with a side dish of pineapple coleslaw so that he would have his decision made by the time his ginger ale arrived. Then he went back to looking at the map. Really, this was an ingenious idea. No doubt they provided geography lessons to kids and topics of conversation for adults.
Turning to Rowan, he smiled. "And then where next, Captain?â€
"It's a nice little island, with a great view and a thriving night life, which I thought may come in handy by then. Other than that there are one or two spots I'd like to show you but they're not actually on Cat Island. It's just the best place to access them from."
His itinerary was very loose and drew on his more intimate knowledge of the area; he wanted to keep them close enough to the well-populated areas that they could find blood without a hassle while enjoying the out-of-the-way locations Rowan knew about.
Cris opened up the menu and set it in front of them. Rowan looked at it, pleasantly surprised to see many Caribbean classics on it and hoping this restaurant did them justice. He was sure it would, or else it wouldn't have achieved such acclaim.
Browsing the offerings he noted the Golden Lobster pastelillos with cilantro aioli in the appetizers and decided those would have to be ordered. He scanned the rest of the menu but really focused on the seafood, which he enjoyed a great deal and was in the mood for. The mofongos immediately stood out and he considered the choice between shrimp and mahi mahi while they sat.
He leaned in toward Cris, sliding his arm around his partner's shoulders when he asked about the rest of the trip. Peering back down at the map Rowan followed the islands with his sea-colored eyes. "Anywhere next," Rowan said. "I've only got an idea of the places I want to take you and they certainly won't take several weeks to get to. As long as we hit them at some point, we can go wherever else the wind takes us."
And a GPS, a hefty motor, and incredibly accurate satellite. But, you know, the wind sounded much more romantic. Turning to the side, he gently kissed Cris's temple. "Who knows," he said with amusement, "we could yet end up in Switzerland. We'll just carry the boat like they used to way back when."
He grinned at Cris. Sure, they'd start out in the Caribbean, but he meant it - wherever else they went was completely open. They had a good long stretch of time to take for themselves and Rowan just wanted to spend it all with Cris. Holding him captive on his boat seemed the best way to monopolize his time.
"Wing and prayer only works for vacations.â€ And perhaps not all of them. They could try it this time and see how it works out. Who knows, next time they might want to go the 'traditional tourist' route with loud coloured clothing, large cameras and a jam packed down to the minute planned itinerary. With Rowan, he suspected anything would be fun but all the running, moving and seeing didn't sound very restful.
The waitress came back with their drinks and asked if they were ready to order. Once their food requests were taken, she left, casting one last glance in his direction before she turned away.
Not yet. Cris echoed that thought in a private mental message to her. The waitress, Amy, was actually the personal assistant and familiar to the chief marketing officer of Meridian. Before that though she had worked as a waitress at one of the restaurants in The Towers; thankfully before Rowan arrived in town. He asked for a favor from her and told her what he needed. She had been very willing to help. Cris had told her that he needed her for a special event that he needed to control many of the details on. It sounded fun and exciting; she jumped at the chance to 'play super spy' as she put it.
Several days earlier, he had brought her with him to the restaurant. One of the lead waitresses went over their table set up, introduced her to the kitchen staff and familiarized her with the layout.
Earlier tonight he had explained what the event actually was. She needed, and deserved to know, exactly what she was helping with. Cris waited until the information could not be leaked back to people of import, especially the redhead sitting next to him. Not that he expected Amy to tell anyone but he always felt it was better to be careful with a secret. Instead of being disappointed about the lack of international intrigue involved, Amy had been even more excited.
The owner of the restaurant knew as well. Cris had paid an outrageous amount of money to ensure things went the way he wanted them to tonight. He was pretty sure the man was already considering the addition of another restaurant.
Amy was his link to the staff and the one person here that he could send directly to. The others had orders to follow any directions she gave. He had told her that he might need to move things up a bit if he thought Rowan might suspect or if there were any problems.
So far things were fine.
Cris took a sip of his ginger ale and turned his attention to Rowan. "On a side note, since our plans hereâ€ He tapped the map on the table. "are made, do you have any ideas for what you would like to do with your new apartment?â€
He reached a hand down to Rowan's leg and gave it an affectionate squeeze. "Not that I am planning on kicking you out or anything.â€ Cris smiled. "I was just wondering.â€ Combining the spaces, which Alfarinn was perfectly fine with them doing, would make their home inside The Towers very large. It would actually be larger than Alfarinn's penthouse. That particular fact amused his friend and he had told Cris that the Security Chief and the Doctor were far more important than one little elder and should have a bigger place.
