Very superstitious, nothin' more to say
Very superstitious, the devil's on his way
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past
When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain't the way, no, no, no
- Stevie Wonder
Simon stood quietly with his arms crossed his wide chest and the fingers of his right hand tracing the line of his bottom lip. He mumbled one or two incoherent words as he stood in the ground floor living area of Shiroi Yuukaku's home and was completely enthralled.
He had asked Alec to join him at Yuu's home near the coast to go over the security precautions first hand, and per Alec's suggestion, Simon showed up before dusk. The short walk in the sun from his car to the home was enough to cause steam to rise up off of his skin and upon seeing the almost completely glass structure, Simon did question Alec's sanity for a moment, but the young architect would have never designed something that wouldn't provide some sort of saftey measure for their kind. Simon was not wrong.
The windows were UV blocked, much like Alfarinn's penthouse at the Liefde towers and he stood in the bright sun's rays without harm. This was still not the life for a vampire; this type of exposure, depending on the age of the vampire, would still cause damage. Still, the view was stunning, to say the least, and Simon watched the sun slowly descend into the watery horizon with naked wonder.
Yuu was home. The sound of the shower filtered through the frosted glass partitions into the living area Simon was standing in, but he chose to leave the woman to her privacy for the moment. The news of Senator DeSmith's death, confusing though it was - murder or accident) and Nachton's District Attorney in the same evening had already hit the newspapers and television with much scandal and accusations. Even Kyle Evans had jumped on the bandwagon writing his conspiracy theories which, ironically enough, were true. How do you hide the truth? By shoving it down people's throat.
Simon smiled to himself as Alec entered the home and joined him in the living area in front of the protected windows. Without turning to look at him, Simon complimented him on the success of the home.
'Almost makes me want to be human again, Alec.' He clapped a hand on the young man's shoulder. 'Well done, sir.'
((Ooc - lemme know if it wasn't kosher to touch Alec, I can change it.))
Alec took a glance at the clock. Simon would be reliving a moment from his past right about now. It would still be years before Alec could comfortably see the sun. He still did not understand the fascination so many of his kind shared - the desire to revisit the glowing orb. He supposed that it was like so many other things - an echo of sentimentality remaining from their human days. Individuals with a greater appreciation for color seemed to greatly enjoy the views provided. As someone without a daylight past to think fondly toward, he simply did not understand the complexities of emotion involved. He understood the desire, and knew how to feed it. That was enough.
Sending a brief memo to Shay, letting her know that he was out of the Domicile with Simon on business, he scheduled a drop off at the Yuukaku residence. There were other tasks he wished to accomplish later in the evening. Electing to keep his appearance simple, he selected a charcoal turtleneck and slacks, with black gloves, belt and shoes. He would bring the security system testing kit with him in case Simon wished up to date readouts on anything, as well as his cowl and goggles for afterward. Recalling his first meeting with Miss Yuukaku, he also placed a medical eye pad over his damaged orb, and placed glasses on his face. He was uncertain if it was still necessary to keep pretenses up with Shiroi, but may as well be prepared.
Letting himself in, he silently watched Simon enjoy the last of the brighter hues as they faded from the sky. At the praise, Alec blushed slightly.
"Thank you. A small pet project that came to me some time ago. Miss Yuukaku seemed to enjoy it more than the other applicants available, so it went to her. I felt she would fill the space most adequately. Typically, I keep more to restoration projects and Colonial design, but every now and again I feel a different calling. I suppose it is like that with anyone practicing their hobbies."
Tapping the case he held at his side with an index finger, he smiled.
"It also allowed me an optimal environment in which to test several layers in my new security designs. Two hobbies for the price of one."
Cocking his head for a moment, he listened to the sound of Yuu washing herself. It was strange...even in such a simple thing as the use of a shower, you could hear differences between people. Taking on a cocked grin, Alec asked
"So, by her presence here I imagine she is to become someone's familiar...or we are looking to expand into an Evenhet-esque human appreciation campaign?"
Nodding toward the sound of the shower, Simon shook his head slowly. 'No, not a familiar, but under our protection for the moment. Kenley's forwarding the report to you right now, in it you'll see the conversation with Weatherby and this 'unknown client'. His point of contact is actually his 90 year old mother, if you can believe it.' Simon paused and looked back out at the increasingly dark evening horizon over Nachton's coast line.
'I can't help but wonder if this has something to do with the Werewolves return.'
Simon turned and saw Yuu standing half hidden behind one of the frosted glass partitions separating the living area and the bedroom quarters. Her hair was wet and plastered against the sides of her face, which was flushed and without makeup. Her hands were tightly clenched over the opening of her robe and she looked very much dishelved, all things considering.
