A Mutual Outing
"Alright people, listen up. We are joining the Kadzait tonight for a joint gathering. We've had some of these before and they have gone wonderfully. Our brother pack has much in common with us and we are stronger together." Vaughn emphasized this point before getting to his next piece of information.
His pack had been very receptive, so far, to the idea of allying with the other pack because they could see the other pack as brothers to their cause. It was a far smaller leap than allying with a vampire clan. That would have been tough. He would still do it, if necessary, and if Evenhet were willing. The more on their side, the better.
"The Kadzait have human members of their family." A hush went through the group of R'asa followed by low murmuring, disbelief and disparaging remarks beginning to surface. Humans were not to be trusted lightly. They did on occasion but very very rarely. The Vyusher had always skirted closely to human territories far more closely than their Kadzait brethren and past relations had not always been very positive for either side. Much like the human Romany, the R'asa had often not been trusted, liked or tolerated by those around them. Of course Vaughn thought that the VR had not made themselves very easy to love. In the beginning especially, still realing from their defeat at the hands of the vampires, it was easy to lash out at the humans unfortunate to be nearby. Their racial memories made them stronger in many ways but they also made werewolves slow to change without strong leadership. New things had to be forced on a pack, in his experience, either by necessity or by strength of will. He hoped that he and Etta were strong enough to change the VR. And he vervently hoped it was for the better.
"They trust and love them. They are, many times friends and family of their Paterna. Treat them as kindly as you would all of our Kadzait brethren because that is what they are."
He looked over the crowd to make sure that his words had made it through even the thickest skulls and that his instructions would be followed. Then Vaughn smiled and dispersed everyone to their vehicles.
"Let's go have some fun."
((OOC: This speech is being given at Shady Pines before they leave to go to the Par and Preserve. He wanted to make sure his people knew what to expect and that they would be on their best behavior. No embarrassing Daddy! ))
He listened to Gris talk as they headed toward the crowd of people. He didn't need to respond; for now he just absorbed the information his boyfriend gave him, grateful that in Gris he would have someone who could help him gain the trust of the R'asa... without the weight of their relationship. Oh, how good it felt to have that support. He was still reeling from the euphoria of being so thoroughly understood.
Josh did shake his head briefly when Gris said he'd introduce Josh to some of the more open-minded of his Pack. "Those are the ones I need to meet the least," he said with a little smile. "It's the traditionalists I have to impress the most." He shrugged. "It's nothing I'm not used to. We have them in the Kadzait too. It wasn't so very long ago that humans didn't enjoy this sort of status."
When Gris offered to change for him, looking hesitant about it, Josh wished they were still far away enough from the fire that he could offer physical comfort. He didn't feel right unless his arms were around Gris and Gris was holding him back. He did his best though, to reassure him.
"If you want to share with me, Gris, I'd be honored. I want to see you. Every way. But I wouldn't ask you to do something you're not comfortable with, and I will understand if you decline. And when you run, another night, as well."
Josh meant the words. He had grown up with werewolves. He understood the need to be with the Pack, the need to run, the need to do certain things or not do them. He wasn't offering his partner empty reassurances; Josh might not be Amaroq himself but in his case, it was simply a matter of biology. He'd been raised to this. He was as wolf as he could get without being Gifted, and someday that would come for him too. He had more hope of it now, here in Nachton, than he'd ever had in Liechtenstein.
"Later, Gris, I'll explain to you why it is I was never Gifted, if you want," he murmured, so as not to be overheard. The story was for Gris's ears alone. "I'm the only one in my family. My mother and sisters, my grandparents and cousins - all wolves."
Gris confessed that he had a home with his Pack and Josh actually barked a laugh at that. "I do too," he said, "or I did. I gave it up to buy my penthouse. It seemed a waste. All the things I care about are in the apartment now."
His grey eyes included Gris in that proclamation. Josh didn't mind living away from Pack grounds. He went back frequently, almost daily. Arriving home at night was pleasant, especially when he knew Gris would be there. And he wanted Gris to always be there.
"Maybe we will have the opportunity to work together some time," Josh said when Gris mentioned Tavi and her brother. It certainly sounded like several of the things Josh and Gretta had done over the course of their employment.
