Who: Theodore & Kit What: Meetings! Invitations! When: Recently! Where: Outside the Wynn, then the Wynn Warnings: None!
After going through the door to Winterfell, Ned had done a few things that Theodore did not exactly approve of. The first of which was informing Kit that he’d been the one to call the paramedics after his injury over four months ago. Of course, he’d been keeping tabs on the young man, ensuring subtly that he got the best treatment and then checking on the insurance claims. Over the years, Theodore had amassed a rather impressive contact list. Not only did he know the who’s who of gambling and the social elite, but also a fair number of people who had even larger social networks that owed him favors. Theo had called in a few favors for Kit, but he hadn’t seen the boy since he was packed into the ambulance.
It was mid afternoon when Theodore decided to go for a walk. He just needed to get out of the hotel and try to organize his life because things were getting crazy. It seemed that almost overnight he’d attained a number of people to keep track of in addition to his niece and that meant a number of background checks that needed to be run. He just needed a break, and that was why he was currently walking down the strip. He caught sight of the crowd parting slightly and Theodore had to stop abruptly and do a double take. He recognized the young man as Kit, but Ned thought he looked like Bran might, only older.
This was the worst time of day for Kit. Mid-afternoon. With the sun out, no less. He glared up at the thing as it hung stupidly in the sky. (That was a bad idea. The boy blinked a moment, forced to pause in the middle of the sidewalk.) People, en masse, milled about him. He was growing used to - as much as one can - the sideways glances and pitying shakes of the head that accompanied him on every outing. Kit just kept his eyes forward and pushed through the torsos and legs that surrounded him.
It had been an interesting week, Kit mused. Honestly, he wasn’t really sure what to think about anything, let alone the sudden introduction of a voice, literally, in his head. After the whole... incident... with Theo and Ned, the boy’s head was swimming. As it had only four months past, Kit was finding his world tipping ass-over-teakettle. He was not pleased about it.
Kit’s thoughts came to a jarring halt as he was forced to quickly grab at the wheels of his chair to force a stop. A man was standing in front of him. Staring. The man was well-dressed, and didn’t seem the type to openly gape at someone in a wheelchair, but Kit had seen stranger things. “Um, excuse me,” he said, looking for a way around.
Theodore recalled his manners as soon as Kit stopped in front of him. “Pardon me,” he said immediately. “I didn’t mean to be rude. I just didn’t expect to see you so soon,” Theodore explained, but he realized afterwards that he probably wasn’t making much sense to Kit. The crowd continued to flow around them, more than a little annoyed at the disturbance but as soon as they caught sight of the wheelchair. He didn’t like it, but this wasn’t the time or the place for this.
“We haven’t met, but my name is Theodore Winters. We corresponded on the journals,” he explained. Theo held out his hand along with his introduction, hoping that the young man wouldn’t rebuke him in the middle of the street. This would be a very delicate situation and Ned’s insistence that the young man was Bran wasn’t making things any easier.
The voice in Kit’s head went off when the man introduced himself as Theodore Winters. (He didn’t dare give the voice its name yet. That would make this much too real.) It was now Kit who was staring in astonishment. This dapper man, with the close cropped blond hair and the blue eyes, this was the man to whom he owed his life. And the man who housed one Eddard Stark. Curiously, Kit gave Theo Winter’s eyes a searching look, as if trying to catch a glimpse of voice in his head.
“Oh,” was all Kit managed to say for a minute. What the situation must have looked like to passers-by, he didn’t know, but he could guess that it most likely appeared quite strange. A businessman holding his hand out to a gaping kid in a wheelchair. Had he not felt so shocked - and had the voice not been shouting - he might have laughed at the idea. As it was, he leaned forward to grasp Theo’s hand. “Kit Volkov-Artiza.”
There was another long pause as Kit worked up the courage to finally say: “Thank you, by the way.”
