Author Topic: A Meeting Of The Minds  (Read 8676 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Existentially Odd

  • Navigator
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 12603
  • Wanderer
    • View Profile
A Meeting Of The Minds
« on: July 08, 2019, 07:04:33 PM »
Kerr worked on thinking of something to say while Owen led him to the east wing of the Academy and upstairs to where the lecturers' offices were - not that he needed leading, he had an office next door to Vincent's. He knew exactly where he was going. It was just that Vincent worked Mondays and Tuesdays while Kerr worked Wednesdays so their paths had yet to cross. He was insanely curious about the older vampire.

Initially, he'd wondered whether Ben had manufactured the schedule that way, to keep them apart, but he'd never been game to ask. The topic of Vincent had always been sort of off limits - not in so many words, but there'd been a secretive vibe about him that Ben exuded whenever he'd been brought up. It'd been a chore to get information about what training he'd done with Vincent, which only ever abated when they trained together and Ben saw himself making progress. Kerr felt he was always being measured against the other - and he wasn't confident the comparison came out in his favour, most of the time.

"So you and Vincent - I'm right in calling him your husband? Ben did tell me you're married, right?" Kerr queried in the manner of someone who's racking their memory to be sure they have a detail right or wrong. In truth, he knew this was how the pair referenced one another. It had sparked a greater intensity of curiosity within him when he'd heard it.

Owen grinned and lifted his left hand, waggling his ring finger at him. The ring on it flashed secretively, reminding Kerr of the claddagh rings he'd given his fledges. Ben's had been put back on his right hand and the heart turned to face his body to signify his committed relationship status once Kerr returned from the 'dead'. Once upon a time, he'd wanted more than that for them but he didn't feel like he needed it any more... though the flash of Owen's ring roused a flare of unexpected jealousy.

"We exchanged rings and have called each other husband since the night he sired me, there wasn't a big ceremony or anything. Well, apart from the bit where he killed me," Owen laughed offhandedly, then turned curious ice-blue eyes on Kerr. "What do you call Ben?"

"Uh... my partner. Boyfriend, too, I guess. Lover," he shrugged.

Owen nodded ruminatively, as if there was some sort of deep meaning to be found in such labels. Kerr was annoyed by the gesture, though he couldn't say why, exactly. Maybe it was guilt? More jealousy? He regretted starting up this conversation now. He'd never felt there was such a distance to his office before either, had the campus suddenly stretched out somehow?

"They all work too," the blond grinned.

Kerr gritted his teeth, feeling a little like he was being consoled somehow. "It works for us."

"How long have you known Ben?"

Kerr gave it a little thought. "Thirteen years," he answered, feeling proud. It sounded like a substantial number now. "How about you and Vincent?"

"My whole life so, thirty years," he nodded offhandedly.

"Wow," Kerr said, deadpan.

"Did you do anything special when you sired Ben?"

Kerr was suddenly intimidated by the youngling. He was ridiculously good looking, his gaze intense - and Kerr was more than a little ashamed about the whole saga that siring Ben became. Regret was a sour, twisted bone in his chest, reminding him how desperately he wished he could understand how things would end up and go back to that night, to take Ben for himself and revel in his selfishness. Things could've worked out much more smoothly and so much more quickly for the two of them if he had, who knew?

"Nnnnooo," he hedged, dragging the word out as they approached the stairs at last. "It was... awkward, really. We were going through some things and he has another sire. It's... not something I'm proud of," Kerr admitted stiffly.

Owen was surprisingly sympathetic. "I get it. Things don't always run smoothly. Vincent and I broke up for a while, too, after I found out he lied to me about my birth and the fact that he groomed me to become his companion and basically manipulated my entire life," the blond nodded, his tone astoundingly flippant, considering the details he was revealing. He realised Kerr was gaping at him, his mouth hanging open and laughed, waving his concern away casually. "It came good, though. We worked through it. We've been back together for, like, a year now. It wasn't anything to do with the Ben thing, don't worry, it was all my stuff we were working through," Owen assured him. "And Ben and I made our peace. We're cool. Have been for ages."

"The Ben thing?" Kerr echoed and suddenly they'd arrived and it seemed the trip was too fast because Owen was opening Vincent's door and waltzing into his office, leaving Kerr completely confused in his wake.

"Hey, sexy!" Owen beamed as he burst into Vincent's private work space. "I brought Kerr to meet you!" He expected his husband to be at his desk and intended to launch himself into his lap and give him a happy kiss in greeting if he was - well, the kiss and hug would happen no matter what he was doing, really, it was the lap sit that was the variable.

