|Summary:||In which the Winter King helps out Ian with his Christmas Shopping.|
Ian, for the record, is dressed in a white tank top with wide open shoulders to let his wings through the holes, and a pair of loose, comfortable cargo pants. He's in sock feet because glass interacts badly with floors and sliding is fun. His wings, at the moment, are draped in broad splaying glass lines over the back of the couch, spread out very wide - they cover the entire length of the eight-foot couch with room to spare. There is a fat calico cat seated on the couch next to him, sort of nudging at the laptop with her chin in an effort to maybe push it out of the way so she can get the lap for herself.
Jules would find that the staff here lets people in if they present identification and are on some kind of list, or if they have a card from the Center, which Tris and other Changelings who've been here have been giving out. The place looks like an industrial warehouse on the outside. The inside is considerably more pleasant.
If Tris has been handing them out, then Jules doubtless has one--maybe more than one--to extract from his wallet on the way in, before shoving it back into the back pocket of his jeans. There has been no Disney-like transformation sequence upon his ascension to royalty; there's an impressively pointy crown of ice on his head, but he's still in jeans and plaid flannel and looking otherwise extremely ordinary, if one ignores the hand. He winds up coming inside, looking around like this is indeed his first visit, studying the tree before he actually gets around to studying Ian. "Very festive, here," he says like it's some kind of stand-in for "hello".
Due to the current... phase Ian's in, he's incapable of /not/ being aware of his surroundings, so when someone moves in his peripheral vision, he glances - and freezes. Fight? Flight? No, this is Safe. Robin is on guard, there are staff... and this person wouldn't be here if they weren't Lost. Which, upon closer inspection, they are. His gaze drags up to the pointy, icy crown and lingers in fascination... so much so that when Jules finally speaks, he twitches in surprise. The wings flex inwards as if they're made of some weird kind of vinyl rather than glass, almost transparent but getting denser as they crowd up behind him on the couch. Speech takes... a moment to remember how to perform, in part because words are just hard, but also because there's not much to say to that. "Merry Christmas," Ian says solemnly, his voice faint. "Your Majesty," he thinks to add a moment later, because someone with a crown like that deserves a title.
Now that he's standing still, there's a bit of frost that spreads around Jules' feet, but his mantle is not otherwise super obvious. From there he reaches up, puts his fingers to where the crown sits against his hair, like he has to check to make sure it is in fact still present. "Ah. Yeah. I mean, no. Jules. Jules is just fine. Still trying to get used to the thing, but I don't think majesty is ever going to be on the menu. You... one of Tris' friends? Meant to stop by awhile ago, but haven't had a lot of free time."
That gets Ian's head to tilt curiously and his wings to relax - they spread out again, not as wide as before, but a five foot span or so behind his back, draped behind the couch. "Oh," he says. His voice is always powerless, like he's afraid to put any volume behind it. A smile curves his glass lips. "I'm Ian." A polite tip of the horns. "Tris helped Robin burn down my house." Like this is a good thing, something nice Tris did for him once. "Tell him I said hi and got him a present, please? He might not like it, I don't know," a glance towards the tree, "he can buy himself anything so it's not that special, but I'd like to give it to him anyway." All the while, one would have to strain to hear him if there were any ambient noise. He drags his gaze back to Jules, pausing for a moment before, "Would you like to sit down?" If Jules sits, he may end up getting sat on by a cat. Grace is not picky at /all/.
"I'm glad to hear that went... well," Jules says, with the tone of a person who is not actually sure he means that but is really making an effort to be polite. "He's a very helpful man, Tris." He takes up the seat when it's offered, and will even make an attempt to deal with the cat sitting on him, though he pets cats like someone who has not spent time around cats and thinks they might actually be incredibly fragile. Of course, Ogre: Fragility could be a concern. Not as long as he's being that delicate, though. "Happy to tell him. I think he's apt to appreciate the gesture. Hope so, anyway. Holidays are a bit odd with new friends."
Grace is the friendly, fat calico who was trying to get rid of Ian's laptop for the nefarious purpose of stealing his lap; the moment Jules sits, she picks herself up, flicks her stubbed-off tail, and goes prancing over to climb onto him with a greeting purr and a firm flumpf of sitting. Queen cat, right there. She'll even rub her cheeks on his fingers.
"They are," Ian says moodily, eyes cutting back to the screen. "I don't know what to get Robin. I picked some things but... maybe I'm looking at this wrong. Robin doesn't need /clothes/. Or food. Or books. Robin needs... guns." Pause. "No wait. That might explode. Okay. Spears. Robin likes spears." Taptaptappitytap. Looks like Jules is getting a ring-side seat to Ian's fevered gift-buying. "Phoebe's the one who needs clothes." The Christmas tree rattles as a young cat baps a ball gleefully. "Well, not need. But likes." Ian sighs. "This is hard."
