Being around so many mortals... Nick didn't even know the half of what was in store for him. Meph smirked a bit to himself. "I can feed off you, though, and you shouldn't need to wolf out, right? We should be fine." Sure, they'd have to hide away, but it wasn't like he hadn't lived through a witch hunt or two. He was used to hiding from humans. Even hiding from them [i and] feeding from them. Having Nick around was going to make it an absolute breeze. Well. Not an absolute breeze. It'd still be delicate. But he wasn't too worried about it.
Good, Nick did know about the internet. He didn't even want to go there.
He led Nick across the dance floor and to the ordinary elevator this time, taking it up to the floor right above the club, where the cattle lived. There was a room open right by the elevator. He fished through his pockets for the key, then opened it for Nick to look inside. "You can stay here," he said. The room he'd chosen was a one-man room, nice and quiet. "Everyone else on this floor is cattle. Don't play rough; the hunters get noisy if you do. But I won't complain if you fuck a few, just try not to get anyone pregnant." The last thing he needed to deal with was a little baby lycanthrope popping out of one of his cattle. The hunters would froth at the mouth, the girl would freak, he'd have to face the Council again and get another lashing even though it was not even a little his fault. But it should be fine. Nick seemed like a responsible guy.
Meph pressed the key into Nick's hand. A pretty woman peeked out of the next room down, then just about swooned when she saw him. "Meph, you look amaaaaazing. have you come for us?" she asked, breathy and needy.
Meph grimaced. Ugh, not now. He hated coming down here. They got so freaky when he was around. If he needed the cattle, he'd just call one to his room. "Sorry, Danny, I'm busy," he excused himself. The woman pouted, and Meph made a quick escape back to the elevator before anyone else noticed he was around. That was the problem with cattle, after all.
This elevator didn't go to the penthouse--didn't want the cattle getting ideas--so he had to go back to the first floor, then take the secret elevator up. When he reached the top, he sighed and tore out of his clothes, tossing the cravat and coat aside first, top hat and cane joining them; he closed his eyes and, rather than change, just reformed the bottom layer into comfortable sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt. Being able to create clothes was the best power; it just sucked that they came in black, red, and more black.
"Did you catch the URL?" he asked. Trying to subtly impress Nick, he crossed to his hand-built gaming rig and booted it up, plopping down in the nice chair and spinning to give Nick a look. Nick probably didn't have the first clue about video games; he'd love to humiliate the guy by challenging him to a match, but he could do that later. After they investigated this message board.
Thank the fates they were allowed to leave. Quite honestly, Nick wasn't sure how much more he could take of all of this. For some reason, he was just sure he had been on the verge of tearing out a throat or two. Even Fenrir's, and that was a dangerous position to be in. He'd said his goodbyes to Klementin before departing then joined Meph in the Rolls, the tension melting away the minute the door was shut.
Didn't exactly mean his nerves were all better, though. He was still kind of pissed. Those elders really thought they were entitled to do some crazy shit. It was only lucky for them that he and Meph at least had a degree of trust built. Sure, their rivalry had been running for ages now, but at the very least, they were respectively dependable. Exhibit A being the previous night.
Honestly, it was still kind of strange to think about. Nick wasn't exactly some mighty power or anything. He was just one Lycan. Worse, one that typically seemed to get on Meph's last nerve, but he guessed the gesture spoke well of their relationship. Beneath all the bullshit.
He zoned in just in time to hear Meph make his proposal. Actually, that didn't sound like a bad idea. "Sure, makes sense. Especially given the circumstances of our new [i case] altogether... we might as well." Never thought he'd ever contemplate rooming with Meph. It was actually a little surprising the vampyre had even offered. And here he'd thought he'd have to make frequent trips back and forth. This definitely suited for convenience purposes.
It luckily wasn't a long way back to Meph's to begin with, and once they were parked outside the club, Nick was more than happy to abandon the cushy innards of the luxury ride.
Sliding out of the car, Nickläus stepped off to one side and waited for Meph to emerge before shutting the door. "You know, this is going to be a delicate situation... being around so many mortals." He didn't have any doubts about how well they could pull it off so much as how careful they would have to be about extracting information. Meph would definitely have to stay fed, without question, and he would have to make sure he didn't go running into any of the members, assuming they got in, during more supernaturally inclinedible activities.
"I'm quite familiar with the Internet, yes. I don't necessarily troll forums, but I know my way around one enough." Mainly gaming forums of course, though. Sometimes those for literature, if he ran into the right crowd.
So Nick was coming with him, was he? The way Fenrir said it was infuriating, but at this point, it was starting to get a little blase. Oh, beat on Meph, what a new concept. How impressive of them. Maybe they'd start attacking helpless infants next. Meph glanced at Nick, but the wolf didn't seem to perturbed by the news. Honestly, it was a little reassuring. They might hate each other usually, but he at least trusted Nick when it came down to the wire. Not like the other vampires or wolves. They'd never come through for him like Nick had. And all the vampires belonged to other covens, anyways, so they weren't even beholden by blood bond to help him; aside from cousin Klemintin, but she'd already made her aliance clear--and it wasn't on Meph's side.
For once, Meph agreed with Henri, even for all the man's fanning and twittering. Gideon nodded, agreeing to adjorn the meeting, and the members rose. Meph stalked right for the door, barely checking to see if Nick was following. He wanted to go home and sleep and forget all this bullshit. But of course he couldn't do that. He had to look up this message group, try and join it, figure out what the 'secret test' was and pass it... probably stupid shit like eating garlic, stepping into the sunlight, and holding crosses. Stuff that'd hurt, but wouldn't kill as long as he was healthy. If they were really old fashioned, they might drop pins... Meph smirked. That was a superstition that he hadn't heard of in a while; that vampires had to count everything they came upon, and would be stymied by some pins on the ground. It'd probably been started by some mad Old Blood who really would be stopped by something so stupid, but most vampires were not so afflicted.
