Chocolate Coating Makes It Go Down Easier! (invite only)

Riding in the back seat of a car might not be something out of the ordinary for most people, but to Julian it was terrifying. Not only were his hands uncomfortably bound with little consideration for his broken wrist, but he was blindfolded as well. He had balked when it became obvious that he was being herded into a vehicle and in the end they'd had to shove him in. Whimpering about it had been pointless, so Julian had simply tried to find the least excruciating position and prayed the ride wouldn't be a long one.

It felt like years. The terror of not knowing what was going to happen combined with his persistent fear of automobiles made it hard to stay calm. He felt a tentative sort of hope, that this might be the end of this ordeal. But then, it might be the end of his life too and that thought wasn't a pleasant one. His head was still sore, his wrist hurt badly, and the blindfold, the moving car, and the head-injury vertigo all combined to make him sick and dizzy.

Julian just tried to breathe. There wasn't anything he could do about the situation right now. He had to stay calm and look for some kind of advantage. If they planned to kill him, he wasn't going to make it easy. Supposedly they were going to an exchange but Julian wasn't putting it past them to lie to him at this point. Carefully he began to roll his head around, trying to rub the blindfold on the back seat to dislodge it so he could at least see a little. It was on incredibly tight and it was one of those that was strapped to his head and conformed to his face so it wasn't easy to move it around. It gave him something to do while the car moved, though, and eventually he was able to catch a brief glimpse here and there of buildings flashing by, little slivers of them out of the bottom of the mask.

In his head he continued to pray; to what god, he wasn't sure. He'd lost his faith long ago when his sister had died. So, maybe he should invoke her memory instead. If you're out there, Andy, he thought, please watch over me. If anything happens to me mom and dad will lose it. It was bad enough losing you... but I'm not ready for a reunion yet.

Stranger 10 years ago
Asa was vassaling between thrilled and suspicious, excited and unhappy. He and Valentine had made contact, she had agreed to give up Brosco. Apparently there was a third party involved in all this. He shouldn't have been surprised really, Giovanni's grip on things was waining, his power and influence was no longer what it had been. Of course, Valentine would be looking to use Brosco to her own advantage.

Still it made him a bit leery not having total control over the situation and he was upset that she'd forced him to injure Julian more than he had to. But there was little to be done about it now. Mathew was on his way to another drop point to pick up Brosco. That, obviously meant that Valentine had at least one person working with her. Which was fine, he trusted Mathew to pull this off. Granted he would have one other set of eyes on the exchange there to confirm things. He'd turned on Giovanni, as had Valentine, it was probably only a matter of time before Mathew turned on him.

He sat in the passenger seat planning for the worst, occasionally casting glances back at Julian. The blindfold seemed to be staying in place. The poor boy was probably nervous. For his sake Asa hoped it went well, he didn't want to have to torment Julian for the rest of his life.

"Try to relax." He said, trying to sound reassuring and missing the mark by several miles. "We're almost there and she has agreed to be reasonable. Convoluted but reasonable."
Julian Stephenson 10 years ago
Julian tried to focus on breathing again, going very still when the man spoke so he wouldn't see him trying to wriggle out of the blindfold at all. He caught glimpses of the street out the bottom of the window. Nothing helpful or useful, but just being able to see a little made him feel slightly better.

He wanted to ask the guy if he truly planned on setting him free or if he was just screwing with him before killing him and throwing his body off a pier or something, but the man had actually put Julian's violin in the car with them, in its case, and that told him there might be a grain of truth to this 'letting him go thing.' He felt some hope. The side pocket of his violin case had some smallish, suspicious lumps in it and he wondered if someone had thought to put his wallet and phone back in. That nurse, maybe, or whatever she was... her actions and words had indicated that she was trying to offer some sort of twisted kindness. Julian thought she might have slipped his things in there.

The car hit a pothole and he stifled a hiss of pain.
"Please tell me we're almost to wherever we're going," he muttered, not caring if the guy heard it or not. Julian was ready for this to be over, for better or for worse.
Stranger 10 years ago
Ordinarily Asa would take issue with Julian's tone. It was, to put it simply, rude. But the boy had been having rather a rough time of things so allowances had to be made for that. That and his artistic temperament. If Julian hadn't been necessary as a bargaining chip Asa might have kept him. He would have made an interesting familiar, and he did have to replace Chase, but he discarded that idea as quickly as it came. The bond might adversely affect Julian's playing and they couldn't have that.

"Almost my dear boy almost."

He muttered, not even really noticing that Julian was asking a question that had already been answered. He did, however, notice the his of pain.

"Didn't the girl give you something for that?"

