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All Souls' Night > Dead & Closed Threads > Work Day


Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 10 2012, 8:09 PM
When Janos bought Five Shades Darker from Leonardo he'd bought all the contents as well. Leonardo had clearly wanted to rid himself cleanly of the business and had made the hyena a good deal on the furnishings and fixtures. The only problem now was to go through the place and figure out what he was keeping, what he was selling, and what they'd be having carted away.

With all the lights turned all the way up the http://i.imgur.com/g1la6.jpg, but that wasn't as much of a problem as it might be. Far more important than being beautiful, Janos wanted his pub to be sturdy, and a lot of these fixtures were. And so he was wandering through the building marking objects with one of three colors of chalk marker as he decided on its fate, http://i2.listal.com/image/875371/936full-nick-stahl.jpg and with the stereo playing https://dl.dropbox.com/u/38771972/jonny%20lang/Lie%20to%20Me/11%20-%20There%27s%20Gotta%20Be%20a%20Change.mp3, waiting for Jesse to show up with the food and happily pondering that those upstairs store rooms were plenty clean enough for a little grubby sexual activity in the middle of their planned day of work. Living with Katja was good, it was the only way they could have functioned, but privacy was really nice too.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 11 2012, 10:55 AM
Jesse managed, only just, to make it into the place without dropping the bags of food he was carrying. Knowing they were going to be here all day and as hopeful about that alone time as Janos was, it was possible he'd ordered enough food for an army. He was okay with that, though.

"Little help here?" he called out, voice doing that weird thing where it was soft but still managed to carry, juggling the bags enough to shut the door.

He'd gone to Georgia's Greek and, having a weakness for just about all of the menu, had gone a little crazy. And then some.

Once Janos had come over and helped him take the load of food to set on the bar, he grabbed him and yanked him in for a kiss. "You hear that? It's the sound of no other people around us."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 11 2012, 12:41 PM
Any clever answer Janos might have had to that thing about the sound of nobody there got lost the moment Jesse manhandled him. It only grew with time, the loving surrender to Jess and his rat, and just being pulled in tight like that had his breath catching and his hyena whining in pleasure.

He lifted his face to catch the kiss, gone from bustling competence to melting submission just that fast and loving it. When they had to come apart to breathe Janos kept his arm around Jesse's waist and smiled up at him quite goofily. "I love that sound. It's so rare." Though in all fairness he could see the light at the end of that particular tunnel. As Ash got more active after Jamie's birth, more and more often he wasn't needed at the house during the day but Ekaterina was. Which meant that he could see, dimly, a future where he and Jesse would have the opportunity for mid-day quickies in the comfort of their own bed.

For the moment, though, he stayed pressed up to his boyfriend with that silly smile. "The food smells good," he said without remotely letting go. "Also? You smell good."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 11 2012, 2:35 PM
Very solemnly: "That's because I bathe." A year later and it was still kind of awesome how he could do that on the regular. That Janos was there for some of the bathing was also a really sweet bonus.

He buried his face in the hyena's shoulder, moving around enough to bit at the back of his neck, right where the neck met spine (he was learning) and gave a short growl of possession before loosening his hold. "Do we have the whole day?" he asked, because while his own schedule had been cleared, Janos was at the mercy of the King's and that was...more difficult.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 11 2012, 2:42 PM
Janos was still all but clutching at Jesse's hips, that bite doing nothing to make him want to back away plus also making his legs feel a little bit unsteady. "In theory we do, Garrett and Ash both insist that they can look after themselves for a day and a night, and Katja's there. I can't promise no desperate phone calls, but I think we're good."

He finally did ease his hold, backing off enough so that he could see Jess's expression clearly as he said, "I think they're worried about you. It's been a month, but no matter what the lawyer says I don't think Garrett trusts that they won't try and drag you back into it. And Ash just worries in general."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 11 2012, 3:53 PM
"He's not the only one," Jess said around a quiet, humorless laugh, "I'm still not totally clear on why I got let go. People are dicks about shifters, and when you mix us with babies?" Nevermind he'd saved the kid, "I should have been executed. Me and that lion that got let go. I don't get that, either."

This was something he'd said roughly a thousand times, but it bore saying again. It was why he was worried they'd come for him again.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 11 2012, 3:56 PM
Quietly, "It was Shiloh, love. She'd never leave you in there, even if you'd been guilty of everything they ever claimed." He hadn't asked the Master about it, he hadn't needed to. Janos knew how she operated, and he knew that she still considered Jesse one of her strays, whether he was Garrett's now or not. "What worries me is how long it took. I would have thought she'd have had you out in a matter of days."

Posted by: Wisteria Dec 12 2012, 2:19 PM
"I have no idea," Jess said with a helpless shrug. "Considering most of the city wanted my head on a plate, I'm surprised she got me out at all." He wondered if Garrett had had to promise Shiloh anything or if she'd done it just because she wanted to. He was sort of afraid to ask, and the King hadn't said anything but 'welcome back' when he'd gotten out. "You look at it that way, two weeks isn't so bad."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 12 2012, 11:20 PM
"Two weeks was bad," Janos said heavily, feeling that clutch in his chest just at the memory. He'd visited every single time the rules allowed, had topped up his commissary account every single morning, and had fretted endlessly. He'd spent every moment he could manage at Garrett's house, cleaning it and reorganizing it obsessively. On the night that Ash had woken at 4 to pee and caught Janos repainting the kitchen they'd finally put their collective foot down.

