Author Topic: Getting Acquainted  (Read 1188 times)

Duncan Devereux

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Getting Acquainted
« on: May 06, 2019, 07:26:25 PM »
((The following scene follows directly after A Plot Foiled.))

It was dark by the time the FBI vacated the premises, leaving Amaris to lock up securely behind them after reacquainting herself with a particular scent in the playground out back. She'd spent a somewhat fraught afternoon talking to parents and reassuring them, as well as her own pack. News traveled very fast in the preternatural community.

As it happened, Dev was the last to leave, waiting as he was for Amaris, not forgetting his promise to drive her home. "You hungry?" he asked, seeing the weariness in her. Or maybe she'd rather just go straight home and sleep and forget this day had ever happened.

She rubbed her neck - gently - and offered him a tired smile. "Yeah, kinda," she agreed. "Compromise - you can take me to dinner another night, tonight we get burgers on me. Deal?"

"You've got a deal," he said, shrugging his jacket on against the chill in the breeze, as she locked up. "My car's in the lot," he said, jerking a thumb in that direction, though that much seemed obvious. He started off in that direction, assuming she'd follow. "How did they take it?" he asked, of the endless phone calls to parents she'd had to make.

Flipping her hair out of her eyes, Amaris fell into step with him easily. "Most of them took it okay," she said. "I've lost a couple, but I can't really blame them, can I?" She shrugged. "Things'll be back to normal next week, anyway. Did you have fun cleaning up wolf goop?"

"Loads," he replied sarcastically. Probably about as much fun as she'd had calling her clients. "There will always be people looking for a safe place for their kids. And this is a safe place, Amaris," he assured her as he led the way to the parking lot, hands shoved in his jacket pockets.

"Oh, I know." The grin she offered him was bright and confident, her posture mimicking his as they walked - hands plunged into the pockets of her dungarees as her bag thumped against her thigh with each step.

"That's because of you, you know," he said, knowing how hard she worked to keep it that way. Hell, she'd almost died to keep it that way. "You really care about these kids. Anyone can see that." Not just the Bristol kid, but all the children in her care. He'd been around long enough to notice that. There was a beep as he unlocked his car doors remotely. It wasn't hard to figure out which one it was, as it was the only one left in the parking lot - a black Subaru Outback, both comfortable and practical for someone like him.

"Like I said, I'm good with pups," she said with a shrug. "Kids deserve to be safe while they're learning to socialise. For a lot of human, daycare is the only place they have to learn how to be social with other kids before school, and it's important to be able to do that."

"Is that why you chose this for your profession?" he asked, assuming she had to like kids, besides just being good with them. He stepped up to the car and pulled open the passenger door, offering a hand to help her inside.

"Well, that and I totally flunked out of college," she admitted with a grin, ducking into his car easily with his help. "Thanks." A part of her couldn't help but wonder if he was mining her for information as part of his investigation, but she wasn't going to ask. It seemed innocent enough for now.

His questions were merely of the getting acquainted kind, for now. He didn't want to be too nosy, but with a background in criminal justice, he just couldn't help himself sometimes. "What were you studying?" he asked as he climbed into the driver's seat and secured his safety belt.

She laughed. "In theory? I was studying zoology, because I thought I was hilarious. I totally deserved to flunk out - it was such a stupid idea." She looked over at him, tucking her own belt about herself. "What about you? Is this what you wanted to do with your life?"

"Become Fox Mulder?" he asked, with a smirk. It wasn't the first time someone had asked him that question or made that comparison. He shrugged. "I wanted to put bad guys in jail. I just didn't know the bad guys I'd be investigating wouldn't be human."

"So how did you end up in the non-human hunting section of the federal police?" she asked, genuinely curious. "It doesn't seem like the sort of job you just fall into."

"Yes and no," he said with another shrug, as he turned the key in the ignition and got the engine purring. "My goal was to become a Federal Agent, but it was a few years before I found out about the supernatural task force. It was while I was investigating a case. A particularly gruesome case, I might add. I won't go into details, but let's just say it became clear I wasn't dealing with the usual suspects. It was after that I was approached about taking a position with the task force. I can't say I jumped at the chance, but eventually, I agreed. Someone's gotta do it, after all."

She nodded, still curious but not prepared to demand details. "I find it curious that there is a Federal department for dealing with the preternatural community," she admitted with a faint smile. "We usually police our own, unless hunters are cutting a swathe through our homes. At that point, most of us will scatter and return only when the hunters have moved on."

"Haven't you ever seen the X-Files?" he teased, tossing a wink her way before looking back to pull the car out of the parking lot. "So, where are we going?" he asked, remembering her offer to buy him a burger.

"What, do you expect me to believe you guys came first, before the popular TV show?" she countered just as teasingly, running a hand through her hair in a comfortable manner as she grinned. "Do you know Harleys? They do great burgers."

"Yeah, I do, and I agree!" he remarked, turning the SUV in the direction of the burger joint. "It's not exactly like X-Files, but it's the closest I can come to describing it without violating my NDA," he told her. It probably didn't come as much of a surprise that he couldn't tell her much about his work, as most of it was classified and confidential.

Amaris snorted with laughter. "I think you have a weenie bit of leeway when you're talkin' to a werewolf, but I'll let it pass just this once," she allowed in amusement. She pressed her palm thoughtfully to the bandaged bite at the crook of her neck, testing it for any sign of infection, and was pleased to note it just felt bruised. Exactly the way it should do.

"Well, I can tell you that we don't investigate alien abductions anyway," he teased further. He noticed her touching the bandage on her neck. "You okay?" he asked, looking a little concerned. He was glad he'd been able to get her mind off what had happened for a few minutes, but he knew they couldn't ignore it forever.

"Pffft, aliens don't exist," Amaris said with absolute confidence. "The faery folk have had that sewn up for centuries." She glanced over at him with a weary smile. "I'm fine," she assured him. "Just checking on it, you know? Better to catch a bad heal earlier rather than later."

"Are we talking about changelings?" he asked, assuming she was teasing him now. He wasn't sure he believed her when she said she was fine, but he didn't want to push the matter. "So, I assume you were born a lycan, not turned later."

"Changelings, trolls, gnomes, brownies, there are a whole ton of them." She chuckled, letting her hand fall to her lap again. His question made her smile faintly. "Yeah, I am," she confirmed. "Most of us are, actually. It's pretty rare to meet a wolf who started life human."

They seemed to be having two topics going at the same time, but he was more interested in her personal life than in mythology. "So, you said you had two brothers. Are you the oldest, youngest, or the dreaded middle child?" he asked, partly just making conversation and partly curious.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2019, 07:26:46 PM »
"I am one of two dreaded middle children, there are four of us," she clarified for him laughingly. "Although the two eldest are actually twins, so I guess I am the only dreaded middle child. What about you? Developed any bad habits as the baby of the family?"

"I'm the eldest, the baby, and the middle child," he confessed, the barest hint of a smirk on his face. He seemed to be saying that he had no siblings - older or younger - but he didn't reveal much else.

She snorted with laughter. "Well, either your mother has a time portal in her hoo-har, or you're an only child," she countered cheerfully. "Not sure which one you'd rather."

"I'm pretty sure you can figure it out," he replied, grinning. "So, what's it like growing up with three siblings?" he asked. Being an only child, he had no idea what that must have been like. He assumed her family was close, given what she'd told him already, but that might not be the case.

"Loud," was her succinct answer, though she offered it with a warm smile. "But fun. I was never bored, or left out, and we were always doing something - usually something Mom didn't want us to do, to be fair," she added with a low snicker.

"So, who's the mystery sibling? Another brother or a sister?" he asked further. It never occurred to him that he was being nosy. He was an FBI Agent, after all; it was second nature to ask questions, even when he wasn't working a case.

"Brother," she admitted, not seeing any need to hide this. "He's off in LA, being a fancy pants lawyer to the rich, famous, and preternatural. The rest of us are kind of homebodies in comparison."

"The only girl among a houseful of boys. So, were you forced to become a tomboy to keep up with them, or did you have them wrapped around your finger?" he asked, smiling amicably and asking out of mere curiosity.

"A bit of both," Amaris told him cheerfully. "I was always more rough and tumble anyway, being a wolf and all, but I can pull out the feminine if I have to." She smirked, rolling her eyes. "Askin' a lot of questions there, aren'tcha?"

He shrugged. "Just making conversation. Besides, how else am I supposed to get to know you? Would you prefer I looked you up in our database and see what's there?" he asked, presumably teasing. He slowed the car and turned onto the street where the burger joint was located, declaring, "Almost there!"

"You could try, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't make for a riveting read," she laughed. "Ease up, there. I wouldn't be here if I didn't like you. And besides, I'm terrible at thinking up questions to ask people, so keep asking."

