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Post by jwhouk » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:30 pm

This is a continuation of the older short story, Horse Sense".

Dusty nursed his Wheat IPA as he waited at the bar. Dressed in what he termed "semi-casual" – a sport coat over a polo shirt and dress slacks – he scanned the bar again for what seemed the millionth time since he arrived at the place.

The brew pub, known as the Main Street Brewery, had opened to rave reviews a few months earlier on the north side of the Mississippi, opposite the Saint Anthony Falls. Its popularity had waned a bit in recent days, but the place was still packed as it was a Friday night.

Granted, it wasn't the "meat market" that the Cerberus Club was, but it was also a relatively safe place to meet for an online date. It'd been Aunt Marge's suggestion to use that new paranormal dating app, Pair-aDate, to get back into the dating pool.

He considered for a moment. It'd been three years since that little incident with the head of MIB. That was the mother of all nightmare dates. He'd been put off of dating since. Of course, having to work on finishing his degree and going through the academy had helped taken his mind off of things.

Now, though, it was his first significant time off since working for the Wisconsin DOC at Lincoln Hills. And he really didn't want to spend it holed up in his apartment, burning through his Netflix queue again.

He considered his watch again. She'd been the only one to agree to a date, after swiping through hundreds of entries. Since she was from the Twin Cities area, she had suggested this place – mostly as a "get to know you" manner in a non-para setting. The idea had suited him, and they'd agreed to meet here at 6 for dinner and drinks.

That was a half-hour ago.

He was about to consider his options when he saw the main door to the pub open. A couple of people came in – none matching the photo he had of the girl from the profile.

He sighed, downing the last of his drink, and turned to hand off a twenty to the bartender. No need to keep a tab when you're not sticking around, he thought.

Dusty braced himself against the chill of the early March weather in Minneapolis as he considered his options. He could hoof it on over to the Cerberus Club, but that would mean the possibility of running into Brandi again. Rumor had it that she was dating someone now, but he wasn't about to chance it.

The T-wolves were in Memphis, so taking in a game was off the list. The Wild were out of town, too – Nashville, if the crawl he'd seen on the TV in the bar was correct. The movies at the Mill City Theatre, just down the block, were all ones he had no interest in paying to watch.

He crossed over at the corner of 3rd and Main, figuring he'd just take the portal in the St. Anthony's Falls park and head back home. Not like it was the first time he'd been stood up on a date.

Just before he took the stairs to descend down to the Falls from street level, he heard the rumble of a car engine. A blue and white Mustang GT was navigating the narrow street, trying to avoid others who were milling about near the Saint Anthony shops.

Dusty thought nothing of it at first. He'd seen plenty of guys who gunned the motor on their "compensation machines" as they tried to pretend it was high school all over again. Hell, he'd been guilty of it in the past, too. How many times he'd "scooped the loop" in Chippewa Falls? And, when that got too boring, he'd done it down in Eau Claire, too.

He was about to take the steps down behind the power station when he caught a glimpse of the license plate on the Mustang: WNG WMN. Normally, this wouldn't have made him bat an eye. However, the screen name of the woman he'd contacted on Pair-aDate… was "WingWoman."
Last edited by jwhouk on Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:32 pm

He turned back to the street and watched as the GT stopped for some pedestrians. The last of them crossed in front of the car – and he could clearly see the woman from the profile behind the wheel.

Without even realizing it, he waved her down – and she maneuvered the Mustang curbside, a bit ahead of him. Trying not to look too eager – or relieved – he sidled up to the passenger door of the car.

The window slid down as he approached. "You must be Dusty?" she asked.

"And you must be Ari," he replied. "Nice car, by the way."

"Thanks. I got held up in traffic on 394, and couldn't figure out where to park."

"The lots are in back, up the hill on Second," he said. "I can show you?" He motioned to the door handle.

Ari's face went from mild surprise to cool consideration. "Don't try anything funny," she retorted, clicking the unlock button.

"Wouldn't dream of it," he stated as he slid into the front seat. He buckled in quickly, even as a truck behind them laid on its horn. Ari made a general waving motion back to it as Dusty pointed ahead to the next intersection.

After guiding the car to the parking lot across from the Saint Anthony Falls Center, the pair made their way back to the brew pub. She continued to be apologetic as they were seated and given menus; work had been a bit more than hectic that week, and she'd had to tie up some loose ends before leaving.

Before he could ask where she worked, the server had come over and took their orders. She decided on the prime rib with a baked potato; he ordered the vegan burritos with salsa.

"Oh, boy, I'm sorry," she said as the server took their menus. "I forgot you were vegan. I'm sorry, I just had this craving for some prime rib…" He held up his hands against the protestations.

"It's fine, I'm used to it. I don't force my dietary issues on others. Though I'll admit, the baked potato sounded enticing." He finally took a good look at her. "You mentioned your workplace?"

