The Talk

Studio 10 — Office

The office is neat and decorated in shades of blue and off white. The walls have white oak paneling from the floor to the wainscoting, and are egg-shell above. Autographed photographs of famous dancers decorate one wall, while on the other are certificates and diplomas for the studio instructors. A window has royal blue velvet curtains, and is shaded by one of the few live oaks left in this part of town. An antique desk sits in front of the window, the top covered in a protective layer of glass. A computer and combination phone and fax machine sit on one side of the desk, while the other side has the obligatory "in and out" tray. Two antique chairs sit in front of the desk, the backs and seats upholstered in velvet which matches the drapes.

The floor is carpeted in pale blue that compliments the darker blue accents. Behind the desk are low filing cabinets, with an attractive flower arrangement centered in front of the window. A desk lamp and a small crystal chandelier provide illumination. Next to the door is a table which holds a coffee-maker, stirrers, sugar packets and small containers of cream. Above this is a shelf holding cups and saucers. A waste basket sits underneath. All in all, a very pleasantly appointed office for handling studio business.

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It didn't take Michael long to get back to the Studio, once back he headed to the apartment, gathering his things he moved with the speed of an old vampire, and within a few scant minutes had folded and packed his things, there was little to gather of course, a few changes of clothes and a couple of books, and so when Desiree arrives Michael motions for her to join him in the office, case in hand his expression's totally stoic, his thoughts and feelings not even hinted at, it's the face of bad news, business or more often than not both. "Can we speak in the office Desiree?"


Desiree, on the other hand, is in no hurry to get home. She has a feeling she won't like what Michael wants to discuss, besides the obvious reason of a broken arm to slow her driving. It cramps her style, certainly, but she's no fool. Better safe than sorry, after all. Once she pulls into the parking lot, she notices lights on in the apartment, and downstairs. Michael's car is parked in its usual space. Taking a deep breath, Desiree steps out of her vehicle, pausing to lean against the Mustang and try to compose herself before entering the Studio.

Finally, she puts on a brave front and heads inside. The front door is unlocked, but it would be: Michael has a key, after all. She pauses immediately inside, eyes adjusting from the darkness outside to the light in here. What strikes her as odd is the office door being open. "Michael?" she calls, and then hears him asking to speak with her in the office. She moves toward the open door with slow steps, not really wanting to know more bad news. She's had enough of that to last her a lifetime. "Of course," she replies, albeit slightly wary of what is to come. "Is everything all right?" she asks, taking note of the case in his hand.


Nodding slowly Michael seems to give the last question some thought, the case is ignored, it was after all the main reason for his coming by. The conversation could have happened elsewhere. He begins slowly. "I've recently managed to arrange a… promising figure for buying the studio. I suspect somewhere between seventy five, and eighty five thousand. I've got one of my people finalizing the deal. I thought I'd tell you before it happened." He looks at Desiree. "It's my intention of course to remain an entirely silent partner, anything I mention on the business is totally unofficial, since you're the expert." He speaks in a monotone, letting that be the first part of the discussion.


The monotone voice isn't overlooked. Desiree feels a shiver run down her spine. It's as if all the old Michael is gone, and he's empty of life. Like Marius is. She closes her eyes, centering herself. This is what she wanted, isn't it? Space? Well, he's giving it to her. "I see. That's wonderful news," she says, eyes open and a smile on her lips. "I wouldn't call myself an expert, but we've been successful with me at the helm for a while now. However, I trust your business acumen, and if you've any suggestions, I don't want you to hold back. Please."

That said, Desiree moves forward, around the desk, to take a seat. Her legs aren't all that steady, and it gives her a place to rest her cast. "I have the renovation costs ready for you, as well, as you requested. We are getting a really good deal from Mr. Zane, and I expect him to complete the work well in time for the Fall session. Besides, since he's running for mayor, I don't believe we'll have any problem from him. He wouldn't want any negative press." There's a frown on her face as she discusses this.

A breath is taken, then expelled. "Is there anything else you'd like to … talk about?" Hesitant, that. "At Absinthe, you left me with the impression you wanted to discuss something of a personal nature."


Michael nods, his tone becoming more human now, he notices the shiver and frowns, but quickly replaces it with a faint smile, there's still definitely a lot being held back however. "I see, well I'd suggest you keep the involvement of a vampire as much between us as possible." He takes a step towards the desk not yet taking a seat. "As for the being an expert… the first thing I learnt about business was knowing a good investment and knowing how to run that investment are two different things. As for Zane… he definitely shouldn't know about me, although that won't likely be a problem." He pauses a moment as he looks at Desiree. "There is something more personal. I received … word I'll need to travel to Europe. I can't say more than that. I'm hoping to be no more than a month, and may even only be a few days, but I thought I should tell you." He seems to drift off for a moment becoming thoughtful, then he speaks again, his eyes meeting Desiree's. "It's also possible that I'll be…. considerably longer than a month. Either way I won't be able to get in touch with you until my return."


Desiree listens, nodding in places. "Oh, I've no intention of allowing Zane to know any of my personal business, and that includes having a vampire as a partner. May of my students' parents might be off-put by it, too. Best idea, keep you out of the public eye, and behind the scenes." She smiles, at this, trying to lessen the hurt those words might bring.

"Europe?" This brings a lift to her eyebrows. "Isn't this a little … sudden?" Also, just a bit on the convenient side, but she doesn't mention that. "And you can't tell me anything." This is statement, not question. "I understand, Michael. I'll hope your trip doesn't last a long time, but … I don't want you rushing things just because of me. I'm not going anywhere."

