Business and Pleasure
Continues from Just this once
"I can make arrangements any time," Marthinus said with a shrug as he stood in the round-about leading to the main tower of Dubine Industries.
No longer CEO, Jacob, his only son was for all intents and purposes, Marthinus still could come and go as he pleased within the three massive towers that dominated the Industrial end of Nachton. He looked up at the main northern tower and got lost in the fall sun reflecting off the mirrored glass.
This was as far as any Piper would come. The truce was still in place, but none of the men could be trusted not to break something if they entered DI, much less even be able to enter it. Again, Marthinus had no problems, but skirting the edge of both worlds was more interesting than difficult for him. The use of the light silver rings he kept on him made it tolerating the presence of his grandfather easier...to a degree. Ellis, well she made everyone uncomfortable, regardless.
"We could do it right now, if you wanted, LT."
The LT was half out of the large SUV they had driven to drop Marthinus off. The young man's arm was draped through the open driver's side window and his other hand was resting on the hood.
"The sun is still up."
Marthinus gave the LT a wry grin. There were a dozen ways to get to DI that never saw the light of day. Probably a few more even he did not know about.
"That...really isn't a problem."
He refused to go into Duibne Industries, but he didn't want to meet Ellis and her pet anywhere else after dark. They needed somewhere open but secluded, easy to secure and monitor. Pulling his bottom lip in with his tongue, he looked back down the strip toward Uptown.
Fall had settled into Nachton, the days cooling down finally to a reasonable seventyish. The lack of heat made his disposition more relaxed, but just talking about Marthinus' other family made him feel like a steel spike was driving into the base of his skull.
"What about the ARCH?", he finally said, slumping his shoulders.
Vivienne sat crossed legged in the back seat of the SUV, picking at her pencil cut, knee length skirt. It was a purple exaggerated hounds-tooth material that matched her sleeveless but fitted, black boat necked top. Probably not the best thing to wear out to a possible vampire meeting, but Viv found that luck did favor the stylish.
LT looked at her as she poked her head up to the front seat. She watched the expression on his face as he considered her request - probably trying to figure if security would be an issue. His blue eyes were piercing and disgust very plain on his face. Viv smiled as his apprehension.
"I'm a big girl, Lothias. My stilettos double as a lethal weapon you know."
LT looked back at Marthinus and the two men conferred a little longer. After a minute, both men got back into the SUV and pulled away from DI.
"So," Vivienne started happily, leaning forward in between the front seats, "we'll have a little lunch, check out the museum, and then meet with some vampires? I'd say that's the makings of a fun day."
She watched LT roll his eyes slightly, but grin, nonetheless. Looking at Marthinus, he merely looked at her and put his seat belt on. Sitting back in her seat, Viv did her own seat belt and considered the agenda.
This would be her first time meeting a vampire with any type of significance as Ellis Duban. Biting the inside of her bottom lip, Viv tried to recall what she knew of the woman, other than being Vigo's bogeyman...or woman. Rather, she was curious as to the blood memory the Hammerthynns and Jamesons passed to their children. It was one of many things she didn't understand, being so close to the Hammerthynns, yet so far away. This would be her first opportunity to see the effect of the memory on a Piper. How curious that Marthinus, Simon Huntington's grandson and equal partner in the blood memory, was part of the Pipers. Although, Viv had to admit, she was pretty proud of the fact that the Hammerthynns worst fear was a woman. There was something classy about inspiring a hate that transcended generations. Viv respected that, in a strange sort of way.
And envied it.
He looked at Ellis, walking next to him in her white wrapped dress, as they slowly perused the museum's latest exhibit - a showcase of post World War I expressionism.
Ellis shrugged, her watery green eyes narrowing on the art in front of her. "I didn't like Expressionism then. Still don't care for it now. And yeah, I'm a little worried. These meetings never go well."
Simon considered their last meeting with Marthinus. "We made out the last time we had a meet."
"Oh yeah," Ellis said, tilting her head to the side. "I forgot about that."
"Thanks," he said rolling his eyes.
The annoyance he showed did not seep into their aura, and Ellis squeezed the arm she had tucked her own arms around and laughed. In truth, he wasn't really worried at all about speaking with Marthinus, but he was curious as to what his grandson would want, considering how long it had been since they had spoken.
It had been months since Ellis and Simon had surfaced; as if the fantastical author of their lives had moved on to other things, neglecting them, but returned now with renewed interest and flourish.
