The Evil Dog Whisperer

North Dallas

North Dallas is where the majority of the suburbs and unincorporated "cities" lie. Sprawling neighborhoods with wonderfully cared for homes and yards. White picket fences, large garages and a general feel of safety reigns the area. It's no wonder that the Fellowship of the Sun has chosen the quiet suburban streets as it's home.

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The evening wind picks up lightly, a gentle summer's breeze that sets to rustling leaves and rippling manicured grass. Clouds obscure most of the light from the stars, though a clear patch here and there can be seen when the wind blows just right.
James wanders casually along the quiet, suburban streets, his two hounds on their leashes at his side. They don't strain the leads at all, though they do sniff along the edges of lawns and berms with typical canine curiosity. The vampire's demeanor is relaxed, casual… human, even. In this suburban neighbourhood, and so close to the Fellowship's headquarters, there's no harm in a little caution.
And James has always been a fairly good mimic.

Night is not fun. Clouds are not fun. Walking at night? Not fun. Yet these are the joys of owning a puppy. Co-owning a puppy? Hope has to take Serenity out before bed, and this generally means taking the puppy out before Bobby is off work.

Due to semi-recent events, Hope wears a scarf about her neck despite the weather. It hides the marks left by her so-called friend Elliott. Her hands clutch the leash tightly, startling at every little sound. A little pebble being kicked across the street. A thud heard inside a nearby house.

She is very, very paranoid these days.

"Serenity, we should head back. Why didn't we ask Danielle to walk with us as far as the house? She generally parks at campus and walks…"

There is no mistaking the jump as she hears the gentle padding of two rather large dogs behind her, causing her to leap and spin around. Tangling herself in the pink leash and causing herself to spill over onto her backside.

The two large dogs in question pause curiously as the poor human ahead of them tangles herself in her pretty puppy's lead. In tandem, they move forward, ears perked, tails high, straining to sniff at both the puppy and the girl.
"Titus. Brutus. Courtesy." James' south London accent is commanding, but not threatening. The dogs cease pulling, though they still continue forward as he does.
"Are you alright, miss?" he asks, now, stooping to help the girl to her feet. He can smell her fear, hear the pounding of her heart and the blood pumping through her veins. He does not pause, however. He has greater control than that.
Of course, he also notes the scarf at her throat. How common a fashion accessory that's become of late…

The friendly Tyler twin has no qualms taking help from a stranger. Her hand sets into his and she draws herself to her feet. "I think I hurt my pride more than anything else." Releasing his cold hand, and noting the temperature of it she blinks. Dusting herself off she makes sure she's got hold of the leash tightly.

Serenity snarls a bit at the man, and she regards him a little more closely. "Thanks for the help," she offers with a smile. With the same breath, she's whispering to the puppy, "Serenity, behave. The man just helped us."

The very large dogs are eyed warily. A backward step taken that nearly tangles her up in the leash again.

James turns his attention to the puppy… not to mention a trace of his immortal will and its ability to influence canines. He crouches before her, regarding her. "Easy there, lass. I'll not harm you." He glances up to Hope and offers an easy smile. "How old is she?"
Titus and Brutus sniff about both females curiously until James lifts a hand to snap briefly. At the signal, the pair back off and sit at heel behind him.
Despite that, their tails thump once or twice on the white pavement.

Hope knows how to act around dogs normally. If it weren't night, and she weren't jumpy, she'd offer a hand out to the larger dogs to put them at ease. The man seems to have them well trained. When the dogs settle, she does just a little as well.

"I don't know." Pause. "I mean, under eight months I think. She was a gift to my fiance a few months ago. From his sister."

For her part, Serenity sniffles the undead hand and wruffs once. Her tail wags and she glances to her mistress.

"You really have a way with dogs," Hope points out with a smile, crouching down to give the beagle pup a scritch behind the ears. "I wish I could train her that well." A wary eye cast upon the larger dogs momentarily. "What are they?"

James' smile is warm and friendly. Save for the lack of any significant body heat, he positively radiates comfortable humanity. "They're wolfhounds," he says. "Titus and Brutus. I've had them since they were puppies, so they've had a long time to learn what I expect." He smiles to the pup and strokes her head lightly. "A pleasure to meet you, Serenity." He glances up to Hope. "I expect it's an apt enough name for a dog like her. Beagles are known for their even temper."
He rises now, as the little one behaves in a far more satisfactory manner toward him. "Consistency is the key to training them. That, and establishing yourself as their leader."

"The name was an accident," Hope offers with a hint of a blush. "It was late and I had no idea what it was for." There were others offered but Serenity is what her then-ex chose.

