Second Chances (open)
Eiryk was busy, extremely busy in fact. It made him happy. Oh sure he got frustrated and overwhelmed from time to time but overall he really liked being able to bounce from project to project and always have something to do, especially as he found both of his businesses more play than work.
Tonight, well right now anyway, it was the design studio. He'd taken quite a step back from the design business but he wasn't totally abstinent. This was a midsized B&B. It wasn't his project either, it was Eve's. Eve had been with him for a number of years now but she had always done residential, this was her first bid for the studio on a commercial project. So he was reviewing it before she presented it.
Eiryk was really very pleased. For all she had purple hair (now... it had been an unnatural fire engine red when he'd hired her) and some very creative tattoos she didn't miss a trick. Eve was very professional and talented so he was only making a few little suggestions here and there. Just little things she wasn't used to not having done commercial work before so he couldn't even fault her.
Finishing up his notes he stretched, notice his coffee was empty, caught the eye of one of the Barny's staff smiled winningly and waggled his eyebrows. He was rewarded with a stuffed giggle and a nod and knew his coffee would be on its way. He would have gone back to his work but he accidentally made eye contact with a rather muscular blond. Eiryk wasn't partially fond of the man but the boy looked lost and possibly lonely. There were no open tables. He wasn't exactly sure why he did it, but Eiryk waved him over an offered one of the seats at his table.
He'd decided to look Pak up and have a chat with her about Blaise. See if she anything about his past, goals or how the hell he was going to pay for medical school. Oh sure he could do student loans like everyone else but they could take forever to pay off. Did Evenhet have a scholarship program? Certainly an individual vampire would look after their familiars but what about a new vampire? It wasn't like the old days when you couldn't verify someone's credentials and learn by doing. Huh. He'd look into it.
For now though he rolled his eyes cheerfully at Rue.
"Pirate? Why didn't I see that coming. Well you remember you said that when I bring a former profession into the present day."
Since Blaise was still interested and his eyes hadn't gone too glassy, Rowan addressed his next question. "Well it depends a bit on the college. Some colleges have specific pre-med programs you can apply to. Some, you can get there by way of a different major like biology or the like. Most of the ones I know of have pre-med curricula."
He turned to Eiryk to smirk when his pirate statement was made fun of. "Oh, like you can reasonably bring 'raiding and plundering' into the modern era. At least my piracy skills are still highly in demand in certain circles."
He gave Eiryk his biggest grin.
Was all Blaise said as he took in the information. He really shouldn't grill Rowan like this, he was actually starting to feel bad but how often did you get to actually talk to a doctor about their profession? Actually, maybe normal people did this all the time it just had never been his experience.
"So is this NP thing or regular nurse or some other set of letters a better way to go or a good first step to doctor or what?"
He swore to himself that would be his last doctor question for the night. He'd hit up the advisors, that was what they were there for after all. And oddly enough one or two seemed genuinely interested in helping him get into college.
"Right then. I guess I'll just have to see where I can get in then and worry about the rest after that. I appreciate the insights though."
Everyone seemed so damned sure he could get in too. That was odd to Blaise, he still hadn't gotten used to people actually being supportive. He was starting to like it though.
Ok that comment was too much for Blaise, he couldn't keep his curiosity in check any longer. He looked at the well dressed dapper looking blond and couldn't reconcile the words "raiding and plundering". He could almost see the pirate thing but... raiding?
"Ok so you really were some kind of pirate, yo go ho and a bottle of rum and all that, in your first life and he was what... you were what? Mongolian horseman? Viking? Conquistador?"
This had to be some kind of haze the new guy thing. Had to be.
Granted he'd learned a fair bit here and there battles, long voyages, human (at the time) boyfriend, you had to pick things up. Hell, Eiryk was still facinated with the EpiPen Alex had taught him how to use, but it was all a long way from being a doctor.