'Kev...Kevin?' She called Alec by the cover he used for his 'hobby' as he put it, so Simon remained silent as he waited for Alec to decide on what he wanted her to know.
Where was Tai? She hadn't seen or talked to him in months now, and after having thought she was fine with his lackadaisical appearances, it pained her think she couldn't even confide in him. All she had now were two people who had meant to kill her and some sort of verbal confirmation of 'protection', whatever that meant. Simon was downstairs now having had the decency to ring the doorbell, even though his men were posted in and around the house already. She was never alone, but was completely alone.
Yuu pushed on the glass door of the shower and stumbled out without turning off the water. Her white robe was laying on the floor at her feet and she picked it up and wrapped it around her, soaking it completely. Her autopilot was flawed and damaged, moving Yuu through the moments in time with a blurry recollection, at best. The voices from the living room area filtered into her brain and her eyes re-focused. She was not at all surprised to not remember leaving the shower. With deliberate steps she padded barefoot out of her bathroom, through her bedroom and stood listening just beyond the frosted glass partitions.
'...but wonder if this has something to do with the Werewolves return.'
Yuu'd eyebrows furrowed in confusion. First vampires, now werewolves? What? Her mind reeled. Simon was standing with another man in front of the windowed wall and both turned to look at her. The other man was familiar, but damaged. His one eye was covered in a bandage. Yuu blinked and looked into his face, recognition sparking to life.
'Kev...Kevin?' The architect and owner of her home. Handsome, but aloof - bedding him had been too difficult to achieve for Yuu, much to her dismay, and she never saw him again. Till now.
'What's going on?'
"Well, good to know that grandmama still has her hand in things. At least she has yet to eat her children."
For a moment, Alec was given the opportunity to ponder Kenley, and what her appointment meant to Simon and Carol. The woman was certainly skilled at her job, very efficient, but cold. Certainly a large step from from the post's previous occupant. About to ask how that was going for the Clan leader, Alec overheard a voice and quickly had to make a decision. Miss Yuukaku would likely know about vampires by now, and she had just overheard the mention of werewolves. The mental math was pretty easy to compute. Her mention of the supernatural to anyone would be political suicide, and it was not as if she could say anything without his knowledge with his some of the intricacies of her security systems. If necessary he could just eliminate her later, or they could bring her more completely into the Tacharan fold. Smiling pleasantly, he watched her watch him, expanding his senses to better take in her biological reactions to his words.
"Actually, Kevin is an alias, a nom-de-plume, if you will, for the artistic side of my hobbies. As Mr. Huntington will be referring to me as Alec, you may call me that, or Kevin if you still prefer. I easily respond to and do business with both. I have been asked here to go over the intricacies of the security system with Mr. Huntington as you seem to have come to some arrangement with him regarding added protection in light of recent events."
Smiling at Simon, Alec continued.
"Since I have had the pleasure of working with Mr. Huntington before on several security projects, I know you will be in good hands. I have assisted him in some small part with training of personnel, and he makes use of several of my security designs in the scope of his business and residential ventures."
Glancing briefly to her eyes, to her robe and back to her eyes again, he nodded slightly.
"I am certain we can allow discussion involving your security interests to be placed on hold until you are ready to fully join the conversation. Mr. Huntington and I have several shared hobbies and projects that we can discuss to occupy however much time you may require."
She ignored the fact that she was half dressed and dripping wet and blurted out, 'Are you a vampire, too?' She covered her eyes with the palms of her hands and shook her head. 'Oh god, I tried to have sex with you.'
"I am as human as the next man, I assure you."
At her sudden outburst, his jaw dropped. She had? Where had he been when all of this was happening? Was that what she had been trying to accomplish when they had last interacted? Trying to figure out a way to phrase a compassionate response that would ease her down from her point of confusion, he stated
"Well, I suppose that negates much of the need to finish dressing. Anat..."
At Simon's response, he could not help it. He laughed. Hard. Shaking his head, he tried to continue.
"There seems to be some of that going around, apparently, and I am always the last to know...I do not believe that this is helping Shiroi through her emotional troubles, though. "
Calming down with a chuckle, he finished.
"Anyway, I hear that you have had a rough couple of days. I am happy to help in whatever fashion you require. I suspect that information and security are things that you have a high demand for, and I have both."
The black SUV she had stolen just for this trip did not have its lighter intact, much to her dismay. The owner had thrown it out, an apparent non-smoker. Pfft, she thought, what deviants. As they sped along past the Marina and down a private road along the coastline, Ellis lit her cigarette as she drove one-handed. Snapping her silver lighter shut, she inhaled deeply and relaxed into the soft, plush seat.