In some ways, Jules is a very good person for a cat, because he is quite happy to let her rub on his hand instead of going the other way around. But he is maybe not as attentive as might be ideal. "In my experience, Robin's sort has... opinions about weapons that might not make them the best thing to guess about, if they haven't made requests. Not that I know Robin very well. They were at Solstice." Apparently if he's going to be subjected to this, Ian is going to be subjected to occasional unasked-for advice.
The feline is forgiving so long as the human - as far as she knows - continues to respond when nudged and urged into scritches. Grace seems happy with this arrangement. Ian glances up from the computer and studies Jules for a thoughtful moment, considering that. Then, "I decided this morning that whatever I give, that won't be my /only/ gift. That way if anything isn't as good as it could be, they'll have other things. And I won't be offended if Robin doesn't like it..." Probably. He pauses to think about that. "Maybe disappointed." A small shrug of one shoulder and Ian smiles. "Better to risk disappointment than not give at all, you know?" Tap, and a tactical spear goes onto the list and he smiles with sudden, fiendish pleasure. "And I know /just/ what else to give Tris." Taptaptap. "I feel like Tris has lots of pretty things. He needs some useful things." Tap this, tap that... the smile is growing as the dragon gets /excited/. "Besides, everybody needs a tactical shovel." Muahahahaha.
"I don't believe I know what a tactical shovel even is. I have a shovel. But I believe that as far as he's concerned, it's probably the thought that counts." Jules looks down at the cat for a moment, favors her with a bit more active petting, then gives a sidelong look over to the man of glass. "Your house having burned down and all, are you... doing well enough at the moment?" Emotionally? In terms of housing and resources? It's a very open-ended kind of question, asked about as casually as one could ask a question about anybody's house burning down.
"Better," Ian says seriously. "It was my Fetch's house. It was just like the Keeper's." Not /my/ Keeper, because Ian wants nothing to do with that bastard. "This place was already built. So... I came here. And then we got cats, and it's better." He smiles. "It's never empty, no matter what." He tilts his head. "What about you? You're just... a person, as I understand it. Nobody special... though your Pact with Winter must be strong if the Season made you King. That must be hard all of the sudden like that."
"Ah, glad to hear it--well, not glad, but you know what I mean." Apparently this was sufficient reassurance for Jules, whose mouth manages about half a smile before going back to looking vaguely worriedly at the cat. "Just a person, that's about right, I figure. No great champion, or brilliant creator, or leader of men. I just... do what needs doing. Winter and I are old friends, now, but couldn't tell you why it's me. It didn't come with an instruction manual, as it turns out, but neither has anything else in life. We'll all figure it out as we go along."
"Yeah," Ian murmurs. "Which is stupid. Humans have been around for how long and you'd think they'd have instruction manuals for things like... buying a car." He wrinkles his nose. "I don't even know how. It took me when I was nine." The wings flex idly. "And I like Tris's car, but it's too small and I just want to... put it in a nest and sit on it. Which is pointless, you can't drive it that way." He shoots Jules a small smirk. "But there we are. I guess when I finish taking online classes I'll go to Driver's Ed." He's forgotten his Fetch was famous. "I like Spring," he adds, back to the topic at hand, "but she's new to me. I'm getting better at understanding, I guess. She likes the kittens. Winter seems like it would be a little too quiet for my tastes."
The mention of Tris' car makes Jules' brow furrow noticeably. "That car is ludicrous. Don't know why anybody needs to own something like that. Seems like the kind of car that could be a menace in bad weather. But he seems to be very pleased with it." And apparently Jules is a close enough friend to have to sigh and accept this judgment. "This is a city that needs its Spring, I won't deny that. I'm happy with quiet. Don't think I'm going to get as much of it as I prefer. Are you... recently back, then?"
"Couple of months ago." Ian hits 'Buy' on the cart full of goods, and idly picks next-hour delivery. Yes, /hour/. "In November." No one has arrived here before then. "I found my way out and... it was bad. But it was... I did it." And then went home and found his house was exactly the same as the one he'd just left. "Anyway. What does a King have to do?" He shoots another look over. The amount on the screen confirming his order is astronomical; he sets the laptop aside and tugs up his feet. "You don't whack people, I can tell. Grace doesn't like assholes." The cat. Who /loves/ chin scratches.
