Nachton Mall - a talk 'tween us girls
Viv wanted something to eat. Again.
What was it about malls having to smell so good? Not just the perfumes, which was nauseating, or the chocolate shops, which smelled yummy, but the damn food courts. Nachton Mall had entirely too many places to eat and it was two levels big. It was the baby's fault, she decided, as she tried to focus on why she was in the mall in the first place.
Carol's birthday was coming up in May and she had planned on helping LT with his gift to her, but Viv had no clue what to give her closest friend. What do you give the girl that seemed to have whatever she wanted? Carol's wardrobe alone was ridiculous - so clothes was out of the question. Spa treatment? She looked like she did that already. A trip for her and LT somewhere? Viv and Brig could maybe swing that, she thought to herself as she walked into the larger more exclusive anchor stores in the mall.
Nordstrom's flaunted its Nachton flagship store. It was the largest anchor in the mall, the largest she had even seen, and was five stories high. Really? Five stories? Was that necessary? Yes, it was. Viv loved it.
Moving through the cosmetic department, she looked up at the mirrored walls and columns. The reflections tricked the eye into thinking it was even larger than it was and Viv whistled, looking up at the high ceilings and picture windows. Looking out into the overcast afternoon, she knew for a fact that the windows were UV filtered. Simon had said just about everything in the city was, why wouldn't one of the more expensive stores be?
With her hands behind her back, she moved past the perfumes, her wolf nose sniffing in disdain at the multitude of scents, and stepped into the jewelry section. The transition was flawless, of course, but the linger scents still floated by.
Peering down at sapphires and rubies, Viv inhaled deeply, tasting a familiar scent amongst the other flowery notes.
"I was wondering when you'd be stopping by," she said straightening up but keeping her eyes down.
"Well, here I am," Ellis' smooth voice purred.
Dressing practically, Ellis moved one heeled boot in front of the other. Her black slacks were perfectly tailored but loose fitting along with her tucked in button up red blouse that exposed a healthy bit of her cleavage with a wide black belt cinching her waist. That Vivienne female, she was wearing a decent cut of cashmere at least. An over-sized red cashmere sweater over a fitted retro style pencil cut skirt and heeled sandals. Admittedly Ellis' approved, but would not be caught dead looking as if she were pregnant.
The swell of Vivienne's tummy was apparent, not large, but there in the early stages of her pregnancy. So she was in Siberia pregnant with Simon. For a week Simon had disappeared and Ellis thought nothing of it, why would she - they both moved within the city without having to answer the other - but Simon had left the country without a word.
Stepping out of her blend, Ellis moved with cat like silence behind Vivienne and looked down at her as the female looked at the baubles underneath the glass when she finally took notice of her. Ellis didn't have the ability to sneak up on people, not like how Simon could, but these damn werewolves had their powerful olfactory organs.
"Well, here I am," Ellis said, whispering into Vivienne's ear.
The werewolf turned and looked at her, not at all surprised. In fact, she had a knowing smile on her lips.
"Feeling smug, are we?"
"Yes, we are." Vivienne leaned on the counter and picked at her nails. "So gosh, what should we talk about?"
Ellis narrowed her eyes at her, trying to smooth out the irritation in her expression. She shrugged with a sigh. "Just thought I'd stop by. Say hi."
"So this isn't about Simon? Or Siberia? A week out of the country with another woman? I'd want to stop by and chat with her, too."
Ellis pushed back her shoulders and looked down her nose at Vivienne. "Being smug is common, dear." She glanced at Vivienne's tummy and let her snobbery shine. "And so is being pregnant out of wedlock."
"It's 2011, Ellis, not 211."
"Right," Ellis replied looking her up and down.
"So what's on your mind?"
Turning her back, Viv knew she should be afraid, but part of her knew that at this juncture, she was untouchable. Before Siberia there's no way Viv would have been as smug as she was admittedly acting with Ellis, but with Simon so clearly on her side, Viv knew Ellis could not touch her without feeling his wrath or the wrath of the Kadzait. It felt good.
"Obviously this is about my relationship with Simon," she said looking over her shoulder and catching the look of fury cross Ellis' face. "But it's quite apparent I have my own man and don't want yours."
"So who is the lucky schlep?"
Ellis had a way with mixing insult with desire and even Viv felt the purr in the vampire's voice. That must've taken centuries to perfect.
