This chapter was archieved over at Pomme de Sang, I merely copied and pasted it.
If Richard had been surprised to see her at the Lunatic Café the first time around, watching her waltz back in the restaurant after what had happened with Jason shocked him. Nevertheless, there she was, Willow, chatting happily to Cheryl and ordering another meal.
Standing in the back by the door that led to a room used only by the pack, Richard debated actually going up to her and apologizing for Jason’s misstep. The timing though, that had to be just right. Richard knew he couldn’t just walk up there and start talking to her. It was likely she would run again.
But, would she? He wasn’t so sure now. She was sitting there, looking around with curious eyes at everything around her. Her shoulders were squared, a stance usually taken by those who were strong and knew it, not someone who was weak, which her running had earlier indicated. Not that he thought her weak, per se, but her leaving the way she did … that had not spoke of immovable strength.
Now he was curious. This Willow, she had run, and now had come back, seemingly more aware, possibly? Had she truly not known where she was going when she had made her way into the Lunatic Café? That thought intrigued him. However, he decided it would be best to wait until after she had finished eating before approaching her.
Ever since Cheryl had brought her meal to her, Willow felt eyes on her. While normally, she would shrug it off as her just being paranoid (the effects of a Hellmouth), or maybe hallucinating, Willow knew it was neither and sneaked a look in the direction she felt the stare. Immediately, her eyes snapped back down to her plate when she saw the man that was looking at her. If she weren’t gay, he would definitely be drool-worthy. Tall, tanned, and handsome, older, but not overly so, mature would be the word. His hair, from what she had seen with her quick glance, was tied back, but she couldn’t tell how long it was. Who was he, she wondered, and why was he looking at her? Silently, she hoped not all the patrons in the restaurant were like Jason and given to simply sitting and beginning a conversation. She would much prefer having her meal first before being bombarded with new people and sensations.
There was something else, however, coming from all around her, pressing gently yet insistently against her skin … power. Letting her shielding drop just a little, Willow could feel the power pressing in on her from all directions, but none so much as from the man across the way. There were more beings in this place than she had realized, and the ebb and flow of it was making her dizzy - all that warmth and softness pressing around her, with tinges of cold that pricked at her skin, making it rise with goose bumps. It was discombobulating, as if she was drowning in fur during an ice bath … which was really odd since no one was, you know, furry, or icy for that matter.
Before she could drown in the sensations, Willow built her shielding up again and took a deep breath. It was no wonder she hadn’t realized Jason was different – or rather, not human. Not that Willow was one to throw stones at a glass house, after all.
Taking a bite of her steak, she looked around, strictly avoiding looking in the direction of Mr. Good-Looking, and took in the sights. Just like earlier, there was a mix of all sorts, and she realized, like in Sunnydale, she couldn’t tell the mystical from the normal.
There was an elderly couple in the booth on the other side, chatting happily, holding hands, and just from looking at them she could no more tell you if they were Weres or Witches … though she had a sneaking suspicion they weren’t vamps. If this place was anything like Sunnydale, and it wasn’t, except for the mystical, it was highly unlikely that they would be of the undead variety. From her experience, Vampires tended to turn only those that were pretty … or of use to them. Elderly … not so high on the proverbial ladder. Add to that fact that they were tan, led her to believe they were quite of the human-ish variety.
But, the younger couple seated at a table off to her right, they might be Weres. Their skin was flush and they were talking animatedly. But, really, that was no way to tell. She was a fine example, a Werewolf, but appeared normal. Even her friend, The Slayer, hadn’t noticed she was a Werewolf and Buffy had been trained to sense those things.
Willow had to concede to herself that she would be more careful in the future who she invited to sit down with her. Jason had been a lesson … not one she wished to repeat.
The meal drew her in and she lost herself in the joy of eating well-prepared food. It had been rare in Sunnydale for her to get a decently cooked meal unless she had done it herself. Which, honestly, had been a rare occasion indeed; there had always been something else that needed her attention.
