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    She wasn’t used to having to talk.  The people she surrounded herself with knew her moods, her facial expressions, the intricacies of body language, and anticipated needs without question.  That’s why she hated people, they didn’t read their surroundings well; or other subtleties.  The Sheut didn’t like explaining herself, or getting people caught up into the loop.


    The Were was hovering dangerously close at the outer rim of her tolerance; enough of a kindred spirit to be let in… but not enough to curb the press of a top lip over canines at the snap of his growl.  It was her turn for rage to press undetected against her skin, effortlessly, refined, she had mastered its control to use as a weapon a long time ago- and look calm doing it.  She too, was a monster. As elegantly as she could be wrapped up in her favorite vintage designer wear, she could just as quickly soak it with blood.  She was completely at peace with her penchant for violence.  There was nothing she shied away from.  Hackles remained up, even as the sudden anger from her guest slid away- his huff definitely caused a narrow of her eyes.


    Perhaps she gave him too much credit.


    This was why she rarely extended her hand or made contact.  She was too often disappointed.


    “You wish to leverage Bakkhos’ initiatives in keeping peace and order around the city? Squash the bugs that you encounter since we’re ‘doing it anyway’ is that it?”


    Head tilted slightly to the side at him, like a cat trying to decide whether or not to tolerate someone with indifference or snap out claws.  He was rolling completely in the wrong direction.


    “As far as Satyr goes, that is all Matteo. I can recommend your suggestion about keeping Sheut Ka out of the arena. I have as much authority of the happenings in Satyr as Matteo has in Thyrsus…which is almost none…but I can see what he says. For the moment, I’ll leave out your almost-veiled threat.”


    She knew it was all Matteo, and fuck his buck passing.  The brutes influenced each other; any claim to the contrary was pure bullshit.  This was no suggestion, she would rip the fucking vampires to pieces- or the Executioner would do it for her.


    “You need to tell me more about your organization and what its goals are. Vast and inevitable threats? Like what, exactly? Don’t try to tempt me with ambitiously reaching for power and all that. I may hold a powerful position in a powerful organization, but my thirst for power is not insatiable. If you are trying to dangle a carrot, that is the wrong one.”




    “I suspect ‘constable’ has a specific meaning in your organization. Please tell me what that means. I have more questions, but I think you can address what I’ve asked first.”


    The Sheut was quiet for a long time, the edge of a tacet grin on her features, both hands moving to either side of her hips on the railing.  Her expression had slipped into its unreadable place even though her eyes held amusement.  Not mocking, or scoffing… but internally irritated.  It was one of her talents to look so unintimidating when her muscles were itching to launch at someone.  It was a constant fight.  Before, when she didn’t have the power she possessed now, she threw herself into situations and came out with bloody noses and bullet holes.  Now that she did, she was finding more and more reasons to hold back.


    Screw this Viceroy crap.  If she wasn’t inherently loyal to Ausar, she’d be invisible with her fine wine and designer shoes in an ivory tower somewhere that only could be approached by her Koala.


    “You think you have it all figured out.”


    Sigh was quiet, eyes finding far away twinkling lights for a moment.  She was annoyed, angry… and tired.  Tired of bullshit, and it seemed lately like that was all that was driving her.  Everyone had a damn agenda it seemed, except her.  She was powerful, had money... of course the world thought she had an agenda.  Eyes slid slightly to the side as he got closer.  He was a brave little toaster, coming into her bubble uninvited.  Her fingers tapped on the railing in rhythmic succession a few times, for a moment seeming as if she was going to jump down to find a more comfortable distance.  Glance was cast over her shoulder at him finally, the fact her pupils were always dilated making her gaze almost innocent looking.  It made her that much more dangerous.  If the world thought you quiet, they underestimated you.  She was sure he saw through that.


    “Do you?”


