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by: Everett Cooper
”...Jake’s favorite…”

Siiiiiiigh. Good job, asshat. Just keep twisting that knife and bringing up the guy’s dead best friend. Brilliant, Everett. Just fucking brilliant… At least it seemed Alasdair was moving beyond the abject sorrow part of dealing with the death, no thanks to Ev he was certain with how many times he had managed to bring it up or make the wizard think about Jake. It seemed the sad memory passed quickly as the vampire watched Alasdair over the rim of his glass, the acrid tang leaving the man’s scent as it did.

That cute little wrinkling of his nose… oh, Ev wasn’t ready for that level of adorable. Nope, not at all. The SEAL did manage not to choke on his drink as he stared blatantly at the other man, although he did NOT manage to get all the bourbon into his mouth while he was distracted by the cute display. Clearing his throat with more than a little chagrin, Ev casually wiped the liquor off his chin and politely signalled the bartender for another round, not ordering Alasdair one in order to respect his desire to sober up a bit with his water and tea. He turned back to Alasdair and returned his cheeky taunt with a chuckle. “Vaguely magical? I dunno about that either,” he laughed. “Maybe ‘supernatural’ but, darlin’, I ain’t even sure I qualify as ‘super’ or ‘natural’ either!” the vampire laughed. It was still strange to think of himself as anything but human, but he imagined that would change the more time passed at least. But th-


Sweet baby Jesus in the manger, those eyes. Shimmers and cracks of bright sunshine yellow glinted in the warm mahogany-chocolate of Alasdair’s eyes as Ev looked (okay, he was staring; sue him…) at the slightly shorter man, leaving the soldier damn near breathless. Holy mother of God… If anyone had told Everett that someone could make him - Mister Suave, Mister Smooth-Operator- feel like his brain had short-circuited from nothing but some gentle hand-holding and a pair of eyes he’d have laughed in their face. ’Well, here we fucking are,’ he thought as his brain came back online. Oh, now his eyes were pink! The soft gasp of appreciation was barely audible to even his own sensitive hearing, but the inhale did bring a fresh hit of the wizard’s scent into his senses and, oh boy, was that enlightening…

He was definitely attracted to Ev, that was certain. The musky, slightly-spicy smell of arousal and attraction overlaid the flower-and-parchment scent that was uniquely Alasdair, coupled with the hot day scent of embarrassment and the spike of the wizard’s heart rate… Hot damn. When Alasdair tore his gaze away and stammered his apology, Ev took a moment to give himself a brief mental shake as well before he reassured the smaller man that everything was alright.

“Nuthin’ to be sorry about, darlin’,” he said softly in that sweet Southern drawl. He smiled at Alasdair, charming and gentle, and softly caressed the back of the wizard’s hand with his thumb as he continued. “You asked me what I wanted to know about you and I asked what you thought I should know about you,” he recapped, still smiling that night-ruining smile. “At least I think that’s what happened. Y’all threw me for a loop with those… incredible eyes,” he added almost on a whisper, taking just a half-step closer to Alasdair without really meaning to.
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by: Alasdair Bennett
Well, fuck melting apparently. Alasdair was just going directly to sublimation. There had only been one other time that his focus had been this acute from adrenaline. That time was when his life had been in danger. He much preferred this. The adrenaline of nervous hopefulness at whatever this night had turned into. He felt almost dizzy from his hammering heart but not in a bad way.

With all the adrenaline rushing in his blood so much was crystal clear to him that he otherwise wouldn’t have even noticed. The brush of a callous on the tender skin of his hand left a streak of delicious cold behind it from Ev’s lower temperature. The touch drew his eyes away from his handsome face and down slowly. The wizard hadn’t heard the noise but saw the vampire’s short intake of breath as the changeling looked him over. The elder man’s chest rose sharply then deflated again, muscles moving under his shirt as they worked. He wasn’t sure if he was just breathing through his mouth to deal with the dizziness that was still making his head swim or was just gaping like a fish. His eyes fluttered a bit, trying to blink but it seemed his entire body wanted to short circuit now.

“I… I mean- ...There’s not really much to know,” he said shyly. Ev had asked an unfairly difficult question. As someone that thrived on being unnoticed it was hard to even think of what might be important for someone to know about him. Especially going by Alasdair’s own standards. His attentions were drawn back from his musings when Everett moved slightly closer.

