(2018-11-27) Into the Fire
A quiet conversation in the late evening.

Katherine is seated on the couch, pillows and blankets surrounding her as she stares into the fire. The television isn't on, and for the first time today there doesn't seem to be anyone in the immediate area, which is probably a blessing. If looks could kill, there might be a mess to clean up and a body to dispose of. She gives one of the pillows a solid thumping slap before she pulls the covers higher to cover her shoulders.

The front door opens, and Xavier comes in, along with a chill wind and an ambitious gust of snow. He's been out most of the day - the phone call he took turned into leaving to attend a meeting, then another, and well…he's back, now. He hangs up his coat and his hat, and hears the thump from the other room. Curious, he heads in that direction. His smile lasts only as long as it takes to see Katherine's expression. Then it dies, replaced by furrowed-brow concern. "Kate?" He comes in and moves to take a seat on the couch next to her.

Katherine turns to Xavier, her temple nuzzling against his arm as she lets out a sigh. "I think my nightmare is coming to pass." She mutters, gazing up at Xavier. The look she gives him is pretty serious, but then she's laughing softly. "Sarah. My nineteen year old sister was hitting on Anthony." She laughs again, covering her mouth to stifle it. "Between that, the investors, the B&B being full? I think I've had all I can take right now." She reaches up, fingers trying to take the chill from his face. "I missed you today. Is everything okay?"

Xavier's eyebrows are going up as she gives him that serious look and dire pronouncement, and then she's laughing, and he's just the picture of masculine confusion. Still, he clearly decides that a cuddle cannot go wrong, here, so he slips an arm around her and pulls her close, blankets and all. He leans into her touch, his chilly skin heating rapidly against her fingers. "Anthony the forty something New Yorker? That's…ambitious." He smiles, a little lopsided. "I'm sorry for not being here, today. Business. But…" he looks around, "this can't be where you're sleeping, Kate. Seriously. If you're going to give away your room, why didn't you just come to mine?"

Katherine melts into Xavier's embrace, letting her arms wrap around him. "There is something going on with her, but she ..she won't talk. She wasn't even nice to Julian, and she adores him." She turns her head up to listen to Xavier speak, her eyes looking him over. "That's your personal space. I'm not going to just invade it. If you invite me, that's different." She gazes at the fireplace, a slight furrow to her brow. "I've slept on this couch a lot the last few years. Waiting for my sisters to come in from parties, when I'd get too full and have to give away my room.. it's not the first time." She glances at the weighted down comforter and then back up at him. "Do you mind the company? Be honest."

"Technically, the space belongs to you. The whole house belongs to you, and I only throw myself at your feet and hope for your benevolent mercy to wash over me," Xavier deadpans. Then he bends down and gives her a kiss. "Of course I don't mind the company. You're more than welcome, any time. If you can put up with the occasional business call to Hong Kong at stupid hours, then please, join me." He leans his forehead gently against hers. "As for your sister…everyone deals with grief their own way. She truly is an adult, and if she wants to make bad life choices, you can't do anything to stop her. But I know it's hard, watching it happen."

Katherine makes a face at Xavier's words, tilting her head up to return the kiss, smiling when he pulls away. "My benevolent mercy? You speak as if I'm an angry Goddess who might toss you out in the snow. You should know better." She nods once, closing her eyes when his forehead rests against hers. "I'll likely be up and out before any such calls come. I keep odd hours, thanks to the morning show." She sneaks a look at the stairs and frowns. "If he indulges her, I might get someone to bruise his kidneys. He would understand that, I think. Maybe."

Xavier reaches up and tugs a lock of her hair, playfully. "I'm teasing, Kate. Although channeling your inner angry Goddess /might/ be a good way to deal with some of the things - and people - life throws at you, you know." He doesn't turn to follow her look, but chuckles. "She's above the age of consent. As long as they're careful, a fling or two isn't likely to hurt her." A pause. "I /do/ like the threats of violence, though. You've got potential, you do."