"They're beautiful," she says of the dogs. Meanwhile the beagle noses and licks at the hand. Thoroughly charmed by the man. Considering the dog's reaction to Elliott, that she's taking so well to a stranger is a bit odd to the Tyler girl.

"They're a bit frightening too. I don't honestly know much about dogs, but they look like they could tear out a throat with a command…"

"It's just because they're so big," James says lightly. "People that aren't used to their size are often a little put-off by them. But, you've nothing to worry about. Big hairy brutes, p'raps, but harmless as sheep." As long as he wants them to be, anyway.
He can smell her nervousness, taste the flutter of it on the air that surrounds her. He takes a step back now, brushing his two monsters toward the grassy berm, where they settle again out of the way.

"They are big." They also seem friendly enough at the moment. That doesn't mean in Hope's state of paranoia that she's going to go make their acquaintance. It doesn't stop Serenity from straining at her leash to follow the man toward the dogs though. "Serenity, stop that. Remember your manners." Chasing after boys is, after all, not very ladylike.

"That's not an accent that I'm used to hearing around here. Definitely not American." She may be forgetting her manners too, but there is generally a great deal more babbling when she's nervous or worried.

It's amazing, really, how many humans — and young vampires, actually — resort to filling silence with noise when they're nervous or fearful. That has never been in James' nature. He's always been the calm one in the middle of a chaos.
"London," he says by way of identification for her. "Grew up in the south end. Y'know what they say: You can take the boy outta London; you can't take London outta the boy." His eyes glitter, a good-natured smile on his lips.
He crouches briefly, once more, and stretches his hand out to the straining pup. "Hush, little one. You're embarrassing your mistress." He scritches behind her ear again.

At the words, Serenity is immediately silent. Eyes alert, tail wagging happily. She cares nothing in the world except for the ear-scritches. The beagle has thus been tamed, and while she doesn't outright listen to her mistress she'll happily listen to the commanding tone of the male voice.

"London," Hope replies, sounding quite amazed. "That's pretty far from home. I don't think I've met a single Londoner in all my time in Dallas." Granted, that's only been two years and for the first while was comprised of school and the home to visit her sister.

"Forgive me for being so snoopy, but are you just visiting or have you moved here?"

James cants his head at the question, continuing to scritch the puppy and ensure that she is his friend. He smiles. "Well, I'm still looking for a permanent residence, but arrived in the city a few weeks ago. I see no reason not to stay. It's a vibrant city and work is plentiful enough." If you know where to look, which he does. He glances around, eyes skipping over the church spire to take in the solidly middle class homes. "You and your fiance live around here, I fancy?"
Titus and Brutus continue to sit patiently, easy smiles on their canine faces, tails flipping occasionally when they shift their weight from one paw to another.

"A bit closer to the university," Hope offers, careful not to say exactly how close to the university, or exactly which neighborhood. She just nods in a general direction. "Serenity and I walk up here a lot though. The church is just there." Which of course is meaning the Fellowship.

"It's a nice city, so I guess it depends what you're looking for. I'm guessing with big dogs like that though you'll want a nice yard that's fenced in. Though they seem well behaved so you could probably get away with something smaller." Babbling, it's one of Hope's fortes.

James nod to the general babble. He smiles, playing some with the puppy, now, having her follow his hand lithe movements, teasing her with more scritches. "I expect I'll find a place, soon enough. It's always important to stroll the neihbourhoods in a new city," he says conversationally. "It tells you how people might react to dogs in their midst — especially ones the size of these monsters." He says 'monsters' with such an affectionate intonation. "A neihbourhood with dogs is a healthy one, don't you think?"
Again, he looks around. "Are there many dogs on this street? I imagine it's a pleasant place, what with the church here. That's the Fellowship I've heard so much about, isn't it?"

Most of the yards on the street have fences or 'Beware of' signs around them. "It seems to. I think you'd be hard pressed to find an area in the city where dogs aren't present, except for probably the downtown core. There aren't really a lot there but those smaller little lap dogs that people can smuggle into apartment buildings."

Serenity, loving the attention whole-heartedly gives a happy little whine. She follows the fingers, trying to lap at them a few times. Wagging her tail with a gentle thwap-thwap to the ground.

"It is," Hope says glancing over at the church in the distance. "You should see it in the daylight. It almost… glows." Really, it's the windows. It's still an awesome effect to see though.

"I've no doubt it does," James replies. "Is it the same one on the commercials?" She is that girl, isn't she? She certainly appears to be. He doesn't mention that, however. There's no reason that he should.
He glances down at Serenity, chuckling at her whining pleasure. He continues to play with her, making such good friends with the impressionable young pup.

Puppies like having friends! Serenity is no different. If she weren't busy being scritched and played with, she'd likely pounce at the poor man and try to knock him back with her less-than-thirty pound body.

