He hated this time of year. It was hot. Unrelentingly hot and humid. Short of crossing the equator, there was nothing you could do to get away from it. Occasionally someone would give him a hard time about his lack of heat tolerance given his mother's people. Navid typically responded to those jibs with some small amount of good humor, although it might be slightly grudgingly, he was rather tired of hearing the jokes. He no longer even bothered trying to explain it was really the humidity he hated.
Nachton, however, was close enough to the ocean that, at least at night, once the sun was no longer beating down the ocean breeze would take the edge off, make it bearable, if not enjoyable, to sit outside. Navid quite appreciated that, he enjoyed the long shadows, the breeze and the cool or he would if he weren't rather nervously waiting for his cousin.
Navid and ThÃ©rÃ¨se hadn't really spoken since she blew up at Evan, so months. Possibly a year, he'd lost count. Although he'd seen here, in passing, Shady Pines wasn't so huge that you could go a year without seeing someone and they both occasionally visited the fires and he did join the Pack to run now and then, she'd not done more than be civil and she'd always found a reason not to spend any time at all with him.
Her rejection had stung, quite acutely. Most of their kind quite disliked vampires, it was simply part of who they were. ThÃ©rÃ¨se had more reason than not to hate them, but Navid hadn't expected this kind of reaction from her regarding his association with Evan. He would have understood her total avoidance of Evan, although, Navid had hoped that she would at least try and get to know him, try to accept him, but he hadn't anticipate her cutting him out of her life. Apparently her hatred ran even deeper than he had imagined.
Navid had given her a great deal of space, he'd tried to let her get over those feelings on her own, at least he'd tried, he'd managed for several months before finally attempting to make contact again. She'd cut him down. He'd tried again, she'd ignored him, they both, however, could be a little stubborn it was a family trait. She'd finally thawed a little and agreed to meet him at this little cafe. He knew why she'd picked this place, it would remind her of home. They each considered a different place home and for ThÃ©rÃ¨se it was Paris.
It was, however, the child that had finally persuaded her to at least talk to Guillaume. Her whole family was in Europe, he was the only other member of the family here. It wasn't as if Vaughn hadn't been wonderful, because he had. The rest of the Pack was a bit hit and miss, most were at least tolerant though, they might not care for her at all but the child was innocent in all this, at least most seem to feel that way.
She was running a bit late, but didn't rush. The baby had a tenancy to make ThÃ©rÃ¨se a bit ungainly and she didn't want to risk a tumble. As she did her best to walk rather than waddle the cafe came into view and she smiled. Since coming here with Tavi ThÃ©rÃ¨se had become a regular even becoming friends with the proprietor. Even unable temporarily unable to drink she generally stopped in once a week or so.
As she looked for her cousin the owner caught her eye, looked meaningfully at her belly and rolled his eyes. She laughed slightly and shook her head. As the cafe was doing a brisk business this evening that was all the conversation they had time for before ThÃ©rÃ¨se found her cousin sitting at a small table tucked well into the shade. Thanks the spirits for that.
She was rather startled when he stood and pulled her chair out. She had anticipated Guillaume carrying a bit more of a grudge than that. Still she sat down as gracefully as she could manage grateful to take the weight off her feet.
"I am sorry I'm late. I just don't seem to move quite as quickly as I'm used to."
Extending courtesy to any pregnant member of the Pack was so ingrained in him, as it was in most of the Rasa, and leery or not Guillaume pulled the chair out for her. The fact that she apologized for being late made Navid smile, just a little. Perhaps she might be willing to bridge the gap.
"I can see why."
Guillaume answered, trying not to laugh. While she carried the pregnancy well, it was just amusing to see his normally graceful, coordinated and slim cousin in this position. She must love the man.
"You're feeling OK did you want something to drink?"
Before he could consider ordering a sparkling water with lime appeared as well as a glass of white. He frowned and tried to stop the server.
"I'm sorry I don't believe this is..."
"Non, that is right thank you."
She smiled brightly as the woman left.
"That is my favorite."
"You can't drink..."
"Non, but you can and enjoying the nose doesn't hurt anything."
That made Navid laugh. No one could be good all the time. Before even taking a sip he passed the glass of cool white wine to his cousin and watched her close her eyes and inhale deeply a faint smile playing about her lips.
"You've missed somethings?"
He teased slightly. He didn't think this was going to be an easy fix, but perhaps if he ignored her months long silence they might have a chance at setting things right?
