Ho Ho Humbug (Secret Santa - Attn: Artemis)

Ambrose was trying -very- hard to ignore the looks he was getting from the few people he was passing on the street. Of all the stupid things to happen and tonight of all nights. There hadn't been a parking space to be found at Shades, not even a handicap one so he'd had to make do with a parking garage a ways off. The Moochers had been asked to play a party at the club and they'd asked him to sit in. More like a walk in at this point, but he'd gone. They were always fun to play with and he hadn't had a job in a while.

However, one of the band members had remembered a joke Ambrose had made last Christmas about a present that was little more than a white elephant. They'd decided to gift him with a white elephant. A stuffed, cheerful looking, huge white elephant. It was obnoxious. He couldn't just toss it right there though, and no one would let him re-gift it so he was stuck with it. Well maybe Belle or Marie would like it. God why was it so damned big?

So there he was, walking back to his truck from a late party at Shades, guitar slung over his back, cane in one hand and stuffed white elephant under the other arm and wondering how fast he could drop everything and grab his gun if one more person laughed at him.

Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
Artemis made his way back to the motorcycle. They had had the R & D holiday party away from the towers this year. Apparently, things had gotten a little too festive in the years that he was gone. People who could make their own fireworks and robots shouldn't be left unsupervised when alcohol was present. It was certainly telling, when he was the voice of reason for the department.

So this year the party was held at one of the local restaurants. The alcohol was still provided. It was all the same people. But, all the tools and supplies were safely locked away at the towers. Artemis smiled. It had still been a fun party. But the walk back to his motorcycle was just as amusing. Some friend, or friends, had decided to give him a medium sized plush Hello Kitty doll, a box of Hello Kitty plastic figurines, and a case of Red Bull. They had all had thought the gifts were funny, but none would admit to giving them. Now, he was recieving 'knowing' smiles and sage advise from random people as he walked down the street. It had Artemis wondering, briefly, what kind of father he would be.

As he reached the place where he had parked, he couldn't help but notice the guitar player that passed by with a large fluffy white elephant. The man looked ready to hurt someone. Something about the elephant or the man's expression made him laugh. And then he couldn't stop.

"I'm sorry. So, daughter or do you work with the same people I do?"
Ambrose 13 years ago
That was it! Where the hell was his gun?

He'd apparently been living with Belle too long as he held his temper long enough to realize that A) the white elephant would stain if he dropped it and B) the guy laughing was in pretty much the same boat.

"Red Bull and Hello Kitty. That must have been some party."Â?

Ambrose said wryly. He'd worked in the music business long enough that things like that didn't really surprise him. Still, you did do a double take every now and then.

He snorted at the idea of having any kind of spawn at all. The waif was quite enough and she was both Belle's and mostly grown up. Good god time had flown. He shook his head, clearly frustrated.

"Coworkers.... you ever see Strangers On A Train? I'd be willing to swap you."Â?

Ambrose nodded at the collection of gifts the other guy was toting.
Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
"It was. Though surprisingly tame by our standards. The fire marshal wasn't called once tonight."

This other man had to wonder just what kind of parties he normally went to. Nothing like the power of first impressions. Normally he just had to begin talking about Archimedes's Principle to have people backing away slowly. With a small shrug, Artemis indicated the gifts he was holding.

"Apparently there is something amusing about the idea of me jacked up on caffeine. I have not idea what the thought is behind the cat. Though they all thought it was damned funny."

Well, he was basically a 'cat person'. Not that he could explain that to a complete stranger. Still, He wasn't sure what was so funny about it. Perhaps the cat was overly chatty and obnoxious. Artemis smiled as the other man explained the elephant. Getting pranked by coworkers was no doubt a common theme this time of year.

"Yes, all the time. Though I haven't ridden one in a while."

Of course he had seen the movie. But, he was by nature a smart ass and a prankster himself. There was no point in denying it. He looked at his motorcycle and then back at the elephant as he considered the man's offer. It might be easier to strap one fluffy elephant to the back than to figure out how to get all of the other items home. He offered the case of Red Bull over to the guitar player.

