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Ghost meets Tristan

cross posted were_ghost and bq_tristan

The wolf growled in frustration. He’d been quartering his territory for three hours and......nothing. Not even a mouse. It’s like every cute, juicy, little furry had heard that the Big Bad Wolf had moved into the neighborhood and changed zip codes. He didn’t understand it. There had been plenty to chew on when he arrived about a year ago; now it seemed that the only animals to chow down on were the alligators and they were just too tough, besides they played rough and he didn’t feel like fighting with his dinner. Oh, but he was hungry.

The wolf headed back to the cabin that sheltered his human side, changing when the rustic structure came into view. In a few minutes Ghost stepped forth in his leathers. He sped off to town on his vintage Indian in search of a tasty meal that he didn’t have to catch with his paws. The wolf roamed up and down the side streets looking for a likely location. A sign declaring “The Den” came into view. That was a likely suspect, especially when he smelled several weres in the area. If the food was good enough for another were, that was an true recommendation.

He swung off his bike, gave the loiters his classic glare that assured that no one would touch his ride, and headed for the front door.

Tristan was having a good evening. Business was steady but not crushing. René had the night off, but Tristan wasn't having any trouble keeping up with his customers. The kitchen area had been designed so that the dining area would be visible, so Tristan noticed when the guy came inside.

He gave the enormous pot of chili on the stove a few more stirs and then headed on out. "Hello, friend. Welcome to The Den. Have a seat and I'll get you a menu." Tristan gestured to the small number of booths still unoccupied.

Ghost nodded to owner and ambled back to the last booth in the eatery. He didn’t expect trouble but with the owner being were it didn’t hurt to be cautious. Ghost slid in the seat and let his senses take in the place. Only one other wolf so far but what really surprised him was the owner, not wolf but definitely were. If he concentrated really hard he got the impression of something big, real big but that was all. The guy wasn’t hard on the eyes either but that’s not why he came in. He was hungry, not horny.

Tristan snagged a menu and came over. “Here we go.” He handed the menu over. “Name’s Tristan, I run the place. The special is our bottomless bowl of chili, with cornbread and fixins.” Tristan grinned. “My furry cousins eat free the first time, so feel free to get whatever you want.”

“Thank you.” Ghost accepted the menu though he didn’t even glance at it. He would accept the suggestion of the owner. “Nice place you got here, Tristan. The name’s Ghost.” He offered his hand in greeting. “And that’s a really generous offer considering that I’m really hungry.” He leaned closer and whispered, “I’d say hungry enough to eat a bear but.... that might not be the way to go.” He watched his host closely to see how his comment went over. He was new and though he was used to having to fight to keep his independence he didn’t want to pick a fight just yet, at least not until he had some food to fortify him. Insulting the owner was a good way of getting himself kicked out. “That chili sounds prefect. Thank you.” He handed the menu back and winked.

Tristan shook the wolf’s hand. “Thanks, it’s still new but doing pretty well.” He chuckled at the comment about eating a bear. “You might be surprised how often I hear that. Good to hear you’re hungry. No worries, though, us Texas boys always do things big. I’ll get a tray together for you. What would you like to drink? - and believe me, you’ll be wanting something. My chili’s got quite a nice burn to it.”

Ghost looked the were over, pondering the “big” comment. “I can see that. Water should do the trick for the heat but I’m going to be wanting something stronger later on if you have it.”

“I’m sure we can find something suitable,” Tristan said. He stepped away, returning after a few minutes with a large tray. Setting it on the vacant table nearby, Tristan placed a large bowl of the chili along with a basket of cornbread in front of Ghost. “This should get you started,” he said, pouring a tall glass of water for the wolf.

Ghost’s mouth watered at the smell of the savory food. He’d be taking full advantage of the owner’s generous offer. It took a lot to keep someone his size satisfied. “Thank you. Mmmmmmm It smells delicious, even better since I didn’t have to cook it. If you have some time later I wouldn’t mind a bit of.... conversation. I’m fairly new here and I’m thinking of looking for a place closer to town. Maybe you know of something that would suit someone like me or might know someone.” Ghost could probably get someone from his company to hire a real estate agent, but the less his employees knew about his personal business the better; besides, it would be more fun getting to know the owner. Ghost figured the were knew who ran things and if he could stay independent (nice name for outsider) and yet safely see René, then he could play nice for awhile .