He'd never been so glad to see sunlight in his unlife. He stormed out of the theater and looked around; as though summoned by magic , the Rolls materialized. He climbed in and waited for Nick to join him, then nodded for the driver to go, and they peeled away, back to his club.
"Alright, so we've gotta figure this shit out, huh, partner?" Meph tried, raising his eyebrows at Nick. Never in his life had he thought that he and Nick would be each other's best advocate, but here they were. "So, that message board. You familiar with the internet, or do you need the primer...?" He didn't know how good wolves were with that kind of thing. It probably varied from one to the next, same as it did with vampires. "Anyways, probably best to start there. See what they know, what they think they know."
If they didn't know about his club--and he doubted they did--he and Nick would be able to blend in easily with the humans there, see if anyone had heard about it. Or he could just ask the cattle to ask around. Choices, choices.
"Wanna come back to my place?" he asked, as the Rolls drifted to a stop. "Can even crash here for a while. No point in us living apart while we've gotta solve this stupid mystery together."
Of course, he'd put Nick in with the cattle, but Nick didn't need to know that. Well--as long as it wasn't Nick's time-of-the-year, so to speak. No need to terrify them all with a wild wolf running rampant--and he definitely didn't need a sex-crazed Nick fucking all his cattle, either.
Man, this Fabian guy was such an asshole. For some reason, that seemed to be Nick's favourite word of the day, but it was the most fitting label for this bunch of idiots. Worse, he'd been so sure they were past all that ridiculing bullshit when Gideon had seriously had to call Meph out, yet again.
How did Meph deal with these guys? No wonder he didn't want to come. Not that it would've gotten them out of the affair, but he understood more so now, having suffered audience to such cruelty. His 'family' was a terrible one from the sounds of it, and everyone else was pretty much just taking turns sitting peanut gallery whilst someone else got ripped a new one.
Coughing, Nick didn't even so much as glance at Meph. If he looked at him now, it would be over. He'd probably end up speaking out of turn, or worse, mouthing off, and he'd been doing so well to avoid such things thus far.
Fenrir seemed to have no issue in agreeing that Meph would be held responsible for correcting the circumstances. After all, hadn't this most recent trouble begun with [i him]? No one else seemed intent to take his place, the others mostly content to watch on.
"In that case, I suppose it's only natural that Nickläus assist. After all, we would not want a repetition of what transpired last, and it would appear that the only reason you were here to tell tale tonight, Mephistopheles, is due to his supposed assistance. The both of you will handle this and retrieve the girl. In the meantime, plans must be drawn up to take precaution. If this group of civilians is being sponsored by that mysterious figure you gave chase to, then there is no telling whether or not there are more from whence these spawned."
Poppa Wolf was [i pissed], and he certainly had rights to be. What they had on their hands was a hot mess - the sort that would take serious time to resolve, but in the meantime, at the very least there would be no further punishment.
"Are there any other matters to be discussed then?" Henri queried, peering about the room. Hilda seemed more nervous than when they had first arrived, fidgeting in her seat. Perhaps she sensed the hostility. "If not, then it might be best to bring this meeting to a close. Seems to be enough... reprimanding for one day as well, don't you think, Gideon?" He bat long lashes at the man, daintily fanning at himself as though he had not the slightest care in the world.
Ugh... Nick really hoped there weren't more 'Henri's in the family.
Meph glanced up when Nick defended him--and to Fenrir, no less. That was a surprise. It was no secret between them that their relationship was more rivalry than anything. But then again, it was Nick's pride on the line as well, since he was escorting Meph right now.
Reconvene? He hoped not. He hated it back at the mansion. It was like a mausoleum: cold, full of dead people, and unpleasant. They made him sleep in coffins, ate stuffy meals at stuffy hours, had a stuffy old werewolf who kept too much to the old ways as a butler. It was stupid. And besides, the Old Blood was there. The memory made him shiver. The depths of his cloak; the hands reaching out, colder than ice; the fixed smile... just thinking of it made him want to puke.
Red wine was making the rounds. He took a full cup and sipped at it. Definitely needed alcohol to make it through this meeting, and no mistake.
Luckily, Sun Fan shot down the idea of reconvening for now, though Meph knew it wasn't off the table. Once someone brought it up, it always hovered there, an uncomfortable shadow of an idea waiting for Gideon to mention it.
Fabian appeared then, out of nowhere; Meph didn't miss his method of addressing Gideon. Uncle? Since when? Fabio was a no-blood, a vampire whose lineage was questioned or unknown, but a leader of the local no-blood rabble all the same. Had he taken Gideon's blood, or a fellow brother's blood of Gideon's lineage? Pledged fealty to the family? Nephew could mean just about anything. He'd have to look into it.
"I bring news," Fabian said, settling into a chair without even bowing at Gideon. Meph glared at him. Oh, a nephew was above that, was he? Even Meph was a brother, and he still got treated like this.
Fabian held up a phone, attracting everyone's attention. Some of the older members gave it a blank look, uncertain of what the significance of it was; Henri and the other Fae drew away, as though Fabian were holding up deadly poison and not the common cell phone. "We no-bloods may not have the dignified lineage of you, fine Councilmen," he declared, not without a certain note of mocking in his voice, "but we have a little more knowledge of what you might consider the modern trends! There's a group online--it's like a large message board, elders, that you can post to anonymously--who have been posting dangerous messages about the 'truth' about us. Now, most of it is overblown fiction, the usual... but here's where it gets interesting." He turned the phone on and navigated to the web, showing a message board. A click brought him to a picture of the flayed body Meph had seen; the text passed by too quickly to understand, but next there was a blurred picture of a man in a hoodie with a shock of green hair collapsed in an alley--Meph gritted his teeth as he recognized himself. It wasn't clear enough to make out his face, thankfully, but...