"Let's," he said as they reached the fire. "I can't wait for later though, Gris," he said. "I really can't."
He seated himself, hoping his partner understood that some things never changed. Kadzaith he may be, but he was never going to learn to dance with the freedom of emotion and expression required to move around a campfire. He knew there would be more questions and he was prepared to answer them. Josh was also prepared for the good-natured ribbing he knew he'd receive from Xephier and anyone else comfortable enough to do so regarding his epic lack of dancing skill. He would have pointed out that Xephier couldn't dance either, but the truth was lack of skill had never stopped the Kadzait Alpha from doing it anyway. Generally he didn't step on too many toes.
Josh found himself absurdly pleased with the way the night had begun. Work was mixing quite nicely with pleasure tonight. He couldn't ignore Gris's presence and he didn't want to - he was just even more aware of it than usual. It made him ecstatic. Later tonight - the phrase echoed through his head. Later tonight he and Gris would have time to themselves. And Josh was going to make it memorable.
He figured he would let Josh do his job; if he wanted him to introduce him to people then he would happily do so; if he wanted to do it on his own then he could; though Gris would be a bit disappointed. These were his family members and he was missing out on bringing the boyfriend home to meet them since it seemed the boyfriend was going to be working with them.
Josh said that he wanted to see his other form which made him happy. He thought that perhaps one needed to be a werewolf in wolf form to find another wolf attractive but anyone could admire the beauty and grace of their alternate shape. "You've seen the rest of me.â€ Gris reminded Josh with a raised eyebrow. "Why would I hide this?â€ Now that he knew Josh wouldn't run away he was more than willing to show Josh everything about himself; in fact, he was excited at the chance to do so. "It doesn't make me uncomfortable, not with you.â€ It would be different if it were any other human he was standing in front of. He supposed if the Kadzait had brought others that were a part of their pack then they would be okay as well; he just wouldn't be as interested in their opinion.
Frowning slightly in confusion, Gris nodded at Josh when he said that he would explain further about not being Gifted. He said that the rest of his family were werewolves so the story must be interesting indeed. He knew that Josh loved his family and was very close; he called home often. It didn't seem likely then that his family refused to Gift him but perhaps there was some strange circumstance that made that the case. If Josh wanted to be Gifted...well, would he want to be Gifted by his R'asa boyfriend instead of his Kadzait family? That was a tough choice.
He thought he would choose Josh but then his family was not the most loving. He would miss the R'asa who, in various cities across the nation, had been his family. It wasn't the same but they had looked after him. It was hard to know for sure because he was already a werewolf and felt a strong biological tie to his pack; Gris wondered how much that influenced his feelings. Of course he had met wolves that appeared to not to care much about their pack at all so perhaps it wasn't much.
"Okay, later.â€ Gris thought there were many questions they wanted to ask each other and things they wanted to explain.
Before Josh moved to a seat next to the fire, Gris leaned closer and gave him one last parting piece of information. "I am thirty-six.â€ He gave his boyfriend a little amused smirk before turning toward the fire. Until now he had refused to mention his age because he was a lot older than he looked and even if he came up with a number that was older than he appeared it was still going to be almost a decade younger than Josh.
Finding Kiyoshi and Tavi, he grabbed them both up in a hug, sparklers and all. "My boyfriend is a Kadzait.â€ He told them happily. "Imagine that.â€
Grinning, he bowed to Tavi with a theatrical flourish and announced. "And now I am inspired to dance.â€ She gave him a deep curtsy, holding out the sides of her flowing vibrant purple wrap dress. He hooked his arm through her's and twirled her around. After a few more spins they parted to dance side by side. Their movements were more energetic and less sexy but they easily matched each other. Long association with R'asa gatherings left those that danced with knowledge of a variety of folk dances as well as the ability to improvise. They might love tradition but when it came to dancing; it seemed to Gris that the R'asa hated rules. With a special look in Tavi's direction, they both descended upon Kiyo together, hooking their elbows through his and adding him into the middle of their playful twirling.