"Sure. I can put animatronics in it an chase my girlfriend around with it Christmas morning."

He had only briefly considered the animatronics for the stuffed toy cat. There was something about a Hello Kitty doll walking around on it own that was just creepy.
Ambrose 13 years ago
Geek. Ambrose decided. It wasn't a bad thing, he had no issues with egg heads, he just wasn't one. The could confuse him on occasion too.

"There are days I'm surprised caffeine is a legal drug."Â?

He didn't know about the cat and thought it might just be better if he didn't know. What you didn't know people couldn't hold against you was his theory and so far it seemed to be working.

He'd been thinking more true to the movies plot and actually swapping murders. But an impromptu white elephant, he glowered at his elephant, gift exchange might work better. It was more socially acceptable any way. Although how he was supposed to get the cats and the Red Bull back to his truck he didn't know. At least the elephant he could manage.

Oh yeah... definitely a geek. He hoped the guys girl fell into the same category. Ambrose just couldn't see Belle being amused by an elephant chasing her around the room.

"Your gonna chase her with an elephant... and you're going to live through the experience?"Â?
Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
Artemis considered the caffinated beverage for a moment. His ADHD, as they were now calling it, was already on steroids. Now, someone thought it would be funny to add a stimulant.

"To each their own I suppose. Personally, I prefer my drinks were spiked with something else."

When the other man mentioned swapping, Artemis had assumed he meant the gifts, but now he was beginning to wonder. Did the man not just say he'd be willing to swap and then nod toward the cat and drinks? When the elephant man did not reach for the drinks, Artemis waited a moment and then let his arm fall. Maybe this man had been spiking his punch too. Either way, it didn't matter much to him. Perhaps Pak would prefer Hello Kitty to white elephants. So long as it was minus the electronics. Laughing at the man's inquiry, he leaned against the motorcycle.

"I would probably survive. Though I might need to find the right shiney get out of jail free card. Just in case."

Mental sparring was a big part of his relationship with Pak. Still, Artemis was very aware that she was capable of a different type if mental sparring all together. If he was going to get into trouble, and at some point he probably was, then he would need the right "I'm Sorry" present. Every man knew that. It was a law of nature.

This was the point in the conversation where you really didn't know what to say next. It was one of those awkward moments where you didn't know the other person well enough to carry on a conversation, but you didn't want to talk about the weather either. He had just been stupidly holding out a case of Red Bull to the man, obviously misunderstanding what he had meant. Artemis was a bit dubious about asking his next question. He might not be prepared for what this guy wanted to swap.

"So, were you wanting to swap gifts or were you talking about something else?"

Artemis shrugged.

"Either way. The figurines aren't much good for animatronics, but they would be great for target practice."
Ambrose 13 years ago
"Now that I might agree on."Â?

He would not say no to a shot after tonight

Ambrose actually chuckled a little. It didn't work every time and it wasn't something you could rely on by itself, but shiny did seem to help.

"Which reminds me I need to find something appropriate for Christmas before I -am- in trouble."Â?

Damned tricky too. He come to frequent a small reputable antique shop down town, it was tucked away in an oddly little district, but the owner was getting to know him and what was a hit and what wasn't. Failing finding good jewelry Ambrose opted for tack.

"Although leather works..."Â?

Huh, that he hadn't meant to say aloud. He just shrugged.

Clearing his throat he realized that he had to do something here.

Target practice wasn't a bad idea, and he wondered how the elder would feel about shooting things like that. Oh what the hell. The guy was probably going to have a hard time getting all that on a motorcycle. Ambrose had mixed feelings on motorcycles, he wasn't quite ready to give one a try but maybe someday.

"Nice bike. Tell ya what though give me a hand getting the cats to my truck and I'll take 'em off your hands."Â?

