rohanson: (Paris pale blonde sunglasses)
[personal profile] rohanson
Ryssa: I finally persuaded Paris to abandon our usual haunt in favour of that quirky little café Sweet Pete introduced me to, and I can see by his face that he isn’t disappointed. I grin smugly as he finishes off his raspberry pastry.

Paris: Washing down the pastry with a gulp of coffee, I smile at the self-satisfied look on your face. “Okay, okay, I give in. This is way better than Starbucks.” We both reach for our jackets and I pick up the check, paying it while you pull yours on and we wander out into the street. “So you still on for dinner tomorrow night?”

Ryssa: “Absolutely. I can’t wait to meet the stud muffin that is David Wenham.”

Paris: Your remark catches me off guard and I burst out laughing. “Oh, you have to call him that. He’s so cute when he blushes!”

Ryssa: “Well, I’m basing that assessment on the way you talk about him.” And it seems that Dave isn’t the only one who’s cute when he blushes. I link my arm through yours and as we walk off down the street in the direction of the car park, my attention is suddenly diverted. “And speaking of stud muffins, check out tall dark and handsome over there.”

Paris: I glance in the direction you indicate and see a familiar figure walking in our direction down the other side of the street. Karl. A smile curls round the corners of my mouth. “You think he’s hot?” I shrug indifferently. “I suppose he’s kind of attractive, in a dark and moody way.”

Ryssa: “Isn’t that all part of the attraction? Dark, moody, with maybe a hint of danger.” Yes, and exactly the type I decided to steer clear of … but could those jeans be any tighter?

Paris: “Hint of danger?” I almost snicker out loud, but an image flashes through my mind, one I’d pushed away weeks ago, of Dave pulling away from me and trying to hide the bruising on his neck. But I promised Dave I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, and I haven’t. We’ve spoken a few times on the phone to arrange horseboy visits, but I haven’t actually seen Karl for a couple of months. And after the phone message Dave got about him and Eric breaking up, I wondered how he was doing.

“Well, if you like him, why don’t we go and say hi.” Holding your hand firmly against my arm, I set off in his direction, glancing down at your shocked face with a wink as I pull you along with me.

Ryssa: “Paris!!” I hiss and try to wriggle out of your grasp. “What the hell are you doing?” But you’ve got a good grip on my hand, and I really don’t want to cause a scene in the middle of Wellington, so I just glare at you. We’re going to accost a total stranger? Although, he is an attractive man … who is probably about to think he’s being pounced on by two lunatics. I whimper quietly at the thought of what you’re about to do and then we’re standing in front of him and I grin apologetically at his startled face.

Paris: As we reach him, I let go of my captive. He looks surprised to see us as I greet him with a wide smile. “Hey Karl, how’s it going?”

Karl: Wandering around lost in my own thoughts, I am a bit surprised to hear someone say my name. I look up to see Paris and a very flustered looking, but lovely woman, standing directly in front of me. I haven't seen Paris in a while, not that I'm dodging him exactly, but there's a whole raft of reasons why I'd just as soon keep my head down and avoid any questions from that direction, including both his lover and his shift. But Wellie is too small, so I suppose this was inevitable.

"Paris." I nod at him. "Pretty lady." And I make a show of looking her over and then winking at her, wondering where Paris managed to find her.

Paris: I can’t help grinning as Karl turns the charm on and yeah, that’s definitely a blush on Ryssa’s cheeks. I guess I should make some introductions.

“Ryssa, this is Karl, a friend I haven’t seen for a while. Karl, this is Ryssa, Alryssa without the Al.” Which is how she always introduces herself. “She’s just moved here from London and is working with me on a couple of projects.”

Ryssa: Well, it appears that tall, dark and handsome isn’t exactly shy and I can feel the heat on my cheeks at his open appraisal and easy compliment. As Paris introduces us I stick my hand out towards him with a warm smile, curious as to where they know each other from. “I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Karl.”

Karl: I grin at her, completely happy to ignore Paris. Her grip is firm and I hold her hand probably a beat longer than is polite, but fuck it. I like to flirt with women and she seems like she could bat it back at me without trouble. I decide kissing her hand would be too much, besides, Paris would probably squawk.

"Ryssa," I say, drawing the name out, testing it. "What kind of projects do you do?" Another person in Wellie who belongs on the other side of the world. Luckily, I don't think the bloody bowl has anything to with it.

Paris: Glancing between the two of them, I have the feeling I’m about to sit this conversation out, but it should be entertaining with both of them in full-on flirt mode.

Ryssa: Oh, that was a pleasantly strong and lingering handshake, and I swear my pupils just dilated at the way my name sounds on his lips … focus Ryssa!! He’s a friend of Paris, and you have no idea from where.

“I’m a designer, interiors mainly. Textiles have always fascinated me …” and I think we’ll catch that ramble before it starts. “And Paris is putting me through my paces before deciding whether to keep me.” I flash Paris a grin before turning my attention back to Karl with a smile. “So how do you two know each other? Are you both in the same line of work?”

