Log Title: Shark Smiles
Summary: Winter and Royal discuss living in Bay City and the Longbow case over dumplings and wine.
IC Date: Mon Apr 08 20:32, 2381
OOC Date: Mon Apr 08 20:32, 2019
Related Logs: None
winterroyal

 

 

"…Dolphin, maybe. Or one of those toothy seals that look cute until they chomp."

* OOC Time: Mon Apr 08 18:32:37 2019 *

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  • * *

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Winter > Are you busy, tonight?

* * *

Royal > Does luxuriating in the shower count?

* * *

Winter > It does if it means I shouldn't come over.

* * *

Royal > Come on by. As long as you don't mind seeing me in just my robe.

* * *

Winter > I'll find the strength from somewhere. Should I bring some dinner?

* * *

Royal > As long as it's terribly unhealthy.

* * *

Winter > Dumplings it is. I'll be by in a bit.

It's about a half hour later when there a knock at the office door. Winter stands in a dark blue peasant skirt and a fitted cream top, holding a plastic bag from one hand that likely contains the promised dumplings.

* * *

The door opens of its own volition when the security system verifies Winter's identity. Then it's a clear path through the office into his flat proper.

Royal wasn't lying. He's standing in his kitchen wearing nothing but a blue silk robe, fighting with the cork of a wine bottle that seems to be coming off in chunks. He sighs at it, then looks up. "Hello hello."

* * *

"Oh, gosh," Winter murmurs, considering the mangled cork. They walk over to the kitchen counter to set the dumplings on it and peer at the neck of the bottle a little cloer. "Are we at peak desperation, yet, or still holding out hope of getting the rest of it out?"

* * *

"Alas, I think poor Merlot is a goner. Unless you'd like your wine with several small chunks of cork in it. But good job I've got a bit of a wine cellar, ay?" Royal flashes one of his 'everything is fine' smiles, even though his completely un-coiffed hair and robe tell a different story. His robe half droops off one shoulder, revealing the still-not-quite normally coloured clone graft from where he got shot.

* * *

"I was a graduate student, once. I've done worse than 'wine with cork bits in it'," Winter returns. They reach out, less to fix Royal's droopy robe shoulder than to touch the healing skin it reveals and then to look from the graft to his face, brows furrowing as they consider that smile. "What's wrong?"

* * *

"Oh, so was I. And a doctoral candidate. I think I might have gnawed on a bit of cork once," Royal pauses with a new bottle of wine in his hands as Winter fixes his robe. He pats the bottle, then reaches for the corkscrew to try again. "I got the chat from my family. About the abdication. About my…." he lifts his chin, "…'selfish recklessness.'"

* * *

Alas, poor Merlot. Gone before its time and still so young. "How'd it go?" Winter asks.

* * *

Royal works the corkscrew like a pro. This time it comes out cleanly, and he pours a pair of glasses. "About as well as you'd imagine. They're…relieved that Mick is about, but that isn't enough to appease them." He slides one glass towards Winter. "They're in a tizzy over the abdication. There's worry that other families will follow suit. Immortality is tempting, and my cousins have just made it seem legitimate."

* * *

"So, they want you no longer being a GPPI?" Winter asks as they accept the wine, swirling it a couple times before taking a sip. "They want you back in London? What are their demands?"

* * *

"I'm English. We don't demand. We very heavily imply and then get in a huff when others don't read our minds." Royal leans on the counter, grins that grin again and swallows a mouthful of wine. He hasn't got the robe done up very neatly, so it slumps off his shoulder again. He clears his throat. "They stopped short of ordering me to drop being an investigator or ordering me back to London. But just barely short."

* * *

"Oh, right, right, of course," Winter agrees for Britishisms. They have another swallow of wine, a corner of their mouth quirking as the other side of the robe goes flop. "Then what happens now, besides generous amounts of wine, I mean?"

