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(( BLACK FONT IS MYSELF. )) Supernatural setting; Character is a turned werewolf. My character is the landlord of the character in grey, who is a hunter.

Sunday was usually his night of intense relaxation to prepare for the upcoming string of weekdays given Tori's schedule. Hell, combined with his own schedule it was an amazing feat that he managed to have any kind of a social life. Granted he was still torn on whether or not he made the right choice in keeping Tori instead of sending her to live with her grandparents. No. He knew he made the right choice because at least this way he wasn't just an active part in her life but he could ensure her safety. It wasn't out of the ordinary for a blindly driven hunter to go out of their way to go after a supernatural's family to draw them out. Considering his parents were out of the country and his siblings were tough as nails, well, Tori was his only weak spot and it was one he couldn't risk. At any rate, it was something to think about while he reclined in the chair in his backyard. Eyes set unwavering on the stars above him while the raised the chilled bottle of Budweiser to his lips.

Even when he wasn't dealing with a full moon his senses were far better than any human's which was something he couldn't rightly complain about. Getting drunk on the other hand... Kristian's nose twitched with that familiar sweet scent drifting close enough that he'd be able to pick it up. His eyes instantly flicking away from the stars to land on movement in the distance towards the small guest house. A house he rented out to Ophelia Wallace and her daughter, Remi. He hadn't thought about it before, given the hour, she should have been asleep, right?

What the hell was she doing out this late on a Sunday?

Kristian scrunched his nose a bit before he was rubbing the back of his hand against it to get the scent out. Not because it was unpleasant. Completely the opposite, in fact, considering Ophelia was the type of woman men would fall over themselves to get at. He wasn't immune to it but given that she was renting from him, well, it'd just be unprofessional, right? Sure as hell didn't stop him from pushing himself out of his comfortable seat to stride across the yard between their homes in relative silence. He wasn't going out of his way to dampen any noises he made for the simple fact that he didn't want to startle her too much. "Thought you weren't working on Sundays?", he said in a rumbling tone before taking a sip from his beer.

Thankfully there was a light that had already switched on thanks to the motion from both of them, not that he needed it, so he could look her over for a moment. Nothing looked too out of place at a glance but something felt different. He just couldn't put a finger on exactly what, so instead, he lifted his free hand to run it through his long brown and blonde hair. "Everything...alright?", he asked while perking a single brow with the question.

Ophelia was constantly at odds between being a good hunter and being the perfect mother. There was no easily balance. No handbook or guidelines or penance for making an error. There were plenty of those too. Like tonight. Reading to Remi until she fell asleep with the single, solitary goal of dropping her off with a hunter friend so she could get a few things done. It wasn't unheard of. O was a single parent and it truly did take a village to raise a child. Especially when she had what she felt were equal obligations. But leaving her child in the hands of another never sat easy with her.

Quietly slipping into the drive, along the back, near the cottage, Ophelia shut the truck door with a soft click. The last thing she wanted was to rouse her landlord at this time of night. The moon, just a fingernail, was already high. The night was late, and she wasn't interested in more questions. He'd already had a few before he rented her the little house. There was something about him. Kristian. Her landlord. Other than being too handsome for his own good. Rugged, charming. He was the size of man that could move boulders for a living. Maybe he did, she hadn't asked.

A soft hiss emitted from the hydraulics on the rear window of her SUV. O lowered the hatch and started pulling boxes to the tailgate. Bottles of holy water, potions, charms, a crate of silver-tipped arrows. Her crossbow was already inside. A fifty pound bag of salt. A wind chime charmed to alert her of trouble. All the tricks of the trade. Ophelia was actually excited to start going through things.

His footsteps might not have been muffled which was her first mistake. Ophelia was under some guise this was a safe place. It definitely was not. She had allowed him to sneak up on her and all but yelped and flipped around, landing her ass on the gate of her truck. If he'd been any closer a dagger would have been pressed his neck.

Offering a sheepish smile, O didn't need to feign being rattled a moment. "Oh my! Everything is great," she answered with a rush of air. Her smile might have been a little too convincing. "Just grabbing some stuff out of storage." From a town an hour away. Nothing at all weird about that. "I'm not working yet. But don't worry. Rent is covered." This was the exact scenario she'd been trying to avoid. Handsome landlord asking questions. She should have waited another week to go get her things, but that would have left her little time to prepare for the full moon.

Something from inside that vehicle of her's had his nose flaring up but he couldn't place it. Kristian was an observant man, something embedded during his years in the military and now a necessity for his life. Or lack of a life? He was still living but now he just had the nasty wolf inside of him that liked to rip shit apart once a month. Maybe that's how women felt during their time of the month, too? Those bright blue eyes shifted off of Ophelia to scan what he could see in the back of her SUV before returning to her. His bottle raised again to his mouth for a sip while he watched her smile and the sway of her hair as she turned around. "Not worried about rent.", he said after lowering his beer and wiggling it's contents.

He'd need another before too long if he was going to even attempt to get slightly buzzed. Probably should have stuck with the hard liquor given his new state of being. "Shit, yeah, sorry I forgot, still looking for a job.", he shook his head a little. Giving her an apologetic look at the fact that he'd forgotten that fact, something he knew, but given his own mess of a life... Well, shit got garbled sometimes.

If he was going to be perfectly honest he'd largely rented to her with her status of employment being as it was because of her kid. And, well, because of her. Considering he knew very little, nothing basically, about her he probably shouldn't have but he wasn't hurting for money. With two jobs and still plenty in the savings he could afford to take the risk that was Ophelia. Kristian shifted a little before glancing towards the back of the backseat of the vehicle before nodding his head towards it, "The little one liking the house?", slowly pulling his eyes back to her even if he really wanted to figure out what the hell that smell was. It was so, so, so freaking familiar.

A scent that made his skin crawl a little and made him hesitant to move any closer.

"I didn't mean to startle you either by the way.", he said randomly in a grumble of a tone. Still occasionally glancing towards the back of her vehicle then back to her face again. Something that was beautifully lit by the dull light of the moon and the semi-white light of the motion sensor lights. "But I can make it up to you by helping you with those boxes and getting them inside." Kristian took a bold step forward, practically towering over her and damn near her vehicle as well, as he gave her a measuring look. He probably trusted her more than he should have given how well they knew one another but she'd looked out for Tori once. Couldn't be that bad, right?

If he were a normal man, and she a typical single mother in distress, he'd have every reason to worry about the rent and who could blame him? Her truck wasn't new, she took the little cottage with what furniture he'd offered and not moved any of her own inside. Ophelia seemed to be skimping on a lot of corners, or just getting back on her feet after... something. That might have all been true. She lived a frugal life. But she had a benefactress that would cover any debt should she need it. The barter was simple. Violet watched over Ophelia and Ophelia did not make any attempts to kill the pretty vampire. It was almost a simple arrangement. Had Woodhaven not been flooded with supernaturals.

"Don't be sorry. I keep an odd schedule." Hopefully one he didn't get too curious over. Besides, she'd been conveniently home the night he needed a babysitter so who was Kristian to complain?

"Remi?" O grinned with a mother's pride. "She loves it. The perfect little house for her. I was meaning to ask. Would you mind if I put up a swing from the tree in the back? It would save me a trip to the park every day." Not that getting out and about wasn't good, but there were safety issues.

Luckily she wasn't picking up on his wariness or uncertainty of the wolfsbane in one of her boxes. That would have given both of them away. It also gave her a few more moments to collect herself while Kristian was still at a safe distance. She thought him a normal human male and being none the wiser, her instincts were measured more for attraction and less on safety. Not that the two didn't go hand in hand but Ophelia had to wonder about a guy this good looking that was still single. He had a kid, and that counted as a small excuse, but she knew a dozen women that would have been licking at his doorknob to have Kristian look twice at them.

He moved in too close. Too fast. The flat of her hand braced against the thick span of muscle across his chest to keep him right where he was. His tee shirt really hid nothing from her imagination. "You really have nothing to make up for," she breathed, almost in a whisper. Ophelia's feet dangled near his knees, the denim of their jeans rubbing together. "I can manage." With her free arm, she slowly pushed one of the boxes back into the darkness of her truck. "I wasn't even going to unload everything tonight." Somehow she knew that it would have just been easier to let him haul everything inside and say goodnight. Now, O would be tripping over her excuses.

Kristian was always the curious type, he needed to figure things out, he needed to know if he was getting in over his head. Granted he had his blind spots and pretty women had always been a dark void when it came to that sort of thing. Though he couldn't help but huff out a breath of a 'sorta-laugh' at the comment about keeping an odd schedule. "Nearly everyone in Woodhaven does.", his smirk probably said more than he'd wanted but it was the truth. Even if you weren't in on what was really going on in the town it was hard to miss just how active the town was at night. Certainly not overly normal yet not strange enough to cause worry for most, well, for people that weren't looking anyways.

