Sorin's Secret Santas (private)

Palmer drifted from instrument to instrument in the music room, touching things here and there but having no real idea of how to play anything beyond one half or the other of heart and soul on the piano. He was restless and, being entirely unselfconscious about such things, had no issue at all with showing it.

The others were on their way and for the time being, he and Claire seemed to come to a silent understanding that it was not yet safe to talk. And anxious as he was to learn more, he had to admit that Claire's somewhat perverse idea of throwing Sorin a surprise production as a cover was both clever and amusing. He was willing enough to ham it up, and chatted contentedly away as he roamed the room. Obviously he had been invited to this little conspiracy purely by force of personality, as he didn't know any musical instruments (though he flattered himself to think he could carry a tune), and so it would not be odd at all to listeners in if his role in this little scheme were unclear.

" I'd imagine we have so many talented people that we'd have no trouble filling whatever spots we need; in fact,"Â? he mock gasped "auditions may be necessary! We wouldn't want just anyone in on our little scheme, after all. Grey can certainly play the piano...the trick would be getting him to play in front of other people. Hopefully that man of his will take our side in the matter. I don't think it's a matter of confidence so much as stubbornness, though you never know with him. Of course, it hardly matters as we all know -you- will be the star of the show..."Â?

Claire 17 years ago
Claire found a stand and set up the pieces of loose music that she had brought out with her. Some thought had been given to the selection....just in case. If they did not manage to take care of this situation before Christmas then they might have to go through with the playing of the music as part of their ruse. She wondered, as she straighted the papers in front of her, just when exactly she started wanting all of this to be over with. 'It' did include her Sire being caught and held accountable for very serious crimes.

Sighing, She picked up her flute and watched Palmer pace and touch various things in the room. Waiting did not seem to be the Huntsman's forté, especially when it was others that were holding up progress.

Claire smiled and replied.

"Perhaps you could handle the auditions for us. I am sure you have a good ear for talent."Â?

She found the tidbit of knowledge about Thaddeus to be interesting. He did not like to play for other people? Claire understood, in a way; music was many times a private matter. Sometimes when she played Claire found herself lost in her own world with the sound and it was very disconcerting to have someone there when you came back to yourself. She disliked the experience and always felt somewhat exposed when it happened. It was, however, alright when she started out with the knowledge that she was playing for someone or had an audience. It was different.

Blushing slightly at Palmer's words, Claire laughed a little and gave him a smile.

"That hardly seems likely. I find that in most large ensembles the flute tends to get lost in the background."Â?

It was very sweet of him to suggest otherwise though and Claire felt far more light hearted than she had mere moments before.
Butler 17 years ago
Rupert lifted the small painted tray complete with coffee service and demitasse cups and retrieved the silver bell that fit perfectly over said tray, hoping to keep everything hot while he tracked down Mr. Calhoun. No doubt Palmer had already completely forgotten his request but it appealed to Rupert’s sense of humor carry out his offer anyway.

Walking out of the kitchen, Rupert reached out for the light, then stopped himself. Grinning a little to himself, his earlier annoyance forgotten, he turned around and went to the drawer, selecting several of the tiny spoons Palmer had specifically referred to.

Heading back to the lobby first, since Palmer had mentioned wanting to meet friends, he was pleasantly surprised to spot the very tall figure of Arin Bjorn. He was, however, neither surprised nor pleased about discovering Lord Grey just behind him. Well, whatever –he- wanted could wait, as he had a very important delivery to make. It wasn’t as if Lord ‘too good to bother with the affairs of butlers’ Grey would know his errand was about a quarter duty and three quarters practical joke.

Still, he was nothing if not consistently, unfailingly polite.

“Good evening, gentlemen. Welcome back to the Manor, Mister Bjorn.’
Alfarinn 17 years ago
The ride over was tense and filled with anticipation. Christian had sent that all was well enough according to Claire and Palmer but he would feel relieved only when he saw them both. Hopefully there was 'good' news to be had or at least something of use to them in their efforts.

Alfarinn smiled at Rupert as he stepped into the Manor, nodding at the doorman as he passed. He moved aside to give his companion room to stand beside him.

"Good Evening, Rupert."Â?

He glanced at the tray and then at the object in the butler's hand.

"Ah, we are keeping you from something important. Do you think we can have a small bit of your time when you have a moment to spare?"Â?

Alfarinn gave Rupert a grin and hoped that it didn't seem like a request that needed immediate accommodation. They did need to speak to the man tonight but it was obvious that someone was probably waiting for their coffee. He looked back at Thaddeus to see if his lover had any plans for how they would wait.
Butler 17 years ago
Rupert considered simply telling the pair he would be back momentarily, but for some reason he’d warmed to Arin Bjorn during his last visit to the Manor and that made him a bit more generous. That Thaddeus Grey may benefit from his amiability was annoying but inevitable.