"The group claims that this is one of the terrible vampires, and that they have brought him down. They urge others to join in, and meet them at..." Fabian trailed off, then shrugged. "Well, you'd have to private-message them, and get past their 'entrance exam,' whatever that means."
Gideon glared at Meph, doubtlessly making his picture being taken his fault, then looked at Fabian. "And this is the same group that took Eliza?" he asked.
Fabian opened another post and scrolled down. "[i Hearken, brave souls,]" he read, then sniggered. "It really says hearken. Ahem. [i We have captured one of the beasts that prey in the night, and it is with child! Video to come!]" He looked up around the table as a stunned silence fell.
"They... they openly admit it?" Gideon asked, frowning.
Fabian shrugged. "We are fiction, uncle. The mortals' police think it is an elaborate ruse, a story. They likely do not suspect the Council's existance, either--I don't think these mortals are well-educated in the ways of us 'beasts who prey in the night.'"
Gideon was visibly taken aback; then his eyes narrowed in on Meph and Nick. "Meph--it is your clumsiness that let these--things run around rampant long enough to catch Eliza. You will take this entrance exam of Fabian's, and you will infiltrate the group, and you will bring back Eliza... or I shall share news of your failure with your father."
Meph's lip twitched, halfway to a snarl, halfway to a frown. He wanted to leap out of this seat and attack Gideon--but he drowned it in red wine instead. Gideon would go tattling to his father, wouldn't he, and then Meph would really be in for it. The less he caught the attention of that old... [i thing], the better. "As you wish," he said shortly.
It was just about the most painful meeting Nick had ever had the displeasure of attending. He kept for the most part silent, though. Gideon was an irritation he could hardly stand to ignore - especially with all of the nitpicking at Meph. What an [i asshole]. Was all of that really necessary? What progress was it going to get them? For the sake of them both, he withdrew into a different headspace. Mouthing off was going to definitely make them look bad, and the last thing they needed was for the elders to lay them out. Well... in Meph's case - again.
Nick slid an arm across the back of Meph's chair, leaning close enough that his lips were just shy of the man's ear. At first, it seemed that he had been fixing to say something, but only silence prevailed, the brunet withdrawing to straighten up once more.
"It would appear not. I must wonder, though," Fenrir began again, breaking his typical reputation of the silent overseer. "However did you survive, Mephistopheles? Nickläus?"
Ears perking up, Nick met Fenrir gaze, his tone even. "It was a matter of working through the effects of the toxin. It was very potent. Compare it to... a fever - but far more persistent, and much much worse. Nevertheless, resilience certainly played a role. It would have killed a lesser being - unquestionably."
Blinking, partly in what appeared to be surprise, Fenrir straightened. "I see."
Nickläus refused the wine that was offered as a freshly decanted red was brought about in rounds for all of those present. He took note of the fact that Henri and his companions were only [i too] eager to drink. So the Fae were party animals? Or drunks. Maybe both. Most probably both.
"Sire," began Hel, addressing Gideon directly. "Given the nature of the circumstances, would it not be wise to have the branches convene at the estates? If there is truly a threat, then to be so apart could be... problematic."
Ugh, hordes of vamps in one place? Was she really suggesting that the covens re-assemble? Not that they had ever really broken apart, but once certain families took to a region, it tended to make communication rather difficult. Especially for the older generations.
"That might make it worse," Sun Fan offered. "Strength in numbers, yes, but more likely to die together and take a vital blow if things get as bad."
Nick liked this Sun Fan. Talked little but offered opinion sans all the 'tude.
"Perhaps an organised joint effort? Ours have always been known to do well when it comes to holding things down and keeping it secure?" Fabian had finally shown his face, seemingly materialising from nothing at all.
"Yes, but ever so fashionably," He quipped. "Come, now, Uncle. I was tending to business elsewhere."
Uncle? Since when did Fabian call Gideon Uncle? [i Strange].
A sharp nod was all he could manage to Nick, not trusting himself to speak at the moment for fear he'd betray his anger. So frustrating, having to sit here and act like he was perfectly fine, like he hadn't just been utterly disgraced--but that was the way things were, at the Council. One was proper. That was the way things were.
At least Gideon chose to ignore the scene rather than acknowledge it, a maneuver that was both political and momentarily in Meph's favor--though he knew better to count on such. At any point, Gideon need only mention the situation and remind him of his embarrassment to put him in his place. That he did not only made Meph's position that much weaker; Gideon was suggesting that he did not need to be put in his place, that Meph was not a threat. But neither did he bring it up to humiliate a weak member of the Council needlessly. Gideon was not a man of idle threats or idle maneuvers. If he made a move, it was precise. He was not the kind to give in to humiliation for the sake of humiliation.
Nick pulled out a seat for him, and Meph took it. At least someone knew how to act properly. He pulled his chair in and listened to the conversation, the ebb and flow of threats. Fenrir wasn't pleased with having had the murders pinned on him; that was no surprise. The wolves would doubtless blame it on the vampires' racism, rather than look at the facts of the bodies having been torn asunder, which was a wolf's MO, but certainly not a vampire's.
Eliza, was it? And her young? Some cousin popping out little purebreds to make the Old Bloods happy, no doubt. He'd never heard of her. Bored, he examined the wood grain on the table. Mahogany after all, and a fine grain of it, too. Nice hard, solid wood. Nothing quite like it anywhere.