Tavi and Gris had dragged Kiyo in with them and Josh watched between soft conversations with the people who were interested in him. Kiyo was surprisingly graceful, although it was clear that he was painfully shy even among his own Pack. Josh understood him much better now - he had seen submissive werewolves before and Kiyo fit the bill exactly, but he seemed to have friends who cared for him and loved him and that mattered a great deal.
Eventually, as the night grew later, the Packs felt the call of the hunt and most of them shifted to run beneath the moon. That was when Josh finally got Gris back. He noted that Tavi and Kiyo remained as well, but they stayed across the fire from them. Lily engaged them in soft conversation. Kiyo looked terrified at the prospect of talking to her but Josh knew Lily. She would do her best to put Kiyo at ease.
When Gris sat beside him Josh moved closer. He gently took Gris's hand in his and held it. He wanted to pull his partner close, feel the weight of Gris's head upon his shoulder, but he didn't know if Gris wanted to do that here. Josh could wait.
"Your Packmates are good people," he said softly to Gris, "but I'm glad to have the best one here with me. Is there anything you want to know about my family?"
Josh wanted Gris to ask questions of him. Of all the people he'd met tonight, Gris was the one he most wanted to share with. He'd been answering questions and letting strange glances roll off his back all evening. Now he could relax, and Gris was who he wanted to relax with.
Glancing up, he noted that they really were the only few left at the fire. He slid his arm around Gris's waist and turned his head, offering a soft, tender kiss. He didn't care who else saw them, himself, but he wanted to be absolutely sure of Gris's opinion on the matter.
What he really wanted to do was get Gris alone for a little while. He was ecstatic to be able to share this. He didn't know if it was possible to fall even more in love with his boyfriend but he sure thought he was doing so. Josh wanted to kiss Gris, to hold him, to truly share their joy together. But they should wait until the gathering was over... they should. Really.
Dancing like a madman did help serve to keep him focused. Once false twirl and he'd end up in the fire. After a round or two with Tavi and Kiyo, he was flushed and laughing. Leo joined them briefly with some acrobatic flair; Gris was pretty sure the man couldn't resist showing off and being a clown. In this instance he had done both at the same time.
He had picked up his drum for a bit and Tavi started up a circle dance with a bunch of other woman, inspiring a fast paced but sexy folk tune. There was more dancing, more talking and laughing, more fire and then eventually people starting to feel the urge to run after all the built up energy. It had always been a great way to release nerves, excitement, or stress; he tended to come home from a run and sleep like a baby.
Of course there were other ways to release pent up energy and if he wasn't running tonight then Josh had his work cut out for him. He gave Gretta another quick hug as she headed out with the others and then settled down next to Josh.
Smiling at the gentle kiss, Gris turned toward Josh and wrapped his arms around him. It felt so good; he sighed softly in contentment.
Josh asked him what he wanted to know about his family. Gris placed a soft kiss on his boyfriend's neck careful of the silver around it before leaning back and regarding his lover thoughtfully. "Well, let's start with the most obvious and work our way around to the little things. How did you end up the lone human in a family of wolves?â€
He expected the first question. It was pretty much the one he'd been answering all night, but for Gris he would offer the detailed version. He tightened his arm around Gris's waist and smiled softly into those green eyes, which sparkled even more brightly in the light of the flickering fire.
"In the Kadzait, our Alphas are served and protected by an elite force called the Pipers. My father belonged to the Pipers in Liechtenstein. Every generation of Wessons has had one person, usually a son, serve. It was supposed to be my role."
Josh shrugged his shoulders at Gris. "My father was killed on the job. Multiple gunshots to the chest. I... well, I don't particularly care to go into detail. And honestly, I was only eight. I wasn't there, I just remember the aftermath. You know most of it. We were all upset, distraught. My mother... we, well, we thought she might try to kill herself."
He swallowed hard. He was past the anguish of it, but talking about it like this was still uncomfortable and he felt his father's absence keenly when he thought about that fateful day. "Anyway I had to step in. Be the grown-up Joshua." He quirked a little smile at Gris, who knew most of this story already. "I was left with a fear of guns as a result though. I can't get near them. Can't touch them. I just can't..."
