Open Wicked Cultured (Open)
One thing he could count on, his own bodyguards were much more subtle than his husband's.

He only had two, and while Jason was sitting at a table in this little cafe in Integris--one of the first to rebuild itself after the mess that dragon had made of it so many years ago--having coffee and reading the newspaper, the two gentlemen who were sworn to protect him up to and at the cost of their own lives were elsewhere. One was seated at three tables to his left and one table behind him, and the other was standing at the door, pretending to play on his phone while he waited on a breakfast date.

It was really quite easy to forget they were there.

Normally, he'd sit outside and enjoy the nearly-tropical swell of the place he'd grown up. Integris was had been idllyic in his youth, but was an overgrown shadow of itself. At least, it usually was.

Now it was just cold.

Which was why he was sitting inside today, enjoying the artificial warmth. He could have stayed home at the Rosenberg Manor and enjoyed his coffee and the after-Christmas atmosphere, but he'd wanted to be out. Even if he couldn't do much other than get a drink, and breakfast. It was hard to even people-watch, what with this freeze.
2 | 2018-12-28, 10:23 AM

It was over. Like a hazy dream that never happened. Drinking eggnog at an ugly sweater party, skiing down the slope created by ice and snow on the rubble of a fallen skyscraper, making love on a hearth in the warm light of a fire while the snow fell outside.

That had been Tristan's week until now. His client needed someone to accompany him for the holiday for an annual family get-together, and Tristan had lived a life that he had only seen in movies. It wasn't real. Even the setting was all wrong. Integris looked like a winter wonderland in some places, so someone had the brilliant idea of doing a sort-of pop-up ski resort. Gilded. That's what this all was.

He'd almost started to believe it could be real. That if he wanted it, he could have a life like that. Laughing among family to keep warm in the cold, everything touched by a soft hallmark glow. That's how the week had felt. During the day, he'd played the part of the new young boyfriend well, making small-talk with the family members, winning their love with his charm, though he was never quite sure if they could see through the charade.

Then at night, the sex was incessant. His client had quite a libido, and it all culminated one night when they'd managed to find a few other like-minded men that all took turns on Tristan in their holiday kitsch penthouse suite. The next day, Tristan knew it was ending by the way his client began to get dismissive. The family seemed to grow distant toward him, too. One by one, members of the family departed for their respective homes, barely acknowledging that Tristan had been there at all.

And finally, today, his client told him it was time to go. The money was in his account, the deal had been finished. The good-bye was swift, and he wasn't even offered a ride back to his level. He should be happy; he wasn't cheap and the pay was substantial, but as he walked through the snow, trying not to let the chill get to him, he couldn't help but feel... empty.

When the bell over the cafe door announced his entrance, the cold came with him for a second until he shut the door behind him. He shivered visibly, despite the long jacket he was wearing insulated with wool, the boots that went up to his calves, the pants. And underneath everything was a layer of what he called long johns, but what most other people called thermals. All bought and paid-for by his client.

He drew back the hood of the long jacket and his dirty blonde hair fell down in its usual mess until he swept it back and tucked some behind an ear. At the counter, his green eyes scanned the menu up on the wall. "Venti hot chocolate and . . . ” he trailed off, clearly torn on what to get next, "a sugarplum cheese danish, warmed up.”

Once they called his name, he took his order and sat down at the table next to Jason because it was one of the few that was unoccupied. Despite the tundra outside, the smell of fresh rain still came with the escort, reaching the noses of anyone close to him. His hot chocolate was steaming, and for a moment, he didn't drink it. Just held it in his hands and felt the warmth from the steam that rose up and brought its fragrance to his nostrils.

Then he finally looked up to take stock of his surroundings.
4 | 2018-12-28, 12:43 PM
(This post was last modified: 2018-12-28, 12:45 PM by Tristan Reed.)
Someone took a seat at the table next to him, but Jason didn't look up right away. He almost felt the man at the table behind him--his unobtrusive bodyguard--sit up a little straighter, and the other at the door seemed to become more alert as well. The cafe wasn't bustling, per-se--the rush crowd was all but gone and things were quiet--but that would certainly be the best time to try...anything.

And being who he was, and who he was attached to, Jason had learned that much.

He looked away from the paper--apparently the American Markets were surging again after a week of down-trends--to see who was sitting at the table next to his. An unassuming and unthreatening young man. Attractive and dressed decently. He looked put together and warm. High-End casual in contrast to Jason's suit and long jacket.

Jason raised an eyebrow at the man by the door--a 'what's the problem, Jonathan'? look--but to Jonathan's credit he didn't subside. Then again, Jason was a classically trained musician, not a former special agent who now worked as a bodyguard for a mob-boss' spouse.

They all had their expertises.

One of the things he'd learned was that if he acknowledged the person's presence, it did a good deal to dissuade someone from anything untoward. Hit-people tended to like working without an audience, and liked the quick, clean kill. If your target knew you were there, it was time to abort and try later. If he weren't, it was just Jason being friendly.

But...Jason Rosenberg was a very different man when not with his husband. Asher brought out a confidence in him he hadn't realized was there. When Asher wasn't with him, he reverted back to being 'socially awkward'. Which meant he had no idea what to actually say to the young man. Who looked put together, but who also looked like he'd been walking in the snow.

Didn't he have a car to come for him?

Oh...there. That would work.

"Not that I don't think you are capable of doing it yourself, but would you need someone to call a car for you? It's miserably cold to be walking in this mess."

There. That was polite, and wasn't completely awkward.

Was it?
3 | 2018-12-28, 04:18 PM

He'd lifted the steaming hot chocolate to his lips, took a tentative sip to test the temperature. When it didn't burn, he sipped more deeply, and then looked at the man that just spoke to him, emerald eyes appraising Jason quickly as he licked remnants of the cocoa off his upper lip.

If he noticed the change in posture that the secret bodyguards exhibited, he didn't show any sign of it. All he'd given everyone in the cafe was a cursory glance, and he'd only lingered on Jason because he'd spoken to Tristan. The escort ran his fingers through his thick, dirty blonde hair, swiping it back away from his face. He was surprised by how cold it felt against his fingers.

"I would, actually.” Tristan wasn't one to turn down something offered to him, he knew how to give and take. But he did tilt his head, eyes narrowing with both curiosity and suspicion. "That's very kind of you to offer.”

The blonde turned a little so he was facing Jason, but lounged back in his chair, one leg open, the other slightly extended so that the bottom of the jacket hung between them. The position was somehow suggestive, even with all the layers of clothes covering him, but maybe it was just because there was a promiscuous aura that surrounded Tristan.
2 | 2018-12-29, 01:12 PM
"Not at all," Jason stated, taking his phone out of his inner jacket. "With the weather as it is, it's only decent."

Jason would have done it for anyone. He'd even pay for the car. No one should be forced to walk anywhere in his mess. That said, Infernal City did have a habit of sporatically just...doing what it wanted to do.

Jason was convinced the city itself was a demon, though he didn't say such things out loud. Asher had serious reservations about demons in general, so it was better to merely keep such things to himself.

The pose took Jason off-guard though, and the way he blinked gave that away. might not have been a pose. He might have been reading into the nearly indecent posture, because surely it was all in his head. People didn't do such things on purpose, did they? Of course not.

He put the text through, frowning at the time it would take to get there couldn't be helped. The weather was terrible, after all.

"It's seen to, but it will take a bit of time," Jason informed the young man. "What brings you out in this terrible mess to begin with?"

Hell, what brought him out in this terrible mess, other than a craving for white-noise and coffee he didn't make himself.
2 | 2019-01-14, 12:54 PM

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