He chuckled at her reply. "I'm willing to bet your life story is a lot more interesting than mine," he told her. Either way, life stories were going to have to wait as they'd arrived at their destination. He pulled the car into a spot and shut the engine off. "Well, here we are. I don't know about you, but I'm famished."

"Starved," she agreed, unhooking the belt from around herself to untangle her legs and slide out of the car. "It's on me, so no trying to be a gentleman about it. Pig out if you want to." Throwing him a wink, she closed the car door, stepping up onto the sidewalk easily.

He chuckled again at her remark, as he unbuckled the safety belt and climbed out of the car, locking the doors before pocketing his keys. "You live near here?" he asked as he joined her on the sidewalk and started toward the restaurant. He was going to find out sooner or later anyway, since he'd promised to drive her home.

"Mmhmm." She nodded, pulling one hand from the pocket of her dungarees to point toward the end of the road. "You know the avenue with the brownstones just there? I'm about halfway up there."

"Nice neighborhood," he said, glancing toward the brownstones before they reached the door and he pulled it open to usher her inside. He made no mention of where he lived, either because she hadn't asked yet or he wasn't that forthcoming.

"I got lucky in two different arenas at the same time, or I would never have been able to afford it," she admitted easily enough, ducking into the diner with a wave to the pair behind the counter. She was apparently enough of a regular to get a wave and a smile back again.

"Which arenas are those?" he asked, arching a brow. He had been to Harvey's before, but was not enough of a regular to earn a smile and a wave. He knew she owned the daycare center, but it probably didn't pay a lot. What other arena was she talking about?

"My father's father outed me as his favorite grandchild in his will, and there was a brownstone for sale, all in the same week," she said cheerfully, thumping down into a seat and gesturing for him to join her. "Newly renovated, too, so I didn't have to do that myself."

"Ah," he said, understanding. "Were you and your grandfather close, then?" he asked, before wincing at his own question. "Sorry, bad habit. I know I ask too many questions," he said, lifting a hand as if to stop her from answering that.

"Yeah, that one you have to earn," she informed him, albeit through a wide, wicked smile that brightened her whole face. "You don't need to worry about me, okay? That fight was nothing. I've seen people die before; my kind, we live on the edges, where life can be very violent. I'm not going to be afraid of you just because of the way you saved my life. Okay?"

"That fight wasn't nothing, Amaris," Dev countered, his expression turning serious. He didn't want to upset her when she seemed to be finally relaxing, but he didn't want her making light of it either. "Anyway, you probably saved that boy's life. You're a hero," he told her, the smile returning to his face, though the whole situation worried him.

"I'm a guardian," she said with a faint shrug, though her smile never faltered. "It's not my job, it's who I am. There is no circumstance where I would not have stepped in to save that boy, no matter who had been threatening him."

"A guardian," he echoed, brows furrowing in confusion. "I'm not sure what you mean by that." He'd been just about to hand her a menu when she'd distracted him with that statement. "Care to explain?"
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2019, 07:27:08 PM »
Amaris looked confused by his confusion. "When you take responsibility for someone else's children, you become their guardian," she pointed out. "Some people might be able to do the bare minimum required by law, but I can't. Until those children are back with their parents, they might as well be mine. And there is nothing I would not do for my pups."

"I guess that makes sense," he admitted with a shrug, as he turned his attention to the menu. He wouldn't have used the word "guardian" to describe her job, but he couldn't argue that she took her responsibility for the children seriously. "So, what looks good to you?" he asked, changing the subject.

Amaris bit down on her relief, glad he hadn't thought too much of her slip. She really had to stop referring to herself like that, but her pack's role in the defense of Avalon was a foundation stone of her entire personality. It was difficult not to be proud of it openly. She scanned the menu in front of her for a moment, dismissing the little voice in the back of her head trying to insist that women who wanted to make a good impression would have something with a lot of salad in it. Screw that, I'm still bleeding.

"Bacon double cheese with thousand island is calling to me."

"A woman who isn't afraid of a few calories," Dev remarked with a grin. Considering her DNA, he figured she probably had a pretty high metabolism. "I'm going for the double bacon cheeseburger and fries. I haven't eaten since breakfast!" He waved over a waitress so she could take their orders, adding a beer to his order.

Amaris added a chocolate milkshake and a glass of water to hers, smiling as the waitress winked at her approvingly over Dev's head before walking away. "Now why should any woman be afraid of a few calories?" she asked him in amusement. "We might as well expect all men to have god-like proportions."

He chuckled. "No pressure there!" Fortunately, he hadn't noticed the wink of approval from the waitress. This wasn't officially a date, after all, though he had asked her to dinner. "So, when and where would you like to go to dinner? Because this doesn't count."

"Ah, ah, ah, you asked, that means you make the decisions," she told him playfully, wiggling a finger in his direction. "All I have to do is shave every inch of my body, slather myself in lotion and cosmetics, and pick an outfit that makes me look both classy and slutty, just in case." She grinned at him, bright with mischief.

"Every inch?" he asked, that smirk on his face again. He didn't really want to think about that too hard or his body might betray him. "I guess that means I'll have to pick a restaurant that's both classy and slutty," he teased.

"Yeah, but where we go will determined which way I'm going to lean," she warned laughingly. "Will I be a classily dressed slut, or a sluttily dressed lady? Who knows? The mystery makes it exciting!"

"For what it's worth, I haven't decided where I'm taking you yet," he said. After all, he'd only asked her to dinner a little while ago. He did have a place in mind, but he hadn't made a final decision yet.

"Doesn't matter." Amaris winked at him, gesturing to herself with her thumbs. "It's a date, I'm getting dolled up. Believe it or not, I actually own clothing that isn't stained with paint."

"Why wouldn't I believe it?" he asked, as his gaze roamed over her overalls, which were both practical and made her look adorable. He wondered what she'd look like in a little black dress. Probably gorgeous. Down boy, he warned himself.

"Because every time you've seen me in the last couple of months, I've been covered in finger-paint?" she pointed out in amusement, resting her chin on her hand. "Okay, Dev, your turn to be forthcoming. How are you still single?"

"I'm looking forward to seeing how well you clean up," he teased, tossing back a swallow of his beer. "How am I what?" he echoed, unsure if he'd heard her right. He shrugged once he realized what she'd asked him. "Maybe I just haven't met the right woman."

She shook her head. "No, I don't buy that," was her response. "Men like you, men with so much to offer, they don't stay single unless they're doing it on purpose. Usually because they got burned once, or because they're having too much fun being a career guy."

"Or their job keeps them so busy, they don't have much time for relationships," he added, not saying whether that was the case with him or not. Or maybe the women he'd dated had demanded more time than he was able to give.

"True. But I notice you're not actually answering any question I put to you," she pointed out. "I'm pretty sure you're not mining me for information on me and mine, but if you're honest about this proposed date, then a little give and take might be in order."

"I'm just being honest," he assured her, taking another swallow of his beer before setting the mug on the table. "This job - some of the things I've seen - it does something to your soul. And it doesn't leave me much time for romance, I'm afraid. After I drop you off, I have a mountain of paperwork to do. Then it's go home, fall into bed, get up and start all over again. At least, when you go home, your job doesn't follow you there."

"Not commonly, no," she agreed, rather than leave that hanging between them. After all, there were a few things she couldn't tell him at all. Not yet, at least. "I thought you were doing the paperwork this afternoon, though?"

"No, this afternoon, I was helping clean up the mess, which took a lot longer than I figured," he said, with a suddenly weary sigh. It had been a long day, and it wasn't over yet. He could just go home and fall into bed. That mountain of paperwork would still be there in the morning, but there were deadlines. There were things he obviously wasn't telling her either. Not yet.

"Can I help you with the paperwork?" she asked, leaning back as the waitress brought out their meals to them. "Thanks, Angie." With dexterity learned from years of eating here, Amaris managed to lift her burger without anything falling out, and took an enormous bite. "I mean," she went on, mouth full, "it's not like I have to get an early night or anything."

"Not really. It's official FBI business," he said, his fingers forming air quotes, before reaching for his burger. "If you really want to help, you can stick around and keep refilling my coffee cup," he teased, assuming she wouldn't take him up on that offer. "Honestly, Amaris. It's really boring, but it has to be done."
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2019, 07:27:29 PM »
She smiled over the top of her burger, swallowing that mouthful down fast. "I wouldn't offer if I didn't mean it," she pointed out. "I mean, you don't have to say yes - strange woman in your house, using your kitchen and sleeping on your couch, I can see how that would be weird and a bit stalkery. "But I don't mind refilling your coffee cup for a few hours. It's kinda the least I can do, you know?"

"It's not like TV, you know. Crimes aren't solved in an hour. They take a lot of time and a lot of hard work." He arched a brow at what she was saying, wondering if she really wanted to sleep on his couch or share his bed. "The least you can do for what? I was just doing my job." He took a bite of his sandwich, licking a mixture of ketchup and mayo from his mouth. "Are you asking to come home with me?"