His Painkiller arrived and he took a long sip, enjoying the blend of rum with fresh fruit juice. He offered some to Cris. "Taste? You're drinking lightly tonight."
He did order the lobster pastelillos along with the mahi mahi mofongo. The waitress headed off with a smile and Rowan immediately turned his attention back to his partner.
Rowan looked down at the hand on his leg. He slid his own hand over it and squeezed. He considered Cris's question for a second, taking another sip of his drink. "I would really love it if we could turn it into one big place," he said.
He and Cris had discussed the potential options for the space that had become Rowan's by default and while he didn't mind letting the apartment go and staying exactly as they were, it would be nice to have some extra room. The current guest room was tiny, and there was only the one office area. There wasn't really anywhere in Cris's small apartment where Rowan could put his own desk or his guitar and flutes. He didn't mind that terribly when it came down to it, but if more space was available he thought they could make good use of it.
"I would love to have a room decorated like Ireland," he said. Cris had asked him a while ago what colors he would choose to decorate in if he could and Rowan had immediately thought of lavender meadows, heather green and grey mist, the forests of Ireland.
He lifted Cris's hand and held it to his lips, then turned it over and kissed the palm of his partner's hand. He reached out and traced his finger down the line of Cris's jaw. "Whatever we do with it, and I do mean 'we,' I just want to be with you. That's all. Our apartment is perfect as it is, because you're there."
He couldn't mean the words any more sincerely, and he knew Cris knew it. Without empathy, without anything but the words between them. But that was why being with Cris was so wonderful. And, he reminded himself, very soon they would be leaving for their first vacation together. He was determined to make it memorable.
He leaned over and took a sip of Rowan's drink. It was good, fruity with a punch, almost a Caribbean version of a pina colada. "Very good. Do you prescribe two of these and a call to my doctor in the morning?â€ Cris arched an eyebrow at Rowan; the only way he would be calling his doctor would be in person and from the same bed.
"I like that idea.â€ Cris pulled over a napkin and then pulled out his Swiss Army knife. Finding the small ballpoint pen, he drew the layout of his place and the layout to Rowan's. They were mirrored to each other, placing the bedrooms close together and the other rooms further apart.
"If we take out part of the wall here and here.â€ Cris drew little lines across the pieces of the downstairs great room. "Then we would have one really big open space.â€ They would have a seriously long line of windows. "We could sell my small sofa and chairs and get something bigger. Maybe get a large sectional and turn it facing the windows?â€ He had always wanted to better enjoy his fictional scenery downstairs but to pack everything into his living room he had to make do with how it best fit. It would be nice to be able to sit with Rowan curled up on the sofa to watch the sunset....somewhere. "We could get one of those swivel arms for the television to push it up and out of the way.â€ Perhaps they could make that even more useful. Tapping his knife pen against the table thoughtfully, he said. "Maybe we could install a long track so that the television could be moved along this whole length.â€ Cris pointed to the huge combined length of their downstairs living areas. They could watch television at breakfast or he could watch it while cooking or they could have a pool table or a gaming section and watch television there. It sounded worthwhile to him, especially if they could also move it out of the way when they wanted an unobstructed view. However, he was interested to hear what Rowan thought of it.
"Definitely a room of Ireland then.â€ They could decorate one in a completely Irish theme and he could gain access to some footage of Ireland to create the changing windows through out the apartment.
Cris smiled at Rowan for the small kiss that he received to his hand, leaning in to the gentle touch of his jaw. His partner made it a point to say that it was their home. He felt that way too; there had been many subtle changes, mostly in the form of additions to the original apartment since Rowan moved in. Cris wanted the rest of the apartment to have as much, if not more, of Rowan in it as it did him.
"Funny I think it is a certain redhead that really brightens the room.â€ He smiled and leaned in to give Rowan a tender kiss on the lips. When he pulled back he licked his own. "That drink really is tasty.â€
"No, I wouldn't imagine you should call your doctor in the morning, because he doesn't intend to leave your side between now and then." Rowan smiled. He was feeling so happy lately, nothing could bring him down. He had been sleeping well thanks to Evgeni, there were no fires, no one was dying, he had a new job he was looking forward to starting, they were going on a vacation... yeah. Life was currently very, very good.
