Coming Home

December 19, 2014: Keith comes back from his leave of absence. There's a few things he must discuss with Gar.

The Titans' Castle

The Titans' Castle is awesome.



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Mood Music:

They say that all is fair in love and war- little lies are told here and there. Keith's previous trip to L.A. is still shrouded in deception, or at least it will remain so until Sunday. Similarly, Keith's return from L.A. was not conveyed honestly- he phoned Gar to tell him he'd be back on Saturday morning.

It is Friday morning, quite early in the morning, and Keith's plane touched down before it was light out.

He didn't bother with a taxi, a handheld mirror and his Rabbit Holes were enough to get him to the Castle in less than ten minutes. Upon approaching the perimeter of the castle, the Cheshire cat goes invisible (notifying the system that he was near, to avoid sounding off an alert) and perches right outside the window that looks into the room he shares with Gar. Hopefully he has not woken -yet-… but the surprise would work either way.


Three days ago, Gar Logan was in the hands of entities unknown, who've been 'borrowing' the animals from the zoos recently and doing something odd to them, then returning them. For instance, all the Asian Snow Monkeys (which is what Gar was at the time) were dyed green before they were 'napped. But what else happened wasn't clear, because they tranquilized them all.

Two days ago, Gar was a monkey, and he couldn't change back to human because they were still trying to find the critter-nappers, and if they knew that they'd had a spy-monkey, well, it would really mess things up. Fortunately, Gar was able to summon help.

Yesterday, Gar gave up a bunch of blood and was cat-scanned (and monkey-scanned, and Garfield-scanned) but there wasn't any obvious sign of what had been done during his Time Out.

Today, having caught up overnight with the last things he had to do, he's crashing out at the Castle until he hears where he's supposed to go next. Well. Until the alarm went off and he realized he needed to get up and clean things up. Need to hire that housekeeper.


When the alarm goes off, Vorpal hmmms to himself. He plays a little dirty- he opens a small rabbit hole, just enough to tap the alarm clock before it gets to doing its annoying whine. The hole widens enough for the cheshire to slip through, invisible, and close slowly behind him so as not to make any sudden noises.

He waits for a second, and then he tiptoes around the bed to stand by his side, and slips into the bed as he becomes visible, slipping under the covers.

"Morrrrrrning…" says a familiar voice right by Gar's ear.


Someone who was more paranoid would have reacted badly, after the last few days. But the smell is familiar, and Gar is sleepy enough to react to that rather than to the surprise. So the pounce that follows isn't one of hostility, but it's still a pounce.

"Hi. Is it Saturday? I slept the whole day?"


Getting pounced is something he's gotten used to, by this point, and the cat chuckles, reaching out to wrap his arms around Gar. "Actually it's the year 2025. Lady Gaga is president and while you were asleep everybody on earth decided to move to Greenland, so we've got the whole city to ourselves. Unfortunately the monkeys have claimed the East side."

He grins and leans forward to bump noses with Gar. "Hey, handsome…"


"Now I know you're fibbing. I know for a fact that monkeys would never vote for Lady Gaga for president. They're pretty much universally country music fans," Gar says. "So how was California?"

No, not a word spoken about what's going on in the zoos of New York. Of course it might've shown up in News of the Weird, but surely Vorpal doesn't pay attention to that.


"It… gave me a lot to think about. Lot of work I've got to do." The cheshire answers, running his fingers up and down Gar's back. "I've got some issues that… well, we knew that already."

"How 'bout you? What have you been up to while I was gone? I couldn't get a hold of you a few times I called, so I figured you were busy doing awesome stuff like you do."


Gar strokes the catman behind the ears, trying to figure out the least humiliating way to describe… no, there isn't one.

"It depends on how you define 'awesome' … I was infiltrating something terrible going on at the local zoos. I got taken along with the other monkeys and, well, didn't find out anything useful at all."


The cat blinks a couple of seconds, and hmms. "How.. is that possible. Weren't you there, hon?" he purrrs, leaning into the strokes and returning the gesture, his fingers rubbing the back of Gar's ears.