* * *

"Well, as expected, I have a stay of execution as long as the Longbow case is opened. My family is powerful, but they aren't going to risk pissing off a meth by yanking me. Not…yet anyway," Royal takes a generous drink. "After that? Who knows?" He shrugs his one bare shoulder. "But the sleeve thing…" he huffs a breath. "I believe the exact words were, 'if you're going to be doing non-academic investigation, at least do it in a disposable sleeve.'"

* * *

"Mmm," Winter murmurs. "Suppose it really was inevitable. Though, speaking on non-academic investigations, I do have a bit of an update on that front."

* * *

"And that was a directive. Up until now it's been dancing in the neighbourhood of suggestion. But words that blunt from the royal inner circle means they are going to yank me back to London if I don't comply. And I rather like it here." Royal leans across the table and grins at Winter. But then, the investigation comes up, and he pokes at the bag of dumplings. "Do tell."

* * *

"I like you here, too," Winter returns. In the bag is a container holding a dozen dumplings and a small bowl of dipping sauce. They're still warm enough to steam a little when the container opens. "Remember how we discussed releasing an easter egg onto Podnet and seeing if it gets anybody's attention? Well… I did. And it did. I received a reply in the anonymous e-mail at the end of a rather convoluted chain of tracebacks and treasure hunting it would have taken some significant effort to find."

* * *

Royal doesn't even try for chopsticks. Instead, he grabs a dumpling with his fingers and dips, then chews. His eyebrows raise. "Well well. Someone took the bait. Now what?"

* * *

"I have a low-res image of the sleeve they were wearing when they got the address," Winter replies. "Actually looks a good bit like a TBT artist who climbs skyscrapers. I think I may have found the sleeve in question at a local, high-end store. And… this is interesting… the salesman there was one Galen Sparks."

* * *

"The Fightdrome fighter? I knew that fight money was…unstable, but…" Royal pops another dumpling into his mouth, chews, thinks. "Well, look at you chasing down leads outside of the digital realm. You should get yourself properly licensed."

* * *

"Don't tempt me," Winter laughs, reaching for a dumpling of their own, following Royal's lead and just using their fingers to dunk and bite. They chew and swallow, at least, before speaking further. "I tried to appeal to his fighting spirit, or rather to the fact that his employer was recently strung up on his own microphone, to ask him to look into previous rentals of the sleeve. We'll see if he follows through."

* * *

Royal bites the edge of his lip and leans in, eyebrows arching. His tone drops to conspiratorial depths. "Do you think, perhaps, that the prospect of a big commission on a top of the line secondary sleeve from a man of considerable means might entice his cooperation?"

* * *

"Oh, you know?" Winter muses, their own smile growing as Royal leans across the counter, "I really think it might. At the very least, couldn't hurt to try. And, I did happen to mention I had a friend who might be in the market for a secondary sleeve."

* * *

"If there's one thing I'm learning about the Ground, is that there's a definite tension of risk versus reward for people. Helping someone out of a sense of…deceny? Self-preservation, even, when it's not assured that one's hide is on the line? Ah, a difficult choice. But line the way with a bit of cold, hard cash…" Royal motions grandly. Stops. "Sorry, that analogy got away on me a titch."

* * *

"People are more likely to heed their better angels?" Winter offers, brows lifting a little. "I do not get the feeling Galen Sparks is above a little bribery. But, he does keep dangerous company on several fronts. Best we keep that in mind."

* * *

"Does this sleeve establishment have a good reputation? You said it's high-end." Royal sips his wine and considers. "If so, then if Mister Sparks is going to make trouble for me, it won't be in that establishment."

* * *

"I believe it's quite reputable, outwardly at any rate," Winter replies, "and you're probably right about that. But, it may put you in the line of sight of people who weren't paying much attention to you before now."

* * *

Royal grins fiercely. "Oh my dear Winter, I'm quite accustomed to being in the limelight, don't you worry about that. And not just the paparazzi. We royals do occupy a tenuous position between meths and everybody else."

* * *

"Well then… Game on." Winter returns before finishing their dumpling. "We'll see if Mr. Sparks will sell us some information."

