An Even More Special Delivery (attn: Val)

Julian entered the Long Bar for the first time in several weeks without his violin; he couldn't play it. His visitor from a couple nights ago had seen to that. While his fingers were, blessedly, just fine, the dislocation of his shoulder made it nearly impossible to hold his violin for any length of time yet. He was also fortunate to have medical benefits and a very understanding employer. Once he'd explained that he'd been assaulted and mugged on the way home from his last performance there had been a lot of sympathy thrown his way.

A lot of it from several of the female symphony members who just wanted to comfort him. Julian was more than willing to be comforted, but to say he was incapable of performing in more than one way was an understatement. His knee was sore, his head was bruised and one eye was somewhat colorful, and the arm thing was just painful.

However, then man who'd done it seemed certain he would bring the message to Val. Julian had filed a report of a break-in to the Police but he didn't know how else to proceed. This was way over his head. Val needed to know though.

He seated himself at the bar and winced a greeting to Kevin, who looked at him, did a double-take, and poured him an ale instead of a whiskey shot. He hesitated before giving it to Julian. "Painkillers?" the bar owner asked. "I don't want you too fucked up to think."

Julian smiled crookedly at him.
"Just ibuprofen right now," he said, and Kevin slid the drink to him without another question. Julian nodded his thanks and drank, giving a short sigh. He was a little jumpy since the attack, and he figured he had good cause. There had been a promise of a follow-up and Julian really didn't want that.

Valentine 11 years ago
She hadn't really planned on stopping by the Long Bar tonight, it wasn't an every night thing for Val. Although, she had been dropping by a bit more since hooking up with Julian on a semi-regular basis. On her way back from the library, the library of all places, it happened to be on the way home and she did rather want a quick drink so Val made a quick detour resolving that if Julian wasn't in she'd just head home. Kevin wouldn't hold it against her. Funny thing was she didn't even really want to screw around tonight, maybe if Tai was in the mood but she didn't want to mess with hotels etc. Still she wouldn't mind seeing the boy, she was growing rather fond of him.

Sliding in the warm lights and the warmer air were a pleasant contrast to the sharp chill outside. It was d@mned cold tonight. It was pleasant enough that maybe she would stay for a quick drink, warm up before going home. There was no music, yet, but there were enough people about to provide a pleasant background chatter. Kevin caught her eye almost immediately and nodded significantly to a patron seated at the bar. Even from the back she could tell it was Julian. Apparently she'd be sticking around for a drink or two.

Before she could even perch on a barstool though Val got a look at Julian.

"Jesus Mary and Joseph what happened to you?!"

She exclaimed. Although it was fairly evident what had happened, he'd either walked into a tree or been worked over. That was a stunning shiner he had not to mentioned the other bruising on his face.

Val looked for a place to put a comforting hand him but wasn't convinced there was one and so just plopped down on the stool next to him. Kevin slid a straight whiskey to her as she did so.

"You don't look safe to touch."

Even his hair was questionable. She had no idea how badly bruised the rest of his head was or if it might just be achy from the rest of his injuries.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian had been about to text Val and ask her to come meet him when the door opened and she walked in. She took one look at him and her surprise was obvious. He shrugged his good shoulder at her.

"No, I'm pretty sure nothing doesn't hurt," he said. "Touching is definitely out."

Kevin moved discreetly away while Val sat down and Julian leaned into her, feeling slightly peevish.

"What the hell are you involved in, Val, and why did it have to get me mixed up? A friend of yours was waiting at my apartment a couple nights ago."

He gestured to the left side of his body, which had taken the brunt of the beating.
"He left this message for you. Something about the old man, and what he told you. If you don't play nice I get my face mashed up again."

He frowned.
"He didn't say how you were supposed to contact him. I'm really kind of hoping it's not through me, literally, again. Whatever this is, Val, it's shady and I don't want anything to do with it. I already filed a report with the police."

Julian was angry at Val, yes, but he didn't want to see her hurt.
"You should get out of here before they find you."

