Dark Revelations

Belmont Hotel

Entering the Belmont Hotel is much like stepping into another era. While the beauty of the late '40's and early '50's architecture is still apparent, it has faded over time. The lobby is very angular and polychromatic - a symptom of the Art Deco trends at the time it was built. Despite the state of semi-disrepair, the hotel lobby is absolutely immaculate, and a smile can generally be found upon the faces of all who work here.

The auction party is finally starting to wind down. Music is still playing, couples and groups are still eating, drinking, and conversing, but the high energy of the auction has long since faded away, the lazy toll of liquor and booze and the lateness of the hour making everyone more sluggish and slow in their movements. The caterers are discreetly trying to clean everything up, but are gracious enough to leave the food and drinks out for now. Better they are eaten than go to waste after all. As for Hugo, he is doubly exhausted, leaning back in his chair, balanced precariously on two legs. His bow tie has been stuffed into the pocket of his tux jacket, which has been slung over the back of his chair. His shirt has been unbuttoned, the sleeves rolled up. His eyes are closed for the moment as he just relaxes, listening to the music and pondering just what he has gotten himself into with this charity auction and Todd.

Mignonette is still seated at Hugo's table, nominally. Her purse and briefcase are still on her seat, at least. But actually, she's been moving through the room, speaking softly to the members of the catering staff, the servers and others, most of whom volunteered their time to the event. It's taken quite a bit of work to get everything running as smoothly as they have been, and making certain that the people who have contributed to the charity's events know they're appreciated, well, it's necessary. And with her schedule being more flexible than Dr. Trudeau's, it's usually left up to the Cajun to settle things at the end of the evening.

She saw and snickered. Drank a lot simply because she could, but had to retrieve more cigarettes from her suite upstairs a little while ago. It's the aura of nicotine that announces Josephine's re-arrival far before she wraps arms around Hugo from the back. "That darling Hugo, was the saddest display of female desperation I ever saw…"

"MmmmMMmmmmm," rumbles her brother wearily. "You should know, being so intimately familiar with that sort of desperation yourself." He should have known that she would find a way to be there, hidden from his sight. Blue eyes flicker open to gaze up into his sister's face. "Evening zusje, here to finally mock and castigate me for my generous donation of my time and skill?" And before she can call him on that one, he counters, "And by skill I mean of course that as a painter."

It'll be a while, until Mignonette makes it back to her table. She still has a full baker's dozen people to talk to, and final bits of monetary whatnots to put in order, but it looks like the evening is winding down even for the lawyer who never seems to sleep. well, it could just be an act, but who knows.

Josephine had indeed already opened her mouth, is in fact grinning wide. Pat-pat. "Suuuure." Snicker. She glances up at Mignonette. "There's something about men playing easy, don't you think" Her northern European accent is thick, her wink conspiratory.

Peering up at Jo, Hugo resorts to his usual sort of commentary when is sister starts spouting rubbish. "Just how much free booze did you swill down while you could? Should have known that you couldn't have resisted a free bar in your own backyard for long. And you forget, I don't have to play easy. I am easy." And with that, as if in punctuation, Hugo swings forward, his chair landing on all four feet again with a whump! "But as tonight has proven, I am not cheap!" he announces with sardonic humor lacing his voice. "You zusje? You too are easy. But you're also cheap." He pats the chair next to him and mutters, "Come and sit down to insult me, you're giving my neck a crick, looking up like this."

Mignonette knew she had to stay close to Todd, at least for the evening, but he's since returned home. And she stayed with Hugo to answer any questions that he might have had. And because it was only polite, considering what she got him to agree to do, after the fact. She could, of course, have waited until poor Todd forgot, but, she's not in the habit of using the man's disability to hurt him. But once a glance shows her that Hugo has company, she starts in that direction, intent on collecting her things. It's been a very, very long night.

Snorting, there's a final ruffle of Hugo's hair before Josephine sits down, but not before she's turned the chair around so she can lean her arms on the back. "Oh, you know me, whatever it takes to have you look up to your big sis…" Not entirely a sneer. "Seriously though. If you'd only known how all them women saw you?" She shivers visibly. "You'd consider being a little less easy. Even you."