* * *

"I have it on good authority that I can be rather charming," says Royal as he tips a bit of wine into his mouth. "If…Mister Sparks can be swayed by such things."

* * *

"He may be partial to a pretty face," Winter allows with another soft laugh. They pick up and second dumpling and make quick work of it.

* * *

"But he sells pretty faces. Surely it would be a bit like working in a chocolate shop." Royal's mood seems to be improving, even if there is a little ennui around the edges. He snags another dumpling.

* * *

"But yours talks with a British accent and brow arches and grins like you're a shark that just noticed blood in the water," Winter replies. "I think you might manage to get his attention, regardless of his overexposure to 'chocolate'."

* * *

"A shark? I thought I was far cuter than shark. Dolphin, maybe. Or one of those toothy seals that look cute until they chomp." Royal reaches out and makes chompy motions with his hands, all the way to lightly 'nip' at Winter's chin.

* * *

"You'd rather be a seal than a shark?" Winter asks, hand lifting to bat Royal's away after it gets a nibble of their chin. "But they're like fat, furry inch worms on land."

* * *

"Ahh yes, but poetry in the water. Besides, no one likes sharks. I'd hope I'd be more charismatic and less scary and…toothy." Royal's doing the smile again, but then he ends up closing his lips more than he usually does in a bout of sudden self-awareness.

* * *

Winter laughs, shaking their head. "It's a very appealing toothiness, you ridiculous creature. And I like sharks. They don't get enough credit."

* * *

"An appealing toothiness. I don't think anyone else has ever uttered those words before you, my dear." Royal chuckles softly. "But I'll take it. Only because you're the one giving it."

* * *

"Reeeally," Winter muses, brows lifting a touch. "Do those rules only apply to compliments?"

* * *

"Cheeky," Royal drawls. "But you know me well enough by now. What do you think the answer to that question is?"

* * *

"I thiiink," Winter lets the word draw out as their gaze lazily considers Royal from his curls down to his hips, where the counter begins, and back again, "it includes other things as well."

* * *

Royal leans on the counter, chin in hands, head canted. "Oh, you know me so well." There's the smile again. He closes his lips. "Damnit. Now I'm hyper aware of my bloody teeth." But it doesn't seem to actually bother him.

* * *

Winter grins, flashing their own teeth at Royal. "Sometimes, you're adorable," they murmur before closing the bit of space between them to claim a kiss.

* * *

"Only sometimes? I must try harder," says Royal a moment before the kiss lands. He kisses back softly, all red wine and dumplings on his breath. But they have that in common.

* * *

Winter doesn't seem to mind either flavor. "Other times you're handsome. Or sexy. Or endearing. Or, yes, charming." Their lips press to his jaw.

* * *

"You know, we've a saying back home. Never stroke a Taylor man's ego unless you're prepared to go all the way," Royal captures Winter's hand to nibble on fingertips a little.

* * *

"I've already stroked more than your ego," Winter purrs, letting their hand be captured and their fingertips get nibbled, "How much further could we take things?"

* * *

"Have a little imagination, Doctor," says Royal with a soft tut. "If you can conjure up prehistoric sky fish, surely you can think of more things to stroke."

* * *

Winter hmms softly, considering Royal's person again. "How do you feel about handcuffs?"

* * *

"Sounds like something that might leave a mark," says Royal. "Sorry. That was terribly vain of me, wasn't it?" He chuckles softly. "Just a bit hyper-aware of the possibility of marks that dear Mick might pick up on."

* * *

"Does Mick have a say in that sort of thing?" Winter asks, head canting. They add, after a thoughtful moment, "In VR, nothing leaves a mark. Not that we have to."

* * *

"Ah, no, thankfully he stays out of my sex life. But he might get a bit paranoid if I show up with another injury." Royal rubs his wrist where the fictitious bruise might be. "Even if it was…consensually gained." As for VR? "Well, I still have only got one chair. It wouldn't be very comfortable for one of us for more than a short foray."