He broke off and shook his head. It was the most obvious lasting impact on Josh, but it had never come up between them. "I can't handle them," he shrugged. "Our Alpha looked to me to fill my father's spot in the Pipers. Tradition, and all that. I wasn't ready to be Gifted. Not with my father dead. He was going to do it himself."
Josh's voice was tight with emotion. He wasn't about to cry or anything, but he couldn't relive these details without feeling it all again and it showed. "I wanted to stay at home and take care of my family. They needed me, my little sisters, my mother. I couldn't go running off to join the Pipers. I didn't even want to."
He was sure Gris would put the facts together. His dream as a youth of being a pianist, which had simply 'never worked out,' his rigidly controlled attitude, and now his never having been Gifted. All the little details had never really meant anything, but now there was a common tie between them all.
"Honestly," Josh said softly, "I never really found anyone who could take my father's place. What he was supposed to do... we would have had that bond forever. His memories would have been my memories. The things he knew, generations of our family. It's all gone, really. My sisters were Gifted by other family members. My mother... she couldn't possibly have done it. Everything sort of fell apart, and I spent more time struggling to keep it all together than worrying about what I'd lost."
He had been idly running his hand up and down Gris's back while he spoke, the motion necessary while he discussed things that were so very personal to him, things no one outside of his family but Mel (and really, she was family too) knew. He looked at Gris when he paused, lifting his shoulder to shrug again. "After college Mel and I began working for the Pack as diplomats. It seemed like the way to go, and Xephier gave me a place when I might have spent years floundering and failing to find my way."
Josh would have gotten by, he knew that. He wasn't one to lack direction for long. But when he was younger, he had been much worse off than now. That was twenty years ago, a young man struggling to find a path to travel. To think of Gifting now, though... it was his hope, his dream, and also his struggle.
"Maybe part of the reason I didn't go through with it is because it would have felt like I was really saying good-bye, you know?"
He tilted his head at Gris. "It's water under the bridge now. I am who I am. I don't think about it a lot."
Only every day. But Josh didn't want to bring down their joyful evening with even more despair. His story was an unhappy one, when he himself was (particularly at this moment) a very happy person. It was good to tell it now. They could get it out of the way and continue being ecstatic.
Guarding an Alpha sounded like a very dangerous job and Gris was inwardly quite glad that Josh was not doing it. He wasn't sure how Josh felt about missing the opportunity to follow in his father's footsteps but obviously circumstances would have been a lot different if his father had survived. His Josh would be a different person entirely; perhaps not the quiet protector who looked after everyone he met.
Gris hugged Josh tighter, hearing the strain in his partner's voice. He nodded in understanding when Josh explained that he couldn't go to the Pipers even though the Alpha himself was going to Gift him. It wasn't the same. He was sure it was an honor but Josh's father had just died. Perhaps the man would have eventually treated Josh like a son but his boyfriend was a strong young man and, instead of looking for another father figure, he became one for his sister's. Josh had told him part of this before but now the whole story made the rest make sense.
"I know.â€ He agreed when Josh said he had never found anyone who could replace his father and the special gift that he would have given to his son. His own story was the opposite, he had been Gifted but lost his father in the process. "You are an amazing man. Your family and the Kadzait are lucky to have you.â€ Gris smiled. "And so am I.â€ It didn't matter if Josh chose to never be Gifted; he could understand and accept that choice, knowing what Josh was missing.
Josh then explained how the Alpha gave him and Mel a job as diplomats after college. It seemed to suit his boyfriend, especially now that he understood more about what they were actually doing.
Then Josh went back to speaking about Gifting and why he hadn't gone through with it. "I can understand that. Good bye is difficult to say.â€ He was sure that Josh felt that being Gifted by someone else would be saying good bye to all that his father wanted; he hadn't joined the Pipers and he wouldn't have his father's memories, both ways of following his father seemed lost.
"Well, you know, you may not be a Piper but you did end up working for your Alpha.â€ Gris smiled and hugged Josh close. "I guess some things are just meant to be.â€ It was their pack's Alpha and not the local Alpha. "I am sure your father is proud of you.â€ The R'asa believed very much that the spirits were all around them watching, especially close ancestors.
