A certain reporter.
Continues from Who are you?
Carol moved through the South Tower with purpose. It was the administrative building of the triad of towers that Duibne Industries owned and operated in the industrial district. She kept to this tower to be closer to Jacob, Marthinus son and CEO of DI, but more importantly it kept her out of the North Medical tower where Charlie was being treated and Simon kept his office.
She walked the sky bridge that connected the three towers, entering the North Tower holding her tablet in her hand. She wouldn't have come into the North Tower unless it was important. Very important. Like, fucked up seriously important. Taking the elevator up to Simon's office, she chewed her bottom lip till she could taste blood. It had been months since she had spoken to Simon and it still made her nervous.
Checking her dress in the reflective steel of the inside of the elevator, Carol was glad she changed into something less revealing. It was mid thigh and not see-thru, which was pretty good for her. The weather was up and down, cold and warm, but she was still wearing her four inch open toed sandals that matched her soft pink tank dress. It was pretty dressed down for Carol, she had to admit.
"Wow I dress like a slut. A lot." She grinned at her reflection as the doors opened, reigniting her nervousness.
Stepping out, she walked into his assistant's office and pointed at his door. She nodded and began to stand to let her in, but Carol just shook her head. Walking up to the door, she knocked on it and then let herself in.
Directly in front of her was his minimalistic steel desk, but his chair was empty. Peering around the door, she looked to her right and saw him standing at the windows, looking out. Finally he turned and looked at her.
She fully expected her heart to break into a thousand pieces. Simon exuded power and sex just standing there in his perfectly tailored suit, strong jawline, and powerfully lean body. She'd be all over him at this point, but that was a long time ago. He used to have that affect on her, but not anymore. Looking at him now, she of course saw the handsome leader of the clan, but her view of him was no longer up close and personal. He was her boss and someone she used to know a long time ago.
"Got a minute?" she said holding up her tablet.
He turned toward her fully and pointed toward one of the chairs near the window wordlessly.
The windows filtered the damaging UV ways perfectly leaving only the warm sun on his face. If a vampire told you they weren't completely fascinated by the sun, they would be lying. Having to go centuries without feeling it, much less seeing it, does a number on your psyche. Being immortal was a dark gift, indeed, with a hefty price. As the human race advanced, so did its technology and the day came where the vampires could see the sun, if only in movies, then of course came the UV filters.
The production of UV filtered windows in Nachton was owned by vampires, a good portion of it by Duibne Industries. The entire corporation was dedicated to inventing advancements for vampires with by-products benefiting humans. It was a win-win situation. Soon every piece of glass in the world will be UV filtered, from the expensive high rises to the hovels in Afghanistan. Technology that benefited his kind knew no bounds. Of course, they could concentrate on medical cures, and part of the company did, but that was for show more than anything.
A soft knock at his door broke his train of thought and the beat of a familiar heartbeat filled his ears. Hearing Carol's voice made him open his eyes and stare out into the sunlight. Her hours had changed, he remembered, working normal day shifts for her new boyfriend. Well, he wasn't new anymore, was he? It had been two years.
Turning, he gave her his full attention and silently offered her a seat.
Carol shook her head, her blond hair shimmering like gold. "Actually, this will be quick."
Simon took a deep breath and crossed his arms.
"Have you seen this?" Carol closed the distance between them and handed him the tablet. He looked at it for a moment before reaching out and taking it.
He read the information on the tablet and then made a face. "Is this current?"
Carol licked her lips, an act he watched with detached fascination, and nodded. "I didn't know about it until I looked into Nova's whereabouts. She's still out of town, I guess on family business, but I got a message about her email backing up one of the servers, so we cleared it. She's been getting notifications on the distribution of her Starburst meds."
"I haven't seen any reports on that."
"We wouldn't - its research and her personal section. No reason to."
Simon looked down at the tablet and saw the refill notices for Kyle Evans. "This says he's still taking the Starburst. He should have come off this at least...."
"Two years ago, yeah. So why is he still taking it?"
"How is he is still getting the Eternity?" Simon asked handing the tablet back to Carol.