Critically studying her cousine ThÃ©rÃ¨se decided that the states did not agree with him. It was nothing overt, even she had to look closely for the signs, but he was looking a bit strained, restless. Perhaps some of that was her fault, after a moments consideration she decided that she felt bad about that. however, she still felt completely justified in her anger and her suspicion about the creature he was in business with.
Guillaume's relaxed good humor, his attempt to just pretend this hadn't happened, rather irritated her. She wouldn't claim to be entirely in the right, but he wasn't innocent in all this.
"You could have told me.â€
She said softly, but directly. There was no reason to shy away from this but she wasn't trying to start a fight. It might happen any way but that wasn't her goal.
"Told you what?â€
Either he was being oblivious or he wanted to push her buttons ThÃ©rÃ¨se wasn't certain which. Unconsciously she reverted to French as she, despite her good intentions, snapped back at him.
"That you were in business with... living with... a mulo. Do not pretend Guillaume, it does not become you.â€
Dirty little secrets always had a way of coming out and when they did, they tended to turn on you. He hadn't even given her a chance to get used to the idea, he hadn't trusted her. Although she wouldn't have been thrilled with the information, and would have reacted badly, Guillaume had always trusted her. Cutting himself off like that had stung. If he had trusted her, perhaps they wouldn't have reached this point. Perhaps he might have been able to help her sooner.
But he hadn't and that was one more blow to an increasingly battered friendship. Their relationship had been straining, if not cracking and breaking, since he set foot in Nachton. She'd have to thank her grandfather for that, ThÃ©rÃ¨se thought with a sneer. Guillaume had been sent here with a chip on his shoulder, she knew that. So why was it so hard to forgive what he'd said then? He'd since come around, he must have, at least a little or he'd still be protesting her involvement with Vaughn. But he'd accepted that, why couldn't she do the same?
It took a concerted effort but he didn't snap back at her. He did, however, quite deliberately respond in English. Although they were both fluent in several languages English was not ThÃ©rÃ¨se's first language. She'd have to think just a bit more before responding to him. it wouldn't be much but maybe it would help her look at the big picture.
"I've known Evan quite a while and I've never told anyone about him for just this reason. Can you imagine, even for a second, Grandfather being at all accepting of any mulo?â€
He watched stall for time sipping at the water. Navid, however, would be content to sit in silence until she admitted the logic of what he'd said. He wasn't going to let her avoid the question or answer it for her.
"Non. I suppose not.â€
Came the grudging answer after several seconds of silence.
"But I am not Grand-pÃ¨re. You might have told me long before this. It might have... "
ThÃ©rÃ¨se trailed off and frowned. It was as if she couldn't quite finish the thought and he wasn't sure what to make of that. His first instinct was that she was again being compelled by a vampire. That idea was quickly dismissed though, he simply couldn't see the Sarkis allowing that to happen.
Spirits help him, did she think that either he or Evan might have been able to help? Had she thought through to that point? No doubt the experience wasn't something his cousin would ever forget and apparently she hadn't entirely let it go. He wasn't sure that was healthy, it might even qualify as post-traumatic stress disorder. That was something he would be reading up on now.
"It might have.â€
He agreed quietly with her incomplete thought.
"Are you really going to hold what one of them did to you against all of them? Against me? For the rest of your life?â€
She should be angry with the one who'd done this. He was still angry and if he thought for a moment he could have gotten away with ripping the bastard's throat out he would. But they couldn't, neither one of them, not without starting a much bigger feud. Navid's only concern now was if ThÃ©rÃ¨se would trust him again. After that maybe, -maybe-, he could get her to not to try and bite Evan's face off. One step at a time.
Part of ThÃ©rÃ¨se knew that she was being unreasonable. She'd had her will and her lift, bent, warped, twisted and turned by the vampire for a long time. Well before her arrival to this country and she'd not been able to call for help. It had taken some fairly reckless action on her part and some luck to finally convey her predicament. It had hurt more than she was willing to admit that her family, perhaps Navid in particular, hadn't seen the problem and hadn't helped her.
More than that though was fear. It was a flat out fear that she could be held like that again. You couldn't look at someone and know they were a vampire, and you couldn't look at a vampire and know if they were able to control you. Admitting that, even to herself, was unsettling. No one wanted to be afraid and ThÃ©rÃ¨se wanted to bluff her way through it.
It wasn't as thought what Guillaume said was news to her or was a revelation. But hearing him actually say it and looking at him, the little cousine she had half adopted and kept safe, made it hard to dismiss. She was afraid and hiding behind anger, it was a perfectly natural response. Perhaps though, natural wasn't right, not in this instance. But she couldn't bring herself to apologize, not yet and so didn't even attempt to answer his question.