"I know I am.â€ Gris gave Josh and slow tender kiss to prove it. Leaning back he favored his partner with a soft encouraging smile. It hadn't been an easy tale to tell and he was thankful that Josh chose to share it with him.
He should share his own, all of it, now that he knew Josh would understand. "I wasn't Gifted by my father either.â€
He wasn't sure what about his story was amazing. To him, it was a mess of panic and depression and then duty and hard work and perfection. He had always tried to be perfect for his family, so no one could take them away. If Gris felt he was lucky to have Josh, he wasn't going to argue that point. He might tease a little though.
"Really?" he asked, a humorous smile touching his lips. "I say the wrong things all the time. I spend too much time at work. I don't dance. But I do care for you, as best I can. That won't ever change."
When Gris said he thought Josh's father would be proud of him Josh gave his boyfriend a somewhat crooked smile. Now, that sentiment choked him up. "I hope he knows I've done my best," he said softly. "I know he didn't mean to leave us."
Gris seconded his own opinion and kissed him; Josh wrapped his arms fully around Gris's slender waist and kissed him back, enjoying the softness of it. He was certain there would be fire and passion aplenty in the next few hours but at the moment this loving gentleness they were sharing was just right.
His boyfriend then mentioned his father hadn't Gifted him either, and while Josh didn't want to make Gris recount any painful parts of his past he also knew Gris wouldn't have mentioned it if he weren't willing to share. he lifted one hand and smoothed it over Gris's blond fire-lit curls. "Who was it, then?" he asked softly. "They certainly had good taste."
"We will see about the not dancing part." Gris threatened quietly. "At home with no one else watching." Where they could be as silly or as serious as they liked. Josh could be himself at home.
When they got to his story, he shook his head slightly. It had nothing much to do with taste. "My brother."
Gris started his own difficult tale, feeling that his was far less noble. He hadn't stepped up to become the child his father would be proud of or that his family depended on. "Remember I told you that my brother died when I was young and that my father sent me away." He sighed softly and continued. "That is because my father blames me for my brother's death."
He glanced at Josh to see how he took that piece of news. Perhaps it explained his father a little better. Gris had almost stopped blaming himself for Garran's death; enough people had said that it was an accident, including members of his family. He still felt guilty and helpless on the inside whenever he thought about it. He doubted that would ever change. "We were playing chase out in the countryside. The hills were steep but we had plenty of energy, especially my brother who had been recently Gifted. The apple of my father's eye." He gave Josh a strained smile, having already mentioned before how his brother had died following him down a cliff. Except his death happened much later when he came back up.
"I fell and was bleeding badly. I wouldn't wake up. My brother Gifted me in order to save my life. Perhaps he did or maybe I would have lived. I don't know. " Gris rubbed his calf where the scar proclaimed him a werewolf. "He started climbing back up the cliff and when it became dark enough he changed so that he could run back to the pack faster." Swallowing hard, he continued. "A shepherd saw him and thought he was after his sheep. He shot him, repeatedly and then, to keep other animals away from the body, he burned it." Tears still came to his eyes when he mentioned his brother bravely going for help only to be shot and killed accident. "The pack had already begun to search for us when we didn't return. They took me back but my father refused to speak to me after that moment." Gris shrugged. "I have my brother's memories but I lost the rest of my family that day." Including, and especially his beloved brother. He had to admit the memories were some comfort but Garran had been young and not many of the inherited memories were his own.
Gris looked at Josh to see what he made of the entire tale. "So fear of heights...or falling really. Looking out over the city behind nice safe glass and steel is fine." He would have to remember Josh's fear of guns but that wouldn't be a problem around him since he didn't own one. They were both in a good part of town with apartments that had door managers and security so there was no need to worry that Josh needed a firearm to protect himself while he was away either.
"This was my brother's." He pointed to the ankh that always hung around his neck. "He found it one day while we were 'treasure hunting' in Egypt." Gris suspected later that one of his parents might have planted it so that one of them could find it but he never asked or really truly wanted to know so that he could have some hope that Garran really did find something unique and special on his own. Eventually though even its origin didn't matter; what mattered was that it was Garran's. It was one of the only things he had of his brother's.