“My time is yours; I do have a small walk ahead of me though. I am, however, happy to meet with you anywhere you wish.”
Thaddeus Grey 17 years ago
Thaddeus was both relieved that Claire and Palmer had completed their search without getting caught and anxious about what they might have found, and the mix of emotions led him to quiet thoughtfulness. He had the vague sense that they needed to hurry, though. Strike while the iron was hot, and other such trite expressions.

Entering the manor proper, he returned the butler’s greeting with a nod, though Alfarinn was considerably more vocal. He recalled that his companion was, for whatever reason, fond of the Anantya Butler, even going so far as to jokingly threaten to ‘steal’ him for Evenhet. It was probably a good thing that Alfarinn had rapport with Rupert; while Thaddeus didn’t dislike the butler, he also didn’t feel particularly comfortable with him and thought interviewing the man about gloves and other such business would prove awkward.

Alfarinn looked his way after requesting to meet with Rupert, and he gave a mental shrug.

[We might as well go and meet Claire and Palmer now – we’ll just have to warn them to expect an interruption.]
Alfarinn 17 years ago
The presence of Thaddeus beside him was a comforting feeling. He could be calm, patient and charming so long as his companion was standing next to him. Thaddeus made a very good point and he agreed. Hopefully the other two could either quickly divulge their information before the butler had time to finish delivering his coffee or they could all manage to wait until Rupert could be spoken to.

Alfarinn smiled at the butler and quickly responded.

"Of course. We are looking for some friends of ours and can be found with Palmer and Claire."Â?

There was probably no harm in telling Rupert where they could be found. The staff of the Manor was capable of noticing them by simply walking past the room. If they were upfront about the association then perhaps it would look less sinister.

"You would not, by chance, know where either of those two were. Would you?"Â?
Butler 17 years ago
Well, what a coincidence. Rupert allowed himself a moment of indulgent amusement as he reflected on the idea of Lord Everything-Must-Be-Just-So Grey dealing with Palmer Calhoun, given that he still suspected the latter gentleman of being completely imbalanced.

“As it happens, I do know where Miss Tremaine and Mr. Calhoun are; they mentioned meeting friends and going to the music chamber. I would be glad to accompany you there, as I am meant to be delivering coffee to Mr. Calhoun.”

Having no idea of what they wanted from him, whether it was simply to talk or to accomplish some task or other, he had no way of knowing if this was the best plan, but he was certain someone (probably that snotty Lord Grey who hadn’t deigned to say a word to him yet) would correct him if he made the wrong suggestion.
Thaddeus Grey 17 years ago
Hmm, well that had worked out neatly hadn’t it? Thaddeus raised his shoulder slightly at Alfarinn in a ‘guess this’ll work’ gesture, then nodded to Rupert.

“Certainly, let’s.”

Letting the butler lead the way in spite of knowing perfectly well where the music room was, he sent quickly to Alfarinn.

[I hope Rupert doesn’t know more than he should about what Claire and Palmer were up to. Does he seem nervous to you? Anything remarkable?]

Not even realizing how paranoid he sounded, he went on thinking of how the butler could potentially be involved in all of this. Bought and paid for by Sorin, perhaps, to spy on him and collect his things. Thankfully for all involved, though, he kept such thoughts mostly to himself.
Alfarinn 17 years ago
Alfarinn smiled and followed Rupert when he moved forward to lead the way. It should be easy enough to pose the question they wanted to ask in casual conversation. He watched the butler absently as he thought about how he wanted to phrase it.

Answering Thaddeus, he sent back.

[He's mildly amused and was when we arrived. I'd say he was having a nice night before we got here so that's probably good for us. I'm not sensing any worry or hidden hostility towards either of us.]

Alfarinn just didn't think that Rupert was the type to deal in intrigues. He remembered asking the man in all innocence to recount some of the stories that he could tell about the Manor. Rupert was not even willing to let such a small thing go out of the clan and its possible the man might not even have told a member of Anantya if they had asked.

[I don't think Rupert is our person...also it seems unlikely that Sorin...]

It was then that he noticed the hands carrying the tray. They were old and weathered...exactly like the hands that picked up the gloves in the image he got from them.

[Thaddeus...Rupert's hands match the vision. ]

Was he wrong about the butler? Alfarinn thought that if this man was playing them all for a fool then he was doing a damn good job of it and ballsy besides. Here he was a human working in the very lair of the oldest surviving clan of vampires. That would be like a righteous mortal taking up residence in the very pits of hell.

