The Verdict Is ...

Studio 10 - Upstairs Bedroom

Cool, dark colors set a relaxing mood for the bedroom. The walls are pale lavender, while the carpeted floor is a complimentary shade of darker violet. The furniture is antique. The king-sized bed has a beautifully carved head and foot-board, and four posts holding up a canopy. There are dark blue silk curtains tied to the posts by white silk ropes, which, when loosened, form a quiet, private world all by itself. Opposite the bed is a matching, mirrored vanity flanked by two tall chests of drawers. To either side of the chests are doors, one leading into a walk-in closet the other into a handsomely appointed bathroom complete with huge claw-footed bathtub and a separate shower stall. Chairs and a fainting couch are upholstered in blue velvet the same pale shade as the bed curtains.

//French doors open onto a roof top garden. Other windows flank the bed, all having heavy velvet drapes matching the carpet. An old fashioned French-style phone sits on one bedside table, while on the other are various items—-a clock, a book and a pair of reading glasses. Make up, perfume and a wooden jewelry box sit atop the vanity, while on one chest of drawers is a stereo. Three CD racks sit on top of the second chest, holding every kind of music you can imagine, from hard rock to Celtic harp. White area rugs lie in front of the chairs, couch and on each side of the bed. Paintings of black cats and irises decorate the walls. Two black Scottish Fold cats are usually found making themselves at home on the bed. The room has been made safe for a vampire to sleep in during the daylight hours. //

It's after midnight when Desiree sets the receiver back on the phone stand. She's changed into her night clothes. She then sat on the bed, wrapped in a huge quilt her grandmother had made for her; it comforted Desiree when she was upset. It felt like the old woman's arms around her. Hours seemed to pass as she channel surfed, looking for some diversion to take her mind off what she'd done earlier. Even the pleasant company of Paige and Oliver at IHOP didn't reduce the guilt she felt, albeit she masked it well. The cats were with her, acting as warm, furry comfort with an extra loud purr. Finally, she heard his steps in the living room. There was no need to get up; Michael had her permission to enter. She knew she could revoke that at any time, which was one of her only protections against any vampire.

Her heart began to race, and she felt a lump in her throat. Biting her lips, Desiree remained on the sofa, wrapped up in quilted armor. "C'mon in, Michael," she called, perhaps unnecessarily. He knew he was welcome, knew he could trust her. That might change, tonight, so was it any wonder she had a sharp, wooden stake hidden beneath the pillows? A girl couldn't be too careful when dealing with old vampires.

Michael got around quickly even by his standards, and headed straight to the bedroom he's all concern and worry, the change from her usual heartrate's noted and by the time she's heard him on the stairs he's already made his way up them and across the room to Desiree. "What's wrong Desiree, are you ok? What happened?" He's kneeling down a hand coming out intending to rest on Desirees' shoulder a simple gesture of support, his tone and features carry the faintest hint of concern, which means anyone else would likely be looking panicked.

It's that concern and caring that proves her undoing. Tears well up and she dissolves into crying. Nothing she says makes sense. It all comes out in a jumbled, nearly incoherent ramble of which only a few words are clear enough for understanding. It's a good think English is her first language; heaven only knows what she'd have sounded like if it wasn't. By the time the entire story's told— from start to finish— she's totally and completely terrified. Reddened eyes are wide, watching Michael's every move. She's held nothing back, including the help she got from Paige and Oliver, and the horrible woman who chastised her so harshly. "I-I know I … did wrong," she gasps, having trouble breathing through her nose. "I was … I didn't mean to put you in … d-danger. I never said your name, b-but now people know there's a 1400 year old v-vampire in D-dallas."

She rolls away from Michael, huddling in a small ball of misery. "If you have t-to k-kill me, please … please make it … quick. But … know I won't go quietly. I'll fight you or anyone else you b-bring in on this."

ichael listens the look of concern deepens as the story goes on and before she can explain her fears of killing him he's trying to find out if /she's/ ok, worried more that those who true fanatics amongst the vampire haters would lash out at her since they can't get at Michael. As she rolls away from him he's about to climb on the bed to join her. Then comes the mention of his killing her and he freezes, when he speaks it's with the cold tones Michael always uses around vampires, the one that never gives away any feelings he may have. "That's what you're worried of? That I'll kill you? That I'll have you sent away to be punished." He pauses a moment. "I see, then you need not worry. I have no intention of harming you." There's the faintest hint of anger when he speaks again. "Although you can of course revoke my invitation, if you still feel threatened by me."