He'd nodded slightly at the mention of putting up a swing for Remi but added, "That's no problem at all.", just to make sure it was clear. Tori would be liking that sort of thing sooner rather than later. She already enjoyed going to the park when they could manage to get there and he was sure he could avoid people. Not that he went out of his way to avoid people but... Since his turn, it'd been harder to tolerate certain personalities than before without finding himself getting frustrated. Or maybe it was just old age making him grumpier.

Add that to the fact that since his turn, he hadn't actively tried to even grab drinks with anyone. He knew just how people wondered about him.

Kristian could have moved past her hand if he'd really wanted to even without being what he was. For the simple fact that she'd stopped him, he let her. Curling his fingers around his bottle while he glanced down at her hand and the close proximity they were now at. It was a curious look that he gave her while she spoke but it was clear that he was watching her during it. Barely a glance towards the box that she pushed back inside the truck but there was still a flick of one to be had. "Shouldn't leave your stuff in the vehicle overnight, safe neighborhood but kids...get curious.", he didn't bother moving back while he glanced around. As if he was glancing over the entire neighborhood before settling his attention back on her with a hint of a smile.

"Alright, no help with the boxes but you can't turn down the drink.", he said firmly. It was a swift movement, wrapping an arm around her waist, and pulling her off the tailgate to put her on her feet. Holding her there for a long moment to make sure she had her feet as he used his other, beer free hand, to close up her truck. Sometime after the beer bottle shifted to that hand before he wiggled it, "Come on, you can tell me all about your adventures to storage and plans for a job." He sure as hell sounded serious about her following him but less the further he got into the sentence. Making damn sure it wasn't a question this time as he let his hand fall from the small of her back. Gesturing towards his decently groomed backyard and the chair he'd been sitting at previously that had a cooler sitting near it. Along with another chair.

Though before he headed that way himself, he gave the back of her truck another glance, nose flaring around that muffled scent. Giving it only that much attention before he was headed back to his seat with hopefully Ophelia following.

"You too, I see," she grinned back. "Out here decorating your lawn in the middle of the night." Ophelia wasn't one to talk and Kristian did make a pretty lawn gnome. She had failed to ask what had him out under the stars on a night like this. The nocturnal habits of Woodhaven residents weren't lost on her and Ophelia could already feel the itch to get out and even some of the odds, keeping the tiny town safer for its human citizens.

It was rather convenient that they both had children. Maybe when Ophelia felt more comfortable with him, she'd offer to take little Tori along with her and Remi on one of their outings. Her own daughter liked the little girl well enough and she wasn't so young that she'd give O baby fever just by being close to her. Ophelia was maternal. That had been something that caught her off guard after Remi had been such a surprise.

The warning was well heeded but in that flash of a moment Ophelia was more caught up in the lack of distance between them. Kristian was close. Too close. She could smell his soap, or was it his cologne? A musky, woodsy scent that was both arousing and calming in equal measure. She found herself wanting to growl and curl her fingers into the soft cotton of his tee shirt to pull him closer. Just to take a closer sniff. Of course. He bombarded her scenes and she knew her own pheromones were sending out all the wrong signals. The right signals in a primal sense, but not for two rational people that barely knew each other.

It didn't help when he gathered her up and slid Ophelia down the length of his body in a slow wrinkle of fabric. Oh, she didn't miss anything there. His hair had blanketed over her arm, her fingers gripping his shoulder, not hanging on for dear life, but definitely not holding him at bay this time. She'd made another soft noise of surprise, and arousal, before she managed a step away. He certainly wasn't leaving any option for her rejection this time.

Ophelia could still feel the heat and weight of his hand on her back as he moved away. There was almost a tether there, luring her closer. The gesture had been nothing short of possessive. Darting her glance from the back of the truck to his yard to her own little rented home, she found her feet treading across the dewy grass before she'd fully made up her mind.

What were her chances of dismissing him at this point? O wouldn't risk displeasing him and putting herself and Remi out onto the street. These were just growing pains. Maybe he was lonely. She couldn't believe he couldn't find a woman to give him the time of day. "I'd rather talk about you." Ugh, such the wrong thing to say. "I mean, we live right next door and I know nothing about you. I can't believe that unloading trucks in the middle of the night is what do you do for fun."

"Decorating? Me?", he huffed out a noise and shook his head, "Naw, just enjoying the silence while the kid is with her Aunt." Best part about having family in town was the ability to ask them to watch the little one on short notice. Well, it didn't always work out but this time his sister had agreed to watch Tori for a few days. As much as he was enjoying the silence of Tori being gone though he found himself missing having her around. That was normal though, right? He hadn't a clue since he was still entirely too new to this whole parenting thing even if his experience with his siblings should have counted for something. Regardless of any of that he was enjoying the ability to breathe for a bit without having to check on her constantly.

Totally not a helicopter parent. Not at all.

The benefit of being closer to Ophelia was the fact that whatever scent from her vehicle kept getting diluted with her scent. Something that was quick to fill his nose and send warm feelings throughout his body. Helluva lot less calming and more arousing for him. Still wrong to sleep with your tenant? Something to think about while he was moving her off her tailgate and putting them even closer to one another. What he couldn't have helped though was the way his lips slowly curled into a cocky grin at hearing that noise slip out of her. A grin was better than vocally acknowledging it though which is what he very well could have done. No need to scare her off though considering she was the first female he found himself significantly drawn to.

"Is tha' right?", he asked with that grin growing wide enough for his pearly whites to show. Shrugging a shoulder before he gave a short nod of his head, "Fair enough though. How about a question for a question then?" Kristian paused to gesture towards the chairs and waited for her to take a seat before he started rooting in the ice chest. Pulling out two fresh bottles of beer, disposing of his practically empty one, and working at opening them. "Unloading trucks in the middle of night could very damn well be a hobby of mine, Ophelia. Maybe I'm just that damn good of a landlord.", giving her a look as he held out an open bottle towards her.

Still not taking his own seat just yet, "Whatdya wanna know?", taking a drink of his fresh beer shortly after asking. A large part of him screaming that it was a horrible decision to play this game. Could he lie well enough to hide what she didn't need to know? Hell, did she even know what was really going on in this town? Did she know what monsters lurked in the dark? The thoughts, questions, running behind his eyes as he gave her a weighted look. Then suddenly with a soft grunting noise he sat in the empty seat with a position that allowed him to be near her. Without being too close, yet still close enough, well, close enough to keep that intoxicating scent filling his nose.

It wasn't a real question anymore if he was attracted to her or not but more if he was willing to put her at risk. She didn't know him, that was true, she also didn't know what he was and what he was capable of. Hell, even the latter scared the shit out of him sometimes. Something else to make him feel a little shifty was the fact that he could feel the tension between them. Just a bit unsure what kind of tension it was or what worries she could have had about joining him for a drink and a chat. Then again... Considering how long it'd been since he actually sat down and talked to a woman he very well could have been off his game on reading them.

Kristian lifted a hand to rub at the bridge of his nose, knocking the scent out to remove at least some of the husk when he said, "Promise to tell the truth if you do."

Apropos of nothing, they were both child-free tonight. That was a convenience designed by the fates. What were the chances otherwise? It did almost feel like there was a higher power in charge here. Kristian being out on his lawn when she'd returned home? Almost as if he was there to greet her? Of course she'd only known him a short time, but Ophelia had never been aware of someone else watching his little girl. That was hardly her business though. Had this not been in the moment, she might have asked a witch friend to consult her spirit board about this. Something just wasn't adding up.

"You're lucky to have family around. I envy you for that." There were a couple of people, one human, one witch, she would trust her daughter with. Not the vampire - that was just logic. But others were safe.

What man didn't enjoy talking about himself? That was one of the first tools a young girl learned in the dating world. To encourage or refute attention by how much she gave to what he said about himself. So Ophelia was on the encouraging path. "Alright. Question for question. I can do that." She could play offense and defense at the same time. "Damn good landlord, huh? You should get that printed on business cards."

Taking the beer, she didn't make a face with the offering. Watered down American beer was not her thing. Oh, she could likely get drunk on it well enough but there were others that had better flavor. To each their own. It was cold, that helped. She took a small sip. "I want to know everything." Her sweet smile likely wouldn't work as well as she'd hoped. O could hardly ask him where the vampires nested or how many packs of wolves were around in the woods. She didn't dare speak the name of the demon she hunted but she swiped her thumb slowly over the rune tattoo of protection on her arm. For a moment there was silence between them. Night sounds grew louder. A howl in the distance, cicada chirping, finding their mates.

Ophelia would hazard a guess that Kristian would be more alarmed by what she was and did rather than the other way around. The last lover she'd taken was dead. The one before that as well, and by her own hand. Hadn't Ophelia learned her lesson? She was more than attracted, but why put a target on his back? She had enough responsibility keeping herself and Remi safe and out of harm's way.