"How can you trust it?â€
The 'it' was entirely unconscious. A small way for her to keep any vampire at a distance. By keeping them as creatures and objects they had no humanity at all and could be lumped together and despised and feared with no consequences at all.
Navid correctly softly. It was Psych 101 (maybe 102, it was hard to tell) why she kept objectifying Evan, any vampire really, and it had to change. Calling her on it was the first step, then he would have to be vigilant about telling her every times. Since ThÃ©rÃ¨se was hurt, very hurt, and apparently refusing to show it Guillaume decided that he would only push that button when it came to vampires he knew personally. As he didn't believe that every vampire was a saint, good, or even tolerant Navid didn't want to press his luck with her. Again, one step at a time.
"His name is Evan Talkingwater. He is a good man."
Although, it was hard to say if ThÃ©rÃ¨se and Evan would like each other. As near as he could tell she wasn't terribly fond of Kiyoshi since the whole incident with Even and that wouldn't put her in his good books, he might understand but it wouldn't endear her to him. Beyond that their personalities didn't seem compatible to him. Certainly he might be surprised by on the face of things he didn't suspect they'd get on like a house on fire. Maybe Evan wasn't the best vampire to acclimate her to. He should have thought of that sooner, not that he had tons of choices.
"I trust him because he trusts me and because he's given me and even our Pack many reasons to trust him over the years."
"Ah, oui. Of course, I should have known. You would find the only mulo with a halo and then run a bar with him."
The response was down right acidic, in fact with a bit of olive oil it might have made a nice salad dressing. Navid tried not to sigh, this was going to be a longer road than he'd hoped. He might have, however, been hoping for a miracle cure, a deathbed conversion... with less death of course.
"I cannot give you a resume and he doesn't have commendations or even recommendations from people he's helped."
Her skeptical stare was icy, even in the summer heat but Navid pushed on as the shadows continued to lengthen.
"What do you want ThÃ©rÃ¨se? A notarized letter that he doesn't kill Rasa, or the others for that matter... for both of us to swear in a court of law... to stalk him for a hundred years until your convinced?"
Each suggestion was deliberately absurd, but he refrained from becoming exasperated or any more provocative. Guillaume wanted her to think rather than feel attacked. Once they understood what it was -she- needed to move forward they could. Until that time it would be a stalemate.
After several long seconds, during which Guillaume started wondering if he should consider billing her for the hour, ThÃ©rÃ¨se finally answered.
"I need to know he is..." She apparently groped for the word, "Safe. I need to know that he cannot control you or me or anyone, that you are you and not being held as I was."
Navid let out a long breath and leaned back in his chair, signaling for another glass of wine and more water for her. It was a perfectly reasonable request and yet a rather tall order. At least she had said 'he' rather than 'it' there was some small hope in that.
As he prodded at her, almost dared her to answer ThÃ©rÃ¨se looked away, she couldn't hold those green eyes. They were so familiar, too familiar, her father, her grandfather, her great grandfather. They were a bit of a family trait, not all DuBois had them but they were not uncommon. Navid's far too often were sad or distant, they were that and something more tonight. Pleading was the best she could come up with. It was impossible not to think of how he'd been marginalized as a child and how hard he'd had to work, to fight to over come that. ThÃ©rÃ¨se knew she was doing that same thing to him and she hated herself for it but letting him back in knowing he'd rather live with a vampire than the Pack was hard.
"I would love to do that for you chÃ¨re, I suspect he would too but I don't know anyone who can prove a negative."
It was an honest, if not very reassuring answer. ThÃ©rÃ¨se placed her hand on her belly as she thought. The child was moving quite a lot tonight, undoubtedly wanting out. As she lapsed into silent thought a sharp kick made her cringe. Apparently Guillaume wasn't the only one not letting her avoid a topic this evening.
"If you cannot prove that..."
She shrugged. It was a very Gallic, very French gesture, not judgmental or accusatory, totally philosophical asking the question she hadn't voiced.
"You could try and get to know him."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se sneered. That she should have seen coming, apparently her cousine did as he almost immediately laughed and didn't let her vent at all.
"Perhaps not tonight. But soon then you can see for yourself he isn't a danger. He is actually a friend."
"Guillaume... I don't think I can. Not any more it isn't just me any more there are more people to worry about."
