Predator vs. Prey

Bean Scene is a small coffee shop and cafe that caters primarily to a younger crowd. The cafe has always been at least a year late in joining any given fad, and in the past it's been done in western-style, set up as a beatnik hangout, a go-go disco, a fern bar, and once even attempted to cash in on breakdancing. A plaque has recently been placed above the door, and says, "No fad is dead until it appears to Bean Scene".
Case in point, the cafe has a grungy feel to it.A grey brick facade has been placed over the walls, the flooring looking more like a worn down metal grid, complete with old sewer grates every few feet. Tables and chairs set about the cafe are quite casual in appearance, made of metal meant to look rusty and splattered with multi-colored paints. Metal street signs hang from the wall amid images of garage bands. Behind the counter is a black chalkboard displaying the available items and costs.

Ring ring, goes the library phone. Elsewhere, William Grant lounges on a comfortable couch, idly observing the trim blonde who sits at a table, laptop in front of her. The blonde is working, Will appears to be at ease, phone in hand. Ring ring.

"Dallas Public Library," answers a bored, nasally voice on the phone. "How can I direct your call?"

"Chloe Cornett," comes the response, "asked me to contact her here."

"Who?" Tappity-tappity on the keyboard can be heard for a few moments. "Huh. Oh, right, the crazy chick in the back…" Tappity-tappity. "One moment please, sir. I'll transfer your call." The phone goes silent. Dead air on the line. Not even hold music.
After a moment, there is a click on the line, and a hurried voice rushes, "Annette, I'm doing inventory of the new books. Stop calling every five seconds to tell me what time it is!"

Will awaits patiently. "Not Annette, I'm afraid," says he, dryly. "Chloe?"

Blanching as she recognizes the voice, she nods. Not that it can be seen. "This is she, and you are…?"

"Will." A brief pause. "William Grant. Bookstore."

"Oh." Sighing briefly, Chloe stares at the wall. A hand comes up to brush through her hair. "Right. I've still got a job, thank you."

"I had noticed," he replies, voice dry and quiet. Unassuming, almost. "However, I seem to recall that we were going to meet?"

"Oh." Chloe moves around the room, fiddling with stuff so as to keep her mind focused on inanimate things. "Right, of course. I said that…"

"—somewhere public," says Will, letting a smile enter his voice. Not even a predatory one. "Somewhere of your choice, and time. Sunlight permitting."

"Yes… how about Bean Scene? It's the coffee place…" She doubts they serve TruBlood there though. Chloe considers, "I'm off work in about thirty minutes…"

"Shall I collect you?" he asks, easily. "Then you can show me where it is, or perhaps I can attempt to find it." The thread of humour comes into his tone. "You may have to allow me a little time in that case."

Chloe considers the offer, she does, but her reply is less than enthusiastic. "It won't take me long to get there from here, so perhaps meeting me there would be best…"

"Then I shall do my utmost to be there within an hour," he responds. "I look forward to it."

"I'll see you there," she says, then quickly hangs up the line.

"Erica," Will says, tossing the phone to one side. "I'll need to be at somewhere called Bean Scene near the campus library within an hour. When did humans get so paranoid? It wearies me."

"Okay," is her only response.

In Chloe's defense, he sort of threatened her and gave her an ultimatum. She's every right to be paranoid. Beyond that, hello, bloodsucker, and it's not a date so there's no other reason she needs escort. She may be daft in the head at some points, but she's not so foolish as to not be able to get somewhere on her own.
The shop is a little quieter than most due to the hour. There are a few barristas behind the counter, and one lone red-head sitting in the back boothy area.

It's dark, it's rather cold, but the man that slips through the door hasn't bothered with a coat. Will steps in with a rapid glance around; threat check first. Sauntering over towards Chloe, he brings an easy, open smile to the fore. "Get you anything?"

"No thank you," she says, quietly. Thankfully the shop is empty, and the people behind the counter aren't really thinking all that much, other than what crap it is that things are so slow. "So here we are…"

Will slides in to the booth on the opposite side to Chloe, careful to sit just off-centre enough to not be staring straight at her; an attempt to keep her off edge. "Sure? Well, yes we are here." He manages to look contrite, wry. "Perhaps I can make less of an utter fool of myself this time around. A second chance."

"Perhaps." Chloe fidgets with little sugar packets, setting them to rights. "I generally don't drink coffee. It makes me jittery," the already jittery girl states.

One of Will's elbows rests on the table, relaxed in his way. "You know, I have never had a cup of coffee," he confides, "so I can't sympathise on that count. "You prefer tea?"