That husky voice, those eyes, and oh he smelled like… Sharp, clean, and maybe pine? He wasn’t sure but he liked it. And if Alasdair even dared look at Ev’s mouth again, his brain was sure to give up all function. Looking up at those blue eyes, he felt his breathing stutter along with his heart again. He was acting like a damn teenager. But then it hadn’t been often that Alasdair had even felt attracted to someone else. It been a while. Not to mention Alasdair’s feeling of security and safety to even contemplate letting an attraction go somewhere. But Everett had been nothing except polite.

No, more than that. Both times he had had the pleasure of meeting the vampire he had been charming, sweet, comforting, capable, and just… Somehow perfect towards Alasdair. He swallowed nervously and stared up at the taller man then, the wizard’s hand squeezing his in return.

”Yeah. I can understand the feeling. Being thrown for a loop, I mean,” he breathed, tone matching Ev’s easily.
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by: Everett Cooper
Nervousness, anticipation, arousal… god, did Alasdair smell good! And the warm feel of the wizard’s soft hand under his rough, calloused ones was what people had to be talking about when they said something was heavenly… Ev had never really noticed the sweet, enticing smell of adrenaline before, but the scent coming from Alasdair now was like walking into a candy shop and smelling every sweet all at once. Maybe that was his Hunger stirring in response to the adrenaline in the wizard’s scent but he didn’t feel like he needed to feed; the man just smelled real good.

It had only been about twelve hours since he had fed, which normally would have been a great thing as far as Ev was concerned, but tonight it meant that he was well-fed and capable of blushing. As Alasdair’s colorful gaze drifted down from his eyes and looked him over eagerly, Everett could feel the telltale slight warmth of a blush spreading over his cheekbones and up the tips of his ears. He was blushing? Jesus H Christ… he couldn’t remember the last time someone had made him blush! The vampire’s heart pounded in surprise and more than a flash of nerves and he absently ran his free hand through his dark hair while Alasdair stuttered at him endearingly. Goddamn… he felt like a teenager at his first dance! For god’s sake, he had served on SEAL Team Six for twenty years and couldn’t remember ever being his nervous for a mission, but now suddenly one lithe, handsome man had him stuttering and blushing and tripping over himself like a kid? ’Way to fuckin’ go, Cooper,’ he thought with chagrin.

Luckily Ev’s brain seemed to remember how conversations were supposed to work when Alasdair murmured he felt the same way. He smiled that slow, crooked smile again and laughed a little nervously. “Yeah, I, uh… I’m usually much smoother than this,” he confessed with a sheepish smirk. “Not usually one to trip over myself…” God, those eyes were gorgeous… and those lips, he realized as his blue-gold gaze drifted down over Alasdair’s face. Perfectly shaped, invitingly pink and soft-looking… The soldier didn’t realize he was slowly leaning closer to Alasdair as he spoke again, eyes fixed on the wizard’s lips. “If there’s not much to know about us… does that mean we get to write our own story tonight?” he murmured, gently pressing his lips to Alasdair’s with a soft sigh of pleasure.
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by: Alasdair Bennett
Alasdair had wanted to say something. Maybe about Ev being smooth with his flirting because he was compared to his own awkward fumblings in this conversation. Or maybe something about the cute blush that had tinted his pale cheeks when he caught Alasdair looking at him, much to his own horror. Or when he had averted his golden blue eyes briefly and stabbed his free hand through those soft-looking locks rather than releasing their twined hands. Like he was as embarrassed as Alasdair despite being far more put together in the whole situation. But most of these maybe words were lost when Ev had kissed him.

His own sigh matched Ev’s as he kissed him back eagerly. Affection was rare for Alasdair and he had craved it for… He couldn’t even remember how long. When presented to opportunity now though, he dove headfirst into his partner. The vampire’s mouth was cool and gentle, heartbreakingly sweet for the sudden kiss. If Alasdair had been worried about the state of his solidity earlier then there would be no hope for him going forward. When Ev had paused like he might pull away, Alasdair’s hand had shot up unbidden to lose his fingers in his hair. The locks were as silken as he had hoped and he clutched onto him. He kissed him slowly before regaining his senses.

They were very much making out in a public bar. Oh, Merlin, Alasdair had become that guy in his eagerness. He released the vampire suddenly, pulling back in embarrassment. The hand in his hair dropped back to his side but the other still clung to the elder man’s hand nearly desperate for the contact. ”I’m sorry. I don’t know why I did that,” he said, the roots of his hair starting to go pink, ”I-I mean… Not that I mind… The kiss I mean-! J-Just. Just... Shouldn’t of g-grabbed you like that though. S-Sorry.” He cringed at his stammering, feeling the need to retreat sudden before he made even more of an ass out of himself. He slugged back his tea to calm himself instead settling his bright pink eyes back on the vampire, managing another shy smile.