"Right, ask Simon if you really care."
There she was with that stick again. Poke, poke.
Viv wasn't sure if Ellis had been following her, but the sudden closeness of the vampire's breath on her cheek made her inwardly scream. "So tell me about Siberia, Vivienne. Truths revealed? Bad guys vanquished? Tell me all the fun stuff."
Viv stopped and looked at her. "Simon didn't tell you?"
Ellis' watery green eyes were exceptionally beautiful, Viv had to give her that, but she gave new meaning to the green eyed monster.
"Oh, he did tell you, just not about what happened between him and I." Viv paused. "I thought there were no secrets with your bonding?"
Ellis watched Viv's expression as she held the slightly humored grin in place. She wanted to rip it off the whore's face with her fangs. Simon's new toy wouldn't have asked if she didn't already know that he could hide things from their aura. Why in god's name would he tell her that?
"I only know what he tells me. And Marthinus, actually. You're, uh, bonded aura thing is quite exceptional. Empathic but only with each other. Must suck having a lie detector you can't turn off, huh?"
Ellis rolled her eyes at Vivienne's American grammar. The least she could do is talk with a little more class. How could Simon stand her? Maybe this was her appeal - her common sensibilities.
Pursing her lips she replied, "Uh, yeah." Again the smug smile appeared making Ellis take a deep breath before she broke this fragile dog's neck. "What does he see in you? What could you possibly have that is so special, so unique, that he'd follow you around the way he does? Let your...kind...into Duibne. He helps you for no obvious reason."
"I don't know, maybe because I'm nice to him? I don't require contracts with blood signatures, pounds of flesh, power, money?" Vivienne shrugged looking stupidly confused. "I'm his friend."
"Please don't insult me." Ellis moved closer to Vivienne, backing her up against a mirrored column. "Your men want him dead. Want the both of us, dead. Why would you be his friend if there wasn't something that you wanted? We all want something, Vivienne. I think I know what he wants from you."
"Do you, now?"
"You're different. A brand new toy. Curious though, you're not even prettier than his last."
"Well," Viv said with a forgiving look, "I do ok, obviously." There wasn't much room left between Ellis and her, seeing how the vampire wasn't trying to make a point, an insulting one at that. "So this last toy, the one he gave up for you?"
Ellis narrowed her eyes.
"I suppose she didn't have much chance against a fifteen hundred year old fantasy." Viv paused, moving closer, almost brushing her lips against Ellis'. "But then, that doesn't say much for you now, does it? I mean," Viv shrugged, raising an eyebrow, "I apparently have something you don't."
Viv felt the glass before she heard it - Ellis grabbed her by the throat and slammed her up against the mirrored column THAT fast. The shock of it blacked her out for a second, but then Viv was rudely awakened by two very sharp fangs in her face.
There's something to be said about the affect of fangs in your face. It's scary as hell. That coupled with a steel like grip against your throat is enough to really throw your game off. Fear welled up into her chest, fear for herself and her baby, and instinctively her mind sent out one helluva S.O.S to Simon.
Ellis' suddenly got a far off look in her eyes and then she dropped Vivienne like a sack of potatoes.
/What are you doing, Ellis?/
/Drawing a line in the sand, dearest./
Then she dropped Vivienne, releasing her grip on the werewolf's throat. The small woman dropped down to her knees, breaking the glass that had fallen to the floor.
/Where are you?/
/At the mall. You know how these sales people are./
Ellis knelt down in front of Vivienne who was rubbing her neck. Fear mixed with rage glittered in the small brown woman's eyes.
"When he tires of you," Ellis said her voice soothing and almost whimsical, "I'll be waiting."
Then she pulled her blending veil over her and left.
"It's all right, pumpkin. That fucking crazy vampire bitch is gone."
/You know what, I'm going to change my damn mental number and not give it to you./
/Is Ellis with you?/
/You mean your fucking angry jealous girlfriend? She was. She's gone now./
Reaching behind her, she gingerly touched her head, feeling for blood. There were pieces of glass in her hair and it tinkled to the ground as she ran her fingers through it. A salesman walked up to her, looking at her with a strange expression.
"I fell. Help a pregnant lady up, will you?"