"I checked into that." And she had. The Eternity, like all illicit drugs, had a way of getting out to the streets despite their tight control on its production, considering how it was made. It was also the highest priced drug out there, not easily accessible by your neighborhood junkie, but he had to be getting substantial quantities of it from somewhere. And where else could he get that much E?
"Your name carries a lot of weight around here, obviously."
"You think I'm giving it to him? I haven't seen him since he got arrested."
"No, no I don't. But you declared him untouchable and he did save you."
Simon sighed and nodded, putting two and two together.
"Yeah, he just walked in and asked for it. From this person." Carol pulled up an image of a high level DI scientist attached to Nova's team and showed it to Simon.
"Have you talked to her?"
Simon made a face, "Why not? Let's talk to her now. Get her up here."
"I'd love to, but she's gone."
"I don't understand. Gone? She quit?"
"No, she's just gone. Like into the wind, gone. Like stopped showing up to work, gone. It's been a couple months now. So where ever Kyle is getting his Eternity, it's no longer through her or anyone else on the team."
"I know, but someone is giving it to him."
Simon stepped closer and looked at the image of the woman off the tablet Carol was holding. He tucked his hands in between his armpits and made a face. "I don't recognize her." Not that he would, there were at least a thousand people working in the North Tower's medical research section alone.
"Where is Kyle now?" he asked. Carol shrugged again, pursing her lips. "He's gone, too?"
"I have no idea what the fuck is going on here, Simon, but this can't be good. He hasn't been to work, he hasn't been to his home. After that arrest thing apparently he was checked into the hospital and that's when I saw him. Simon, seriously, it was bad. I should have known then."
"He's thin, painfully thin. I saw that, too. He was drinking, as well."
"He checked himself out of the hospital after I saw him and disappeared. Like Keyser SÃ¶ze disappeared."
Simon looked at her strangely for a moment.
"Usual Suspects. You remember," she said quietly.
Simon closed his eyes and snapped his fingers. It was a movie Carol absolutely loved - something about a group of known criminals put together to commit a heist for this mysterious man. Supposedly untraceable. They had spent many a night in bed watching the movie, amongst other things. He blushed uncomfortably recalling it.
"Right," he said stoically, averting his stare. "He's still in the city if he's getting refills of the Starburst. If he's still on the Eternity, he needs the Starburst."
"I have a line out on him - he turns up, we'll know."
Simon shrugged, shaking his head as he considered Kyle Evans. The reporter had managed to stay under the radar for months, maintaining an extremely expensive drug habit, while invoking Simon's name right under their nose. No one had seen him for at least six months, and a reliable source who had was now gone. Of course, no one would notice the hapless reporter. The werewolves had been a major focus for Simon and the clan since the death of the District Attorney and attempted hit on his ADA, Shiroi Yuukaku.
"His uncle is the Editor of the Nachton Times, right?"
"Yeah. I saw him at the hospital that last time I saw Kyle. Scared shitless."
"Of what? Of Kyle?" Simon snorted but sobered as soon he saw the seriousness on Carol's face.
Kyle Evans was not scary. He wasn't even sober half the time to even be misconstrued as scary. He was creepy, Simon would give him that, but it wasn't in Kyle's nature to intimidate anyone. Kyle was a successful conspiracy theorist who happened to be correct in all his assumptions about the vampires and had a ridiculous knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kyle did a good thing, saving Simon's life, but definitely not by choice. The good deed was rewarded with an apparent growing addiction to Eternity, but then he did get involved with Nova.
Nova. She was gone, too. Simon wasn't sure if that was even connected, but the one person who could find him was Nova and she was in the wind, as Carol put it, as well.
"I know what you're thinking," Carol said confidently.
He looked up at her and raised an eyebrow.
"I can't get a hold of Nova. The best we can do is run a facial recognition program into the city's system. That's tricky though since the entire city isn't linked up. He's not stupid, he's hiding and doing it well. Nothing with previous addresses, he has no friends, motels, hotels, shit I've checked bed and breakfasts surrounding the city. He's a ghost."
"But...he's an idiot."
