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Visit at The Den

Cross posted bq_tristan were_ghost and bq_x_stain ]

Mun’s Note: Part 1

René was glad he’d wore his jeans this evening; he had been pinched and slapped on the ass more times than he could count. The denim material literally saved his ass. Still, René kept up to the busy pace of The Den’s clientele. He seated a couple of patrons, served some others their drinks, and managed to get the orders out to the kitchen quickly.




As he walked past a table, one of the patrons gave him another firm slap on the ass and René just shook his head. “Now you know you have to buy me dinner first if you want to get frisky,”
René teased, and the male wolf placed René on his lap, wrapping strong arms around the human. “Oh, that can be arranged,” he said, flirting with René.

“Stop that, my boyfriend might get jealous; besides, I’m working.” René said, though to be honest he was quite unsure what was going on between him and Ghost -- and Melinda. Dear lord, Melinda... René thought of her and confusion set in. He shook his thoughts from his current love triangle dilemma and focused on what the man holding him now was saying.

“I don’t see your boyfriend here, so where’s the harm in having a little fun?” the were answered, nuzzling up to René’s ear.

René politely pulled away. “Now, now, stop that; another time, perhaps. I have to get back to work or my boss will fire me.” He glanced toward the front entrance as more customers poured in. “What are you giving away today?” he joked with his boss, Tristan.

“Not the staff.” Tristan said, his voice friendly but his expression a definite warning to the offending were: paws off or I’ll pitch your ass out. “Looks like one or two new wags. I think these mutts are spreading the word like crazy - I got dogs from Jersey in here.” He grinned, winking.

“It’s that chili of yours. It’s famous,” René answered with a grin.

“I do seem to go through a lot of it.” Tristan agreed. “Fortunately, they seem to be sucking up the desserts en masse as well. I seem to spend as much time carrying in supplies as cooking, these days. I hope they’re tipping decently, especially with all the ass grabbing going on.”

“The ass-grabbers tend to be the best tippers,” René said, his grin widening.

***

Ghost was heading for The Den. His conversation with Sean had him agitated and an agitated werewolf was not a good thing. After he left Sean in the swamp, he’d headed back to his cabin for his bike. He could have shifted and run all the way to René’s apartment, but he had already tried to reach the young human on his cellphone and gotten only voicemail. That would have left his wolf wandering the streets of New Orleans looking for his missing boyfriend. And if he did happen to find him, there was the problem of clothes, so he took the bike.

Halfway to the French Quarter, the were realized he was hungry as well as agitated. His unexpected meeting with Sean had made him forget that he hadn’t eaten a proper meal since he returned. Couple hunger with being out of communication with René for two weeks and you have a very grumpy werewolf. He had been out of cellphone range most of the time, in the middle of nowhere looking for something that apparently wasn’t even there. Only wishful thinking on his client’s part. Very expensive wishful thinking, because the guy still had to pay Ghost for his time.

Ghost was glad to be back. He would stop and get a bite at The Den, have a friendly chat with Tristan, and perhaps by then he could reach René. He hoped that his young boyfriend had thought about their last conversation and that they might be able to move forward. The were turned left at the next street and coasted to a stop in front of the little café.

The Den was packed, and René continued to be busy waiting tables and answering the phone for carry out orders. “You really need to hire a driver,” he told Tristan with a smile. “Have a to go order for a bowl of your famous chili and an order of BBQ ribs.” He handed his boss the order ticket with the name Paris. The name stared back at him and René wondered if it was the same Paris from the auction. He’d wanted to ask Tristan about the doppelganger, but right now wasn’t the time. Perhaps if René got a moment alone and could speak to his boss, away from the clientele; but for now, things were hectic and he had to concentrate on work.

“I’ve been looking into it, actually.” Tristan said, taking the ticket. “We’re going through these jumbo containers like crazy.” He got another container and began to fill it from the huge pot of chili. “Let me know if you know anyone reliable. I’ve been looking at getting another cook as well.” Tristan really loved cooking, but business had really taken off and it was getting to be more than one guy could readily handle. He’d not hand off any of his signature stuff, but it would be easy enough to train someone up to do some of the basics.

‘I’ll put the word out at the college,” René said, hurrying over to another table that was flagging him down.

Ghost stalked into The Den. He couldn’t find René so he figured filling his belly would help. He filled his lungs and growled when the tantalizing scent of Tristan’s delicious chili filled his senses. This bear could cook. He glanced around the crowded café for the bear and found him spooning out said mouth-watering chili. He started forward when another scent overlaid the chili. One that worked on a totally different part of the were’s body. René.