Tristan nodded. “I meet a fair number of people in this line of work, yeah. I’m sure I can at least give you some options.” Giving one of his bellowing customers the finger was almost an absent gesture at this point - the wolves certainly didn’t seem to mind. “Some crowd, huh? I’d best make the rounds before the locals get too rowdy. I’ll be back by to check on how you’re doing. If you leave any room, I’ve got some tasty desserts as well.”

Ghost just nodded and spooned some of the chili into his mouth. It tasted so good and it really hit the spot. He groaned with pleasure. He could put up with living closer to civilization if he could have this regularly and see his beautiful René. He really did need to get a place with some modern conveniences. He couldn’t take René to his little “cabin” in the woods. More like a glorified shack. It was waterproof but beyond that.... He shrugged and munched on some really delectable cornbread. No, his place wouldn’t do. The place barely had running water and bathroom facilities, not that a wolf needed such things. The only modern anything the cabin had was a very sophisticated satellite computer hookup so he could keep tabs on the business. He definitely needed an upgrade or at least a second home. Later though, because this chili desperately needed his full attention right now.

Tristan made the rounds, surprised to see that Ghost had made substantial dent in his first bowl of chili rather quickly. He was a believer in keeping his customers well-satisfied, and managed to time bringing a second large bowl shortly after Ghost finished off the first. “I’m going to guess that you’re enjoying the chili,” he said, refilling Ghost’s water glass as well. “It looks like the crowd is thinning out, so we can have our talk in a few.”

Ghost looked up in surprise when Tristan replaced the bowl. He didn’t realize how much he was enjoying the meal. “Forget finding me a new place. You have a room in the back? I’ll just live here.” He pulled the next bowl toward him and began eating.

Tristan laughed. “That’s probably the highest praise I’ve received, ever.” He looked around and then sat opposite Ghost. “So, I’m guessing you’re sort of new to the area?”

Ghost nodded and tried to swallow the latest spoonful before answering properly. “Relatively new. Been around for a few months.” Caution caught up with him. He couldn’t let a great bowl of chili completely loosen his tongue, though looking Tristan over again he did seem like the honest type.

“It’s a welcoming place for the most part.” Tristan said. “I’ll make another round and let you set into that second bowl properly.” He smiled and stepped away, working on clearing the tables that had been vacated.

Ghost acknowledged the friendly were with the tip of his spoon, then rolled his eyes at his behavior. He was really being rude. The man had gone out of his way to be friendly, offered a free meal, and all he could manage was a few off-handed comments and flicking a messy spoon at him. This may be harder than he thought. He’d obviously been out in the woods too long. It’s a wonder that René hadn’t kicked him to the curb after their first “date”. Determined to put more into the conversation when Tristan returned, Ghost concentrated on filling his stomach properly.

His second big bowl scraped clean, Ghost took a breath and focused on the cafe’s host. A good-sized young man, well developed. Definitely young compared to him. Nice looking, beautiful eyes, fluid movements with an easy gait, probably bear. He didn’t know why he couldn’t tell the specific species before. There had always been a block in his mind when it came to that kind of thing. He had met and even been involved with a number of feline and bird weres over the years but never a bear. Of course he had no experience with vampires either but they obviously existed.

His eyes focused again on his handsome host. He watched as he moved from table to table clearing and preparing for the next customers. Ghost hoped that Tristan would soon return to him so he could apologize for his less than civilized behavior.

Tristan hadn't taken offense, being very easygoing by nature. For him, it was more a matter of not wanting to interfere with anyone's meal, and Ghost had clearly been ravenous. After making another round, Tristan headed back. "I see you've made it through another one. Do you want a third, or would you rather let things settle for a bit?" He refilled Ghost's water glass once again.

Ghost sipped the water and then wiped his mouth. “Perhaps it would be wise to slow down. Indigestion could ruin this marvelous meal, but I could go for something stronger than water now.” Ghost winked.

“I’ve got a small but decent wine list, and some nice single malt scotch as well as an assortment of beer. Hang on.” Tristan retrieved the a copy of the wines and spirits list and brought it back. “Here we go. The desserts are on the main menu, of course, if you decide you want something sweet as well.” He grinned. “I recommend the honey cake.”