Simon meant that in the nicest way possible, but it was true. Kyle didn't know the first thing about hiding; he had no reason to learn an ability like that. His luck was so bad, it put him in almost every major event that happened in the city. Kyle Evans was a bad penny, turning up in the strangest of places.
"I know, right? But the question isn't how he's doing it, it's why," Carol said with a scared voice. Hugging her tablet up against her chest, she looked around the office and then sighed. "I'll let you know what I find out." And with that, she turned to leave.
"Carol, wait." She stopped and looked back at him. Simon opened his mouth and then felt himself struggle. "Are you...is everything...."
"I'm fine, Simon. And happy."
Simon felt his breath escape his chest in what sounded like a painful sigh. It was something he had wanted to say to her for some time, had tried to say to her actually when he heard about her new boyfriend accidentally. His bond with Carol withered and died quicker than he thought possible, making him question the bond itself. In the end, it felt like he used her. She may have thought that as well, like a band-aid. But she made him feel whole, like the man he was meant to be, and he'd always appreciate that, but he broke her heart and in the process, did damage to his own without realizing it.
"That's good. I'm glad. That's all I wanted for you, Carol, I didn't mean...."
"I know," she said interrupting him. "Don't sweat it, Simon. I'm not."
She flashed him a smile and left.
Her heartbeat had to have mixed in with the other hundred people in the surrounding area, so Simon probably (and hopefully) could not pick up on it now that she was out of range. Walking into one of the bathrooms, she went to a stall, sat down, and started to cry.
Wrapping her arms around her body, she just let it all out. Being in his office, talking to him about business - that was all easy peasy. She was fine, actually pretty proud of herself for maintaining her shit. That was until he had to ask if she was ok. Apparently he felt the need to bring up crap from over two years previous and poke at it with a stick.
She loved Lothias, more than words...more than Simon, she knew this and felt it in her heart, but the short time she had with Simon was exhilarating, not just because he was a vampire and a clan leader, but because Carol helped facilitate the change in him. That change made him the man he was meant to be. The true leader the clan needed. Once that transition happened, Carol's time was done. Ellis came back and Carol knew she just could not compete.
Three years earlier she had completely convinced herself she'd by a vampire by now, standing by Simon's side. Knew it, lived it, wrote it down in a mantra. Now, with her thirtieth birthday looming closely, she was still human. She was ok with that, really. But she was a human so deeply integrated into Simon's world still that she saw the choice she was going to have to make with Lothias. Simon reminded her of how it could have been, but it was Lothias that loved her and only her.
"Fuck," she mumbled eloquently. But was she unhappy? No, she meant it when she told Simon she was happy. It's just dealing with the fact that her boyfriend was a werewolf. Yeah, that kinda fucked shit up a bit.
Pulling a hand out of his pocket, he ran it furiously through his hair and turned back toward the window. There were bigger things to ruin his day with now with Kyle keeping himself into trouble. He should have known something was wrong with the reporter - it had been too quiet for too long. Simon considered how he was going to go about finding Kyle. There was the uncle and editor of the Nachton Times. If anyone might know where Kyle is, he might. Or at the very least could give him a clue as to where to start. It would be only a matter of time before Kyle came back into DI for his refill, but if he was getting Eternity without anyone knowing it, he could be getting the Starburst just as easily.
Putting his hands on the window glass, Simon looked out over the industrial section of the city and looked at the downtown skyline where the Nachton Time's skyscraper made its home.
He'd start with the uncle.
She sat there for a good fifteen minutes staring at a phone number written on a piece of paper on her desk. The clan had its resources, as did DI, but sometimes you had to stick your hand in the box of snakes to get the seriously deep secrets, and this snake was the fucking mother of all snakes. Picking up her cell phone, Carol dialed the number on the piece of paper and closed her eyes.
The phone rang once.
"This is about Kyle. You asked me once for help, now I'm asking you."
If the devil had a voice, his whisper would sound like honey and fire. The voice on the other end laughed sweetly and then purred.
"Of course Carol," Ellis said softly, "I'd be happy to help you, but only if you say please."
((Simon and Carol out))
Continues in A retrospect - outskirts of Nachton