Offline Trillian

  • Devil's Advocate
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 11497
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2019, 09:28:01 PM »
Vincent, unprepared for such an arrival, looked up from his desk, exactly where Owen had expected him to be. He wheeled his chair back, intending on standing and shaking Kerr's hand but Owen sat himself down upon him, blocking his view and kissing him. Vincent wasn't ordinarily embarrassed by Owen's antics, finding them charming, but since Vincent was now meeting the vampire who'd once successfully and peacefully run this city, he felt like they were being impolite.

"It's nice to see you too, Owen," Vincent said, not wanting to make a fuss and sparing Owen an indulgent smile and return kiss. His young husband thankfully rose after the greeting, giving Vincent a chance to make an impression on the ex-Luminary and Ben's sire on his own. "And it's good to finally meet you, Kerr. I'm so pleased that reports of your death was in error," he said warmly, standing and stepping forward to offer his hand for the shaking.
INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
HALFLIGHT : Graille Min Sayer :

Offline Existentially Odd

  • Navigator
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 12603
  • Wanderer
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2019, 09:44:43 PM »
Kerr wasn't sure what he'd been expecting but Vincent somehow wasn't it. He was handsome but nothing extraordinary to look at (apart from his eyes, Kerr noticed they were an unusual colour and quite hypnotic), yet Ben referred to him reverently and he clearly had Owen's heart. Both blonds being model-level stunning had caused Kerr to imagine Vincent must look like a superhero, but he was perfectly ordinary at first glance.

Grasping his hand firmly, Kerr smiled at Vincent, still feeling flummoxed by Owen's last statement and uncertain whether he should bring it up again. He decided it should not be the first thing he said to Vincent.

"Me too," Kerr agreed that it was good he hadn't really died then laughed affably, dropping Vincent's hand and tucking his fingers into his front jeans pockets. He was feeling flighty and nervous so thought it best to lock his hands down. "I've been wanting to meet you for so long! I owe you such a debt of gratitude for helping Ben and for training him while I was gone. That was so selfless of you, thank you," he gushed admiringly, his right hand immediately escaping his pocket in order to press against his heart when speaking of gratitude and gesture towards Vincent when he expressed his thanks.

Owen made himself comfortable by sitting on the front of Vincent's desk, one leg higher than the other and his foot swinging, the other bracing him on the carpet. He was watching the two older vampires curiously.

Kerr felt like he was comparing them and, again, it grated but he ignored the younger vampire in favour of listening to his sire's response. The question he'd asked shuffled around on his tongue, waiting to be repeated when the timing was polite.

Offline Trillian

  • Devil's Advocate
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 11497
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2019, 09:53:46 PM »
"True enough, your office is right next door. I've poked my head in a few times, hoping to catch you," Vincent admitted almost shyly, never expecting to find a very busy man loitering about the Academy on a night he wasn't teaching. "Ben is a model student, it's a pleasure to teach him. He has an unrivalled dedication to learning. Not a surprise that we both ended up here," Vincent said, a finger circling the air before he pocketed it, mirroring Kerr's stance. "And I'm glad I could save him from going to ground," he continued. "I like to think any passerby would've stopped him."

Though a human would've wondered what the hell he was up to and possibly could've called the police on him for destroying parkland property. Either way it would've stopped him, but Ben might've found somewhere more private to try again if that had happened.
INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
HALFLIGHT : Graille Min Sayer :

Offline Existentially Odd

  • Navigator
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 12603
  • Wanderer
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2019, 10:00:31 PM »
Kerr's eyebrows lifted, widening his eyes, and his head thrust forward, tilting slightly so that his left ear was directed towards Vincent, like he hadn't quite heard what he'd said correctly.

But he had heard. The words had been very clear and very casual. Just like Owen's reference. Kerr began to feel a sensation similar to falling, though he was standing firmly on solid ground.

"I'm sorry? You saved him from going to ground?" Kerr asked, his voice ascending an octave on the last word.

Offline Trillian

  • Devil's Advocate
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 11497
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2019, 10:13:33 PM »
Vincent had thought Ben spilled everything about his time away from Kerr. He shouldn't have assumed and now he was in a sticky predicament over it. He'd given Kerr information about Ben before his partner had the chance and he felt terrible for having stolen that from them.