"Oh hush. I could go to work on Wall Street that seems just as much looting and pillaging as I ever did. Maybe more."
He might appreciate a good investment and even more so the income derived from them but could be a vicious business.
And Blaise finally gave into curiosity. He'd held out a decent while in his opinion.
"Oh a bottle of rum does sound good and since I think it is your turn to buy..."
He gave Rowan a rather significant, if slightly playful look. A few drinks didn't sound bad. In fact he might even ask Blaise out for a drink here. Keep an eye on the boy.
"Oh not too bad a guess really. One is right and I'm fairly certain I don't look related to the mighty Kahn."
Rowan smiled when Blaise sounded like he might actually do this thing. "Let me know if you need help. I've done plenty of this over the years, both applying to colleges and doing the actual coursework. We could probably work out an internship here at the Towers as well, and if not I'm still involved with Nachton Hospital too."
Another vampire doctor. What was the world coming to? He'd thought he and Claire were semi-unique. Company would be welcome.
Eiryk's Wall Street comment made him laugh. "Different kind of looting and pillaging, dear," he said. "Although I'd love to see you swinging an axe inside the New York stock exchange." Laughter made his accent thicker, but he couldn't help it. The idea of Eiryk going full Viking in the midst of a bunch of suits was hilarious.
Since his friend didn't seem inclined to answer Blaise straight, Rowan felt free to out him. "Viking." He pointed to Eiryk, then himself. "And yes, pirate at one point but I cannot tell you about my first life, as you put it. It's all a blank slate. Far as a know, my life started as a baby vampire."
"Well Pakpao keeps telling me I have time to make decisions and payments so I guess I have time to find my best path."
He really appreciate the offer. As a kid, as a familiar and even as a young vampire he'd been left to figure a lot out on his own. It had been stressful to say the least bit he'd gotten used to it. It also made him all the more grateful for genuine offers of assistance. Sure Rowan could possibly be a jackass and lead him on, but so far within his limited dealings with the clan that hadn't been the case.
"Cheers. I'll probably start with the school, I mean that's what they're there for and you have a life and all but if I get stuck or need someone who understands night shifts I may just look you up."
They were so putting him on. Weren't they? If they were they both looked insanely comfortable with the lie, like they had told it a hundred times.
He pointed to them each in turn ready to laugh if they cracked, but they didn't. Blaise was starting to believe them.
"Shouldn't you two be mortal enemies or something? Engaged in a battle for supremacy of the high seas?"
He would have paid more attention in history class if he'd known he was going to be a vampire.
"That can happen?"
He asked cautiously, not wanting to offend.
"True enough. You've managed to end run the "and death" bit of the old saying but the taxes will always be there."
In many countries under many governments. Some days Eiryk rather missed the whole portable wealth, land and just keeping gold and such about. Although he did have to concede he rather liked compound interest and couldn't for the life of him work out where he would keep all his worth these days. No, money banks and investments were just practical.
"Our way was more fun."
Eiryk retorted, after all Rue wasn't exempt from the looting and pillaging cliche.
"If they didn't have so many metal detectors and terrorism laws I might try it. Might get us a better return on a few bonds if nothing else."
There was no way Eiryk meant that and his tone and the roll of his eyes made that clear, but it was a terribly interesting idea.
Blaise apparently didn't believe them. Well, even he had to admit, it sounded far fetched and he and Rue had sort of grown up together in a way. Although it caused Eiryk to wonder a bit about the boy's maker he nodded confirmation. He had to laugh again when asked about being mortal enemies.
"Goodness no. Why would we want to do that? Pirates had the right idea after all and cannons. I still occasionally wish we'd had a cannon."
Eiryk added almost wistfully. Oh some of those raids would have been -much- easier but the weight probably out... weighed... their usefulness on a long boat and storage, ugh. Oh well it had been a good idea for a second there.