Theo didn’t blink as Kit seemed to be searching for something. Pity wouldn’t be found in his gaze, only the honest desire to get to know the young man in front of him. He was impressed with Kit’s attitude, observing silently that he’d come a long way from the weeping, angry boy he first was after the accident. His handshake was strong as he greeted Kit appropriately. “It’s nice to properly meet you, Kit,” Theodore added with a warm smile. He had always been described as friendly, but it seemed more sincere in that moment.
“You’re very welcome,” he replied. “I’m very sorry that Ned dropped that on you so thoughtlessly. He was a bit more in control than I had anticipated,” Theo apologized. He hadn’t even been entirely sure that he wanted to tell Kit about his involvement, but that decision had been made for him. A quick glance at his watch reminded him of the time and he offered Kit a questioning look. “Do you have any plans? I need to be getting back to the Wynn, but would you like to have lunch with me?”
Little did Theo know that, inwardly, most of Kit was still the weepy, angry boy he knew from the accident. He put on a brave face, yes, as was expected of him, and he felt too bad to force his mopey moods on others - especially others, like Theo Winters, whom he didn’t know well. So, he smiled in return, noting the sincerity in the older man’s voice and demeanor.
If anything, since the accident, Kit had gotten better at reading people. It would be hard not to, he thought. It was easy to spot the unease he caused. Or the pity. Or neither - like now. Which was interesting. Theo had been surprised to see him, obviously, but once that shock wore off, he seemed absolutely comfortable and friendly. Not a common reaction, to say the least. As Theo apologized, Kit shook his head. It had been ...strange to hear about, yes, but. Well. There wasn’t much to be done for it.
“It’s okay,” he said somewhat ineffectually, giving a weak shrug. The voice was rather ruining the boy’s ability to form an opinion on the matter. At the mention of Ned’s name, it went into a frenzy. It was threatening him and entreating him in kind.
When Theo’s eyes went to his watch, Kit’s followed. He gave a tight smile, expecting to be blown off - busy business to attend to and all that, he figured. But he, again, his assumption proved wrong. “Oh, I...” - What had he been doing? All these unexpected happenings were throwing him for a loop. He gave another shrug. “Sure.”
Theo had no experience with major injuries like Kit’s, but he tried to think about how he’d want people to treat him if the roles had been reversed and tried to act accordingly. Kit was just a kid and, as far as Theo’s surveillance went, his family wasn’t involved in the recovery process. Maybe it was Ned, or maybe Theo was just getting swept up in keeping track of people he felt responsible for, but that was neither here nor there at the moment. The important thing was building a relationship with Kit as opposed to simply watching him from afar.
He wasn’t all that sure that Kit really was okay with how he found out about Theo’s involvement in his accident. He certainly wouldn’t have wanted to find out that way, especially from Ned. The man scoffed at Theo, which was pointedly ignored. They’d simply have to agree to disagree on that one. “Wonderful!” Theo grinned widely, genuinely pleased that Kit accepted the invitation. He turned and stood next to Kit, letting him dictate the pace into the Wynn, which was just ahead. “How have things been?” he asked, keeping his tone light. Obviously, they’d been difficult, but he was hoping that Kit had a silver lining or two.
Blinking, Kit watched with a puzzled smile as the man moved to his side. He looked to the building that loomed ahead, huge and shining. He wondered if it had any ramps, but - trusting Theo, he forged ahead. Yes, forged. That’s what it felt like. For some reason, there was a red blush creeping into the boy’s cheeks. He couldn’t say precisely why, but he sensed it had something to do with, a) thinking about ...what Theo had seen, in a way. Kit. Crushed underneath a car. The boy had done his best to keep what happened to him from reaching the ears of people he’d known before; b) he felt beholden to this man, who had, literally, saved him; c) even now, he felt strange ...having people watch him wheel about. It was just so obvious. And, sometimes, like when he didn’t know someone, but was talking to them, he didn’t really want to parade around.
