Family Reunion (private)
Tai stood at the end of the gravel drive that led to the Abbatoir. Val stood beside him; together they regarded the building with mixed skepticism and curiosity. By her own admission, Val didn't spend too much time with her own clan here in Nachton. Tai could empathize, not having realized a need for it himself. But if he planned to stay here in America it only made sense that he increase his contacts, and know his new "family" organization.
"Very inviting," he remarked dryly as he observed the metal fencing and the wire.
Shifting slightly, almost imperceptibly, Tai tested the feel of the gravel beneath his feet. It was solid and mobile at the same time and it reminded him of how he'd felt for the last couple of years, moving yet not moving depending on the force applied to it.
Well, he was tired of being a pawn moved by larger game pieces. Whether it brought him to his end or to another beginning, it was time to become a piece in his own right.
"Shall we go check out the night life?" He offered Val his arm.
“Actually I’ve seen worse.”
She had but it had been a long time.
“At least it should keep your standard gawker out.”
Oddly enough, she was a bit nervous. Val took that to mean she’d been living in relative isolate far too long. It was well past time to sink or swim on her own. Noticing she’d been fidgeting with her rings Val laughed at herself grinned at Tai and took his arm.
“Come on then lover what’s the worst that can possibly happen.”
"Yes, but what about Olympic-level gawkers?" he asked, reminding her of the odd turn their conversation with Jan had taken months ago at the House of Pain. "I'm not sure it would deter them."
He smiled dryly at Val's next words. They hadn't really touched on his origins. So, he figured, one of many things could happen... or many of those many things. Who knew? How would Simon receive his appearance here?
Their one brief meeting had been tainted by Ellis' baiting and traps, and Simon had refused outright to place any trust in Tai whatsoever, in spite of his credentials. Still, he'd performed his job until it had no longer seemed to matter.
He had a feeling his sudden appearance at Simon's clan home would not be well-received, but as he understood it, he had just as much right as anyone. Didn't he?
Accompanying Val up to the entrance, Tai leveled his gaze at the man who stood there and waited to see what would happen.
Her computer began its identifying process on the subject and Kenley watched as the it zeroed in on his face. Again, not anyone she's met before, so with growing disinterest, she stood up from her desk. Suddenly the alarms from her computer began their steady beep and identified him as a temporary Merc, but unauthorized there at the Domicile.
With narrowed eyes Kenley sent a message to the Mercs to greet them as they approached the Abby's entrance. Another monitor signaled to her that the Leader was still on the grounds and she sent a message to him as well.
'Hmm, wonder what he did to get all this attention?'
The head Merc on duty called in their position and Kenley took the opportunity to dig a little deeper. 'Who is he? Uh...Ichiro Taiji?'
Captain Garcia replied with his monotone voice. 'Had temporary duty covering the new District Attorney.'
'Oh,' Kenley replied. 'Well the Leader is here and...' she checked the reply message, 'he said to not to engage but to let them in the Abby. He'll be waiting there.' Kenley paused with a curious expression. 'What's this guy's deal?'
Garcia replied with a hint of laughter, 'He tried to kill Nova once.'
'Oh.' Kenley's eyebrows rose. 'I don't think this is going to end well.'
'Nope, probably not. Orders received, we're eyes only.'
'Thank you, Captain.' Kenley sat back down in her chair and waited, wishing she had some popcorn.
'Orders received, we're eyes only,' he had replied to Kenley. With a slight nod of his head, the Mercs dispersed. The Merc standing at the door watched with disinterested eyes as they approached.
Manfred recognized the female as a member, Valentine, and the male as some tempy within the Mercs. He nodded politely to Valentine.
'Miss.' He looked at Tai and gave him a short nod. 'Welcome to the Abbatoir.' Manfred pushed the door in and stepped back.
'Have fun now, ya'hear?'
"I imagine we will," Tai replied to the man, wondering just how much trouble this was going to get him into.
Ah well; Val probably wouldn't hold it against him. They moved through the doorway and into the pulsing, constantly moving entity that was the Tacharan playground.
She grinned brightly at the bouncer/greeter type.
“That would be the plan.”
Sliding through the doorway with her escort, she did a quick scout for any one she knew, unlikely but it could happen. Not seeing anyone familiar she raised an eyebrow at Tai, this had been his idea so she was letting him set the pace.
"These all ours?" He asked her. She knew this place better than he, even if her knowledge was limited.
In his months with Ellis, she had never really given him much to go on about the clan itself. He understood her relationship with them had been - well, stressed, to say the least. But if this was where Ellis was now, this was where he needed to be. That, and like it or not Tai was used to being part of an organization.