He lifted his eyebrows at Cris and added in a very low tone right next to Cris's ear, "Unless, of course, you feel the need to moan, scream, or otherwise utter your doctor's name repeatedly, in which case you should definitely call him. No guarantees on an answer. His mouth may be occupied."
He sat back happily, his arms still around Cris, sipping idly at his drink as Cris sketched their apartment layout on a napkin with the new area attached to it. They discussed the use of the space, a pleasant and relaxing pastime.
"I like the idea of being able to lift the TV up and move it away," Rowan said, "but I don't think we should sell your current furniture. It's the perfect size for a few people to enjoy together, and we won't always have droves of friends over. What about using it in another area for a smaller, more intimate living room?"
They would have plenty of space for a sitting room while still maintaining a large area for when they did want to play games and have more energetic company. He grinned, then, unable to repress his cheerful suggestiveness.
"Besides," he added, "I have more than a few fond memories of that couch."
Cris's mutual affection always warmed him, and the comment he made back to Rowan about who brightened a room had him chuckling again and shaking his head; they could go on in that vein all night, really.
When Cris said the Painkiller was good Rowan slid it toward him along the table. "Help yourself, love." They could order another.
The waitress returned with the pastelillos Rowan had ordered and he thanked her, sliding that plate between himself and Cris too. There were two pastries, golden and crispy, filled with lobster, light cheese, some vegetables, and topped with the cilantro aioli. They smelled delicious.
Instead of digging in with his bare hands Rowan opted for the far neater 'fork' option. Perhaps a little less traditional of him, but he wasn't going to regress completely. The pastelillo was delicious and rich, the cheese perfectly gooey and melted. The vegetables were present but not the main focus of the dish, which he enjoyed. The lobster was the star and it really showed.
Perhaps because he couldn't recall ever having to eat to sustain himself, or maybe because it involved more heat and fire than he liked, Rowan had a great appreciation for the art of food preparation. He had learned his life lessons from Henri, the bastard son of a King, who claimed to have seen wars won and lost over a dinner table. When he'd been young Rowan hadn't seen the point of eating at all. It was Henri who had taught him his more sociable habits and now he understood why those were. He didn't find it ironic that he and Cris were sitting here sharing dinner... he found it perfect. It wasn't the act of eating that brought people together; it was simply the act of sharing and enjoying, and the company you were with that made it special.
((ooc: we were assuming the food would be coming out as per the norm, but if that's not the case just let me know))
For the moment they discussed their plans for the future dream home together. Well, it was Cris's dream home and he hoped that it was Rowan's. It involved living near his clan, being right at work, having a peaceful sanctuary in the midst of all of that and, most importantly, sharing it all with Rowan.
Cris listened to Rowan's thoughts on the swiveling, moving television and the further opinions upon his sofa and chairs. He smiled and would admit, to himself at the very least, that he was fond of the furniture for the very same reason. There really wasn't a day that went by that, when he entered his home and glanced at the sofa that was visible from the door, that he didn't think of the frenzied passionate sex they had enjoyed on it. Since that time there had been more leisurely pursuits of a similar nature but that first time always stood out the most. "All right we keep it. Perhaps we can move it upstairs. Did you want a parlor area from the otherside of the loft? Or another bedroom?" They could have a private sitting room if Rowan wanted it but to him the whole house was private. Their paradise in the city.
Their house design discussion was paused for a kiss. Rowan said he could have as much of his drink as he wanted. Cris smiled and shook his head, sliding the drink back to Rowan. "It is much better when I taste it on your lips." He picked up the glass and offered it to his companion, leaning in for another kiss as soon as his lover chose to indulge in another sip of his drink.
"What would you like to do with the second kitchen? We don't always eat so perhaps we don't need two." Cris considered his more social lover. A thought occured to him based around Rowan and how the found themselves in bed together the first time. "Perhaps a bar? We could decorate it in an island theme. It could be fun. And!" Cris held up a finger and added something to make it extra special for them. "while we are on vacation we can choose a nice spot and collect a full cycle video of the beach and the ocean to add to our window collection." He had a beach scene already but it was currently only used in the guest room and, while it was a lovely beach, it didn't mean as much as one would that he had visited personally with Rowan. "What do you think?"
