The Long Way To It

Sheriff's Estate - The Vault

This room covers almost the entire ground floor of this house. The majority is taken up by a stylish reception area; three chunky, white leather couches places in a neat U-shape, with a low table in the centre. Another corner holds a modern, black table, six comfortable chairs placed around it as though for conference. The final feature is a bar, well-equipped behind it and with a pair of chunky fridge-freezers, containing a variety of synthetic blood. In one corner is a staircase, leading upstairs. On the same wall is a door through to the only area on this floor not part of this room, where sits a small bathroom and the route downstairs, a featureless door, metal constructed and lockable from one side only, though plated to fit with the design of the house.
Three walls are white, the fourth covered in ceramic panels to give some colour to the place. The floor is tiled, in a pleasant, neutral shade. Windows at regular intervals stretch from floor to ceiling, concealed blackout blinds above them. One wall bears a huge flatscreen television, and one aware of their surroundings will spot the speakers concealed at various points in the room. The general feel of this area is a clinical style, a blank, neutral canvas for whatever happens to be going on. Those who know Will generally refer to this area as The Vault, for the round pillars that stretch up to the roof.

The evening is just cresting, the sun having gone down only a short while ago. Chloe, surrounded by a myriad of books borrowed from Will's library, is currently seated on a couch. She's still recuperating. Mostly from the near-full-drain, her own injury, and trying to fix Rose. The headaches have been much worse since that incident, hence the bottle of water and aspirin right within hands reach.

The estate has been relatively quiet, she's barely even seen Erica - not that she's been looking for the company. Being on her own is what she's used to. She's not even bothered to contact her brother beyond telling him that Rose was alive and not, as he was thinking, a vampire.

Rising from the depths, or at least his bedroom, comes William Grant, Sheriff of Dallas. Wearing only a white bath robe and a pair of tight, black shorts, the vampire drifts upstairs with silent steps, starting to walk through The Vault as though he has not even seen Chloe. There does not appear to be a mark on him now; fully healed, at least to the human eye.

He does, though, manage a "Good evening," as he walks, voice quiet and relaxed from recently awakening.

As soon as his presence is detected, the book in her hand is dropped to the couch and she sort of curls up, drawing her knees to her chest. "Evenin'," she offers, looking anywhere but at him. She's about to ask if he's slept well, but realizes that it's an odd thing to ask. Instead, she takes a deep breath and exhales it slowly.

"Feelin' better?"

"Indeed," says the Sheriff, opening the fridge in the kitchen, and drawing out an entire three bottles of synthetic blood. "Mostly by virtue of a rather helpful young lady who allowed something to occur that she did not wish out of a philanthropic and altruistic nature." Cracking the bottle, Will turns around, levelling a direct and level look on Chloe. "It is not unappreciated."

Someone feels their cheeks heating up, still refusing to look at him. "It wasn't either of those things," she mumbles. "It was pure and utter selfishness." Chloe stares at her knees, even as he stares at her. "You've grown on me. Couldn't lose you just yet." And that's as emotional as she's going to be on the subject. After all, he's already stated he doesn't want anything of the sort… well sort of anyhow.

Slowly, Will steps across the room towards her. "Whatever it was that caused you to do so," he tells her, his voice now drawing towards the pleasant, "I appreciate the action. It is only unfortunate that I was in no fit state to either enjoy it or cause it to be less painful than it was." He stops at the open end of the 'U' of couches. "Thank you, Chloe Cornett."

Finally, she looks at him. She notes how the injuries have healed. She offers a little nod of her head. "Sure thing," she says, instead of "you're welcome". She quirks a small grin, moving aside the fallen book and closing it gently. "That's me. Walking blood bank," she attempts to joke lightly. "Though I've done something you're not going to like." Shifty-eyes.

Still slowly, Will brings up a hand, gesturing to the couch that Chloe is seated on. "May I?" he asks, easily. "Perhaps one day, you will consider allowing me the opportunity to enjoy it," he responds to her joke, not entirely unamused himself, though it is wry and dry. "How exactly have you ruined my evening this time?"

"Oh, of course. It's your house and all." Chloe just scoots to the side a little to make room for him. Then she starts to worry her teeth over the right corner of her lower lip. "I helped Rose remember… I'm not at all certain that it /stuck/ per se, but she seemed fairly lucid when she left, and I have no clue other than headaches what the after-effect will be on me."