As they descended the stairs Tai found eyes looking at them; some were glancing, some were staring openly. He waited for Val to answer his question, hoping she'd let him know if these were mixed humans or familiars. How was a vampire to know what was dinner and what wasn't around here, anyway?
Tai was fresh off his bodyguard duties and apparently finding a place for himself in Nachton. Things had settled down with Miss Yuu and was finally accepting of her constant Merc companions. Curious though, why Tai wasn't with Yuu now. There was some sort of relationship between the two, at least the tension between them suggested it. It would be something he'd need to look into, but in the meantime...
Simon pushed back away from his desk and stood quickly, pulling down on his light gray v-neck sweater and adjusting the sleeves of his darker bias trim Armani blazer. He could play this one of two ways: the jealous lover or the unyielding leader. With a roll of his eyes as he passed through his office door, out into the pulsating darkness of the Abby's club, Simon mumbled to no one in particular.
'Time to greet the kids.'
“Well they are either ours or invited. They don’t wander in off the street.”
Translation, you might want to be a little bit careful who you bite they probably belong to someone. Of course, it was entirely possible some of them were totally disposable. Tai was a big boy though and he might be a bit young but he’d managed this far, he could keep managing.
“Why are you hungry again?”
She turned a fangy smile on him playing with the double meaning of that simple statement.
As they made their way downward, Tai looked up and noted the steel platform above them, chains and hooks poised in macabre arrangement. How charming. Ellis must have had a hand in the decorating.
The place looked like an arena of some kind, with seating all over the sides and the big mosh pit in the center at the very bottom. It was dimly lit although Tai suspected that at least half the population here didn't mind in the least.
There was no one here aside from Val that he recognized. but what had he expected? He was a small cog in what was apparently a very large wheel. That suited him fine; there was safety in numbers.
Bending low to speak into Val's ear, since yelling didn't suit him in the least, he said, "So what exactly does one do here aside from gyrate with the masses? Is there a bar somewhere? Do they play twister and shuffleboard in the back?"
He wasn't sure what he'd expected. Something a little less - grungy. Surely they could do better for themselves than this? Inwardly, he shrugged. He'd seen worse.
Subterfuge was a glorious thing. The crowd parted slightly around them as he appeared behind Valentine and Tai. Was he being tasteless though? Yes, but Simon didn't really care to be the gracious host or thoughtful father figure leader right at that moment. He did not know Valentine all that well, but he did know Tai and having the smug little bastard on his property was enough for him to forgo any pleasantries. Because really...who would he be kidding?
'Valentine, good to see you again.'
She was rarely around, but he noticed those who paid more time in the city than within the Domicile. Coming back here must've been an interesting choice. 'What brings you kids out this way?'
“Then I’ll have to come back on Sunday. Twister is more my speed.”
Val wondered slightly at Simon’s appearance, but if both she and Tai had been relatively scarce, he probably wondered at their appearance here.
“Been out of touch with family too long, maybe looking for work if you have any.”
The last part of that statement surprised Val a bit. But it was true enough she wouldn’t mind running a few errands for the clan and building up an actual relationship.
He listened to the pleasantries pass between Simon and Val, only interjecting at the end, "Oh yes. I thought it would be nice to catch up with the family too. I didn't know I had so many cousins."
He jerked his chin at the writhing mass of what he assumed was mingled human and vampire in the sunken middle of the building. "Up until now I had thought my only family was Ellis, and my beloved Big Brother." His lips twisted up wryly, full of sarcasm and bordering on acerbic, but not quite there.
"Or am I mistaken?" Tai's eyes flickered toward Simon. "Is this not my family after all?"
A ball of something hot and uncomfortable burned in Tai's chest. What was Simon's problem anyway? Tai was having trouble figuring out what he'd done to earn this arrogant bastard's ire.
'I'm sure we can find something, Valentine.'
While still facing Val, Simon's eyes flicked over to Tai and he let the man's sarcasm pass through him as his face relaxed into boredom. Internally he was burning like fire.
Simon felt the invisible pull of his shared aura with Ellis. He tried not to let the jealousy seep into the thing, but it was enough to rouse Ellis from her hiding place within the Abby. He felt her near them, circling like a predator.
/What is he doing here?/
/You don't know how glad I am you asked that./
'You're Yakuza, isn't that correct, Mr. Taiji?' Simon blinked slowly, ignoring Tai's questions. 'You came to the US on Yakuza business, no doubt,' Simon faced him now, taking a step closer. His voice lowered and was tainted with just a smidge of laughter. 'But you never returned.'
'I wonder why that is?'
Simon wasn't stupid, thank god, and Ellis was grateful that he saw the opportunity in having Tai nearby. She felt the jealousy taint their aura, but he quickly reigned it in. She tried not to let the guilt seep in and managed to bypass that emotion for another.
