Back to Basics (open)

Walking down the Strip, Alec finally came across the bench he had been looking for. Sliding bonelessly into it, letting his body contour to its slight curve, he flopped his arms along the back. Relaxing his neck, he looked up with his good eye into the dark summer night. It seemed a lifetime ago that he had last been here. Earlier in that day, he had dropped some things off at his cover property and then immediately immersed himself into Nachton.

Over that time, Alec had fallen in love, seen her die, reaffirmed his loyalty to the Clan, seen the clan splinter, been placed in a position he felt he had not been ready for, redefined that position, learned that more than just vampires roamed the night, and had decided that he wanted to make that untrue...yes...it had been a busy stretch of time. Now, he felt he needed to get back to basics. Sometimes the simplest exercises could lead you to the path that you were meant to be on.

Allowing his mind to relax, he extended his senses. The texture of his soft lining under his leathers became clear to him....the pressures of the benches, how the tension distributed itself across the leather...the grain of the wood on his hands and a small patch of oiliness where someone else had left their hand sitting too long...the myriad voices raised in conversation mixing with the sounds of the living city - sounds of Nachton's muscular industries and the flow of its commercial life blood...refining the sounds, he listened to the footsteps around him...some purposeful, some timid. There was someone on their way home from work, a slight drag to her step, tired from lack of proper rest. Another walked with the purpose of someone who had been assaulted before and would never be a victim again. Here there was a tourist, wandering tentatively, steps uneven as they stopped to see the sights. A set of treads so faint to the ear...the steps of someone who was trained to stealth. Flicking his eye open, Alec grinned. Nuns, not thieves. Funny.

Slipping shut his eye, he stretched out again with his ears, filtering for just the sounds of the ambulant. The rest was not important right now. Getting back into the sea of people was.

Amberelle DeEspionne 14 years ago
It was a great night for a drive and the Aston had its top down. Inside the blonde let the score from one of her favorite ballets, La Bayadère, fill the air. She'd driven without any real goal and found herself not too far from some of the Galleries and art houses. Seeing an open spot, she whipped in and parked the car but left it running. Laying her head back on the seat the vampire closed her eyes and visions of dancers swirled behind her eyes until the last notes faded off into the night.

Slipping on her pink flip flops, she climbed out of the car and used the fob to activate the alarm with a beep. Her chocolate leather bag slung over one shoulder she stretched briefly and looked around. She was only in worn blue jean cut off shorts and a pink ribbed tank so some of the more upscale galleries would probably faint when she walked in, but who cared.

Leaning one hip against her door she looked slowly down the row trying to decide where to go when she spotted a figure on a bench, striking an eerie sense of deja' vu in her.

Alec? she asked, almost unsure. It was obviously him but so completely unexpected.
Alec Devereaux 14 years ago
Something tugged at the edges of his perception. Allowing the mental filters to slide back slightly, Alec smirked at the return of automotive sounds to his active awareness. There was an exquisite example of automotive engineering being pulled into place. Expanding his sense of smell, he found the driver on the wind just before hearing her voice.

"Oui...comment allez vous? Funny how some cycles return to their beginnings, non? All we need are Nova and Jan and we can go play skee ball."

Pulling his head forward, his lopsided smile stretched his fresh, new skin taut across his cheekbones.
Amberelle DeEspionne 14 years ago
The blonde grinned at him, a wide white smile that faded ever so slightly as she looked her friend over. Mentally ticking off the weapons she could spy secreted on him, the change in clothing style and the glaringly different patch over his eye she compared the man who had just arrived in Nachton that night with the one here now and wondered just what had happened. Walking over slowly, she sank down onto the bench beside him as she replied.

I'd love to see those two again.. it's been a while. Hell, it's been a while since I've heard from you too! She lightly punched him on the upper arm and twisted at the waist to look at him, head tilting and spilling her windblown blonde waves everywhere.

So why don't you tell me what brought you here? And what, her gaze strayed to his eye and back, happened?
Alec Devereaux 14 years ago
Walking about with a surgical patch on his eye was bound to get some attention. Honestly, he had not thought to run into anyone he knew, nor given it a second thought. He was off his game. Watching the way the Southern belle looked him over, the blades and firearms he was carrying were apparent as well. He knew she had a keen eye for such things, but it served to reinforce how much he had slipped recently. Well, lesson learned in a safe environment.

"What brought me here? Reflection, I suppose. Much, and more, has changed since I last lounged here. I thought perhaps retracing my development would be a fruitful exercise to clear the mind..."