The woman he was watching ate with a ravenous hunger, as if she had starved for weeks on end. Which, by the looks of her frail form, wouldn’t be too far of a stretch, but Richard didn’t think so. Willow looked healthy to him, flush and fresh.
Richard shook himself. He was checking her out and only just realized it. He reminded himself that he was in love with Anita. Had been in love with Anita, he corrected himself. She had clearly chosen … and it hadn’t been him.
Shaking away his own inner thoughts, Richard looked up to see Cheryl talking animatedly with Willow, surreptitiously taking the empty plate from the table. Taking a deep breath, he knew it was now that he had to speak with the young, red-haired woman.
“Oh, hey Richard,” Cheryl said with a questioning glance. She had been pissed at Jason for scaring this woman away and she wondered what Richard was doing, walking up to her like he was. But, Richard ignored her, like she knew he would, and she excused herself, leaving the bill behind. If Richard wanted to make this girl a nervous wreck, she refused to be there to watch.
Willow looked up quickly when Cheryl had spoken to someone and was startled to see it was the man who had been watching her before. Her breath caught in her throat. He was more handsome up close than far away. The hair, she could see, was dark, but highlighted with a sweet honey color, and though tied back, she thought it would at least come to his shoulders. The eyes, Willow could see more clearly now, were a dark brown, to match the shadows in his hair. The only thing that truly bothered her, besides her body’s reaction to him being close, was the fact that he was close to her when he had been, only moments ago, watching from afar.
“Um,” Willow said, looking around to see if there was someone else he might be looking for. He hadn’t said a word since coming up to her. “Are you … Can I help you?”
“I...,” Richard stuttered, “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bother you.” His face grew darker as it heated with a blush. “I just wanted to apologize for Jason earlier; he can be... a handful really. He didn't mean anything by it.”
“I, well, I'm - I'm sure he didn't, but,” Willow lowered her eyes sighing. “Really it was my fault. I really should have known better see. I'm so used to well, more than this, or maybe less. It all kinda depends on your point of view …,” she trailed off, realizing that she was about to spill her entire life to this veritable stranger. Therefore, she wisely closed her mouth and took a sip of her water.
“Look, I'm not doing this right,” Richard said, shaking his head. He held out his hand. “My name's Richard by the way.”
Willow looked at the proffered hand warily before she reached out her own grasped it. She should've known what was coming. The soft tangling of magic and power filtering across her skin light like a lover's kiss, but that did not stop the soft the gasp she let out before controlling herself and pushing the unwanted mystical touch from her skin. Her eyes immediately found his and she could tell just by how wide they were that he was not unaffected either.
“Nice to meet you Richard,” she said, gently removing her hand from his. Placing her hands in her lap, she gently rubbed the hand that had touched his, so that he would not see her doing it. Her skin was tingling, like it did when you’d let it fall asleep.
“I'm sorry, but I’ve a few things I need to speak with you about. Is there somewhere... maybe more private we could go to speak about certain things since your new in town. I'm sure there’s plenty you'd like to ask me.”
Narrowing her eyes Willow looked at him, unsure of what his intention was. She knew just by his touch that he was... different, but she was not sure how different, and really not sure she wanted to find out. The boldness of the people of this city was starting to unnerve her, being used to Vampires who reveled in letting you know what they were ... this cloak and dagger way of things here wasn't setting well with her.
“Is there some way this could wait till tomorrow, maybe? I'm still sort of tired from a long trip. Haven't been able to get into my new apartment,” Willow hedged. The sooner she could get away from him, the better. It seemed unlikely that this man just wanted to show her around town or talk about … she wasn’t sure.
“I suppose that would work.” Stopping one of the waitress’ passing by, Richard borrowed her pen and quickly wrote down a number, folded the paper, and handed it to Willow. “Here's my number. Give me a call when you are ready tomorrow. I look forward to talking to you.” And with that Richard walked off, leaving Willow confused and slightly alarmed.