Ghost reached out and stopped Tristan when he thought the man was going to rush back off for another menu. “Not much for sweets, unless it’s chocolate and that is not on my diet. The scotch would be nice. A double, neat and.... you in one place for a few minutes, if you can spare the time - otherwise I’ll wait.”

“Let me get your drink, and then I should be good to hang out for a bit,” Tristan said. He returned to the kitchen, pouring out Ghost’s drink and then returning with it. “Here we go. So, what sort of place where you thinking of picking up?”

Ghost took the offered drink and downed a mouthful. “Thanks, that’s good.” He set the glass on the table and settled his right hand lightly over it, running his finger along the rim while he considered. “I.... don’t need much.... but any company I wish to invite may, so I need something big enough to.... entertain. If you get my drift.” His subtlety had been a bit off of late, or so he was convinced after the near panic attack he brought on René over the whole vampire/werewolf misunderstanding.

Tristan nodded. “Sounds like a loft might work well for you. Plenty of space but a bit set apart too. You strike me as the sort who likes his privacy a lot of the time. I do know of a few places. I’m in a fairly crappy little apartment myself, but I don’t spent much time there.”

“Lots of space is good. Storage room for my bikes and a place that allows large pets is a plus. I am willing to buy. A nudge in the right direction would be appreciated. Do you have a favored part of town? Personally I enjoy music and the great outdoors. My current place handles the outdoors so....” Ghost told Tristan just enough without revealing too much. The werewolf didn’t know that much about the attitude of the local pack and their opinions on outsiders. Hopefully they wouldn’t be as narrow-minded as Mitch.

“I’ll give you a couple of names before you go,” Tristan said. “I’m a fairly recent arrival myself, but when I came down to get the restaurant set up, I spoke with a lot of local realtors. Have you met any of the local kin yet?”

“That would be a good start.” He liked Tristan. A very easy going and helpful sort. “No, I’ve sort of avoided the local kin, or any one for that matter.” He wasn’t sure how much to tell. It was a private matter, after all. He hadn’t even revealed that story to René. “There was a tragedy in my family and a bit of trouble. I was laying low for a bit. Didn’t know how the local establishment worked or if my troubles followed me. It’s sorted now but I still know no one.” Did he really care? He’d never been a big pack animal. He’d been raised by his father alone without the pack. He hardly remembered the couple of years he spent with his mother’s family.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Tristan said. “It’s a tough thing, family problems. If you have an interest in making some connections, I’d recommend getting in touch with the pack alpha. His name is Hoot and he runs a bar of the same name in the Quarter.”

“If I was left to my own devices I’d hang out in the swamp all day doing what comes naturally, but I met someone and I think my rustic little place would get old real fast.” He was willing to do this because he thought it would make René more comfortable, even though the young human hadn’t asked. He hadn’t even mentioned that he was thinking about moving in town. “So this Hoot, what’s he like? A real hard nose or just your average joe?”

“Seeing someone does change the picture,” Tristan said. “Hoot seems easy-going to me. He’s the alpha, so of course he’s got discipline. The bar’s clientele is even more heavily weighted with wolves than mine - basically it’s the hang-out place for the local pack. He keeps them in line, but it didn’t seem to me like he had to stare them down all that much. If you’re wondering how open he’d be to you, I can only say that he treated me fairly. As long as you don’t go looking for trouble, I’m sure you’d be fine.”

Ghost chuckled. “I don’t go looking for trouble, but it does seem to find me. I don’t know if it’s me. Perhaps I’m just ugly, but I find myself forced into confrontations. I will fight for what is mine. Of course right now that’s a sad rickety cabin in the bayou and nobody’s fighting me over it.” Ghost savored his drink for a moment and considered the evening so far. He’d had a great meal, gained some information, and more importantly he’d sat and had a civilized conversation with another were. That was progress. He scoffed and shook his head. He was letting Mitch influence him again, and the wolf was worm food. Just because he’d been made to fight in order to win Lucinda didn’t mean he was a bully or a trouble maker. He had spent more than a century living in peace with others of his kind. “I think I’ll find the house first and then make nice with the neighbors. So what’s your story? What brought you here?”

