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.
Without the bond, Ellis would have completely misjudged Simon's reaction to Tai. Cautiously she moved to the edge of their head to head and watched Simon's body relax, as if bored, but his aura was a fury of emotions. Simon really did not like Tai. Ignore the fact that he was born out of the pain of Simon's betrayal, his emotions were more than just jealousy, but admittedly Ellis felt that swirling within. She realized that this was the one thing she could have done to hurt him.
To deny him as the only one.
Ellis looked at Tai now as he spoke condescendingly to Simon. For as little as she actually cared for Tai, she felt like she should warn him. That he was walking a line that Ellis herself would avoid at all costs. She tried to catch his eye, but he was busy glaring as Simon's aura began to pulse red hot.
Immediately she looked back at Simon who only gave her a cursory glance.
/Do me a favor?/ He asked via their bond.
Ellis titled her head to the side slightly.
/May I borrow your knife?/
'What I want from you is an understanding.' Simon stepped closer to Tai, so close that their faces were within inches of touching. He looked down at the man with obvious disdain then said softly, 'Put your hand on the table.'
Simon flicked his eyes to one of the round waist high tables that were scattered around the edge of the pit. He made no move to back away until Tai had done so. Slowly, but surely, Tai reached out with his left hand.
'No, the other hand.'
Tai switched hands and placed his right hand palm down on the table top.
/'Want it now?'/ Ellis asked silently.
'No', Simon said aloud. 'You do it.'
With her ancient liquid speed Ellis took the knife and plunged it into the center of his hand. All the way down to the hilt of the blade.
((ooc - if it wasn't ok to move Tai, lemme know and I can fix it. Sorry for the long wait - holidays and all. Waiting on Tai's response =) )
Crap. OK she hadn’t seen that coming and it had apparently also been a mistake to rule out Ellis as much as she had as well. Val wouldn’t be making that mistake again. Regardless she willed herself not to jump, flinch or react at all. Family was a complicated thing and right now it was playing out with a fair bit of drama, a drama that didn’t need her input so she just stood quietly, calmly having absently bitten the inside of her lower lip waiting to see what the next play was.
Whatever the next play was though, that had to have hurt like hell.
It came as something of a surprise, then, when Ellis, not Simon, drove the blade of a reasonably wicked knife through the back of his hand and well into the table. He choked back a cry of pain, instead giving a grunt. He could feel his nostrils flare as he reared his head back and gritted his teeth. Glancing from Ellis to Simon and back, he felt anger boiling within.
He bit back every verbal response he could make, because none of them could make this situation any better. He let his eyes linger on Ellis, the woman who had brought him into this world and whose voice still taunted him every day. The woman who clearly regretted her own actions in turning him. He loved her as much as he despised her, insofar as he could love anyone. In a way her betrayal hurt more than the knife through his hand but it was fitting.
Tai did his best to keep his right arm perfectly still, know any motion would just increase the red waves of pain that flowed from the knife into his hand and up his arm.
He looked back to Simon and smiled a painful, tooth-gritting smile. "I suddenly feel compelled to understand and accept any wisdom you'd like to impart," he said, his voice tight.
All in all, this was going much better than he'd expected.
The matter at hand, so to speak, was one Ichiro Taiji's impalement by his creator and (ex) lover. Ellis considered the 'ex' part of that last term and snickered to herself. His bed was always open to her, despite who he was fucking at the time. She passed a roving eye over the little seen or heard Tacharan Valentine. She didn't know that much about her and why would she? Valentine had been just more cannon fodder for Ellis' battle against the 'establishment'. In any case...
As Ellis tucked a bit of her hair back behind her ear, she gauged Tai's reaction and was impressed. That had to have hurt yet he kept it together, at least enough to let a smoldering glare linger on her face as she stepped slowly back away from the table.
"I suddenly feel compelled to understand and accept any wisdom you'd like to impart."Â?
Ellis took one more step back as Simon took one forward, closer to Tai. It occurred to her, just then, her position within the head-to-head. Ellis had taken her place not in front of Simon, but behind him, letting her watery, green eyes narrow just above Simon's right shoulder. She had just unconsciously reinforced Simon's authority. Ellis had acted immediately on his command - without even a thought - and then stood not by him, but behind him.
Simon's part of their aura burned with fury, maybe that was part of the reason why her reaction to his command was so swift, but as the confused realization of her action filtered into their aura, his raging anger settled into a deep calm. He knew he could rely on her, that much she deduced, but Ellis could not help but gulp at her sudden role reversal.
