Destination Trust

Young Bungalow
The three-bedroom, two and a half-bath bungalow is classily decorated, in general of earthen and comfortably warm, Western tones with hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings. It's rather spacious as well. The front yard is prim and proper with a stone pathway that walks up to the front entrance. From the entrance, the bungalow spills out into a brief foyer and closets and then into a great room which houses both carpeted general living and dining room, as well as a small kitchen and its island. While large windows bring in ample light, ceiling fans circulate air around the six-seated dining table as well as over the brown leather living room set and entertainment system. A black and white Stratocaster and its necessary equipment sit in the corner. Of note, a fireplace is to the far wall.

Two hallways span oppositely off of the great room. To the east is a lengthened one, leading to the half bath and then further down the walkway are the master bedroom, utility room, and entrance to the two-car garage. The master bedroom retains a walk-in closet and nicely-sized bathroom suite. The westerly hallway is shorter and leads to the second and third bedrooms as well as the joined bathroom between them. The second bedroom has been converted into a home gym and office.

Overall, the owner of this house keeps things cleaned, from front to backyard, even driveway.

James finishes fastening his belt around the waistline of his pants and looks around for where his gun and badge are, clearing his throat all the while. "So, uh," he breathes it out and trails off into a lapsing silence while he bends over to check around the right side of the parked Camaro. He finds the rest of his things there and picks up his shoes, jacket, and the aforementioned equipment in order to look towards his partner-in-crime. Here's to an eventful night, he supposes; at least the garage flooring is cool and dry, it feels good against his bare feet.

As is becoming almost habit, Tasha has totally stolen his shirt, having found it first and figuring it's considerably less fussy to put on than her own fitted blouse and vest. Plus she has kind of noticed the reaction she gets when she steals his shirts. Leaning back against the hood of the car, she finishes doing up the buttons, and then flips her hair over the collar before beginning to roll up the sleeves a few times. "So," she replies, as though in agreement, as she pushes a hand back through her hair and rises to stand properly again, bending over to retrieve her own clothing from the other side of the car, shaking the vest out a few times since the garage floor is not the place for expensive clothing. "Your friend seems prone to getting herself into trouble."

"Yeah, well," James needs a good counter and the only thing his wit currently comes up with is pointing out his lack of a shirt, "You're wearing my clothes again - anyway, she'll be fine. It at least gives Orion a very good alibi to rule him not being the one we're after." He glances upwards at the ceiling and then looks over to her before slowly making his way for the door, so the two of them can actually enter the house. He does watch her all throughout though, because she's addicting and wearing his shirt.

"Oh, is this yours? That does explain some things," Tasha replies with feigned innocence as she carefully drapes her own clothing over an arm and moves to follow him, picking up her shoes as she happens past them. "But yes. I suppose that is a good thing, even if it puts us back at a square resembling one." With him moving slowly, she catches up relatively easily, to slip into the house alongside him. "There's been entirely too much excitement from our brethren for my liking. At this rate, we'll end up outed like some lowly vampires."

James takes to a moment of contemplation and since relapsing into quiet he lingers in that mode while waiting for Tasha to slip by in order for him to bring the garage's door closed. He checks the lock and then security system. Once that is done and over with, he gives a small gesture onwards just so he can toss his excess of things into the master bedroom in passing and cross the distance from one side of the main room to the other. "Ah, I've found the perfect line," he turns about in order to walk backwards, holding out his hands emphatically at his sides. "Please," he says in confident, mocking self-importance, "Step into my office, Doctor Cox." It's where he's headed, after all.

Tasha heads into the house, hanging her own clothes neatly off the back of a chair. No sense risking further ruin for them now that she's not in the heat of the moment. She watches him cross to the bedroom as she arranges her shoes at the base of the chair, set tidily side by side instead of tossed haphazardly. As he announces his perfect line, she straightens to give him an expectant look, breaking out into a smirk, as he invites her into the office in such a grand fashion. Stirring into action, she heads over to do just that. "Why thank you, Officer Young," she replies with a roll of her eyes, reaching out to swat him lightly on the way. It might just be an excuse to touch him though, since there's really no force to it.

James merely grins rather than try some fashion of retaliation for Tasha swatting at him. He gives a low and chilling, wolfish whistle to her before turning smoothly about in order to walk through the rest of the house and head for the second bedroom. He checks the lights in turning them on and then glances over his shoulder before gesturing to a rearward wall currently being used for their private investigation. He has copies of lab results of hair samples and then photographs of the various crime-scenes, reports, rumors, clues and tidbits, all posted on a large board set up against the wall. He moves to fold his arms over his chest and step aside, allowing Tasha to look things over. At that, he remains quiet for the time being.