In the end it really was only Jess's release that had let Janos pull himself together in any real way. Even now he had to fight the urge to clutch. "I would prefer it if you could manage not to get arrested again any time soon. If you don't mind."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 27 2012, 7:56 PM
A soft laugh as he pressed a long kiss to Janos's temple. "I don't really want to go back in, trust me," he said, and while he hid it fairly well most of the time, there was a hint of something in his voice that made it sound haunted. "And Garrett said if I go in again he'll shoot me himself, so...."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 27 2012, 8:19 PM
A weak laugh, he didn't back away. "That's what you get for being one of his favorites. Threats, extra training hours, extra bruises in the training." He kissed Jess's shoulder, hard. "You're not going back there." He was trying to convince both of them, and managed to sound pretty sure. His faith in Garrett and Shiloh was damned near infinite.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 8:21 AM
A hard, fast kiss and he pulled away. "Getting too depressing," he said, Janos well aware of Jesse's problems with anything when it got too heavily emotional, one way or another.

"Show me what you've decided and what you've got done," he demanded then, because if anything was bound to pull them out of the near funk that talking about his incarceration had landed them in, it was the potential of this bar.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 10:28 AM
It was a surefire way to distract him, and Janos started showing Jesse around the building, pointing out the rooms on the upper two stories and his plans for them. As they got to the top level he said, a bit diffidently, "I'm having them turn this into a pair of apartments. I don't know if we'll ever be free to move in to them, but it's a nice thought. And if not, we can rent them out to other rats who need to live off the Compound and have a bit of onsite security."

As they headed back downstairs, Janos dug into one of the boxes he'd brought and produced a manila folder with a few sheets of paper in it and handed it to Jess. "I have a preliminary version of https://dl.dropbox.com/u/38771972/439%20Menu.pdf. A few things might change, but this is most of what it'll look like."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 10:41 AM
He didn't know why, really, but something told Jess they'd never move off the Compound. But he didn't say that, and instead nodded and followed along on the rest of the tour before sitting down with the menu.

"Christ," he said, almost so low as to be under his breath, though even then Janos would hear him, "I'll take all of it."

He looked up and grinned, wide and broad and happy. "This place is going to kick ass."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 11:03 AM
Janos grinned back, open and eager in a way that very few people ever saw. "It really is. Niecey will be here after the New Year, she's already talked to the pride. The smoker is on its way, Ash says her crew can do all the work in five weeks. Even factoring in for minor disasters, we should be able to open no later than March 1, maybe even for Valentine's day." If the hyena had been the type, he might have bounced.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 2:39 PM
"Valentine's Day," Jess said around a laugh, "A real ratty holiday. It's so incredibly fitting." But he couldn't stop grinning because something in him found it fucking hilarious. "I say go you shoot for that day."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 3:14 PM
He grinned. "Should we decorate in pink and red crepe paper? Do strawberry cream tequila jello shots and some kind of drink with red hot candies and Goldschl├Ąger?" A short laugh. "I really don't want the Clan wrecking my bar before it even gets off the ground."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 3:29 PM
"Oh," Jess laughed, "I say you do it. Make it as obnoxious and awful as you can. If they think you're making one big joke, they'll eat it up. Place'll be wall to wall Clan, maybe some others, too. Then the people who think you're being serious that the Clan can then mock."

A wide, pleased smile. "You can't lose."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 3:45 PM
His eyes narrowed, thinking about that. "I'll need trays. Lots and lots of trays..."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 3:55 PM
That surprised Jess enough that there was nothing inhibiting the sharp bark of laughter he gave and he couldn't help but reach for Janos and kiss him soundly.

"That never stops being funny," he told him. "Just so you know."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 4:14 PM
Janos laughed and kissed Jesse happily, ending up with his arms around his boyfriend's waist again and not feeling any dire need to let go again. "I know it doesn't. Though it's getting harder to get a real reaction from them. I'm going to have to up my game a bit." More importantly, it was working to get Garrett and Ash (mostly Garrett) past the discomfort of having a butler on staff. Garrett could call him an assistant if he liked, that didn't bother Janos, but he needed them not to be worried about whether they were 'entitled' to the kind of service he gave them. Thus, trays. It made sense to him.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 5:01 PM
"I can't wait to see what that means," Jess said of Janos upping his game. He pressed his temple to the hyena's hair and let out a breath like he'd been holding it for hours. "I feel like it's been months since we've been alone."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 5:08 PM
Relaxing slowly into Jesse's chest, Janos let his eyes drift closed. "It really does feel like that. And I keep telling myself that it's going to get better, but it's getting better way too slowly."

He looked up at Jess. "D'you realize it was just about a year ago that we met? It seems like it's been always, you know?"

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 5:37 PM
"In some ways, yeah," Jess said, because he really felt it, "In others it feels like it's only been five minutes." Like how he was still sleeping on the floor as close to the open window as he could get. He'd made giant strides this year, but that hadn't been one of them.

"The jail thing got me to thinking," he told him then, pulling back so they could see one another's faces. "Okay, not just that. It started with Kat, really. But, if I can find a way to do it without putting 'em in danger, I'd like to contact my folks." He was telling Janos because as solid as that sentence had sounded, he was really just testing the waters of the theory.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 6:03 PM
He nodded slowly, showing no sign of the massive relief he felt at Jesse bringing it up. Losing and then finding his family had been so huge for him, he'd wanted to talk to Jess about it for months but knew he needed to let his boyfriend come to it himself.

"There are ways to do it. Do you know where they are, still? They haven't moved or disappeared?" Janos knew all the best private detectives in town, for obvious reasons.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 6:51 PM
Jess nodded. "I had Soph look 'em up." One of the Clan's resident hackers would have been able to hide behind a wall of proxy that would end up being untraceable. Jess was probably being paranoid, but he couldn't be too careful when it came to his folks. "They're still in Moline."

He'd never actually told Janos where he was from, only that it was the midwest. But he was starting to commit to this now, and naming his home town was the first step. "It's just a matter of contacting them."

Like it was just that simple.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 7:22 PM
Janos pulled back and looked at Jess seriously, his eyes sharp and serious. After a long moment he pulled out his cigarettes and lit two, handed Jesse one, and asked quietly, "Why did you leave home, Jesse? What happened?" He'd never asked before. Jess so clearly didn't want to talk about it, he'd given his lover that space. But it was time, he thought, and so he finally asked the question.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 8:34 PM
Jess took one of the smokes and hit it, hard, a couple of times, enough that it was more than halfway to the filter by the time he backed off.