One brow lifts skeptically, his head tilting to one side as he asks, "Oh? How did all those women see me? I couldn't miss the cougar. She was scary. Thank God Mignonette outbid her. I was not looking forward to spending an evening in that lady's company, let alone having to paint her portrait." Hugo actually shudders a little. Such is the risk in charity work. Reaching over, he picks up his glass and sips at the bubbly within it, staring down at the sparkling gold of the liquid, swirling it about in his glass. "Was there anyone you wanted to bid on?" he asks with a mischievous lilt to his voice. "I could have financed that, if someone had caught your fancy…"

"Sorry to interrupt," Mignonette offers, as she makes her way back to her table, gathering up purse and briefcase, offering the apology to Josephine, and then turning to Hugo, "Thank you very much for being willing to go out to dinner. I've asked David to make room in his schedule to accommodate you, you'll just need to call his office to make an appointment. He can probably give you more information than I can about Todd, but you have my card also, and I can give you whatever information I have." Once she has her purse and briefcase in order, she steps back from the table. "A good evening to both of you."

"She was the least scary," Josephine murmurs ominously, "The old bat was just being obvious, but the rest." Again the shiver. Ominous indeed! She sits up straighter. "Now he tells me," she snorts towards Mignonette, but something gives her pause. "Which Todd. The guy with the notes?" She glances at Hugo. "You're having dinner with him?"

Lifting his gaze to Mignonette, Hugo rubs a hand over his face and nods soberly, "Okay, great, that would be good. I have his card that you gave me so I'll give him a call first thing tomorrow." Rising up, Hugo quickly catches Mignonette’s hand, smiling up at her briefly before dropping a kiss to her knuckles. "You know, you could always have me do a portrait of you and have dinner with Todd. That would be perfectly fair. Either way, thanks for rescuing me from the other high bidder." Turning to Jo, Hugo braces for the mocking and the jokes, countering, "Yes, that Todd. Nonette said he liked me, so she bid on his behalf. I think we'll be having fondue." Oh yes, laugh at your brother. Go ahead. It certainly won't be the romantic sort of dinner that most of the winners will be enjoying.

While Mignonette is gracious enough to accept the kiss that Hugo rises to offer, she doesn't accept the second, "Pictures, images, concrete things are very important to Todd. They're his only evidence of the things he's done, and the places he's gone, usually. I think he'd enjoy having a painting done for him. Because likely as not, in a few, who knows, hours, days, after he meets you, he won't remember, except for what he's written down." Migs isn't oblivious to Josephine's comments, and she's always been quite good at reading people's demeanors, even masked by booze and cigarettes, and she certainly isn't going to apologize for what she did.

Josephine says no-thing, but is grinning like the cat in a cloud of canary feathers. Wiggling fingers, a sing-song voice, "Bye bye, Nonette…"

One brow lifts, but Hugo nods soberly. "Yeah, sure, no problem. You're a very kind and generous woman, Mignonette. I hope you'll do me the honor of having dinner some time, no charity required?" Glancing down at his sister, Hugo softly groans and murmurs, "Really, it's just an accident of birth. Just pretend there's no genes shared in common between us. Like the sun and the moon we are, complete opposites, nothing alike."

"I think that would certainly make your life easier of that were the truth. If she were my sibling, I would certainly hate for people to think we were anything alike." Mignonette's voice is sweet and cultured, before she moves away from the table, "You've my card, and my number, feel free to give me a call whenever you're free. My schedule is normally fairly flexible."

Loud snickering from the journalist now, fingers still wiggling an -not- caring if Mignonette overhears or not. "What a stuck up bitch… Amazing really." She rises and the palm of her hand softly contacts the back of Hugo's head. "Eye of the needle, broertje." Without further notice, she turns towards the bar to maybe pick up a last glass before everything closes.

Hugo just …. stares. Really, sometimes the things his sister says and does … it makes him wonder if he knows her at all. And right now? It seems like not at all. His mouth thins into an unhappy line as his eyes apologize to Mignonette. Pushing up to his feet, Hugo follows Josephine, rumbling angrily, "The only one who's acting like a bitch right now is you, zusje. What the hell crawled up your ass and died?"