She shrugged one shoulder, her smile winsome and just a little suggestive. "Only if you want me to. And, you know, let me grab fresh underwear and a toothbrush from home first."

"You don't fool around, do you?" he asked, wondering why it had taken so long for her to approach him - or for him to approach her. "But you're probably stressed out and anxious from what happened today, and I don't want to take advantage of that."

"Or we could ... work off the tension together," she suggested, the sparkle in her eyes suddenly inviting. "Just throwing that out there. I hear it's a good way of getting to sleep after a traumatic experience."

Traumatic for who? It wasn't the first time he'd shot a werewolf and probably wouldn't be the last, so long as it wasn't her. How long had it been since he'd slept with a woman? Too long. That's how long. And he couldn't deny that he found her attractive. "God, I hope neither of us regrets this," he murmured.

The laugh she swallowed down sounded decidedly filthy when she heard his murmur. "That sounded like a yes to me," Amaris commented, licking her fingers clean. "But I promise I'll be good and let you do your paperwork before I have my fun."

"You make it sound so dirty," he remarked, but he was smirking now. "I like it." What the hell. They were two consenting adults, and she was right - sex was just what they both needed to take the edge off. How the hell was he going to get that paperwork done with sex on his mind? "Maybe I'll do the paperwork after," he suggested, taking another bite of his burger.

"What makes you think you're going to have the energy after?" she teased, taking a long pull on her straw. "Besides, sex is like swimming; you need to wait at least an hour after eating, or cramps will make you drown."

He snorted. "That's B.S., and you know it," he told her. "Besides if I don't get the damned paperwork done tonight, I'll just do it in the morning." That might be a better idea anyway, after a good night's sleep. No, after sex and a good night's sleep. "You don't steal the covers, do you?" he teased.

She laughed, shaking her head. "What do I need covers for when I have a nice warm body to cuddle up to?" she pointed out. "I hope you don't mind being cuddled in your sleep."

"So long as you don't bite," he warned, teasing a little. Even though he hardly knew her, for some reason, he trusted her. She was a daycare worker by day and a werewolf by night - but only on nights with a full moon, or so he assumed. He was still thinking about this as he took another bite of his burger. He'd told her he wasn't prejudiced, and he wasn't, but he'd never dated a preternatural being before, much less slept with one.

"You only need to worry about being bitten on the full moon," she told him, her tone serious despite her smile. "There are a lot of stories about us, and most of them are wrong. But the bite isn't infectious unless it's delivered on the three days over the full moon, or the person being bitten is already immuno-compromised."

"Maybe I should interview you for professional purposes. There's still a lot we don't know," he said, though he didn't want to use her to gain information. That's not why he'd asked to drive her home or asked her to dinner.

"Mmm, and if that was the case, you'd have to go through my pack leader, who would have to get permission from the elders," she informed him with a flicker to her smile, taking another bite from her burger. Formal relations among wolf packs was a serious business.

"So, what do you do when it's a full moon?" he asked, despite the warning. He assumed she didn't go hunting; at least, not in the city. "Do you lock yourself up in the basement with some raw steaks and wait for the full moon to pass?" he asked, not entirely in jest.

"I take care of it," she said, not wanting to give him too much information. To be perfectly honest, full moon was when she was at her most vulnerable and she knew it. She wasn't going to give out information about what it was like to someone who was still a virtual stranger. "There haven't been any deaths from lycan attacks for centuries."

"Uh, maybe not from your pack," he said. "But if everyone was as careful as you, I'd be out of a job. Of course, I don't just investigate lycan attacks. There are vampires and ghouls and all sorts of stuff the general public knows nothing about." And they knew nothing about it because of people like him who covered it up so there wasn't a mass panic.

She nodded, her smile mysterious. "Oh, I know," she assured him. "I didn't say there hadn't been any lycan attacks. Just that there haven't been any deaths from them. If you're finding corpses and attributing them to wolves, then you're wrong."

"I'm not so sure I'd say centuries, but I don't want to argue," he said, wondering where she got her information from and if she was being told the truth. He couldn't go into specific cases, so he left it at that.

She opened her mouth to do exactly that, and abruptly snapped it shut again. "Sorry," she said with a rueful grin. "Bad topic of conversation to choose. So ... something light and easy, hmm ..." Dark eyes sparkled with mischief. "Are you a top or a bottom? Any kinks I should know about?"

He just about choked as he was taking a bite of his burger when she asked. "Are ... you ... kidding?" he asked, between coughs. He took a swig of his beer to wash the burger down, pausing a moment to catch his breath. "That is not the kind of question you ask on a first date that isn't even a real date!"

"Isn't it?" Sitting there in her paint-splattered dungarees, blonde hair escaping from her braid, and brown eyes alight with mischief, Amaris wore playful innocence remarkably well.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2019, 07:27:56 PM »
"No, and you are being a naughty girl," he scolded, a playful gleam in his eyes. "Maybe you'd like to answer the question for yourself," he teased further. If she really wanted to play this game, he was going to give her a taste of her own medicine.

She laughed - if he thought she was going to blush and demur, he had another thing coming. "Oh, I switch back and forth, but I kinda like being topped," she told him cheerfully. "And as for kinks ... I'm always open to learn something new about myself."

"You certainly aren't shy," he said, looking amused and maybe just a little uncomfortable, mostly because of the way his body was reacting to her teasing. "Finish your burger, so we can blow this pop stand," he said with a nod to her dinner.

Amaris snorted with laughter, lifting her burger to her lips again. "Worried you're going to blow without being blowed?" she murmured sweetly, daring him to take offence to the implied promise of something she was already planning to do with him.

"I have a little more self-control than that," he said, looking a little insulted, though he knew she was only teasing. "I'm not a teenager anymore, you know." That much was obvious. He had to be at least in his late thirties or even early forties. Come to think of it, he was probably robbing the cradle asking her out.

"I'm very glad to hear it," she murmured in her impish way. "I knew you'd be fun to play with." She certainly wasn't shy about what she wanted, but there was still that option open for him to change his mind. She wasn't going to take any of it as read and certain until the deed was done, and even then, who knew?

He still wasn't quite sure if she was serious or just teasing him. How was he to know when he didn't know her that well yet? And what was he thinking going home with a woman who was liable to be half his age? "I think we should get out of here before I change my mind," he murmured.

"I think you're over thinking it," she told him, swallowing her last mouthful and licking her fingers. "As my brother would say, calm your tits and let me take care of you."

"Darlin', I'm not the one with the tits," he reminded her, smirking again. She was probably right; he probably was over thinking it, but it had been a long day for both of them. Maybe this was exactly what he needed; just forget about work for a while and lose some sexual tension.

"Well, these tits are gonna need clean underwear, so eat up," she told him laughingly, reaching into her bag for her purse. "You get a sneaky peek into the secret world of a wolf's brownstone tonight, which is nowhere near as awesome as it sounds."

"So long as you don't ask me to clean the bathroom," he teased. He didn't much care what her place looked like, but he couldn't help being curious. She was a bit of a conundrum, and not just because she was a so-called wolf.

"Hey, I don't s*** in the garden," she countered with a loud laugh, utterly unafraid to be seen and heard enjoying herself. It was another canine quality, it seemed, that unadulterated joy in anything that caught her fancy.

"Well, that's good to know," he said with a chuckle, before draining the last dregs of his beer. "What do you say we get out of here?" he asked, tossing a couple of bills on the table, suddenly eager to leave and have her all to myself. She was like a breath of fresh air, that was for sure. For some reason, that scared him a little. Maybe it was because he instinctively knew how good she could be for him - a light in the darkness that was his life. Maybe it was because he knew he could fall for her, and it had been a very long time since he'd fallen for anyone.

"Put those away," she told him, picking up his bills and pressing them back into his hand. "I told you, I'm paying tonight." She stuck her tongue out at him, catching Angie's eye and handing the waitress payment and tip in one smooth movement. Then she stood up, winking at Dev. "Sure you can walk straight, or do you need a minute?"

"I think I can manage it," he replied, with a smirk at her wink. "Are you sure about this? I wouldn't want you to wake up in the morning with any regrets," he told her, gesturing for her to take the lead.

Leading the way from the diner, Amaris turned back to him, nose to nose for a long moment, looking into his eyes with intimate certainty. "I think I'd regret it more if we didn't," she said finally, the tip of her nose just barely touching his. "But it's not just me, is it? What do you think?"

"I'm trying to figure out which of us is playing with fire," he told her, reaching to pull her close. She had teased him enough; it was time to see if she whether she was bluffing or sincere in her taunts. He didn't waste any time in kissing her, tasting mostly of beer and cheeseburger. It wasn't a romantic kiss, but one that promised passion.

