Midnight Rebirth

With a brisk and somewhat hurried trot down the strip, Panos opened the door to the café with exuberance and stepped inside. His black hooded sweatshirt was pulled over his head casting a shadow over his face. The question of importance wasn't why was this guy wearing a sweatshirt in the middle of summer, it was why was this guy making extra efforts to not be recognized.
The truth was he didn't know exactly what had happened to him. For the most part he didn't even know when it was. He knew that it was warm, obviously, but had it been a day or months? It could have been years for all he knew.

As he slid a few dollars onto the counter the clerk gave him an irritated look. With a flick of his finger Panos sent the dollar bills fluttering towards the nerd. He raised his eyebrow as if to challenge the boy. The nerdy clerk's irritated and dissatisfied look only deepened as he slammed a computer pass down. The pass in hand Panos turned and spotted a computer in a corner near the front window of the café. It was secluded enough from other computer users and still gave him a chance to watch out the window.

"Watch for what?"Â? he asked himself mentally.

Another truth; he couldn't shake the constant feeling of being watched and it unnerved him greatly. Possibly with the window seat he could catch a glimpse of whoever could be out there.

The screen clicked on and he immediately opened the clock in the corner of the screen. JULY 08 2008. He sat stunned feeling the intense pressure of anxiety building in his chest.


"What the FUCK happened to me. Where have I been?"Â? He mumbled softly.

Waves of troubled emotion ran over him and for a brief moment his right hand trembled.

"Think damn it! What's the last thing you can remember?"Â? He inwardly coached himself.

His memories were fleeting; he saw faces but couldn't remember names or places. He remembered pain and anger and sickness that roared into a raging blackout that he had only woken up from barely an hour ago.

The waking up he remembered for sure. A strange place, it was a small apartment with noncommittal decorations and little in the way of any trace evidence of life. The windows were heavily covered as it was apparent the homemaker meant to keep out any form of light day OR night. The furniture was simple and modern; it had definitely been recently purchased. He wasn't starving when he awoke so that told him he had been fed somehow by someone. The main thing that had made him run from that eerie prevailing apartment was the continuous crawling sensation of being watched. He felt eyes on him with every panicked move he had made. He had yet to shake this feeling.

Panos had not found a cell phone anywhere in the apartment which gave him no means of communications to family members and loved ones.

"Loved ones."Â? He laughed bitterly to himself. The wicked joke of his life had never really given away to loved ones. The ones there had been....well let's just say going into hiding may be a good choice for him.

Now for family, the little bits of it he had, included a loose cannon of an aunt who was just about as old as dust and a decidedly doo-gooder daughter. Both of these women belonged to the same clan, the same clan that wouldn't mind seeing him extinct. Neither of them enjoyed his presence much, unless in the case of his aunt, it was to torture him and watch him squirm.

There was reason number two to go into hiding.

The reasons were beginning to mount up and he slouched in the chair as h tried to dig up a reason not to hide anymore. This of course was his usual routine, the bad boy, cause trouble until it gets to the breaking point and then move on to the next place until the first forgets about you. Then start it all again. This pattern had gone on for centuries; it was the Panos Mehalitsenos M.O.

It could be different this time.

Nicholae 13 years ago
It was frustration that drove Nic to his bike that night. Ever since the 'zombie' fest he had been sticking rather close to home, but tonight he'd had his fill and was struck with a strong sense of cabin fever.

"Nothing like a hard ride with the wind and bugs in your face to rev up the juices." He'd said to himself as he hopped on the motorcycle and took off along some of Nachton's darker backroads. He had no need of cops tonight, and the speeds he sought were well beyond what even the kindest of Nachton's finest would overlook. So to the isolated, vacant, and windy roads he took off at speeds that cleared 100mph easily.

Time completely got away from him when he rode like this. Before long he glanced at his watch, which he often forgot to put on, but had tonight. He had been riding for a good four hours, and was now in the mood for a break, before he added another couple hours to his evening's agenda.