He leaned in close, his lips almost touching Tai's right ear and said in a low whisper, 'It won't matter who your creator is, not in the end. Till then, if you belong to Tacharan, then you belong to me.'
Despite whispering, Simon was fairly sure Tai heard him. If he hadn't heard him, the knife should have been a clear enough message. He leaned back to look at Tai in his tawny brown eyes and reached up to give him a playful slap on the cheek.
Before stepping completely away, Simon thought it prudent to point out one other thing. 'You can glare at Ellis all you want - hell, you can fuck her - but just remember...she belongs to me, too.'
Simon dropped his hand and brushed by Tai, nudging his shoulder forward as he turned to leave. Really, what else was there to say? If Ellis reacting immediately on his verbal command wasn't enough, the entire Abby silently staring at his exchange with Tai should be enough to convince him. Everyone there waited with bated breath. The music continued loudly thumping in his ears and vibrating off the steel walls and furniture, but it would take a single command for any one of them to tear Tai apart. It was accepted knowledge when Ellis ruled, it would not be any different with Simon.
Simon searched within his aura with Ellis and felt her confusion with her actions. It had to feel...unnatural...that seemed the best term for their role reversal. But her actions reinforced his leadership and it filtered the angry emotion out of their aura instantly. The power was unbelievable and part of him could see how Ellis craved it. Odd she seemed resigned to her position now. Apparently she was since there were no snide comments or competition with authority. She was there, for him, and acted in his name.
It was exhilarating.
As for Tai...he meant what he said. He could love, hate, desire Ellis all he wanted, but she was his; from the roots of her hair to the marrow in her bones.
His gaze shifted to Simon as the man moved in. Tai tensed, wondering if Simon meant to further debase him but it seemed the physical part was over with. In as much pain as he was, he failed to keep an expression of mild shock from his usually immobile features at Simon's words.
Why else would Tai have come here, but to pledge his allegiance to this family? If he'd intended to be Ellis' puppy he'd have stayed well away. Of course, it hadn't hurt to see Ellis' submission just then, but that had only reinforced his decision. Simon was, indeed, the leader here. It interested him that Simon seemed to see the need to reinforce that. Was it because of Ellis' presence? Tai had no idea, and contemplating it at that moment was far beyond his capability.
Barely aware that there was no motion in the rest of the room and what had been a writhing mass of inhumanity was focused on them, Tai met Simon's gaze squarely. He had nothing to hide. The Yakuza couldn't house him any longer; Tacharan could. Tai ignored the pat on his cheek and nodded brusquely to Simon, a slight bow that made his head swim.
"Hai. Wakari masu."
Simon jostled his shoulder as he passed and Tai sucked in an unconscious breath as his hand voiced its displeasure. In a sudden motion he whipped his left hand up, thrusting it forward as if to palm the knife but with much more force. Grasping it and wrenching as hard as he could he grunted as he pulled it from the table and back out of his hand. It very nearly didn't come out at all; without the bonus of inhuman strength there was no way he'd have retrieved it.
With catlike speed he had it turned and, holding it in his injured hand, presented it to Ellis hilt-first. "I believe this is yours."
He paused before handing it over and shifted slightly, shaking his head and withdrawing the knife to offer it out to Simon instead. "My mistake."
Letting Simon and Ellis debase him for the purpose of establishing pecking order was well enough, but if these other people were to be his "family," there was a limit to the amount of weakness he could show in front of them. New he may be, but if he had to fight for a place in this clan, let it begin here and now. Simon was his leader... but beyond that Tai was prepared to hold his own.
((ooc: Translation: "Yes. I understand."))
Lord knew she wasn’t needed in this little play, she was just a bystander no more than any one else who happened to be here tonight; but she couldn’t leave. She wasn’t so callous a lover as to just walk away from Tai at this point even if they only barley knew each other. Her gut also told her that to leave at this point would probably count against her with Simon too. That and the whole damned place was watching.
The whole thing with Ellis Val momentarily wondered about. Did they think she’d be jealous? No, she was half invisible at this point it hadn’t been a dig, just a statement. She was going to have to go through this whole evening again because right now she was certain she was missing things. She had the facts, she knew what was going on, it was the nuance she was missing.
Tai had apparently accepted Simon’s authority but he also had to do it with a bit of a statement. Daring. She approved.
The loud song ended just then and the silence was deafening. At least a hundred pairs of eyes were watching Simon's conversation with Tai and he gave the crowd behind a cursory glance before finally answering the new Tacharan.