The passion he put in was returned just as fiercely, her hands gripping his lapels as she did her damndest to devour his mouth the way he was devouring hers. No hesitation, no second-guessing - this was what she wanted.

Okay, so she wasn't bluffing. He could tell that much. He could tell from the way she reacted to his kiss that she wanted him, and he couldn't deny that he wanted her, too - this blonde beauty in a pair of overalls who he'd been watching from afar for the last few weeks. His told spoke for him, telling her in no uncertain terms that he wanted her, too. Where things went from there, who knew? He wasn't thinking that far ahead right now. One day at a time. He nearly growled when their lips finally parted, smiling at her in the moonlight. Not a full moon yet, thankfully.

"I'm definitely the one who's playing with fire," he remarked, before taking her hand to lead her back to his car.

She grinned back at him, breathless in the best way. "I promise I'll kiss it better if you get burned," she teased cheekily, letting him take her hand. At this point, screw the clean underwear. She'd done the walk of shame before, she could do it again.

"I'm not sure I should ask what 'it' is," he teased back. He'd completely forgotten about her underwear. What did it matter anyway when he was taking her straight home? Thankfully, she didn't live too far from the diner.

"We won't know until it starts stinging," she pointed out, her other hand coming around to curl to his arm as though she were hugging his limb to herself. "Is this a your place or mine situation? Because I'm pretty sure you have paperwork."

"I thought we were going to your place," he said, arching a brow at her as they made their way to his car. "The paperwork can wait until morning." After all, she was making him a much better offer than spending the night working on a pile of paperwork.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2019, 07:28:20 PM »
"All right." She smiled up at him. "I was just checking. It's always best to know how long you're gonna have to keep your hands to yourself for, after all." She winked impishly at him.

"I doubt I'd get anything done tonight anyway," he confessed. Not only was he tired, but he was far too distracted by her to concentrate on the boring task of filing a report. "So, where's home?"

"Mmm, much better to take action than just sit there and talk yourself out of it," Amaris agreed. She paused as he asked where she lived, glancing down the road. "About halfway up the avenue there?"

"You gonna give me an address or should I just drive by until you say stop?" he asked with a smirk, unwinding himself from her arm so that he could unlock the car and let her inside.

"Oh, fine." She laughed, catching his hand to press a hot, open-mouthed kiss to his palm before sliding into the car with a wicked little smirk playing about her lips. As soon as he was sat in beside her, she gave him the pertinent details, innocently playing with her necklace as she did so.

"You are not exactly living up to your sterling reputation as a daycare worker," he teased, though what she did with her personal time was no one's business but her own, so long as it was legal. He waited until she was buckled in, even if they were only going a few blocks, before pulling out and heading in the direction of the brownstones.

"Oh, am I supposed to be an innocent virgin who blushes every time an attractive person makes eye contact with me?" she asked in amusement. "That'd get boring pretty quick, don't you think?"

"Boring for who?" he asked, smirking back at her, equally amused. It was fun teasing her, though he thought she had the upper hand where that was concerned right now.

"Oh, for me, definitely." She grinned, watching him as he set the car in motion. "Never being able to act on my intense lust for you? Tragic."

"Where was this lust when you thought I was just a security guard? Something you don't like about the uniform?" he asked, still wearing said uniform. "And here, I thought women liked men in uniforms," he teased.

"I was still trying to work out how to have a conversation with you, without sounding like a sex-starved fiend," was her counter, accompanied by a snorting laugh. "I'm the kind of woman who would rather see you out of uniform."

He chuckled at her reply. "I'm trying to get a sense here of what you find attractive," he pointed out, though it hardly mattered now, he supposed. He couldn't help but wondering if this was going to be a one-night stand, but then she had agreed to go to dinner with him.

"That makes it sound as though you want to change yourself in some way, but if I wasn't attracted to you, we wouldn't be having this conversation," she pointed out. "So there's no need to change yourself for my sake."

"Ah, but you're talking about physical attraction," he said, which was usually what initially attracted two people to each other, but no relationship would last based on physical attraction alone. "Maybe I'm getting too far ahead of myself," he murmured, as the car neared the rows of brownstones.

"Rome wasn't built in a day," she pointed out with a smile. "Although the Romans were very kinky, so gods alone know how they managed to build anything at all."

"Let's hope it doesn't take that long!" he said, chuckling again. "Shall I just pull over here and close my eyes while you lead me to your place?" he asked, slowing the car as they got about halfway down the street.

She rolled her eyes. "It's on the left, the one with the constellations painted on the blue door. I'm expecting to get a C&D order any day now telling me to paint it a plain, boring color so it fits in."

"Did you paint it yourself?" he asked, as he found a parking spot and pulled his car into it. "I doubt you have to worry about that. This neighborhood doesn't seem too picky about that sort of thing."

"Yeah, I did," she said, with understandable pride. "I like nature and natural things, but I like comfort just as much. So expect lots of plants and nature-type stuff, as well as way too many cushions and couches and just comfortable places to lounge around."

"I wouldn't expect any less, all things considered," he said, meaning the fact that she was lycan. There was a little bit of wild in her wolf side, so it didn't really surprise him that she enjoyed nature. "Maybe we should get out of the city sometime. Go, I don't know, camping or something," he suggested with a smile as he shut the engine off and pocketed the keys. "Shall we?"

"Now that sounds like an amazing outing to me," she agreed. But before she moved to get out of the car, she twisted in her seat, catching his eye with a clear gaze. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Are you sure you want to?" he asked, wondering if she was having second thoughts. He wasn't, but he didn't want her to feel pressured. The problem was that he wasn't sure how he felt about casual sex or about what she expected or wanted going forward.

"That doesn't answer my question," she pointed out with a forgiving smile. "I'm sure, but I don't want to pressure you into something you're not confident to be a part of. I know not everyone is as free and easy as me."

He sighed, shoving a hand through his hair, as he not only tried to explain, but tried to sort out his feelings. Why wasn't he eagerly jumping into her bed. Most men wouldn't hesitate, but he wasn't most men. "It's not that I don't like you because I do. I like you a lot. I think that's the problem."

"I get that." She nodded understandingly, still smiling in a gentle way. "There's no pressure, you know? I'm still gonna like you even if you make me wait to get my hands all over you." She patted his arm. "Your choice now - come in for a drink and cuddly sleeping all night, or go home."

"If you don't mind, I'd like to come in," he told her honestly. He didn't really want to go home to his empty apartment, even if all they did all night was sleep.

Amaris' smile warmed again. "All right, then," she said in that cheerful tone once more. "Come into my den." She laughed as she stepped out of the car, digging into her bag to retrieve her key.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2019, 07:28:44 PM »
"Is this like when you invite the vampire into your home and then they eat you for dinner?" he asked, teasing as he go out of the car, closing the door and coming around to her side of the car. "I mean it, Maris. I like you. A lot. It's been a long time since I've been able to say that about a woman, and I don't want to screw it up."

She slid her hand into his, linking their fingers warmly. "I get it," she assured him. "And if this had been an ordinary sort of day, I probably wouldn't have offered to jump your bones so quick. I just ... I don't want to be alone tonight. But that doesn't mean I want to push you to anything you're not feeling ready for. Company is enough."

It wasn't that he wasn't ready. Physically, he was more than ready, but for some reason, he found himself wanting it to not just be about sex and not be a one night stand. "I'm not going anywhere, Maris," he said, shortening her name a little, just because it felt right. "I'd like to stay tonight."

"You're very welcome to," she promised with a smile, drawing him up the steps to the front door. She had to let go of his hand to find her key and unlock it, pausing to look back at him as she remembered something she hadn't yet mentioned. "How are you with dogs?"

"Dogs or wolves?" he asked, smirking. He knew some referred to werewolves as dogs and that it was considered a insult. He assumed she was referring to a real dog, but he couldn't help teasing her.

Her eyes narrowed for a split second before she grinned. That was warning enough against referring to her as a dog. "Dogs," she confirmed. "An adorable one year old pup, to be exact."

"Sorry," he said, at her warning. He just couldn't help himself. "You can call me a Feeb, if you want. And dogs and I get along pretty well. Not allowed to have one in my building, or I would."

"Well, she's adorable, you'll get along fine." Amaris opened the door and ushered him inside, listening to the approaching sound of scrambling and bumping feet and body. She managed to get a light on for Dev's sake before the squat form of an over-excited blue-nose pit bull came hurtling down the stairs, tail going ten to the dozen, bouncing up to say hello to her mistress and her mistress' new friend. "Aww, d'you miss me again? This is Xena - Xe, be nice to Dev, I like him."