Throat catching for a moment, Alec breathed deep, and continued.

"I am sorry. You see, there was an explosion. I was the lucky one. Ginnie...not so lucky."

The momentary silence said more than any more he could add. Smiling sadly, he added

"The clearing of the mind does not go so well. The exercise is still important, though."

It was always difficult to know how much detail to add. On the one hand, he needed to protect Tacharan secrets and keep their hand close to his chest. On the other, he felt the need to warn others about the mongrel dogs infesting their city.
Amberelle DeEspionne 14 years ago
Tears sprung to her eyes and she gasped. Ginnie? She.. oh.. oh no... Purse dropping to the ground unnoticed, Amby twisted in her seat and didn't even give him a chance to stop her before enveloping him in a tight hug. Her mind reeled, remembering the fun loving woman and hardly believing she'd be gone but her heart just broke imagining the pain for Alec. Losing the one you loved would be soul wrenching, but to compound it you survived instead of them?

A few tears ran down her cheeks when she finally leaned back to look at her friend. Sniffing loudly, she kept her arms around him lightly as she studied him, speaking French now since it was so familiar for them both.

Oh Alec I can not even begin to imagine.. I'm so sorry. So very sorry... She was a wonderful woman, a slight quirk of one corner of her mouth into a half hearted smile and she added, and damn good with her weaponry.

That was what you did when someone died, right? She was never sure.. but she assumed you bonded over remembering the good things about them. Their strengths, their accomplishments. Amberelle had never really dealt with death outside of being the one to bring it, but she knew talking about things was more theraputic than bottling them inside.
Alec Devereaux 14 years ago
Heart wrenching inside at the sudden display of emotion before him, Alec fell into the hug easily. Keeping from crying himself was very difficult - ultimately it was an anchor in practicality that spared him the moist outburst. He did not have an additional dressing for his eye. Girding himself, he spoke, thankful for the shared language between them. It was so much more comfortable, and natural, to vocalize emotion in French.

"Yes, she truly was. I have been having great difficulty adapting to living again. Simple things become so hard after being shared. I find myself unable to return to places that we shared, haunted by her lack. And part of me feels that it is somehow my fault for living when she cannot. I know it is not the case, but rationality does nothing against the terrible dreams."

Realizing that he had been a bit clingy, Alec blushed and released. It had felt good to let out the welling, but perhaps somewhat inappropriate. Focusing back on the good, he smiled, and quipped

"And yes...she was very good with the little toys. My own meager skill certainly grew in leaps and bounds under her tutelage."
Amberelle DeEspionne 14 years ago
Sinking back, Amberelle wiped her cheeks dry with her fingers, and sighed softly. Of course there would be guilt.. probably anger and resentment as well. Part of her wondered if it had been during the madness of Halloween that Ginnie was lost, but pressing for details wasn't something she would ever do. Ripping open obviously raw wounds was not in her nature. Not with someone she cared about anyway.

Never blame yourself Alec.. it doesn't matter how or why it happened. You would never have let it happen to her, and I know that she would have wanted you to live over her. And you must know that she'd not want to see you hurting or in pain like you are. Pausing a moment, she struggled for words. When it feels impossible to go on, stop and ask yourself what advice would she give you? Sometimes that helps. Ok, so she wasn't the wisest or most eloquent but she did believe that bit of advice. Circumstances were radically different but she still did the same thing herself, asking herself how her beloved would council her now that he was not nearby. Even if she had no idea just the act was comforting.

I can not speak from experience my friend, but.. well.. we have such long lives ahead of us, that I think someday you will be able to go to those places and her memory will be there for you, to remind you what makes life good. Taking his hand in hers, she squeezed it and gave him a wan smile. Love is what can turn the possibility of endless, bleak centuries into the promise of something more. And.. to have had such a love for even a little while is a blessing no? You have friends, and your clan.. people who will be here to help you until you can face those things and until living is not so hard to do.

That last part she did believe. Friends were an amazing thing and such a source of comfort if you let them be.
Alec Devereaux 14 years ago
Listening intently to the advice, Alec thought to try it. Some of what Amberelle was saying made good sense. From a psychological standpoint, it was integration of the missing into the daily life. A small ceremony to ease the transition from one state to the next. Lots of practices in societies replicated it, so it must work well. Nodding, Alec let slip a slightly predatory smile.

"Oh, I will face those things I need to. I have no doubt about that."

Letting the darkness slip from himself again, he smiled more socially.