René had not noticed Ghost’s presence in the place as of yet. It was hectic this evening and the customers kept him on his toes with their rounds of drinks. He finished serving a table a pitcher of beer and started to head toward the front to see if he could seat any of the new customers. As he passed, the one were who was flirting with him earlier slapped him on the ass, making René jump a little, but he laughed it off.

Ghost zeroed in on his boyfriend just as the hand landed on the young man’s behind. Ghost’s emotions were too wound up to see it for what it was, an innocent flirtation. He growled and stared at the offending were. His fist clenched. René was his and only he was allowed to touch him like that. Hadn’t he stared down that jerk at René’s school? The growl’s volume increased as the were continued to watch René.

René was rubbing his rump, not noticing that the other were had locked gazes with Ghost, challenging him. In fact, René was still oblivious to the fact that Ghost was even there. René finished making his way toward the entrance, “Welcome to The Den, how many are in your party?” he asked, glancing around the room to see where there were some open seats.

The weres in front of Ghost told René that they had a party of four. René nodded, taking out a clipboard from the podium. “It’ll be about fifteen minutes for a table. Let me take down your names and while you wait, why don’t you guys take a seat over by the bar and try our --” He stopped in mid-sentence as he noticed Ghost. But it seemed Ghost was looking somewhere else. “Hey, babe, I’ll be right with you.” He lightly touched Ghost’s arm, concerned as to why the werewolf looked so angry.

The weres that René had just spoken with stood waiting and watching, anxious to see if a fight would break out. The happy atmosphere of the evening slowly drained away, replaced by tension. “What’s going on, Ghost?” René stepped forward. “You okay?” He touched Ghost’s cheek, and that caused the other were at the table to stand up. Confused, René looked around the room for Tristan, afraid that things were quickly spiraling out of control.

Ghost kept his eyes locked on the other were. It wasn’t a casual, friendly thing anymore. The were was challenging his claim to René. That could not go unanswered, but he had to be smart about it. He was still new here. He felt the gentle pressure on his face. His young man was touching him. René was here beside him, not that sneering dog over there. Ghost wrapped his arm around René and pulled him close, his eyes never leaving the challenger.

The other were motioned to his friends who were sitting at the table to sit down, and with a wry smile backed down and took a seat with his friends. Inviting all the patrons to a round of drinks, the other were acknowledged Ghost’s claim on the human.

Tristan had felt the tension rising. Stepping back out from the kitchen, he looked around. He was a little puzzled when he didn’t see anything particular going on, and surprised to see that Ghost was not only there but rather up close and personal with René. Wanting to make sure that things were cool, Tristan stepped over.

“Hey, there.” He said, waving to Ghost. “How are things?”

Seeing the other were retreat, Ghost physically relaxed, but his hold on René didn’t loosen. He’d been away for two weeks. That plus the disturbing talk he had with Sean earlier tempted him to sweep René off his feet and carry the young human away. He knew immediately that he couldn’t do that because it was obvious that René worked at The Den. He must be the assistant that Tristan spoke of. Small world.

Ghost shifted his gaze to the owner. “Hey, been good. Just stopped in for a bite “ He was trying to calm his emotion and sound casual, which was hard with his wolf still biting at his insides. He squeezed René’s waist and smiled. “Just got back into town and couldn’t find my boyfriend, so I thought I’d fill in the time filling my stomach.” Ghost finally looked down at René, who was still pressed to his chest. “He was in the last place I would have thought to look.” With that said he gave René a gentle peck on the lips and loosened his punishing grip.

“Yeah - small world, right?” Tristan said. “Well, I’m pretty sure René can help you find something to satisfy that appetite. I’d best get over to the new table and make sure they don’t start humping the chairs or something.” His grin to René was very much ‘I will demand details later’.

René felt his cheeks burn red as all eyes were on him and Ghost. Tristan’s smile just made René blush more, but he laughed it off, hiding his face behind a hand. This certainly wasn’t the worst predicament he had been in.

Ghost chuckled. He was sure that his boyfriend could satisfy several of his appetites. “So you think you can find a place for me?” He winked and freed René completely from his grasp. Of course he added silently, ‘Or am I in the doghouse?’ Ghost wasn’t sure René understood what had happened, or almost happened, and now that it was over he felt a little foolish. This is why he’d lost human partners. He had to keep his temper under control.

René leaned in and placed a hand on Ghost’s arm. “You were looking for me? I’m right here, baby.” René was not sure what had happened or why Ghost and the other guy had a type of stand-off, but he gave Ghost a light kiss on the lips to reassure him. Perhaps later he could find ways to let Ghost know how appreciative René truly was for having Ghost in his life. “You look worried - everything okay? I hope I didn’t do something to upset you,” he said softly.

The tender moment was broken when another customer stepped in and stared momentarily at René, astonished. “I apologize for staring, but the resemblance to my boss is just...” The man excused himself, his mouth still agape. “Name’s Lenny.”