Ellis looked over at Tai who was quiet, as per the norm, the entire trip. It wasn't that far, downtown was located rather close to the luxury homes along the coast and her lair at the Operahouse was in the heart of the commercial center of Nachton. The road swelled into small hills and then back into valleys until the homes were at least several hundred feet apart, landscaped and gated. They pulled up to the address Simon had given her and she slowed the SUV to a stop.
She let out a long whistle. The horizon was a beautiful background against the moonlit mirrored windows. The house had been designed and built by Alec Devereaux; how that young man impressed the hell out of her. Miss Yuukaku was the lucky owner of one of the newer modern homes that managed to get built just as the housing market bubble burst. Speaking of recent news, Ellis reached behind her to pick up several copies of the Wall Street Journal dated November 5th of the current year. She looked at the man who had just been elected President and smiled. Again, you live a thousand lifetimes and you never think you'd get to do something as fun as drive a car off a marina boardwalk or see a black man as president.
Tossing the newspaper back, Ellis undid her seat belt and winked at Tai. 'Okie dokie, let's go.'
'Gosh, that's swell,' she said with a flippant tone. Turning on the balls of her feet, she stormed back into her bedroom finally noticing the shower stall still running water. Walking back into her bathroom, she reached in and shut the water off. Pulling back her arm, she grimaced at the now soaking wet sleeve and in another tornado of fury, ripped the robe off and threw it across the bathroom. Wiping away the condensation from the large vanity mirror, Yuu took a good look at her face.
'Jesus H. Christ,' she muttered. Her eyes were bloodshot, her skin sallow with deep black circles under her eyes. With a sad thump, she sat down in the vanity chair and began to fix the damage.
After weeks of not being able to find her she had showed up, casual as you please, with a directive that he accompany her. Tai didn't have the will to argue with her; he never had and he wasn't sure he ever would. Instead he went along, disgusted with himself for doing so, without asking why, where, or even who.
The house they pulled up at was a true work of art. Tai's architect's eye appreciated it even if his face remained expressionless. When Ellis finally spoke, he quirked an eyebrow up at her and wordlessly slid from the SUV. Obviously they weren't here to do a job. Or, if they were, secrecy wasn't required. As they approached the house he allowed himself to wonder what their purpose was here. Intimidation? A pleasant social call with dinner, dancing, and something with asparagus?
With an internal shrug Tai simply became Ellis' shadow, just behind and to the side of her, footsteps as silent as he had been the entire trip.
Simon winced at the callousness of his words. Yuu had been crying since the night before, distraught over the death of someone she was intimidate with, even if it was just a quick fuck when the Senator was in town, and shocked by the realization that her death had been orchestrated by her own boss. Her eyes were forced opened to a world so different from hers. Was his reaction to Ellis’ world so different? There were no tears, but he did seemingly exist in a daze in the following months.
‘Alright, tell me about these outside sensors.’
Alec continued with the vibration sensors - they way those work was by tracing subtle vibrations against the frosted surfaces. Any sound or air motion would be detectable with fine enough tuning, but the frosted glass makes it more difficult. The exterior pane of glass around the house acts as a buffer to the dual pane interior - the exterior distorts anything going on inside, whereas the inside detects anything inside only.
Simon nodded, pleased with Alec’s technical genius. The entire system in the home had served as a live test for the upgrades that Alec had done in the Domicile. Simon scratched the back of his neck and thanked God that Alec was on his side.
‘We’re able to monitor the home from the Domicile, correct? If not, implement that immediately.’ Simon touched the back of his neck again, cracking it to the right. ‘The DA’s office will be keeping an arm guard on all its assistant district attorneys, at least for a while. I’ve worked it out so that we’ll be able to keep a detail nearby, but someone close to Yuu, someone trusted is the first priority. See to…’
The itch on the back of his neck spread grew, spreading along his shoulders and signaling that his perception was being tripped. The familiar aura lit up like a radar and Simon recognized it immediately.
‘Come with me.’ He and Alec crossed the living area and headed toward the front entrance. Two Mercs were standing by the door. One Merc reached up and spoke quietly to the Mercs stationed outside via his ear piece. With a nod to the other Merc, the first one put his hand on the door knob and opened it.
Ellis stood against the door frame smiling as sweet as could be. She stepped into the doorway and unbuttoned her long sleeve sheerling jacket with Gucci crested buttons. Her ‘ babushka’’ flat boots stopped just below her knee and her camel colored riding pants were tucked neatly into them. With her upturned collar, Ellis opened her jacket and stepped into the foyer. The bloushoi print, long sleeve jacket seemed out of place on the typically dark dressed vampire. Simon raised his eyebrows at her typical grand entrance.