'Keep it. I don't really need it.'
He looked at Valentine with a thoughtful stare. It would probably be a good idea to catch up with her later, but till then, Simon nodded to her politely as he took his leave. Nodding toward the DJ in the back, the music started back up again, and together, he and Ellis disappeared into the crowd, not really waiting around for Tai's reply.
((ooc - well I am actually waiting, so if you wanted to add anything else, lol, let me know and I can edit!))
((OOC - Simon and Ellis out, pending responses))
"Sorry," he said to his date, "I didn't mention there might be a little bit of a family squabble."
Sliding two displaced chairs back toward the nearby table, Tai invited Val to take one with a brusque gesture. Seating himself with a wince, he observed his mangled hand, already beginning the painstaking job of mending itself.
"Not as bad as it could have been," he mused, wondering about Simon's reaction. There were compexities there he could hardly begin to understand but for the time being it seemed as though the Tacharan leader might allow him to stay.
What Ellis though, Tai didn't care right now. In his head he could hear her mocking laughter. He knew she was laughing at him, taking pleasure in his pain and discomfort. She had had her fun with him and now she would let him flounder on his own to keep her entertained. That was it. Well, she'd see he was far more resilient. He'd survived worse than her in his lifetime.
((ooc: Observations about Ellis strictly courtesy of Tai's psychosis. Even if they ARE true. :P))
She returned his nod as the loud music again filled the silence. Tai preformed a minor bit of prestidigitation with the knife that had so recently been in his hand and she laughed. It hadn’t been her intention but he did have a gift for understatement. Sliding into the chair and into her Irish accent, she grinned at him.
“You apparently have quite the way of winning friends and influencing people ducky. Are there any other deep dark family secrets I need to be aware of?”
Every one was entitled to their secrets, so she wouldn’t push but Val would be lying to say she wasn’t curious about their little dysfunctional family.
She flagged down someone who looked like a server of some kind figuring they could both use something to drink. Although, to help with his hand Tai could probably use something with a bit more iron in it. With out asking she picked up his hand to examine it. He was right, that wasn’t as bad as it could be.
“Well you’ve mostly stopped bleeding and you’re not dead so I’d say it could have been worse.”
She said with a wry smile.
Raising an eyebrow at Val's next question he asked, "How much worse could they get than that? That's pretty much the only one. And I didn't think it was much of a secret." He glanced down into the pit, though, and saw several pairs of eyes turn away so as not to be caught looking back. "Maybe I was wrong."
Tai grimaced when Val picked up his injured hand, glaring at her through the slitted, meaty hole in it as she examined it. "Are you quite through, doctor?" He asked dryly when she released it. "It's far from the heart."
It was already bruising, looking puffed up and spectacular as it went through a range of human-like features in what he expected would be half the time. Ellis hadn't held back; puncture wound notwithstanding he was certain she'd broken many of the bones in it when the hilt of the knife had impacted it. Bitch. It was certainly going to hold him up for a while.
He pulled his hand off the table, doing his best to ignore the flaring pain by knocking back his drink the moment it was placed in front of him. he didn't even realize what it was. Looking around he finally returned his gaze to Val.
"What are all these people here for, anyway?"
No doubt the story would spread with a fair bit of speed.
“And on the upside you’ve just gained yourself a fair bit of notoriety.”
Letting him have his hand back she almost laughed. Val had been less worried about his health and more interested in how much damage had been done. And it had been a bit of an impressive job, she had to admit that.
“Oh I suppose I’m done, and my diagnosis is you’ll be fine once you have something to eat.”
It also apparently hurt more than she’d figured given the way he knocked back his drink. She nodded, indicating they should bring another two before glancing around at ‘all these people’.
“To see and be seen, relax, have a bite to eat, to be a bite to eat, find a job, find a lay, or just look pretty. It isn’t that much different than any other club.”
He let the sentence go there, not willing to loosen up too much around Val until he knew for certain if she was an ally or a plant. Trust didn't come easily with him and while he realized he had to start somewhere, he'd never been one to jump into the deep end without testing the water first. He was a planner. He liked to know how things would happen.
When Val's diagnosis came through he offered her his sardonic smile. "Are you volunteering? If I recall correctly, you're delicious."
He did sit back in his chair though, relaxing against the back of it and stretching his legs out in front of him, crossed at the ankles, looking unconcerned. He was used to this; looking like nothing in the world mattered even though you were pretty sure everyone was out to get you.