Something had to be up. It was the nature of things.
"Primarily Germany, and Austria, first decade of 20th century, the very elastic concept of Expressionism refers to art that emphasizes the extreme expressive properties of pictorial form in order to explore subjective emotions and inner psychological truths."
Simon quoted from his pamphlet. The likes of Vasily Kandinsky and Max Beckman decorated the walls of the third floor gallery, and although Ellis didn't care for it, he did. It was more of an emotional experience than physical reality that appealed to him - emotion transcending art, transcending tradition. Adding to the violently distorted canvases were the tempered heart beats of the patrons milling about. The smell of their skin, the essence of their blood filtered into him, elevating the artwork to levels he knew the painters had not realized.
"Wow you're really enjoying this," Ellis said looking up at him, no doubt feeling the elation in their aura.
Nodding, Simon pointed to Kirchner's Artillerymen, "You see the emphasis on self-empowerment? It was manifested in his early art by....."
Lowering his hand, Simon looked down at Ellis, who looked up at him and raised an eyebrow. Turning together, they looked behind them at the opposite end of the exhibit. In the midst of soft, silent heartbeats came the frantic beating of Marthinus heart, coupled by another; a taller, younger man that stood next to him.
"Show time," Ellis whispered.
"Third level," LT said on Marthinus' left with Vivienne on his right, her heels clicking on the marble floor.
"Just so you both realize," Marthinus started as they climbed the spiral staircase up to the third level. "Ellis and Simon are bonded."
"Bonded?" Viv asked with a curious expression. "I'm guessing you don't mean that in a surety bond kind of way, because I can't see how it could be handy for vampires."
LT mumbled, "Viv."
Marthinus put his hand on the rail and tried to think of a way to explain what he meant. "Bonding is an ability that only some vampires posses. It is... well you're able to sense your bonded partner's feelings and the impressions of strong desires and fears. They can speak to each other without even speaking."
"Nice!" Vivienne laughed. "Man, how come we can't do that?"
"Because we're not abominations," LT said, unimpressed.
Marthinus ignored the LT's disgust and continued up the stairs, directing most of the conversation toward Vivienne. She was enthralled with the vampire, that wasn't hard to tell, but it was important they understood what Ellis and Simon were capable of doing.
"It's a powerful ability, but the word on the street is it only happened after Michaels' got a hold of them."
"Hasn't your grandfather always been with her?" Vivienne asked, her enthusiasm tempered.
Marthinus wasn't surprised Vivienne knew his relation to Simon. Nothing about her ability to gather information seemed out of place. The amount of secrets she must know.
"Over fifteen hundred years. It's why they got back together, even after he tried to kill her."
"He should have tried harder," LT mumbled as they reached the third floor.
"You're not the only person who wishes that, LT. No one is happy they're back together again, especially after Simon took over the clan. Alone, my grandfather could do amazing things, but with her, " he shrugged unconsciously.
"They're capable of anything?" Vivienne said without a trace of sarcasm.
"So to speak." Marthinus slipped his hands into his pockets and felt the thing silver rings burn the tips of his fingers. The pain was nominal now, with this little silver, but it had been months since he had seen either one of them, and he just wasn't sure if he could hold back his wolf. Better to be safe than dead.
Ellis watched as Marthinus, a younger male, and a female approached. She heard the sizzle of his skin when Marthinus put his hands in his pocket. Simon shook his head and then stopped.
/Didn't you want to eat her?/ His voice was strangely erotic in her head. She could feel his interest pique looking at the woman.
/Oh right, by the elevator./ Ellis felt her smile tug at her mouth recalling the quick moment at the Grand Piazza. Ellis' eye traveled the curve of the woman's body, Simon no doubt doing the same as she felt the flare of attraction in their aura. The woman had long brown hair swept over her shoulders and dusting over her breasts with enough hips to grip, but still athletic enough to show off the muscles in her bare legs.
/Interesting./ Ellis narrowed her eyes. /She must be one of them./
/Guess she's not as tasty as you hoped./
Werewolf blood had its own defense mechanism - it was absolutely disgusting to the taste.
"Shame," Ellis said aloud as they moved forward, closing the distance.
The younger man was just a hair shorter than Simon with short reddish brown hair. His eyes were a piercing blue and his glare undeniably hate filled. Marthinus held out his hand to Simon and Ellis saw the ripple of disgust cross the boy's face. Marthinus and Simon shook hands.