If she had it wasn't at his request. Although, Asa did have to admit, he'd not given orders against it. He was going to have to watch her more closely.

They turned and came to the agreed upon location, an abandon construction site. They had back tracked and looped around quite a few times to ensure they weren't followed to to disorient Julian and the location was satisfactorily far from his current strong hold that even though it was a touch cliché, Asa was satisfied.

It was hard to tell while saying in the car, but Asa couldn't see anything terribly amiss. It didn't look like he'd been set up. He would have to pay careful attention though. That was part of the reason he'd brought Lisa. She was a much better driver than he was and would watch his back if his perception took up too much of his attention. Even better she didn't say much.

Not long after their arrival, another car pulled in. A flashy sports sedan, it was even red. Asa snorted his amusement.

"Youth has no taste."
Valentine 10 years ago
Everything had been set up fairly quickly. All the better to keep anyone from double crossing the other, she knew the score.

During the day Val had a car brought out from her dealership and left for her in a parking garage. It was something she'd done often enough that no one remarked on it. It was so she could show it to a client, at least that was the story. If it got damaged badly, she bought it. If it came out clean it went back. It was better than renting and she needed something with four doors tonight. She couldn't see she, Julian and the Russian all cozy in the front seat. And it was fast. In, out, Julian to a hospital all as quickly as possible was the plan.

The ledgers, well the altered ledgers, were on the back seat. They were well done, even if she did say so herself. Val hadn't had time to do a complete fake out, but she had full copies of them and had changed enough that even if they were a code it should be unintelligible.

Pulling into the construction site she looked over at Evgeni and hoped to God he was up to this. If things went as planed she might even go back to church, once, or just drive by one, or maybe just send a nun a post card. There was already a big black sedan parked and waiting. She could see the shadow of two people in the front seat, neither of them looked to be Julian. He was either in the back seat or the trunk.

"Cliché to the end aren't you, you stupid mad man."

She muttered at Asa and his choice in cars.

"You ready for this?"

Val asked her passenger. If he was she'd flash her lights, Asa should answer in kind, everyone gets out and played nice, but no one was to leave until Asa had confirmation of 'Brosco' being delivered.
Evgeni 10 years ago
Evgeni hadn't been able to contact Julian again to send him any more reassurances but he supposed getting him the hell away from these people was far more valuable in the long run.

He had dressed for the occasion in a black suit with a dark grey shirt. He and Jan had discussed getting some temporary tattooing done so that he could look the part more convincingly without saying a word. However, he was a vampire and that was obvious just looking at him. If he had modern mafia ink then he wouldn't be very old. It was decided that it would be much better to simply be what he was. Russian and a vampire. The man was probably smart enough to put the rest together.

They pulled up at the construction site and there was another car already there. He glanced around to see if there was anyone else waiting in ambush but if they were then they were doing a damn good job of concealing himself. He wasn't terribly worried about himself but being in the crossfire of a gunfight wouldn't be good for Julian's health. He was armed, as a matter of course, but with vampires it generally wasn't necessary since it often wasn't a very successful weapon.

Her comment about the other guy's car did make him snort softly in amusement.
"Is valuable tradition to look stuffy and important. Helps police find you as well. Where possibly could the mobster be? Perhaps in that dark sedan...” He shrugged and spread his hands in a helpless gesture.

"Da, Let's be doing this.” He nodded at Val and watched the other vehicle intently. If Julian was in there then he couldn't see him but for all he knew the man had stuffed his friend in the trunk. If the violinist was dead then this Asa guy would follow him. Maybe not today, perhaps not tomorrow but someday.
Stranger 10 years ago
The lights from the red car went out, then flashed on and off a couple of times. Not that there was much doubt it was Valentine but that was the signal. He nodded sharply to Lisa.

"Get him out don't forget the instrument."

Asa himself slid out of the car with very little effort, but he wouldn't hold Julian. No if all hell broke loose he was going to be taking care of himself. Julian would just have to be a casualty, as would Lisa. She was quite young though, Asa wasn't sure if he liked her yet or not.

She did, however, do as she was told slipping from the driver's seat and not exactly roughly, but not carefully, pulling Julian from the back seat. She put the violin case in Julian's hand but did not remove the blindfold. She moved them away from the care, so Julian could be easily seen but also held a gun in one hand. It was obvious she had it too, the threat was implied.

"I'm pleased we could come to an agreement Ms. Connor. I trust you brought what you promised and this is your only associate this evening."