The vampire glides and seats himself, settling the two unopened bottles of synthetic blood on the small table in the centre of the couches. He does not show surprise, instead his mask maintains its impassive facade. "That was an error, and you are aware of why," says he, levelly. "You lack the experience necessary in dealing with matters of the mind."

"I know," she offers meekly. "I /know/. I just felt so sorry for her, and she wanted to remember what happened. I had to try…" Chloe sighs, leaning away from him a little. "You're upset. It's alright though, I knew you would be. Bobby said her sister was going to try and stake her, and I just couldn't let that happen." Rose may be a little crazy, but that doesn't mean she should have to /die/ because of it.

"I am not upset, it seems that particular emotion is beyond me today," Will replies, idly, starting to take a deep draught of the synthetic blood. Once complete, he leans languidly back into the couch, fingers starting to tap against the bottle in the only usual outward sign of any agitation. "Another budding murderer no doubt pretending that God is on their side. Do you think any of them have bothered to read the Bible? I take it Rose has gone into hiding again?"

As he speaks of the Tyler twins, Chloe glances away from him again. She's doing her utmost not to let on that her brother is actually part of the Fellowship, which of course means she's thinking of it as she does her best to hide it away. "I think," she says quietly, "Well I mean I got the impression she wasn't going back to Mr. Fontane's. She just sort of threw up, and then left so that she wouldn't drive me crazy. I've not heard anything for a while though, from anyone." Then again, she can't really complain about someone hiding out, as she herself is doing much the same thing.

Will isn't bothering to seek through the connection right now; something about avoiding an issue, perhaps. "Very well, her problems are her own, though I have offered assistance. I think perhaps she is reluctant, though I do not yet know why." Dryly, he continues, "On the other hand, one must remember that I am a soul-eating monster."

Taking another long draught, finishing the bottle, Will leans fowards to place it on the table with its fellows. "Chloe, there is something we must discuss."

"Likely," Chloe says, looking extremely ill at the moment, "because a vampire ripped out the throat of one of her best friends and she was splattered with his blood." She swallows a few times as though trying to push down the feeling of nausea. She rests her head upon her knees and then mumbles, "If you're planning on throwing me out, give me a few minutes please."

"That same vampire then failed in their attempt to glamour away their actions," Will continues, for her. "It ruined her mind. I do not know the vampire's identity." There is a brief pause. "Yet."

"You will not be ejected from my home," he continues, eyes shifting towards her, then back to the table. Seeming to make a decision, he takes another bottle of synthetic blood. "Instead, it has to do with when I was feeding upon you."

"I know," Chloe says, "It was hard to break past that glamour to make her remember. Y'all have extremely powerful minds, I suspect." Something to do with lack of brain waves, though she's got nothing more than a guess on it.

"Oh. I don't… I mean, I offered my wrist like you said you prefer, but then…" She just seems to be confused about it, rather than upset.

"No," Will replies. "I prefer the wrist when feeding for necessity's sake, when using a-" He pauses, and manages with some distaste, "fangbanger. The wrist is impersonal. No, instead I wished to discuss something for which you may be unimpressed."

He takes a quick, measured sip at the bottle in his hand. "Whilst feeding upon you, I inadvertantly read your mind. All of it."

The feeling of sickness passes quickly as he explains, and she turns on the couch to just stare at him. "I thought you /wanted/ impersonal. I thought…" Then he continues, and Chloe just blinks. "How could-…" Hands rub down over her face. "I thought that you couldn't… I mean, /all of it/?" She's not even being shrill, just completely and utterly confused as to how any of this has happened due to a near run-in at the book store.

Will shakes his head, slowly. "I believe that at the time I was somewhat outside of my usual self, therefore I aimed for a somewhat more intimate approach," he says, quietly. He takes another sip; nice avoidance technique there.

"I am a vampire, and not a youth," he explains, gently. "As I have grown older, certain emotions have begun to escape me, delicate subtleties of humanity drifting away as the centuries pass. What I experienced was your life in short, and your recent past in detail."