"Whoa, when you said dog, you really meant dog!" Dev said with a chuckle. He'd been expecting maybe a lab or a poodle, not a pit bull, and couldn't help wondering if she kept the dog for protection or just for companionship. "Hello, Xena," he greeted the dog, as calmly as he could, holding out a hand, palm upward for her inspection. "I thought you said you didn't want to be alone," he teased, as she clearly wasn't.

What he got for being friendly was an equally friendly "ruff" and the little pit bull rose up on her hind legs, bouncing her paws on his knee as she slathered his hand in affectionate drool. Amaris snorted with laughter.

"Well, she can't hold me," she pointed out. "I'm the big spoon in our relationship. Xena, down - where's your food?" The little dog bounced down, tail wagging excitedly once again, and scurried off down the stairs, in the direction of the kitchen. Her owner chuckled, setting her bag and sneakers by the door. "C'mon, I'll make you a drink."

"I think you better feed her first. I can wait," he assured her. He followed her lead and slid his shoes off, leaving them by the door beside hers before shrugging out of his jacket. He was still wearing his work uniform, but at least he had no tie to contend with. His sidearm was still at his side, but he'd swapped out the clip with the silver bullets for ordinary lead.

"Well, the kitchen's downstairs, so if you want a drink, you're gonna have to come with us," Amaris pointed out in amusement. She patted his arm warmly, rolling her eyes at the hopeful bark that drifted up from the bottom of the stairs. "All right, all right, I'm coming," she called to her dog, who just barked back in tones of utter delight as her mistress began to thump down the stairs to the lower level.

"How long have you had her?" he asked, as he followed her down the stairs. Though the dog was only a year or so old, he didn't want to make any assumptions about how long she'd been with Amaris.

"About four months?" she suggested, as though she wasn't entirely sure herself without looking it up. "She's a rescue - gorgeous little mongrel who lost a fight with a raccoon, didn't you?" This was addressed to the dog herself, complete with a head scratch that reduced the happy little canine to a puddle of chuffing delight on the floor.

"So, you didn't get her from a breeder then," he said, more statement than question. Pit bulls were notorious for being fighting dogs, but he believed it was all in the breeding and raising.

"Gods, no." Amaris looked horrified. "I'm happy with my little mongrel here - she's mostly pit bull, but there's a bit of boxer, and a bit of terrier, and I think a bit of bulldog in her too. I would never support a breeder. That's how these animals ended up with all their congenital medical issues, because of breeding."

"Good," he said, both satisfied and relieved that the dog hadn't come from a breeder. "So, how'd she end up with a rescue?" he asked, further. She'd told him that she'd wrestled with a raccoon, but that didn't tell him much about the dog's origins. "Was she a stray then?"

Setting the kettle to boil, Amaris went about the business of hunting out biscuits for her dog as she answered. "They weren't totally sure," she said thoughtfully, measuring out the amount carefully from the bag. "Which, from a rescue, usually means the worst you can imagine and they don't want to upset you. But she turned up in some old lady's backyard with a raccoon kicking the crap out of her."

At least, the dog gave them something to think and talk about besides the attack that had happened earlier that day or sex. "Poor girl," he said, taking a lean against the counter as she tended to the dog. "She looks good though. I don't see any scarring," he remarked. "She looks happy, too," he added with a smile. She was obviously fond of her owner and vice versa.

"She's a bundle of joy who gets picked on at the dog park by the horrible pooches," Amaris said, bending to set the bowl on the floor. She snapped her fingers, waving her hand from Xena to the bowl. "Dinner, babes." Xena stopped bouncing around the kitchen and waddled over to her bowl, inserting her face and beginning the entertaining grunts, snuffles, and crunches that went with any dog eating.

"Give her time. She'll learn," he said, as if he knew, or maybe he just knew something about dogs. "She's still a puppy." He chuckled as he watched Xena enthusiastically dig into her food bowl. "She's definitely enjoying her dinner!"
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2019, 07:34:19 PM »
"She's on a diet, believe it or not," Amaris admitted with a low laugh, turning to produce cups and other accoutrements for making hot chocolate. Apparently that was her feel better drink, and he was getting some, too. "I overfed her so much the first couple of months - she had me totally wrapped around her pinky toe."

"And she doesn't now?" he asked, knowing better, but assuming she was trying not to cave in to Xena's puppy dog eyes. He smirked at the thought of hot cocoa, thinking what she really needed was something a little stronger to help calm her nerves. Maybe calm both their nerves. "Do you trust me?" he asked, out of the blue.

Amaris gave this a moment's thought. "Let's just say I'm getting better at not giving in, and leave it at that," she suggested with a low laugh. His second query made her brow rise with sardonic amusement. "Dev ... you're in my house, and I know you know how to kill me. What part of that suggests that I don't trust you?"

He smirked at her response. "I don't want to kill you. I want to help you relax," he assured her. No, he wasn't suggesting a massage - at least, not yet. "You have any whiskey or rum around here?" he asked, not feeling comfortable enough to rummage through her cupboards, but comfortable enough to ask.

"Uh, yeah." She gestured across the kitchen. "Middle cupboard, other side of the table. That's where all the Christmas liquor goes, and I don't drink much on my own."

"Liquor isn't just for Christmas, Maris," he remarked, pushing off the cupboard to go in search of a bottle of rum. He wasn't trying to get her drunk; just relaxed enough to get a good night's sleep.

She snorted with laughter. "I know, but I hosted Christmas last time around, and that means stocking the liquor cabinet with so much you have to tie the cupboard doors closed," she informed him. "We're a rowdy bunch, and when we get together, you'd better hope there's enough alcohol around or we go looking for it."

"And this is all that's left?" he asked, chuckling as he held up a half-empty (or half-full) bottle of rum. "I'll have to help you restock your cabinet," he said, as he brought said bottle over to the counter and unscrewed the cap.

"Well, you know, if we have enough booze, everyone stays on the premises," she laughed, stirring the powder into the mix to blend it evenly. By her feet, Xena lifted her head from the now empty food bowl, and began lapping noisily and messily from the water bowl beside it.

"The holidays must be quite the event," he said, as he added about a shotful of rum to each mug. Not enough to get them drunk, but enough to help relax their frayed nerves. Well, her frayed nerves, anyway. It was just another day's work for him - or so he tried to tell himself.

Amaris shrugged, still smiling fondly. "Anytime we get together, it's a bit of an event," she admitted cheerfully. "There always seem to be new pups to play with, too. I swear some of my cousins are trying to repopulate the entire country."

"I take it you have a big family," he said, waiting for her to finish stirring the hot cocoa mixture before he could lay claim to one of the mugs. Encouraging her to talk about her life and family allowed him to avoid talking about his.

She slid one of the mugs over to him, setting the spoon aside to pick up her own mug. With Xena waddling along at her side, Amaris lead the way over to what, in most houses, would have been additional dining room space. In this house, it was a very comfortable lounge area arranged around a gas fire set in the hearth on the wall, yet there were no single seats. It seemed as though werewolves liked sharing space too much to claim a single chair for their own.

"I have three brothers, two of them are mated," she told him easily, lowering down and curling up on one of the deep sofas. "Uh, seven nieces and nephews between them. Something like six cousins, and all the pups they've produced, too. Not to mention my grandpa."

"That's a pretty big family," he remarked, taking up one of the mugs and following her into the living room or whatever it was she was calling it, careful not to trip over the dog that was waddling at her side. "Do they all live nearby or are they spread out?" he asked, not only making conversation, but genuinely interested.

"No, we're pretty spread out," she said, opening her arm to Xena. The little pit bull mix heaved herself up onto the couch and into Amaris' lap, wuffling happy little grunts as she settled down to enjoy her cuddle. "There's only something like ten packs in North America right now, so we're all pretty wide spread. We can cover ground damned fast when we need to."

Dev smirked as Xena settled down beside her person, wondering just how he was supposed to compete with puppy cuddles, though he supposed he had other talents the dog was unable to perform. He took a seat on the opposite couch, not wanting to steal the dog's spot.

"What do you think they're going to do when they find out what happened?" he asked, more than mere curiosity on his mind now. He didn't need a war between lycan packs to complicate matters.

Amaris frowned into her drink, absently stroking Xena's ears as she did so. "I'll have to give testimony, as the only wolf who witnessed everything. And even then, only if the male who got away lays a charge against me for attacking them. You'll be fine - the elders aren't idiots. They know a wolf killed in the middle of the day was doing something they shouldn't have been doing. Hunters come for us at night."

"They're rogues, Maris. And they were trying to hurt a child. I don't think your pack would protest too much if someone put them down," he pointed out. In fact, he was pretty sure that was exactly what was going to happen. "You know," he started, a thought coming to him. "Your pack could help."

"My pack is already helping," she told him, her eyes crinkling as she smiled. "We have a unique position among the packs here, and we take orders from a power that I can't tell you about. But it's a good power that tries not to interfere with the real world too much."