Whatever. (Surprisingly, the voice in Kit’s head solemnly agreed with him on nearly every count, except the wheelchair part, but he could empathize.) Onward he went. “That’s always a tough question,” came Kit’s candid answer. He looked to the side, then back at Theo. He gave a sheepish smile and laugh, knowing he was about to give an unsatisfactory answer. “Fine.”
It seemed that Kit was a bit surprised that he stood next to him and walked along side him, but that would be how he treated anyone else. The entrance to the Wynn did have a wheelchair ramp and Theo found himself mentally cataloguing the hotel and casino for other accommodations or potential issues. There’d have to be some changes made if Kit were to come stay at the Wynn - and that thought surprised him. Since when was he handing out rooms to people? First Ezra, and now Kit? Plus, he’d intended on inviting Raegan and Nell as well, Nell particularly since she was Arya across the door.
Theo was distracted from his thoughts by Kit’s reply, and he couldn’t help but laugh. “I suppose I should have expected that,” he replied, still chuckling to himself. He gently guided Kit toward the ramp, which was off to the side, but not once did he touch the wheelchair. If Kit wanted help, he’d ask for it. “There’s a restaurant just off the entrance that’s got a pretty great lunch menu. Are you a vegetarian?” he asked, because that was the one thing that the restaurant wasn’t particularly the best for.
“I think of myself as a flexitarian,” said Kit with feigned solemnity, before smiling - and genuinely at that, unbidden. He grew quiet again as he worked up the ramp Theo had shown him. He was much stronger now than he had been at the beginning, but long ramps like this one weren’t easy. Once he got to the top and through the door (automatic, very nice), he paused to look about him. For the nth time that day, his jaw (almost) dropped.
The floor, so remarkably shiny and elaborately ornate, spread out before them for what seemed like miles. It reminded Kit of a shopping mall in its sheer size. He could see - what looked to be - islands of plants and columns standing further past the sign-in desks. Tourists and hotel guests milled about with cameras. It was all... he had never seen anything like it. (No one at the Wynn or Bellagio ordered Chinese delivery.) And this was where Theo worked? - Places as ostentatious as this had a tendency to make Kit feel supremely out of place, and not just because of his wheelchair, but because he was from a remote town in Alaska that was home to less than 200 people. “If I weren’t already sitting, I might faint at the sight of something like this,” he said lightly, looking around in slight wonder.
“Flexitarian?” he echoed, amusement clear in his voice. “I only ask because there’s a seafood place down the way with a wider vegetarian option,” Theo explained. “But I think you’ll enjoy this place.” The Country Club was one of his favorite places for lunch and he hoped that Kit would enjoy it. He’d forgotten about how impressive it seemed to be to those who weren’t accustomed to that. For someone like Kit, who’d been home-schooled in Alaska, Vegas must have been like a whole other world. “Well, are you wearing socks? I might knock those off,” he joked as he walked alongside Kit toward the restaurant.
The hostess saw him coming and immediately, there was a subtle flurry of activity. “Hi, Darlene. Would you mind getting a table for my friend and I?” he asked politely, a charming smile on his lips. He hardly needed to ask considering he ran the place, but it was polite and Theo had his manners.
“Of course, Mr. Winters. Right this way.” Darlene personally led them to a table that was a way from a good number of people. Without a word, the chair closest to the aisle was taken away and the table was just a touch higher than Theodore would’ve liked for Kit, but it would have to do for now. Darlene gave them both menus and Theo thanked her with a smile.
“So, your socks still on?” he asked with an easy grin.
Kit had simultaneous compulsions to both laugh and continue to stare in wonderment. He did a little of both, and likely looked somewhat a maniac, but, well, you can’t have it all. He gazed around at the restaurant Theo led them to - the one that had, admittedly, knocked his socks off. It was... the only word Kit could come up with to describe it was ‘sumptuous.’ The voice in his head expressed its lack of concern over his word choice and wondered when he’d get on to having a conversation with the man. By the gods, he wanted some information.