Soaring into town, more careful about his speeds now, Nic caught sight of the neon lights inside the Qwerty Cafe, and pulled into the parking lot. He could kill two birds with one stone there...coffee, and use of a computer.

Though he had a computer in his place at Lifede, sometimes he wanted to check out things and not leave any kind of trail. Normally he didn't mind MARI, and even sought her assistance more often than not, but occasionally...well, try as he might to think of her as a machine, it just didn't seem to cut it when she spoke to him in that sweet, feminine voice of hers. Tonight he wanted to look up some stuff that he thought she might not approve of, so the anonymity of Qwerty looked promising.

Entering he noticed the place was its normal early morning empty, with one guy hunched over a computer, covered by his sweatshirt, appearing to want solitude. Nic had no issues with that, appreciating it because he wanted his own.

Grabbing up a hot paper cup of black coffee, Nic took a seat one computer over from the lone guy, and brought up a browser on the computer.


stranger
“What the FUCK happened to me. Where have I been?”


Nic glanced up from the computer, in the direction of the man speaking. He grinned ruefully as he put himself in that place, of not remembering things. He had gone through many a night like that back in the Hollywood days, but since learned the error of his ways, and hadn't fallen into that trap again for years.

strange man
“Think damn it! What’s the last thing you can remember?”


Turning his attention back to his own computer, Nic silently shook his head. He hoped for the man's sake his memory didn't remain elusive for long.

yea...that guy again
“Loved ones.”


Nic winced at the pain he perceived in the man's words. He wished he had words of wisdom that might offer the man comfort, but Nic wasn't too good at that, having relied on the wisdom of others to get himself out of those kinds of jams.

And the last thing he wanted was to barge into someone else's drama uninvited. He had memories of a couple fisticuffs resulting from such attempted intervention in the past. He was in a good space now, after his ride, and didn't want to spoil that unless necessary.

He turned his eyes, and fingers back to his computer, and began searching.
Panos Mehalitsenos 13 years ago
The computer screen blipped with his time limit warning. Had it already been an hour? Awake or unconscious time slid by faster and faster. Panos had been in his own little world and had barely noticed a man had sat near to him on the next computer terminal. His eyes sliced sideways in slight suspicion. Could he be following him? Was this man the reason his skin continuously crawled?

Probably not.

That wasn’t logical in the least bit.

It came to the point in Panos head that he had limited options; return to the empty apartment that had been in a weird way his unlocked cell for so many months, wander around the town aimlessly looking for people from his past (with unknown consequences), or branch out. These three choices were all open ended and the computer ticked off the remaining seconds as if it were pushing him to make a decision.

Panos pulled his hood down, which revealed some pretty decently tussled bed head, and turned to man who had sat nearest to him.


“Do you have a smoke?”
Nicholae 13 years ago
Thinking he had finally found the information he had been looking for, Nic began reading the article with complete focus. Unfortunately he hadn't read more than a paragraph when the guy next to him spoke.

"Smoke? No, sorry...don't you know those things can kill you?"

He chuckled as he turned to the man, not really caring if the stranger wanted to destroy his lungs or not, but more inclined to find the statement funny because of his own vampiric lifestyle. He could smoke from now till the cows came home and not suffer the worse for it.

Looking around, Nic noticed a cigarette vending machine just outside the front door to the cafe.


"Don't know if they have your brand, but you might try out there."

And he pointed to the machine as his means of offering assistance.

Watching to see if the guy would ask for change or something, Nic took in his tousled appearance. If Nic had been in the mood, or need of something from the guy, it might have been an interesting challenge to see how far he could get. The guy wasn't bad looking, though not really Nic's type.

In fact, ever since the fiasco with Addison, Nic had been steering clear of men altogether. And in truth, he preferred woman anyway. He had just taught himself to be open to men, since there had been times in his past when that was all that had been available.