"Ah, yes. November. That's... a very little time to get used to life again. You seem to be doing better than I was, at two months. But that was a long time ago, and a long way from here." Though Jules certainly sounds local, it is definitely plausible to think that the accent has been muted by some decades away. He is a bit long in working out the chin scratch thing, but once he does, they are indeed forthcoming. "What kings have always done, I suppose, for good and ill. Make laws. Defend territory. Only most of it is listening to folks and getting other people to do the things they're good at."
"Hmmpf. And watching out for Loyalists," grumbles Ian. He glances away with a shudder. "I heard what happened at the Solstice. It's... difficult to believe an author, someone who is supposed to have a mastery of words, would not understand the damage it would do to an elemental being to be reduced, as we have not been reduced since we left the Keepers' traps, to being /things/." The word has a sibilant /hiss/ to it. His voice has gotten just a little stronger, strong enough to hear the resonant tones and harmonies woven through it. "The majority of my time in Arcadia, I was an 'it'." The word is sneered. There's a reason he almost never lets his voice out - it is powerful, compelling in some strange way. "If anyone spoke that way now, especially someone who knows /how/ to speak better than I do..." He's sliding back into himself, his voice getting quieter again, though no less certain, "I would want to hurt them." His wings ruffle sharply behind him, spread out and flick in the air, then come back down and fold neatly at his back, deliberately settling claws on his shoulders as Ian tries to settle down and /behave/. "Sorry." Back to the ghost of that former tone. "I am angry Robin got hurt."
"I would be angry, too, if it had been someone I am close to. I am still... not pleased with the behavior that was exhibited there." Jules at least appears to be difficult to ruffle, even in the face of this. If the cat isn't going to have a problem with Ian's agitation, he's likely to stay where he is for her sake if nothing else. "I would appreciate it if you avoided hurting anyone for being foolish, but I understand the impulse."
The cat will be fine, she's not within reach, unless Jules sat substantially closer to Ian than expected. In any case, she can't see the wings or hear the multi-tonic voice, though she might be able to pick up /something/ being amiss, for she does blink one gold-green eye at him before leaning harder into Jules's fingers.
Ian considers this with a grave and wary look - had Jules made light of it or excused it, that would've been one thing, but it seems the man knows better than to do that, and he nods. "I don't like to hurt people. I've only ever hurt my Fetch." Of course, when he did that... it was quite thorough. He frowns. "Phoebe, when I explained the meaning and why Robin was angry, said that she was worried the man was a Loyalist if that was how he thinks. It seems less 'foolish' than 'malicious'... but not enough to hang someone for." He's calmer now that the anger is out. "So I'm glad you're aware of it." Which makes him relax further, demonstrated by the wings letting go of his shoulders and rustling idly. "Will you do something about it? Or are you going to wait and see if he makes a worse mistake?"
"This," says Jules, finally pausing his attention to the cat, "is the trouble with being king. Yes, something more is going to be done. The more is not going to be either his exile or his execution, at this point, not for his sake but for the sake of others. Whole business is going to involve what I think are going to be some very tedious meetings." He frowns over in Ian's direction, looking him over again. "I don't think he's a Loyalist, but that doesn't mean he isn't a danger."
"Meetings are a good punishment," Ian approves firmly. "With spreadsheets." How barbaric! "But really I think the problem is that Robin is in a position where someone can be stupid enough to think they can get away with insulting them. If it were... mortal things..." Ian waves a hand at the Community Center, his own and only experience with organization, "I would put Robin in some position of authority besides 'the person who carries the spear' so that it becomes obvious that they are not to be insulted. But that's court stuff. I don't know how that works - can Summers even work for the Winter court?" He frowns. "They have to - you have Tris. Right?"
"I'm given to understand that freeholds don't necessarily have the same structure. Think it's better that some members of every court be involved. Transitions will be easier." Which is all very vague. Jules rubs at his face, here, momentarily. "But at this point, Tris is... what he does is not in an official capacity. It's a... personal relationship. He doesn't work for me." Having thusly come up with some arrangement of words to explain this, look, there's a cat to be a distraction as he seems to recall she's actually there.
"People need to work for you, otherwise they don't have jobs and if they don't have jobs they don't know what's okay to do and not do," Ian points out. "Then again, I don't know if Robin would want to work for you. Probably? If you protect people, Robin will help even if you don't want them to." He smiles at the thought. From somewhere near his ankle there is an authoritative 'Nyap!' and in a moment he acquires a demanding Siamese. Those glass fingernails of his are very good for scritches, it turns out. "So you're better off telling Robin where they would best be able to protect. And Jules..." A serious look. "Titles are just words, but they /mean things/ to people. So be careful." Now that's a hell of a Christmas present - titles. "Knight would be a nice title." Ian's blink is almost innocent - but he's a damn dragon, nothing they do is innocent, is it. "Yes, Nita, I know, I am terrible at this." Scritchyscritchscritch. Cat butt.