* * *

Winter gives a small nod. "Maybe anther time, then," they allow with a faint smile, picking up their wine glass and giving it a thoughtful swirl. "Any more information on the stacks the police have in custody? Or the DJ?"

* * *

"Clearly I need to be completely extravagant and install another chair," says Royal with a bit of a drawl in his voice as he lifts his wine up to his lips. "I've got the equipment for two people to jack in, but one of us would be in a folding chair. And I'd imagine that would have you wake up with a terrible crick in your neck." He mimes rubbing his own.

As for the police? He shakes his head. "No. They're not being very forthcoming. Probably afraid I'd leak details of a biological agent to a meth. Which to me seems horribly naive. The meths are most likely the ones making it to begin with."

* * *

"I've sat in worse," Winter replies with a small laugh, "though admittedly usually not for hours. And not in this sleeve." There's a soft breath out for the lack of information and another small nod. "Things would be a lot simpler, and likely a lot safer, if it wasn't a meth. Or, maybe they suspect a methuselah and are doing their best to keep the suspected party in the dark about how much they know."

* * *

"Honestly, they could have just forgotten to get back to me with how over-stretched and under-resourced they are," says Royal with a sigh. "I understand how organic damage and real death would take precedence over some lab results off broken stacks. Cops value their close rates, which means avoiding some of the stickier ones. Why do you think the GPPI has work at all?" He salutes with his wine glass.

* * *

"Then perhaps you should reach out to your Detective Perez," Winter suggests. "Offer to take a little of that work off her overfilled plate."

* * *

"My Detective?" says Royal as he places a hand to his chest. "Oh, would that I had my own personal detective within the BCPD. My life would be far easier, that's for certain." He reaches for the bottle and refills both of their glasses unless Winter protests.

* * *

Winter does not. "Well, she's the one assigned to be your contact for the case, isn't she?" they ask. "That does make her yours… in a way."

* * *

Royal chuckles. "I feel like she might protest that particular designation." He stretches out, catlike, fingers creeping across the counter. "What about you? Have any other loose threads you want to tug at?"

* * *

"Admittedly, I probably wouldn't refer to her in that manner, were she in the room," Winter confides. They reach their hand out (the one not holding the wine glass), so their fingertips rest against Royal's. "I don't know. Carnage says the job done on him required an insider at the Rose. Violet, Dr. Grey, seems confident that this person will be found and intends to interrogate them." They frown faintly. "If I ask, she might let me be a part of it. But, I'm not sure I want to."

* * *

Royal grimaces. "Mhmmm. I don't think I'd want to witness Carnage's idea of justice, or the idea of justice of those in his employ." He swallows another big mouthful of wine, then reaches out to curl his other hand gently over Winter's.

* * *

"No," Winter agrees softly, "I'm quite certain you wouldn't. Violet was very determined to get the answers Carnage wanted. By any means necessary." They lift the wineglass and take a generous swallow. "Do you think people can change?"

* * *

"Certainly. I'm not half the hedonist I used to be in my twenties. To be human is to change. That's part of the problems with the meths." Royal sips his wine again, then nudges it aside.

* * *

"So, why did you?" Winter asks, "Become less of a hedonist?"

* * *

"Why? Age, that's why. Maturity. And a desire to accomplish more in my life than my arse in a tabloid." Royal shrugs. "And a little respect. And to be seen as more than a wastrel."

* * *

"You just woke up one day and found you wanted those things, when you didn't before?" Winter asks. A corner of their mouth quirks. "Admittedly, it's a nice 'arse'."

* * *

"No, no. I weaned myself off it. Slowly, at first. But there were a couple of rather embarrasing articles. Especially, ah, post break-up." Royal rubs his cheek. "That was quite a bender."

* * *

"The breakup with the woman who changed sleeves?" Winter asks, their tone gentling a little. "That must've been a rough time."