So even though it had been a long time since he'd spent any decent time with a lovely lady, he had no designs to pursue anything masculine tonight.
Panos Mehalitsenos 13 years ago
“One could only hope.”

Panos replied with a smirk. He amused himself with his inward joke. That kind of remark would spark thoughts of suicide and depression with most, but for him it was humorous. It was one problem in this life he never had to worry about. He leaned back and nodded at the man’s computer.

“Sorry to interrupt you so abruptly. Technically I don’t smoke, but I figured it might be a good time as any to start.”

He wasn’t all that great at conversing with males. Women made it so easy; he was fluid and smooth and could dive in for the kill, literally, in no time at all. He couldn’t remember the last time he even had a friend who wasn’t female. That was odd, looking back most of the males that had been around had come for a fight. As a matter of fact he only really dined on men if it was a brutal murder. He had always been in a constant battle with his own sex. That had to have some psychoanalysis to it.

Panos turned his shoulders and head in the direction the guy had pointed out.

“I’ll be damned, you’re right. I suppose I could pick any name and it would smoke well. I’m not privy to any brand these days. It has been awhile. “

He sighed awkwardly.

“You came in off that bike didn’t you? I didn’t see it but I heard it. You may or may not be interested in taking a look into equipping the bike with a Baffle. Then you can wiz right through just about anywhere so soundlessly you’re just a blur. Perhaps even a figment of their imagination.”

Panos’s Perception gave him the ability to pay attention to minute things without being fully aware. This was one time where it came in handy in a conventional way.
Nicholae 13 years ago
The man's response gave no reason for Nic to pause. Backed up by the smirk, Nic didn't suppose the man was truthfully wishing for his demise, but joking instead.

At the man's offered apology, Nic waved his hand.


"It's no problem, I just stopped in for a short break, before I head out again."

He did pause then, while he decided if he should return to his perusing, or pursue the conversation with the man, to find out why he seemed so depressed. Perhaps the reference to dying wasn't a joke.

"Things that bad are they?"

His curiosity and abundance of free time decided the matter for him.

"You really want to possibly make your next thirty or forty years miserable with illness?"

Having no such worries, Nic found it now interesting to wonder about those who did.

Nic ignored the reference to the cigarette brands, having no insight himself. He had been required to 'smoke' cigarettes in a few movies, but he just took whatever the assistants on set handed him, and tossed them when the shot was finished.

His lackadaisical attitude disappeared the minute the guy mentioned Nic's Ducati.


"Dude! Those are Arrow high mount carbon pipes, specifically designed for that bike! Why in the world would I want to silence them? Besides, its not like I had to worry about waking anyone, where I've been riding."

His indignant attitude was masked with a tone of minor terror, but delivered with sufficient humor to make sure the guy knew he wasn't at all offended by the suggestion.

"Sorry, there are few things in my life that I'm truly passionate about, but my bike is definitely one. And they do make inserts for those pipes, if I ever need to 'wiz' around in stealth mode."

Nic chuckled at the thought that he would ever have reason for that need.

Figuring he might be chatting with this guy for a few minutes more, Nic introduced himself. He had a thing about not knowing the name of the people he talked to, if for no other reason than future reference.


"I'm Nic Lache, by the way." Wincing only slightly when he heard the rhyme. It wasn't like that had never happened before.

"You come here often?" And that line elicited a laugh, and an old Grouch Marx mannerism with a mimed cigar.
Panos Mehalitsenos 13 years ago
Panos laughed genuinely.

“Actually no, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve been here. I just needed to…check the time.”

He didn’t say check what month and day it was as that may have gotten him more than just an odd look. Their conversation had taken the edge off feeling weird and preyed upon for the time being but he had just reminded himself with a slight shiver.