He briefly described the man who'd been in his apartment to Val.
"Do you know him? What is this about?"

Then he shook his head.
"No, wait, I don't think I want to know."

Julian had a good life here. A great job. He didn't need his name tied to anything illegal, if that's what was going on.
Valentine 11 years ago
Val's eyebrows shot up as he immediately accused her of somehow being involved with this, but she didn't immediately snap back at him. Julian was obviously in pain and she'd cut him some slack let him blow off a bit of steam and hope he'd tell her what exactly was going on. As she listened she took a better look at him. stitches in his head, left arm not moving much, yes he'd clearly been worked over. Whoever did it had done a decent job too, maybe a bit rougher than needed though.

The old man? Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. That wasn't good at all. For starters she hadn't thought any one would connect Julian to her. If they had that meant someone was watching her. So they probably knew about the townhouse and Tai as well, she'd have to let him know. It also meant whoever Giovanni had her protecting was worth more than she though. She might have to go track this cat down. Val spun her whiskey glass on the smoothed polished wood of the bar as she listened and though. She was less than amused.

On top of what had happened Val had to come up with a way to explain this to Julian that fit with her cover story. He, after all, thought she was a grad student who worked as an administrative assistant to pay the bills.

"Damned. I am so sorry. I swear whatever you think this is... it isn't. I honestly don't know what they want but it isn't mass murder or drugs or Satanism or anything like that. My family had some... contacts that... weren't nice. I left because of it I thought I was free and clear no one had bothered me in years."

The significant pauses, the slightly nervous twisting of her fingers or the glass and the little tiny edge of fear she was showing Julian hopefully lent some weight to the story. Sometimes Val's lies would be wild and crazy, this time because Julian probably wasn't completely out of it she stuck closer to the truth hoping her story wouldn't be blown by outside forces.

She did wish he hadn't gone to the police though. Well done was done. She nodded a bit nervously and debated crying a bit but decided against it.

"Yeah.. no.. that is bad. I think I'll move in with a friend for a bit at least."

And good luck to anyone who tried to break in to the townhouse. They might not win but they would not make it easy.

The man Julian described didn't ring any bells but that was hardly a surprise. Still she shook her head indicating that she had no idea who he was. She was just going to have to call in a favor and get that flash drive decrypted that was all there was too it. God d@mned Giovanni he could have given her more clues, more directions.

Now... how to keep Julian out of it.

"What about you? Are you going to be OK?"
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian immediately felt bad for being upset with Val. As she explained what she thought it was about, he felt his heart go out to her. She was obviously nervous and hadn't been expecting this sort of thing to follow her here to America. He put his hand on her shoulder.

"It's okay. I'm sorry I snapped." he ran his hand through his sandy blond hair, shaking his head and sighing. "It's just been a hell of a past few days."

When she said she'd stay with a friend for a while he nodded, but he was still concerned. "I guess the police will be calling you soon. I had to give them your name but," he shrugged. They had never exchanged full names. She might know his because it was listed in every Symphony program but he didn't actually know hers and now he thought maybe that was a good thing.

"Can this friend keep you safe, though? I mean, he found me easily enough."

Julian had already had the locks on his door and windows changed. The landlord was only too happy to do it after hearing what had happened. He was a nice guy, with a family, who took pretty good care of his tenants and didn't seem to skimp on any of the services he was obligated to provide. Julian always paid his rent on time, and aside from his violin playing, was a quiet, well-mannered tenant. The guy had been horrified to hear of the attack and had actually hired a security crew to install cameras and alarm systems.

Julian felt pretty safe with all of that, but he still thought he might see if Jan and Evgeni wouldn't mind a roommate for a little while. His friends had been terrific. Not only had they stayed the night with him in the hospital, but they'd gotten him home when he'd been released the next evening and helped him do a few things that needed to be taken care of. Julian was grateful and he didn't want to impose, but he also didn't quite want to go back home alone yet.