”So since the introduction is written now, what’s chapter one going to be about?” he asked finally.
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by: Everett Cooper

Ev’s brain went blank when he kissed Alasdair, as if it were a computer that had just been wiped to a factory reset. He wasn’t entirely sure what was telling his lips to keep working at this point, but damn was he glad they were! Alasdair’s lips were just as soft and warm and enticing as he had thought they would be, and the urgency with which the wizard returned the kiss just made Everett melt even more. The hand that shot out to tangle in the vampire’s hair prevented him from pulling away to keep the kiss on the chaste side, not that Ev really minded. No sir. Not. At. All. It had been far too long since the soldier had had this sort of affection and now that he had the opportunity? He’d be damned if he was worried about anything except having more of it.

The SEAL was still absorbed in the kisses and affection when Alasdair suddenly pulled back and released him, earning a barely audible sound of disappointment when he broke the kiss. The hand that had been teasing his hair dropped back to the wizard’s side, however, Ev noticed he break their clasped hands, so maybe he hadn’t crossed the line and gone too far? Alasdair’s stuttered apology confused him for a moment, but a slow and slightly shy grin spread across his face as the smaller man clarified his meaning. So he wasn’t upset by the kiss, he was just embarrassed that they had kinda started making out in the middle of the bar; fair enough, Ev chuckled to himself.

The younger man’s question and that shy little smile just tickled the American to the core. “Chapter one, huh?” he echoed in his gentle Southern drawl, still grinning that crooked little smile. “Well… if it’s not too forward of me…” Ev cleared his throat softly, feeling more than a little nervous suddenly. “You could always come back to my place? Nothin’ has to happen!” he added quickly, getting a bit flustered again, “But I’m really enjoyin’ your company, Alasdair… and it’s getting into the mornin’ hours now and I need to be home before dawn…”

Oh for fucks sake, could he have been any more awkward, he asked himself and silently cursed his shy manners. Well, hopefully Alasdair continued to see it as endearing rather than a turn-off…
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by: Alasdair Bennett
Well at least Everett seemed to be as nervous as Alasdair felt. Oddly it was that pleasant nervous; excited and hopeful. Giddy? That was the perfect description of it. Delightful and bubbly like champagne. Maybe the wizard was drunk. He doubted it but it was curious question considering his reaction to the vampire. But then he had never been in a situation like this. Hell, he had only kissed one other guy and it hadn’t been like the kiss he just shared with Ev.

Or maybe it was just his belated teenage delight at the idea of attraction. Hogwarts had been a great school for learning but not for the young man’s dating life. Between the various high-nose and closed off thoughts, Alasdair had never felt comfortable to admit to his preferences as he dodged the affections of his female classmates. So the attention of someone that was both attractive, polite, and also male was kind of a suckerpunch to Alasdair. He smiled shyly at him again.

”No. I understand. You have a special situation,” he soothed, ”I would love to join but I have to go incognito if that’s okay? I’m sorry. Also if you want to keep hanging out maybe we could grab some food? I actually haven’t eaten yet.” He stood and waved the bartender over, paying both his and Everett’s bills with a cheeky grin towards him.
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by: Everett Cooper
Alasdair’s pulse was still hammering away and he just smelled so good and this was all happening so suddenly but it was real great and he was real great and damn he smelled so good and maybe he was hungry so he should probably feed when he got home and Alasdair said he wanted to come home with him and -

He said yes? Oh. Yes? Yes!

Ev’s rambling nervous internal monologue was cut off abruptly as he realized Alasdair had accepted his invitation to come back to his apartment, the thrill of adrenaline zinging through him and bringing a bright grin to his scarred face. He belatedly realized he had just been staring at the wizard as he waited for an answer, his cheeks and the tips of his ears tinting slightly pink with a light blush as Ev looked down at his bourbon glass again and finished the amber drink. The conditions Alasdair gave for his leaving with him were a bit odd, but he supposed it made sense for someone who was so involved with the Syndicate to feel the need to disguise themself if they were going above ground to London proper, so he just shrugged it off silently.