Marthinus introduced the younger male as Lothias. Ellis didn't bother to shake his hand.
"Have we met before, Lothias?" Her green eyes twinkled with delight.
Lothias looked at Ellis, sizing her up from head to toe and then looked beyond her at the paintings. "Couple times, actually."
"Really?" Ellis smiled fully now, her white teeth gleaming against her red lips. "One of Hammerthynn's boys." Nodding, she touched a fang with her tongue, giving him a knowing smile. It had to be killing him to be so close yet...so far away. Ellis flicked her eyes at the female as Marthinus introduced her as Vivienne.
"Vivienne. Pleasure," Ellis said. Surprisingly, the woman held out her hand to Ellis, dimpled grin in place. Ellis hesitated for a moment before lifting her hand and shaking it. Vivienne then held her hand out to Simon who took her hand and smiled politely. Lothias turned his head away and smoothed his mouth down with his hand, trying not that hard to hide his sneer. Simon held onto his Vivienne's hand and gently kissed it, looking up at Lothias.
"So," Ellis said looking at Marthinus, hoping to avoid a full out fight in the museum, "are we catching up or is this business?"
It did not fail to insult the boy.
Simon blinked slowly, letting the smile tug at the corners of his mouth. Ellis proceeded with business, taking point in the conversation, which Simon did not mind. He looked back at Vivienne as she slowly stepped away and walked toward the paintings. She didn't appear to be interested in the discussion and her interest waned, instead looking at the very paintings he had just been looking at with Ellis.
Pushing his lips out, he let his attention turn to her and what her position and purpose was within 'Hammerthynn's boys' as Ellis had put it. His ears picked up the speeding heartbeat of Lothias, no doubt noticing Simon's interest in Vivienne, and with a side look to the boy, Simon moved closer to her.
"This is business," Marthinus answered. "We were hoping you could identify someone for us."
Vivienne listened as Marthinus described the incident with the Alpha and his group being attacked by three vampires. Ellis listened intently asking questions about the main vampire's abilities, physical description, and ultimately - reasons.
Turning her attention away from the group, the details of the attack and the answers meant little to her at the moment, Vivienne's eye fell on "Artillerymen" from Kirchner, 1915. Expressionism wasn't her forte, but the male dominated imagery was hard to not notice. Vivienne slowly stepped away from the small group and walked up to the painting.
With one ear tuned into the conversation, she listened with her mind as her heart paid great attention to the details of the piece in front of her.
"Do you like Kirchner?"
Turning, Vivienne felt the warm presence of Simon Huntington behind her right shoulder. Inhaling, she tasted his scent, trying to decide whether or not he was eying her up as a snack. His scent was like a full bodied wine with notes of dusty fields, warm sun, and salty sweat. He was European if her nose was to be believed. If a person's scent had a memory, she wagered Mr. Huntington's would tell an interesting story.
"Not particularly," she replied looking back at the picture. The picture depicts an assembly of naked male soldiers, overseen by a clothed military official. Their attenuated bodies are compressed into an airless, low-ceilinged chamber. (Nancy Spector, Guggenheim)
"Well, it's a little too distorted for me. I understand that expressionism tries to transcend the traditional, but the male dominance just says penis envy to me," Viv added in a matter-of-fact tone.
Huntington stood beside her, shoulder to shoulder for a moment before turning to face her. Viv's shoulder barely reached the center of his chest. He held his shoulders back, not hunching forward to match her height like some men do. His profile was striking, his cleft chin softly chiseled into his jaw line. Simon Huntington held himself with quiet grace and fortitude. Looking over her shoulder, Viv gave Ellis another look as the vampire smiled gently at Marthinus and answered his questions. She was radiant and graceful, just standing there. Her black hair glistened under the controlled lighting and her skin was flawless and warm.
"I like it," was all that Simon said. Looking at him, she noticed his hazel brown eyes and long lashes. "A distorted view of beauty can still be beautiful."
Viv looked at the painting again. The ARCH had detailed descriptions of each painting, explaining for the layman (much like her) the intended message of the painting. Stepping forward she read, "This says, 'The naked, showering soldiers are powerless as individuals; their wills have been subjected to the rigidity and anonymity of military life. The view that Artillerymen represents Kirchner's horror of the war.'" Viv nodded, stepping back next to Simon.