The wolfish whistle only gets a suggestive grin from Tasha - he doesn't get swatted again as she follows him into the office. Her grin fades to a look of impressed amazement as she takes in his wall-o-crime display, and then with a serious and thoughtful frown, she steps forward to take a better look at the various clues. "Huh. Guess you really are ready to become a detective," she notes, a bit distractedly, as she's busy following the trail of clues for another moment. Finally, she leaves off at the end, stepping back to look over at him, eyebrows hitched up just a little.

"Thanks, I started with the bare minimum and then worked my way around everything." James is quite appreciative of her comment and he begins to step in order to join her at the wall. She asked him to help, after all, and so he has. He looks to her as he steps but once he's come to a stop he turns his attention to both the board and her, with his gaze wandering over one point of interest on the board to the next. "We have the initial crime scene at the Cornett House. It's a female shifter, that being based on scent and analysis of the tufts of hair we found, which also points to being this notorious black canine. Footprints have led nowhere and there weren't any human prints left at the scene of the crime. The mother's most likely a Bitten, the father died from his injuries." He eases up in order to scan to another corner of the board, lifting a hand to point things out as he goes.

"It looks great. Really," Tasha replies, affording a little more attention to his ego as she spares a quick sidelong glance to smile at him, even though the board continues to command most of her focus. Her gaze follows the clues as he explains them and points them out, and she nods occasionally in understanding. "I wonder if it would have finished them off if given the chance, or if it was aiming to create more," she muses as she traces her gaze back and forth over the wall a few times, trying to find some obvious link.

"I was thinking about that, when we were at Bunker's. I think they're after the family, specifically. Biting is just an ends to a means, something to inflict further trauma." James leans over and then takes a half-step to the side in order to point towards the picture of the currently-hospitalized Doris Herbig. It's been circled once and then trails lead down into a webbed effect of linking to Librarian Chloe Cornett and then the other Cornetts within the city limits. "The parents were attacked and now the children are, but the shifter's using associates and coworkers as well," James lifts his fingertips in order to trace to the center of the board where the hair samples are, having skipped over dead-ends such as Orion Donnelly.

"Which begs the question what business this family had with shifters before the attacks began," Tasha muses. "I don't believe I'd heard the name mentioned amongst the Pack prior to all this starting, but then, I was away for school for awhile." For too long, really, in her opinion, though she doesn't mention that part. "There must be some reason for this sudden interest." Her gaze continues to roam the board, looking for something that seems familiar or causes the other shoe to drop, but none of this is ringing any bells.

"I don't know, beyond this one. I haven't heard of anything when it comes to the Pack, but…" James trails off and digs his free hand into a back pocket of Tasha's jeans, as much as she likes touching him he can return the favor in full, and enjoy it the entire time. He sighs out a bit and leans his side against hers as he explores the board. "This werewolf was hit by a car, but I don't think it means anything." He shrugs, "Maybe they're slayers, tried to target a shifter outside of the Pack. The shifter wants revenge - sounds too novel for my tastes though."

"Well, no, you wouldn't," Tasha replies. Wouldn't unless he just gets with the program and joins the Pack already, is the unspoken part of that statement, though she makes it clear enough, even as she leans in against him, slinging an arm around his waist as she continues studying the board. "Neighbour's car. Seems unlikely it was their own doing." She's doubtful that they were competent enough to actually be slayers, really. "Could have been an accidental killing though. Someone in the family killing a shifter, I mean. Might not even know they'd done it. They may well have thought they ran over the neighbours cat." Silly shifters and their varied animal forms.

James gives Tasha a sidelong glance with a narrowed gaze but he passes things off to look back towards the board and listen to her. He's a good listener, at least. The werewolf draws his hand back in order to thoughtfully cover his mouth with a fist, looking from one detail to the next in trying to discover some concealed clue, some skeleton key to unlock this mystery. He ends up dropping his hand down to his side and pocketing it for the time being. He grins, "So bottom line… we're left with smeone hates the family enough to kill them. We could keep tabs on the kids, but I don't see that leading anywhere worthwhile."

"Unless…" Tasha trails off, needing a moment to fully form the idea since it only just sparked something vague at the moment. "Unless we somehow set a trap. We know who this shifter is targeting. We could try to keep tabs and hope that we're there at the right moment, or we could attempt to set up a situation this shifter would be unable to pass up." There's another pause, as she looks away from the board to give him a little shrug. "Though, admittedly, I'm not yet sure what that would be." Back in a thoughtful frown, she turns back to the board, trying to figure out more of a pattern to the attacks that would give a commonality.