Oh, and now he was under the spotlight. The way Gideon said it made him sound pathetic, but he bit back the grimace and put on a thin smile instead. "Yes, in fact. I had almost cornered the one who was doing the killings--found him standing over a fresh body. He ran, and I gave chase; even at my best speed, he outran me, but I managed to follow him into the city. That was where things got strange. The man--creature vanished, completely and utterly. There was no scent, no magic; as though they had simply disappeared. That was when someone stuck me with a needle and injected something into my body--a human." He looked around the table, eyes narrowed, daring them to laugh; some of them looked as though they were on the verge of laughter at that, Henri's mouth hidden by his fan, but Meph remained dead serious. "Not a hunter. I doubt they know what I was, only that they were being chased by someone as strong as the one doing the killings. Whatever this is, it has human allies. Civilian allies."
"That is all," Gideon said, cutting Meph off. "A fine report. An unknown creature is wreaking havoc; they can disappear without a trace; they have human allies. Does any of this help us locate the creature? The human? I don't suppose you scented the human before you were overcome?"
Meph's face twitched. He didn't know how much more of this he could take. "I'm no w--" his eyes slipped to Nick, then Fenrir. "--no hunting dog," he finished. "It was one human among many. A great crowded place. I had no warning before I was injected, and after I was injected, my senses turned against me."
"And you nearly died from it?" Gideon asked. "Despite our tolerance of poisons?"
"Yes," Meph replied, beyond irritated and only just holding it back. "It had a curse built into it, a black magic. If I had not gone to--" he stopped short. Now was not the time to mention those two.
"If you had not gone to...?" Gideon continued.
"To Nick, I would have died that night," he said. It wasn't a lie; Henri wouldn't be able to detect it. He [i had] gone to Nick, after all. But he didn't think now was the time to mention Sia and Rose. The two deserved some peace; and he needed them to analyze the poison and curse without the Council's meddling. With all the internal politics, a simple analysis would get curdled and lost, no doubt. Better to wait until they knew what was in the syringe better.
Gideon nodded, his usual severe look not in any way altered. "But you did not find out the identity of the creature, nor of its human helper," he repeated.
Meph grit his teeth. "No," he replied, frustrated. If it'd been Gideon, he would've liked to see him do better!
"I see," Gideon said quietly.
"As always. You can never count on a vampire when you really need one," Fenrir said, an evil grin on his face. "Isn't that right, Gideon?"
Gideon neglected to reply. "Then we have as yet no leads on Eliza. Has anyone else encountered this creature or its human helpers?" He looked around the table, bright blue eyes peircing.
[center Henri, huh? He sounded like a cake... a very French dessert cake or something. Looked like one, too. Jeez - what was with all of that frill? Nick eyed Meph as he worked the powder off of his face and straightened himself out. Man did he feel for him in that moment. Not even his worst enemy would he have wish that upon. Heh, what was with Henri's cold impression of him, though? Not his type, he was guessing?
"A Fae..." Somehow, that sounded much more frightening-- maybe ominous was the word-- when Meph said it. As if implying anything in tone could start a literal conflict. Were they really that petty?
Trailing after Meph once again, he crossed over the threshold to where this main affair was being held and immediately scouted about the room. Hot [i damn]. The Council room was [i packed]. He hadn't witnessed so many in one place in so long. Almost immediately, Nick was obligated to relay his respect, bowing to show deference to the eldest of his line until some unspoken command allowed him the privilege of straightening. Ever the obedient one he was [i now].
Fenrir was by all counts formidable. It was a terror merely to meet his gaze - lest he make an example out of you simply for exhibiting fear. 'Twas one of the issues Nick had never had in the presence of the man, though. You needn't fear those of your blood. Fear meant a lack of trust, and a lack of trust would ultimately lead to ruin. That was no sort of end for one of their bloodline.
It wasn't something to be misunderstood, though. This didn't mean that Nick was entirely without fear, but he directed it in other ways. Because he was afraid of what could happen to others of his kind, he worked harder. Because he was afraid of failure, he strove to do better - accomplish more. Most hid from their fear, and that was where the weakness began. The true way, as he had been taught, was to embrace it.
Meph seemed to be making introductions himself, and to hear him called by his full name was something that Nick had to admit had made the entire journey there worth it. Mephistopheles. How often did anyone get away with calling him that? He'd have to try it out later when he got him alone. It'd be awfully amusing to see just how riled up he got - especially since he clearly wasn't the only one to find Meph to be hellish. Perhaps the male was very much deserving of that title?
No sooner than he had straightened had the small impact of a petite yet familiar frame practically collided with his own. He hardly moved, his arms having opened mainly for the sake of catching whomever it was, but the shock had been evident.
Gently embracing her, the brunet murmured something of comfort, most concerned for the fact that she was as frightened as she had been. Was it really so unsafe with the other vampyres? Was she staying separately? Was the location too isolated? Not only Fenrir but Henri and a few other select counsel members were eyeing such a display.
Some of their visages were painted with disgust whilst others were passing judgment on the politics of such an act in itself.
"My Liege, if it would suffice, shall I show Lady Klementin to her seat?" His tone as he made such a request in the Olde Tongue was one observed only regarding those for which you had utmost respect, and Meph [i was] his present charge. Never mind that Meph looked just about ready to raise hell. Public embarrassment. Wasn't that a little much? Even Henri looked awkward, doing his best to avoid Meph's gaze at that moment as he knew very well how scathing it must have been.
Begrudging though it had been, when Meph had given Nick the go ahead, he escorted Klementin to a seat befitting of her. He would have to sit with Meph regardless, but he put her beside Henri so neither of them would have to deal with the male at the very least.
Just as he had turned, Nickläus caught sight of a slender little thing as he practically floated into the room to take his place beside Hilda. He had spectacles and writing tools in hand. Some sort of Fae scribe, he supposed. A little late to the party wasn't he, though?
"Very well - now that we are all present," began Gideon, wholly disregarding the scene in favour of addressing more important matters. "Shall we discuss the most recent events? Prior to this, there was talk of some [i disgraceful] activity about."