"Oh sure, tea is good…" Chloe continues to fidget with the sugar packets until each is perfectly righted. She still doesn't look at him though. "But I'm not thirsty." Pausing a beat, she spreads her hands. "So if you're here to woo me away to work for you, you're wasting your time."

"Not why I'm here," Will replies. Eyes drift around the coffee shop, occasionally resting back on the girl. "I can see why you'd think that. You surprised me, is all, and I can't stand leaving someone thinking me impolite."

Chloe is silent for a while, perhaps gathering her thoughts. "Well, you probably know now that I'm just a bit crazy, so you made a mistake with that offer anyhow." Beat. "I don't know if they serve synthetic here or not. Never had to ask."

"Taking drink while you did not would definitely be impolite; ungentlemanly even." Will allows her an indulgent smile. "But I still don't think you're crazy. If you like I can explain why."

"You just woke up, so you're likely hungry though…" Chloe brings a hand up to adjust the silver strand around her neck. Insurance, in case he got too hungry. "I wouldn't consider it rude at all."

"I am not hungry at the moment," Will assures her, with a smile. "Besides, I can assure you that I would not feed from you. Not even with your permission."

"I guess crazy just doesn't taste good," Chloe says, nodding. That's good information to have! "Why do you care so much about correcting my impression of you anyway?"

Only an arch look is brought for her first comment, with a slight shaking of the head. He drops his eyes, looking to the table. "As I said, I despise that anyone would think me rude. No— it is not just that. You surprised me."

Chloe blinks at him, and with having a lack of anything to fiddle with, she motions for one of the barristas to come over. "How'd I do that? All I did was try and walk by to get a book…"

"You are different," Will tells her. "I have a… talent for spotting difference in people. You are like nothing and no-one I have ever come across." He glances up to the barrister, pausing in his speech.

"Water," Chloe says to the woman, then her eyes drift to the board behind the counter. "Pie if you have any left. Don't care what type." That said, she turns back to the vampire, still not truly looking at him. "Yeah, well I get that a lot. It's the crazy." Tap-tap-tap of the temple to emphasize it.

"If you have any synthetic, I will take whatever you have," Will tells the barrister, allowing him a brief smile. He lets them leave, before turning full attention to Chloe. "Some things you are. Insane is not one of them."

The barrista hurries off, looking all shocked that there is a vampire in the coffee shop.
"They don't institutionalize sane people," Chloe points out.

"They used to institutionalize single women who fell pregnant," Will counters, quickly. "Some who are held in such places are merely those who are not yet understood."

"Yeah, but that was mostly to hide them away rather than admit they were sinful." Chloe shrugs her shoulders. "Being as I'm not sinful, I'm guessing I'm really addle-brained. You've been around longer than I have though, I'm guessing, so enlighten me as to what you think it is?"
Momentarily, the barrista appears again. A bottle of water and a bottle of A-neg are placed on the table. "Pie's comin' right up, sug'."

Will glances up to the server. "Thank you," he says, pleasantly, then attention shifts straight back to Chloe, his voice dropping slightly to ensure a lack of listening by the staff. "I am uncertain as to exactly what and why," he says, "but it seems you are able to actually hear some thoughts of others. God has granted you a magnificent gift."

Chloe actually laughs. "God? You think /God/ had something to do with this curse?" Grabbing the bottle of water, she pops the top of it and takes a small sip. "Doubtful. All crazy people hear voices."

"God has a plan for all of us," Will tells her with conviction. "Sometimes it is unclear as to why we are given our gifts, sometimes not." He takes the bottle of synthetic in one hand, sniffing it briefly to check it has not gone off before taking a sip himself. "Crazy people hear voices that are inaccurate or non-existent. This is not the case with you."

"Well he can take whatever plan he has for me and shove it." The pie is placed on the table then, and she nods at the barrista. Chloe frowns at the pie, and begins randomly stabbing at it. Just to have something to do.

"Exactly why you were granted free will," Will says, pleasantly. "Do you resent your ability?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Chloe says, stubbornly. "What ability? To hear voices? I resent the fact that it's messed my life up, sure. But schizophrenia isn't all /that/ uncommon, and so long as I take my meds I'm fine."

"Schizophrenia suggests the voices are not real. You heard the mental voice of a man who was considering asking his ex-girlfriend for money." He looks at her, shaking his head slightly. "I checked. It is what he was thinking about."

"Well then it has some other name." Stabbity the pie. The poor slice of food looks like a child had at it, mushing it into non-existence. "He probably muttered it out loud when I was walking by."