James perks up at the sudden interjection and he quiets down in order to pay her more attention rather than on his thoughts or the board itself, though it does take him a bit to shift his eyes from it and down to her. As she begins, he looks back to the board with a slow and thoughtful nod. She's given a passing glance when she comes to a stop. "We would need someone to play the role of bait, and I'm not going to let them blindly walk into something that could get them killed," he makes a face, the conversation leaving a bad taste in his mouth. "Do we know how many black wolves are in the city? Would the Pack keep tabs on things like that?"

"Better the attack happen when we're expecting it and are prepared to offer protection than again when they're off going about their business," Tasha points out pragmatically, not having quite the same level of qualms as James does about using the Cornetts themselves as bait, if it comes down to it. "This shifter isn't stupid. If we use a decoy, it will have to be a good one." And even then, she has her doubts it would work. To his question, she gives a small shrug. "I'm sure there's some census. It's not my area, so I don't know exactly how it works. Do you think this will get easier with a process of elimination? Any wolf attacking people is probably not going to be signing our visitor's log."

"Let me just invest in silver bullets then," counters James sarcastly, nearly growling out the words and offhandedly clearing his throat before taking up a marker in order to connect a trail between information regarding the Pack and the mysterious attacker, his allies to his prey. He glances over to Tasha again, "If we use bait, I want to be prepared. We're supposed to be protecting people here." He pauses and then looks at the board. After a moment, he adds quietly, "I'm not expecting a guestbook signing. I'm expecting you all to be tracking anyone entering and exiting the city, legally and illegally. I expect to be able to gather -some- kind of information from the Pack itself about any and all of this."

Tasha gives him a brief sidelong look for the sarcasm, but she doesn't bother to deign with a response to that bit. Instead, she's quiet for a moment, watching him add a line to the board. There's still a long pause before she replies again, going back to her old techniques of controlling the conversation. "And the best way to protect the people is to get this menace once and for all. I'd sooner do that through a controlled risk than just wait and hope to somehow get lucky." She glances back over at him for a moment as he brings up the Pack, her gaze narrowing thoughtfully as she considers his statement. "If we knew who this was, we wouldn't have been forced to ask outsiders for help. I'll find out what I can from them. But frankly? As one of those outsiders, I don't think you should expect anything from us."

"All right then," he murmurs it quietly, distracted by the information he's gathered and sorted through. James sets the marker down as she speaks and he removes his other hand from her pants after looking over the board in full. He then takes a half-step back and goes to fold his arms over his chest with a slow shake of his head. "Then, quite frankly, don't expect any more of my help," he says it strongly, matter-of-factly, looking away from the board now and focusing on Tasha instead while tightening his arms. He leaves his words to just that and takes another step before turning over to begin heading for the exit of the office.

"I didn't expect you to help in the first place," Tasha begins, though whatever comment was going to follow that dies off as she realizes he's actually walking away from her - from this. She heaves a sigh, pushing a hand back though her hair as she hesitates a moment, looking between him and the board. "James, wait," she finally speaks up, a bit of pleading, a bit of annoyance in her tone - though the annoyance might be as much aimed as herself as at him. She's not quite sure how to follow that, so she just leaves it there, waiting to see first if he actually will wait or not.

James casts his gaze downwards in pausing his walking off before slowly turning around in order to face Tasha, glancing skywards now before leveling out and looking towards her. He unfurls his arms and waits. He could say a lot of things at the moment, but he retains being silent. He should probably walk out, if at least to just get something to drink and distract himself from her, the Pack, the investigation; yet, there he is, standing there in the middle of the room in a pair of pants. He waits.

And Tasha makes him wait a few moments more, though this time it's out of not out of trying to control the conversation, but rather actually not being sure quite what to say - a rarity, to be sure. "I didn't expect you to," she begins again, repeating that bit with a slightly different emphasis. "But I was - I am glad that you did agree. I don't think I can do this without your help." It's such a simple admission, and yet one that's hard for the fiercely stubborn and independent werewolf. Still, she doesn't bring herself to actually apologizing, perish the thought.

James pockets his left hand and lifts his right in order to rub over his jaw and mouth as he listens to her, watching her posture as she stands at the far end of the room. His jaw sets defensively and he starts to speak up but he holds himself at his quiet stance and waits until he's relaxed in order to drop the hand and bury it within its pocket as well. "You don't act it. I don't even think you can say sorry nowadays," but he's doing this out of spite, ending up too late to catch up with his tones. Thus, he quiets down for a passing beat before speaking back up: "I need your help, too."