The amnesia thing he let Rowan handle. Honestly Eiryk considered himself pretty open and he wasn't sure he'd be that willing to discuss a total lack of memory. Of course, Blaise was young and hardly likely to have anything to do with anyone's past.
The topic drifted to his and Eiryk's pasts and Rowan realized Blaise must be a good deal younger than he'd previously suspected, but that revelation was tempered by Eiryk's admittance that pirates were better than Vikings. At least, that was what he chose to hear.
Sitting up a bit Rowan stabbed a finger at Eiryk. "Aha! You admit it! Finally! Pirates are WAY better than Vikings."
He looked at Blaise. "Honestly, Eiryk and I are so close in age, nocturnally speaking, and we lived in the same general area of the world. We bumped into each other a few times, and we were friends pretty much off the bat."
When the apparently younger man asked about his lack of memory, Rowan shrugged. "It is what it is. I've heard of it happening now and then, and I'm not sure it's not for the better. I don't know that I was worth much in life."
He said it quite matter-of-factly; Rowan was used to this kind of introspection. He was pretty sure he'd never have answers, but that was because he didn't want them. He'd long suspected Henri knew more than he was letting on. He also thought that Henri might have said something to someone else. Maybe Renee, maybe Cris. But the truth was, Rowan was just Rowan now. It didn't really matter at this point where he'd come from.
"Let's get me into a college before I start covering for you."
He replied with his own bit of attitude. But as he watched the two old, apparently legit -old-, friends bicker he did make a promise to himself to take some history classes. It was interesting how open these two were. He and Pakpao had been talking since he kidnapped her and she'd told him very little about her past. Hell he didn't have an idea how old she was.
Although he was inclined to feel sympathy for Rowan the man himself seemed ok with it. Although, from the sounds of it he'd had more than enough time to let any hurt scab over. He was looking forward to that part of his life.
"Honestly, I wouldn't have minded that happening."
The shitty foster homes, the run ins with the law, his pal getting splattered by that train. Yeah there was a lot he wouldn't mind forgetting, but he would have forgotten his sister.
"Of course the freak who turned me probably would have had a field day with that. So..."
Yeah with no memory Alfie and Jarrod probably could have totally fucked him up. He probably would have done a number on Pakpao and maybe even hurt Cecile.
"I guess good with the bad and all that."
Any more introspection was cut short by Rowan.
"I did not!" Eiryk said indignantly as he straightened up and considered the possibility of look fierce. "I said your looting and pillaging skills had promise and I wish we'd had a cannon but if you're going to play that game I'll take it back and never stick up for you again."
He finished in a playful huff. He and Rue had played this game far too often over the years for either one of them to remotely take offense. For a hot second Eiryk tried to remember the last time he and Rue had been more than annoyed with each other. He was certain they had probably been -very- annoyed with each other at one point, his enthusiasm tended to do that to people, but he couldn't recall. Probably very unfair to Blaise really, but he was holding his own.
Speaking of holding his own, that was a very interesting little glimpse into Blaise's history, brief as it was. It did seem a fair number of vampires had less than ideal pasts. Honestly Eiryk didn't count himself among them, he'd had a decent life before being turned. Sure if had been unconventional and violent by modern standards but as he remembered it, it had been a good life.
He gave Blaise a warm reassuring smile. He might not 100% mean it, but it was the right answer.
"Exactly. Some days it can be harder to remember than others and age doesn't always mean wisdom and acceptance but it holds true."
To Eiryk, he shook his head. "Nope. No take-backsies." Nothing said 'centuries-old creature of the night' like not allowing take-backsies.
He considered Blaise's observation for a long moment before tilting his hand back and forth. "Eh. I don't now. There were long periods of time, mostly at the start, where I drove myself crazy wondering who I was, where I was from, and what I'd done. I only knew what Henri could tell me, and all he knew about me was that I intervened for him when he might have been caught cheating at cards."
