Making Arrangements (private)
Alex used his newly-acquired ability to sneak through opening and closing doorways on his own store, avoiding the bell that jingled as one customer left with a bag in her hand. He slipped through it, satisfied with his own success.
Adam stood behind the register, humming a soft tune to himself as he marked an item off an inventory list. As Alex watched, his manager gathered together a small stack of papers and tapped them against the glass countertop to get them nice and neat. Then he looked at the clock and sighed softly.
Alex appeared off to the side, and felt a little guilty when Adam turned and shouted and jumped back at the same time. Not guilty enough to hide his impish grin though.
"Jesus, Alex, you just took ten years off my life man," he said, his hand over his heart dramatically.
Adam came around the counter and crossed his arms, staring at Alex. "You look fantastic. For a dead guy. When did it happen?"
Alex hadn't expected Adam to be shocked, or baffled, to find his boss had joined the ranks of the vampiric. Adam belonged to Evenhet, or at least was associated with them. He'd been a familiar in the past but, due to circumstances he hadn't been open to Alex about, no longer was. So he was in the position Alex had been in, really, an unattached human 'in the know,' when he'd come to Nachton.
Alex shrugged his shoulders. Adam had seen him a few days ago before he'd taken such a dive. He knew his manager had been updated regularly by Aishe. Presumably she'd told him Alex wasn't doing well, and she'd probably let him know Alex had been turned but Alex doubted the small Egyptian would have said any more. She was remarkably circumspect about Alex's personal affairs, which was one of the reasons he trusted her. She wouldn't say any more than was appropriate or necessary.
"Aishe told you I got worse, right? An infection I must have picked up in the hospital."
Adam nodded, wincing in sympathy. "Yeah. She said it wasn't looking good. The next I heard from her was just last night, when she said you'd been turned."
Alex nodded. "That's about the size of it," he said. "Dr. Murphy tried to save me. I'd rather have been myself. But I didn't want to die either."
"You're still yourself," Adam said supportively, firmly. "You haven't changed. Except for that eye thing. Very snazzy."
Alex laughed. He liked Adam a lot and he suspected their friendship would grow now that Alex wasn't battling cancer. They got along great now, but the entire time Alex had known Adam, Alex had been going through some serious stuff.
"Yeah. Still myself. You know what I meant."
"Mmm-hmm," Adam nodded. He leaned back against the counter, the picture of relaxation. "So how's it going so far?"
"I don't mind it," Alex said, blushing a little. "It's... I don't know, easier to empathize from this side, I guess? There's a lot to learn."
Adam nodded. "Yeah. So I've heard."
"Not something you want for yourself?" Alex had never pried into Adam's personal affairs, so he was hesitant to ask.
Adam didn't seem to mind though. He lifted his shoulders and smiled, although his eyes seemed a bit sad. "Not really. I guess if the right situation presented itself I wouldn't say no, but it's not something I want for the sake of it. I kind of like being the support, you know? The food, so to speak."
He reached out, put a hand on Alex's shoulder. "Speaking of. If you need it, it's okay with me. I don't mind. I'm unattached, you know, and it's nice..."
Alex nodded, blushing again. "...to be needed," he finished, and Adam nodded this time.
"You understand," Adam said.
Alex did understand. His biggest regret about how this whole thing had turned out was that he couldn't support Eiryk the way he used to. Or, well, maybe eventually he could. He understood exactly what Adam meant. It must be a little lonely. As far as Alex knew Adam was single, lived alone, and had no family nearby. Without the attachment of being a familiar, either, he was probably a little lonely.
"I think... yeah, that might work sometime," Alex said shyly. "Thanks. I mean, I'm good tonight but maybe later."
Adam relaxed a little more, smiled again. "Okay, good then. I'm glad you're here. I know you missed running the place."
Alex walked around the counter and dragged up the wooden stool to perch on while Adam shifted to lean his hip against the counter companionably.
"I did, but that was sort of what I wanted to talk to you about. Obviously I can't keep daytime hours anymore."
"You going to do the all night thing?" Adam asked.
Alex shook his head. "No. I don't think so. I like Roughing It as it is. I wanted to know if you were interested in managing it full time with me."
Adam's face broke into a smile, and his blue eyes reflected it this time. "Yeah. I don't even have to think about that one. I love it here."
Alex felt a little wave of relief. He hadn't relished the task of trying to find a new manager when Adam already did such a good job. "Obviously, we'll talk raise. But Alfarinn sort of suggested something new to me, and I want to give it a shot."
He quickly outlined the idea his Creator had had for him regarding the storefront in the Mall and the idea of turning it into a little yoga studio with an attached shop. Adam nodded enthusiastically while Alex talked.
"That's a great idea. Your hours fit really well too; you can give evening and morning classes. Before and after work for anyone, vampire or human."
Alex smiled and nodded. "I can spend a couple hours here if I need to, but I know you've got it pretty well in hand. And we can keep renting out the studio above. You can keep the apartment too, if you want."
Adam had been living in Alex's old apartment on the third floor, part of the package as the store manager. He didn't seem to want to live at the Towers, which was a little odd but not so much. It did make Alex curious what had happened to his vampire, but not curious enough to open what was obviously a painful topic.
"Yeah, I'd like that. It's convenient, and it's a cozy little place."
"You're making this really easy," Alex said wryly.
"Want me to be more difficult?" Adam arched a dark brow at him.
Alex laughed. "No. No, not really. I'm just glad you seem happy with it."
Adam nodded. "I'm happy. What about you?"
Alex looked down. "Yeah. I think it worked out for the best."
"So... if you don't mind my asking, who did it? I mean, there had to have been a line a mile long."
Alex coughed. "There were apparently several takers." He hated talking about himself, and he was still uncomfortably flattered that all of his friends had been lobbying to be the one who turned him. "Alfarinn beat them to it though."
"Wow. Really? The boss man?" Adam whistled. "You don't go small, baby."
Alex laughed again, a little more self-consciously. Not because of Adam's endearment; he knew Adam wasn't flirting or anything, just teasing. Hell, he didn't even think Adam was gay. No, it was the fact that, yes, Alfarinn had been the one to turn him.
"It was best that way. No resentment or anything, you know? Besides he had sort of promised a while ago... we kind of bumped into each other and ended up having that kind of conversation, and he gave me his word. So he kept it, and that was that."
Alex nodded and looked at the clock. It was past closing time and the store was empty. "You want to go get a drink or something?"
He hardly ever asked people to go out; he was too shy to do it. But he really did like Adam and Eiryk was at work for the next few hours. He figured if nothing else they could celebrate... whatever. Adam staying on, Alex not being dead. Pick one.
Adam nodded as they started to close the store. "Sure. God knows I have no plans."
"We need to get you a life," Alex said, shaking his head. "It's pretty bad when my social life looks exciting by comparison."
Adam grinned. "I'm good. Like this," he indicated the two of them. "A few friends here and there, a good job, a nice place to live. Everything else will happen in time."
"How philosophical. And I can't argue."
"Because I'm right, like always."
Together they got the shop squared away, locked it up, and headed down the street. There were a lot of options around, and they wound up in a little Italian restaurant with a bottle of wine and a few appetizers. Alex couldn't help but notice that Adam was checked out by two waiters, one male and on female, and paid zero attention to either of them.
Even more curious. Yet, he wouldn't, couldn't ask. Everything would happen in time. It was a damn good philosophy.