"Tranked. They took us all out with gas," Gar says. "I wasn't where I could do anything … I didn't even wake up until they returned us. And then… all my stuff was gone. I had to steal a phone and call … well, I got the Green Arrow instead of Arsenal, for some dumb reason."

He sighs at the ear-strokes. "I needed this."


The cat hrms and frowns, stroking Gar gently. The thought that someone out there kidnapped his beast boy makes him growl, perhaps a bit overprotective. "Tell ya what… next time you get the go, we'll go together. I'll stay invisible and watch your back."

His hands move over Gar, making sure there were no wounds or markings that weren't there before.

"And you had to deal with that jerk, to boot."


"Jerk? Nah. He helped me out. Got my emergency clothes stash, scrambled the cameras at the zoo so I could change… Of course, he thought I was Arsenal pranking him, which is kinda funny. Gave me 200 bucks for emergency cash, which I will have to return the favor somehow. Probably give him some eagle pinions," Gar says.

There's no unexpected injuries, no trackers, not even a stray nanbobot. Might be something magical, Gar hasn't had a chance to get that checked out.


The cat's ears tilt back ever so slightly. In his mind, Green Arrow had been a jerk to him… but he had done his boyfriend one hell of a turn.

It seemed like it was time for Keith O'Neil to eat some crow after all. He leans forward and places a deep kiss on Gar's lips, holding him close and tight.


"… okay. Not a jerk, then. I have to apologize to him for making him puke his guts out. But what about this zoo thing? Shall we tackle this as a team? I'm not keen on someone stealing my man." He wiggles one eyebrow and smirks. "Mine."


"Well, to be honest, I wasn't getting anywhere solo. I need to be checked out for magical traces … but if we can't find anything then it's … no idea what to do. It's not clear what they're doing," Gar says. "Since we didn't even see what was going on."

He kisses the cat on the nose, and his stomach makes the dinosaur noise.

"Oh dear. It must be breakfast time."


"Then we'll get you checked with Zee, and then we'll get right on it." The Cheshire smirks and gives Gar a squeeze across the rear. "Hungry?I can think of a couple of things to whet your appetite… did you miss me?" he asks, his fingers brushing across Gar's chest, playing with his chest hair.


"So much that I took a ridiculous job," Gar says. "Of course it was supposed to be something simple to do in a day."

He reaches around to tug on the available cat-tail. "I need food. I didn't get to eat yesterday, because of the tests they were running."


Vorpal gives him a theatrical pout, "Fiiine, fine. But later…" he gives him a grin and nuzzles Gar under the chin before he disengages and slips off the bed. "Shall I change into pink mode?" he gestures to the mirror, "And did you have any time to finalize the contract with Jay?"


"Was going to do that today if I can find her. You know from the description that she's fey, not faerie, but fey. Touched by the Fair Folk," Gar notes. Because, fey is an adjective for humans, not a noun.


"I suspected she was fae at first… but that makes a lot more sense." The cheshire walks over to the full-body mirror and steps through it after saying the incantation, triggering the change.

Keith comes out of the mirror and stretches. "And having to share a soul with the Cait… I find it hilarious that they are called 'the fair folk'. More like 'the people we say good things to because they terrify us', am I right?" the redhead looks at Garfield over his shoulder, a half-smile on his lips. "But then again, I am rather terrifying, no?"


"Yes, if anyone knew, they'd be a lot more careful," Gar says, rolling out of bed and into the shower for a fast blast of nearly-too-hot water. Breakfast. What to have. French toast. That'll work. With half a pig in various forms, and two eggs over easy.


Keith, on the other hand, makes his way down first to get everything ready for breakfast. Being back at the castle is a relief, even if there are things he has to think about. Skeletons in the closet that he has to rattle.

"California was nice, it was good to be there with a little more time than a quick dash to get Kate's dress," he comments while serving juice.


"California is always nice, it's been a problem. But they're getting wet finally now that I'm out here where I can't enjoy it," Gar says. "And there's a lot to do. I kinda wish we could've gone a week or so later, I'd've dragged you off to the Land of Mouse. Instead we'll suffer through a few days in Orlando."

He comes out of the shower with a towel wrapped, and drops down to the ground level, then wanders kitchen-wards. He brandishes an envelope.