For her part Asa had to consider that Giovanni had taught her well. The read head, tiny though she was, made the most of her minimal hight and her expression betrayed very little. He could see some traces of nerves, of tension, but not much. The other gentleman was a surprise. With those red eyes he could only be another vampire. For some reasons Asa had been expecting a human.

"Send him over Asa. Neither of us wants to drag this out any longer than we have to."

"Not just yet... send your friend over with those books first."

She snorted, which wasn't exactly pretty.

"Fine." He said tiredly. "Send your associate half way, he and mine can exchange. I'd assume that is agreeable."

((OOC... skip Val. She said most of what she had to say in this post. Evgeni can tell Asa to go to hell or agree as he sees fit. If he says go to hell... they'll have to find an alternate plan.))
Evgeni 10 years ago
Evgeni reminded himself that he was a very old, very powerful vampire. That was the role he was playing and thankfully it was one that he was well suited for. He had spent his early life trained to display the confidence and competence that went with being an affective leader. Pulling on that now, he watched with outward serenity and feigned apathy as the woman pulled Julian from the car.

Inside he was thinking that if she used that gun on his friend then she would be the first one to die. That much he should be able to manage before needing to run for his own life.

Taking the folders, he shrugged slightly when told to walk halfway out and meet the woman in the middle. The confidence he displayed here was unfeigned; Evgeni was more hearty than most vampires and in a fire fight he would expect to survive better than many of the others even those that were older.

"Here is files." He held them out to the woman but kept a firm grip on them. His other hand grasped Julian around his upper arm almost equally firmly. Evgeni pulled his friend with one hand while pushing the files to the woman with the other. He would apologize for any bruising to Julian's arm later but he didn't want to be surprised into letting go.

"Check. Is what you want, yes." Evgeni nodded to the files. She had been given the task of getting them then she must know what she was supposed to be looking for. At least she could look and see that the pages weren't blank.

He moved Julian partially behind him with the pretense of getting him closer to the car but to also shield him if people started firing.
"We are done here?" There was only a slight lift in his voice to suggest this might have been a question and might have been a statement.
Julian Stephenson 10 years ago
Julian could hardly believe it when he heard the command to remove him from the car with his violin. He went as quickly as possible when the door opened. A hand took his arm and he stumbled out onto a hard surface. Even though his hands were bound behind his back his violin case was pushed into his good one and he clung to it.

He staggered unsteadily across the hard ground, stopping when the woman clutching his arm pulled back and he was grabbed by another hard hand. They were really letting him go? Then the new person spoke and Julian gasped. He recognized the voice. How could he not? Was it really Evgeni? It had to be. But how...? A hundred questions filled his aching head but most pressing of all was the overwhelming relief he felt when he realized that if Evgeni was here, he was safe. The world rocked and he leaned against his friend, who had pulled him around behind him, keeping him in an iron grip.

Julian was grateful for it. He didn't want anything to go wrong. He wanted to go with Evgeni so very badly. He was shaking hard but he could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. He had no idea what Evgeni was doing there but he was going to keep quiet and do nothing to ruin this miracle.
Valentine 10 years ago
Well just because she was cooperating didn't mean she had to make it easy or look like a fool. In fact, if she'd been too eager, Asa might have sensed something was up. Still Val held her breath a little bit not sure Evgeni would agree to Asa's compromise and even more worried that he'd pull some damned stupid stunt during the exchange.

The woman that Asa brought only gave the material a passing glance. Obviously she wasn't very involved in all of this. That or she was stupid or possibly her only concern was Julian. Val noted that the woman's gun remained drawn and she didn't turn her back on them as she returned to Asa, putting the ledgers in his hand.

Even though they weren't the prize, weren't what he was really getting the man played his part and checked them out.

"These look right Ms. Connor, but you'll let me double check before you leave I'm sure."

As Asa flipped through things for a second she could hear his phone bing. Hell the night was quiet enough that everyone probably heard it. Val held her breath again as Asa checked the text. God she hoped that went well otherwise they'd have to rescue Jan and Val really wasn't sure they were up to a second rescue. It had taken four of them to work this out and Asa wouldn't be pleased to have been fooled....

But he nodded, apparently satisfied.

"It seems everything is in order. It was a pleasure doing business with you."

By then Val was very close to again loosing her cool and just telling Asa to fuck off. But given his penchant for manners Val bit her tongue.

"Yeah. Win/win all around I'm sure. We're going to let you roll out first while we make sure what you've brought us is still in tact."

She said it as coolly as she could but they really did need to finish this fast. Get Asa and the woman out and then they needed to high tail it as well. Jan would drop that glamor or escape or both and all hell would break loose as soon as word got to Asa.

