We Would Totally Storm the Castle If We Had A Map (invite only)
Tai and Val reached the Abbatoir exactly when they'd arranged to meet Jan and Evgeni. Tai was mildly curious about this; he hadn't realized the three of them all had the same musician friend in common. He knew who Val's friend Julian was although he'd never met him. Apparently Jan and Evgeni knew him too. Interesting friends the violinist kept.
He'd been the one to receive the message on their answering machine at home, from Jan. It had had some incredibly strongly worded language about Julian, whether Val had heard from him and if she knew where he was and had seen him recently. Followed by another strongly worded insistence that they meet ASAP to discuss the situation.
Tai knew about it from Val, and had heard the conversations between her and Asa. He had heard the noises Julian had made on the other end of the line, and clearly he was in trouble and hurting. Not that it bothered Tai any, really. He didn't know the guy and although Val seemed agitated about it she was trying to act like it didn't matter.
Mostly, he was looking forward to seeing Jan again. He hadn't seen him in a few months. It didn't matter to him what context they visited in.
There wasn't really a quiet place in the Abbatoir; it was all pretty loud and thumpy. They found a fairly out-of-the way table though, and Tai sent Jan a text letting him know where they were. Then he sat and watched for Jan and Evgeni's arrival.
Unfortunately, she was so angry at so many people that she was having a hard time directing that anger at the right person and even worse she was having trouble thinking how to get Julian out of this. Of course she wasn't going to leave him high and dry, but she'd be damned if she was going to give up Brosco either. She might, however, put Brosco on a plane to Antarctica or somewhere equally out of reach and let Giovanni work this out himself. The man owed her big time.
Sullenly she slid into the booth next to Tai and almost immediately began rolling a coin across her knuckles. She wasn't happy about this. Honestly the only reason she'd agreed to meet anyone was because she had one passible idea for luring Asa out of hiding and one massively far-fetched idea that she wasn't even sure she could pull off. It was something she'd never tried before and would likely fall apart before anything even started and might get Julian killed. Both ideas ended in a fire fight and humans didn't do well in fire fights.
Val needed ideas and she needed help. She knew it. She didn't have to like it, but she knew it. Even if she had considered asking Tai to help her storm the castle, she didn't know where Asa was and she wouldn't ask Tai to do something like that. That was taking their friendship, their partnership way too far. If he offered, fine; but she wouldn't ask.
Since her temper tantrum back home Val was doing her best to appear calm and collected, coin roll aside, but her accent was so thick when she spoke some people might have trouble with it She was trying to calm down though.
"Fucking hell, lover.â€
That was it. That was all she said. It summed things up quite nicely.
Well if she wasn't going to do something then they would. They just needed to know where he was and hopefully she had some idea. Apparently they were going to need to put a tracking device on Julian somewhere after this. They could possibly find him alone if they had to; Evgeni had gotten some description of the place he was being held from Julian. However if there was a faster way then that would be better. So here they were in hopes that Val knew of a faster way.
He had called Val and Tai and asked for a meeting on clan grounds where they could all speak safely about anything and everything that needed to be said. Evgeni had 'graciously' agreed to let him at least begin the conversation even though he had a few choice words and strong opinions on the subject of endangering their friend in this manner. It had taken a large portion of the car ride over here to point out that righteous fury on Julian's behalf wasn't going to get him back.
Jan led the way to where Val and Tai were seated with a sullen Evgeni behind him. "Is redhead?â€ was asked when they began to head in a specific direction. "Looks like trouble.â€ was then muttered with heavily accented disdain as if one look at the Irish vampire should have let anyone know that she was dangerous to be around and should be avoided at all costs.
"Sometimes trouble looks entertaining.â€ Jan shrugged and continued onward, ignoring the sharp sniff of disagreement from his companion.
Sliding into the booth with the other two, he got right to the point. "Do you know where Julian is? What does this guy want from you and how are we getting him out?â€
Evgeni declined to sit down. Instead, he stood next to the booth, leaning one hip against it, arms crossed, watching over the proceedings with intent deep red eyes.