Laughing softly, she raised her bottle and wagged it at him accusingly. "Any guy starting off his line with I promise to tell you the truth isn't going to tell you the truth." But his words amused her. He was playing along. Leaning back in her chair, she rested one knee over the other, her flipflop wiggling off the ends of her toes. "Let's see. What can I ask you?" O really was going to have to make this up as she went along. Not that he planned on being honest with her, she'd tailor her questions to allow him that. "Do you believe in things that go bump in the night?" This really wasn't a test, but she was watching his reaction closely. If Kristian thought she was crazy, he'd have reason to release her from their beer garden sooner than later. Before she made a fool out of herself and let her hormones take over.

"Eh, family can be fickle sometimes.", he admitted with a quick breath. Though he paused for a moment to think about the fact that it was clear now that she hadn't that luxury. Ophelia was certainly a woman of mystery thus far and he couldn't be blamed for wanting to learn more. Though maybe he wasn't much of a man of mystery himself where it counted. Sure he didn't talk about what he was now to anyone that knew about the world around them. Or better yet, if they did, he wasn't going to slip up and stumble into a situation of admitting it to someone that could harm him. Someone that could harm his daughter even given the history of lines being crossed for the sake of a 'job' or vengeance.

Kristian kept that hint of a grin in place for the comment about getting 'damn good landlord' printed on cards. "I may do that.", giving her a serious look to match the tone. Of course, he wouldn't do that for several reasons. First it was just poor business to do it and second, well, Ophelia was the only person he was capable of renting a place to.

He really didn't have any intentions of lying to her as long as he could avoid it. That was the honest truth. Ophelia could very well be a typical, innocent human being in this town as far as he knew. She sure as hell smelled like one. So it wasn't like he was expecting her to dive into any questions that would leave him covering his ass over anything. Given the fact that she was human was reason enough to leave him a little more hesitant given what he was. "Sounds like you've been lied to entirely too many times.", he quipped back at her and her bottle wagging. Something that was cuter than he probably would have admitted even if the way he smirked said just that.

Watching her lean back in his seat, he leaned forward enough to reach a hand down to pull some grass from the top of his foot. Rolling it into a ball and tossing it aside. Kristian arched a brow at her question and shrugged a single shoulder again with another hint of a smirk pulling at the corner of his lips. Sitting back up straight again he was taking a long pull from his bottle when her question caught him off guard. Pausing the drink to look at her for a couple of seconds before he slowly lowered it and swallowed. "Things that go bump in the night? You talking the boogeyman or something? Or more realistic?", not that he was going to give her time to answer any of that.

"I mean you gotta believe in spirits, right? Plenty of spooky things going on in town. Went on a few ghostly camping trips when I was younger.", he certainly wasn't lying. "So, a tentative yes?" Kristian took another drink and swallowed before returning the favor. "What about you?" Giving her a long curious look that was accompanied with a warm smile. Maybe the smile was warmer than it should have been. Maybe it gave away that he was running more on hormones than general common sense. Couldn't be at fault for that though, hell, he wouldn't blame anyone if they were doing it. Maybe it wasn't stupid, this, or letting attraction, curiosity, and hormones take the wheel.

"That they can." She sighed and looked off into the distant dark night. At some point, the motion light had flickered off and gone to sleep once their movements were out of the range of its eye. The night was peaceful, cocooning them in near black, a cool breeze making her shiver. Ophelia's eyes had adjusted to make Kristian out in the darkness. She was the exact type of person he should not get to know or associate with in any way. Her smelling like a human was a defense and not in his favor. She kept telling herself it wasn't too late to turn back.

"Too many to count." She shrugged. "Most men think women are stupid. Sometimes it's just easier to play along and help them think that. Saves a lot of time." O wasn't exactly breaking the secret woman code by telling him that information. Kristian wasn't clueless. Even if he was on the up and up, he had to know how most men operated. But did he know how dangerous that smirk was? Boyish and slightly lopsided and terribly kissable? She found herself staring too long.

Ophelia could tell he was measuring her words. He took the time to find his own. Some might have called that stalling. And then he asked his own questions for clarification. She barely had time to nod, not answer, and it was unclear which option she was agreeing with. The boogeyman was real too, in certain ways.

"Ghostly camping trips, huh?" What must it have been like, growing up in this place? Surviving it to adulthood. Ophelia looked out into the darkness. Toward the woods that abutted the back of her cottage and little postage stamp yard where Remi played. "Makes you wonder what else there is out there, doesn't it?" To some she likely just sounded curious. A girl that had seen one too many scary movies or seasons of Supernatural. Living it was much more precarious.

"Yeah, I believe. Enough that it keeps me up at night worrying sometimes." Bringing the bottle to her lips, pausing for a long drink. "Next week's the full moon." That would be a busy time for her. Not an opportunity to hide under the covers. She should have been preparing for the hunt, not sitting here chatting up her neighbor. O wondered if he'd notice she paid more attention to the lunar calendar rather than the one that marked the Independence holiday this week. "You should tell me where the good fireworks are. I heard someone say the top of the gorge is a good place to watch them."

Thankfully, Kristian didn't have to wait for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, that came easily enough. Maybe a split second of adjustment but he felt he saw things more clearly in the dark most of the time. "Most men do. Most men are stupid as well.", he added. It let him wonder for a moment if she was going to do what she'd just mentioned. Playing stupid just to save time. He sure as hell wasn't going to give second thoughts about spending this time with her even if she probably had better things to do. His company couldn't be that awful, could it? Plus it was only logical that he get to know her a little more considering their living situation.

Before he became what he was now, it was hard to ignore that something was wrong within Woodhaven. It was part of the reason why he skipped out the moment he turned 18 to join the military and get away from it all. The town had a history of never letting people go and too many strange things happening. Something he used to ignore for the sake of his own sanity outside of believing in the ghosts he was sure he'd encountered. But after that attack, everything seemingly went to hell in a handbasket really fucking fast. Not only was he suddenly fighting a war within himself against his new beast but he was thrust into the world of being a parent. It was an amazing feat that both he and Tori made it out the other side of it all.

At least he'd had his family, as estranged as they were.

"Oh yeah, plenty of abandoned houses around with some history.", he said with soft tone. Though his eyes slowly started following her's towards the woods that settled against the back of his property. Something great given he needed it once a month to get away for obvious reasons. Easy to pass off as camping or hunting trips to those out of the loop though. Easy to keep people from joining when he made little effort to keep close friends with anyone out of the loop as well. "Out there? Well, we got some deer lurking about....", he trailed off and shifted his attention back to her, "Saw them a few days ago." Explaining was better than noting the fact that he could detect them from where he sat.

Ophelia's answer to the question had him shifting on his seat to sprawl backwards into his own comfortable position. She believed enough that it kept her up at night worrying. Was that why she was up now? Was that why she had gone to storage to get things out this late at night? He could only assume since he wasn't willing to pry that hard just yet, not yet. The mention of the full moon had him hesitate to take a drink before he glanced upwards to the sky then towards the woods again. "Is it? I hadn't paid much attention to it.", huffing a self-deprecating laugh of a noise out with the admission. A beautifully crafted lie. "People get a little crazy during the full moons, you keep things locked up, right?"

Kristian was safe enough to make sure he was as far away from anyone before he needed to deal with his beast. But that didn't mean that a stray or younger wolf wouldn't make a mistake. "Uhhh, well, it's been a few years but I used to either head up to the gorge or...", he paused and shook his head a little, "Last time I watched the fireworks in town, I climbed the water tower to do so. Wouldn't recommend it." Giving her that smirk again before he asked, "Why would the thought of the things that go bump in the night keep you up? Make you worry?"

She chuckled softly, a sweet, husky sound that held a secret amusement. O almost made it sound like she wanted to share. Yes, most men were stupid, but few would admit to it. She was surprised that Kristian had shared as much. "Throwing your brethren to the wolves, huh?" A small smirk played on her lips. Yes, Ophelia had seen what wolves could do. Not that she expected Kristian to be so cruel to his own sex. His company was dangerous in a different way. It made O consider so many things that weren't possible. Another life. It would have been so much easier if he was a womanizing asshole that came on too strong and repulsed her immediately.

"I'm definitely no ghost hunter. I'll leave all those haunted houses to someone else," she stated, hoping to reassure him. Sure, she'd exorcised one or two over the years, but poltergeists weren't her strong suit. Demons, vampires, werewolves. Things with fangs and claws. Other twisted, vicious creatures that took advantage of what hell had made them.

"People get very crazy during the full moon." Ophelia had once worked a quick stint in a psych ward. The lunar pull wasn't something that she could explain but those with a troubled mind were tortured. She sighed. "Yeah. I keep things locked up." O probably should have pretended to be more surprised. She needed to find a witch to ward her little cottage and fast. She had too much preparation and not enough time. She would need to be especially careful now that Kristian seemed to have taken an interest. "You've not had any trouble here, have you?"

