The question gave him pause. He had a few options now. He was feeling calm, collected, back together. The trauma meter hadn't been reset to base value, but he was feeling more like a real person and the urge to tear a human head from human shoulders had diminished greatly. He could go back to Selene, tell her what happened, and see whether she would forgive him for all the dumb things he had managed to pack into the last half a year or so. The confrontation with Zorlo was bound to happen sooner or later, and if he got it out of the way sooner he could rest easy without worrying about Selene in any crossfire.
He was also operating on the assumption that he had just made two totally justified enemies out of men who had never particularly liked him in the first place. It was highly probable that those two would find a way to become either a nuisance or a danger at some time in the future. If he resolved with Zorlo, it was possible that the fencer would placate his lackeys. Michael felt a bad decision coming on—he was going to have to choose between going back to the woman he loved and resolving an overreaching issue with her and going to the man he hated and trying to resolve an immediate life-or-death issue.
He came to a conclusion: his life sucked.
"I don't know," he muttered, "Maybe I should find a tall building and play superman. This is just ridiculous." He looked at Adrien and smirked, "You know, my parents were pretty much farmers. You'd think I'd have inherited enough common sense to keep myself out of all this crap."
Adrien laughed. “Yes, live a modest life away from all the people with godly sneezes? My parents were farmers as well and then life happens. Or maybe someone sneezes wrong.” He smirked.
“Perhaps you should take some time to be sure of your footing. See how well your temper and sanity stays.”
There was a knock on the door. Adrien looked up and answered, “Come in, Leita.”
She peeked around the door curiously. Not as cautious as she had been earlier. She felt more confident that everything was fine now with the man who had been raging not long ago. Her green eyes looked to Michael but not long. She entered carrying a tray of food. She bit her bottom lip automatically. A habit she often did when nervous. Leita walked forward, tray shaking slightly. Not in fear, just that it was a little awkward and heavy for her small and slender arms. She moved carefully and slowly as to not make a mess of the meal on it. She placed it down on the coffee table.
There was a bowl of hot stew, some bread rolls on the side, a jug of water, a glass, mashed potatoes, steak, some vegetables on the side of the plate, and silverware.
Leita nibbled her lip, hoping it wasn’t too much. She was used to Rontu and Ren, who ate a lot. She looked up at Michael, but then down quickly again.
“Oh!” she gasped softly, and then went for a bag she had slung around her delicate shoulders. She pulled some folded clothes out from it. She looked to Michael again, but avoided his face and eyes. “These are … some clothes for you. They should fit …”
She paused awkwardly and then set them down on one of the arm chairs.
Michael's stomach growled just from the smell of real food. H looked at the tray of food and wondered whether she had made the food herself or just gotten it from the cafeteria. It looked like real food, but with the Dome cafeteria you never could tell. Sometimes it tasted like hospital food vomited back out onto a paper plate, sometimes it was better than fine dining at a white-tie restaurant, and sometimes it tasted like normal food. It could have been hospital food vomit and Michael probably still would have wanted it.
"Thank you," he said, smiling up at her. "You didn't have to."
He grabbed one of the rolls and held it in his mouth while he stripped out of the hospital shirt and into the plain gray tee, then chewed off the piece in his mouth and caught the roll when it fell towards his lap. He was famished. The vegetables especially looked really good. He had a green bean in his mouth before he unfolded the pants and sort of looked at the woman, just then realizing that it was probably about two steps above creepy to change his pants in front of a woman he didn't even know.
He offered his hand to her and said, "Michael Kiersgaard, by the way. Sorry about ... uh—" he chuckled sort of ruefully "—being around. Kinda happened on accident."
She smiled back a little timidly when he thanked her, but it was genuine.
However, she flushed quickly when he ripped straight out of his shirt. She was thankful just as quickly when he pulled his new shirt on. He attacked some food before eyeing his new pants. He looked at her then, and Leita felt her whole face glow. Perhaps she should leave now.
He extended his hand to her and said, “Michael Kiersgaard, by the way. Sorry about ... uh—” he chuckled sort of ruefully “—being around. Kinda happened on accident.”
She took it quickly. His hand was huge compared to hers. She kept her eyes on it, too embarrassed to look at his face. She wished the heat in her face would leave.
“L-Leita Serwen …” She paused then debating whether to speak more and risk stuttering again. It seemed rude to not speak more, so she tried again. Somewhere in her embarrassment she noted it was a different name than Adrien had said earlier. “Not a problem. Better that it happened here really …”
She let go of his hand, pulling her arms nervously behind herself, one hand clasping her other’s wrist. “Well, I’ll leave you to enjoy your meal.”
After watching her leave, Michael turned back to Adrien and commented, "Guess she's never heard of the women's rights movement. You don't make her act like that, do you?"
He changed his pants almost as quickly as he changed the shirt, noting that he could've used a belt for them. Whoever had worn them before him had been wider in the waist by a size or two, but they were definitely his style. He liked the pockets.
“She was like that the moment she got here. She actually comes from a culture that practically worships women. She’s just a bit shy.” He was aware of the understatement when he said it. “I’ve been trying to boost her confidence.”
"I know the type," Michael muttered, digging into the food, "I guess it's sort of dumb to want them to grow a backbone, if they like being that way, but I know women who would bite my head off for even thinking about letting her serve me food." He grinned and added, "I sometimes wonder whether they realize that I don't have the right to ‘let' anyone do anything."
The vampire smiled an almost ironic smirk. “Leita is a natural care giver. You should have seen her lover’s face when she first served him food. Kira described it quite comically. You see, he comes from a culture almost the extreme form of hers. Males are condemned, considered weak-minded servants and sperm banks if you will. The idea of a female ever serving him had not been likely to ever have occurred to him.”