"Oh, yes," she smiled back. "I'm the COO at Richer Engineering, over in Minnetonka. We deal mostly in restorations and refurbishing of older Land Rovers, among other things."

"Richer Engineering – why does that name sound familiar?" Dusty mused.

"Well, we have done a few high-profile projects in the last few years," she began. "There was that DeLorean…"

"No, no, it's something else… Wait, did you say a DeLorean?"

Ari only nodded in response.

"Hm. My uncle owns a DeLorean. Fit it with a twin-turbo inline-six he salvaged from a combine. He doesn't take it out much, but I bet it'd give your little pony car a run for its money."

"Never heard of putting a tractor engine in a sports car," Ari mused. "Putting them in a truck, though…" Her reply was shortened by the server, bringing them their salads.

They exchanged some further small talk about life – the weather, road construction in the Twin Cities, the new Prince museum in Chanhassen. It was at this last point that she revealed her love for Paul McCartney. He professed to be more of a George Harrison fan, mostly as he played guitar on occasion. She seemed truly intrigued by this by the time the entrees arrived.

The pair dug in, enjoying the pub food and ambience – though they both commented at one point that it was a bit too loud for their liking. He suggested that perhaps they could take a quick walk down by the Falls before dark. She declined, but did suggest that there was a Caribou Coffee a few blocks up the street.

He deferred to her wishes. Calling for the bill, he insisted on paying. This got a wry look from her, but he thought nothing of it. Shortly thereafter, they were walking down Second Street toward Central, and soon they were at the Lund's Grocery where the coffee shop was located.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:34 pm

The shop was much quieter – and also shortly due to close, which the barista mentioned after taking their orders. She mentioned there was a seating area upstairs in the Grocery, which was open 24 hours. They took her up on the idea, and after collecting their drinks the pair climbed the stairs to the balcony seating.

"Not as loud here as it was at the pub," Ari commented as they settled in. She tilted her head slightly in contemplation. "You know, I just noticed something – you are a big one." This got a chuckle from Dusty.

"Clydesdale genes," he said, sitting down carefully. "Which brings up a question I couldn't figure out from your profile – what kind of, you know, para type are you, exactly?"

"It's a bit difficult to explain," Ari said, shifting uncomfortably in her chair. "I'm not what you'd exactly call a 'normal' para – if that makes sense," she added quickly.

"Obviously," he said. "I got the feeling from your correspondence that you were more or less 'set up' on Pair-aDate?"

"My profile was put there with the help of an associate of mine," she said with a hint of annoyance. "She kept pestering me until she helped me get set up." She sighed briefly. "What about with you?"

"Meh, I'd heard about it from a few relatives of mine. I'd been out of the dating pool for so long, after taking the job in the DOC…"


"Yeah, I work for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, over at Lincoln Hills School." He raised his hand up in resignation. "You might have heard a bit about the problems we've been having there."

Ari's brain went into overdrive as she considered this bit of information. Does he know that one balding guy who Al isn't exactly enamored with? She dismissed the thought with a shrug.

"I don't follow that kind of news that close," she lied. "It gets too depressing."

"I totally agree," he said. "But with the amount of overtime I've been forced to work as a new staff – well, I haven't had much time to consider dating."

There was a pause as they both contemplated the situation.

"So we both end up downloading the app, setting up profiles – and boom, here we are." Ari shrugged. "Welcome to the 21st Century, I guess."

"Mmm-hmm," was his response between sips of his latte. "The newest way for paranormals to experience maximum human awkwardness." The two of them both chuckled at this.

The sound of a clerk calling for a bagger over the PA interrupted what seemed to be a longer-than-normal silence between the two.

"Well," Dusty said finally, "if you want, I can show you back to your car."

"Uh, yeah, that – that'd be fine," she said, taking a last sip from her coffee. "I don't have far to go, thankfully."
Last edited by jwhouk on Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:11 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:40 pm

The two walked back to the lot where her Mustang sat, the silence between them saying volumes. He was thinking she wasn't interested, especially since he'd run his mouth about where he worked. She was thinking he was distant and aloof – and probably didn't want to deal with someone as strange as her.

Before they reached the car, Dusty noticed something in the twilight, across the street from them.

"Isn't that the Machine Shop?" He pointed across 2nd Street to a two-story building on the corner, situated behind the old Pillsbury Mill complex. "Where they had that messy incident a few years back?"

Ari felt the urge to freeze up descend upon her, but a quick closing of her eyes and the humming of a certain tune kept it from overwhelming her.

"Uh, yes, a nasty situation," she said, not realizing she was singing to the tune of Let It Be. "A few friends of mine were at the scene."

Dusty was more surprised by this revelation than by her sing-song voice.

"Really? My cousins were part of the wedding party. My aunt as well."

This caused Ari to stop – but not out of fear. She took a long look at him as they stood behind her GT.