"Okay," he said, arching a curious brow. He knew he was walking a thin line here, needing to know as much as she could tell him without asking too much. "I'm gonna be honest with you, Maris. I think the rogues weren't taking the boy because they wanted to kill him, but for some other reason."

She held the silence for one long, awkward moment before making the decision to trust him with this information. "You're right," she confirmed. "But they were going to kill him. They want his sister dead. They want his father dead. I think they were stealing the boy to lure the father away from the family so that would be easier."
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2019, 07:34:44 PM »
"I agree with you there. I think they were hoping to use the boy for bait. The question is why? I can understand wanting the father dead. He's a hunter, and he's got a long history of, well, hunting. But the kids?" He shook his head. "That doesn't make any sense to me. Why kill a couple of innocent kids?" It seemed that though Dev worked with Adam, the other man didn't share all his or his friends' secrets.

Amaris shook her head. "I couldn't say," she said in a musing tone. "But they'll try again. That's why I need to scout out the pack, find where they're lying up and how many there are. They need to be put down."

"Not alone, you're not," he was quick to add. He wasn't sure if she was going to have help from her pack or from this greater power she'd mentioned, but he wasn't going to let her go into that alone.

She tilted her head toward him, her confusion tempered with amusement. "I didn't think I was going alone," she drawled sardonically. "As I recall, you volunteered to help."

He grinned back at her. "Good! Just so long as we've got that straight. Cheers," he said, lifting his mug to her before taking a sip of the chocolately-rum concoction, savoring the way it warmed his insides on the way down.

She chuckled at his reaction. "You were expecting me to go back on my agreement, weren't you?" she asked with cheeky suspicion, grunting a little as Xena heaved off the couch to go and rummage in an open wicker box filled with various doggie toys.

"I was expecting you to give me the 'You're only human, and I've got my pack to protect me' speech," he admitted, with a shrug. "But I'm not just any human, Maris. I may not have any supernatural powers, per se, but this is what I do. It's what I've been trained for; it's what I've spent my whole life doing. Well, my whole adult life anyway."

"Well, in this case, you'll be the one doing the work, and I'll be your backup," she informed him, absently pressing on the bandage at her neck. It seemed to be an odd sort of habit, to test the wound just to make sure it was healing appropriately every now and then. "Wolves won't be too suspicious of a human prowling around their den. I mean, they might toss you out, but they'll just assume you want to rob them. The second they smell me, they'll know I'm trouble."

"Do you know anything about these rogues?" he asked, though he was starting to think he had talked shop enough for one night. He hadn't come here to question her about the case; he'd come because he liked her and wanted to get to know her better. And then, there was the possible prospect of sex.

She shrugged. "They're not established," she offered. "I'd be willing to bet that their alpha is keeping them under control through fear and violence, just to maintain their power over them. I'd also be willing to bet that most of the rogues there are runaways who are in over their heads."

"So, do you think they're ... redeemable?" he asked, pausing a moment to search for a better word. Because if they weren't, they'd probably have to end them all, and he wasn't even sure how many of them there were, at this point.

"The pups, yeah," she said with absolute certainty. "For clarity, you're a pup until you hit eighteen these days. It used to be until you turned for the first time, but with puberty coming on sooner in the last couple of centuries, it was adapted. No thirteen year old should be expected to behave like an adult just because they grow hair once a month."

"They're just kids, by anybody's standards," he agreed. The trick would be in trying to talk them down without having to kill them, but that was probably where she came in. "You have any idea what it is they want?" he asked, point blank. He assumed they wanted revenge against the hunter for killing their own kind, but it seemed more complicated than that.

"I do, but ... it's not my secret to tell," she said awkwardly, shaking her head. "I can tell you that it's bigger than just one rogue wolf pack."

He furrowed his brows, not really liking the sound of that. "What do you mean?" he asked, hoping she could tell him more than that.

"I mean that ... neutralizing this rogue pack is going to be done with ... allies that don't come naturally to wolves, and they will likely expect the effort to be reciprocated, because they have their own version of the same problem." Amaris tugged on her braid, frustrated at not being able to tell him more than that. He was smart enough to work it out, she knew.

His frown deepened as he tried to work that one out for himself, realizing with a shock what she was trying to get at. "Vampires," he murmured. "You're working with vampires. Wait, are you saying there are rogue vampires who have targeted the Bristols, as well, and that lycans are working with vampires to protect a hunter and his family?"

"It would seem so," she said carefully. "The alliance hasn't actually been made, but I understand the vampires have been in contact with the Bristols about their rogues already. They might volunteer their help to deal with our rogues if we return the favor."

"Werewolves and vampires working together," Dev murmured. "I never thought I'd see the day." Not to mention that they were doing it to protect a hunter and his family, who more than likely took a few of them down in his day. "That's ... remarkable." And that was putting it lightly.

"Rhys Bristol is unique," Amaris said quietly. "He has done some remarkable things. He and his wife. And he counts other unique people among his friends. Besides, if he can trust us, you've got nothing to worry about, right?"

He couldn't argue with the fact that the hunter's wife had done some remarkable things - she had, at least, stolen some remarkable things, but he didn't bother to mention that. There was more going on here than he'd realized, and he was supposed to be a Federal Agent. "I need to talk to Adam," he murmured, mostly to himself. The other man had obviously been holding out on him.

"He may not be able to tell you," Amaris warned him. "He's bound by some of the same rules as I am." A cold nose at her ankle caught her attention, and she absently reached down to take the fluffy ball out of Xena's mouth and hurl it toward the far end of the room. The little pit bull scampered after it, tail wagging wildly.

"We're all bound by rules, Amaris," Dev said, glancing briefly to the dog as she scampered after the ball. "You might not be able to break the rules, but sometimes they can be bent a little." He didn't press his luck though. He had other sources and other ways he could sort out what was going on. If he was going to be involved in this, it would all become clear before long. "But enough about work," he said, with a smile. "How's your drink?"
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2019, 07:35:07 PM »
She chuckled, looking down into her cup, which was by now half full. "It's pretty good," she conceded. "I wouldn't have thought of putting rum into chocolate." As she spoke, Xena came flumping back across the room, this time dropping the fluffy and slightly damp ball into Dev's lap. She looked up at him hopefully.

Dev chuckled as he found the slightly soggy ball in his lap. "I wondered when you were going to get around to saying hello," he told the dog, rubbing her behind the ears, before picking up the ball and tossing it across the room. "They never tire of this kind of game, you know," he warned, though Amaris probably knew this already.

"Oh, I know," she agreed with a grin, unsurprised when Xena brought the ball straight back to Dev. "You joined in, it's your doom to play until you're bored or she is."

"In my experience, the human usually gets bored long before the dog does," he said. Or until the ball got so full of saliva that one just couldn't bring themselves to touch it anymore. "Anyway, it would have been rude to ignore her," he said, picking the ball up again and tossing it, but in a different direction this time.

Amaris laughed. "She'll love you forever for playing with her," she warned in amusement. "My Xe is not exactly a warrior princess. She's more of a care bear than a dog."

"Maybe you should have given her a different name then, but somehow Xena seems to fit," he remarked, watching at the dog scurried after the ball once again. He took another swallow of his cocoa, before it got cold. "This is kinda nice," he found himself saying, before he could stop himself.

What does it take to make a werewolf blush? Declaring yourself to be comfortable in their home and with their pet with just one word, it seemed. Amaris ducked her head as she grinned happily. "I'm glad you're here."

"I am, too," he admitted, honestly, smiling a little as he looked over at her. "But I think maybe you're too far away." There was honestly no place he'd rather be at that moment than right there, but he was regretting not having sat closer.

"Oh, well ... that's easily remedied. " She unfolded her long legs from beneath her, moving to switch couches and ease down close beside him where he had chosen to sit, much to the delight of Xena, who now didn't even have to consider choosing between her captive human-types when it came to returning the ball.

Dev smiled and stretched an arm out so that he was looping it around her shoulders, chuckling as Xena returned with the even soggier ball. "Your turn, I think," he told her, having just tossed it twice in a row.

"What, you think doggy drool bothers me?" she challenged him laughingly, relaxing into the curve of his arm even as she tossed the ball for the happy dog once again. And then quite deliberately wiped her fingers on his pants.

"Oh, thanks!" he said, laughing. He didn't really mind much. It was likely he wasn't going to need the security guard uniform anytime soon anyway. Not only was his cover blown, but they'd already flushed out the rogue lycans. He just hoped they'd be able to catch them before they attacked again. But he didn't really want to think about that right now. "I could really get used to this, Maris," he said. "Just warning you."

"That ... doesn't bother me in the slightest," was her answer, her head turning toward his to show him her comfortable smile. "You're still taking me out, though. I kinda want to dress up for you."

