House of Blues - Clarke Street: North
Motes of smoke swirl in and out of the lights in the dimly lit room, creating a very intimate atmosphere despite the scale of the place. Tables dot the floor, flickering candles perched with almost eerie perfection in the exact center of their tablecloth dressed tops. A long wooden bar sits in the gloom to the front door's right-side (the stage's left-side) so as to not block the view of the performers. Over small speakers set around the room, Dizzy Gillespie's 'It Don't Mean A Thing' can be heard quietly playing. The distant walls bear a wide array of photographs, mirrors, and paintings, the mis-matched frames lining the rooms in a hodge-podge.
The far end of the room has a low, oak stage, its worn floor stained a honey gold color and waxed until it gleams. A stool is placed at center stage for the performer to play. Two microphones are placed nearby for the musician to adjust for his comfort level, their black cords trailing along the wood of the stage and disappearing into the wings.
It's been a while since Truman's been in a city. And longer still since he was in a city the size of Chicago. But a bit to his own surprise, he's finding he enjoys the mild sensory overload of the crowds and bustle and activity. Wherever he turns, there is something new to ear, eyes or nose and most of it has the virtue of being mildly interesting for being new. Bars, he notes, will always be bars, though. There is a hint of amusement to his impassive expression as he moves through the room with the unconscious assumption of right-of-way that comes with being a large-framed man of serious demeanor. Scents are hard to follow here but there are a few that stand out like the clarinet notes in a jazz ensemble and he's letting his nose guide him. He's dressed well, if a bit out of touch. His suit has the narrow lapels of the 50s but the color and cut are acceptable and he looks comfortable in it, though he wears his white dress shirt open to show what looks to be a necklace of ivory or something under it and even if his steps could be heard over the music, they'd be too quiet for a man his size and age.
At the end of the bar, settled and comfortable is another man. A quiet, impassive man, whose beer is lasting him well enough for the moment. He is dressed casually, no suit here but jeans and a casual top, and he leans against the bar, enjoying the muscle. His own scent lingers on the air here, and his energy is relaxed, warm but strong. The arrival of the other man does draw his attention, lifting his head, and turning his gaze towards the other man. There is the faintest of narrowing of his eyes but his expression doesn't change, the neutrality remaining as he considers the suited man.
Robert returns the long look with a steady gaze, one eyebrow arching upwards slightly. As he reveals the shirt, Robert tilts his head slightly, considering and then nodding slowly, a gesture of acknowledgement. He makes a small movement of his hand, offering the seat next to him. "Robert, if you please." His mild correction of the formal use of his name is spoken in a deep timbered voice, with a neutral expression, as he offers a hand in greeting, an oddly formal gesture.
Truman crosses the space between them and takes Robert's hand. His own is calloused with more than a lifetime of hard work, grip firm to the point of being hard, not because he's dumb enough to try dominance games with the Ulfric of the local pack, but because he's just used to dealing with werewolves most of the time and they aren't fragile. He ducks his head in acceptance of the correction and says, "Truman Walker. I believe that you were contacted that I'd be in town?" You can't be too careful of how you phrase things in public. And his tone is a little hesitant on that. It would be just like that upstart punk of a new Ulfric to leave him hanging in front of a strange alpha.
Robert's own hand is warm, his grip hard enough and his hand calloused enough to prove his own level of work. He tilts his head slightly at the words, giving the other man a long moment of silence before he answers quietly. "I was not. Take a seat, and we'll talk. I should tell you that I am known here for being who I am. If you are not, and prefer not to be, we can go somewhere private to discuss matters." His voice is a low rumble, his expression neutral, thoughtful as his gaze rests on Truman.
Truman's eyes flash with dark anger at that news about not being announced. If the local pack were the jumpy kind, wandering into their territory unannounced would be an invitation to get his throat ripped out. And /not/ being announced by his Ulfric makes him technically rogue, without the protections of his old pack. He nods and says, "I reckon anyone who wants to figure it out will figure it out sooner or later, Robert. But is it safe to talk freely here?" He glances around. Back in the day, all you had to do was glare at a few humans until they moved out of ear range. These days, it's all Buck Rogers stuff, with wireless microphones and things he doesn't understand at all.
"If we are careful, it is safe. I am utterly open about who and what I am." Robert's reply is softly spoken, keeping it quiet enough for it to be between the two of them. "I take it I was to expect you, and should have received a communication." Robert nods at the seat, lifting a finger to the barstaff, ordering another two beers, a gesture of goodwill from the impassive man, sending a clear signal that Truman is, at the very least, not about to lose his throat at this moment.