Mignonette has certainly had worse said to her, and about her…and hearing it from a woman smelling of cheap booze and stale cigarettes? Not really on the list of things that's going to hurt her feelings. So at Hugo's apologetic look, she shakes her head, a hand waving it off, allowing him to head off after the woman, while she takes her leave.

"At least I have a back to crawl up at," Josephine snorts as she quickly orders wine. "Whatever's left." Turning to Hugo, she deadpans, "Hope you're happy with yourself, paradin' 'round like that. Damn!"

Frowning, Hugo just stares at his sister, like he's never seen her before. Shaking his head, he murmurs softly, "I really don't know you any more. This was for a good cause. And yeah, sure, maybe my publicity agent wanted me to do it for the publicity, but I don't do anything I don't want to do. It was a small enough thing to help raise money for a good cause. Maybe for once you could try to do something positive, build something up instead of tearing everything and everyone around you down, including yourself." Scowling at Jo, Hugo throws back her own words at Josephine, snapping, "Hope you're happy with yourself, paradin' 'round like a drunk fool." And with that he simply turns and heads back to his table, picking up his tux jacket and slinging it over his shoulder.

At his words the smug sarcasm started to leave her face until there's nothing left. The elder Van den Bosch quickly downs the white wine she was given and sets it down hard on the bar after which she turns. Angry feet take her back to the lobby and the stairs to her suite. She almost reaches them, but boils over and paces back, pushing Hugo's back with disdain. And accuses in Dutch, "Know what, mister silver platter, screw you! Not everyone has the luxury to have everything handed to them asshole!"

His breath huffs out of him as Josephine shoves him in the back, turning around and glaring at her. "Old tune, Jo, sing me a frikkin' new one! Is that what this is about? Again? Are you upset because someone thought I was worth $5,000? Were you a bitch to Mignonette because she spent that much on me at a charity auction? Really? Do you want to know what I went through to get to where I am now? Do you? Because it isn't pretty, that's for sure." And whether she wants to know it or not, there it is, some of it at least, at the forefront of his mind. ~Sold myself, sold my body to get off the streets, a place to live, food to eat. Did things. Ran some drugs, stole some stuff. Fuck, it was the dead of winter. I was fucking freezing. Bought and sold myself for this fame she's so fucking jealous of. Bet she wouldn't be so jealous if she knew what I went through to get where I am now…fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck!~

Josephine actually steps back when she picks up on that, face pale as a sheet. Still in Dutch, rough as she can make her voice, meant to sting. "So you're a whore. Join the club." She turns with visible shivers, not wanting to see any more, not able to deal.

It's like a slap in the face. Hugo isn't sure which hurts more. The fact that his sister calls him a whore, or the fact that she claims to be one too. That's always the problem with fighting with Jo. When Hugo gets angry, his thoughts get louder. Plain and simple. He closes his thoughts off again, pushing down the anger, letting his thoughts buzz like bees in his head, to confused and random to come out clearly. Quietly Hugo rasps, "I don't know what you want from me, Jo. But I don't want this. I'm tired of fighting with you. I'm tired of your anger and your bitterness and your jealousy. You don't want my help and clearly you can't stand my company. So maybe… maybe we should just let things go back to the way they were. Seems to suit you better, not having me around. I'll stay out of your way, you stay out of mine. Dallas is a big city. I'm sure we can manage to avoid one another until I've left." And with that he does just that. Leaves the hotel, turning away and walking out of the ballroom and toward the foyer.

"Yeah? Maybe we should! I'm not the one who came to rub all my fame and money in my little brother's face you know!" Josephine stomps off, but the stomping slows down and when she turns her head to watch him walk away, the world's kinda blurry with tears. Softer. "Oh damn." Softer still. "Screw this." And she doesn't care who's watching, or what people will say, but she runs after her little brother, probably doesn't catch up with him until he's well outside. "Huug!"