After leaving the Lunatic Café Willow walked around for bit, a little more cautious than she had been before, until finally she found herself back in her hotel room slipping in quietly. She removed the piece of paper from her pocket and looked at it. Upon the paper were numbers written in a clear, concise hand. Still unsure of Richard’s intentions and what she would do about them, she set the paper on the nightstand. Tomorrow she'd think about it. Maybe she just might call Richard. Maybe she wouldn't. Right now, all she could think about was the soft bed waiting for her.
Adventure was turning out to be tiring work.
It wasn't long before Willow was curled up in the strange sheets and blankets of the bed and fell off to sleep.
Time seemed to slip by slowly, ticking away second by second, minute by minute, until Jason's head was full to bursting with increments of time. Ever since Richard had left him alone with Jean-Claude, neither had spoken a word, and neither had moved from their respective positions. The Vampire continued to sit still as a statue behind his desk, his dark blue eyes the only thing that gave away the illusion life.
The muscles in Jason's legs and back slowly began to ache with his immobility. Only every now and then did he let his eyes drift up to see if Jean-Claude had moved yet, but of course, Jean-Claude hadn't moved, and Jason was beginning to wonder if the Vampire would ever move again.
Finally, Jason could take the silence no longer and spoke out. “I'm sorry,” he said softly, though it echoed in the silence of the room.
“Non, mon ami,” Jean-Claude said, breaking the spell finally. “There is nothing for you to apologize for.”
At that statement, Jason looked up quickly in surprise, then he narrowed his eyes in confusion. Of course, he thought, there was something for him to be sorry about. He had chased away the Werewolf, the one that Jean-Claude had been told was coming and had asked to see. If that were not an offense, punishable by torment at the very least, he was afraid to know what was. However, he knew there would be punishment of some sort. There just … had to be. Jean-Claude was not the sort to let such things go so easily.
“You do not believe me, ma petit garou?
“Should I?” Jason asked. “I mean, I fucked up. Royally. I get that he and... well...,” Jason trailed off not wanting to give the Vampire any ideas. It was one thing to be in hot water. It was another thing entirely to place yourself there, turn on the fire, and let the water boil around you.
The Vampire chuckled softly, letting just a portion of his power play behind it. He watched with amusement as Jason shivered. Moving more than just his lips, he stood and walked around his desk to stand in front of Jason. A smooth, pale hand reached up and cupped Jason's chin, not harshly, but the Werewolf could feel the power in that hand and knew that it could crush him with just a thought. Then, just as quick as the hand came, it left, and Jean-Claude took a step back, smiling softly.
“Why is it, Jason, you went to her in the first place?”
Relaxing a little, hoping that playing twenty questions was the worst of this punishment, Jason gave a lop-sided grin and a small jerk of his shoulder. “I don't know.”
Jean-Claude nodded slightly. “I take it she is pretty, no?”
This time Jason's grin was full-blown, showing shining-white teeth. “She definitely didn't hurt my eyes.” Fully relaxed now, Jason moved across the room to sit in one of the chairs lining the far wall. Leaning back, he placed his arms behind his head and smiled, finally realizing what it was Jean-Claude wanted to know.
“There is not much in this world that would hurt you eyes. Is there?” Jean-Claude was fully aware of Jason's... tendencies to find beauty in almost every creature.
“Hey!” Jason said, sitting up, only mildly hurt by the Vampire’s implications. “She's actually very pretty - long red hair, almost like fire, and I swear, she has the greenest eyes I've ever seen. You might even like her. She's about Anita's height.”
Jean-Claude couldn't help but raise an eyebrow that statement, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. “Is that so?”
Nodding, Jason stood, stretching out his still sore muscles. “Is there anything else? I kinda have the show in about an hour that I need to get ready for.” Jason knew he could not leave without officially being dismissed, but he was trying to get out of there before the Vampire changed his mind and decided that Jason did indeed deserve punishment.
With a flick of his wrist Jean-Claude dismissed his pomme de sang. However, he had one last thing to say on the subject. “I do hope you learn discretion soon, juvénile loup, before something... unfortunate were to happen.”