Truman nods and says, "Yes, sir. You were." He pitches his voice to that same level and continues, "I'm Truman Walker of the Steel Fangs clan up Alberta way. I was /told/ that my Ulfric had cleared this visit to see if perhaps I could find a place amongst your people." He shrugs and adds stoically, "Apparently he has more of a sense of humor than I thought." His tone is dry at that and he takes the beer when it arrives, nodding his thanks to Robert before taking a sip, almost ceremonially.
"Ulfrics can be fickle." Robert's tone is dry, as the two beers arrive. He lifts his, almost in a toast, before he takes a sip. "My pack has many new people of recent times, however there is room for another, should they be able to live within my rules." His manner is direct, unflinching from the truth, his gaze resting on the other man's face, neutrality hiding his thoughts. "So why are you leaving your old family?"
Truman snorts under his breath. His expression suggests that he agrees with that one in spades and his tone is respectful but /very/ wry as he says, "Must be the thin air up that high affecting their memories sometimes." His dark eyes watch Robert as he makes the joke. The wolf isn't very far under the surface with this old man. Perhaps not even he really knows which soul is talking half the time. If there is any difference any more. And the sense of a sly, careful old wolf is easy to see in his posture and expression, as well as metaphysically. After a moment, he decides something and says, plainly, "My people, the Eagle Peak lukoi, they died, oh, thirty odd years back. Just some of us got Shanghaied into the Steel Knives because we had skills they needed. 'Bout everybody I ever knew who was worth a damn joined the spirits before most people in that clan now were born. New Ulfric is the son of the last. Declared himself Fenrir while his daddy was still in his prime." There is a hint of /deep/ disapproval in that stark recitation, especially at the end. A move like that was just about power, he seems to imply, and thus not good for the pack.
The joke is noted, and there is a flash of wry humor in Robert's eyes before he nods slowly. His own wolf is there, at one with the man, in each movement, but particularly in the tilt of his head as he listens, and in the weighty gaze as he watches the other man. He listens to the tale with that intense stare, apparently weighing it up, considering the truth of it. He nods slowly, an inclination of his head that acknowledges the tale. "I begin to see where the lack of message comes in." The soft murmur holds that dry humor, that lurks in Robert's eyes.
Truman nods, relaxing fractionally as he notes this particular Ulfric isn't the sensitive kind who still has something to prove. He takes another sip of his beer and says, "I would say I'm not surprised but I didn't reckon the boy had enough on the ball to hitch up mean /and/ sneaky asa team." And that's a bit daring, but given the circumstances, even if things don't work out with Robert, he's not going back. The lack of introduction is pretty much a clear, 'don't come back' sign posted. He pauses for a moment and then makes his case, trying to sound as though he's not doing so. "They kept me around because I'm a healer. A good one. Stronger than most who do that and ain't alphas. Stronger than some who are." He shrugs at that and says, "And I've done just about everything a red man can do with his life. Or could do back in the day." Again a sardonic, deadpan tone as he adds, "I understand the world is right color blind these days. From what some of these kids wear, I could believe it."
Robert's head tilt happens again, a revealing gesture as the wolf in his gaze considers Truman's worth to his pack. He sits quietly, his hands resting around the bottle, listening to him thoughtfully. "I am afraid it is not color blind, and we should not kid ourselves." Robert's comment lacks any humor in that moment but he does speak then, quietly, steadily, lacking emotion in his words. "I expect loyalty to the pack and to me from mine. I will offer protection in exchange, support in finding your feet here, and I definitely have work for a healer." There is a dry note of humor in his voice in the last words, as he watches the other man's reaction to the abrupt offer. "I offer you a place in my pack, Truman Walker. In exchange for your loyalty and work."
Truman blinks at that sudden decision but he's too much an old wolf not to live in the moment. And the ritualistic nature of the words hit him in that core of tradition that has been the center of his life and source of strength for almost eight decades now. Not caring who might be watching, he slides off the bar stool to kneel on one knee. Not bad fluidity for an ancient guy. He looks up at Robert and tilts his head a little to the side, offering the Ulfric his throat in token submission as he says, "I would be more than the wind outside your cave, Ulfric. I would join my howl and my teeth to your hunt and my prey will be yours. I would be honored to join your pack and I will follow where you take us." And then the requirements of ritual met in his mind, he adds, "Blunt old teeth and usually slow and stupid prey these days. But there's some hunt in the old wolf yet."
