(2018-12-07) Sleigh Bells
A sleigh ride, Indian food, and snowballs. It's just a good time.

There are probably some window shades fluttering in Oak Ridge tonight. Because there's the sound of bells, and and unusual vehicle making its way to the bed and breakfast. Namely, a one-horse open sleigh. Yes, strung with bells and garlands and festive Christmas cheer. Even the guy driving the thing has a bit of a Santa look to him - although his name is Bob, and he's a rancher from just outside of town who looks like he can't wait to tell everyone about this weird side job. Xavier is in his usual fancy duds, charcoal grey and pale grey against the white snow as he steps down from the sleigh and makes his way to the front door. He knocks with his free hand, carrying a bouquet of hothouse roses in the other.

Katherine opens the door and she sees the sleigh, blinking at it before she turns to gaze at Xavier. "What is that?" She asks, pointing a mitten at the sleigh. Then she sees the roses, and she jumps up and down, clapping her mittens together. "You..wow.." She pulls her beanie over her head and she sucks in a breath, her voice nearly a quiet whisper. "Are we riding in that?" She turns wide eyes back on Xavier, her smile brilliant. "How?"

"A proper date, if you would be so kind as to do me the honor of your company, Ms. Stone?" Xavier looks all earnest and solemn at the start, but when she jumps up and down, his grin comes out, boyish. "And yes, we're riding in that, if you'd like." He blinks innocently at her last question. "The usual way, I suppose. Although if you wanted to ride the horse instead, I'm sure we'd find a way." He steps forward to offer the roses with one hand, and reach for her waist with the other, intending to pull her close and give a kiss hot enough to fend off the winter chill as greeting.

"I would be happy to." Katherine lights up at the boyish smile, stepping closer when Xavier offers the roses. She lets him guide her into his embrace, and the kiss earns him a low hum of surprise, her free arm wrapping around his neck. "I never took a ride in a sleigh before, do you..do we need a blanket or anything?" She gazes at the sleigh, obviously still a little amazed by the gesture. "Xavier, you never cease to amaze me. How did you come up with this?"

Xavier holds her close for a long moment, before letting her go and stepping back. He looks downright smug at the reaction. "I am delighted to bring a new experience to you; this gentleman was setting up a display downtown using the sleigh, and I asked if it was roadworthy, and he said it was. Then I asked if he had a horse, and he said he did. And then - well, money was involved." He looks back at the sleigh. "There are a couple of blankets in there, actually." His voice drops to a stage whisper, "They smell like horse, but I didn't want to offend him by pointing that out." Then he offers her his arm, with a playful flourish.

Katherine laughs when she sees the smug look on Xavier's face. "You and your money, always bringing new experiences. I can't say that they ever disappoint." She brushes her hair back from her face and pulls her beanie further down on her head. "Horse doesn't smell that bad, so we'll be okay." She takes Xavier's arm and moves closer to him. "So tell me where we're going to sleigh to, and what trouble we're going to get into. We are getting into trouble, right?"

Xavier walks with her to the sleigh, and when they arrive, he helps her up and in before climbing in himself, and scooting in close enough to put an arm around her. "Well, I thought we'd go to the town square, at least to start out with. The Christmas tree is up, the snow is beautiful, and we could make those evil snow creatures you wanted," that SHE wanted, "but still be close enough to walk over to the Lounge for dinner when our noses get too frozen. Or we could go wherever else you want for a meal, of course." His eyes twinkle. "Still time to rent that theatre, I bet."

Katherine snuggles close to keep warm, glancing around with a grin on her face. "Snow creatures sound fun, and ..the Lounge for dinner? Isn't that expensive?" She blinks and then remembers who she's with. "I'm up for anything with you, honestly, I'm just enchanted by all of this." She tilts her head to the side and purses her lip. "I mean, can we really make snow creatures, eat and make out in a theatre in /one/ night?"