Tristan gestured around, indicating the restaurant. “I was working up in New York as a chef. I’d wanted to start my own place for years, but putting together the money was tough. As it happened, one of the customers took a special liking to my cooking. We had a few back-and-forths and eventually he offered to back me. He was from this area and it was easier for him to do business down here. I didn’t mind because there’s a lot of great food down here, but what I do isn’t as common. I didn’t know about the locals until I got here. These guys are a whole lot easier to deal with than the guys up in New York.” He shook his head, his expression unpleasant. “Mostly I stay out of peoples’ way, but this one guy just had it in for me. It ended badly - for him. I can’t take a pack on, but I’m usually more than a match for any single wolf. He insisted on a challenge and I finally took him up on it just to make peace with the rest of the pack.” It had been one of the few times that Tristan had unleashed his bear’s full savagery.

Ghost nodded. That sounded familiar. He tipped his glass toward Tristan in salute before downing that last bit. “I like you. You are my kind of people and if what you say about the rest is true, then I think I’ll stay. Besides, I don’t think my new.....boyfriend is looking to move. That’s not a problem for anyone here, is it?”

Tristan made a slight face at the question. “There is prejudice and intolerance here in some measure, just like everywhere else. If you’re talking about the pack, I haven’t seen any indication of it. The bond of the pack is stronger than most things, and so far as I’ve seen, they don’t care who someone might take as a mate.” He grinned. “Which is lucky for me, given the number of them that I’ve taken to bed.” Tristan winked.

Ghost chuckled. “And why not? From what I can see you’re a decent sort and definitely not hard on the eyes.” He started to raise his glass again, then remembered it was empty and frowned.

“Thank you, sir, most kind.” Tristan said. “Hang on, I’ll freshen that up.” He slipped from the booth, returning with the bottle and a second glass. “I think I’ll indulge as well.” Tristan poured doubles into both glasses, setting the bottle onto the table. “Cheers.” He sipped from his glass.

Ghost took back the refilled glass and relaxed in his seat, his legs stretched out under the table. “Cheers.” He tilted it back and let the amber liquid burn its way down his throat. Tristan had some pretty decent stuff and might make a good drinking buddy. “New Orleans may not be so bad. A bit crowded at times for my taste, but I guess a body can get used to anything with the right... incentive.” He thoughts went to the most recent romp with René. ‘Yes, he would adjust.’ He silently gave thanks for the beautiful human in his life and for the time they might have together. He took another gulp and rested the glass on his chest. “So do you have a life beyond this wonderful establishment? Have any hobbies?”

"Other than sleeping around?" Tristan said, chuckling. "Not so much. The restaurant is really a secondary operation. Primarily, it's a catering business that I'm running here. It's the reason the dining area is relatively small. It's a good way to test things out, and make connections." He smiled. "I didn't actually expect it to be as popular as it's turned out to be. Catering pack events is quite a workout, as you can imagine, I'm sure."

Ghost threw back his head and let loose a hearty laugh. He suspected the bear would be good for him if their friendship continued to develop. The other were could keep him from taking himself too seriously. At his age he had to keep a handle on that. He could even imagine the two of them in the sack if the wolf had not met René first. “Yes, weres live hard and play even harder. I can’t imagine anyone outside our own kind satisfying our demanding tastes.” Pulling on a serious face and muttering into his almost empty glass, Ghost added, “Could use a good old-fashioned were party.” He snorted as the image of his last company played through his mind. “Most of my business functions are afternoon teas in comparison. It just doesn’t get the blood flowing.”

“My kind are a bit less hot-blooded, at least in some senses.” Tristan said. “But I for one certainly enjoy my pleasures of food and drink.” He smiled. “I spent a year learning how to make desserts, not the most exciting thing, but one that yielded definite results. I’ve seen some very tough looking wolves enjoying the hell out of one of my eclairs when they thought no one was looking.”

The wolf moaned. “Don’t tease. I love chocolate but it doesn’t like me. I get deathly ill if I eat it. It’s not fatal but it makes me feel like I’d prefer it over the pain. I’ve had to develop a taste for fruit puddings and mouse’ and cheesecake to keep my mind off of what I really crave.”

“I’ll have to hook you on other flavors, then.” Tristan said. “Blackberry-filled pastry, for example. It’s uncommon enough to be something of a surprise, but very tasty. Is it only milk chocolate that upsets you or any kind?”

“Sadly it is any type of real chocolate, but feel free to offer me anything else. Blackberry pastry, you say.” Ghost winked slyly and licked his lips. “A specialty of yours? Does it go with this marvelous scotch?”

