A Night At Mary's

As the dark wings of night settle fully over the city, Bloody Mary's bar has barely started to fill. The mood is somewhat subdued, the patrons largely buzzing a quiet conversation, some of it light and pleasant, some of it much darker.

The back booth is occupied this evening, by a slender figure taking part in a discussion with another man. The short, lithe King of Texas makes a comment to the other, his expression darkening, and speaking of a terrible fate. The other man does not startle, attempting a calming gesture. The King dismisses him with a simple wave of a hand and a barely uttered, "There is to be no discussion. Begone." The larger man obliges, standing to walk straight out of the bar.

For his part, William Grant relaxes once his visitor has gone, pressing a couple of fingers against a bottle of synthetic blood, checking temperature. He does idly scan the room, now expressionless, clear blue eyes resting briefly on various occupants.

As night falls, Desiree finds herself entering Bloody Mary's. Why, is anyone's guess, but she's bored and the bar does provide some entertainment. Casually dressed, she looks a little windblown, as if she's been riding with the windows down in her car. In actuality, she's on her way home from a shoot, but no one knows that but her. Long legs carry her toward a booth against the wall. She slides into it smoothly, her eyes scanning the bar for familiar faces. There are none—-no, wait, there is one: William Grant. She nods politely to the man, remembering not to look him straight in the eyes. That it doesn't sit well with her to NOT look someone straight on is obvious as she turns away quickly, giving her order for a drink to the waitress who stops by her booth. She looks relaxed enough, but there's a wee bit of an edge to her that only the most observant person might catch.

Observant is exactly what Will is, and he catches sight of Desiree with ease. A hand lifts, and a couple of gestures fly towards one of the bar staff. There is a nod, and Will sits back.

"Hey," says a man who steps up to Desiree, not unpleasantly. "You're wanted." He jerks his head towards the back booth, where the slim vampire sits and watches impassively on. The picture of relaxation. That same hand does lift, turned over to allow a single finger to move. A summoning beckon.

Looking up as the strange man speaks to her, Desiree's eyes immediately go to where Will sits. "Very well," she tells the man, but takes her time getting out of the booth. "Please tell Mr. Grant I'll be right there." Moving slowly isn't so much a delaying tactic as it is the way Desiree moves: smooth, confident, aloof. The finger crooked in her direction is a little annoying. She's on her way, no need to make her feel like she misbehaved. Her approach to the back table is a little hesitant; she's not quite sure of the protocol. One thing she remembers is no hand shaking, so she doesn't even hold out her hand. "You asked for me, Mr. Grant?" she says, standing in what she hopes is a relaxed, 'I'm not nervous' posture.

The vampire does watch her movement, though his eyes flick across to nod a quick acknowledgement to the man who delivered the message. "Sit, please," he says, not unpleasantly, even allowing a hint of smile to touch at his lips. "Desiree Villiers, was it not?"

Hooking one of the chairs with the toe of her shoe, Desiree slips into the seat with no superfluous movement. "DeVilliers, actually," she replies, he expression neutral. "But, much less mangled than it usually is," she adds, the corners of her lips lifting into a smile. The drink she ordered is delivered to this table, the waitress setting it down, then moving away before Desiree can offer payment. She looks after the girl for a moment, then just figures she'll catch her later. "I hope the evening finds you well," she offers after several minutes of silence.

"DeVilliers," returns Will slowly, accent perfectly French for a moment, as if commiting the word to memory. "It would seem my age is showing today." The vampire appears comfortable to sit in silence for a short period, subtly testing at the air to check scent. "Well enough," he does say, though no longer bothering to look at her. "Michael's friend, were you not?"

"Yes," Desiree replies, reaching for her mimosa. The glass is lifted to her lips, a sip taken, the froth decorating her upper lip until it's dabbed away by a napkin. "He was a friend of my parents, actually," is added, "but kind enough to include me." She sits with good posture, her head held erect even though apparently relaxed. After she answers the question, she falls silent, taking the occasional sip of her drink. If there's any outward sign of her nervousness, it's the tapping of her fingers on her leg, hidden out of sight under the table.