"Family and Clan have helped me get outside. There is still much repairing to do, mostly emotionally, but physically as well. Work and time can help with that...friends too, I suppose...though I am somewhat terrible at asking for help. Probably why I have tended to work alone in the past."

Sighing, he sat up more and rolled his neck.

"It was a blessing. It is painful to lose, but I am better having had the depth of feeling at all."
Amberelle DeEspionne 14 years ago
Well how about I offer to help you on both points? Emotionally and physically.. you don't have to ask for help, no worries.. I have lots of free time. She smiled, nudging him with a shoulder as she leaned close and whispered, I bet you didn't know I was an assassin for fifteen years and that I have multiple black belts. Giving him a "yes, me, seriously" look she nodded. Plus all kinds of other skills.. her grin was wide and suggestive at that, then she giggled. Granted we already have some in common but I'd bet there's lots I can help you with. Even if we just spar some. Give you a fresh set of eyes to critique you!

Amby was excited. This would give her not only something to keep occupied but make her hone her own already rusting skills. And in the process help a friend in need. There were no negatives that she could see. Well except the whole other clan thing, but that barely mattered to her.
Alec Devereaux 14 years ago
The revelation was certainly unexpected, but put a lot of things in order.

"I imagined that there had to be something on the side. In New Orleans, your suspected track record suggested that you were not working nearly as often as necessary to fund your lifestyle. The general profile that slipped into...unsavory hands...listed you as most likely an independently wealthy thrill-seeker or as having family ties. So right on one count, anyway. Quite a family you must have, then."

Stretching, Alec stood. It might be nice to get up to speed with someone outside of Tacharan. Amberelle had no idea about the training programs, and he would be out of sight while relearning his steps. Having a break from being the teacher would be nice, as well. Smiling, he offered his hand to assist her to her feet. Taking on his best look of artificial nonchalance, he quipped

"I of course never doubted your status as an assassin of the highest rank, but then I am not the easiest man to fool. You will have to take it easy on me, though. I am just a petty thief, really."

Grinning, he wondered just how badly he would be beaten before he finally found his former capabilities. Glancing around, he asked

"So, where would one go if one needed sparring equipment? I have seen those mouth guards and padded head guards, but would not know where to start beyond a sporting goods store."
Amberelle DeEspionne 14 years ago
Her smile never waivered but the blonde was taken aback. Her file? Profile? He'd researched her? Who were these unsavory... it didn't matter. Pushing the thought aside she vowed to contact her brother and have him see who all had been sniffing around about her lately and handle anyone who was a bit too curious.

Quite a family indeed.. but you know of them. I worked for Anantya.. I always have, even when I was human. There, let him mull that bit of information over.

Taking Alec's hand, Amberelle grabbed up her bag and rose gracefully to her feet. She linked her arm through his and thought for a moment. There were options, several. Just depended on what equipment he really need.

Normally.. I would never allow anyone to train with padding. It builts a false sense of security and doesn't teach you to ignore the blows properly. Plus you feel and move differently.. But since you have been injured it's acceptable. Only until you heal completely though.

As for where.. martial arts stores, some of the specialty sporting goods shops.. there are some places I know of.

Looking over at him, she quirked an eyebrow. So, where do we do this? I'd say your place is going to be a bit too secure. And I really don't like being trapped underground like that.. Shivering some she added, and I don't think I could be there again and not be a little freaked out. Ok a lot, no more like a metric ton if the frequency and intensity of the nightmares she still had were any indicator.

That leaves mine.. and I live at the Manor. Certainly as my guest you could come but I don't know how comfortable you would be there..

If there was a third option maybe he could suggest it. Or else she would come up with something. It needed to be private so they could fight full out, something mortals shouldn't be seeing.
Alec Devereaux 14 years ago
Cocking his head at the family comment, he HAD to ask. The morsel was just left out there too plain not to be taken...it was in his nature, after all. She would either answer, or not.

"So...you are vampire raised, then? Do you think that affected you significantly? We tend to not perform that practice, though I have never researched why. Not precisely my field, more of a...hobby, I suppose."

A hobby...bent on discovering the aspects of his own fragmented psyche. That could be included in another session.

The chiding for protective gear was well thought out, and he agreed with it for the most part.

"Normally, I would agree with you. Right now I would like to avoid any potential additional damage to my eye. The healing goes a bit more slowly than I would like. The rest of me is ready and available for the pummeling that will likely ensue."

At her mention of using either the Domicile or Heolfor as the sparring area, Alec tensed slightly. He certainly did not wish to be either place, considering the state of his body. There were many other options, though.

