caspian_icon.gif keira7_icon.gif

Scene Title Stuck
Synopsis Keira comes home to Caspian and talks about her mom — and also decides to make things a little more permanant.
Date August 10, 2018

Caspian's Awesome Place

It’s been a month and a half since Keira came to ‘temporarily’ stay with Caspian while she has waited for the precinct to be set up. It’s been about three weeks since they got things to a point where Keira could potentially go stay with the rest of her gang members, with a whole room set up in her base of operations.

Keira hasn’t officially moved in though — there’s always another reason for her to put off officially moving back out on her own. Like, there was a leak in the ceiling. Or the carpet had a strange odor and had to be ripped up and replaced. Maybe the walls should be a different color. The windows aren’t secure enough.

Either Keira is very picky about where she rests her head, or she just doesn’t want to leave.

It’s probably the latter.

She can’t help it; she’s grown increasingly fond of her housemate as time has passed, and the prospect of a cold, empty bed just doesn’t sound appealing — especially when the alternative is a warm bed shared with a man who has no business looking as good as he does.

Today, though, Keira is in a mood. When she makes her way in for the evening, she looks distressed — a look that is very much out of place on the gangster’s face. Immediately, she kicks her boots off, swooping into the kitchen to fetch a beer; this first beverage is popped open and summarily demolished by the slight woman, the empty bottle left upon the counter. Against her better judgement, Keira retrieves a second beer before returning to the sanctity of the couch and sprawling upon it. The beer is popped open, and a good half of it is chugged.

Seeing her mother always takes a lot out of her — and she hates that it bothers her so much, even after seven years apart. She offers the second beer a one-eyed glare, idly swishing its contents around in the glass bottle.

“Fucking bitch,” she hisses to the bottle, shaking her head.

Has it really only been a month and a half?

Caspian, by default, has been a quiet sort, for the longest time. After his experiences crossing the United States in the opening days of the second Civil War, attachments weren’t something that could do much good. He helped those he could, as much as he could but maintained a distant familiarity - he knew what they were going through and didn’t want to be a drain on already limited resources. Now, though, in New York, in a house, he’s the recipient of a vast amount of riches from the sweat of his brow that, only a few months prior, would have been unthinkable. He was able to make friends, invite people over for meager meals and yes, even find a girlfriend which, to be honest, really wasn’t something that he was actively searching for, but he’s unrefined enough to try and slip into a relationship from time to time.

The day was spent working - dividing his time between Red Hook and Keira’s Precinct (#67, if the papers he found were right) doing managerial stuff. The workers at Red Hook were mostly culled from people who needed jobs at the market itself, chosen from a queue the morning of, with preference given to those who had worked previously. Training was done piecemeal, teaching them how to attach anchor bolts, how things needed to be situated, with the more intelligent of them put into supervisory roles. This gave Caspian time to go to the Precinct and work there, too.

The quality of worker Kiera found was much nicer - these men (and some women) were working for their boss and got something out of it. Several rooms were re-wired, old light fixtures plugged into the grid and sockets made live, indicated with a shiny plastic plate over the top with dead ones covered with dull black ones. They were building a home - not just a place to work, like Red Hook.

Keira’s spot on the top floor - what used to be the Chief’s office and conference room - was pretty much done, as far as Caspian went, but he still went out there almost daily to help with other things in the precinct proper. Back-up batteries. Additional solar panels. Hell, it required an order from China to get all the panels he needed, and that was a good thing. The men there had heard about what he did for the guys who fell protecting Keira during her encounter with the black-armored trooper. That, and the fact that he was seeing the Boss, gave Caspian a remarkable immunity from most things. Business talk around him dropped to a minimum to keep things clean - not that he would snitch, of course - he thought it be best that the more exotic portions of the business be kept away from him since he couldn’t tell what he didn’t know.

Dinner is cooking when Keira makes her way into the house. The farm up north that Caspian gets occasional treats from came through with a rarity - beef. A steak about the size of a dinner plate with a bone extending out - what they call a Tomahawk steak, and a pound of real butter. The steak is sitting in a plastic bag in a pot of warm water - salt, pepper, and a little rosemary - slowly cooking while the pan starts to warm up. Potatoes are boiling, and fresh squash is simmering. If it wasn’t for the war, this could have been any sort of night before.