    Her intentions… wants… oddly seemed so readable because she was hard to read.  She passed facts off as requests, and constants off as consideration.  People rarely looked past the surface to realize they weren’t threats or ultimatums.  They were exactly what she was going to do; he just hadn’t figured it out yet.  She was going to remove the vampires from Satyr; whether from their decision or her hand.  If necessary she’d walk into the locker room and tear them to pieces, preferably just before the fight to make sure she’d fuck up as much of the owner’s mood and money as she could muster out of pure spite.  But, she also was going to shoulder the storm if Glamis caught wind of their fights- which was a terrible burden to bear when the Sheut was raining down on you.  Bakkhos wasn’t useful… it was vital to sustaining the regrowth of a civilized corner of the world.  They didn't have to do anything, they just needed to survive.  He thought they would be working for her, be a machine to her wants.  She in turn, was vital to their survival.


    She was quiet in her thoughts as she glared at him, the depth of her gaze and her absolute stillness unnerving. Contrary to popular belief, vampires did breath… and were alive.  They were just good at not looking it.  Slow breath finally made her shoulders move... she was fighting the urge at the moment to tear him apart.  He'd done nothing other than butt heads, and she was not fond of being questioned.


    She blinked finally and looked out beyond her metal beast, surveying the twinkling night.  She would contemplate on whether or not to answer his questions for a moment more.


    “Constable means that I don’t hate you, and I hate everybody.” she took another breath and reached up to pull the wisps that had worked their way from the polished ponytail behind her ear.  “You don't get much beyond the city, do you?  Midwest.  West Coast.  Britain?”   

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    Eris was not used to being questioned. If she were a subordinate to a large machine like Bakkhos...or even larger, then she found a position where the order-taking was minimal. She was Viceroy...Capo of this part of North America? Yeah, she didn't like having superiors...or peers. It was evident that he was not going to bully his way to getting answers. He wasn't intending to, but it was worth knowing that that approach was not going to be valuable. 


    When she turned to look at him with those innocent-looking big eyes, a small smile appeared on his face. The cutest baby vipers had the biggest eyes...and most potent venom. 


    “You think you have it all figured out...Do you?"


    Tom's small smile broke into an abrupt, loud laugh.


    "Of course not! If I had it all figured out, I wouldn't be taking helicopter rides to your secret rooftops to have secret conversations with you in order to learn what is going on." 


    Tom's perpetual rage-companion took a different direction...slightly. He didn't want to rip off her head. He could see the change of posture, however slight it was. She wanted to fight. She kept a caged beast beneath her facade as well. Tom wanted to see it. 


    Something had been happening to Tom since the Event. Before, the fury inside was just that...some invisible force that had more control over him than he liked. It sought an outlet, an escape from the bondage of Tom's self-control and discipline. It had perverted...or perhaps evolved over the years. Instead of bursting out of control despite Tom's wishes...it now sought more...creative ways to be sated. Tom didn't want to kill or to even hurt. He wanted to hunt. To fight. 


    To fight her? His reason warred with is perception. She was little. She was a woman. She is a monster. She is another death dealer. Perhaps she needs it too. Could be mutually beneficial. How do you even bring that up? Why won't she answer my questions?! 


    Tom's smile faded as he forcibly clamped down on his thoughts and resumed a stoic, rage-beneath-the-surface control. It was no time to indulge such fantasies. It would only serve as a distraction among others. Or maybe it would be an outlet for these internal distractions keeping him from thinking straight? Tom shook his head and hopped up to take a seat on the ledge himself with his face in his hands. He looked to Eris with a combination look of amused, frustrated, and anger. Always anger...but this time with no attempt at a poker face. 

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    Blink fluttered at the laugh, almost… surprised.  Nobody laughed at her.  Everyone was always polite, always made wide circles, always positioning for an angle… wanting something.  She blinked at him again; face truly devoid of an expression for a moment.


    "Of course not! If I had it all figured out, I wouldn't be taking helicopter rides to your secret rooftops to have secret conversations with you in order to learn what is going on." 


    Nobody laughed at her… well, nobody in a really long time.  No one had been brave enough to call her hand when she was running over them. His sudden position next to her brought a sharp seethe through teeth, lips pursed forward in an almost obstinate defiance as he looked up at her from his hands.  Grace was breathtaking, motion noiseless, the snarl at him as she hopped down and stood opposite from him chilling.  She had to put distance between them.  Reaction as she glared at his transgression of coming close without permission was at extremes… suspicious, defensive, and something else that was hard to put a finger on.  A long buried thorn again slithered in under her skin when the obstinate, audacious Were had laughed at her.  Eyes were narrow, then confused.  Her thought process was far beyond anything he could even guess.