Instead of uttering an apology, he offered an explanation. "Grief," he said, "can be vicious to our kind. Perhaps he was too ashamed to tell you or didn't wish for you to feel guilty. I apologise for sharing something I shouldn't have."

Vincent could feel the weight of the faux pas on his face as well as hearing it in his words. He had the tone of a man who knew he has done something wrong by accident and was struggling to make it right. He looked at Owen briefly before facing Kerr again. "It's how Ben and I met, which is why I thought he'd told you that story."

He hoped now that Ben hadn't lied about how they'd met, because that would make this so much worse. He said nothing more, waiting to see if Kerr's reaction lessened with acceptance of Vincent's apology and guess.
INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
HALFLIGHT : Graille Min Sayer :

Offline Existentially Odd

  • Navigator
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 12603
  • Wanderer
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2019, 10:34:56 PM »
Kerr's expression became grim. He felt bad for Vincent - the guy looked truly sorry - but that didn't stop him feeling annoyed with Ben. Why hadn't he mentioned he'd considered going to ground? How did he even know about that stuff, anyway?? He began to suspect that if he hadn't walked in on Ben and Charon's sex romp, he likely would've never heard about that either. Ben and his fucking secrets.

"He's been pretty cagey about talking about you altogether, really," Kerr answered grimly and looked at Owen, sitting on the desk. "Is this what you meant when you mentioned 'the Ben thing'?" he asked, believing it wasn't.

Owen stood up off the desk like a soldier at attention, glancing from Kerr to Vincent as if he was afraid he was going to get into trouble as well. He pulled an apologetic face at his husband, figuring he was about to make the same mistake Vincent had and tell Kerr something he hadn't been told by Ben - but he didn't see any way out of it. Apart from avoiding it maybe?

"Uh, noooo," he hedged, "that was about something else you should probably ask Ben about, too."

"Just tell me," Kerr ordered, frowning.

Owen winced, his feet shuffling and his hands fiddling with his utility belt. "It's really not my place. I shouldn't have said anything. I thought you'd know, that Ben would've told you, like Vincent thought," he mumbled.

Kerr was assessing the young vampire through narrow eyes, dredging up his words and trying to eke some sort of meaning out of what he'd said. "You said you and Vincent had relationship issues but it wasn't anything to do with the Ben thing, you and Ben made your peace about that. About what, exactly?" Kerr turned to look at Vincent, his stare hard as he put Charon and Vincent in the same category. "Was he having sex with you, too?"

Offline Trillian

  • Devil's Advocate
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 11497
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2019, 11:11:25 PM »
Vincent didn't like the command Kerr gave to Owen to divulge information about Ben, as if he had the right to boss people about. He might be the name on the building, but he was neither their employer, their leader, their mentor or personally involved with either of them. When Kerr asked his accusatory question, Vincent allowed himself a repartee.

"That's a thoroughly inappropriate question," Vincent said, frowning. He understood that Kerr was surprised, but jumping from 'going to ground' directly to 'having sex with' was an insane leap. He didn't miss the 'too' tagged on the end of Kerr's question but he chalked it up to being 'as well as the going to ground thing'. He felt a debt to Ben, having outed his grounding attempt by accident, and so he defended him. "And when you talk to Ben about it, do not forget that you were considered departed."

He hoped he was seeing Kerr at his worst and that Ben's sire was not the type of vampire to throw his weight around. He was beginning to doubt the rosy picture Ben had painted of Kerr. Perhaps Ben had a problem with the truth and preferred to fool himself with fantasy.
INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
HALFLIGHT : Graille Min Sayer :

Offline Existentially Odd

  • Navigator
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 12603
  • Wanderer
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2019, 11:39:42 PM »
Kerr's tongue twisted around, his stud tapping agitatedly against the roof of his mouth as he thought the reprimand through. He admired Vincent's honourable defense of Ben but he doubted the other understood all that was at play here. Ben was up to his usual tricks, doling out only the information that was necessary to each individual, keeping all of the information only for himself.

It was his way of garnering power and of protecting himself from shame. He no doubt thought he'd shared enough, revealing his playtime with Charon. Whatever had happened with Vincent had been too much to reveal to Kerr. Possibly too insignificant? That was likely too much to hope for. No wonder he'd been so antsy whenever Vincent was brought up.