Will has barely moved, and keeps it that way for the moment. Still relaxed. "Your arguments grow less strong. Is there a reason you deny your nature?" He takes a long draft of the synthetic blood. "No-one should deny their nature."

Chloe finally looks at the vampire dead on. Glaring. "I am /human/, and I'm not denying a thing. I just strongly believe that you are wrong in this instance."

"Then prove it," he replies, gently. "I did not mean to provoke your irritation, and for that I apologise."

"You want me to prove I'm crazy?" Chloe swirls the pie mess on her plate around in a circle.

A level look is sent to her. "I want to prove to you that you are not."

"Fine," she says, acting like the petulant child she probably seems. Chloe slides the mush-pie across at him, arms folding over her chest. "But when I prove I /am/, you'll agree to just let me be on my way."

"Deal," Will replies. He suddenly breaks into a smile, letting her see level, white teeth. No fangs. "I'd have agreed to the second part anyway, though it would have definitely nagged at me for decades to come. Thank you, Chloe. Truly, thank you."

He gets a glare for his thanks. Chloe doesn't really bother to say anything, just glares. Unhappily at that.

Will sighs, quietly. "Why does this opportunity upset you so?"

"Would it not bother you were you in my place?" Chloe considers quietly, then adds, "I'm not Joan of Arc. I'm not some warrior woman who hears God's message. I can't and won't go into battle for you."

"No offense meant," Will tells her, "but I imagine I'm probably better equipped to fight my own battles." He runs a finger around the top of his bottle, idly circling. "Surprise is not a common emotion for me, and new experiences are few and far between. I also think that there is opportunity to help you, to let you out of the cage you have constructed for yourself."

Chloe rolls her eyes. Damned men! So utterly sure of themselves. "Well, la-dee-da. I never asked for your help, Mister Grant, and sometimes things that are caged are better left that way." Rather than being angry, her voice is almost a chilling neutrality. "So while I appreciate the offer, I don't want to /owe/ you for your /help/."

"No debt," he responds. "I get the new experience, payment enough for me." He looks up above her head towards the ceiling. As if to God. "Cage something and it atrophies, it wilts towards oblivion. A terrible shame. Incidentally, my name is Will."

"You can't have me," she states boldly, knowing that she really would have no choice if he decided he wanted her. "Listen, mister, let's say that for just a second, you're right. I'm not crazy. Would you really want to be hearing what everyone thought of you, or knowing that someone was up to something and you had no discernible way to stop them?"

"I don't want you," Will says, though an edge enters his voice. "Paranoia doesn't suit you." His eyes close for a moment, then slowly open, the hardness gone. "I can see it would be… troubling. You could, however, use it perform great good in the world."

"I hardly see the potential for it." There is a brief moment, where something seems to bother at her.
"Anger doesn't suit /you/," Chloe says, frowning. "I fail to see that finding out what one wants for dinner is a great good."

"Anger?" he asks mildly, though studying her more intently for a moment or two. He looks down towards the table, then back up, taking hold of the bottle of synthetic blood again. "How about finding the true intentions of someone who you are unsure of? How about determining the guilt of criminals? How about Learning in advance about someone planning an assault or a murder?"

"It doesn't work like that! I don't get to /choose/ what I hear. It just /happens/, and even then…" Chloe's frown deepens, and she looks at him. Her voice drops to a whisper, "Even if I /could/ hear plans of an assault, there's no guarantee that I will be able to determine where it is coming from in time. Too many voices. Too much going on. It's useless."

Slowly, Will nods. "I understand. Perhaps, one day, you would be able to control it. First, though, you will have to admit to yourself that it is real." He takes a final draft of the synthetic blood releasing a quiet sigh afterwards, as though it were a fine beer. "Which in truth I already believe you do."

"I don't need your pity," Chloe bites at him. The still nearly full bottle of water is slammed onto the table, and she peers across at him. "I /do/ control it. I stop it from happening so that I might have a normal life."

"So you /can/ hear me," Will says, eyes widening slightly in surprise. His head tilts, obviously fascinated. "Why wish for such a normal life? Why be a part of the flock when you can rise above it, an eagle above the sparrows? Wait" He pauses, briefly, placing the bottle of synthetic blood on the table. "that is not fair of me. More than once did I wish for normality."

"Hear you? Well you're talking, aren't you?" Chloe shakes her head. "I can hear the pity in your voice, not this," tap-tap-tap on the noggin — her own. "Look, mister, people already think I'm crazy and tend to avoid me… but if I were to accept that it's not some sort of mental disorder and flaunt it, it'd cause a lot of problems for me. Not to mention, the government would start in on me and send me up to one of their special labs and try to dissect me or whatever."