His logic seems to make sense to her, and really puts her a little more at ease. See, Chloe? It's all in your head. "The jugular vein and carotid artery are better in the neck than the wrist as well." Besides it's not as though he tore her clothing off and tried to feed from the veins in her thigh.

"I… oh." That much of her life? Chloe looks a tad embarrassed, and stares at her knees again. "Don't worry about it. It's like, I'm just a blip in the length of your life. By tomorrow you'll have forgotten all of it." Sure he will. If he'd forgotten he wouldn't be telling her this.

"The veins present in the thigh are actually my favoured; the neck being the most opportune target available at the time," Will replies, his tone somewhere on the good side of amused. He draws the grasped bottle of synthetic to his lips, and takes a short sip.

"Whilst your early life matches somewhat with others I have seen, I am unable to forget any such touch. It was not that particular aspect that I wished to discuss with you," the Sheriff continues. "It was more recent events. Feelings."

"Well let's be thankful you didn't get that carried away with an audience present," Chloe mutters, more to herself than to him. He may have no modesty, but she certainly would not like to be naked or partially naked in front of a contingent of vampires. That would definitely consitute as a worse day.

"Oh…" That's what she was afraid of. Suddenly silent again, she stares at the wall opposite the couches.

Another draught taken, and the constant tapping of Will's fingers grows a little stronger. "Perhaps. I would not wish to embarrass you in the presence of others." He stares across the room, seemingly looking at the same spot as Chloe.

"Oh indeed," he says, quietly. "I simply felt that it would be untoward of me not to inform you that I had heard such." His tone neutral, away from emotion. "I am unaccustomed to such feelings."

"I suppose I should say thanks for that…" Chloe does't look embarrassed just a bit frustrated that the most personal part of herself was laid open to him. She inhales deeply, then lets it all out in a slow woosh of air.

"Right, well I suspect that's because you've been alive for ever." Hands come up to hide her face momentarily, then she turns to look at him. "Not like I've got a whole lot of experience with that either, all things considered." Hey, spend your formative teen years in a mental institution and it sort of kills your social life.

Will turns his head to meet her eyes. His face is a blank, the usual mask in place. "You do not, it is true. I do not deny a physical attraction; an addiction to your scent, the subtle lure of your lifeblood, the curve of your neck, the beautiful texture of your skin, the lustrous fall of your hair." Waxing poetic, or perhaps just his mode of speech. "Emotion, though, may always be beyond me."

Chloe lets out a little 'heh' sound. She's oh-so-tempted to tell him that the only reason her skin and hair even remotely fell under his radar is due to the blood he forced on her twice. Instead, she silently turns and stares ahead again.

"I suspect that it's not that it's beyond you, just that you've forgotten it over time. I suspect it's that way for most vampires, which is why you get touted as being soulless."

"There are not many who survive to my age," Will replies, "because they often cannot control their emotion. Perhaps it is those of us who may set it aside that survive." He takes another draught at the bottle, fingers tapping rapidly now in a sign of further agitation.

His tone is still neutral, lacking even the kindness he often inserts. "Still, I have been honest with you, Chloe. There is little else to say; further discussion would be crass of me. Should you wish anything of me, I am here."

"I would think that it's those that lose their humanity that don't survive as long." Really, she's only pondering things out loud at this point. "Once you lose your humanity, your compassion, and your sense of morality, you fall to the path of psychopathy." The disease, mind, not the psychotic personages who go on killing spr- oh wait, they're discussing vampires so it would be just that.

"Actually, I don't mind the conversation, Will. I'm a big girl, I can handle a lot more than people give me credit for." Sighing, she shifts her entire body to force herself to look at him. Feet edging out toward his leg. "Truth is, whether you understand it or not, or whether I'm confused or not, you saw how I felt. Guess that means what you do with that information is entirely up to you."

"Emotion and humanity are entirely different concepts," Will informs her, happy for the brief sidetrack. "I believe I have one, though the other has lost aspects to me." At least, he hopes some humanity left.

"It is not my information to act upon," he continues, leaning back now into the couch, though his attention stays on her, on her eyes. "You are beautiful, alluring, and kind. It is also, however, not your lack of comfort I was alluding to." His own.