That nose. And the face. He can't be…

"I… I didn't catch your last name again?" she asked.

Oh great, now she's figured it out – nice going, blockhead, he thought to himself. "Uh, well, it's Dustin Alexander. I'm not…"

"You," she pointed a finger at him, "have got to be related to my boss's wife. I don't suppose your aunt is named Rosalynd, by any chance?"


"Uh, well, yeah, but we're not very close…" he protested.

Ari just threw her hands up in the air.

"Oh, great," she said to no one in particular. "I get all excited about this dating app, and it turns out it just set me up with one of the Alexander clan. Oh yeah, just what I wanted, be called some sort of gold digger."

Now it was Dusty's turn to be confused. "Wait, what?"

"Oh, I can see the guys at the shop right now, laughing when they find out. WHY did I listen to that fleabag of a…" Ari didn't realize that her talons were starting to show.

Dusty's confusion slowly turned into anger.

"Wait… you think, that just because my last name is Alexander, that I'm born into money or something?" Ari's exasperated look was all that he needed as the answer.

"Now look here," he stated between grinded teeth. "My father and Buck's father had a falling out a long, long time ago. As a result, my family became the black sheep of the Alexander clan – with little if any money to our name. My dad had to pay his entire way through college, while building up a farm hundreds of miles away from the family homestead in a completely different state." He accentuated that last statement with a few good points of his finger.

"I had to pay my way through school – and still have a crapload of college debt to pay off – and even though I'm working a relatively well-paying job, I've been forced to work so much ordered overtime that I haven't had time to think, let alone have some sort of a social life.

"The only reason why I agreed to meet here in the Twin Cities was because there was a portal nearby, and I lucked into getting an apartment with a Library portal built-in." He turned to look at her in frustration – then noticed she had frozen up.

"Are you okay?" he asked, concerned.

Ari's eyes opened after a moment, then closed with a sigh.

"I have some… issues… with that place," she quietly explained. "That is, the hub of the portal system. It stems from something that happened… long ago, now. Something I regret deeply."

Dusty's face contorted in confusion. Ari put one hand on the roof of the Mustang to steady herself as she continued.

"Years ago, I challenged the… uh, lady in charge of that place…"

"You mean the Libr…" Ari cut him off.

"Don't say it, please don't. It's part of the problems I have. Anyways – I challenged her and tried to kill her at her wedding there a few years ago. As a result, I was banished from that place – and as a result, I was forced to forget about it as well. I and my sisters, who had helped me," she added.

"Wait – if you were from… there… then that means you're a Sphinx?" Ari shook her head – more in disagreement than in trying to forget.

"No, I'm not that. Not... not anymore. I… I think the technical term that's used is called… seraphim."

Dusty paused to consider that.

"An angel?"

Ari only nodded.

"Long story short, I got exposed to something that converted my… uh, former nature into that of an angel. It also cost me my job. After a year of working customer service jobs at Target, I'd finally landed a job working security for your family's business." She sighed in recollection. "The only thing that kept me from crawling back to my sisters in shame – again – was your Uncle-in-law."

"You mean Al?" Ari nodded. "Well, he's not really my uncle, per se. Aunt Rosalynd married into the family… but I know what you mean." He looked her in the eye. "So did Phi… er, the lady in charge of that place, banish you from there?"

Ari shook her head.

"No, it was her mate… her husband." This brought a surprised look from Dusty's face.

"I wasn't even aware she was married," he stated plainly. "Who is he? Or can't you say his name, either?"

She closed her eyes and quietly said, "Neil. His name is Neil. I… have trouble with his full name. He is a mortal human, but he's lived quite a long time. And he… he bested me in combat."

"Combat?" Dusty raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, I guess I can understand that, considering you were trying to kill his wife."

"And unborn child, at that time," she said while trying to hold back tears. "Look, I really don't like thinking about my past very much. Hell, I don't like thinking about my more immediate past with my sisters, either."

"You have sisters?"

"Yes. Last I heard they were working at some meat packing plant in Saint Paul. Fortune hasn't been kind to them. It seems that only by the grace of the gods that I've avoided that." She considered for a moment.

"And that wonderful not-an-uncle of yours." She smiled at that.

"I've not actually had the chance to meet him, to be honest," he replied. "Though I'm on speaking terms with Buck and Rowdy and Uncle Cal, I've not been as fortunate with Aunt Daisy… I assume you know about her paddock name, right?"

Ari nodded.

"My dad didn't attend the funeral of Buck's dad, though I never remember a bad thing about him. Aunt Daisy, I think, only tolerated me the few times I was over there." He stopped to think for a moment. "I don't think I've been over at the Alexander house since I was a colt."

The two stood there, leaning up against the Mustang in the cool spring Minneapolis evening, quietly looking at almost everything except each other.

