Title: Frost Fair (1/? Probably between 1/3 & 1/5)
Day/Theme: 4 . 11 . I could be all that you want and more
Character/Pairing: Ike/Soren eventual, Pelleas/Micaiah
Summary: Soren, the head CEO of Nevassa Corp, is entirely tired of his mother's nagging, and so
sets out to hire a date for the holidays and his brother's upcoming wedding. After several disastrous interviews, he comes across Ike who thought it was a bodyguard job and really needs the money.
Author's note: No, I will never run out of crazy au ideas. Hush. So I wrote 99% of this part in January. I was hoping to post it as one very long oneshot, but I figure I'll break it up into pieces as I'm pretty fond of this verse and if I do this, I can be guilted into finishing it!
Soren had been staring at the ceiling while he tried to excuse his way through the phone call. Alas, his mother accepted no excuses when it came to her telephone time. The building could be burning down around him, and he still would get constant phone calls until he picked up again.
"Now, don't forget that your brother's wedding is coming up," she said.
"I'm busy," Soren said automatically.
"That excuse won't work on me, young man," she said, her voice taking an admonishing tone. He could just picture her finger waggling at the empty air as she talked.
"Your brother needs the vote of confidence."
Yes, because Soren was definitely the best person to help his brother's self esteem. Maybe he'd even open up a counseling job on the side.
"And can't you finally bring who you've been seeing? I'm impatient to meet her, already."
"Mother, I don't have some hidden lover. I am married to my job and I like it that way," Soren said in exasperation, his patience frayed. Maybe if he brought a stock portfolio and put it in the chair beside him people would get the message.
"There are two seats registered for you and I expect you to bring someone," she said crossly. "I won't be living much longer and I want to see grandchildren."
If only. Soren looked to the ceiling and counted to a very high number to lessen his patented Rage At The Mother.
"Pelleas is sure to give you some," he said finally.
"So, in my dying years I am to be consoled that only one child loved me enough to give me my one, tiny request of seeing this wonderful family line continued..."
A wonderful family line that was filled with maniacs. On both sides. Soren's opinion of the matter was that every member of the family should be sterilized just to prevent some megalomaniac from taking over the world.
"If you love me, you'd do it," she said, her voice taking on that cold tinge which his own so often mirrored. (Like most any child, he hated to think how much he resembled her in both looks and personality.)
"Yes, mother," he said just as coldly.
One of the hardest things about this farce was working the ad. How to put 'I want you to pretend to be my girlfriend, without actually acting affectionate at me, or hitting on anyone else. Oh, and for putting up with my family, I'll pay you.' Soren honestly couldn't think of a way that wasn't blunt to the point of being insulting. There was a reason he always let other people be in charge of advertising. As he was wont to do, Ranulf peered over his shoulder and broke into a
"You're hiring a girlfriend?" Ranulf said. He was grinning like a Cheshire cat at this news.
"For your information, it's sorely for my mother's expectations," Soren said.
"I could find you someone," Ranulf said. "I know lots of people. Lots and lots."
Soren shot him a look. "Not a chance."
"You could bring one of your workers? Call it overtime." Ranulf waggled his eyes.
"Because I strongly discourage any workers dating, and because I hate all my underlings. Not to mention that it could be taken the wrong way when I the contract ends. You already know this."
"It still had to be said," Ranulf said.
"Why do I put up with you again?" Soren said.
"Because I spill the secrets you need to hear?"
"And many I have no need to hear," Soren said.
"Or maybe it's my dashing good looks?" Ranulf said with a wink.
Soren just glowered at him.
"Then my connections with Gallia? Or the persistent and entirely true rumor that I'm a beast in bed?"
Soren sighed. "It was a rhetorical question."
"Exactly," Ranulf said with a grin.
In the end, Soren made the details only slightly vague, and took it like he would any other interview – save for the fact that it was made at a restaurant. Soren liked things as orderly as possible. He would have taken them right there with no lunch involved, but Ranulf said that was taking it way too far and by some unnamed rules, he had to buy them dinner. For once, Soren actually listened.
The first girl was a thin, frail, pale and distinctly sickly looking. She huddled over the plate as if she might collapse into the table. He looked over her resume. Prior working in the traveling merchant guild, reason for leaving...illness, misunderstanding due to lost food stores...
"I'm so hungry.... When will the food come?"
She looked truly pathetic there, as if she were starving to death right on the spot. "There's an buffet. It's in the next room."
She perked up. "All you can eat?"