"Michael is an ally of mine, in many respects," says Will, threading some sort of self-amused humour in there. "So you are not part of the culture one finds within this establishment?" He does finally deign to rest his attention on Desiree, the look expressionless, that usual mask. "I am not grilling, you understand, merely feeling out quite who and what you know."

"I've been here a few times, but I'm not a regular here, no," Desiree answers, glancing around. "And, I'm not a fangbanger, if that's what you mean by part of the culture here. The atmosphere's nice enough." She toys with her glass a moment, looking at it as she tilts it in a circle. "I volunteer at the American Vampire League, so I'm fairly familiar with vampire society. By no means an expert, mind you, but I've figured out a few things." She lifts the glass and takes another sip, then, "As for who I am-I manage Studio 10, a local dancing school. I also model, act in commercials and was hired to be a stand-in Cowboys cheerleader two years ago. I dance, mostly, and someday I'd like to own the studio-when I get enough money to buy our Mdm. Trovanova, of course."

The vampire does listen, studying Desiree briefly, though again switching his obvious attention to the bar at large. "I have little contact with the League, these days. It is a shame, for together we could do good things. So tell me," he continues, a flash of movement leaving him resting elbows on the table, eyes filled with an ancient humour, and looking straight at Desiree. "What have you figured out?"

Desiree is startled by the speed of the movement, but tries not to jump. "Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out vampires need blood to survive, and that blood substitutes can suffice." She studies Will for a moment or two, then, as if realizing she's being a little bold, lets her eyes drop to the table. "I know there's a hierarchy in place, but I've no idea who's what," she tells him. "I also know there are rules, laws and traditions by which vampires operate." Desiree falls silent again, pondering what else to reveal. "If you're trying to find out if Michael's revealing super secret info, I can tell you right now he isn't. He did explain what you meant by a 'claim' on me, since I asked." Again, she stops, then adds, "I like working with the AVL, too. It's … interesting."

"Michael would not be so foolish as to leave information that mattered in the hands of the untrustworthy," Will replies, levelly. "Therefore, you are likely trustworthy." His smile waxes amused, for the final words. "You will likely learn more over time. For example, your and my versions of working with the AVL are slightly different." He takes a draught of the synthetic blood in front of him, eyeing her now with that same humour, his tone drifting teasing. "You are permitted to look at me, you realise."

Desiree lifts her eyes, meeting Will's straight on. "I prefer looking at someone when I'm talking to them, but I was told when I first began working for the League not to be too bold, and to look down when meeting a vampire," she explains. "I don't presume to know what Michael thinks of me, especially regarding trust, but I've come to feel he's a friend. We've had some interesting conversations, mostly regarding history," she explains. "It's a passion of mine, history is." There's a ghost of a smile on her lips. "I've probably driven him mad with all my questions, but I really want to know things about the past." As for his comment about the AVL…? Desiree's eyes kind of slide to the side. "It can be … an /interesting/ experience working with some of the people there." Yeah, there's something she's not saying.

"Useful advice," says Will, "when dealing with the older creatures of the night for the first time. Largely, only necessary when the hunger or mood would take me." Dark humour now. "Your reponsibility to decide when that is." Another flash of movement, and Will is relaxing languidly against his seat.

"Any particular period?" he wonders, idly. "I would be happy to trade history secrets for-" The tiniest of hesitations, the twitch of lips to a conpiratorial smile "-up to date gossip on the internal workings of the AVL."

Desiree blinks at the speed, her heart racing just a little. It doesn't take her much to figure he could have her by the throat in about a second. "I see, yes, that would be useful advice," she replies, keeping her voice even. "I'm sure I'll figure out when a vampire's hungry … or in a mood," she says, letting her lips curve into a smile. "Tudor and Elizabethan England, mostly," Desiree answers, much more comfortable with this subject. She takes another sip of the mimosa, setting down the glass, but holding it between her fingers still. "What, exactly, are you wanting to know?" she asks cautiously. "I'm just a volunteer, remember, so I'm not privvy to a lot of inside info. About the most important thing I'm doing is helping Susan Baker with a project she wants to do-living history lectures-which haven't even been approved yet."