Frowning slightly, He decided to go ahead and ask his question. Perhaps the answer would enlighten them. Alfarinn kept his tone light and asked.

"Rupert, Did anyone happen to find a pair of gloves that belonged to Thaddeus? They were lost the last time we were here."Â?
Butler 17 years ago
Rupert led the way down the hall at Thaddeus Grey's command, mildly curious as to what all of this was about but not overly concerned. There were simply too many possibilities to fret over what it was they wanted, and he was certain he would find out in due course. Had it been Thaddeus alone who approached him, he might have been more defensive, but if Arin was involved he didn't imagine there would be unpleasantness.

Arin's question did not raise any immediate alarms; Rupert simply thought as he walked. The last time they'd been here...that was Fallon's initiation, he believed, and no, he hadn't heard of anyone finding Grey's gloves that night. He was fairly confident he would have remembered; it was rare for Thaddeus to lose his things, being a 'place for everything' sort, and for him to lose his gloves twice in a row would be...

...but wait. Arin had not attended the after party, which could only mean that Arin was speaking of the evening he had found Thaddeus's gloves in the library. Damn it! He had -known- that would come back to bite him! He should have insisted on making the delivery himself but one simply did not insist when it came to vampires in general, and especially not with the Elder of the Night.

Composing himself, Rupert slowed to a stop and turned so he could see both Thaddeus and Arin, speaking smoothly and calmly.

"I did, as a matter of fact, find a pair of your gloves in the library. I am very sorry to hear that they did not make their way back to you, and will do everything in my power to remedy this matter as quickly as possible."

Mentioning Sorin would only make it look like he was passing blame, and blaming the Elder of the Night would be plain foolish right now. There was no way of telling what might offend Thaddeus Grey but Rupert was determined to avoid making matters any worse.

Even as those thoughts were crossing his mind, though, he knew this was his mistake and the best he could do was to own up, apologize, and try to fix the situation.
Thaddeus Grey 17 years ago
Thaddeus craned his neck at Alfarinn's assertion that the hands matched, trying to get a look for himself to confirm his partner's assessment.

[I think you're right,] he sent, trying to keep that thought neutral in spite of his renewed suspicion. Alfarinn had not detected any malice and Thaddeus had every reason to trust his lover's instincts in not believing Rupert was a willful accomplice, but his own instincts were telling him something conflicting and it was hard to ignore that.

Both eyebrows went up when Rupert admitted that yes, he had found a pair of gloves. This opened up any number of possibilities; he and Sorin might have decided together on a story to explain the gloves, knowing he would go in search of them. Even Thaddeus had to admit that was very convoluted, but it -was- what he would do.

Waving his hand dismissively, he kept his tone light, feigning unconcern.

“It's no trouble, really; I have sufficient gloves.”

Considering the possibility that the butler might, after all, be completely innocent, he added:

“I'm glad to retrieve them for myself if you could tell me the last place they were seen.”

He wouldn't want the butler running around tipping his hand, asking Sorin whatever happened to the gloves he'd found in the library, if he truly was not maliciously involved.

Alfarinn had started to make another argument for Rupert's innocence before he had noticed the butler's hands, and as Thaddeus felt a need for fair minded opinions, he sent:

[Are you still convinced, love? We know he's involved, now...whether he sought to harm us is the question.]
Alfarinn 17 years ago
Alfarinn could have wished that Rupert was more straight forward about where the gloves were. It would have cleared things up with a minimum of fuss and he wouldn't have to suspect this wonderfully dignified and dutiful man of something that seemed so outside his character.

[I don't know....]

He really did -not- know what to think any more. If need be then they would just have to be frank with the butler and hoped that helped and if not then they would have to resort to less savory means.

[I suppose we can see if he will tell us on his own. If not I suggest we are honest with him. He has been loyal to Anantya for many years as far as we know and if in the explaining he seems to be an accomplice then at least we'll know and can do something about it. ]

He sighed quietly to himself and added.

[And if he doesn't cooperate even then I suppose we will have no choice but use other methods. I would rather not if we could avoid it.]

Thaddeus did have the ability to make Rupert tell them what they wanted to know but Alfarinn would feel much better if it was confessed to them under the man's own will. It was perhaps selfish of him to drag the morally upstanding human into such a dangerous situation by wanting him to be willing to confess what happened but his conscience was a strong willed thing.
Butler 17 years ago
Relief turned to frustration as Thaddeus first claimed he was unconcerned (in that obnoxiously arrogant way of his) and then offhandedly mentioned getting the gloves on his own. Only Lord Can’t Keep Track of his Own Damn Gloves Grey could find such awkward positions to put him in. If he refused to tell him where to go in pursuit of his gloves the vampire would likely stage an act of martyrdom; if he insisted on finding the gloves himself, he would be accused of arguing with his betters or some such nonsense. If he told them that it was the Elder of the Night that claimed the gloves, who knew what sort of tensions he would be creating? All this over a pair of gloves!

