A Walk in the Park
Summary: Owen had been fairly certain that his sordid past was behind him now. He was wrong. He was always wrong, apparently.
A/N: You may have noticed that this is not In The Beginning and for that I apologize. I'm not dead, just sleeping (rather a lot) and the story isn't abandoned so much as it is hard to continue. But continue I will! at... some later junction. This is the newest in the Five Minutes to Midnight series (yes, still going). Does not mix and match with In the Dark of the Night.
Owen's is the dominant personality for this story but he's technically just Puck's serious side in a mortal body (the mortal bit being the one causing the most distress.) so all Puck's knowledge is in play as well.
Spoilers: All seasons (don't make me look up the episodes), and little bits of ItB that you might not even notice if you aren't paying attention.
Warnings: language, tiny bit of Ooc, mixed POV (all third person so it shouldn't be too jarring)
Disclaimer: Not me. If it were mine, it would still be on tv and we'd have new episodes just... constantly.
Coffee breaks were a rare and fleeting thing in Owen's life.
Typically there was always something to do - schedule meetings, fill out and file reports, fire more-stupid-than-usual employees, handle one of Alexander's little "accidents" - and the Coffee Intern ("... is that her actual title?" "Yes, sir." "Ah. Well, I've never questioned your methods before and I don't think I'll start now.") was usually nearby with carafe full of expertly brewed and alarmingly expensive coffee when he couldn't be bothered to get up and get it himself.
But very, very occasionally he would look up from a report, note the time and realize that he'd run out of things to do and had an hour to kill.
On this particular occasion Owen was mentally debating the pros and cons of pulling out the book in his desk drawer (Owen hadn't read at work since his days at Cyberbiotics and he wasn't sure if his Coffee Intern would react favorably to the sight) when his employer stuck his dark head through the door.
"Busy?" Xanatos took in the sight of his most trusted employee (and most beloved of few friends) sitting with his hands resting on the cleared desk. "Walk with me."
Like most of Xanatos' commands this one could have been easily refused if Owen thought hard enough about the loopholes in their contract and like all the other commands Owen decided he didn't care to disobey, even if it was justified.
The result was a brief walk out of the building and around the corner. Owen hadn't even known there was a coffee shop on that street.
"If I have to listen to the inane blathering of one more company representative asking for my money I'll do something very much not in line with my current image," the current image being of a wholesome family man who had made some regrettable mistakes in his (not so distant) past. David scowled as he accepted a steaming paper cup from the frankly terrified young man behind the counter while Owen went about altering his own too-strong cup to fit his tastes.
"I can arrange for you to buy Axis Chemicals out from under them if you'd like," Owen intoned mildly. Xanatos snorted.
"There's a good reason for their going under. You remember the accident at one of their plants? It was called Ace Chemicals then, if I remember correctly," David waited patiently for the blond to finish stiring his coffee before heading to the door. Behind the counter the young man slumped in relief.
"1989, sir," Owen sipped his coffee and reflected on how utterly bizarre this same scene playing out would have seemed to him back then. "It was some time ago."
David dropped his head and groaned. Owen had to restrain himself from patting the other man on the back.
"How did I get so old?"
Owen didn't have to answer that which was good because they'd gotten to the main lobby of the Eyrie Building and suddenly Owen couldn't answer at all.
David had missed his friend's sudden stop and continued a few steps before he realized the blond was no longer at his side.
"Owen?" the blond's cup hit the floor with a splash that David was thankfully just out of range of. Turning sharply the darker man followed his friend's gaze and nearly dropped his own cup.
David Xanatos had never been so completely and desperately attracted to a woman since he'd met Fox. Feeling that way about a strange woman in a blue sun dress in his lobby annoyed him greatly.
Her skin was the same milky shade as Owen's while her hair was a still paler shade of blonde. She smiled at the men with pink, rose petal lips and seemed to float toward them.
"You're a hard man to get a hold of," she said teasingly. For a brief, terrifying moment David thought she was talking to him. Then he realized she meant Owen and somehow that was much worse. She danced around the puddle of spilt coffee and ran her hands over Owen's shoulders, smoothing the lines of his already impeccable suit. "I like it. You look good... taller," she grinned.