Xavier reaches down for one of the folded blankets, and shakes it out before pulling it up over them. His drycleaner is going to be so confused. One eyebrow arches at 'expensive', and he doesn't dignify it with a response. Instead, he bends to kiss her temple. "I suppose we could take the dinner to the theatre for efficiency purposes, but it might make it harder to properly make out," he teases. Bob, seeing them settled in, clucks to the horse, and off they go, with a jingle of sleigh bells and some bewildered looks from neighbors. "And if dawn comes before we're done, perhaps I'll just drag you back to my lair and keep you there for another day." A waggle of eyebrows.

"You're starting to sound like an evil villian, Xavier." Katherine notes, snuggling close and pulling the blanket around her. "I'm okay with whatever you want to do, and I promise not to put a damper on the amazing things you've done today. We can share my news later." She rests her head on his shoulder, watching the houses she grew up near going by in a sleigh, a whole new experience. "I really like this, it beats walking down the hill." She goes quiet for a few minutes, glancing up when the snow starts to fly around them. "How is your lair coming? Nearly finished?"

Xavier throws his head back and gives his best villain laugh. It is deep and suitably smug and evil. He grins down at her, gives a sneaky look to one side, then the other, and stage whispers, "Admit it. The evil villains always looked far more fun for a night on the town than the stalwart heroes." Then he boops her nose, before cuddling her close. "But, Kate, I suspect you want to talk about your news, and if it concerns you, I want to hear it. It's not putting a damper on things to talk about what matters." He squeezes her. "But it's up to you, of course. If you'd rather just forget about it for a night, I'll understand. And actually, the lair is ready. Furnished and everything. I moved out of the hotel today."

Katherine can't help but laugh with Xavier, reaching out to swat him gently before she rolls her eyes. "I still don't think you're a villain, you're just misunderstood. You are a lot of fun though, so I think I'm going to keep you until you do something too evil." She wrinkles her nose when it's booped and wraps her arms around him. "I want to pretend that I'm normal for tonight, and that everything is wonderful. You've set it up so that it is wonderful, so…not tonight, okay?" She blinks at Xavier and smirks. "It is? Do I get to see it?" She blinks again and then her eyes narrow. "Oh, and what happened the other night? I thought you were upset, you left in a hurry. No kiss. Do you really hate glitter that much?"

"You're a delight, Kate. And far too kind." Xavier gives her another kiss then settles in as the horse pulls them down the hill in a surprisingly stately sort of manner. Luckily, the roads are relatively clear, and Bob up front is happy to pull over and let cars pass the few times it's needed. "Then tonight it shall not be," he allows, voice indulgent. "Glitter is the devil's dandruff, Kate. It's nearly impossible to get out of good clothing or skin. And your new boarder seems a little…rough around the edges, yes? Keep her at arm's length - I doubt she'll be there long, and you don't want to get too attached to strays."

"Not too kind, just kind enough. It's biting me in the ass right now, so I'm not terribly thrilled with it." Katherine lets her eyes drift closed as they canter down the hill, her fingertips drawing a pattern along Xavier's back. "My apologies, but you've never been so …dismissive towards my boarders before, even when they were barely polite." She turns her gaze up at Xavier, quirking a brow. "I'll keep her at arm's length, I don't understand why, but I honestly don't think you would ask me to do something unless you had a decent reason." She tilts her head back a little, opening her mouth and sticking out her tongue to catch a snowflake.

Xavier makes a pleased sound at the faint feel of her fingertips against his back. Instead of an answer, he just smiles at her, looking at her as if trying to fix her in his memory. When she starts catching snowflakes, he laughs out loud. "One's going to go up your nose," he predicts. As they get closer to downtown, more lights have been strung up before businesses and homes, turning the darkness into a multicolored glow. A few plastic Santas wave benignly from yards as they pass.

"Please, I've been doing this since I was five." Katherine catches a snowflake on the tip of her tongue, laughing happily. She turns her head, watching the lights and the Santa statues. "Did you put lights up at your new place?" She asks, turning to grin at him, an eyebrow raised. "If you didn't, perhaps we could skip the movie and go buy some lights?" She snuggles and wraps her arms around one of Xavier's. "We could put up some lights, eat in your new kitchen, maybe make some hot chocolate?"

