rohanson: (Serious)
[personal profile] rohanson
Takes place about a week before Dinner for four

Paris: It’s a sunny winter’s day, and Sean has just finished giving me the grand tour of his new place. Well, their new place. It didn’t come as a huge surprise when Dave told me that Sean and Karl are together, not remembering how they both reacted when the other’s name was mentioned. And I’m happy for them. Sean seems to be good for Karl, given how happy he’s been the past couple of times I’ve seen him, compared to how he was earlier in the year when I know Dave was worried about him. And the place they’ve chosen for themselves is amazing, even the bathroom which is, well, different.

We finish saying hello to Smokey Joe in his new paddock and wander back round to the kitchen through the garden, which was why I called over in the first place. Sean still wants a new set of garden furniture, now to go with the new garden, and I wanted to get a feel for the place, which I think I have. And we’ve talked about styles and what are definite no’s, so I’ve got plenty to work with to pull together some ideas for them.

Thing is, I’m not the only one who was curious about the new house, but Théo’s curiosity about the bricks and mortar pales against his interest in Sean. I suppose he’s keen to meet Boromir’s shift. I’m beginning to think we need a social secretary to keep all our lives running smoothly, what with regular horseboy conjugal visits and now Faramir and Boromir wanting to spend time with each other. And I suppose now would be a good time to see if Sean would agree to Théo’s request. I nod and smile my thanks for the steaming hot mug of coffee he puts down in front of me, and decide to get straight to the point.

"Théo … Théodred wants to meet you." This time the smile is kind of apologetic. “He likes to know everyone he’s dealing with when he shifts, and Éomer told him he’d met you, so I suppose he wants to meet you too.” I take a sip of good strong coffee. “I’ve gotten to know the guy and we’re on good terms now, but … well, I suppose you’ve got the Steward’s eldest son to deal with, so I’m thinking you might be used to a pushy and opinionated shift. But it’s totally up to you whether you want to meet him.”

Sean: We’ve pretty much settled on the direction of the garden furniture by the time we enter back into the house. Pouring up a couple cups of coffee, I find myself enjoying your company. You seem to know your stuff pretty well, and with your guiding suggestions about different woods and styles, I feel confident that the furniture is going to turn out brilliantly. It occurs to me that we all need to get together, Dave and yourself, Karl and me . . . maybe Karl would like that. I’m sure he would, I’ll have to mention it . . . thinking of him brings a smile to my face as I turn, bringing you the warm mug of coffee.

Settling in the chair opposite to you, I take a sip of brew, and honestly, I’m not too surprised when you say Théodred wants a visit, though I’m glad for the consideration he seems to have for whether or not I’m ready to meet him. I set my mug down, experiencing that odd sensation that I still get each time I really think about what’s about to happen.

I smile at your comment regarding the Steward’s eldest. “Pushy and opinionated, that does quiet sound like Boromir, though he’s got manners too, when he’s of a mind to use them.” I consider Théodred’s request only a moment before making a decision. “Right, mate, let him know I appreciate his consideration, and that I’d like to meet him as well.”

Wasn’t planning on dealing with a shift today, but it’s only right that I meet the bloke, and well, I’m a bit curious, actually.

Paris: Nodding, I give Théo a mental nudge to let him know you’re agreeable to a meeting. “Okay, he’s ready, but before I go I’d better mention that we don’t have a physical shift like you guys. I slip away and he slips into my body, but there aren’t any external changes.” I take one last sip of coffee and smile. “See you when I get back.” And then he’s here and I’m slipping back into the familiar darkness …

Théo: I arrive in an unfamiliar kitchen sitting opposite a blonde man who I would gauge is older than my own thirty six years. There is a strong aroma of coffee and my hands tighten around the warm mug as I drink in the welcoming scent. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Sean. My cousin spoke well of you and I wanted to make your acquaintance for myself.” And I am curious to see what kind of man Karl has chosen to be with. Already I can see a strength in your eyes that was sorely lacking in Eric.

Sean: I notice the change as Paris slips away. You bearing is . . . sharper, somehow. Where Paris had been relaxed in the chair, you straighten up, holding yourself more formally. There’s a certain watchfulness about you, and I imagine you don’t miss much. Watching a shift, whether it involves physical changes or not, is rather fascinating in a weird, spine-tingly sort of way. “It’s no problem, thought it was about time we met.”