The pastries that his partner ordered had arrived. Cris was willing to taste this first hand. They smelled incredibly delicious. After the first bite, he was murmuring sounds of enjoyment. Eventually he finished enough to say, "These are really good." They were moist and savory on the inside and yet the pastry was flakey and perfect on the outside. Usually one thing or another suffered. "Does Henri make these as well?" Rowan's Creator seemed to be a wizard with desserts but Cris wondered if he ever made the more meal oriented dishes.
As they discussed the house plans Rowan continued to touch Cris, not willing to pull away at all, leaning in to kiss him softly, running his fingertips gently over his leg or his side. He was so happy lately it took next to nothing to get him into an amorous mood - not that it had been difficult before.
"I don't know," he mused, idly caressing Cris's hip as they considered the upstairs. "I do think the upstairs should be just for us. Let our friends and guests overrun the downstairs on occasion, but let's keep upstairs even more private. We could make a little den, or we could even move your office up there and fit my desk into it too. There's enough room for both of us."
Cris's assertion that the Painkiller tasted better on Rowan's lips made the redhead grin. He needed to urging to oblige his partner; he sipped his drink again, making sure not to lick the lingering droplet from his lips. Cris leaned in for a kiss and Rowan took advantage of it, making sure to be thorough. Cris could likely taste it on his tongue, too - best to be certain. And perhaps they could test the whole moaning thing as well. Two birds with one stone! How efficient they were!
Rowan nodded at the idea of the bar, smiling brightly. "That's a great idea," he said. "We'll have plenty of video to use. You're a genius, love."
He loved sharing a meal with Cris. Rowan would never be the sort who didn't share food; to him, it was much better when enjoyed by everyone and the little appreciative noises Cris made were both adorable and attractive. He rolled his eyes at himself internally for being so sentimental. Cris could thump his chest, burp loudly enough to rattle the walls, and Rowan would probably get a hard-on. There seemed to be absolutely nothing Cris could do that his didn't respond to favorably in some way.
Taking another bite of his own pastelillo Rowan thought about what Cris asked regarding Henri.
"I don't know that he has ever made exactly these," he said, "but he's made things like them. Henri hasn't ever spent a whole lot of time in the Caribbean so I don't know that he'd come up with these flavors. He's been to Spain and Portugal though, and one time he brought back an empanada recipe that was delicious. I think it was tuna, in a tomato and garlic sauce."
He took another bite of lobster, savored it, and added, "He likes pastries and bread the best but he's been cooking for so long there isn't much he can't do, although most of it is European in flavor. He took employment as a chef many times over the centuries." Years ago the chef in any kitchen was usually the only chef in that kitchen. They were required to cook morning, noon, and night, at the lord's or lady's beck and call. Henri had loved it.
He smiled wryly at Cris. "You'd think I would actually cook something now and then, eh?" Lifting his shoulder, he shook his head. Rowan was Rowan and no one else. He didn't cook... but he knew enough about it by hanging around Henri that he could probably spew out a recipe or two if needed.
"I was always very happy to taste and critique though," Rowan added with a mischievous grin. "It earned me several threats of pain and torment but as you see here I am safe and sound. In my defense, Henri can't sing to save his life so if anyone was making music way back when, your truly got signed up for it willing or not."
They went back to discussing their design plans but now that they had begun the flirting and touching it was impossible to stop. Rowan liked the bar and the video capture idea which made him happy. He liked the thought of inviting people to their house and spending time with their friends. That was something that he wouldn't have thought he would enjoy but Rowan showed him how nice it was to spend more time with the people you care about.
Rowan's idea of making a little office area upstairs for the both of them was wonderful. He liked the idea of having the upstairs area be their private little sanctuary within their sanctuary. "We could move the sofa and chairs upstairs and have a little sitting area with a television." If one of them was doing work on their computer then the other could still be entertained while in the same room. "Maybe a game console?" Probably not the wii because that took a little more room than they were likely to have.
The pastries brought a change of subject. Henri, according to Rowan, could cook anything. This was an affirmation that Cris believed; it may be a biased opinion but that, in this case, did not make it untrue. "Perhaps if he comes back to visit then we can bring him here to try a little something different." He smiled and took another bite. Henri did not travel outside of his beloved country very often and Nachton was very far away. However, he was hoping that they would have another visit from Rowan's Creator very soon, for a much happier occasion.
"You don't have to cook,Love." Cris hugged Rowan close. "I like you just the way you are." His partner did have a nice voice and he played wonderful music. Cris wondered how they would sound together. They should try that sometime.