The rest of what he says is filed away for a time when she can decipher it at leisure. "I'll be fine, Michael, but … you can't even call to let me know you're all right? Or send a postcard?" There's a tiny bit of hurt in those words, but Desiree tries her best to not whine.


Michael moves closer to Desiree, his own hurt becoming apparent. "I know this is difficult but no. I won't be able to risk sending anything. I gave my word a /very/ long time ago that I would help with certain matters if they arose. If it were anyone but my Maker I would consider breaking that word." He reaches out to cup Desiree's face, but stops himself a moment later, remembering his promise of giving Desiree space. "I won't be doing anything dangerous, but it will require people to think I'm where I am not. I can promise you I have no intention of spending a second more away than I need to." He doesn't comment that in a way Desiree most certainly is going somewhere, he instead just grins a little. "I'll call you as soon as I get back to let you know I've returned."


There's a stillness about Desiree now. Not the preternatural stillness of a vampire, but a waiting. She listens, then nods. "Of course, you must go when he needs you," she says, perhaps reading into his words things she's read about vampires from books. "He is your sire — I mean, your Maker, after all, and if he needs you, then … you should be there to help him." The words just don't stop coming, tripping over themselves as she tries to make everything seem all right.

"I'll be here, Michael. Don't worry about that. Unless Max gets me a major role in a Spielberg movie, I'm probably going to be right here when you get back." The hand touching her face doesn't bother her; what bothers is his hand moving a second later. Her brow knits, and she seems a bit taken aback. Then she remembers asking him for space, and nods, more to herself than to Michael. "I'm glad you won't be doing anything dangerous, and I'll miss your company. I guess that kung-fu marathon will have to wait, hm?" It's a tiny bit of humor to lighten the mood. "Please … do take care of yourself, and think of me now and then?"


Michael seems obviously torn, yet again finding that his attempts to keep his distance seem to upset Desiree despite her insistence she wants space, yet he forces a smile with a nod. "Oh, I still intend to take you to dinner at some point … I want to see that 'eye popping' dress you promised me." He frowns a little at that last comment. "I don't think there's any fear of my not thinking of you. You'll be on my mind as long as I'm away." He offers a weak grin. "This is a good thing, it will make it easier for me to give you your space. Even I can't crowd you from another continent." He speaks more levelly. "Take care Desiree, I need you to run this place." He speaks in lighter tones for that, but he's soon back to the more serious. "There is a vampire, William Pemberly, you may know him as Darcy if his card is anything to go by." Michael pauses a moment. "I would suggest you be wary of him. I've heard him imply quite fondly that he's killed a number of artists, and he's stated to me outright he believes it best that artists die young." He seems to consider that for a while. "I'm not saying any of us have… spotless records, but he spoke with fondness of such things." He once again reaches up to stroke Desiree's cheek. "Think of me. And find what you're looking for."


"And I look forward to wearing it for you," Desiree says, knowing the gown will be spectacular. It once belonged to her mother, and was one of the few things Amanda left behind when she took off for Florida. "It's every bit as eye-popping as I promised." She smiles widely, her eyes on Michael's face. "I … you don't have to stop being affectionate, Michael. I don't mind that. It's the emotional —" Desiree stops, then nods. "No, you're right. I asked for space, and you're being good enough to give that to me."

She nods again at Michael's attempt at lightening the mood. "I assure you, I've every intention of making this business profitable, but without losing its heart. We're already one of the more successful studios, and I don't intend to lose our edge."

It's the last thing he tells her that makes Desiree stiffen. "I've … met him. He helped me out the other night when I slipped and would've fallen. I … he came in the studio with me and I gave him a TruBlood. We talked." She swallows. "He never mentioned anything about … but, then, he wouldn't to a human, would he?" she reasons. "I'll be careful around him, I promise. He frequents this area, though. I've seen him at least one other time. When I was talking to James and Marius." She pauses. "About the glamouring."

She takes a breath, exhaling slowly. "I can't rescind his invitation into the studio. It's a public place. But I'll never let him into the apartment. I promise." When Michael touches her cheek, she smiles and leans into it. "I'll think of you often, don't worry." As for finding what she wants? That remains to be seen….


Nodding Michael smiles, although there's just a hint of pain there now. "Ah, then it's good that I'm going. I can stop being affectionate, but killing emotions takes centuries." He speaks from experience, but then he shakes his head. "I will miss you. And hopefully won't be long." He nods his head his hand returning to his side. "Goodbye Desiree, be well." It's a surprisingly final seeming farewell from Michael as he turns, once more leaning towards the stoic as he heads for the door at a slow pace.


Desiree hesitates for only a few seconds, then rises and heads after Michael. "Wait—!" she calls, not wanting him to leave without her at least one last moment together. "Michael, I can't let you leave so … so coldly," she tells him, her hand on his arm. "Please, let me …" She doesn't finish the sentence, simply reaches to put her arms around him. "You've been so much to me, and I will never stop caring for you. Never. Emotions run deep, and I wouldn't have it any other way."

She presses herself into his arms. "I'll miss you so much. Please come back. Please don't— " She wants to say "meet the sun," but it comes out, "— stay away too long. The cats and I will be here when you get back. I promise." With that, Desiree gives Michael one last hug, and brushes a kiss on his cheek. Then she releases him, running toward the stairs so she can cry in solitude.


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