Which was kind of funny considering she'd also wanted to undress for him, or at least, that's how it seemed. "No argument there. A promise is a promise," he said, mirroring her smile. "I don't suppose a pizzeria will do," he teased.

"Hey, I'm not going to argue with anything you choose," she pointed out. "Unless it's an orgy or something like that, that's just icky."

He laughed. "No, you don't have to worry about that," he assured her. "I'm pretty boring and traditional, for the most part," he admitted, hoping she didn't mind that. "And don't forget old."

"One, traditional is never boring if it's done the right way, and two, you are not old," she informed him with a warm grin. "Trust me, I know old. Old is my great-grandma - she just hit one hundred, and she's still running with the pack."

"That is pretty old!" he admitted with a chuckle. "I'll be happy if I get to 80!" he told her. In truth, there had been times when he didn't think he'd live this long, much less to old age. It wasn't his health that was the problem, so much as his chosen profession.

"Oh, I think you'll make it," Amaris predicted cheerfully, taking her opportunity to press a warm kiss to his cheek. She didn't linger, turning her head back to Xena's impatient snuffling to throw the now really quite slimy ball again.

He wasn't sure how she could possibly know that, but he hoped she was right - especially if he was somehow lucky enough to win her heart. It was a little too soon to entertain that notion, but for the first time in a long time, he was hopeful. Here was someone who not only understood the supernatural, but was a part of it. Here was someone he wouldn't have to keep any secrets from. Here was someone who might not only understand his life, but accept it.

"Maybe it's time we call it a night," he said, chuckling as he eyed the now slimy ball.

"You're probably right," she conceded warmly, unfolding her legs once again. "C'mon, Xe, do your business in the garden and then bedtime!"

Xena let the ball drop from her mouth, apparently just as excited about bed as she was about everything else. Amaris crossed the room to the wide glass doors that looked out on the garden, and unlocked them, opening up one side to let her ridiculous dog go and fertilize the lawn in her own unique way.

He moved to his feet and collected both their cups to take them to the kitchen and rinse them out in the sink. It wasn't hard to find his way around her home, but he hadn't seen all of it yet. There was a knot in his stomach suddenly, a mix of nervousness and excitement about what came next. Even if all they did was sleep together, it was more than he'd hoped for when he'd got out of bed that morning.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2019, 07:35:38 PM »
Xena wasn't long in the garden, soon ambling back in and going straight to the stairs to begin the long climb to the second floor. Amaris paused in the kitchen, stroking her hand down Dev's back. "No pressure, okay?"

"No pressure," he said, a faint smile on his face. "It's just been awhile since ..." He trailed off, leaving the rest unsaid. Since what? Since he'd slept with a woman? Since he'd let anyone get close?

She held his gaze, smiling affectionately up at him as he fingers slid down his arm to tangle with his own. "Slow and steady," she said quietly. "There's no need to rush. And I think you're right. I think tonight ... tonight I just want to be near you. You, uh, you don't mind sharing a bed?"

He couldn't help but smirk, the temporary wave of uncertainty melting away at her touch. "There's not much point in my being here if we don't share a bed, is there?" he pointed out.

"Had to ask." She giggled softly, drawing him toward the stairs and up, flicking out the lights as they went. It was a long climb, two flights' worth, and halfway up the second flight, they caught up with Xena, who was making heavy work of getting up to the bedroom. The little dog had definitely got boxer legs - a pure bred pit bull would have been fine.

"You know, you did fib a little," he said, trying to keep a straight face, though his intention was only to tease. He didn't have any problem making his way up the two flights of stairs; after all, his profession demanded he stay fit.

"Oh? And what did I fib about?" she asked, looking over her shoulder at him as she bent to hoist Xena up the last few steps. "Something exciting, I hope?"

"Well, you said you didn't want to be alone, but you didn't mention Xena here," he said, unable to hide the smirk on his face now. Apparently, he wasn't holding the little fib against her.

Amaris laughed, straightening as they reached the appropriate landing. Just enough light came through the curtainless window at the far end of the hall to illuminate the doors, and she lead him toward the one furthest from the stairs. "I never actually said I would be alone if you went home," she pointed out playfully.

"Ah, but you led me to believe you would be alone," he countered, though it hardly mattered. He knew a canine companion wasn't quite the same thing as a human one, whether they were lycan or not.

"But it wasn't a fib," she insisted laughingly. "Misdirection. Omission, at worst."

Pushing open the door, she lead him into a bedroom that was probably smaller than he had been expecting, dominated by a stone-clad fireplace and wide bed. In the instant before she flicked the light on, there was the suggestion of shining constellations on the ceiling. Xena was already turning round and round in circles on the most luxurious doggie bed ever to have been created, wuffling happily up at them.

"A lie of omission is still a lie, or so they say," he pointed out, though he wasn't willing to push the subject, especially since he was only teasing her. "Cozy," he remarked as she led him into the room. It was small, yes, but that hardly mattered. A bed was all that was really needed, after all, and there was one for both the dog and them.

She stuck her tongue out at him cheerfully, rummaging in a drawer. "I knew I had one!" Straightening, she flourished a toothbrush still in its packaging toward him with a triumphant cast to her smile. "Bathroom's through that door, go do your stuff while I get the fire going."

"Oh, so I have bad breath now, do I?" he remarked, as he caught the toothbrush in his hands. He was only teasing her again, but he supposed it was better than moping or thinking too much.

"You gotta take care of your teeth, right, Xe?" The little dog gave a soft bark in answer to her name, flopping down onto her side with a deep sigh. Amaris dropped a fleecy blanket into the doggie bed with the canine, who proceeded to kick at it until it was just where she wanted it.

"I would look pretty funny without them," he remarked, flashing her a smile that showed his pearly whites as he started in the direction of the bathroom. He had no pajamas to change into, but even if he was at home, he didn't make a habit of wearing them, so that wasn't an issue - at least, not until morning when he'd want a fresh change of clothes.

At least he had his car with him - the walk of shame wouldn't be a long one. Amaris watched him go for a moment, smiling to herself as she settled down to light the fire in the hearth. "Do you think I'm being silly, Xe?" she asked the dog softly. "I like him. A lot. Not just because he saved my life."

Thankfully, he couldn't hear any of this, as he was too busy brushing his teeth and washing his face and trying to make himself look halfway presentable for bed which seemed kind of silly, but he didn't want offend her in any way. He even went so far as to smell his own breath and armpits. He didn't smell like a rose, but he didn't think he smelled too offensive. Should he take a shower? No, that would take too long, and he didn't want to abuse his welcome. Why was he even worrying about this? He never had before.

By the time he was done, the sounds from the bedroom had become ... interesting. Doggy grunts and cheerful growls, along with Amaris laughing and grunting with effort herself, suggested that something was being done with Xena. And sure enough, Amaris was cleaning her dog's teeth ... with Xena lying on her back, all four paws in the air, trying to eat the toothbrush.

Dev showed up in the doorway, his mouth dropping open to see her attempting to actually brush her dog's teeth.

"Uh, wouldn't it be easier to just give her a biscuit?" he asked, referring to what were officially sold as 'dental chews', but what most people thought of as biscuits.

"I do," she assured him through her laughter, scrubbing at Xena's teeth as the little dog snorted and grunted happily. "She enjoys this as well, though. I know, I know, I'm completely under her paw. She's adorable, that's my excuse."

"Well, if I knew you were so good at it, I might have let you brush mine." He smirked again, having fun teasing her. "By the way, I left my toothbrush in the bathroom for morning. I hope that's okay," he said, wondering just how long that toothbrush was going to remain there. He supposed it depended on how well this relationship thing went.

"Of course it is." She smiled up at him, removing the brush from Xena's mouth and giving the dog a belly scratch. "So it's my turn." She hesitated as she stood up. "Uh ... usually I sleep nude, so I'll just, uh ..." She gestured toward the chest of drawers, and produced a t-shirt that was clearly made for a man, and a pair of boxers. She threw one of each at Dev. "They're spares for when my brothers get overexcited and don't undress first," she explained with a shy smile, opening another draw to pull nightwear out for herself. "I'll just, uh ..." Gesturing toward the bathroom, she skipped that way, giggling to herself.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2019, 07:36:06 PM »
"Yes, of course!" he said, catching the t-shirt and boxers, grateful he wouldn't have to sleep in his own, which were probably starting to get ripe by now. He watched as she skipped away, shaking his head and chuckling at her giggling. "She is really something, isn't she, Xena?" he asked the dog, not really expecting a reply. "Don't peek!" he warned the dog, though it hardly mattered what the dog saw, as he stripped out of his clothes and into the clothes she'd provided. He had to unbuckle his belt first, carefully setting his handgun aside, checking to make sure the safety was on first.

