Hey Mister Can You Spare a Dime? (Invite Only Please)
Marie sighed. She was doing that more and more these days, it made her feel old or was that the sleeping in alleys and trying to scrounge up cash? Probably the scrounging up cash, that's why she was sighing tonight. Because, no matter how you sliced it she didn't have enough cash for a cheap ass nasty meal at Taco Hell... where good Mexican food went to die.
The next thing she knew, she was blinking tears back refusing to cry. It wouldn't do any good to cry. Her mother, father, siblings and all the good memories that centered around -good- Mexican food, -real- Mexican food were gone. Over, done, no more and it would do no good to think about it or get emotional about them now. Now what she needed right now as to focus and get a few quick bucks.
Of course she refused to have anything to do with drugs, and prostitution... well she'd talked to a few of the other street kids and she'd sworn to herself she'd not have anything to do with either unless she absolutely, positively, without a doubt had to. So, that left pan handling. It hurt her pride quite a bit to have to beg, but she hadn't been able to get a job and she was hardly a street performer.
Digging through her bag she found the cleanest thing she had left. Great not only did she need food she needed to do her laundry. Marie would have saved money on the laundry but she'd found that the cleaner her cloths were, and she was, the more convincing and successful she was with the pan handling. If tonight went badly though she'd wash something rather than eat, she'd just have to consider it an investment.
Tonight she set up shop down on the water front, sort of by the amphitheater, there was some so-so band playing and they seemed to be attracting a bit of a crowd, and just off the bus line. If you asked for 'bus fare' right by a bus stop people tended to put you -on- the bus rather than giving you some change.
Gritting her teeth for a second she finally fixed her best liquid brown puppy dog eyes and sweet yet slightly desperate/embarrassed smile on her face and started looking for likely targets.
"Hey ma'am. Ma'am? I'm sorry to bother you but could you spare something for bus fare I lost my wallet."Â?
Damned wench! She walked off, didn't even look up. That, Marie decided, was a bad omen about the rest of the night.
The suggestion to go out and see this no name band, who his manager said was interesting in having him do some back ups, was well received. They both seemed to like the idea but after getting dressed Belle had taken issue with his accessories, one of them at least. It had been a long fight but in the end, she had been very… er… persuasive and he left his gun back at the manor. Ambrose felt damned naked without it but… it was damned worth it. Of course, that also explained why they were late to the concert. They were late and he might have been in a good mood but he was still rushing them along and not really noticing other people, they could get out of his way better than he could get out of theirs.
And she had a point - it was just one more thing to take off afterwards.
They hurried along, slightly late. Ysabel had her skirts held up to avoid getting them too dirty, and she was slightly distracted as they rounded the last corner, but she did hear the pitiful young voice calling out nearby and her head turned as if drawn by a magnet.
Bus fare, indeed. Ysabel hadn't been born yesterday, and she imagined if this child actually wanted a bus ride she'd have stood closer to the bus stop. There was plenty of traffic by it, and someone would have likely bought her a ticket by now. She pulled a little on Ambrose's arm to slow him down.
How well-rehearsed was this child, anyway? Where were her parents? Or her guardians? Ysabel had a soft spot for children. She didn't like the idea of one this young panhandling on the streets at this time of night. It wasn't at all right. Ambrose was resisting her, however, hell-bent on getting to the concert.
Perhaps polite inquiries would have to wait for later. Ambrose was not a force to fight with when he had his mind set on a particular goal, and Ysabel had put her foot down enough for one night. Gripping his elbow a bit more tightly, she memorized teh girl's location, fully intending to return and look for her once the concert was through with. If the girl was looking for change, she'd likely stick around to catch the audience leaving the building as well, hopefully less sober and more inclined to part with their money.
Trotting after them for a few paces, not too much though, she forced her voice to go as sweet, pathetic and desperate as she could; the fact that she’d been near tears not long before helped, you could hear that emotion in her voice. Marie also decided to play a risky card and spoke Spanish as she called after them. Some times that just made people mad that you couldn’t speak English but some times, some times it made them feel sorry for you. Tonight, she was banking (literally) on the later. Still annoyed, however, her words did –not- match her tone.
“Hey Senor why don’t you stop being such a cheap tight ass bastard and give me some money? I’m not asking for blood or your live savings, two dollars is not going to kill you. You pretend to have a heart and maybe she likes you a little better you god damned son of a bitch.”
Ordinarily she wouldn’t have gone off quite that bad on any one but damned she was hungry. That is hungry and tired and achy and just lonely and ready to give up. For some reason everything was hitting her today. If she could just get something in her stomach though, her head would clear and her old determination set back in. She could make it, she just had to have some food. Soon.