"You know," Dusty said finally, "we both come from somewhat broken family backgrounds, losing something we once had – but somehow came through the other end." He turned to look at her. "Maybe that's why the app paired us up in the first place," he said with an ironic smile.

She couldn't help but chuckle at that.

"Maybe," she replied quietly. She thought for a moment, then pulled her iPhone out of her coat pocket. "Is your e-mail address still the same as the one on your profile?" she asked.

"Yes, why?"

Ari tapped a few times on her screen, then swiped, then tapped again.

"Because I just sent you my phone number," she said. "I'd… I'd like to do this again sometime, when you're available."

"Well, I'm heading back to work tomorrow, and that's probably going to mean more ordering. So it might be a week or so."

"Just call when you can, okay?" She smiled at him as she walked over to the driver's side of the car. "I'll see you later." She opened the door and was about to get in when she turned back to him. "Oh, and if you see that one older, short, balding guy – the one who works as the MIB liaison? Tell him he needs to bring his Rover in for a maintenance check."

Dusty couldn't help but laugh at that. He waved to her as she pulled out of the parking lot and zoomed back toward Central. With a noticeable spring in his step, he began the walk down to the portal at St. Anthony Falls.

- fin -
(EDITED to correct some mistakes. Thanks Dinky!)
Last edited by jwhouk on Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by lake_wrangler » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:59 pm

I can never find the "Thumbs Up" when I need it... ;)

That was enjoyable. Short, but well-written and engaging. It's always a pleasure to see what you guys come up with next.

One suggestion: you might want to not only reference the "horse sense" fic, but also link to it, to save time for anyone who would want to read that one first.

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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:05 pm


This had been sitting for a while, and I just now got some energy to finish it off.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by Dave » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:04 pm

Nicely written... a good read!

Minor grammatical nit: I believe that "seraphim" is plural. Ari might more properly have said "I'm a seraph" or "I'm one of the seraphim".

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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by Sgt. Howard » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:49 pm

Well... can a Seraph handle the ... anatomy... of a centaur? Stay tuned and see...
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by Atomic » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:47 pm

Applause, applause!

Good stuff.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:16 pm

...I'm scared.

Paul mentioned he's trying a new anime series on Crunchyroll: A Centaur's Life. :shock:
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:57 pm

What, you thought that was it?
(I decided to continue the story here, though this one could justify its own thread...)


A tap of his phone and a thumbs up from the driver gave Dusty a reason to smile as he emerged from the car in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The Uber driver had told him that there were going to be a lot of cars available that night, and he would be available after the concert at the arena as well.

He got his bearings as the car drove off. There was a long line outside the arena, even though the gates weren't slated to open for another hour.

He checked the email he'd gotten from Ari again:
Meet at Gate X, on the side opposite the main entrance. I'll be waiting. Suggest wearing something a bit more dressy-casual; got a friend I'd like you to meet.
That last line concerned him a bit. They had met for coffee a couple of times, and gone to see Wonder Woman when it was at the Cosmo back home. (She thought the place quaint, if a bit cramped.)

Now, though, she'd asked about a concert in Iowa – a state over for both of them – because she wanted to go see "some old geezer from Liverpool." That was how he termed it; she gave him a cross look and a cold shoulder, even after he'd agreed to meet her there.

The portal, however, had been at a Starbuck's in Johnston, which made the Uber ride a bit pricey. Ari had assured him that she'd pick up the tab for the tickets, though.

He wondered if there'd be time to get a bite to eat before the show when he finally tracked down Gate X – which was right next to the service entrance to the arena. With several trucks and tour buses filling what little room was left in the parking area, there were police and other security guards all around.

He explained to one of the heavies in a reflective vest marked SECURITY that he was supposed to meet someone here, describing her as raven-haired with Grecian features. The guy made a mildly derisive comment about "waiting for Gal Gadot," but shook his head that he had not seen her. He pointed him over to a ticket window around the corner, and suggested waiting there.

Sighing with a bit of frustration, he sauntered over to the street corner. The street along the outside of the arena had been blocked off from traffic, as various area radio stations had set up remotes there.

Once again he had a momentary sense of being stood up – something he'd fought every other time they'd gone out on a date. His sense of being "found out" kept creeping up every now and again – not that he'd be fingered for being a centaur, of course. In fact, it was the opposite: Ari would get turned off after finding out everything that dating a centaur involved.

Funny that after seeing each other for so long, they hadn't talked much about that side of a relationship. They'd kissed a few times, hugged a few more, but she didn't seem interested in going any further. What made it worse was that Dusty really didn't know how, exactly, to broach the subject.

Truth be told, he'd never really recovered from his graduation party debacle that involved Brandi. Buck had tried to play setup with him, and the excessive amounts of alcohol didn't help, obviously. Brandi's response to him was to be expected, even for a golem.