Keira’s appearance in the kitchen is noted, Caspian not saying a word as the first beer is killed, the second drunk as he looks out at the woman from his spot by the stove. An interesting dichotomy, as far as classic 1950’s gender roles go.

“I take it the visit went well.” Caspian says as a greeting and not sarcastically in the least. “Want to talk about it?”

Keira remains silent for a long moment, letting the smell waft over her. She has it good here, and she needs to not let her mother’s sudden return to her life mar that. Taking a few more swigs, the woman lets her head flop back, resting against the back of the couch as she stares up at the ceiling.

“After spending the majority of my life constantly fucked up with some substance or another,” Keira starts, frowning up at the ceiling, “my mother finally went clean. Not ‘cause she wanted to…just because she couldn’t get the drugs any more.” She takes another swig of the beer, sighing softly. “She lives in Rochester. She’s a fuckin’ cookie cutter real estate agent.”

“She apologized. As if somehow I could fuckin’ forgive her for all of the shit she pulled when I was a kid. All of the shit…” Keira shakes her head, taking another drink. “I told her it was too little too late. That after all the damage she’s done, I’m not going to let her back in to do any more damage.”

She goes quiet, then, lifting the beer bottle up above her head and staring quietly up into the contents from the bottom of said bottle.

They had never really talked about Kiera’s past in the time before. The war had caused wounds that, even now, may not entirely be completely closed in just about everyone, fracturing some beyond repair if the wrong memory is brought to the forefront, and people deal with those memories in different ways. Keira and her experiences with her mother might have driven her into the life she now leads, but that’s not for Caspian to determine.

After all, when your girlfriend has a crime syndicate at her beck and call, plus access to multiple and varied heavy weapons, it’s probably not a good idea to push her on certain things.

Still, while the potatoes are turned with a fork in their bath of salty water, Caspian emerges from the kitchen to lean on the door jamb, looking over at his painted girlfriend on the couch, his arms crossed across his chest, thoughtful. “That was a long time ago.” he begins, making his way from the door to the couch, a glance at the timer on the stove to figure out how much conversation time he has. “Is it okay if we talk about it a little? I want to have as much information as I can before trying to help you work through your feelings, if that’s what we end up doing.”

Yes, he’s talking about feelings with Kiera. Her gang would have kittens at the sight.

Talking about feelings is Keira’s least favorite thing to do, really. She has always prided herself on her ability to push down her feelings about various things that don’t need to be attended to immediately, especially on matters of her mother. She has really never dealt with all of the shit her mom pulled — she only ever pushed it off to the side, a worry to be tended to some other day, probably when she has no choice.

But this is Caspian, and he has frequently proven himself trustworthy — and maybe it would be a good thing to work though some of this shit with someone who she views as trustworthy. She scoots to the side to give him room, taking another swig of the beer.

“Yeah, we can talk about it a little. I…don’t normally talk about her, unless it’s to call her a bitch.” Keira takes a breath and lets it out slowly, taking another swig of her beer. “Before tonight, I hadn’t seen her since before the war broke out.”

Another glance over his shoulder at the timer and then Caspian flops over the couch to sit next to Keira in the crook made by the arm and the back, pulling one knee to his chest, looking at her with a serious expression. “Thanks for being willing to try.” He’s nothing if not supportive, and Keira giving him this glimpse into this part of her life is kind of a big deal. “Since you’ve not seen her since before everything went south, I take it, there’s a lot of stuff that was left hanging while the nation tore itself apart.” Not the best place for the healthy growth of individual self worth.

“I know it’s a lot to ask, but let’s talk about you and your Mom.” His voice is gentle, soft, the room locked so no-one can enter from the outside. “Can you tell me about how it was growing up with her? Were there any good times you can remember?”