Forcing a somewhat pleasant expression, he spoke as evenly and diplomatically as he could, hoping against hope that he wasn’t instigating some horrible drama.

Or, at the very least, he hoped he could be left out of it.

“I am more than happy to conduct the search on your behalf, but if you would prefer to find them yourself you might start by inquiring of Mr. Lazarovici. He volunteered to return the gloves to you upon seeing them in the library, and I acquiesced. I cannot speculate on what might have occurred after that.”

Hopefully he had made it clear that he was not accusing Sorin of anything, but simply relaying information. As the news on the whereabouts of his gloves had not yet sent the vampires into fits of over-reactionary hysterics, he could hope that neither wanted to make a case of the matter, but as always one never knew what would set Grey off.
Thaddeus Grey 17 years ago
Thaddeus’s worry only increased at Alfarinn’s doubt, and he thought now would be a good time to reconsider their tactics which up until now had been casually probing. Alfarinn apparently thought the same thing, and he couldn’t help but reflect that it was so like his companion to suggest honesty as the next course of action. He wasn’t certain of why the butler would be evasive except for either the sake of discretion, or because he was in on the scheme. Honesty would help with the former and could severely harm the latter, but he still had to admit the approach had merit.

[I’m willing to try giving him more information in hopes of eliciting a more detailed response, though it would be nice to have an idea of whether this is a deliberate lack of cooperation or an attempt to be diplomatic.]

Other methods, as they seemed to be calling them, had to be considered as well. Thaddeus could quite easily force Rupert to answer their questions directly, but he doubted he would get what he needed if Sorin were involved. The Elder would have commanded some sort of safeguard on the butler if he were to have dealings with a human, something that would prevent Rupert from telling him anything damning. Of course Rupert’s inability to answer certain questions under command would be quite telling in and of itself.

[It’s a last resort; that’s fine by me.]

He’d learned a long time ago to separate his ability to command from who he was, and didn’t take other people’s aversion to his power personally. He was truly adverse to using command as anything but a last resort anyway, in this case, and decided to think on other implications of Alfarinn’s remark at a better time.

In the end, though, none of their carefully plotted methods for getting information were necessary, at least to get the name they were looking for. Thaddeus raised both eyebrows in mild surprise, well feigned, then nodded his head.

“Very well; thank you. You need not concern yourself over such a trivial thing.”

[Well. He’s either very good, very bad, or not involved.]
Alfarinn 17 years ago
Alfarinn listened in hopes that Rupert would give even just a clue as to who might have been involved so that they could decide that he was innocent of this all. He pondered Thaddeus' worry and answered.

[Well he has worked quite a while amongst a wide variety of personalities. Each and every one of whom could rip his arms off in a fit of ire. Not to say that most would even dream of such a thing but I imagine that such thoughts have caused him to pick up the habit of guarding his speech.]

He wondered briefly, as him companion said that the last resort was fine by him, what kind of relationship Thaddeus had with the butler. Surely his lover knew the man better than he did; it must be horribly difficult for Thaddeus to consider commanding a friend to do his bidding. The lengths that they were having to go to just to get to the end of this road were staggering. Alfarinn reached back for his lover's hand.

[I hope it does not come to that.]

And it seemed that it would not. Rupert explained that Sorin had volunteered to take the gloves to Thaddeus. Of course he did and the butler simply could not insist with any sort of firmness that it was his own duty to ensure that they make it back to their owner. That would be a veiled suggestion that Sorin was not trustworthy.

He agreed with Thaddeus' assessment of the situation and replied.

[ He does not seem to be afraid though. He seems more annoyed and that could be with himself for not taking the gloves to you or at Sorin for putting him in this position. The feeling is mild though nothing like you'd expect from a person worried that they were about to be caught as an accomplice to something that would quite probably get him killed in the long run.]

Anantya, unless it had changed since his time, dealt harshly with traitors of any kind but swiftly when the source was a human. Death was almost always the result and sent a very clear message to the rest of the clan's few mortal retainers. Don't test your wits and might against Anantya or it would be the last thing you ever do.

[My guess is that he just got caught in the mess. We can keep an eye on him though. Perhaps Palmer and Claire could watch him.]
Butler 17 years ago
“Very well, Thaddeus Grey.”