He didn't talk to Buck for some time after that. That was probably the reason why he wasn't invited to the wedding…

A car horn sounded from behind him. He turned and was honestly shocked to see Ari's Mustang in line to pull into the reserved parking lot. Puzzled, he wandered over to the driver's side, where she was rolling down the window.

"Hey there, you could have told me you needed a lift to the arena," she said, motioning him to come over to the passenger side. He just shook his head in amazement as he went around to get in.

"How'd you end up in Des Moines with this thing?" he asked, having a seat as she made her way up to the checkpoint for the loading dock area. She raised a pointed finger at him as they pulled up.

"On the pass list for parking?" She handed the guard a card and an envelope. The guard opened it, considered it, then nodded, handing her back the card. He motioned her to another security guard that was monitoring VIP parking, and raised the gate to allow the Mustang entry.

Dusty was still doing the mental calculations in his head. If she'd driven this thing the whole way down, it must have taken her three to four hours. He commented on this to her.

"Yeah, it would be – if I didn't have a little bit of help, of course." She only smiled at his bewildered reaction as she guided the GT into the designated spot. Before she shut down, she handed him a lanyard with a pass. "This is for you – make sure you have it on you at all times; from what I understand not wearing it could be hazardous to your health."

"You forget where I work," he said, taking the proffered badge and dutifully putting it over his head.

They made their way into the arena, showing their ID's, going through security, and signing off on the pass list – all of which made Ari giddy and Dusty bewildered.

"How in the hell did you manage to pull all this off?" he asked in sotto voce.

"I fixed his Land Rover once," she said with a smile as they were escorted to an area just off the stage.

The crowd was already starting to build in the arena, with several signs saying "WE LOVE PAUL" or variants thereof. The stagehands were doing some final arranging of instruments and such, and the house lights were up – with an instrumental soundtrack of McCartney's songs playing in the background.

"Wow," was all Dusty could get out.

A man with a headset and clipboard, with a badge that said "PRODUCER", showed them where they were to stand during the concert. He mentioned quickly that "Sir Paul doesn't accept visitors prior to the concert," but that he would see them after the show during the VIP reception. He then went over some rules – basic things, like "no running onto the stage, no throwing things," et cetera.

He then motioned them to follow him to a hallway that ran under the stands. The hall led to a "green room", where he told them they were free to enjoy the buffet. "Be advised that all the entrees are vegan, according to Sir Paul's wishes," he noted.

Ari's face dropped slightly. "Well, I guess that's up your alley, then," she said to Dusty. He chuckled as they made their way over to the food line.

"This at least answers the question of what we were going to do about dinner," he replied. Just as they were taking plates, an older, blonde woman spotted Ari.

"Ari!" she called out. "So good to see you!" Ari instantly recognized Heather, and greeted her warmly with a hug.

"You here with your dad?" she asked. Heather nodded in the affirmative.

"Just catching up with him while he's on tour," she explained. "Of course, he did mention that you might be here, so it was an additional plus." She gave her a wink at that comment. She turned to Dusty. "So, is this your friend?"

"Oh, yes – Heather McCartney, this is Dustin Alexander. Dustin, this is Heather McCartney – Paul's daughter through his late wife Linda." Dusty extended his hand in greeting.

"Pleased to meet you," he managed to get out.

"Charmed," she responded, then turned to Ari. "How's the Walrus doing?"

"Working hard," she said, motioning to Dusty to go through the line as they chatted. "Got us through the Minnesota winter, and she's been a wonderful help for us at the shop."

Heather leaned around Ari to speak to Dusty. "Ari here bought my da's old Land Rover for her boss's shop in Minneapolis," she explained. "Did a wonderful field job on it when she picked it up. Da' was suitably impressed."

"Enough that she gets passes to a concert, I see," Dusty said with a smile as he heaped some eggplant soufflé onto his plate.

"He was impressed enough by her handiwork – but you never said that you knew Fergus!" Heather turned back to Ari. "When da' found out that bit of connection, he was about ready to sell the farm to your boss!"

"Really?" Ari said, considering the salad options. "I'm pretty sure that Mrs. Alexander would have nixed that idea. She never struck me as the type who'd buy a place with that level of notoriety."

A moment went by before the lightbulb went on in Heather's head. "Are you by chance related to the Lady Alexander?" she asked Dusty.

This brought out a slightly awkward silence from the pair. Ari looked at him with an apologetic glance. Dusty only inhaled deeply before explaining.

"She's… my aunt. However, we're a bit… estranged from each other." He motioned quickly toward Heather. "A bit like with your Dad and his ex-wife – though not quite as acrimonious."

"I don't think there's much more acrimonious than that, to be sure," she said. They took their plates and sat down at one of the tables in the green room, which was slowly filling up with various individuals.

Ari and Heather chatted a bit about work and such, while Dusty half-listened while wolfing down his food. Ari made mention of what the producer had said about not talking to Paul before the show – which took Heather aback.