((OOC: In the interest of speed the part of Evgeni is being played by Jan for the moment until such time as he has so much to say that he feels inclined to add it in his own post. Carry on. ))
He nodded to Jan as he approached, and then to the man behind him, a lanky man with dark red eyes who looked unhappy. He wondered idly if Julian knew he had friends like this. Strong friends. Who actually gave a shit about him.
Jan was blunt; Tai surmised that he, too, was unhappy about Julian's predicament. He didn't answer any questions; they were for Val. Tai's role here was as Brosco's keeper unless they asked otherwise of him. He wasn't going to offer. He suspected he might have his hands full enough with Brosco, anyway. Someone had to keep an eye on the familiar, since he was apparently so much in demand.
She answered just as directly.
"Haven't got a clue where he is, just who he is with. He wants something he can't have and my best ideas for getting him out are massive long shots and will probably get him killed and that just seems to defeat the purpose don't you think?"
That hadn't come out quite the way she'd intended. A touch brusque. Val snapped the coin down on to the table and tried to add something constructive to the conversation instead.
"Honestly I only have half an idea what is going on here. Maybe not even that. I got loose orders... a very strong hint to keep a familiar away from Asa. The guy who has Julian. He got it in his head that Julian and I are a thing and that I'd swap the familiar for Julian. Well I can't and I won't."
She wouldn't apologize for that and wanted it clear that the option was off the table. Val didn't want Julian hurt, or worse, but if that was the option she couldn't do anything about it.
"I do think I can get him out of his hidey hole with Julian though. After that, its a crap shoot. If you shoot him, one of his minions takes out Julian. I've got some information he -might- trade for, but I doubt it."
It was a given Asa had people working with him, at least the one who'd beaten Julian up before. But she didn't know how many, vampire, human, she just didn't know and that made things challenging.
He notice that Val noted 'I can't and I won't,' but avoided saying, 'and we're not' to refute her status as 'something' to Julian. So, did she or had she at one point hoped for more? He searched inside of himself for some kind of human emotion like jealousy or remorse but found nothing. He liked Val, as much as he could like anyone, but he wasn't going to be the person she ever had 'a thing' with and that seemed all right by both of them.
Unless they already had 'a thing,' if that was what sharing a home and screwing around all over the place was. Hmm. Tai might have to Google it.
In the meantime he continued to watch Jan, awaiting his friend's response. Tai was glad this wasn't really his problem; he had been an assassin for a very long time, true, but he usually had a few days to plan his attack and understand his victim's movements. These spur of the moment off-the-cuff things weren't his cup of tea.
He looked over at Jan, who shook his head slightly no and then Evgeni looked back at the woman. "You sit here and say you have no idea. No Idea! You are not doing anything to help him.â€ To be fair she said she had ideas they just weren't good ones but Evgeni wasn't in the mood to be fair.
He leaned down and grabbed the table, leaning his weight on it as looked at her closer for answers. "I am guessing he was just a human sex toy for you then, yes? Is why you didn't tell him to pack up and take long vacation to Siberia until you sorted out your own mess.â€
She had a chance to tell him to get out. Julian had already been in the hospital once because of this woman. A smart man would have left town on his own but perhaps Julian had some reason to think it was over and that whatever trouble he had been in was simply a misunderstanding that this heartless redhead had cleared up...but obviously not.
"I am thinking we can find him better without her.â€ He pushed away from the table and turned to Jan. "We are wasting time here and I would like to find Julian before they break something else.â€
"Like his neck!â€ Evgeni tossed the words over his shoulder. "We have the information that we can follow up...is something.â€ Not much and if they didn't hurry then this crazy guy would likely dispose of Julian just to prove a point.
