A/N: I'm determined to finish this today so chapters may now come at all times of the day. Mind your head and duck in time (and review?).
Micah fine tuned the car radio, wiped crumbs off the passenger seat, ordered the CDs in the glove compartment and straightened his pony tail before finally getting angry at himself for stalling so pathetically. Giving his own reflection a determined glare in the rear mirror he grabbed his notebook and climbed out of the driver’s seat, locking the car behind him. He forced himself to not stand around on the sidewalk and look around for yet another excuse and walked up to the apartment building Nathaniel had described to him.
It wasn’t in the nicest part in town and it wasn’t the nicest building around but even though the paint was peeling in places and the stairs leading up to the front entrance had seen better days, it was clean. Clean was good. He searched and found the bell whose sign read Summers & Co.
and had to quirk a smile as he rang it.
It took a few moments before a buzzer sounded and he was able to push through the door. A map that had seen better days informed him that apartment 34B was on the third floor to the right of the stairs. Resigning himself to a long climb, he turned toward the stairway, hefting his trusty notebook tighter.
Minutes later he reached the open door of apartment 34B and tried to smile at Jay leaning in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest, looking decidedly unimpressed by the other shifter. It was cheeky behaviour for someone weaker than Micah but, the leopard guessed, with Elisabeth somewhere in the room behind him, he could afford to not pay the proper respect to someone he’d already professed he didn’t like much.
So Micah took a deep breath, managed a smile and offered, “You said the Coalition wasn’t doing what it should for outsiders.”
The tiger raised an eyebrow but otherwise didn’t react.
“I’m trying to fix that but…,” he trailed off, not actually sure what he was going to ask for. Help? Advice?
Jay took the decision off his shoulders as he offered, “You need to pick someone’s brains about it?”
Thinking about it for a moment, the Nimir-Raj nodded. “That’s probably the best way of putting it, yeah.”
The other man gave him one more cool, searching look before stepping out of the doorway and back into the apartment. Wordlessly, he waved one arm, indicating for Micah to come in.
He did so, grinning slightly. Half of the work, in his opinion, was already done.
He looked around as the door closed softly behind him. The living room wasn’t really small but clustered, albeit in a comfortable way. It seemed…homey. But then, that wasn’t something that could be avoided with four people living together in a single apartment, no matter how big, he guessed. Although in this case, being a shifter seemed advantageous. Shifters were notorious for needing only a single bed and a lot of blankets when they lived together. Puppy dog piles, Anita called it.
Through an open door he could hear the voices of Elisabeth and what had to be the hyena, Ajo. The fox, Chris, was sitting on the sofa, leafing through a random magazine. He looked up as the door shut behind Jay and threw his room mate a questioning look.
Jay shook his head, “Stay. He wants an…outsider’s perspective. You can help.” Then he turned back to Micah, “Tea?”
“Do you have coffee?”
The tiger shook his head and actually grinned. It was the first time he didn’t look hostile. “B...Elisabeth hates coffee. Says the caffeine makes people annoying as hell. She got us all hooked on her funny herbal what’s-it-called tea. The coffee maker got kicked to the curb months ago.”
Micah happily returned the smile and accepted the offer of tea. Coffee did get boring after a while, especially when one lived with Anita Blake, who was a black hole when it came to the bitter drink.
Chris patted the couch next to him and smiled shyly.
All in all, this was going a lot better than the leopard had thought it would.