    She was thinking about that.  He’d just reminded her of it.


    It was her turn to be stoic, the small frame could look viciously formidable as it reflected back the expression he was giving her.  She was still except for the small tickling locks of hair that were caught in the updraft.  Fingers had closed into soft fists, the defensive stance relaxed enough to look casual but screamed underneath as if she was waiting to either attack… or be attacked.  She could feel it, that rage compressed into a man.


    “Don’t look at me like that.”


    She didn’t know where it came from, the kneejerk reaction almost breathless. 




    Not like that, but elicit that… prickle of long dead emotion.


    Mind rolled over answers to his questions.  Constable meant she didn’t hate him.  Constable meant she trusted him.  It meant she thought he was strong enough that she didn’t have to worry about him, that he would let her know when things were a problem and she would take care of them… and vice versa.  There was challenge there, woven amongst an easy humor, a quick wit and a depth of seriousness that could be drowning... mixed with the danger of a warrior beneath, the presence in front of her felt so damn familiar.


    She scoffed at herself lightly, the exasperated smirk incredulous at her own reaction as she glanced around at the world around them; buying her some time to sort it out.  She was trying to unravel memories from this conversation that tugged at her.  Memories that made her feel small, like she was still fighting in her humanity.  Ignoring.  Defending.  The truth about what a viper she’d become.  His laugh had forced a straight line to connect suddenly between her lowest point years before the Resonance, and that moment.


    She’d defaulted full circle back to the way she was before the Event.  Bitter, arrogant, and spiteful.  It was almost as if the year before it happened had never existed at all.  What was going on?  He’d come with her to learn what was going on and she suddenly didn’t want to tell him.  What the hell had she been doing the last few months?  Was it ever really about the damn liquor store?




    Slow breath was drawn in, hands relaxing, gaze cast over her shoulder a long moment before she closed the distance again and slid back up where she was before.  Turning carefully toward him, she tucked her foot under her thigh, leaning elbows on her knees to intertwine her fingers.  Eyes cast downward into the seeming chasm just past the railing, then squinted up at him a moment.


    “Asking you to be in a position in the Nation means I’m tired of being by myself.  I need to spend time with someone that gets it.  This… rage and refinement all compressed into one.  Somebody that I choose, not those that I have to deal with by association.  I’m being told I have to build alliances and relationships in my territory.  I didn’t ask to be Viceroy.  I was told, and because I have unwavering respect for the man that put me here I didn’t argue.  Being forced… to build relationships with groups when I can’t even stand to be around people is torture.”  Voice was quiet, not a shred of anything else but truth in it.  It was a gamble, the calm before the storm if he even so much as snickered at the drop in defenses.  Cautious.  The teeth ready to bare in an instant.  “You’re not torture.  You get it.  That’s why I asked you.”


    There were other reasons, but… baby steps.

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    “Don’t look at me like that.”


    When Eris glided to a position opposite him, he was genuinely surprised. He had surmised that she was nervous...as what she was proposing was a dangerous gambit...especially if he said 'no.' This though...there was something else there. He had hit on a nerve unintentionally. Had she thought he was laughing at her? He had laughed at the absurdity of her statement. Tom had never felt so in the dark than he had when Eris revealed the Sheut and everything else. Like a blind person gaining sight...her presumption that he thought himself in full control couldn't be farther from the truth. It was...laughable. 


    Her sudden glide to a defensive posture was equally surprising. It probably shouldn't have been all that shocking...empirically he knew as much. He just had a healthy respect for the new world still. What was more interesting...terrifying...was that it appeared to be nearly instinctual. She was on the defensive. He had pricked a fight-or-flight response from her. She too was harboring a Beast within. Did the vampires struggle with a similar issue that all of his kind fought with? Or was she unique? Tom placed his hands on the ledge as if to scoot back down to his feet in case she lost control of her Beast and he had to defend himself. He was relieved when her demeanor softened and she gracefully strode back to the ledge to rejoin him. Relieved...and a bit disappointed. What was wrong with him?!