((OOC… everything spoken is in Spanish but yon scribe speaks not the Spanish))
The Spanish was different and he was just about to give her points for style but she kept talking. Forgetting he had a good hold on Belle’s hand he stopped hard turned around and advanced a few paces on the girl, scowling darkly while dragging Belle in a new direction. He immediately started growling at the girl in kind.
“You think this is a smart move chica? I eat tramps like you for breakfast. I don’t know what a fucking little whore like you is going to do with the cash but I grantee its not for bus fare. Now you go back to your corner and keep begging and hope that I don’t see you on my way back.”
Again he changed direction with very little warning and doubled his pace to get to the concert as on time as possible. He was fuming. It wasn’t so much he was mad at the girl, but damned she’d pissed him off. Granted he’d forget about the whole thing in about thirty minutes, unless Belle told him off. Oh crap did she even speak Spanish? Hell even if she didn’t Ambrose wasn’t fool enough to think she had misunderstood the tone. Well he’d pay for that later.
It would all get sorted out later for now they’d made it to the amphitheater he shoved the tickets at the usher and pulled both of them to their seats and settled down for the show. Damned it he –was- going to enjoy himself.
((OOC… all dialog in Spanish))
As the couple left she sat on the ground huddled against a building and let herself cry a little bit. The tight ass was right, about it all and she knew it; but damned if she was going back. It took a while to get her tears under control and then to find a drinking fountain so she could splash some water on her face. Tearstains did not help her cause and she had to work after the show too.
Cleaned up as much as she could Marie waited for the crowd to head back to their cars, buses and taxis. This time she was looking for people she hadn’t hit before or people who looked a bit less than sober. She had some good luck too. One guy handed her a ten thinking it was a one and damned if she was going to tell him. Bills went in one pocket, change in another and she kept begging until all the stragglers had left.
Finding a bit of an alleyway she sat down to count her pull. Not bad, she had managed $20 in bills and sat down to count the change it looked like that should be at least five dollars, but it was hard to tell in the dark but that didn’t stop her from trying. Either way maybe she should work this venue again because she had enough for a few meals and a load of laundry if she was careful. That knowledge made her feel as happy as she could be under the circumstances.
"Child!" Ysabel had just begun to admonish the girl when her very own lover let out a stream of spanish profanity that nearly bowled her over. "Ambrose!"
"Both... of... you!"
It was the best she could do as Amber was dragging her back toward the concert with a vicelike grip. Part of her wanted very badly to simply ghost out of it and go see the child, but it wouldn't help matters. Best to let them both calm down. There was no talking to Ambrose in this mood, but Belle was now thoroughly vexed with her lover's complete lack of sympathy. Cheap tight ass bastard or not, that was no way to treat a child.
They spent the concert in complete silence. Ysabel was fuming every bit as much as Ambrose was, and in her own quiet way she let him know it. Lips tight, eyes narrowed for most of the show, she gave him the cold shoulder and wasn't about to soften up for anything.
In fact, when it was over, she did something very un-Ysabel... she left Ambrose to have his discussion with the band's manager alone, and headed back out to see if she could find the child.
Tonight, though, he wasn't alone. The kid who'd been begging out on the streets was in here now, sniffling noisily, counting her night's take. Not a whole lot, by the looks of it.
Tai leaned back against the side of the building. This wasn't his favorite way to get what he needed. He'd done it before though. Memories slipped to the surface, unbidden, of a small crying child, a summer ago, maybe more, lost and alone. What had he done then? Saved her from an unsavory end, tried to get her to stop crying... his bite had lulled her into a false sense of security then.
What would it do to this child? Would it help? Was he even interested in helping? Still, her reddened eyes were every bit as telling as her sniffles and quiet hiccups. Where would he send this one though? There was no convenient police station here. And Tai wasn't blind... he'd lived on the streets enough to know a homeless child when he saw one.
What was this softness though? What was this weakness inside him that made him hesitant to take what he needed and walk away? He wasn't comfortable with it at all. He was supposed to be dead inside, cold and hard. This little thing, however, wouldn't shut up. She was crying and it was calling out straight to him.
With a sigh he heaved himself away from the wall, alerting her to his presence. It wouldn't do to sneak up on her. He wouldn't get what he wanted that way.
He gestured to her pockets, stuffed nowhere near to full.
He was keeping his distance so she didn’t bolt, but she did stand stuffing the uncounted change in her pocket. Something was off. She’d developed a pretty good feel for people since living on the street and this guy, she couldn’t get a read. Maybe he was ok. He seemed to know what she was up to and didn’t seem to be out to give her a lecture turn her over to the cops or take her hard earned cash. She wasn’t ready to trust him but she wasn’t running off either, she was right on the fence.