Tasha drops her gaze, looking away as he calls her out on being unable to apologize. She neither denies it nor attempts to prove him wrong by actually apologizing either, and to gauge from her expression, it cuts a little too close to the truth for her liking. She doesn't move during his pause, just continues watching the far corner of the room. Only when he speaks up again does her gaze somewhat hesitantly return to him. "No, you don't. You've got this covered," she counters in a quieter voice, gesturing towards the board. She never thought of creating a murder board. He's better at this than her; not surprising, given their respective fields, but it still bugs her not to be the best.

James looks to the board when it's gestured to but it's just a passing moment of distraction with him focusing back on her. He debates saying something, anything, to help smooth things over but nothing perfect is coming to mind. So, he begins to walk in her direction rather than exit the room and at the approach he slowly begins to speak up. "I don't have it covered. I'm just doing my job, it's what I'm trained to do," explains the werewolf. "Without you, I wouldn't have any of that." He looks to the board himself and stops a short distance away. "We're supposed to be working together, but I can't help if you're holding back a lead that I need to look into, or- or…"

Tasha watches as he approaches for a moment, before dropping her gaze to the floor for a beat, and then glancing aside at the board. It's a change from her usual unflinching stare, though it's less about being submissive than just for once forgetting about the dominance game that she's always playing. She gives her head a little shake, denying that he wouldn't have any of it without her, though she doesn't speak up to vocally argue - still, the meaning is probably clear enough. Finally, she looks back over at him, jaw set as she considers his words. "Or what?" she asks in a carefully controlled tone.

James trails off into silence and he holds it for a lingering beat, just so he can control the conversation at hand and equally piece together his thoughts. He lifts his broad shoulders into a simplistic shrug and takes a half-step back in retreat rather than close the space in-between them. "Look, I don't give a damn about Pack politics right now. I'm -trying- to catch a -murderer- here; whose intentions within this city is currently unknown, but fuck any of that. I can't even get -you- of all people to fully help me, unconditionally," he gives it a pause, just for a breath. Yet, that authoritativeness and strength within his tones doesn't depart in the brief moment. He continues smoothly forward, "So to Hell with your expectations. If the Pack is more important than me, then leave. Otherwise, stay, and we can actually start working together."

"Don't make me choose between you," Tasha replies, her own tone starting to take on a stubborn, defensive edge, that grows as she speaks. "I never said I was holding anything back. You're angry that I don't trust you, when you clearly don't trust me either. I was never looking to make this about the politics. You started attacking the Pack by insinuating that we don't keep close enough tabs. That's my family. You might think you're above it, but I sure as hell don't." Her words start coming more quickly as she gets her back up. "Help or don't help, but don't expect me to work unconditionally when yours comes with all sorts of strings attached." She crosses her arms tightly over her chest, levelling him with a Look.

"I'll do whatever it god damn takes to protect each and every person out there," storms James in reply and he hefts a hand up to his side in order to point off into a wall, just to further gesture to Dallas in general. He holds his ground and that boiling aggression of his is smoothly tempered, but that doesn't stop him from retorting in turn, "Taking you here to all of this," the hand points beyond Tasha's body and towards the board itself, "Is trust enough for me, but as soon as I ask for help… the second I do, you tell me I'm not supposed to -expect- it from you? The Pack? I want to help. I -know- the Pack has information that I can use, but bloody Hell you make it out like I'm against you, like I'm pulling my fucking teeth out."

"That's great that this is enough for you," Tasha replies, rolling her eyes, and only setting her arms more tightly over her chest. She doesn't bother looking at the board when he points at it. "But that doesn't change the fact that you don't trust me. I told you I don't know that sort of information! I'm not not telling you because I'm trying to be difficult, but of course, that's your first assumption. I told you that I would try. But no, you shouldn't expect it from the Pack. You're not a member, which was your choice. Stop getting mad at me because you want to have it both ways!"

James places his hand back at his side and he steps aimlessly off from his previous stance, just so he can settle a foot's pacing away in the direction of a chair that he doesn't want to sit down in. "This is -not- about me, this is about you and always with the social standings and ranks and the fucking Pack. I was going to try and join - for you, for us," he's one step closer to growling his words out, but the control persists, "But no, fuck it, not while you think I can't trust you when I do. I. Trust. You!"

"Yeah, thinking I'm lying to you, that's really showing how much you trust me," Tasha replies, unable to just let that go, even as she flinches slightly at his words. "I never pushed you to join. I didn't judge you because you weren't a member. Hell, I even freely helped a shifter because you asked me to. But if I'm such a headache, if my need to fit into the social order is such an inconvenience to you, maybe I should just go." He doesn't have a patent on storming out, after all. Though her attempt is maybe a bit more dramatic.