This only brings on more tears, and she pulls something from beneath her pillow, tossing it across the room. Her words are again muffled by tears, a stuffy nose and the pillow she's buried her face in, but it's clear her fear is mostly /for/ Michael, not /of/ him, and now she's doubly ashamed. She's a ball of complete misery, shivering and shaking as she cries. The cats are confused. Always before the man has comforted their "mom," but this time she seems unable to stop crying. Nip looks up at Michael, her dark orange eyes woeful, as if begging Michael to do something. Tuck just curls up around Desiree's shoulders, meowing and gently purring. It's always worked before. "M-michael, I didn't mean it," she says, finally lifting her head. "I was so … I was afraid you'd … you'd turn m-me over t-to … M-m… " She can't say the name. "I d-don't want to … to … die."

Nodding Michael nods slowly his expression still a mask of neutrality, he does move back over. "You thought I'd turn you over to them? You think I'd have them punish you." He finally moves to join Desiree intending to hold her now, his tone becoming soothing, though there's a trace of hurt feelings there. "I wouldn't hurt you Desiree… I have always done everything I can to protect you, and I will continue to do so." He shakes his head. "I find it hard to think you'd believe otherwise of me."

"Th-they told me I'd … I'd put you in … d-danger," Desiree wails, turning over and literally throwing herself into his arms. "I was so … s-scared. I really wanted to die … right th-there. And then th-that … w-woman— ! She was so m-mean to me," she stammers. "I'd … I don't know what I'd d-do if anything happened to you and it was b-because of me." She lifts her eyes to look up at Michael, completely heartbroken. "I didn't know wh-what you'd do. Everything you told me was … I wasn't supposed to repeat it, and there I went, blabbing away because … because I had too much to drink." She's curled up, practically in his lap, now. "I only w-wanted to get you s-something sp-special." This is a whisper, and she pulls a small velvet bag from the pocket of her kimono. "It's not m-much, but … I thought you'd l-like it." When he looks inside, there's a pewter amulet on a leather thong, one he might recognize from his homeland. Soldiers used to wear such wards to protect them from evil or danger. It's not exact, no, but a reasonable facsimile, only with an dark opal triplet centered on the front. "I saw it and … thought of you. The jeweler said it was … Ostogothic, or something like that. I … I thought you might like it," she repeats.

Michael looks at the amulet and nods, his expression still impassive he turns it in his hands slowly. "It's an incredible gift Desiree. I'm touched that you thought of it." He studies it in one hand for a moment, the other he tries to run through Desiree's hair. "I'm in no danger, not just because they know of my age. You should have been more careful it's true, but mostly I was worried for /you/." He shakes his head. "It's rare, but some would be less than pleased with you for buying gifts for a vampire." His tone becomes just a little cooler now. "Either way you must be able to understand why I'm… upset that you'd think so little of me?"

Desiree lowers her eyes, looking at the amulet. "I only … I just didn't think, Michael. They scared me so badly, I didn't stop to think. I was so … afraid you'd be angry with me for saying things I shouldn't." She swallows. "I'm … sorry. I don't know what else to say, except it will never happen again. I'll be more discreet. How can I ever make this up to you." She pauses, then slides over a larger box, this one a bit heavier. "This's also for you. I saw you eyeing it the other night, and … well, I wanted you to have it. You've done so many wonderful things for me."

Michael puts down the amulet, opening the package he smiles at the writing set, he seems genuinely pleased with it. "It's beautiful, there was no need to spend so much." He looks at Desiree. "You have nothing to make up for, you didn't tell anyone anything secret; and your concerns that I'd… well there's nothing to be done about them." He tries to get Desiree to sit up. "But all I've ever done was try to protect you Desiree, I wouldn't give you to the likes of Marius for anything. And I think it would be a bad night for him if we to try and take you." He pauses a moment. "I'm glad you thought of me while you were at the faire."