((OOC: Jan says "And he's loose." Ah well, tried my best. ))
Val's lack of helpful information and a solid plan was disappointing, frustrating even. He still didn't think a towering show of rage was the answer. Sometimes he was all about that answer but it really wasn't going to help Julian at all. Jan shook his head when Evgeni looked in his direction but his companion completely ignored his silent advice.
"That will take time. Val could possibly talk to this guy, make some sort of attempt to appear to be cooperating and we can then work on finding out where Julian is from the clues he gave you.â€
Turning to Tai, he said. "So what's your take on all this, Chatty Cathy?â€ His friend hadn't said anything about it. Tai hadn't been the most vocal guy when they met but he likely had some kind of opinion about some of it or all of it, about Julian sleeping with Val, about Val's problems with the mafia, about Evgeni getting in Val's face... Or a solution, that would be nice.
The pounding music made its way through his addled brain and insisted on a rhythm. Jan mentally took a step or two back from the table's riled emotions and their complicated problem. The crisis was time and if they had some way to stall then they could eventually find Julian. It was too bad Julian couldn't play sick or something and make a break for it but he was already injured and that didn't seem to matter a whole hell of a lot to his captures. Jan got the absurd mental image of Julian fluffing up some prison pillows to look like a fake person and then hiding under the bed.
What they needed was a decoy Julian. Ordering one back up violinist please. Jan knew that Evgeni would take his place if he could, even after all he had been through. This mad man, Asa, didn't sound as sick or twisted as the Anantya bitch who had tortured Evgeni. He actually wanted something specific. It was a business deal, more or less.
All the random thoughts in his head were starting to come together on a possible idea. It was there slowly coalescing into something almost usable and it might work, or be completely stupid and get him and perhaps the rest of them killed. Excellent, that probably meant he was headed in the right direction.
"So...how old is this vampire guy?â€
"Listen this isn't my gig. I was supposed to be the fucking safe spot and even that I didn't volunteer for, it got dumped in my lap. And since I'm not much more to Julian than a good time in bed and someone to jaw with at the pub I thought he was out of it after the first go. We hadn't even seen each other in weeks.â€
Why she was going to this trouble for Julian Val wasn't quite sure. But she absolutely resented the implications Red Eyes was making and had no issues making that known.
"Now if you're done and you want to help, great. Sit the hell down because I could sure as shit use a hand with this mess.â€
Minor tirade over Val went back to trying to fix the problem. She raised an eyebrow at Jan. Julian had given them clues about where he was? How in the world had he managed that and why hadn't he sent her those same clues? She wasn't hurt, she just thought that it would have been more logical to send an SOS to her since she already knew about Asa and what was going on.
She shook her head at the idea of time. That was in short supply.
"We've got until tomorrow night. I -might- be able to buy one more night but Asa is a crazy bastard and already less than amused he's been kept waiting. If I could just pick some guy up off the street and pass him off as Brosco I would...â€
It was half an idea in her head. It wouldn't work though. It would take months to teach someone to be Brosco. You didn't just create a fifth generation familiar over night. Besides, Asa knew what Brosco looked like.
"I've thought about getting him a fake location for Brosco, maybe get him out of town it would be a chance to get to Julian either in transit or find him if Asa left him behind.â€
Moving people was never as secure as you thought and it would make their lives easier. Of course, if Brosco wasn't at the end of the trail she wondered if Julian would survive that little ruse so that wasn't her best idea either.
Slightly startled she frowned and thought about it. Giovanni was insanely old, like BCE old and Asa had been one of his first...
"Old enough that he might have known Jesus fucking Christ personally.â€
Jan asked his opinion and Tai regarded him neutrally. The quick-thinking stuff hadn't been his thing, but he had been a member of organized crime all his life and he knew how they worked. He glanced at Val then back at Jan and his friend.
"He'll kill him soon," Tai said. "It's been two days, and he's angry."
Men in Asa's position didn't get where they were by being soft. If he held off in killing Julian then he would be considered weak. Tai glanced at Val, aware that what he had to say might not please her.