"Yes, correct; and it was our own that were first suspects of the killings," Fenrir interjected politely, his smile more a show of teeth than actual reassurance. Seriously, guy had some pretty serious chompers.
Ugh. Nick was going to forget how to speak English by the end of this. Especially when he was getting half of this telepathically. Gesturing to a seat he had pulled for Meph, he waited patiently for him to take it, knowing very well that he would not be permitted to sit until Meph himself had done so.
"So much death... and now poor Eliza has gone missing. She [i and] her young." Much to his surprise, it was Hel who'd spoken up. "And I spoke with her not more than two nights before." There was a note of regret there, but it was primarily a statement of fact.
"Then there were the strange circumstances most recently met," Fenrir remarked again, catching Gideon's attention. Watching the two was almost too irritating. Gideon, all catty and superior, and Fenrir, forever menacing without much effort on his part. Nickläus almost wondered if the rest of them should leave for the two to slap it out.
"Mephistopheles - you encountered some unknown attacker most recently, had you not?" Demanded Gideon, his cold gaze sliding to the male. "Nearly fallen, too, from the whispers that have reached us. How do you explain such?" Expectation - judgment - disappointment. [i Ouch.]
Glancing about at the faces of the other council members, Sun Fan included - who seemed more bored than anything by this fairly obvious cockfight - Nickläus cleared his throat.
Meph went stiff as the enthusiastic man grappled him into a bear hug that gave lie to his feminine facade. The curls, the pin and white... Was it dolls, this year? What was the man trying to imitate? And why Meph? He had thought Nick was beefcake enough to turn the man's ever-wandering eye this year, but noo, always Meph.
At least he brought valuable information. Fenric, huh? Of course the wolf elder was here. And Klemintin was the cousin's name... good. It would've been embarrassing to not know his cousin's name at the council.
As suddenly as he'd appeared, Henri was bouncing off again, all fluff and frou-frou, fancy as you please. Meph shook his head at Nick, feeling a momentary camaraderie. "Henri just happened. He's a fae," he said, putting as much meaning into the word as he could. Had to be careful around them; words held a lot of power to the little twinks. Or--well, to be fair, not all fae were twinks. Just... this one undoubtedly was. He straightened his jacket and brushed the powder off his face, then followed Henri into the council.
Twink though he was, Henri held a great deal of power in the council as one of the few fae who hadn't retreated from the onset of technology to the depths of Underhill. He held a direct line to the Faery Queen herself, whichever one was in power at the moment. Mab, maybe? He could never remember, but there were three of them and the infighting was constant. Faery politics--ugh. The one thing he hated worse than the elders and their stupid council.
The room Henri led him to was grand, decked out in red velvet and golden gilt, a dark-polished hardwood table--mahogany, if he was a betting man--laid out in the center. A few had already taken their seats. The city's resident Old Blood sat at the far head of the table. Well, his representative did, the Old Blood himself likely too senile to navigate himself down a one-way road. With age came insanity, an insanity that only a few, like the elegant Draculis himself, had avoided; most of the Old Blood were twittering fools, kept around as figureheads and so the family could claim an active Old Blood lineage. The man sitting there was Meph's elder by two centuries, and had been turned in his forties, dark hair touched with silver, stern, military face at home above a simple, dark suit, almost more uniform than suit. Meph bowed to him, as was proper, but hated every second of it. Stuffy old man.
"You may rise, Mephistopheles," Gideon said graciously.
He almost grimaced at the name, glad he was staring at the floor so no one could see. Stupid Old Blood, giving him such a cringeworthy name. Honestly, there was a reason he went by Meph.
Meph's eyes flicked around the table as he rose. Fenrir sat at the opposite head, the near one, hair silver all over though not with age; the fearsome wolf elder had been born a white wolf, a rarity among his kind and one sought after by many vampires. Rumor had it, he'd serviced several Old Bloods in his tenure as a servant before leading the local--if the whole country could be considered local--rebellion of the wolves. Most of the other faces were familiar; Hel, as she liked to be called, a vampire from a Norwegian family with an accent that could only be called darling; David, a pureblood vampire who'd not yet grown beyond an appearance of seventeen, despite his two centuries of life; Prudence, from an English line; and Sun Fan, representative of an Asian family who'd only joined the council in the last few decades. There were also a few faces he didn't recognize, either new representatives or of the wolves; unlike the vampires, the wolves didn't tend to hold centuries-long blood feuds when their names were forgotten, so he hadn't bothered to memorize them.
And then there was no more time to people-watch as a woman rushed at him, sobbing her eyes out; he reluctantly held his arms out, only for her to rush into Nick's. "I thought you'd never come," she sobbed into his chest. "I've been so scared."
"Well met, cousin," Meph said coldly.
Klemintin pulled away from Nick's chest enough to give him a disdainful glance, then went back to sobbing into Nick. It shouldn't bother Meph. It'd been centuries of being the black sheep, for him. But in front of everyone? The whole council, running to a wolf, not him? His smile tightened, hand clenching. Who had no sense of propriety now?
[center Uncomfortable wouldn't have done that ride justice. Even if it [i was] in a pretty impressive whip. Nick had always preferred bikes, though. They were easier to maneuver, and when you were chasing someone down, it became all the more convenient to be able to more easily break the rules of traffic. He spent the majority of the ride peering through tinted windows at the outside world and contemplating how he'd found his way into this mess. No doubt, both Gideon and Hel would be there already. He wasn't so much sure about Fabian.
Upon their arrival, Nick had at the very least gotten out before Meph to ensure that there were no unwelcome surprises, but they managed to make it to the door without issue, the wolf shadowing Meph like a proper guardian should.
