A Meeting of the Minds

Dallas Public Library

The library is a rather large building that extends two levels. Security gates at the entrance lead past a long rectangular circulation desk where patrons may check out or return books. Across from the circulation desk is large, archaic looking card catalogue beside which is a computer that is set up to locate books. Following the typical Dewey Decimal Classification System, the rows of shelves are laid out systematically, with large signs overhead so that patrons can find precisely what they are looking for. Study carols and tables line the walls, and one corner of the library is set aside for two separate lecture rooms that can booked for meetings.

It's just gone eight, having given Michael the time required to feed and get to the Library before it shuts, he's mainly here to pick up a book, he'd had on order, but since the nights will soon be too short for him to visit the Library he's stalking the mostly quiet aisles with mild interest, his eyes scanning the covers of the fiction section, a small collection of books already in his hands, they range in styles including such things as The Prince, A brief history of Time, Alice in Wonderland and a Discworld book. His wanderings apparently have taken him to most of the aisles, and now he's turning back towards the check out.

There are times when Desiree just needs the quiet solitude of a library. Libraries have their own atmosphere and aroma: leather, paper, old ink. She's spent the day talking business with various places in which to hold the recital, and it's time for some quiet time. She enjoys meandering through the aisles, perusing the titles of fiction and non-fiction. History holds an interest for her, as do books on art and music. Her white suit shows up against the old wood and books, and she's very content to simply relax. Pulling a volume of Machiavelli from the shelves, she heads for one of the chairs with reading lights behind it. Making herself comfortable, she settles in one of the chairs and cracks the book open.

Michael passes close by Desiree, he pauses a moment looking at the young woman and bows his head to her slightly stopping for a moment as he makes his greeting, although he makes no effort to find a seat of his own. "Good evening."

Recognizing the voice that speaks to her, Desiree looks up with a smile. "Good evening, Michael," she says, smiling up at the vampire. Her book, which happens to be "The Prince," is settled in her lap, binding upwards. She seems much more relaxed and calm than she has been in a while. Her eyes are sparkling, and her smile is warm and friendly. "I see you're taking advantage of the library, as well," she remarks nodding to the stack of books in his hands.

Nodding Michael smiles faintly. "Yes, I fear their times won't be suitable for me once the days get much longer." He sighs as he looks at the books. "I am also disappointed with their languages section, I really do believe in reading books in their original language, otherwise you lose the spirit of at the very least."

"Well, since I only really speak English, that's kind of good for me," Desiree replies. "I mean, I know a smattering of Spanish, but that's about it." She takes her hand from inside the book on her lap, but leaves it flat down. "I enjoy reading books, but if they were in the language they were written, I couldn't begin to read them." There's a hint of regret in her tone. "I wish I'd learned more languages, but I chose a different path." Her eyes are filled with a little amusement as she adds, "And I haven't had over a thousand years to learn different languages, either." It's a friendly teasing. "Who knows what I could've done had I been changed when you were?"

Shrugging Michael gives that due thought. "True, languages are easy to learn when you know the root, I watched most European languages evolve from Latin and Proto-germaic roots." He waves the comment away. "But enough of that, how are you?"

"I'm doing well, thank you," Desiree replies, still smiling. "A little tired, to be honest. I've been looking for an appropriate venue for the recital/benefit. It's hard to find just the right place. Some are too large, others too small. It's always difficult, and since we have an April date, I don't have much time." She sighs, settling back in the chair. "Otherwise, I'm well. Been doing a little volunteer work at the AVL on my days off, but…" She shrugs. "And you? You're doing well?"

Nodding Michael smiles. "It sounds like you could use a rest, with such a busy schedule volunteer work may be a little ambitious." He seems to consider the question of his own well being for a moment. "Things have been quite uneventful, I still find myself with little more to do than sit quietly and watch the world turn." He gives an easy roll of the shoulders in way of a shrug. "My Maker recently referred to it as a waste, he thinks I should return 'home' and take an office."

"Where is home, Michael?" Desiree asks, genuinely curious. "I know you've spoken about watching Europe evolve, but where were you born? Does it still exist today?" The questions might be considered rude by some, but there's such genuine interest in her demeanor that perhaps she'll be forgiven for asking. "And what kind of office is your Maker talking about? Is there some kind of ruling council for Vampires?"