"Bloody Hell, every time you bring up the Pack you put in a jab about joining, every single fucking time." James doesn't bother responding to anything else anymore, the arguing isn't getting them anywhere and he's tired of cursing. It's making his head pound harder and stronger than his heart. He just shakes his head to it all. "You should freely help because it's the right thing to do, at least sometimes, but if you -really- want to go… then go." The werewolf looks up and over towards her for a lingering moment and then angles it back towards the board, wanting to burn it now.

You brought it up!" Tasha all but explodes, losing that bit of composure she still had. "Don't bait me and then get mad when I rise to it, James, because I will rise to it." At least she knows herself well enough to know that much with deadly certainty. She cannot pass up a challenge. Which is why she's stopped storming out in order to make her points. "And now you're judging me?" she questions with rising ire and incredulity. "The right thing to do is to look after our own, not put them down. Don't you dare judge me."

"Are you staying here with me or not?" All of James standing there and listening to her culminates in his asking of that, and saying that much only. His hands are brought back up but it's only so that he can fold them in idle wait, now focusing his attention on her and solely her. He takes the time to relax his expression and even more so the tempered aggression flowing through his tones.

It knocks some of the wind out of her sails when he doesn't return the volley, just asks her that reasonable question, points out that she's hovering on the threshold of storming out or staying here. "I- I don't know!" she replies, still sounding rather annoyed, though that might just be because she feels a bit stupid now. She finally heaves a sigh and then slowly turns back to face him, though she doesn't quite look at him yet. "Are we done with this?" she finally answers his question with a question of her own, her tone quieter now.

James turns to his desk and reaches out with a hand to grab hold of the chair there, glancing briefly to the desktop's monitor and then passively wheeling the chair in Tasha's direction. If she doesn't know, then he doesn't believe she's leaving; better yet, he offers the chair and leaves it at that for the time being. "Sure, I'm sorry, too, but that still means you can't apologize and haven't answered my question."

Tasha takes the chair, wheeling it a little nearer, though she doesn't move to sit just yet. Instead, Tasha stands with her hand resting on the back of it, claiming it without using it at the moment. "Which question?" she asks in that same quieter tone, rather pointedly not addressing the matter of whether or not she can apologize. She assumes her answer to the 'stay or go' question has already been divined, and so figures he must mean a different one.

With the chair offered and taken, James moves to lean back against the desk itself and return to folding his arms before his torso, resting them casually near to his waistline as he watches her. "I'd like to hear you say it," replies James in turn with a brief shrug. He lingers on that ending comment before leaning to the side and further adding, "You really can't apologize to me, can you?" After all, if he did it, then it cannot be all that impossible to do.

"What is this? Another condition? I can stay, but only if I apologize?" Tasha replies, giving him a hard look in return. She lingers behind the chair, still not moving to sit in it, too on edge to actually settle at the moment. Her hand leaves the chair's back so that she can cross her arms over her chest, tightening them almost defensively, as if the mere idea of apologizing is making her tense. "Was that the question?" she adds, after a beat.

James presses his tongue against the side of his mouth in an awkwardly thoughtful pose, debating for a lingering moment. He doesn't readily respond. He stands there with a small lean for a moment and then stiffly nods while coming to rise back into the fullness of his height. He looks to her and then shifts his gaze just to the side in further consideration. There's a moment of standing there. He gives up, near-completely. It leads him into shaking his head out of mingling frustration and disappointment, all the while he steps away from her and silently heads for the exit of the room.

Tasha drops her gaze down to the space between them, her expression set into a troubled and conflicted frown as he debates. When he rises, she looks back up at him with some anxiousness, watching him for a moment as he continues to ponder this fate. When he finally just steps away to leave, her gaze drops back to the floor and she just stands there in silence for a long moment - long enough to at least let him reach the door, before she heaves a defeated sigh. "I'm sorry, all right?" Her tone is quiet, barely above a whisper, sullen and sulky, but not said defiantly either. That said, she turns away, arms crossing more tightly to head further into the room, away from the door and where she at least hopes he's still standing.

James stops near to the door as he hears Tasha and with his halting he looks into the quiet hallway beyond before casting his gaze downwards, thoughtful for a lingering moment. The moment then passes along and he holds a hand out for the door in opening it further, and then he lets go. The hand comes up to rub over his mouth while he turns around. He stands there with his hands on his hips while looking to her. Slowly, he paces across the room in her direction rather than depart from the area and make some attempt at ignoring things. After all, she is addicting.

Tasha remains silent as James lingers at the doorway, her own gaze directed safely and fixedly into the corner rather than at him. Which leaves her only her sense of hearing to rely on to let her know when he finally makes his decision to venture into the room instead of out of it. Heaving another sigh, she turns part way, but still not enough to come around and fully face him. "I just - Sometimes it gets out of control and I can't stop it. I don't know why," she goes on, voice still quiet, the words coming more quickly. She makes a pained expression, aware she's breaking the second cardinal rule: never apologize and never explain.