Looking up, eyes steady on his boyfriend's, he said, "I killed the Raj's son."

He sighed and went into the story about how Mike had been a grade ahead of Jess, how they'd been in the same schools and, more importantly, the same leagues, all their lives. It hadn't been a big deal, really, even though they'd never quite gotten along. Jess had been a pitcher from day one, and he'd been good. Mike had played short and that was pretty much it. They interacted on the field, ignored one another at school.

But something had changed the summer before Jesse's freshman year. Suddenly Mike wasn't just good, he was fucking amazing. And he came after Jesse's spot on the school team. It was something, bypassing JV, but the coach had recruited Jess away from the small Catholic school with the promise, and so Jess had decided to stay with the public.

And then Mike came in and took the last pitching slot, out of fucking nowhere.

"It wasn't just that, though," Jess said, lighting another smoke. "I mean, I needed the spot, had to work toward a scholarship if I wanted to go to NYU," his dream, even at thirteen, "And Mike sure as shit didn't need the money. But he just...changed. I never really liked him but he'd bulked up and become a real asshole. Got a couple of goons that followed him around like he was God. I was sure he was roiding up."

A wry sigh. "That wasn't it. But I didn't find out until later. Two years," he said around another sigh, "He made me his bitch for two fucking years. I don't know why me, I really hadn't done anything to him outside of ignore him," and maybe that'd been it, who knew?

"Anyway," he hit his smoke, "It all came to a head in the locker room one night after practice. It was just me," he looked down at himself and laughed humorlessly. "I've filled out since I was fifteen." Which meant he'd been even more bean polish. I had my bag and," another laugh that went sharp, "I stabbed him with a fucking pen." Another harsh laugh as he looked at Janos. "My whole fucking life ruined because of a fucking pen. How asinine is that?"

He ran a hand through his hair. "Baseball and writing, that was my life. So my dad gets me this really fancy pen set for my birthday, right? Silver. Real silver. Like I knew. I was just trying to get him off of me, but he was dead and his dudes were gone faster than I could blink. I ran. I didn't know what to do."

He leaned onto his elbow. "I didn't leave town, that was never the plan, I just...needed to think of a way to tell my folks I'd killed someone. My life was over, I thought. I was right, just not about the why."

"One of my dads was Fire Chief. Not so big a deal but he was very good buddies with the Police Chief. Moline's not Chicago, it's a smallish town, a kind of crossroads for four other towns. There was a Master, but you didn't hear about him a lot. He called Leopards, though, and that and the fact that there wasn't a Clan or Pack - too small, they all tended to go toward the bigger cities I guess," he shrugged. He was jumbling facts but it was all pertinent.

"So they couldn't kill me, and the Raj couldn't be outed for infecting high school students. They took care of Mike and caught up to me the next morning. I was told to leave town, disappear, never come back, never make contact or they'd kill everyone I ever loved. I," he swallowed, "I believed him. News had me and Mike disappearing together."

His voice was choked by the time he was done and he just sort of left it hanging there, not sure what else to say. It sounded ridiculous when he said it all out loud, but it was what had happened and in a way it felt very good to get it out.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 9:00 PM
Janos listened, silent and wide-eyed and focused utterly on what Jesse was saying. He smoked his cigarette and listened and didn't reach out to touch Jesse until it was over. When it was, though, he dropped his cigarette into the mop bucket and reached out, got hold of Jesse's hip and pulled him in closer. "You know now that they were full of shit, though. That they don't have that kind of power, not now. Maybe they would have then, when you were fifteen, but not now. Not with Seattle's Clan behind you, they wouldn't dare move against you or your parents."

And with that said, he went on to what was actually the most important but less urgent thing. "You didn't know, Jesse. It wasn't your fault. Not killing him, not leaving your parents. You were victimized. And that you survived long enough to understand that makes you amazing." He didn't push it right then, words weren't going to fix this.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 9:18 PM
Jesse let his head fall in a way that spoke clearly of shame. He didn't know that, at all. He'd been an idiot, running away. That's what he knew now that he hadn't then. They'd counted on him being a dumb kid and he'd fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

Looking up, he asked, "How do I explain it to them?" he asked. How on Earth could he make it right? They'd mourned him. The whole fucking city, him and Mike both. He'd seen it because there for a while it'd made the national news.

That, really, was what it boiled down to. In a lot of ways he was still a dumb kid and he believed, fully, that his folks would never forgive what he'd put them through.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 28 2012, 9:39 PM
"You tell them that you were afraid. That your head was spinning and you were traumatized and then you were threatened by men much older and stronger than you." He slid a hand up Jesse's back to his shoulder. "You tell them that you thought you were protecting them, that those men would kill them as they promised to do. And then you tell them that you ran for three years, trying to keep them safe from what you thought was a danger that was your fault. and that only now do you understand better what the real situation is, and because you do, you want to tell them that you're sorry and that you love them."

Janos trailed the backs of his fingers down the side of Jesse's throat. "And then you wait to see what they will say. And I will wait with you. And whatever they answer," and Janos was not a dumb kid, and had very little fear that the people he'd heard about through tiny glimpses of stories Jess told would reject their son, but he had to answer his love's fears, "we will have one another, and the Clan, and you will know that in this thing you have done the best you can."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 28 2012, 9:46 PM
In the end it was exactly what Jess had needed to hear. He took Janos's hand in both of his and kissed the back of it, and then the palm, eyes closed as he calmed himself and knowing Janos would feel how grateful he was.

A ragged sigh against the hyena's skin and he opened his eyes, and there was something of laughter in them. "I guess since they'll probably be stoked I'm not dead they'll take the wererat and gay thing pretty easily."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 29 2012, 12:14 AM
A slow, sly smile as he wiggled his fingers a little, brushing the fingertips against Jesse's cheek. "Yay, I'm the lesser of two evils. Compared to death, I'm not that bad." He laughed quietly but never even looked like pulling away. "And I personally can't even imagine anyone being upset that someone they love is a shifter, but I acknowledge that my perspective is not everyone's."