Kate rolls her eyes, batting at his hand when he tugs on a curl. "I just feel like I can't respond to something like I should, because I'm worried about offending people that might be needed. If the Winchester wasn't a thing that I had to worry about? I would have turned the hose on Nicholas at some point." She raises her eyebrows and groans softly. "It won't hurt her, but ..ugh. Maybe if I just don't think about it, I'll be able to breathe." She huffs out a breath and smirks. "I'm a discount threat, nobody would take me seriously."

"Nicholas is going to expect you to push back. If you don't, he'll assume that you /can't/ and will just keep rolling right over you as best he can. It's the way we're built," Xavier says, grinning as she bats his hand away. "Just draw a line between business and personal. On a personal level, he has no right to treat you disrespectfully. But you should listen to and respect his business advice. You don't have to /agree/ with it, or do what he says. But he's genuinely good at what he does. Other than be obnoxious." He squeezes her lightly. "As for Sarah - never think too hard about any family member having sex, Kate. Nothing good ever comes.

"I did push back, and he just laughed at me and walked away." Katherine eyes Xavier warily, her head canting slightly to the side. "I don't want to have to yell at him, that would be rude." She leans in, resting her chin on his chest as she lets out a sigh. "I don't agree with some of the things that he says, and I'm getting sick of people treating me like a bumpkin. I'll push back, but he's just going to complain to you when I snap at him." She pats him gently and aims a bright smile at him. "I'm sure you can handle that though." She simply makes a noise when sex and family is mentioned, but the look on her face makes it clear that she's well over that subject.

"That's because you're adorable when you're peeved," Xavier says, apparently quite seriously. "You get an odd little dimple and your lips thin, and you start abusing inanimate objects. It's a good time." Then he bends in to kiss her again, before adding, "Do you /want/ me to get him out of this place? I'll drag him up to the ski resort, he'll see the hot tub, and we might not see him again until spring." His brow furrows. "I'm honestly not sure why he's here. When he indicated he was coming in, it was a surprise - he's not a man who yearns for the rustic life, by any means." He's cuddled on the couch with Katherine, in front of the fire, talking quietly.

"Abusing inanimate objects." Katherine repeats, sucking in a long breath before she slows on the exhale, looking amused. "Honestly, it's up to you. If he stays, and keeps bringing up my sex life, I'm probably going to say something everyone will regret. Business snark is fine, personal snark will not be tolerated." She narrows her eyes and shrugs a shoulder. "It's up to you. I'm going to be fine either way. I refuse to let someone like him rattle me."

Nicholas comes walking back down the stairs again, still wearing real clothes - a snappy dark green blazer over a black cotton shirt, and black trousers. He comes 'round the corner, stopping short as he wanders into the scene of romance~, his grin growing bold. "Xavier. Katherine. We're looking very cozy this evening," he drawls out, but he doesn't seem to continue on walking. If he's overheard their conversation, he doesn't make any comment on it. "It's entirely too boring up in my room, and I do believe I can hear your sister moaning about Anthony from across the hall."

"I saw that chicken, Kate. It could have pressed felony assault charges," Xavier says, solemnly. "PETA members across the country began to cry, and had no idea why." He might have been about to say more, maybe something actually relevant to the conversation, but Nicholas's appearance has him looking that way with a smile. "And a good evening to you, as well, Nicholas. I like the blazer." He doesn't move to uncozy himself from Kate and her pile o'blankets-and-pillows. "Is she really /that/ taken with the man?" he asks, with amusement.

"The fire makes it very cozy." Katherine agrees, watching Nicholas as he pauses to speak more. "There is a television in my room, books too. Plenty for you to occupy yourself with if you really wanted to." She winces at the mention of Sarah and Anthony, but it might be brief enough to be missed. "I can ask her to keep the noise down." She says, aiming a wry smile up at Nicholas. "Or I can ship her out to the garage." She shrugs a shoulder and turns her face against Xavier's chest, muffing her laughter.