Beyond its antiquated and seemingly abandoned exterior, they came to a dark pathway that spit them right in the centre of some grand lobby. Oh-- oh, this was going to be [i stuffy]. Much propriety to be observed and all that. The doorman eyed him, as if trying to discern whether or not he was the sort of guy to act out in the face of some very obvious ogling. It didn't work. In fact, he was kind of proud of himself, offering the male no more than a cold glance as he breezed by.
Before they had even fully entered the room, the sharp impact of heels against freshly polished granite could be heard.
"Dear fates, [i what] is [i that]?" [i Mephy-poo?]
A bouncing mass of soft pink and white was steadily coming up on them, ribbon-bound curls floating on some invisible breeze.
He practically flew into Meph, gathering the male up in a tight hug and nuzzling at his cheek. Nick visibly twitched at the sight before he could get his cool back - melting instead into a state of supposed composure.
"It has simply been too long!" Stepping back, he offered a smile, curtsying as was appropriate of a lady. His handmaid, who'd only just caught up looked like a nervous little wreck, trying to straighten out layers this way and that. Had it not been for the voice, though, you'd have never been able to tell.
"Ahh - an escort? My, my, aren't we fancy?" He cocked his head to one side, cascade of blonde curls following. "Klementin is dying to see you - poor thing's a mess, though. I should also warn you - Fenric is here and as tight-assed as ever. This is Hilda~." The frightened little handmaiden curtsied, to which Nick offered a bow - both to Henri and his poor help.
"Neverless - come, come. Drinks will be served once the meeting is underway." And just like that, he had bounced in the other direction, floating off with stocking-clad legs in quite the graceful little step.
"What... just happened?"]
Nick didn't fight at all as Meph drank, which was nice; aside from his grip at Meph's wrists, which he didn't much care for. At least he let go once Meph stepped away.
He shifted away when Nick adjusted the stupid necktie. What did Nick think he was, his mom? And--what, anti-Willy Wonka? "That makes you an anti-oompa loompa, you know?" he fired back with a smirk.
Nick led the way, which was completely unacceptable. Meph strode past him and gave him a severe look. "And what kind of escort takes the lead?" he asked, still using the Olde Tongue. Might as well get adjusted, before he had to face down a council full of elders doing the same. He moved a step ahead of Nick, as was proper.
With the hulking wolf in the elevator, the box suddenly seemed too small. The ride down was short, but it seemed to take ages. The elevator was going to reek of wolf forever after this; he'd need to talk to the cleaning staff and get them to sanitize it from top to bottom to clean out the smell.
A car was waiting for him outside the club; a Rolls-Royce, doubtlessly hired by one of his brothers or sisters. Probably Joan. She'd seen him as an actual little brother from the time he'd been turned, for some reason, and took him under her wing; she usually tried to make sure that he showed up in 'proper' fashion to meetings, to save him the disgrace of using his usual methods of transport, such as cabs and the subway. Meph didn't care, but he wasn't one to turn down someone else's kindness, either, so he went along with it.
He climbed into the back, scooting over so Nick had room to sit. As he shifted, he caught a look at himself in the mirror and grimaced. Between the green hair and the red cravat, he looked disgustingly Christmasy. Sighing, he closed his eyes and focused, and his hair turned back to its natural, boring mousy brown--something about vampires and resisting toxins meant that if he put forth any effort, he could shake dye right out of his hair. He just usually didn't want to.
The driver pushed away from the curb and drove them off towards the meeting without the need for any instruction by Meph or Nick. Meph continued to examine his look in the mirror, considering. Should the piercings come out? Or the gauges? No--nah, let them suck on those. Looked good with the suit, too. Made him look punk and fancy at the same time.
The car stopped. Meph glanced put the window and found himself looking up at the grand facade of a long-closed theater; this was the place. He stepped out, waiting just long enough for Nick to join him before he led the way inside. The door appeared boarded up, but when he pulled the handle, it opened easily, the boards nothing more than a glamor concocted by one of the more magically-inclined elders. On the other side was a long, dark corridor that opened up into a vast, gorgeous lobby. A bowing doorman took his cane and hat when he offered them, and he swept past into the room beyond, shoulders back, gaze fixed far ahead, prepared for the usual onslaught. A cousin was there already--the one who'd gone to Nick, no doubt, the one with the missing friend. His gaze passed over the crowd, taking the rest of them in, gauging who'd showed up, and who'd stayed home.
[center Ordinarily, to have a vampyre at his vein would have incited all degrees of unrest. First it was the piercing of cold fangs into warm flesh - then the ever encroaching cold grips of emptiness as they sucked your life force away. It opened a pit - an abyss, even - seemingly without depth. It was the sort of unpleasant sensation of falling without any hopes for control.
Even when he'd first been panicked, however... such had not been the case. It was the first, and he had assumed the last, that he would ever find himself so at ease with one such as Meph bleeding him dry.
[i My, how wrong he had been.] Even the initial bite of fang to flesh as they sank in just deep enough to tap the vein stirred an unfamiliar warmth. He loathed to think that he had anything in that moment in common with the mortals that Meph typically bled for his benefit, but it was a difficult thought to dismiss all the same.
Then again, for a mortal, so much loss would surely leave them feeling light-headed if not bring them to lose consciousness altogether. Instead, he felt perfectly fine, if not more so. As much shouldn't have made any degree of sense when he was the one being depleted, but the more he pondered it, the more it almost seemed plausible that this little parasite of his could be helping him in some way.
What did they call that - a symbiotic relationship? It reminded him of those teensy little birds with the hippopotami. His body was forced to work at restoring what Meph took, but it was naturally equipped to handle such losses - which only meant that given his diet and as well as he kept himself, it could very well have been doing him a favour on the health front.