She truly did hate lying to him. It hardly seemed fair, assuming he was a normal human guy. How many times had those assumptions nearly gotten her killed? He was a decent enough man and had been more than generous with her so far. But she didn't want to be the one responsible for unraveling the truth about their world. Few humans ever took that news well and who was she to burst their bubble that life wasn't all cupcakes and unicorns?

"What's wrong with the top of the water tower?" Ophelia tried to picture that in her mind. Kristian's long frame climbing the steep ladder to the top. She might have stared a moment too long at his smirk over the rim of her bottle until his own question caught her off guard. "Oh." Her impending answer obviously was uncomfortable. Something made her shift in her nylon woven chair. O brushed her hair behind her ear to stall for time. "Too many scary movies, maybe? I don't know." She did know, and it wasn't completely a lie but that wasn't for her to burden him with. "Will you be home that night?" Such a loaded question if he knew why she was asking.

Kristian perked a brow at the mention of throwing some of the male gender to the wolves but he held a smirk while he said, "Most would deserve it.", he said plainly. It was the truth. Even before the attack, he was well aware of how massive of assholes men could be and, well, he was one also. There were times like this when he was able to dull it down for the sake of company. But most of the time, it was easier to be an asshole and have people leave you alone. For their own safety, of course. Maybe it was the military, the Army to be exact, that molded him into what he was now. Maybe it was largely because of what happened to him. Or even just a staple of his personality to be a bit rough around the edges.

More interesting than all of that was trying to figure out what he could about Ophelia without being outright with his questions. Something wasn't settling right and it wasn't entirely unpleasant. But still, he was a decent judge of a person just from gut feelings alone. It seemed like Ophelia was falling into a bit of a blind spot for him and it left him watching her. Okay, well, maybe not watching since that was overly creepy but he was certainly paying more attention than he did to most.

"That they do.", he echoed about people getting very crazy during a full moon. But he paused to think about if he'd had any trouble at his house at any time of the year. "Got the house egged one year on Halloween but outside of that, no." His own fault really for not offering any treats.

He didn't miss much in the way she responded to his question and he did well to hide his curiosity about it. Not even a perked brow. It was entirely possible that his eyes narrowed a bit for half of a second but that would have been all. "Not entirely legal to climb to the top of the water tower...", he informed her before shifting in his seat to lean forward again. Cocking his head to the right a little before he hummed, "Fair enough.", he paused for a drink to think about her last question. "If you're meaning the night of the full moon, no, I won't be." It was an impulse to glance towards the woods but he fought it well enough and redirected his attention to the sky instead. "Have a hunting trip planned with some friends. Took us a while to get it all settled but finally managed..."

Kristian let a teasing grin slip onto his lips, "Why do you ask? Looking for company for the full moon?"

"How come you're different?" It was a blunt and bold question and Ophelia didn't pull any punches there. Kristian had been kind to her. More than than that. He'd been generous and here they were drinking beer in his back yard. Either he was playing it very cool about getting into her pants or he was just a genuinely nice guy. She guessed the latter. It made her more curious about what had happened with Tori's mother and why she wasn't around. Not that she felt asking right there and then was very polite.

Kristian was going to have to dig a little deeper with her if he wanted anything even close to the truth. O had years of experience in covering her tracks and answering with some veiled version of the truth to keep her secrets right where they were. This would have been an entirely different conversation had she known what he really was. It wouldn't have been a conversation at all.

"Ah, well that explains it. Law abiding citizen that you are have mended your youthful ways, I suppose." She took notice of him leaning forward. Not completely into her space, but his presence was duly noted. It reminded her of how he'd loomed over her at her truck.

Hunting. O almost quirked her own brow at the word choice. They definitely weren't talking about the same type of prey. She was sure.

"Oh? Is that what you think I'm doing?" He'd said a question for a question, right? Kristian never mentioned she actually had to answer. Ophelia didn't hide the heat from her gaze. Certain needs had gone too long without being met and Kristian was close and convenient, among all the other qualities she'd noticed. "I can't say I'm not interested but hooking up with the guy that's my landlord could get complicated. I don't do complicated." When did sex not complicate things? Not that he'd mentioned anything more than spending time together. Mixing business with pleasure was never black and white. Ophelia was thinking about all the things that could go wrong rather than the one thing that could go right.

And none of that seemed up for discussion. Finishing off her beer, O stood and leaned forward, resting the empty bottle on top of his cooler. "I should go. It's late." Staring at Kristian, it was on the tip of her tongue to ask him to walk her to her door but that would have been either too obvious or a sending a mixed signal. What she wanted and what she knew to be practical were at war inside her.

"I've never claimed to be different.", another simple answer that was the truth. It was certainly a blunt and bold question but he wasn't going to shy away from it just because of that. Hell, if he shied away from things because they were complicated then his life would have been a helluva lot different. Maybe not even for the best. "I fall victim to the woes of being a man just as much as any other. Just a matter of learning to control the asshole inside.", he gave her a broad grin with that comment because it was true on a lot of levels. Not only did he combat his need to be a downright dick at all times but he also fought a far more fierce inner beast. One that just wanted to cause destruction for the sake of causing destruction. One that had a hard time sitting nicely in its cage.

He really wasn't lying about the hunting trip, just what kind of hunting it was going to turn out to be. Really, he hadn't lied too horribly to her, yet. Considering that he was still trying to figure out if she was on the 'in' of what was going on in Woodhaven. Or if she was just an innocent bystander. Both were risks, she was human but that didn't mean that she was safe. That thought alone was enough to pull his mind back to that scent he picked up in the back of her truck. What the hell had it been? Just the smell of it alone made his nostrils burn... "Perfectly law-abiding.", he said with a laugh tainting his words.

Considering the only illegal activities he got into lately were when he 'hunted' it wasn't exactly a lie. But before he could linger on the thought for very long he had his attention swept away with her question. Hard to miss that heated look that had something stirring behind his own eyes. It was what came out of her mouth next that had a cocky grin spreading on his lips, "Complicated...", he said the word slowly before huffing out a laugh then taking a final drink of his beer.

Just how complicated could it get though? It sure as shit wasn't professional but it wouldn't be the first time it'd happened, right? His mind wandering to some heated places of his own while he watched her stand up. Kristian's head slowly angled as she leaned forward to put her empty bottle on the cooler. Couldn't exactly be blamed when she herself had said that she couldn't say she wasn't interested and he certainly was as well. Problem was that they were both holding themselves back on the matter. It was his wolf prowling closer to the surface that wasn't really following the proper procedures. So in a single fluid, powerful movement he pushed himself up to stand as well, "Technically it's early....", he reminded her.

"I'll walk you back.", not that he needed to but he sure as shit wasn't ready to give up the company just yet. No matter what time it was.

"Thanks for the warning. And here I was blindly thinking you were a nice guy about to succumb to your charms." The comment had Ophelia smiling and shaking her head at him. A man that didn't deny what he was left her wanting to know more. To push the boundaries which would be less than healthy for either of them. Just because Kristian was kind to her here and now didn't mean she'd be safe in the end. Or he either.

What laws were they supposed to follow? Being a normal human citizen didn't apply in Woodhaven. It did to a point. The point you were killed or bitten or cursed. Ophelia was the type to take a more defensive stand to her way of life. The law was infantile.

"Am I wrong?" Oh, he definitely did not need to answer that or prove an argument against her stance that she swore was resolute. It wasn't. They were edging toward trouble here. If it didn't work, she'd be out on her ass. Little Remi too. And if something did take off between them, she would be putting Kristian at risk. He was a big man. Capable of taking care of himself, likely. He'd survived Woodhaven this long. But she would have the guilt of getting him hurt, or worse.

Not scooting back, O was forced to crane her head back when he rose. They were too close. She could feel the heat from his body. Smell the scent from his own beer on his lips. It was all too intoxicating. Shaking her head, she refused to argue. "Fine, you win. It's early." Just what did he win?

There was a long pause. Could he read her mind about wanting to be walked home? Not for safety's sake either. Had Ophelia not said no clearly enough? She knew she hadn't. Shoving her hands in her jeans pockets as much to keep them to herself, her toes were dampened by the dew on the wet grass. Taking one step away, and then another, slowly, she didn't stray too far from him. "Are you afraid I'll get lost in the twenty feet to my door?" She held back, waiting for Kristian to catch up before she slipped deeper into the darkness across the yard. "I don't invite men over," she stated out of the blue. "Remi's old enough, I don't want her to get confused." Was that an excuse to give her landlord to know that she wouldn't be bringing strays home? Or another justification of why there wasn't going to be anything between them, two consent adults obviously attracted to one another? It was a moot point tonight. Remi wasn't home.