Karl: I smirk at Paris and then turn my attention back to the woman. "And did you put him through his paces as well?" Couldn't help that, when it's just dropped in my lap like that. Brilliant smile she has, practically lethal. I let a twinkle enter my own eyes. This is fun.

"We met a while back on a project we both were doing. Paris was sort of a load I had to drag around with me for a while, before he gave up." Ouch, couldn't resist that one either. "We lost touch after that, but his partner, is one of my best friends."

Paris: Karl’s first comment raises my eyebrows and I turn to Ryssa, but by the look on her face, she’s about to match him innuendo for innuendo.

Ryssa: “I did,” I reply, with a wicked edge to my smile. “I had to make sure he had the stamina to stay the course.”

Paris: “I’m not a bloody horse.” I grumble, and Ryssa reaches out to pat my shoulder as I snort at Karl’s next remark. “Mate, you weren’t exactly the most comfortable person to share a saddle with!”

Ryssa: “No? Karl looks as if he’d be an excellent choice of riding partner.” And I cannot believe that I just said that. Nor can Paris by the stunned look on his face. Hmmmm … maybe someone in the coffee shop spiked my latte. I smile sweetly and deftly change the subject.

“You’re a friend of Dave’s too? I haven’t met him yet, but he’s kindly invited me over for dinner tomorrow night.”

Karl: I bite the urge to tell her that Paris had problems riding with me because I was too "large" and accept her subject change. Poor girl just met me, don't want her thinking I'm some sort of sex obsessed creep. That reminds me . . . need to go home and have a wank. I put it on my mental "to do" list.

"You'll like Dave, bit of a nut, but mostly solid. You should hope he's in charge of the menu, though, Paris would probably feed you grass or some rot." I grin at Paris. "Kidding. You know I adore your vegetable lasagne, darling." Camp it up, Urban, make the lady laugh.

Paris: I grin back at Karl, rolling my eyes as he puts on a show, which I’m assuming is aimed at Ryssa. She giggles, her eyes sparkling and tosses her hair back as she watches us. It’s actually good to see Karl relaxed and joking. Splitting up with Eric can’t have been easy for him, no matter how it happened. And Ryssa is happily flirting away, which gives me an idea.

“Why don’t you join us for dinner tomorrow night? Dave will be cooking up dead things for the carnivores, and there’ll be a white chocolate cake to die for, but only for those who don’t mock the vegetarian!” I drop the teasing note from my voice, but keep it light. “He’s missed you, since you’ve been working away.”

And he’s concerned about you, which knowing Dave as we both do, is a given.

Ryssa: “What a good idea!” I can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening than in the company of three gorgeous men, even if the one I’ve just met turns out to be gay too. The odds are stacked that way, but he’s got a wicked sense of humour, so who cares? So I give him an encouraging smile.

Karl: The invitation stops me cold and though I keep grinning at Ryssa, my mind isn't on her anymore. Dave said he wouldn't tell Paris what I did, that he'd push it off on Hephastion, but we both know that's a load of shit. I'm the sorry fucker who tried to strangle him and I can't believe that either he or Paris would want me sitting down at a table with them for a friendly meal.

I stare at Paris, trying to read what's behind the offer. Fuck, I've half-way been expecting to find myself on the wrong end of his fists again over this. And he'd have every right. Shit, sometimes I wish I could bloody well read minds. Cause maybe he wants a chance to thrash this out in private. But then, he wouldn't invite his new friend
along, too, that'd be crazy.

They're both staring at me now and I know I've turned inward, fighting another bloody battle with myself, and I've taken too long to answer. I nod, struggling to get my smile back. "All right, sounds like fun. What time? Oh, and whose house?"

Ryssa: Well, that obviously wasn’t as easy a question to answer as it would have seemed. Maybe the dynamics between these three aren’t quite that simple after all, but as an outsider, that’s none of my business. At least when the answer comes, it’s the one I was hoping for, and I smile happily.

Paris: “Good.” I nod, not missing the conflict that went into making the decision. “The cabin, around seven? I think he’s planning on us eating at eight.”

Ryssa: Hearing you arrange times reminds me that I do have somewhere else I have to be, and not too long to get there. “Well, much as I’d like to stay, I have an appointment with a glazier. It was good to meet you, Karl and I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow night.” Turning to Paris I plant a light kiss on his cheek. “I’ll get them to mail you the estimates too, and call you tomorrow morning, see what you think?”

Paris: “Okay, we’ll talk then.” She smiles at us both, and walks off in the direction we were headed originally with a wave, which leaves the two of us alone with some air that I think needs to be cleared. No time like the present. “So, you got time for a beer?”

Karl: I feel like I'm a kid again, being dragged in front of the magistrate. But I might as well take whatever Paris feels like dishing out. At least there's not jail threat this time. Probably a huge mistake agreeing to eat dinner with them, Ryssa seems nice and she doesn't need to get in the middle of the shit that seems to follow me around.