"Vivian. I didn't realize..." Owen, true to nature, didn't stutter but he did need a moment to gather himself. "Shouldn't you be... at home?" There was a stiffness in his voice that was unnatural even for Owen.
"I'm on vacation for a bit," her voice was soft and David knew that there was a lot going unsaid between them. "I thought we might spend some time together while I'm in New York."
"Of course," the consent seemed automatic, like he was obeying an irrefutable order and David didn't like it. He cleared his throat and Owen startled, turning sharply to look at him. "Forgive me, I-" he stopped, looking lost for a moment. The woman stepped closer to his side and Owen came back to himself. "Sir this is Vivian de Lacus, an old acquaintance of mine. Vivian this is Mr. Xanatos, my employer."
Vivian smiled warmly and held out a hand. For a moment David forgot whether he was meant to kiss it or kneel but it past and he stepped closer to shake the offered hand. It was as soft as it looked and David thought he could smell the beach on her.
"A pleasure to meet you," she smiled charmingly and David returned it.
"No no, it's all mine."
"Sir," Owen interrupted David's quiet appraisal of the woman. "I hope it won't inconvenience you overly much if I take the rest of the day off?"
David stared, stunned. Owen didn't ask for days off. Not ever. But the blond didn't seem worried or stressed beyond the initial shock of the woman being there in the building and David couldn't rightly justify denying the request. If Owen genuinly didn't want (or need) to take the day off to spend with this woman he'd have used work and prior obligations to get out of it.
"Of course not Owen. Take all the time you need."
David waited until the two were half way across the room, heading toward the company parking garage (taking Owen's car then, which really was serious) before pulling out his cellphone.
"Fox? This is important: I need you to meet me at the car as soon as you can. No don't bring Alex, Owen will feel him. Yes Owen. No I can't, just get here soon."
"What do you mean a date?" Fox asked incredulously. For the last few years Owen had done the majority of driving for the Xanatos family and David was having a hell of a time remembering how to do it himself. Having his wife stare at him like he'd gone insane from the passenger seat wasn't helping him.
"I'm telling you he dropped everything - literally, coffee everywhere - when he saw this woman. He asked for the day off."
"Maybe she's a friend from school," Fox tried reasonably. David turned his head to stare at her.
"He didn't actually go to school, you know."
"Watch the road," the redhead snapped and David obediently redirected his gaze. "A friend maybe? From before you two met? He did some charity work for Daddy if I remember right, maybe they-"
"Fox," David wasn't in the habit of interrupting his wife and felt guilty for doing it but this was serious. "You did not see this woman. She was stunning and I have never once used that adjective to descibe anyone other than you."
"That's quite the compliment," Fox said mildly.
"He got stumble tongued," David continued, scowling down at the GPS on the dash. "She touched him and he let her. In the loby of the building in the middle of the day. He won't let either of us do that."
"That's because Daddy traumatized him all those years back and you keep hugging him without asking permission first," Fox, ever the sensible one in their relationship, pointed out calmly. "Of course he doesn't like our public displays of affection. To his credit, he tolerates casual touch much better now."
"What she did wasn't casual. She - listen," David sighed loudly. "Just trust me. They're on a date, he likes her and I want to know exactly who this woman is because "Vivian de Lacus" didn't exist a few years ago."
"David, darling," nothing good ever came from her starting a statement that way. "you used to think he liked me. Remember how well that went?"
"This is different."
"How?" David could see his wife raising her eyebrow at him out of the corner of his eye.
"Well for one thing he never volunteered to take you out to a romantic lunch," David nodded at the GPS and turned.
"Does Owen know you put a tracking device in his car?" she asked wryly.
"It's not as though he uses it very often."
"So I guess that's a no then."
"It's been a while," Vivian smiled over a plate of salmon nicoise while Owen poked at his tuscan pasta.
"I didn't realize you were still in New York," he said defensively, finally spearing a sundried tomato. Across the table Vivian frowned playfully at him.
"You didn't visit me the first time either," she pouted. "That hurt, Robin."
Owen visibly flinched at that, just like she undoubtly knew he would.
"I was otherwise engaged. Things were... busy."