"Acting like he means nothing might have shortened his life span."
If Asa really thought Julian was useless as a bargaining chip, he was more likely to murder him and dispose of the body than let him go running straight to the authorities. In Tai's opinion Val might have been better off bargaining for a little more time instead of playing the cold, uncaring card. But his observations were based on Yakuza practices, not vampire politics. That was a field Tai knew almost nothing about, and they could operate much differently. He could only offer his views from a Yakuza standpoint.
He shrugged his shoulders at the other three, semi-apologetic. If Val had wanted his opinion earlier she would have asked for it and he would have told her he thought she'd done more harm than good, but he could be wrong too. Tai generally didn't offer unsolicited advice, though.
He nodded his head at the man who was still standing. "He's right. If you want Julian back you need to move, now."
Tai would help if asked, but he didn't offer it. He was already on hire as the Brosco-sitter.
((ooc: I went out of order last time, my bad... so we can just, um, roll with it or something. :P Sorry!!))
She told him that if he wanted to help then he needed to sit. Evgeni raised his eyebrows at her but refused to comply. He could help just fine without giving in to her whim. Sitting on his ass wouldn't get Julian back any faster.
Jan looked up at him and gave him the barest hint of a half smile and a knowing look. Apparently his reaction was no surprise. Evgeni's mouth twitched at the corners but only because he loved that smile of Jan's and couldn't help but react to it. However, until they had a solid plan that had some chance of success he wasn't going to be in a smiling mood.
The Asian man in the booth that Jan had told him was named Tai pointed out that Asa would need to kill Julian soon if his demands weren't met. He nodded his agreement. "Leader cannot look weak. Yes.â€ Whether they were a criminal or a king. If Asa said that Julian only had until tomorrow night then that was the most amount of time he had unless something changed his mind.
Talk shifted to dressing someone up to look like this familiar that the man wanted so badly. Val pointed out that the plan wouldn't work and he agreed. If that would have worked then the familiar wouldn't need to be in her care in the first place. Someone should have just made the familiar appear dead long before Julian was ever involved. If they didn't want him actually dead then they could have done a better job of hiding him.
His companion asked how old the vampire was and Val answered. Evgeni looked down at his clan mate and shook his head. He didn't know what Jan was planning but a several thousand year old vampire was bad news, especially one that had friends.
Tai said that Julian didn't have long and that seemed to be something that they all agreed upon. He pointed out that pretending that Julian meant nothing to her might have done their friend more harm than good. Of course that meant that he was suggesting that Julian actually did mean something to Val which was kind of hard to tell from the discussion so far.
She talked about dressing up some random stranger as the familiar that they needed and passing him off in trade with Julian. "If it were something where they saw the guy far away then maybe...but most people would want to make sure they have the right person, especially someone who isn't an amateur.â€ And this guy probably wasn't.
Val explained that the guy was old, way old, far older than him old. "Well there goes that plan then. I could have used glamour to look like your familiar and make the exchange for Julian and then get the hell out of there once he was safe...but I can't fool someone that old.â€
He looked over at Tai. "So...Uncle Taiâ€ Jan grinned at the much younger vampire. "Pick up any useful vampire moves from grandma? We will need all the help we can get. You're willing to help? I will owe you one.â€ And he hated owing anyone anything so that was actually a big deal but he figured that Tai had little reason to be here except perhaps to support Val. Why would he think much of Val's human lover much less want to help him? Unless they both knew Julian but his friend hadn't mentioned Tai and he knew that Julian wasn't interested in men. Jan wasn't sure about Tai's particular habits but perhaps, like himself, he swung whichever way looked interesting at the moment. It wasn't important right now anyway.
"That's really all I got that is likely to help." He looked around at everyone else with eyebrows raised in question.
"Fine. Sit, don't sit... I don't care. Have you at least got a name? I hate wild cards in a situation like this.â€
She'd trust him because Jan seemed to trust him, and somewhere in the back of her mind Val almost liked him for standing up for Julian. But she wasn't in the mood to deal with a mystery.