And so, it appears, they are at an impasse. Neither wants to act upon things, and both are uncomfortable. Chloe gently prods his leg with her foot, just to do something. "Though one cannot claim to have full humanity without having emotion, different concepts or not." That's her belief anyhow. Then again, vampire. So it's not like he's got full humanity anyhow.

"Then let me ask you this. Were you still human, would you chance to act upon such information?"

Eyes snap down to the touch on his leg, and Will turns his head to face the wall again. Maintaining a facade, now. "I have never claimed full humanity. I grasp at the memory, I devote myself to my ideals, and maintain a working facade. I am a creature destined to atrocity, guided by an unseen hand towards monstrosity and bloody revelry, a creature whose faith in God, law and humanity is all that keeps him from murder and chaos."

His head slowly turns again, his body motionless, as he levels a direct look onto Chloe, the mask firm, though obviously now a mask. "Were I human, I would be visiting with a priest to confess the lustful thoughts I am stricken with. I would be chastising myself for allowing a woman to enter my thoughts in such a way. I would be praying to be given the strength to avoid a terrible fate as a betrayer of my brethren. Such a question is meaningless."

Just like that, the foot is drawn back. Chloe looks a lot more confused than she's been feeling of late. She just sort of makes a face at him, not at all certain how to respond. When she finally does speak, it's with the stupidest argument ever. "Were you human back when you were human you mean. What if you were human now. Clean slate? Do you think you would have taken up the orders and become a priest then?" Blame it on her confusion, or the fact that her mind hasn't been all that clear since working with Rose.

"I was never a priest," Will replies, with quiet dignity now. "I do not believe that I could possibly answer such a question with any accuracy. It would be like asking you what you feel you would have done with your life should you have been born in the twelve hundreds."

"Oh, but that's easy to answer. I would have been married at a ridiculously young age, had a bunch of children, and kept house for a man that was very likely to have a mistress." Chloe shrugs. See, in matters like /that/ she can be a bit pragmatic. "Maybe the better question, Will, is if you forgot your past and focused solely on the here and now, what would you /like/ to do?" Beat. "Emotions aside, I mean."

"If you were born male, then," Will replies quickly, as though countering the argument he was expecting. Drawing her in, as it were. "You do not wish me to answer that question truthfully, Chloe. I will, though, answer the parts of it you would like me to."

"I would like to drink of you, to take you into my arms and caress you, to treat you as a woman should be treated by a caring and kind lover. It does not lead to a good ending, however."

"If I were born male, I'd likely have been a farmer." Of course all of her speculation on the past is going on the assumption that she were not telepathic then. Chloe chews on her lip at his response. "I also don't mind the truth, even if it's an awful one." Generally, she can hear the awful truth anyhow, so hearing it verbally won't be as bad as all that.

"Though why wouldn't it lead to a good ending?"

"I would like to kill all those responsible for the events of the parade," Will says, "though your answer is merely a probability, and a poor consideration of yourself. I would like to tear asunder all those who consider offering you harm." He pauses, to take a draught of the bottle.

"I would delight in an orgy of blood and murder within the compounds of the misguided relgious fanatics, I would drink and drink until I could taste no more. One scratch upon my self control could lead to this."

It may just be a good thing that she can't read a vampire's mind. Pity those who can and wind up institutionalized forever due to it. Chloe shows no outward sign of distress. She just grins. "Merely a probability, but not an awful one. I'm not rich, I've no formal education, ergo, if I were male, I'd be a farmer." A farmer is a lot better in her mind than say, oh, a highwayman, or something entirely worse.

"Will, don't take offence to this, but why /me/? Out of all the women I'm certain you've had the opportunity to offer your protection to out of all the years you've been around, you chose me. I guess I don't understand why at all."

"You do not feel you have the necessary strength of mind to become a member of one of the orders of Christian knights?" Will asks, mildly. "Not only the rich were accepted. The strong of resolve and mind."

He throws a glance her way, deliberately sinking the remainder of the bottle of synthetic as he does so. "I do not know. At first you intrigued me. Perhaps you are the first who does not seem to care about my position for a long time."

"Not religious," she points out. Chloe told him she was agnostic, didn't she? "Plus, farming was generally safe and I'm a big fan of going under the radar." Tapping at the side of her head, she shrugs her shoulders.

