Golden Dandelions

Echo Echo 

 Autumn had certainly fallen upon America. Cordova, at least; he couldn't speak for the rest of the large country, but the cool nip of fifty-something degrees Fahrenheit in the night air definitely marked the death of Summer. It was his second American Fall, and still more beautiful than the dark, soppy mess that the season brought back home. Truth be told, he enjoyed it so much that he could have easily laid out on his little patio at home stark naked to soak it up. Out in public, that seemed to be frowned upon.

 Out and about among strangers, Oliver did well to keep up human appearances, dressed in jeans and an old, well-loved leather jacket. He almost looked like something straight out of the 1950's, had it not been for his smattering of tattoos that marked his existence in the modern world.

 Inside Echo Echo, the jacket came off, revealing a simple grey shirt that was almost too warm for comfort. He took a moment to take in all the sights and sounds, his beast like a shadow just behind his eyes, relaxed albeit alert, closer to its human counterpart than ever before. The feeling pleased him, giving him a greater sense of comfort and confidence as he pressed deeper into the building, listening to the band on stage as he made his way to the bar.

 Gin in hand, he lingered for another moment before a familiar figure caught his eye. Her memory was somewhat faint in his mind at first, but came back to him with ease as he recalled the lovely lilac color of her beast's gaze, smiling ever so slightly at the memory of her guarded behavior. Perhaps she would be more friendly in the company of so many people.

 Silent as ever, Oliver walked towards her with the easy, strong gait of the big cat inside of him. He approached her from the side so as not to spook her, lifting his hand to tip an imaginary hat in her direction once they made eye contact. Hello, again.


 She hadn't been able to decide what color she'd wanted to wear tonight so, at the last minute, Jackie had decided that all black was the way to go. It wasn't often that she didn't wear some sort of color, so wearing such a dark and bold outfit made her a bit self-conscious. Her makeup was significantly more neutral, softer shades around her eyes and a light coral color on her lips. She wasn’t meeting anyone but, recently, Jackie had started dressing up to go out at night, if only because it was fun and, well. She just wanted to.

 The blonde lion didn’t know the band on stage but she listened idly anyway, a drink held in one hand as she stood there. Lately, she hadn’t been feeling quite so out of control, though her grasp on her beast was still tenuous at best. She still couldn’t remember anything in her shifted form and too much blood still meant that she needed to step away from things, but she was getting better.

  So much so, that when she felt another Were close by, she didn’t react as she once might have, not even when they came up beside her. Jackie’s head turned, green eyes widening slightly in surprise and recognition as she found a familiar leopard. What had his name been? Quickly, the blonde visualized the card he’d given her, knowing it was still in her wallet, just in case. Even so, his scent was familiar too, and she found herself smiling as she turned her body to face him.

 "Oliver, right?" She asked with that same smile. "I’d say I’m surprised to see you here but this seems more your scene than mine," She said, poking fun at how out of place she felt, even if she was dressed in similar colors to most of the folks here. Being dressed in a similar fashion didn’t mean that she didn’t still feel self-conscious. Carmilla would probably be laughing at her right about now.

 She certainly seemed to be more at ease than the last time they had crossed paths. Her smile said as much, at least, though there still seemed to be an edge of... discomfort about her. Oliver didn't linger on the thought, planting himself in the moment, eyebrows raising ever so slightly to signal he was listening to her. He grinned somewhat as she spoke his name, pleased to see that she remembered it, offering a short nod of his head to confirm her memory.

 His shoulders rolled upwards, lingering for a moment in a shrug, and then relaxing again. His expression changed with the movement as well, eyebrows rising further, mouth pursing in a slight curve as if to say, "sure, you could say that." He didn't know if it was really his scene, per se, but he couldn't deny his enjoyment of the night life. He pulled out his cellphone and tapped out a message, turning his phone towards her. All the fun stuff starts in places like this when the sun goes down.

He was surprisingly expressive for someone who looked so... hard. Jackie found herself almost immediately curious, wondering what his story was (she had always been a sucker for a good story, after all). He didn't say anything, which further intrigued the girl. He'd been quiet the last time, too, and now he was using body language and... his phone? Was he mute? Okay. Now she was fascinated, though she wasn't rude about it.

One hand lifted to kind of hold his phone steady, eyes scanning the words presented to her. "Really?" She asked, eyes flickering up to him. "I wouldn't know. Normally, I'm working right about now." It was true. Usually, Jackie's night attire consisted of royal blue scrubs and non-slip shoes, sometimes all with a smattering of blood. Her hand dropped and she stepped back to her original spot. "What kind of 'fun stuff'?" Another question, though this one wasn't rhetorical. Sipping at her drink, the lioness glanced at the stage before looking back to him.