/Do you need me? What happened?/
/No, stay wherever you are. I'd rather not piss your girlfriend off again./
Viv couldn't feel him, not from wherever he was at, if he was even allowing that into their aura at the time, but she could hear him hem and haw in her head. Standing, she thanked the salesman. Looking down at her knees, she saw they were bleeding. She made haste to a bathroom.
/Where are you? I can be there in a few minutes./
"Great," she mumbled to herself as she looked for a bathroom.
/I'd really rather you didn't, Simon. I'm fine./
/She hurt you, didn't she./ It wasn't a question.
/Listen. Don't say anything to her, but she has serious issues about you. If she could, she'd kill me in a heartbeat. What the hell did you do to her with this last toy she was talking about? Whom, by the way, is prettier than I am, she said./
/I can't believe you're joking about this, Viv. Besides, she wouldn't kill you./
/Not now, but when, and I quote, 'you tire of me'. I gotta say, that hurt my ego a little./
/I don't understand you. Most people are terrified of her and you're making jokes./
/It's my defense mechanism./ Finding a bathroom, Viv walked in and wet some paper towels. Sitting in one of the lounge chairs located in the huge bathroom, she dabbed at her knees, picking out the small shards of glass.
/Tell me where you are in the mall./
/How did you know? Oh you're what stopped her./ Viv thought back to Ellis' glazed look in her bitterly jealous green eyes. /What did you feel first? My fear or her rage?/
/I don't know. It was almost at the same time./
/Do you feel me now?/
/No. I suppose it was because of the intensity of both emotions./ He paused, quiet for a moment. /I'm sorry about that, Viv./
/You should be,/ she thought, wincing at the pain on her knees. /It's your entire fault. I mean, really, it is. It was only a matter of time before she confronted me anyway. I'm surprised she waited this long./
/I'm pulling up to the Mall. Where are you?/
/What part of 'no don't' do you not get?/ She sighed, standing and throwing away the paper towel. /I'm in Nordstrom's on the third floor, women's bathroom./
Washing her hands, she twisted around, wiping any more glass from her skirt with a paper towel and then touched her belly. Running her hands over her growing baby, she walked out of the bathroom and into Simon.
"What...how did you get up here so fast?" She felt the trickle of his curiosity and concern filter into their aura.
"What are you doing being all grabby?"
He took a step back and looked at her. Her knees were red and he could still smell her fresh blood. "What happened?"
"I fell," Viv replied in a grumpy voice.
He walked around her and made sure she was ok. Standing back in front of her, he looked down at her hands on top of her growing belly and smiled. "You're really starting to show. You look cute."
"Seriously, this is what you say to me after your girlfriend goes apeshit on me?"
Simon sighed. "I'll talk to her."
Viv squealed in protest. "And say what? Hey, you know that werewolf chick? Well I'm bonded to her, so I'd appreciate it if you don't kill her and her unborn child? Thanks? Yeah, that'll work."
Walking next to her as she started to leave, he noticed for every two steps she took, he took one. There were little things about her that made him smile and the thought of Ellis' hurting her just because Simon was fascinated by her did upset him. Ellis would undoubtedly be waiting for him back at the Piazza, but would deny the entire confrontation till the end of time.
"That's the sweater from Siberia," he said noticing the red cashmere top she was wearing. It was one of the things he had brought over from Dublin when Viv was visiting her father at Glenveagh.
"Yeah, I will now associate it with you and your lovely woman from now on."
Reaching out Simon took Viv's hand in his and used his free one to rub the soft cashmere against her forearm. Instantly he was reminded of their flight to the Baikal Mountains; touching her while she slept.
"You're petting me, Simon. Again."
Grinning he entwined her fingers with his and held her hand as they walked. "That's not how I remember it."
She punched him and then pulled her hand from his, but encircled the same arm around his, walking close to him. Their aura filled with the warm sensation of Viv's happiness, but faltered with something akin to curiosity.
"So what are you going to do?"
Simon put his hand over the one she had tucked around his arm and gently rubbed it as they exited the department store, back out into the mall itself. Up on the third floor, they walked to the railing and peered over. Just below was where there was a skating rink set up three years prior during Christmas time when Ellis had revealed herself to him and the werewolves attacked them. So much had happened since that day - with Carol, Ellis, the clan, with the werewolves...he just wished he could go back and change things, but then if he could, what would he change?
Their aura was empty, save for what she was feeling. Per the norm, Simon was holding back and she nudged him out of his reverie, hoping to get him to talk. Slowly the aura filled with indecision and regret. Simon was staring at the lower floors, refusing to look at her.