“Does that mean I get to see another demonstration of what you can do, Mr Bennett?” Ev couldn’t help but tease him a little. The idea of being able to change his appearance at will the way Alasdair seemingly could was still fascinating and intriguing to the former muggle and his excitement at the prospect of seeing more shown through in his words. “As far as food goes,” he grinned broadly, “there’s a real great little American-style diner right down the block from my place. They have great food and they deliver 24/7.” Ev glared at Alasdair’s sneaky move in paying for both their drinks before he could reach for his wallet. “And since you’re a little sneak and bought my drinks, I’m gonna buy you dinner,” he added, playfully sticking his tongue out.
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by: Alasdair Bennett
”I suppose you do,” he teased him. He couldn’t help it. It was nice for someone else to revel in his oddness as much as Alasdair did. Metamorphmagus were so rare that most people would have thought they would be more celebrated for their talents. But instead it seemed more like a mix of shunning from the unnerving ability or people looking to exploit it. Alasdair had seen both. School had made him feel more out of place with his ability even among witches and wizards. Jake and Ced had seen it as a useful feature for furthering their goals rather than just Alasdair. So the naive and sweet excitement that Everett had was new. New and really adorable. It made the wizard’s heart flutter a bit with the easy and delighted acceptance the vampire probably didn’t even realize he had given him. Another smile settled on Alasdair’s face before he leaned up and kissed Ev’s cheek gently.

Taking the vampire’s arm and linking it with his own playfully, the wizard led him out onto the street. ”I’ve never really been to London proper,” he admitted, ”At least not without just apparating directly to the place I was headed so you’ll have to lead once we get up there. And I guess you paying for dinner is reasonable since I doubt they accept gold and galleons.” Teasing and joking with the elder man was really easy and comfortable. Very comfortable. Without thinking about it, Alasdair cozied up to the vampire affectionately enjoying the companionship on what he thought was going to be a somber night. He liked this turn of events much more.

Without much thought as they walked Alasdair allowed his body to shift, glad he had worn baggier clothes today. Taking inspiration from the man at his side, Alasdair allowed his height to grow the additional inch or so to match Everett and allowed his muscles to fill out his bigger clothes more, making him wider. His hair shortened to a cleaner cut and the color lightened more from brunette to dirty blond. His eyes were always the hardest, especially when the wizard was steeped in extreme emotions like he was currently. Forcing the color to change was a bit more concentration than he liked to admit and he had to blink a few times before smirking at Ev playfully with bright green eyes now.

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by: Everett Cooper
’I suppose you do…’

The vampire couldn’t contain his excitement and grinned broadly at Alasdair’s teasing and playfulness. The dark mood he had been in earlier seemed to have passed and left behind a sweet, fun, and way-too-cute-to-be-legal nerdy little guy that Ev was all too eager to get to know better. Whether the night led to more making out or just sitting up til dawn talking on his couch, Ev was looking forward to it. If he had still been human he would have maybe tried to steer the night toward sex or some other form of physical intimacy, but as it was… Turned vampires he knew, were impotent and couldn’t have children since they were really more dead than alive when it came right down to a matter of bodily function, however, he wasn’t sure if that meant sex was impossible too or what. It wasn’t like he had had the opportunity to explore a relationship with anyone before coming to England… and having the birds and the bees talk with his father at 39 years old wasn’t really something he had considered, newly turned or not.

Alasdair’s gentle kiss on his cheek startled the vampire out of his deep musings, and he smiled back at him as the wizard led the way out of the pub. “Well, it ain’t NOLA, but it ain’t all bad,” he drawled with a chuckle, referring to Alasdair’s quip about London. He looked over at the smaller man with a raised brow, the scar on his lip giving his smirk an almost incredulous cant to it. “Gold and galleons?” he asked in confusion. “Y’all really use gold as currency? And what do you mean by galleon? The only kinda galleon I know of is a ship and I’m at least 87% sure that ain’t what you mean…” he chuckled again. Man, magical shit was fascinating.

As he looked at Alasdair his smirk turned into an expression of pure giddy delight as the wizard began to shift his features. Holy shit! He really was a shapeshifter! He seemed to grow several inches to be about the same height as Ev, and then his frame filled out as well to make him more muscular and bulkier. To round out the transformation, his hair, complexion, and eyes all lightened as well, until his hair was a light brownish-blond and his eyes were a dazzling bright green. They almost reminded him of his best friend’s green eyes, except Quenton’s had been just a tad more emerald. He grinned at Alasdair in delight. “That’s still fucking amazing…”
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by: Alasdair Bennett
Alasdair couldn’t help the blush that graced his features at Ev’s compliment about his abilities. It was such a natural thing to Alasdair that he often forgot that the intricate changes of his body were actually slower than he thought. Not instantaneous but more of gradual shifting and blending until he was in a new body. So the fact that Ev was still enamored by him rather than freaking out was really, really nice. It would certainly be an interesting night. The first time Alasdair had really sought companionship without having to worry about any backlash. No one in the Syndicate really cared about other people’s preferences for partners and if they did then Alasdair knew enough to defend himself whether it had to be with his fists, words, or magic. It was nice being an adult sometimes.