"Well shit should have kept up the rouse a bit longer then.", he grinned without flinching. Kristian's biggest problem had always been settling his attention on something he wanted and not budging until he got it. A gift and a curse really unlike that fucking wolf inside. That thing was nothing but a curse. But there was really no need to hide exactly who he was from Ophelia if he was going to even attempt to pursue something there. Hiding what he was couldn't be avoided until, well, it couldn't be avoided not to tell her. Pulling her close meant eventually she'd need to now what he was or she was going to find out the hard, dirty way. How the hell was that conversation going to go anyways? Thus far he hadn't actually told anyone what he was since the other supernaturals just basically figured it out.

Hard to hide what you are from the other wolves, really, especially when you refuse to play with their little pack rules. Not to mention the ones that were born this way seemingly had a stick up their asses about it. He'd never be a born wolf with all of that power over what he was and he'd never be free of what he was now either. Best to just shut up and live with it while avoiding as many casualties as he could, right?

He arched a brow at her question and shrugged a single broad shoulder, "Complications only happen if you let them or people go into something without being on the same page. At least from personal experience...", he trailed off a little because he could sense some of the worry. Kristian couldn't exactly say what she was worried over but he could have guessed a few things. Now standing it was easier to look down at that beautiful face and give her a flash of a sympathetic look. Something not many people earned out of him. Instead most got the hard-assed glare and grumbles more than they got a conversation out of him. What was making Ophelia so different then? Probably a question he was never going to be able to answer.

All it took was a soft breath to fill his nose with her sweet scent again while he scanned over her face. As if he was looking for answers to questions he wasn't ready to ask her. Or possibly even feared asking her. Prodding about what was really going on in town when she very well could have been ignorant to it. Well, that could be messy and he sure as shit didn't need negative attention.

"A lot can happen in twenty feet in Woodhaven.", he said cooly. The truth yet again and a hint at something that he was avoiding asking but partially hoping she'd pick up on. Kristian was more, well for lack of a better word, ginger in the way he followed behind her. The view certainly wasn't horrible but he managed to advert his gaze when she held back to wait for him. Her statement earned a glance towards her place before he huffed out a chuckle and shook his head a little. "Thought the little one wasn't home tonight? But I certainly wasn't going to invite myself inside." Pausing for a moment he halted movement that would have put them both in range for the motion lights to flick on.

Kristian glanced towards the unactivated light and took a couple of breaths to roll the idea around in his head a little more. Finally looking back to Ophelia and giving her a measuring look as he took three solid steps away from her. "You have a good night now, O.", he grumbled. The grumbling more for himself than anything else since he was upset that he was actually listening to the angel on his shoulder instead of the devil. There was a time and place for that, this being a perfect one, but she was right about complications. For now. He watched her until she disappeared into her doorway then headed back to clean up before heading inside himself for some much needed sleep.

Or really just a few hours of angry inner discussion with himself before he passed out.
Black text is myself. Slice of life setting; furniture shopping; Johannah was dating Ojai's best friend, who passed away.

Johannah had managed to get out of the courthouse a lot earlier than she had been expecting. Six-thirty wasn't a bad hour considering most days she didn't make it out of there until after the sun had completely settled beneath the horizon. For once she wasn't completely drained from listening to lawyers, judges, and everything else so her mood wasn't as frantic as usual. Granted that didn't mean a part of her wasn't frantic. She'd always have some nagging voice inside of her pointing out all the little mistakes she'd made for the past three years. It was just easier to ignore it today. Or it was.

The moment she climbed out of the Uber and got her bicycle off of the back of it, she felt that odd feeling stir up inside of her. It was silly to let it bother her though. The fact that she'd 'overshared' with Ojai about some of her darker feelings after Brian's death. She'd needed to get them out but she worried about it changing the way he looked at her. She was worried it made her look fragile to be perfectly honest.

Checking her bag one more time, the sixth time since leaving the courthouse, to make sure she had the Tupperware bowl of brownies she finally headed for the door. At least she'd changed out of those stupid slacks for a pair of jeans. Johannah pushed the door open and moved inside a few steps before she glanced around, "Van? Where are you?", she called out. Casually making her way further in while she dug around in her bag to finally fish out the brownies she had promised. "I come bearing chocolatey goodness." Not paying much attention to where she was going and nearly colliding with a few things before she side-stepped in time to save herself from embarrassment.

Ojai didn't typically stay this late unless he was avoiding something. Some inexplicable reason to not go home or by his folks' place or stop at the Siren for a beer. Or if he had a late appointment. He guessed planning was better than just letting his whims lead him and frankly, he was glad it was Jojo stopping by. Things were on the verge of being weird between them and they both had to get over that. What they'd gone through after Brian's death had put them in a category that wouldn't suffice with just acquaintances.

The afternoon, once the cool breeze kicked in off the Pacific, was spent moving pieces around his shop. Van didn't need a gym. Rearranging furniture was enough of a workout. Aligning his favorites in a little mock setting in the middle of the workshop, he only stopped long enough at five to have half a sandwich. Bologna on Wonder bread. Simple tastes. He could lend more creativity to his art.

The sofas he'd arranged varied in size and elegance. That mattress she was still using at the foot of her bed served a purpose but likely wasn't the presentation Jojo wanted to give. Who was there to see it? There were three that Van had picked out for her, and two, aside from those, that he'd made himself. Well, he'd modified them to suit what was in his head at the time. His favorite was a scroll arm settee he'd made from an old church pew. It might not have been to Johannah's taste at all but it was a piece he'd worked with pride.

Looking up from a drafting table well hidden in the back, Ojai's loose jeans sat low on his hips. The denim and his plain white tee shirt were paint splattered. What did he own that wasn't? "Back here," he answered, not expecting his raised voice to pinpoint his true location. He stepped into view just as a foyer bench tried to take a nibble out of her. "You ok?"

The real problem of the day was that she'd forgotten to take her medicine that morning for her anxiety. It wasn't like she couldn't function without it. She could but it was a lot easier to ignore those little voices nagging her about her mistakes when she had taken it. But she wanted to see Ojai, she hadn't in a while and she missed him. She missed a lot of things about the 'good ol days' and him and Chandler were all she had left of them. Plus...she really, really needed to do something less tacky than using a twin bed as a couch. Living like a college student should have ended with college yet she was still stuck in that 'college apartment'.

Maybe she'd move eventually. Or really when she was done holding onto all the memories that had been made in that apartment.

She had heard him but was too distracted by the piece of furniture that was aiming to give her a nasty bruise. Catching his movement and shifting her attention to him before she gave him a playful frown, "Nearly broke your bench.", she teased knowing full well that the bench would have broke her and not the other way around. Still, she took a side-step away from the bench before letting the playful frown melt away to be replaced with a smile. "I'm fine though! No damages." That wasn't entirely true considering she was a bit damaged in some ways but at least she wasn't limping around.

Johannah was quiet for a moment after that before she glanced down to the Tupperware in her hand, "Oh! First thing first, your brownies.", giving him another flash of a smile before she held it out to him. Eyeing all the pain splatters on his clothes before she arched a brow, "Any of that wet?" She certainly wasn't going to be giving him a hug if she was going to get paint on herself. Well, she would but... It'd be awkward not to hug him, right? That's what friends did and especially friends that had gone through what they had together. But if she didn't respect personal boundaries then that could make things awkward as well?

Ojai was the opposite. He was unencumbered by self doubt on most occasions, though not without it completely. The reasons behind the easy-going attitude were a mystery. Sure, there was a large part of him that was so content with his place in the world that he had no cause for concern. Or perhaps he was just too absorbed in his work and art to be troubled with some need for self-flagellation over decisions already made. Ojai could respect Jojo's tendencies, not that he completely understood them.

"You break it, you buy it," he called back, the amusement evident in his tone until he could see her and share his grin. Van's gaze traveled over her, making sure she was fine and there was no lasting limp or blood rushing down to stain his floor.

For her sake, of course.

That Tupperware held magic inside. Brown, gooey baked goods were smashed moist against the insides in a lewd display of food porn and Ojai couldn't smell them but he could imagine. "You know I'm a maniac with these, right? I have zero self control." Still, he forced himself to keep the lid closed. The longer the better. Torture in delay. "Wet?" Following her gaze, he shook his head and smoothed his hand over a blue streak across his abs. "Last week," he answered catching on quickly while putting an arm out for her. "Think wet would have stopped me?" Both arms around her, Ojai squeezed tight along the small of her back until he had Jojo up off her feet with the brownie container inadvertently bouncing against her ass. Not that he was paying attention. "Missed you," he admitted and finally started to put her down.