“René,” the cellist answered. “You must be here to pick up Paris’ order, huh? I’ll go check on it. Why don’t you take a seat at the bar meanwhile?”

“How did you know?” Lenny asked.

“You, ah, mentioned I look like your boss; I figured it must be Paris. Can’t be someone else in this town who looks like me, right?” René said with a smile.

Lenny smiled back. “Let’s hope not, that would be awfully confusing, no?”

René directed Lenny toward the bar, then turned his attention back to Ghost. “Yeah, I can find you somewhere to sit. Follow me, gorgeous.” René winked and led Ghost over to a corner table, handing him a menu. “Special today is Tristan’s famous chili. If you haven’t had any, I highly recommend it.”

Ghost followed his sexy human to a table. Seeing René again and being able to touch him made all the difference to the agitated Ghost. His talk with Sean was put aside for later. He could see that René was fine and now that he was in the café, he doubted any of the weres present would lay a hand on his human. His claim was clear even if the object of the claim was unaware of the attention he attracted. “This is fine, and so am I now that I’m back.” He raised the young man’s hand and kissed it gently.

He didn’t need to look at the menu. He already knew what he wanted. “I’ll have the chili, cornbread and a pitcher of water.” He glanced around at the crowded café . “I’d ask for a little personal service, but it looks like I’m going to have to settle for the food for a while but that’s all right. I can wait.” He winked.

René sat in Ghost’s lap and wrapped his arms around the were’s neck. “I promise to make it up to you.” He placed a kiss on Ghost’s neck. “I get off about nine-thirty or ten, depending on clean up. I can ask the boss if you can wait around.”

Ghost enclosed the young man in his arm and briefly held him close. After two weeks he wanted to do much more, but he didn’t want to get either one of them in hot water with Tristan. One night of drinking together did not a bosom buddy make. The café was packed and René had a job to do. Ghost kissed the top of René’s head and whispered, “I’ll be right here when you finish. Tristan won’t mind. Not going anywhere, baby.” And with that he lifted the young human off his lap and set him on his feet. “I’ll be right here.”

“All right, I’ll go put your order in then and bring you your water.” René winked and went over to the bar to get Ghost’s pitcher. He noticed Tristan over by the kitchen area and walked over to put in Ghost’s order, trying to keep the smirk off his handsome face.

Tristan didn't bother hiding his own smirk. "So, what's the sexy beast having? Other than you, I mean."

Tristan’s comment caused René to blush slightly again. “Ghost will have a bowl of your famous chili and some cornbread.” René glanced over to where Ghost was sitting. “Yeah, he’s one sexy man...”

"Coming right up." Tristan said, getting a large bowl and dishing up some of the chili. "You wouldn't be interested in leaving a little early tonight by any chance? I'd hardly blame you." He grinned.

“No way, it’s a madhouse out there, but I appreciate the offer,” René said, picking up the bowl of chili and a basket of cornbread. “Truth is, I’m going to need the cash. I have my Spring Recital coming soon, and my conductor is a Nazi when it comes to rehearsals and such.”

Tristan nodded. “Let me know if you come up short. Business is going pretty well - I can give you a boost if needed.”

“Really?” René asked, somewhat surprised.

“Sure, I don’t mind.” Tristan said. “Life is too short to be stressing over the little things, right?”

René kept his smile. “Hmm, that is tempting. Let me think on that.” He made his way back over to Ghost with the pitcher of water, chili and cornbread. “Here you are, gorgeous,” he said, leaning over just a bit to whisper in his ear. “Boss says I can leave early if I want, but I feel a little guilty about it. What do you think?”

“Thank you, beautiful,” Ghost said, accepting the food. “I don’t mind waiting. Tristan’s a good guy and I’d hate to leave him alone with this mob.” Ghost leaned up and blew in René’s ear and then nipped it. “Besides, I’ll get to watch that cute little ass of yours move around this place and imagine what I’m going to do with it later.”

“Keep that thought.” René winked, placing Ghost’s hand on his ass. “I’ll be back later to see if you need anything else.” He figured if the other customers could grab his ass, why shouldn’t his boyfriend? Well, that is if Ghost still considered René as such, that had yet to be determined; their last conversation had left René feeling confused about the whole thing.

Ghost gave the firm ass a squeeze and a light slap to send René on his way. The sooner this bunch of mutts finished their meal and left, the sooner the three of them could close this place down for the night and he and René could get reacquainted. He smirked as he prepared to dig into the delicious meal. He and Tristan had talked about a lot of things but neither of them realized that they had René in common. It was definitely a small world and getting smaller all the time.