"Note. Two tickets. Orlando. Parks, hotels, and so forth."


Keith stares at Gar for a few seconds, and a grin spreads across his face. "What? No- you didn't." He sets down the juice jug and walks over to take a look at the envelope. "Really?" he's trying to keep it cool, but there is a giddy meter, and it is currently climbing steadily. "-the two of us?"


"Yes. We could bring the others but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun, right?" Gar is all grins as he reaches out to fluff Keith's hair, before he gets into the refrigerator to start assembling the components of breakfast.

"How many pieces of french toast can you eat?"


Growl. "Enough to feed Napoleon's army." Growl growl. The stomach has awakened. Keith slips up behind Gar as he opens the refrigerator and hugs him from behind.

"A trip like that, wow… how much is it costing you?" There's that little voice at the back of Keith's head that wants to know. It's the voice that makes him sometimes want to reject a gift for being too expensive, or decline a good meal. The more time he's spent with Garfield, though, the more still the voice has come. Sometimes it flares up, though, and the Changeling would have no hard time imagining the gears turning in the redhead's brain. It's a multi-tiered fight, though, because the Cait Sidhe is in favor of extravagance, and provides counter-arguments to Keith's objections, and poor Vorpal flits between one or the other for a bit before making up his mind. At some point.


"It's not polite to ask how much a Christmas present costs, but I'll tell you anyway, it's about 2K per day total. I didn't go for the high-end version." Of course, it's open-ended, and Gar isn't above dragging it out.

The bacon goes in one pan. The sausage goes in another pan. Four eggs for the french toast, since realistically they can't eat more than four pieces apiece. Milk and cinnamon and some sourdough bread and a bit of vanilla, etc. etc. are soaking and getting ready for the griddle when the bacon fat is rendered enough to pour on the surface. You'd think Gar actually worked at a McSkippos, and you'd be right.


Keith blushes at this, realizing he just made a faux pas. "I'm sorry… it's old habits. It's a wonderful gift and I'm going to treasure every moment with you. Thank you." He gives Gar a kiss on the side of his neck and lets go, "That's one of the things I talked with, well, you know. My mother's voice is sometimes hard to escape."

He goes on to begin the process of Brewing The Coffee. It's nowhere near as hands-on as the Making of French Toast.

"You can ask me questions about what I talked with the counselor," he looks up at Gar.


"You're welcome. I'd save it for Christmas except we're leaving just before, and you need to know in advance. So, telling you today."

There's another flurry of movement as Gar pours the bacon grease out, and starts flipping wet bread onto hot iron.

"So. I assume you got the traditional 'tell me about your mother' opener?"


"Leaving befor- wait wait wait," Keith asks, suddenly in a slight panic, "We're not leaving before the party on Sunday, right?"

Because he had entrusted The Gift to the safekeeping of someone else. Just in case Gar managed to stumble upon when he was being his usual unusual self and decided to inspect under certain areas as a stick bug or something of that sort.


"No, not until Tuesday at the soonest," Gar says. "I don't like traveling so close to the holiday, but it's already in the bad time."

Food prep continues, best not observed.


"Oh! Good, good. That's good." Keith sighs, relieved, and reaches for the mugs to serve coffee. "Yeah… it sort of centered around mom. But it soon touched upon related things. Mom died, Robin died. Death's kind of … an unfinished thing for me, because I seem to have cheated death twice, but people around me don't seem to do that. I guess I started dealing with my mom's loss, and then the whole druid thing happened, and things were left unfinished." He begins to pour the coffee slowly into a cup.

He takes a few seconds to say the next bit. "And then… well, there's us."


"So you're going to work on dealing with your Mom's death and with Robin-the-fierce dying … are you OK about not going full rage for revenge now?" Gar asks, and flips the first four slices, one after another, then starts four more soaking. The bacon is nearly done, the sausage is close to done, time to put eggs on the griddle … fortunately, already removed from shells because that's what those little glass bowls are for, holding things that are almost ready.

"Do you want the maple syrup hot or cool today? Or would you like berry compote instead?"


"Cool is fine, thanks hon." The redhead watches the preparations and answers, "I'm fine with not going for revenge. Justice works better anyways."