Desiree does sit up, but she's still weepy and sad. "I feel so bad about what I did. What if someone in the crowd overheard me, a drainer, maybe. Your blood would go for … well, I'm certainly no expert, but I'm sure addicts would pay a lot for V that old." She inhales, then exhales slowly, calming and composing herself. "I always think of you, Michael. Just because we're not exclusive doesn't mean I don't think of you. I still want to be with you, wake up and see you beside me. You're the closest thing I've got to security and safety. If I /could/ make a commitment—" She stops, unable to say any more, lest she give him false hopes. "Anyway, the quill and ink set is to stir you to write more. I thought if you had the equipment you had back then, it would help jog your memory. I also got a bunch of books from the library. We can clean out the guest room, and you can work there. I've a computer, but it's not top of the line." There's eagerness and hope in her expression. "I want you to write and get your work published. Please."

Nodding Michael looks at Desiree. "You know we've had similar thoughts… I've got someone looking over my works, proof-reading them if you will. It's a slow process, but I should have some of my records ready for publishing within a few months." He reaches down to stroke Desiree's face. "I keep writing, it's just that I write for the future, when what I'm writing now is history then I'll publish it." He certainly seems in a better mood. "You know I was planning to discuss my sleeping here. I thought you might have just said it to… change my mind on meeting the sun. I'm glad I was wrong." He frowns a little. "Although it's going to make relationships with others hard don't you think? explaning why you've got a vampire sleeping in your room, or in the study may make things… awkward."

"I don't care, Michael. I want to help you write your memories. I can help edit and proof, too. Just don't ask me to spell foreign words or pronounce them right." Desiree smiles, her eyes dry, now. "I'm sorry I didn't trust you. The stake" She glances over to where she threw it. "I didn't know if you'd bring one of them with you. Or summon one of them when you heard. I was going to stake /them/ not you. I'd have accepted punishment from you, but not" She can't even say it. "I know what /he/ thinks of me, and I know he'd like nothing better than to … to … I don't know. Do something to me to show me my place, I guess." She begins to relax, snuggling against Michael's chest, now. "That feels good." Obviously meaning his stroking her hair.

"I'll bring some of my journals round then. I kept a lot of records in the past, I've translated a few that weren't in English, so you should be able to read them." He nods. "Well put that fear to rest. I won't be sending for them, I wouldn't hand you to anyone else no matter what you did." He leans back to lay on the bed intending to take Desiree with him, his hand still lightly stroking her hair. "I'm glad you enjoy it. I like when we can just relax like this. We don't seem to do it much lately. I seem to keep making you cry."

"I cried because I was scared," Desiree admits. "My fear comes out one of two ways. Either I fight it with anger, or I break down in tears. Either way, I'm really a coward. I didn't want to face you about this, but I had to. I knew I had to." She's silent for a few moments, then, "You don't make me cry, Michael. And when you do, mostly it's tears of happiness. But, let's not worry. I trust you, and believe you won't turn me over to Marius. I'm sorry I ever doubted you." She smiles, lifting her lips to kiss him on the chin. "You… would you stay with me tonight? I don't mean for sex, I just want you to hold me. Just be with me."

Michael nods with a smile. "I've said before I'll be there whenever you need me. I'll happily do this every chance I get." He turns so he can hold Desiree a little better while he looks at her. "You still underestimate yourself. I know how much Marius scares you, yet I've seen you stand your ground against him. I saw how you dealt with the lake." He seems to consider his words carefully. "I'm glad you did, I know it was hard, but it would have been worse if you'd just kept it locked up. Then you really would have stopped trusting me, your doubt would have festered."

"He terrifies me, but I can't let him know that. It's like when you're facing an angry animal. If you let them know you're afraid, they win. If you run, they'll chase, and they win. I can't afford to let him win, Michael. I have to stand my ground." She shivers slightly, curling tighter into Michael's arms. "I know it's a risk he'll see me as challenging him, but I can't just lie down and let him win." She looks up at the old vampire. "It's another reason I won't let you claim me. Then the only reason he'll leave me alone is because of you. I want him to leave me alone because of /me/," she tells him. "I don't intend to let him scare me away from things I enjoy doing. And, if it takes the rest of my life, I'm going to find info on that stupid fangbanger, Mellie. I've got some ideas, but …I'd rather not discuss them." She reaches up to touch Michael's face. "I'd rather just be here with you. Why don't you get comfortable, and we can lie here and watch old movies."

Michael nods kicking off his shoes, he shifts so that he's laying on the bed properly. He shifts until he's comfortable disturbing Desiree as little as possible. "You're right, Marius and the others are not a discussion for now, but we should talk about them some other time." He nods slowly. "Old films sound good."

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