He quirked a crooked half-smile. "I don't recall if he was cheating or not. He claims to have been out-cheating the actual cheater, and from what I know of him now I can believe that. At any rate apparently I got the shit end of that rescue, and to repay me for saving him he saved me in turn. It took a long time for me to be okay with not knowing my past."
There were some days he still wasn't ok with it, but he didn't talk about that with anyone but Cris, usually. His husband had done wonders when it came to convincing Rowan that he (probably) hadn't been a serial killer or anything.
Blaise honestly hadn't really considered needing multiple identities and all that went with it. He was still using his actual name and his actual ID. It was still legit after all and no one had filed a death certificate and he didn't look too absurdly young compared to his birthday.
Backsies? Backsies? Blaise didn't know if he should be scandalized or laughing his ass off. These two were -seriously- challenging his ideas of being a vampire. First Pakpao and now Rowan and Eiryk, apparently he'd gotten a shit education about what he was. If nothing else it sure looked like he wasn't going to turn into some weird ass psychotic cliche.
"Okay I can see that side of it too. Guess you couldn't even Google yourself at the time. Hell these days you couldn't if you didn't know your name and shit."
And it suddenly struck Blaise he had no way of knowing if either Eiryk or Rowan were these guys' real names. In fact if Rowan didn't remember anything, would he even know? Oh shit he was probably going to need a new name and ID and rubbish in a few years. Fuck there was a lot he hadn't thought about it.
At least both vampires were trying to be reassuring. It would be nice if there was a vampire 101 though.
Rowan's story was at once oddly familiar and radically different than his own, at least that is how Blaise was taking it.
"You got yourself done in for a guy you didn't know who may or may not have been cheating? You're a better man than me."
"We should talk. I'm curious about some of your tricks. Hell you should talk to Pak too, I'm sure she could help with the digital implantation."
Honestly Eiryk was curious about the forgeries. He'd done enough calligraphy and illumination over the years, especially copying, he should be able to manage some of it and if might be a useful skill to have no matter how many times he'd reinvented himself over the years.
Very casually brushing some of his shaggy blond hair out of his face he considered this utter nonsense Rue was trying to sell him. Nope. Nope. Not right at all...
"As take-backsies weren't invented at the time they cannot be applied at this time. You can have your little pirate fantasy and leave the raiding to the real men darling."
Yup, gay Viking, deal with it.
Eiryk fully agreed with Blaise. Oh sure didn't know for sure and didn't know all the details of his old friend's turning but he had long ago concluded Rue had probably always been a decent sort. He also trusted, given what he knew of the man, that Henri would have made a good choice. Absently and briefly Eiryk pat Rowan's hand in a vaguely supportive manner.
Rue knew his feelings on the matter. Eiryk had simply accepted the amnesia and made his judgments on the Rowan he knew. There was no point in fussing about something no one could do anything about. Of course, he also knew that was easy for him to say. He still remembered his mortal life. So he didn't say much unless asked.
As Rue had told his story Blaise turned a rather curious look on him.
"Don't look at me. I just pissed off the wrong monk."
He took a sip of his coffee
"During a raid. ... Fine it was the third raid in that monastery and he was really annoyed."
Actually it had been bizarrely frustrating as he had only spoke Swedish and Danish and Angus hadn't spoken either.
He shrugged at Eiryk, too. "It's less about tricks and more about observation. If you're going to be a forger, you've also got to be a good analyst. Knowing by looking at the writing if the scribe is left or right handed, how they hold the implement by looking at the pattern of pressure points in each letter, the angle of the taller ones, the openness of the loops, the dots on the i's and crosses on the t's... I could go on."
Things got real with the take backsies, but Rowan remained stoic in the face of Eiryk's supposed fabulousness. "You just admitted we were better because cannons. You literally don't have a leg to stand on, and that's coming from the pirate. I should know about legs."
He laughed at his own peg-leg joke and let the topic go on by, glad that it was Eiryk's turn to talk about his Creation. He waved off any and all assertions that he was a good person, mostly because he had done plenty of not good things since his turning, and snorted when Eiryk gave a super condensed version of things.