“I didn’t invent it or anything, but I do a pretty good one, yes.” Tristan said. “It’d say it goes reasonably well. It’s not as sweet as some, so that helps. Would you care for one?”

“Bring it on, my friend. You are so kind. I would recommend you to all my friends, if I knew anyone.” Ghost was feeling very relaxed. He didn’t think he was drunk. It usually took a lot of liquor to fuzz his brains but he was feeling really, really good. He reached for the bottle and helped himself to a refill. Yes, New Orleans was a good place.

Tristan went back to the kitchen, pausing to make another round with the few remaining customers. After a couple of minutes, he returned with the pastry, setting it on the table before Ghost. “One blackberry pastry - no chocolate, I promise.”

Ghost accepted the tempting morsel. “I trust you. You haven’t steered me wrong yet. And then perhaps I better be moving along before I finish this other stuff,” tapping the scotch “and can’t navigate home. It’s a long way to my shack in the swamp. Besides, I should be rambling along ’cause I’m sure this place doesn’t close itself up and you’re here by yourself. Don’t you have some help?”

“I have an assistant who works sometimes - mostly waiting tables.” Tristan said. “He’s human but definitely plucky - doesn’t have any trouble holding his own with the crowd here. It can be a bear to clean up, no pun intended, but that’s just part of the job. I’ve got some top-of-the-line equipment, so it’s much easier that it could have been.” He smiled. “Of course, being on the strapping side helps as well.”

“Maybe I can help you out there. It’s not a pity thing. I like encouraging businesses run by weres and you’ve got a good one here. My managers insist that I have these client mixers from time to time and I’ve never had one in New Orleans. I think they’d like a visit to the Big Easy. How large of a function can you handle?

"Mostly I work things around 100 people or smaller, though I could go larger with enough notice," Tristan said. "I've got decent connections with some of the better temp agencies for when I need additional servers. What sort of business are you in?"

“Usually it’s just a handful of clients that need wining and dining so they keep using our service, but there have been occasions for larger banquet affairs. Personally I detest them all, but if it keeps my employees fed then I’ll keep the growling to a minimum.” He bit into the tender pastry and the flavors exploded in his mouth. He moaned with delight. “Keep making scrumptious things like this and you’re hired. I’ll fly you in if I have to.” Ghost licked his lips and his fingers, not wanting to miss a crumb. “Would you believe I’m the CEO of a surveying company? Ever heard of Volkov Surveying? My legal name is Stefan Volkov; a name I came up with back before they had paper trails and computers. A bit of forethought on my grandfather’s part. In the 1800’s it was much easier to create a new identity for yourself.”

"Yes, bureaucracy has really taken off in recent times," Tristan said. "I've not heard of the company, no, but that doesn't mean much. I've had my share of dealing with customers I didn't care much for, believe me. But overall, I'm in a fairly happy business. I can give you my card and I've worked up a booklet for prospective clients, basically describing my background and the sorts of things I have experience with."

Holding up the remains of the blackberry pastry, Ghost proclaimed, “This is all the reference I need but... I’ll take your card and fax the information to back to... whoever handles this sort of thing.” He poured them both another healthy glass of scotch. “Enough business. We must finish this drink and then allow you to close. May I assist you? I may not be much of a cook but I can manage a few dirty tables and floors.”

“I certainly won’t turn down any help,” Tristan said, chuckling at the wolf’s reaction to the pastry. He glanced over at the last remaining customers, a pair of wolves who were looking about ready to go. “Let me go get them closed out and then I’ll have some manual labor for you.”

“Good, I thought you would argue with me.” He downed what was left in his glass and went looking for more, only to discover to his disappointment that the bottle was empty. “Huh, I guess I’ll need to bring some next time. “ He was very pleased with the evening. He had a full belly, a new friend, and he’d sat there all evening with other wolves and the place was still intact. Okay, so he didn’t actually talk to them but.... Maybe it was time to leave the solitary life behind.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 1st, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
Blood quarter
I am trying to catch up, so you are not getting many comments from me but I really like this universe. And Ghost is so lovely taking as his first priority his sweet Rene. Thank you so much for sharing. Martha
May. 1st, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Blood quarter
Glad you liked it. Ghost really appreciates the helpful residences of Blood_quarter.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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