"Then if you cannot, you have the chance to spend time with someone you cannot hear, where you can release your grip on yourself," says he, earnestly. He takes a deep breath— every being needs to take a deep breath occasionally. "I pledge you this, Chloe Cornett, on my very soul. I will do my utmost to avoid that eventuality, and my utmost is quite a lot. No-one deserves that fate." And he sounds like he really means it.

"Which would only happen in a very private situation, being as anywhere public still has other voices," she points out. Chloe can't read him, so she's really having a great deal of difficulty ascertaining his true desire in all of this. "You seem sincere, but…." Pause. "I will consider it."

"Trust me, I have places private enough for those needs," Will tells her, with a gentle smile. "Someone like me needs them." He glances over towards the counter, where people appear to be watching him with interest. "Be sure to consider this carefully, it could be the most important decision you make."

"Why, Mister Grant, are you possibly propositioning me?" Chloe laughs, shaking her head. "I do not think it wise for me to just wander into places unknown with a veritable stranger. That would be like the spider inviting the fly to its parlor…"

Will joins her laugh, with a chuckle. "The invitation stands, for whenever you want to take it," he tells her, "even if you just want to sit somewhere quiet." He lets palms face the roof, in something like a shrug. "We do have a terrible reputation. Oddly enough, mostly undeserved."

"Deserved or not, you cannot deny that you are a predator deep down, and thus I am the prey." Chloe, oddly enough, is not being insulting. Just strangely matter-of-fact.

"On the other hand, I have more women and men throwing themselves at me than I could ever dream of drinking," Will says, with an idle shrug. "This predator does not need to hunt."

Chloe thinks upon it as she lifts the bottle of water to her lips. Allowing the cool water to pass by her lips, and down her throat, she gulps. "Perhaps a quiet, neutral area would be the best for conversation." Tilting her head a little, she glances at him. "Until we are better acquainted. After all, while you purport that I may trust you, I do not have the same assurances from your, er… friends."

Now that does bring forth a smile, a slightly amused half-smile. "I will explain to you at some point how to deal with other vampires. For the time being, I will happily meet with you anywhere that is safe for me, and safe for you." Will taps fingernails on the table, glancing towards the door. Always ready.

"The library is fine, after eight in the evening. It is closed then, and I am generally the only one who sticks around." Plus, it has security cameras and such, so it ensures that if she's ever /not/ safe, at least it will document what happens to her. Chloe shifts her gaze toward the door. "Oh, don't let me keep you, Mister Grant. I'm sure I'm not your only meeting this evening."

"The library is fine," Will assures her, with a couple of nods. "Oh-" he looks towards the door again. "I am merely keeping a watch. Any unfamiliar area has potential for trouble, since there are those out there who would rather destroy us than see us live alongside the general populace. I'll admit, you're not my only meeting tonight, but" He draws his look back to her. "I think you might just be the most productive one."

"Doubtful. I'm stubborn as they come," she announces proudly. Chloe tilts her head again, eyes still on the door. "Huh. I never thought of that. Perhaps I should have let you choose the locale."

"That you are," Will allows, with humour. He allows a gentle shrug. "I am not fearful for myself, but for those who would attack me. I have no wish to kill. The library should serve admirably in future."

"Then the library it shall be," she says, hoping that he loses the number somewhere along the way. Chloe is unsettled by him, and while that's not unusual, the fact that she can't read him atop it makes her a tad fearful.

"Okay," says Will. "Then I will give you two telephone numbers, should you find yourself in trouble. Mine, and my assistant Erica, who is available at any time of day." He draws two pieces of paper of out his pocket; one a business card and one a pre-scrawled number. Guess which is which.

Chloe takes the cards, carefully perusing them before they wind up being shoved into her purse. "Thanks. Hopefully I won't have need of them…." After all, she's positive that calling either number will leave her indebted to them. If not by their say-so, then by her own need to not have something hanging over her.

The vampire responds with a nod. "I hope so too." Eyes flicker again, this time to the clock above the counter. "Unfortunately, I do have somewhere I need to be this evening; next time perhaps a little more than an hour's notice, so I can dedicate an evening to your delightful company?"

"If you are considering asking me on a date, Mister Grant, I expect to be asked proper-like." Chloe smirks, but then gets up and drops some money on the table. Paying for both his synthetic and her mushed pie. "Don't let me keep you from your meeting though."

Will looks up to her, and smiles. "Next time is on me," he says, with a small nod, "since I fear I'd have to force that money back into your pocket. Believe me, if I were asking you out you'd definitely have noticed by now." He looks back down to the table. "Thank you for meeting with me again."

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