"I certainly don't understand it, but I didn't always make the best of decisions when I was her age, either," remarks Nicholas of Sarah. "You may want to confiscate whatever is making that godawful buzzing in her room though. There are /far/ quieter toys," he breathes out a sigh as he comes to lounge in one of the chairs close by, putting his elbow on the chair's arm and his chin on his knuckles, grinning at the both of them. "I don't watch much telly, love. I purused your books, but they were all very.. ah, romantic," he smirks. "What is it the two of you were discussing?"

Xavier snickers. "Better the plastic than the New Yorker," he says, solemnly. He strokes Katherine's hair as she laughs into his chest; he seems to have just returned after being gone all day and most of the evening and is still in his full suit. "And we were discussing the various trials and tribulations of the last few days. What about yourself, Nicholas? Whatever have you been occupying yourself with? If you want to head out with me one day soon, I can take you to some of the other properties I'm making purchase motions on. I've got some interesting development plans. Or," his lips don't even twitch, "there's a bar you might like. It has a mechanical bull."

Katherine manages to stop laughing, despite the crack about quiet toys. "Mechanical bull? He'll break his …something." She says, narrowing her eyes at Nicholas as she gives him a thoughtful look. "You better get him pretty drunk first, because from what I've witnessed, they aren't quite as tense when they flop off the bull when they're inebriated." She starts to gather the pillows, hugging one to her as she gets a thoughtful look on her face. "Probably won't need all of these." She untangles herself from her cuddled position, gives Xavier a kiss on the cheek and gets to her feet. "I'll put these pillows away, but the comforter is coming upstairs with me, it's my favorite."

"Mechanical? Xavier, please. You know I prefer the real thing," Nicholas huffs an exaggerate sort of sigh at the man, shifting on the chair to lounge a touch more comfortably. "Unless we are talking of actual animals. In which case, I prefer to stay far away," he smirks. There's a glance to the two of them, a brow hiking as Katherine talks of comforters going upstairs .. and his grin turns positively devilish. But, then he just looks back to Xavier. "I've been exploring all by myself, of course, since someone saw fit to bring me all the way out here and then abandon me," he narrows a look in Xavier's direction. "I would be happy to go see these properties. If only because I'm beginning to think no business is actually being done here."

"We are, in fact, talking about actual animals. Or mechanical facsimilies thereof." A glance towards Kate. "As a side note, I got rather regretably sauced and agreed to attempt to ride the mechanical bull at some point. You should definitely be there. To point, laugh, and pick me up after I break something." He shifts as she gets to her feet, one hand trailing down her back but otherwise letting her go. "And I didn't abandon you, Nicholas. I just get up before noon. I'll call you tomorrow morning and you can come out with me. How've five in the morning sound?" To the last, he just smiles. "I'm always doing business, Nicholas. But this isn't Chicago. Unless you want city council members and old ranch families throwing every obstacle they can find at you, you have to woo them gently. Soothe their fears that the big, bad developer is going to come in and ruin everything. Shake hands, donate to charity, make friends. It's like running for office, but it pays better in the end."

"I think he's in a hurry to finish business and go somewhere warmer." Katherine teases, her eyes twinkling as she walks back to the couch. "Unfortunately this isn't something you just give a little slap and tickle to." She sits back down next to Xavier, glancing between him and Nicholas. "I've ridden mechanical bulls before, it's fun, but…you might want to get drunk before you attempt it too." She says to Xavier, patting him gently on the thigh. "You'll also need a heating pad for a few days after. Luckily I can help with that." She turns to eye Nicholas, taking a deep breath. "Do you like going out to have fun? Perhaps an evening at a bar might be just what you need."

