For All Appearances... (attn: Damaris)
Amir wasn't a stranger to the night club scene in Nachton. Not when his body clamored to be fed every 48 hours or so. More, when he had the time. This particular club, he'd been to on occasion but never for very long. If he were going to go out to enjoy himself he would go to Shades'. That was almost like a home away from home away from home.
This club was for the younger crowd. It was well out of the way, cheap, loud, and had a pretty low standard for entry in Amir's opinion. Like any college kid, he sat himself at the bar with a glass of beer that he sipped on. He hated to get drunk and he didn't particularly enjoy feeding from them either, but blood was blood when it came down to it and his need to drink would override his personal preferences any night.
That said, the glass he had now was mostly for show. He hated the taste of it but plenty of guys in here were holding similar glasses, if not doing harder stuff. A few women had come onto him and he'd danced with one or two of them, playing his role with Damaris. They were together but not quite 'together' for the evening although they were hinting strongly that they could be heading toward a long night together. The idea wasn't appealing to Amir and he doubted it was to Damaris either.
He had spotted one of their targets already, a young man who appeared to be in his early 20's but was closer to 100. He was blending in with the crowd, not making too much effort. It seemed to come easily to him. Amir hadn't seen his companion yet but they didn't always go out together and tonight, it might just be the one. They would have to see.
She'd half bristled or eyed some of the girls who'd hit on Amir appropriately. Nothing serious, just a little bit, enough to make him 'forbidden fruit' it worked and some of the girls had eyed him a little closer. She'd flirted with a guy here and there, and wandered off to dance with them even letting one of them cop a feel. It might come in handy if he felt desired.
Having seen the one, Damaris had no idea if Amir had. But it would be a cold day in hell before an experienced Anantya hunter was completely oblivious. For all her partner for the evening looked laid back and casual she had no doubt he was watching everything, she was.
Returning from the dance floor, laughing at the guy she'd been dancing with who'd been coming on to her, but obviously giving him the brush off Damaris spotted the other mark coming in the front door. Obviously they couldn't just pounce on them, but she was rather thankful this had the potential to be wrapped up in one night. He looked older than the other, almost too old for this cheap club, but was younger than the first, only mid 60s.
Having ditched her dance partner she clinked the ice in her drink she leaned over to Amir casually flirtatious and half hoping it would irritate him. She doubted these guys were looking for them, although if they were clanless being paranoid was part of the job description.
"Dance with me?"
They could move about a bit and get a better look at them. It wasn't like the second target was making a bee line for the first. They'd have to wait to get them together.
His partner for the night, in the meantime, was playing her role to the hilt. Maybe she should have joined the Night after all. Not that Amir wasn't playing his own part, but he certainly didn't see the need to ingratiate himself with the whirling mass of drunken human flesh on the floor. He stuck mostly to the bar, the brooding youth, until Damaris invited him to dance.
Looking very much the put out date Amir winced and got up reluctantly. "Yeah, okay," he said, taking her hand and heading toward the dance floor.
He hoped she wasn't looking to embarrass him; Amir's dancing skills were far, far better than he imagined anyone would guess, all thank to Mara. There wasn't a step he didn't know. Granted, he was aware that he wasn't supposed to perform them while rolling his eyes and sighing, but that came with the territory for him. He would have thought his obligation to dance would be lessened with Jin in the picture, but no. Although his two cats were incredible, they both put him through his paces on a regular basis, and Amir couldn't say he was really displeased by that.
Fortunately this kind of club wasn't big on actual dance moves. It was a college kids' club. Everyone there was drunk, horny, and high in varying degrees. While it was a great place to find a bite to eat it wasn't fantastic for making romantic connections. Amir slid alongside Damaris and easily began to move with the crowd, working his way in. Like any drunken reveler he writhed and gyrated, moving seamlessly with the crowd.
His facial expression changed, as well, going from bored and annoyed (his actual state) to cheerful, slightly drunk, and just as horny as the other guys there. He let his eyes dart from Damaris to the younger of their two targets, giving her a gentle little push in that direction. Wouldn't hurt to set the stage for later.
The smell of the place was starting to get to Damaris. It was just annoying, sweat, beer, more perfumes than she could count and half that many masculine body sprays. She wouldn't be able to eat without holding her breath. Why did the young insist on being so... smelly? Weren't the pheromones enough? Shoving that irritation to the back of her mind and went back to dancing.