The waitstaff went into a frenzy, by the looks of it, as Theo politely asked for a table. Kit smiled as Darlene looked at him. Slowly, he moved along between the tables, looking left and right, as they were led to where they would be sitting.
“Hardly,” he laughed, when they were both finally settled in, menus in hand, shaking his head in part exasperation, part amusement. For all that he’d thought out on the street, Kit couldn’t deny that there was something about Theo that drew him like a magnet. - Not just the whole him housing Eddard Stark in his head thing, either.
There was a great deal of pleasure in being able to cause Kit to react that way. It was nice to see him smiling and laughing, and there was a bit of pride at being able to be the one to impress him. Maybe that was being a bit selfish, but Theodore quite liked the young man he’d called the ambulance for. It was important that Kit liked him as well. He was glad that Kit seemed comfortable in the restaurant and resolved not to ask. ‘Treat others the way you would want to be treated.’ That was the rule, wasn’t it?
Theo smiled and replied, “Good. I’d love to give you a tour of the rest of the hotel then, if you’d like.” He glanced through the menu, though there really was no need. He typically just asked the chef to make something special. “He makes some of the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Absolutely perfect,” he said conversationally. “What sort of food is your favorite?”
Looking the menu over intently, Kit attempted to shove the voice into a quieter corner of his mind. Surprisingly strenuous work, as it turns out. He scanned the appetizers section, only have reading the descriptions, despite his look of concentration. After a moment, when Theo next spoke, he decided to give up, and turned his eyes to the older man. A tour of the hotel? That would be a bit... laborious, but, Kit was nothing if not polite. He smiled and nodded. "That would be nice. Although, we may have to do it in sections. It's too big to see all in one day, I think."
It was truly huge. Maybe they could make the journey, stopping to rest in the rooms along the way. The thought amused Kit, and he continued to smile. At the mention of mashed potatoes, his eyebrows rose. Strangely enough, the food was one of his favorites. "Well, I'm a picky eater, I've been told, but, weirdly enough, I have a strong affinity for mashed potatoes."
Theo knew exactly how large his hotel was. He just...didn’t realize how strenuous that would be on Kit. Although, if Kit were staying at the Wynn, then he could take all the time he wanted to explore every last bit of the property. Now that Kit knew about Theo’s role in the accident, he felt that it would be a little less random to invite him to live at the Wynn. It would certainly save having to outsource keeping an eye on him.
“You know, if you stayed here, you could take as long as you wanted exploring the place,” Theo replied casually, as if he hadn’t just offered Kit a place to stay. “I’m glad I brought you here then, if mashed potatoes are your favorite. If you don’t like them, I’ll eat my own socks,” he replied, grinning. There was something about Kit that made him feel so much younger and more free and he loved it.
The table was a touch high, but even still, Kit had scooted himself close enough to - slightly uncomfortably - sit with his chin in his palm, elbow on the aforementioned tabletop. It was very likely not appropriate at a restaurant such as this, but, well, old habits were hard to break, and, honestly, Kit wasn't thinking about it. He was studying Theo, still clutching the forgotten menu in his left hand. He was attempting to process what he had just heard - it had sounded rather like a very casual invitation to live at the Wynn. Unable to help himself, Kit was smiling. He finally decided Theo must be joking.
At the sock joke (number three of the day, wasn't it?), Kit laughed. "I hope they're good then, for your sake." A pause. "About that whole staying here thing, well, I don't know how to say this, but the Motel 8 is more within my price range." Thinking on it, he couldn't be sure of what Theo meant. Whatever he did at the Wynn, surely he wanted to drum up more business. Right?
Theodore would never have dreamed of saying a word about the way Kit held himself. Perhaps, in that way, he’d give the boy a bit of leeway. After everything he’d been through, and considering that Theodore ran the place, Kit could sit at the table however he’d like. It wasn’t as if he was misbehaving. He watched Kit carefully, gauging his reaction to the invitation. The smile was promising, and it seemed his sock jokes were still fairly amusing. Another good sign. After the ridiculousness of yesterday, Kit was a breath of fresh air.