"I am told he should recover with the right care." Asa answered. "But you're right we'd best be going. Thank you."

With that he got in his big black sedan and drove off. They should have a few minutes. The drop with Jan and Tai was the other side of town. As the tail lights faded she breathed a little easier.

Julian didn't look great, and it didn't take a vampire to smell the blood. She frowned.


Where ever they were going she wanted to move, now and -fast-.

((OOC... Asa and party out))
Evgeni 10 years ago
Evgeni watched the woman carefully while she backed away and put the folders in the other man's hands. He looked them over and received a text. Evgeni hoped that Jan was okay. He was a vampire knowingly playing a role that brought him into danger and he also had backup. That placed the odds of success much higher than it had been for their human friend.

Of course, one sideways glance at Julian was enough to put "success” as a sketchy definition of the outcome at best. He had his life and no permanent harm was done. They could discuss the other problems that would result later.

"Come.” He took Julian along with him and opened the back seat car door for him. Evgeni guided him into the vehicle and then watched the Asa and his companion get back into their car and drive off.

Coming around to the other side of automobile so that he could also get into the back, Evgeni answer Val's question.
"Yes, hospital. Drive...carefully.”

He pulled off the blindfold from his friend. There was no time to put his contacts in before Julian saw his eyes but he wasn't going to make his friend sit in pain and darkness wondering what was going on while he popped them in. Quite frankly he felt that Julian was owed an explanation about all this anyway. Larger forces at work in the world and all that.

"You are safe now. Everything will be ok.” As gently as possible, he leaned Julian forward and untied his bound hands. Once his friend was free, Evgeni pulled him into a hug. He didn't let go; Julian could stay there for as long as he needed and wanted to stay.

((OOC: It is dark and his eyes are blood red so it is quite possible that Julian won't notice until there is more light. That perception is entirely your choice. ))
Julian Stephenson 10 years ago
Julian immediately became tense when he heard Val's voice. He didn't know what to think about that; he was still hurting from her casual dismissal of him over the phone, not to mention the fact that associating with her had gotten him in trouble yet again. He had hoped not to have to see her again. He didn't even know how to begin to talk to her after all of this. She clearly did know something about what was going on, too, even after having playing the innocent sympathetic card with him.

Julian focused on Evgeni instead, wondering how the hell his friend had gotten involved. Of course, after his studio had been broken into, he'd told Jan and Evgeni about it, but how would they know something had happened this time? He recalled the vivid dreams he'd had about talking to Evgeni, his friend telling him they were going to get him out of this, and now here he was. It was too much of a coincidence but it was also too much for Julian to even think about right now, with relief making his knees weak and terror that something might still go wrong making his head spin. Of course, both of those symptoms could be attributed to the repeated knocks on the head.

He was helped into yet another car and left in the dark, his heart plummeting. Then he heard the other back door open and knew that Evgeni was sliding in beside him. The car began to move away and Julian caught a glimpse of the movement of Evgeni's pale white hand as it reached out. The blindfold came off and Julian looked at Evgeni and confirmed that it really was his friend sitting there next to him. Julian blinked away tears of relief, noting the color of Evgeni's eyes and staring for a second. Why were they red?

"Evgeni," he sighed with relief, glancing at Val up in the driver's seat then looking away quickly. "Thank you for coming. Both of you."

His friend spoke, and with gentle hands, reached out to untie the bindings on Julian's arms. Knowing he couldn't do anything with a broken wrist, they had basically tied his left wrist to his right upper arm. Probably not the most effective, but it had done the trick for the short time they'd needed him restrained. Julian rolled his left wrist around, working some blood back into the hand, and then leaned against Evgeni as his friend hugged him and held him.

Julian collapsed against him and stayed there, willing himself to stop shaking. It had to be over now. He was safe, like Evgeni said. He could go get checked out at the hospital, maybe even get clean, definitely get patched up. Then they would let him go home and he could resume his life, assuming he hadn't been fired in his absence from rehearsals. He shuddered at the thought of going home alone. He didn't want to. But he didn't dwell on it. He had so many questions, it was impossible to focus on just one. Everything from Val's involvement, to Evgeni's coincidental appearance in his dream and strange red eyes, to more mundane things like his job availability.

Instead of worrying about any of it, Julian let himself drift off into a pleasantly oblivious state of half-consciousness. It was the first time in days he felt even a little bit relaxed and between the quickly fading adrenaline rush and the injuries he'd sustained, he simply could not keep awake, alert, and focused on what was going on around them. And he didn't need to. Not yet. It was enough, for now, to rest against Evgeni as they headed for the hospital.

((ooc: All out, unless someone else has something to say!))