    “Asking you to be in a position in the Nation means I’m tired of being by myself.  I need to spend time with someone that gets it.  This… rage and refinement all compressed into one.  Somebody that I choose, not those that I have to deal with by association.  I’m being told I have to build alliances and relationships in my territory.  I didn’t ask to be Viceroy.  I was told, and because I have unwavering respect for the man that put me here I didn’t argue.  Being forced… to build relationships with groups when I can’t even stand to be around people is torture.” 


    So it wasn't merely an alliance of convenience. She wanted him to assume a position within her organization? Or a figurehead that ticks a box on their checklist? So many questions. He assumed he was going to get answers. That last bit explained a lot. What better defense against social anxiety than being a vicious killing machine? Scare enough people and you won't have to deal with them. Tom wasn't scared of her. He respected her and believed that if she intended to...she could probably kill him. But he believed he was an equal in that regard. Even the most socially-terrified people still crave companionship. He was likely one of a very few who could understand her. If he were being honest...he felt the same.


    “You’re not torture.  You get it.  That’s why I asked you.”


    Tom nodded in agreement with her. He got it. He understood. His face softened slightly. She had opened up and left herself to be truly vulnerable. He knew the gravity of this confession. She wasn't trying to play puppet master...not this time. She needed an ally. A true ally. A friend. 


    He nodded once more and slowly, gently extended his had toward her. He remembered her typical disdain about doing so before, but this wasn't a handshake. The back of his hand rested on the surface of the ledge they shared and was held open...an invitation to accept or reject however she chose. Wordlessly he looked into her eyes...deep brown portals of rage, pain, and understanding staring into the near-black depths of rage, pain, and understanding. They were kindred spirits in more ways than either of them knew. He had already agreed in his mind to join her in this new vision. He'd have to navigate his way through the details another time.


    But for now, with outstretched hand, he just stared into the now-transparent windows to her soul.



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    • 2 weeks later...

    He was so quiet.  She hated when people were quiet.  Not… quiet because she was about to eat their face, but quiet to a point she couldn’t read their mood.  Or she could, and they were standing obstinate in their position.  Bulls that refused to get out of each others paths.  There were few out there that could do that.  Nobody recently really.  His nod narrowed her eyes a bit, soft sigh almost undetectable.  Hands had come to rest on the railing on either side of her hips, watching her feet gently swing back and forth.  It was an odd habit, not entirely because her feet didn't touch the ground.  It was a fond one.  An old habit… sitting off the side of a chopper in the morning gliding over foliage so thick the world seemed like a sea of deep green.  Barely hooked to the plated floor by a waist harness, jump booted feet swinging lazily as she ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, drinking coffee from a mug, cursing her sidearm’s shoulder harness clinging to her torso and preventing the air from moving through a khaki button up that was already sticking to her skin from the thick air.  Colombia, before the Event.  Reid at the helm, silent in his disdain for her always sitting in the door like a gunner, but never mentioning it because she could take care of herself.  Not many DEA agents could roll his ass to the mat in three moves, so he let her do what she wanted.  Silent understanding.... she didn’t fear the consequences of her choices.


    The moment felt familiar and threatening at the same time.


    Then the hand, and her eyes sliding to watch it for a moment.  Feet slowly stopped their swing, and she took it, the soft squeeze and affirmation of a brief shake.


    “This doesn’t mean you work for me, this means I work for you.”


    The revelation was well timed, and profound; she’d been waiting for some kind of commitment.


    “It’s my job to protect your organization, because it needs to exist in order for the world to come back to life.  Your needs become my priority, and threats to your businesses are threats to me.”