Quieter, "You're alive, my love. Alive and whole and healthy." They'd never actually discussed that Jess had been positive, but he'd known it even before Harrison confirmed it, and he had to figure Jesse was aware. "What Katja did to survive, how could I ever blame her for any of it? Only be grateful that she lived, and that I could find her. Could you think less of your parents?"

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 29 2012, 6:50 PM
"My parents are great," Jess said vehemently, then took a bit of a calming breath before he tried to explain his thought process.

"Moline, Illinois is about a million light years away from a war torn country, and then some. Sex trafficking, runaways, that sort of thing is shit you see on Nightline or whatever, but that your son could be sucking cock for a fucking cheeseburger somewhere is not something you even consider as a possibility. Not that, you know," a crooked grin, "I would even bring that up, but you know what I mean. The shifter thing," he shook his head, sighed, ran his free hand through his hair which just flopped back immediately, "I dunno. We'll see what happens. If I go through with this." He was still waffling, talking it through. Scared, really, and trying to work through that, which Janos was helping with very well.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 29 2012, 7:05 PM
He couldn't help it, there was a quick spurt of laughter though it was accompanied by sliding his hand across Jesse's chest in comfort and affection. "No, I wasn't thinking that we should sit around their kitchen tables and talk about 'foods I've blown strangers for'. I just meant that when I found her, I didn't care, wouldn't care, what situation she was in or what she'd done. That she was alive, that I had found her again, could hold her in my arms and talk to her and find all the ways she was still my baby sister among the ways that she was a stranger, that was all I cared about. The love of her was everything that mattered."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 29 2012, 8:00 PM
"I know," Jess said, "And the logical part of my brain says of course that's how they'll feel. My folks are pretty kick ass, always have been." Hell, the fact that they'd all been very close friends, all four taking a firm hand in raising him, showed that. "It's just the part of my brain where logic doesn't live. I'll work past it," he predicted.

Then laughed. "My God, can you imagine that conversation?" he asked. Hell, he and Janos hadn't really even spoken too often in specifics because why would they? The gist was more than enough to relive. "I shouldn't imagine it as being funny, it so wouldn't be, but in my head it's fucking hilarious."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 29 2012, 8:11 PM
Janos grinned, resettling his arms around Jesse's hips. "I picture it turning into a game of one-upsmanship. 'I did it for a McDonald's cheeseburger. A small one.' 'Well I did it for the second half of a Subway meatball footlong.' 'Well I did it for the second Twinkie in a pack. And it was squished.'" He laughed, hard, the image getting more and more absurd in his mind as he considered it. "And everyone else around us just staring in horror."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 30 2012, 3:50 PM
Jess loved how practical Janos always was about the lives they'd led, and that practicality turned into the joke he'd just made had him laughing pretty damned hard.

"I can't even imagine who'd be more horrified, my moms or my dads," he said with a shake of his head, going with it enough that he didn't think about how they would actually react if he were to ever tell them, which he had zero plan of ever doing.

"We do get to see their faces when I bring you home and they find out I just do it for fun," he said, but even that sounded like he was amused by it.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 31 2012, 1:27 AM
A shrug, "It's the 21st century. Nobody gets all worked up about homosexuality any more." He actually believed that, because for all his worldliness Janos had spent his entire adult life in the very permissive world of vampires and monsters, where nobody did get worked up about it.

Anyway, more to the point, "After three years, I think you could show up with a one-legged transvestite named Larry and they'd at least wait until next Thanksgiving to start dropping hints about making good relationship choices. And I promise to be on my best behavior. No cleaning their kitchens."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 31 2012, 9:16 AM
"You'll be doing dishes within hours," Jess predicted, "And organizing pantries. I'll bet you anything you want."

As for the other thing. "It's going to be a shock," he said, "Once they come down from the shock of my not being dead. I...never showed any real tendencies and you live in the monster bubble where anything goes. I'm not freaking out about it," he assured him, "There's a lot more bigger stuff to freak out about, but with or without Larry, it'll be an issue. But I think it'll also be okay in the end." Because he loved Janos, and Janos had had quite a big hand in saving his life. His folks wouldn't have any choice but to love him too.

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 31 2012, 10:21 AM
"Fair enough." Janos dipped his head and nuzzled at Jesse's shoulder for a minute, giving comfort the best non-naked way he knew how right then. Because the next thing he asked was, "When are you going to contact them? And have you decided how?"

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Dec 31 2012, 10:52 AM
And just that fast, with the questions, Jess knew he would be contacting them. Probably soon. The how was still up for debate.

"I still feel like I need to be careful. I know I'm being stupid to believe they're still watching for me or that they can get at me with Shiloh and Garrett's backing, but I kinda do." Hey, at least he knew he was being stupid. "So probably the email by proxy string."

Posted by: Janos Maric Dec 31 2012, 8:34 PM
Janos nodded. "Okay. Though I'm forced to just go ahead and point out once that I have unlimited minutes on my phone, which is in my name and on Garrett's address, and which it takes roughly ninety seconds to set to 'number withheld'. That said?" He smiled at Jesse and brought his hand up for a kiss, "Whenever you're ready, I'll be here."

He honestly wouldn't try to rush Jesse into doing this. He just had to give that one little prod, if for no other reason than because right now they were alone, with nothing likely to demand their attention for several hours. That was rare enough that it was worth the nudge. You know, once.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 2 2013, 10:24 AM
"We'll see," was all Jess had to say about it, knowing he'd have to think that and a thousand other things over again and again before he was ready to make a move toward reconnecting with his past.

And tell Eli. He couldn't do this without telling him.