Ha. Go figure. A vampyre good for his health? Difficult to believe. He hadn't realised his fingers had been lingering on Meph's wrists until he dropped them, confused as to why the hell the male was so cold. Then again, when you were one of the undead, warmth wasn't so much a luxury you had. A small price to pay for immortality, huh?
In that department, Nick would have gone so far as to say that his own conditional immortality beat them out, but even being what he was had its pitfalls. Going long periods without changing? Guaranteed to fuck you up. They got beating hearts and body heat enough to warm a small apartment after a twenty-minute workout, but there were some aspects that you had to suffer through.
He remembered suddenly the first he had ever changed. It had been excruciating - so impossibly painful. He shuddered to even try to recall, never having had the luxury of blacking out for the remainder as so many did.
Moving down his checklist, there was also the serious issue of falling into that feverish span of time during which you basically wanted to fuck any and all things with legs - chairs included. The frustration was real. Stuck a whole new definition to the term 'hot-blooded'.
Snapping out of his minor daze, Nickläus regarded Meph with a faintly puzzled expression. What was his damage? Was he... [i shocked]? Using a Kerchief to wipe what little blood had been left behind at the surface, the small puncture wounds left behind had already begun to close, the flesh pink and the only indication of what had happened just moments before.
Slipping back into his shadowy garb, Nick took care to ensure that everything was fastened, cuff links included, only to find himself sending Meph a lopsided smirk. "You look like the anti-Willy Wonka." Reaching over, he adjusted his cravat a little, pinching the soft material between his thumb and forefinger.
[i "Shall we go?"]
"Ma irritati... After you, Liege-ul meu." clicking his tongue, he made his way back toward the "secret" not so secret elevator, waiting patiently for Meph to accompany.
Oh, this was going to be so much [i fun].
He could see it in the wolf's face when he almost refused. Ha, still had some of that haughtiness to him, did he? It was a fresh sight, even to a youngling like Meph. He'd only been around a century or three, but it was long enough to have known wolves as peerless butlers and servants and eager bloodslaves. Then there'd been the great revolt; the wolves taking their clue from the class upheavals of the mortals to fight back, throw off the vampires' influence and break free. Decades had passed while the wolves and vampires fought. Then peace, both of them worried about their small number too much to fight longer; a tense peace, where drinking from a wolf, even a consenting one, might be considered a crime worth fighting once more, a difficult time where skirmishes broke out around every corner, new pacts only grudgingly agreed to by the respective Elders. Now, things had quieted between them. Technically, the old pacts were still in play, but no one quailed anymore when a vampire drank from a wolf, and it wasn't seen as a betrayal for a wolf to offer themselves to a vampire. Some of the more conservative wolf packs had even moved back in with their old masters, preferring the old ways now that they'd had a taste of bitter freedom.
He didn't know Nick's stance on the situation, but the wolf had certainly not hesitated to offer himself up. Personally, he thought wolf blood tasted unpleasantly like dog, as healthy as it was, and even back in the old days had mostly gone after mortals. But it was healthy, and Nick was willing, and he was weak, so here they were. He was too young to care too much about the politics of the situation. Honestly, it just seemed stupid. Why politicize something as natural as feeding from the stock bred specifically to be feed?
Of course, the wolves felt otherwise, and that was the problem.
Nick came up to him naturally enough, even having removed his top layers. Meph ran his hands over the wolf's chest, sliding chilled fingers over chiseled muscle; he knew his fingers would be colder than usual, now that he didn't have enough heat. It was fun to tease Nick, though, fun to watch the goosebumps break out on his skin at the cold. It was another way wolves and vampires were suited to one another. The wolves produced heat; the vampires produced cold. In the summer and in the winter, they could cling to one another and make up for their lackings.
Though nowadays there was air conditioning for that.
"I bet the ladies love you," he cooed teasingly, stepping closer. "Bet you take that shirt off at every opportunity, huh?" Hmm, self control. They'd see about that.
There was so much blood in Nick. He could feel it pulsing under his fingertips, only just contained by taut skin and strong muscles, beating with his every breath. His eyes locked onto that vital vein again, and this time he didn't pull away but stepped closer, biting down. For propriety's sake, he only used enough venom to numb the pain; too much would act as an aphrodisiac, and it'd be embarrassing to attend the meeting with an escort sporting a hard-on.
Blood poured into his mouth, almost euphoric in taste. He was too hungry to notice the dog-flavor at first, and sucked needily, drawing deeper than he'd meant to, fingernails biting into Nick's bare shoulders. The scent of blood almost drove him mad, the taste of it moreso, the texture and heat as it slid down his throat and collected in his stomach, as for a second he felt alive again, alive and warm and--
He stepped back abruptly, wiping his mouth and eyeing Nick with confusion and concern. What the hell? What the hell was that? He hated wolf blood. Usually he could only bring himself to drink enough to survive. Why--why was Nick different?
Oh. No, he was being stupid. It wasn't Nick, he was just hungry. Even if it'd been a homeless man in the gutter with his blood half-congealed from drugs and disease, it would've tasted amazing right now. But even so, he felt amazing. His body was suffused with warmth, usually-pale skin sporting some color for once. He really did feel alive. Almost alive. Maybe he shouldn't look down his nose at the wolves so much. Maybe he'd just gotten bad ones before.
As suddenly as the sensation had come on, it faded, the heat cooling in his stomach, the color sliding back off his cheeks. No, it'd just been the usual blood-high. That was all. A little stronger than usual because of his hunger, but nothing more. And he could definitely taste the dog now, the aftertaste lingering unpleasantly on his tongue. Meph shook his head to clear it and held his arms out, summoning his shirt to him: a lacy number with a high collar and a jacket with swallowtails, all in black, jacket held together at the front with gold chains, a deep red cravat bulging at his neck. It looked ridiculous on him, but such was demanded from the elders. A cane and a top hat completed the ensemble, and he turned and looked at his escort, green eyebrow cocked. "Shall we go?" he asked, taking on the tone of the Olde Tongue mockingly.