It seemed Paris’ order was ready and René picked it up off the hot plate and handed it to Lenny, who took out a fifty to pay for the order. “I’ll be back with your change,” René said, heading toward the register.

“Nah, keep the change as tip,” Lenny answered, putting away the bill fold in his inner suit pocket.

“You do realize you’re giving me a thirty dollar tip?” René said, a bit unsure, raising an eyebrow.

It was a look that reminded Lenny of his vampire master and it made him chuckle, thinking about the similarity in expressions. “Paris would want you to have it,” was all Lenny said before he exited the place, leaving a perplexed look on René’s pretty face.

Ghost watched René move about the café between bites. He wanted to make sure that those weres kept their hands to themselves. They may not have known about the human’s boyfriend before, and of course after two weeks his scent would have faded away, but they did now. Ghost wondered idly whether René thought about the things they had discussed before he left. It seemed that every time they got into something deep, he had to leave. If he kept doing that, René was going to start doubting his sincerity, which wasn’t good because the young man already had enough doubts. Ghost was just going to have to work harder at convincing the young human.

Ghost heard his spoon scrape the bottom of the bowl. Was he finished with his first bowl already? He hadn’t even noticed. He must have been hungrier than he originally thought. Well, there was always the cornbread to keep him until René made it back, or he could just go and get some more from Tristan and save René the trip. He could use a beer or a glass of scotch about now, but he knew René’s feelings about alcohol, so drinking was out while he was around René.

Ghost put his spoon aside, grabbed his bowl and slid out of his seat. He headed for the kitchen.

Tristan was assembling orders and generally keeping an eye out when he saw Ghost approaching. “Hey there. Need a refill?” He saw the bowl the wolf was carrying and remembered Ghost’s very healthy appetite.

Ghost slid the large bowl across the counter. “Always. Didn’t want to bother René. He looks like he has enough to handle.” He loved the way René dealt so easily with the clientele in the busy café. “So my beautiful René is your assistant.” He leaned closer and whispered, “Does he know about you? Or them?” tipping his head slightly in the general direction of the other were customers.

“Not so far as I know.” Tristan said, getting Ghost a clean bowl and filling it with chili. “The boys know to keep a lid on things here, even though most of the customers are weres.” He passed the bowl over. “How about you - does he know?”

Ghost took the full bowl and tasted it. He’d hardly even tasted the first bowl. He’d been so worked up over seeing René again that all the first one did was take the edge off. He nodded. “I needed to know that he accepted me.” He groaned. “You are never getting rid of me if you keep cooking like this.” His eyes followed René about the room. “And the view has improved since the last time I was here.”

Tristan chuckled. "He does get a lot of notice, though I make sure the guys don't get too out of line. You might want to save some room, I made some fresh pastry this morning."

“Blackberry?” Ghost stopped eating at the thought of the delectable dessert. It was the perfect finish to Tristan’s chili, or at least Ghost thought so.

Tristan nodded. “Blackberry and raspberry as well. Can I tempt you?”

Ghost snorted. “Silly question. I’ll take both.” Ghost looked into his bowl, which was half empty. “After I finish this.” He filled his spoon again. “Thanks for telling me about the realty lady. She found me the perfect place. It will take time to do the remodel but I think it will suit me.”

“No problem, I’m glad she was able to help.” Tristan said, pulling out two pastries and putting them on a plate. “Yeah, it’s nice to be hands-on for a place, if you can.” He gestured at the restaurant. “I did some design work on this, primarily the kitchen layout. Depending on how well the business goes over the next year, I may just buy the property.”

“I’ve got a few ideas, but the kitchen could be a cooler and a microwave and I’d be happy. Don’t like cooking.” Ghost set his second empty bowl down and snatched one of the flaky pastries from the plate. He took a bite and moaned. “How do you do that?” He took another bite. “Who needs to cook when I have you? Will you marry me?” He grinned.

"A big part of my formal training was in patisserie." Tristan said, laughing. "I think René might take it the wrong way if I married you." He smirked. "Or maybe the right way." The wolf was gorgeous, but of course Tristan wasn't the poaching sort. He also was pretty sure that Ghost wasn't the sort to stray. “I think I can keep you fed, at least.”

“That will do.” Ghost licked his finger so as not to miss a single crumb. “But you are going to make someone a really great mate someday.” Ghost glanced at the crowd. “I’ll let you concentrate on this bunch so I can take my beauty home tonight, or he can take me home.” He picked up the last of his dessert and headed back to his table. “I’ll be over here...working,” he said, waving his phone.

Tristan had time to shake his head in amusement before another round of good-natured bellowing for service was had from one of the tables. René was already busy with two more, so Tristan made his way over with more food and drink.. “Put a sock in it, mutts, or I’ll have you all fixed!”

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