Keira watches Caspian for a moment, swishing the contents of her beer bottle around for a moment, before raising the bottle to her lips for another swig. “No. Nothing was left hanging. I left her ass in Buffalo, telling her I never wanted to fuckin’ see her again. Last I saw her before th’war, she was so fucked up on heroin that she gave me a picture of my uncle and told me he was my dad.”

She falls silent for a moment when asked about what it was like growing up with her mother. “Good times? Few and far between. She got me a new backpack once when I was in first grade, after bullies ripped the old one. Few other kind moments.” She swigs the beer again. “Mostly, she was worried about chasing her next fuckin’ high. When she wasn’t fucked up on some kind of substance, she was taking out her withdrawal on me.”

She frowns. “On good days, she just ignored me and stayed in her own little fucked up universe. Not so good days, she told me that she never wanted me, that it was my fault her life was so shitty. On the worst days, she hit me. If she left bruises, they were hidden by my clothes.” She shakes her head. “The best days were when I got to see Aunt Flannery. Her husband and kids were assholes to me, and she was fuckin’ crazy, but it wasn’t as bad as home.”

Then, the gangster fell silent. “You now know more about me than even Tibby knew. I don’t normally talk about this shit.” Tibby knows how her ability works, but she doesn’t know about her past. “Please don’t ever make me regret trusting you like this,” she says in a quieter tone.

Caspian is quiet as Keira speaks. It’s not his place to judge the other woman or the way that she lived her life but the story she tells does cause his heart to go out to her. “I’m sure you’re already aware of this, but I came from a family where none of that happened.” he begins, his voice quiet. “My parents were decent parents - the worst we ever had with alcohol was when dad had too much wine one night and fell asleep on the porch. Never any drugs. I was disciplined, but never beaten. They made mistakes, but nothing like what you describe. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that I know I came from a place completely different from yours. Vastly different starting points that got us to this moment. Here. Now.”

He shifts a little on the couch. “My initial thought is that she’s making her way through a program - one of those twelve steps where one of them is going and asking forgiveness for wrongs committed due to the drugs or alcohol. The next one - and the thing I’m leaning toward - is that she went through a lot of tough times during the war, like we all did, except she had to maintain a steady level of narcotics in her blood just to function and when she couldn’t, she didn’t, and went through the shittiest withdrawal, alone, in the middle of a war zone, and now, once she’s back, she ran into her daughter that she thought was dead, gone, lost, or entirely out of her life.”

He goes quiet for a second. “We’re not going to talk about what went on before with her, or what happened after you left. The fact that she found you, and that she’s still alive, is a pretty remarkable thing. Add in the fact that she apologized, or at least tried to, gets into a whole ‘nother set of issues.”

There’s a small movement, Caspian shifting to take Keira’s hands in his, the empty beer bottle taken and deposited at the corner of the couch out of the way where it won’t get kicked over or broken accidentally. “Two important problems. First, is there a possibility, at all, that she is simply using you as a source for money to procure drugs or the drugs themselves? And second,, does your mother have any idea about your line of work?” Caspian remains silent to let those words sink in before he adds more. “If either of those are no, would forgiving her cost you anything? It’s not making what happened right at all - what happened to you was horrible and shouldn’t have happened to anyone - but it does give you a chance to heal, and gives her something she never gave you. Peace of mind and forgiveness.”

It takes Keira a moment to get into the headspace that Caspian is guiding her toward — and she only gets to that point very reluctantly. She relaxes a little, squeezing his hands and staring down at them with a frown. “It’s a pretty big possibility, she always tried to use me to get more drugs. Usually, she racks up a huge debt and sends the collectors my way, knowing I’d pay for it to keep her from getting her ass killed.” She purses her lips. “And yeah, she knows what I do. She knows I have people answering to me now, too.” She made a point of showing that one off to her mother.

After a moment, the woman shakes her head, eye closed. “I…I can’t forgive her for everything that happened.” She opens her blue eye, peering quietly at Caspian. “Since I saw her last, I found out that the man I thought was my dad was my uncle, and my dad is…nowhere to be found. I found out that I have an older brother, same dad and everything, that she gave up for adoption. She gave him up for adoption, but kept me…” Keira shakes her head. “He had it way better than I ever did.”