    Her hand returned back to her purview, looking at her palm before it came to rest again next to her hip.  There was a small scar there on the heel of her hand.  From a coffee mug that had shattered as she took a drink.  Glazed ceramic was like a razor when it broke into shards, and the shot someone had taken from beneath the canopy of the jungle was an amazing one.  Meant for her skull, it’d only manage to shatter her favorite coffee cup and crack the windshield of the chopper.  Side of her lip turned up.  Yellow.  Had a smiley face on it that said -have a nice fucking day-.  She loved that mug.


    “You remind me of someone,” the words were quiet, not offering any more for a long moment.  It was more than an observation, but clearly wasn't a bad reminiscence.  They needed to leave soon, or not.  She was used to doing whatever the hell she wanted, him?  Well he was hosting a party at the moment after all… "My old boss from the DEA."


    Expression was quiet, amused, then unreadable.


    “Rumor has it you’re a boxer,” she slid off the railing, changing the subject, pulling out the ponytail to smooth the wayward strands back in and pull it up again in preparation for returning him to his responsibilities.  She would answer more questions if he had them, but the subject would unfold as he went along.  There was so much to tell, and not enough time in one night to explain it all.

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    • 2 weeks later...


    “This doesn’t mean you work for me, this means I work for you.”


    This wasn't the beginning of a new chapter, this was the start of a new book entirely. He didn't know much of any of the details of the Sheut, however he could tell that something tremendously powerful had just occurred. The gravity of such did not elude him. This was the dawning of a new era. 


    “It’s my job to protect your organization, because it needs to exist in order for the world to come back to life.  Your needs become my priority, and threats to your businesses are threats to me.”


    Tom nodded. This made sense. The shadows of logistics already forming themselves in Tom's brain as she spoke. This would be an interesting venture. This would have to be handled with care. The old men would seek to manipulate Eris in some fashion. That would not go well. Tom would have to take point on this, as Eris desired. He'd have to go nose to nose with Strollo, he suspected. Gaspari would be the only one who could cause a problem that Tom couldn't get in front of. He'd have to go to him directly soon.


    "You remind me of someone..."


    Tom smiled ever-so-slightly at that statement. She didn't glower or sneer or speak dismissively when she said this. She respected him. He knew that was currency she didn't trade often. 


    "You remind me of someone as well." Him. She reminded him of himself. She looked better in a dress than he did, sure...but the fury contained within a cage of civility and self-control. The heart-felt desire to look after her charges...they were reflections of one another in a lot of ways. 


    Then the mood shifted. "I hear you're a boxer." Tom actually smiled big and chuckled softly. Not at her...but at the sudden levity. 


    "I used to. I recently started hitting the bag again. It serves to...calm me a bit." As he sat on the ledge, he threw up a soft boxing-guard and said, "You interested in a sparring partner?"

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    • 2 weeks later...

    "You remind me of someone..."


    As soon as she said it he seemed to smile, her lashes lowering slightly to suspicion.  She was always suspicious.  People took comments like that and could twist them to elicit reactions that would spill more than she wanted to tell.


    "You remind me of someone as well."


    Brow cocked gently.  Too intimate.  Their conversation was flirting the line of being too familiar.  She hated people for a reason. With incredibly rare exception, they always disappointed her.  Changing gears kept the conversation moving forward, but deflected the subject from spiraling deeper into her personal territory.  Get him to talk about himself.


    "I used to. I recently started hitting the bag again. It serves to...calm me a bit. You interested in a sparring partner?"


    Brow quirked again, amused at the fists.  Task accomplished, sort of.


    “I haven’t hit a bag since basic training,” she quipped, slight smile on her lips as she slid quietly down from the perch.  She needed to get him back to the club; he was hosting a party after all.  She’d be content to kidnap him for as long as he wanted, but it was probably not a good idea for him to play hooky from his own event for much longer.  Her mission for the evening had been somewhat accomplished at this point.  “Being able to flip a car prevents that necessity anymore.”


    There was bite behind it, a challenge maybe.


    “Why, you interested in getting your butt kicked?”


    The constant movement of air in their sky high perch had pulled locks from the pristine ponytail again. The wisps were annoying her. She pulled it out to smooth it back once more, the brief finger comb as it let loose a short glimpse at something that proved she wasn’t perfect no matter how much she would deny it, and broke the severity of her perfectly manicured public mask for a brief moment.  She had once been hands on.  Once.  There had been a time when the wisps didn't bother her.