"I don't think everyone needs a job. Sometimes a friend is just a friend." Jules pauses for a moment. "Robin, though," right that's who they were talking about, "I take your point. Well, I'll be trying to find some time to sit down with them in the next week or so, one way or another. I will do my best to put them to good use. And you--are you interested in joining us, then?"
Hooray, his point made it across, even though Ian's terrible - in his own opinion - at speaking. He flashes a brilliant smile. "If you promise to take care of Robin," he says with a nod. "Not an oath, just a promise. The normal kind." Because Robin doesn't need /oaths/. Robin can protect themselves just fine, even should that normal promise turn out to be a lie, and they might be offended that Ian even mentioned it. He's certainly not going to ask for oaths and pledges. "And if Robin already said they would then I guess I should too. Did they?"
"I will do my best," is what Jules says, judiciously, but then: "Not like bullshit. I mean that." Winters, known for hiding feelings, but it is terribly earnest. Like he might, unwisely, be able to say the same for quite a lot of eople. "Robin made the oath on Solstice. It's simple enough. 'Until the change of seasons brings Spring's crown, I swear that I will not knowingly bring harm to this freehold, nor provide assistance to the Gentry or their supporters against my fellows.' And--kneeling is traditional."
Kneeling is traditional? Jules gets a bit of a side-eye at that. "That would be a lot easier to do if I'd been at the Solstice and other people were doing it," Ian points out skeptically, then nudges Nita off his lap. "Go, don't worry, I'll sit down again soon." Up he rises, and goes strolling towards Jules, still with that skeptical look on his face. Of /course/ the kneeling isn't some weird prank or perverse sex thing, he's visibly telling himself. His brain just can't seem to shake the nerves, however, and his wings flex and spread wide, making him quite a lot taller and broader in reaction.
Nevertheless... kneeling is something he can do with reasonable grace, even in sockfeet, with his wings rising up behind him, arched high. Ian locks his gaze on Jules with absolute intensity... and releases his full Voice. "Until the change of the seasons brings Spring's crown, I swear that I will not knowingly bring harm to this freehold, nor provide assistance to the Gentry or their supporters against my fellows." Ian's full Voice has its own internal harmonies, some like wind chimes and others like harp strings, as well as a resonance far deeper than Ian's quiet, slender form should possess. It's as loud and dense as a movie introductions blasting THX - yet it's still the spoken word, and there is nothing truly mystical about it beyond the resonance of the Wyrd with the oath. It's as if his Keeper put as much effort into his voice alone as they did into his draconic sculpture of a body.
Ian relaxes slightly once the words are out, and drops the Voice to ask quietly, "Is that all right?" He's still on his knees.
At some point in there, Jules shifts to sit more forward towards him, and to dislodge the cat--poor girl, but this is official business. "That was just fine. It is... well, you know, I think it's worked better when I've seen it with monarchs who did regal a bit better than I do. Somebody with a sword or... something." If Jules didn't get so clearly flustered by it, possibly the moment would have held up better. "Still, it works."
That makes Ian grin, and he reaches out to pet poor dislodged Grace when she comes wandering past him, then shoves up on one knee before rising. "It's okay. Nobody wants a /real/ King except crazy people. If you started dressing fancy and wearing robes I'd be running away right now. We are supposed to be things Arcadia doesn't recognize, and I think you do fine at that. If you look like they do, they can understand you." If that makes any sense. "Sorry for being so loud." He retreats back towards the couch. Fear the day Ian ever finds reason to /yell/.
"Don't think I'd look good in robes," Jules admits, now pulling himself back up to standing just as Ian is likely to be sitting again. "Fancy doesn't suit me. Don't know. I think sometimes, folks want a real king. But sometimes they don't. We're most of us a little crazy. Maybe that's the thing, just not insisting on being the king folks don't need." He flashes a smile there. Big, but brief. Melting like a snowflake. "I just wanted to check in here, if I'm honest. Really ought to get on about the rest of my errands. Good to meet you, though.""And you," Ian says, and smiles with warmth. "I should get back to my Christmas shopping. It's going to take a little running around if I'm going to get Robin all their toys in time for Christmas." Robin's the only one he has to shop for where he can't just hit 'buy' on a website. "I had no idea grenades were so damn expensive," he grumbles, and picks up the laptop again. "Nyap!" says one of the cats. Grace, meanwhile, will follow Jules happily to the door.