"Oh, that's just Ruppert, not knowing what he's talking about," she said firmly. "He does that to limit the number of people bothering da' before a concert." She motioned to the two of them. "When you're done, I can take you in to talk to him a bit. I'm sure he'd love to see you, Ari."

This only made Dusty eat just a bit faster.
Last edited by jwhouk on Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:58 pm

Heather led the two down the corridor beneath the stands, which by the sounds from above were starting to fill. There was a security guard in front of a roped-off area that appeared to be one of the locker rooms for the minor league hockey team that called the arena home. He initially moved to block access to the trio, but he deferred when he saw that Heather led the way.

They snaked their way through the entrance to the lockers, then into the room proper. The red and green of the Iowa Wild's colors were all over the place, with a sign proclaiming, "THIS IS THE ROAD TO THE STATE OF HOCKEY" hanging over the one set of lockers. A few tables had been set up for various purposes – extra wires, picks, guitar strings, ear protection, and even some munchies.

One of the band members recognized Heather and waved. She inquired quickly where her dad was, and he pointed to an office off the back of the main room.

Ari smiled as she instantly recognized the older, tousled hair of the same man she'd seen standing beside the Walrus on the Scottish moors.

Heather went in to the office with the pair, greeting her father. "Da', got an old friend of ours here to see you," she said.

Paul raised his head from the papers he was perusing and looked up to see Ari and Dusty. His face brightened as he saw Ari.

"Me lady angel Ari!" he exclaimed, putting the papers down and greeting her with a hug – something that Ari didn't quite expect, but didn't shirk away from. "So good to see you – you didn't tell me you knew me mate Fergus!" he mockingly scolded her as he pulled back a moment.

"I didn't know you knew him," she explained. "Paul, this is my friend Dusty," she said in introduction.

"Pleased," he replied, shaking Dusty's hand. All Dusty could do was smile in response. Paul turned back to Ari. "Fergus has helped me out at High Park for ages," he explained. "He's been a great help with the farm – and he's used his 'special skills' on my behalf many a time in the past. Mostly keeping eyes away from the place and whatnot." He pointed at her. "Met yer boss after you drove off – even more impressive a man in person. 'E told me a bit about that little incident that landed him his own Land Rover – Clara, I think he called it?" Ari nodded in the affirmative.

"Was real strange how Fergus met da'," Heather intoned. "Stella was having a stills session with that one fashion photographer, Flashburn…"

"Wait – Flashburn?" Ari reacted. "He did our photo shoot on the DeLorean a while back. I bet he was drooling all over her."

"No, no, I recall he was quite intimidated by her. She mentioned the problems da' was having with some plantings; he suggested his uncle; and his touch was just perfect!"

Ari was a bit skeptical, and was about to say something when a short man with a headset and a clipboard poked his head into the dressing room. "15 minutes, Sir Paul."

"Okay, thanks Jess," he responded with a wave. "That's me stage manager, Jess. He keeps me on the ball during the tour." He rose and offered his hand. "Good seeing ya, maybe get a chance to talk a bit after the show?"

Ari nodded in the definite at that as she and Dusty made their goodbyes. Once out in the hallway, Ari couldn't help but let out a small chuckle.

"You were absolutely star struck in there, weren't you?" she said to Dusty.

"Well, it's not every day you get to meet a Beatle," he replied. He paused for a moment. "Wait – a photo shoot with a DeLorean?"

"Long story," she said as they waited for Heather.

Dusty mused for a moment.

"You know, Dad said there were stories about a DeLorean buried in the basement of one of the old AHI buildings. I always thought he was pulling my leg…"

(EDIT: To fix some errors.)
Last edited by jwhouk on Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:01 pm

Heather escorted the two back to the stage, where the security people showed them where to be seated, and the expectations of their VIP passes: no flash photography, no recording, no going on stage, no harassment of the performers – especially Sir Paul.

Soon after, the house lights came down, and the concert began. The show was a mix of his newer stuff (like "New" and "Queenie Eye") and a few of his older Wings-era stuff ("Let Me Roll It" and "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five"). And then, he looked off stage at Ari and Dusty, and made an announcement.

"This next one is for some friends of a neighbor of mine," he announced. "She did a bit o' work on one of me old Land Rovers, so this one's for her."

With that, the band promptly cut into "Helen Wheels."

Down Liverpool, where they play the West Coast sound
Sailor Sam, he came from Birmingham, but he never will be found
Doin' fine when a London sign, greets me like a long lost friend
Mister Motor won't you check her out, she's gotta take me back again
Helen – Helen Wheels
Ain't nobody else gonna know the way she feels
Helen – Helen Wheels
And they never gonna take her away…

Ari was laughing and blushing at the same time as she was dancing along with the music. Dusty, meanwhile, was admiring this amazing woman he was with.