He snapped out of his wandering thoughts finally remembering that Everett had asked about some of the details of how the magical world worked. And if they perhaps did trade ships as currency. ”Oh yes, we do trade ships. We shrink them down and put them in bottles. That’s our money,” he teased him, keeping voice playful as he told the fantastical tale as he fumbled with his pocket. He pulled the coin out offering it to the vampire for his inspection, ”Yeah, the goblins prefer ores and traceable materials as payments. So we adapted around alliances rather than using paper money,” he explained more seriously, ”That’s a galleon. Unfortunately keeping bottles of ships and their crews in our pockets went out of style. Too much broke glass, we got tired of the blood ruining our pants.”

If his night ended up just answering all of Everett’s questions about magic, Alasdair realized, that he would be completely content with that. Beyond the brief moment of surprise affection in the bar, which he would also happily repeat, the wizard also realized he was content with the other man’s curiosity and companionship. It was nice. To just talk to someone for once. It was strange that Alasdair typically shunned people. Not for any real reason either, he just preferred quiet and books. But for some reason Ev’s presence was so non-oppressive and not overly extroverted that the wizard was comfortable. The interaction was nice. He tucked his arm tighter around the vampire’s squeezing it gently in affection. ”Also…” he said, breaking the line of talk for a moment, ”Thank you. For cheering me up. Most people wouldn’t have bothered. You’re really great, Everett.”
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by: Everett Cooper
Ev let out a snort of laughter at Alasdair’s snarky comeback about wizard money, his warm laughter echoing slightly in the cavern. Cute and funny? Jackpot! Alasdair’s eyes sparkled with intelligence and mirth as he told his tall tale and Ev found himself staring at the newly-transformed man on his arm when he realized that the wizard’s voice had shifted with his features. His natural voice seemed to have gotten deeper and, if Ev hadn’t been trained to notice such specific details, he would’ve missed the subtle shift in his accent as well; maybe more London than… Welsh, if he had to take a guess? Whatever it was was fucking great still, he thought, still riding the excitement of Alasdair’s abilities and the giddiness of the potential that lay ahead of them for the night.

The vampire nodded in understanding as he took the heavy coin from Alasdair and inspected it with interest. “Ohhh, that makes sense then. I did wonder about all the boats that seemed to be layin’ around the main cavern,” he teased, keeping up with the banter easily. His eyes glinted playfully as he nudged his companion while they walked. “And yeah, blood can be a real bitch to get outta clothes. And I suppose people get testy when ya just leave a trail of broken glass whenever you walk by,” he chuckled and handed the coin back. “It’s kinda a combination of old-school gold currency and modern paper money then, yeah? I assume that there’s other coin values besides that one too? Kinda like how in the States we have different value coins made of different metals… or they used to be anyway. Now they’re prolly all tin or some shit,” he added with a slight scoff. “But that’s a tangent for another time, innit?” He laughed again and turned down the tunnel that would lead them to the exit and eventually let them out into London.

This was nice, Ev thought as they walked. No, this was more than nice; it was unexpected and a little nerve-wracking but it was exactly what Ev had needed without even realizing it. Over the last eighteen months of learning how to be a vampire and getting his hunger under control the only real companions that Ev had had were his father and his uncles, Aventus and Coriolanus, when they were able to visit, that is. For someone who was used to living on a military base and being around thousands of other people on a daily basis and working with what was probably one of the most close-knit groups in the world, being isolated and low-key quarantined had been hard. Not that he hadn’t enjoyed his family’s company, but it wasn’t the same as having a friend or a lover or even just a passing conversation with a stranger on the street; he had missed this. Even if he and Alasdair did nothing more than sit and talk all day he would consider it a good night, he realized. When Alasdair seemed to voice the very thing that he had been thinking himself, Ev couldn’t help but grin and pulled the wizard into his arms again.

“No, thank you, darlin’,” he drawled softly, pressing a gentle kiss to Alasdair’s forehead. “I’m glad I could help, but truth is… I needed a friend too. So, thank you.” He kissed Alasdair’s soft lips once more before wrapping his arm around the other man’s waist and setting off again. Tonight was going to be great.
Counter Diplomacy (Peregrine)

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