Which had him asking, "Do you think we stand any real chance in getting a night or lunch with Eli, alone, soon?" Janos would know far better than he would.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 2 2013, 4:46 PM
He thought about that while he went and started finally pulling the food out of the cartons and setting up for them to eat at the battered but clean bar. "A morning," Janos decided was their best shot. "Breakfast, then hanging out, then he can sleep in the afternoon. It's easier to stay up later when you're on that schedule than to get up sooner. I think he can suck down some coffee and make it work." If Eli was willing to put out the effort, but Janos had to believe he was. Whatever else, he was still Jesse's friend.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 2 2013, 5:19 PM
"I didn't think we'd keep having to go so long without seeing each other," Jess said, that 'we' including Janos in it. It was the three of them now, had been since Janos had brought them into this life.

"But it seems like every stretch gets worse," he sighed, and it wasn't just Eli's fault, Jess was on a pretty strict regimen for a rat as young and new as he was. Still, he was worried that they were starting to drift apart, especially now that Eli had Miri, too.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 2 2013, 5:29 PM
Dropping his voice slightly like he didn't want to risk being overheard even as he loaded up a plate with all of Jesse's favorites, Janos said, "Eli's still new at Court. He's still figuring out how much it will fill to take all the time you let it. Now," a sly look, "I let it be my life for a long, long time. It wasn't until I met you two that I started really taking any personal time. But he's going to have to learn to delegate and to turn people down. It's just," he shrugged, "it's Eli. He's not good at telling people No."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 2 2013, 6:21 PM
"Yeah," Jess said slowly, "I'm aware of that." He'd lost count of how many times Eli'd been taken advantage of in the time they'd known one another, and even though Eli was aware of it, too, he never changed. Never said no. Never didn't help. "It's like he's going for sainthood or something."

He watched Janos fixing a plate for him and didn't bother pointing out that he could feed himself. Almost a year together now, he was just as aware of Janos needed as he was that Eli always said yes.

Wanting to turn the topic of conversation away from himself, he asked, "How do you think Kat's coming along?" He had his own opinions, but he wanted to hear his boyfriend's as well as try to gage how he was doing with it all.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 2 2013, 6:39 PM
As he started loading up his own plate, Janos glanced at Jess for a quick sense of his own stability before saying, "I think she's doing amazingly well. Thank God Ash took a liking to her, and thank god she understood the need to give Kat something to do. I think Katja just about worships her at this point, which seems to be good for both of them."

He glanced at Jesse again, mostly for the pleasure of looking at him but a little bit to check his reactions. "My concern now is that she'll bury herself so deep in Jamie and Ash and Garrett that she'll never come out. But I don't think Garrett and Ash will let her get away with that for too long."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 2 2013, 7:01 PM
Jess laughed, but it wasn't entirely a humorous sound. "He doesn't let anyone get away with that stuff for too long," he pointed out.

"You're closer to him than anyone, on a daily kind of proximal sort of basis, you should know. He lets us use our security blanket, whatever that is, long enough to get our feet. Then he yanks it out from under us while simultaneously replacing it with running until we puke." A grin. "Or, you know, something else. But that one stands out for me. A lot."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 2 2013, 7:18 PM
He grinned a bit. "Yes, I have noticed that. And you're not the only one who resents the running-until-puking phase of training. I think it's some sort of rat rite of passage." He took a bite of the soup. "I love being a hyena."

He thought about it a moment longer, trying to analyze Katja's state without the emotional content, which wasn't easy for him. "She's getting better. Faster than I thought she would, even if it's not as fast as people seem to expect. But I worry about her integrating into the Clan. She's a bit too comfortable staying in the house and pretending that there's nobody around but the six of us. I just don't know how to change that until her English gets a bit better."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 2 2013, 7:41 PM
A possible answer popped into Jesse's head. "Trish's back for real now," he said, "She's got a good heart and Garrett trusts her. Why not bring her over his place sometime to meet Jamie." And therefore meet Kat, see if they'd hit it off.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 2 2013, 7:49 PM
He was nodding even as he thought it through. "That could work. Trish understands the kind of life Katja had, as much as she can, because of her time at Court. And she's a nice girl, and TJ is a nice boy. Maybe," a slow smile, "and I feel incredibly old even saying this? But maybe she will find a reason to come out from under our wing."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 2 2013, 8:23 PM
"Let's leave TJ out of the equation for a couple minutes," Jess said, "Besides, as hard as he's campaigning to manage this place and as much as we both know you're gonna let him, he's gonna be busy."

He finally started eating. "Kat needs someone that's not any of us to bring her out," he said, just stating his thought process out loud, "Someone she can talk to even more than she does you or me or Ash. Someone that's all hers. I think Trish can pull that off."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 2 2013, 8:45 PM
Janos nodded. "Will you talk to Trish about it? I would do it, but she has a tendency to assume that I Speak With Garrett's Voice, left over from when I really did speak with Shiloh's." A ghost of a smile. "And I think she still likes you a little extra because you're Eli's friend." He dragged the name out like a teenaged girl with a crush. Eeeeee-lllliiiiieee.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 2 2013, 8:54 PM
"I'm her friend," He felt the need to point out, but then laughed. "Christ, Eli and his fucking groupies. You wouldn't believe how many girls have chased after him."

He ate for a minute, then added, "I don't get it. Never have. But sure, I'll talk to her."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 2 2013, 9:38 PM
Janos shrugged. "He's kind. People sense it. Want to be protected by that, especially in a place where you're never safe. And he's not hideous." A hint of a smile that he mostly hid behind his next bite of moussaka. "Weren't any of the girls chasing after you? I find that hard to believe. Even with the SuperScowl."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 2 2013, 9:49 PM
Jess found himself hiding his own grin, more sheepish than anything. "Maybe a couple."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 2 2013, 9:58 PM
"Knew they couldn't all be blind." He sounded smug about that, like it was all his doing. But then, more seriously, "Did you ever--find anyone? A girl?" The street was intense, people formed tight bonds the broke just as fast as they'd been born. He knew that Jesse hadn't had any real boyfriends before him, but he'd never asked about girls.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 9:05 AM
He'd never talked about it with Janos, because it was easier to talk about all the bad shit. Okay, it wasn't just that, it was because he didn't know how to talk to Janos about a girl he'd loved, he didn't know if it was...rude or something. And it was private. And touched on stuff he'd never spoken about, either.