The concert continued on – a mixture of Beatles classics and Wings hits – and even an old song from his Quarrymen days: "In Spite of All the Danger." He even played his most recent hit, from his collaboration with Kanye West and Rhianna, "FourFive Seconds."

To complete the concert, he sat in front of the piano and started the familiar strains of "Hey Jude."

Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
The minute, you let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better…

The pair swayed to the music, raising their hands with the "Na na-na na-na-na-na" part of the chorus.

After the final note played, Paul waved to the crowd as he and the band headed off stage. The cheers were echoing within the arena, much to Ari's confusion.

"Don't they realize the concert's over?" she asked Dusty over the roar from the crowd. He just smiled.

"You've never heard of encores, have you?" he said loudly. Just then, Paul trotted past them with his acoustic guitar over his shoulder while drinking down a bottle of water.

"Ah, me public still loves me," he jokingly said after finishing the bottle. "Guess I better give them some more, eh?" He handed off the bottle to a roadie, waved to Ari and Dusty, and headed off on stage – to a thunderous roar.

He waved to the crowd and started playing the guitar – and he started in on arguably his biggest hit song ever.

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh I believe in yesterday…

The starkness of Paul McCartney singing the song alone on the stage – with the string section gradually joining him after the bridge – added to the sheer power of the song.

After that song, the whole band rejoined Paul onstage as they cut into the reprise of Sgt. Pepper's, then into a Wings hit ("Hi, Hi, Hi") and – in honor of his recent 75th birthday – he cut into "Birthday".

Appropriately, he ended the encore with the Golden Slumbers medley – and the haunting piano and lyrics of "The End":

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make…

With a huge, "Good night Des Moines! Thank you!" McCartney and the band took a bow and finally headed off stage for the night.

Ari and Dusty were ushered off to a receiving line, where various other VIP's and such were queuing up to see and talk to Sir Paul.

They were not quite at the end of the line, but things moved quickly. Dusty commented that it "wasn't like he hasn't done this before," which earned a small laugh from Ari. They finally got up to him, and he shook their hands as before – and pulled Ari in for a whisper in her ear. She shrugged with a smile and nodded, while Paul only gave Dusty a brief wink.

The two stepped to the side, and Ari whispered something into Dusty's ear.

"He wants us to stay on until the rest have gone past," she explained. "Late dinner with him and Heather back at the hotel."
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:08 pm

(SIDE NOTE: The "info dump" here is because I haven't been able to get on the 'net for the entire weekend. Enjoy! Oh, and if a couple of interested parties want to interject their comments about this date, feel free...)


The rest of the night was a whirlwind for Dusty.

Dinner with the McCartneys was amazing – not just for the food and the company, but that Ari interacted with them like old friends. And the conversation wasn't about music, but about his farm in Scotland, the trials and travails of Land Rover ownership, and a bit about Heather's pottery business.

He was completely out of his element, and he knew it. But Ari… She seemed either totally oblivious to the situation, or she just didn't care. He also wasn't sure if it might be a bit of both.

Finally, they said their goodbyes, and Heather gave Ari a hug – and an admonishment to not be such a stranger. Paul gave Ari a big hug and shook Dusty's hand – giving him a wink as he did so.

They headed back through the streets of Des Moines to the arena and her car.

"Do you need a lift back to the portal?" she asked. He only nodded in reply.

The drive back to the Starbucks was a bit quiet, even though Ari had tuned into the Beatles Channel on satellite radio. After guiding the Mustang onto I-235, she broached the silence.

"So, still think he's just an old bloke from Liverpool?"

"Hm? Oh, no, no, Paul is just amazing… And to be honest, I'm just as amazed at you."

"How so?"

"Well, you were just so… comfortable… with him back there. Like you'd known him all your life."

Ari only shrugged at this.

"He's just a man who's done a lot of very extraordinary things. With the people I know and work with, that's almost an everyday occurrence."

Dusty gave her a skeptical look.

"Granted, you've told me a bit about that Sarge fellow, but you work mostly on Land Rovers and Bentleys at your shop. How can that match what Paul's done?"

She paused for a moment as she eased back on the 5.0 to guide it onto the off-ramp for I-80 West.

"My boss just brought in a GAZ Chaika he 'acquired' from sources in the Caribbean," she said carefully. "I helped Smokey go over it for inventory. It had bullet holes in the radiator grille and the front frame." She eyed him briefly as she resumed speed. "The registration for the vehicle is considered classified by the MIB on a need-to-know basis."

George Harrison was singing "Who Am I" on the radio.

"You have a point," was his only reply.

Shortly thereafter, they reached Northwest 86th Street exit, and the Starbucks was in sight. He motioned to the general area of the portal door, and she pulled into a nearby parking spot.

"Too bad they're closed," she said. "Could use something for that drive home."

"You're driving all the way back to Minneapolis?" he asked.

"I haven't put that many miles on this thing," she replied with a shrug. "And it shouldn't be that long – maybe five hours, tops."