Robert doesn't embarrass at the kneeling, ignoring the staring humans as he leans down to brush a touch of his lips across the bared neck, the slightest touch indicating a level of trust that Truman may have to live up to. That done, he does not offer to help the man up, refusing to treat him as less for his age, and settles back on his seat. The level, steady stare discourages those staring, having them turning away, discomforted. "Let us talk of practicalities then. I suggest that we arrange a place for you to stay. The pack have several homes across the city but I offer you my home, or my more senior friend's." The careful phrasing avoids the use of their words, avoiding Geri. "I think that is the place to start. Then we can consider employment."
Truman doesn't smile at that gesture of trust. It would be too much like baring fang. But his eyes shine with pride at the honor. He rises, smoothly, years falling away for the moment as he's treated with respect for the first time in a long time. It makes him feel younger. His own gaze joins the Ulfric's. Not as weighty but the cool, confident look of a man who doesn't look for trouble but has been ending it for decades longer than most everybody else has been alive. He looks back to Robert and says, "Any place I can put down a bed roll suits me." A pause, "Out of the rain would be nice." Again the humor is understated and more laughing at himself and the world than anything else. "And I can do just about everything from roofing to cabinet making to field stripping a gun to running a store. And have." He pauses, "Not much of a mechanic. Sorry, I try but I grew up on a horse." His shrug seems to indicate that anything as newfangled and complex as an automobile can't last anyway and his eyes glitter with laughter that he won't give voice.
Robert nods slowly, approval in his gaze at the response, his face thoughtful. "I believe I can do better than a bedroll. My family is not lacking in sufficient funds." There is a dry note of humor in his voice now, an odd flicker of amusement. "You may stay with me. There are others living there. Raymond. Karmen. Una. A friend who is a rat." He takes a slow swig of his beer, the head tilt revealing his thought process, thinking it over. "As for work, I believe we can work that out." He nods abruptly, reaching for his wallet, to leave a note for the drinks and to offer the other man a business card. "These are my contact details and the address of my home. I will take you there now, I believe."
Truman nods and says, "I'll try not to snore too loud." One eyebrow lifts at the news about that 'friend who is a rat'. That's a moderately big deal and a very good sign to his way of thinking. He finishes off his beer in one long drink (waste not, want not) and stands. "Don't suppose I was going to stay for the dancing anyway. I don't think these children know any Hank Williams." His manner is casual and confident with just enough deference to show that he considers Robert the boss without being obsequious or afraid. He knows his place and his value and apparently assumes that Robert does as well.
There is a flash of humor and Robert chuckles, something tickling the taciturn man. "If you can sleep over Raymond and Karmen, you sleep deeper than I." The comment is given as he moves from the stool, glancing at the dance floor. "I would be surprised if they did." He gives the staff an abrupt nod, leading Truman towards the door, his face neutral, impassivity unshaken. Outside, a nice SUV is parked neatly, legally, and Robert unlocks it, making a gesture towards the passenger seat.
Truman leaves his own tip before they go, because, hey, everybody needs to make a living. Unfortunately, his idea of 'making a living' was cemented back in the 1930s. So the server is probably not going to be as impressed by those two Canadian quarters as he'd hope. He follows Robert at a comfortable amble, his own game face blank and a little foreboding and stern. He walks to the SUV and nods, not feeling the need to clutter up the moment with words beyond, "I have my kit nearby, if you don't mind me putting it in the back?" And assuming permission, he retrieves a large duffel bag and a couple of what look like gun cases from where they were hidden behind some bushes and not visible to anyone in the darkness. And with those stored, he's ready to go.
Yellow Bungalow: Living Room - Taylor Street: Little Italy(#5577RA)
This likely used to be a small living room and a smaller dining room, but it has been opened up to a single space. The floors are old wood that, though recently stripped and waxed, show years of wear. Windows face the drive to the south and open west to the front porch. At the east side of the room, an arched opening in the south corner leads to the kitchen, and a hallway on the north side runs to the back of the house. The walls are painted off-white, almost cream, and show signs of having been patched.
A Mission-style hall tree with mirror, storage bench, and hooks for hanging coats stands next to the front door. Beyond it, a brown leather couch and matching oversized chair form a sitting area around a red and green Oriental-style rug, with a side table for the chair and a low green chest serving as a coffee table. These face the shelving unit that holds a television, audio equipment, a sparse rack of CDs, and a few, mostly practical books. A round table set with four ladder-backed chairs sits in front of the bay window at the west side of the room. One picture hangs over the couch, another over a shallow table holding a cordless phone that is set against the east wall.
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Robert handles the SUV with ease, but sensibly, without anything to prove. He pulls into the drive of a nice bungalow, with discreet cameras and security. "Welcome to my home, Truman." He leaves the SUV, locking it once Truman reclaims his belongings and opens the door, turning off the alarm as it beeps tellingly. "I will give you the codes, and the keys." He heads directly to the kitchen, pouring a coffee and lifting the jug questioningly as he turns. "Make yourself at home."