They'd been close once. Closer than they were now. They'd suffered and mourned and relied on each other and things had shifted a bit when Chan had come home. Ojai didn't step back and put physical distance between them just yet. A look of measured understanding was on his face. "You can tell me, you know. I'll understand." His expression somber, Ojai waved the plastic box just above Jojo's head. "All you have to do is admit it. The demon bread bunnies told you to buy these for me at the store, right?" That stoic look didn't last as he broke into a huge grin. "Did you poison them?" he asked, finally breaking the seal, soon to be inebriated on the scent of rich chocolate.

"I break it, I buy it, got it...don't leave me alone in here for too long...you'll get my entire savings account.", she half-teased. The truth was if she wasn't paying that much attention she probably would actually break something. She'd gotten better about it over the years though. The whole 'not being clumsy' thing and she had to credit taking those yoga classes for that. Those classes were a part of her plan to become a normal human being again and not some creature that only existed at work and at home. Not as easy as just waking up one day and deciding that she was going to stop worrying herself over, well, herself.

Johannah laughed a bit at his mention of zero self-control because it was something she could claim herself. Soon after she was giving him a warm, friendly hug that ended with her squeaking out when he lifted her feet off the ground. "Wet probably wouldn't then you'd owe me a new shirt.", she reminded him before letting out another soft laugh. It took a couple of moments to process that it'd been the container bouncing against her rear. But only after she'd started to chew at her bottom lip and more distraction came with the admission that he'd missed her. "Missed you too, Van.", she returned the sentiment.

Most of the months after Brian's death were still practically a blur for her to try to remember. Every now and again she could pull up bits and pieces. Ojai trying to get her out of her apartment or simply staying there with her while she worked through her grief. He knew it, Chandler would eventually, but they'd both saved her life after everything had filled her up after the tragedy. At least now she could look back at some of the moments she remembered to see just how selfish she could have been. Hell, she still felt pretty selfish about how horribly she shut down on everyone around her. That was where her mind wandered when he gave her that look and mentioned telling him something and he'd understand.

"Huh? I...", finally her eyes lifted to the container above her head and she focused back on him again. Narrowing her eyes at him and giving her best 'you ass' look. "If you can find those brownies at the store then I think those demon bread bunnies are stealing my recipes.", giving him a soft thump of her hand at his chest, "Oh yeah, put everything I had in one of them...it's a game." Johannah wiggled her fingers at him before she snuck a couple of fingers inside the container to pull a small corner off one. Popping it into her mouth and chewing with a smile, swallowing then saying, "May the odds be ever in your favor."

Try as she might to contain the laugh, it eventually slipped out, a clear sign that whatever she'd been mentally worrying about was slipping away.

"No, I have a feeling that if I leave you in here alone foe too long you might move in." The space in the workshop was ample, she had her choice of beds and divans, night stands and ornate dining room tables. Only the kitchen amenities were lacking. Ojai had put in a little one off to the side but it was not much more than a sink, fridge and a spare Keurig machine under some cabinets he'd refinished. Why the hell was he paying rent when he could live here? Mainly because he'd never leave the lighthouse property if he didn't have somewhere to go every day.

"I would give you the shirt off my back," he quipped back, lifting his well-worn, paint stained tee shirt enough to make her believe he might have been doing just that. Ojai didn't have to work at this. He'd expected he would have to. But he was glad that things seemed easier between them. Or maybe he was overlooking anything and everything because it was good to see Johannah smile again. Her grief was only rational but it had done nothing to help him move beyond his own after Brian's death. Van, for months, had put so much into her, seeing that she didn't slip away.

"Evil demon bread bunnies. That pinterest is a cult," he chuckled. Oomphing as she thumped him, he rubbed his hand over his chest. Ojai watched her nibble. "You're such a brat. So you only poisoned one of them? You know I'm going to have to eat the whole damn box now on principle? Because what if I eat all but one and live? I can't very well tempt fate like that." Ojai logic was not necessarily logical at all.

Raising his hand, Van poked the tip of his finger at her dimple. "I need to see more of that." It was not an order, but a request. Moving forward was healthy. Stealing his own nibble out of the Tupperware, he popped the treat on his tongue and chewed. The look on his face said it all. Van closed his eyes and savored the small bite. Jojo's desserts were his vice. It was a blessing she wasn't always this good to him. He brushed off his hands and reached for Johannah around the wrist. "Ready to shop? I want to show you something."

He wasn't wrong about her moving in there if she was left alone for too long. With a quick glance around it wouldn't be hard to see why someone would choose living there rather than a cramped studio apartment. The furniture was gorgeous, to say the least, and it was a freaking lighthouse. Maybe getting the couch would be the first step for her to finally realize she needed to personalize her apartment more. Or get an actual place to furnish better than she ever could where she was. But just the thought of having a whole home to herself made her nervous, all that space when she didn't need it.

Her eyebrows raised a little when he started lifting his shirt, "And they say chivalry is dead...", pausing for a moment to shake her head a little. "I'd say I would do the same but I doubt very seriously you'd fit into any of my shirts." Just the thought of him trying to fit into one of her shirts or how he may look with one on was enough to keep a smile on her face. Granted, behind that smile was still the worry about just how 'needy', her words and nobody else's, she had been during everything. She'd wanted to be there for Chandler and Ojai in the way that they were there for her. She worried about them even when she was told there was nothing to worry over.

"Me? A brat? Pffft.", she waved a playfully dismissive hand at the statement before pressing her lips together to hide a smile. "Seriously, don't eat the whole box in one sitting. Chocolate coma is a real thing." Ending her warning in time for that poke to her dimple that of course was going to earn him another smile, "It's been easier lately.", she admitted while watching him take a bit of a brownie. That smile turning into a proud grin over the fact that the brownies were as good as she'd thought they were. Even if she had forgotten the rainbow sprinkles in her anxious baking frenzy. "I used some chocolate syrup in those so it's like...double the chocolate?"

Still looking pretty damn proud of herself by the time he took her by the wrist, "A female is always ready to shop, Van, that's a silly question." Tsk-ing at him a few times before she nodded, "Yes, I am. Lead the way." Things probably should have been more awkward than they were but really she was just hoping to get past all of that. If she didn't focus on it then it wasn't going to drag her back to letting things be awkward, right? It was a plan anyway and it seemed to be working so far.

"Chivalry will not die with me, sweetheart." That was Ojai's biggest weakness. It sounded stupid as fuck and felt worse on some days because of it but he was ruled by his emotions. He was a romantic at heart and while there had to be a good reason for it, it was a mystery to how or why he was like this. He felt strongly about everything. Ninety-five percent of the time, having a big heart never worked in his favor. Only his art truly benefited. That was just as well. It was what he was born for.

Shaking off his thoughts, Van glanced down at her shirt, because that was what he was supposed to do, right? His gaze didn't linger inappropriately but Johannah was beautiful. Ojai could admit that he envied what Brian had. Not just the smart, pretty girl at his side but the whole relationship that went along with it. "I appreciate the sentiment though. You should keep your shirt."

Hmming, he snapped the lid closed on the tupperware and set the box aside with his keys so he'd find it when he was ready to leave. "Brownies are in my possession now. Too late to give instructions." Ojai licked his lips, tasting all the chocolaty goodness still lingering behind. He was more than content that she'd skipped the sprinkles just the same.

The shop was a twisted maze of antiques and finished projects. The back was mostly pieces in the throes of being recreated into something only he could see in his mind. Ojai liked the clutter. It suited him. For a few minutes, the silence stretched and he decided it was a comfortable void, not completely feeding into weirdness. "I finished this over the weekend when you said you were looking for something." The settee was a custom piece he'd tinkered with for the last few months. Other projects had taken precedence and it had taken him longer to get it finished but now Van could understand the timing. He'd wanted Jojo to consider it. "The base is a church pew. Have a seat, try it out. I've got others for you to look at too. You didn't tell me much of what you were looking for."

"Good, it's my favorite anyways.", she said with a bit of a teasing tone to her voice. It wasn't really her favorite, well, it was her favorite work shirt or really one of her favorites. Her actual favorite shirt was ironic considering it was a D.A.R.E. shirt she'd gotten in high school for 'completing the program'. It just proved that Johannah was a very sentimental person. Sentimental enough that she held on to a lot of things most people probably would have gotten rid of over the years. Like the necklaces, Brian, Chandler, Ojai and herself had gotten the summer before he died.

She couldn't help but laugh at his comment about the brownies, "You fall into a chocolate coma and you'll get an 'i told you so'.", she warned him playfully before they were heading off to see the items he'd set out for her. Though she had to admit, if only to herself, that the silence wasn't fueling any part of her of paranoia about having messed things up between them. It was a selfish thought and she knew it but she couldn't afford to lose him and Chandler.