Cautiously she nodded.
“Not a great night, no. Trying to scrounge up bus fare home. Spare me a buck?”
She wasn’t sure if he’d seen the bills or just the change. If he’d just seen the change she might get another buck or two and that wouldn’t be bad at all.
He said it with a bit of a smile. He didn't want to chase her off. He really should... chase her off, that is. But instead here he was chatting with her. Keeping his distance, no less. What the hell.
"I've been where you are."
He shook his head. Normally, he wasn't this chatty.
"How long has it been since you slept in a bed? Saw any family?"
He pulled out a silver dollar, began flipping it idly over his knuckles. He made it disappear and reappear again, pretending to watch it while all the while watching the girl instead. Could he drain her until she slept and leave her where the authorities would find her? And why, again, why did he care?
In the back of his head a six-year-old boy cried and cried. Shut up, already, he growled to himself. Stop crying.
No one would miss this girl. Maybe she was better off dead. Tai remembered living like she was living now. It wasn't fun and games. It had sucked, and he'd eventually fallen even lower than he'd thought possible.
"Where are you trying to go anyway?" He didn't believe her, but he could pretend he almost did for a few moments while he tried to stifle the sobbing kid in his mind. He couldn't think straight with that noise.
He sounded a bit like one though. Like some of the ones she knew back home and one or two of the one’s she’d run into, and away from, in shelters. For one reason or another, she believed him. Maybe that’s why she couldn’t make up her mind about him, maybe living on the streets scared you and left some kind of mark. If that were the case she was sure to wind up that way..
“I don’t remember.”
She answered with uncharacteristic honesty.
Marie had long since lost track of the day and date. Some times she’d find a newspaper and could work things out well enough to stake out a show like this but some how the calendar just didn’t matter any more.
His next question just brought a shrug.
“Not far. A few miles south, too far to walk though.”
Marie crossed her fingers behind her back. She had no idea what was south of here, she hadn’t been in Nachton long enough to fully map out the city. But if he was going to play along she would too.
His fangs were pressing against his lips now. He was thirsty. He'd blown his chance to grab one of the concert's patrons and now this little scrap of a thing was all that was here. Tai didn't really want to, not with the little kid in his head screaming and crying at him. That always made it difficult to enjoy a meal.
In any case, he moved closer, still flipping the coin over his knuckles.
"Want to learn?"
His question could have applied to either his earlier statement about stealing, or the coin rolling hypnotically over his slender fingers. he made it vanish, breaking the spell for a moment, and then flipped it up, catching it and returning it to its shining bounce along his knuckles.
"It's not that hard."
Summoning what little self respect she had left she straightened her shoulders and stood a bit straighter. She even managed to be insulted by his insinuation. Marie hadn’t yet done anything to break the law, she’d suffered for it but she hadn’t stooped that low. Maybe that’s how this guy got off the streets though. Maybe it wasn’t that bad an idea, after all he didn’t look like he was still living hand to mouth.
No! She wasn’t ready for that yet. She shook her head slightly.
“Nah. I’ll just get home and it’ll be fine, that’s all.”
She didn’t get mad or defensive though. If she could keep this casual she might still manage a hand out.
Standing her ground as he took a step or two forward took some effort but she managed and even squeaked out a nearly confident smile.
"I don't think you're going home."
Smoothly he closed the gap between them, wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her close. She struggled; this was not what he'd wanted to do to her. He could have helped her, if she'd let him.
He covered her mouth with his arm and ducked his head, gently and neatly biting down.
He wasn't sure who he was talking to. At that point, it might even have been himself. It iddn't matter though... she would quiet momentarily, he thought. They both would. He sank his fangs gently into the soft flesh of her neck and began to drink.
((ooc: Marie nibbled on with permission))
Starting her search systematically, Ysabel began by walking all the way around to the back of the stage and then around the opposite side of the building. That search turned up nothing, even after peering beneath the raised deck behind it and under the rickety stairs leading out of the stage door.
Casting a glance back behind her to see if Ambrose was heading out yet, Ysabel continued her search. The next building over was empty, apparently. The front door was locked and she didn't hear anything inside. Climbing back down the stairs, she thought she heard the slightest of noises from the opposite side of the building.
Rounding the corner she first thought she'd intruded upon a lovers' tryst of some sort.
"Oh... please excuse... what are you doing?"
Her tone changed as she modified her question. This was no tryst. A man in dark clothing was standing there in the shadows and he had his arms wrapped around the little girl from earlier. Ysabel recognized what he was doing even as she asked the question.
Before she could react, the man dropped the girl and darted forward. Ysabel had time for a good, healthy scream before his fist connected with her face and she stumbled backwards.