Shaking his head Michael stares ahead for a time. "No, the nation I called home no longer exists, it died some fifteen years before I did, but the location is somewhere by the Isonzo River, although it's hard to be certain where exactly, the land has changed somewhat." He looks at Desiree for a moment seeming to consider her. "I would be his assistant, I'm not sure how much older than myself he is, but he's old enough to be held in extremely high regard, even in Europe, where vampires are often older, I would handle matters for him, speak for him when he's unavailable. He does not like the more.. modern method of communication, so he often sends envoys to deal with his business any distance away."

Desiree considers all of this, her eyes never leaving Michael's face. "I've never heard of the Isonzo River," she tells him. "Is it still called that, I wonder?" This information seems to intrigue her. "Is it near Asia? Asia-Minor?" There's no doubt she'd like to learn more of this area, perhaps to equate it to her modern world. "It's difficult to imagine anyone older than you," she says, then blushes when she realizes that could be taken as insult. "I mean, someone as old as Biblical times, maybe. I find it fascinating to know you were in Elizabethan England. I can't imagine what history your Maker has witnessed." The book on her lap is forgotten in light of this new interest. "Would you enjoy such a job? Being an envoy for your … well, he's like your father, isn't he? Is it that kind of relationship?"

Shrugging Michael laughs. "It's Italy, and you're right my Maker is old enough to have met me discussing history, we spoke of Rome, the Kingdom rather than the Empire." He seems to freeze as he considers the last question seeming almost to become a statue. "It's difficult to explain the relationship between us, it's… different from anything in the human world, I made a vampire only once, and I certainly didn't consider her my daughter, more a business partner, but there is always a bond, again it can't really be described."

Desiree looks around, but there aren't many people near them. "Won't you sit down, Michael? I do so enjoy talking to you, and it always seems as if one or the other of us is dashing off to take care of something." There's a pause, then, "I don't know a lot about Vampires, just the basics everyone knows. I'd like to learn more, so I don't make stupid mistakes, or insult someone. I want to know what someone means when they mention a bond or a Maker, or other things which are mentioned I don't understand." She presses her lips together. "Knowledge is power, and if you want me to be careful and avoid getting involved with the wrong Vampires, then I need to know how to protect myself." She closes the book on her lap, showing him the title. "Machiavelli's THE PRINCE. I've read it before, but it didn't have as much meaning as it does now. I'm trying to learn how to deal with things which may confront me."

There's a slight nod. "I had no intention of going anywhere, if you'd rather I sit." He does take a seat, his expression thoughtful. "That is very true, knowledge is power, but that is why you must be careful with it." He looks at Desiree, his eyes meeting hers "I could teach you every thing I have learnt in my life, every single secret, every single fact lost to history. And trust me, history is better at misplacing things than you might think." He pauses a moment. "And it would mean absolutely nothing, you would be more powerful, but that power would simply make you an obvious target to those of even greater power than yourself." He shrugs. "I will tell you what I can though." He smiles looking down at the cover of the book. "You know he never really intended any ruler to follow The Prince? The idea was to write the most successful ruler possible, and it was done by removing almost all that is best in man." He shrugs "Still MAchiavelli was punished for that work, it was banned you know? Machiavelli was even accused of devil worship because of it." He shrugs.

After hearing everything he has to say, Desiree slowly nods. "I suspected it about history. They're always coming up with new facts, and if our government can hide things from us today, why wouldn't past rulers want to do the same thing? History was written by the winners, after all, but there's always two sides to every story, sometimes more." She's astute, and there's intelligence behind those green eyes and pretty face. "There will always be someone more powerful than another person, someone higher in rank, or who knows more about any specific thing. It's the way of the world. A secret is the most powerful knowledge of all, but letting on you know someone's secret is dangerous. I've no intention of letting on I know something if it's going to get me in even worse trouble. Trust me. What I learn won't be spread about. I-I've had some experience keeping my mouth shut about things I know." She doesn't say anything more on that subject. "I'll be a willing student, Michael, and I'll be a friend to you. When I give my friendship, I take it seriously. I don't betray friends."