For an instant I wonder what Éomer had to say about me, then shrug off the thought. From what I know about you, you wouldn’t say things you don’t mean out of mere politeness. “I’m glad we’ve a chance to talk, seems like a good idea for, well, all the parties involved to get acquainted, like, so if there’s anything on your mind, feel free . . .”

I wonder suddenly if you’ve an appetite to match Éomer’s. “Care for something other than coffee?” I gesture to the mug on the table before you. “Or something to eat?”

Théo: I nod in agreement. “I felt it was wise that we meet, given this unusual situation we are all caught up in. I also know that things are not always peaceful here, that the darkness from our world has bled into yours on occasion and should there come a time when we need to call on one another, and I would rather we were not strangers.” I take a moment to study you. It has been a while since I spent time with Boromir, but not so long that I would miss the similarities between you and he.

But then you mention food, and my eyes light up at the offer as I take a good drink of the coffee. “Something to go with more of this would be most welcome. Dave introduced me to Star Bucks when I last saw him" An interesting place, and I was impressed by the sweet and savoury delights they had on offer. "A muffin or …” I cast my mind back to remember what Dave called the small slabs of spongy chocolate treat we sampled. Then it comes back to me. “A brownie would go well, if you have such a thing?”

Sean: Your eagerness for sweets makes me smile, and rising I rummage about in the kitchen, coming up not with brownies, but cookies. Stacking plenty on a plate I bring them back to the table. “Sorry, mate, no brownies. But these are brilliant . . . chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. See what you think of’em.”

You seem to approve and setting the plate down, I settle back into my chair, watching a moment before speaking. “Karl is the most importing thing in this world to me.” Your gaze meets mine, watchful and measuring. “It’s good to know we can call on you if needs be. That you’re willing. I thank you for that. Let’s hope we won’t have to anytime soon.”

Théo: “It is only right that we help where we can.” The cookies are indeed delicious and I wolf one down, washing it down with coffee as I listen to you. “They are good!” And I hear the truth behind your words, that Karl is important to you. I am glad that he has found someone who cares for him but wonder if he has given you his full trust, if he has told you of the life he took. I have sometimes wondered about him since we last met, wondered if he has been able to put aside the memories of the events that caused him so much pain, but true to my word, I have kept a distance between us and not pried into his life.

Éomer tells me that from the little contact they have, he seems happy and in good spirits, but I am still curious. I also gave Karl my word that what he told me that night and what passed between us, would stay between us, so if I want to find out how he truly fares, there is a need to tread delicately. I have no desire to inadvertently anger him. I take another cookie and put it on my plate. “How is Karl? I have not seen him since the weekend he taught me to surf.”

Sean: You seem pleased with the cookies and taking one myself, I consider your words. There’s a of spike of possessiveness in me suddenly, brought on by you asking after Karl. I’m reminded of what he’s told me passed between the two of you, and despite myself it sets off my proprietary instincts. Taking a sip of coffee, I reply evenly, “He’s good.”

You nod and I get the feeling you’d like a bit more than that. I’m being foolish, of course. You helped my love through a fucking difficult time, and I am grateful for that, once I get over meself. “He’s doing brilliantly, actually.”

Looking you in the eye, wanting you to see my conviction, I continue. “He’s made me damned happy, I hope every day that I’ve done as much for him.” You take that in but before you can reply I add, “I know about, well, he’s told me about how you were there for him, after . . . ” I trail off, finding it fucking difficult to think about the danger Karl had been in.

“I want to thank you, for looking after him. Right sure he didn’t make it easy. Can’t even imagine how he felt. It means a lot to me that someone was there. I truly mean that.” I take another taste of coffee, not embarrassed, not really, but it’s not every day I go about sharing myself like this with a bloke I hardly know. “I like to think, since he and I have been together, he’s healed some things in himself. I really believe that he has. I think maybe we both have.”

Théo: I incline my head in acknowledgement of your thanks. “Killing a man was not something he should have had to do and he should not have had to go through the aftermath alone, left to wallow in guilt and despair. In my world, his friends and fellow riders would have been there if he needed to rage, get drunk or celebrate life in the face of death, but his stubborn nature stopped him from seeking out that comfort.” There is sadness in my glance as I think back to how much it took to get Karl to tell me what had happened. “And I sincerely hope he is never in such a position again. It does not get any easier. Orcs are like vermin, to be hunted down and destroyed, but men …” I look into my almost empty mug of coffee for a moment, swirling the last of it around. In the heat of battle you kill to protect, your people, your horses, your land. You track and kill those who, given the chance, would do the same to you and yours. It is a necessity, a fact of life, but a harsh one. Looking back up, a dull sorrow clouds my eyes. Thoughts such as these I usually leave behind me when I travel here. “No, it is never easy.”