It was just a bit much for him to manage on his own with the cane.
Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
Wow. Elephant man's girlfriend was into the kinky stuff. Add that to the list of things that were too much information to know about a complete stranger. Though leather as a present? He hadn't thought about it. The corners of his mouth rose in a half grin as he did think about it. Pak with her hair pulled in a high ponytail. Lovely. Pak in a leather bustier. Awesome. High-heeled boots. Even better. Pak with a leather whip? Definitely not.

"Pakpao is already a bit, um, feisty. I am not sure leather is the way go"

Artemis chuckled. Though Pak might have had a bit of fun with the whip, everyone else would have to go into hiding. He would stick with shiny rocks. They were less dangerous. Mostly because he doubt Pak would throw them. At least he hoped not.

Glancing down at the bike when it was mentioned, he smiled. It had been something of an amusement in the department because it was an ordinary motorcycle. A simple, solid black, Ninja ZX.


Artemis looked back at the man and finally noticed the cane. He had to stop himself from thinking of all the gadgets and things he could put in that cane. He would save those ideas for later. Along with the walking elephant.

"Sure. I can do that. Which way is your truck?"

Almost as an afterthought he added, "I'm Artemis by the way."
Ambrose 13 years ago
The dragon lady?! He'd only ever met one Pakpao before and so that was the only conclusion he could reach. Made him wonder about this guy a little bit. They might be dancing around each other for no reason. But given her clan's attitudes he could be a human. Regardless, he felt sorry for the guy. The dragon lady was difficult at best and a total pain in the ass at worst.

"No... that one you don't want to get leather... or anything sharp."Â?

Good they had a deal. Shame he wasn't going to get to shoot anyone tonight though. Ah well, there was always tomorrow.

He pointed with his cane, the parking garage was right behind them, he even had a spot on the first floor. The far side of the first floor but still. He paid for those damned handicap plates he was going to use them.

"That way. Not too far though."Â?

Leaning the cane against his leg he offered his hand.

Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
Artemis raised an eyebrow at the comment about Pak. Then he laughed. He wasn't sure which was funnier, the comment itself or the fact that Pak was clearly building a reputation.

Still chuckling he said, "So you have met Pak." It was more a statement, rather than a question. A response like that could only come from someone who knew her.

"Don't worry. I can hold my own. But some trouble is best avoided."

Stepping forward from his position at the motorcycle, he took the offered hand shook it.

"Nice to meet you."

As they walked toward the parking garage, Artemis did his best to avoid cliches as he tried to keep the polite conversation going.

"So how do you know Pak?"
Ambrose 13 years ago
Well he was half right. To Ambrose's way of thinking avoiding trouble meant not dating her at the very least avoiding her. For a little thing she could carry a grudge.

"Good luck with that."Â?

Best not to stir up the natives if he could avoid it. He really didn't want both of them after him. Although to be fair the dragon lady wasn't after him. She just went out of her way to be difficult and torment him if at all possible. Fortunately they didn't cross paths all that often.

Oh hell, now how as he supposed to answer that? No good way to say well a few decades ago he'd made a mistake and tried to snack on her and she tried to kill him. Even the last time they'd met, at Shades, she'd done a fine job of fucking up his chords and generally tormenting him.

"Ran into her a few years ago up in the northwest and we cross paths once in a while. She likes I club I play at from time to time."Â?

Well that sounded safe enough. Best to steer the conversation in a different direction.

"How did you two meet?"Â?

Under better circumstances obviously. Ambrose hoped Artemis never made a mistake. She'd probably kill him in his sleep.
Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
How does one explain being setup by an artificial intelligence. Computer dating, Evenhet style. Well, at least Ambrose didn't seem the like the kind of man to ask if she gave good cyborz.

"We met at work. She works on the AI system that I use frequently in my work."

There. No cyborz, and hopefully no additional explanations required. Though, Artemis did wonder sometimes. Of all the people in the towers to play matchmaker with, why MARI chose to put him and Pak together. Not that he was complaining, just curious.