‘About time, we’ve been waiting…’
Simon’s words trailed off as he realized she was not alone. Imagine his surprise as a pair of golden colored eyes ascended the steps to the entrance and stepped into the doorway.
Without thinking Simon blurted out, ‘And what the fuck is this?’
((ooc - permission to move Tai and Alec))
"Yes, I had actually installed that from day one. It seemed like she would be a good person to mark for clan involvement down the road. It seems that the time line has just been greatly abbreviated."
Nodding at Simon's request, Alec considered who would be adequate for the detail. A mix of skills would be in order. He considered Williams for the position as they moved to the door. The man was certainly capable, and worked well with the techs he had assigned to Miss Yuukaku's monitoring. As the door opened, Alec's eyebrow rose slightly. Ellis was dressed differently, so she was likely up to something. Based on the reaction of his boss, that was certainly the case. Glancing at Simon, he waited for someone else to say something.
He didn't expect to come face to face with his counterpart as soon as he emerged from the stairwell, however. Sure enough though, there was Simon himself, Tai's "brother" as it were. With an eloquent opener, nonetheless.
Sliding into the room, Tai allowed himself a brief glimmer of a sideways smirk. He didn't know Simon well, but everything he had figured out told him it was tough to ruffle the man. Other than the one quirk of his lips, Tai's face remained expressionless as he took up a position leaning against the door frame.
"Nice place," he said to Simon. "Clearly, your day job is paying off."
Oh, she thought. This was about Nova, not her. She felt disappointment slump her shoulders and Simon's angry eyes glared in her direction.
'At ease, Captain.' Disappointment clearly colored her tone. Quietly she spoke to Simon via their bond.
['What's the problem? He's a qualified killer and, I might add, a perfect candidate as Merc. He can protect her, especially with his inside information on Miss Thing.' ]
Ellis nodded toward the inside of the house and smiled.
Simon felt Ellis' emotion as well as see it in her body language as her sudden perkiness was deflated. This was the same tool who tried to kill Nova upon Ellis' sudden return at the Mall the Christmas before. Nova was older, but didn't have the benefit of ancient blood and they still were at a stalemate, thanks to Alfarinn. Simon ignored the goading from the new boy toy and focused in on Ellis who was speaking to him.
['The problem is we don't know shit about him, other than the fact that you sicked him onto Nova. Who the hell is he?] Simon looked back at the golden eyed punk standing casually at the door frame.
['Where'd you dig up this fortune cookie?']
She stood at her closet for a few minutes before grabbing a burberry cargo shirt-dress and sling back, peek-a-boo beige heels. Yuu figured if she was going to be a victim, she'd at least be a well dressed one. The dress was a dark navy blue and had cargo pockets to hide her trembling hands in, which would come in handy. With a final look in the mirror, Yuu gave her reflection a dismissive wave and walked through her bedroom back into the living room area to confront Simon and Kev...Alec. Shaking her head, she wondered what else could she possibly find out was an enormous lie in this fairytale turned nightmare life of hers.
With a deep breath she walked out from behind the frosted glass partition separating the rooms and saw that the living room had been vacated. Yuu slowly stepped down into the living area and looked around. Nothing. No sound, no Simon or Alec.
'Huh,' she thought. Suddenly it occured to her that being alone didn't seem like a good idea. Wrapping her arms in front of her, she walked toward the front entrance, peeking around the corners, looking for any signs of life. A cold chill hit her, like someone had left the front door open. Rubbing her arms, she walked quickly to the entrance and turned the corner into the foyer.
Simon and that woman, Ellis, were standing looking at each other. Alec was behind Simon and two more men were standing by the door. Yuu watched the man and woman stare at each other. It was odd, was the only way she could describe it. They weren't talking, just looking at each other and on occasion, would shrug or nod. Simon's face tightened in anger and then he looked at something just beyond Ellis in the doorway, pointing at it angrily. That's when Ellis took a step back.
`Trust me on this,' Ellis said.
'I don't trust you or him,' Simon replied. Yuu took a step forward, her heel clicking on the tiled floor as she stepped off the carpet. All them turned and looked over at Yuu who was standing at the edge of the wall into the foyer. Everyone, including Tai who was standing behind Ellis in the doorway.
'Jesus, Ellis.' Simon grunted angrily.
'What?' Then Ellis smiled.
Deep down he was fairly sure Ellis knew everything but if Tai had a heart, he was not in the habit of wearing it on his sleeve. He forced himself to remain relaxed, letting each muscle go one by one. No doubt Ellis' perception would have picked up the subtleties, but perhaps not for the other two men.