"What about yours?" He pointed to the silver necklace that had worried him more than once.
Gris related to Josh the story of how he had been Gifted, and Josh recognized the tale with some alterations. Gris had already told him how his brother had died, how his father blamed him for the loss. Now, hearing the entire thing, all the facts came together. He listened silently, his arms tightening around Gris and his face hardening.
He hoped he never had to meet Gris's father. Josh wasn't sure if he could hide the utter disdain he felt for a man who would cause such grief to his remaining son because of the loss of the first. Nor was he sure he could keep quiet on the topic. The man was a fool. Worse than a fool; fools didn't hurt people and this man had. He had no right caling himself 'father' to anyone.
Josh brushed his fingers against the pendant around Gris's neck, letting it warm between them. "I'm sorry I can't meet him," he said softly.
He had much to say but he answered Gris's question about his own necklace first. It was a silver chain and pendant in the shape of a wolf's head. "Practicality, mostly," he said. "We have a Pack of wolves and humans living in very close proximity, even during the full moon. While we Illamar stay indoors at night, accidents may happen. We wear silver as a precaution."
He was silent for a moment before pulling Gris close. "Gris. I don't know how to tell you how little you were to blame for your brother's death. Losing your family... it's a terrible thing. I only lost a father and I still feel that loss every day."
Josh let his hand brush gently down the side of Gris's face, along the angular, perfectly-sculpted lines he had grown to love so very much. "Your brother was still a child when he died. What he could have been is pointless speculation. You are still here, and you are one of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever met. You have enough heart for three families and it's your family who are missing out."
Tilting his head toward Gris Josh kissed him softly. "I already told you I wanted to be 'home' for you," he reminded his partner. "I would be family to you, too. I know it isn't the same, love, but if you allow it I will spend every day and every night doing my best to fill you with joy."
Josh could see that joyful expression on Gris's face in his memory. He had seen that brilliant smile, those sparkling eyes. He remembered the sound of Gris's laugh even when he wasn't in the room. He recalled his partner's face, head thrown back, riding him toward the edge of bliss and over. Remembered every sleepy smile he'd been given when they awoke in the morning. All those things, he wanted to reproduce for his lover until all the painful memories were so far away they might never resurface.
Was it a realistic dream? No, but then it wouldn't be much of a dream. Josh would do everything in his power to achieve it, anyway. He kissed Gris again, continuing the same slow, decadent caress they had initiated earlier with only a hint of what would come beneath it. It was hard to remember sometimes that there were people right across the fire from them, more in the woods, and they weren't completely alone right now.
"I think," Josh said softly, when he pulled away, "it would be an easier task to achieve if we lived together. I don't want to push you... but the offer stands. You're halfway there now, and I hate half-measures."
His grey eyes twinkled with light humor but Josh meant it. They spent a great deal of time together. They spent the night together as often as they could. Wouldn't it be easier for them both to live together? Josh could ask for nothing better, himself.
The necklace that Josh was wearing had very practical reasons for a human among a pack of werewolves. He supposed then that he would just have to continue being careful of it. He certainly wanted Josh to stay safe. "Well I can't promise not to bite you, myself...â€ Gris said thoughtfully, giving his boyfriend a long hungry look that had nothing to do with the full moon.
Gris blushed slightly at Josh's praise and then captured the hand that brushed his face. "Thank you, My Love. I do believe my father is an idiot. That much I do understand.â€ He sighed. "He is a very wealthy idiot. My mother isn't very maternal as I recall; very odd for a paterna actually...â€ Gris had looked up his family lines years ago in a desperate need to be closer to the family that was so far away. He wanted to know their stories, especially his mother's side, where he had no memories passed along. There was an interesting discrepancy in the paper trail that only a young fresh lawyer might have noticed. His mother's age varied from the birth record he found but almost ten years and not to make her younger, but older.