"If the whole doctor thing doesn't pan out then I would be happy to help you form a band." Cris stabbed another bite and then paused, fork making a little circle in the air above his plate as he added another comment. "You would have to let me be sing though. Because, aside from a tambourine, I don't really play any instruments."
That brought him to another thought. "Would you like to extend the loft area and add another room for us to work in?" Rowan had mentioned a music room and he would like a dedicated place at home to at least paint and piece together his clockworks. "We could have a craft and music room. I would love to listen to you play while I work. I promise to stay on my side of the room." Cris grinned. "Most of the time...some of the time."
Amy arrived with another young man who was carry their dinner. She carried another painkiller and a refill of his ginger ale. "How is everything? It smells so good I sweet talked the chef into making me one." She pointed down to their current dish and smiled.
Cris mentioned Henri visiting again and Rowan smiled. "I think he'd like it here, from what we've had so far. Before he left he did say he would bring Renee back at some point in the not terribly distant future."
He looked forward to that; Henri's poker face only went so far. Rowan knew his Creator had been sufficiently rattled by the recent drama, enough to realize he had missed out on a great deal of time with Rowan. Rowan suspected Henri's next visit might be much sooner than expected. Even if it wasn't, Rowan might go see him instead. He didn't know if Cris could take a second vacation in a year, but it could be that his partner had it coming. He didn't see Cris as the vacation-taking type. Who knew, he might have decades of vacation time saved up.
Cris's assertion that Rowan was fine without cooking made him smile and he hugged Cris back, giving him a little kiss on the cheek. Then his partner offered to be the singer in Rowan's band and Rowan laughed. "I can see it now," he said. "You would be an excellent front man. You could use your most serious face to create an air of mystery, and always wear a black suit while the rest of us dress like rockers. It would be great fun. You know, if you want to learn guitar or something I'll be happy to teach you a few chords. You'll pick it up in a heartbeat."
He considered the question of expanding the loft, rolling his eyes upward thoughtfully. "Will it still be a loft at that point?" he asked. "Because I love the loft as it is. We could do music and such downstairs, where the acoustics are better. But if you want a more personal, private space upstairs I'm happy with it that way too. And I'd prefer it if you invaded my space - frequently."
He laughed softly; Rowan was not genetically programmed to resist any of Cris's advances, ever. That just wasn't his way. He encouraged them, in fact, as often as possible.
Their waitress returned just then to ask them about their appetizer. Rowan showed her the completely empty plate and said, "It was delicious."
The empty plate was cleared away and replaced with their respective dinners. Rowan smiled at Cris before they dug in. "Thanks for the night out, love," he said. "It's great being here with you. Bon appetit."
"I would like to learn something. Maybe the guitar?" He had not chosen to play an instrument in the beginning because it wasn't very portable. As a human around the military campfires he had always been requested to sing. Cris always figured that if he ever learned to play an instrument then it would be one that he could carry with him but one which would also allow him to sing while he played. That placed the flute and the harmonica right out of the running. The lute was possible but it was a fairly fragile instrument in his opinion. There were a couple of soldiers who braved the dangers of a travelling life with a lute but he thought it impractical. "What are my options?"
Lifting one shoulder, Cris considered the loft area. The whole house was theirs so perhaps it was not practical to put a music room/tinkering room upstairs. They could manage to descend from their cozy den once and a while. "You might have a point."
He was not surprised to hear that Amy had charmed the cooks into making her some food. That particular skill was something that he had noticed about her when she was a waitress. Her other abilities included being able to multi-task, think quickly and stand up for herself and it was those that caused him to recommend her as a personal assistant when his co-worker had mentioned he was looking for one. "They were delicious."
[Begin phase one in five minutes. The next should go as planned.]
Amy returned his instructions with an acknowledgment that she understood. She then brightly wished them well with their meal and, after checking that they had everything they needed, left them alone once more.
"Any time, Love." Cris smiled. "I am glad you are enjoying it." Turning toward his food, he added, with a small smirk. "And it is far from over."
When he posed the idea of teaching Cris and instrument it made him happy when Cris seemed to consider it. Music was always something Rowan had been used to doing with other people. Lately he did it alone unless he was feeling artsy and then he participated in local theater to get his fill. But music with Cris would be fun.
"Sadly your options are limited with me," he said, shrugging. "You're stuck with a variety of whistles and flutes, or the guitar." He had been practicing when he had the chance and his playing was definitely adequate on the guitar now, enough so that he felt comfortable teaching what he knew. "I can plunk out Mary Had A Little Lamb on a piano too, but I don't really think that qualifies me to teach."