Tai's face remained expressionless. He wasn't certain what sort of storm he would be in store for; he hadn't seen Yuu in weeks. Part of that was by design; after his last heart-to-heart with Ellis he thought it might be better if he stayed away from Yuu for a while, but apparently it hadn't helped much. Part of that was their relationship, however. He and Yuu had never promised each other anything... not really.
Unable to remain staring at her, Tai's tawny eyes flickered to Ellis. "What's this about?"
He apologized silently to Yuu; he had a lot of explaining to do. Was there any chance she would a - believe him, and b - forgive him for things that were completely out of his control? And that led him to c - why the hell did he still care, after all this time?
Their silent communication raised the ante further. It underlined the fact that they were well and truly bonded and no longer needed to communicate verbally. This was frustrating in Alec in far too many ways to consider objectively. He did the only rational thing that any self-respecting snoop would do in such a circumstance. He eavesdropped as best as he could. Obviously, telepathic or emotional or mystical rainbows of happiness and sharing or whatever level the bonding operated on were not subject to the standard techniques, but he was pretty skilled at reading the language of the body.
Expanding his senses out of habit, more than anything else, he listened to their bodies as they interacted. As his words indicated before the spate of nonverbal communication, Simon was aggresive, angry. The Asian man behind Ellis seemed amused by this - through his posture and motion as he came to rest it was clear that this man was very physically capable, certainly well trained in the use of his body, and did not consider Simon a threat.
That irritated Alec slightly, but he might not consider Simon a threat if he were being protected by Ellis, either. Was that what this was? Her disappointment had been clear in her voice - did she want to patch something up between those two? Clearly she had some sort of scheme involving the man and Miss Yuukaku, but she seemed to want Simon's approval. Very interesting. Simon's tension remained, and he seemed still focused on the man, still very assertive. Verbal declarations were resuming. As he was retreating his senses...he almost missed something.
Turning his focus on the Assistant DA as she arrived provided a wealth of information. Quickly returning his focus to the Asian man, Alec caught the shift in tension as the man forced himself to relax. Very well done - even with his perception on, he nearly missed it.
The question became whether Ellis had any more hold over the Asian man than Miss Yuukaku. Another question became whether this man was a relative or a lover. If the latter, she really did have a taste for the dead. So much to ask. Too smart to say it. He would find out soon enough.
Smiling pleasantly, Alec glanced around. It was unlikely that they were under any surveillance without the team's knowledge, but he was in the business of not taking chances of that nature.
"Perhaps we should go inside? With Miss Yuukaku's permission, of course."
Ellis could barely contain herself. Watching the unbreakable Tai's outer shell crack was almost as fun as leading Simon around on his leash. One man were incensed, and the other, completely caught off guard; she'd be lying if she said she wasn't having the time of her life.
"Perhaps we should go inside? With Miss Yuukaku's permission, of course." Alec, always the voice of reason, Ellis mused. She clapped her hands together once, the sound vibrating off the walls of the foyer and shattering the stark silence.
Ellis kept her eyes on Yuu, stepping in front of her field of vision and blocking Tai. With a slight strut, Ellis entered the house and walked slowly toward Yuu. With a deep breath, she got the party rolling.
'What this is, Tai, is a favor. A favor from me to you, a favor to Miss Yuu here from all of us...a generous favor all around, I guess you could say. Miss Yuu is in need of protection and I figured a man of your,' she paused for a moment and looked back at Tai over her shoulder, 'skills...is needed.' Looking back at Yuu, Ellis closed the distance and stood directly in front of the small woman, looking down at her. Yuu refused to meet her gaze. In a very quiet whisper, Ellis leaned in and spoke in Yuu's ear.
'I wonder what the cherry blossoms look like in bloom here?'
Yuu's eyes grew wide and she finally looked up at her. Ellis held her eyes as she passed the small asian woman and entered the living area of the home. She was almost giddy with anticipation.
Her eyes trailed the floor, across the foyer and up into Tai's face. Yuu couldn't quite read the look on his face, but she knew he could read hers. Her shame and the realization that Ellis wasn't just a friend of Simon's, but clearly something more than a friend to Tai.
She grappled with wanting to cry, scream, or just break something. Her face burned and ironically an itch formed on the small of her back, in the exact place where a delicate cherry blossom flower was tattooed. No one had seen it, no one knew about it, no one but Tai. She had gotten it in an unspoken gesture of affection for him; a cherry blossom matching the tattoos on his body.
And Tai told Ellis.
Anger filtered into her face and she narrowed her eyes at him. 'You son-of-a-bitch,' she muttered and turned away.