“My names Panos Mehalitsenos, or Paul if it’s easier. “

Generally he gave strangers and humans his modern name. He assumed that everyone was dinner and therefore a human unless introduced otherwise. This time though he wasn’t too concerned. He doubted if this guy would be able to trace him anyways. Humans weren’t that smart and should this guy be a vampire then at least he started off on a good foot with his real name. It saved a whole lot of explaining and confusion later.

Panos thought about Nic’s question about things being bad for a moment. Honestly they weren’t bad, considering. He was alive and well, just a bit lost and even dazed. Truthfully he was in a much better mood now talking with Nic.

“Nah, I guess not end of the world bad whatever that may be, just a bit of nothingness. It seems I’ve been gone from home a bit longer than I anticipated. Now it’s more of a where what when and how to start. I have some family members here, not sure if they’d be too happy to see me but I think I might want to check in on them. A little ‘surprise! daddy’s home’ kind of thing.” He let his voice take on a tone of light sarcasm to indicate he’d probably be stirring up more trouble than good by popping in on the old fam.

“Oh, and I didn’t mean to insinuate your neighborhood hates you when you go out at night on your bike, pardon me for that. Your bike sounds like a nice ride, I have not been on a Ducati before, I tend to be a strict ‘cager’ when it comes to vehicles. I like my rides to waste my money and eat a lot of gas. Come to think of it, I have been walking a lot.” He said with a grin.

“How about you, a lot of late nights at the old qwerty coffee shop for you?”
Nicholae 13 years ago
As soon as Nic saw that Panos had a sense of humor, he relaxed even more. The last thing he wanted tonight was to get stuck trying to think of something to say to some guy he'd just met.

"Panos it is then. I've had to deal with an alias or two in my lifetime, but always prefer my birth name."

Though he didn't really like talking about his Hollywood life, always afraid someone might recognize him from one of the movies he made back in the 40's and 50's and then wonder why he didn't look a day older, occasionally something slipped.

"I used to do a bit of acting, nothing Oscar worthy, but the paparrazzi could still be a pain in the ass, so I usually worked under a pseudonym. I never was one for celebrity."

The minute he said it, it sounded pretty lame, and he wished he hadn't let the slip out at all. He really was going to need to make some strong efforts to avoid those screw ups in the future. After four hundred years he had no excuse for his haphazard behaviour.

"Daddy? You have kids then?"

Nic had never considered fatherhood for himself, knowing full well he was much to selfish for such a life. Yet he did admire men who thought differently. Someone had to do the job of course, and to those who favored it, he gave kudos to.

Waving off the bike comment, Nic hadn't really been serious when he gave his little rant. He felt bad that Panos now felt bad for his helpful suggestion.


"I can appreciate the luxury of a fine car, and even being driven around by others at times, but for true excitement, can't say I've found anything better than my Monster."

People who rode motorcycles got it, and those who didn't, didn't. Different strokes, and all that, NIc was cool with them all.

"I stop in now and again, but I'm not a regular, if that's what you're asking. Tonight I wanted to rinse the bugs from my teeth, and check out something on the internet. I was afraid if I didn't stop now, I'd forget what I wanted." A casual shrug and grin, and that was the end of that subject.

"I guess maybe I should be getting now though...the night isn't getting any younger."

He stood up and paused.

"Back seat isn't huge, but you said you were walking, and I can give you a lift if you want...?"

Nic didn't mind taking the guy home, if it was something he wanted.
Panos Mehalitsenos 13 years ago
Nic had asked him if he was a daddy. How to explain that one. He hadn't realized his technical slip of words as they came out but now they were there.

"Yes, well my daughter is a bit older, not so much of a little one so to speak. Plus I suppose she was in good hands before I even left."

It was hard to not sound like a deadbeat dad in this situation but he didn't have much of a choice. If Nic had begun to form an opinion of him already it may have been changed at this point.

He checked his watch and concidered the other mans offer of a ride. Where did he have to go? Nowhere of course but he didn't want to stay here. He could have Nic take him back to the desolate apartment but then what? No he thought, not there not now.