Tai finally spoke up and it wasn't the best news she'd had.
"Yeah. It might have.â€
Val agreed reluctantly.
"But gushing over him and giving Asa the scene he wanted might have gotten him hurt worse.â€
Not that the bashed in head and the broken bones were trivial, but it could be worse. There really wasn't a good answer here, but Val was willing to conceded she might have made a mistake there.
Well they'd at least found one thing they agreed on, that Julian had very little time left. They couldn't put Asa off any longer or any further. No one seemed to have any ideas and Val was starting to think maybe she could shoot Asa from a distance, a little sniping action and Jan or Red Eyes could run in and grab Julian.
Jan said something that perked her up though. Glamor. They might not be on the same page but they were reading from the same book.
"What... if...â€ Val ventured slowly. "You didn't try and fool Asa... what if we set it up so that one of his minions picked up Brosco. I doubt he'd send a human but I'm guessing they'd be younger...â€
Despite the situation Jan's interaction with Tai was almost playful and she felt her lips twitch upward. God family trees could be fucked up. She was a little surprised that Jan would so blatantly ask for Tai's help. She didn't venture an opinion one way or another but she shrugged at Tai it was his call. She hadn't and wouldn't ask. Brosco and Julian were her problem. Jan and Red Eyes were Julian's friends they wanted to be involved. Tai was here because he was Tai. He was undoubtedly curious and she didn't blame him.
He shrugged. "She's not known for subtlety," he pointed out without giving a yes or no. This situation was definitely not a 'storm the castle' one, which was sort of Ellis's forte. The question for help, though, he tilted his head at, considering it for a very short time. Val was already in up to her ears in favors. Not that that was a bad thing, but Tai had not expected to be involved in Julian's rescue though. Jan, however, rarely asked for favors and was, Tai figured, the closest thing to family he was likely to ever have.
"I can help," he said, "if you need me." Val had shrugged at him so he assumed she didn't mind either way. If she was dead set on him babysitting Brosco she would have spoken up then.
Jan went on to mention his glamour ability, which definitely wouldn't be a safe thing to attempt on a vampire as old as Asa apparently was. But Val brought up the possibility of using it on one of the younger men working with him. Tai nodded. That could work.
"He would probably be happy to dump Julian and take off if someone he trusted could confirm they had Brosco," Tai said. "If he doesn't just kill him instead. Can you trust Asa's word?"
Some people played by a code of honor. Val knew Asa; she should know if he was good for it if he promised to release Julian, or if they were likely to have to try and jump him at the dropoff location. Tai's eyes shifted to Jan.
"If you offer yourself in his place, I would like to back you up."
Jan could fight; Tai knew that very well from their bar-brawl meeting. But he felt... something, for the older vampire. Family, friend... something. Tai would be in one of two places - protecting Jan, or at the drop-off location to retrieve Julian. Tai preferred the former. He would understand if Jan's companion wanted that honor for himsef, but he had to make his preferences known. He would do whatever they wanted him to, ultimately.
He listened to them speak about Julian and whether pretending to care or not care would have been better. "Is not important now. Is done.â€ This Asa either didn't buy her story or he did but the time frame was the same either way. Evgeni doubted she could call the man back up in a fit of tears and claim to have had a change of heart. Though she could claim that there was someone else involved at that she -had- to act cold in front of this person. Perhaps whoever wanted her to keep the familiar sent along more help?