 Oliver found himself curious as to what her profession was. There was no telltale scent about her at the moment to say that she might be a cook, or a doctor, or an artist. He might have asked, if she hadn't gone on to wonder aloud what kind of "fun stuff" he was referring to. The tattooed man chuckled quietly, his smirk taking on an almost devilish quality. He mirrored her, lifting his glass to his mouth and downing the remainder of his drink in a single movement.

 He set his glass on a nearby table before he turned back to his phone. Depends what you're into. People watching. Drunks. Fights. Sex. He turned his phone back towards her, amused with himself, though he made no movement beyond letting her read his message. She was attractive, but was she receptive? Oliver took this as a time to test her reaction, watching her face steadily, determining his next move. His own beast was nonchalant, yet interested - she was no leopard, but he had no problems pursuing an opportunity.

 His smile made her want to blush, averting her eyes briefly while she reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear. The motion was a nervous habit, and she might have changed the subject even but the leopard distracted her with movement.

 Jackie watched as he set his glass down an went back to typing, maybe leaning closer a little so that she could preemptively get a look at what he was tapping into the screen. Now, she did blush, glancing up at him as she tried to gauge if he was being serious. She hadn't had too much to drink yet, which was actually a very good thing, but that didn't stop her curiosity. Or her interest.

 Teeth bit into her lower lip lightly before she opened her mouth to respond again, words a little bolder than she might have been before she'd been turned into a lion. "Drinking, yes; Drunks not so much. And... Fighting isn't really my thing." In fact, fighting was likely the fastest way to make her bolt. Everything else, however.... Well, let's just say it wasn't off the table.

 "What about you?" She asked, engaging the conversation further just before she drank the rest of the drink in her hand. Jackie had a feeling she was going to need it. She gave him a smile though, reaching a little past him to set the empty glass on the table he'd set his own drink on.

 She blushed. Cute. Oliver stifled a chuckle, instead remaining silent with that same small grin tugging at the side of his mouth, meeting her eyes as she glanced up at him. There was an unspoken question lingering there, but he didn't prod, instead glancing down at the way her plush lower lip snagged itself under her teeth. What was that? Embarrassment? Self-restraint?

 Not into drunks, or fights. Fair enough. That she made no comment about the other two hobbies he had listed, however, which was... interesting. His eyebrows rose, smirk still in place, widening slightly as she questioned him. He glanced at his phone, but was distracted by her brief closeness, eyes catching on her arm as she leaned over to set her now empty drink next to his. Her scent was pleasant, as was the faint warmth that radiated from her. He looked into her face, expression some mix of amused and smoldering, before turning back to the screen.

 Oliver, for all his years in strange circumstances, had never really had problems finding the right way to approach a lady. Not too forward, but not cold; not creepy, but letting his interests drift along like a gentle breeze. Then again, everyone was different, and sometimes it didn't matter how charming or attractive he thought he was. It was all about how he was received.

 All of the above and then some. He typed cryptically, always having been one to enjoy keep some things secret. Would you like another drink?

He was... intense. There was something about his composure and the look in his eyes that drew her in. Jackie wondered if he was trying to say something with his eyes (Don’t be ridiculous, Jax’) before she shook the thought and focused more on the phone he was typing on. In a moment of shy courage, the blonde lion peeked over his arm, reading the words as he typed them. She squinted slightly, wondering if that statement was meant to make her ask more about him before he started typing again.

Another drink? Chewing on her lip again for a moment (a bad habit she’d never been able to break herself of), she glanced up at him again and considered him for several beats before she moved, giving him an answer as she deftly stole the phone and hid it behind her back, not looking at the screen in case there was any private information there. That would have been rude.

"Yes, but you don’t get this back until after." She wasn’t doing it to make him talk but rather see how else he chose to communicate. They’d done well enough communicating the last time they’d met and it made her all the more curious now. Eyesbrow lifted and a small, daring smile adjusted her expression. "Deal?"

 Well, that was unexpected. After what, exactly? Oliver blinked at her, hand still open as if it thought it might still have a phone in it, trying to decide whether or not it aggravated him. No, he settled. The way her words matched up with the goading look on her face clicked in a recognizable combination of flirting. There was no threat here. The lioness was not as strong as him, and could be easily overpowered should he be in dire need of the device - which he didn't expect to be the case this evening. It was a game.

 The tattooed man smirked, straightening slightly, shoulders rolling back as his smirk reappeared. He put his hand out in an offer to shake, signaling his agreement. He had faith that he could get his point across to her without the phone - it just tended to make things easier. But let's be honest here, Oliver didn't particularly need words for what he had in mind.