'I think it's cute that you're looking for a new family, Tai. Considering how your past ones have treated you.' Ellis jabbed at her young child's psyche, hoping a little damage went a long way. 'But I'm not sure Tacharan's taking applications...are you Simon?'
Simon blinked slowly again and shrugged as she moved toward his side, encircling her arms around his. A subservient move, but Ellis knew the value of authority and she was only on Tacharan property because Simon wished it so.
A shitty turn of events, but what can you do, right?
'Hmm,' she said with a sweet smile.
She wasn’t exactly a prodigal son so that answer worked for Val. If nothing else, she’d made the offer to be of assistance.
Apparently, Tai had left out a few details when he made the suggestion to come here. Such as he might not be entirely welcome, that seemed like a hell of a thing to forget. Still she didn’t move away from him. It wasn’t as if Val was ready to support Tai through thick and thin, but she wasn’t going to ditch him, at least not until she was sure what was going on.
With Ellis’ arrival, part of what was going on seemed to be a leadership change. Was she picking up those signals right? She thought so. Well wasn’t that interesting. See what you missed when you didn’t subscribe to the yearly newsletter.
Val decided to keep her mouth shut while the three of them worked out their little issues.
His eye twitched just a bit as he watched Ellis cozy up to Simon, but he grinned and spread his hands. "Why would I leave, when I had such an appealing bedmate? It's a shame you couldn't adequately meet her needs."
He let his smile widen as if just noticing Ellis for the first time. "Well hello, Ellis."
The smile never reached his eyes, and he felt the ball of seething heat in his chest harden into a fiery stone. "I wasn't aware I required an application with such a well-known sponsor to back me."
He bowed formally to his creator, reminding Simon once again who he was. "I can't help it if the dominant male feels the need to piss on the walls every time I walk by."
Turning back to Simon, he murmured, in a similar tone to Simon's, "I wonder why that is?"
He didn't usually vocalize this much; Tai preferred silence over petty sniping. But the situation seemed to call for it and he wasn't going to back down. He had as much right to present himself here as Simon himself did. They came from the same blood. Tai knew if he wanted to survive in this world he would need the protection of family - but, the voice in his mind asked, how far would the protection of this family go? Would Simon even allow it? Who knew... if they kept this up, Tai would be lucky to make it out alive.
'Don't you think it's a little ironic? You asking to join my clan? Are you needing protection? Would you like my help?'
Ellis moved behind him, pressing her chin against his shoulder blade. She had never really been Tai's, and despite feeling the burn of jealousy, Simon wasn't really sure why he felt like goading the man - he just enjoyed doing it.
'If a place to stay is what you're needing, then by all means - talk to Kenley.' Simon looked at Valentine, 'She replaced Carol. Valentine knows where to find her, I'm sure.' With a shrug he blinked slowly again, 'Doesn't cost anything to be family.'
'Pound of flesh when I ran the place.' Ellis purred behind Simon's shoulder.
Simon allowed himself a grin and slipped his hands into the pockets of his slacks. 'But she doesn't.' The smile fell. 'I do. And that's all you need to remember.'
Replaced Carol? Well that was interesting too. Val wondered what happened there. Apparently, she’d missed all the fun. Damned her for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; she really was going to have to find out if there was a newsletter. Or a program, you can’t tell the players without a program. She nodded to Simon thought, she’d be able to find the new Carol. Now though, the question was, would the two boys play nice or at least fake it.
"I don't remember asking."
He didn't see much irony in the situation. After all, he hadn't necessarily chosen this life. The brutality of Ellis' so-called "gift" was clear in his memory. She'd done it to make him beholden to her; to try and control him further. It hadn't been offered so much as forced.
His eyes flickered to her, pressed up against Simon like a cat in heat. He'd wanted to make her proud, once. He still wanted to. He couldn't help that. It was ingrained in him from the moment of his creation. He didn't need her love, physically or emotionally. That had been necessary before his turning, when he had been human but hers. In turning him she had given him back a measure of his free will, but burdened him with this unwanted need to prove himself to her.
It disgusted him.
He sneered openly at Simon's words. Of course he didn't need a place to stay. Yes, he needed the benefit of a family around him; he had seen what happened to many lone vampires. He didn't have Ellis' age, strengths, or contacts. If he wanted to survive he needed to be a part of this group. He wasn't going to grovel for it though.
At Simon's next warning, he shrugged, face like stone. Let Simon dictate to him, then. All right.
"What do you want from me?" The question was low, guttural, almost a demand. Tai needed a purpose, and Ellis had not been giving of such things lately. "Family never comes free. I'll do my part."