He eventually became caught up in other matters but he always wondered if there was a secret there. Perhaps he would go back to looking; maybe Tavi and Josh would like to help. A detective might be useful and having Josh help him pour over stuffy papers and old pictures would make it much more appealing than doing it alone. "My sister seems interested to know me but she also doesn't want to risk Daddy's ire too much and lose her place in the family.â€ Though she had risked much to invite him to her wedding. Their father doted on his sister; she was now the child that got all his affection and attention. Gris suspected he was also looking forward to grandchildren.
Smiling at his partner, he nodded. "I think you are becoming family. Just as they are here.â€ Gris gestured to the campfire behind him and the pack that could occasionally be heard running in the distance. "Well, perhaps not just like them.â€ Gris smiled. "You -do- fill me with joy, Josh, and knowing that I can tell you everything that I have been wanting to explain just makes it better. I dreaded losing you because of what I am.â€ He held Josh a little tighter and sighed happily. "But now that is a worry that is gone.â€
He blinked once or twice at Josh before the statements made sense. They had been discussing family and he had been worried about having to explain himself to his human boyfriend. Gris hadn't had time to consider where the next step was; he was just coming to terms with the fact that he loved Josh and didn't want to lose him. It was a surprise; a pleasant one. Raising his eyebrows, he asked. "Yours or mine?â€
Gris said that Josh was becoming family and Josh nodded, satisfied. Someday, he told himself quietly, he would be family for sure. As long as Gris wanted him there he would be present to love him, support him, protect him. And yes, hopefully continue filling him with joy.
"You're not going to lose me, Gris. Best let that sink in now." Josh smiled at his partner. "I'm not known for my rapidly changing tastes. It's you I care about and you I will continue to, for as long as you like. And even if you change your mind I might put up quite a fight."
His words were said not with intense passion but rather a calm sense of conviction, complete satisfaction, and contentment. Josh knew his own heart. He always had. He didn't have to wonder if he was falling in love or if this was 'right' or any of those other questions that seemed to plague new lovers. He knew it was right for him, that Gris was the man he had been waiting for.
In light of his history, too, he could almost forgive the ex-boyfriend who had cheated on him. If it hadn't happened Josh might never have met Gris and what he felt for him made everything else look meek in comparison.
He wasn't sure if Gris had been surprised by his proposal but he did smile when his first question about moving in was whose place to move into. He thought that was an implicit 'yes' but did it matter to Gris? Josh had no opinion.
"Wherever you like," he murmured, smoothing his hand over Gris's soft curls. "My place, your place, or we can sell them both and find someplace that suits us together. Your presence changes me."
Now he did let emotion fill his voice. "I can't help but smile more when you're around. I laugh more. The world seems that much brighter and more colorful when you're with me. You give me strength, Gris, and hope, and so much happiness."
He smiled against his partner's lips as he kissed him tenderly. "How long does one stay at this campfire thing?" The waiting was starting to wear on him. He wasn't sure how much longer he could be patient before he simply dragged Gris off to the woods and compromised him right there where their Packs could run by any second.
If the later was what made it so comfortable then he supposed they could live in a cardboard box and he would be fine.
He smiled at Josh. "So that is a yes to the dancing?â€ Gris gave his boyfriend a mischievous grin. "I love being with you also, Joshua. You make me happy. Even just thinking about you makes me happy.â€
Giving the living situation some serious though, he said. "I like the neighborhood we are in. I guess the question is whether or not either apartment is big enough for the both of us. Do we need anything larger?â€ Gris smiled. "My place with the pack is very small since I was single when I chose where to stay. Very happening though.â€ He tilted his head to indicate across the fire. "Those two are a couple of roommates but we don't see much of Kiyo these days. I think he might have a boyfriend or something.â€
Now that Josh was a member of the Kadzait and they were allies, for the moment, the R'asa shouldn't have too much of a problem with his boyfriend visiting Shady Pines. The Rails was an interesting ward and he loved the tight knit little community of young werewolves that inhabited the place. The little train was a nice quirky touch and there was almost always someone in the common room. For him, it was like having a family every time he stepped out of his door. Tavi was doing her best to really make it like a family too. She checked up on everyone and introduced newcomers to long time residents, mentioning things in common and such with ease. Gris had become popular for making incredible food and snacks for those that enjoyed things other than raw meat. He loved filling up the little train with food and drinks and sending it around the room to people.