"I guess. I mean, it's the only one in Dallas really. Or the entire area for that matter. The Newlins have set up churches all over the country, but that one there is the main one. The first one."

"The first one," James echoes. He smiles at the young woman, eyes glittering with warmth still. "So, you mean, this is where it all began? Does that mean this is where the Newlins actually live and work?" He chuckles softly, scritching Serenity's belly with both hands. "I'm sure that's considered a boon in the neighbourhood."
At least until the AVL protests start, anyway.
"To have actual celebrities around, working so hard for their people."
His head cants now, and his smile grows a little friendlier. "I know your face, don't I? You're on those commercials, too, aren't you? Or do you just look like that girl?"

"Well I guess. I mean, they're not around here all the time. They go all around the country, for their leadership conferences and such." Gaining new parishioners and followers. Finding those who have been most effected by the appearance of the vampires. "Probably would be for some, for sure. Though I guess it's really just like any neighborhood with a church."

There's a bit of a laugh, and a toss of her hair over her shoulders. "Celebrities? Well, television personalities maybe, but I don't know if I'd equate them with the likes of Tom Cruise or whoever." Funny how the first name that pops into her mind is the name of someone who once played a vampire in a movie.

Hope is about to protest, until he says the word 'commercials' and not 'tabloids'. "No, that's me." Her hand is offered out to the man, having no idea as to what he is, and having put aside her paranoia due to his charming personality and friendly conversation. "Hope Tyler."

James gives Serenity's belly a vigorous rub and then rises, rubbing his palms on his jeans as if to take the dog off them. Of course, it also has the added advantage of lending the illusion of warm, dry skin, thanks to friction.
Ain't science wonderful?
"James Stockton," he says by way of introduction, holding her hand as long as is necessary to be polite, but no longer. "It's nice to meet you, Miss Tyler."
He can sense how she's calmed. It pleases him. His smile is genuine, and his glittering eyes reflect his satisfaction.

While the handshake is going on, Hope keeps her eyes on the puppy. How she's just laying there, all happy and calm. Oh, there's still the telltale puppy signs. The ones that have the dog's tail wagging and tongue lolling as she happily wruffs and whines. Yet, it is the absolute calmest Serenity has been except when the Tyler twin is holding her.

"It's nice to meet you too, Mr. Stockton. I'm pretty sure Serenity feels the same way. You're like… the dog whisperer or something. I'm sure there's a fortune to be made in that sort of thing."

A friendly smile is given to the man before she glances back at her eerily calm puppy. "I don't know how you did it, but I'm certain you have a friend for life there."

"I believe I may, at that," James says, glancing down at the puppy. He crouches again and scritches her belly once more before tweaking her ears playfully. "Very good, Serenity. You're a fine lass. Now, c'mon, you. On your feet. You've not earned the right to laze around indefinitely." His is still a friendly tone, not meant so much to chastise as to encourage.
As she rights herself, he rises again and turns to give his own two a friendly scritch behind the ears. Their tails thump as well, though they stay seated for the moment.
Turning back to Hope, he smiles. "Puppies are impressionable. What they learn now will stay with them for life. I've no doubt, if you're patient, she'll learn what you wish her to. Leadership is key."
Why tell the human that?
Because, in the long run, how Hope or her fiance school the puppy really won't make a difference to how the dog responds to him.

"Patience is the key to a lot of things." Hope can understand that fully. She had to be patient to wait for the right guy to come into her life after Tripp 'died'. She had to be patient with him while he went through his 'issues' with his father's death. She has to have the patience of a Saint when dealing with her sister and her sister's messy relationship. "I've heard that puppies respond to the whole Alpha syndrome. I guess my voice just isn't all that authoritative."

Hope shakes her head as her puppy does as commanded, even without the command. There's a bit of a whimper from Serenity who was enjoying the attentions, but she reaches down to pat the puppy gently on the head. "If you can make it the rest of the way home without chasing Ms. Delphina's cat, you can have a treat when we get back." Bribery. Works wonders.

"Thanks for the advice, Mr. Stockton. I'll just try to be a bit more calm, and a little more stern in my manner of speaking with her. I've no doubt she'll eventually understand."

"I've no doubt she will," James smiles. And, really, he's got the inside track on that. He glances down the pup again. "There y'go, lass. A treat, when you get home." Something for her to look forward to.
"I think I've taken up more of your time than I intended, however. You seemed anxious to be finished with the walk, earlier, and I've interrupted it. Still. It was was a pleasure to meet you, Ms Tyler. Do enjoy the rest your night." He gestures to his two, who rise to their feet, tails sweeping happily behind them. "In any case, these two still need their exercise. Enjoy the rest of your evening."

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