"Perhaps you call him back...say now you are free to tell truth.â€ Evgeni looked at her and raised his eyebrows questioningly, hoping she could fill in a good reason for why she hadn't been able to play the concerned lover for Julian before. "You want to make deal for Julian.â€
They were coming up with a plan of sorts but the last part was riding on an ability that wouldn't work on the guy actually holding their friend. You couldn't call up the bad guy and say "We'll give you what you want so long as you send your young vampire out with our friend instead of coming yourself...No, we are being completely honest, really.â€
Now he was thinking this through though and there might be a reason for them to get what they want. Evgeni slid into the booth next to Jan and leaned forward toward Val. "What if you say you must distract someone who will not let you save Julian...That you are telling this "person...boss...whateverâ€ that you are making different deal. But because you -do- care for Julian you are going to be making Asa's deal for his life. But! He must help you. Tell him he must come with Julian and you will hand him papers with information so that this boss thinks that is deal you made.â€ He turned and looked at Jan and then back at Val. "Tell him to have his friend meet your friend who will give this Brosco to him. Once exchange for familiar is made and confirmed by his vampire then he gives us Julian.â€
That might actually work. If Val appeared to have been playing the part of uncaring because someone else was in the room when Asa had called her then he might buy why she was having an apparent change of heart. He might also believe her when she told him that she needed to pretend the deal was being brokered for something else to get Julian back and not the familiar while at the same time giving him the familiar when this 'boss' person wasn't looking.
"I can be bad guy if you need.â€ If he didn't put his contacts in then there was no doubt that he was a vampire. He could be silently stern looking if necessary.
Evgeni was thinking, seriously thinking about this plan. Jan knew that he was thinking hard about it because he absent mindedly sat down after being so adamant about -not- doing it earlier. He looked at Tai and smirked quietly before giving his full attention to Evgeni's addition to the plan.
His friend had been schooled in tactics; they had talked about it once while playing video games. Evgeni had been taught the art of rulership and warfare from very young and then his Creator happened to be something of an expert on the topic himself. Evgeni said he had been fascinated by vampire and world politics and the complex web that was woven through it all. He had taught Evgeni plenty of that while also teaching him that being nosy and getting involved was dangerous. That last lesson came at a high price for his Creator but Evgeni had taken it to heart. Jan was happy the Simon seemed mostly concerned with Tacharan and less about the others.
"Sounds like it might work.â€ Jan turned to Val. "Will it work?â€
She answered Evgeni's introduction. Maybe someday it would be true. Right now they were just rather dealing with each other and rubbing each other at least slightly the wrong way. Circumstances were a bitch.
Tai asked if Asa could trust her and she barked a short laugh with no humor at all in it.
"The bastard is a backstabber. Undoubtedly he expects the same of everyone. I'm not sure trust is going to happen.â€
No, no... Tai was on the right track but they needed a reason for Asa to do it their way. Something other than 'because we said so'. The best Val could hit upon was that she didn't rust Asa, he was too dangerous for them to deal with directly. He might buy that. Might.
While she floundered for a reason Evgeni spoke up, and sat down. Val claimed a moral victory but it was a minor thing. She was much more interested in what he had to say. She wasn't so stupid or vain to dismiss the man just because he'd irritated her a few minutes ago, this wasn't a great time for grudges. She nodded slowly understanding where he was going with this a that it was actually a decent idea.
"That might work. You bring Julian and we'll bring the ledgers but wink, wink, nudge, nudge we'll drop Brosco off across town for one of your guys to pick up. You don't get your paws on Brosco until we have Julian in hand?â€
That offer caused Val to raise both eyebrows half way up her forehead. She hadn't expected the Russian to get involved. Although, that was an ungenerous assumption, he seemed to be the most upset of any of them about Julian's predicament. She Took a good look at him and nodded curtly.
"You'll do. And any little added credence is good.â€
Tai's offer to watch Jan's back was less surprising, not a given but it seemed to fit him. She wasn't going to say no to it either. She didn't relish the idea of Jan going in solo, that was a hell of a lot to ask of any one.
"Thanks lover. Appreciate the help.â€
God she owed him, a lot, lately. It would be interesting to see how and when Tai cashed in these favors.
Jan's question was the one that really mattered and it was the one all of them, well at least three of them, were interested in.
"Yeah... its all a bit risky but possible. I think it is the best we've got.â€