He nodded his head to Val.
"Yeah. I'll stay with my family for the next week, or a couple friends I have here in town. But... do you know what the guy was talking about? I mean, I'll be honest Val, I don't want to go through this again and I don't want you to have to. He's going to come back and find you, or me, or both of us, unless he gets what he wants."

That was his biggest fear. This guy had found him once. Julian still didn't know how he'd gotten in; the locks on his door hadn't even been broken. Yeah they were changed now, but would that deter this guy if he came back?
Valentine 11 years ago
Apparently she was pretty convincing as Julian backed off a bit. At least he no longer seemed so aggressive or upset. That was a good thing. Val gave him a soft smile and picked up the hand that he'd placed on her shoulder and held it softly genuinely trying not to hurt him any more.

"I'd say you're entitled to a little snapping."

She wondered if the cops would be calling. Could they even find her. Crap, maybe she should make herself available to them. The last thing she wanted was for the cops to track Julian down and tell him she didn't exist.

"No, you were right too. Don't feel bad and don't worry, we'll be safe. If nothing else she's pretty off the radar."

For a second Val wondered what Tai would think of her impulsively turning him into a woman in this story. He'd probably just raise an eyebrow at her.

It would be best, for her any way, for him to stay in town with these friends of his. Val wanted to keep half an eye on Julian. Besides which, the odds were good whoever had worked Julian over would have no qualms taking out his parents. That wasn't something she could say though without knowing more than she should.

His next question gave her pause though. Val nervously chewed at her lip and downed her whiskey in one gulp as if bracing herself or looking for a bit of courage.

"I really don't know. I'll... I'll try and get in touch with Da or maybe one of my uncles. They might know or ... maybe get at least you left alone."

God she'd kill to be able to get a hold of Giovanni and ask half a dozen questions. She hoped though that this might keep Julian in town. Val didn't feel bad or even think twice about her attempted manipulation of Julian, if it got him to play the way she wanted that would be great.

"Whatever you do would you at least text me now and then, let me know you're safe?"

She wanted to iron this out fast though. While Val had no issues using humans who got in the middle of things, Julian she actually felt responsible for. Damned it why did she actually have to like they guy? Odds were good that even if nothing else happened to Julian their little 'play dates' were over.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian nodded, still frowning in concern for Val. He didn't know what he could possibly do to help her, though, and it seemed he was in enough trouble of his own.

"I'll keep in touch," he said. "You do the same."

He liked Val... but he couldn't see them continuing their pseudo-relationship after this. Though, he didn't know. Maybe. Julian wasn't a fortune teller. Things might work out. For the moment he was really just concerned with staying off the radar and getting better, not to mention not having a repeat.

He was going to ask Jan and Evgeni first, he thought. He didn't want his parents to know what was going on if he could help it. They were already overprotective enough as it was. With this new complication they would almost certainly come running to Nachton from New York to keep their precious boy safe.

"I had better get going," Julian said. "I don't want to stay out too long."

He put some money down on the bar, knocked back the rest of his drink, and stood slowly, feeling about eighty years old.
"Text me," he said to Val.

With that he made his way out of the bar and back to his studio.

((ooc: Julian out))
Valentine 11 years ago
Val delicately patted Julian's hand and nodded. She honestly didn't believe he'd be keeping in touch, not remotely. Some part of him blamed her for this and he was going to hold it against her no matter what she said.

"Be safe."

She added as he left. It was a shame to see him so nervy, but she couldn't blame him. Hell she was more resilient that he was and someone breaking into her place and beating her senseless would have made Val a bit jumpy. Mind she also would have been out looking to take them out, but that was the difference between them wasn't it?

He was just going to have to put up with her hanging out here though. The Long Bar had been her refuge long before it was his, it would be interesting to see if he'd avoid her now.

Val sipped her whiskey for a minute or two, giving Julian a head start. But quick enough she finished it paid Kevin and headed out into the night. Following Julian home at a very discreet distance. She was less worried about him getting home than she was interested in seeing if she could pick up on any one watching him.

When that failed she took herself around to a few old haunts and made some call. She had half an idea where to go from here.

((OOC... out))