"Well, if you like we can select a non-monitored warehouse or abandoned building. Between the both of us I am certain we could spot any unwanted surveillance without difficulty, and I know I can disable it. We can feel free to change venues nightly. I would much rather that no one know my fragile state at present...before I get my hand back in, at least. Afterward, well, it does not matter if they know how soundly you trounced me."

Smirking, he looked around. Not seeing anything that fit that description in the immediate vicinity, he asked

"So, which way to the martial arts supply, sensei?"
Amberelle DeEspionne 14 years ago
Looking at him sideways through her lashes, she smirked. Yes, he was always so curious. It was rather endearing. Pausing, obviously trying to decide what to say she finally shrugged a shoulder lightly and then slipped her arm through his and grasped it lightly.

Vampire raised.. oh, oui, indeed. Let's just say my sire has had ownership of my family line for many centuries.. picking and choosing the creme de la creme for induction into the "inner circle" of his organizations.. the clan. I've been trained and groomed for this position since before I could walk. So... I would say it's affected me. Immeasurably. There is no life for a De'Espionne beyond service to the Clan. Be it one lifetime or a hundred.

She turned her face away to hide the emotions that statement always brought on. Amberelle was trying very hard to keep the tone light and not let an outsider know just how horrible and vile she found the practice. So, she let the subject change and thought over some of the seedier places she'd found in her back alley crawls. Several prime locations came to mind, and she had to agree with his logic. There was no reason to let his clan know he was weak. In her mind Tacharan was not as likely to be lenient with a recovering member as Anantya would.

I know several warehouses that would do very well. Nodding, she decided that would indeed work out nicely. Variable scenarios could be set up and worked through. How many nights a week can you devote to this? The blonde wasn't sure how much he could, or wanted, to dive into this. In her mind it should be an every night non stop push but she was notoriously over trained and that was just what she knew.

Oh and there's a place not too far from here.. can walk or drive, up to you. She wanted to find a good headguard for him that wouldnt limit his already restricted vision as well as something that really would prove a hindrance. Both would be used, just in case the worst came to pass and it didn't heal properly. Plus, she'd have to get herself some hand pads so any blows she did land were softened. Last thing she wanted was to get lost in the heat of a fight and reinjure his head.
Alec Devereaux 14 years ago
Screwing up his mouth slightly, Alec considered how far out on the limb he wanted to go.

"I suppose that I can see the benefit of such a long term breeding and training program. I suppose that I am naturally opposed to it since it eliminates the possibility of spontaneous or aberrant talent from manifesting. From the standpoint of your greater family, I suppose it makes sense, however. Those aberrations led to the formation of the Evenhet, and later, my own family. Keeping from a select pool might limit the introduction of yet another individual whose blood was significantly different. Of course...as a member of one of the other family lines...I have a more positive outlook on it."

Considering for a moment, he added

"I do not imagine most of the individuals in such a program come out as pleasant as you are. From my study, human children seem fragile, and frequently carry the burdens of early trauma and unusual events for most of their lives in some form or another."

Glancing around the Strip, Alec smirked.

"I think a ride in your fine feat of engineering would not be a problem. As for scheduling...I would like to start slow. Two nights a week until my body begins to more naturally compensate."

((Alec out, pending))
Amberelle DeEspionne 14 years ago
Amby grinned and couldn't help the combined giggle and snort that erupted when he mentioned others being as pleasant as her. Her shoulders shook just a little as she tried not to burst out laughing.

Oh no... certainly not pleasant. One of my cousins is a dominatrix and the most sadistic, viscious bitch you will ever meet... another is about as unemotional and icy a killer as ever walked the Earth. Tilting her head to the side she mentally ran down the who's who of her immediate family. Then there's your normal psychotics, the trigger happy ones, oh and the thrill seekers.. I'd say under the veneer of Creole breeding and wealth there lurks quite a few maladjusted, certifiably insane De'Espionnes. Her blonde waves bounced just a bit as she nodded several times.

Fishing her keys out of her bag, she disarmed the security with a loud chirp and gave his arm a little squeeze before heading to the driver's side. Pausing with the door partially open, she looked over at Alec and grinned from ear to ear.

I just realized.. you're going to be regretting calling me pleasant I bet. In fact I completely expect you to curse my name to the heavens before we've got you in top form. But, she shrugged with a mock sweet smile, you did ask for it non?

Climbing in with a light tinkling laugh, she started up the Aston with a loud purr and waited for the other vampire to get situated before turning north towards the recently reopened sporting goods store on the strip.

((Amby out, please lock up!))