He doesn't stop walking as she yells at him, his face hardening, his lips forming into a thin and unhappy line as he hunches his shoulders and keeps going. Outside the air is oppressively hot, hitting Hugo hard after the cool interior of the hotel. It's that pause that allows Josephine to catch up with him, his feet holding their place as she calls his name. But he doesn't move, doesn't turn around, just waits, saying nothing, staring straight ahead stonily.

Josephine will round him then, staring at him once she stands still. Her face is set hard, she always was one to hate showing emotions, especially of the teary kind. Is why she invented all the walls. But she doesn't say a word, maybe not even knowing where to begin.

His eyes lift to Jo's. There are no tears in them, but the hurt is clear and palpable without her even having to read his mind. "You know, if it were the other way 'round. If you were a huge success, a Nobel award winning writer with money coming out of your ears? I would be happy for you. I would be so glad that you were doing something that you loved and that you were successful. And yeah, I might be a little embarrassed that I wasn't doing as well, and maybe I wouldn't want to take your money, but I would never feel like you were rubbing it in my face. I would have known you more than earned it. And more importantly, I want you to be happy. Maybe that only comes through success, maybe it comes from doing something you love or something you believe in. The happiest situation I guess is when all three of those things come together. But I would never ever think that you were showing off in front of me to spite me." His gaze has dropped along the way, but now it lifts, studying her face as Hugo asks, "Do you really think so little of me?"

"It's…" After a long, long pause, she is finally able to respond. Even if she has to force the words out with considerable pain. "…Not you I think little of. You did well Huug. You always did, right." She groans, has not nearly had enough to drink for this conversation. "Too bad you have such a loser for a sister. Rude. Arrogant. Drunk. What would your publicist think.""

"I don't give a fuck what my publicist thinks," Hugo states flatly. "But this. We need to get a handle on this. I don't mind the baiting, the teasing, but you have an impressive knack for just being downright nasty, zusje. You're not a loser. But you've decided that you're one, and nobody but you can change that." He's quiet for a moment, his gaze dropping to the ground again as he notes, "I'm starting to think that maybe it would be better for you if I just… stayed away." Of course he wasn't like he chose to come to the Belmont. Hugo didn't have much choice in the matter. But he could easily make an effort, would make the effort, if it would make Josephine happier.

"You should," Jo thinks out loud with a shrug. "I'm not healthy to be around. Not for anyone. So maybe you should listen to her." Blinking the tears away, she digs up cigarettes, lights one, offers the pack to him. Snorting, she grins wryly, "Damaged goods broertje. And I think we all know when that started. I convinced myself it was a gift." Snorts harder, "Talk about delusional."

"Verdomme…." Hugo growls, reaching out and shaking Josephine hard by the upper arms. "Fucking knock it off! I'm not suggesting I stay away for my protection, I'm saying that maybe it would be better for you!" His hands drop away as he spits out a curse, staring at the cigarette pack before taking it from her and tapping one out. He borrows her lighter, the tip flaring up in the darkness before he takes a hefty pull on it. "What, and I'm not?" he counters dryly. "I ain't no angel, no saint, you know that now." He takes another pull and studies Josephine before shrugging. "Curse or blessing, two sides of the same coin. All depends on what you do with it I suppose. You can't turn it off. Best find some outlet that is useful at least. Either that or become one of those crazy hermits that live all by themselves in the mountaintops, dispensing deep and valuable knowledge to crazy mountain climbers." He blows out a puff, the smoke circling about in the air before slowly dissipating to nothing.

Josephine leans her back against the wall and lets it ruin her shirt as she glides down to sit on the pavement, quietly smoking for a while. "Do you know how many times I wished I could turn it off. Or wished I could do the hermit thing. Or…" End it all, but she doesn't dare to say it out loud to him. Likely he'll get the point anyway. "Seriously though. Maybe you should start thinking of protecting yourself. Can't do it for the both of us as history's shown…" Bit by bit the walls of sarcasm are raised securely in place. "I've got an outlet hon, and it clearly ain't agreeing with you."