James opens his mouth to speak up in reply but nothing save for air drains from the depths of him so he leaves himself at being quiet for a bit longer. He purses his lips back together and comes to wrap his arms around her waist, giving a shake of his head. Even if she doesn't want him touching her, he still speaks up. "Saying sorry doesn't make you weaker. I don't care about the explanation right now, just so long as you can say it to me," he goes to speak further but then leaves it at that. He's liable to ruin the moment somehow the way his luck is going.

"Yes it does," Tasha replies with more volume. Part of her wants to pull away as he wraps his arms around her waist, but she doesn't: he isn't the only one to find the other addicting. "Now you'll expect me to say it every time I make a mistake. And it's irrelevant. You're either right or you're wrong. Apologies don't change that." It's hard to tell whether she's trying to convince him or herself of all of this now. She drops into silence with a frustrated sigh.

James holds her long enough for him to be satisfied that it can be labeled a hug and all the while he listens to her with his eyes closed and his mind swimming along as he listens. She stops talking though and he opens his eyes to look down to her. "Seriously," questioningly, he states it. Still, he doesn't bother speaking up any further and instead slips away, so much that he gives himself enough room to actually walk out of the room this time around. "I'm not going to try anymore. I'm going to go take a shower." He has little intention on stopping this time around. He doesn't even look over his shoulder to verify she hears him.

"I didn't mean-" Tasha begins quickly, but she cuts herself off with a grimace, turning away to face the wall again. This talking thing is clearly not working for her. Every time she tries to explain, she just ends up making it worse, it seems. So instead she decides to just let him go, taking out her frustration by levelling a punch at the wall.

James pauses at hearing the punch and he does look over his shoulder now. He presses his teeth together in idly grinding them and then looks aside for something to throw at Tasha. He finds another dry erase marker for the board and its many types of post-it, various notes, pictures, and taped paperwork. Instead of marking the board, he lobs it in order to hit her side, though it arches lower and he only briefly lingers to note the lowering trajectory. "Don't punch the house. If anything, punch me." He then steps out of the room and into the hallway.

Tasha looks over as the marker hits her thigh, her expression downright surprised that he'd throw something at her, even if it was only a marker. She might have taken him up on his offer if he'd stuck around, to judge by the same marker that comes flying out into the hallway after him, a few moments later, though likely far too late and with more force than aim behind it.

James doesn't come back to replace where the marker had been thrown or anything; instead, he continues moving along through the house. He does return though and it's only with a chilled beer bottle in hand and the marker in the other. He sets the marker back down where it had been originally taken from and then he moves the beer onto the desk before turning to close the door and lock it. With pressing his back to it, he waits for her to begin speaking up.

And again he manages to surprise Tasha when he returns. She'd clearly thought that was the end of things, and had been in the middle of deciding whether to stay or just slip out while the slipping was good. In her surprise, she turns to face him, watching with some confusion as he so purposefully goes about setting down the beer and the marker, and then the locked and barricaded door gets her eyes to open up a little wider, her eyebrows to hitch up. "I-" she begins, not quite sure how to follow that, so she finishes with a rather lame: "… thought you were going to shower."

"I thought so too," and James leaves it at that, allowing Tasha to control the conversation the way she wants to. He moves far enough to bury his hands into the front pockets of his slacks while folding his legs over themselves at his ankles, resting most of his weight on his right foot for the time being. His gaze holds in her direction, intently watching her. Here's to him being understanding even while his ire has been lifted to generally visible levels.

Tasha mirrors his pose, leaning back against the far wall, not having left that corner since she first retreated there. But while he's now stoically understanding, she's feeling considerably more agitated, and can't remain leaning there for more than a moment, before she pushes away to stand up straight again. "I- I don't know what you want me to say here," she finally speaks, after several long moments, her voice a little rough so that she clears her throat. "I'm clearly not very good at expressing myself." Ergo, it would be best they just not try conversing right now.

James holds the pose and he holds it well, bared muscles and all. He glances aside in the direction of the board and then other, less interesting, points of interest around the room but when she begins to speak up his gaze nigh-immediately is drawn back to hers. He swallows once and then adjusts his arms a bit, almost as if to shrug. "You should just try saying whatever's on your mind," since he figures it's the opposite of empty at the moment. Then, he does actually shrug his shoulders. "It's what I do."