Rowan's singing voice was all right; some people seemed to like it and others seemed lukewarm about it. It wasn't a typical rock band or pop sound when he sang; somehow he seemed completely unable to make himself sound like he'd just come from anywhere but the hills of Ireland. He definitely wasn't off-key or anything, he just had a particular folksy quality, he thought, that people either liked or didn't. There didn't seem to be much middle ground.
When their waitress had come and gone and their dinners had been delivered Rowan dug into his mofongo with satisfaction. It had been ages since he'd had one, and he'd always loved the taste of fried plantains. This one was delicious from the first bite, the mahi mahi inside light and flaky but still tender and not dried out. The broth was flavorful and light as well which was nice; many who tried to recreate this dish lost themselves in the oil used to fry the plantains and it ended up swimming in it. Not so, here.
"Oh yeah?" Rowan turned to Cris before his second bite when his partner claimed the night was far from over. "Are we going somewhere else?"
He knew Cris had planned this night and he had assumed they were still celebrating their recent good fortune and their upcoming vacation. Rowan had thought just dinner was in order but maybe Cris had something else up his sexy little sleeve. Rowan wouldn't put it past him. Whatever it was he was sure it would be pleasant for them both. He relaxed and didn't worry about it; it wasn't hard to trust his partner to have arranged a relaxing evening out for them. Rowan would hopefully return the favor while they were cruising.
Taking a bit of his mofongo onto his fork Rowan offered it to his partner, his free hand beneath it so as not to spill on either of them. "Try a bit? I think you'll like it."
They didn't always end up in the bedroom. It was just a common occurrence.
Their dinner was placed before them and they turned to focus on the food. Cris tasted the first bite of the lobster curry and found it to be perfect, spicy but not over powering. The coleslaw was light and tangy, sweet in to contrast the heat in his main dish.
However, Rowan had asked him a question. "Oh, we might.â€ Cris smiled enigmatically and took another bite of his food.
His partner gave him a taste of his meal. Accepting it, he found it equally tasty. Very different from the food that he spent so many lifetimes eating. It reminded him of the vacation they were about to take and that all his future adventures would be shared with Rowan.
Cris offered some of his own dish in return. He would admit, as their meal continued, that his mind was definitely elsewhere. It was the best dinner he barely tasted. They would definitely have to come back at some point in the future so that he could enjoy it again.
Without looking around, he noticed that Amy had succeeded in her part of the plan. Slowly, here and there, the other tables were finishing up and clearing out. The last to leave would be the ones nearest them so that it would be harder for his partner to notice. But as their meal ended, there was only one other couple left nearby.
All the tables, in fact the entire restaurant, had been rented by Cris for the night. He asked some of the staff to bring family and enjoy free meals on him. They knew by now the reason for the whole event and most seemed eager to play their part, however minor. What he wanted, eventually, was a small moment of privacy so that he could propose to Rowan with the intimacy that such an event deserved. Some people were fans of renting a billboard, sky writing their proposal or having it come up on the football stadium's jumbo-tron. That wasn't his style.
"Would you guys like some dessert?" Amy reappeared with a cheerful smile and a dessert menu. "Some of these are absolutely amazing!" She handed the menu to Rowan since he was on the outside. With a smile she added, "Definitely worth it, an experience to remember."
Cris peeked over at the menu, placing his hand on Rowan's shoulder as he leaned close to review his options. [Don't over sell.] He sent to Amy with amusement. [We'll get something.]
"Have a preference?"
Cris responded that there might be more than just dinner in tonight's plan, and that made Rowan smile in return. It didn't matter to him, really, except that he was looking forward to it. With his usual optimism and patience he was fully prepared to sit back and enjoy Cris's efforts. There was no better way to appreciate something someone did for you, he thought, than to enjoy it thoroughly.
He sampled Cris's curry, finding it just as tasty as his own dish. "This place is definitely going on the repeat list," he said.
Dinner out with Cris was always nice, and tonight seemed especially so. Rowan got lost in the passage of time while they simply ate and enjoyed each other's company, and before he knew it he was scraping up his last bite of food and their waitress was back with a dessert menu.
She seemed enthusiastic about dessert, which Rowan didn't find unusual given her previous similar praise for the appetizer. He browsed the menu, feeling Cris's hand warm on his shoulder, leaning into his partner a little and holding the menu so Cris could see it, too.