"Lights?" For a moment, Xavier looks bewildered. "It does have elect—oh. /Christmas/ lights." He chuckles, and shakes his head. "No, I don't have any of those, but if you want, we can swing by a store, certainly. I don't have any cocoa, either, so we'd have to buy that." He coughs, and admits, "I don't usually…eat in these days, so I haven't gone shopping for any actual food. Yet." He leans his head against hers. "But you'll like the kitchen, I think."

Katherine giggles softly and she gives Xavier puppy dog eyes as her bottom lip pokes out. "Do you /want/ to do that? Or will that ruin your date plans?" She slides her hand underneath his suit jacket and quirks a brow. "Maybe we can go shopping for the essentials, just in case I pop over and want to do something really nice for you?" She tilts her chin up and kisses him gently when his head gently touches hers. "Why will I like the kitchen?"

At the pout, Xavier reaches out to let a single fingertip lightly caress the poked out bottom lip. "My dear, my plans are to spend some enjoyable time with a beautiful woman. We can go shopping if you like. Although," he bends to whisper in her ear, "if you 'popped over' to my place with the intent to do something REALLY nice for me, I would hope you wouldn't go first to the /kitchen/." Then nips the very edge of her ear before pulling back, and saying in totally normal tones, "I ensured that it was state of the art. I don't know what have the things in there do."

Katherine's cheeks get pink as her eyes gaze up at Xavier, a dreamy smile on her face. "I hope I'm the beautiful woman in question." She listens to his whisper and she giggles again, gazing at him with an amused look on her face. "You're really giving me ideas here, Xavier. You better behave yourself if you want me to." She looks like she doesn't want him to behave. "Let's go make snow creatures, and then we'll just play it by ear from there. The best things happen when you don't plan for them."

"Well, it certainly isn't Bob," Xavier replies, deadpan. Then, "Sorry, Bob." Bob grunts, his dreams of riding off into the sunset with a wealthy land developer shattered forever. It's probably for the best that they are pulling around to the broad town square, still covered in snow, although the Christmas tree in the center has been raised. Raised, but not lighted, yet. Xavier slips out from under the blanket and hops down, turning to offer her a hand to do the same. "Kate, here I am, being a perfect gentleman, and you're acting as if I'm /misbehaving/? I'm wounded!"

Katherine aims a sympathetic look at Bob, holding Xavier's hand to step down out of the sleigh. She gazes up at the tree, frowning slightly. "Why is it not lit? It still looks pretty." She bends over and scoops some snow in her mittens. She pats it into a ball slowly, glancing over at Xavier. "You misbehave in your head all the time, I can see it." She wiggles her nose and hefts the snowball. "I wish you would misbehave /more/."

"I believe it is the King and Queen of Snow in your charming local custom who get to turn on the /official/ town lights," Xavier says, turning around to look at the tree. And when he looks back - perfidy! Betrayal! He eyes the ball forming in her hands, and steps carefully backward, hands raised. "Look, I'm an unarmed man here, Kate. You wouldn't snowball an innocent, unarmed man?" He takes another step, this time to the side, towards a bench that has a nice heap of snow on its seat. Cover and ammunition all at once. "Can't we talk this out, it's cold." he tells her, earnestly…then dives behind the bench.

"Yeah, but they do a test run, right?" Katherine raises the snowball as if she's going to throw it. "You better get armed Xavier, I can make snowballs a lot quicker than you can! I've had more practice!" she throws the snowball, misses and laughs as she darts to the side to scoop more snow off the ground. "We're not talking this out! It's war!" She ducks her head and then lets another snowball fly, it misses also, but splatters against the bench, dusting Xavier with snow.

Black-gloved hands reached through the slats of the bench and scoop up generous portions of snow, even as Xavier flinches from the near misses. He makes two misshapen snowballs, one in each hand, then emerges from his cover at a run, wool overcoat billowing behind him. He tosses both snowballs, both flying wild, as he charges past to hide behind a tree. "You sneak-attacking villain! You're supposed to declare war before firing the first shot!" He crouches to busily start putting together another snowball.