"She has put up with me ever since."

Minus a brief spell where he was in Italy and virtually unreachable. But Ambrose didn't need to know that, or that he occasionally did spy work for his vampire clan. Some stories were best saved for when you actually knew the person. Though , if he was a friend of Pak's he might know more than most. Anyway, if he was a friend of Pak's then he must be alright.

"Which club? Maybe we will come and hear you play sometime."
Ambrose 13 years ago
"Huh. Now I thought most places frowned on office romances..."Â?

Wait. Just back the truck up here the... Oh lord. He revised his opinion of 'geek' to 'super geek'. Probably a good thing he hadn't tried to shoot him. He probably had some James Bond bullet deflecting watch on him.

"I'm not even going to asking about AI's and computer dating services. You're all connecting adults."Â?

And people thought rock stars were freaky. Aside from a brief sting where they each thought the other was human he and Belle had met like normal people and had a nice normal courtship. Thank god for that.

Ambrose's first instinct was 'Oh hell no. Keep that freaky psycho bitch away from me.' But he thought better of it. People could be weird about there other halves. Lord knew he'd lay a man out for saying anything even half that strong about Belle. Plan B was to give the name of a club in California or something, but that was... well... any way.

"Place called Shades. Usually play with a local group called The Moochers. Always worth checking out if you have an ear for the blues."Â?

Oh thank god his truck was in sight. He was going to fail at being polite in a second.
Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
"Meridian is a pretty understanding place to work. Having the boss as your best friend doesn't hurt either I suppose."

They were nearing the handicapped spaces. Aside from the cane, Ambrose seemed to be quite capable. Artemis wondered if he were the type to use the convenience of the reserved spots, or if he was type to say 'fuck it' and park further away simply to prove he could. He would find out soon enough, he supposed.

"Connecting adults? Well, I guess so."

Laughing, he had to admit that was pretty clever. And it was probably just as well that they were. He would most likely lose a limb if he had tried getting Pak's attention the old fashioned way of breaking something just so she would have to come and fix it. It would have definitely been exciting though. Maybe he should try it after all.

"Still, there is something to be said for the old fashioned way. The chase has a bit more sport to it."

Artemis stored the name of the club and the band in his memory. He would ask Pak about it later, or perhaps surprise her with a date. He was sure she would enjoy going to hear he friend play. And, there was generally no dancing involved with listening to the blues so she couldn't really object on that ground either.

"Good music is always worth a listen. Who knows, maybe we will make an appearance one night."
Ambrose 13 years ago
He used a disabled hanging tag rather than plates. It was more flexible, because there were nights he didn't want people to know but there were also times when it added to his illusion of being a harmless nice guy. Hey some people let their guard down when they thought he was somehow disabled and some times he took advantage of that. Tonight though, it had been the only spot he'd been able to find even moderately close to Shades.

Hanging his cane on the side of the truck he unlocked it, yeah the truck had automatic locks but he didn't often use them. He did, however, make use of them to unlock the passenger side.

"Last time I chased some one I'm pretty sure she caught me."Â?

Ambrose observed. Lord knew Ysabel had her hooks in him further than he liked to admit. Probably further than he realized. He wasn't even sure how long they'd been together at this point, just that he couldn't actually see a future without her in it. Some day he was going to have to actually say that. But they had time.

Hanging his cane on the side of the truck, lovingly, carefully, he tucked the guitar behind the seats into the extended cab. Waving his hand he indicated the door was open.

"That can just go any where in front."Â?

Yeah that was all he needed, the dragon lady and a date. Although, maybe with a date she'd be distracted and leave him the hell alone. He knew better than to think being at Shades would be any kind of protection unless they started a brawl. And that would only get them both kicked out.

"It's a good place. Even if The Moochers aren't there he runs a good joint."Â?

Waiting until he was sure Artemis was paying attention Ambrose tossed the elephant at him, it should be an easy catch.