She pushed back the chair and left, taking some time at the buffet. When she returned, it was with a towering mountain of food that which she seemed to bend under the weight off. When she got it to the table, she dug into with a certain maddening glee. It disappeared quite fast, and she was off for another plate before he could even ask a question. This plate, heaped high with a little of everything disappeared as well with remarkable speed.
Soren could only gape. She burped and leaned back, then wiped at her mouth with a napkin. He wondered if there was any food left in the buffet at all.
"That was a great appetizer," she said.
Then her eyes fixed on the salad that he had ordered. They lit up again.
"Are you going to eat that?"
He pushed it over to her, and then checked mentally checked her off the list. He wasn't about to have the wedding cake 'mysteriously disappear' right before the ceremony.
His next applicant started invading Soren's precious personal space right away. She leaned in, with a sultry smile, and a good view of cleavage. Soren was unimpressed in both respects.
"Well aren't you a cutie. Pretty flat-chested, but your hair sure is lovely."
"...I'm male. Males of the species generally do have flat chests," Soren said.
She looked utterly disgusted. "Male? Dammit, this is the third time today. What is with the traps these days?"
She pushed her chair back, tossed her hair indignantly and left without another word.
He glanced over her resume and took a quick search for her record for the sake of morbid curiosity. She had a criminal record – or at least she had been taken several times on suspicion of theft, only to be found innocent.
Strike another one down.
She wore white shirt with a vest and a cap drawn over it.
"Sorry 'm late. Is this here the job interview?"
Soren gave a curt nod.
"I'm a great bodyguard you see. Trained in the army, and I've got big muscles from liftin' all those bails of hay for my pappy." She pulled back her sleeve and showed her muscle.
"This isn't an interview for a bodyguard," Soren said curtly.
"Oh? 'm sorry then, was it a desk job? I never was no good at desk jobs," she said.
"It was to—"
He was cut out as the earlier applicant pounced out from nowhere. She nuzzled her neck, and her hands went straight for the girl's small breasts.
"Neffy! There you are!"
"H-heather– 'm Glad ta see ya too, but this is an awful public place fer this sorta thing."
"You bad, bad girl! You were supposed to meet me for dinner," she admonished.
"I'm kind of in the middle of an interview, Heather..." she said with a pleading look in her eyes.
The blond woman, Heather, he supposed, leveled a glare at Soren.
"He's a jerk. I'll treat you so much better. Now, Neffy dear, let's go find a quiet corner, hmm?"
With that, she promptly stole the potential applicant away. Another one striked off the list.
She wore a mini-skirt, a tank top with something about wrestling printed on it, and a pair of leather gloves with the fingers exposed. Her hair was let loose in purple waves, She listed 'bar brawls with big muscley men' under interests.
"I'm ready to fight," she said. "You look kind of scrawny though. Are you some martial artist? I hope this won't be like the time I tried to teach Rhys Karate."
"I think you answered the wrong ad," he said.
"Could be," she said cheerily. "It's happened before."
"You're looking for the Gallia Inc, not Nevassa Corp."
"Oh yeah, that's the one! Thanks!"
Soren crossed another one off the list.
Soren rubbed at his temples as the next applicant came. A tension headache throbbed, and he felt as if his head were in a vice. It was a man. A large, blue-haired, broad-shoulder man in something that seemed to attempt to be formal. A suitjacket with a t-shirt and jeans, as well as orange sneakers.
"I've never taken a job like this before, but I think I can pull it off. I wrestled in highschool a bit, played football. I'm fit, and...I really think I have what the job calls for?"
He seemed to be counting off things from an article, or book he'd read on how to take an interview.
"This isn't an interview for a bodyguard. I'll keep you on file if I need to hire one."
"Wait, I really need the money – what is it?"
"I'm hiring a date for the holidays and my brother's wedding."
"Hiring a date?" The man said, an eyebrow raised.
"I like to do things efficiently. Since my family seems unable to accept that I am married to my job, I'd find someone completely disposable who can play a part for a reasonable amount of time and can be let go of immediately after."
"Handy, I guess," he said.
"It's harder than it looks," Soren said rather dryly. "Besides, you should have handed me your resume before you started talking."
".....Did you even make a resume?"
Ike reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a crumpled wad of paper. He passed it over. Soren flattened it out. His name was Ike, which seemed a fitting name for the type of man who would come to an interview in orange sneakers and wad his resume in his pocket. He mentally noted that on any normal day, this would be the least professional interviewer he'd ever seen...on a day that hadn't been filled with job applicants who hit on him, challenged him to mortal combat and threatened to put the restaurant out of business. Ike was downright normal in this lot. Overly casual, yes. Batshit insane? Not from what he could tell.