He takes a sip of his coffee and looks out towards the courtyard, noticing the things Gar has changed over the last week. "It's, well, I know I have to deal with it, but I'm not entirely sure how. Back when we talked, with the Waller stuff, it just came out naturally. Then I went into survival mode and it got tucked away somewhere. Not sure how to bring it back up again and process…"

He looks at the Green One out of the corner of his eye. "- and the thing about us is…"


Gar continues flipping things on the griddle, reaching into the fridge to get out the syrup and butter, and then beginning to dish out onto plates. He waits a second, figuring that Keith is being dramatic with the pause.

"Yeah? What's the thing about us?"


"She said I should be honest with you about this. For… a few weeks there's been something nagging me." He grabs Gar's cup and fills it. "This being my first relationship and everything. Somebody told me something that bothered me, but I haven't been able to get it to stop itching at the back of my head."


Gar manages to wreck one of the eggs, and mutters. That one goes on his plate. The bacon is on a plate to share; sausage was formed into small patties and is on a second plate, and the french toast and eggs on their own plates. Gar distributes them to the table, and turns down the griddle. The next four french toast slices will take longer to cook, so they can eat a bit.

"So, be honest then, because the longer you drag this out the more chances I have to make up horrible fantastic miseries."


Gar's phrasing makes Keith self conscious. "Oh man, I didn't think about that. Sorry, I was trying to find a way to say it-" a pause, "Oh god, that sounds like I'm breaking up with you. I'm not. You couldn't pay me to break up with you, Gar." He says, walking to the table with Gar and making sure to put an arm around him. Contact. Reassuring.

"It's just," he slides into his seat, "that everybody says first relationships hardly ever work out. And I don't like that." He sips his coffee.

"I may be inexperienced. In some things. But I know what I want in this. I want you- but I realize that I've never asked you what you want. I guess I sort of … thought that you'd want the same. But ever since hearing talk of this sort of stuff, I just want to. I don't know. She said it would be best to be honest about this to you, that you needed to be part of the conversation."

He leans forward, elbows on the table, cup cradled in both hands. "I'm crazy about you, Gar. I want us to work out, and that statistic kind of scares me because it's a sort of looming threat that it's not going to work out, regardless of how hard we try."

It's uncomfortable for him to say this, "And it's not me saying you wouldn't try, because you're wonderful. It's that…" he exhales "Am I making any sense or am I just a rambling rover right now?"


"You're kind of rambling," Gar admits. "Not terribly off though. I don't know what's going to happen, but you're not my first relationship. That throws off the statistics. I want us to be together, but I can't say anything more than that. I want us to last, or I wouldn't have made you promise to stay."

He sits at the table, and says, "I cooked your breakfast. Eat."


"That's true. I'm not as good at reading you as you are at reading me." Keith admits, and gives the other one a soft smile as he reaches for his fork. "I want us to last, too. I just don't give any man my ring, you know?"

"You do more than cook my breakfast. Thank you for being… you." He says and leans over to kiss him on the cheek, before starting to eat. "I'm not going anywhere. Unless it's to the MouseHouse with you." A grin.


"Well, neither of us is going to want to break this off any time soon, we haven't even gotten to our first anniversary," Gar says, getting up to flip the four remaining slices.

"Hey, milk goes with this."

He pours two glasses of cold milk.


"September fourth," Keith adds, eagerly reaching for his glass. He's kept count- or at least he's counted from the first kiss, anyways. "The rest… mom issues, death issues, I'll work on it. I brought back a few books she recommended. They've got exercises and all. So-" he looks up and smiles at Gar "Party on Sunday. I'm going to go out with Zee and Bunker later today to purchase some presents and things for the party. She can spell-check you before we head out."

Go ahead, devious Keith. Make Gar believe you don't have his present yet. "When I get back, what do you say I take you out to a movie and a nice dinner? Where there might be candlelight?" he raises his eyebrows. "Figured you could use a night off after what you went through. But make no mistake, next time you have to go pose as a monkey, I'm coming with you to watch your back."

And he had to go and apologize to Green Arrow. Goddamnit. His boyfriend had to go and complicate his uncomplicated hatred for the man.

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