"Would you happen to be going near the Arch Muesum? I could use a ride there."

He wasn't in the mood for a history lesson of the arts but it was a good bet that Chryseis would be there and if not her two stupid dogs would be for sure.

"If not it's ok. I'm sure it's not too far uptown I could always walk."
Nicholae 13 years ago
Though he wasn't sure if he had detected a sore subject, Nic didn't pursue the 'daughter' matter further. Everyone had their troubles, and on occasion Nic didn't even mind listening to them, but he wasn't really in the mood tonight. Besides that, it wasn't as if he had any experience to draw from in offering advice either. It sounded like a big 'no win' situation all around.

"Sure. The museum is no trouble at all, and in fact in the general direction of where I was headed anyway. Come on."

Nic didn't usually feel too uncomfortable having a guy ride 'bitch' on his bike, so it wasn't anything he regretted offering.

As they made their way outside Nic could see his helmet was right where he left it. He hadn't been wearing it earlier, but usually carried it tied down to the back of the bike, just in case. Now he untied it to give Panos a place to sit, and to also offer it up.


"Don't know if you'd feel safer wearing this or not, but you're welcome to. Sometimes people feel a lot more mortal when they find themselves in a position like this."

Nic's tone was serious because he didn't want the man to think he was thinking less of him if he had fit that bill. Underneath, however, he had to admit he found the entire helmet matter to be unnecessary, and that had nothing to do with his own immortality.
Panos Mehalitsenos 13 years ago
Panos had followed Nic outside to the bike. He had been right, there wasn't tons of ample space for him but he'd fit. It was a bit strange to straddle another man with so much power beneath them, hell it was strange just to straddle another man, but it beat walking. It was something he was tired of already. Aquiring another vehicle would be a top priority.

When Nic offered him the helmet the words he spoke echoed in his ears. The temptation to possibly feel mortal again was to juicey to pass up.


I think I will give it a go without the helmet. It's almost like a challenge to good to pass up. I trust you won't intentionally try to drop me off the back of the bike.

His response was only half a question and half a statement. He really had no idea how this man rode and unless they got into some wicked accident where dismemberment was involved he didn't have much to really fear. The very idea of getting beaten around just wasn't all that appealing to him this evening.
Nicholae 13 years ago
"Good, I admire a man who likes to take risks, but will assure you I'm very good, and there won't be any losing of passengers on my rides."

Nic might take chances when he rode solo, but never if there was the possibility of injury to anyone else.

Throwing his leg over the bike, Nic pushed the kickstand up with the heel of his boot, and scooted forward as far as he could go. He then turned the key and revved the engine. The muffler was a little noiser than your average bike, but the thought of tampering with it made Nic sad, and he knew it wasn't anything he would ever do. If worse came to worse, he'd just never again ride in town. Somethings were meant to be in their natural state, and to alter them...well, it really was blasphemous.


"Ready?"

Now that he was back on the bike, his adrenalin began pumping again, and he looked forward to getting Panos to the museum, and then letting go again.
Panos Mehalitsenos 13 years ago
Nicholae;44171
"
"Ready?"


Panos nodded and settled himself behind Nic on the bike. The bike was a loud one so he gave a thumbs up once he was set to go.

There wasn't anything to hold onto except Nic so he put one hand on the man's shoulder closer to his neck. His other hand he kept on the bike. The idea of holding on for safety was almost a novelty since any wrong move or turn could tumble them both regardless of how tight he held on.