"Yeah, but every time I do that, you just get angry with me again," Tasha notes wryly, muttering under her breath as she finally stalks over to the desk to claim the beer, as much to have a goal for her movements as because some alcohol might help this whole thing go by a little easier. So she picks up the bottle and takes a long swig, before she turns on her heel to head back to her corner of safety. "Why can't we just accept that I'm not the sort of woman who's good at talking, and leave it at that?" she suggests, already knowing it's in vain.

"And yet, here I am, still standing before you trying to talk things through," counters James with his hands coming out of his pockets long enough for him to gesture to the area before him. As he tucks them back out of sight he shifts his shoulder blades along the frame of the locked door while watching after her. He gives a shake of his head to her question and smiles. He hasn't done that for at least an hour or two in her presence, however much of time has passed. Briefly, he muses it's been longer. He replies in turn though, "Because if I accept that, it makes you weak. Since you have a love for being strong… well, I'm sure you know the rest."

Tasha scowls as he turns her own argument back against her, but she tries to bite back the initial angry response, instead buying a moment of time to think by taking another swig of her drink. "What do you want from me here? I've already tried to apologize, and it went terribly. Do you want me to just keep apologizing until there's nothing left?" She throws her free hand up in frustration, stalking forward again, towards the desk, coming to stand behind it like a shield. "What's so wrong with wanting to be strong? Or for thinking that we're the best? For being proud of the Pack? You don't even try to understand what they mean to me." It all comes out in a rush, less accusatory and more like she's trying to explain what has her so frustrated here.

"I think I just want you to be happy." In being relatively simplistic with an initial response, James wistfully looks on for a passing moment as he thinks things over with an echo of his words within the back of his mind. He bites his tongue on speaking up any further and instead bows his head with an owlish blink, focusing elsewhere and turning to the flooring. "My old alpha thought he was the best of the best, the cream of the crop and the entire pack was his chosen few out of the entire world. I stopped him from killing some park ranger who had stumbled on the pack during the full moon." James starts to trail off with his right hand coming up to rub over that side of his face. "I've kept away from packs ever since. I think my deciding to live here and follow the rules, speak with members, try to join, try to talk to you, is good enough to prove me trying to understand what they mean to you."

"Oh," Tasha replies, the wind again knocked from her sails, and she finds herself unable to think of how to respond to that. She's silent for a long moment, though this time it's not about controlling the conversation, but trying to think through her words so that she doesn't put her foot in her mouth. Again. "I … didn't know that. Thank you for telling me," she replies, a bit stiltedly for trying to choose her words so carefully. Then, a little less stiltedly: "But we're not like that. I'm not like that. I can know that we're superior without being homicidal." At least she doesn't really think he thinks that of her, or her response would surely be a lot more upset. "The Pack is- It's part of who I am. I don't know how to define myself without them. When I was away in New York… it did not go well," she understates, making at least some effort to explain why the Pack means what it does.

James has since lowered his hand by the time she thanks him for telling of things and he nods in return to the thanks, briefly smiling. He adjusts his posture slightly so that he can stand back with his leaning more comfortably and the smile begins to creep along his features; though, when he speaks up, it's only vague blueprints left remaining. "It's the same with the Youngs for me," he replies quietly. He can understand things when he wants to be, and he nods as well. "I like who you are, by the way, but you're going to have to tell me about this living in New York," eventually, at least.

Tasha still isn't quite at the smiling point, though at least she seems a tiny bit less defensive and tense, not quite so ready to bolt at the first sign of anything. She takes another swig of her beer before rounding the desk, coming now to stand on the nearer side of it, though she doesn't close the distance further than that just yet. "I like who I am too. But… it doesn't always feel like you do," she admits. "New York was- It's in the past. I was there for school, and now it's over and I'm back here. It's much better for me this way," she goes on, keeping her tone so carefully matter-of-fact.

"I… don't know, maybe it's because every time I tell you something, you go to tell me something similar but it ends up being nothing much at all. I so far know that you went to New York for school and being away from the Pack was a bad idea," James starts to explain about his frustration and disappointment in her while standing up more fully. He begins to head for her now that she's not so closed off and defensively posing at the far end of the room. He speaks along the way, "Still, I like you. I know New York's in the past, but I want to know what's shaped the woman standing before me." The half-dressed werewolf leans a hip to the desk with his arms folded over his abdomen, looking on questioningly towards her: "Okay?"

"But why?" is Tasha's initial response, before even she is able to tell that she's being difficult, and she heaves a sigh, bringing a hand up to rub at her forehead in frustration. "There just … isn't much else to tell. I was accepted there for medical school, and so I went. I thought I would be fine, but apparently I couldn't handle being away. I hate the city, I didn't know anyone, I- It was just bad, all right?" Her frustration starts showing through again, though she tries to temper it, looking at him for a moment, before casting her gaze back down at the floor. "I still don't see how it matters. Now you know I couldn't make it on my own in New York, something thousands of seventeen year old undergraduates manage to do. Great."