"The period just before I came to this continent," says Will, with a slow nod. "I took some interest in mortal affairs of the time; I likely have some documents somewhere, or a few anecdotes." Indeed, Will was busy being a power-player in the English vampire society of the time, along with his Maker. His head tilts to the side. "Susan Baker," he repeats, mildly. He knows that name. "You mentioned interesting people. As though there are cracks in the concrete. Elaborate?"

There's a touch of color on Desiree's cheeks now. "I don't remember anything specific, just a nagging feeling I have sometimes," she tells Will. "Not everyone gets along, but you'll have that in any organization—-especially one where strong willed people work." She shrugs. "The PR department seems to run the show, and some other departments feel neglected, you could say." Her bottom lip is chewed, then she picks up her drink and downs the rest of it. "I just don't remember anything specific," she repeats, setting the empty glass down on the table. "That's kind of odd, since I usually have a really good memory." Another shrug, then, "You came to America in the 1600s?" she asks, curious.

The look that goes Desiree's way now is penetrating, the full force of eight hundred years bearing down on her. "Come now," says Will, threading good humour through his tone. "Memory lapses?" A hand lifts, jerks to order her another drink. "You shall do better than that to hear the dirt of the sixteen hundreds."

Desiree can't help but sit up straighter under that penetrating gaze. Nor can she look away from Will-or doesn't want to, at least. She swallows a lump that's formed in her throat, and then moistens her lips. "I-I guess so," she tells him, her expression showing a bit of concern. "I usually have a great memory-that's why I'm popular with directors-but part of yesterday is a blur," she says, shaking her head. There's no doubt she's trying to recall things; her expression is one of complete concentration. Finally, she just shakes her head again. "I'm sorry. I remember meeting with Ms. Baker, and her asking for my help on the history project. Mr. MacKeirnan came into her office, and then—-nothing. Well, I recall him giving me some work to finish, but that was later, in his office." A pause. "I'm sorry, Mr. Grant. I'd tell you more if I could."

A quiet 'hmph' filters from Will's lips, as he listens. "Very well," he says, allowing a slow and careful nod. "I believe you. Perhaps not enough sleep." The vampire lifts the bottle of synthetic in his hand, finishing the bottle in a single further draught. "You should likely get further rest," he comments, idly.

Desiree nods slowly, pressing her lips together, looking up as the same waitress brings her another drink. "Sleep is important, yes," she agrees, picking up the mimosa and taking a sip. She eats the slice of orange in the drink, and then the cherry. "I should probably make it an early night, although I'm off tomorrow and can sleep in." She watches Will drain the bottle, eyes following it up then down. "If you're suggesting you'd like me to leave your table, I can go back to a booth…" she remarks, not certain what Will's wanting her to do. She doesn't want to make a mistake, so better to ask than assume.

"Quite the opposite," says Will, mildly. "Signalling that I am leaving, and that you are free to utilise this booth for a time." There is an upturn to his lips, as amusement flits over his expression once more. Slowly, he unfolds to that mighty height of five feet eight, head leaning back in a languid stretch. "If you should happen to remember anything," he says, as a white piece of card skims onto the table, "then you should contact my assistant. Have a pleasant evening." Then he is a dark blur, fast enough that the human eye will struggle to follow, out and away from the bar. Business calls.

It's possible Desiree will never get used to the speed at which vampires can move. It's also possible she might someday learn to be at ease around vampires, but it's that thrill of danger which attracts her in the first place. At any rate, Desiree turns to watch Will leaving, though she doesn't really see it, just believes she sees him leaving. The white card is picked up, read and then pocketed. Perhaps a good night's rest will help her remember the events of yesterday. She shrugs, picks up her drink and relaxes now that she's alone. It'll be her last drink. She signals the waitress, paying her for the two drinks, and giving her a good tip. Then it's home to bed. Yep, an early night.

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