"Your position isn't who you /are/. It's what you /do/. So, sure, it matters on some level, but I happen to prefer who you /are/. Your job doesn't factor into how I… erm… feel."

"In the twelve hundreds, not being religious was not an available choice," Will replies, mildly amused. "It was not a valid opinion. Perhaps you would have burnt at the stake."

A glance is thrown across to her, as Will reaches forwards, placing the now empty bottle on the table. "So who am I, Chloe? Who am I that intrigues you so?

"Perhaps I would have been, for more reasons than not being religious. After all," she replies with a grin, "I'm crazy." At least she likely would have been deemed a witch back in those days.

"You're an amalgamation of a lot of people, Will. Valentinus des Barres, Will Grant, and everyone in between. It's more than the fact that I can't read you. Even in the book store you were kind and caring, and not just quick to dismiss me as some insane woman. You've never pressed your advantage when you could have many a time. Quite frankly, you make me want to live instead of just hiding away in a stack of books."

"I was neither kind nor caring," Will replies, "merely opportunistic. My reserve has been a struggle, and I have shamelessly manipulated your feelings in order to achieve my goals."

"These things will not occur again. I am glad I have brought you to yourself, to your potential. My machinations could not have hoped for more." He reaches forwards again, taking the third and final bottle of synthetic between two fingers. "I do like to believe I have had your interests at heart."

"All things considered, you really couldn't have manipulated my feelings." Being as Chloe wasn't aware until the other night that she actually felt anything toward him at all other than anger. "And opportunistic or not, you didn't /have/ to catch me. You didn't know a thing about me until you did." So there, take that.

The last of what he says makes her laugh. A bubbled up giggle that won't seem to stop for a few moments. When it does, she wipes at her eyes. "For a guy that says he has no emotions, you certainly seem to be well vested in my interests."

"Your points are reasonable," Will replies, quietly and levelly, opening the bottle with a deft twist of wrist. His features do twitch into a smile, a brief and easy indulgence of her laugh.

"I do not claim to lack emotion. Simply parts of it that a human does possess," he tells her. "Still, this discussion will take us nowhere. Perhaps you should speak."

"Woof," comes the smartass reply. Chloe just gives him a look. "What do you want me to talk about?" Is he asking her to speak her mind about how she feels? Really, she's not at all sure that she can do that, let alone /should/ do that.

A glance shifts her way, and Will's expression falls back to impassive indifference. "About the literature you have so deftly stolen from my bookshelves."

"I've been most careful with it," she says, pointing to the books in question. "It gets boring sitting around here all day with no one to interact with, and books are as good a friend as any." No, Chloe is not going to become the best of friends with Erica. Besides which the other woman obviously has work to do and she'd hate to distract her. "I was reading more on the Templars, as I have no access to my books at the library at the moment." She's hiding out from the world for a while, and quite happy for the respite.

"If you hope to find reference to me, there is none," he replies, levelly. "Perhaps you could spend time with Erica, who I know does little in the way of socialising. How are you finding your research?"

Chloe grins at him, brushing her hair back behind her ears. Looking a lot younger as she does it than she normally does. "If I wanted to find out more about you, Will, I would just ask. I was curious as to the entire society, since there's a lot of mainstream speculation these days due to authors like Dan Brown." She begins to chew upon her lip, then sighs. "If you ask it, I'll try to do so. Problem is, I can hear what she's thinking, and I fully suspect she doesn't like me."

"Women are such jealous creatures," Will laments, shaking his head a fraction. Another draught is taken, as he lounges properly now, legs splitting apart and the bathrobe falling open. It would seem Will has not noticed.

"The mainstream speculation is haphazard at best, libellous at worst," he replies. "The vast majority of the knights were good men, living in a time where they were forced to the political machination because of the incompetence of nobility. The vast tracts of land and huge treasury funds were used in the work of the Lord."

"I'm not jealous!" And this time, she's not. Chloe is of the firm belief that Erica /is/ though. After a pause, she speculates, "Are you doing that for my benefit?" A point to the bathrobe, and a little grin.

"Well I tend rarely to believe the mainstream, and I don't mind sloughing through old books to find the facts." Hence, librarian. "I'll put them all back when I found them."