"I think I can rent mine out until the lease is up. I am sure Tavi can find someone who needs a place for a bit. For now we can both stay at your place and decide whether or not we want something larger or different before your lease is up.â€ They had bought their places at almost exactly the same time so the renewal on both should be up in the same month. He could let someone stay in his so that a good apartment didn't go to waste; though he would miss the wonderful modern furniture and the huge kitchen and bath. Gris would admit that was why he chose the place he did. Josh's kitchen was pretty nice; it just wasn't his.
Looking around the empty campfire, Gris smiled. "Oh, people wander in and out all the time. They are pretty busy right now. I think we could say goodbye to our friends and head out now, or at least disappear for an hour or two before coming back...if you had somewhere else you would like to be.â€
They discussed housing again and Josh lifted his shoulders at the idea of getting an even bigger place. In his opinion his place was plenty big for two but Gris might like is own privacy even when they were sharing and Josh wouldn't hold it against him. He was worried; what if they moved in together and Gris decided Josh was too horribly clingy? And what if Josh attempted to give him his space and Gris took it wrong and thought he was being stand-offish? Josh huffed a soft sigh at himself. He was generally a decisive person but he very badly wanted to do things right with Gris.
He chuckled at the notion of Kiyoshi's boyfriend. "I don't know what would give you that idea. Maybe the fact that he seems like he's usually attached to Evan at the hip?"
He wanted to ask where Evan was tonight, once again, but it was clear that the most obvious option was that Evan wasn't a werewolf. Josh didn't find that very surprising. He had known submissive werewolves before; they often had a hard time getting comfortable with their Packs. Hell, that was part of Josh's job after all. Making wolves feel comfortable.
Gris suggested a solution to the housing situation and Josh practically beamed at him, his teeth actually flashing as he smiled briefly but widely. "It's a deal," he said. "A trial. If we need more room we can work it out."
There were larger places outside of Nachton. There were larger places within Nachton. It would be wonderful to have a little bit of land, a place for Gris to run privately, freely, whenever he liked. Josh had to admit to some worry about using the Park all the time. It was a public area, after all. Of course the Kadzait had plenty of room and he suspected the R'asa must too, but their own area might be enjoyable.
He was putting the cart before the horse, though. They should simply live together first. Then they could make long-term plans. He leaned in, sliding his arms around Gris once more, kissing him gently. "My place is your place," he said. "Change whatever you like, except for the placement of the piano if you don't mind. I want you to be home there."
He really didn't care. He was looking forward to making Gris a more permanent part of his life. That was what he cared about... seeing their things together, seeing how things changed around him with Gris's tastes incorporated into his. They were very different in the way they did things. Gris tended toward a sleeker, more modern sort of decoration and Josh went slightly more traditional, cozy, comfortable. He liked both ways. It would be nice, he thought, to have a beautiful sleek living room and kitchen and perhaps further inside the house a cozy little den or TV room with something more homey.
He was daydreaming. How could he be daydreaming when the object of his fantasies was right here? Josh smiled at Gris and let out a long sigh of pent-up anticipation. "There is somewhere I would much rather be," he murmured softly, his voice heavy with desire. "I think you know where."
They had behaved all night. Josh was growing tense with the need to hold Gris, really hold him, no clothing, just warm skin, soft caresses, and two heart beats working together. "We can come back if you like, but I had planned to keep you busy."
They did make their excuses to Lily, Tavi, and Kiyoshi. Josh saw the knowing smile on Lily's face when she stood and bid them both farewell, telling Gris she would like to get to know him better the next time. And then she invited him to visit the Den, turning to offer the invitation to Tavi and Kiyoshi as well. If the offer had come from anyone else Josh wouldn't have believed it, but Lily knew her son's desires as well as anyone, and she sounded genuinely interested in talking to Gris.
Not long after that they were headed back to Josh's apartment, and not long after that they had nothing to say at all, for actions definitely spoke louder than words that night. Josh had many things he still wanted to say to Gris, but they could wait... he would simply show him for now.
((ooc: all out))