"No no, not if you're a villain too! If you're a hero, I have to declare things!" Katherine is making snowballs, piling them gingerly at her feet. She picks one up when he runs from behind the bench, lobbing snowballs. She gets hit by one and laughs out loud as the other one sails over her shoulder. She throws one back and covers her head with her arms. "You're going to pay for that!" She calls out, lobbing more snowballs at Xavier in his new hiding place.

Xavier peeks out around the tree to check on her position - just in time to catch one of those snowballs in the face. "Ah, fuck, that's cold!" He recoils, and falls to the ground with a sound of distress and pain, curling up…mostly to hide the snowball that he's going to toss directly at Kate's chest if she takes pity and comes to check on him.

Katherine blinks, getting to her feet and doing a hop jog over to Xavier's position. She falls to her knees next to him, leaning in to check on him when the snowball hits her in the chest. She lets out a howl and falls over, clutching her chest. "Oh you got me!" She groans, closing her eyes and sticking out her tongue.

Xavier moves to cover her, pinning her legs with one of his, and grinning down at her, one hand on either side of her head. "Treachery deserves treachery in return, my dear," he claims smugly. Then he scoops up a little bit of snow and places it directly on that extended tongue.

Katherine squirms and bucks, arching her back as she tries to wiggle free. "It wasn't treachery. All is fair in love and war, especially war." She swallows the snow and starts to giggle, shaking her head two and fro. "You're gonna owe me a warm shower after this, Xavier. You might have to get the groceries delivered at this point." She brushes the snow off of her face with her mittens.

Xavier steals a kiss before he rolls away and lets her wriggle free. He stands fluidly, discreetly knocking off some snow and checking the damage to his trousers before offering her a hand up. "You started it, I remind you. Not that I mind the idea of you in the shower, of course." He grins.

Katherine takes the hand up, blinking innocently at Xavier. "I might have started it, but it was fun, wasn't it?" She wraps her arms around his neck and buries her cold nose against his neck. "Let's get some warm food, something yummy and portable?"

"It was fun," Xavier agrees, unable to suppress the way the last word turns into a yelp as her cold nose hits his warmer neck. In revenge, he tightens his arms around her waist and lifts her up, just enough to spin them around a couple of times in the snow. He lets her feet settle down again, and huffs out a bit of laughter. "Wuss. But I think there's a take out place not far. And a new Indian restaurant; we could grab some curry and head back to my place. I won't even insist on goat."

"Did you just call me a wuss?" Katherine queries, letting out a whoop as she's spun around in a circle. "I think take out sounds good, curry sounds good. Glad it won't be goat." She stands close to Xavier, wrapping her arms around his waist to hug him gently. "We walking or are we going to sleigh there?" She gently dusts snow from him, a fond smile on her face.

<FS3> Xavier rolls Athletics: Good Success. (2 6 8 1 8)

"Me?" Xavier blinks, projecting innocence. Or trying. He's not good at it. "Would I do something like that?" He points just down the street. "I think we can walk, but if you insist on a more romantic method…" With only that for warning, he moves to scoop her up into his arms and start carrying her like a bride across the snow. A passing car filled with teenagers whoops and hollers, which he ignores.

Katherine knows that look of innocence, and she doesn't laugh at him. She just grins at him before she responds. "You would never do something like that, you're such a sweet and innocent man, look at that face!" She tweaks his nose gently, and when he says they could walk, she turns to do that. Her feet are swept out from under her and she lets out a startled laugh. "What the fuck are you doing, Xavier?" She clutches her arms around his neck so she doesn't fall, her eyes wide. The car zooms past and she waves at it. "You're giving those kids ideas."

"Damn right. I am the most innocent of creatures," Xavier insists, striding towards the restaurant. Heads of holiday shoppers turn, but he grins down at her. "I'm walking. Just walking. With a lovely woman in my arms, and whatever ideas they have, I'm sure they will be romantic and light-hearted." In truth, he hardly seems winded by her weight, and even pauses to wait for a car to pass before carrying her easily across the street and to the restaurant's door. Then he sets her down, neatly, and brushes her off - with perhaps a bit more care and attention paid to the curves of her hips and her chest than is warranted.