"It wasn't exactly a walk in the park for me either," Vivian said pointedly before taking a bite of fish. Owen tilted his head at her.
"How is Arthur, by the way?" Idle chat came easier once they were on neutral ground. Vivian scowled. Well fairly neutral. "There's been no news of sightings here and I have been watching out for them."
"He's back in Britian," she rolled her eyes. "Old fool never was very bright."
"Griff seemed fairly capable to me," Vivain rose an eyebrow. "I was keeping tabs on the event as a matter of interest. MacBeth at least, should have been able to infer something from the new placement of the sword."
"Swallowed up by the legends," pale shoulders rose and fell in a smooth shrug. "They all are, eventually."
There was a pause in conversation as the two returned their attentions to their meals.
"I missed you," Vivian said suddenly. Owen looked at her but Vivian kept her eyes on her own plate. "At home. It's not as bright without you there. I'm not the only one," after another moment she raised her eyes, sad and hurt looking, to meet his. Owen looked away.
The mood passed quickly. Vivian's usually did.
"You know what?" the woman's hand darted out and landed on Owen's stone wrist. He paused, fork half-way to his mouth as she leaned toward him. "I know what we should do tonight. Like old times, it'll be fun. Alright?"
"Alright. Now tell me it's not a date," David couldn't quite bring himself to be smug as he stared out the windscreen at the (no other word for it) couple seated at an outside table at what David knew to be an excellent and expensive bistro. He handed his binoculars to his wife.
"David we're going to need to have a chat about these voyeuristic tendencies of yours," Fox said mildly though she still looked through the binoculars at the pair.
"Look, he's letting her touch him again."
"She's touching him in a place he can't even feel," Fox dropped the binoculars back on her husband's lap. "Of course it doesn't bother him. They're just talking, David."
"At a romantic table at an expensive bistro. It's a date," the dark haired man said stubbornly.
"His female friend is visiting, apparently from out of town. He wasn't going to take her to McDonalds now was he?"Fox rolled her eyes just in case the sarcasm was lost on the man next to her.
"Owen doesn't have female friends. Owen doesn't have friends at all," David raised his binoculars again to stare out at the pair. They looked good together, he thought sullenly. A stunningly attractive pale, bright haired pair. He glared. "I bet they only met in passing and now that she knows what he's worth she's tring to suck up to him. See how low cut that dress is?"
"David, she's not showing any cleavage at all," Fox pointed out, frowning at her husband. "I'm a married mother and I go out in slinkier things."
"Gold digger," he continued as though she hadn't spoken at all. Fox's eyebrows jumped in surprised. "We need to put a stop to this before she hurts him."
"Oh my God," the binoculars were suddenly ripped from David's grip. He stared at his empty hands for a moment before facing his wife. "You're jealous!"
"What? No of course not," David scowled and tried to take the binoculars back. Fox held them just out of his reach. "I love you, you know-"
"Not of him, of her," the redhead stared at him as though David had just become the most interesting puzzle in the world. "You're jealous. This strange woman comes and takes Owen away from you for the day and you go all to pieces. Honestly David," her voice took on a chidding tone. "You'd be mad if that were your own father out there."
"Don't be ridiculous," David said briskly thought the affect was lost with hims still reaching toward her. "Give those back."
"Well they won't do you any good now," Fox smiled, handing back the binoculars. "They're leaving."
Vivian directed him to a nearby parking garage and expressed an interest in taking in the sights and fresh air. By that he could only assume that she wanted to window shop because there wasn't much to see in that particular part of Manhattan and you'd have a hard time finding something that passed for fresh air in New York outside the top of the Eyrie Building or in the Hamptons.
They walked down the sidewalk arm in arm and Owen gamely listened to her idle chat about oil spills and the pollution in the Central Park Lake for about ten minutes before loosing patience.
"What are you doing here?"
"Hm?" Vivian blinked up at him. It was nice, he reflected, that she had to look up now since they were no longer of equal height. "Strolling down Park Avenue with you, naturally."
"Madison," he corrected blandly. "I'd expect you to have a better sense of direction. Vivian," he stopped and pulled her to a stop with him outside a, annoyingly enough, lingerie boutique. "You know what I meant."