She sighs. “I can’t forgive her for all the shit she’s pulled. I’m not going to give her peace of mind and forgiveness — she can live out her days with her mistakes, I don’t give a shit.” She shakes her head. “And I’m not going to let her back in to do more damage. I’ve cleaned shit up nice since she was in my life, and I don’t want her to make another mess.”

“That’s completely understandable.” Caspian gives Keira’s hands a gentle squeeze. “Forgiveness is a giant step that may take years to even consider moving towards, but I think that, at some point, you need to have a conversation with her. Now that she knows you’re alive, there’s a possibility that she might go back into the same old stuff and use your name as collateral or send loan sharks after you to collect her debts.” He lowers his head a little so he can look into that one eye, giving a small smile. “But she might not be in that kind of life anymore, though. A real estate agent is about as straight and narrow as a person can get. A woman of your resources should be able to easily find out if she’s using, if she’s got any outstanding debt to dealers, and if she owes anyone any favors. Find all this out beforehand, set up a meeting, and just talk to the woman over a table.”

Another squeeze of her hands. “It’ll probably be one of the hardest conversations of your life.”

“If I were you, I’d just lay it out, so she knows that you know, and you’re not surprised out of the open by someone approaching you at your business.. ‘I’m not going to forgive you - I’m not ready to make that step and don’t know if I ever can or ever will. The only reason I’m here is because of my boyfriend.” Yes, he’s offering himself as an excuse to meet with her mother. “Tell her, ‘I want you to know that I’m not going to be there to get you out of trouble anymore. Any use of my name to acquire drugs or favors will be ignored and actively discouraged. Any debts sent to me will be left unpaid and the people sent to collect will be told this directly.. I will be watching.” He leans back. “And then just walk away. Trust that she’s going to do the right thing, but check up on her from time to time to make sure. Be willing to give a little. A goal to possibly talk again over dinner or something.

“One step ahead of you, at least. I have business ties up in Rochester anyhow, so my boys are going t’be keeping a close eye on her.” Keira sighs for a moment, before leaning in and resting her head lightly on his chest. “I’ll…probably talk t’her at some point, if only for my own sake.”

She closes her eye, and for a moment she falls silent and simply enjoys being snuggled up to Caspian, taking in his smell and the sound of his heartbeat.

“Thank you.” After a moment, her eye flutters open, and she turns her gaze up to Caspian, squeezing her arms around his waist. “You’re too good for me. A lot of the time, I feel like I don’t deserve you.” She smiles faintly. “Why are you so good to me, even knowing what I do for a living? You’re a good person.

Clearly, Keira doesn’t think of herself in the same light.

“Good.” He sounds pleased that Keira was a few steps ahead on the same track as he was on. “You can always be magnanimous, you know. If she deserves it, throw her a bone, now and again. Rent a building or a storefront from her. If she doesn't, don't. Offer the rope but don't let her know it's for hanging herself. It's that simple.”

The questions regarding why he's still with her? “That's simple. You and me, we ran together, ran apart, and now, an ocean away from where we were before, bounce into each other again. Deserve doesn't have anything to do with it.” Caspian settles Keira into his chest, wrapping his arms around her in a loose embrace. “You're not evil - you're just filling a need. Chaotic good, I guess. Robyn Hood. You stay out of the slave trade and you don't touch drugs. You don't murder for profit. You treat your men with a hell of a lot of respect, which isn't normal for someone in your line of work. Still.” Another squeeze follows, followed by a tilt of his head. “If we have to bring deserve into it? Even the queen deserves a prince, now and again.”

Drugs are a part of Keira’s business, but she has found that her other business ventures are much more profitable — especially the food sales. As a bonus, it ensures that there’s always a steady supply of food in Caspian’s home, with a different variety every week or so. Keira herself doesn’t touch drugs — unless you count the occasional blunt to calm the nerves.

She goes all vigilante on the human traffickers, so there’s that.

She sighs, nuzzling closer to Caspian. “Let’s just…I don’t want to talk about her right now. I’ve got people watching, and…we’ll see.” That’s about all of the commitment she has in her right now on the subject of her mother.