Michael studies Desiree for a moment, his expression neutral. "There are those with powers, those that could learn even the deepest secrets." He sighs slightly. "Do you really believe secrets are the greatest power? Do you really think knowledge outweighs all else." He shakes his head. "It's possible to know all the secrets of a man and still be entirely at his mercy, knowledge isn't power, it's simply a guide to how to gain it I suppose." He smiles as he looks at Desiree. "You make ask me questions, I make no promises that I will answer, I will not give away others secrets, but ask and I will answer where I can."

Once more Desiree glances around. "I will, but perhaps in a less public place," she says, voice soft. "What I think is that knowing a man's secrets is one way to gain power over that person, but one has to be careful. Everyone, every single, solitary person in this world has at least one secret they don't want anyone else to know." She pauses a moment, moistens her lips. "I do. I know you do. Everyone in this library, everyone…" She waves her hand in the air. "…out there. Knowing that secret gives you what may be a momentary power over that /one/ person, but it's more like blackmail than true knowledge. It's knowledge that gives you /personal/ power, the power to find secrets, /big/ secrets, and to use the knowledge wisely and carefully for the betterment of mankind. /That/ is why I feel knowledge more powerful than anything else." She shrugs. "I could be talking nonsense, but what I think. If I'm wrong, then teach me the right way."

Looking at Desiree Michael seems to consider her for a long moment, his eyes never leaving hers, his expression perfectly impassive, there's no emotion on his features or in his eyes as he studies her, he looks every bit as dead as he is. Then he's talking again and he looks just like a pale human. "I wonder what secret you think you have?" He seems to find that amusing. "The betterment of mankind? I will tell you one secret humans never seem to accept, there is nothing better for them, for every problem you solve you will create another equally bad, and those that start down the path of seeking a path to better mankind generally end up doing nothing but harm." He then shrugs. "But if you wish to discuss it somewhere more quiet then I am willing."

"Well, I just thought you might not want to discuss Vampires in public. Some people might react negatively to that, and I'd hate to be the cause of anyone being hurt," Desiree says. "We can go to my apartment, or … someplace quiet that you know. Either. I trust you, Michael," and against protocols, she places a hand on his arm. "You've treated me with respect, and I appreciate it. I know I'm really not much in the grand scheme of things, but it's nice to not be treated like I'm totally insignificant, or worse, useless." She smiles, giving his arm just the tiniest of squeezes, then removes it. I've my car here, and we can go anywhere you'd like, so long as it's not in a swamp." Her eyes twinkle as she indicates the white suit she's wearing.

Nodding Michaels continues to give that thought. "My home is on the edge of town, and the other locations I use aren't suited to visitors. I suspect the Studio is the best choice." He doesn't seem to give the hand much attention, simply chuckling slightly. "I learned a long time ago, never treat people with any less respect than you must, it serves no purpose." He rises slowly. "Tell me, why is it that you have so much trouble trusting others yet trust me so easily?"

"Because you've shown absolutely no interest in me, well, sexually," Desiree says bluntly. "Everyone else I meet, unless they're gay, is always trying to get me in bed. I've met with you several times, alone and with people, and never once have you been anything less than the perfect gentleman. I … well, I appreciate that you see me as something else besides a body, and, well, a quick meal. Even that William Grant looked at me like I was a piece of prime USDA choice, and he's older than you, so I know it's, well, I don't know why but that instills trust in me." She moistens her lips. "It's difficult to explain. I'm not a fangbanger, and I'm not looking to become a Vampire. You tell me straight, and I don't think you're lying about things when you talk about history and how man's messed up the world. I like that, and I like you." She shrugs a shoulder. "Maybe that's stupid of me, but it's difficult to explain any other way."

Michael Arches an eyebrow to Desiree, he looks faintly amused. "What makes you so sure William Grant is older than I?" He rises. "And I wouldn't presume to know what others think, especially where vampires are concerned. Mister Grant for example will have you believe of him what he wants you to." He seems to take the rest in its stride simply nodding. "I see, well I'm glad you've chosen to trust me." He rises from his seat. "Although I am curious as to why you're so interested in vampires?