Although she'd never win a prize for being the homemaker of the year there was the baby to think about, Vaughn and the rest of the Rasa. There was no doubting that she was vulnerable to these commands, if it happened again then what? She might hold their own child hostage? Murder the Sarkis in his sleep? The very idea made her blood run cold.
"You can, and you need to for their sake as well as your own. Have you considered how things might have been if you'd not tried so stubbornly to handle things on your own?"
That stung, but it was accurate, or at least not inaccurate. She fidgeted with her water as she thought about what he said, not terribly happy with her own conclusions.
"I couldn't tell you." She finally said somewhat exasperated. "I was trapped!"
A note of hurt crept into her voice and Guillaume knew he would have to tread lightly.
"There was a lot you couldn't do but..." He took a breath knowing this was a risk, "How many people did you push away to keep them safe? If you had let them in they might have been able to put the puzzle pieces together."
When she didn't immediately try and take his head off Navid knew they were making progress. She wasn't throwing this out as fantasy.
"How many of us know mulo, that this is is even possible?"
"Perhaps not as many as should. But how many of us know you and would know at the very least something was wrong?"
They'd gotten a bit off the subject of vampires but it was necessary. If she were going to trust Evan, or any vampire ThÃ©rÃ¨se would have to accept and trust other members of the pack to take care of themselves and help take care of her.
"I can't think of one of the Rasa that wouldn't help to protect your child and while not everyone is going to throw themselves in front of a speeding bus for you not -too- many of them will shove you in front of it."
Navid smiled at her, a sly teasing half smile. Her position wasn't as tenuous as it could be, as it had been but it wasn't exactly secure. There was still hurt and resentment within the pack and some did still consider her 'the other woman' at best and a whore at worst; but Navid couldn't help but tease her about it just a little. While ThÃ©rÃ¨se was often too serious about a problem he would occasionally laugh at such difficulties and sometimes he could get his cousins to crack. A short stifled laugh was his answer. It didn't last long any any lightening of her expression was fleeting at best but it was a small chink in the armor. She did, however, quickly laps back into a more serious frame of mind.
"What about your bartender?" The faint wrinkling of her nose indicated ThÃ©rÃ¨se's distaste and made him want to sigh, but Navid kept that discouragement to himself. "He seems to be under this creature's..."
Opening his mouth to correct her ThÃ©rÃ¨se rolled her eyes and corrected herself.
"He was defending a... friend." Guillaume didn't dare betray Evan and Kiyo's relationship to ThÃ©rÃ¨se. She might suspect but he wasn't going to confirm. "I've seen you behave much the same way. You were attacking a man in his own home, I'd say he needed some defending."
He was making her at least consider the idea. After all, ThÃ©rÃ¨se did have to agree that this Evan didn't react with undo hostility when she'd all but attacked him. Even during her rescue there had been mulo involved there. She tried not to think about that if she could help it and they didn't seem excited about it but they had been there.
"Perhaps there is some truth there."
It looked as if her cousine let go a sigh of relief. He leaned back slightly in his chair and his shoulders untensed. She couldn't decide whether to be relieved or irritated.
"If you dare look smug for even one second, you will regret it."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se growled and it wasn't entirely playful there was some menace as well. Guillaume must have heard it but he still leaned back in his chair and grinned at her. Undoubtedly she wasn't much of a threat while this pregnant.
"So help me Navid I will remember this the first full moon after the child is born."
His reaction puzzled her, he actually relaxed and his smile grew wider and more genuine.
"I fail to see why that should cheer you at all."
She said rather snippy clipped manner, clearly irritated by his confidence. It was, however, a very familiar and well loved irritation not at all as it had been, rather the same as had been since they were children. It was a feeling that she had missed a great deal it was like coming home. He was the only family she had here, and she was his only family, perhaps she'd been wrong to cut him out so completely.
"Because I know that you've forgiven me now. Not that either Evan or I did anything that needed forgiving."
"Arrogance does not become you."
She said haughtily, this time he just laughed.
"It becomes all you much better I'm sure."
Before she could say anything else, resume their familiar banter the baby kicked hard and ThÃ©rÃ¨se sucked her breath in between her teeth.
"Good then I wish you would come to Terminus again. I'm rather proud of what we've done there and I haven't been able to properly brag about it."
He watched her cringe and given how she placed her had had to assume the child had kicked. Spirits help him, her anger, her fear, had caused him to miss so much. It made him sad. He had no idea if there would be other children either. This could be a one shot deal, long lived or not, ThÃ©rÃ¨se wasn't getting any younger. He didn't know the man she'd fallen in love with; not the Sarkis he was a different entity than the man.