Not even so much as a flinch out of him. His warning to Meph had already been issued, but if he really wanted to tussle so badly, who was Nickläus to deny him? Peering at the male from the corners of his eyes, he almost dared Meph to make a move. Since he was so intent on making things difficult for himself, he even half-expected him to go for it nevertheless. Huh... never figured Meph the nuzzling sort, either. It was only [i mildly] cute.
Instead, the vampyre pushed himself away, at last showing a little restraint. Swiping at the place the man's tongue had lingered, he shivered. Fucking ridiculous. In his absence, Nick had picked up the discarded articles and found a proper place for them, muttering all the while about how he felt like a damned maid. Still, he hated mess more, so it only made sense for him to automatically clear the chaos in Meph's wake.
It wasn't a very long wait. Figuring Meph to be that level of careless, Nick was almost surprised to see him emerge so promptly. His mohawk was no longer at attention, the hair having been washed smooth. Far more appropriate for the occasion, in his opinion. Last thing they needed was any undue attention.
When Meph beckoned for Nick, he thought very much about refusing. Him go to Meph? Ridiculous. But then, if he was playing the part of an escort, he guessed a certain level of obedience had to be observed. Stepping forward, the brunet willed himself all the way over to the other male, eyeing him with another of his dark warnings. He had to remove both layers to clad his upper half, but it wasn't so much an inconvenience that it took very long.
He'd have assumed Meph to be capable of behaving, but after earlier, it was clear that he was too stubborn to take from a wrist. Better not to risk his clothes and get this over with. He personally wasn't down for an out of the way trip back home just to get a change of attire.
"Try to have a little self control," he remarked, gesturing for Meph to proceed. The nice thing about being what he was had mostly to do with how quickly they regenerated. Vaguely, Nick wondered if Meph was by any means of one mind or the other when it came to feeding from wolves. Their blood tended to be more nutrient-rich and full bodied, but... eh. It also happened to carry what a majority of mortals didn't, which was awfully convenient for restoring mana and such.
Huh... really, blood slaves. But it was a conflict of the culture. In a way, some couldn't get around it. What with the warring classes, some decades ago, it would have been wholly unacceptable to take blood from a wolf, most importantly because it was seen as something of a 'crime' against them for past relations.
Nowadays, it wasn't so strange, especially for the more feeble-bodied to make pacts for such things because simply feeding on mortals wasn't enough. And the nutrient to mana balance in other species was somewhat unpredictable.
"Fuck face," Meph muttered into the bed, shivering as the covers were yanked back. What the hell did that even mean? He curled up deeper into the covers. Didn't matter. He was happy here. He'd show up half an hour late if at all and they'd ignore him anyways and then he could go back home and hide in bed again.
"The last escort did," Meph informed Nick, heedless of the sarcasm. He'd turned his head to speak clearly, wanting Nick to hear in detail about his previous escapades. "She had these tiny little hands that found every little nook and cranny..." Course, he hadn't gotten very clean, but it'd been a very productive shower nonetheless. He smirked at the memory. Yeah. A [i very] productive shower.
His smirk fell as fast as it appeared. He'd have to rinse all the hair putty out of his mohawk and wear it down, wouldn't he? All the elders would raise a fuss, otherwise. It was bad enough he dyed his hair. He wasn't going to dye it black for no elders, though. They could deal with that.
Feed him if he got up? "No deal," Meph said. And then he yelped as he was dragged backwards by his ankles half-off the bed. He scrabbled at the bedsheets, but fell off the bed anyways, unprepared to fight against Nick's strength.
"I didn't forget," he protested from the floor, crumpled in the sheets and trying to make it sound less like he was whining when all he was doing was whining. "What's the point, though? I'm just going to get lectured for having my guard down and called a disgrace to the family again." He'd rather spend his time in the go--goshforsaken place called the library, nose in a book and reading like a square. At least then he'd be doing something productive with his time.
He didn't have to get dressed. He could always just eat Nick right here and go back to bed. He eyed the wolf over his shoulder. He'd been pretty easy to overpower earlier, hadn't he? Though... then again, he got the feeling that Nick hadn't fought particularly hard. And he really didn't want to show up with bruises from having been beaten up by his supposed escort and devoted servant.
Somewhere in the train of thought, he'd stood and moved into Nick's body heat, because when he blinked, he found himself staring at a vein on the wolf's neck from inches away. Blood throbbed just beneath paper-thin skin, the scent alluring. Feed, it said. Eat. He nuzzled at it and licked the vein, wanting that nectar more than anything. It was right there. Right--he pulled back, abruptly, pushing himself physically away from Nick. "Shower," he snapped, more at himself than anyone else. He was too damn hungry to be around any food source right now. Even if it was a stinky old wolf.
Ignoring Nick, he stripped down on his way to the shower, tossing the borrowed clothes on the floor. Nick had already seen it all, he didn't care. He turned the shower on as hot as it would go and stepped under the searing spray, his custom-made shower head pulsing his back with pressure from a torrent of water. His 'hawk drooped in the heat, and he leaned his head into the water to let it throb out the worst of the chemicals he'd used on his hair. Ugh. So stupid. Couldn't the elders get over themselves? Let him wear his hair however?
He washed his hair and his body, then shut off the water and stepped out. He dried himself as he wandered back into the room, then spread his legs and held out his hands. A swarm of bats flew to him, black flocking together, then materializing into a pair of fancy black slacks, socks, and shoes. Had enough energy for a magic that simple, at least. He'd put the shirt on once he'd eaten.
"Alright, I'm halfway decent, so come here," he ordered, gesturing Nick over.
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.