It was hard to tell since the dance floor was just one great writing mass where no one actually danced, but Rashid moved well. It wouldn't have surprised her to learn he could actually dance. It wasn't that uncommon in older vampires there had been a day in age when it was the best way to get close to someone and all the orders needed to be able to do that for various reasons.
The little shove was unexpected, but, if she remembered right, the second mark was more or less in the direction she'd been shoved. So Damaris let herself stumble a few steps, bumping into a couple of people as she did so and then scowling faintly at Rashid as she regained her footing. Then, just to continue the game, she turned away from him and started dancing with one of the people she'd bumped into.
She danced with them long enough to make it clear she was irritated with her 'date' and was slighting him but soon enough turned back Rashid and twisted her hips seductively. Although, no matter what part she was playing Damaris couldn't bring herself to grind on him as some of the other women, and men, were doing. Maybe another night when the situation absolutely required it but they weren't there yet.
For now she leaned in the direction of the older vampire, moving them both that way. It would be nice to be there before the younger showed up. Shoving her in their target's lap would undoubtedly start something. It would be more fun to shove Rashid though.
He kept an eye on Damaris, irritated that he had propelled her toward the younger vampire and she immediately changed direction and went toward the older one. Maybe she hadn't seen the man Amir had tried to get her to move toward. They were going to have to figure out how to read each other better than this, though. Amir would hate to be in a brawl with Damaris, mix up a signal or three, and end up missing something vital - like his head.
For now he just made a mental note of the fact that he couldn't rely on her yet, just as he was sure she must be feeling the same about him. Trust like that took time to develop and he had spent most of their prep time pushing her buttons. Not his fault, he wanted to see what made her tick.
One of the women he was with slid her hand up his chest; he smiled at her, hiding his distaste behind the expression. He didn't sleep with his food, although he woman was clearly hoping otherwise. Amir gave her every indication he was interested for a few minutes before rejoining Damaris, who apparently didn't want to get any closer to him than he did to her.
They moved so they were close enough to the older vampire, this time, since that was where Damaris had headed. He was dancing for all he was worth, clearly not concerned with anything but having a good time and scoping out a meal. If any clandestine business was being conducted tonight, it certainly wasn't going to be out here on the dance floor. Amir lifted one shoulder toward Damaris, indicating that she could proceed as she liked. He had his own ideas about what they should do next but after their first few miscommunications, he wasn't about to presume that hey were on he same wavelength and at this point they were too close to their mark to exchange words without him hearing.
She couldn't give any indication of her irritation and managed to look like she was having a fine time, minor spat aside, but she didn't remember it being this hard to mesh with her last partner, it had been a while since she'd had one though. She had wanted to be near the older of the two of them when the new guy got there. She'd wanted to hear, or at least see, what went down between the two of them, but that was apparently wrong, at least in Rashid's mind. Of course, maybe she hadn't been clear that's why she'd wanted to get out and dance. Maybe she'd ignored his signals in favor of her own idea. Maybe it was one of a hundred things but she was tired of misunderstanding him, or being misunderstood.
After he'd left the other woman and moved back to her Damaris slid in as close to Rashid as she could, even wrapping her arms around his neck, leaning in so her lips were by his ear.
"Show me what you want baby.â€
Undoubtedly someone would hear that, although how over the thumping base, she wasn't sure. But the words were so in keeping with this environment no one would think twice about them. If he wanted to lead, she would let him. Apparently she'd gotten too used to working alone, but she'd adapt.
They hadn't gotten off on the right foot and somewhere along the line she was probably at fault too but they needed to fix it as soon as possible. That was her olive branch and as close to asking him what they should do as her pride or the circumstances would allow.
He gritted his teeth and wrapped his arms loosely around Damaris's waist, none of his feelings showing, never breaking from his persona. He looked around, a soft smile on his lips while he appeared to consider Damaris's offer.
"Anything I want?"
He nodded his chin toward the older target that she'd been so adamant they get to. "I wanna see you with him. Dancing. Or, whatever."
He raised his eyebrows at her, not caring who heard. Maybe they were kinky. Maybe he wanted his girl hitting on someone else. Maybe he'd take pictures. Maybe hell would freeze over.
"Make it hot," he said, smiling at Damaris. "I like hot."
Okay, maybe she would think he was being even more of an ass, but at least it would get her close to their mark. It wouldn't hurt to get a little personal with him. Before murdering him, of course.