"So it's this?" he asks, tapping his head lightly with one finger, "that's driving you to drink and smoke your way to an early grave? It's all about your telepathy?" It doesn't really track. Her anger, her jealousy toward his success - that has nothing to do with her telepathy. Hell, shouldn't it help her be one of the best writers there is, able to get the inside track, the secret scoop? "I'd have thought, as a reporter, it would be an invaluable ability, if one could survive looking into the minds of the sorts of people who make the news these days, namely dirty politicians, murders, rapists, and low-life scum." He takes another draw, the sense of an impasse between growing more and more unavoidable. "What about medication?" he asks. "Is there anything you can take that might deaden it? Mitigate the effects?" Stupid question, he knows. One she's probably asked herself a million times over.

"It's the root," she shrugs. "It's what started it all, ain't it." Flicks ash off her cigarette. "But you're right. It does. Gets me all the dirty details. It…" A deep sigh and she pats the ground beside her. "Something changed Huug. Ever since I got to Sudan. I'll tell you if you promise on gramps's grave not to tell anyone. Not even Vincent."

Frowning uncertainly Hugo nods and takes a seat next to his sister, pressing his shoulder against hers in a sign of solidarity, drawing on the cigarette quietly as he says nothing and just listens.

"It got personal," she starts simply. Glances sideways to him with quiet sympathy and concern. "Like just now." She shivers and looks straight ahead, bracing almost visibly. "There's just something about a militia storming the camp. I hid, just in time, but so many others…" Breathe in. Slowly exhale. "There was this girl, couldn't have been more than 4 years old. All skin and bones. And they…" Has to force the words out, "Acted out every sick fantasy that came to mind. And all I could do was watch. All I could do." Not a tear flowing though, but no relaxed muscle in her lean frame. "So yeah. I do get the scoops. And I can look inside the mind of rapists and murderers. And I paid a high price."

Turning, Hugo wraps his arms about his sister, holding her close. She didn't just survive that attack. She experienced it in a way that no one else could possibly understand. She heard those people, felt them, they were inside of her mind, not just before her eyes. "Why did you go?" he asks softly. "You had to know what it would be like, you had to have an inkling of how horrific it would be, even without your ability? So why did you put yourself through that?" Though she doesn't seem to want his comfort, Hugo strokes his sister's hair anyways and murmurs, "Do something else. There are other evils, just as important to expose and write about, but at a much lesser cost to yourself, zusje. One doesn't have to be in the mind of brutal soldiers to write about the horrific things that they do. There is evidence enough of that. Or fuck it all and go home. Live with Dad for a while, or Mom. Back home, where it's quiet, peaceful, find yourself again, figure out something else to do, to be, nee?"

Her alto is reduced to the smallest whisper and she has her eyes firmly on the fire eating away at the tobacco. "I thought I could do good. I thought I wouldn't understand the thoughts. I… I was wrong on so many levels. But the point is, it's everywhere, isn't it. Don't mean the camps, but the sordid little secrets, some petty, some just evil. But before I could pretend to be above it, or not care. But since then." She looks him right in the eye then, "I can't just watch and walk away anymore. I can't deal with watching you sell yourself." And she's not implying this evening. So tired now. So she'll spell it. "If I'd had the courage, I'd had finished it all by now. Sometimes I dream about it. Crawl out from under that bunk to let them see me. Have it over with."

"I'm sorry," he replies simply. "I didn't mean for you to know that. You just got me so angry …. my thoughts always get easier to read when I'm angry it seems." His jaw works, tense and upset. He can't fix this. There is nothing that he can do to fix this. And it's killing Jo, which is killing Hugo. "There has to be an answer," he finally mutters darkly. "You're not the only one, so there has to be an answer. Training. A way to learn to control it, to make it do your bidding, not the other way around. You need like a… like a PA group! A Psychics Anonymous group." But almost immediately Hugo starts to chuckle, realizing that it certainly wouldn't be 'anonymous' for long with a bunch of psychics, now would it? "You could share tips, techniques, train together, help each other learn how to block out unwanted thoughts."