It might have been just one word, but, she thought proudly as she felt her own blood dripping down her nose, over her lips, and onto her gown, it was, as Ambrose would say, a damned fine scream.
Feeling his fangs puncture the skin of her neck she stopped struggling. In fact she froze and then went totally limp. He’d said to be quite, maybe, just maybe if she did what he told her she’d live. Right now that’s all she wanted, she wanted to live.
The next thing Marie knew she’d hit the ground. She’d half heard a woman’s voice and in response to that the guy… er… vampire?… her attacker had dropped her and had apparently turned his attention on the person who’d interrupted them. Marie scrambled back down the alley and found some trashcans to hide behind. Realistically she should have run as far and as fast as her legs would carry her but she didn’t want to see some one else hurt. She didn’t know what to do but she didn’t run, just in case she –might- be able to help the woman who was apparently calling for help. Marie just hoped it would be good help.
As he made up his mind to just go through her, Tai realized she hadn't fallen. She was bleeding, and injured, but this slender little slip of a girl in her stange dress hadn't fallen over.
In fact, she was coming closer. Tai crouched and swung as she reached him, not trying to hit her again. He grabbed her and spun her, pulling her back against his chest while she struggled. Craning his neck, he watched as the blood stopped flowing from her nose... unbelievably quickly.
Tai grew alarmed. He was strong, but he was young as vampires went. Although this woman hadn't yet done anything that he couldn't handle, he didn't know what was out there, what sort of ability or strength she might have. His best option was to incapacitate her before she could strike.
Quickly, he pulled out a knife and slid it into her back, beneath her ribs. Nothing vital, but it would be painful and distracting. His next move was to wind a slender bit of wire out from under his collar. Looping it around, he grabbed both ends in one hand. Quick and painless... she wouldn't feel it. And she might survive, if he was gentle.
Tai could be gentle when the occasion called for it.
The man observed her quietly for a moment, and with an eerie silence, made a slight movement at her back. She felt a jolt of pain as something pierced her skin. A knife, she realized. In her back.
He was reaching back again, coolly methodical, and Ysabel felt a chill of fear. She closed her eyes and concentrated as best she could between terror and pain. As something warm wrapped around her neck, she felt the man jerk. The wire, which must have been close to his skin to be so warm, cut deeply into her neck...
...and then passed through nothing as she slowly became incorporeal and slid to the ground.
She wasn't fully intangible, but it was enough to break his grip and to keep the wire from going deeper than she could safely handle. Blood spilled anew, though, and she could only guess at how she must look.
She couldn't yell... not with her throat cut, and not in this form. It came out a hoarse moan.
Where the hell had she gotten off to? A cursory glance and he knew she wasn’t in the theater so he let himself out the back stage and started looking around. He again he didn’t see her so this seemed like a good time to practice his perception. He started picking up on a few things but that didn’t last as he heard what could only be Belle screaming his name. Fuck this subtlety shit.
Running and limping at the same time he made his way toward her as fast as he could, cane held in his hand and totally forgotten. How could she be in trouble, she was older than he was for god’s sake?! He rounded the corner just in time to see some ass try and garrote her and Belle herself go all ghosty.
Son of a bitch!
He was so mad even Ambrose himself didn’t quite grasp how pissed he was. Without thinking about it he reached for his gun, it wasn’t there. Shit! Of all the nights! He didn’t have a plan or a next move or anything he just charged in.
“Hey Cue Ball!”
Getting a bit of attention from the shit head trying to decapitate his girl Ambrose hauled off and busted his cane across the guys head dropping the remaining half of it and nailing cue ball with a good kidney punch.
It hadn’t quite clicked with Ambrose that if this guy could get that much of a drop on Belle he wasn’t an ordinary street brawler.
The man with the clear limp barreled into him and brought the cane down over his head with surprising force. It was followed by an impressively quick punch, but Tai was already sliding away. Taking a step back, his foot lashed up and out, pounding once into the man's chest and once into his stomach.
Tai really, really just wanted to leave. These people were making that very difficult. Crouching down, he tested the newcomer's reflexes with several flurried jabs, aimed mostly at his chest.
In a flurry of motion, the two engaged each other. Ambrose was more than competent in a brawl, Ysabel knew, but she had no idea what this asian man's capabilities were. He was disgustingly fast, and his sense of balance was superb as he rocked back and delivered two kicks then darted down and forward once more for a few punches.
Looking around, Ysabel spied a pile of debris, some bricks and rocks, from the crumbling foundation of one of the buildings perhaps. Either way it was right there. With a great deal of effort she lifted a brick and heaved it in the direction of the stranger's head. Normally it might have been easier, but her neck was only now stopping its torrent of blood. She was nearly dry, although she should be fine if they could get away from this stranger.