"Appreciate the hand. Maybe next time we can actually find a train."Â?
Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
Why did so many conversations between men seem to come around to women? Artemis smiled and nodded as Ambrose talked about being caught. He certainly understood. He had certainly been there.

"I know the feeling. There is nothing like it. But deep down, part of you secretly wonders where you misplaced you brain."

He walked around to the passenger side of the truck, as instructed. Opening the now unlocked doors, he placed the case of Red Bull in the floor board and the Hello Kitty items in the seat. He wondered how Ambrose would explain coming home with a case of caffeine drink and an armload of toy cats. As he shut the door to the truck, he looked up and saw the white elephant flying in his direction. Reaching up, he snatched it out of the air with little effort.

"Anytime. Thanks for taking the cats off my hands."

Reaching inside his coat pocket, Artemis pulled out one of his generic business cards.

"My list of desired assassinations with pretty small. But, since you are a friend of Pak's, if you need anything else just give me a call."
Ambrose 13 years ago
Ambrose just shook his head. He wasn't sure he'd miss placed his brain but...

"I gave up wondering that a while ago."Â?

There was a good argument that if he hadn't lost his mind he wouldn't have a wife and kid. That thought made him laugh. Their little family was the most unconventional take on the traditional nuclear family ever and that was funny as far as he was concerned.

"Yeah, good luck explaining the elephant."Â?

Don't blame me if she tries to kill you, well he didn't say that out loud. Although he wondered how the guy would take it if Ambrose explained how well he got on with the dragon lady. Probably best to let her run down the details though.

Highly volatile girl friend or not Ambrose took the card and carefully tucked it in his wallet.

"You never know..."Â?

He shrugged. Very few of his jobs back in the day had been from people who'd ever thought they'd need him, but they'd all been happy enough to pay him when push came to shove.

He smiled wryly.

"If I had a card I'd give it to ya. Maybe this is why I don't get as many gigs as I could."Â?
Artemis Bellezone 13 years ago
Artemis looked at the big white elephant and laughed. Explaining it could be either very entertaining or frightfully dull. Being a prankster meant that almost everyone you knew was at some point or another thinking of a way to get you back. Or, if you haven't done anything to them yet, they are trying to find a way to beat you to the punch. He glanced briefly back at the truck where the Hello Kitties were safely tucked away. Since no one admitted to giving them to him, they could have come from anyone. He didn't know what role, if any, his mischievous girlfriend might have had in it.

"The R&D holiday party was no secret. If Pak is innocent, the elephant shouldn't be too hard to explain. If she had anything to do with the cats, well, coming home with an elephant might be a bit of a surprise."

Artemis grinned at the thought at he reached out and shook Ambrose's hand. He wasn't sure he would have any immediate needs for a guitar player. But who knew, maybe he would run into the other man again sometime.

"It was nice to meet you. See you around."

With a final nod to Ambrose, Artemis made his way back to his motorcycle. It had been an interesting night. Given the season, he was glad it ended with an exchange of gifts rather than murders. He would have hated to add one more to the one that seemed to be permanently on his To DO list. He secured the elephant to the back of the motorcycle. Opting for happier thoughts, he contemplated possible leather related presents for Pak. After all, he could just say Ambrose told him to.

(ooc: Permission to shake Ambrose's hand. And, Artemis out.)
Ambrose 13 years ago
See now he just liked his reputation better. It was so much easier being moderately cranky and threatening. He was, however, still amused by Artemis' plight. At least he seemed happy enough and that was all you could really ask for.

"I just hope it is a good surprise."Â?

Ambrose quipped before shaking the offered hand. He seemed like an OK guy, for a geek at any rate. He hoped the dragon lady had another side to her.

"Its a small city. It could happen."Â?

He waited for a bi before settling himself in the cab. Caffeine and cats. Well it was less noticeable than a giant elephant. He was probably getting off easy.

((OOC... Ambrose out too))