"So, regret. That definitely feels like regret."
Simon stepped back and looked down at her legs again. Taking her hand, he led her to a bench and made her sit down with him. Reaching down, he took her legs and moved them over his.
"ACK, wait a sec," she said, balancing herself on the bench.
Simon grinned, touching her knees. "You heal fast." Looking at her knees, she could see the cuts had already closed up and her skin had the tiniest bit of red abrasions on them.
Viv watched his hands on her bare legs. They were rough, which considering the lifestyle he had seemed odd to her. Granted he was born during the early Middle Ages, just on the cusp of the Dark Ages, so life wasn't ideal as a peasant. She couldn't even imagine what it must have been like, but the feel of his hands moving up her calves to her knees sent a chill through her.
With an almost salacious grin, Simon looked up at her, no doubt having felt the tremor of arousal from his touch in their aura.
"All right, at ease." Viv pulled her legs back and crossed them. "You always do that. Change the subject."
"I didn't say anything," he said in a quiet voice. He was seriously laying it on thick.
"Ok, stop now."
Putting an arm around the back of the bench and along her shoulders, he leaned in and laughed. "I'm sorry, but that's all you this time."
"Oh no, have you tired of me?"
He gave her a flat look and blinked slowly. The aura ebbed with annoyance.
"I gotta say, it's certainly an incentive to keep leading you on for fear of being hunted by her. I'll never let you out of my life now."
"You're leading me on, are you?"
"Well, that's the general consensus. We all want something, Simon. I'm fairly certain the families think this is a ploy by me to facilitate their destruction out of vengeance for my dead family. A vampire in my pocket? I'm pretty sure I went up in their estimation. I'm flattered they think I'm that devious. I'm just happy I can still tie my shoes."
"You know it would make more sense if they thought we were sleeping together. Gotta keep up appearances."
"How do we always end up talking about sex?"
"You're the one that said I was in your pocket. It wasn't that far of a leap, really," he said as a-matter-of-factly.
"We do all want something." Leaning closer to her, he looked up at the high ceilings beyond the fourth and fifth floor. "What do you want, Viv?"
"Something to eat. I am hungry. Can you feel that?"
"Not that type of hunger, no," he said in his most seductive voice. Viv's response was to laugh with a snort. "Yeah I was trying too hard there."
"Ooof, your grammar. I'm rubbing off on you. You said 'yeah'."
"You heathen," he said pulling away from her.
Their aura bubbled with laughter and warm affection as Viv giggled next to him. He could not help but grin at her giddiness, letting it seep into their aura. When he let himself go around Vivienne, feeling his emotions always surprised him. Keeping them reigned in helped maintain the emptiness. It alleviated the pain if he did not know it was there. But with Viv she made him laugh, filling his empty vessel of a soul for a change. Carol made him laugh, but without the benefit of this type of aura in their bonding, it was superficial. Still, he missed her.
"What are you thinking about?"
He was surprised to feel his sadness in their aura, not even realizing he had relaxed his hold that much. "About my last toy."
"Will you tell me about her?"
Simon looked down and shrugged. "Not much to tell, really. It was unexpected, falling in love with her."
"What's her name?" He opened his mouth to tell her when she held her hand up, stopping him. "Wait, don't tell me. I'll just spaz if I meet someone with the same name and wonder, 'oh shit, is that her?'"
"I doubt you know her, anyway."
"Possibly, but you never know. Continue."
Lifting the hand that was draped behind her shoulder, he pulled gently on a stray curl of Viv's hair and looked at it. "You remind me of her, actually. Not physically. She is better looking than you."
"Jerk, geez," Viv whined.
Grinning, he tugged on the curl. "She was very unique. Very bubbly and had the filthiest mouth."
"Classy," Viv chuckled. "She human?"
Simon nodded, tucking a bit of Viv's hair behind her ear. "She was about three years into serving the clan. Never even noticed her, really."
His eyes glazed over as he thought about Carol and her silly sense of humor. The way she'd jump on him, even before they had gotten together or the way she dressed in see-thru dresses with nothing but strategically placed flowers covering her soft, pink bits. The feel of her hair, the taste of her skin, and the way she loved him. One minute she was the secretary, the next she was everything. How could he not have noticed her?