They were silent for a moment, looking at each other, and then Vivienne narrowed her eyes slightly at the downward gaze he was giving her. She wondered if that kind of charm came naturally to him or if he used his centuries wisely and perfected it.
"I suppose," Viv started slowly, maintaining her look at him, "there is beauty in all things. The vile, the reprehensible...."
/So what's she like?/ Ellis asked via their bond as she continued talking to Marthinus.
/Not sure yet, but I don't think I impress her./
/That's crazy talk./ Ellis' soft laughter echoed in his head.
Simon's lips curled into a smile when Vivienne interrupted their silent conversation.
"She must've said something funny." Vivienne moved gracefully behind Simon, brushing softly up against his back. He caught himself staring as she moved by him, her hands clasping behind her back. She turned her head to the side and looked over her shoulder, her eyebrows raised in question.
Quietly he moved with her, his hands dropping into his slacks pockets. "So Marthinus told you about that, did he?"
Simon watched Vivienne run her tongue across her teeth beneath her lips, a tempered but still erotic gesture that kept his eyes on her mouth which were soft with a naked colored gloss. "He sure did," Viv said flashing him a smile.
/Is she impressing you?/ Ellis asked, their aura shimmering with desire and possibly the taint of jealousy.
"A little," Simon replied out loud, turning to face another painting but keeping his eyes on Vivienne.
Vivienne was skilled enough to hold her own with the Commander, but LT knew his uncle held back his ferocity during that fight, that was until the Beta egged him on. Still, Vivienne managed to heed their warnings and stayed out of his uncle's reach, playing it safe with defensive moves, but Huntington was an old vampire. One of the oldest LT had ever seen. There was no telling what he was capable of, but then...LT didn't know what the old Elder Hammerthynn had taught Vivienne. She managed to survive as a Vyusher R'asa in Kadzait territory for decades. That was nothing to sneeze at.
LT took a step to the side, trying to keep Vivienne and Huntington in view, certainly within ear shot, when the Duban woman addressed him directly.
"I know who you're looking for," LT looked at Ellis. Despite his disgust for what she was, he could not stop his heart skipping a beat when she looked directly at him, "Lothias."
LT felt the combined tremor of repulsion and desire run up his spine when she purred his name.
"You're looking for a shadow."
"Who is it?" Marthinus asked her. "He doesn't even sound familiar to me."
"No," Ellis said as she kept her eyes on Lothias. "He wouldn't. He's older than I am."
"What's that?" Lothias finally spoke as his eyes slowly pulled away from Ellis and looked at Marthinus.
Ellis gave the old man a curious look. "You haven't told them about the other clans?" Marthinus pursed his lips at her as if he was admonishing her for even suggesting it. "There are 2 official clans, including mi...Simon's. Anantya and Evenhet. Evenhets like to play nice with their food...Anantya does not. They are older, stronger, and they probably already know you're coming," shrugging, she continued. "Definitely Antanya, but I haven't seen him in quite some time. I suppose..."
"Suppose what?" Lothias asked in a suspicious tone.
"I suppose I could find something out for you. As a favor, of course."
/What are you doing?/ Simon asked, no doubt listening to their conversation, despite being a little more than 'interested' in Vivienne. Their aura flared with calculating interest and suspicion, both from her and Simon.
/Just throwing the dog a bone, baby./
"Does everything have to be a game, Ellis?"
Two years ago he would have never even thought of uttering those words to Ellis, much less actually verbalizing it. Ellis' eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed with a hard glint of anger.
"His name," Marthinus said with steely determination.
"Wouldn't do you any good, Marthinus."
Simon slowly walked back with Vivienne as Ellis stood gloating with her information. Marthinus looked away from Ellis and at his grandfather.
"Amir," Simon offered quickly. "That's all she knows."
Marthinus nodded, "Thanks, Simon. Anything else you can find out would be appreciated." He held his hand out to his grandfather and Simon shook it. Turning toward LT and nodded silently.
"We're done here," LT said turning away without another word.
"So I'm wondering," Viv said finally, "are there any ugly vampires?" Turning she looked again at him, his smile tucked comfortably in the corners of his mouth and his body language relaxed yet regal.
"No," he said slowly, not suppressing his enjoyment of the question. "But thank you for the compliment."
"Said the spider to the fly," Viv said slowly, not being able to help her slow grin.