She scowled at him for a moment, then at the store front and finally at the street before her expression cleared.
"I told you, I'm on vacation," she smiled. "And you're never coming home. There's no harm in me saying good'bye properly, now is there Robin?"
Owen searched her expression for a moment but it was like trying to read the small print of a business card through a mirky pool. He sighed and started walking again.
"No. I suppose not."
They kept walking until four in the afternoon when Vivian finally lead him to the place she intended to spend her evening.
"You already said you would though!" Vivian pouted and tugged on Owen's hand. He scowled and held his ground. "I thought you liked the 40s? I certianly had a blast," she winked slyly at him and pulled again. Still nothing. "Oh come on, it'll be fun."
"You over estimate my generousity by a great deal, Vivian."
Eyes the color of an angry sea met those the color of a clear sky and Vivian smiled.
"Oh? I don't think so."
It was the weirdest thing David had ever seen. He hadn't even known there were retro swing clubs in New York. He certainly wouldn't have expected to see Owen in one.
"Alright," Fox said slowly. "Maybe it is a date."
David gave her a sharp look.
"You just saw Owen doing the jive with some woman neither of us know anything about and that's all you can say?"
"Actually," Fox gave him a lazy smile. "It's a jitterbug. You want to go in? I could show you how."
David winced, but it was a small and manly one.
"We aren't dressed for this sort of..." he gestured vaguely through the door of the inconspicous looking club.
"Nonesense, my skirt will twirl," she grinned. "and not everyone is in costume."
"We don't want Owen to know we're here, remember?" Fox grinned and David knew he was in trouble.
Which is how he found himself in an old fashioned suit and fedora. David fiddled with his watch as he followed his wife through the door.
"He'll see your hair," he tried his eighteenth and thus far weakest argument. Fox smirked over her shoulder at him and led him to a shadowed table in a corner with a fair veiw of the dancers.
"It's netted up, it's dark in here and she made him take off his glasses," David let himself be pushed into a seat and scowled at the candle.
"How did you even know that store was there?"
"A theme club this close to the shopping district?" Fox raised an eyebrow. "There had to have been at least one vintage clothing vender. That's how capitalism works," her expression softened and the redhead rested a hand on her husband's arm. "How about when they get tired and sit we go out there and have some fun?" The horror that suggestion struck in him must have shown on his face. "It's alright, David. This isn't like learning to waltz, it's fun."
David would have argued but their targets chose that moment to walk over. Tugging down his hat to shade his face David tried to look inconspicuous. Judging by how Fox laughed at him it didn't work but the pair, thankfully, only settled a few tables away and paid them no mind.
David did have to give Fox's plan some credit. At least they could hear what the two were saying now.
"Oh it's been a long time since I've had that kind of a laugh!" Vivian slumped in her chair and heaved a breath dramatically. Owen leaned his elbows on the table but otherwise didn't seem overly exhausted by the activity. "Even Myrddin was never so much fun."
"I'm a better dancer than the old goat," Owen said wryly. "Now that is a compliment," Vivian stuck her tongue out at him before sitting up right in her seat.
"A Lindy Hop now. Do you remember? We were so good at it."
"No," Owen shook his head. To that, his blonde companion rolled her eyes.
"You keep saying that word," she leaned across the table to put a finger to Owen's mouth. He didn't push it away like David would have thought. Even Fox's eyes widdened at the sight. "I'm starting to think it means something different here in New York."
"It's been a long time, Vivian," Owen straighted up and Vivian let her hand fall.
"Don't tell me you've forgotten how?" there was something sly and teasing in her look. "Very well. Maybe one of those nice young men will know," Vivian nodded to a group of men standing by the bar, dressed like mobsters from the old movies. "If nothing else they'll still be spry and energetic."
She stood from the table and turned to walk to the bar. She didn't get more than a step before Owen's hand caught her wrist. David knew from experience that the pale blond's grip could be likened to a vise but Vivian only raised an eyebrow as Owen stood.
Bowing his head, Owen put his mouth near the smaller woman's ear and said something too low for David to catch. Whatever it was must have been less of a threat and more of a grudging agreement because the two returned to the dance floor together.
"Look," Fox watched the pair with a vaguely dreamy smile. "They're working well together. I'd say they've done this dance before."