She confirmed her voice husky and slightly breathless apparently from the dancing.
That was unexpected. Damaris wondered if Rashid had changed his mind about how to proceed or if he was punishing her for whatever she'd buggered up earlier. She hadn't wanted to get this close, this friendly with either of their marks but she had asked him what to do and couldn't balk now.
"Mmmmmmm... is that what you want? Well I can make him want to come home with us.â€
She sounded confidant, but truthfully Damaris wasn't as sure about her skills of seduction as her ability to kill a man, or woman. She could do it, had done it. It was a great way to feed and it did let you get near an assassination target, but it wasn't what she did best.
Taking her leave of Rashid, but not kissing him people might think they were a kinky pair, fetish freaks or whatever but she wasn't going to kiss him, and made her way through the crowd to the 'young' man. It would be nice about now to be skinnier, more delicate more the current version of pretty than she was. But Damaris was still able to use what she had to get the guys attention.
She wasn't able to get him to the dance floor, not right away, but even though she didn't enjoy herself in the slightest, Damaris straddled his leg. It was still technically dancing but with her leggings and ultra short skirt it was a little bit closer to a lap dance. If they were at the strip club down the street the guy would be sliding a twenty into her G-string. She hopped Rashid was enjoying her prostituting herself for duty.
It worked though. Soon enough he was getting grabby, Damaris grabbed his hands and tugged. Eventually pulling him to his feet and coaxing him to the dance floor. He grabbed her and pulled her to him. Even as he ground his hips against her Damaris smiled smokily but she didn't move toward Rashid. Paying so much attention to this mark she'd lost track of the other, but, god help her, she was trusting Rashid to do that.
He waited until they were out on the dance floor and Damaris was grinding against the guy's leg like a cheap stripper. The vampire seemed fine with that, and why not? He and his buddy were obviously here for an evening out, not any official business. The other clanless was nearby but not paying any attention to Amir, or even to his friend really. He was engaged with two women of his own, dancing, chatting, looking for all the world like a normal guy out on the town.
After a minute or two Amir put his drink down and headed to the dance floor. He had perfected the art of moving seamlessly with the crowd centuries ago; he abandoned it now. Pushing people aside he walked up to Damaris and her partner and grabbed Damaris by the wrist.
"Hey. She's taken, sorry." He put a little irritation into his words, as if he were trying to be nice but still partially blamed the other guy.
"She came on to me," the younger vampire pointed out.
Amir scowled. "Yeah well. She's taken. And now maybe I should take her somewhere else and prove it."
He pulled Damaris away, toward the bar where he dropped a few bills on it, and then left the club with his partner in tow. Once they hit the night air he dropped her arm like a hotcake and looked around.
"All clear," he said softly.
The exchange had definitely been loud enough, had turned enough heads, that anyone at the club would recall there had been a 'thing' with some guy and a woman. It couldn't be all that uncommon. But they had also seen Amir being reasonably polite, and they'd probably seen both of them go.
All they had to do now was lie low, wait for the marks to leave, and take them out. Then plant a few memories for the witnesses, and there you had it - Amir ad Damaris leaving the club early, and a bunch of witnesses to say to hot blond chicks had taken this guy and his pal out. All in a night's work.
Fortunately Rashid didn't leave her with him too long, just long enough to get him worked up and leave him cross when she was pulled away. Surprisingly Rashid wasn't overly rough with her. Although he didn't handle her with kidd gloves, she was a vampire and it had to look real after all, he didn't get rougher than he had to. Well points to him for that. Of course, breaking your partner's wrist when you might need them to back you up in a fight wasn't exactly smart so he might still be a total ass he just had a little bit of motivated self-interest going on and he knew it so he wasn't a stupid ass.
Aware that what they were doing was creating witnesses and getting the guy's attention she did protest a bit when pulled away. Nothing melodramatic or over the top though and even cast the vampire she'd been dancing with a longing look, hoping he'd follow them as Rashid pulled her away.
Once out of the club she took a deep breath of the clean, relatively speaking, night air and tried not to notice that her wrist had been dropped like it was something filthy. Granted she didn't much like him either and wasn't eager for any physical contact but it was still abrupt. She was probably being overly sensitive and dismissed it.
If she'd been doing this solo she'd been looking for an out of the way place she could wait unnoticed and wait for him to come after her. It seemed reasonable to expect that Rashid would do the same thing. Damaris scanned the area for such a spot, where they could see but not easily be seen she jerked her head at a dark stoop and raised an eyebrow, asking if it was acceptable. She wasn't enjoying all this second guessing and seeking approval but was doing her best to make this work.