Then, she smiles faintly at his final line — she can’t help but giggle softly, snuggling that much closer to Caspian. “I still have trouble with the notion that I’m in charge. I mean, I’m doing it. It’s crazy and I am so busy sometimes, getting things all set up and established.” She peers up at him with that one big blue eye. “I just spent so much time as one of my employees that it’s still surreal that I’ve managed to come out on top like I have.”

Instead of bringing up mommy dearest again, Caspian does the smart thing and lets it drop entirely, giving Keira a squeeze and a nod. “You're willing to consider taking a small step. Considering all she's put you through, I don't think she could ask for more.”

Employment is something Caspian has knowledge about. Like it or not, crime and business follow a lot of the same tenets. “The trick is to remember what it was like to be at the bottom, then don't do that stuff to the people who are down there. It's what I do with the guys who work for me on Red Hook. I never say ‘because I said so,’ I say because this reason. That builds loyalty and in business or other….esoteric pursuits, like your line of work, loyalty is a pretty valuable thing. Still.” He gives her a playful poke on the belly. “Keep up this crime boss thing and we'll have to get you a walnut-paneled study, a suit, a consigliere, and a white cat to complete the look.

Moments like these are why Keira likes Caspian. He knows how to take a hint, and how to act accordingly. The parting remark on the subject is met with a nod of agreement, and it is left at that — Keira has spoken more than enough on the subject of her mother, and it’s a wonder Caspian has gotten as much from her as he has.

She giggles at the belly poke, squirming slightly. “I do still have a pinstripe suit laying around somewhere. It’s very well tailored, though. I need to find a female face so I can shift without having to change my clothes every single time.” She doesn’t go into how she would go about doing such a thing — she still hasn’t told Caspian exactly how her ability works now, and who her faces used to be.

Secrets from Keira are like gold - tiny portions are still extremely valuable to the right people. Not that Caspian would ever spread them, of course. It seems that Keira might be getting a look at what Tibby saw in him all those years ago. “You'll get a female form somehow. I mean, those two guys just came to you. With your ability being all different now, it might just take time to tune into the right face, or something. If I can make a request, though? Curvy, dark skin and hair with big boobs, or if you’re really kinky, anthropomorphic fox, okay?” He laughs, fully expecting an elbow to the stomach for that.

However Keira’s ability works, Caspian is trying to keep it simple - it works, not how, kind of like his ability. If he were asked to explain how he made force fields, he'd just shrug and say he can, and that's all that really matters to him. He wriggles free and goes back to the kitchen to continue dinner, pulling the steak from the hot water bath and setting it aside to cool a little. “How do you like your steak?” He calls. “Because if you say well done, you and me are going to have a come to Jesus meeting.”

With a laugh, Keira reaches out and gives Caspian a pinch to the side, shaking her head. “I’ll see what I can do,” she replies, even though she knows that she’ll probably end up getting some thuggish looking woman or something to that effect. That’s unfortunately how her ability works — unless, of course, she goes around murdering women in cold blood. “I’ll let you know if I find a fox person to turn into, though I may have questions,” She rolls her eyes a bit.

“Medium has always been my favorite. Sometimes I go for medium rare, but really, I just like pink.” Keira rolls over, smiling after the man and letting her chin rest in the palms of her hands. “You better be careful, I might fall in love with you at this rate.” She can’t help it, he feeds her and treats her like a princess.

Nobody’s ever really treated her like a princess before.

Pink he can deal with. It’s when the steak starts turning grey and rubbery that he has problems, and with the difficulty people have actually getting fresh meat in this day and age, cooking the hell out of something is just something that can not happen. The comment about the fox person had almost the reaction that he was expecting, minus the elbow to the stomach, Caspian leaning away from the stove to give the other woman a wink and a smile before he puts the heavy cast iron griddle on to heat over the burners on his stove, dusting the partially-cooked steak with salt and pepper, letting it sit while the steel comes up to temperature.