It can take a while to get used to undressing in front of an animal, especially a curious dog who seems to have decided you're wonderful on the basis of a couple of hours' acquaintance. Thankfully, Xena wasn't that interested in him, and Amaris returned within a few minutes, teeth brushed, hair loose, pajamas made up of a button up top and a pair of short shorts protecting the modesty that, at this point, it was debatable she had at all. She actually knocked on her own bedroom door before entering.

"You decent?"

"Uh, yeah!" he called back as he tugged the t-shirt on over his head. He'd actually folded and laid out his uniform on the chaise that was hugging one of the room's corners. He was, for the most part, decent, clad in a t-shirt and boxers that didn't belong to him but that fit pretty well. "Your brothers must be about my size," he remarked, as he smoothed the t-shirt down over his torso.

"Falling prey to the expectation that all werewolves are either Michael J Fox or The Rock?" she teased, walking into the room as he smoothed the fabric down. "You want me to braid this out of your way?" This was said as she gestured to her loose hair, one hand reaching to turn out the lights. As darkness came to the room, the ceiling seemed to light up with a soft glow - translucent moon and stars peppering the ceiling in a realistic recreation of the night sky.

"Don't do it for me. I kind of like it that way," he told her, regarding her hair. He tilted his head to look up at the ceiling, smiling at the recreation of the night sky. "Kind of like sleeping under the stars without actually sleeping under the stars," he remarked. Thankfully, there was enough light cast from the fireplace that he didn't have too much trouble seeing in the dark.

"That was the idea." Her voice was softer now the lights were out, but no less warm or inviting. "You getting into bed?" Her smile was wide as she drew the covers back to slither into the wide bed herself. It was definitely a bed made for sprawling, multiple bodies, easily more than king sized, yet she wriggled over to the middle to pat the space beside her in invitation.

"Yes, dear," he replied, the smile of amusement heard in his voice if not seen, as he made his way toward the bed. "Which side?" he asked, wondering if she had a favorite. Most people did, though he didn't really have a preference.

"If you can't decide, you could always lie on top of me," she suggested impishly. "I'm a sprawler and a cuddler - I'll be all over you by morning no matter which side you choose."

"Sweetheart, if I lie on top of you, neither of us is going to get any sleep," he teased, choosing the side closest to him, which just happened to be the right side of the bed and pulling back the covers to climb in.

She laughed quietly, letting him get comfortable before wriggling over to drape herself against his side comfortably. "Can't cuddle if you're so wound up just a touch gets you rigid," she murmured in a teasing tone.

"I think the less we talk about my rigidity, the better," he said, sliding an arm around her to pull her against his side. Eventually, his arm would fall asleep like that, but he wasn't too worried about that right now. He wasn't going to comment on what her closeness was doing to his body or whether he was actually going to be able to relax this way. "How are you feeling?" he asked. "How's your neck?"

"Sore, but better," she promised him, nestling as close as she could get with a contented sigh. "It'll just be a bruise in the morning, promise."

"You did a good thing, you know," he told her. Though he'd probably told her that already, he wanted her to know that. He wanted her to be able to sleep without feeling guilty or worrying she hadn't done enough to help protect her charges.

"I should have paid closer attention to them," Amaris murmured, the first indication that she was harboring some guilt. "I should have noticed as soon as they moved to follow Nora. That's on me."

"You had a lot going on," he told her. "And Nora wasn't hurt too badly. She'll be all right. She doesn't even know what happened really. No one does. It's better that way."

"I knew they were bad news," she said softly. "Wolves don't show up unexpectedly to inspect a daycare run by a wolf. They would have contacted me first. I should have known, I should have confronted them straight away."

"It doesn't matter, Maris. No one was hurt. Not badly, anyway. And the boy is safe. That's what matters, isn't it?" he asked, fingers idly combing through her hair while she nestled against him. "You couldn't have known what was going to happen, and you did your best to stop it."

"But it was so close," she worried, biting at her lip, trying not to melt into the relaxing brush of his fingers in and out of her hair. "Another minute, and they would have got away ..."

"I was there, too, Maris. It wasn't all on you," he reminded her. "I wish we could have caught one of them for questioning, but we'll find them. We have to," he said, his own worries about the situation creeping into his thoughts.

Her fingers flexed against his ribs, a squeeze to reassure him. "We will," she promised. "I have their scent. I can track them. But I think I'm going to have to meet a vampire on neutral ground first."

He frowned at the thought of that, glad she couldn't see his expression in the dark. Or maybe she could. It hardly mattered. "You're not going alone. I'm coming with you," he told her, implying that he was going to do just that whether she wanted him to or not.

She couldn't help smiling at the tone in his voice. "Are you getting protective of me, Dev?" she asked gently, shifting to tilt her head back and look up at his face in the dim light. "Doesn't it occur to you that you would be the one in danger, meeting a vampire?"
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2019, 07:36:29 PM »
"You say that like I've never met one before," he countered, just a little defensively. "I took an oath, Maris, to serve and protect, but even if I hadn't, I care about you. Yeah, I know, you think I hardly know you, but I've been watching you from a distance for a while, and I know what kind of person you are. I know you would have sacrificed your life for that boy today. What kind of person would I be if I wasn't willing to do the same for you?"

"Hey ..." She reached up, stroking her fingers against his cheek. "I didn't mean to offend you, or suggest that you couldn't cope. Is it so hard to believe that I might be a little protective of you, too?"

"You didn't offend me," he assured her, turning toward her and catching her fingers in his hand. "I may not be a lycan or a vampire, but I'm not helpless either. And I'm not gonna let you do this alone," he told her, his voice softening a little, betraying his concern for her safety and his need to protect her, if he can.

She almost preened at his words, surprised and delighted by how certain he was that whatever this was between them had the potential for so much more. "Keep talking like that, and you'll have to meet the family."

"Is that a threat or a warning?" he asked, smiling in amusement. "Should I come armed with silver, in case they don't like me?" he added, teasing again.

She snorted with laughter, prodding at his side in retaliation for the suggestion. "Just for that, I might not wade in on your behalf until after the fisticuffs get started."

"Oh, goody. Me against a couple of raging werewolves. Just who do you think will win that fight?" he asked, a little sarcastically. Of course, if he had silver bullets, it was likely he'd win, but her brothers weren't likely to survive it. But then, they were only talking theoretically.

"You'll just have to hold your own long enough for them to be impressed," she informed him cheerfully. Her brothers might be rowdy, but they weren't stupid enough to risk her wrath by breaking anyone she introduced to them.

"Why do I have to fight them at all?" he asked, wondering if this was some strange mating custom among werewolves that he'd been previously unaware of. "Besides, how do you know they won't like me? I mean, what's not to like?" he asked, flashing his pearly whites in the dim light.

"Oh, you've got it wrong." Amaris giggled quietly, draping her arm over his chest comfortably once again. "They'll only fight you if they like you. If they don't like you, they'll be painfully polite."

"Good lord," he muttered, rolling his eyes with a sigh. "So, I'm doomed either way." All that really mattered was whether she liked him, but having the approval of her brothers would make his life easier. "So, how do would they feel about you dating someone who's, er, not lycan."

"There's no reason they'd have a problem with you, Dev, or with us being together." Funny how, within a few hours, they had gone from FWB to together, without anything more than a natural progression of unforced hopes. "They'd only have a problem if you were a known enemy. And you're not."

"Not so long as they refrain from eating people," he said. Innocents was what he meant - people who'd done nothing to deserve such a fate. "You know what's funny?" he said, a thought coming to him out of the blue, one he'd had countless times before but had never really shared with anyone. "Most of the time, humans are the real monsters. We don't need lycans or vampires to blame for our problems. Humans are pretty capable of killing each other all on their own."

"I know," she murmured. "We spend so much time and effort fitting in, being mild and friendly and unthreatening, and humans don't need to do that. Your mythology calls us monsters, but humans have killed more wolves than wolves have ever killed humans."

"Human have killed more humans than wolves and vampires put together," he remarked, stifling a yawn. It had been a long day for both of them, and he was only human, un-possessed of preternatural blood that might keep him going longer than the Energizer Bunny.

She inched up a little higher, nuzzling her nose to the crook of his neck. "Sleep. baby," she murmured. "Everything will still be here in the morning."

"So long as you're still here in the morning," he said, smiling as she nuzzled against him. He made no remark about the term of endearment, but he found it warming his insides better than the whiskey.

"Mmm, I will be," she mumbled, letting her body relax as she settled in at his side. She smiled to herself, more than content to lie close as she drifted off to sleep. Tomorrow morning was going to be a very good wake up.

If anyone had asked if he had any regrets, right at that moment, he would have said no. Most men would have jumped at the chance to do more than just sleep, but he wasn't most men. He was content to merely be near her, at least for now. And if she had asked him how he felt about it, he would have agreed that it was going to be a very good morning.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero