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Austin Lange

Doubling Up, Doubling Down

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With the dance over, it was back to their regularly scheduled lives.   The band meeting had taken place on Saturday, if only to bring everyone up to speed without further adding to the drama of the dance.      It had been later in the afternoon when Austin called up Yokiko to see if she'd like to get lunch and then catch a movie on Sunday, to which she agreed.   

There was alot going on in Salem right now, and with two full bands of Scions in town, he'd got to thinking.   He really didn't know much about what Yokiko and her band did.   Seldom had they really interacted, and he figured there was really no harm if in the course of the date, he asked what they'd been up to.   He'd have to answer the same if she asked, but he was fine with that.  It wasn't like it was a secret, or Donner couldn't probably beat the truth out of one of them if he really wanted to know it.

They'd arranged for him to pick her up at noon, where they'd go get Dinner at a place of her choice, and then go see a movie he'd pick.   All in all he was looking forward to this.  It was no secret to anyone now that he liked her.

As he pulled up into her driveway, Austin did his best to calm himself.   She was the child of a Sea God, in a different band, who, thus far he'd gotten to spend some time with, and gone to one dance with.  There was nothing at all to be nervous about...

He shook his head to get that line of thought out of his mind, and then got out of his jeep and went to the door and knocked.

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Just as with the Dance Yokiko answered the door and stepped out onto the front porch.  Austin could hear some talking going on inside, probably between her 'parents' and her.  He didn't quite make it out, but when she opened the door and peeked her head in enough to say 'Okay, I will.'  Then, 'A friend from school.'  Followed up with a, 'I will.  Don't worry.  I have my phone.'  She finally closed the door for good and turned and looked at him, slightly flushed.  "Sorry, my family can be a bit over protective."  Her accent was still thick proving her time in the states had been short.

It was a wet autumn afternoon and it smelled like Halloween.  Damp leaves and freshly fallen rain filled the air of the small Salem neighborhood.  Everything was wet and a slight drizzle swept in on the breeze.  Yokiko was in a pair of black jeans and a deep, ocean blue sweater that seemed a little too big on her and of course her thick leather gym bag which Austin knew contained her sword and who knew what else.

"Thank you again for inviting me," she offered him a smile as she waved her long hair back behind her ear.  Her sweater seemed to tighten at the cuff of wrist, keeping it from sliding back and forth across her arms.  "And for the dance as well.  I had a great evening.  I heard about Niles Horne and what he did.  You did a brave thing for your friend, Nadya.  To think we were so close to her yesterday at the boutique and I never realized she was ensorcelled.  It shows how little my social circle is."  She seemed a bit embarrassed.  "I don't have many friends."

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Austin smiled back at her. He was dressed in black slacks and a dark grey button-down shirt, the sort someone might wear to church.  The light drizzle in the breeze felt good to him, but he was glad he'd drove, so that if it did rain, it wouldn't be a reason to cut their afternoon short. "You're welcome.   Thank you for saying yes.   I had a great time at the dance with you, Yokiko, and trust me had it not been something as serious as it was, I wouldn't have left you there alone for any length of time."   That was the absolute truth in his mind.   He was abit curious as to how she heard about everything that happened.   

"I didn't know what happened to Nadya had gotten around already.   As far as what I did, I'd do it for any of my bandmates, or friends.   I just hate that I missed what was happening, that we all missed what was happening, and Nadya had to suffer that for so long.   I am just glad she's back to herself now, and that no one was injured."  There was a tinge of bitterness in his tone as he spoke about Nadya, which gave way to relief near the end.   "As far as a small social circle, It's not how many friends you have that speaks to you character, but the strength of those friendships.  If you'd like to expand your social circle some, You could always come hang out with us.  Not the whole going on quests thing, Your band would probably get really mad over that,  just hanging out.  There's no rules against that, that I know of."  His honest smile firmly in place, he meant it.   They were on the same side, and at least with other Scions, she wouldn't have to be so mindful of what she said, and could relax some.

Once they were in his jeep and driving away, without taking his eyes from the road, he asked.  "So where would you like to eat lunch?"  There was always the Drip, but it was likely to be crowded, and there were other places to eat, he just didn't know what she was in the mood for.



 

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THE STABLES

SATURDAY AFTER THE DANCE

Rachel was pushing herself, lifting the maximum weights she could and doing it only under the watchful eye of the huge wolf puppy chewing in the steer bone she had brought for  Wolf. The ache in her straining muscles was a welcome feeling after the uncomfortable silence that had been breakfast. When she had gotten home the house had been dark but at least there hadn't been a nightmare scene of blood and body parts. She checked on her dads both had been asleep which surprised her to tell the truth. She had figured that they would all be up waiting for her too do whatever it was dads did under these circumstances. As if these circumstances had ever happened to anyone else. But they hadn't been so she went to bed too.

Saturday morning had come and she had gone down stairs drawn to the smell of fresh brewed coffee, then at the bottom of the stairs she smelled the cigarette smoke and froze. She slowly advanced to the breakfast nook and peered around the wall and saw all three of her fathers, Micheal and Vidar, sitting at the table and Robert at the bar separating the nook from the rest of the kitchen. She had started to back up when Vidar spoke.

"Come and eat daughter, your father, Micheal makes a wonderful... What did you call that egg concoction?"

"A Southwestern Fritatta."

"Yes that, exactly. Come sit and eat and tell us of your dance Taryn," the Aesir said as he lit another cigarette.

"Her name is Rachel," Robert mumbled from the bar.

To say that Breakfast had been uncomfortable...not even close.

The opening measures of Led Zeppelins Immigrant Song broke the silence of the stables. Wolf growled and Rachel set the barbell on it's stand then grabbed her phone. It was Billy.

"Hey?" she said as she took her towel and wiped the sweat from her face.

"Hey back at ya. At least your alive. is everyone else?" Her boyfriend asked covering his worry with humor. Rachel couldn't help but smile.

"Yeah everyone is still breathing. But weird."

"I bet, want to grab something to eat?"

She looked at the screen of the phone and was surprised at the time she had been working out longer than she had thought. She glanced at Wolf who was gnawing on what was left of the bone she had brought. Yeah a bit longer than she had thought. Her stomach growled.

"Sure sounds good. I'm working out at the stables Let me grab a shower then I'll pick you up. Gimme a half hour."

 

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The bell above the door to The Drip chimed as the couple walked in.  The coffee shop was always crowded and it seemed Yokiko loved that about the little place.  It was a melting pot of American culture and her expression seemed to light up the moment they stepped in and the scent of freshly brewed coffee hit them and the sounds and bustle of the weekend lunch rush.

"Hey guys!"  Darci said with a bubbly tone and bright smile as passed them up with her arms full of plates.  Dane sat upon the stage, which the Drip had unofficially given him free reign of, since the young man enjoyed singing and playing so much they couldn't pry him away if they tried, plus the the patrons absolutely adored the young musician so him playing on a relaxing Saturday afternoon only helped business.  When he saw the young couple he shot Austin a wink and smile and began strumming on his guitar a simple, relaxing melody.

"Sit anywhere, guys, I'll be with as soon as I can.  Meg called off this morning so it's only me," she apologized and wandered off back to the kitchen.

As They maneuvered though the crowd, past the booths, a hand snapped out and caught Yokiko's wrist.  "Kiko," asked Horace Farrow who was sitting with Aaron enjoying coffee and a bit of lunch themselves.  He gave Austin an unapproving glare, as well as one could manage through one eye.  "What're you doing here with this loser?  Eric doesn't want us distracting ourselves with the shit heel brigade."  Aaron chuckled silently at Austin's expense.  As always they started trouble where retaliation would be good and public.

The young Scion pulled her wrist away with a twist of her hand (or wrist, Austin couldn't tell the motion was so practiced and swift) she had Horace's own hand, or at least his pinky finger.  She squeezed it closed on itself and he winced in agony as she leaned down and silently warned him.  "Touch me again Horace, and you will be left for crows.  Just because we are Bandmates doesn't mean we are friends.  If Eric has issue with my company, let him take it up with me."  With a jerk of her wrist, she let him go and kept walking to an empty booth.