Desiree is thoughtful as she rises from the chair, heading to the check out line with her book. She doesn't really answer Michael until they're seated in her car with the engine running. She's letting the engine warm up so the heat will come on. "Well, first off, you acted real differential to him in the bar, so I assumed he's, like, your superior or something," she ventures. "It's only logical that the older vampire would be in charge. I mean, you've hinted that old Vampires are more powerful." She shrugs. "If I'm wrong, well, I guess I'm not as good a judge of people as I thought I was." She finally turns the heat up; the engine's finally warm enough to make the car comfortable. "As for why I'm so interested in Vampires? Well … that's kind of hard to explain, too." She looks a little embarrassed. "I'm interested in Vampires for the same reason I ride a motorcycle and skydive. It's the … well, the sense of danger you get from being around some of them. I guess that's why I've always had such lousy taste in men. I like the dangerous ones."

Nodding slightly Michael shrugs. "I'm older than Mister Grant, I can't be sure by how much, but I'd assume several centuries, and you're right we do become more powerful, and in most cases the older vampire will take charge, I see little point, why would I want to waste my nights making sure that idiots and troublemakers are kept in check? Power is often a cage, though few see it." He nods to Desiree. "We are dangerous, at least potentially, much more dangerous that riding a motorbike I would guess."

Studio 10—-Upstairs Apartment

The second floor apartment is open, airy and divided into two distinct areas by floor to ceiling shelving units. To one side of the shelves is a kitchen and dining area. On the other is a large living room with doors that open onto a roof top patio with a hot-tub. The kitchen has brand new stainless steel appliances, and is separated from the dining room by a high bar with three tall stools for sitting. The floor there is dark terra cotta tile, while the walls are painted a complimentary beige tone. A window is behind the sink. The dining room is done in warm earth tones, with a carpet which matches the tile. Paintings decorate the walls, here, and the table, chairs and china cabinet are black. The shelf divider holds books, knickknacks and family photographs.

The living room is the reverse of the dining room, with beige carpet and terra cotta red walls. A black leather sofa, loveseat and recliner are arranged in front of a black entertainment center holding a wide flat-screen television, DvD player, stereo and a vast collection of CDs. A black coffee table provides a place to set drinks, and hanging plants soften the room with touches of green. Impressionist paintings decorate the walls, while floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass door allow for natural lighting. Attractive lighting fixtures provide light at night.

It doesn't take long for Desiree to drive from the library to the studio. On the way, she tries to take in everything she's just learned. "So, William Grant /isn't/ older than you?" she asks, a little confused. "But, why would any of the other old Vampires in Dallas let him just take control? — especially if he doesn't have the experience needed?" Her eyes are on the road, but her mind's elsewhere. "I mean, I can see what you mean about the responsibility and not wanting to deal with the idiots of the world, but isn't that a little … um, dangerous? What if he screws up? What then?" They go on in silence for another mile or so, then she pulls into the studio parking lot. "And, yes, you all /are/ dangerous. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm an adrenaline junkie. I like the danger, the thrill. I like to be scared. It makes me feel alive." With that, she gets out of the car and unlocks the front door, leading Michael up to the apartment on the second floor. "Don't mind the cats. They'll check you out then leave you alone. That's what they do to everyone who comes up here."

Sighing slightly Michael looks at Desiree then he just waves it away. "Oh Mister Grant's old, I'm simply ancient, I am almost certainly the oldest vampire in the State, and one of the oldest in the Country, there are very few vampires a thousand years old in this country, as for his messing up? I may not wish to lead, but I keep my eye on matters, I trust Mister Grant to be capable, and if he's not… well I have ways out of Dallas prepared at all times." He looks at Desiree. "I am quite likely the most physically powerful being in the State, most certainly in the city. I am to young vampires what they are to you. Yet this isn't what makes me dangerous, what makes me dangerous is I have no particular fear of dying. I have lived a long time, and while I don't plan to end my existence any time soon… I don't think I'd be overly concerned if I learnt my final hour was upon me." As they get to the second apartment Michael stops with a faint smile. "You'll have to invite me in."