"Five in the morning?" Nicholas rolls his eyes, looking at his nails in the firelight. "Fine, but only because I'll still be awake." He lays his hand back down on the sofa, flicking a glance back to Katherine. "I may have to call Angela and see what it is she does for fun around here, but I have a feeling it involves her boyfriend and I don't think she's up for that kind of party," his lips twist into a faint smirk, as he says to Xavier, "That does explain why you are staying here. It's like this house is the center of town with all the people that move in and out of it."

Xavier gives Katherine an amused look. "Now I suppose I have to do it. Not drunk, though; vomit isn't a good look on anyone." He slips his arm around her again when she sits down, although his attention drifts back to Nicholas. "It'll be fun. The roads are terrible, the local bridges are a couple of good storms from collapse, and there's ice on half the curves," he drawls. "But you're not wrong; half the city eats out of Kate's kitchen, and it's been tremendously helpful to learn the lay of the land. The mayor I had to approach on my own, but she's likely to approve anything so long as it doesn't end up as a damaging story in the press. The City Council is a work in progress, but we'll see how news of the Winchester goes down. If there's a significant flare of resistance, it'll be there. The other land I have my eyes on so far already has damage from a few local disasters; it's undervalued and half the demolition work has been done for us."

"Well if you want to be laid up for a few weeks nursing a broken bone, that's on you. It will be a sight to see." Katherine seems pretty sure of that, settling against Xavier and pulling the comforter back around her. She blinks at something Nicholas says, her eyes narrowing before she shakes her head, yawning. "Fun is what you make of it Nicholas, if you were living here year round, you'd find some eventually." She gives him a canny look, tapping a finger on her knee. "If you ski, there is a lovely resort up on the mountain. You might fall in love with a chalet and abandon us here in the B&B."

"I'm certain it will help qwell the local tension, having the heart of someone so well loved in Calaveras," Nicholas remarks to Xavier as they discuss the way business goes down in Calaveras, and resistance. "I'm certain Katherine could put a good word in or two to the City Council. And if the resistance becomes too strong.. well," he flits his fingers through the air. "There are other ways of making deals go through." He sits up with a smirk, "I don't do much skiing, love, and I'm not actually a fan of mountains. Your bed and breakfast is quite darling. It will be splendid once I get my espresso machine up on your counter."

"Depends," Xavier says, and flutters his eyelashes at Katherine. "Would I have a beautiful and selfless angel to minister to my wounds and nurse me back to health?" To Nicholas' words, he shrugs. He doesn't seem particularly surprised or offended at the implications, but says, "That's not what this is, Nicholas." He takes his arm from around Katherine's shoulders, although not without brushing his fingers over the back of her neck on the way, and leans forwards and towards Nicholas a little. His smile remains pleasant, although there's a wintry chill to his eyes. His voice is friendly. "I like you, Nicholas. You're young, but you're /very/ good now, and in ten years, you'll be as good as you think you are. We're business partners, and I invited you into this investment group because you're reliable, canny, and add significant value far beyond most in my little black book. But the remarks about my relationship with Katherine end now. I don't care what you think of it. But it's personal, and not a part of our business. Attempts to /make/ it a part of business discussions will start to make me irate." His smile widens, fractionally, showing teeth. "Can we agree that no one has fun when I'm irate?"

Katherine takes a deep breath, and soft laughter accompanies its exhale. "Of course I will take care of you, I already do in my own way." She glances at Nicholas and then to Xavier, sitting back quietly as the latter makes an attempt to lay down the law. She folds her hands in her lap, her eyes drawn there. Nope, she's not going to comment.

Nicholas' gaze slides over to Xavier's own wintry one, his lips twitching into a slim smile. "Xavier, I don't really care who you sleep with. Or why. I actually find it positively splendid, the two of you," he says simply, canting his head to look once to Katherine, and then back he goes to Xavier. And then it's up to his feet that he goes. "But I can always take my money elsewhere, if it's not wanted, of course. Do think on it, and let me know. I don't truly appreciate being lectured, Xavier. Though it is very valiant of you," he flashes them both a smile. "Goodnight," and then it's upstairs he goes.

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