"I apologise," he told Vincent sincerely, inclining his head respectfully. "I'll keep that in mind when I ask him." He turned to look at Owen, his expression becoming less stiff as he gazed at the youngling. He had the aspect of a baby animal, ready to flee, and Kerr was ashamed of his bullying commentary. "I'm sorry I was an ass. I just get... he makes me crazy sometimes. Him and his fucking secrets," he sighed, uncertain whether it was Owen's baby-ness or his kinder, more vulnerable status that made him admit his weakness with regard to Ben. Maybe it was just that he felt guiltier about being an uptight prick to the kid and felt he owed him more of an explanation because of it.

Owen gave him a sexy half-grin and shrugged it off, folding his arms comfortably across his chest. "De nada, man. I get it," he grinned, his eyes sliding playfully in Vincent's direction and then back to Kerr, widening for effect.

Kerr chuckled, thinking idly that this couple seemed to be living the dream and envious of their ease and honesty. Things with Ben were always one level of tense or another lately and this discovery of unexpected secrecy wasn't making him feel any more hopeful about his own relationship. Kerr looked back at Vincent, exasperation in his eyes. "I really am sorry," he repeated. "I'm clearly oversensitive about things right now. It's been a difficult adjustment period, returning from the 'dead', as I'm sure you can imagine," he said wryly, hoping Vincent could - or would at least attempt to sympathise. "How can I make this up to you?"

Offline Trillian

  • Devil's Advocate
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 11497
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2019, 11:53:42 PM »
Vincent knew exactly how Kerr could make it up to them. "How about we all have dinner together at the Echelon, as it's able to cater for us?" he smiled. "We could get to know one another properly in a relaxed setting."

In a neutral setting was what he meant, but he wasn't about to bandy that word about just yet. He was on the fence about Kerr but the other's warmly-given apology had gone a long way towards bringing Vincent around. He didn't like the way Kerr was sharing his Ben-related problems with them. Perhaps that was why his partner kept information to himself, if Kerr was an over-sharer.
INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
HALFLIGHT : Graille Min Sayer :

Offline Existentially Odd

  • Navigator
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 12603
  • Wanderer
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2019, 12:29:24 AM »
Kerr blinked, surprised by the notion of going out to dinner with the other couple. He could just imagine what Ben would think about him coming home and telling him he'd agreed to a double date and forcing him to confess whatever had happened with Vincent. Ben was never good when cornered, he always came out swinging. Hard. He'd have to broach the subject very carefully.

Still, the offer was nice and so civilised. It would be lovely to have an evening out that wasn't about campaigning or have a conversation that didn't involve the potential ramifications of demonic texts being shared with vampires or how Lovebite was trending. An evening with stimulating dialogue (possibly about all of those things anyway but with other people besides him and Ben) involving a married vampire couple that had had difficulties but were making it work. Like he and Ben were.

A sudden wave of love for Ben washed through Kerr as he thought about all the difficulties his lover was still facing, the anxiety when they touched, the sadness and the unnecessary apologies. Whatever had happened with Vincent was in the past - and the other was right, it had happened when he was 'dead'. He'd forgiven the strangeness of Ben having sex with Charon as him, could it get any weirder? Possibly, but he was so deeply in love with his fledgeling that he was confident they could weather that storm as well. And so what if Vincent knew Ben intimately? His relationship had survived it. Hell, maybe they could all... he realised he was thinking about Owen a little too thirstily and smiled at Vincent, pushing the thought of a partner swap out of his mind.

"That sounds good. This week? Because I believe we're free Friday or - oh. Are you here every week night?" he asked Owen, realising that the Head of Campus Security likely didn't have any nights off, though there were no classes on weekends.

"I get the weekends off, though I'm on call," Owen answered amiably, as if he'd read Kerr's mind. "It's usually pretty quiet, we don't have too many residents to cause drama."

"Okay, I'll check with Ben but I believe he's free. Saturday or Sunday, then?" Kerr prompted, garnering a nod and shrug from Owen before they both looked at Vincent for confirmation.

Offline Trillian

  • Devil's Advocate
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 11497
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2019, 06:57:44 AM »
Vincent watched the small interplay between Kerr and his husband just after the lingering look Ben's sire gave Owen. He had no idea what had been on Kerr's mind and didn't presume to guess.