Desiree looks at Michael as if she's seeing him through different eyes. There's no fear in her expression, but perhaps more respect, or more awe. "Oh, right. THis is a home, whereas downstairs is public. Please, c'mon in," she says, smiling. "It's up here." She climbs the stairs with ease, opening the door at the top. "Do I need to invite you a second time?" she inquires, head cocked to the side. Two black, Scottish Fold cats peer around her ankles with bright orange eyes. "Nip, Tuck—-behave now. I'll get your dinner in a few minutes. Our guest takes precedence, so be patient." Yes, she talks to cats. "How does a lack of fear of dying make you dangerous?" Desiree asks as she waits at the top of the stairs. "I mean, I can understand you being weary of seeing the same thing over and over again, the same mistakes, the same stupidity, but why say it makes you dangerous? You're one of the nicest people I've ever met. Certainly one of the most patient to put up with me."

Shaking his head Michael smiles. "No, once I'm invited I may enter when I wish, although you can revoke my invitation." He takes a look around the room, glancing at the cats he smiles slightly. "Being dangerous and being 'nice' aren't mutually exclusive. People are held back by their fear of death, there are things they will not do, risks they will not take, I have begun to suspect that is no longer the case with me." He shrugs. "I don't seek death as some come to, but I have had enough time on this earth that I won't regret it when I go. That makes me dangerous." He seems to become a little more human, actually offering an almost warm grin. "It also means that I don't see the need to ensure that all the fools play nice so that we don't end up wiping each other out."

Again Desiree listens while she takes off her jacket and hat, hanging them on hooks by the door. The place is warm, so the red silk camisole seems to be just fine. "I'm sorry I don't have any True Blood, but I'll make sure I have some in the fridge from now on," she tells Michael. I don't guess there's anything else you can drink? I have red wine." The cats do, indeed, come investigate Michael. Nip isn't certain about him, but Tuck seems more than willing to make friends. It's only the sound of a can opener that drags them away to the kitchen. Desiree steps back out after feeding them, bringing a bottle of wine and two glasses. "Just in case," she says with a smile. Sitting on the sofa, she looks up at Michael. "Please have a seat." A remote is picked up and music begins to play. Classical, a mix of several composers. "I love random play," she says. "Now, I guess I can see your meaning about being ambivalent about living. After as many centuries of watching things never change, I guess I'd feel the same way. But, you have to care if some idiot pushes the button. Look what it would destroy. All the beautiful things mankind, and Vampires, have created. Shouldn't that be preserved?"

Michael shakes his head. "No thank you, we /can/ eat and drink but beyond blood many of us it in a similar fashion as you would see drinking blood." He takes the time tosstroke Tuck before he runs off, he then heads over and does take a seat. "And it's not things staying the same that is tiring, it's keeping up with the changes, at first information was spread via messengers, it was slow and expensive, then the post took over organizing it so that a man could send a message across Europe literally as quickly as horse and ship could carry it, then the telegrams, and the phone, now people can talk over their computers instantly complete with images." He shrugs. "Things change, that is worse than things remaining the same." He folds his hands on his lap, as he glances around the room, apparently approving of the music. "I learned long ago that if I were to let myself worry every time humanity tries to destroy themselves, and us, then I would do nothing but worry about things I cannot change. I hope that humanity continues, I enjoy the great works, I hope future generations may see the Achilleion on Corfu, there are things that I still wish to see. I hope to see the Sagrada Familia completed after more than a century of waiting, but these things will happen or they won't I've grown tired of worrying for them."

"It's hard to think of a Vampire as old as you still having things they haven't seen," Desiree says, shaking her head. She pours herself a glass of wine, sipping slowly, looking thoughtful. "I guess it makes sense, though," she adds, "no one can see everything in the world, not even a Vampire as old as you are, or older, even. It's just not possible." A pause. "I don't think, at least. I'm sure you could travel to each and every country in the world, but could you see all it's treasures? Doubtful." She looks over at the television. "I enjoy watching television programs that show the wonders of this world. I'd love to visit them, but I know I can't ever afford to travel like I want to. I'd never have time for anything else." She sighs. "I'm lucky I get hired for out of town shoots now and then. At least I've seen a few places in the world."

The scene ended here because both players were too tired to continue.

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