Another night, another partner, and she might have said something, compared notes, roughly sketched out a plan for what to do next if they got just the one or if they got both. After all she and Rashid had never fought together, they wouldn't know what the other would do; they wouldn't move in perfect unison, they simply didn't know each other well enough. But, thus far tonight, talking to him seemed to be a waste of effort.
God she hoped they both came after them. Although either she or Rashid could undoubtedly handle both of them, if both of these clanless came after them she might have someone to take some of her frustrations out on tonight.
It was going to be a very long wait.
Finally he slid his eyes over to Damaris. With a barely audible sigh he said, "So have you been in Nachton long?"
It was spoken in a fairly neutral voice. Amir hated small talk. Frankly, though, it was all they had unless they wanted to be bored for the next few hours. Stakeouts sucked.
But - they had both their targets in one place and every opportunity to take them out. There wasn't another door the men were likely to come out of, so it was just this one to watch. And watch.
Her impression of him thus far suggested that Rashid was as taciturn as her youngest. Lord knew that you could sit in a room for a day and a half and Ambrose probably wouldn't feel compelled to speak. The fact that Rashid had said something, anything, like Ambrose, very likely indicated he was trying to be friendly. That or he was bored or anticipated being bored. Either way, she managed not to laugh.
Leaning back on the stoop echoing his lazy trouble making slacker pose Damaris shrugged.
"Far longer than I intended to be."
She answered honestly. Really, she come to make sure someone was aware of her experience back home and to check on Ambrose. Damaris wasn't even sure why she was still here. Going back to Scotland was probably the best idea, but she hated to leave a job unfinished, and this felt unfinished.
For a moment she stared at the door hoping one or both of their marks would come out. No such luck. Social convention dictated she ask him something now. Whatever she asked would bring a contemptuous or sardonic reply, but short of getting a dozen dough nuts this is what they had.
"You're calling the city home now?"
Whether he called the city home was another matter, but he had to admit it had appeal. "It's more of a home than anything has been in the past few centuries. So yes, I suppose I am."
There was family here, and he had found himself again. Or was at least still finding parts of himself. Apparently, he didn't like to socialize in spite of Jin and Mara bringing it out of him a little more. He could only imagine what either of them would say about his current taciturn manner.
"There's been less werewolf-slaying than I'd prefer." He flashed a feral grin, white teeth gleaming in the dark alley. "So, I've been bored."
Not all the Hunt had anything to do with the wolves at all. It had been a huge part of who Amir was for centuries. Commanding them, killing them, controlling them. It required a lot of training, a lot of balls. And Amir had been good at what he did. He hoped to do it again in the future. He very much wanted that.
What was she going to say, 'I hope you like it here' ask him how he was settling in? Nope, not going to happen. But it was good that he was liking it here, or at least could call it home.
In spite of her self Damaris softly barked a short half laugh at his grin and confession of being bored. She actually would like to talk to him about the werewolves, she had very little to do with them. She'd run into two, maybe three, and usually when she was doing something else. The wolves were not her primary responsibility and she'd never been officially assigned to deal with them, but she knew they existed and had tangled with them. They were tough and fierce they didn't let you off lightly.
"I can't imaging these small fry are going to relieve that bordem for more than half a second."
She lamented. The truth was she felt his pain, not exactly, but she was just as out of place with limited work. Of course, Rashid hadn't said he was out of place, just bored.
The truth was he didn't think he needed Damaris here. Or, for that matter, that she needed him. It was too easy, two incredibly young vampires against two trained members of the Hunt. But there was more to it; this was just the beginning. They would learn to work together because there would be a lot more of this and sooner or later the rogues would figure out that they had a leak.
Ran had better watch himself when that happened.
Amir shook his head, wondering when he'd become so soft. Or maybe he just cared what happened to those he'd Created. He'd have felt the same if it were Bao involved, or any of his others. They were his. He'd made them. Of course he wanted them to live and be strong.
"There will be more of them," he said quietly, mostly to reassure himself but also to Damaris. "Always are. These guys have balls though."
Inside, Amir privately hoped they put up a good fight. It would suck to flush them out with no effort involved.