"Oh Van, it's beautiful.", she said in a soft voice when she saw the settee. Wasting no time in letting her purse slip from her shoulder and to the ground so she could move to it. Tracing her fingers over the woodwork to admire it before she turned to take a seat on it, "I just need something that doesn't scream 'I hate my apartment'.", she admitted with a bit of self-deprecation in her tone. Johannah was a bit more careful but eventually, she did lay down on it without lifting her feet onto it. "I worry about the white though. Probably cry if I stained it but I guess I could...what is it called, that stuff that keeps fabric from staining?", she asked while still laying on it. Clearly comfortable and in love with the piece.

"I love it but should probably see the others too, right? Though if they're amazing as this then I'm going to have a hard time picking.", she finally sat up and gave him a warm smile, "You're so talented, color me green with envy."

Johannah was a queen on her throne on his couch. Ojai all but felt every caress she gave the woodwork and fabric as if she were touching him personally. It was sensual just to watch her sit, perched delicately before relaxing enough to lounge to the side. His gaze followed her with a tilt to his head. Jojo looked too damn perfect curled up there. "I tried a few other colors but nothing looked as good as the white." It was almost on the tip of his tongue, an offer to change it for her, but he wasn't sure he could do that to his art. He might have if this were a commissioned piece.

"Scotchgard? You could use that, or put a dark throw over it. Or a plastic furniture cover like in my great Aunt Patty's place in Shreveport. Her whole living room was like that. The summer we went it was hot enough to stick to." Tilting his head straight again, Ojai stepped close to offer a hand to help her sit up and stand again. "I don't want you to have something you're just going to worry about." That was half her battle right there. Van didn't want to contribute to them.

"I have three couches over here, but I think they're too long for what you're looking for." One was leather, another was ceil blue twill and the third was definitely a relic. A monstrosity in plaid with recliners on both ends. There might have even been a cup holder in the center console.

"It's not talent as much as I just don't know how to do anything else." Van had skipped college. He was a free spirit in so many ways. Just like his sister. It was just hard to work not all those who wander are lost into a career path.

"Maybe I should be asking what it is exactly that you're going to be doing on this couch." Innuendo aside, it was an opportunity for Johannah to tell him what was going on in her life without him having to ask point blank and annoying questions.

Well he had one thing right, the settee was certainly crafted well enough for royalty. "The white is perfect, Van. I'm just a clumsy fool most of the time.", she admitted. Angling her head to watch him while he talked about his great aunt's place in Shreveport. Couldn't help but laugh about it though because she was pretty sure there was some great aunt association that said they had to do that. "Stick and slide at the same time.", she added before taking his hand for the help up off the gorgeous settee. The piece of furniture earned a lingering look of admiration before she turned her attention back to him. "But it's so pretty.", giving him a bit of a pout.

The pout faded while she looked to the other three couches which were bigger than the width of her bed. Not that it was a deal breaker by any means because she could always rearrange as needed to make the space work. Or she could just admit that she needed to get the hell out of that apartment. Always a lingering thought whenever she looked at any piece of furniture. Hell, always a thought when she wasn't being anxious over something stupid and she was sure it was the anxiety that kept her in that apartment. "Hrmmmmm...", she was humming while he continued on about talent.

"Oh, that's bullshit...", turning to give him a serious frown. She wanted to tell him that he missed his calling on being a therapist of some sort. But that meant bringing up the fact that she had shared all of her darkest feelings about ending it all when Brian had died. Didn't want to bring that up. Probably should bring it up though since she was sure there were still things he needed to get out of his head. She just couldn't find the courage to get the words out. Selfish in her anxiety-soaked mind.

Johannah perked a brow when he asked what she'd be doing on the couch, "Uh, well...probably a lot of watching movies, playing on the laptop, or working on transcripts? I don't get many visitors outside of Chandler, Breana, Chowder, my sister...", she trailed off because he used to be a part of that list but they'd seen less and less of one another recently. Another twinge of anxiety over that fact and suddenly it was somehow her fault and her fault alone it happened. "No crazy gymnastics.", she teased half-heartedly before shifting to look at the settee again.

"You are not clumsy and not a fool. You just get excited about something, start to react and then think about another option and end up tripping over yourself. It's just how your head works. Own it." Ojai gave her a little tug on a loose strand of hair near her shoulder. The gesture was meant to be understanding. Accepting. He might have been right, he might have been wrong but he'd seen Jojo just as he'd described. It was a part of her. Endearing in a way he couldn't explain. Maybe just familiar to him now.

While she didn't take a keen interest in any of the larger pieces, Van was almost relieved. They were too big and he didn't want to see her swallowed up in any of them. Yes, Johannah needed something out of necessity but no reason why it couldn't be attractive as well as functional. "It's not bullshit. I know wood, I know paint. I'm not claiming to be something I'm not." One shoulder shrugged. He wasn't asking for pity, Ojai just knew his limitations. Chandler and Jojo had the brains and ambition. Brian had too.

Instead, Ojai had creativity and drive. He saw things in color and prisms and dimensions. So much of the human factor was taken out.

It had been a long time since he'd been by her little studio apartment. Johannah's calls had become less frequent, her invitations had stopped. Not that Van hadn't wanted to stay in touch, but he'd followed her lead. If she'd had interest in keeping up their friendship, she would have given some sign of it. Then again, Ojai hadn't done his part either. And life had moved on. He'd wondered why Johannah had got back in touch. It had something to do with Chandler being home. There was too much coincidence otherwise.

Ojai had stuffed his hands in his pockets and moved a step away. He'd not caught her glance back to the first piece or really the attempt at humor as his thoughts turned heavy. "This might be your best bet, then. The reliable futon. Sleep on it, sit on it, spill shit on it. It's like the energizer bunny of couches." It was function, not art but he figured it would be the best bet for his friend.

His description of her not being clumsy was certain to shut her up and put a faint pink tone in her cheeks. And the tug at her hair, well, it's meaning wasn't missed and it warmed her that he didn't think she was as broken as she thought she was. She wasn't going to argue with him on the matter. Though she was still pretty certain that she fell more into the broken category than the normal one. That was why she'd stopped calling and inviting him over and just...fell out of touch. He'd done so much to help her and she hadn't wanted to burden him with more of her issues. Issues that she was grown enough to deal with on her own, right?

It wasn't a good reason to leave a friend out in the cold like she had and she felt horrible about that. She felt horrible about a lot of things and some of them as minor as laughing at things that weren't jokes. This wasn't that and never could be compared to it. So there she stood, lost in her own little mind of trying to figure out how to explain that to him. It was the swell of everything she'd been feeling outside, over the days, the weeks, the months. Putting that god awful knot in her stomach to the point that she actually had to settle her hands there.

By the time she gathered herself and looked at him, well, her mind leaped to interpreting his hands going into his pockets and him stepping away as... Maybe she was imagining it but she'd like to think she knew him well enough to spot a moment she needed to check on him. "I want the first one.", she practically blurted out. Sighing a little as she started to twist the ring on her thumb, "I didn't just need a couch, Van.", shifting her feet around a little she abandoned the ring twisting to run her fingers through her hair. "I mean, I need a couch, clearly I can't keep using a twin mattress as one but..."

Johannah frowned and huffed out a breath, "I wanted to apologize...for...well, I've been a pretty shit friend lately.", she dipped a little to make sure she had his attention, "What's going on in there?" Tapping the side of her own head for emphasis as to what she was really asking about.

No, she wasn't broken. No more than any of them were. Jojo had lost her love and it had turned her life upside down. The hole in her heart wasn't just going to go away. The fact that she got herself up out of bed every morning, that she could bring him muffins, was a huge sign that she was getting there. Even laughing about demon bunny bread helped. Ojai had never minded their talks or the time they'd spent together. He'd been trying to help and nothing more. It hadn't gotten him very far.

Losing Jojo after all they'd been through together had cost him. Not like Brian, but one after the other made him retrace a lot of his relationships. Van could put on a brave face but being around her now, like it had then, put him in a weird head space. He couldn't protect her from what came next in life and apparently Johannah didn't need him to. That wasn't his place. Apparently their moment was over.

This time as the silence stretched on, the tension grew like some dark, moldy thing spreading its poison all around them. "How 'bout I just give you the futon? Consider it a gift. We can go and I'll deliver it tonight." There was no rush to get her out of here now, just to make things simpler. To make the decision for her plus she'd have less worries about the white. And they could put this all behind them.

Jojo wiggled in front of him, making sure to catch his downward gaze until he looked up enough to meet her eyes. "That's not something you need to apologize for. You know your own mind, I don't question it." He swept his thumb back and forth along the stitching of his pocket and he picked his words out carefully. "Why now?" They hadn't purposely been avoiding each other. He hadn't. But they were estranged now and he'd never questioned why. "Is it because of Chan coming home?" Ojai couldn't figure out how it could be. Or rather, he refused to speculate just yet.