He leans against the door jamb of the kitchen and shrugs with his one free shoulder, arms crossed about chest high. “I’m a loveable guy by default, what can I say? If you fall in love with me, guess I’ll just have to deal with it, won’t I?” he smiles, those dimples appearing for just a moment as he looks down bashfully. “Can’t say having you love me would be such a bad thing, but I know how you can be with commitment.” he’s not saying this as a negative, but as a fact of life. “I don’t want you to rush into anything just to make me happy or because you think you're supposed to.”

Keira flops down over the armrest of the couch so she’s staring, upside-down, at Caspian, watching thoughtfully from her strange vantage point as he starts cooking their dinner. As he speaks, she can’t help but smile softly, one hand raising to idly toy at her hair.

She stretches her arms up over her head, arching herself back over the armrest for a moment, before rolling over onto her belly, propped up on the armrest by her elbows with her chin in her hands. “Might happen. Dunno. I’m fond of you right now.” That’s certainly something, coming from Keira.

“Even if I end up feeling that way you, I am still really bad at monogamy.” It’s a fact she’s hammered home pretty frequently — noting that while she is currently seeing him exclusively, that’s liable to change at any moment, and she will be truthful about it if it does happen. “You knew that already, though.” She pauses, watching him thoughtfully with her remaining blue eye. “We’ll have to see, though. Don’t worry about me doing shit just to make you happy, I’m too selfish for that.”

She would wink, but that’s not possible with one eye, so she just blinks playfully at him, a playful grin on her face.

The only sounds from the kitchen as Caspian cooks are the fire from the burners, the bubbling of the pot with the potatoes, and the sound of a knife cleaving through the fresh squash which is tossed into the steamer before the lid is plunked down on top. The steak, now room temperature, is removed from its bag and placed ceremoniously on the rocket-hot griddle, a hiss of searing meat as it hits the iron. He’s patient, watching it and the clock for about four minutes, turning it 45 degrees after two to get those cool grill marks, before flipping it with tongs, the outside a lovely golden brown color that looks like an old walnut desk and smells delightful.

“It’s just because I cook good, isn’t it? Those and my boyish good looks.” A little teasing there, coming from Caspian as he drains the peeled potatoes, dumping them back in the pot with a generous helping of salt, pepper, milk, and butter, mixing it around with a potato masher to start to blend.

“Your feelings are yours, and they mean a lot.” Caspian says softly, looking back out into the living room. “My prospects, aren’t something I’m really working on broadening. I’m generally professional, and that’s generally how things work with me. I don’t do bars or things like that. I mean, look…” he lifts his hands to indicate here. “I’m comfortable in where I am right now. You being here /and/ becoming more fond of me is just a wonderful bonus.”

“I mean,” Keira replies, laughing. “Your fantastic cooking is definitely a cherry on top of the delicious sundae that is you.” She laughs, rolling off of the couch; somehow, just by being himself, Caspian has put the once angry shapeshifter into a good mood. She makes her way into the kitchen, leaning against the entryway to watch him cook with a fond look on her face.

She watches him as he sets about working on the mashed potatoes, her tummy growling just a bit. The silence is comfortable, and that just adds to the list of what she enjoys about this relationship. “So I know we’ve been working on the precinct a lot, and my quarters are looking awesome.” She pauses. “But I’ve been thinking…I like staying here with you.”

Her gaze lingers on his hands as he cooks, before trailing up to his face, watching him with a faint smile. “I was thinking of maybe making this more of a permanent thing, if you’re cool with it.”

That’s one of the things that Keira almost certainly has noticed about Caspian in her time here. When he’s alone with someone he trusts, words are used, but sparingly. There may be music from the local radio station or a DVD playing from the small collection that’s slowly growing as more and more movies are snagged from the market when time permits, providing background noise, but the soundtrack of his life is the ambient sounds of the world around him.

The sizzling of the steak vanishes as he lifts it to look at the bottom side, turning the whole thing on its side to start searing the thick cap alongside the end of the bone, using a pair of tongs to easily move it to that position, holding it there to cook, the man turning to look at Keira with an impish grin, one corner of his mouth turned up a little. “It’s nice having you around.”