He eyed her in response. "That'll get you into the Twin Cities at about sunrise. You got anything going on tomorrow?"

"No, I don't. I'd already planned on just sleeping in, as I'm off."

"That's… still a pretty long drive, especially this time of night. And on a Saturday." He motioned across the street. "There's some hotels on the other side of the freeway. Why not stay there the night, then drive home in the morning?"

She considered this for a few moments, then shrugged. "I'll see how I'm doing after I get some gas in this thing." She turned to him. "I had a nice night."

Dusty closed his eyes for a moment.

"Ari, I just… well, I don't quite know how to say this, but… well, I'm not sure we're… completely compatible, you know?"

Her face scrunched in confusion.

"Back there, I just felt so completely out of my element. Like the country back-woods hick that I am. And you – you're so smooth, and classy, and smart. I just feel like complete fool around you. I… I'm not even in the same league as you." He let out a sigh. "As much as the concert was great, it just made me feel… inadequate."

He looked down, fearful of what her response might be.

"You… feel inadequate?" She was gobsmacked. "Because of who I know, and what I do around them?" He nodded.

There was silence in the car for a moment. Then two. Then, Dusty became aware of what he initially thought was a soft wail.

It wasn't. Ari was trying – and failing – to keep from laughing.

"You… you think (snicker) I'm smooth and classy???" She spurted out more laughter at the comment. Dusty could feel himself turning redder and redder. "ME? The gal who eats hot dogs out of the package? The girl who ate 30 hot wings as a dare – and promptly loosed a belch that peeled paint off the wall? The girl who still rocks out to Bieber?"

Ari was laughing so hard, her eyes were watering. Dusty was wondering what he had just done.

"I am SUCH a goober, I think bell bottom jeans are cool!"

"You don't wear bell bottom jeans," Dusty interjected.

"Well, DUH," she retorted. "I can't wear them to work. But I do occasionally wear them with a Chris Kluwe Vikings jersey on casual Fridays – and don't get me started on my Joe Mauer bobblehead collection!"

"Okay, I get the point," he interrupted. "But still – Paul freaking McCartney?"

She turned and looked him straight in the eye.

"Consider who I work for. Random encounters like that are the norm for him. I can't tell you about an incident with him and Prince Harry – still classified, and probably still will be when he becomes king, eventually."

"So in other words, I should be scared?"

"Oh heck no. Stuff like that is only half the fun. The other half is seeing how it all turns out. Things like meeting with Sir Paul? Just gravy."

Just then, the sign on the store's drive-thru turned off.

"They must close the drive-thru at 1 AM," Dusty mused. "Look, I think you might want to reconsider and just get a room at the Holiday Inn for the night, then drive back to Minnesota in the morning. Just a thought."

She looked at him, and a smile slowly came to her face.

"Well, I might, but then I'd have to drive back to the Twin Cities… alone."

Dusty froze, then looked at her. Her smile reminded him of one thing – she was a natural-born predator.

And he was the prey.

"I, uh, um, that is…"

"You're cute when you're flustered," she said before rebuckling her seat belt. "Come on."

The Mustang pulled out of the parking lot, heading back onto the main drag – and across the Interstate to the hotel.
Last edited by jwhouk on Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by Warrl » Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:06 pm

Ah, minor correction. Cinnamon is in law school, according to the other stories.

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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:34 am

Warrl wrote:Ah, minor correction. Cinnamon is in law school, according to the other stories.
I can work with it. I've lost track of the timeline over the years.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by DinkyInky » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:24 am

PM Sent.
Yanno how some people have Angels/Devils for a conscience? I have a Dark Elf ShadowKnight and a Half Elf Ranger for mine. The really bad part is when they agree on something.

Aphyon chu kissa whol l'jaed.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by DinkyInky » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:34 am

Also, Sterling is not a Photographer, so she wouldn't know them.
Yanno how some people have Angels/Devils for a conscience? I have a Dark Elf ShadowKnight and a Half Elf Ranger for mine. The really bad part is when they agree on something.

Aphyon chu kissa whol l'jaed.
--Safyr Drathmir

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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by jwhouk » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:32 pm

EDIT: after consulting with the appropriate person, it was determined that Stella McCartney was the one who connected her dad with Fergus. Sterling only heard about Uncle Fergus and the McCartney clan through Flashburn, and she... Well, she doesn't quite believe the story he told her. She never bothered to ask Fergus if it was true.

The management regrets the error.
Last edited by jwhouk on Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pair-aDate

Post by GlytchMeister » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:52 pm

jwhouk wrote:Sterling does know them through her Uncle Fergus. She knows Heather and has been to High Park.
It's her character.
He's mister GlytchMeister, he's mister code
He's mister exploiter, he's mister ones and zeros
They call me GlytchMeister, whatever I touch
Starts to glitch in my clutch!
I'm too much!

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