He quieted any tiny bit of fear he had with this thought; should they wreck at least he would have a decent man meal to rejuvinate off of. Of course it wasn't the situation he wanted he rather liked Nic, he was a decent guy, and he had other things to do this night that didnt include biting that hand that fed him. Or in this case, the guy who gave him a ride.
Nicholae 13 years ago
The ride was uneventful, for the most part, and rather short. For shits and giggles Nic did take a couple corners more quickly than necessary, but in a sense he felt he owed Panos a little thrill. Having the streets as deserted as they were only gave him more reason to speed. Nic was aware of the usual cop hang outs, and avoided them easily. He was sure he could out run any cop that might attempt to chase him, but that would have entailed a bit more reckless abandon than he chose to exhibit with a passenger.

When they reached the museum, Nic rode right up to the steps. He could have probably ridden up the steps as well, but that wouldn't really get Panos that much closer, and it would have surely shaken their gizzards loose.

Leaving the bike on, Nic steadied himself to give Panos an easier way to get off the seat.


"Good luck to you on your return..."

Reaching into his pants pocket, Nic pulled out a personal card. It had his cell phone number, and his local post office box number, where all his business correspondence was sent. Nic could have used his Liefde address, but at the time he had the cards printed he was trying to keep a low profile from Ellis, and didn't see the need to advertise his whereabouts. Now it wouldn't matter at all, but he had never gotten around to changing the information.

"...and here...if you ever need anything, or just want a night on the town, and wouldn't mind the company, give me a call." Nic hoped it was a given that he didn't expect to be called at Panos' expense of giving up a date, but even Nic had nights when he would rather shoot the bull with Kem, than go out looking to get laid. It wasn't a frequent experience, but it did occasionally occur.
Panos Mehalitsenos 13 years ago
The ride to the museum was refreshing. It did have its moments where the adrenaline rushed through him giving him a jolt of life. It almost lived up to the promise of feeling mortal again. Perhaps the crazier the ride the more and more you felt vulnerable. Maybe one day he’d get a bike and put it to the test.

They arrived just outside the museum and Panos swung off the bike with ease. When Nic handed him his business card he accepted it and felt for his phone on his waist. It was one of the items that had been beside his bed when he woke from his coma. Honestly he didn’t know if he had the same phone number as before but all his contacts were still there. Panos flipped it off its holster and dialed the number on the card letting it ring twice before quickly ending the call.


“I don’t have a card to give you but I just rang your number so that your caller ID will show mine. I extend the same offer to you. I will be around these parts for sure.”

Their parting felt a bit awkward and Panos looked over his shoulder to the looming stone building. Another chapter was about to begin in his sordid history.

“Thank you for the ride here. My aunt runs or owns this place. I can’t remember which, she’s old as dirt anyways, she probably built it with her own hands.” He shrugged.

“Anyways, you can always get a hold of me through here if you really needed to, should anything come up.”

He slipped the business card into his back pocket of his faded blue jeans and nodded to Nic.

“Take care. I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other around again.”
Nicholae 13 years ago
Nic thought the trick with the cell phone was quite clever, and decided he would do that from now on. He wasn't the quickest guy with electronics, and thought that way of providing his cell number would give him a slight air of 'coolness' that he was sorely lacking. Maybe he'd try it with Kem, and see how it panned out.

He nodded his understanding, and chuckled at the joke Panos told about his aunt. At least he assumed it was a joke. He had to admit he was slightly curious to see what this aunt looked like, and knew he'd be back at the museum in a few days to find out.


"Thanks." He responded, and nodded again. In the relatively short time he'd been in Nachton, Nic guessed he must have befriended more people than he had in the past forty, or fifty years. Even when he didn't think he would see anyone, like he expected tonight, something usually came up to change that. Tonight he had made another friend.

"You too, man."

Nic kicked the bike into gear, and took off, without any further ado. He didn't have too much time before sunrise, and had yet to take care of his other needs. If he was lucky he might be able to do that, and still have a little longer to ride, but he had to get moving, either way.

(Nic out)
Panos Mehalitsenos 13 years ago
Panos watched Nic ride off down the stone paved driveway of the Arch before turning to walk up it's large steps.

"Here goes nothing."

(Panos out)