"Mmm, I think so," he answered when Cris asked him what he wanted. "The coconut tres leches cake sounds good."
In spite of having a Creator who was a master baker Rowan had never developed any sort of food snobbery. Henri was not possessive of his skills; he was eager to both teach and learn and he had enjoyed it when Rowan had come back from his travels with tales of fantastic foods. So he'd always been encouraged to try new things. Being more than a little biased, Rowan would admit some minor difficulty in not holding everything he ate up to Henri's standards, but that certainly didn't stop him from trying anything that caught his eye on a menu.
"What about you, love? See anything you like?" He turned his head and raised his eyebrow at Cris with a mischievous grin. "On the menu, of course."
Looking at the desert menu, Cris smiled and pointed to one of the pictures. "This one.â€ It was titled Great Cake. "It sounds great.â€
When he explained why he had rented the restaurant earlier today the owner said that he would make them a special cake. He said that Great Cake, or sometimes called Black Cake, because of the rum soaked fruit that made up a large part of the ingredients, was served on special occasions where he came from. So, since this was a special occasion, they would have Great Cake. It actually did sound very delicious and he was touched by the personal gesture. Even more so when Amy explained to him that the rum soaked fruit used in the cake was cured for at least a year and that the owner told her that he kept some soaking for his family for Christmas and other special holidays like family weddings and anniversaries. Great Cake was not normally on the menu; another one had been printed especially for this occasion from the restaurant printer in the office.
When Amy turned to leave, Cris raised an eyebrow at Rowan. "You are not on the menu?â€ He leaned close to his partner's ear and whispered softly. "Disappointing. I was hoping to taste you.â€ With a smile, he added. "later.â€
His phone rang and he looked down at it. "I need to take this. I will be right back.â€ Cris maneuvered out of the booth and placed his phone to his ear. "Report.â€
Heading toward the entrance, he listened to the person on the other end of the phone. He said everything was going as planned and that Amy gave him her phone and told him to let Cris know. Smiling, he sent a mental 'thank you' to his little ginger haired helper in the kitchen. She was definitely proving to be the right person for this task.
She had given him a reason to get up from his seat so that he could be on the outside when the deserts arrived.
Cris came back and did just that, sliding in next to Rowan. "There was a computer malfunction at one of our bases; for a short time they thought that their holding cell doors were open. They were holding a particularly dangerous criminal.â€ He smiled. "A team checked and found him still in place and the doors securely shut. They left a group of guards to watch him in case the malfunction was some sort of ruse. Then they checked with security at The Towers. Our computer people knew of the problem and were working to fix it. They just called to let me know that everything was okay just in case I only heard part of the story.â€ All of that had really happened; it just happened a week ago. One of the many little bumps in a normal work day.
The owner, with Amy trailing behind him, came out wheeling a dessert cart. In the middle of it was a large metal dome cover, next to that a little chest and on the other side a piece of coconut tres leches cake. "Enjoy. It has been a great pleasure.â€ He smiled, gave them both a little bow and turned to leave. Amy expressed her hopes that they enjoyed their dessert and asked them to call her if they needed anything.
The other table's occupants had left.
Cris reached over and picked up the little chest and then slid out of the booth. Taking hold of Rowan's hand, he drew his partner closer as he lowered himself down on one knee.
"Rowan, Love, will you marry me?â€ He held up the little clockwork treasure chest. All the talk of keys and boxes with Aishe had made him think of it. He had made it a long time ago and had not found a reason to use it. Cris had taken it and it much bigger project of the bracelets to the Meridian labs and had a friend help him with it. Now the lock had been changed to match the technology on their entrance. It had a small little square in the front that required Rowan's thumbprint in order for it to open.
When Cris's phone rang and he said he needed to take it Rowan nodded and slid out of the booth to let Cris out. Work happened to all of them, particularly when like Cris they held prominent positions. He looked down at the map of the Caribbean Sea while he waited, idly tracing his planned route with his fingertip.
Cris returned shortly and Rowan simply slid into the booth. Cris sat on the outside and detailed the problem to Rowan, who nodded his understanding.
"I'm glad it was just an update," he said. He would have understood if they'd had to cut their date short but he was glad that that wouldn't be necessary.
Their waitress and another man, presumably the chef from the way he was dressed, returned with a dessert cart. Rowan raised his eyebrows in curiosity, for no one had ordered a chest of booty. "Thank you," he said as the two left.