I shrug. "Guess so." And I follow him into the nearest pub.

Paris: I order us a couple of beers, and we sit down at a table in a quiet corner. The way you’re acting, I feel a bit like a headmaster who’s about to chastise a sulky pupil, which isn’t what I want.

“Look, just let me say this first okay?” You nod, the sullen look still on your face, but I want to get this over with. “When Dave came home that morning and I saw the bruises on his neck, my first instinct was to find you and beat the shit out of you. I didn’t want answers, I just wanted to hurt you for hurting him. But he managed to talk me down, explained that you were going through a lot even though he didn’t know what, and that he was worried about you. I’m not buying into his “shifting into Alexander and Hephaistion” idea, though. That’s a bit out there even for Dave. I haven’t got any theories as to what happened, cause I wasn’t there. All I know is that he really believes it wasn’t you that did it to him, and I don’t think you’d ever hurt him deliberately. And I might be wrong, but I think you’ve probably beaten yourself up pretty badly over this already.”

I take a long drink and continue.

“If I felt one ounce of fear or nervousness when your name is mentioned … but there’s nothing. He’s fine, so for his sake, and for the sake of our friendship, I want to put it behind us. Do me one favour, though? If you ever need to talk, about anything, we’re both here for you. I mean it. And I’m sorry about Eric, mate, I know he meant a lot to you.”

Karl: I resist the urge to roll my eyes at Dave's other shift theories. We went over all this crap with Cupid. There's no logical reason for any non-Tolkien shifts.

"No, I would never hurt Dave, never. Thanks for the offer, mate." Talk. Right. Not bloody likely. Not to you and not to Dave, especially not to you, who wears the same face as the man who already nagged me into talking a fuck lot more than I should have. I stretch my legs out and crack my back, getting comfortable and swigging the beer. I shrug. "Eric and I were together, and now we're not. Happens."

And if we'd just broke up in the course of the evolution of our relationship, I would have been fine, I can see that now. I loved him, yes, I can't deny it, but our lives hadn't gotten so intertwined yet that his leaving would have ripped me up so bad . . . if not for
the other shit. It was just too much to cope with all at once.

And I really don't want to talk about him anymore, it was months ago. Besides, there's someone else on my mind, and that alone is enough to make me feel pretty good, even if he doesn't feel the same way about me.

"I'm fine."

Paris: “Glad to hear it.”

You’re fine.

Yeah, right.

So fine that all it took was a break up with your boyfriend to lose it so badly that you don’t remember trying to strangle your best friend. That definition of fine.

Okay, it was a couple of weeks ago, so I concede that maybe you’re fine now I sit and sip my beer, watching you stretch and relax back in the chair. You rival Théo when it comes to not opening up and sharing. Which reminds me.

“How’d your surfing trip with Théo go? He was his usual forthcoming self when I asked him.” Judging by the bite marks after he left, I’m guessing Éomer shifted in to spend the night in between sessions.

Karl: I stare determinedly into my beer, no fucking way I'm looking at you right now. But part of me relaxes fractionally. It seems Théodred kept his word and didn't say anything about what went on that night. Not that I was truly afraid that he'd break his promise, but it's good to know that's one thing I can trust him with.

"It was good, he's athletic enough that it didn't take him long to catch on. By the second day, he wasn't getting beat up by the breakers anymore." I figure you know that much already, cause you would have been stuck with all the aches and pains and bruises.
Hoping I didn't mark him up any, I pay even closer attention to my beer.

Paris: I nod. At least I know he got on okay now. He can be quite talkative when he wants to be, but rarely talks to me about his visits here. And I notice that you seem rather engrossed in the contents of your glass as I take another long drink from mine. “Oh, and thanks for letting Éomer shift in to teach me how to ride.”

Karl: I shrug. "Happy to do it, mate. He seems to like you." Course, you looking like his lover has nothing to do with that, I'm sure. And I'm glad we've left the subject of Théodred, so I figure it's time to get out of here. I swallow the rest of my beer and throw a few bills on the table for a tip, putting on my jacket and standing up.

"Tell Dave not to worry about me anymore and I'll see him tomorrow night." I hesitate. "You're sure he won't mind another mouth around the table?"

Paris: “Nah, he won’t mind. See you tomorrow.” I finish off the last mouthful of beer, and pick up my cell, smiling as Dave answers. “Hey babe. Thought you’d want to know we’ve got another guest for dinner tomorrow night. Me and Ryssa bumped into Karl, and I invited him along.” I let him chatter excitedly in the background as I work my way into my jacket, add to Karl’s contribution on the table, and head off into the late afternoon sunlight. “You need me to pick anything up before I come home?” I can hear him moving around the cabin as he talks and I’m thinking I should be writing all this down. “Right, I’ll just add “kitchen sink” onto the end of that, and get right to it! See you soon, love.” I ring off, thinking it’s a good job I brought the truck today and not the bike, and head off to the market.

December 2007

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