But Janos had asked and Jess didn't have any real reason to brush him off anymore.

"Once," he said. Bree. Picked her up in Iowa. Or," a soft laugh at the memory, "I guess she picked us up. She stayed with us until Venice. Until she got too sick." Admission that yeah, he'd known he was positive. "What about you?" since he'd never asked, "Was there ever anyone?"

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 1:27 PM
He shook his head. "Remember, I was only sixteen when Shiloh found me. Before that I'd been hustling for a year, then before that in the navy for a year and a half. And when I deserted I only spoke Croatian and Russian, I picked up some pidgin English on the street but real communication was hard. There was a john that used to let me stay at his place sometimes, I used to cook for him. Once I got my shit pulled together I went back and found him again, he's a good guy. I lost touch with him a couple of years ago, but we used to have dinner together sometimes. That's the closest I came though."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 1:42 PM
Jesse was young enough that he thought that just because Janos was in his mid teens didn't mean he couldn't have had someone serious in his life, but he didn't say that. Honestly, and not entirely fairly, he was pleased that he hadn't.

Then, because of the curiosity, "Anyone once you were at Court, or while you were off being trained?"

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 2:50 PM
A crooked smile. "Shiloh." He shrugged and ate another bite of food. "A few people who I'd term 'girlfriends' instead of 'friends', but none of them long-term. Though it's funny, in retrospect I think I was in love with Deera. I didn't realize it at the time. Now, with you, I can see that the way I felt about her was love. At the time I thought it was just appetite and gratitude and that way I get sort of worshipful about people." Vaguely embarrassed by that, but it was his nature.

"She was the second, at the Clan in Georgia where I was infected and trained. The Oba assigned me to her, but we got along very well. We used to talk a lot, more than we trained or fucked, even. Talk about what she wanted, how she wanted to get out from under her Oba but wasn't strong enough yet. She was funny." He shook his head, his eyes distant and affectionate as he talked about this for the first time ever, really. "Everything was funny to her. The world was hilarious, the frailties of people, her own mistakes. And it was strange, but it was like becuase she could laugh about those things, she could love them too. It made her very kind."

He smiled at Jesse, shrugged. "I thought I only worshipped her, you know? It's only now I realize that I was probably in love with her."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 3:10 PM
Jess ignored the very real tug of jealousy, telling himself that he'd had Bree and so Janos was allowed Deena. It made it fair and easier to hear in his own head.

Though he was painfully curious all the time and couldn't keep from asking, "She ever get out from under her Oba?"

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 3:14 PM
A shallow headshake. "The Oba killed her about a year after I left. She tried to leave, got caught doing it, the Oba made an example." The sadness was there, so was a whole world of resignation. "How about Bree? Do you know what happened to her?"

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 3:35 PM
"She died."

There wasn't really any reason to say any more than that.

He reached for another gyro and fell into silence, not sure what to say past it.



Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 3:44 PM
He was silent a moment, but then, he couldn't help it, a quiet laugh. A reaction that was easier to trace to its origin than it would have been ten minutes earlier. "It really is a miracle that either of us ever opened up long enough to try with one another. Thank God I had no defenses when it came to you. About the third time you glared at me and Eli tried to smooth it over with a joke I was hopelessly infatuated."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 4:12 PM
"It makes no sense at all," Jess said, all too serious but smiling even so. "Though you made it really hard to say no."

The laugh went a bit wonky, just because a flare of how much he felt for Janos and how much he'd wanted him hit him. "Really hard."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 4:22 PM
There was a low heat in Janos's eyes as he looked up at Jesse, pure reaction to the way his laugh had changed. "Good. I wanted it to be hard to say no. I wanted you to want to stay. At least long enough for me to convince you to want me, even for a night or two."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 4:41 PM
Just that fast his stomach was a fluttery, painfully sweet knot of tension, even as he said, "One night wouldn't have been enough. A year hasn't been enough."

Food forgotten, he stood and reached for Janos, pulling him roughly to him and kissing him with a fervor that just never seemed to diminish, ever. Breaking it, he said, "Here or somewhere else." He didn't want to ruin the bar or whatever, but he was getting Janos naked, as close to now as he could.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 4:53 PM
"Here." It was soft and dieaway, Janos was holding on to Jesse's hips to keep himself upright after that beautifully fierce kiss and with his whole body gone tingly and wanting already. "Anywhere, I don't care. God, Jess." His head dropped to the side, offering his throat. Begging. It had been days, and that was much too long. He was young, male, desperately in love and sexually infatuated. Hours was too long sometimes.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 5:04 PM
Jess took, closing teeth and lips around the bit of throat guaranteed to make Janos go weak kneed, adding the growl of possession because he wanted it there. His. Always his.

As he bit at him he closed his hands around his boyfriend's upper arms, steering him backward, along the bar away from the food to an uncluttered section of it and, once there, spinning him so he was pressed forward against it. Later, maybe, he'd think about taking his time, but he was younger than Janos and most days a walking hormone and it had been years since they'd had an opportunity. Or, at least, it sure as shit felt like it.

Pressing in against him, fitting his cock against Janos's ass and grinding, he dropped his head and bit again, this time at the top of the other man's spine.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 5:27 PM
"Fuck." Exclamation, plea, whatever. Janos ground himself back against Jesse's cock, braced his elbows on the bar and squirmed like a kid with his first boner. Jess did that to him, stripped away at his control and his dignity and his pride and left him begging for anything, everything he could get.