As they sat, she took a moment to straighten her hair, letting it all fall down one side of her shoulder.  With an awkward smile she spoke as Austin was taking his seat.  "I am sorry you had to see that.  Horace is a, how you say?  A handful?  He and I are not on friendly terms and is always trying to irritate me and the others in some manner or another."

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Nodding his understanding to Darcy before Horace accosted Yokiko, Austin had been making his way to the booth he normally sat in.  For his part, Austin said nothing to Horace, choosing to not lower himself to his level, besides Yokiko had it well in hand, and didn't need him to defend her.    He took his seat in the booth she chose with an understanding smile.  "No need for you to apologize for him, I'm abit used to how some of your bandmates view my bandmates and I.  I choose to not pay it much thought because I know what we've done, and the value of it.  Some vulgar words aren't going to change that."

While it was true his band didn't all see eye to eye on things, nobody really caused trouble for each other intentionally, or went out of their way to irritate each other.   Austin wasn't in the mood to cause a scene here, and grinned back at her.  "That said, I think Fisher's the only one who wouldn't qualify as being a "handful" at times.  He's pretty laid back, though no one beats Dane in that department.  Do you mind me asking if that's normal though, him grabbing you like that?"  In truth, the words annoyed him, but him just grabbing her like that actually bothered him.  His tone showed his concern, but he was also more than willing to let things go at that, if she asked him to.
 

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"On occasion," she folded her arms on the table and relaxed a bit.  She knew the menu by heart, having tried just about everything on it at least once since her arrival in Salem years ago.  Like most all the other Scions she was a product of foster care or shifting between relatives in the states or, the absolute worst, being completely abandoned to live on the streets and survive the Titanspawn on their own.  To say being a Scion was a messed up life for a kid was putting it mildly.  Since most Titanspawn would hunt down Scions when they were powerless, before their visitation, to have so many in Salem made it a bastion against those who would hunt them.

Yokiko had managed to find a good home, filled with good people who raised her on proper Japanese virtues.  "He fancies himself our 'second'.  Eric's 'yes man' is all he is.  Be it me or Mercedes or Bridgette, he is a little pervert and is always finding excuses to touch us or stare at us.  I don't care for him, but I do not fault him.  This is not an easy life, we have not had it easy, any of us.  We all have our issues, so I try not to fault him for his.  I did not choose to be with my current Bandmates, my father was quite clear in his orders to join with them, help them, and to always differ to the leadership.  So, that's what I do."

Darcy approached the table a bit flustered and her ponytail already looking like it had been readjusted and frazzled and readjusted about twelve times.  She sighed and smiled in a great heave of relaxed breath.  "Okay," she looked to the two of them.  "Sorry guys, again it's been crazy today."  She wobbled her pen between the two of them, arching a brow.  "So, is this like... a thing, or like... a thing?  You two."

The Daughter of the Tides laughed.  She liked Darcy, regardless of which side Scions were on she was always as friendly as possible.  "This is lunch, coffee and possibly a movie.  Issun saki wa yami."

"I don't know what that means," Darcy laughed.

Yokiko laughed softly.  "I know."

The two ordered and to help Darcy a bit, Austin went to the counter and ordered their coffees directly while their food was being prepared.  By the time he'd sat back down with her she was tapping away on her phone, which she put face down on the table as he set her cup on the table.  She thanked him and after a sip she spoke.  "Why me, Austin?  You have very little to interesting the girls at school and suddenly you are interested in me? Homecoming, now this?"  Her eyes narrowed as she sipped her coffee again.  "And 'because I like you' is not an answer."

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It wasn't long before he nodded. "But I do like you. Not in some weird way, but because your different than other girls and not because we are blooded, more in spite of that. I won't deny that I feel a sense of calmness around you, and that with our unique common ground, things just feel comfortable."

He smiled abit, and nodded. " Maybe that's not the best way to say it all, but it's true. You may have said it was unacceptable, but it doesn't make how I feel less true. I do like you, and I genuinely would like to get to know you better. Around you, I don't feel like I have to keep anything hidden, and it's my hope that you might feel the same." There it was, as he laid out how he truly felt.

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