Cris had taken the chest and slid out of the booth, and it was then as he knelt on the floor that Rowan realized that the restaurant was now empty but for the two of them. His smile grew as he realized what Cris was about to say and he watched his partner, wanting to memorize every little nuance of what happened next.
The way Cris was holding the box out made it clear that Rowan was to open it, but as Cris asked Rowan to marry him the only thing Rowan could think of was that he wanted to answer Cris first and foremost.
He took the box and gently set it upon the table, patting it with his hand as if to say 'one moment.' Then he took both of Cris's hands in his and leaned down. He brushed his lips over Cris's, then tenderly kissed his cheek near his ear and said, "Yes."
He kissed Cris once more on the lips and repeated it. "Yes." Then he tugged on Cris's hands to bring him up into the booth with him. When he was there, Rowan cupped Cris's face in his hands and kissed him once more, softly and slowly. "A million times, yes," he said a little breathlessly.
He had always thought it would be he himself who did the proposing. There had been no particular hurry for either of them, but since the whole affair with Brand Rowan had realized he was ready for it, he wanted it more than anything. Apparently Cris's thoughts had been along those lines too.
It was difficult to pull away but Rowan remembered Cris had offered him the little treasure chest. Keeping his partner close he turned to it and pressed his finger against the familiar print-pad. With a soft click, the chest unlocked. Rowan smiled and tipped it open, tilting his head curiously at the item inside.
It was a band of black metal, but it wasn't immediately clear to Rowan what exactly it was. He looked at Cris. "What is this, love? It's beautiful."
Rowan removed the band from its box and held it up. It wasn't a traditional bracelet or wristband; there was more to it. He admired the look of it, though, the smooth finish, the color, the sleek shape of it. It definitely appealed to his sense of style. He waited for Cris to speak before doing anything with it, though.
But Rowan took his hands and leaned down, nothing in his smile or his aura said anything but overwhelming happiness, no shadow, no doubt.
The breath that he had been holding while he waited to hear his lover's response rushed out of him at the first quiet yes. Cris sighed softly in relief, taking another shaky breath as he watched Rowan.
Another kiss and another yes. Relief became happiness and then elation as the moment that he had hoped for became a reality.
He eased into the booth as Rowan drew him upward and returned his partner's kiss with a little more of his usual confidence. "A million times will most likely be unnecessary.â€ Cris smiled. "But we can renew our vows every year for an eternity if you wish.â€
When Rowan opened the little chest, its gears turning and the lid lifting when Rowan pressed his thumb to it, Cris pulled the companion bracelet from his pocket. His bracelet was a bright silvery metal. The lines crisp and clean. In style it was exactly the same as Rowan's save for the colour. His partner's was a darkened metal, which seemed to suit the many depths of Rowan, perhaps seemingly easily understood on the surface but hiding so much more underneath. It was not a true black but a deep stormy colour that reminded him of the sea.
Placing his on the table, he looked near the clasp and placed a thumbnail up under a tiny circular tab that was almost flush with the bracelet. A little stylus slid out; Cris pulled on each end of it and it telescoped out into a longer writing utensil.
On the thin inner screen of his bracelet, he wrote "I love you.â€ A little light began to glow green on the outside of Rowan's bracelet near the clasp. Cris pointed. "Turn it over and open it.â€ His message was displayed in his neat, no nonsense handwriting.
Pointing to another button on the inside of Rowan's bracelet, he said. "Pressing this makes mine light up here.â€ A little red button on his began to glow. [This one is to let me know that you would like me to send to you.]
"It has a little micro sd storage slot as well.â€ He showed Rowan where the slot was. "The screen has the ability to display photos and pictures. Consider it a mobile version of the green leather journal. Here.â€ He pressed the button and the momentous event from a few moments ago appeared on the screen. A miniature Cris knelt next to a tiny Rowan and asked him to marry him and would again and again if Rowan wanted.
Cris pointed upward. "I placed a camera there.â€ He had wanted privacy for the sake of asking the question but he wanted the moment preserved for them both, especially Rowan. There would be no need to fear forgetting this event; though hopefully Rowan's amnesia would continue to remain a one time only affliction.
"So...shall we have some dessert to celebrate?â€ Cris leaned in and gave Rowan another kiss, tender, thorough and far from shy despite the camera recording them both. When he pulled away, he smiled. "I believe there might be some champagne somewhere to be found.â€