Hilarious that after Obas and vampires, after a powerful Beastmaster, a string of alpha shifters, after every extraordinary creature that had claimed Janos and then released him again it was a skinny newborn rat, six years younger than him with floppy hair and a permascowl that owned him completely.

He begged. Body, words, beast, all of him begged for Jess to deliver on the promise of that hard line pushing against his ass. To take him the way they both wanted, stamp the claim in deep.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 5:41 PM
There wasn't time for anything but moving clothing only just enough out of the way to get at him. Whispers of need, grunts of painful frustration when his zipper caught, whimpers because he wanted him so badly that it very literally hurt. And it seemed like hours instead of minutes before he was pushing his way inside of him after very little prep, growling again because every fucking time it was like coming home.

He savored that for the barest moment and then bit again, and again as he pulled away, thrust further forward, again and again until he was fucking him with enough force that he couldn't manage anything but grunting and groaning as he brought his hand around to close around Janos's cock, moving it in time with him.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 6:28 PM
It hurt. God, it hurt, and it felt so incredibly, amazingly good. To take Jess into him. To be filled up by him. He groaned down against the shining wood, breathing out love and encouragement and really bad language in three different languages as he pressed back into every stroke.

And, embarrassing as it should have been, within sixty seconds, no more, of Jesse's fingers wrapping around his cock Janos was panting and bucking his hips into that pressure, back against Jess's cock, whimpering Jesse's name as he came.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 6:35 PM
He didn't want to go, not yet, not even with Janos tightening around him and the things he was saying and fuck, he was amazing, every fucking thing about him was perfect, but not. Yet.

He managed another minute, maybe two before he followed, head pressed into Janos's neck, no longer biting but kissing, licking, loving on him as the orgasm rode him so hard that when it eased he whimpered.

He didn't move for several minutes, his breathing coming in ragged spurts, head resting on the hyena's shoulder. "Yeah," he finally managed to get out, "Definitely a fucking miracle."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 6:53 PM
He was collapsed forward against the bar, panting and feeling hot and loose and wonderful. The panting turned to laughter as he said, "Best miracle ever. Can I sign up for all sex-based miracles from now on? If you wanted to develop a magical cock that would be okay. Not that it's not already sort of amazing."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 7:00 PM
They were good at the sex, there was no doubt about that, but Jess kinda thought that was because they were so stupid over one another. Personally he thought he fumbled around too much and was too 'go for the gold' oriented, so it was always awesome when Janos told him he was good at it. Or, you know, his cock was. Whatever.

Hating having to do it but not wanting to keep Janos pressed against the bar all day (okay, he really did, but that would get uncomfortable sooner rather than later) he slid out of him with a grunt of disappointment and pleasure intermingled.

"Don't think I'm in line for a magic dick," he said, as he picked up a clean looking bar towel and turned Janos around so he could start cleaning him up, kneeling while he did so. Janos took care of everyone, people outside the scope of his job, people he felt needed taking care of. It was too much for any one person and he did it without complaint. It stunned Jess and, when the opportunities arose, like now, had him always being almost reverent when he took care of Janos.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 7:20 PM
The sight of Jess on his knees hit Janos hard for some reason. He took a shaking breath and ran his hand into Jesse's hair, his thumb down the stubbled cheek. "I think it's pretty magic. But I may be biased. Besides, if you start cumming glitter we're going to have to rethink things." Spending time around rats was definitely having an effect on Janos's sense of humor.

Though he was still watching Jesse with that baffled, happy focus, still petting his hair even as he said, "Actually, if you start cumming glitter, we're going over to Van's house and shooting him in the extremities one at a time until he fesses up how he managed to feed it to you."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 7:22 PM
"Shooting him with the glitter cum or bullets?" Jess asked, cleaning Janos's belly and shirt off and then very cheekily tucking him back into his pants and zipping him up, with a grin that matched.

Standing, he said, "You know, just for clarity. 'Cause, you know, I'm young and all, but that's a lot of orgasming when you think about it."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 7:34 PM
A very pained look. "I was thinking bullets. If you're wanting to shoot glittery spunk all over Van, I'll just wait at home. I think that's a legend that I can wait out and hear about afterward. It will probably be better in the stories anyway."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 3 2013, 8:14 PM
Jess gave a laugh that managed at once to be both boyish and evil. "i'd almost think about it if I didn't think Kari would shoot me, just so you'd keep making that face."

Then, airily, "You're the one who brought up glitter come and Van."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 3 2013, 8:40 PM
"But only separately. You're the one who brought them together into an unappetizing whole." He slid down to sit on the floor with his legs sticking out awkwardly in front of him but close enough to kiss Jesse if he wanted to. Which he did. "Though I'm forced to admit that I'm the one now trying to visualize how to make it work. It might have to involve sneaking into his bedroom while he's asleep. Squirt microwave-warmed glittersperm out of a pastry bag, then toss it behind you so that the first thing he sees when he wakes up is you standing over him with your cock in your hand. Then run very, very fast."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 4 2013, 8:31 AM
"That manages to sound both hilarious and disturbing at the same time," Jess said with a laugh that, consequently, sounded both amused and bothered.

Deciding that topic was best left right there and never brought up again, he switched to, "What are you wanting to get done today?"

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 4 2013, 2:27 PM
"Glad you liked it." He grinned at Jess, a little foolishly, and admitted, "I've accomplished it. I marked up the stuff that's Stay, Sell, or Donate and I got you here alone for a few hours. We had some sex and may well do it again. We get to talk without minding anybody else's feelings if they overhear us."

A shrug. "We can wander around upstairs and decide whether we want to keep the number of rooms the same and what to use them for. And then check the third floor against Ash's plans and figure out whether we want to combine them into one apartment or leave them as two. But mostly? The time and the sex." Hey, why pretend otherwise now that he'd already gotten his way?