"Only Eiryk could heckle someone into killing him."
He'd met Angus a time or two, since the man lived in Ireland, and it always seemed odd to him that such a... well, hermit, would have turned someone so gregarious. Then again, Henri was the textbook definition of 'forgettable' while Rowan was - not that. So maybe vampires had an opposites attract thing going on.
Now obviously there were rules and laws and such but if nothing else you needed new credentials and IDs. Huh. Just more to think about... right up until he apparently walked into a comedy act.
Blaise did his best not to gape but did wish he had some popcorn. Even without popcorn this was considerably more interesting than studying. Hell he was doing his best not to bust out laughing.
"Wait just a sec, you were beating up on a bunch of priests and wound up a vampire? How does that even happen?"
Boy he hoped he'd heard that right because it sounded even more absurd when he said it out loud. He kept seeing big hairy guys in horned helmets waive torches and swords and the roundish late middle aged utterly harmless vickers he'd known and it was just unreal.
Eiryk said after a thoughtful nod. He'd done oodles of copying in the monasteries and you had to get it -just- right. You couldn't tell where one brother's work stopped and another's began. But as they were all working on that premise Eiryk wasn't fool enough to think he could do it right off the bat or even with just a few lessons.
He also needed Rowan to stop unintentionally giving him ideas. That, however, was another story.
Unsurprisingly Rowan wasn't giving any ground on this supposed admission. Honestly Eiryk wasn't surprised, he'd be doing the same thing. Besides how many centuries had they been playing this game for? It was far too late to stop now.
Obligingly Eiryk rolled his eyes and swore in Swedish under his breath.
"Wishing we'd had a cannon does not make pirates better for having cannons. Last I checked pirates did not have a monopoly on cannons. Now stop it or I'll decide you're a lawyer not a doctor even if you do have nice legs."
Oh Rue might have this round but Eiryk wasn't going down without a fight and he'd actually wear one of those stupid horned helmets before he -actully- agreed.
And now everyone was in on the act. Eiryk really wished he had some mead just then. Maybe if he thought about it hard enough some would just appear or Alex would send to him and he could beg a bit.
"Okay first off... monks not priests and they did put up a fight and had us out numbered and besides they had all the food and loot and such."
Eiryk said in an airy dismissive tone. Neither pirates or Vikings had exactly been out looking for a fair fight after all.
"Second it wasn't heckling... once we got past the language barrier it was more like being drafted."
Eiryk paused and thought about the whole mess for a second before shrugging.
"I think Angus called me an attack dog at one point but my English was dicey at the time and he claims not to remember."
He finished with a smile. Honestly it had been more than a little bit of a shock and one hell of a challenge but Eiryk couldn't help but look back on the mess rather fondly.
It never really grew old, though, telling stories. True or not. He couldn't resist embellishing a little, here and there. And once Eiryk finished speaking Rowan chimed in, "Beating up on priests wasn't even the best of it. We've had some wild times. We've sailed to some really interesting places, and it's always helpful to have a wingman when you're looking for a meal, you know?"
Rowan rolled his eyes upward. "There was this one time when Eiryk was pursued by the owner of a brothel for, I don't know, ten years or so? Do you remember where it was, Eiryk?"
There had definitely been brothels over time. And Rowan, being the generous sort that he was, had done his service on more than one occasion. It was an easy meal back then, even if you didn't perform. The brothel owner Rowan was talking about may or may not have existed, but he left it up to Eiryk to add onto the story if he wanted to. Rowan was perfectly capable of making up wild exaggerations on his own, but Eiryk had joined him on occasion.
"How long did you lead her on for?"
"Okay I'll bite... what languages are we talking about here?"