"Sounds like a smart society," Michael mumbled around a mouthful of food.
His mind being as it was on the violence of jealous men, the mental and emotional instability that had caused his gender to screw the pooch on more occasions than they'd succeeded, and the realization that he was going to have to step out into that storm in the near future probably contributed to the statement. It was wishful thinking to assume that a matriarchy was automatically better, but he could have his fantasies.
He heaved a breath of exasperation and looked sideways at Adrien to ask, "How do you think I should deal with Zorlo?"
“Hmmm,” said Adrien thoughtfully, eyes turning to the side, and then he smiled at Michael. “Apologize for having threatened his friends' lives. Explain that you were not in your right mind when you acted.”
A slow smile spread over Michael's face, but he stifled it and chewed thoughtfully. The insanity plea wasn't likely to get much sympathy from a man whose modus operandi had been to fight random strangers for personal enjoyment, but it was worth a shot. It was ultimately the apology part that Michael was going to have to swallow dry. Hell, Zorlo being Zorlo, it would probably work.
He tilted his head in a half-nod of acknowledgment. "Good advice. Zorlo will probably die from shock when I try it."
Adrien smiled, amusement shaping his eyes slightly. “Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. It’s probably something you should take care of first, before seeing Selene. Wouldn’t want him to pop up at any time and make things more complicated.”
Kira. He called in his mind, which made contact with her soon.
“Yeah? He’s not dead, is he?”
No, of course not. Leita fixed him just fine. But I was thinking … since you were so ready to champion him against Monroe …
He could almost feel and see her embarrassment. “I … Monroe just struck a nerve. I overreacted … Monroe didn’t kill him in his sleep. That’s all I was planning on doing for the guy.”
His smile curved just slightly more. I was just wondering if you would be willing to do more if I asked it of you?
“… Well … what does he need?”
He knew she couldn’t refuse it. Michael was alone, and Kira was the type willing to be there for someone who had nobody else. Even for a complete stranger. He sorted out the details for her in his head, but continued with his conversation with Michael at the same time.
“If you do go, I would like you to take someone along in my stead. I think it would help to have a mediator just in case. Having others around will make it less convenient for a fight.”
The offer sat uncomfortably with Michael. The years he had spent in and around the Dome, the years he had spent in and around the lives of Zorlo and Selene, the years that had piled up until he was almost as much a fixture as the fencer himself were all years that he had spent virtually alone. If not in fact, then in spirit, he had always been on his own and without friends or allies to his name. The people he liked were few, the people he trusted were fewer, and the people who either liked or trusted him tended to be a number that fluctuated between one and none.
It just seemed unnatural to have someone offering help so casually. The time had passed when Zorlo would have done so—if he ever would have—and although she probably would have, had he asked, it had never occurred to Michael to mention troubles to Selene. She had been the person he sought when he needed peace, not when he was stirring mischief.
"I don't think Zorlo would start anything," Michael commented. It wasn't a yes, but it wasn't a no, either.
Adrien continued to smile softly, watching Michael sit in an uncomfortable stillness the offer caused in him. His discomfort something he wasn’t surprised to see. This was a man accustomed to being alone.
“Monroe and the other man sounded pretty certain. It might stay him to have others around, thinking of their safety first. This could give you a chance to explain, to speak before he can act on any impulses. It’s just a good precaution.”
It wasn't a question, merely an observation. Adrien was a cool cat, definitely above the influence of what Michael would consider flippant emotional displays, but there was that something there that seemed to indicate that the people he was suggesting were going to be friends of his. The lack of concern for their safety indicated a level of trust in their abilities. Michael was not going to judge purely based on what he had seen so far, but what he had seen so far did bias him towards trusting the man's instinct for fighters.
"I don't mind company," Michael finally said, "so long as they aren't being sent. I'm uncomfortable with minions."
Michael leaned back casually on the couch and half-smirked. He had this feeling. He often had feelings about various non-feel-y things, the kinds of things people normally felt nothing or only little somethings about. This was one of those times.
"I have a feeling," he remarked casually, "that I won't have to pursue Zorlo at all. He has this knack for showing up at the low points in my life."
Adrien chuckled. “Me too, actually. That’s why she’s on her way right now. I actually need to leave. I have another appointment with a student. So, she’ll knock when she gets here and you who two get introduce yourselves.”
He stood up and extended a hand to Michael.
“I wish the best for you. I’m sure it will work out somehow and …” He stared at Michael for a moment, in an almost expectant way. The kind of power he had exuded today left him with an interesting feeling. “Feel free to contact me any time you should need … I am a teacher, if you should ever need teaching in new areas.”
The warm grip of his new acquaintance was a comfortable thing. Michael stood and gave the man a firm, friendly handshake. He could appreciate a good handshake. It said a lot about a person, that they knew how to give one—how to take one—when to offer one. Adrien Krest was the kind of man Michael could appreciate, even if he didn't make the step towards liking him so quickly. Time would tell. Maybe someday they could sit down and chat about something other than a tendency for people to end up on the doorstep of death when he was nearby.
"I appreciate the offer," Michael replied, "I hope I never have to take you up on it."
Adrien chuckled once more and left through the door, leaving Michael alone in his room for about five minutes. Then there was another knock on the door.
“So … what are you doing exactly?”
Kira turned after knocking on the door to see Rontu leaning against the wall some feet next her. She hadn’t heard him, but that wasn’t surprising. He was always better at stealth than her. It was hard to be stealthy in armor. She smirked at seeing him.
“What? Following me?”
“Well, I did see you almost walk straight into a door. You seemed like you had something on your mind. You don’t often get distracted like that. So I followed,” replied her friend, a slight smirk curving his lips.