"Sunday night they have their degustation so we should aim for Saturday." Vincent pursed his lips thoughtfully and glanced at Owen. "I'll have to call Anton about letting us in," he said before facing Kerr again. "I'm owed a favour or two by the manager, but even he might not be able to wrangle a table for us in less than a week's notice. It might be a fortnight. Uh," he turned and grabbed a business card from the holder at the corner of his desk, handing it to Kerr (who had the same cards but with his own name and mobile number on it). "This is my number. I already got yours out of your office," he said, then gave a sheepish smile. "I took everyone's cards," he added, downplaying his invasive action.
INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
HALFLIGHT : Graille Min Sayer :

Offline Existentially Odd

  • Navigator
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 12603
  • Wanderer
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2019, 11:15:13 AM »
Kerr raised his eyebrows and chuckled lightly at the image of Vincent going through the other lecturers’ offices to get their cards. It was an odd thing to do but told him that Vincent was quite the cautious player. He obviously needed to know more about those around him. For him or his husband’s sake?

What would he need everyone’s numbers for, except for an emergency (he didn’t strike Kerr as the type who’d want to socialise with workmates he had minimal connections with - though perhaps Kerr was colouring him with his own preferences)? Perhaps he was more of a networker, keen to meet other supernaturals, but it seemed unlikely. He had suggested a dinner outing pretty quickly, though.

A curious act, either way, which intrigued Kerr.

“And you haven’t called me yet, for a chat?” he joked, grinning at Vincent as he took the card. He assumed Ben would have the other’s number so hadn’t felt the need to make the contact himself. He wasn’t going to argue, though. Things had got off to a rocky enough start as it was. “I don’t mind when it happens. If bookings are limited, it can wait until there’s an opening, though I’m looking forward to it already. It will be good for Ben to have some down time and he obviously cares about you... as evidenced by the fact he won’t tell me much about you.”

Kerr’s smile was a mixture of exasperated and wry but he hoped Vincent knew his love well enough to understand this about him. If Ben spoke freely of something or someone, they were less significant to him.

Owen snorted a laugh at Kerr’s words, which Kerr wasn’t fully able to interpret.

Offline Trillian

  • Devil's Advocate
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 11497
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2019, 03:26:34 PM »
Vincent was nonplussed. Had Kerr wanted a call from him? When the other vampire smiled and continued, Vincent realised that his words were in jest. Kerr was an unusual fellow and difficult to get a read on. His mood seemed to jump about all over the place.

"I'm sure you will both work things out. You just have to get used to each other again," Vincent smiled his advice, turning to look at Owen, who'd had to get used to him again after the shock of discovering his opportunities had been manufactured. They disagreed on what Vincent's meddling had meant, but at least with Owen he'd finally reached a satisfying conclusion.

"Ben told me a while back that you'd been taking cello lessons. Have you returned to those? I quite fell in love with the ajaeng, when Owen and I visited Korea some months ago. It reminds me of the cello, though it's played like a zither," he said, demonstrating something flat with his hands.

INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
HALFLIGHT : Graille Min Sayer :

Offline Existentially Odd

  • Navigator
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 12603
  • Wanderer
    • View Profile
Re: A Meeting Of The Minds
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2019, 06:51:01 PM »
Owen returned Vincent's look with a pointed one of his own, smirking at his husband. Yes, they'd also taken a while to get used to each other because Owen had objected to Vincent's machinations and then had struggled to find his own value in the relationship. It had been an ongoing theme since they'd got engaged. They were all Owen's issues that had caused them to need to get used to 'each other', though (Vincent was generous to have tried taking some of their troubles on himself); it was really that Owen had had to come to terms with his own worth. Vincent was a hard act to measure up to. Thankfully, Owen had come to his senses before he'd lost the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Kerr gave a considering shrug at Vincent's initial advice. "Yes, well, I'm sure you know there are bigger things than just the two of us at play, unfortunately," he murmured, supposing Vincent had been exposed to Lazarus' trial - as the rest of the city had - and therefore knew about Ben's rape.

He was surprised by the mention of his cello lessons and intrigued by the description of an ajaeng. "No, I haven't yet. We've been pretty busy setting up the Academy, Lovebite and Ben's campaign. I'm... not even sure where my cello ended up. Hopefully it's at the beach house. I'll need to check and bring it to The Luminary to start lessons again, assuming Ben didn't get rid of it. I've never been to Korea, I'll have to investigate the ajaeng," Kerr enthused, making a mental note to do that before their dinner date. It would be good to have something neutral to open the conversation with. "Do you play an instrument?"

Kerr pulled his phone out of his pocket and subtly checked the time on it, realising Vincent had to present a class at nine thirty and he'd interrupted his preparation time. He didn't want to outstay his welcome.