"Of course," Will replies, now obviously and archly amused, even allowing another tiny smile. He glance down. "I once told you that a visitor does not dictate the dress of the owner when in their house. Are you appreciating it?"

"Maybe," Chloe admits, with a shrug. She's not owning up to anything, not at all. "Look, Will, about how I feel…" She shifts her eyes away from him, staring at the wall again. "I can block that out if you'd prefer."

"You cannot," he tells her, "nor would I ask you to. I merely wished to make you aware of my particular idiosyncracies." He takes the bottle to his lips again, taking a long and deep draught that finishes the bottle.

"Everyone is prone to some peculiarity." It's not as though she's any right to comment on it really. Considering she can read minds, and it makes her feel a little crazy from time to time, she can't really complain about his outward lack of emotion.

"We'll just add it to the list along with being shrill, and what else was it?"

"A reduced ability to reason, and increased aggression," Will replies, mildly. He reaches forward, dropping the bottle onto the table with a practised and deft skill. He lounges back again, stretching his body, catlike, into the couch. He does not look towards Chloe.

"It was only a tendency to the shrill."

"Sounds like emotions to me," Chloe says with a grin. She's doing her best not to look at him, however, positive that he's stretching like such on purpose. "Mom always said that caring for someone brought on reduced reasoning abilities, so…"

"Indeed, emotions heightened by the intake of vampiric blood," Will tells her, still level. He releases the languid stretch, bathrobe barely on his body any more. "Is this really the situation for discussion of your mother?" he wonders, tone mild and amused.

"I meant /your/ emotions." Chloe snickers at his question, then prods at his thigh with her foot. "Depends, I suppose. If we're simply discussing such things, then why not?"

"Very well," Will replies, easily. "Tell me about her."

"…." Chloe gives him a look, then goes to shove at him with her foot. "I was /kidding/. But if you really want to know, she ignored me most of my life, and when she wasn't ignoring me she was adamant about teaching me proper social behavior since apparently I'm broken in that department."

Will allows the shove, though the foot meets veritable immovable object, a brief demonstration of his strength. "Mothers shape us, tend us and help us to grow. Mine own was largely not present during my formative years. It is a shame when the bond has no opportunity to develop."

Oddly, now that she's thinking of it, Chloe would have to laugh. Her siblings are to one extreme or the other; Bobby, the religious fanatic who loathes vampires; Mellie who's the high school dropout fangbanger. Leaving Chloe to be the one safely neutral on the matter. The thoughts are just fleeting though. "Maybe, but then again, I've become fairly independent due to it. I'm used to being on my own and doing things on my own. In a way I guess it prepared me for my abilities."

"You seem to have accepted your gift," Will says, "so perhaps it was for the best." His body motionless now, his attention drifts, resting briefly on the single painting on the wall. "At least, you seem to less detest it."

"I'd still rather take the medication to keep the voices out," she admits. Chloe turns her attention to what he's looking at, then turns back to him. She's fidgety this evening. "But I'll accept that there might be another way to keep them under control."

"There is," Will tells her, "which we shall explore soon. In the meantime, I do have business to attend to."

"Of course." He always has business to attend to, and she's kept him a good while as is. Chloe suddenly springs from her position, just so that she can wrap her arms about him in a hug. Impulsive, perhaps a little childish. "I really /am/ glad that you're alright, Will. Sorry I couldn't warn you sooner." Ah, and there it is. The reason she wants to work on her abilities. She feels perhaps a little guilty.

Stiffly, the vampire allows the hug, his eyes of course flitting up into his head for a moment, the whites showing. "It was in time," he tells her, once his power has subsided. "That is all that really matters. Now, if you would release me?"

Though he requests it, Chloe holds the hug just a little longer. Then she leans up to place a gentle kiss on his brow. "Go. I think I'm good enough to head home tonight, so long as you don't need me for anything?" Chloe releases him, then starts to gather up the reading material she borrowed.

For a long moment, the vampire sits still, watching Chloe with an indifferent expression. "I do not believe I do. You should return soon, though, for our training." He does stand, unfolding to his mighty height of five feet eight. Suddenly, fast and quick, he moves with grace, sweeping an arm around her waist and brushing his lips against hers in the briefest kiss, before releasing and moving away, quiet and measured steps carrying him towards the door; to downstairs.

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