Truman is quiet through the drive, patient and attentive and there is a sense that he's memorizing the route. When they arrive he gives the outside a good look over, with all his senses and follows Robert into the house, pausing a moment to catch the scents. He nods, almost formally, and replies, "Thanks for having me. And codes, too?" He seems a little dubious about that but hey, it's the 20…21st century. Robert may notice him checking out lines of sight and exits before he even puts down his bags in an out of the way place. He smiles faintly at the implied offer and says, "Don't reckon my kidneys would mind a cup. On my third set anyway."
Robert pours another mug, offering it to the other man, making an assumption that he takes it black, unsweetened. His behaviour is noted, with silent approval as he nods abruptly. "There is high tech security here. I ensure that my family are safe. Eden, the rat who lives here, is not openly a rat but he is a friend of mine." He gestures towards the couch. "Make yourself at home in one of the empty rooms along the hallway. Help yourself to any of the food in the cupboards. We keep it stocked."
Truman nods his thanks and takes a sip, eyebrows lifting just a tad at the quality and he says, "I understand. If somebody will give me the layout, I'll see what I can do about not tripping over a alarm wire or something." He blinks at the idea that a rat lives here as well and then says, casually, "I reckon you must have a powerful alliance with the local plague." He takes the indicated seat with a quiet sigh. He might not actually look or feel his age but he's feeling the first bite of winter when it comes to aging and it's nice rest after a few days traveling.
Robert takes his seat, settling with his elbows resting on his knees, his mug between his hands. "I believe that all of us can live together, share resources to help each other, but Eden is a friend as well as part of a group with which we are allied." His comments are to the point, and he takes a slow sip of the coffee, savouring it, as he considers Truman thoughtfully. "Settle yourself over the next few days. We will work the rest out once you feel at home."
Truman nods to Robert and says, "I've often thought the same thing. World ain't like it used to be, back in the day. There isn't room to claim a whole territory as your own any more and the humans are a lot trickier than when I was a kid. So working together makes sense. And makes us safer. You're the first Ulfric I've heard say it though." He doesn't sound as though he's currying favor there, just giving his viewpoint. "Some folks are going to mistake it for weakness though. Going to have to disabuse them of that notion." Again his tone is a bit wry on that last line.
"Some might. I've made it clear that should they not believe I have the strength to hold my own, they are welcome to challenge up until they can challenge me." Robert's tone is dry, the man apparently secure in his position. "I have worked hard here to set up a council where leaders of each group can sit together, to talk about the issues that affect us all. I believe this to be a possibility here." His voice is low, and his face, his gaze, does reflect the true belief he holds in this action. "The humans hunt us. They kill more of us than we ever will of them." There is an edge of bitterness underlying it.
Truman nods at Robert's words, grinning faintly and says, "Don't look at me. Didn't last this long by having a death wish." He pauses and says, "And yea, they do. It's their way. At least we kill cleanly." He shrugs and says, "But then again, whether you're a wolf or a rabbit, you're never going to be that fond of him that preys on you. Which is why strength in numbers ain't such a bad idea, I'd think."
Robert listens to the man, considering his words, his eyebrows drawing together in thought. "You make an interesting point. It is one that I have felt but not thought." He lapses into silence then, combining thought and coffee drinking in a long moment of coffee flavoured bliss. "When you speak to Eden of his beast, be aware that he has newly accepted help to find his way to becoming one with it." The comment is abrupt, spoken oddly formally.
"He is learning. Slowly but he has met with his King now, and joined them for the Full Moon." There is warm approval, and affection for the rat that lives in his home, and a flicker of amusement. "Without Eden, I am not certain our house would function. He cooks most of the meals here, and orders the food. I tend to be a man of simple tastes, and I would live on take out, left to myself."
Truman shrugs, "Don't reckon there's much better than shifting and getting a nice fat rabbit myself. Not enough meat in the store bought meat these days. And my nose still works so I can't each much that comes out of a fast 'food' place. But I'll be delicate with the rat." A pause and then, with a sip of coffee, "Going to be a hard enough row to hoe that he weren't made a wolf. But adding more disappointment too that ain't fair."
"We hunt deer and bears on Full Moon, Truman." There is a flicker of Robert's beast, sliding in the dark behind his eyes, before it vanishes. "Let me show you to your room, Truman, let you settle in. My home is yours. Be welcome." He puts his mug down on the floor, rising to his feet, moving with that easy grace towards the hallway, assuming the other man is behind him.