 The leopard let the phone fall to the back of his mind, gesturing with one hand for her to accompany him away from the stage and back to the bar. He retrieved his card from his wallet in waiting for the bartender, casting her a questioning glance in the meantime. He was curious about her now, as she was obviously a box of chocolates, or whatever that ridiculous movie line was.

 There were a few moments there where Jackie wasn't sure how he'd react to her taking his phone. If he reacted in anger, the blonde would be quick to return the device and go about her way but, fortunately, that didn't seem to be the case. Green eyes glanced down at his offered hand, her smile staying put as she slipped his phone into her back pocket and reached out to shake on their "deal", touch light.

 He turned and Jackie followed, curious to see what he had in mind. From behind him, she was afforded a different view of the man, one she momentarily appreciated before settling into the open space next to him at the bar. She didn't miss the look he gave her, thinking for a moment before she started talking. "I'm guessing this is the point where you ask me about myself?" Mayday mayday, boring conversation lies ahead. Let's change the subject. "Well no. Instead, I'm going to guess things about you." She smiled again, though her eyes searched his, curious and contemplative.

 "So obviously I already know what your favorite animal is," She said, her tone teasing. "Soooo. Color.... I'm gonna say blue. And in my head, I'm typecasting you as a badass of some sort so I'm going to say... Rogue firefighter." Oh yeah. He could totally be a firefighter. "How far off the mark am I?"

 Oliver leaned on the bar with his elbow, head tilted somewhat as he watched the young woman. Sure, he wouldn't mind learning a little about her. He grinned, head nodding to confirm she should give him a little backstory. Instead, she took an unexpected turn, and Oliver found himself enjoying the fact that she was full of surprises. He wasn't big on talking about himself - pun sort of intended - but he figured he could humor her.

 He made a face, eyebrows up and lips lightly pursed, a universal expression of acceptance as she declared her intention. His face slowly morphed into a grin, which grew ever so slightly as she suggested his favorite color, and then gave him the bad ass firefighter label. Sure, he could be a firefighter. It sounded a lot more respectable than crime aficionado, probably. How far off the mark was she? He chuckled.

 His hand raised, holding the tips of his thumb and index finger roughly a half-inch apart, accompanied by a slight squint of the eyes to suggest the words "very close." Then he lifted a finger, expression shifting with an arched eyebrow - "Except." That hand dropped to the leather jacket in his lap, tapping the shiny black surface, then put his hand against his heart. Black was his favorite color.

 The bartender interjected, asking for their orders. Oliver gestured to the lioness, signaling her to go ahead first, before pointing back to the shelving behind the employee. The bartender looked at him oddly, but complied nonetheless, watching the leopard as his hand moved from bottle to bottle with the instruction of a wiggling finger. The man finally gave a thumbs up when their server put his hand on a bottle of fine gin, then pointed at the ice bin. After making Jackie's drink, he proved to be a good interpreter, pouring the clear liquor over ice. Fantastic.

 Oliver turned his attention back onto Jackie, face expectant, hand waving slightly in invitation for her to continue her guessing game.

Very close. She eyed him for a moment, uncertain if he was playing her. Was he really a firefighter or was he just saying that to humor her? He switched subjects though, indicating his jacket and then patting his chest. What? Oh. Oh. "Your favorite color is black," she stated, verbalizing her moment of realization. Well dressed like that, of course his favorite color was black. She probably looked like hers was too.

"Well. I’m a nurse, and a volunteer dance instructor and my favorite color is violet." The information she volunteered was brief and to the point, which worked out since the bartender came to take their order and set about making each requested drink soon after that. Her attention returned to Oliver, blinking green eyes up at him as she met his gaze, not really expecting him to have been looking at her.

"Right. So we know your occupation and your favorite color..." What else did dates usually cover. Oh! "You're from Germany. You definitely grew up there but you had to get away when you weren’t able to rescue your beloved cat from a fire. Which is what drove you to become a firefighter here." That smile was back, knowing she was pretty far off with that one, even if he was a firefighter.

 Oliver gave a small nod of satisfaction when his makeshift signing was properly translated. He was also pleased that she gave him the same information back, a small smile on his lips and eyebrows raised to signal that he was impressed. She was clearly a gentle soul, a lover of the arts of sorts, between nursing and teaching dance. Much softer than himself, but there was no surprise there, seeing as how he was the bad boy firefighter tonight.