“Oh, they are,” he assured Kit, the last of their mashed potato talk for now. “I know it is but I think you’d be more comfortable here.” In fact, Theodore knew Kit would be more comfortable, and it wasn’t just because he knew exactly what sort of room Kit had at the Motel 8. “It’s something I’d like to do for you, for entirely selfish reasons, I’ll admit. I’d like to get to know you better, Kit.”
But why? Those were the first words on Kit's lips, but he bit his tongue for the moment. He blinked slowly. A waiter strolled by on his way to the kitchens, and for lack of anything better to do, Kit watched him go. He was smiling weakly to himself all the while. He couldn't wrap his head around what was happening these days. The voice immediately leapt at the offer. And why not? It wanted its father. That was understandable. But Theo didn't know who the voice was yet, so Kit couldn't fathom the man's motivation to 'get to know him better.' What reason did he have to continue to extend his already profuse generosity?
Finally, because he was curious, Kit asked: "But why would you want to do that?"
Kit wasn’t as sold as Theo thought, but he wasn’t outright refusing him. Honestly, since Kit didn’t know the extent to which he’d kept an eye on him, it was a valid question. How could he explain it without coming across as a crazy person? He certainly felt more and more like a crazy person every day. The waitress came over to take their orders, so Theo had a moment to collect his thoughts before he had to answer.
Once they were alone again, Theo began to reply. “Honestly, Kit, I’m not sure. You’re a good kid and something horrible happened to you. You shouldn’t be limited in any way because of it and if staying here will give you a better experience, then I’m all for it.” Again, he’d failed to mention that he would make some changes to a room for Kit so that it was more handicap friendly and even more, Kit likely didn’t know exactly what position Theodore held at the Wynn. This request wouldn’t get him into too much trouble, and it was certainly not anything he was worried about.
While he'd only met Theodore Winters an hour earlier (if you didn't count the recent journal introduction), there was something about him (what was in his head, maybe, and what was in Kit's) that felt very ...familiar and comfortable. He found the feelings hard to resist. After smiling and ordering, Kit slunk back in his chair, considering the offer and the man's words. He studied Theo's suit, noting how it just looked expensive. He found himself wondering again why the man, with his suits and fancy hotel, had any passing interest in him at all. Kit was anything but remarkable. Yes, something horrible happened to him, as Theo said, but, good kid or no, he wasn't anything to talk about.
Kit cocked his head, then smiled again. "How much for rent?" He asked with his eyebrows high.
Theo knew that Kit was currently paying $800 a month where he was staying now. The room he had in mind for the young man typically ran about that a day, but the benefit of running such a large hotel was that he could afford to pay for the room himself. “$400 a month,” Theo replied evenly. He felt connected to Kit and he wasn’t going to question it. He needed some calm in his life and Kit needed the help. With the money Kit would give him, if he agreed, Theo planned to put away in an account for the young man. That would be a nice surprise for him when the time came.
There was no hesitation in Theo's answer, causing Kit's eyebrows to arc even higher. He gave an incredulous laugh, before he paused long enough to realize that the other man was completely serious. He managed a helpless little shrug, trying to find words that expressed the feelings welling up in his chest at an alarming rate. He blinked a couple times, biting his lip. He didn't look Theo in the eye for a good, long moment as he thought on the proposition laid before him.
For whatever reason, it didn't strike Kit as excessively strange. Even though, had anyone else talked him into having lunch with them on the street, then offered him a place to live not an hour later, ...Kit would have politely declined and then backed away slowly. Again, it occurred to him that there was something undeniably different about Theo. Not to mention, $400 a month was hard to pass up. The kid had a lot of medical bills to pay. - He exhaled, raising his eyes to meet Theo's. The boy gave a smile. "Okay."