"Eh," David slumped down in his seat. They were doing well together. It was clear from less than fluid movements that some adjustments had to be made for Owen's stone hand but for the most part they looked comfortable. They looked like they were having fun. David hated it.
"Alright," the dark haired man said after a moment. Fox gave him a curious look. "You're right."
"Of course I am, I'm your wife," Fox hmphed impressively . "What am I right about this time?"
"I am jealous."
"Go on," Vivian taunted as the pair strode arm in arm along a path in central park. "Tell me you didn't have a good time."
"Very well," Owen nudged his glasses up with his pointer finger. "I didn't have a good time."
At his side the blonde waif of a woman shrieked, apparently with indignation, and lightly punched him.
"Now honestly, tell me you didn't enjoy my company tonight," Vivian stopped, blocking Owen's way. "Go on," she made him meet her eyes. "Say it."
Owen sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed again. Vivian's face broke out into a large grin.
"Gloating has never become you Vivian," Owen said stiffly. The woman in front of him shrugged.
"Many things don't become me," she said mildly, standing on her toes. "And that's never stopped me doing them."
She was still to low for what she intended and Owen was acting the part of gentleman tonight, so he bowed his head enough to let her press her lips to the corner of his mouth.
"Thank you," she whispered, not quite pulling back. "Good night, dear Robin, good night with lullaby."
"Always hated that song," Owen muttered back. The somber mood disappeared nearly as soon as it had arrived. Laughing, Vivian lightly hit him again. "Say hello to the others for me."
"I'll try to remember," Vivian danced back away from him. "But you know how absent minded I can be," she smiled playfully and Owen grunted mildly at her. "Fine, I'll tell them."
"Good night Vivian," Owen nodded to her and waited for her to disappear down the path before sighing. "Sir, please do come out from behind that bush. Sneaking about is hardly the behavior one expects from head of the Xanatos family."
David stood slowly, almost guiltily, though his face remained passive. Owen sighed again.
"It's not particularly becoming for the Xanatos matriarch either," he said pointedly, turning to face the bush as Fox slowly rose as well. She, at least, smiled sheepishly at him.
"It was David's idea," the redhead said just as her husband had opened his mouth to try and talk them out of the situation. David gave her an affronted look which she pointedly tucked his hands into his pockets and joined them.
"Of that," the blond said mildly. "I have no doubt," he gave his employer a long, silent look. David lifted his chin and adopted his usual apologize-for-nothing atitude. "You could have simply asked, Sir."
"Probably," David agreed. "But I didn't want to seem as though I were prying."
"So following Vivian and I around the city with a pair of binoculars seemed like a perfectly reasonable alternative," Owen raised his eyebrows at that.
"How long have you known?" Fox asked when it became apparent that Owen and David were going to stand there, staring at each other all night until one of them backed down (which neither would).
"The cafe," Owen redirected his gaze to the redhead. "You weren't particularly subtle with all the flailing about the two of you were doing."
"Ah," Fox nodded to her husband. "You could have just talked to your friend like an adult."
"Not near as much fun," Xanatos raised his chin and started walking. "Why didn't you take Vivian to her hotel?"
"I imagine she's headed home tonight."
"Oh," David dropped his arm over Fox's shoulder, with Owen on his other side and for the first time all day, managed to relax. "Well, we'll miss her."
Fox elbowed him in the ribs.
"No you won't."
A/N: Yes! Coffe Intern Girl has been promoted to a recurring character! On a more important note, Vivian's name is linguistics joke. All you need to know is that yes, she is The Lady of the Lake and I based her personality mostly on Nimue from Peter David's Knight series (if you're into Arthurian fiction and need a good laugh read the first and third books). She is not necessarily the her I refer to (because I'm indecisive and Banshee makes just as good a canidate in my mind).
EDIT: Challenge Closed. That was fast...
Challenge! (yes a return of the challenges): "Ace/Axis Chemicals" is another fictional company and 1989 is something of an important date in that universe. What show and why?
Offerings are the same: a one-shot with the pairing of your choice from Gargoyles, The Mighty Ducks, Darkwing Duck, Invader Zim Batman, or Stargate