 She continued, and each word seemed to add an extra centimeter to the leopard's cheeky grin. Germany. Running from the pain of his beloved cat. Oliver let out a genuine laugh, one of the few sounds he could make, and shook his head at her. He admired her creativity, amused by the random story she pulled from thin air. He picked up his drink then, lifting the glass to his lips, eyes never leaving her as he took a sip. He set it back down on the bar and then gestured with the same hand, moving it back and forth sharply to say, "no, scratch that." Then, he made a to-and-fro spinning motion with his index finger. "Try again." He wanted to hear what else she could come up with.

There. She’d made him laugh. And it turned out that he wasn’t completely mute, so was he just... quiet? The plot thickened.

Jackie’s smile was bright and proud as she looked back at him, meeting his gaze as he drank from the glass. Oh. Right. She had a new drink. She followed suit, sipping from hers, careful not to drink too fast because drunk!Jackie was an overly touchy, outgoing, affectionate Jackie and — Why no drunk!Jackie?

He began gesturing to her again and Jackie took another drink from her glass before glancing upwards in thought, teeth crunching on a piece of ice. She swallowed before she spoke, meeting his gaze again as the warmth of the alcohol spread through her. "You were a rockstar. Your Finnish rock band was really big but then one of your band members got arrested for something dumb. In your shame, you disbanded the group and moved here, changed your name, and took up a job as a firefighter because you miss the heat of the stage lights and pyrotechnics." Even she laughed at that one; it was ridiculous and far fetched and why shouldn’t she laugh?

 Oliver caught sight of the barkeep's small jar of maraschino cherries, just within his reach. As Jackie began to formulate her new story, he reached over and plucked one from its chalice, popping it in his mouth. A retired Finnish rockstar unable to abandon his love of the flame. The leopard chuckled again, eyebrows rising in an expression that seemed to say "good one."

 After a moment, he pulled the cherry stem from between his teeth, having twisted it into a knot with his tongue. Oliver might be amused by her games, but the beast was growing bored. Impatient. It was more to the point than its human counterpart, but the tattooed man knew better than to rush headlong into this. Another drink or two. A few more knotted cherry stems, so to speak. It was no fun if the desire was unrequited, after all.

 He smirked at her as he set the twisted stem down on a bar napkin and then picked up his drink, taking another draw from it, crushing ice between his teeth. He set the glass down once more and looked at her again, his gaze intent and unblinking, curious and interested.

Admittedly, her story was ending anyway but Jackie trailed off as she watched him put the cherry in his mouth, stem and all. She forgot what she was going to say, instead tilting her head curiously. Did... did Oliver eat cherry stems? Was that a thing? Like an actual thing??

With concern flirting through her eyes, Jackie opened her mouth to say something when he pulled the cherry stem back out (he hadn’t eaten it thank god) but it was... knotted? She frowned and examined it for a moment before looking back up at him, her cat swishing it’s tail pensively. "Why...?"


Ohh. Ohhhh. Did it mean he was good with his tongue? Jackie flushed again after the look of realization cleared from her expression, replaced by something intrigued and... well. It had been a while since she'd slept with anyone, okay?

She sipped from her drink again, draining the rest of it before glancing at him furtively. Flirtatiously (as she could). "So, can you teach someone to do that?" The alcohol was making her a touch less awkward but she still couldn’t hold his gaze for very long and looked away again as the bartender came by to give refills.

 Why? Oliver's head tilted, slowly, ever so slightly, a grin tugging at the edge of his mouth. That grin would only serve to grow as a look of realization blossomed across her face, soon followed by a rush of blood to her cheeks. There was no question that she understood the unspoken innuendo. He watched her down the remainder of her drink, his grin diminishing into a smaller smirk that was more sly than anything. Liquid courage?

 Could he teach her? The leopard let out a quiet laugh, eyebrows rising as his head nodded slowly, a dark gleam in his eyes. Could he ever. He glanced at the bartender and gave an affirmative gesture towards the empty glasses. He would wait until they were filled again and the bartender had moved on before he reached out, taking a hold of her stool and dragging it closer to him. Oliver leaned an arm against the bar and fixed her with his gaze. Was she being serious, or just a tease?

She gasped as he pulled her closer, laughing after the few seconds of initial shock wore off. Looking up, Jackie met his gaze, finding it alluring and tense and teasing. "Oh, are we doing this now?" She asked, her smile widening as her fingers touched his arm and grazed his skin, one eyebrow lifting slightly as she tried to play coy and failed. What could she say? She was interested. And... Slightly drunk.

"We can totally do this now." Another laugh and maybe, by the end of the night, she'd have learned a lot more about tying cherry stems than she'd ever thought she would.

Fade to black.

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