"Never even noticed her," he said quietly. "She left me after I bonded with Ellis. Not that I gave her a choice. She's with someone else now."
Simon looked back at Viv. She was watching him, her eyes searching his face. He ran his fingers along her cheek and draped his arm back around her shoulders.
"Does she know you're still in love with her?"
He blinked at her. "Who says I am?"
Viv raised her eyebrows and gave him an incredulous look. "Our aura does."
He pursed his lips, looking sheepishly at the ground.
Sighing, Viv tucked a leg underneath her and turned toward him. "Well no wonder Ellis is pissed. She can't compare to that."
"Ellis is different."
"Oh are we going to talk about when you two met?"
"No." Viv glared at him. "It's...honestly it would read like a Jennifer Anniston movie."
"Well, all of them, I suppose. The point is I don't want to talk about it."
"You know that doesn't make sense. I figured you'd be less inclined to talk about your human."
"Well I don't want to be reminded of her, either." Then he pulled his arm back from around her shoulders and put his hands in his lap.
She instantly missed the warmth of his touch. Not the sexual tension of it, but the affection he would show her when he was relaxed and somewhat happy. Watching as he completely closed himself off from her, she sighed sadly as her own sadness seeped into their aura. When he played with her hair or gently touched her, she didn't need the benefit of the aura to know that he hurt deeper than what he showed. Being his friend, she wanted to help him, even if he didn't think he needed it.
Reaching out, she cupped his face, turning it back toward hers. "I can help you, you know." His eyes looked at her curiously. "We can talk about what's hurting you."
"What? Are you talking about therapy?" He took her hand and held it, but his expression was borderline insulted.
"It's what I do. What I'm in Nachton for anyway. I counsel the Pipers, keep a check on their mental health."
"That is not what you do."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "What do you mean? It is...."
"You were in Moscow during the Olympics."
Viv pulled away from Simon, slowly standing. In 1980 she was twenty five years old and had begun doing Vigo's bidding, traveling across the globe, visiting the families with specific orders. Her father had been training her alongside his Pipers for ten years by then, exclusively teaching her...things. When he and his Pipers could not be sent out for political reasons within the family, Vigo sent Vivienne. Without notification to Elder Hammerthynn at the time, Danil, Vigo's father, or to the Elder Jameson, Duncan's father Brian, Vivienne facilitated the demise of certain key figures within the extended families that were hinting at making a move toward powerful positions within.
Vivienne fixed these situations.
Later Vigo employed her services in cleaning up after disastrous Piper missions like Johannesburg in 2006 and Nachton Mall in 2008, curtailing her involvement in keeping the hierarchy of the families intact, but if needed, she was there.
And somehow Simon knew this.
Viv smoothed her skirt as she stood and backed away from Simon. Instinctively she focused her outward reaction and tempered her shock and anger, reeling it in unknowingly from their aura.
"How are you doing that?" he said sitting up straight.
She was surprised to feel the void of their aura, only suspicion and confusion coming from Simon. It was, however, only secondary to her surprise at what Simon had figured out. "How did you find out about Moscow? What else do you know?"
Simon stood and walked toward her. "Its fine, Viv. I don't have a problem with what you did in the past. It's not any different than what my clan does now."
"I'm not ashamed of it, Simon. It's just none of your fucking business." Turning away, she left him standing there.
Of course he discovered traces of Vivienne when he did his background check on her after they had met. Starting backwards with Johannesburg and Marthinus, his people found traces of her when they connected the dots. Her father had her staying around the old Soviet Union, keeping in touch with the Hammerthynns or descendents. Apparently all was not warm and fuzzy within the two families and Vigo Hammerthynn was quick to crush any type of power struggles within, curiously without official notice. Vivienne was his fixer in every sense of the word. He used her to keep the families in line and her reaction to Simon sniffing around made sense to him now - Vigo and Vivienne's relationship. No wonder Vigo had been so possessive of her.
They protected one another and owe the other everything. Vivienne ensured that there would be no outside influence when Vigo stepped up into his father's spot as Elder and in return, he gave her what he took from her as a child - a father.
Simon let her walk away. He'd give her some time before speaking to her again, knowing she'd be angry with him for a while. If angry was what she was, he honestly could not tell, everything about her iced down to nothing but a cold chill.
He did not think he'd tire of her for quite some time.
((Ellis, Simon, Viv out))