Nope, he can't fix it. "There are others," she nods now. "Not many and certainly not many I trust. If you swear to me by -everything- that you can keep the secret…"

"I won't speak of it to anyone," Hugo replies, "but I can't control what someone might be able to pull from my thoughts." And that is as much of a secret as he can promise to keep…

"You met one." Needing the comfort, she lays her head on his shoulder and closes her eyes, for a few seconds simply breathing in the familiarity of them, the safety -real or imagined- that's him. "The girl at the vampire bar, Chloe Cornett. Best buds with the king, thinks herself totally in love. Her, I don't trust."

Snorting softly, Hugo bounces his shoulder gently under Jo's head, leaning his own against her as he rumbles, "I knew that. She said as much when she confirmed to Marius that I was telling the truth. She couldn't have done that if she wasn't a telepath and reading my thoughts." He rubs her arm with his hand lightly, frowning slightly before countering, "She seems nice. I liked her. Why don't you trust her? Just because you don't believe in love doesn't mean it isn't real. Maybe she is in love. Who are we to judge her reality?"

"She's being used by the vampires," Josephine murmurs after taking a drag. "It's them I don't trust and she's just too blind to see it." She closes her eyes again, this time with the faintest wry smile. "I do believe in love. I believe in how wrong it can be. Or how sour it can get. Or how twisted." Pause. "Or how cheap." Chewing on the inside of her cheek she shrugs, "Anyway. There is someone I want you to meet. His name is Oliver Marcos. Him I do trust. He's been helping me what we call lower my shields. Barricade my brain. It's hard though."

Sighing softly, Hugo can't argue with Jo. Not because he agrees with her, but because he's never been in love himself. Lust, passion, convenient sex, sure. Even friendship and companionship and intense like. But love? Nope. At the mention of this Oliver, Hugo ponders quietly before nodding and rumbling, "Sure. I'd like to meet him." He's quiet for a long moment before asking, "Zusje? I need you to promise me something."

"And this dealer behind the bar at Ma-" Glancing up, Josephine nods. Right now she'd promise him, "Anything."

"If you ever get seriously thinking about offing yourself, I want you to promise to call me before you do anything. Promise." There. It's said. And she said 'anything'. Course she could always lie, say yes and then break her promise. But maybe, just maybe, it will be harder for her to break a promise to Hugo than anyone else.


Turning her face to his, Hugo stares down into his sister's eyes, his own overly bright with burgeoning tears as he replies hoarsely, "You said anything. Promise, zusje. Promise me."

Biting on her cheek, she reaches up to close his eyes, squeeze out the tears and brush them away. "I'll never have the courage. Don't worry." Wiiipe. "But if it makes you feel better, I promise. Right. Promise."

Hugo lets out a soft shuddering breath, his eyes staying closed as he leans into Josephine and pulls her close. She scared him. She really, really scared him for a moment there. He just holds her quietly for a long while, saying nothing, until he feels himself sufficient calm enough to do so. "I'm going to take you on a trip. Shut up," he counters, ready for her to protest the very suggestion. "Someplace beautiful and quiet and peaceful and isolated. Make you enjoy yourself, remember why life is good again. Get some color on your skin, some meat on your bones." He pulls back and stares into his sister's eyes, noting firmly, "No ifs, ands, or buts, unless they belong to hot pool boys you want to bang. This is happening and I don't care if you don't like it. Because you will once we get there."

"Great. Scared my little brother into a vacation," Josephine mutters softly, but snuggles closer, curling up against him. He can cry all he wants now, she won't interfere - the picture he just painted is too good for her to blow. "Tell me about the pool boys."

"They'll be totally hawt," Hugo rhapsodizes readily, "always with suntan lotion in hand, reapplying it wherever you want, as often as you want. They'll bring fabulous fruity drinks with silly parrots and parasols in them, hand-cut fruit, and fabulous and succulent bites of barbeque. At night they'll do fire dancing and during the days they'll swim and show off their sexy bods playing frisbee and volleyball." And so Hugo spins on, all of the delicious delights this secret island paradise holds in store for them, from beautiful crystalline waters to colorful coral reefs, to hot pool boys and surfer dudes, to froofy drinks served out of coconut shells, all the while holding his sister close, his face pressed against her brow, his fingers stroking over her arm in a slow and soothing gesture.

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