There it was, that feeling of dread that she'd messed up even though she honestly thought she hadn't. A feeling that put a rough knot in her stomach to the point that the impulse to rub at it was more than tempting. She only kept herself from doing it by chewing at the inside of her bottom lip instead. More tugging at it than chewing though. "I...I don't want you to just give me the futon, Van...", she stumbled and trailed off. Johannah took a breath to steady herself because she knew she could handle a simple conversation. But fuck if it wasn't hard to see her friend, from her point of view, trying to get her out of there faster. Especially when she'd just told him she wanted the other one.

It would have been socially unacceptable to growl at the situation or him, because he really didn't deserve that. Could have easily been her mind trying to make her worry over something that wasn't truth. But he was wrong about her not needing to apologize for. "I'm asking about yours.", she muttered and found herself staring at their feet momentarily afterward. Why now?, two little words that left her mentally stumbling around like some drunkard. But what came next had her eyes shifting back to him with a more than frustrated look. Practically a frown pulling at her brows before she swallowed it away and opened her mouth.

Nothing was coming out of it though for a moment which probably made things look a helluva lot worse. "Well, no...I mean, maybe...I don't.." Johannah was still trying to figure out how to answer that simple two-word question, "I just...I don't know why now. I can't answer that question.", she finally admitted. Standing there was becoming a chore of not letting herself shift around nervously so she settled for sitting down on one of the couches. She honestly couldn't have told you which it was, "Look, Van, I feel really, really shitty about going radio silent on you...I shouldn't have done it and..."

Johannah shifted around a bit before she finally looked up from her hands to him, "Chan wants us to start doing things together again...like we did while Brian was still...", she huffed before shifting gears, "So, yeah, Chan has a role in it but honestly I've been a horrible friend and I want to stop doing that. You listened to me when I was struggling to keep moving, when I wanted to end it all. It's just..." Another sigh later and her sinking down into the couch, "Chandler kissed me. I..I reciprocated.", she told him. Granted the kiss happened after she mentioned needing a couch but she hadn't decided to actually go see Ojai until after. Maybe that kiss had been a spark she needed to finally stop avoiding him? Probably wasn't logical but what was logical in her head most of the time?

Growling at him would have been the perfect response and Ojai wouldn't have blamed her one bit. Someone needed to smack both of them upside the head to get things worked out. While for a whole of ten minutes they'd been good, the past had crept back up between them carrying old hurts and new. He wasn't trying to get her out of his workshop as much as he just wanted to move forward. Wherever that direction took him.

Ojai had never been one to overshare much. He internalized everything. Not to the degree Johannah did where he found fault with it, or himself, but his mind was a virtual spiderweb of different outcomes. Both in the present and in the past. Sharing his side of things hadn't been the bulk of their relationship over the last year. Or rather the first few months. The last few hadn't been anything.

Watching her sit, Jojo had landed on the futon and she didn't look half as pretty as she had on the settee. "Don't. It's nothing you did." It was more of what she hadn't done. He still couldn't find fault with her. He wasn't even asking why she'd put a wedge in their friendship, only why she was contacting him now. "I get it. I'm not complaining, I'm just curious about the timing." She hadn't said she wanted anything, had she? She'd just come to buy a couch.

"Yeah, he mentioned the beach this weekend." It had sounded great when first proposed. Now, Van wasn't sure. Not if it was going to be a weekend of this. That wouldn't be fun for anyone. "It's just what?" Her words hit him with the force of a gale wind. He hadn't seen that coming. Maybe he should have. If Chandler had a thing for Jojo, he'd been playing it close to the chest. She was smart and beautiful and fun to be with. Had he designs on her himself? No. Yes. Maybe at one point he'd thought of Johannah in a different way. When she'd wet his chest with her tears. But in the year since Brian's death, she'd never given him a heart-long look to make him think there was something more. Had she pushed him away not to give him the wrong idea?

Brian was dead and not coming back. Chandler was the next best option for her. "I'm happy for you. You deserve someone special in your life." Ojai still hadn't sat. He didn't want to take up the space next to her. The long silence stretched before he broke it again. "Is that what you wanted to come here and tell me?"

At least from her side of things, it was starting to feel like a bask in the glory of all our problems moment. She wasn't going to tell him just yet that she disagreed that this wasn't about things she did. Because she did lock him out of her life for a while now. She did that. She also didn't do a lot because she did that. Admitting faults should help her feel more absolved of her 'sins', shouldn't it? That felt like a question she would spend the next sixth months worrying over. Or until the awkwardness melted away. If it did. And dammit she really, really wanted it to melt away without putting more pressure on them. Impractical but a girl could dream.

Grief had a funny way of bonding together in the most personal of ways. But it also had a funny way of pushing people away from one another as well. She hadn't been strong enough to act as the proverbial glue that Chandler and Ojai had needed after Brian's death. Hell, she hadn't been strong enough to get herself out of bed most days after that. How the hell could she have expected herself to help anyone if she couldn't help herself? Yet, she felt guilty about that. Just like she felt oddly guilty for...

Johannah kept shifting during the silence while she tried to find the right words in her head to say. None of them seemed good enough. "No, Van. I didn't come here to tell you that. I mean, I don't know.", she huffed out a frustrated breath. Suddenly it was starting to feel a little harder to breath as that anxious feeling started swelling up inside of her. "I wanted to come here and apologize for being such a massive dick of a friend. You were there when I desperately needed someone, both of you were. But...I told you a lot of things that Chan doesn't know about and then...", she shook her head a little and pushed herself off the futon. "...then I just stopped talking to you all together."

She raised a hand to her hair to fiddle with some of it, a nervous habit, "I wasn't the only one suffering and I should have been there for you like you were for me.", finally, her fingers ran through her hair. "I'm trying to fix things, things I've broken and...You and Chan are all I have left of him, all I have left of Brian and...", it finally slipped out, that sound of pure frustration, a single growling noise. "Look, I don't want to cause problems or...drama...think it's best I go. Thanks for showing me the furniture, Van." Johannah gave him a soft yet forced smile before turning on her heel. Home, just get home..., she told herself while tuning everything out as she walked briskly out of the lighthouse.

It was going to be an anxious ride home, hell, it was going to be an anxious night but at least in the safety of her own home she could admit to just how weak she was.
TRIGGER WARNING: Anxiety, depression, & drug use. Narrative from Johannah Blunt. This is the only narrative I currently have saved and access to.

Johannah had no idea how she'd gotten back to her apartment from the hospital. Everything had ceased to move after she watched that tiny little monitor get shut off by the nurses. She could remember someone screaming so loudly it had been hurting her ears. She could remember somebody getting pulled out of the room and being told they needed to be quieter. That they were scaring the other patients. She just hadn't been aware that it had been her doing the screaming, being the one that got pulled out of the room, the one being told to be quieter with her sobbing. She remembered everything shutting off to the point that she couldn't even feel her own heart beating anymore. And that was it. Everything after that was just utterly...nothing.

A seemingly distant memory that was suddenly going to make a reappearance as she continued cleaning up. All those boxes under her bed needed to be gone through. Most of their contents were an assortment of things dating all the way back to grade school in San Francisco. The plan was to keep what was really important and put the rest into storage since she clearly needed the space.

Pulling out a faded Nike box she didn't expect to feel like she got hit by a MAC truck when she opened it. But she did. Staring up at her was a picture of her and Brian that twisted her stomach into a painful knot. Suddenly it was harder to breathe. It was easy to talk about him, share memories, but seeing pictures and videos always proved to be a trigger. Especially considering what she'd done with Chandler, she didn't regret it though, she'd never regret it.

She exhaled a slow, long breath before using her index finger to slip the picture out of the way. Finding another staring up at her just like the last had and it was suddenly impossible to breathe. Johannah closed the box as fast as she could but the damage was already done. Grabbing the edge of the bed she pulled herself up to her feet while trying to catch her breath. "You're....you're fine...just...breathe...", she whispered to herself.

By then she was already starting to sweat, the walls felt like they were starting to close in...It was hard to focus on anything outside of that dull but growing dizzy feeling. Standing wasn't going to work and instead she found herself just bent over the edge of the bed. Hands slipping up to bury her fingers in her hair as she panted for a solid breath that she wasn't going to get. Deep breath....hold...exhale..., she kept repeating it mentally for all the good it was doing. The dizzy feeling was getting worse right along with feeling like it was suddenly a hundred degrees in her room. "Goddammit.", she growled at herself before she whined with the same breath.

Frantically she shoved a hand between her mattresses to pull out a small Altoids tin. Shaking while she opened it without raising up, doing that would only result in the room moving faster. Johannah dug around blindly in the tin until she found the bar shaped pill she needed. Not even bothering with a drink before she pushed it into her mouth and chewed it up, the whole thing. Probably a bad idea, certainly a bad idea. But it was going to take 15 minutes before the pill kicked in and when it did, well, she wasn't going to care about much of anything.

Until then she was stuck in the horrifying abyss of feeling like she was legitimately dying.
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