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 4 2013, 7:25 PM
"Not that I don't appreciate all of that? But you know you could have just suggested a date," Jess pointed out, though he was grinning as he said it. "Pretty sure we're past pretending we don't think about sex every twenty seven seconds."

He stretched, then got an arm around Janos just because he wanted him that much closer. "I do want to look around up there. And it's my goal to desecrate ever room in the place, down and up, before you open it."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 4 2013, 7:38 PM
"Our last two dates got cancelled," he pointed out, all too reasonably. "First I had to ditch you to get the newest randomly-appearing recruits settled, then you cancelled on me so you could shadow Denny on that bodyguarding gig."

"But you feel free to defile anything you want. Especially if you're defiling me at the same time."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 5 2013, 7:54 AM
"The two usually go hand in hand," Jess said with a happy laugh, "And I'm really okay with that. And getting my second wind for food." Sex always made him hungry, even if he'd just eaten. It wasn't for lack of trying to gain weight that he was so skinny.

"Eat some more than go check out the apartments?"

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 5 2013, 9:25 AM
"Sounds good to me." Janos climbed back to his feet, moving a bit tentatively (that goddamned healing rate, he'd long ago despaired of it ever getting any faster) but heading straight for the abandoned plates.

Once he had a bite of gyro in him he said, "I've started looking at hiring. It will all be rats for the major positions," and yeah, TJ was going to run the place. Why would he ever turn that down? "I was thinking to hire at least a handful of non-rats, but now I'm wondering. With the wolves so unstable, and the leopards falling apart, and so on, I don't know if I want to bring in that kind of ready-made drama."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 5 2013, 9:31 AM
Jess, refusing to feel guilty (and failing, hard) for the stiffness in the hyena's gait, picked up the remains of his own gyro and shook his head.

"Stick with rats for now," he said. "Anthony," one of the older rats, "Says this shit goes in cycles and some of it should even out. I'd wait for that to happen before you bring anyone else in."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 5 2013, 9:50 AM
Janos nodded, but, "I worry that if I staff it with all rats and kin and then try to bring in outsiders later it will create a closed society and make it hard to integrate other species." He licked a blob of yogurt off one fingertip. "Mind, I only sort of care. This place isn't supposed to be Winchesters II. It's a rat place. But it's one of the things I've been kicking around in my head."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 5 2013, 5:18 PM
"Rat joint," Jess repeated. "Who gives a shit if people can't find a way to integrate. Not our problem." Personally, he didn't think that would be an issue. Rats were insular, but they could play well with others when they needed to. Just look at the ones who worked at Court.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 5 2013, 5:33 PM
Janos nodded, still working on his gyro. "Not too fussed about it. We'll see who wants a job, and I'll fill in the ranks from other groups if need be." He doubted he would, there was a lot of kin in town.

"Have you given any more thought to school?" He tried not to nag, but if there was ever anyone who needed a well-rounded liberal arts education it was Jess.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 5 2013, 7:01 PM
"Once I have the GED I'm taking some classes at Shoreline," Jess said, "It's cheaper than U Dub and their classes transfer to four year universities around here. I'll start this summer."

He almost, but not quite, stuck his tongue out when he was done speaking. "See, I can do things without being nagged at."

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 5 2013, 7:09 PM
Janos beamed at him. "Yes you can. I think I'll buy you a tablet for taking to school with you. Easier than hauling around all those books." And he had almost no opportunities to actually spoil Jess. His boyfriend rejected almost all attempts, Janos had to sneak things in around the edges. Or bully him into them.

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 6 2013, 9:03 AM
"You don't have to do that," Jess said, but didn't push past it knowing that Janos would do what he wanted anyway and, in all honesty, Jess kind of wanted a tablet. Without the kind of. He'd been playing around TJ's a lot lately and they were just freaking cool.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 6 2013, 11:08 AM
Taking the weakness of the protest as permission, Janos beamed at Jess and made a mental note to order in a Nexus 10. He still had a bias toward Android that came from Phillip, who had supplied the tech for Shiloh's inner circle.

He reached out and laid a hand on Jess's knee, affection and seeking reassurance both. "So I'm bringing in three pool tables, for that room there," he nodded over to what had once been the private party room. "Anything else like that I should bring in? Darts seems like a recipe for trouble, but possibly amusing trouble. Video games? A juke box? What would make the bar better?"

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 6 2013, 4:10 PM
"You can get electronic darts," Jess pointed out, "The darts themselves are plastic, can't do any real damage."

He thought then. "Maybe a couple video games, mix of classic with new. Or pinball. I think everyone loves pinball, right?" He had no real idea.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 6 2013, 4:20 PM
He nodded slowly, "I was just going to go with regular darts, since most of the folks will be shifters and replacing a broken dart board is a lot cheaper than replacing a machine." He chewed on his bottom lip while he thought. "Or do you think that's an invitation to chaos? I was thinking if I put in a row of 'em folks would get all competitive. Buy their own darts, get...you know, ratlike. And yeah, there'd be a certain amount of lodging the dart-tips in one another's skulls but as long as none of 'em are silver?"

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 6 2013, 4:36 PM
"I guess so. But if one of 'em goes to the ER with dart buried in their brain, you get to explain it to Bobby." Jess had just met the new rat doctor, and he intimidated him immensely.

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 6 2013, 5:29 PM
He considered that for a moment. "Fine. No darts. Pool and one of those games where you shoot zombies with plastic guns and some old-school video games. Pinball has glass involved."

Posted by: Jesse Davenport Jan 7 2013, 7:21 AM
"I don't know," Jess said slowly, sounding skeptical and like a concerned parent, "Do you think we're coddling them too much?"

Posted by: Janos Maric Jan 7 2013, 12:52 PM
He managed a stern look, though his mouth was tight enough that he was clearly restraining a grin. "I'm not worried about coddling them. I'm worried about replacing the glass in a vintage pinball game twice a month when somebody puts their fist through it in a burst of enthusiasm. Or jams their best friend's head through it as part of a victory celebration."

'
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