Rupert gave a mental sigh, though it was not one of relief; he had the sinking feeling that he had only delayed some inevitable trouble that would come home to roost on another day. It would probably spoil an otherwise excellent day, too; that would be just his luck. He had, however, been left with few options.

All fine and well for -him- to dictate whether or not he should be concerned.

At least for the moment that seemed to end the matter. Holding up his tray a little higher, he continued on down the hallway that led to the music room.
Thaddeus Grey 17 years ago
Thaddeus wrapped his hand around Alfarinn's and squeezed in a way that he hoped was assuring, wondering how much of his tension must be showing. Of course, his lover hardly needed a reason to give an affectionate gesture, but he thought there might be something behind that that he was missing.

Alfarinn's empathy proved to be quite a viable alternative to more invasive means of gathering information, which came as quite a relief to him. He could put his trust in his lover's evaluation much easier than his own barely founded concerns.

[I think you're right, but it might be a good idea to alert Palmer and Claire. One way or another, he's caught up in all of this and could be in danger himself.] Thinking a moment as they continued down the hall, he added that [perhaps I can convince Palmer to take a room here. Why he insists on staying at the Piazza I have no idea.]
Alfarinn 17 years ago
Alfarinn smiled feeling the warm hand slide into his own. He watched the butler's back as they continued on their way. There was no mounting tension, no added worry, in fact, it was less now than it than it had been before. He felt a resigned air from the man and understood that plight.

[His worry is not mounting like it would be now that we've given him time to think about the situation. There is no hope slash disappointment feelings of someone planning and rejecting ideas either. He just seems a little annoyed.]

He chuckled silently at that but continued on.

[Considering he probably suspects that you will go directly to Sorin with this accusation then I would say that's a reasonable emotion. I can't imagine our dear elder is very patient with staff that does not do as he would like. ]

It occurred to him to hope that the information about the gloves did not get back to Sorin. If it did then the man might kill Rupert or more likely arrange for an unfortunate accident. If the butler thought that he might save himself some trouble by going to the elder himself then things could be bad for both Rupert and for them.

[Thaddeus, I hate to ask this of you but I think we might want to ensure that Rupert does not go to Sorin on his own looking for the gloves. I would hate to see something happen to the man because of us. ]

And if he was utterly wrong in his judge of Rupert's character then this action might also save their necks. It would at the very least keep one more piece of information out of Sorin's hands. Those gloves were evidence and the butler was a witness, hopefully a willing and innocent one.
Thaddeus Grey 17 years ago
Thaddeus tried to repress his injured sniff at Alfarinn’s off hand remarks, but he couldn’t help but sound a little sulky when he sent in reply.

[Oh, I annoy him do I?] Really, of all things, getting bent out of shape because the damn butler was annoyed. He gave himself a mental shake and continued. [Sorin is always polite to the staff. He’s always polite to everyone, until he hires someone to kill them. Most people would consider that rude.]

Realizing he sounded more than a little bitter, he sighed and looked down as he walked, thinking that perhaps in the midst of his morbid, deadpan humor, he had hit on something. He thought simply telling Rupert not to trouble himself over this would be sufficient, but what if the butler decided it –wasn’t- too much trouble to investigate the matter further? It seemed Alfarinn had similar thoughts, judging from his sending, and so he simply nodded in agreement to show he understood. The rest of his energy he focused on his ability; as he had once told Alfarinn, command required considerable mental energy and he would need to concentrate on what he was about to say.

When they stopped to enter the music room, Thaddeus lingered in the doorway a moment, turning to Rupert with an easy expression that belied his inner intensity.

“Thank you again for your help. And don’t bother mentioning the gloves to Sorin; it’s really not worth the trouble.”

With a slight nod, he entered the music room, beaming a smile at his friends and hoping he looked convincing in spite of feeling a little light headed.

“Started without us, did you?”
Butler 17 years ago
Rupert opened the door to the music room and formally announced the two gentleman’s arrival before stepping out of the way to let them through. He frankly had no idea why Thaddeus was making such a point of thanking him for the gloves but accepted the (likely false) gratitude graciously enough. Mostly likely Lord Grey was using him as a way to impress Arin Bjorn. See, he’s so –kind-, even to the –help-.

“Very well, Thaddeus Grey.”

What on earth would make the little brat think he –wanted- to obsess over a pair of gloves, anyway? Well, he supposed it didn’t matter.

Odd that he was somewhat relieved to see the vampire he had earlier that night deemed mentally deranged, but he found interacting with Lord Grey had not entirely drenched his private eagerness to see Palmer’s reaction to the coffee.

“Your coffee, Mr. Calhoun.”