* * *

Royal grins, shrugs, nods. "Mhmm. And after that, I think I mentioned, I went a bit too clean and proper. To the point where I wasn't quite myself. I got a bit obsessed with the gym. I cut my hair close. I started attending royal functions without needing to be asked. I was, for a short time, the very model of a proper member of the royal family. And during that time, my father changed sleeves, and the Dukedom fell to me. So I kept on with the properness."

* * *

"Even got engaged, didn't you?" Winter recalls, taking a swallow of wine. "You really were trying to be everything your family told you was proper."

* * *

"Mhmm, yes. Can you imagine such a thing?" says Royal softly, and a bit sadly, with one of those toothy smiles tugging briefly at his lips. He looks down at the table and exhales slowly.

* * *

"Yes," Winter replies, "I can. But, I'm not sure you could. Not really. Not when you let yourself actually think about it rather than just forging ahead."

* * *

"And I did stop to think about it. Which is why I took the first out from that path I could. And I got as far away from…" Royal scratches the back of his neck. "…the temptation to be ordinary, I suppose?"

* * *

"And the pressure to conform," Winter suggests. "If no one really cares about your title, then no one expects you to behave a certain way either. I wonder though…"

* * *

"Mhmm?" intones Royal as he attempts to make eye contact. "What is it?"

* * *

"The monarchy is important to you. I mean, because they're you're family, of course, but more than that, I think you're proud of the history they carry. You want to see the traditions survive," Winter says, regarding Dante thoughtfully. "But, you don't want to lose everything you are to facilitate that. You don't want to just be lost inside some ideal noble. So I wonder if coming here is an escape but also a search. A means to try and find a balance between who you are and your obligations."

* * *

Royal looks at Winter as the whole analysis gets laid out. "Mhmmm. Maybe it would have been a good idea for me to end up your patient after all." He leans forward and pats their hand. "But it wouldn't have been as much fun."

* * *

"Eh," Winter replies with a small shrug. "Your life is complicated. The fact that it means you're complicated too doesn't really mean you need a psychosurgeon." A corner of their mouth quirks. "Maybe just a friend. From time to time."

* * *

"Maybe not a psychosurgeon, or not a psychosurgeon in that role. But you are remarkably perceptive, Winter Tau. I feel like I'm wearing clothes made of transparent cloth around you." And from the way Royal says that, he doesn't think that's a bad thing.

* * *

"Yum," Winter opines for transparent clothes. Then rest their chin on their palm. "I like that you let your hair be curly around me. You let me come over when you're in a robe and not feeling your best. You trust me."

* * *

"Well, what would be the point in putting on a show for you? You'd see right through it. And I'm far too lazy to go to all that effort if it isn't going to do me any good," says Royal with a wry little grin.

* * *

Winter chuckles softly, considering their wineglass for a moment before looking back at Royal. "I like you, you know. Transparent suit and all."

* * *

"Well, I'd hope so. I'm terribly likeable. And I've been trying very hard to get you to like me. It's not a task I'm accustomed to failing, so glad I haven't in this case," Royal's grins continue to come easily, though not as sharky as before. Warmer, smaller.

* * *

"Have you?" Winter asks, their own smile growing a little. "I guess that must mean you like me, too."

* * *

"I can't stand you. Detest you. What are you doing here? Get out!" Royal says that all incredibly weakly. Even the toss of his arm is noodly. He chuckles and rests chin on hand. "Of course I do."

* * *

Winter gasps, pressing a hand to their heart for all those wishy-washy claims of contempt. But they smile warmly for the last and finish off their glass of wine, setting it down to card their fingers briefly though Royal's untamed curls. "Come on, Dante Taylor," they murmur. "Let's flop on the couch, watch a movie or something, save the rest of our worries for tomorrow."

* * *

"Well, that's a long way from handcuffs, but I'll take it," says Royal as he tilts his head into Winter's hand. "Anything but a spy thriller, mhmm?"

* * *

Winter laughs. "It is," they allow, "a rather long way. But maybe we won't make it to the end the of the film." So saying (promising?) they head across the empty expanse of Royal's apartment to settle on the couch and let him choose a non spy thriller to put up on the screen.