"I don't want to eat you, Vivienne. Your kind gives us a tummy ache, but I won't lie, you're the best looking specimen I've seen."
"The dark meat doesn't taste any better than the white, unfortunately," Viv murmured in an amused yet monotone voice.
Simon turned to look at her fully now, his hands slipping out of his pockets and clasping in front of him. Viv still had her hands behind her back and it pushed her chest out provocatively, knowingly accenting her curves; anything to get a straight answer out of him, especially for what she asked next.
"So, what did you and Miss Duban do?"
"To piss them off," she nodded back toward LT and Marthinus.
"You know, we don't remember."
"Interesting," Vivienne said, her eyebrows furrowing, "neither do they. Find that curious?"
"I do," Simon said slowly, taking a step closer to Vivienne. He lifted his entwined fingers and pointed at her. "You don't feel that inexplicable hate, though."
"I'm not," Vivienne stopped, choosing her words carefully. "No, I don't have that blood memory."
"Yeah," Simon said, drawing the word out slowly. "We should try and find out what it is. Together maybe. Could be fun."
"There's that vampire charm again. I gotta ask...were you like this as a human or did you work at it?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing."
"This is all natural, Mr. Huntington, but then I bet you glitter in the daylight, too."
"Marthinus hasn't told you much about us?"
"No, actually. He's very tight lipped."
Nodding, "He's very loyal."
"Aren't most pets?"?
Simon's smile fell and he felt it drain from his face. "He's no one's pet, Vivienne. Not even yours."
Vivienne raised her eyebrows, searching his face. "No, he's not. He's a good man. I apologize for the insult, Mr. Huntington."
Whether it was sincere, Simon ignored her apology and again pulled his hands behind his back. He took another step closer to Vivienne, closing the distance and let his imposing stature shadow over her. "They appear to be at an impasse. We should join them."
"Yeah," Vivienne said slowly, not bothering to hide the suspicion in her voice or her stare.
"I hope we get to talk again soon." Simon took a step to the side and walked past her, brushing lightly against her shoulder.
Ellis' conversation with Marthinus concluded after Simon gave the information that Ellis was dangling in front of them. Her displeasure was apparent in their aura, but Simon watched them turn and leave. Vivienne walked past him without a look and exited the floor to the staircase with them. No exaggerated hip sway, no slow clicking walk with her tall heels, just shoulders pushed back, and head held high.
"What is she to them?"
"Was hoping you'd tell me."
Simon looked over at Ellis who was giving him a searching look. He felt her fingers poking around their aura, looking for clues. His subterfuge had reigned in a majority of his feelings, but he released it gently now, filling their aura with enough to satiate Ellis and her prodding.
"Come on," he said, taking Ellis' hand, tucking it around his left arm and guided her out of the ARCH.
((OOC Simon and Ellis out))
Despite everything about what he said and how he said it reeking of controlled sexuality, she was apt to believe him that he had no idea what he and Ellis had done, or at the very least, did not recall the details. His scent was odd, as well. It wasn't that vampires had distinctly different scents from the average human...in fact, that was the problem. They were alive, in every sense of the word. Vampire lore was incontrovertibly incorrect. They did not smell different, did not move with an unnatural grace (at least not any different than she could with her own increased abilities), and they most certainly did not glitter in the daylight. The aversion to sun was a correct one, but Viv was fairly certain it had nothing to do with God's glorious light or anything religious for that matter. They were affected by the Zombie virus that had been unleashed into the city several years ago. They were, or appeared to be, a naturally occurring species, much like the werewolves.
Gave her the heebie jeebies, a little bit.
"What did you and Huntington talk about after you moved away," LT asked from the front seat of the SUV as they piled into it.
Viv looked up at him with a distracted expression. She shook her head with a shrug, "Saw a little bit of that bonding Marthinus talked about." Sucking in her bottom lip, Viv made a face.
"Submit a report for the Commander and Beta." It wasn't a request.
Viv grinned, "Aye, sir."
LT flicked a hard stare at her in the rear view mirror as he drove. Viv ignored it and considered what her report would actually say...or if Brig would even appreciate her flirting with Huntington. Still, the vampire's reaction to what Viv had said about Marthinus was interesting, as well as encouraging. How soulless could Huntington be if he still cared about his own flesh and blood?
Viv remained quiet the rest of the trip back to the Kadzait property.
((OOC - everyone out))
Continues in Cajun Chicken with linguine