Blaise had thought that would be enough history to justify his rather avoiding his homework. That's what he thought, and then history got real. They always left the good bits out of textbooks, he'd been convinced of that for years. If these two were telling the truth, and he still wasn't 100% sure they were, this was proof. It was almost too bad this was his last paper this sounded like a good story. He just wasn't sure about how to cite it and his teachers were big on citing things and bibliographies and all that shit.
"Can I get names and dates just in case I can work this into the essay questions on my finals?"
He answered cheerfully. Both languages had evolved quite a bit. Eiryk had kept up with the Norse as it morphed into Swedish and Danish and the like, he was home often enough it was only natural. The other odd thing was parts of England, at the time, had a significant Scandinavian influence, so Angus had found them a translator. Made the man a familiar too.
And Rue was off. Eiryk couldn't always tell when his friend was spinning a yarn, often maybe even most of the time, but he'd stopped asking and Rue didn't usually tell. However, when the story involved him it was considerably easier.
Eiryk recognized elements of truth and opportunities for exaggeration in this opening. They certainly had visited brothels through the years, heck Eiryk had even occasionally made use of them for a meal or otherwise (the otherwise was pretty rare though), and Eiryk been semi pursued by one or two ladies working in said establishments over the years.
Other than still rather wishing for some mead Eiryk was in a particularly good mood and inclined to play. However, he knew better than to so much as grin and give the game away. Instead he spun his coffee cup thoughtfully.
"It was not a decade, was it? I would have thought five maybe seven years. I think it was Strasbourg fifteen something or other. You know I have it in my journal. Thank gods Alex can't read latian, he'd probably divorce me."
Actually, Eiryk wasn't sure if Alex could or couldn't read latian. He did, however, firmly believe his husband wouldn't divorce him over past exploits.
But back to the story. As prostitution had been legalized and regulated in large parts of Europe at the time it was quite possible to get inia bit of a bind.
"I really don't think it was necessary for her brothers to come to town to try and argue her point... quite literally." To clarify for Blaise who, like most people born in this era, had probably never held more than a large knife he added, "Swords you know."
And now it was Rowan's turn. Eiryk hoped it went in a good, semi true, direction. It was always easier to embroider than invent.
"It was four or five brothers? I forget how many were actually her brothers and how many just were hoping to earn a freebie."
Rowan himself was very particular about dates, and he thought Eiryk probably was too, since both of them wrote regularly even back then. So truthfully, between the two of them they could probably pinpoint exact dates for the events they had witnessed or participated in. Even things Rowan had heard by way of messenger, edict, or grapevine had made it into his writing. But he'd have to get his journals out of storage because nobody's memory was that good.
As Eiryk jumped in on his hugely embellished tale, Rowan smiled with satisfaction and cracked his knuckles. "Ahh, it was actually six of them, brothers or otherwise, but I bested two with my own 'sword' the night before so the next morning it was just the four. Randy bastards, those two. Right good fun, and fairly tasty."
Rowan shrugged at Blaise. He had no idea what the man's opinions were regarding sex but he'd long since ceased to care about what anyone else thought. Rowan supposed he'd been pansexual before the term was even a speck in someone's imagination. Before meeting Cris, he hadn't thought there was anyone in the world worth settling down for and had happily fucked his way from continent to continent. He regretted nothing, except the knowledge that Cris had been alive that entire time and they'd not known each other.
He tipped his head back again. "The actual sword fight was good, too. No cannons involved, sadly. I don't recall. Did you ever let her catch you, or was this one of the times when I took one for the team?"
Over the years they'd had their fair share of exploits, sexual and not. Fuck buddies would have been a good term for him and Eiryk back then, although in the last few centuries they'd definitely become more like brothers. They hadn't slept together in a very long time.
He sat up suddenly. "Ach, wait. Strasbourg. Did we do her together, then?"
He flashed his mischievous grin at Eiryk. Definitely, part of this was 'shock the baby vampire' but Rowan wasn't all lies - they'd done that a time or two as well.