Highschool, a few jobs from waiter to part-time employee at a hardware store. Nothing stood out, but there weren't any hints of a criminal record, either.
In a fit of OCDness, Soren smoothed the papers out in a way that neared obsessiveness and put them in order. "Now, we'll call you should you get the job."
Of course he wasn't getting it, being that he was male and obviously applying for the wrong job, but he said that to everyone. Well, at least he would have, had they not attempted to hit on him, fight him, or possibly eat him.
"Wait, if I get it, can I have an advance?"
Ballsy. Soren tilted his head to study Ike more. He had an earnest expression.
"Why do you need the money so? Gambling debts? Is the mafia after you?" he said sardonically. He rubbed at his head. Today was not his day. Then again, being as he was Not A People Person, any day with human contact tended to not be his day.
"What? No. Just, my father's house is going into foreclosure and I really don't want that to happen."
Soren shook his head and sighed.
"I'm not asking for an escort or a whore. I just need someone to deal with the inanities of my family for a few weeks so they'll shut up about me being unattached."
And wouldn't it be the perfect revenge to the nagging to bring home a man? Soren hadn't quite grown out of the desire to piss his mother off.
"My family's pretty crazy too," Ike said with a slight smile. He seemed to be making attempts at camaraderie. Soren didn't do impulsive things. He wasn't about to start now.
"Your resolve is admirable, but you're applying for the wrong job."
"So you're saying that you don't think I'm gay enough for it?"
"...you're wearing orange sneakers and a jacket with jeans," Soren said.
"What does that have to do anything with it?"
"Stand up," Soren repeated.
Ike did so, a bit perplexed. Soren rung, and soon came Kyza in his Armani suits he couldn't afford on his salary, but got anyways. He wore fashionable tiny square glasses and his hair was slicked back with gel. He was carrying a clipboard.
"Kyza, is he gay?"
Kyza tilted his head and looked at him. "He's very nice, almost as nice as Captain. Nice shoulders, nice build. But those clothes..." He shuddered in revulsion. "My verdict is that no self-respecting gay man would be caught dead in that ensemble. Especially those shoes."
"Thank you, Kyza. That's all."
"...you have a personal advisor on gaydar?" Ike said with some incredulity.
"He's the assistant to a consultant of mine. He's helping manage this...operation."
"If you say so," Ike said.
"Are you gay?" Soren asked.
"I never really thought about it, actually," Ike said.
Kyza breezed back, and cut in. "The question would be is he 'gay for pay', and I believe the anser is 'yes.' Perhaps food would help the conversation?"
Ike's eyes seemed to light up at the mention of food. "The lovely waiter needed a breather, so I'm helping him. At this table, at least," Kyza said.
He laid down a menu. Ike glanced over it. He did not mull over the question of what to get long before he ordered.
"Salisbury steak with extra steak and steak on the side," Ike said.
"Someone likes his meat," Kyza said, rather smugly.
"Wait, this isn't one of those super expensive restaurants where the food is more than I make a month, is it?"
"All food is paid for by the company. As would be all food, attire and travel expenses on the scheduled time," Soren said.
"So that's a no?"
"I like to keep things efficient and cost-effective," Soren said.
"Cool. I'll have more steak with that steak."
"Coming right up," Kyza said.
Ike could sure pack away a meal. Not to the extent of the girl who had emptied the buffet, however. Also, he seemed to have no taste for sweets, which meant that unless the cake was made of Salisbury steak, there would be no fear of it disappearing under his watch.
After that there were no amazing discoveries to be found. He did note that Ike was blunt and straightforward, two traits he admired. Or, to be more precise, they were two traits which meant he was more likely to tolerate the person. Having no sense of politeness in himself, he found it grating in others.
Ike was not the last of that day. There had been among them: a crazed shopgirl who had only gone there in hopes of tracking down Ike, a cheerful girl who left halfway to bail her brother out of jail for something involving gambling debts and several others who all failed Soren's rigorous perfectionism.
When it came down to it, there really was only one choice. Besides, this gave the perfect excuse explain the lack of grandchildren. And Soren, especially when he was this irritated, was not immune to the childish need to piss off his mother. During his teenage years he'd never brought home a bad boy clad in black leather who rode in on a motorcycle. This was that very overdue impulse finally come to fruition.
So he left a message on voicemail, pleased to yet again have avoided human contact before he went back to working at his laptop.