"Know anyone here?" Once again he swept the crowd with his eyes and let his lips twitch with amusement as several gawkers tried not to get caught.
“Better a bad reputation than no reputation at all.”
Shrugging at him she crossed her legs and tossed back her own drink with the gusto of a sailor.
“No. I don’t think any one who watched that whole….reunion take place is going to peg you as a push over.”
Personally Val didn’t think she would have handled it nearly as well, she probably would have lost her temper and gotten herself into more trouble. Well maybe she wouldn’t have baited Simon as much as Tai had and it wouldn’t have come down to the fun and exciting pin the hand to the table game. Who knew. She’d rather not find out, but after witnessing that ‘pushover’ was not the first word that came to mind.
Giving him a side long and sly smile she couldn’t let that pass.
“If you are a good boy that might be arranged.”
With a thoughtfully little hmmm she surveyed the room. She thought maybe one or two of the bodies looked familiar.
“I’ve seen some of them before, here and there, but I wouldn’t say I know any one. That is something we both apparently need to fix.”
Baiting Simon hadn't really been his intent in coming here, but when confronted with someone who seemed to have a chip on his shoulder for no reason other than Tai's existence, he had pushed the envelope. There was no need to point out that Simon's leadership would have been accepted without the display of dominance; Tai had been in the yakuza since he was a child. He knew what leadership was, what the head of a family was, and he wasn't it. Didn't want to be it.
As the topic drew to a close and Val smiled at him in that way, he allowed himself to smile back, leaning forward onto his good arm and murmuring, "What if I'm very, very bad?"
The idea of making contacts here caused him to sigh and sit back again. He wrinkled his nose at Val. "I hate mingling. The last time I mingled, the room caught on fire."
He didn't expect Val to udnerstand that, but it did bring back memories of Yuu. At the party. The fire, their escape. It had sparked, no pun intended, this strange roller coaster of a ride he'd been having here in Nachton.
"If we must, we must. What did you have in mind?"
Nearly purring she leaned forward towards him, so their heads were nearly touching and let a slow lazy smile expose her fangs.
“Then you might have to be punished.”
And it might take a long while for him to learn his lesson.
The mood changed quickly, but it didn’t faze her. In fact, Val couldn’t help but laugh. Some people just weren’t social. She, however, had a tendency to be quite gregarious. She might not have socialized with her family, but she did get out and have a good time on a regular basis.
“For the quiet type you do have a flair for the dramatic.”
First getting himself stabbed in the hand and now setting rooms alight. She continued to smile at the idea. She didn’t even really mind that he seemed to be letting her direct things. Val was certain when Tai wanted something done his way, she’d know about it.
“How about we start by bumping into people and see where that takes us?”
He wasn't sure he liked her opinion of his having dramatic flair though. Assassins were not supposed to be showy, and were only supposed to be dramatic in a quiet, "Oh look, Bob just got dead" sense. Flair got people killed. Hopefully now that he'd made his grand entrance into his Clan's grounds, he could lay low and be unobtrusive.
And, dislike it as he may, Tai understood the necessity of mingling and meeting people. He imagined the first few here might be the sort who wanted to test him. Many of them might want to test him. That was all right with him, though he did wish he weren't about to undergo that sort of thing with a fucked-up hand.
Ah well. Nothing for it. He knocked back his second drink as it was delivered and stood, nodding to Val. "Bump into people it is," he agreed. "How literal did you want me to be? Because from here, it's not a very long jump into that pit."
He kept his face dead serious, teasing Val and testing at the same time. If she fell for it... well, he gave her more credit than that.
Eyes dancing she took his uninjured hand and guided him to his feet, finished her own drink, and started them down to the floor.
"How about we start small and work our way up. I don't feel like breaking an ankle just to make an impression."Â?
She nodded toward her feet and the insanely high heels. She'd probably be able to handle the jump with some grace barefoot or in sensible shoes, but damned it she wouldn't look nearly as good.
Holding her hand was an unusual thing for him, but he did so for a few moments until the press of bodies made it difficult to walk side by side. When it became awkward, he simply shifted so he followed behind her with his hand upon the small of her back.
As they descended to the floor he noted that his hand had stopped oozing blood, at least, which was nice. He had been trying very hard not to get blood on his jeans. It wasn't difficult to work their way into the mass of what he assumed were mingled humans and vampires. He let Val lead the way as far as movement went; for his part, he glanced covertly around, taking stock of who looked at them and who looked away from them, and whether those looks were curious, indifferent, or openly hostile. There were some of each.