Katherine just gazes at Xavier, reaching out to run her fingers through his hair. "Yes, you're just walking and you're carrying me. Am I too heavy?" She glances at his face, narrows her eyes, and apparently she likes what she sees. When she's set down, she stands there while he dusts her off, her cheeks going pink when his hands brush over her curves. "I'm so glad that you're so through." She purrs, pulling open the door to the restaurant. "After you, kind sir?"

Xavier closes his eyes, briefly, and leans in the touch, managing to do this without tipping them both over into the street. "Light as a feather, Kate." He winks at her. "And I strive to be thorough in all I do." He bows, then proceeds her into the restaurant, waiting for her to join him in sudden wave of fragrant warmth before continuing on to the take out counter. "What do you feel in the mood for, hmm?"

"If you value your life, no reacting." Kate begins, gazing at Xavier with a light grin on her face. "I haven't had Indian before. So you're going to have to order for both of us. Nothing super duper spicy, but something that gets me an idea of what this stuff tastes like?" She gazes at the menu with a frown. "No goat."

Xavier opens his mouth, but mindful of her dire threat, it closes again with a snap. He peers at her for a moment, then grins. "Well, well, then. This WILL be delightful." He turns to the counter, and rattles off a variety of foods: samosas, saag paneer, an order of tandoori chicken, lamb curry, an order of butter chicken, and two mango lassi, to go. The person behind the counter looks past him and Kate, as if trying to figure out where the rest of the people who are going to eat this are, but then rings it up, and Xavier hands over a few bills to pay for it. Then he sweeps Katherine into his arms again. "I think you'll like it. It's rich, flavorful, and interesting."

Katherine leans in to bump against Xavier, her voice low and amused. "I think half of my appeal to you is the fact that I haven't managed to try a lot of things in my life." She listens to him rattle off an order, eyebrows raising as he seems to order enough for an army. She chuckles softly and wraps her arms around Xavier. "How much food did you just order? Or should I not ask that. It sounded like a /lot/ of food."

Xavier playfully pulls on a bit of her hair peeking out from under her hat. "Maybe. It /is/ nice, spending time with someone who isn't cynical and jaded about what the world has to offer," he admits, with a smile. "It makes me remember trying some of these things for the first time, myself. And I'm sure at least half my appeal to you is giving you the opportunity to try things you haven't had the chance to, so it's an even trade." He chuckles at the last. "I suppose. Whatever's left over can go in the fridge, and I can eat it while I work." He hugs her close and cozy.

Katherine winks at Xavier, watching as the bags are placed on the counter. There are a lot of them. She reaches out to take a few, glancing back at Xavier. "It's weird being with someone who just casually throws around money at things, people and resturants." She admits, a crooked grin on her face. "You might not believe this, but I'd like you even if you didn't do that." She nuzzles her face against him and sighs. "Think this'll get cold while we take it to your place?"

Xavier takes up the rest of the bags, hefting them thoughtfully. He looks her over, shifts the bags again, then says, "You were more fun to carry." Then he saunters towards the door, opening it for her. "And you might! I don't disagree with the possibility. But…hmm, money is a tool. I didn't always have it, and I suppose that makes me more willing to toss it around now that I do, because while it might not buy happiness, I've found that it handily removes most of the barriers to happiness along the way." He looks down at the bags. "Some of it might, but I've got…ovens…and things. At the townhouse. If needed."

Katherine's eyes follow Xavier toward the door and when he opens it, she walks through, smiling slowly. "If you like using the tool, you should enjoy doing it. Just know that you don't have to do it all the time. It makes me nervous when you do it." She rolls her eyes and shrugs. "Sometimes." She strolls with him down the street, glancing down at the bags. "Thank you though, for everything you do. Every surprise just.." She takes a breath and lets it out, steaming into the evening. "I haven't felt this …adored in a very long time."