James lifts his brows at her initial question and he stiffens up reflexively, briefly debating his options on figuring out how quickly he could unlock the door and leave Tasha alone for the night or just lingering around. He ends up just lingering around anyway and as she speaks he listens. "Like it or not, though I'm thinking we like it, we're together, so… we're going to have to work on our bedside manners," he decidedly doesn't exclude himself from all of this. He holds out his hands for her to take. "That also means I'm going to try stop being a lone wolf, not that I'm going to succeed any time soon, I don't know, but… I'd like to stop our being secretive."

Tasha considers that for a moment, before heaving yet another sigh - this time a thoughtful one instead of a frustrated one. Slowly, she sets down her beer on the desk, so that she can take his offered hands, one of hers colder than the other from holding onto the drink for so long. "I do like it," she responds initially, figuring it can't hurt to make that clear - plus it's perhaps the easiest of the things she's admitted to tonight. "It's just … not easy for me. I've never been good at this sort of thing." And she hates not being good at things, after all. Still, giving his hands a little squeeze, she takes a half-step in closer to him. "I'll try."

"You're not the only one," with regards to the difficulty of things, but then again that's probably why they argue every other day in the first place; still, James enjoys her far too much to cut their relationship apart and with her taking his hands he wraps his fingers around hers in return, nodding slowly. He looks over his shoulder to the locked door and then down at the carpet before glancing aside to the furniture around. He ends up focusing back on her with a small, whispered question. "We're about to have make-up sex, aren't we?"

"That's fair," Tasha responds, after considering his point that they both have problems with this whole opening up thing. "So we both try. And we get it wrong. And we try again." Now she finally manages a faint smile with that, however wry. She watches him as he glances around the room, considering him thoughtfully. At his whispered question, she can't help a quiet little laugh. "They say it's the best sort. Though I like to think we've already set the bar pretty high…" she replies, with a suggestive arch of her brow.

James whistles lowly under an exhale as he looks aside once again and upon trailing off into silence he averts his gaze back to hers, lifting his shoulders into an eased shrug. He releases her hands only long enough for him to unlock the door and bringing it back in order to reveal the hallway. "I think we're ready for that shower now," he comments offhandedly as if it weren't such a big deal, but then the focus returns to his voice. "Here's to breaking our world record, or at least finding a good use for the bar."

Tasha follows his lead towards the door, allowing their joined hands to guide her as she's now gone back to staring fixedly at him as he unlocks the room. With her newly-freed hand, she reaches out to lightly trail her fingertips over his bare chest. "You're just trying to get your shirt back," she teases him in a mischievous tone.

In a moment of second-thoughts, James reaches out in order to turn the light off and then leaves things at that, soon gauging how far away they are from the luxuriant atmosphere of the master bathroom. He doesn't mind all too much. The guests' bathroom is close enough for his taste and with the challenge posed by Tasha he tightens his grip on her hand and pivots on his forward foot in order to turn about and face her even more so, promptly so. He looks to her pointedly and then down to the shirt in question. With two hands he rather easily reaches forward to force buttons apart and allow them to scatter around the two of them. "Or get to what's beneath," counters the werewolf.

Tasha finds herself brought in even closer when he comes to that sudden stop and pivot, her own forward momentum not stopping quite so quickly. She makes no attempt to stop his wanton destruction of his own shirt, and to gauge by her smirk, that might have been the desired end result anyway. With nothing left holding the shirt closed, she presses in closer, reaching up to slide her arms around his shoulders, pressing up onto tiptoes in an attempt to close some of the height difference. "Or that," she allows with a tilt of her head.

James doesn't retreat from his position and instead he moves closer to Tasha with his hands coming back up to pull her close by the waistline. His hands finding familiar ground and his gaze holding to hers he leans forward to further close in the height difference between them and he smirks into the incoming lip-lock, inclining his head to the side opposite hers. Anything he could say would ruin the moment, or spoil it, so he contents himself with the lightened taste of her, the softness in spite of how strong she is. With it savored, he begins to backtrack towards the nearby bathroom with her in tow.

Tasha finds herself quite pliable in his hands. She allows herself to be pulled in close, the extra support making it easier to stay balanced on tiptoe, even as her focus is diverted primarily towards that kiss. She follows his lead towards the bathroom, aiming a playful little nip to his bottom lip in the process - not enough to break the skin, but just enough to raise the stakes. It would seem someone is in a particular mood.

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