But the news that he is doing well, and healing from the events of the past, brightens my heart and brings a smile to my face, as does the knowledge that he trusts you enough to have told you not only of what happened, but also of what passed between us.

“I am glad that I was of help to him. I promised I would not pry into his life, and I have kept my word, but it is good to know he is well. It struck me the first time we met that he had something of a man of the Mark about him, a wild spirit, someone I would have been proud to have among my riders had he been born in my world and it was hard to see him suffering.”

“And I am happy that he has found someone who cares for him … loves him as much as you obviously do. He needs that.” I have known all along that he needed someone strong, which you definitely seem to be, who will be there for him in times of trouble and not run off and leave him. And since you also shift, that means there is no need for him to keep secrets as he had to from Eric.

Sean: In the past I’ve not been brilliant at discussing my feelings, especially with someone I barely know, and maybe it’s easier talking with you because we all share a common secret. Maybe it’s because being with Karl has opened me up in ways I’ve not really considered until lately. Whatever it is, I look at you with a small smile. “I do love him, more than anything, really. I need him as much as he needs me. He’s it for me.”

You smile and I take a bite of cookie, feeling my face warm a bit but not about to acknowledge it. The sadness of a few moments ago seems to have left you, and I’m glad for it. Although dealing with shifts often can be a great bloody pain in the arse and disruptive to life in general, not for the first time I ponder how difficult it must be for our counterparts, for you, dealing with your own grim realities in your own world.

I pull myself out of these thoughts, not wanting to say anything to remind you of difficulties that you obviously already know intimately. “You’ve got it exactly right, too, mate. Karl’s a wild spirit, he’s unlike anyone I’ve ever known.” I grin suddenly. “Imagine he’s got that in common with Éomer, yeah?”

Théo: “Yes, he is a wild spirit also.” My face crinkles into a soft smile at the mention of Éomer and as I think of my proud stallion, it widens. There is an openness about you and perhaps added to the fact that Karl, who does not give his trust lightly trusts you, I find it easier to open my heart a little.

“He, as you say, is it for me, despite the hardships in the way of our being together. What I found here when I found him means more to me than I can say.” Thinking of the different times we come from alone is enough to give me a headache, so I decide not to try and explain that to you, but it is important that I tell you how much I appreciate your sacrifices.

“By allowing us to meet here, you give us what we cannot have in our own world, and for that, I thank you. You and Karl and Paris and Dave. You all give up your time with your own lovers to allow us to meet and for that, I am forever in your debt.”

Sean: I just nod, not sure what to say to that that wouldn’t sound trite. It is a sacrifice, but, seeing the soft smile on your face, I suppose there’s good that comes of it as well. “Thank you,” I finally say. “Just glad that you recognize how hard it can be, giving up control and . . . well, right, you know.”

I’m sure there’ll be bumpy times ahead for us all, if not in dealing with the uber weird shite that seems to manifest and interferes from time to time with the shifting business (as if that in itself isn’t weird enough) then just from personalities clashing. It’s good to know we two seem to get on all right. We sit quietly for a few moments, snacking until our mugs are drained and the stack of cookies is seriously shortened.

Seems as if we’ve covered the ground here we needed to, and I’m not sure how long you plan on sticking about. I wonder if you’re curious about anything else, but figure you’ll ask outright if you are. “Have already done so with Paris, but how about a tour of the place? I’m sure Smokey Joe would appreciate another visit today. Loves attention, that one.”

Théo: I nod in thanks at your offer and smile warmly. "That would be a pleasant way to end my visit and it is a while since I saw Smokey Joe." We walk from the kitchen out into the sunlight, and as we near the paddock, Ire bounds over to greet us and sniffs at my pockets for a treat as I scratch behind his ears, pleased to see him also. He looks a little disappointed when I have nothing for him, but follows us as we continue on our way.

I take in everything as we walk and would admit to being more than a little curious about this place that Karl has chosen for his new home now that my curiosity has been satisfied about the man he has chosen to live with. A good man, not unlike his counterpart and while I would also like to renew my acquaintance with Boromir, I do not wish to take up much more of Paris' time. That can wait for another day.
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December 2007

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