Damaris didn't actually believe that. This wasn't brining a knife to a gun fight it was bringing an automatic weapon to a fist fight. Unless something unexpected happened she wasn't sure exactly how much they'd learn about how they each handled themselves. How could you take a test on the whole book after reading one chapter?
She almost hoped that the Night would turn up something big at the heart of this. Knocking off one or two vampires here, vampires who thought two hundred was old, was just sad. Not that she felt any sympathy for them, they were using Anantya's name they deserved anything they go. But at this rate maybe they someone should have considered giving this to newer members of the Hunt, practice made perfect.
Damaris started considering how Ambrose would manage this. He'd be at a disadvantage having only one leg and shooting them from a distance would only cause trouble. Damaris was certain he'd figure something out, but she wasn't sure what. That thought unsettled her some, being certain he could cope but suddenly doubting, just a little but still doubting, her decision to turn him.
"God I hope so. It won't be any fun if they just roll over and play dead. How harmless can you look?â€
She wasn't above lulling these bone heads into a false sense of security, or coaxing them into feeling over confidant and hoping it got them a better fight. It would be rotten to spend more time getting dressed than taking them out.
He didn't look at Damaris; wasn't concerned what she thought about his jackal form. She was rather impressive herself, and he knew she couldn't match him. She could never shift like this, in public. Not unless she wanted a spectacle, anyway, and that definitely wasn't what they needed tonight.
He looked up at the sky, grimacing at how washed out it was from the city. He huffed a soft sigh. "Too bright in this stupid city," he muttered.
Jackal shape or human shape he did look rather harmless. Maybe a little like he was up to no good but overall, harmless.
She followed his gaze upward, but with only half an eye she was keeping a close watch on the door too. Rashid hadn't struck her as a stargazer.
"Most of them are."
"But people got scared of the things that go bump in the night. And had to brighten things up."
Of course the fact that they were some of those things made her statement rather ironic, but Damaris liked being able to see the stars. She just liked them, they kept her company if she was out alone in a remote area at night, they'd guided her home, or to her destination, there was something both beautiful and reassuring about them but she wasn't any kind of astronomer, it was purely ascetic and slightly comforting. She didn't really miss them when in a bright city.
"Of course we do just as well in a city so I guess that plan failed."
She was watching the door to the club like a hawk. Really, did she think they were going to come out this soon? They probably had a decent wait ahead of them. Amir would guess an hour or so. By all accounts this was someplace the rogues came frequently, so whether or not they were feeding while here, they obviously meant to maintain a presence. They wouldn't just go in and out.
"I'm not sure that was exactly the reason cities got built," he said mildly, amused at her 'logic.' He should know; he'd seen plenty of cities rise and fall in his time and very few (if any) of them had had any inkling of their existence.
"What's amazing," he said absently, "is that if we took all the technology away, how few of them would actually be able to function."
He nodded his chin toward the sky for emphasis. "They'd all get lost almost immediately. Kind of funny, really."
"Saves thinning the herd. Nosh on the ones who are helpless without facebook keep the ones who still know how to churn butter and work a plow."
She quipped with a cheerful shrug. If you were careful natural disasters and wars could be very handy if you were a hungry vampire. You just couldn't go over board, people were a renewable resource but slow to mature.
With another grin Damaris considered the club.
"Maybe we should have just shorted out the electricity and let them all stampede for the door. I wonder if these punks would have been scared of the dark."
A hundred wasn't that old. He'd probably be OK with the short, but the younger one might not have shaken some of his more human tendencies. Eventually Damaris shrugged, it probably wasn't a good idea although she'd probably keep it in mind for another occasion. Under different circumstances I might be just what they needed.
Her next suggestion drew another snort from him. "Too much work. Way easier to wait them out and herd them where they need to be."
He was perfectly willing to wait.
And wait they did. Over the next two hours they shifted places a few times and made random small talk, but nothing earth-shaking happened between them. Each time the door to the club opened they honed in on it like hunting hounds, which just wasn't that far from the truth.
Finally Amir saw their two friends leaving the club, accompanied by two young college-aged girls. Perfect. He didn't have to look at Damaris, he knew she saw. Like oil, he slid off the lip of the building he was standing on and leaning against. His pose remained casual even though there was a new edge to each movement. He was sharper, focused.
"I think it's time for a little walk," he said. "Let's see where they end up before we do any herding."
If they needed to, they could force the vampires where they wanted them. But it was likely that they were planning on feeding from the two women, really, so they would be seeking seclusion anyway. That would be perfect.