Just thinking all this through was enough to rekindle his anger at the creature that had held her. It was no wonder so few of their kind trusted the mulo. He could talk to Evan, he could vent and rage, but it wouldn't do any good. They could talk until he was old and gray and it wouldn't change anything. Some vampires were obviously still the vicious monsters they'd grown up fearing. He tried, with some moderate success to shelve those feelings. While they were making progress ThÃ©rÃ¨se wasn't 'fixed' it would take more time and they'd never get any where if he were equally hostile.
Fortunately the kick had distracted her somewhat.
"Oui." She smiled softly, an expression that he didn't often see, it was almost dreamy. "I think la petit is ready for the larger world." She rubbed her belly absently.
"La? A girl? Are you sure?"
Her only answer was another shrug of the shoulders.
"Damned mysterious French genes. I think I'm glad I missed out on those."
"Mmmmm if you say so.
She shifted a bit uneasily in her seat and the strangest look came over her.
Navid stood and moved to the other side of the table. The sun had all but set and he was relived she wasn't acting fearful or extraordinarily alert. Perhaps he wouldn't have to work as hard to help her through this.
As he considered that ThÃ©rÃ¨se placed his had on her belly and pressed down. Navid felt his eyes grow wide and he stared, there was nothing to see, not really, but to feel the child move was remarkable. There were no words, he could only mile and impulsively kissed her hand.
"It is the most unusual feeling."
"I hadn't thought I'd ever see you like this."
"It was not something I was certain would happen."
"Again, that child is all the more reason not to hide yourself away."
He might have been momentarily distracted but Navid did not let up As the baby stopped tossing about he sat back down. For the first time ThÃ©rÃ¨se noticed how dark it was, they could come out now. She cast a few furtive glances about. Nothing was out of place, no one was even looking at them. Although she didn't think Guillaume alone would be able to protect her, she did know that there was safety in numbers and so she wasn't inclined to fret.
"I am not hiding."
"You are not socializing much either."
Reading between the lines ThÃ©rÃ¨se understood he was still pressing the issue with the mulo. It made her sick to her stomach. There really was no reason for her to deal with vampires. None. But perhaps he was trying to keep her from jumping at shadows, to stop seeing vampires behind every corner. ThÃ©rÃ¨se believed the fear was healthy, natural and to be encouraged there was no reason to put herself in a situation to be controlled again.
The baby though, she had to think about the child. It was one thing for her to be afraid but the Sarkis was the child's father. The child might be called to help the Pack and this kind of fear wasn't going to help. While Vaughn, and possibly even Tavi, most likely wouldn't let the child hide in the shadows and cower from imagined vampires, she had to do the same.
Gritting her teeth ThÃ©rÃ¨se was forced to agree with her cousin.
"Perhaps I will come by for that drink. It may be a month or two but I will visit."
Navid leaned back in his chair and nodded. At least he had the grace not to look smug about her capitulation.
"Should I ask Evan to join us?"
Her nostrils flared, her mined recoiled and every fiber of her being said -no-. He should not. It was enough that she was stepping into the lion's den she didn't need to beard the creature as well.
"It would be rude not to speak to the other proprietor.â€
It wasn't exactly a yes, but it wasn't a no. Guillaume decided that was a step in the right direction and he would take it.
"We will make sure you get the full tour.â€
Even if they didn't get to be good friends, if he could get her to deal with Evan as a person rather than as something to be feared he'd consider that a major victory. He did not press the minor success any further though and changed the subject.
"Do feel free to name the child after me, if it should happen to be a boy.â€
It startled a laugh out of her and started their more typical give and take. It was a bit hesitant and cautious on both sides but it was obvious she was trying. It warmed him. He should have known their friendship was too strong for this to ruin but it was still reassuring to see the proof.
Conversation lapsed into the more mundane and family oriented. Apparently he should expect a visit from at least his aunt in the near future, possibly his uncle but it sounded like their grandfather was refusing to come. Although she didn't say much Guillaume knew that Therese would take that quite hard. It also was rather surprising from their grandfather as well, Therese was one of his favorites, she was carrying the Sarkis' child... Navid, however, decided that was a problem for another day and refused to think about it further.
Finally it was full night, the heat had dissipated to the point it was actually pleasant out. Deciding it wouldn't be a bad night for a run Navid offered to drive Therese back to Shady Pines, he'd come back to the city on four feet.
((OOC... both out))