The steak is taken off the fire to rest, Caspian moving to finish the squash and the potatoes, thoughtful. “I’d be cool with you staying here for a while, if you wanted. I like having you here, and not just because I’m kind of used to having you around.” The potatoes are transferred to a plastic bowl, the squash moved to a mismatched twin, all carried out to the table where two plates have already been set out. “It’s like family. The house would feel more empty without you here, and I’d have to go collect more LHK’s to fill the hole.” A little teasing there.

“Good. Then you’re stuck with me.” Keira laughs, and promptly pitches in to help him bring the food out. “I love the precinct, but the thought of sleeping there feels kind of sad to me.” She’s not knocking her employees who do sleep there, but she doesn’t like the prospect of joining them. Doesn’t feel right, in any case, sleeping in the precinct. That’s where all of her business goes, and she doesn’t like mixing it with personal things.

She settles in at the table once she’s sure there’s nothing left to assist with, leaning against it and watching the man fondly. “Sometimes I still have to pinch myself when I look at you. You’re…” She trails off, quietly struggling to come up with the right words.

“You’re kind of the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You make me want to be better.” She’s not going to give up her business for him, certainly, but he’s also part of her inspiration for running her business the way she does.

The food is arranged on the table and drinks are poured. After a moment, and almost as an afterthought, Caspian snags a half-melted candle - normally used in the event of power failure - and places it on the table between the pair, lowering the lights in the room by turning off the overhead one, leaving the lamps along the periphery to provide light.

It’s romantic. What can you say?

“I understand. The precinct isn’t where you feel comfortable. It’s not home. I mean…” Caspian deftly slices the steak off the bone, leaving a nice chunk to gnaw on for Squeaks’ dog, Jude, setting it aside. Then he carefully slices the whole thing into finger-thick slices, adding a few to Keira’s plate. “Having a routine is something that a lot of us thrive on and lean towards. You get that here. Also, the precinct is work. This isn’t. Before the war, a suggestion a lot of people had was to separate work from home life, so you can ease into one or the other without being ‘turned on’ all the time.” He serves himself a few slices of the meat too, giving Keira a questioning look to say ‘if you want more, tell me now or get it yourself later.’ before setting the serving fork down.

Leaning forward, Caspian serves out the potatoes and the squash - nicely sized servings for each - before sitting back in his seat, lacing his fingers, one leg crossed over the other with a satisfied smile. “I’ve been called a lot worse, you know. I…I mean, I’m glad that I’m an inspiration to you to do better, and to be a better person. That person is always inside of you; I’m just helping it shine a little more by rubbing the bits that could use a little help getting polished. It’s hard to keep clean in your line of work, but you’re doing a damn fine job of it.”

After all, not all crime bosses set up living quarters for their staff and families, provide electricity and food, and provide security along with the hazard pay that occasionally goes out due to occasional conflicts between rival groups. A corporation with some very interesting ways of competing with other companies. In fact, it’s probably Caspian’s influence, showing that if you prosper, those around you should prosper as well if there is enough, that’s caused this little change of heart.

A bit of the steak is speared and held up. A nice ruddy reddish-pink, dancing between medium and medium rare. “Come on, take a bite.” he urges. “How is it?”

Fork in hand, Keira spears a piece of the steak, taking a moment to marvel at it. It’s beautiful, really, char and brown surrounding a pink middle — sometimes one just has to stop and admire food, and how far humans have come from their days as scavengers. After her moment passes, Keira takes a bite of the steak, closing her eyes and savoring the flavor.

So good.” She even rolls her eyes a bit for emphasis — it tastes wonderful, especially in light of the food shortages. The shapeshifter goes quiet for a moment, simply enjoying the flavors of the meal. “Keep cooking like this and you’ll never get rid of me.”

She leans forward, smiling at Caspian. “Thank you.”

“Hey, keep making good decisions in a bad world and you'll never be rid of me.” Caspian sits back and watches Keira eat, satisfied at a job well done.

“You're welcome, Keira. Now, let's eat and talk about how things are and what we can do to make them better.

With that, Caspian and Keira start to eat, enjoying the simple pleasure of each other's company.

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