"Nervous?" Xavier gives her a sidelong look. "My spending money makes you nervous? Why?" It seems like a genuine question, and although he smiles and bumps her with his shoulder affectionately as they walk back to the sleigh, and a grateful Bob, his attention is on her, clearly expecting the question to receive an answer.

Katherine gazes at Xavier, shrugging awkwardly as she carries the bags. "It's all quid pro quo. You give something to someone and eventually you'll need to pay them back. You may not expect an actual return, but in some way, I'll be paying you back, right?" She swallows and wrinkles her nose, bumping Xavier's shoulder back gently. "I also don't want you to think that you need to do all of this to keep my interest, because..you don't."

Xavier stops at the sleigh, and sets the bags down on the bench, then reaches for the ones she's carrying to do likewise. "It's helpful to think of it, I believe, in the sense of everyone's using everyone else. Of course I will see a return on what I spend - either my convenience or my enjoyment of your reaction. It just happens that my return is also something that you enjoy. And you're using me for enjoyment and excitement and whatever as well. I don't mind, Kate." He turns and places his hands on her shoulders, squeezing gently. "But you'll never 'owe' me anything for what I choose to do with you, you know. If I didn't enjoy doing it, I wouldn't." It's probably not as reassuring as he means it to be, but he offers her a hand back up in the sleigh.

Katherine takes the hand up into the sleigh and she settles down in the seat, moving close to Xavier to keep warm. "I know that you don't mind. I do." She leans in, her face close to his. "You're using me, and you think I'm using you, but what ..and don't you dare laugh.. if you or I were doing this because there are feelings there?" She wraps her arms around him, her voice quiet. "Using each other just seems ..bad. Kind of."

Xavier settles in beside her and pulls the blanket up around her, him, and the food. They are going to smell like curry and horse. There's really no getting around that. Bob sets off through the snow. He kisses her on the temple, then stays close, nuzzling her hair. "Of course there are feelings, Kate. I like you. I would like you even if you'd turned me down flat. You're a lovely person. But," he shifts to cuddle more comfortably with her, one hand lightly stroking the top of her thigh, "you're looking at 'use' from the wrong perspective. You see it at exploitation. But it's not. If we didn't desire something from each other, then we'd have no reason to be together. As long as we're both getting what we desire, there's nothing bad about it." His tone suggests that it's all very reasonable and simple.

Katherine turns her face to Xavier when he nuzzles her, her cheek rubbing against his. "I just ..am not comfortable with the word use. I don't use you, I enjoy my time with you and I would no matter what." She gazes down at the hand on her thigh, laughing softly. "As long as you're happy, I won't rock the boat, but I just .." She looks puzzled and slightly dazed. ".. you're don't think like other men that I know. It throws me off sometimes."

Xavier chuckles. "Good. I don't want to be /boring/." He hugs her, then. "Kate…it's not just about me being happy. I can't really change who I am, and I'm trying to be honest with you about who I am. But it's not something you have to think about, or we have to talk about, if you prefer not. Enjoy what's before us, hmm? I find you delightful, sexy, and admirable, and I don't want you to think you owe me anything, no matter how much money I may or may not spend on or with you. That's all I was trying to say."

Katherine twitches when Xavier hugs her, laughing softly as she hugs him back. "Xavier.. I get it. Everything you say makes sense and I'm not arguing with any of it." The sleigh pulls up to the townhouse and she pushes back the blanket, moving to gather the bags. "You can change the happiness thing, if you want to. I realize that you're okay with how things are right now, but maybe give some thought to being happy too." She shrugs and gets to her feet. "It's not an impossibility." She huffs out a sigh and hefts the bags. "Let's get inside where it's warm, and you can feed me. Is it okay if we eat naked?"

Xavier takes his portion of bags, and looks bemused. "You keep insisting that I'm /not/ happy. I'm starting to think it's aspirational, or something." His voice is light and teasing, and he stops to give Bob a substantial bonus for putting up with all of this before wishing him a good night. He opens the door for her - it's a fancy electronic lock with a code rather than key - then steps inside. It's warm, and smells still like sawdust and fresh paint. "And there's pretty much no combination of you and nakedness that I'm going to mind, Kate." He closes the door behind them.

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