    “Which is what the outcome would be.”  It was matter of fact, arms crossed quietly as he was watched through slightly narrowed eyes. 

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    • 3 weeks later...

    Tom sensed a small defense get raised again. He had allowed himself to relax in front of someone for the first time in...since the Event really. Roderick and Matteo had seen the best and worst of Tom...but outside of the family...boundaries were always firmly in place. 


    Subtle facial features were the only betrayal that he had slipped back into a more business-like demeanor. Most would miss it. Eris likely wouldn't. Fair enough...he suspected the same sort of thing happened to her as well. It wasn't often you found someone you could relate to in this new world. Best not to disrupt that. 


    “Why, you interested in getting your butt kicked...Which is what the outcome would be."


    A small smile crept across his face...not a mocking one...but a smile nonetheless. 


    "I wouldn't be all that surprised, honestly. Although I am a slight bit more agile than the car you tossed through my walls."


    He noted her posture...almost daring to be challenged. Perhaps another time. His absence was certainly noticed by now...not that it mattered all that much. The club was not his to supervise and manage...although this was a Family event and he shouldn't be absent from all of it. 


    "I think we have a lot to talk about." He turned to look at the skyline to reorient himself to his position within the city. He intended to look into this building later. He believed he could trust her...however the old adage of 'trust buy verify' rang in his brain. Eris was not one to play with her cards laid out on the table for all to see. "But not tonight."


    "Mind telling me more of what you had in mind on the way back to your hangar?" 


    He motioned toward the plane. A quick flare of his nostrils as he exhaled abruptly betrayed the emotion underlying his next statement. "I should be getting back to the club." He didn't want to...but duty...

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    • 2 weeks later...

    She drew a long breath of the air; there was a sense of peace with everything so muted at a distance, even more so the higher she flew and the further the lights were on the horizon.  This was as close as she got to nirvana in the concrete jungle.  There were times she would perch on top of a building in the dark for hours in silence, only to resent having to shut herself back in her compound like a hermit.  Times like this were her escape from a self-inflicted, necessary prison.


    Dark lashes blinked at his change in demeanor. Everyone had a face for the world, and a face for themselves.  Theirs had just tangled for a short moment in the universe of time, both chained to something they didn’t necessarily want but were obliged out of honor and duty to maintain.  The return of a smile was oddly enough welcomed.


    "I wouldn't be all that surprised, honestly. Although I am a slight bit more agile than the car you tossed through my walls."


    “To be fair, it was a well-aimed shove,” the quirked upward smirk of the corner of her lip was obstinately amused.


    "I think we have a lot to talk about.  But not tonight."


    Nod acknowledged the inevitability; quiet attention definitely noted he was spotting himself.  Trying to figure out where he was?  Interesting but not surprising.


    "Mind telling me more of what you had in mind on the way back to your hangar?" 


    “About knocking you on your behind or my plans to take over the world with you as my sidekick?”


    It was delivered with such a deadpan expression, the silent humor was evident… then reverent for his quiet distaste at the upcoming return to reality.


    "I should be getting back to the club.”


    “No more hooky, for either of us,” she was already moving toward her sleek machine, hopping to grab the Jesus handle with feline grace and slide herself back into her favorite chair in the world.  “Always in charge, but never able to truly do what you want.”


    Rhythmic clicks across the panels started, the order, execution and double check satiating an OCD need for control.


    “Or we could just, disappear."


    She was only half joking, she needed to find somewhere out of the city that was only hers.  Later.


    The power up of the engine hummed in the night air, glance cast in his direction... still deciding whether this rabbit hole was one she wanted to jump into and if being visible in the social circle of the city was a good idea.  She had to gather allies, but she hated people.  Calloway had chastised her readily for that every chance he got, and was loud about his disagreement with her being appointed to this position.  Dick.  Maybe she would knock him out of his position someday.


    She watched the Were a moment, headset sliding on and mic flipped down.


    "Home it is."

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    • RESONANCE - 18+ 3/3/3

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